Student’s rail journey woe

Leanne Garner Jones  who complained about her journey at Preston Railway Station.
Leanne Garner Jones who complained about her journey at Preston Railway Station.
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A rail company told a disabled student she should have made special arrangements for her train journey after she was left stranded on a platform.

Wheelchair-user Leanne Garner-Jones, 20, was travelling to Preston station from Blackpool for an exam at the University of Central Lancashire when she discovered the lift on platform one and two at Preston was out of order.

The first year social work student, from Norbreck, suffers from Chylous Astities, a condition characterised by an abnormal build up of fluid in the abdomen.

She claims staff at the station left her with no option but to get out of her wheelchair and climb the stairs, leaving her in pain and unable to concentrate during her exam.

She said: “I was panicked because I needed to get to my exam on time.

“I’m usually a very independent person but I don’t feel like I can be as independent anymore and it’s also put my health at risk because I was in a lot of pain.

“I like travelling on trains because it makes me feel normal but when this happened I felt disabled and I was made fully aware of the fact I had this disability.”

However, Virgin Trains, which runs Preston Station, said: “We are sorry that this customer had an unsatisfactory journey experience.

“The advice to customers who have a mobility impairment or other disability is they should book Journey Care assistance in advance.

“The Journey Care procedure enables train companies to be prepared for such customers, and to make appropriate arrangements, for example to handle wheelchairs.

“We understand the customer asked Virgin Trains’ staff at Preston station to carry her up the steps at the station. They made the judgement this could put her safety at risk and therefore suggested an alternative solution, which was she should return by train to Blackpool and then take another train back to Preston, allowing arrangements to be made for that train to arrive at a platform with a functioning lift.”

Miss Garner Jones added: “It would’ve been nice if someone had told me at Blackpool the lift wasn’t working at Preston.

“If there had been a fire on the platform I wouldn’t have been able to get out and it’s a worry for the future because I might not be able to travel and, if I miss exams, I am putting my career at risk.”