I boarded a 12-carriage Southern Rail train after work on Friday, January 6, from Littlehampton to Worthing.
Despite it being around 7pm it was virtually empty due to major delays that day. The train itself had no on-board staff whatsoever. There was not a single announcement over the tannoy system, automated or otherwise, about which stations we were approaching. The silence was eerie. The visual display system was not functioning at all.
Southern Rail is providing a service which is unsafe and unusable for disabled people. How could a visually impaired or hearing impaired person have used this train? At several short-platform stations the rear carriages did not allow passengers to get off. It was dark and platform signage was not visible.
Our government would like us to believe that the failures of Southern Rail are down to trade unions. This is nonsense. Southern Rail is unable to provide a safe or accessible rail service. Rail unions are standing up for all of us when they say that safety of passengers is being wilfully compromised.
Not only this, we should not permit an apartheid system on our public transport where disabled people cannot travel independently. They are not second class citizens, even if we all feel like second class passengers on Southern Rail.
Worthing & District Trades Council call on our MPs to demand that the government intervene to settle this dispute, and not continue to take their deliberately reductive view that this is some plot by trade unions to bring down Chris Grayling. Rail is a vital public service, and if the privateers cannot run it safely, it should be re-nationalised in the community interest.
Chair, Worthing & District Trades Council
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