Miss J has recently come to rely on a rollator – a mobility aid similar to a walking frame but with four wheels – and is unable to walk without it. Virgin Trains’ accessibility policy meant she wasn’t allowed use the wheelchair space on its services but due to the nature of her disability she was unable to use any other seats.

Miss J was really frustrated that she was no longer able to use Virgin Trains’ services to travel to see family and friends. She complained to Virgin Trains as she could not understand why it would not allow her to use the wheelchair spaces provided.

Virgin Trains apologised but advised that it was unable to pre-book these spaces for anything other than a wheelchair or scooter. It explained this is because a rollator can be folded while wheelchairs/scooters cannot.

Miss J was unhappy with Virgin Trains’ response, so she contacted Transport Focus to see if we could help.

Although it was not in breach of any regulation or its own Disabled Person’s Protection Policy, we contacted Virgin Trains and explained that, due to the nature of her disability, Miss J was unable to use standard seats. We asked that it review the case again to see if an alternative arrangement could be made.

Virgin Trains suggested if Miss J booked assistance prior to travel, the Journey Care team could reserve her a priority seat and a member of staff could assist in putting away her rollator. They could then bring this back to her on arrival at her destination. The only issue with this is that she would be unable to access her rollator throughout the journey if she needed to use the onboard facilities.

We went back to Virgin Trains to explain this and Virgin Trains decided to allow Miss J to use the wheelchair space for her rollator for all future bookings. It also liaised with Journey Care which manages assisted travel to ensure that Miss J’s requirements were met.

We informed Miss J of the outcome and she was really happy with the result of our intervention. We were pleased to see that Virgin Trains took into consideration Miss J’s personal circumstances as this enabled her to travel once again on their services.

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