A wheelchair user says a train company is 'ignoring its duty of care' towards disabled people after he was left 'wet and freezing cold' at a Suffolk station.

John Simpson, from Woodbridge, has written a letter of complaint to Greater Anglia over apparent declining standards of care after he was left at Saxmundham station on January 2.

He told the EADT he had travelled to Saxmundham to see friends and had arrived to catch the 8.56pm train home, only for it to not turn up, despite messages on the noticeboard saying it had been delayed until 9.26pm.

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He said in the past if he had been stuck, he would have been able to phone Ipswich station and they would arrange a taxi to pick him up, but this time he was transferred to an outsourced transport solutions firm in Blackburn, which was unable to provide appropriate transport.

In the end, he called his wife Michelle to collect him in the early hours of the morning after he took refuge from the weather in the courtyard of the Bell Hotel, a short distance from the station in the High Street.

However, this incident was not Mr Simpson's only concern and in his letter to the firm's customer relations team he highlights a number of issues with the service provided to the disabled.

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East Anglian Daily Times: John Simpson with the wheelchair ramp at Woodbridge stationJohn Simpson with the wheelchair ramp at Woodbridge station (Image: Charlotte Bond)In particular, he is concerned that guards on trains did not have keys to unlock access ramps that were needed if there was a gap between the train and the edge of the platform.

He also says call handlers at the Blackburn firm laughed at his predicament in unguarded comments made while leaving a voicemail on his phone.

He adds: "I would hate for others to be left stranded like myself and feel that more needs to be done for disabled passengers when things go wrong.

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"The use of a mass booking agent for disabled assistance with no local knowledge shows that there is no consideration to the duty of care that is needed in such scenarios or the disabled passengers' needs. There was no escalation or management of the situation."

In the letter, he sets out five changes that need to be made to improve the service for the disabled, including customer service agents having access to a local directory of support for disabled passengers, an escalation process when partner agents can not help and better communication to those who have asked for help.

He also calls for a forum to be set up to provide feedback from disabled customers so the firm can implement the right changes, while he also calls for a change in culture towards the disabled.

A spokesperson for Greater Anglia said: “We are very sorry for the extremely unsatisfactory journey suffered by Mr Simpson when travelling with us on Tuesday 2 January.

“We have apologised directly to Mr Simpson and a full investigation is now underway into what happened on the evening of Storm Henk.

“That review is looking at the key cause of the difficulties, as well as the problems obtaining accessible taxis, and other factors such as communication. Our clear aim is to prevent a repetition of such an incident in future.”



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