I’m going on a trip up the Far North line to Orkney. As this is somewhat of a special trip, I decided to go First Class where possible (I booked 3 months in advance with split ticketing to make it affordable.)
As ever with the rail industry, my need for wheelchair access meant booking was not straightforward. I was given contradictory information from four different train operating companies, which resulted in multiple attempted and failed assistance bookings. I ended up buying multiple spurious tickets because different rail staff told me that there are / are not wheelchair spaces in First Class on the various legs.
In the end, the (very helpful) Transport Integration Manager at TransPennine Express sent an email round to his equivalents at Scotrail, VTEC, Northern and (later) RDG to attempt to sort out the horrible mess of broken assistance bookings and duplicate tickets.
Scotrail’s (then) Head of Access and Inclusion, responded with this extraordinary ad hominem attack.
Mr Paulley advised in all circumstances that he knew both ScotRail and VTEC had no first class for journeys he wanted to make including knowledge that ScotRail portion did not do seat reservation.
He pointed out that he had booked first class tickets on our website but I know he would have noticed that there is warning about first class wheelchair spaces.
We did another digging and found that he also send a Textphone request now saying he booked his tickets on Northern website.
I plan to go over the next telephone conversation as his request is that we pay him £7k for not meeting ORR requirements and he took information from approval letter of 2016 something baseless.
I’m not going to bore everybody by refuting each allegation, nor extemporise on the clearly unacceptable manner in which a senior member of Scotrail staff libelled me to senior managers in other train operating companies, but the “something baseless” extract from the Office of the Rail and Road, and the claim of a warning on Scotrail’s website, are worryingly and demonstrably inaccurate.
The Office of Rail and Road wrote to Scotrail in the May 2016 decision letter approving Scotrail’s Disabled People’s Protection Policy:
Following information received by ORR during the review of your DPPP, we also asked you to clarify how you ensure that passengers using a wheelchair are not able to buy a first class ticket which in practical terms they may not be able to make use of. This is due to restrictions in the accommodation meaning wheelchair users would need to be able to transfer to a seat. You have advised that you have now updated your DPPP passenger document and the accessible travel and first class ticket pages of your website to make this clear. You have also told us you will make the restriction clear when customers are going through the ticket booking process on your website, and that your staff are aware of the restriction when selling tickets in person.
You have also told us that you will correct the information on National Rail Enquiries that stated first class accommodation was available for wheelchair users, as this information is incorrect. Please inform us when the National Rail Enquiries site has been updated and when your online booking process has been changed. We would expect this to be completed within three months of the date of this letter, and will get in touch with you to ensure this work has been completed.
Clearly their website and their staff should have warned me that there aren’t any wheelchair spaces in First Class on Scotrail’s services.
I think this shows that Scotrail have as much contempt for wheelchair users, as they already demonstrated they hold for the ORR and for me personally.