Disabled man from High Etherley criticises Metro system after he was left stranded at Newcastle Airport

Disabled Tom Smith who has criticised the Newcastle Metro service

Disabled Tom Smith who has criticised the Newcastle Metro service

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Shildon and Spennymoor)

A WHEELCHAIR user who struggled to use the Metro system at Newcastle Airport was left frustrated after he was advised he would need to provide six hours notice for future help.

Tom Smith, 66, was helped by Metro staff from the platform to the airport concourse when he visited at 10.30am on February 27.

He was also helped back down to the station platform when he came to leave at around 11.30am but was then left alone.

However, when the train arrived he was unable top board by himself as the platform was lower than the carriage door.

He was told it would take Metro staff 30 minutes before they could assist him.

Mr Smith, of High Etherley, near Bishop Auckland, also claims he was told that he must give advance warning if he wanted future Metro help.

He said: “I was told that no-one from Metro could help me for half an hour when I asked for help to get onto the train.

“Several other passengers helped me to board. Metro has since said that I need to give six hours notice if I require future assistance.

“What happens if I give six hours notice and then the train is late?”

Sharon Kelly, director of customer services and operations at DB Regio Tyne and Wear, which operates the Metro for Nexus, said wheelchairs users made roughly 40,000 journeys yearly on the Metro.

She said: “The airport is not permanently staffed and due to it being a terminus station, it is likely to take a little time for a member of staff to travel there.

“If extra assistance is needed, we request that passengers give us six hours’ notice wherever possible.

“This way we can ensure a dedicated member of staff is available to assist them as soon as they arrive.

“In comparison to some other major train operators who ask for 24 hours’ notice, we compare very favourably.”

Comments (3)

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10:13am Thu 13 Mar 14

359282 says...

Sounds reasonable to me. They are only asking for notice of this gentleman's requirements.
Sounds reasonable to me. They are only asking for notice of this gentleman's requirements. 359282
  • Score: 5

10:37am Thu 13 Mar 14

Ally F says...

Here we see Mr Crow's legacy. It would not be difficult to incoporate a fold out ramp into one or more of the Metro carriage vestibules, and designate one or two train doors as 'wheelchair access'. A wheelchair stop request button adjacent the wheelchair bay would notify the driver which station the passenger wanted to alight at.

The driver could assist ad hoc the occasional wheelchair passenger to board and alight. That's exactly the arrangement most busses on the continent have to assist wheelchair users. The drivers gets out to assist with folding out the ramp.

Such as suggestion would have the RMT balloting for strike action however; there would be outrage that the train driver was asked to do additional duties besides sitting in the cab holding a lever down. That would be below their status, a guard would be required to do that....
Here we see Mr Crow's legacy. It would not be difficult to incoporate a fold out ramp into one or more of the Metro carriage vestibules, and designate one or two train doors as 'wheelchair access'. A wheelchair stop request button adjacent the wheelchair bay would notify the driver which station the passenger wanted to alight at. The driver could assist ad hoc the occasional wheelchair passenger to board and alight. That's exactly the arrangement most busses on the continent have to assist wheelchair users. The drivers gets out to assist with folding out the ramp. Such as suggestion would have the RMT balloting for strike action however; there would be outrage that the train driver was asked to do additional duties besides sitting in the cab holding a lever down. That would be below their status, a guard would be required to do that.... Ally F
  • Score: -5

11:23am Thu 13 Mar 14

David Lacey says...

Much ado about nothing. Advance planning should be hard wired into the brains of those unfortunate souls who lack complete mobility.
Much ado about nothing. Advance planning should be hard wired into the brains of those unfortunate souls who lack complete mobility. David Lacey
  • Score: 4

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