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Anne Wafula Strike Gets Compensation After Train Toilet Incident

November 22, 2017

Paralympian athlete Anne Wafula Strike has won a financial settlement from CrossCountry trains after she was forced to wet herself on a rail journey because the accessible toilet was not working.

The athlete and campaigner welcomed the settlement and the rail company’s efforts to improve services for disabled travellers but said there were still a lot of changes required before transport could be considered truly accessible for all.

“I can’t describe this settlement as a victory. It will be a true victory when what happened to me no longer happens to any disabled traveller any more,” said Wafula Strike. “I was on a train on 13 August this year when I found that the accessible toilet was broken. Fortunately I did not need to use it on that occasion but what about other disabled passengers on that train who might have needed to use the toilet urgently?”

The Guardian revealed earlier this year that Wafula Strike was travelling from Nuneaton to Stansted on 8 December 2016 when she discovered that the accessible toilet was out of order. Her entire journey from Coventry to her home in Harlow was several hours and she was forced to urinate on herself, a situation which left her acutely distressed and humiliated.

The train company apologised and have now made a confidential compensation payment.

Wafula Strike’s solicitor Sue Willman, at Deighton Pierce Glynn, welcomed the settlement but said more needed to be done to truly improve travel for disabled people: “Disabled people like Anne who have suffered degrading treatment when travelling contact my firm all the time. It is important that Anne has made a stand and that train operators are starting to take their legal duties to disabled people more seriously. But I think we need the rail minister to introduce legal sanctions, not just encouragement, to really see a difference.”

Alongside the financial settlement, Wafula Strike has agreed to enter into dialogue with groups representing disabled transport users.

The Department for Transport has drawn up a draft accessibility action plan and is consulting on how access can be improved. The consultation ends on Wednesday and Wafula Strike urged as many disabled travellers as possible to respond.

The draft action plan includes calls to improve the quality and availability of information on accessible toilets at stations and on trains, highlighting the need for better training for transport staff of the requirements of people with disabilities. It also suggests taking steps to address the challenges facing people with disabilities when seeking spontaneous travel.

Paul Maynard, the parliamentary undersecretary for rail, accessibility and HS2, said people with disabilities had the same right to travel independently as anyone else and he was committed to delivering a transport system that worked for everyone.

Wafula Strike said she would be donating some of the money she received to a disability charity and using the rest to continue to campaign for truly accessible travel for people with disabilities.

A spokesperson for CrossCountry said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Mrs Wafula Strike after her experience when travelling with us last December. Since then, we have undertaken a thorough review of our processes, new accessibility training, enhanced maintenance for toilets and other arrangement to help all our customers.

“While we have apologised for the events that day, a lot of good has also resulted from this, with the whole rail industry looking at ways to make Britain’s railways a more accessible environment.”

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