Disabled caller echoes Andy Burnham's concerns as they say rail office closures make travel 'impossible' for blind people

19 July 2023, 17:23 | Updated: 19 July 2023, 17:36

Shelagh hears from a visually impaired caller who shares frustration at rail office closures

By Abbie Reynolds

On Tonight with Andrew Marr Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the proposed rail office closures were "highly discriminatory against disabled people".

Mayor Andy Burnham is among five other Labour Mayors challenging the government's plan to close railway ticket offices.

Talking on Tonight with Andrew Marr, Mr Burnham said: "We will challenge the process initially. We will also move on to challenging the proposal itself if they proceed with it. Because I believe it is highly discriminatory against disabled people in particular."

Elaborating, he said: "From our own surveys here in Manchester, we know disabled people are less likely to be on line number one.

"And number two, we know that many of the ticket machines in Greater Manchester are physically inaccessible to disabled people."

On that "basis" the proposal shouldn't be allowed to go ahead, he said.

READ MORE: 'It's an attack on a human railway': Mick Lynch promises to 'mobilise' against closure of train ticket offices

Train office closures "highly discriminatory against disabled people", Mayor Andy Burnham says

On Shelagh Fogarty's show caller Jo, who said she is "severely sight impaired", explained that ticket machines are "impossible for blind people to use".

She then said the machines also don't accept "disabled persons Railcard or Freedom Pass to get the appropriate discounts".

Jo stated: "So what's happened in the past, when there's been no staff available to get help onto the train, I did sit there and an inspector came round and asked for my ticket. I produced my disabled persons Railcard [and] my Freedom Pass, [and I] explained the situation."

She told the inspector: "By the way, this is a breach of the Equalities Act 2010. The alternative arrangements need to be made.”

"I said 'I will pay at the other end if you don't mind, and if there's nobody there, it's not my problem'," the caller explained.

Shelagh asked if having people at stations is a necessity for people like Jo, to which she replied: "Absolutely.

READ MORE: Hundreds of train ticket offices across England set to close under new plans

"We need the railways, and they need to be friendly towards everyone and not just expect everyone to be able to use smart devices quickly and able-bodied."

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