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Disabled rail traveller told to sit near doors

Cameron Wood on a train wearing a face mask
Cameron Wood on a train wearing a face mask Image credit: bbc.co.uk

A disabled traveller was told he must sit in his wheelchair next to the train doors on two separate journeys because there were no other accessible spaces.

Cameron Wood, 25, from Hereford, felt unwell and unsafe on the routes after he was placed in the position by Transport for Wales (TfW).

Wood told BBC News: "I ended up sitting by the doors and it was like a rollercoaster. It wasn't a very nice experience."

He added: "It does worry me that the doors will accidentally open when at stations while a wheelchair is parked against them if this is allowed to continue."

On his first journey on 8 July, from Hereford to Cardiff, the only accessible seating area was taken up by a pushchair.

"In the opposite space there was a pushchair and this then led to me being told by a member of Transport for Wales staff to sit by the doors because there was no other wheelchair space at the time," Wood explained.

"Every time we stopped at a station - there were maybe three, four, five stops - I had to move because passengers were getting off and on and I was blocking a door through no fault of my own."

Wood’s second journey, on 9 July, was from Southampton Central to Hereford via Newport, but he once again moved to an unsuitable area near the doors.

"I was told by a member of train staff at Newport to sit by the doors of the train because the walkway from the door of the train to the wheelchair area was blocked - so I couldn't get there to begin with," he said.

"They told me to sit by the doors again but I'm about to say I'm finding that I'm having to do this more and more - you have nothing to anchor yourself with.

Wood is fuming with the travel service and is now calling for railway operators to introduce announcements onboard trains reminding passengers wheelchair spaces should be kept clear for those who need them.

"I do want an apology from them, it's unacceptable. They shouldn't allow wheelchair users to sit by the door," he said.

Wood added: "This week I've travelled every day, but normally it's once or twice a month. [Trains] are my lifeline.

"We don't have a choice where we sit and sometimes it can be really, really hard."

A TfW spokesperson said: "Looking after our customers' well-being and safety is our number one priority. We will investigate the services highlighted to understand why the area by the door was utilised.

"We aim to provide assistance to those who need help when travelling on our network.

"If passengers have not reserved a wheelchair space in advance, this may not be available if another passenger is already using the seat or it is reserved for a passenger later in the journey. If there are no priority seats available, our staff will do their best to help find a seat elsewhere.

"Additionally all our trains are fitted with equipment for our conductors to make announcements."

Transport for Wales is investing £800m in new trains which are being rolled out later this year, increasing capacity by 67%.