Gordon has written to Northern Rail’s Interim Accessibility and Integration Manager Phil Crow, to put pressure on the company to make sure ALL replacement buses during the closure of the Blackpool to Preston line at weekends, are compliant for disabled people. You can read it in full below:
Dear Mr Crow
I have seen the exchange of correspondence you have had with Stephen Brookes about the arrangements Northern are making for replacement bus services on routes in and out of Blackpool as from this coming Sunday to cover for the line closure for Network Rail Sunday works over the next two months.
I have read your replies carefully and I would be grateful if you would clarify urgently whether Northern will be providing a full bus accessibility service for my Blackpool constituents and others with mobility and disability issues travelling into Blackpool from Preston and on other Northern routes into both Blackpool North and South stations on those Sundays.
The replies you have given so far seem ambiguous – I am of course well aware that the Blackpool Transport buses you have contracted for will be as previously fully accessible. But there was no clarity about what you referred to as ‘stand by coaches’ being accessible by people with disability or mobility issues.
Can you therefore assure me that ALL the replacement bus and coach services which you will be using on these Sundays will be complying as they should with DDA requirements on the Blackpool routes I have mentioned. If you have not contracted with Blackpool Transport fully for all the services you may need , what efforts have Northern made to secure that buses and coaches supplied to any shortfall are accessible ?
What does ‘standby’ actually mean? I sincerely hope it does not mean that the much older coaches that you have used on previous occasions out of Preston to Blackpool and sometimes from Blackpool on routes out , which I have had personal experience of as I use Northern trains week by week when coming from Parliament and elsewhere , are going to be rolled out for use. They are virtually inaccessible with their steep steps up to most people with mobility issues and certainly not DDA compliant.
Passengers planning or intending to use your replacement bus services this Sunday and succeeding ones need urgent clarity on this .I would therefore appreciate an urgent response in the next 24 hours on this. Otherwise I shall have to conclude that Northern is in breach of its obligations on DDA and will raise the matter in Parliament when we resume after the Christmas recess next week.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Gordon Marsden – Member of Parliament for Blackpool South