UK

Disabled Passengers Fear For Their Safety As Rail Cutbacks Could Mean Fewer Staff

24/04/2013 07:10 BST | Updated 24/04/2013 12:46 BST

More than a quarter of disabled rail passengers have suffered a hate crime or abuse, according to a survey.

Abuses have been reported by as many as 43% of wheelchair users and by 41% of those with visual impairments.

disabled rasil abuse

The survey revealed that disabled people are concerned about rail cutbacks

Pollsters Survation carried out the survey of 1,031 disabled people, with the results being published on Wednesday by the TUC's Action for Rail campaign.

The campaigners are concerned that plans to reduce rail staff numbers will have a serious impact on disabled travellers.

As many as 81% of the disabled people surveyed said train travel would be more difficult for them if staff numbers were cut, with 34% saying cuts would deter them from journeys.

Action Rail fears cutbacks could result in the loss of 7,000 train guards and 7,000 station guards over the next six years.

TUC general secretary and chairman of the Action for Rail campaign Frances O'Grady said: "These findings are disturbing and show why the government must rethink its plans for the railways.

"Giving train companies the green light to slash staffing on trains and stations will increase the risk of passengers being verbally and physically abused and will lead to a worse service for everyone.

"No-one deserves to travel in fear or to be left without vital assistance, and these plans make a mockery of the government's commitment to make the railways more accessible to disabled and elderly passengers. Ministers cannot achieve this target if after the cuts we end up with ghost trains and stations."

Linda Burnip from Disabled People Against the Cuts said: "These alarming figures back up what we already know - abuse and hate crime is a growing threat faced by many disabled people.

"We need extra not fewer staff if we want to tackle this problem and this is yet another regressive step being proposed by this government."

David Sindall, head of disability and inclusion for the Association of Train Operating Companies, said: "Record numbers of people with disabilities are travelling by train and facilities for disabled passengers are better now than they've ever been.

"The independent rail watchdog recently found that 85% of people with a disability were satisfied with their journey."