Last reply 6 days ago
Disabled Persons Railcard – update

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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stumbler
4 months ago

@dominics , not only unacceptable, but unforgivable too!

It’s good of you to fight our corner.


dominics
4 months ago

@stumbler – I am one of the crowd. It grips me when they are crap like this. The above was a summary for the chief ombudsman to “have a conversation” with the RDG next week.


highlander
4 months ago

@dominics
Top stuff!


stephz
4 months ago

@dominics @stumbler @highlander

I got my disabled person railcard no problem – I had emailed them to check if I qualify and just had to upload my diagnosis letter. I did it online and just ticked the PIP box – even though I don’t get PIP and uploaded the diagnosis letter – one hour later I got my code to get the railcard on the app straight away.

Unfortunately I can’t upload email or the railcard on here. I did share this on 2 MS facebook groups and a lot of them got the rail card without any issues – you can even use your Tesco points to pay for them


stephz
4 months ago

@dominics

Here is the email exchange copied – happy to forward the email if that might help your case:

Me: Message:
Hi,

I have a neurological condition that affects my walking and I was told that this would qualify me for a disabled person railcard. However I can’t seem to find a category on the application form to submit my proof. Would it be possible to submit this in a different format?

Cheers,
Stephanie

Reply 1: Hi Stephanie,

Thanks for your email about eligibility.

I’d be happy to help you with this and, so that I can look into this further, would you be so kind as to confirm the name of your condition and give a description of how it affects you?

Looking forward to your reply and thanks again for getting in touch.

Kind regards,

Kim
DPRC Email Team

Me: Hi Kim,

I have Multiple Sclerosis – it comes with a range of symptoms but i’m most affected by balance issues, walking issues (musle spasms, heavy legs), brain fog (cloudy memory, not able to think straight, trouble finding the right words) and fatigue.

Cheers,
Stephanie

Reply 2:
Hi Stephanie,

Thanks for your reply.

I’m pleased to confirm that you’d qualify for the Railcard and all that you’d need to provide as proof would be a letter from your GP or Consultant that confirms you have MS.

I hope that this helps and thanks again for getting in touch.

Kind regards,

Kim
DPRC Email Team


dominics
4 months ago

@stephz – that is excellent. What really grips me is that on the face of it their site appears to exclude MS by stating what is covered.

They were v compliant when I approached them like you did.

How many are put off by the list of criteria that does not include many conditions.

People like you and me have been a bit more forward, and they have been fine. But why if why should a benefit be available only to those who are happy to push up against the system.

Best,

Dom


dominics
4 months ago

@stephz – the email exchange is scarily similar to mine. To the point where it may even be a potted response! Will compare to see.

If so, even worse as it means they even have the policy to treat as individual claims rather than be up front on the site.

We’ll see. Not going to get all paranoid, but good to know. Thanks again.

Best,

Dom


stephz
4 months ago

@dominics I agree that the website should be clearer. I guess they hope people don’t ask questions – happy to forward the originals if that helps your case. That’s why I shared with the MS groups I’m part of – many had pointed at the eligibility criteria but did apply after I pointed out to ignore that and shared my email.

The MS Trust ran a campaign in Scotland to make getting the bus pass easier – now only requires a letter from the MS nurse and not a neurologist (https://www.mstrust.org.uk/news/people-ms-scotland-given-easier-access-free-bus-travel) maybe getting in touch with them or the MS Society campaigns team might be worth it too


strictlysoca
4 months ago

Wowowowowow. That is so awesome I try to do trains to avoid long drives but they are pricey compared with friving. I’ve got a local bus pass due to having a blue badge so now I can get one for trains.

@dominics. Well done good nerd 🤓 love your approach


dominics
4 months ago

studentandms
4 months ago

Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention. My student Railcard ran out yesterday so I followed what you said and uploaded a letter from my GP that was sent to my uni and paraphrased what you sent to them. A few hours later I had an email to say that my disabled rail card was dispatched. I’m still eligible for a student one but the disabled one allows someone else to travel with me for 1/3 off and will be helpful to show anyone who might be able to give their seat up for me on a full train. Thanks so much for sharing this. The DPRC will really help!


dominics
4 months ago

Awesome – so pleased for you.


wjgregg
4 months ago

Dear @dominics,

I have a disabled railcard myself (which I was able to obtain with much less hassle than either a “blue badge” or disabled bus pass) but I am very impressed with all the effort that you have put in, and the assistance that you have given to others.

Fair play to you.

Best wishes,

Jon


dominics
4 months ago

Thank you, Jon. I’m flattered.

It’s not over yet. I am gently exploring about getting them to change their website so it isn’t so off-putting to people.

I’ll revert when I know more.

Best,

Dominic


dominics
3 months ago

Good grief the wheels of administration turn slowly.

The Rail Ombudsman team raised it with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) on Tuesday.

The RDG has said I need to speak with their diversity/inclusion/accessibility person (bound to be reasonable as is called Dominic too!).

He isn’t free today as is trapped somewhere in the adminisphere, so we are waiting – some more – for progress! Will update when I hear more.

Best,

Dominic


smurf69
2 weeks ago

Thanks @dominics – mine has been dispatched. Like many others, I didn’t automatically meet the criteria. However, followed guidance and ticked any box and then uploaded the letter my MS Nurse had written previously to support my blue badge application. Can’t say I was totally comfortable “lying” by ticking I claimed DLA but needs must I guess u til the website is more transparent and inclusive. Thanks again for your hard work Dominic ☺️


dominics
2 weeks ago

Pleasure.


dominics
2 weeks ago

@smurf69 – you are not being dishonest in any way. They have changed the site a bit but I think it is not as good as it ought to be. There *is* a box for ‘anything else’ but it isn’t that obvious.

It was for the same reason as you that I set off against them because they told me to apply under any area. I complained that it was opaque and needed changing.

Enjoy your card. Mine has already paid for itself. Spread the word.

Now, bus passes are my target.


smurf69
2 weeks ago

@dominics – bu**er, wish I’d seen the anything else box but didn’t.
Good luck with the bus pass. I’ve got one as have a blue badge so bus pass application was fairly straightforward here. Thanks again ☺️


msmandy
1 week ago

Thanks very much for this thread, @dominics

I applied for my DPRC last week after contacting the helpline by email to check which box to tick and what evidence to provide. They said ‘tick any’, which I said I would do but it was odd to have to lie to start the process. They reassured me that I wouldn’t be lying and it was fine to select any box. I also asked what evidence to provide. This is their reply:

Reply:
“The reason why it’s not mentioned on the website is that customers who don’t meet the criteria listed can contact us to have their cases looked into further. I can assure you that you’re not lying when selecting any of the boxes, as this doesn’t have any affect in your proof being acceptable, and that section is to try and get those who haven’t already been in touch with us to not move forward with proof that is not acceptable.

A medical letter on headed paper, isn’t handwritten and confirms you have MS is something that you can provide as your proof when applying.”

I duly applied and scanned a copy of a letter from my consultant’s registrar referring me for phsyiotherapy to look at the problems walking and foot drop due to my diagnosis of relapsing-remitting MS. My application has been rejected because “The documentation supplied is not accepted to demonstrate eligibility for a Disabled Persons Railcard.”

I have contacted them with the very helpful information given above about the Equalities Act and asking them to be more specific about the evidence required, given that I supplied what I was told to by their helpline. I’ll update when I hear back.


dominics
1 week ago

@msmandu – how odd. I suspect you have encountered an over-eager neophyte.

Please drop them an email telling them to refer to Dominic Lund-Conlon (another Dominic, their boss)

No one and has had that response.

Best,

Dom


highlander
1 week ago

@msmandy
The post above is for you, Dominic spelt your name incorrectly which is very unlike him….😀
Just proves he is just human… who’d have guessed 😀


msmandy
1 week ago

Thanks, @highlander! And @dominics for the further advice.


dominics
1 week ago

@highlander no quarter given eh? I am sitting in Western Canada, very jet-lagged and I have a delightful full-on cold to start my hols with. Something I studiously avoided all winter. Having had to sell a kidney to pay for air tickets I am being punished with this ghastly affliction. Pah.

And yes: I do know where sympathy is located in the dictionary.


msmandy
6 days ago

Here’s the reply I got this morning.

“Hi Amanda,

Thank you for your email about applying for a Railcard.

Can you please supply a doctors/consultant letter confirming your disability and how it affect your mobility when traveling and I can have my manager look into this for you?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,
Natasha
DPRC Email Team”

It seems they want a specific letter from my consultant (hahahaha) or GP to them, not any amount of letters from my medical team to me discussing my diagnosis (which should be enough) and how it affects my ‘mobility’ while travelling. I would have to pay for a GP letter and don’t understand why evidence I have confirming I have MS isn’t enough, especially when it confirms progressive weakness in my left leg. I’m so tired of jumping through hoops.


dominics
6 days ago

Usually we have accrued various Doctor’s letters over time. Your nurse ought to understand and write you one on behalf of the consultant.

My GP, though he could, never charges me for things like that. Bit mean of them!


msmandy
6 days ago

Has everyone here who’s been successful got a letter written specifically for this?


dominics
6 days ago

I just have general diagnosis confirmation letters that I have accrued over time.

Not sure the length of time of your Dx. For me: 26y!

I am really struggling to understand why they are being difficult if you have submitted evidence. PM me with your email so we can do this off-line and I’ll give the other Dominic a prod.

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