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Disabled rail passenger forced to push wheelchair up steps

an avanti west train
an avanti west train Image credit: thetrainline.com

A disabled man was forced to drag himself and his wheelchair up a flight up steps at Milton Keynes Central station after his Avanti train was cancelled and staff refused to assist.

Chris Nicholson said he was “stuck on a platform with no working lift” and “no disabled toilet” last weekend.

“I was travelling to London to attend @myprotein labs event, due to train issues my train was cancelled at Milton Keynes,” the former rugby player told his Instagram followers on Sunday.

“I decided to get up the stairs, how? By dragging my chair with one arm, pushing off one arm and collecting my legs each step of the way!

“Well what a total f**k up; I was stuck on a platform with no working lift, no disabled toilets and told to wait several hours whilst they found a train to come to my platform, whilst another one served able bodied customers on another platform I had no means of accessing.”

Nicholson went on to publicly shame the train service.

“@Avantiwestcoast didn’t help, leaving me sat on a platform with my bags, in my chair and in 31 degree heat with no access to a disabled toilet,” he wrote.

“I decided to get up the stairs, how? By dragging my chair with one arm, pushing off one arm and collecting my legs each step of the way!

“Staff couldn’t help me because of their health and safety policies and they would be at risk if they helped me.”

A kind passer-by helped Nicholson once he was half-way up the stairs with one member of station staff.

“Thankfully a gentleman saw me struggling and grabbed my chair! And the assistant manager went against what their manager was saying and grabbed my bags.

“I was in agony and tears half way up and I’m really grateful for the help!”

Nicholson said he was appalled how in today’s society accessible problems are still a thing.

“We are in 2022 - access should be a given, not a privilege,” he wrote.

“Things like this happen daily to people with different types of disabilities and until we change policies to support everyone collectively, @avantiwestcoast you f**ked up!”

In a second post Nicholson tagged the government, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the transport secretary and Department for Transport, saying: “It’s happening up and down the country with mums with babies, disabled people (visible and non), the elderly and it’s not OK…

“It sucks that people will only stand up and take notice when sh** hits the fan but I’m hoping this makes a difference and people listen.”

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of this incident and are sorry to hear about the customer’s experience. We have since been in contact with the customer - who arrived at their destination safely on Friday night.

“We are also liaising with London North Western Railway – the train operating company responsible for managing Milton Keynes station – as they investigate the circumstances of what happened.”

This week's train strikes are the largest for 30 years.