On 10th November I was travelling back from London to Telford by train. I had had a great time in London but had been worrying about how I was going to get home as Telford Station is unmanned after 7pm. The train companies had agreed I would be leaving the train at Wolverhampton and coming home by taxi. https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/transport/2018/10/24/wheelchair-users-anger-at-lack-of-staff-at-telford-central/
What happened at Euston Station was an eye opener for me. Train staff decided to walk in front of me on the steep ramp where I was heading downwards to the train I was to depart on. An assistance man was on the mobility assistance buggy and had my large rucksack on it. He shouted to the train staff to not stop me and let me head for the train. The train staff ignored him and insisted my brakes were applied to my wheelchair. At this point due to the pressure the brakes were under they snapped in the on position. This meant I had passengers coming down the ramp bumping into the back of my chair which aggravated the pain I suffer due to the problems I have with my spine.
They then used one of the broken brake levers to force my brakes off so I could manually propel myself to the end of the train it was 15 carriages long and I was to travel in the last one. It takes some energy and determination to get to the end of the train. What did not help me either was two female passengers were walking two a breast in front of me and either did not hear or ignored my calls to move out of my way as I had no brakes and was finding it difficult to control the chair going along the platform to the end of the train. A member of the train staff moved them out of my way using their coat hoods.
I eventually met up with the gentleman who had my rucksack on the assistance truck and he asked me what had happened for me to be held up. He was shocked at what I told him and was very helpful in getting me on the train. A lady from the train company wearing a red jacket accompanied me on to the train and handed me the broken brake levers. I was not strapped in and neither was my wheelchair secured on the train. I was not transferred to another seat either. I was left sitting in my wheelchair.
During the journey my wheelchair rolled backwards and forwards and my arm hit the table in front of me several times. Once we were passed Birmingham New Street we went round a right hand bend this meant I tipped to the right and ended up hitting the luggage rack. Once we had conquered the bend I ended up back to the left side of the carriage and hit the table yet again.
We then encountered another right hand bend. You’ve guessed it, I hit the luggage rack again and then the table on the left hand side. I got taken off the train at Wolverhampton and was worried that I was not going to meet the taxi that had been booked for me or that the driver may refuse to take me and my wheelchair as it had no brakes. I was lucky the taxi driver was really helpful and got me home safely.
I was sore and swollen by the time I got home. The next day bruising started to appear and I had to miss the Remembrance Service as Zippy my wheelchair had no brakes and I had to wait for it to be repaired.
Coping without Zippy was difficult for me and I really missed not having my wheelchair at home.
The Wheelchair Service team had never seen brakes break like before, however, they managed to put new brakes on to my chair and I had it back on the Wednesday evening.
The moral of this episode is “do not stop a wheelchair on a steep ramp and apply brakes”.