Wigan-Preston train ride hell angers MP

Lisa Nandy MP

Lisa Nandy MP

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DEPARTMENT of Transport chiefs will study disabled public transport access after calls from Wigan’s MP.

They will now establish a Cross-Departmental Working Group after hearing of the problems that disabled travellers were having making the comparatively straight forward rail journey from Wigan North Western station to Preston.

Lisa Nandy had earlier hosted an adjournment debate in Westminster where she highlighted concerns about cuts to transport spending from local authority budgets and to concessionary travel and proposals from the McNulty review to close 675 station ticket offices.

Ms Nandy spoke about the experiences suffered by disabled people at Marsh Green’s Hunter Lodge clubhouse and the ‘endless difficulties in doing the simplest things that we all take for granted’.

She described the frustration they continue to face attempting to make a train journey from Wigan to Preston and being forced to travel in relay or even sitting in the guard’s van among other passengers’ luggage.

After calling the debate, the Wigan MP’s office had been contacted by an “enormous number” of disabled advocacy groups and people sharing their experiences of the problems they have faced.

Their common thread in their stories were one of ‘indignity and humiliation’ and she remained “very angry” that this was deemed an acceptable way to treat people in 2011.

She demanded more stringent conditions in the contracting out of rail services on accessibility and a rethink over proposals to cut the number of ticket office staff.

Ms Nandy also wanted all public transport buses to be equipped with audio and visual information as standard.

A First Bus spokesman said they supported the MP’s efforts to get a better deal for disabled people on public transport.

Northern Rail said: “Over recent years we’ve improved our ticket offices and installed more ticket vending machines as well as launching our online ticket sales facility which we will continue to enhance.”