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Greedy train companies cancel free assistance to the disabled

2 January 2012

Most private train companies have banned their booking office staff providing free assistance to disabled people who need help planning their journey, the TSSA union revealed today.

Disabled people can no longer get direct help at stations but have been told to ring 0845 numbers instead and book by phone, said union leader Manuel Cortes.

"It is simply disgraceful that they are charging the most vulnerable people in the land for a service that should be free," said the union general secretary.

"Previously our booking office members were only too willing to spend as long as it took helping the disabled plan what can be quite complicated journeys, given they have to met at each stage of their journey.

"Now that has all been stopped by Scrooge bosses. Ordinary passengers are used to being ripped off by these profit chasing cowboys but even they will be shocked by this latest cynical penny pinching move."

He is writing to ATOC asking for all train operating companies to provide 0800 free numbers for this service. Calls to 0845 numbers cost the disabled 2.04p a minute.

"A 15 minute call costs over 30p which doesn't sound much if you are a multi millionaire like Virgin owners Sir Richard Branson and Sir Brian Souter," added the general secretary.

"But if you are living on disability benefits it is an additional cost which the most vulnerable should simply not be asked to pay by these modern day plutocrats."

He said 12 out of the 21 private train operators were charging for the new phone service to the disabled, including Virgin and Boris Johnson's London Overground.

"The London Mayor should be doing all he can to help the disabled, not hinder them with a service he should be willing to provide for nothing."

Editor's Note:

The ten other companies charging for this service are: Arriva Trains Wales, c2c, Chiltern Railways, Cross Country, East Coast main line, East Midlands Trains, Grand Central, Hull Trains, Merseyrail, and Northern. ends

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