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Benfleet Wheelchair User And Family ‘Trapped’ On Train

June 10, 2022

A wheelchair user was trapped on a train after staff failed to turn up with a ramp despite him booking assistance.

Josh Hamilton ended up travelling on the service until it terminated when he could not get off at his stop at Benfleet in Essex.

Mr Hamilton said he was “dreading” travelling by rail again.

Train operator c2c has apologised but said staff were not available because of disruption at the station.

The IT worker, his wife and their two young children were on the 18:37 from Upminster in east London on 29 May after a shopping trip when the train arrived at Benfleet.

“The doors opened and everybody’s running off the train and there was no-one standing there with the ramp for me,” he said.

“There was no-one there to talk to or to do anything and before you know it, the train starts leaving and then you realise that you don’t know where you’re getting off because no-one knows that you’re coming.”

He said his wife was panicking and his children, aged two and three, became “hysterical”.

The family were forced to remain on the train until it reached Shoeburyness, at the eastern end of the line beyond Southend, where his wife Alana went to speak to the driver.

‘Scared to go back on a train’

Mr Hamilton, who has been in a wheelchair since contracting meningitis and sepsis in 2019, said they were then told their attempts to hold the door open at Benfleet had caused a delay.

This meant the train which would have taken them back had already left and it was several hours before the family got home.

He said the experience had made him “feel really small”.

“You’re fighting for your independence when you’ve had such a big disability hit you, and then you can’t even get on and off a train without help,” he said.

“It makes you scared of going back on the train again.”

Once they got to Benfleet railway station, the couple said they were told there had been a problem with children running around the track, but that they were told different versions of events by other staff.

A c2c spokesperson said: “We apologise for any inconvenience that was caused to Mr Hamilton.

“We can confirm there was an incident at Benfleet station when Mr Hamilton arrived, which was being dealt with by two police officers.

“Unfortunately, due to this disruption, station staff were unable to assist Mr Hamilton disembarking from the train and we sincerely apologise for any upset and disruption this caused him.”

The company said it had provided “additional briefings” to the staff involved to ensure an incident such as this “doesn’t happen again” and that they were arranging a meeting with Mr Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton said he would like to see ramps fitted to train carriage exits.

C2c said its trains did not have automatic ramps but it would be replacing and adding new ramps at its stations in the next two months.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. socialhousingbrat permalink
    June 10, 2022 2:24 am

    Typical rail behaviour!!
    I traveled by train with my own powerchair to Birmingham two years ago,
    It’s a normal sized chair and í had arranged for assistance to get on train, reserved my space, etc.
    Got to Basingstoke station half hour early.
    Train was on time, nobody arrived to assist!
    After ringing station office, eventually someone showed and grudgingly helped me aboard.
    He then left!
    Found my space filled with someone’s folding bike!
    Tried to remove it the full carriage stopped me!!
    It was there first.
    Explained I’d booked and paid for space to no avail.
    Travelled Basingstoke to Birmingham in a 6′ X 6′ door space unable to move.
    Transfer my weight or try too stand!
    Will NEVER travel by train again!!

  2. June 13, 2022 12:44 pm

    Equality with a disability, unfortunately is non-existent in many areas and apologies are not appropriate as they don’t improve the service.

    In this incident, yes, dealing with the children was a priority, but so was dealing with Mr Hamilton, but it appears this rail service can only deal with one priority at a time, that is, if they even dealt with the children satisfactorily for that we don’t know and can only assume they did.

    Disabled persons deserve a much better service in all areas.

    Now, it appears that the rail service is going on strike, but not to improve the service, but to improve it for rail staff, as though customers are an inconvenience, but without customers there will be no rail service and that means no jobs to be employed to.

    All these services should work for all concerned and not just the stated few.

    Ideally trains and other forms of transport should be designed to ensure all passengers are catered for and that includes people who are disabled. There have been Disability Discrimination Acts 1995 and 2005 and the Equality Act 2010, which have made for some improvements, but as can be seen not all, so legislation again needs to be created as does the redesigns of trains.

    Not mentioned here but what is the position with disability toilets on trains and especially Changing places toilets for those who required them. https://www.changing-places.org/

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