A train operator is under fire from a disabled veteran from Chesterfield who says he was ‘shoved’ with the baggage and bikes on a journey. The 49-year-old man – who has asked not to be named – had booked a wheelchair ticket from Chesterfield to Grantham on Wednesday, July 19.
But when he came to get on the train, the place had been taken by another disabled passenger and he was put in an area normally reserved for travellers’ belongings. He said:
“Everyone on the train was staring at me.
“They might as well have just put a baggage label on me.” The man was travelling back to Grantham after spending a few days in London working on his rehabilitation. He had stopped over in Chesterfield to see a friend before continuing on to Lincolnshire, where he now lives.
“They told me that the place I had booked was taken and my only option was to go where the bikes normally go,” he said. “But after a while people started getting on with bikes and putting them on top of me – it’s not good enough. They say I had a choice but I had to get on that train.
“What they should have done is look into getting me a taxi so I could continue my journey.
” The veteran suffers from a total of 23 disabilities and takes 28 separate medications to cope with them. These include post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes, spinal and heart problems and epilepsy. But he says he does not want this experience to stop him from getting out and about, especially at a time when he feels he is finally beginning to ‘put his life back together’.
An East Midlands Trains spokesperson said the operator was ‘very sorry’ to hear of the man’s experience. He said:
“We do work hard to make sure our services are accessible for all of our passengers, and our free assisted travel service has helped thousands of mobility impaired passengers with their travel.
“We’re sorry that on this occasion it didn’t work out and we are taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again. We have spoken personally to him and passed on our apologies.
“In addition we have provided a full refund on his original tickets and a pair of complimentary tickets for a future journey with us.” The spokersperson added that East Midlands Trains works closely with the Armed Forces and recognises ‘the value serving personnel, regular and reservists, veterans and military families contribute across the country’.