Unstaffed Dart stations and disabled rail users

 Lansdowne Road Dart station

Lansdowne Road Dart station

 

Sir, – Irish Rail intend to unstaff all Dart stations from Greystones to Connolly, with the exception of Bray, Dalkey, Dún Laoghaire, Lansdowne Road and Connolly itself.

Sydney Parade, serving St Vincent’s hospital, through which many sick, elderly or wheelchair users pass, will not have an Irish Rail worker on site.

Nor will Sandymount, which serves the Enable Ireland premises, which houses a school for disabled children, a hydrotherapy pool, and Seattech, a wheelchair and seating assessment centre where many wheelchair users go to be fitted for wheelchairs and maintenance undertaken. This site is a hugely busy site for wheelchair users of all ages.

The general public had no say in any of this. It was kept very quiet. Wheelchair users will be seriously affected as Irish Rail staff are expected to move between stations to assist wheelchair users on and off a Dart.

With so few stations staffed, I foresee chaos for the wheelchair-using traveller.

Already Irish Rail in its information on its website to disabled travellers state they will “try” to assist the wheelchair-using traveller. That little word “try” is the “get-out” for not actually doing it at all times.

I see danger as well, with well-meaning passengers without training trying to get the ramps and assist powered-wheelchair users, or worse, to grab a wheelchair to hoist it and its passenger bodily off the train.

Ordinary untrained commuters are already bridging the gap of the lack of trained “assistance” to disabled wheelchair users, and it is alarming.

Arriving at a station, ordinary commuters can reasonably expect to board and go their way.

Wheelchair users must already plan every single journey, both ways.

Unstaffed stations will mean a significant amount of wheelchair using travellers will not be able to travel freely or when they wish.

We call on Irish Rail and Minister for Transport Shane Ross to reverse this decision and give us true accessibility, equality and freedom to travel as we wish, like everyone else. It is a human rights issue. – Yours, etc,

Dr MARGARET KENNEDY,

Wheelchair Rights Ireland,

Greystones, Co Wicklow.