Newbridge wheelchair user forced to stay on train

Ann Marie calls for equal access for all public transport users

Niamh O'Donoghue niamh.odonoghue@leinsterleader.ie

Reporter:

Niamh O'Donoghue niamh.odonoghue@leinsterleader.ie

Newbridge wheelchair user forced to stay on train

Newbridge train station

A busy commuter has slammed Iarnród Eireann after she was forced to stay on the train to Kildare Train Station, after the driver refused to put down the ramp to allow drive her electric wheelchair off in Newbridge.

Ann Marie Champ said it took an hour for a wheelchair taxi to arrive in Kildare to get her back to Newbridge on Tuesday, August 23, after she disembarked from the 5.30pm train from Heuston. She said the train driver in question told her they were not trained to handle the ramp and could not put it out for her.

“It’s easier for me to travel to the other side of the world than to travel on the train from Newbridge to Dublin and back. It’s gone beyond a joke,” she said.

Ann Marie, who has commuted to work in Dublin for over two years, said she went to Heuston and took all the usual steps to ensure she would be assisted on and off the train. She presented herself at the customer service desk, and proceeded to the platform, where she was informed, by two customer service employees, that there wouldn’t be any staff in Newbridge to let her off.

She asked them to let the driver know she would require assistance from them in Newbridge station, something which had been done on numerous occasions. However, that did not happen on this occasion.

She said this is the second time in under a week she had been rerouted and delayed. On Wednesday, August 17, while travelling on the 4.30pm service, she said she was again forced to go to Kildare as there was no ramp on the train, despite that driver’s willingness to help.

In her written complaint to the company, she said; “I’m very upset by both incidents as I already have a 12-hour day involving a two hour commute each way so I could do without the added uncertainty of not knowing whether I’ll be able to get home on a service of my choosing like all the able bodied passengers.”

She wrote she found it disgusting that a representative of the company can publicly refuse her right to travel in the same way as any other passenger, just metres away from a sign stating that “you as a company welcome passengers such as myself and comply fully with the “Equal Status Act”.

She requested an explanation and a resolution to ensure this does not happen to any another wheelchair user again.

She said the company’s Accessibility Officer had been in touch and told her a formal response would be forthcoming this week.

An Iarnród Eireann spokesperson told the Leader; “We have apologised to Ann Marie that there was a fall down on communication on this day.

“The staff member at Heuston was misinformed that there was a staff member at Newbridge. We understand that the incident was very distressing for Ann Marie and she has spoken with our Accessibility Officer to ensure that an incident like this never occurs again.”