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Disabled teenager left distraught

Aug 6, 2013
Disabled teenager left distraught

NINO ZAVARONI, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was stunned when the ScotRail worker refused to set up the ramp for him - despite standing right next to one.

NINO ZAVARONI, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was stunned when the ScotRail worker refused to set up the ramp for him - despite standing right next to one.

ScotRail staff refused to help Nino ScotRail staff refused to help Nino
Stuart Nimmo

A DISABLED teenager was distraught after a ScotRail employee refused to set up a ramp for him to board a train.

Wheelchair-bound Nino Zavaroni, who has cerebral palsy, sought­ ­assistance when he arrived at Glasgow Central station.

He asked a rail worker to place a ramp at the train door but was stunned when the man refused – despite standing right next to one.

Nino claims the ScotRail employee told him: “No, you’re not getting on. You need to book 24 hours in advance.”

He then insisted wheelchair users must also turn up at least five minutes before trains leave.

Nino, 17, lives in Rothesay on Bute and explained he had to make a late dash for the train last Monday after ferry services were changed that day.

But the stubborn ScotRail worker showed no sympathy.

Nino said: “I couldn’t believe the way I was being treated. He was just the most horrible guy and there was no way I was getting on that train.

“My mum and dad were with me and so my dad tried hard to lift me on to the train. But I have an electric ­wheelchair, which is really heavy.

“It was only when a guy saw my dad struggling and helped him that I managed to get on board.

“When I got on the train I felt terrible as I had held everyone up and my mum was really upset. It would have taken two seconds to put the ramp out as the guy was standing next to it.”

Nino and his parents were visiting Glasgow as the teenager is due to move there. They had been enjoying a meal together when Nino got a text saying ferry services had been disrupted. So the trio rushed to the station.

Nino said: “If ScotRail’s policy really is for disabled people to book 24 hours in advance then I find that so wrong.

“You never know what’s going to happen on any given day and we were in an unexpected rush to get home.”

Richard Hamer, director of disability charity Capability Scotland, said: “Nino’s case is distressing but ­unfortunately all too common.

“While people who aren’t disabled can simply turn up and get on a train.Disabled people must book assistance in advance. As Nino found to his cost, there’s little flexibility in the way support is provided.

“This is simply ­unacceptable. ­Capability Scotland want the ­Scottish Government to ensure whoever wins the ScotRail franchise when it is re-tendered, cease to give disabled travellers a second class service.”

ScotRail advise disabled passengers to book assistance in advance.

But a spokesman said: “Even when customers do not book wheelchair assistance before travelling, our staff are trained to apply common sense and help whenever possible.

“We apologise to Mr Zavaroni and are sorry that he was unable to board the train. We are looking into the circumstances around what happened.”

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Dumfries DG1 2BH
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