An accessible rail network in Scotland would have to wait for decades for disabled rail passengers, a charity has warned.
Disability charity Leonard Cheshire is failing to make Scotland’s stations step-free, reporting that 46% of Scotland’s stations are unavailable to people with disabilities.
The charity estimates that unless development improves, the UK’s rail network will not be completely available until 2070.
In anticipation of the travel boom, ScotRail offers students a discount to get home for Christmas.
In Scotland, according to the charity’s report, only three stations – Breich, Dalwhinnie and Robroyston – have been converted into step-free stations in the past year.
“These findings highlight the need for investment to ensure our rail network fully meets the needs of people with disabilities,” said Stuart Robertson, director of Leonard Cheshire in Scotland.
It’s a basic question of equality, made all the more important for the near future as we face an economic crisis.
“We’ve shown a clear link between accessible rail and job opportunities for disabled people that will boost the economy and improve lives.”
A fully open rail network for the job opportunities of people with disabilities will be “transformative” and help tens of thousands find jobs, the charity says.
They say, as part of the response to the coronavirus outbreak, ensuring step-free connectivity to all stations must be a priority.
A spokesperson for Transport Scotland said the Scottish government is committed to expanding connectivity beyond the UK-wide program to stations.
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Station accessibility is the preserve of the UK government, the spokesperson said, and while we work closely with the Department of Transportation to agree on goals, the ultimate decision rests with them.
That’s why we continue to press for a complete devolution of rail power so that Scottish rail users can better be supported with it.
Our goal is for all people with disabilities to be able to travel with the same rights, choice, dignity and opportunity as other citizens.
“Over the course of this rail funding period (2019-2024) we will deliver step-free access at Anniesland, Croy, Dumfries, Johnstone, Port Glasgow and Uddingston.
“If there is no disabled access at a particular station, passengers can arrange cab transport with ScotRail to/from the nearest manned station.”