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Woman told to take train to opposite platform

  • March 2, 2010
  • Bruce Bromley

A wheelchair-bound woman was told to take a train for 30 miles in order to cross to an opposite platform 20 yards away.

Julie Cleary, 53, was hoping to use a new £2.8m lift at Staplehurst train station in Kent to get out of the station after a day trip to London, reports the Daily Telegraph. But she was told she could not use it because of “health and safety” and told to instead to catch a train to Ashford International Station, 15 miles away, and back so she would end up on the right platform.

Miss Cleary said: “The lights were on but there was a metal bar over the button. We couldn’t use it. We were told to wait for the next train to Ashford, cross the tracks and come back to get on the other side of the platform – which was 15 to 20 yards away. That was our only choice.”

Miss Cleary, who has been forced to use a wheelchair since suffering a spinal aneurysm when she was 12-years-old, said she was told the high-tech lift could only be used when the station was manned.

She told a local website: “I have family in the village, and they came down and helped get me up and over the steps and down the other side. My friends were brilliant, but it was still embarrassing simply not being able to leave the station.

“I did feel furious about it. If I was on my own I would have had no choice but to take the train to Ashford, which is a large and busy station, then change back on the train to Staplehurst.”

Miss Cleary complained to her MP, Anne Widdecombe, and received an apology from Southeastern trains along with £30 of rail vouchers.

Jon Hay-Campbell, a spokesman for the train company, said the lift had been opened as part of an “Access for All” scheme to help those in wheelchairs and with buggies to get across the tracks.

He added that initially the lift could only be used when the station was manned due to “health and safety” reasons but further works had now been done so it can be operated remotely 24 hours a day.

– Ananova