Disabled woman: no assistance available from East Coast

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aformeruser

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Baroness Grey-Thompson has called for better public transport services for disabled people after revealing she had to crawl off a train in London.

The Paralympian gold medallist, a regular commuter from north-east England, said she was left stranded at King's Cross station at midnight.

The baroness, who was born with spina bifida, said she had requested assistance in advance but none arrived.

Train operator East Coast apologised, citing factors outside its control.

"I was on a train that got into King's Cross in London at midnight," said the Cardiff-born former athlete about the recent incident.

"No-one came to help me so I waited 10 minutes then transferred myself from the seat onto the floor, and pushed my wheelchair towards the door of the train.

"Some construction workers saw what I was doing and ran over to help. But if I hadn't been able to get myself to the door I would have been stuck on the train until it was locked for the night."

Lady Grey-Thompson, who is Transport For London board member and lives in Redcar, explained that she had requested assistance before travelling.

"There's a system where you have to book 24 hours in advance for someone to help you off the train, but you cannot book on a Saturday or a Sunday and have to book on a Friday for a Monday," she told BBC Wales.

"You have to specify the exact time. It's hit and miss."

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-17522232
 
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DarloRich

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Careless - a total PR own goal :(

Perhaps the most well know "disabled" (hate that word - seems so demeaning for someone like this!) person in the UK left in such a position. Simply appalling.

However, it does nothing to tempt normal people to use the railways if they have any kind of mobility issue.
 

michael769

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Train operator East Coast apologised, citing factors outside its control.
And a statement like that does not help. Do they seriously expect us to believe that they do not have control over providing a minimum adequate level of staffing?

And where was the TM or the guard, are they not responsible for the saftey of their passengers?

The train guard was able to provide Dame Tanni with some assistance.
So EC's position is that she is lying about her experience? Great apology!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The association said the new assistance booking system - Passenger Assist - had been designed with input from disabled passenger groups and was leading to improved levels of overall customer satisfaction.
An ATOC purchased IT system? Suddenly the reason for her problems becomes clear! :roll:
 

Requeststop

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It is distressing that any disabled passenger has to resort to crawling on the floor to try to get off a train, at any time or at any station.

Is it not beyond reason to expect that the "train customer manager"or whatever title the guard/conductor uses in these days to call ahead to check that the station ahead is prepared for a passenger requiring wheelchair assistance is on board and that the equipment is ready.

It's called double checking.
 

PSD

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Most TOC's surely have a beeter system than this one, Merseyrail's is very good, & you don't have to book 24 hours in advance, just turn up
 

wintonian

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So the train was delayed by 90 mins, a possibility is that the person who was due to provide the assistance finished their shift and went home (quite rightly and hopefully would check that the assistance would still be provided) and there was no-one to provide the assistance in their place.
 

spacehopper

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You can check, double check and triple check-it still won't stop it from happening.

When this story first broke I thought oh it will be some little wayward station on a DOO system. But the cross! In fairness it wasn't an average set of circumstances. It seems it was a case of all hands to deck to deal with the many missed connections and the admin and manpower that goes with it. With all the cancellations and disruption I'm sure the "booked assist" list no longer bore any reality.

From a traincrew point of view when dealing with disabled passengers the easiest way to do it is to do it yourself where practical. Away from world of pointy noses we don't have a poise list or train report. First we will know about a disabled passenger is when they turn up on the platform wanting to get on.

Buy ticket from booking office, pass barrier staff, pass numerous intercity TOC station staff who are responsible for assistance and finally after all these interactions it is me who ends up putting them on train.

At a major mainline termini like the cross- I would be very very surprised if any of the onboard staff had anything to do with a disabled assist. I would have thought it was down to Network Rail staff the ones in blue tabards who drive those nifty golf buggies to do it. They certainly have the tools to do the job.

It would be great if each major station had a dedicated team whose only job was to provide assistance. That team had a dedicated phone number as biggest problem I come across is actually being able to get the message to right person and cut out the risk of chinese whispers. Even at stations where this is supposed to be case you find that on some days the volume of assists means they leave barriers open and close booking office windows just so they can attend as many assists as they can.

Hate to say it but Tanni- this kind of situation is only going to increase with the massacre of staffing on railway that is coming to a station and a train near you very soon.
 

Bungle73

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Surely to get a wheelchair user off a train all you need is a ramp. Surely there must have been somebody there who could have done it?

I'd like this thread better if it was titled "Olympic Gold Medal Winner" (11 times BTW) rather than "Disabled Woman".
Why? Are you saying that because she's an athlete she should be treated better than other disabled people?
 

Clip

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Surely to get a wheelchair user off a train all you need is a ramp. Surely there must have been somebody there who could have done it?
From my time at the Cross, trains getting in that late there would only be one person there - the night supervisor. They train crew wouldve got off and went home straight away as they always do and leave it to RG to clear the buffet of all stock - but more so if they were delayed in. And the night supervisor wouldve had the passenger assist form but its whether he viewed it or not or even knew that they had still not arrived.

Its still no excuse though.
 

DaveNewcastle

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. . . . .
And the night supervisor wouldve had the passenger assist form but its whether he viewed it or not or even knew that they had still not arrived.
I'm sure that is an accurate assumption of the factors that prevailled at the time.

Perhaps an incident like this will result in a review of policy and procedure, and perhaps when a very late train arrives after most staff have signed off, then it will still be the same outcome.

I'd like to think that there might be a simple technological solution, given that passengers with booked assistance will be logged in GENIUS and that supervisory platform staff have access to GENIUS, perhaps an automated alert could be transmitted to whoever remains on duty when such a booked event occurs?
While it may be a simple IT project, I just hope the task isn't awarded to the French software numpties who've already made their position abundantly clear about where their loyalties lie in respect of UK railway Operators and Passengers.
 

rdwarr

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Why? Are you saying that because she's an athlete she should be treated better than other disabled people?
No, I'm saying that we're talking about a Baroness who has won 11 Olympic Golds. "Disabled Woman" seems a bit of a generalisation. You don't see stories about the Queen referring to her as "Old Woman" ;)
 

SS4

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Just to be really pedantic the fact that the person is a woman is also irrelevant, but yes I know what you saying. :)
Article said:
"No-one came to help me so I waited 10 minutes then transferred myself from the seat onto the floor, and pushed my wheelchair towards the door of the train.
Some construction workers saw what I was doing and ran over to help. But if I hadn't been able to get myself to the door I would have been stuck on the train until it was locked for the night."
I'm no paralympian, nor disabled nor a woman but clearly we have a different definition of crawl.

Since I've nothing better to do, I've bolded irrelevancies in the article. For repetition I've bolded the second occurrance
Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson left to crawl off train at King's Cross

Baroness Grey-Thompson has called for better public transport services for disabled people after revealing she had to crawl off a train in London.

The Paralympian gold medallist, a regular commuter from north-east England, said she was left stranded at King's Cross station at midnight.

The baroness, who was born with spina bifida, said she had requested assistance in advance but none arrived.

Train operator East Coast apologised, citing factors outside its control.

"I was on a train that got into King's Cross in London at midnight," said the Cardiff-born former athlete about the recent incident.

"No-one came to help me so I waited 10 minutes then transferred myself from the seat onto the floor, and pushed my wheelchair towards the door of the train.

"Some construction workers saw what I was doing and ran over to help. But if I hadn't been able to get myself to the door I would have been stuck on the train until it was locked for the night."

Lady Grey-Thompson, who is Transport For London board member and lives in Redcar, explained that she had requested assistance before travelling.

"There's a system where you have to book 24 hours in advance for someone to help you off the train, but you cannot book on a Saturday or a Sunday and have to book on a Friday for a Monday," she told BBC Wales.

"You have to specify the exact time. It's hit and miss."


Lady Grey-Thompson said she regularly received offers of help from members of the public, but they were unable to operate the ramp used to allow wheelchair users to transfer from the train carriage to the station platform.

Asked whether she had been worried for her safety, she said she was more "irritated".


"If there's a breakdown in communication, or they forget, it's hard. It happens about once a month to me.

"At least you know in London that the train is not going to go anywhere else. It's going to terminate there.

"I have had people writing to me saying they've tried to get off a train in York but have ended up having to go on to the next stop."

The baroness is appealing for as many as possible to participate in a project on public transport accessibility by sending in their travel experiences.

"We're asking disabled people to tell us about good journeys as well as bad ones as that's important too," she said.

"We want more disabled people to use public transport. At the moment it's not great. But it's about changing attitudes towards disabled people."

Assistance'

East Coast explained that Baroness Grey-Thompson's train was delayed by 90 minutes after it was involved in an earlier fatality south of Peterborough.

"Our night shift team at King's Cross worked hard to help as many passengers as possible - including providing more than 60 taxis for those who missed connecting underground trains - but unfortunately were unable to help Dame Tanni at the same time," said a spokesman.

"The train guard was able to provide Dame Tanni with some assistance.

"We are sorry that on this occasion, due to disruption caused by factors outside our control, our normally high standard of assistance to customers with mobility issues could not be provided."

Network Rail said it was aware of reports about the incident and was investigating what happened.

A spokesman said: "It is disappointing to hear of this kind of experience from anyone in an environment where Network Rail and the train operating companies are working together to increase opportunities for disabled passengers to access railway services."


The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said companies were committed to providing the service disabled passengers expected and deserved and would continue to invest in improvements to increase access.

The association said the new assistance booking system - Passenger Assist - had been designed with input from disabled passenger groups and was leading to improved levels of overall customer satisfaction.

"Over the past five years the number of disabled passengers travelling by train has doubled to over three million journeys a year," said a spokesperson.
 

wintonian

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I'm no paralympian, nor disabled nor a woman but clearly we have a different definition of crawl.

Since I've nothing better to do, I've bolded irrelevancies in the article. For repetition I've bolded the second occurrance
"We are sorry that on this occasion, due to disruption caused by factors outside our control, our normally high standard of assistance to customers with mobility issues could not be provided."
Not quite sure why the first bit is irrelevant but the rest is relevent?

Anyhow a lot of what you have highlighted is relevent to the article as part of the medias remit of sensationalism even if it is not relevent to the base issue itself.
 

WelshBluebird

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I'm no paralympian, nor disabled nor a woman but clearly we have a different definition of crawl.

Since I've nothing better to do, I've bolded irrelevancies in the article. For repetition I've bolded the second occurrance
I am a bit confused as you have bolded quite a few things which are clearly relevant.

1 - The fact she has spina bifida is relevant because it explains why she could not just have crutches instead (as one idiot on the DM site suggested she should have done).
2 - The fact it arrived at midnight. This presumably explains why there was no staff on hand to help her.
3 - The fact she had requested assistance before travelling is relevant because the assistance she asked for did not turn up!
4 - I also don't see why you think East Coasts and Network Rails responses are not relevant.
 

DarloRich

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I'm no paralympian, nor disabled nor a woman but clearly we have a different definition of crawl.

Since I've nothing better to do, I've bolded irrelevancies in the article. For repetition I've bolded the second occurrance
I am not sure what you are suggesting. She has used her position ( as perhaps the best known "disabled sporting person" to get a story about poor treatment of disabled person into the national media. I cant blame her for that.

No matter what happened at the station or on the train it is not acceptable to leave someone in this position. There needs to be a review of procedures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Are you suggesting that it is ok for this kind of service to be offered to a passenger needing assistance? That she should just like it or lump it?

Sorry but I am confused by your post. Joe Public disabled person badly treated by train company is not a story for the papers. Well known athlete who happens to be disabled in terrible treatment shocker IS a story and one that needs to be looked into!
 

Greenback

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No one should be left in that position whoever they are. However, you can review procedures over and over again, but incidents like this, will, regrettably continue to occur.

In times of disruption things can get overlooked unintentionally. I don't know of any process or system that can eliminate human error.
 

michael769

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In times of disruption things can get overlooked unintentionally. I don't know of any process or system that can eliminate human error.
Indeed. The important thing is to determine if this is indeed "One of those things" or evidence of a systematic failure of East Coast to comply with it's obligations under the law and the franchise.

Unfortunately a single incident is not enough to establish this.
 

Oswyntail

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I would have thought that, before leaving the train, the crew should do a sweep through to check if there is anyone left on - particularly at midnight, when sleeping passengers are quite likely. Is this part of procedures?
 

jon0844

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I would have thought that, before leaving the train, the crew should do a sweep through to check if there is anyone left on - particularly at midnight, when sleeping passengers are quite likely. Is this part of procedures?
I would expect so too.
 

SS4

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Not quite sure why the first bit is irrelevant but the rest is relevent?

Anyhow a lot of what you have highlighted is relevent to the article as part of the medias remit of sensationalism even if it is not relevent to the base issue itself.
It's already stated in the fifth line. Definitely agreed on the remit of sensationalism.

I am a bit confused as you have bolded quite a few things which are clearly relevant.

1 - The fact she has spina bifida is relevant because it explains why she could not just have crutches instead (as one idiot on the DM site suggested she should have done).
I admit I may have been over zealous with bold (oh the irony :lol:)but I don't think it's relevant why she needs to use a wheelchair, simply that she does.

2 - The fact it arrived at midnight. This presumably explains why there was no staff on hand to help her.
First time is relevant. Second time is not

3 - The fact she had requested assistance before travelling is relevant because the assistance she asked for did not turn up!
See above.

4 - I also don't see why you think East Coasts and Network Rails responses are not relevant.
Maybe they should have been left unbolded but factors outside their control had been cited already
 

reb0118

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I would have thought that, before leaving the train, the crew should do a sweep through to check if there is anyone left on - particularly at midnight, when sleeping passengers are quite likely. Is this part of procedures?
This sounds like common sense and in fact was once one of the guard's duties however the time to do this was taken out of the diagrams when we lost our "booking off" time and the responsibility passed on to the BTP.

Lots of guards still do this though as a matter of course (it can save you a shed load of grief and is good customer service to boot) although we are probably not allowed to "officially" wake sleeping passengers as an assault charge may follow.
 

Greenback

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I would have thought that, before leaving the train, the crew should do a sweep through to check if there is anyone left on - particularly at midnight, when sleeping passengers are quite likely. Is this part of procedures?
This sounds like common sense and in fact was once one of the guard's duties however the time to do this was taken out of the diagrams when we lost our "booking off" time and the responsibility passed on to the BTP.

Lots of guards still do this though as a matter of course (it can save you a shed load of grief and is good customer service to boot) although we are probably not allowed to "officially" wake sleeping passengers as an assault charge may follow.
Even if this is done, the guard may be quite a while getting to somebody who remains on the train, particularly if they have to deal with other matters such as sleeping passengers on the way through.

In the case of sever delays and late running, I would also imagine that control could instruct a guard to book off as soon as they arrive, in order to limit the possible effect on the next day's diagrams.
 
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My understanding is that East Coast have a bevy of on-call managers, whose responsibility it is to ensure that resources (including themselves, if necessary) are in place to deal with issues arising from late running trains after network disruption. Whatever the 'normal' staffing level is for Kings Cross at midnight, it will be inadequate to deal with requests for taxis, hotels, onward travel advice, locking up of sets before them going off to the depot and passenger assistance. The real question then, is whether EC made any effort to supplement the night staff and if not, why not?
 

SussexMan

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.... although we are probably not allowed to "officially" wake sleeping passengers as an assault charge may follow.
Could depend on how you do it! However, I'm interested to know the evidence which points to being charged for assault if you wake someone up. And who should if the guard doesn't? No one is exempt from an assault charge so the suggestion seems to be that they must be left there until they wake up because presumably if the guard can't, no one can.

Sounds like an excuse to me. Can see the headline... "Disabled Passenger left to sleep on train all night." Spokesman for Network Rail said staff have been instructed not to wake people up because they may get charged with assault.
 
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