Teignmouth stroke victim's wheelchair train 'ban'

A rail operator has apologised to a disabled passenger after staff tried to "bar" him from a train.

Tim Mason, 49, from Teignmouth, Devon, was told he could not travel on the First Great Western (FGW) train if his wheelchair could not be folded away.

Mr Mason, who suffered a stroke six years ago, said he was "shocked and amazed" as he had been travelling regularly on trains for three years.

FGW admitted it had "let Mr Mason down" and has offered him free travel.

Mr Mason was told by a member of the platform staff that fixed wheelchairs were not allowed on FGW trains because passengers had to be able to get into a train seat and fold up the wheelchair.

When he said he was a regular traveller, he was told it was "illegal" and staff at Teignmouth should not have let him board the train. 

FGW said it puts a great deal of effort into ensuring customers with wheelchairs could use its services, including arranging free transport to and from stations that have no step-free access.

Spokesman Dan Panes said despite the company's best efforts, some large mobility scooters could not be safety carried - either because they could not be driven on ramps with an incline of more than 8% or because they were too big for the main carriage and blocked emergency exits.

However, in Mr Mason's case, neither of these problems existed.

"It is a shame we let Mr Mason down on this occasion," Mr Panes told BBC News.

"We're really sorry this has happened - it shouldn't have done.

"We're already re-briefing all our colleagues to make sure a situation like this doesn't happen again, and we'll be offering Mr Mason three months' complimentary travel on our services by way of an apology."

Mr Mason, who used to run a hair salon before his stroke, has written to his MP, Anne Marie Morris, about the incident.

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