Disabled passengers and parents with buggies stranded as Tube lift closures soar

An article in the Evening Standard has highlighted how disabled passengers and parents are being hit by lift closures on London Underground.

HOLT believes that ticket office closures and staffing cuts will exacerbate an already-difficult situation for passengers who need particular support or assistance to travel. We also believe that outsourcing of lift maintenance on many stations to private contractors, rather than having lifts maintained by LU’s in-house engineers, is another example of London Underground putting profit before service and workers’ rights.

The text of the article is below.

Disability campaigners today condemned an “alarming” rise in the number of times lifts on the Underground have been out of action.

The lifts were closed for 734 hours last year — up from 476 hours in 2013 and more than double the 319 hours they were closed for in 2012, according to data released under Freedom of Information requests.

Wheelchair users and parents with buggies rely on the lifts to use the Tube network. Critics called for urgent action, branding the worsening problem a disgrace.

They also warned that planned reductions in staff may exacerbate the issue because a key reason given for closures was a lack of workers trained to deal with technical faults.

Mohammed Mohsan Ali, of campaign group Transport for All, said it was “alarming news” for disabled Tube users.

He added: “With large sections of the Tube network inaccessible, broken lifts are an additional frustration, ruining plans and adding considerably to our journey times. It’s unacceptable that our freedom to travel is being undermined in this way.”

The data shows that 12 lift closures lasted for more than 20 hours. Stations with the highest frequency of closures were Wood Lane, Southfields, West Brompton and Golders Green.

Campaigners also complained that information about closures was not convenient enough to access.

Lib-DemLondon Assembly transport spokeswoman Caroline Pidgeon said: “It is a disgrace that London Underground is effectively denying access to the Tube for many disabled people and others who rely on using a lift, simply due to a lack of trained staff.”

But London Underground claimed reliability is “very good” with lifts available for 99 per cent of scheduled hours during 2013/14.

Chief Operating Officer Steve Griffiths said: “In some circumstances, for example where a member of staff is called away to attend an incident elsewhere, the lift must be taken out of service. We always advertise this immediately and work to restore service as quickly as possible.”

‘They don’t realise importance of making stations accessible’

Eleanor Lisney, a wheelchair user who lives in North Greenwich, has had problems with lifts three times in the last year.

The worst incident occurred at Westminster. She said: “It was more frightening because it was unexpected. My chair was low on battery and I was scared that I may not have enough power to get home.

“I can’t just trundle off to Waterloo and it’s very hard to get a taxi. You could become stuck.

“Luckily a friend went in and found a member of staff, who took me around a back way to a lift that was only used by workers.”

Ms Lisney, 56, added: “The London Bridge lift for the Jubilee Line is closed until August. It’s really annoying because I like going to Borough Market.”

Lisney, who is studying for her PhD, said: “It feels like sometimes they don’t realise the importance of making the Tube accessible.

“It’s hard enough that so many stations are not step-free. But when the accessible ones are also put out of action it makes life very difficult.”


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