'˜Shambles' as disabled woman stuck on Southwick train without ramp

A group of football fans were forced to lift a disabled passenger from a train onto the platform at Southwick station after no one appeared with a ramp to assist her.

Simon Gregg took this photo of passengers helping the disabled woman
Simon Gregg took this photo of passengers helping the disabled woman

Passenger Simon Gregg, who posted a photo of the incident online, called the Southern Rail service ‘a shambles’.

The woman had been travelling in the early afternoon last Sunday on a busy train full of football fans packed ‘like sardines’ on their way to watch Brighton and Hove Albion and Atletico Madrid play at the Amex stadium.

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Simon and his eight-year-old son Zach were in the same carriage as the woman, who was using a power assisted wheelchair and who warned other passengers that she would be leaving the train at Southwick.

But when the train arrived at the station and passengers made way for her to leave, no one arrived to help – despite the fact the woman had called ahead to alert the train company, according to Simon.

The ramp was on the platform but it was locked up, and without anyone to help, Simon said: “In the end the lads on the train lifted her off.

“They picked her up in her power chair – it’s a heay chair – and managed to get her onto the platform.

“It took about six people, and they were big lads.

“But it was the only way she was going to get off the train.”

The 44-year-old, who lives in Raleigh Crescent in Goring, said: “I felt really sorry for her.

“The situation could easily have been avoided.

“It all comes back to what’s going on with Southern Rail – it’s a big shambles.

“There’s no excuse.”

If the train had been less busy, he said she could have been stuck on the train.

A spokesman from Southern Rail said: “We are sorry to hear about this passenger’s experience.

“However, according to our records we hadn’t taken a booking for assisted travel to Southwick.

“Under our assistance service we would have made arrangements with the passenger to avoid a station we knew would be unstaffed, for instance by booking a taxi from a nearby staffed station.

“We take very seriously our commitment to make our services accessible to everybody, and will continue to look into this.

“We would be very grateful if the passenger could contact our customer services team to discuss the incident in more detail.”