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Disabled MPs Pledge No Repeat Of Paralympian’s Train Toilet Experience

January 9, 2017

A government minister has pledged that no other disabled traveller should go through what wheelchair user Anne Wafula Strike experienced when she was forced to wet herself on a train because there was no working accessible toilet.

The rail minister, Paul Maynard, told Wafula Strike through her MP, Robert Halfon, that government officials are meeting with CrossCountry, the rail company involved. They want to ensure that measures are in place to prevent anyone else having a similar experience to the Paralympian’s.

“We are committed to ensuring no passenger has to go through this again,” Maynard said. “I am dismayed at the terrible experience that Wafula Strike had while travelling from Nuneaton to Harlow in December.

“She is right to bring this matter to the Department [for Transport’s] attention and I applaud her bravery for speaking openly about her experience.

“I have asked officials to meet with the franchise operator, CrossCountry trains, and discuss the remedial procedures they intend to put in place to ensure that no other disabled passenger experiences such humiliating circumstances while travelling with them. This will include reviewing their arrangements for the maintenance of the onboard accessible toilet.

“I will also arrange for the lessons learned from this event to be shared with Rail Delivery Group, to inform how the existing passenger assist service may be improved to deal with such circumstances, and the Office of Rail and Road, which monitors train operating companies’ disabled people’s protection policies.”

Wafula Strike said the response from the government, transport and disability organisations, and members of the public had been overwhelming since the Guardian revealed her distressing experience earlier this week.

“I really do believe that a change is going to come on the issue of disabled access,” she said.

She said she had been asked if she was going to call for a boycott of CrossCountry and other transport services that fail over the facilities they are obliged by law to provide for disabled people.

“I do not want to call for a boycott, quite the opposite,” she said. “I want to encourage more disabled people to get out and about, to use transport and other services, and to hold companies and businesses to account. If we hide away, change will not come.”

But Wafula Strike said CrossCountry had not contacted her directly.

“They are speaking to me through the media, but they should have picked up the phone to me to apologise,” she said.

There was very little policing of the Equality Act 2010 in terms of ensuring that the legal rights afforded to disabled people were adhered to, she said. “As disabled people, it is left to us to police this legislation.

“I am encouraged by the fact that this week, so many disabled people have spoken up, whereas before they said they feared doing so. As people with disabilities, we don’t want sympathy, we just want to be given equal opportunities,” she said.

“When the system is slacking, we need to remind people what is happening. It should not just be a person in a high position deciding when to repair the broken disabled toilet on the train. We need to monitor things, and ensure that adaptations are in place and working so that we can contribute to society.”

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2017 12:11 pm

    Reblogged this on campertessblog.

  2. January 9, 2017 12:59 pm

    National travel coaches also need to take this into account.i havent dared travel with them for the last 1-years after a similar incident took place because the person booked to help me at my change over in Birmingham never materialised. that was my only chance of getting to a loo i could cope with as the coach ones are too small for disabled passengers to use.i stopped going anywhere unless local after that experience unless i could get someone to take me by car..

  3. January 9, 2017 1:00 pm

    thats 10years not 1

  4. falconius68 permalink
    January 9, 2017 3:42 pm

    Shame Crossrail with a journey time of up to 141 minutes, and every station being for once fully accessible, will have no toilets on any of the trains ordered by the government.

  5. Sarah permalink
    January 9, 2017 3:55 pm

    People like Anne do need access to a working disabled loo, and it is great that people on high are listening to her, when they do not take any notice of the rest of us when we complain, however lets hope Cross Country and other train providers do not simply try to stop all of us from boarding when the disabled toilet is not working, as has happened to me several times in the past, I now crawl onboard if they send the assistance and ramp away. It is vital that we are told, but it should be up to the individual wheelchair user to decide whether they travel or not. With so few wheelchair spaces on trains there is no guarentee when you will next get on a train, and connections and further assistance will not be in place. I have to always assume no working toilet,as is often the case. We all have different methods of coping due to our underlying conditions. A train company should not assume our individual toilet needs. Dignity at station toilets is not certain. Many only have the Radar Key Lock, so anybody with a key can open the door whilst you are in! which has happened to me several times.

    Many trains do not currently need to meet the Equality Act and the previous DDA due to their age, with the date put back at least once. The ones on the route to Stansted will probably have an exemption from meeting full access requirements, and often access to the toilet is blocked by bikes padlocked to a bar opposite. Even the wheelchair spaces have abar for bikes.and often taken up by them.

    Yes we want working useable loos, and train travel is always easier when there is a working disabled loo. The loos on Cross Country Trains from Scotland to Cornwall are frequently out of order. The tank no doubt can’t cope. Unlike land based Disabled loos, these are a facility for all passengers hence the problem of frequently out of order loos. Most of these trains are of an age to meet full access requirements, but may have some excemptions. There is at least one old HSTon this route but it has accessable loos and wheelchair spaces.
    Our legal rights are currently limited on older trains. Many are over 30 years old. Dignity is still a few years away and lets hope the newer trains have bigger sewage tanks.

    On Virgin East Coast trains the electric ones currently have good disabled loo facilities and not ususally out of order, though the trains themselves often break down. Their old HST have a small disabled loo in standard class but none in the first class wheelchair space, apart from the odd old EMT HSTs which have the small disabled loo in First, but not next to the standard space. Pity that the recent refit did not think to improve disabled toilet facilities next to the precious wheelchair spaces. As well as other passengers plush leaver seats with virgin logo. Some of theses trains travel from London to Inverness or Aberdeen, so pity any wheelchair user trying to make the whole journey without a loo! I did complain to Virgin, who then tried to stop the wheelchair spaces from being used at all, with no replacement and a 2 year wait for new trains. These trains are excempt from full access requirments.
    Many train companies are applying for some excemption from the full access requirements that may affect people with other impairments. On new trains. It is unclear whether there is an public consultation or iinput from disabled train users when the exemptions are given

    Good Luck to Anne, others have tried! I do prefer a working loo to improvisation!

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