(Northern) Wheelchair passenger unable to access accessible toilet

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Dr Hoo, 2 Jul 2019.

  1. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Established Member

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    Couldn't find a relevant thread and thought that I should share a bizarre event from today.

    A westbound train (formed of 150114) arrives at Hope station where an unaccompanied passenger in a wheelchair was waiting. The unit has an accessible toilet and adjacent wheelchair space and the wheelchair ramp storage is in the nearest door vestibule. However, the vehicle is not labelled for wheelchair conveyance. The other vehicle has an 'open' area labelled for both bicycle storage and wheelchair accommodation but no ramp. As is commonly the case on the Hope Valley the area is well loaded with bikes, buggies and luggage.

    The guard initially seemed a little flummoxed so I presume that assistance had not been pre-booked. Wheelchairs are quite rare at Hope as the opposite platform is not accessible. Anyway, he set to with a will, clearing out the area in the designated vehicle, running back to fetch the ramp, taking it forward, loading the wheelchair and then bringing the ramp back to stow it before despatching the train after six minutes station overtime. We then set off for Manchester with the wheelchair space by the toilet completely unused the whole way. At one point we were 12 minutes late but pulled back to only seven minutes late at Piccadilly. After arrival there was then another few minutes of running backwards and forwards with the ramp in order to unload the wheelchair-bound passenger and get the train in order for its return run.

    I was wondering if anyone could shed any light on why the newly-created wheelchair area outside the newly-installed accessible toilet cannot be used for its intended purpose. The current policy rather seems to defeat the purpose of the modifications.
     
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  3. sportzbar

    sportzbar Member

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    It sounds like the guard had "one of them moments". I know I nearly did the same once. Wheelchair passenger on the platform at the cycle space towards the rear with the wheel chair space towards the front. I went all the way to the front, got the ramp out and started to proceed towards the rear. Then the penny dropped and I got the wheelchair passenger to come up the platform. Could be wrong but that sounds like what has happened.
     
  4. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    Seems pretty obvious to me. 150114 has had it's internal work done to fit the bog but I believe it's still in old Northern livery having not had it's external work done and therefore I bet my bottom dollar that the external transfers are still for the 'old' wheelchair space next to the cab.

    The guard has had a brain fart for whatever reason (bad day, tired, maybe even a bit dim - who knows - we've all done stupid things!) and just mentally defaulted to placing the person by the sticker as they will have done for however long they've been operating 150s.

    Alternatively they've decided that assistance staff at the other end will look for the external transfers (if they're going to Man Picc they're network rail who are often agency with little training) and the wheelchair user being elsewhere will cause confusion and delay.

    I don't think you can read much more than that into it!
     
  5. Intermodal

    Intermodal Member

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    Fantastic story. I especially enjoyed the part where you made a simple human mistake into three paragraphs of speculative text.

    The guard is very lucky to have such a highly observant and critical passenger on board. Most people can only dream of being watched so closely at work and having a simple brain fart be published to the entire world. Fortunately, railway staff are lucky enough to have this happen often. I bet the chap in H&M on the checkout wishes someone would write a post about how he folded clothes in an inefficient manner.

    Keep up the great work!
     
  6. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I'd be surprised if the wheelchair user didn't say something if they were likely to want to use the toilet, in any case. Most people do not use the toilet on a short train journey, and given the access issues that often come up I'd reckon a wheelchair user is likely to have a well trained bladder (not that this should need to be the case of course).
     
  7. robbeech

    robbeech Established Member

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    Does the same apply when they refuse to accept a passenger in a wheelchair at all due to late running or would that be considered worthy of comment?
     
  8. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    It would be similar to forgetting to load a wheelchair user on board - something to apologise for and try to prevent in future, but not the end of the world (assuming they did not need to use the toilet). It wouldn't be the same as wilfully doing anything.
     
  9. Intermodal

    Intermodal Member

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    Lots of things may be worthy of comment, it isn't worth going into them all here. Perhaps even the situation OP may be worth of comment, but that depends on a few things:

    • Was the person for whom the mistake was made actually bothered? Surely if they were then they could have mentioned it to the guard when they were being boarded, during the journey or afterwards to the customer experience center. If the wheelchair user was in fact not bothered then why are we discussing it here and being bothered on their behalf?
    • Would it be most appropriate to comment on this in a public forum, or directly to the guard or company concerned? All this thread serves to do is humiliate a particular member of staff, and will likely never reach them so it will not be of any benefit to them
    • Did the mistake have any actual ramifications? I doubt it. If the wheelchair user wished to use the toilet they could inform the guard of this and be moved. Admittedly a small inconvenience and it shouldn't have happened but its not the end of the world or a drastic accessibility failure, is it?
     
  10. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    To be fair there must be a pretty massive number of combinations of unit / interior layout on Northern at the moment. Can imagine it would be quite easy to miss something, especially were someone to be inexperienced.
     
  11. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Established Member

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    Thanks to those who have responded to this thread. I was in no way criticising the guard, who, as I noted, willingly assisted a mobility-impaired passenger. I didn't think for a minute that the guard had 'forgotten' that there was an accessible toilet. The fact that the ramp was stored next to it was a bit of a prompt. I suspected that there must be some sort of fleet 'issue' that meant that the 'obvious' (but un-labelled) 'new' area in one vehicle could not be used and the 'old' area in the other vehicle had to be. For example, there may be missing restraints, handrails, call-for-aid alarms or whatever.
    From a quick check on Real Time Trains it looks as though the incident delayed several other services and broke the connection with the Rose Hill Marple-Manchester via Hyde train at Romiley. Anyone unlucky enough to want to travel to Fairfield could have been delayed by an hour.

    Time to close.
     
  12. TUC

    TUC Established Member

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    Is there any evidence of situations where that has happened?
     
  13. Alfonso

    Alfonso Member

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    Top marks for using "confusion and delay". The fat controller would be proud of you!
     
  14. Pete_uk

    Pete_uk Member

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    Has this anything to do with the 'We need bigger disabled loos' story on the BBC website?
     
  15. robbeech

    robbeech Established Member

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    I witnessed it in that exact form several months ago at Meadowhall. You see several similar reports though it’s off topic for this thread (at least partially my fault)
     
  16. mde

    mde Member

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    No, that relates to ‘changing places’ toilets, which are a more specialist provision.

    Some stations have them, but, it’s doubtful the restrictive gauge in GB would be able to fit one onboard without some very creative thinking.
     

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