Fears new Irish Rail proposals to have a detrimental impact on commuters with disabilities
January 29 2018
Leading disability organisations joined together to insist that savings at Irish Rail cannot be made at the expense of people with disabilities. They are forced to rely on staff for assistance to get on and off inaccessible trains. The warning comes as Irish Rail launch a new pilot project today (Jan. 28th), aimed at reducing the 24-hour notice of travel to 4 hours. Irish Wheelchair Association, IWA, Central Remedial Clinic, CRC, and the Disability Federation of Ireland, DFI, insist that the new programme introduced by Irish Rail will result in a chaotic, unsatisfactory and unreliable service for commuters with disabilities. Despite registering their concerns with both Irish Rail and the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, issues raised by the three organisations have not been addressed. The new pilot project involves removing staff from most DART stations and the grouping of stations into zones, specifically categorised for people with disabilities. In these zones Irish Rail from today, will allocate one member of staff to provide assistance to people with disabilities across 3-4 stations. At the same time, they intend to reduce the amount of notice required by commuters with disabilities. As it stands people with disabilities often experience various obstacles and barriers when attempting to travel by DART. Daily occurrences include:
- Unavailable assistance despite 24-hour prior notice provided
- Passengers with disabilities left stranded on DART/Rail Services
- Unmanned stations – preventing travel for many people with disabilities
- Injuries trying to navigate the gap without assistance
- Broken lifts – preventing access to stations/platforms for many people with disabilities
Irish Paralympian and daily commuter Paidraic Moran explained: “I can say from direct experience that before any cutbacks in staffing levels, the services provided to wheelchair users, like myself was a joke. It defies logic that Irish Rail now propose to provide a better service with fewer staff”.
The Disability Federation of Ireland’s CEO, Sen John Dolan said, “Accessible public transport is the key to training, employment and community participation. It is a must for people with disabilities”.