Disabled pensioner left ‘frightened’ at Luton train station after being denied access to platform
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A disabled woman has spoken about her experience at Luton railway station which left her ‘frightened’ as she attempted to board a train.
Rona Wakefield, 79, had bought a ticket for the 9.17am train to London, but was not allowed down to the platform to wait. She said: “It was a miserable day and I had hoped to go to the platform waiting room, as I have done in the past. Instead I had to wait standing at the barrier with dozens of others until 9.13am had left.”
Ms Wakefield, who is disabled, pleaded with staff at the barriers to allow her down to the platform. But she was not allowed to wait for her train. She said: “I can’t stand and stairs are difficult, there are no lifts at our station. I appealed to someone to be allowed to go to sit down, as I would definitely get the correct train. I was told that if she let me through, she’d have to let everyone. I was at least 40 years older than ‘everyone’.”
Ms Wakefield struggled to get down the stairs and said she was hanging onto the rail while others rushed past her. She explained: “When we were allowed through there was a terrible rush of people, rushing down the stairs with less than four minutes to do it. I was really frightened.”
Jenny Saunders, customer services director at Govia Thameslink Railway, said: "I feel for Ms Wakefield and understand her upset. We take this seriously and will remind the team of the importance of looking out for vulnerable people and using discretion.
“To prevent customers from boarding the wrong train and then risk receiving a penalty fare, we do have to ask those with off-peak tickets to wait upstairs until the last peak train has left. Our colleagues at the station do, of course, take into consideration a person's welfare."
Rona added: "I think this person could have made an exception for me. I was so upset. After having my lymph nodes taken out, I am not meant to stand."