Sunday, 6 March 2016

Third Class Rail System

Everything was going to plan. Left home on a freezing cold Saturday morning at 8.05 needing to be at the assisted travel office in Euston Station at around 8.45 to catch the 9.17 train to New Street Birmingham. 

Another exciting Saturday to be spent in the bosom of Unite United Left Comrades in the august surroundings of Birmingham's Council House. The thought of getting there was creating quite a frisson of anticipation in me. 

We arrived at the drop off point for Euston Station in Eversholt Street at a couple of minutes past 8o’clock, well ahead of schedule. Next stop the pre-paid ticket machine, that I have to trust my trusted PA to operate for me as I cannot access it from my wheelchair.

Tickets collected with no problems.

Assisted onto the train in good time. However, as the wheelchair space was located right in front of the buttons operating the toilet I noticed a red warning light. On enquiry a station operative apologized and explained the toilet was out of service. This meant I had to vacate the train and catch a later one.

This created a problem, as I soon found out, from a ticket clerk in a small booth on the platform. Explaining my situation, the clerk told me I would need to take the issue up with whoever I bought the tickets from. To travel on the next train, I would need new tickets costing £28 each.

Of course I was furious. Why should I be penalized because the train I wanted to use was inaccessible? Surely it was the responsibility of the operators to carry out a reasonable adjustment and allow me to catch the next accessible train using existing or renewed tickets at no extra cost?

The ticket clerk said “NO.”

Despondently we turned to leave the platform when the staff member who had helped me on and off the train asked if I had sorted things. On explaining the situation, he asked us to wait a minute. A few minutes later he returned with another man. This it turned out was a station revenue officer. He took my outward journey ticket and wrote on the back signing it.

“There you are, that will get you to Birmingham. Sorry for all the inconvenience.” Now why didn’t the ticket clerk do that?      

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