I write this sat in a hotel connected to a garage in the middle of nowhere the hotel has wifi but charges a whopping £5 for one hours access – which I refuse to pay.I am in the middle of nowhere a £8 taxi journey away from Didcot train station, I am here unpaid on a course for the job I am doing at university this year.
To get here I got a volunteer to drive me to Fareham station where I met a support worker and got on a train to Southampton from there we got on another train headed for Oxford, we had to get off at Reading station and change trains again to get to Didcot.
All was going well until we reached our second train, upon boarding it became apparent that the train was hideously in accessible. We asked where the wheelchair area was assuming there would be more space, on getting there we discovered that it was literally an empty space with a small table off to one side.
The train was rather busy and full of older people, who where insistent on sitting down first and finding there reserved sears.
This created a battle field incorporating train staff, my support worker, me Gus and a million grumpy old farts that where fully prepared to pushed there way forward not caring who they ran over with there suitcases or stepped on.
My support worker put her bag down on a chair closest to the wheelchair bay only to turn around and discover a woman had picked it up and was about to move it somewhere else. There was carnage in the carriage, people and bags everywhere refusing to move to let other people past because there booked seat was that way and they wanted to sit in it now.
The train was delayed by 6 minutes whilst the gridlock continued with train staff and other passengers shouting at large amounts of old farts to move out of the way and let other people such as myself past.
Eventually after much shuffling and complete disregard to other people the large groups of old farts sat down.
Then I discovered that the wheelchair seat had no seats around it, basically there would be space for Gus but not for me. None of the seats around it had any room for Gus to lay under them so what was I supposed to do?
In the end I sat in the wheelchair space on the floor for over an hour and a half, I spent this time having poor Gus being stepped on even after I had warned people that he was there, I was also stepped on, people tried to block us both into the space with bags and even tried to wheel them on top of us.
I remain utterly disgusted by this, I was basically a piece of luggage, one particular old fart of a commuter stepped on Gus after I had already warned her that he was there, I pointed this out to her and then she patted me on the head and apologised, I was fuming!
Then the guard came through the train and I asked him a question he turned around and answered talking to my support worker instead of to me, referring to me as she and stating that they have special assistance “for people like her”.
I snapped I told him to talk to me not about me I was on the verge of rude but I had had enough by that point.
I have never had a train journey that bad, I am honestly appalled by it I have heard horror stories from other disabled people that have had horrific train journeys, but I have always felt positive about travel by train and enjoyed it as a largely stress free experiences, but now the tables have turned, my journey was utterly horrific thanks to the train company for not training its staff as to how to talk to disabled people, not making there trains accessible and the other passengers being horrible old farts who only cared about themselves with no consideration for others – I hate people that are so selfish!