Disabled woman left ‘frozen and embarrassed’ on station platform

The 56-year-old was unable to get a train back to West Worthing

The 56-year-old was unable to get a train back to West Worthing

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A disabled woman was left stranded on a station platform because there was no one to help her onto a train.

Sandra Nighy, of Fairfields, Tarring, uses a wheelchair and regularly books assistance on Southern trains, however on Friday (January 6) she had to be left behind.

She said: “The train pulled up and the doors opened, but no one came to assist me.

“I kept pressing the button to open the doors in an attempt to alert someone.

“The driver then got out of his cab to say there was no OBS (on board supervisor) on the train and he was not trained to help me.

“I could see he felt really bad – the whole situation was horrible and embarrassing and it is unforgivable when I had booked assistance 48 hours in advance.”

The 56-year-old had been at bible study group in Hampden Park, near Eastbourne, and was returning home to West Worthing railway station after 10pm, which is a journey she does twice a week. However, she was left to wait in the ‘freezing cold’ for a taxi at the railway station – which took two hours.

“I was frozen and ached all over and didn’t get home until after midnight because the taxi firm said there was no available taxi with wheelchair access,” she added.

Mrs Nighy thought she had overcome the worst but found herself in the same situation the following day.

She said: “On my way back from Hampden Park on Saturday, I was told I could not get on the train again as there would be no OBS to help me at Brighton, which is where I change trains to get home, so I had to wait for the next one – which luckily didn’t take too long. Am I just going to have to stop travelling if I want to go out somewhere? It is total discrimination and I am meant to have equal rights.

“There needs to be someone on the train or the driver needs to be able to help. If someone is taken ill, or is violent, the driver wouldn’t know and this is quite scary.”

A spokesman from Southern Rail said: “We are very sorry that Mrs Nighy didn’t get the level of service she was expecting.

“We will be investigating the circumstances pertaining to this experience and will be contacting her as soon as possible.”

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