Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson’s challenge: book a train with a toilet

Theoretically simple matter of booking assisted-travel ticket on First Great Western’s website left her desperately frustrated

As one of Great Britain’s most successful Paralympians, winning 11 gold medals across four Games, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson knows what it takes to triumph over adversity. Yet the theoretically simple matter of booking an assisted-travel ticket on First Great Western’s website nearly defeated the athlete-turned-politician and left her desperately frustrated.

Baroness Grey-Thompson’s annoyance was compounded when she was told there would be no  wheelchair-accessible toilets on her two-hour first-class journey.

The cross-bench peer said the problems she faced while travelling by rail highlighted wider issues for the disabled, adding that she had experienced far worse.

Baroness Grey-Thompson told The Independent: “With this journey they did check that there would be people at the station at the time of night I was arriving, which hasn’t always happened before. At least I was told there was no accessible toilet – previously I haven’t been.

“I have got on the East Coast service from London to Darlington and found that there is no toilet and the first stop is York! I tend to monitor my fluid intake to try to ensure that I don’t need to use the facilities. I am so used to doing this that I am quite good at it.”

Disabled passengers are advised by the train companies to book 24 hours in advance to ensure staff assistance is available. First Great Western also wanted to know the exact time she would arrive at the station, and how she would be getting there.

The peer, who spent almost an hour booking the ticket, in a “completely pointless use of my time”, said a further problem was that her busy schedule meant she did not always know her travel times a day in advance. “Sometimes I can do it, but sometimes I can’t,” she said.

A spokesman for First Great Western, part of FirstGroup, told The Independent that if there were no wheelchair-accessible toilets on board, passengers could request that the train driver stop at a station with appropriate toilets. The train would then wait for the passenger to return before it continued.

Baroness Grey-Thompson said: “I have never heard of this before. I was told that there was no accessible toilet and I was asked if this was OK. Not much to say apart from yes, because that is the train I wanted to travel on.”

First Great Western said in a statement: “Two thirds of our fleet operate with a wheelchair-accessible toilet, including all of our long-distance services We have a programme of works to extend that provision further. Our fleet of 165 units are due to be upgraded from October this year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral