Disabled traveller slams scooter ban

Gina Vettese
Gina Vettese
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A disabled woman is launching legal action against a railway which forbids scooter users onto their trains.

Gina Vettese from Lancaster who is taking action against Northern Rail is backed by the disability rights organisation Transport for All, which is calling for an end to train companies operating a blanket ban on scooter users.

Gina said: “In this day and age it is a ridiculous policy to restrict the movement of mobility scooter users.

“We do not use scooters as fashion accessory. They are a much needed aid when many of us are not able to use wheelchairs.

“I’m taking action because I do not want this to happen to anyone else.”

Gina used Northern Rail’s services when travelling up to her family over Christmas from Lancaster to Morecambe.

Rail staff assisted her getting on the train on her outbound journey and did not mention their policy when Gina bought her ticket.

But on the way back, a different member of staff told her that company policy forbade her boarding a train unless she folded her scooter and carried it on as luggage.

Gina was forced to travel four miles to Lancaster station on her scooter and on her own, in freezing cold weather in an unfamiliar area.

This journey involved a steep and dangerous route and Gina was fearful that her scooter would run out of battery. Northern Rail is one of the three train companies (out of twenty-seven operating in the UK) which still has a blanket ban on scooter users boarding their trains.

The others are Gatwick Express and Grand Central.

On Tuesday December 1, Gina lead scooter users and other Transport for All members in a musical conga action through Victoria Station to present a letter to Gatwick Express, urging them to change their policy to allow on all scooters which can fit on the train safely, or face a similar challenge.

A Northern Rail spokesman said: “We are always working towards accommodating the needs of all our customers.

“Due to the restricted manoeuvrability and stability of mobility scooters, we do not accept any type of scooter for travel on our services, regardless of size, unless it can be folded and carried on board as a piece of luggage.

“We do not ask customers to carry on the folded scooter themselves. If they are travelling alone or require assistance, our train crew team will be happy to assist with loading and unloading.”