A PENSIONER who suffers from chronic arthritis is demanding answers after a rail company refused to let him on a train with his mobility scooter.
Northern Rail workers have repeatedly refused to let Rev John Snape, 68, of Quebec Road, Lammack, Blackburn, onto their trains because his mobility scooter is 4cm larger than their guidelines say is acceptable.
Northern Rail said its guidelines were laid down to ensure the safety of all train users.
But local disability action groups said scooter users faced major problems when it came to using the rail network and did not see the issue being resolved soon.
Rev Snape, who is a bishop with the Free Episcopalian Church, said: “They said the scooter was too big to have on the train and I am disgusted about their attitude.
“The government is encouraging us all to think green when it comes to transport, but Northern Rail is standing in my way of that.
“It is not just about me but all disabled people. They are being treated unfairly.”
Rev Snape suffers severe pain in his spine due to arthritis, a condition which also affects his feet and ankles.
In a letter to Rev Snape, Northern Rail said it was willing to accept passengers with mobility scooters which could be folded up measured 100cm or less.
Unfortunately for Rev Snape, his scooter is 104cm long and bigger than the firm accepts.
Carolyn Watson, media relations manager at Northern Rail, said: “Our policy is that we can carry motorised scooters only if they are the type that can be folded and carried on board the train.
“This is because we operate several different types of trains and our services call at over 500 stations, so we cannot guarantee to have a standard incline in all boarding ramps.
“The centre of gravity of mobility scooters greatly increases the risk of the vehicle and its owner toppling backwards on boarding ramps.”
Ruth Carter, of Blackburn with Darwen Disabled Access Group, added: “It’s a problem that affects a lot of people.
“We would like to see something created so there is space for them to be parked but I can’t see it happening soon.”
Lancashire Telegraph, 10th March 2009