§ Mr. Norman
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has received from the Strategic Rail Authority concerning the ability of railway stations to conform to the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
§ Mr. McNulty
The SRA is considering how best to prioritise a programme of works to meet the accessibility requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act and will be consulting on draft criteria this year.220W
§ Mr. Wiggin
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of whether the Strategic Rail Authority will be liable for prosecution if railways do not have disabled access by the required date in 2004.
§ Mr. McNulty
With effect from 1 October 2004, providers of services will be under new duties to take reasonable steps to ensure that a disabled person can make use of a service, pursuant to section 21(2)(a)-(c) of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
Section 19(2)(b) of the Act defines a provider of services as being a person concerned with the provision in the United Kingdom of services to the public or a section of the public. Interpretation is a matter for the courts, but the Strategic Rail Authority's assessment is that the section 21 duties will apply to train operating companies that lease stations, and to Network Rail in respect of the stations it operates itself.
The SRA is working with the rail industry and disabled people to ensure a more accessible transport network, with the greatest possible choice for disabled people within the available resources.