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Disabled travellers abandoned'

PUBLISHED: 12:01 25 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:17 12 August 2010

A PRESSURE group has called for better staff training after a report claimed disabled passengers are being left stranded on the platform or abandoned on trains.

A PRESSURE group has called for better staff training after a report claimed disabled passengers are "being left stranded" on the platform or "abandoned" on trains.

The study by Passenger Focus, an independent rail watchdog, found staff at stations met the mystery shoppers on only two out of three occasions, despite assistance having been booked through the Assisted Passenger Reservation Service (APRS).

And in 15 per cent of all cases no assistance was provided to help passengers get off the train.

Trevor Browne, chief executive of BATH, an organisation which provides travel for and represents disabled people in Bromley, said: "It's wrong if people are being treated badly. There is no excuse for people not being helpful.

"If people feel they have been discriminated against we can help them get compensation if the complaint is reasonable. This is a case of poor staff training which needs to be addressed."

BATH offers people door to door transport for a fee but some people cannot afford to pay for it and have to take public transport.

Mr Browne added: "It is well documented that Bromley South station is very difficult for people in wheelchairs or the elderly or visually impaired. But it is an early Victorian station so what do you expect? There are plans to redevelop it but this won't happen overnight. Things have improved remarkably. It's not perfection but it never will be. Progress is being made."

The study included journeys on Southeastern Railway trains which serve Bromley, Bexley, Dartford and Gravesend.

An anonymous comment from a wheelchair mystery shopper read: "I was left on the train, my companion had already alighted, the doors closed and I was carried on to the next station."

Passenger Focus chief executive, Anthony Smith, said: "Our mystery shoppers experienced varied levels of service, from excellent staff assistance, to a mediocre reception, through to no help at all"

A spokesman for Southeastern Trains said: "The overwhelming majority of bookings go without a hitch and we actually receive quite a lot of compliments about our service.

"Having said that, mistakes do happen and we will be working closely with Passenger Focus and disabled groups to implement their recommendations."

To contact BATH, call 020 8663 3345 or see www.bath-disability.org.

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