Thursday 26 April 2018

Rail bosses forced to apologise as two wheelchair users left stuck on DART at accessibility launch

Liam Daly (20) right, from Navan road, Dublin and Sean O'Kelly (25) from Dalkey at the launch of the DART Improved Accessibility Pilot at Connolly Station. Photo: Damien Eagers
Liam Daly (20) right, from Navan road, Dublin and Sean O'Kelly (25) from Dalkey at the launch of the DART Improved Accessibility Pilot at Connolly Station. Photo: Damien Eagers
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

A wheelchair user attending the launch of the Dart accessibility pilot programme was unable to disembark a train at Connolly Station – as rail staff had forgotten to notify the station of his arrival.

A second wheelchair user, who was also attending the launch of the accessibility programme, had to ask his friend to help him off the train after rail staff arrived late at the platform.

Both men were attending the launch at Connolly Station yesterday morning and said the incidents had undermined their confidence in the service.

Transport Minister Shane Ross was unable to attend the event.

Disability activist Sean O’Kelly (25), from Dalkey, informed staff at Dalkey Dart Station that he was attending the launch but they failed to phone ahead.

As a result, the person he was travelling with had to run to the front of the train and inform the driver of Mr O’Kelly’s presence on board.

Meanwhile, Liam Daly (20), from the Navan Road, said rail staff with a ramp were late when he arrived at the station.

Concerned he might miss the launch, he asked his friend to help him disembark the train.

Both men were among members of Ireland’s disability community attending the launch of the new programme, which aims to reduce the advised notice period for those requiring assistance when travelling on the Dart from 24 hours to four hours.

According to Mr O’Kelly, his experience demonstrates some of the problems with the advance notice planning.

“When someone didn’t come I laughed,” he said.

“To be coming to a launch for accessibility and for that to  happen, I just burst out  laughing.”

He added that he has “no confidence” in the four-hour notice. 

“We shouldn’t have to give four hours’ notice,” he said.

“We shouldn’t have to give any notice. It is disgraceful. It just shows how we are discriminated against.”

Irish Rail’s corporate communications manager Barry Kenny described their experiences as “unfortunate”.

“It is unfortunate of course. We will take that feedback because users have to have confidence in the system or else it won’t work,” Mr Kenny said.

“We would ask people to give this process time. We are confident people will see an improvement.”

Herald

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