Open Letter to Transport for London

Sir,

I am writing to express my frustration and deepp sadness regarding the measures recently adopted by station staff at Victoria Underground Station, concerning provision for assisting blind passengers to and from platforms during the afternoon rush hour. I personally experienced a 35 minute delay at Victoria in August. However my grievance was strengthened by an article published today on the BBC News website, entitled “Victoria Tube station: Staff told not to help blind people”.

The quoted leaked memo suggests that between 1530 and 1930 Monday-Friday, VIPs are advised to travel to nearby stations and avoid Victoria completely. In my view, this is contrary to disability and equality legislation and also indicates a blatant contradiction of TFL’s policy, as stated on the Tube section of the transport accessibility area of the TFL website.

I would be the first to acknowledge the difficulties in sustaining passenger services during the undertaking of vital maintenance work. Nevertheless, it is totally unacceptable for London Underground to pursue this policy of undeserved and unwarranted persecution. Indeed, it is the legal and moral responsibility of station staff to accommodate the needs of all lawabiding passengers wishing to utilise its services.

I am a blind person and therefore, directly benefit from the assistance provided by tireless and thoroughly committed members of London Underground staff. The assistance I have experienced is for the most part, exemplary and highly efficient. I strongly desire this to continue. These measures at Victoria are a phoenomenal backward step. At best they are incompetence, at worst they are effectively communicating that disabled people are second class citizens. It’s utterly deplorable seeing the promotion, encouragement and prosperity of such blatant prejudice, within the very governance of what is supposedly the most sophisticated transport infrastructure in the world. I urge this matter to be addressed swiftly, with immediate priority.

Yours faithfully,

Darren Paskell

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