Sara Jane Harvey, who blogs as Agony Autie, posted a startling and disturbing video on Thursday of her being thrown off a Northern train because she was using a mobility scooter.
Sara, who underwent surgery two weeks ago and has a heart condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and autism, was told by the train guard to get off the train as mobility scooters are “not allowed” on Northern trains.
The incident occurred while Sara was travelling to a wedding. The Chester to Manchester leg of her journey went well, with helpful staff and ramps available – but upon transferring to their connecting train from Manchester Oxford Road Station to Bolton, the train guard refused to leave the station with her in the train.
The guard informed her that no “motorised scooters” were allowed on the train, and refused to leave until Sara was off the train. Despite Sara booking assistance at every stage of her journey, the guard would not allow her to remain on the train.
She notes that platform staff at Manchester Oxford Road Station and other passengers on the train tried to argue with the guard and let her stay on, but the guard said: “They’re not allowed on Northern trains at all. That’s it. I won’t take them.”
“We were treated as if we were criminals or had hurt someone,” Sara tweeted.
The incident caused Sara, who was visibly frightened and distressed in the live video, to have a panic attack.
In spite of the guard’s insistence that mobility scooters are not allowed on trains, the Northern website says otherwise, with the only stipulations for mobility scooters on their trains being that they must be folded before being taken on board. It adds: “Please ask platform staff for assistance if you need help when boarding the train with your mobility scooter.”
In a statement to the Manchester Evening News, Northern said they were “truly sorry to the customer for her unacceptable experience.”
Sara has met with Northern to discuss policy change, but in a post on her Facebook, she said she does not want the train guard sacked, but added that “an apology and training wouldn’t go amiss!”
The story comes not even a month after comedian Tanyalee Davis was subjected to similar discrimination, when she was kicked off a train and humiliated by a guard in a similar fashion.
Watch Sara’s video below:
Get your copy of UNITE Magazine