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Tom Brake

Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington



January 13, 2005 1:56 PM

The case of a woman who lost her baby after a commuter on a packed train pushed into her has prompted her Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake and Liberal Democrat Transport spokesman John Thurso to put forward an amendment to the Railways Bill which encourages passengers to be more considerate to vulnerable passengers and also seeks to raise awareness of priority seating on trains. The amendment is due to be debated on Thursday 13 January or Tuesday 18 January (subject to parliamentary timetable, but Tuesday is the more likely time).

Mr Brake is hoping that the amendment to the Railways Bill currently before Parliament, if it becomes law, will raise the public's awareness of the special needs of vulnerable passengers.

Mr Brake's constituent Janice Norman was travelling on a train when she was 25 weeks pregnant with her first child. On the crowded train, Ms Norman could not get a seat and was pushed in the stomach by another commuter trying to move through the carriage. She went to hospital for a check-up that night and was told she was fine.

But a month later she had to have an emergency caesarean and her baby died five days later. A post mortem suggested the baby's growth might have been affected by a trauma to the baby at 25 weeks.

Mr Brake said,

"It is impossible to legislate to make commuters show consideration for fellow passengers, but we can stress the importance of vacating seats in favour of vulnerable passengers. The tragedy that befell Janice Norman could have been avoided and I hope this legislation will help vulnerable passengers on crowded trains get the seat deserve."

He added,

"The focus should be on commuters being considerate. But the long-term solution is to have a transport system that's not vastly overcrowded."

The amendment to the Railways Bill reads:

Awareness of vulnerable passengers

John Thurso

Dr John Pugh

To move the following Clause:-

'The Secretary of State shall instruct the Rail Passengers Council (RPC) and the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) to launch a campaign to encourage passengers to be more considerate to vulnerable passengers and raise awareness of priority seating.'