Disabled passenger forced to drag himself up station steps after train gets cancelled

‘I was in agony and tears halfway up,’ says former rugby player

<p>Mr Nicholson was travelling with Avanti West Coast when he became stranded </p>

Mr Nicholson was travelling with Avanti West Coast when he became stranded

A wheelchair user has described the moment he was forced to drag himself and his chair up a set of station steps using his arms, after he says staff refused to help him.

Chris Nicholson, a former rugby player, slammed Milton Keynes Central station and Avanti West Coast trains after he was “stuck on a platform with no working lift” and “no disabled toilets” following a train cancellation.

Writing on Saturday, Mr Nicholson says he was stranded at the Buckinghamshire station after his Avanti train was cancelled, and could not access another platform to board an alternative train since there was no step-free access.

“I was travelling to London to attend @myprotein labs event, due to train issues my train was cancelled at Milton Keynes,” he said in an Instagram post.

“Well what a total f**k up; I was stuck on a platform with no working lift, no disabled toilets and told to wait several hours whilst they found a train to come to my platform, whilst another one served able bodied customers on another platform I had no means of accessing.

“@Avantiwestcoast didn’t help, leaving me sat on a platform with my bags, in my chair and in 31 degree heat with no access to a disabled toilet.”

Mr Nicholson decided to take matters into his own hands, claiming that staff said they “couldn’t” help him due to their health and safety policy.

“I decided to get up the stairs, how? By dragging my chair with one arm, pushing off one arm and collecting my legs each step of the way!” he says.

“Staff couldn’t help me because of their health and safety policies and they would be at risk if they helped me.”

Mr Nicholson showed the distance between platforms with no disabled access

He told followers how, once he was halfway up, a sympathetic fellow passenger helped him, as well as one member of station staff.

“Thankfully a gentleman saw me struggling and grabbed my chair! And the assistant manager went against what their manager was saying and grabbed my bags.

“I was in agony and tears half way up and I’m really grateful for the help!”

Mr Nicholson railed against the state of accessibility at the station, saying: “We are in 2022 - access should be a given, not a privilege.

“Things like this happen daily to people with different types of disabilities and until we change policies to support everyone collectively, @avantiwestcoast you f**ked up!”

In a follow-up comment, he tagged the government, prime minister, transport secretary and Department for Transport, saying: “What’s shocking and sickening for me is that this is not an isolated event.

“It’s happening up and down the country with mums with babies, disabled people (visible and non), the elderly and it’s not OK…

“It sucks that people will only stand up and take notice when sh** hits the fan but I’m hoping this makes a difference and people listen.”

This week is set to see major rail disruption across the UK as three days of industrial action commence across the network, in what the RMT union is calling the “worst dispute since 1989”.

Staff including signallers, guards, catering workers and track maintenance workers will stage three 24-hour walkouts.

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of this incident and are sorry to hear about the customer’s experience. We have since been in contact with the customer - who arrived at their destination safely on Friday night.

“We are also liaising with London North Western Railway – the train operating company responsible for managing Milton Keynes station – as they investigate the circumstances of what happened.”

The Independent has approached London Northwestern Railway for comment.

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