The consumer travelled with his daughter returning from a trip to the theatre late at night. They had checked the station accessibility information before travelling and understood that the lift was available at the destination station from first train to last as this would be required for the consumer’s daughter to exit the platform.
Upon arrival at 23.30, the lift was not in use and a sign stated it had not been in operation since 20.45. There was no-one available at the information point therefore the consumer had to carry his daughter via the stepped access out of the station while his partner had to carry her wheelchair.
The consumer was concerned about both their safety (as otherwise they could have been stranded on the platform in December), the safety of other passengers and also the impact this had on his daughter.
The Rail Service Provider stated in response that the lift could not be operated whilst the station was not staffed due to safety concerns as there is no remote access to it. They explained that the station was not staffed at that time due to staff shortages. They amended the information on the website, apologised and offered a £50 voucher.
What the Ombudsman did
The Rail Ombudsman spoke to the Rail Service Provider as we felt it was important that the consumer and his daughter felt confident to travel again, whatever the time of day. The Rail Service Provider put forward a further offer in resolution stating that they would like to offer their sincere apologies for the incident and recognised the severity of the issue. In addition, they have now amended processes so that routine announcements on the trains passing through the station advertise the lack of facilities outside staffing hours and advising that taxis will be available at alternative stations. They have also confirmed that the staffing hours, and therefore lift availability hours of the station, have been updated on their website. In recognition of the impact the events have had on the consumer and his daughter, they also offered £50 worth of compensation in the form of a cheque, £14.75 to cover the cost of the train tickets that day and stated that they would like to send a bunch of flowers as a further apology.
This offer was presented to the consumer who explained that compensation was not the driver of the complaint and he would be donating the entire compensation amount to a charity who specialises in accessibility and disability issues. The consumer was mostly concerned with how any further accessibility issues were being dealt with and that any ongoing responsibilities were being met. He was happy with the offer but thought that the Rail Service Provider could improve on the compensation amount awarded.
The Rail Ombudsman relayed this to the rail service provider and explained that there was scope for adjustment with the award.
The Rail Service Provider agreed with the Ombudsman and were happy to increase the offer to £100. The consumer accepted the offer.
The consumer stated that the Rail Ombudsman had been very helpful in settling the dispute and wanted the Rail Ombudsman to know that their work had proved an invaluable help for passengers who had disability and accessibility needs.