Article: Wheelchair User Difficulty at Milton Keynes

Geezertronic

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Clearly the correct thing to have done was disembark the passenger at Rugby for onward travel via rail or road.

In this instance, maybe as the passengers destination was originally Euston but the service was terminated at MKC due to the lineside issues, that decision to terminate may not have been made in time for either the service to stop at Rugby, or if it did stop at Rugby then the lineside issues were not as advanced to make a determination that a termination at MKC was required
 
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43066

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I would say the TM could have known, probably should have, that the lift was out. Depends if it had just failed. I've never seen a TM use a ramp to be fair so if it was the dispatcher who de-trained the assist then they should equally have know. It's somewhat common on LNWR to have assists for stations when lifts are out so we maybe keep an eye out for that more.

The TM would have probably had access to that information, yes (unless the lift had just failed), but wouldn’t necessarily have known before leaving Rugby that a. That they would definitely be terminating at MKC, that b. Which platform at MKC they would be going into. So again it’s a question of having some information but not enough to prevent it.

They weren't quick turnarounds either, so there's even a chance they could've put him back on up to Rugby.

Deeply regrettable situation for him to be in, and it should be properly investigated so as to learn from this.

Yep, doubling back on the same train with onward taxi from another location would have been best. Albeit still not clear what that train and crew were doing next.

Agreed a very unfortunate scenario, albeit rare. Sadly one that can’t be guaranteed not to recur until until we have level boarding at all platforms throughout the network, which is never going to happen. Even at accessible stations like MKC there’s always possibility of lifts breaking.
 

DarloRich

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It may well be this was explained and the passenger was so (understandably) frustrated that they took matters into their own hands.
I suspect that is the truth. However we cant have a situation where a passenger is effectively trapped on a platform. he might still be there now if he didn't crawl up the stairs! It is undignified and unacceptable.
This is what I suspect happened. However Avanti and LNWR do need to answer the question as to why there wasn't a suitable plan already in place given the lifts were known to be out of service.
Especially as the lift on P5/6 seems to have been out of service for an age. The plan must be to not detrain those requiring the lift at MKC but something clearly went wrong at the worst possible time!
Also highlights why MKC needs toilets (or at least a disabled one) installing on P5/6. It's the only island without toilets of the three, and going up and back down again may not be within the ability of someone requiring assistance even in normal operations.
Agreed - it is a poor station facilities wise!
 

NoRoute

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Nice little sound bite there but what is to understand other than if you don't have the correct training (or physical attributes) you can cause further injury to the person or yourself and you would most likely be held liable for such. Is it good for the customer, of course not, does it look good for the railways, of course not but we are always told if you can't do something right or safely then don't do it.

The outcome of this approach to ensuring health and safety was apparently to leave the passenger with no viable option other than to drag himself up the stairs unassisted while attempting to pull his wheel chair up behind him. That is not a safe outcome, not safe for the passenger or for the railways.

It seems reasonable to expect the railway staff could have provided at least some basic assistance, consistent with ensuring the safety of all involved, I would expect it could have been possible for one or more members of staff to have safely carried his items up the stairs and even if they could not carry the passenger up the stairs, to have provided assistance and support as the person lifted themselves up the stairs.
 

SCDR_WMR

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In this instance, maybe as the passengers destination was originally Euston but the service was terminated at MKC due to the lineside issues, that decision to terminate may not have been made in time for either the service to stop at Rugby, or if it did stop at Rugby then the lineside issues were not as advanced to make a determination that a termination at MKC was required
Indeed, as we don't know the time this happened, I can only presume it was later in the day as I was there when the block happened and the next 2 Avanti's went past Rugby at least 20 minutes later.
The outcome of this approach to ensuring health and safety was apparently to leave the passenger with no viable option other than to drag himself up the stairs unassisted while attempting to pull his wheel chair up behind him. That is not a safe outcome, not safe for the passenger or for the railways.

It seems reasonable to expect the railway staff could have provided at least some basic assistance, consistent with ensuring the safety of all involved, I would expect it could have been possible for one or more members of staff to have safely carried his items up the stairs and even if they could not carry the passenger up the stairs, to have provided assistance and support as the person lifted themselves up the stairs.
It may have been that staff asked him to wait there whilst they get assistance, he misunderstood or got fed up of waiting during this disruption and started to climb the stairs on his own.
He did say a supervisor/manager then turned up. It may have been that the Avanti staff had gone to get the station manager to come and assist/make a decision as to how to overcome this issue and found him halfway up.
 

pne

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However we cant have a situation where a passenger is effectively trapped on a platform.
How would you propose preventing this?

Triply-redundant lifts on all platforms to provide a much higher chance (yet still no guarantee!) that at least one of them works?

Cancelling all trains that go through a station with at least one lift out of order on the off-chance that the train might have to (a) stop there on (b) the one platform with the broken lift?

This seems to have been down to an unfortunate confluence of issues. I'm not sure how one could prevent such things from happening at all, as you seem to demand.
 

zwk500

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How would you propose preventing this?

Triply-redundant lifts on all platforms to provide a much higher chance (yet still no guarantee!) that at least one of them works?

Cancelling all trains that go through a station with at least one lift out of order on the off-chance that the train might have to (a) stop there on (b) the one platform with the broken lift?

This seems to have been down to an unfortunate confluence of issues. I'm not sure how one could prevent such things from happening at all, as you seem to demand.
Having a mobile platform available to move a wheelchair user up and down stairs safely as a temporary solution, as outlined in post #18, would be a reasonable response to a lift breaking down on the main fast line platforms at a major interchange station.
 

DarloRich

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How would you propose preventing this?

Triply-redundant lifts on all platforms to provide a much higher chance (yet still no guarantee!) that at least one of them works?

Cancelling all trains that go through a station with at least one lift out of order on the off-chance that the train might have to (a) stop there on (b) the one platform with the broken lift?

This seems to have been down to an unfortunate confluence of issues. I'm not sure how one could prevent such things from happening at all, as you seem to demand.
Don't be silly - however I stand by my point. It isn't good enough, for whatever reason, to have a disabled person crawl up some stairs. That isn't on. A cost effective solution may be to have some kind of reverse evacuation chair and several people trained how to use it.

In any event this situation needs to be reviewed and learning shared. It might have been a rare occurrence but it is not an unknown for disruption to strike the rail network or for disabled travellers to be inconvenienced.
 

DelayRepay

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I agree it was a very unfortunate set of circumstances.

We don't know what was wrong with the lift, but this could have all been avoided if it had been repaired quicker, given that it appears to have been broken for some time.

There may have been a reason why it couldn't be fixed quickly. Maybe they are waiting for a part to arrive on a boat from China or something. But the lift is important to make the railway accessible so repairs should be a high priority at stations where there isn't an alternative. It wouldn't eliminate problems like this but it would reduce the chances of them happening.
 

yorkie

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Don't be silly - however I stand by my point. It isn't good enough, for whatever reason, to have a disabled person crawl up some stairs...
Do we know for sure he was not offered any alternative whatsoever, such as an alternative train from that island platform which would have enabled onward travel towards Euston?

The article implies this but I'm not convinced; if I was writing an article of this nature (and I accept I am not a journalist) I would be making it a priority to establish exactly what was offered and making it clear in the article. The fact they omit the information makes me suspicious that it doesn't suit their narrative.

However, unless anyone has some inside information on this, we don't know sufficient level of detail to judge if the actions of the staff were unreasonable or not.
 

skyhigh

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Nice little sound bite there but what is to understand other than if you don't have the correct training (or physical attributes) you can cause further injury to the person or yourself and you would most likely be held liable for such. Is it good for the customer, of course not, does it look good for the railways, of course not but we are always told if you can't do something right or safely then don't do it.
Reminds me of the time when a passenger in a wheelchair was onboard a train. The ramp on the platform at the origin station was used to put the passenger on the train. At the destination station, it was found that the onboard ramp was defective and couldn't be used. No other ramp available, train blocking the line... guard and driver decided the best option was to carry the passenger off. Unfortunately they tipped the wheelchair, the passenger fell out and broke a leg and an arm. Both the guard and driver lost their jobs.

Situations like these are already bad for the passenger and the railway. You don't want to make them worse by doing your own thing to be helpful.
 

Bletchleyite

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Do we know for sure he was not offered any alternative whatsoever, such as an alternative train from that island platform which would have enabled onward travel towards Euston?

The article implies this but I'm not convinced; if I was writing an article of this nature (and I accept I am not a journalist) I would be making it a priority to establish exactly what was offered and making it clear in the article. The fact they omit the information makes me suspicious that it doesn't suit their narrative.

However, unless anyone has some inside information on this, we don't know sufficient level of detail to judge if the actions of the staff were unreasonable or not.

The article I read (it wasn't that one but I forget what it was) said he had been told the only way off that platform was to wait for services to resume fully on the fast lines, which was likely to take about 4 hours.
 

ComUtoR

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I’m physically unsure what a station could actually do in that instance but I’d be willing to hear suggestions (that don’t involve calling fire brigade) as it’s clearly a gap that may occur so I’m intrigued to see how any contingency plans could be better.

Firstly, apologies for quoting you but your comment prompted my reply.

The Railway is doing it wrong and is still in the dark ages. There are solutions that can be made and this kind of incident could be mitigated against. This specific incident not so much but there are options the railway could take. A couple I'm surprised nobody has yet suggested.
 

zwk500

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Firstly, apologies for quoting you but your comment prompted my reply.

The Railway is doing it wrong and is still in the dark ages. There are solutions that can be made and this kind of incident could be mitigated against. This specific incident not so much but there are options the railway could take. A couple I'm surprised nobody has yet suggested.
Bit in Bold - Could you enlighten us what hasn't yet been suggested?

To me the most obvious solution seems to be one suggested upthread - a type of reverse escape chair. Given the lifts are known to be out of service and MKC is a busy station for interchange and entry/exit, it would be reasonable to have one of these based at MKC to assist passengers. It could be moved to other stations as required for pre-booked assistance. Funnily enough, a load handling company called Zonzini make them, and their stair-climbing load trolleys are already used by NR and TfL: https://www.zonzini.co.uk/wheelchair-stair-lifter.html.
 

DarloRich

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However, unless anyone has some inside information on this, we don't know sufficient level of detail to judge if the actions of the staff were unreasonable or not.
I agree this is unlikely to be the full story ( mainly because the full story isn't as good a story!) & I don't think the actions of the staff were unreasonable. We are told they have no training or equipment to help move a passenger in this situation so they are in a no win situation.

However, and more broadly than this report, my point is that the situation isn't really good enough. Regardless of the ins and outs of this matter the railways do, far too often, inconvenience disabled passengers and that isn't on in the modern world.

I wonder what you or I would make of being told, perhaps, that we were unable to leave a platform for 4 hours or use the toilet. I doubt I would be best pleased.
 

Julia

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How would you propose preventing this?

Triply-redundant lifts on all platforms to provide a much higher chance (yet still no guarantee!) that at least one of them works?

Cancelling all trains that go through a station with at least one lift out of order on the off-chance that the train might have to (a) stop there on (b) the one platform with the broken lift?

This seems to have been down to an unfortunate confluence of issues. I'm not sure how one could prevent such things from happening at all, as you seem to demand.

You could go a very long way by simply making sure the call to the lift engineer goes in as soon as the lift breaks. Of course you can't guarantee that everything will be working on any given day, but having an essential piece of equipment OOS for any length of time (as seems to be the case here) without mitigation of some form should be unacceptable.
 

Horizon22

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Firstly, apologies for quoting you but your comment prompted my reply.

The Railway is doing it wrong and is still in the dark ages. There are solutions that can be made and this kind of incident could be mitigated against. This specific incident not so much but there are options the railway could take. A couple I'm surprised nobody has yet suggested.

Well as I said, would you care to name some? Assuming that the individual has found themselves off a train that has had to terminate, with no hope of continuing in the near future and no lifts available at the station?

I have already suggested the next best option is return north to Rugby and taxi from there, but curious as to what other alternatives you feel are available.

You could go a very long way by simply making sure the call to the lift engineer goes in as soon as the lift breaks. Of course you can't guarantee that everything will be working on any given day, but having an essential piece of equipment OOS for any length of time (as seems to be the case here) without mitigation of some form should be unacceptable.

And they do. As soon as a lift fault is known, calls to straight to the engineer / maintenance provider of lifts for that TOC.

However that doesn’t mean it can’t be days or weeks until it is back in service dependent on many things which are outside of the TOC’s control.
 

AngusH

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I suspect that the lift repair is taking longer than expected due to a shortage of parts (electronic parts particularly affected)



How to deal with it is a separate problem.
 

mmh

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Well as I said, would you care to name some? Assuming that the individual has found themselves off a train that has had to terminate, with no hope of continuing in the near future and no lifts available at the station?

I have already suggested the next best option is return north to Rugby and taxi from there, but curious as to what other alternatives you feel are available.



And they do. As soon as a lift fault is known, calls to straight to the engineer / maintenance provider of lifts for that TOC.

However that doesn’t mean it can’t be days or weeks until it is back in service dependent on many things which are outside of the TOC’s control.
I can't help but think there must be a cultural attitude to repair here. People have said this lift at Milton Keynes has been out of order for a considerable length of time. Would a lift in an office block in Milton Keynes be out of order for such a long period? In the Shard? It feels unlikely.
 

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I suspect that the lift repair is taking longer than expected due to a shortage of parts (electronic parts particularly affected)



How to deal with it is a separate problem.

The Kone lift in our apartment complex has been out of order more than working for the past two years or so, with lack of replacement parts normally cited as the reason, so that rings true certainly. We're only on the first floor so no massive drama, but those on the upper floors must be mightily cheesed off with it by now.
 

mmh

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Are there not ramps at the ends of the platforms down to where a barrow crossing would traditionally be?
At many stations there aren't any more, especially where platforms have been lengthened in modern times - they tend to be built on the level with a fence/gate at the end and the usual drop to track level. Even if there are ramps, the amount of barrow style crossings left is miniscule. I'd be hugely surprised if Milton Keynes had one.
 

zwk500

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Are there not ramps at the ends of the platforms down to where a barrow crossing would traditionally be?
Milton Keynes central has ramps on some platforms, but not all, and no barrow crossing of any description. Staff would have had to manually manoeuvre the wheelchair over each rail and the ballast, and required a line block to be taken to do so.
 

Horizon22

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I can't help but think there must be a cultural attitude to repair here. People have said this lift at Milton Keynes has been out of order for a considerable length of time. Would a lift in an office block in Milton Keynes be out of order for such a long period? In the Shard? It feels unlikely.

Possibly. But the TOC has contracts with lift maintenance providers. All they can do is push them for a quicker response and the answer might be “no”. I suppose it depends what is in their service level commitments.
 

PeterC

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Milton Keynes central has ramps on some platforms, but not all, and no barrow crossing of any description. Staff would have had to manually manoeuvre the wheelchair over each rail and the ballast, and required a line block to be taken to do so.
Barrow crossings would at least be a cheaper back up than a fancy stair climbing machine. With appropriate safety procedures of course.
 

zwk500

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I can't help but think there must be a cultural attitude to repair here. People have said this lift at Milton Keynes has been out of order for a considerable length of time. Would a lift in an office block in Milton Keynes be out of order for such a long period? In the Shard? It feels unlikely.
Tbh given most office buildings that include lifts have multiple lifts so yes, quite possibly.
 

Bletchleyite

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Barrow crossings would at least be a cheaper back up than a fancy stair climbing machine. With appropriate safety procedures of course.

If I was going to spend on anything it would be toilets (men, women and disabled) on all three islands. The situation would have been a lot less pressing then, and it would be of benefit to lots of people.
 

zwk500

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Barrow crossings would at least be a cheaper back up than a fancy stair climbing machine. With appropriate safety procedures of course.
Barrow crossings require a line block to put in, line block to maintain, line block to use and line block to take out. They also require maintenance by staff qualified to be on the line and to be kept safe for trains passing at up to 125mph. Also depending on the wheelchair the gaps in the barrow crossing to allow the train flanges to pass may present a hazard. A fancy stair climbing machine requires only being trained on the machine, and it can be moved around the station or network as required. It can also be deployed immediately upon being requested and no trains need to be disrupted for it. The last thing you'd want is a barrow crossing rotting away, leading to a loose plank being kicked up by a Pendolino thundering through.
A bit of googling suggests a motorised stair-climbing wheelchair could cost up to £20,000. So it depends how long the barrow crossing would need to be maintained for as to when the balance point is struck.
If I was going to spend on anything it would be toilets (men, women and disabled) on all three islands. The situation would have been a lot less pressing then, and it would be of benefit to lots of people.
I suspect that upon being told staff had no idea when trains might start running again, the outcome would have been the same given the options available.
 

zwk500

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It might, but then it might not.
Accessible toilets should be provided on all platforms at MKC regardless, tbh. It's a busy enough place for interchange that it justifies at least one loo on each platform. Able-bodied toilets would be less pressing, although still worth it on P5/6.
However it wouldn't have solved the issue of a disabled person being trapped on the platform with no opportunity to make alternative arrangements for onward travel (or to return home and abandon the journey). The failure to have a plan to deal with a situation like this, which was predictable should disruption happen between MKC and Euston, is a major failure on Avanti and LNWR's part. Whether it involved fancy equipment, specialist help, or additional operational problems, *something* should have been prepared to permit a disabled person to get off the platforms.
 

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