Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Disabled Boarding procedures

Pshambro

Member
Joined
4 Oct 2015
Messages
47
Hi all,
I've raised what (at least) I perceive to be a safety issue with Eurotunnel customer services and not had a direct response to my concerns: I'm keen to know other people's opinions on the matter or hear any professional knowledge anyone has.

To set the scene, I sometime cross the channel in a 4x4 with things on the roof and also have my disabled wife (who uses a manual wheelchair) on board. My car is not visibly adapted for wheelchair use and looks just like any other tourist car.

When I book on the website I always inform them of the wheelchair passenger and when we check in, the rear view hanger card gets printed with a wheelchair symbol. When we are allocated a lane in the departure area, we are normally in a lane by ourselves or with other disabled person carrying vehicles. Upon boarding we are always in the high vehicle section and either right at the very front or at the very back. The boarding personnel always seem to know that we are carrying a disabled person, seemingly without needing to check the hangar card (the wheelchair symbol is quite small and I'm not sure they could see it from several metres way) and they always leave a couple of metres space behind the car to the next vehicle, to allow for access to the wheel chair in the boot, should it be needed.

Recently we have started travelling flexi-plus and this bypasses the lane allocation booth in the departure area and thus we end up "in the mix" of the "normal cars" and have been loaded in the middle of the train bumper to bumper several times.

I thought nothing of this until there was a problem opening the doors on arrival at Folkstone and we sat inside the train for 30 minutes - the PA was inaudible and the the train temp was 28c, no staff present to explain what was going on. A lady a few cars back started to feel unwell and got panicky and her husband pushed the passcom (wether or not this was correct or justified is not for this thread), the passcom audio was poor and the person speaking on the other end was clearly agitated and would not tell us the nature of the incident. This set off a wave of panic in the coach and at this point I realised that should a pedestrian evacuation have been necessary, then we had no way of accessing my wife's wheelchair and were potentially in a serious situation.

After 30 mines the doors opened and we drove off, hot, bothered and somewhat shaken.

I raised this and the points about staff handling of the incident and the fact that the train PA was defective (as confirmed by a member of staff who eventually walked down the train) with customer services and whilst they acknowledged the issues with the PA and train temperature they did not acknowledge what I perceive to be a failing in the train loading procedure: they surely cannot expect the onboard staff to spot a wheelchair carrying car in the middle of 50 other cars, so space can be left.

What to do people think ? is this a non-issue or should I take it further ?
 
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ainsworth74

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Agreed. All is well that ends well of course but this seems like a flaw. As you identify if you'd needed to evacuate either in an actual emergency or just because that was the safe thing to do due to the nature of the incident (perhaps the doors were going to be jammed for an extended period) then you need to be able to access the wheelchair from the boot. So I would go back to Eurotunnel and request that they address your concerns regarding their boarding procedure.
 

mike57

Member
Joined
13 Mar 2015
Messages
574
Location
East coast of Yorkshire
Its what in other industries, and possibly the rail industry class as a 'near miss'. In my own mind I always class a near miss as 'one step from disaster', and over the years working in engineering I have seen a few. In this case it seems procedures have failed or are not in place to manage the situation. Look at it from the other side, say an evacuation had been required. Harm could have resulted and the investigations would no doubt pick up on the failing. If I was in charge of safety at Eurotunnel I would certainly be interested.
 

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