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Northern Rail apologise after mobility scooter mishap

September 5, 2018 6:42 PM
Originally published by LDDA - The Liberal Democrat Disability Association

Northern Rail has apologised after a passenger who is disabled was told she could not travel with her mobility scooter despite being sold a ticket. The 31-year-old, who has autism and the debilitating Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, filmed her experience on board a train on her way to a wedding on Thursday.

Northern Rail said it was investigating and apologised for the "distress". The government said it expected train firms "to do everything possible to make travel easy for disabled people". On social media, the passenger, who uses the handle AgonyAutie, said she was recovering after minor surgery and struggles to walk.

She said online that rail staff sold her a ticket "face-to-face at the office". "You booked me assistance and had staff with ramps putting me on the trains.

"When we changed connection, suddenly we were not allowed to travel! And after being assisted on to the train by Northern Rail staff, were told by the train guard he would not move the train with us on board."

A video shows the passenger in distress while talking to railway staff, who eventually allowed her to continue her journey. She said: "Wonderful members of the public got involved and after 15 minutes standstill, the train moved".

A Northern Rail spokesman said: "We are aware of the issue regarding the customer travelling with a mobility scooter and can only apologise to her for her unacceptable experience travelling with Northern and the distress it caused. We are currently investigating the incident and will be speaking to all involved, including the customer, as soon as possible."

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said it was "right" for Northern Rail to apologise, adding: "It is vital that all passengers, including disabled passengers, can feel confident when using public transport and train companies have a legal obligation to provide the same access to disabled people."

She said opportunities had "improved" since 2010 but there was "still more to do to improve transport accessibility".

AgonyAutie's experience was shared online by the comedian Tanyalee Davis, who criticised Great Western Railway in July after being "harassed and humiliated" for using a disabled space for her mobility scooter. The operator admitted it "got it wrong" and that she "should not have been asked to move".

What are the rules for mobility scooters on trains?

  • Each company sets its own rules for carrying scooters so the advice is to check
  • Many operators will carry non-folded mobility scooters - usually the smaller, lighter and more manoeuvrable types - but they may not let you take them on all trains or routes
  • Some train companies will only carry your scooter if you hold a scooter permit issued by them
  • Other operators will convey only your scooter if it is folded and placed in the luggage rack
  • In many cases, staff will not lift them into or out of the train - they expect the user or their companion to do this
  • Operators often expect users to reserve a space for the scooter, usually with at least 24 hours' notice
  • The user may also have to transfer to a fixed seat

Source: Transport Focus Watchdog