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Bicester Town Station to get its wheelchair ramp
DISABLED people will soon be able to travel by train from Bicester Town Station whenever they like thanks to a pensioner’s persistence.
Last month Robert Light, 70, who is wheelchair-bound, tried to board a train to Oxford from Bicester Town Station but was prevented as there was no ramp at the station or on the train.
Chiltern Railways staff called a taxi for Mr Light, and paid for it, but as the cab had to drive from Banbury he arrived at his destination an hour after the train.
Mr Light, who has severe sciatica, arthritis and osteoporosis in his spine, pelvis and hips, contacted Chiltern Railways over the incident in June and insisted a ramp should be permanently at the station.
The pensioner was told he should pre-book his journey to ensure any assistance needed and a ramp would be at the station.
Mr Light, of the Willows, Chapel Street, Bicester, said: “I’m furious about it. They can’t treat disabled people less favourably than other people.
“They should have a ramp at the station or one on the train. I should not have to keep ringing up to pre-book.
“It’s not for me, it’s the principle. It’s for all disabled people.
“People have probably gone down there and had the same treatment but said ‘I can’t be bothered’. But if no action is taken against them it won’t change.”
Mr Light also contacted the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) over the pre-booking issue as he says he should be able to travel by train without having to call in advance.
A spokesman for the EHRC said: “Transport providers should anticipate the requirements of disabled people and make adjustments for them.”
Chiltern Railways said it was “consistent with national policy, as agreed by the Department of Transport”.
But station manager Jemma Pitt said the situation had been reviewed and a permanent ramp was due to be installed at the station.
She said: “We are sorry that Mr Light’s journey was not as seamless as he or we would have preferred.
“This highlights the importance of booking in advance which will ensure that any assistance required will be delivered, or that suitable alternative arrangements are made.”
It is not the first time Mr Light has taken on a transport firm. In 2009 he went to battle with National Express after the coach firm let him down after he pre-booked a disabled access bus from London to Bradford.
l Bicester Town Station will be rebuilt as part of a multi-million-pound plan to run Oxford to London Marylesbone trains via Bicester Town Station.