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Please give up your seat – it’s a priority

Please give up your seat – it’s a priority

Train company Southern launches a Priority Seat Card for people with disabilities, expectant mothers, elderly passengers or those carrying infants

Southern has launched an industry leading Priority Seat Card following a successful six-month trial in which around 160 Southern passengers took part. The feedback was so positive, that Southern decided it was worthwhile making the initiative permanent, making it the first train operator in the country to have such a card.

Southern Managing Director Chris Burchell launches the network wide Priority Seat scheme

Southern trains have specially designated priority seats which can be used by anyone at any time, but should be given up if they’re needed by people with disabilities, expectant mothers, elderly passengers or those carrying infants.

The need for a seat may not be obvious as some people may have a hidden disability or be in the early stages of pregnancy. It takes courage to ask someone to give up their seat and not everyone is comfortable doing it, especially when an explanation of why is sometimes needed. The new Priority Seat card avoids the embarrassment of explaining why.

Commenting on the new card, Southern passenger Emma Freeborn said: “I am a commuter with secondary breast cancer in my bones and I find it near to impossible to stand for the journey. It's not obvious that I need a seat and I sometimes find it difficult to explain to people why they should give up their seat for me. The priority card gives me the endorsement I need to ensure I can carry on working in the job I love and make my journey more manageable. Good on Southern, it’s a great scheme and clearly a train company who care about the needs of their passengers.”

She added:” It is great that Southern have launched the priority seat card to ensure passengers with disabilities, such as me, can get support in finding a seat on busy trains."

Another passenger who has mobility problems but didn’t want to be identified said: “It’s difficult to sum up the huge difference that the card has made to my life. It’s with incredible relief now that I can board my normal train and I can get a seat and get to work on time. I’m so grateful as the card has changed everything for me.”

Station poster showing a woman holding up her Priority Seat card

Passenger Focus chief executive, Anthony Smith, said: “This is good news for passengers, especially for those whose disability is not obvious. The Priority Seat Card is a scheme that we support and is an approach that we would urge other train companies to introduce.”

Southern’s Managing Director, Chris Burchell said: “I am delighted with the success of the trial. The card has enabled many of our passengers to travel in comfort because of the card and now that we have launched it on a permanent basis, I’m sure that many more will be able to take advantage of the card in the coming years.”

The new Priority Seat card will be available upon application, and anyone who qualifies for a card can use it on any Southern service. Information about the scheme is contained on posters and in leaflets at stations, and on Southern’s website.