Cold Feet actor slams Greater Anglia over wheelchair facilities in first class
PUBLISHED: 09:19 12 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:57 13 January 2020
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A top actor with a disability has attacked Greater Anglia over its failure to provide wheelchair seating areas in first class carriages on its new trains.
Ruth Madeley - who starred in Cold Feet and Years and Years and who uses a wheelchair - joined a chorus of disapproval from people, who accused GA of treating wheelchair users as "second-class citizens".
The 32-year-old tweeted: "THIS IS A NEW TRAIN."
Hers was among a number of angry comments on Twitter. Many questioned how wheelchair users could access first class, which has been designed with larger seats and more space, adding there was "no excuse".
Catherine Manning said: "Sort this out!! You've basically said we're 2nd class citizens, don't deserve to travel 1st class with more space. It's not all about a sit down meal! Hardly championing #inclusion are you
@GreaterAngliaPR You should be ashamed of yourself."
Norwich resident Anna Wall said: "They are making big steps forward with the flat steps. It's such a nice thing to go and not have to worry if you can get on and off the train.
"The main problem we have is you are shutting out a selection of the population from using a particular service.
"I understand they cannot level all the way along the train, but why does first class need to be that bit of the train?"
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At the end of December, the company was one of nine train providers that missed the Government's deadline to make trains accessible for everyone.
Replying on Twitter, Greater Anglia said the trains met all accessibility regulations, with trains measuring 205m to 300m long requiring three wheelchair spaces, the amount allocated on its intercity trains.
In other parts of the train, larger accessible areas were created for three wheelchairs and seating for friends and family of users so groups could sit together.
The wheelchair area has been located "within sight" of the cafe bar.
During the trains development, Greater Anglia invited a group of disabled passengers to see the new features on the Stadler trains, including a sliding step to bridge the gap between the door and the platform, giving level access and not wait for staff assistance.
Greater Anglia said: "There are no wheelchair spaces in our first class seating area, as on many other non-long distance trains. The main advantage of first class on our new trains are larger seats and more space. We do not have a sit-down meal service in first class.
"The wheelchair area is within sight of the café bar, where staff are often available to help if needed. It's near a large accessible toilet, also designed with the help of disabled passengers and accessibility professionals."
It said it also worked with disability groups on other passenger improvements including use of contrasting colours on grab rails, tactile push buttons and door opening and closing alert sounds.
A Greater Anglia spokesman said: ""We consulted with disabled rail passengers and accessibility professionals on the design of our new trains. A shorter version of this train is already in service on most of our regional routes and has been described as a "game changer" by wheelchair-users using them, because they have a retractable step at every door bridging the gap between the train and the platform, giving level access so they can now board the train independently.
"We are committed to making our railway more accessible."