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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May, 2004, 19:25 GMT 20:25 UK
Rail access setback for disabled
Keith Roads
Keith Roads described the decision as devastating
A disabled man has lost his claim against a rail firm he accused of providing inadequate wheelchair access at a Norfolk station.

Keith Roads said the Norwich-bound platform at Thetford was inaccessible as he cannot use a footbridge or use a crossing which means a half-mile trip.

Central Trains, former station owners, offered disabled passengers free travel to Ely and back to cross the tracks.

On Thursday Norwich County Court said Central Trains' offer was sufficient.

Mr Roads, of Norwich, said he had hoped the courts would side with him and force the rail company to provide taxis to ferry disabled people from one side of the platform to the other.

The journey - down country roads - is about half-a-mile and provides the only access route since a nearer rail crossing was closed for safety reasons.

Thetford station footbridge
The footbridge is the only way from one platform to the other

"If we had won this it would have opened potential for the rail network to be accessible all over the country," he said.

"It would have been the most significant piece of legislation, I think, ever for disabled people."

The judge ruled Mr Roads' demands were "unreasonable" and the free offer of a return rail ticket to Ely in Cambridgeshire - where the tracks can be crossed - was enough.

Will Dingli from the Disability Rights Commission, which had backed Mr Roads' case, disagreed.

"If it was you or I and we were told that in order to get from one platform to the other we would have to make a journey of an hour-and-a-half we would feel livid," he said.

"I think disabled people up and down the country will feel livid about this judgement."

He said the Strategic Rail Authority's (SRA) own figures showed that about 60% of stations were inaccessible to disabled people in some form or another.

Gerard Burgess, for Central Trains, said the judge had looked at what was a reasonable action by the firm.

"The judge did apply a test of reasonableness of what we would have to put in place in every case," he said.

Disabled woman left on platform
05 May 04  |  Devon


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