RAIL bosses have come under fire after a disabled man was ordered off a train.
Clifford Rhodes, 79, was told he could not use a Northern Rail service from Leeds to Huddersfield on a scooter, despite having boarded several trains without a problem the same day.
His wife Joan, 63, said: “I was so upset. I thought it was absolutely ridiculous.”
It is the first summer that Mr Rhodes, of Dick Edge Lane, Hepworth, has spent out of hospital in seven years.
He has had several knee operations and had his left leg shortened by three inches after contracting MRSA in 2001. He now wears a caliper and can only walk short distances.
Mr and Mrs Rhodes had been for a day out in Skipton with two friends.
Mrs Rhodes had called the rail companies the day before to ensure they would be allowed to travel.
They had caught three trains, from Shepley to Skipton, and one from Skipton to Leeds without a problem. Three of the trains were Northern Rail services.
But they were confronted by a conductor as they tried to board the connecting service to Huddersfield.
Mrs Rhodes said: “He shouted at us that we couldn’t get on. We pointed out that it was a lightweight scooter that folded up, but he was adamant.
“He went to talk to someone else, so we boarded the train. But when he came back he was very angry and ordered us to get off.
“I was really shocked.”
They were helped on to a TransPennine Express train by a member of station staff.
Mrs Rhodes said that when they got to Huddersfield the Northern Rail conductor from Leeds had called ahead to advise colleagues not to allow them on board the service to Shepley.
She said: “A very helpful lady at Huddersfield station couldn’t believe that and booked us a taxi, which they paid for.
“My immediate reaction was that I never wanted to get on a train again.
“There needs to be consistency across the network.
“I feel really bitter. It’s discrimination.”
Sylvia Marshall, who was with Mr and Mrs Rhodes on the trip, added: “Our reactions were of anger that someone of Mr Rhodes’ age and disability should be treated in such an aggressive and unsympathetic manner.”
A Northern Rail spokes-woman said the company was investigating the matter.
But she said motorised scooters were only allowed on trains if they could be folded and carried on board.
She added: “We operate several different types of trains and our services call at over 500 stations, so we cannot guarantee to have a standard incline in all boarding ramps.
“The centre of gravity of mobility scooters greatly increases the risk of the vehicle and its owner toppling backwards on boarding ramps.
“In addition, because scooters are steered by handlebars they have limited manoeuvrability and may not always be easily driven into the wheelchair space on a train.
“It is possible that a scooter parked in a doorway or vestibule could block the evacuation of passengers, creating an unacceptable risk to the user and other passengers.
“We apologise to Mr and Mrs Rhodes for any distress this situation may have caused.”