Disabled passenger has to make seven-mile round trip to reach his destination

Only Platform 1 at the station has step-free access
Only Platform 1 at the station has step-free access

A disabled rail passenger is unable to get off at his own station because one of its platforms doesn't have wheelchair access.

The Northern customer can't leave the train at Pontefract Monkhill Station when travelling from Wakefield towards Knottingley, because passengers exiting from Platform 2 can only leave via a set of stairs.

The problem at Pontefract Monkhill has been raised before. Wheelchair user Brenda Reevell has been a long-term campaigner for better access. She is pictured here in 2015 with Yvette Cooper and local councillors.

The problem at Pontefract Monkhill has been raised before. Wheelchair user Brenda Reevell has been a long-term campaigner for better access. She is pictured here in 2015 with Yvette Cooper and local councillors.

The issue was brought up at a meeting between passenger representatives and rail operator Northern on Thursday by Wakefield councillor Matthew Morley.

Coun Morley didn't name the passenger, but said action should be taken to improve the station.

The issue has been raised before, by campaigner Brenda Reevell, who called for improvements in 2015.

Coun Morley said: "At Pontefract Monkhill, there's no disabled access as you're going away from Wakefield.

"The gentleman has to go all the way to the next stop at Knottingley, change trains and come all the way back to Monkhill, because the Wakefield-bound platform has disabled access.

"Is there anything that can be done about this?"

In response, Northern's stakeholder manager Pete Myers said that improving disabled access was a matter for Network Rail.

Mr Myers said: "The responsibility for making stations accessible falls to Network Rail.

"They are trying to do this generally, but it's a long process.

"We nominated a list of stations recently where access could be improved, and then it's up to Network Rail and the Department of Transport to decide where gets prioritised.

"A number of factors come into play on that, one of which is footfall and the number of people using the station.

"I suspect Pontefract might fail because of footfall."

Last month it was revealed that a disabled pensioner from Knottingley was left stranded because Northern wouldn't take her unfoldable scooter.

The company has said their policy prohibits them on its current fleet of trains because of a lack of space.

Mr Myers admitted the situation was "ridiculous" but said he hoped the policy would eventually change when new pacer trains arrive in Yorkshire.

The company had previously said this would be either next year or in 2021, but has recently been increasingly vague about the timescales.

Mr Myers said: "We've a very simple policy, and that is we don't take mobile scooters on our trains unless they can be folded.

"If they can be folded we'll assist people to take them on as we would with luggage, but that's the rule.

"Why is this? Well the answer is mobility scooters are stand alone vehicles in their own right and they operate in a different manner to wheelchairs.

"The policy varies between operators. I know it's very frustrating when passengers get off an East Coast train at Wakefield Westgate and they want us to take them onto their next destination and we can't."

Disabled passengers unable to get a train can order a taxi at Northern's expense if they contact its customer service team.

But Coun Morley was unimpressed.

He told Mr Myers: "I know this isn't an easy fix situation. The problem with what you're saying is that other operators are catering for scooters, which suggests there's ways round it.

"It must be utterly frightening if you're an elderly couple and you get off your train Leeds Station and then you're left stranded. Are you then doomed to spend the rest of your life just rolling around Leeds Station?"