A disabled rail passenger has slammed the rail network after he was unable to easily access a wheelchair space on a train.

Bob Light, of Warwick Road in Banbury, regularly uses the rail network and said he has never had an issue booking a wheelchair seat before.

On September 22 Mr Light and a close friend were set to travel from Banbury Station to Blackpool together, but the 80-year-old faced a confusing battle to secure a wheelchair space for the journey.

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Bicester Advertiser: Bob Light regularly uses the rail networkBob Light regularly uses the rail network (Image: Newsquest)

The pair booked their tickets three days before they were due to travel and Mr Light got in touch with Chiltern Railway to secure an appropriate space.

However the company told him they do not deal with such enquires and said he would need to contact National Rail.

National Rail then directed him to Cross Country, which told him the same thing as Chiltern Railway.

Finally, on the day of his trip Mr Light spoke with staff at Banbury Station who told him such spaces could not be booked at the station and he would have to “hope for the best”.

The consequence being that if there were no spaces Mr Light could be stuck anywhere between Banbury and Blackpool and the same being true for the return journey.

Mr Light called the service he received “diabolical” and “really bad”.

“It is a clear case of discrimination,” he told this newspaper.

Bicester Advertiser: Banbury Station in Oxfordshire Banbury Station in Oxfordshire (Image: Google Maps)

Back in April Mr Light faced a similar issue on a coach service which was put in place by National Rail as a rail replacement bus from Banbury.

While waiting to get on the coach Mr Light said was told the driver and other station staff were unable to sort the wheelchair space out as the “nuts and bolts” would not move.

In the end, station staff took it upon themselves to pay for a taxi for Mr Light out of their own pocket so he could continue his journey.

However, when he sought to make a complaint about the lack of accessible space he was allegedly told that his wheelchair was reported as “too large” to fit into the space.  

Mr Light disagrees with this and has since pursued further complaint.

A spokesperson for Chiltern Railway said: “As an industry, we take accessibility and the needs of our Passenger Assist customers incredibly seriously, which is why we are disappointed to hear of Mr. Light's difficulties travelling on the rail network.

“We continually strive for improvements to our Passenger Assist service and will be conducting a thorough investigation as to how, and why, this happened."


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This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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