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.

Loading article content

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.”