Disabled man left stranded at Markinch station

Billy Horsburgh at his home in Anstruther. Pic: George McLuskie
Billy Horsburgh at his home in Anstruther. Pic: George McLuskie

Scotrail has apologised after a disabled man was left stranded at Markinch station having been told he wasn’t able to board the train he was booked on.

Billy Horsburgh (32) from Dreelside in Anstruther, who is registered blind and suffers from cerebral palsy, was set to travel to Windermere and had set up travel assistance for his journey through Scotrail.

It was supposed to be a relaxing break but I was really worried the whole way there

Billy Horsburgh

But when he tried to board his train at Markinch Station the guard refused to let him on the train claiming it was too busy as it was full of rugby fans heading to the Scotland v Italy game at Murrayfield on February 28, which meant Billy would miss his connecting trains and the further travel assistance.

He said: “I was travelling in my wheelchair and the guard wouldn’t let me get on the train.

“I explained to him that I had assistance waiting for me at my next two connections but he just said the train was too full.”

Billy said once he managed to get on a train he spent the rest of his journey in a state of anxiety as he wasn’t sure if he would be met at his connecting stations.

“I go to Windermere two or three times a year as the hotel there is adapted to meet the needs of people with sight problems.

“It was supposed to be a relaxing break but I was really worried the whole way there as I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get off each train.”

In a “state of panic” to get off the train at his stop at Oxenholme, Billy dropped and lost his iTel, a device which helps him to listen to his iPod.

Once he returned from his break, and with help from a representative from the Fife Society For the Blind, Billy made an official complaint to Scotrail and was given a full refund.

“If Scotrail had been better prepared I might not have been refused access,” he said.

A ScotRail spokesman said: “We have apologised to Mr Horsburgh directly and provided a full refund for the inconvenience.”

Extra carriages were added to the train says Scotrail spokesman

A spokesman for Scotrail apologised to Billy and claimed they had put on extra carriages to the 11.08 train to Edinburgh which Billy was booked to be on, due to the higher number of passengers expected as Scotland were playing a home match at Murrayfield Stadium.

He said: “We expect all staff to be as helpful as possible at all times and are sorry Mr Horsburgh was unable to board the first train.

“Numbers travelling that day were much higher than normal as a result of the Royal Bank of Scotland Six Nations Rugby Scotland v Italy match.

“We had added carriages where possible but it is difficult to predict the number of supporters travelling on each individual train.”

The spokesman said that the company had contacted Billy and offered an apology as well as giving the full refund.

“We contacted Mr Horsburgh directly and provided a written apology and a full refund – plus the cost of the iTel he lost on his journey - as a gesture of goodwill for the inconvenience,” he said.