TfL and Arriva apologise to disabled woman 'trapped' on Overground train without wheelchair ramp

A wheelchair user was left stuck on board an Overground train (PA Archive/PA Images)
A wheelchair user was left stuck on board an Overground train (PA Archive/PA Images)

TfL has apologised to a disabled woman who was left stuck on an Overground train after a ramp wasn’t put down for her.

Wheelchair user Katie Pennick was travelling to Highbury and Islington in north London when staff failed to meet her, leaving her stuck on the empty train.

Unable to get off by herself, she was forced to shout for help.

She narrated her experience in videos she posted to X, formerly Twitter.

“The train has pulled in at Highbury and Islington. The ramp hasn’t met me. Everyone’s gotten off the train, and the cleaner has gone to try and look for someone for me,” she said.

“But there’s just...I just can’t get off the train.”

The video captures her shouting to people in the distance, who appear not to hear her: “Hello, please can someone let me off the train? Hello?”

On X, she expressed frustration at the train’s emergency alarm being out of her reach, meaning she had to rely on shouting.

“It’s not the staff’s fault,” she continued. “They had been told my train was pulling in to a different platform.”

But she added: “Transport makes cities. When disabled people contend with this stress, frustration and disempowerment each time we travel, it sends a message about who the city is for - and who is not welcome.”

Social media users pointed out trains do typically feature lower-down alarms that are accessible to people in wheelchairs, but Ms Pennick suggested these should be more prominently placed, as she could not find one when she needed it.

Following her ordeal, Mark Evers, TfL’s Chief Customer Officer, apologised and said TfL and Overground operator Arriva are “urgently” investigating.

"We’re deeply sorry for the stressful experience that Katie Pennick has had while travelling with us and we are urgently looking into this incident with Arriva Rail London, who operate the London Overground on our behalf, to understand what happened,” said Mr Evers.

“Making public transport more accessible and inclusive is a top priority for us.”

An Arriva Rail London spokesperson said: “We are aware of a video on social media which shows a London Overground passenger unable to alight a train at Highbury and Islington station. The agency employee who was due meet the passenger was delayed due to handling an incident on another platform. The station team apologised for the delay immediately and assisted the passenger as soon as possible.

“We pride ourselves on offering an accessible service to passengers and apologise it was not possible in this instance. We are looking into this to understand better what went wrong with the aim of avoiding delays like this in the future.”

Step-free access is available at 92 of TfL’s 272 Tube stations, 62 Overground stations, and all Elizabeth Line and DLR stations.

But TfL’s new Equity in Motion plan, introduced last month, sets out a raft of commitments to make transport more accessible and inclusive. Included are plans to ensure half of all Tube stations have step-free access.

Work to create step-free access at Northolt, Leighton and Collingdale Tube stations set to begin soon. Step-free access is set to be available at Knightsbridge and Paddington Tube stations later this year.

The new TfL plan also aims to introduce mini ramps to cover the gap between the train and platform, at all London Underground platforms that have step-free access to train level.