Help from the driver
GTR Southern rail users with disabilities face delayed journeys or the prospect of no longer being able to board some trains after the company said there was no “cast-iron guarantee” that assistance would be available at all stations, The Guardian reported. The change has been linked to the extension of ‘driver controlled operation’, in which guards are replaced by ‘onboard supervisors’.
[No guarantee of help for disabled passengers, says Southern, Diane Taylor, The Guardian, 17 Jan 2017]
Southern has admitted it may have to book taxis for disabled travellers who cannot complete their journey because the only member of staff on the train is the driver.
Previously there were 33 stations across the Southern rail network where passengers in need of assistance to get on or off the train could turn up and be guaranteed help.
(Of course, because of GTR’s repeated failure to recruit sufficient staff, there are no ‘guarantees’ for anyone to be able to ‘complete their journey’.)
According to Wikipedia, Southern Railway ‘operates’ 156 stations. Like other train operators, it has never offered network-wide spontaneous travel for persons of reduced mobility. How could such a facility be provided?
It would appear that implementating turn up and go nationwide would, in many cases, require the train driver to assist with boarding and alighting. That would entail changes in equipment and operating procedure, to allow the driver to leave the cab as and when required.