Fife woman’s rail concerns after disabled daughter is let down

Mrs Hand and her daughter travelled from Cupar station
Mrs Hand and her daughter travelled from Cupar station

A Pitscottie woman has questioned the practices of ScotRail after her request for assistance for her disabled daughter was ignored.

Patricia Hand organised a trip to London from Cupar station for her and her daughter, who has spina bifada and is confined to a motorised wheelchair, on June 17, booking her tickets and assistance request months in advance.

However, upon arriving for their early morning train, Mrs Hand said staff were not aware of the request, although they were able to help in time.

She was also dismayed to learn upon boarding the train that, despite having booked first class for the entirety of their journey, this was not availble on the first leg between Cupar and Edinburgh.

On the return journey between Edinburgh and Cupar on June 26, she said there were no ticket inspectors or other train staff to be found, which left her panicked that there would be no assistance on their arrival at Cupar as the station is unmanned at the weekend.

“I ended up calling my other daughter who drove to meet us at the station and was able to flag down a man from the front of the train who came and helped.

“If we hadn’t been able to call her, I don’t know how we would have got anyone’s attention.”

Mrs Hand complained to ScotRail and received a refund on her 1st class ticket between Cupar and Edinburgh, and £20 compensation for her distress. The letter also said that while a request is logged, station and train staff may have other duties to carry out.

Mrs Hand said she was not made aware of this, and noted it doesn’t address the wider issue of assistance at stations which aren’t manned.

ScotRail explained that requests for assistance are given to both station and train staff, and in the situation where a station is not manned, the assistance will be provided by on-train staff.

A spokesman from ScotRail said: “We are sorry to hear that Mrs Hand’s assistance request was not fully met as we want to be sure that we’re offering the best assistance we can to all customers.

“We’re committed to making the railway accessible for all and encourage passengers who need assistance to tell at least four hours in advance of their journey so that we can make it possible for them to travel.

“We enabled more than 78,000 assisted travel journeys last year and it’s rare for something to go wrong as we take providing this service very seriously.”