DISABLED passengers will be hit the hardest by the removal of guards from Britain’s railways, Labour said yesterday.
Shadow transport minister Pat Glass accused ministers of breaking disability discrimination laws by encouraging rail firms to take guards off trains.
Southern, Britain’s worst performing rail operator, has been locked in a bitter dispute with its staff over its expansion of so-called “driver-only operation” and the de-skilling of conductors.
Rail union RMT is also currently balloting guards on the Northern and Merseyrail franchises for strike action over similar plans.
The government-commissioned McNulty report, published in 2011, recommends that train companies convert to the practice.
But speaking in the House of Commons yesterday Ms Glass said she had heard “awful stories” from disabled passengers which would “shame us all.”
“I’ve been told that in the past, disabled passengers would be able to turn up at the station and travel in the guard’s van, like a parcel,” she said.
“However unacceptable that is, we’re taking that away.”
She asked Transport Minister Paul Maynard: “Does the government accept that by encouraging train operating companies to take guards off trains, they are contributing towards a breach of the Disability Discrimination Act?”
Mr Maynard said: “I’d be very concerned at any suggestion that it is appropriate for passengers with a disability to be travelling in the guard’s van in any way, shape or form.”
The minister said the Office of Rail and Road Rail was looking into whether the issue breached companies’ license conditions