Making tracks: Pregnant, elderly and disabled people now allowed in first class for free on Southern Rail trains

Disabled, elderly and pregnant passengers will now be allowed to sit in first class on Southern Rail trains when standard class is full.

The new initiative was given the go ahead by passenger services director, Alex Foulds, and should be in practice by the end of the month.

The rail service, operated by Govia Thameslink Railway, will instruct their conductors to offer the first class seats to those less able to stand.

“We already offer baby on board badges as well as a special priority card to give access to the priority seating in standard class for expectant mums, people with disabilities, mothers and young children, the elderly and infirm,” said a GTR spokesperson.

“These priority seats in standard class are the preferred option and our on-board staff are instructed to help pregnant and disabled passengers access these seats if necessary.

“However, if it is not possible to reach these seats, we are reminding our on board staff to exercise leniency as appropriate to pregnant and disabled passengers with priority cards sitting in first class.”

Southern Rail introduced a priority card a year ago to encourage passengers in standard class seating to give up their seats to elderly, disabled and pregnant passengers— this will now be accepted in first class too.

Southern Rail is often heavily criticised for its services, not least from Streatham MP, Chuka Umunna.

The call for Southern to adopt this procedure came from a resident’s request at a public meeting on rail services hosted by Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell last week.

The concerned husband told of when his wife was asked to move from the first class seat she was occupying even though there was no standard seating available.

Image courtesy of Joshua Brown, with thanks

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