‘Appalling’: Disabled Scots unable to use half Scotland’s train stations

Alasdair Clark

Almost half of Scotland’s train stations are inaccessible to many disabled people 

  • 47 per cent of train stations in Scotland have no step free access
  • UK Government could miss accessibility target by up to 40 years
  • Rail union also criticised staff cuts by Abellio as impacting disabled passengers

DISABLED SCOTS could have trouble accessing almost half of the country’s train stations, with a new report showing 47 per cent of stations do not have step free access.

A report by the disability charity Leonard Cheshire has estimated that at least 47 per cent of railway stations across Scotland have no step free access.

The situation means many disabled travellers are excluded from end to end journeys, forced to either not use Scotland’s rail system or use stations which are inconvenient.

Leonard Cheshire say new legislation is needed to ensure all stations are step-free by 2030, with all journeys fully accessible. 

Rail accessibility is a reserved matter, and a Network Rail spokesperson said in a statement that many train stations were built in the Victoria period: “We are working closely with government to improve access across the railway, upgrading older stations and ensuring all new ones are fully accessible.”

‘I had to travel to Prestwick which is about four stations away. It added an extra hour on to the journey.” Danelle, rail user

Research by the charity suggests the UK Government will miss its 2030 target to make all rail journeys accessible by 40 years at the current rate. 

Danielle, who lives in Irvine, said: “I rely on public transport and if I am going shopping or to work it has a bigger impact on my life if it doesn’t run properly. 

“On a recent journey I got to Irvine and there was no one to help me get off the train, instead I had to travel to Prestwick which is about four stations away. It added an extra hour on to the journey.”

Stuart Robertson, director of Leonard Cheshire in Scotland, said: “Our research demonstrates that the current rail network is excluding many disabled people from making journeys which others take for granted.

“As families look to enjoy the festive season together, accessibility issues will add unnecessary stress to disabled travellers who negotiate a sub-standard network every day. We call on the UK Government to prioritise the acceleration of the ‘Access for All’ funding programme to modernise train stations, so disabled people can enjoy the life opportunities provided through accessible rail travel.”

Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association [TSSA] general secretary Manuel Cortes said the Scottish Government’s transport secretary should stand up for disabled passengers.

“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.

Read more: ‘This is a crisis of the Company’s own making’: TSSA announces industrial action in stand-off with ScotRail

“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.

“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,” Cortes told CommonSpace. 

Images courtesy of: CA850 and Leonard Cheshire

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