Increase in hate crime against disabled rail users

New figures published by the Department for Transport have shown that hate crimes toward disabled people traveling on the rail network have risen by 24% in the last three years.

There are calls for improved staffing levels and support at stations to protect disabled and vulnerable passengers by campaigners. The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) says its shocked saying it is a ‘wake-up call’

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “The figures show we have a growing problem with hate crimes toward disabled people on our railways. It is frankly disgraceful that disabled people, who already take far fewer trips by rail, are being increasingly subjected to hate crimes when they do travel.

“If we’re going to build back better after the pandemic so that disabled passengers feel safe to travel and the rail network is truly accessible, we need to stop the profit-driven cost-cutting and put more trained and skilled human beings back on our trains and at stations.”

The struggle for better support, services and staffing for disables passengers has been a long and ongoing phenomenon. In Europe there has been much debate in regards to legislation whether passengers for example can “turn up and go”.

Rather than follow the tedious present process of informing services of one’s trip 48 hours before, so staff can be prepared to assist those in need.

Surveys of disabled passengers show that action to reduce staffing levels makes them less likely to travel by train (2), while research commissioned by the Department itself has revealed that disabled passengers ‘report feeling vulnerable without on-board assistance being available’ and believe that more staff on trains and at stations are the most important measures that could be taken to make them feel safer. (3)

Unions and campaigners now look to push services on how this can be addressed with the government roadmap out of lockdown well and truly on the way. 

  1. The DfT figures were published here:
  2. Research published in 2013 showed that 81% of disabled passengers thought reducing staff on trains and stations would make it more difficult for them to travel. - Survation | Action For Rail Survey Highlights Plight of Disabled Rail Passengers | Survation
  3. The report commissioned by the DfT from Steer Group and completed in 2019 is titled ‘Effects of modes of train operations on passengers with disabilities’, Steer Group for the DfT, September 2019. The relevant passages are on pp. 21-26. This is covered in more detail here: RMT says ‘Scrap Driver Only Operation’ - rmt



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