Disabled woman 'embarrassed by ScotRail' after pals forced to carry her off train

Disabled woman 'embarrassed by ScotRail' after pals forced to carry her off train <i>(Image: Sourced)</i>
Disabled woman 'embarrassed by ScotRail' after pals forced to carry her off train (Image: Sourced)

A disabled woman was left feeling "embarrassed" by ScotRail after her pals were forced to carry her off a train.

Joanna McCool battles Friedreich's Ataxia, a genetic condition meaning she relies on a wheelchair and struggles with mobility.

The 29-year-old, from Bellshill in North Lanarkshire, was heading into Glasgow city centre for her friend's birthday on Saturday when she says she was let down by the rail giant.

It comes after she was told all ramps had been removed from smaller stations - meaning a conductor would have to get off the train and provide assistance.

Sourced (Image: Sourced)

However, no staff appeared and it left without her at Bellshill station, meaning she had to wait for the next service and missed her reservation in Glasgow.

When the next train arrived, a conductor did get off to help. However, Joanna claims she appeared to be very “rude and angry” about having to provide a ramp for her to board.

Later on the way back, she was reportedly told by Glasgow Central staff to get onto a service which would take her home to Bellshill. However, when she got on the wheelchair accessible carriage, the doors did not open at her stop.

It meant her friends had to carry her through to another carriage so they could exit, while other pals carried her wheelchair.

The entire process left Joanna feeling "uncomfortable and anxious" which has made her fearing using the train again.

Sourced (Image: Sourced)

She told the Glasgow Times: “I feel embarrassed and like I was holding my friends back all night. They wouldn’t have to deal with these issues without me which makes me feel bad.

“I’m not much of a complainer but I need to share this as ScotRail need to realise what they have done.

“The more I think about it and relive that experience, the more I feel absolutely terrible. It makes me so uncomfortable and anxious.

“It didn't seem to ever stop. It was one thing after another. My friends lifting me was the worst because it makes people stare.

“I am really hesitant about getting a train in the future. I don't want to go through all that again."

Joanna was diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia when she was just 13-years-old after struggling with her coordination.

It meant by the time she was 16 she had to rely on a wheelchair and adapt to her new life.

Friedreich's Ataxia is thought to affect at least one in every 50,000 people.

Signs and symptoms can include problems with balance, often causing wobbliness, clumsiness and frequent falls.

It can also cause increasingly slurred, slow and unclear speech, increasing weakness in the legs, abnormal curvature of the spine, and thickening of the heart muscles.

The symptoms can get gradually worse over many years.

Sourced (Image: Sourced)

Joanna said: “I use a wheelchair all the time. I can't walk because of my condition.

“At first I could still walk a bit but now I can’t. I used to run around all the time.

“Before I was diagnosed I just thought I was clumsy, but doctors knew it was something else.

“It means I need assistance now so I would really like the ramps to return to stations, not just at Bellshill but everywhere as so many people really need them.

“Also the doors on wheelchair accessible carriages should open at every stop, not just some of them.”

Phil Campbell, ScotRail's head of customer operations, said: "I was concerned to hear about Ms McCool’s experience when travelling with us at the weekend.

"Scotland's Railway is for everyone, and everyone should be able to travel with confidence.

"We’re investigating the details of this complaint to establish exactly what went wrong, and will respond to Ms McCool directly.”