Margaret Henderson, 86, says the wheels of her chair get stuck in the gap between the train and the platform, and needs help from staff to board
Trips on the Metro are proving a nightmare for one disabled pensioner – because her wheelchair keeps getting stuck between the platform and the trains.
Now, Margaret Henderson has called on transport bosses to further improve access for people like her on the system.
Margaret, who suffers from severe arthritis, says the wheels of her electric wheelchair get wedged in the gap between the train and the platform.
She therefore has to ring Metro at least six hours before she wants to travel on the system, so they can provide staff members to help her on and off the train.
Now the 86-year-old great-grandmother, of Shiremoor, is calling for something to be done to make travelling for passengers like her more easier.
She said: “I suffer from severe arthritis and have artificial hips and knees. But I like to stay independent and would like to get out and about every day if I can. I want to join arts and crafts groups, visit charities and meet other people – I don’t want to sit inside and get depressed.
“If I use a taxi to get from Shiremoor to North Shields , it costs me £12 each way.
“I feel the Metro is a good way of travelling around. But I can’t get onto the Metro without help. The wheels on my chair are too small and they get trapped in the gap between the train and platform.
“I was told that staff can help me on and off the train but I have to ring them six hours in advance, in reality that means I need to ring them a day before.
“They have to get someone out to help me every time I want to go somewhere. There has to be a better way of dealing with this. There may be many more people who are in the same position as me, including parents with buggies.
“A more constructive idea would be to put out a ramp and fold it back up.”
Nexus says ramps would not work on the system as the dwell time at stations is short. However they provide assistance to anyone with disabilities.
A spokesman added: “All 60 of the stations on the Metro system can be accessed by wheelchair, and while tens of thousands of wheelchair users travel by Metro every year we are always striving to make improvements in this area.
“We understand some passengers who use wheelchairs may have difficulty at those stations where there is a larger gap between the train and platform, which is why we will send staff to help if booked in advance. Customers who require help to board Metro trains can book assistance with as little as six hours’ notice, which is very good for the UK rail industry.
“Metro trains and stations do not have ramps and this is something that would not work on Metro as it’s a rapid transit system with dwell times at stations that are far shorter than those on the national railway network. Deploying the ramps would mean either having staff at all 60 stations or people booking to use them as they do now.
“We are currently in the process of trialling rubber fillers to reduce the gap and make boarding easier for wheelchairs, buggies and prams. We are also planning to provide improved information about accessibility at all of our Metro stations.
“Nexus is in dialogue with the Government about funding for a new fleet of trains which would further improve accessibility on the system.”
If any passenger requires assisted boarding, they should ring 0191 203 3666 or 203 3199. More information can be found at http://www.nexus.org.uk/metro/guide-metro/accessibility-and-safety
Source: Chronicle Live