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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
MP's fury at rail 'cattle truck'
Anne Begg MP
Anne Begg described the practice as "barbaric"
A Scottish Labour MP who uses a wheelchair has said she was forced to travel in "little better than a cattle truck" during a railway journey.

Anne Begg, who represents Aberdeen North, had to travel in the guard's van on a Southern Railways slam-door train from London to Dorking last Tuesday.

She told MPs in the Commons that disabled people deserved more respect.

Southern Railways said it regretted the incident and that the old stock would be phased out by next year.

Ms Begg, who suffers from a genetic condition called Gaucher's disease, had intended to travel from London Bridge to Dorking.

When she tried to board the train, she found that only the guard's van had a door big enough to accommodate her wheelchair.

It is little better than a cattle truck and in this day and age we should be stopping this practice
Labour MP Anne Begg
Then she was forced to get off at Redhill, in Surrey, because there was no disabled access at Dorking.

"These slam-door trains are old rolling stock," she said.

"It is a barbaric practice. I wasn't in a scooter, I was in a very small, lightweight wheelchair.

"It is little better than a cattle truck and in this day and age we should be stopping this practice."

Southern response

Slam-door trains, known as Mark 1 rolling stock, were due to have been phased out at the end of this year but three train companies, including Southern, have asked to carry on using them into next year.

A spokesperson for Southern Railways said it regretted the incident.

Southern MK1 train - image supplied by Southern Railways
Southern Railways is due to replace its stock

"The slam-door trains will disappear by the middle of next year.

"We recognise that this is not the best way for our disabled passengers to travel and Ms Begg's experience was unfortunate."

Southern Railways' new stock would ensure disabled passengers could travel in comfort, the spokesperson added.

UK Transport Minister Charlotte Atkins said she hoped the incident would not be repeated.

"It is absolutely ridiculous in this day and age for anyone to have to travel in this way, almost like a cattle truck," she said.

"Obviously as new rolling stock comes on stream, those arrangements will be ended.

"I'm sure no operating company would want to repeat the exercise and will ensure that this will not happen again."

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