Govia Thameslink stands by staff over Stevenage wheelchair incident

Govia Thameslink has been criticised for its handling of a passenger using a wheelchair at Stevenage

Govia Thameslink has been criticised for its handling of a passenger using a wheelchair at Stevenage. Picture: Taylor Geall - Credit: Archant

Rail operator Govia Thameslink has stood by the actions of its staff amid condemnation of how they handled a passenger using a wheelchair at Stevenage station.

Members of the Hitchin Rail Commuters group reacted with fury to a Facebook post about a young man in a wheelchair telling railway staff he “couldn’t travel like this” after being pushed onto a crowded London-bound train.

The post read: “Disabled guy refused to get on the train at Stevenage a few minutes ago.

“The platform staff pushed him on, told everyone already squashed in to move down, then dumped him by the toilet – telling him to sort his own brakes out, and ‘they will sort you out at Finsbury Park’.

“He said he couldn’t travel like this. I’m not sure I can either.”

Group members responding to the post were united in their disgust, calling it “inhumane”, “appalling” and “absolutely outrageous” – and calling for anyone who witnessed the incident to lodge a complaint.

One user wrote: “There is a total disregard for humanity, for the safety of passengers and health and safety.

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“Sickening that people are treated in this way. Will a witness please come forward and make an official complaint? We can’t allow this to continue.”

Govia Thameslink has told the Comet a very different story. The rail firm said it had investigated the incident, which happened on a Thameslink train towards Horsham at about 8.34am, and claimed the social media report was “untrue in many respects”.

A Thameslink spokesman said: “A member of our staff helped a passenger using a wheelchair onto the train, as the passenger wanted, and asked passengers in the wheelchair area to move along the carriage to make space.

“Some passengers did so, but others did not.

“Our staff member was not familiar with the wheelchair type, so asked the passenger if he was happy to secure the brakes himself. However, the passenger then asked to leave the train as he felt it was too busy for him.

“He was helped back to the platform and onto the next train, which was less busy, and continued his journey happily.

“We phoned ahead to his destination station to ensure help was ready there. We place a high priority on helping everyone to use our services, and we thank our staff for their attention to this passenger’s needs.”