Train firms ‘did not give me help to get on board’, says disabled teen

One of the platforms at Morpeth Railway Station.
One of the platforms at Morpeth Railway Station.

Train operators have come in for criticism from a teenager who says there was no-one to help her at Morpeth Railway Station on three occasions.

Wheelchair-user Chloe Robson called up to book some journey assistance for when she was travelling by train by herself or with a younger relative.

There was someone at the station to help her on board the first time the 18-year-old did this with Virgin Trains east coast, but when she went through the same process with the company on May 20 and June 23, no-one was waiting for her.

In addition, she contacted the CrossCountry service as she was travelling from Morpeth to Darlington on the afternoon of August 14, and there was no assistance when she got to the station.

Chloe, who attended King Edward VI School and received her A-Level results last week, said: “The first time I called, there was someone waiting for me with a ramp to enable me to get on the train quickly.

“So I’m really angry that there has been no-one to help me on three separate occasions.

“The service enables you to give details of the assistance you need, so I don’t see how it has repeatedly let me down.

“My 11-year-old cousin was with me on August 14, for her first mainline train journey and what happened to me meant it was not a good experience for her either.

“The train operators have apologised when I called them, but that doesn’t help me with the situation I faced on those three occasions.

“Newcastle Railway Station is normally excellent with its support for disabled people.

“I know it’s a bigger station, but there shouldn’t be a difference between it and smaller stations when it comes to providing this support.”

Chloe has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which affects her breathing and joints, and also leaves her dangerously susceptible to everyday knocks and grazes.

Both train companies said they will be looking into what happened.

A Virgin Trains spokeswoman said: “Thousands of disabled customers regularly travel with Virgin Trains and we have systems in place to ensure that they are properly looked after.

“We’re sorry to hear of Chloe’s experience and we will be in touch with her to find out exactly what happened.”

A CrossCountry spokesman said: “We’re disappointed that we were unable to help Chloe on August 14, and we would be happy to look into the circumstances if she would like to get in touch with us.”