We are getting somewhere:
I spoke to the Rail Ombudsman just to ask for help about who to talk to they were *very* keen to get involved.
If you are interested then read on. I have enclosed my summary for the ombudsman. It is pretty dull if you aren’t thinking about a Disabled Persons Railcard. The bullet points have been lost by the restrictive forum formatting – one size for everything!
(Ed Vaizey MP – cc’d in as an FYI gesture. I have this at the moment but it is sometimes quite effective to invoke one’s MP. Am sure you have your hands quite full at the moment!)
– Thank you for offering to help. As promised, a summary:
– DPR (Disabled Persons Railcard), ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies) – now defunct, RDG (Rail Delivery Group), MS (Multiple Sclerosis)
-All railcards come under the umbrella of https://www.railcard.co.uk/, and the various subsites are all just parts of this one main site
-In October 2016 the old ATOC was fully merged into the umbrella group that came out of the McNulty Report. The RDC (rail delivery group) https://www.raildeliverygroup.com/about-us.html
-The fact that the RDG is ultimately responsible for Railcards is not obvious on their site. It is there but you have to stumble upon it under Our Services – About My Journey, it is then listed here – https://www.raildeliverygroup.com/our-services/about-my-journey.html
-To add to that, once eventually discovered it doesn’t even list the DPR as a railcard option.
-The DPR does not list MS, or many other defined disabilities ( Equalities Act 2010 Point 1B
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/6) on its eligibility criteria page – https://www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk/are-you-eligible/
-MS is a specified condition in the Equalities Act
-Point 29 of the Act deals expressly with discrimination relating to the provision of services – presumably providing a Disabled Persons Railcard does not mean that the provider has an exemption to define disability how they see fit as opposed to the definition in the Act
– Schedule 3 – Services and public functions: Exceptions, makes no mention of the provision of a benefit that can be restricted to certain categories of disabled as defined by the service provider.
– I raised this apparent oversight in an email and they were very fast to concur that I did indeed qualify and was entitled to a DPR
– I duly provided the proof from my GP and was told to apply online
– I went back and there is not even an ‘Other’ option, none of the apparent eligibility criteria applied so I asked again how to apply
– I was breezily told to pick any category, upload my evidence and they would deal with it accordingly
– I did and was confirmed the next day
When raised the discrepancy and the fact I had to lie effectively to apply they just brushed it all away
– I have an interesting email thread and Twitter exchange if you wish to see them.
That pretty much sums up where we are. An ‘I’m alright, Jack’ attitude would see me happy with my card. However, in my mind, they know they are actively discouraging any entitled people by being so opaque. Many people merely accept what they see and as a result, the Rail Companies profit from this. This is unacceptable. If I am being charitable, it is an oversight though I am not entirely convinced that this is the case.
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