BBC News - Disabled sailor Geoff Holt MBE barred from train

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Tomonthetrain

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From the BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-17586660?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter said:
The first quadriplegic sailor to sail solo across the Atlantic has described his rage at being prevented from boarding an Isle of Wight train.

Geoff Holt said he was told by a guard his electric wheelchair was not allowed on board as it would damage the floor.

Mr Holt, who was later allowed to board, claims the guard implied he was a liar, and cut his leg with a ramp.

The Stagecoach Group said an employee had been suspended and a senior manager had apologised to Mr Holt.

British Transport Police have begun an investigation.

On his blog, Mr Holt, from Shedfield, Hampshire, wrote: "I can't recall the last time that I was so angry and upset I was physically shaking, emotion choking my voice, a sense of genuine rage.

"That was until I took the train from Ryde Pier to Ryde Esplanade on Saturday 31st March."

'Red mist descending'

Mr Holt, who completed his 2,700-mile (4,345km) journey in 2010, told how a guard, who identified himself only as "Guard 1003" initially refused to let him board the 4:45pm train back to Ryde Esplanade.

In his blog, Mr Holt wrote: "Why? To quote Guard 1003, pointing at my wheelchair: 'Those things aren't allowed on these trains, they will damage the floors'."

Mr Holt, who has been in a wheelchair since a swimming accident 27 years ago, continued: "Reminding myself this was 2012, not 1912, this was public transport and and this was the year the Paralympics were coming to Britain, the red mist was descending."

Mr Holt claims the guard not only insinuated he was a liar when he told him he had made the same journey nine hours earlier but also dropped the disabled metal ramp on his leg and foot when he eventually relented and allowed him to board.

'Violated and dehumanised'

"And with that simple, easy manoeuvre which took him only 10 seconds, I was on the train. All the other passengers looked on in disbelief but, in typical British fashion, did nothing."

When the train arrived at Ryde Esplanade three minutes later, Mr Holt admits he swore at the guard because he felt "violated and dehumanised".

In his blog he continued: "He had publicly humiliated me, he had publicly degraded me and he had made me feel like a worthless piece of dirt... it was quite simply the most disgusting way to treat another human being, let alone a disabled one."

A Stagecoach Group spokesperson said: "We are absolutely horrified at the events Mr Holt has described.

"We welcome electric wheelchairs on our services and it is very important to us that all of our passengers feel welcome on our network.

"We are taking this matter very seriously and have already launched an investigation."
 
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jopsuk

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Geoff's blog is here.

The one-sided evidence does sound pretty disgraceful- does Pierhead station have CCTV, and are the old units fitted with modern features such as CCTV?
 

Matt Taylor

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Not wanting to make any suppositions but before people get heated don't forget late summer 2010 and Tonyaryan and what a hornets nest that turned out to be.
 

jopsuk

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Well yes, but in this case the guard has been suspended, the BTP brought in and management have already made an apology. It also sounds like there were quite a lot of witnesses (that the BTP presumably will be attempting to trace to speak to).

Can't help but feel that Geoff's profile will rather help him get taken more seriously than if it was a "random" quadriplegic
 

jopsuk

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the station does (from the evidence I can find) appear to have CCTV
 

ji459

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Annoying it may have been, but "the most disgusting way to treat another human being"?! Get a grip Mr Holt!
 

D1009

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On the evidence which has come to light so far the incident was nothing other than a disgrace to the railway, but coming so soon after the Baroness Grey-Thompson incident, I'm just wondering whether there could be a hidden agenda here ?
 

wintonian

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Yes RYP has CCTV not sure of the extent though, trains I think possibly but not sure ATM.

Let's hope we don't get a visitation from someone else who wasn't allowed to board in a wheelchair. ;)

Sent from my HTC Desire S using Tapatalk
 

Flamingo

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Well yes, but in this case the guard has been suspended, the BTP brought in and management have already made an apology. It also sounds like there were quite a lot of witnesses (that the BTP presumably will be attempting to trace to speak to).
Northern did the same over the "Tonyaryan" incident. It's called PR and "damage limitation" to the companies image.

The truth of it will never come out, as we will be very unlikely to hear the full story from both sides.
 
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SS4

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The TOC will need to invent an imminent fuel strike to deflect attention <D
 

Chris125

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There is no CCTV on Island Line trains, it could hardly be justified. Regarding this incident, while this may not have been dealt with in the best way we have only heard one side of the story and the guard did have a point - large electric mobility scooters have caused damage to the floors in the past due to their weight, and i think there's some kind of restriction if not outright ban because of it.

Chri
 

bluenoxid

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Northern did the same over the "Tonyaryan" incident. It's called PR and "damage limitation" to the companies image.

The truth of it will never come out, as we will be very unlikely to hear the full story from both sides.

For many good reasons. All businesses including the TOC's are rather sensitive about publishing staff disciplinary issues.
 

BestWestern

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There is no CCTV on Island Line trains, it could hardly be justified. Regarding this incident, while this may not have been dealt with in the best way we have only heard one side of the story and the guard did have a point - large electric mobility scooters have caused damage to the floors in the past due to their weight, and i think there's some kind of restriction if not outright ban because of it.

Chris

You're quite right, 'mobility scooters' are generally banned unless they can be folded and conveyed as luggage. In this case though, unless I've missed some detail somewhere, it would seem the passenger was using a wheelchair, in which case they must be conveyed, at the very least by a taxi or suchlike if not on the train. The policies regarding 'scooters' may have been what wrongfooted the Guard here, but ultimately refusing a wheelchair user - assuming that is what took place - is a very difficult thing to justify.
 

Flamingo

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For many good reasons. All businesses including the TOC's are rather sensitive about publishing staff disciplinary issues.

And (as I know from personal experience) when there is an issue that will give bad publicity, the TOC will like to imply that disciplinary action has been taken even if there was no grounds to do so.

Anybody on here had a letter in reply to a complaint about a member of staff that said "Appropriate action has been taken with the member of staff"? That could mean they were told "Well done, carry on", if their manager felt that was the appropriate action, bit the Complaints Dept, didn't have a big enough pair to tell the complainee "You were caught, so **** off and annoy somebody else".
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
You're quite right, 'mobility scooters' are generally banned unless they can be folded and conveyed as luggage. In this case though, unless I've missed some detail somewhere, it would seem the passenger was using a wheelchair, in which case they must be conveyed, at the very least by a taxi or suchlike if not on the train. The policies regarding 'scooters' may have been what wrongfooted the Guard here, but ultimately refusing a wheelchair user - assuming that is what took place - is a very difficult thing to justify.

My guess is that there was a misinterpretation of the policy around mobility scooters by the member of staff. They did allow the passenger to travel, however, and not leave him there. They may not have done so gracefully, but they did allow them to do so.

I shall now be un-PC and remind people that the wheelchair user may not have been the most reasonable and pleasant individual to deal with either. I fully support the rights of disabled people, including their right to behave like a ****
 
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Skimble19

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The TOC will need to invent an imminent fuel strike to deflect attention <D

Let's hope the buffets dont run out of pasties! :lol:

On a serious note, I hope this isn't a repeat of last years "incident"...
 

jopsuk

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Geoff is definitely in a wheelchair, not a mobility scooter. With the tonyaryan case, didn't it come out that he had history as an "awkward" type?
 

ANorthernGuard

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Geoff is definitely in a wheelchair, not a mobility scooter. With the tonyaryan case, didn't it come out that he had history as an "awkward" type?

It came out that he was barred from most of the taxis in Ashton under Lyne and he had a bus driver sacked he used to be a reg but he hasn't been seen since and the guard involved has since left the company

 

Class377/5

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Geoff's blog is here.

The one-sided evidence does sound pretty disgraceful- does Pierhead station have CCTV, and are the old units fitted with modern features such as CCTV?

He does seem to have an attitude and to be confrontation in his blog. Seems he started getting his back up as soon as the guard stated he wasn't allowed. He even complains about a small ramp, well it's a small train, what else does he expect?
 

Flamingo

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Lots of people on his blog giving him a lot of support. At least he knows he's loved...
 

Tomonthetrain

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the guard did have a point - large electric mobility scooters have caused damage to the floors in the past due to their weight, and i think there's some kind of restriction if not outright ban because of it.

Isn't there a section regarding these in the NRCOC?
 

khib70

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He does seem to have an attitude and to be confrontation in his blog. Seems he started getting his back up as soon as the guard stated he wasn't allowed. He even complains about a small ramp, well it's a small train, what else does he expect?

He's probably removing those which do not agree with his opinion.

Here we go again. Didn't take long for the wagons to be circled this time. Why would anyone disagree with the guy, who obviously wasn't treated well, as freely admitted by the TOC, who have quite rightly apologised.

But heaven forbid that any member of rail staff, on any occasion, should be held have acted wrongly in any way. In the real world, one guy acting wrongly doesn't subtract anything from the excellent service provided by the majority of staff - so why the knee-jerk defence every time?
 

Ferret

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Here we go again. Didn't take long for the wagons to be circled this time. Why would anyone disagree with the guy, who obviously wasn't treated well, as freely admitted by the TOC, who have quite rightly apologised.

But heaven forbid that any member of rail staff, on any occasion, should be held have acted wrongly in any way. In the real world, one guy acting wrongly doesn't subtract anything from the excellent service provided by the majority of staff - so why the knee-jerk defence every time?

How can you say that the TOC were quite right to apologise? Were you there to witness events? Sure, for all I/you/we know, the Guard could've been totally out of order but it doesn't always pay to judge too early. I remember a whole load of people making complete arses of themselves when they rushed to the defence of Aryan Tony or whatever he called himself, only to find that the individual in the wheelchair was the one at fault, and had a history of cauusing issues. I'd rather know a little more about this one thanks...
 

Greenback

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Here we go again. Didn't take long for the wagons to be circled this time. Why would anyone disagree with the guy, who obviously wasn't treated well, as freely admitted by the TOC, who have quite rightly apologised.

But heaven forbid that any member of rail staff, on any occasion, should be held have acted wrongly in any way. In the real world, one guy acting wrongly doesn't subtract anything from the excellent service provided by the majority of staff - so why the knee-jerk defence every time?

In my opinion, it is mor eof a knee jerk reaction against blogs, which do tend to tell only one side of the story and can be heavily subjective, as we have seen in the past.

For all I know, the guard may have been quite correct in trying to enforce instructions from above. It may also have been that the guard has misunderstood the instructions or briefing. It's also possible that the guard is not a very nice person who deliberately tries to inconvenience and annoy passengers at every opportunity.

The point is that I don't know what actually happened, whether there are any local isntructions, how they are worded, and how well they are communicated. Neither do I know any of the people involved personally. I therefore choose not to comment on the rights or wrongs of the situation, yet others will read the blog and immediately junmp to their own conclusions.

I think that is what irritates most, and it is more a comment on the way the internet can sometimes seem to be filled with blogs doing nothing but having a rant about this that or the other, rather than anything particular to this incident.
 

DownSouth

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On the evidence which has come to light so far the incident was nothing other than a disgrace to the railway, but coming so soon after the Baroness Grey-Thompson incident, I'm just wondering whether there could be a hidden agenda here ?
The railway companies may have one as well - to treat people with different abilities as inconveniences rather than human beings and fare-paying passengers who pay their wages.
 
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ANorthernGuard

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The railway companies may have one as well - to treat people with different abilities as inconveniences rather than human beings and fare-paying passengers who pay their wages.

Rail companies and Network rail bend over backwards to help anyone with disabilities, sometimes mistakes happen, misinterpretations of rules and the like, Northern certainly do their best (regardless of what some people may think) making sure a disabled passenger is treated with respect and is helped when required, there is no such thing as "Hidden Agendas, from both sides and will you please stop it with the "We pay your wages malarky" as a tax payer I technically help pay my own wage as well as passengers anyone in any sort of retail technically has their wages paid by numerous persons including themselves.
 
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