Call for companions’ free travel

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Angus North and Mearns MSP, Nigel Don, has called on train operators to offer free companion travel for those who are very blind, and particularly those who are deaf-blind.

During a Scottish Parliamentary debate on September 27, Mr Don made the point that “if someone required a companion to travel with them, that person would not travel free, unless they had their own reasons for travelling free. They might get a discount, depending on the local authority area that they reside in, and they might also get a substantial discount if they had an appropriate card, by dint of age or other issues.”

He continued: “I am struck by the fact that the cost of someone occupying a seat on a train that is travelling outwith commuter times is, for all practical purposes, zero... if that seat would otherwise be empty, the cost to the railway of its being occupied is, in fact, zero.

“It seems to me, therefore, that there is a clear case for saying to the railway operators that someone with severe disabilities who needs a companion to get out should be able to take that companion with them for free.”

Mr Don said that he would be raising the issue with the Minister for Transport and Veterans as well continuing dialogue with train operating companies.

He added: “Whether those folk travel far or near, the deaf, the blind and those with severe difficulties in seeing should be able to take a companion with them for free on an off-peak train.”