Irish Rail apologises after young wheelchair user left stranded on train for almost an hour
Published 19/04/2016 | 08:12
IRISH Rail has apologised to a young wheelchair user after she was left stranded on a train for nearly an hour.
Wheelchair users require the help of attendants to enter and exit trains on the Dart line because they have no automatic ramp facility.
Danielle Lavigne (25), originally from Dublin but living in Bray, has revealed her ordeal due to the inaccessibility of the capital’s trains for wheelchair users.
She was travelling to Dublin’s city centre last Friday to meet a friend and had planned to get off at Connolly Station, only to find that there was no attendant – despite her notifying the company beforehand.
Ms Lavigne was forced to travel all the way to the Howth station and back before she could exit the train.
“I went to Bray Station in a taxi, got out, rolled up to the gate and let them know I was going to Connolly.
“The guy in the booth is someone I’d know from previous trips, so it felt routine enough.
“He waved me through the gate and said he’d get me on the train that was waiting in the station.
“I went ahead and waited at the front of the train and he got me a ramp and I wheeled on board,” she said.
She was told there was a group of Spanish students on the train who were also with a wheelchair user and she saw the man speak to the driver before the train pulled off.
“I read for a bit and then when we neared Connolly I prepped myself to get off.
“When the doors opened I rolled up to it, but the attendant wasn’t there.
“I assumed they were just running late because that
happens sometimes. Then the doors closed and my heart sank,” Ms Lavinge said.
“I felt really anxious and took a few breaths to think about what I was going to do.”
She called the foreman of Pearse Station, whose number she had from previous trips, but the train pulled into and left a number of stations while he decided on what to do.
She also asked another passenger to press the emergency button, but nothing happened.
Eventually the driver of the train came to speak to her and said that she would bring her back to Connolly after the train got to Howth – a round trip of about 50 minutes.
She said a company representative spoke to her with the driver at Howth and apologised. After the ordeal she enjoyed a movie with her friend.
She was also left delayed on her homeward trip, when her friend was forced to hold the doors open on a train while an assistant came to help.
A spokesman from Irish Rail apologised to Ms Lavigne.
“We have asked her to pass on the details and the matter will be fully investigated,” he said.
He confirmed that wheelchair users require physical help to enter and exit trains with a moveable ramp and that they are asked to notify ahead of time about trips.