Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from Norma Huxter (DAT 88)

I find it difficult to get the right kind of help on the train. I have to travel from Halstead to Braintree as we don’t have a station here anymore.

Trying to book assistance 24–48 hours before travel can be a real problem as it isn’t always possible to get through.

I would also point out that as disabled people we are discriminated against as we are the only people who cannot just turn up at a station to take a train. I am a wheelchair user and therefore I need ramps to get me on and off a train. I don’t usually have a problem at Braintree on my outbound journey, the staff there are very accommodating. However, despite Braintree staff ringing through to Liverpool Street before I leave, there is not always the assistance I need when I arrive there.

I cannot always book the exact train I would like to catch on my return journey because, when attending a concert (usually at the Royal Albert Hall) I can never be sure that the buses will reach the station in time for me to catch a train at 11 p.m.

There is also the added problem of Braintree station not being manned late at night and therefore I have to disembark at Witham, where I am supposed to have a taxi waiting to take me back to Braintree. The last couple of times, there has not been a taxi waiting for me. Apparently there is only one company that the Railway use which is called Knight’s. They will not always accommodate late travellers. Which in the end means I have to find another taxi late evening or early morning, which is quite stressful. The rail company advise me they will pay for the taxi but then I get caught in the middle because no one will take responsibility for making that decision. People at Witham say they haven’t been advised and Liverpool Street don’t want to know. I am usually advised when booking ahead of time that this will all be sorted out, but my experience so far, is that it doesn’t work. This situation needs addressing as soon as possible.

I am unable to use the local bus service as I live a mile away from the nearest bus stop and I am unable to self propel my wheelchair that far. Plus, if there is a disabled person on the bus already, I cannot be accommodated for on that bus and there is no telling when the next available wheelchair accessible bus will be available.

May 2013

Prepared 13th September 2013