Local MP argues for better travel access for disabled

July 7, 2008 12:12 PM
Mark in House of Commons

Mark speaking out in Parliament for disabled or less mobile residents

This week in Parliament Cheadle MP Mark Hunter spoke up for disabled or less mobile residents and called for more trains to be made more accessible more quickly.

Currently when old trains are replaced or refitted they must comply with UK regulations about ease of access for disabled people. These regulations cover a whole host of modifications from putting handles by doors to creating a warning sound when a door is opening or shutting. Under UK regulations all trains must comply with these rules by 2020 - except where exceptions have been given.

This week in the House of Commons these regulations made way for a new wider ranging set of EU rules which insist that trains are accessible for all people who have reduced mobility - from the elderly, pregnant or families travelling with young children - however the implementation completion date remains 2020.

During the debate on the new rules Mr Hunter questioned the Transport Minister about the role of exemptions from the regulations saying that: "I think we all agree that we should only use exemptions where really necessary, not to bail out Train Operating Companies that haven't managed to make their vehicles accessible before the deadline. Can I therefore have an assurance from the Minister that exemptions won't be used after 2020 except for genuine special cases such as heritage railways, where self-evidently changes would alter the vehicles authenticity?"

Speaking after the debate Mr Hunter said: "Ensuring that transport is accessible for all people whether they are disabled, travelling with young children, elderly or are pregnant is vitally important. Not only is access to public transport a right that all people should share, but that access to transport is crucial to ensure people can access jobs, essential health and education services, family, friends, and leisure facilities. People that are less mobile should be able to access these services the same as others, and it's good for the economy that they can as well.

"Elderly and disabled travellers have been treated as second class citizens by rail companies for too long and we have a responsibility to ensure that this stops now. I will continue to campaign for all train companies to become complaint with disability regulations are quickly as possible - to not do so would be a dereliction of their duty to provide a public service for all."

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