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Wheelchair User Says Southern Rail Staff Refused To Help Her Because Train Was Running Late

May 10, 2017

A disabled mum in a wheelchair has accused Southern Rail of refusing to help her board a train and even tricking her because they were running late.

Blasting bosses of the embattled rail operator, Rebecca Bartholomew, 37, said a ticket inspector would not help because the service was three minutes behind schedule.

As the train pulled away, the mum of one was left stranded on the platform and she missed a hospital appointment.

She claimed the inspector told her it was “Southern Rail policy” not to help the disabled if a train was running late .

Staff were only prepared to help her if there was time for them to “call ahead and book assistance”, she said the inspector told her.

She said: “I am furious that Southern Rail are punishing me because I am disabled.

“It is not my fault that the train was delayed yet I am the one who has suffered and missed my hospital appointment.”

Rebecca arrived 25 minutes early at Chichester train station, West Sussex, on Wednesday to catch the train for a hospital appointment in Brighton, 33 miles away.

When the train arrived, she put her leg in the door to try and board the train but claims a cruel inspector tricked her after promising to help.

She said he asked her to move her leg but when she did so he closed the doors and told Rebecca to wait for the next train, leaving her embarrassed and patronised.

The mum then complained to a customer service assistant who turned her away with a pamphlet.

Rebecca, from Pagham, West Sussex, said: “I stuck my leg in the door so that they know I need some assistance, but when the inspector came he said he would help me if I moved my leg.

“As soon as I took my leg out, the doors closed and he said that I needed to call ahead and book assistance.”

Southern Rail have been approached for a comment.

In 2015, Rebecca suffered a stroke when an artery at the back of her neck split and she collapsed at home following weeks of migraines.

She was rushed to Brighton General Hospital where it took doctors three days to find the bleed on her brain and she survived despite just a 20 per cent survival rate.

Following surgery Rebecca spent a month in Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, before returning home.

She said: “I suffered three weeks of migraines before I collapsed at home and my five-year-old had to call me an ambulance.

“I was rushed to Brighton General where it took three days to find the bleed on my brain.

“I was given a 20 per cent chance of survival, so luckily I made it through but the damage had already been done and I was paralysed in the right side of my body.”

“I was a hugely independent person before I had my stroke and it was a real struggle to come to terms with what had happened.”

She added: “I understand that Southern Rail have been in the press about being late all of the time, but I’m sure people would understand if it was to help a disabled passenger on board.

“This treatment is really wrong and I want people to be aware of what they’re doing.

“I do have my pride, but I feel so embarrassed by what happened I don’t feel as if I can go back to the station.

“My disability shouldn’t make my disability feel less worthy to get transport or do basic things in life and I want train companies to know that.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    May 10, 2017 7:36 am

    I am a frequent train user, but do not normally use Southern. It is probably worth contacting Transport for All based in London. Our legal rights on trains are very unclear and depend on the age of the train. I think Southern have just stopped an agreement to turn up and go at their London stations, and manysmaller ones are still not accessible.

    This should not have happened , but to try to prevent further issues, book assistance 24 hours ahead, no we shoudn’t have to, and it does not guarentee that help will be given, but it does give you some come back, not that we always know what train we need to catch after hospital appointments. I have found that engaging with other people boarding can be useful when assistance is not forthcoming! I can manage to crawl on boarrd , pulling my wheelchair behind me when I have had the odd issue, but other passengers have helped me stop trains leaving without me and created a scene on my behalf.
    Normally I would say to contact your MP,
    When will we be able to use public transprt like other passengers?

  2. May 10, 2017 3:57 pm tell the ceo you are taking the company to court they will brick it. For anything like this I carry a dictaphone and would have recorded it. Contact anyone that will listen papers, MP, news, radio, This person who stoped you boarding should be sacked, he would find getting any job serving the public would be out of his league, if he then gave the train company as a reference.

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