A woman recovering from a knee replacement was told to hobble across a level crossing when she arrived at Aberdeen Railway Station – or be carried up the stairs.
Businesswoman Carolyn Maniukiewicz had travelled from Edinburgh to the north-east with no issues due to her “temporary disability”, which has left her relying on a walking stick.
But after the train pulled into platform seven at Aberdeen Railway Station – on the other side of the tracks from the arrivals area – she discovered the lift was broken.
When customer care staff asked if Ms Maniukiewicz would be able to climb the stairs to reach the rest of the station, she explained it would not be possible due to her knee – and declined an offer to be carried up the stairs.
The company director was then told the only way for her – and the worker pushing the refreshment trolley – to get across the tracks was via a level crossing further into the station.
Last night, leading disability campaigner Dame Anne Begg said ScotRail should have “appropriate contingencies” in place to assist people with mobility issues when the lift is broken.
ScotRail insisted the level crossing was the standard way for passengers to cross the tracks if the lift is not working.
Ms Maniukiewicz, director of Turriff-based business development company Ideas in Partnership, said: “What happened, if it was not serious, could actually be seen as farcical.
“They brought out a wheelchair, and pointed deeper into the station towards a green light.
“I was wheeled along into the bowels of the station, and the guy who was pushing me then put the light to red.
“I was told I would have to walk across the railway line, so I hobbled across with my walking stick, closely followed by a gentleman pushing the refreshment trolley.”
Ms Maniukiewicz added: “What they said to me is that I should have phoned ahead of time when I was in Edinburgh and told them of my mobility needs, but how on earth would a passenger know ahead of time that the lift was broken?
“This is only a temporary disability that I have. Goodness knows what would have happened to somebody that relies on a wheelchair permanently to get about.”
Dame Anne, who is chairwoman of Aberdeen City Council’s Disability Equity Partnership, also used the Aberdeen railway station on Thursday.
She said: “For people who are as disabled as I am, that require the use of physical help and ramps to get on trains, we generally book assistance in advance.
“And that’s what I had done on Thursday, so in my case they made appropriate arrangements and took the train into a different platform to make it much easier for me to get on and off.
“But it did in fact cross my mind that had I not booked assistance, as I sometimes do because of meetings running late and so on, I might have faced some trouble with this lift being out of order.
“Some disabled people won’t book assistance in advance because they think they should be treated like any other passenger.
“ScotRail should have appropriate contingencies in place for when the lifts are out for people with limited mobility, who cannot use the stairs.”
The level crossing, which is authorised for use by customers when escorted by staff, was the only way for customers with mobility issues to cross the railway before the lift was installed, and is the standard way for passengers with additional needs to continue their journey when the lift is not working.
A ScotRail Alliance spokesman said: “We’re sorry to hear that Ms Maniukiewicz had an unhappy experience with us.
“We will contact Ms Maniukiewicz in the coming days, so that we can learn from her experience.
“Last year we helped almost 100,000 people make journeys by rail, that’s more than 16% on last year.
“We are committed to making this railway open and accessible to all, and these figures show that we’re well on the way to achieving this.”