At 450 GB stations (17% of the 2,573), one can have no assurance that there will be a conductor OR station staff available to help disabled people on or off the train, especially if not booked in advance.
Driver only / driver controlled operation (DCO/DOO) is a problem for disabled people, because it means we can’t rely on the presence of the staff we need to travel by rail (or to travel safely / easily.)
It’s doubly problematic where stations are unstaffed, as I have experienced before. This means staff may be unavailable to help disabled people onto / off the train, for example putting ramps down for people with mobility impairments.
It sabotages spontaneity / Turn Up And Go, because one can’t rely on staff being present..
So I thought I’d look at the staffing levels of stations served by Driver Controlled / Driver Only trains, using rail industry data.
I assembled the list of stations served by DCO/DOO trains as of March 2017 using data identified in a Freedom of Information release by Network Rail, and provided by the Rail Safety and Standards Board, in Network Rail’s Working Timetable and in Network Rail’s Zoomable Rail Map.
The staffing level for each station is publicly available data provided by each station operator and combined into the Knowledgebase stations database administered by Rail Delivery Group. Each station is described as one of unstaffed, staffed full-time or staffed part-time – with the definition of “full” or “part-time” left to each company. (I also incorporated elements from the database listing whether “staff help” is available, but I think this includes itinerant assistants; also whether “customer help points” are available, and which operator manages the station.) Data was downloaded on 9th March 2018.
I combined the data into spreadsheet of GB DCO / DOO Stations and Staffing Levels, and produced these results.
Stations serving DCO / DOO trains
Two areas of the UK serve DCO / DOO trains; one surrounding Glasgow and radials, and one surrounding London, Sussex / Kent and into East Anglia.
785 (31%) of Britain’s 2,573 stations serve one or more DCO / DOO trains.
Staffing of GB train stations
Across Great Britain, 408 stations (16%) are staffed full-time, 969 (38%) are staffed part-time, and 1196 (46%) are unstaffed.
Staffing of GB stations served by DCO/DOO trains
191 (24%) of stations served by DCO / DOO trains are staffed full-time; 420 (54%) are staffed part-time; and 174 (22%) are unstaffed.
Scotrail’s Driver Controlled trains still mandate the presence of a guard to dispatch at every station. excluding Scotrail, 29% of stations are served by DCO trains
Staffing of non-Scotrail stations served by DCO/DOO trains
This means that at 450 GB stations (17% of the 2,573), one can have no assurance that there will be a conductor OR station staff available to help disabled people on or off the train.
Customer Help Points
“Customer help points” (communication points to speak to train / station operator staff) are vital where a station isn’t staffed full-time and the station is served by DCO/DOO trains such that there’s no guarantee a conductor will be present. There are 11 non-Scotrail stations that aren’t staffed full time, serve DCO/DOO trains and don’t have a help point. They are: Box Hill & Westhumble, Cooden Beach, Crawley, Drayton Park, Falmer, Hassocks, Holmwood, Littleport, Plumpton, Potters Bar and Stansted Mountfitchet.
There are significant concerns about access for disabled people to or from many stations. There may be no conductors and no station staff to help.