Almost half of Scotland’s railway stations ‘inaccessible for disabled people’
Almost half of Scotland’s railway stations do not have step-free access, according to new analysis.
The report by Leonard Cheshire Disability reveals 47% of the transport hubs are inaccessible for many disabled travellers.
The data, taken from National Rail and the Office of National Statistics, also shows Scotland is lagging behind the rest of the UK as a whole, which has 38% which are not step-free.
Trade union TSSA has hit out at operator ScotRail and the Scottish Government, despite rail accessibility being a power reserved to the UK Government.
Manuel Cortes, the union’s general secretary, said: “It is appalling that in the 21st century disabled travellers are still excluded from so many of Scotland’s train stations.
“Having step-free access at a train station can make the difference between a disabled person being able to take a new job, visit friends or afford to buy or rent somewhere suitable to live.
“It beggars belief that this has not been tackled sooner.
“Of course, having staff on train stations is also crucial for disabled passengers who need help, or ramps, getting on and off the train and we should not lose sight of problems Abellio created by laying off staff, closing ticket offices, and opening unstaffed stations.
“But the real blame lies with the Scottish Government, who have allowed Abellio to get away with running ScotRail in a way that excludes the one million people in Scotland who identify as disabled.”
He added: “If Michael Matheson isn’t prepared to stand up for the disabled travellers in Scotland then he should do the decent thing and resign.
“Then maybe we can get a Transport Secretary who will bring ScotRail into public ownership where it can be run for people not for profit.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “Rail accessibility is reserved to the UK Government and, while we work closely with the Department for Transport to agree priorities, the final decision rests with them.
“That is why we continue to push for full devolution of rail powers to enable us to better deliver for Scotland’s rail users.
“Our vision is that all disabled people can travel with the same freedom, choice, dignity and opportunity as other citizens.
“Where there is no disabled access at a particular station, passengers can make arrangements with ScotRail for taxi transportation to/from the nearest manned station.”
A ScotRail spokesman said: “We are committed to making the railway open and accessible to all, and provide a free assisted travel service to customers who need a little extra help.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are acutely aware of the issues faced by disabled passengers, and are fully committed to ensuring equal access for disabled people using the transport system by 2030.
“We have made a huge amount of progress in this area and three in four rail journeys are now through step-free stations, compared to half in 2005.
“We have committed a further £300 million to improve disabled access at 73 stations across Great Britain and we recently opened a £20m fund to make even more stations accessible.”