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Tanni Grey-Thompson, Former Paralympian, Reveals She Was Forced To Crawl Off A Train

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Former Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson has revealed to Channel 4 News that she recently had to crawl off a train unassisted, prompting the question of whether Britain does enough to assist the disabled.

In an interview with Channel 4, Baroness Grey-Thompson described an "element of fear" in many of the country's disabled when using public transport.

A recent incident resulted in Grey-Thompson having to get out of her wheelchair, throw her chair off the train and crawl off herself.

"I'm ok because I can do that - but there's an awful lot of people who can't do that," Grey-Thompson said.

"And you can't rely on having someone travelling with you - because actually, why as a disabled person should you have someone travelling with you – or relying on a booking system that mostly works, but a lot of disabled people are very reluctant to use trains, because you can't guarantee you'll be met at the other end every time."

With the 2012 Paralympics only months away, equality for the disabled will come to the forefront of discussion and Grey-Thompson's revelations only add to an impression of a lack of provisions for the handicapped population on transport.

Baroness Grey-Thompson is Great Britain's most decorated athlete, with 16 Paralympic medals

Currently, train companies advises that those who will need help give 24 hours prior notice to the relevant stations to ensure they receive the best care, through a system that allows the train company to analyse the logic of their proposed journey and offer a better, or more convenient, route. It is not essential that disabled passengers go through this process, however.

Ahead of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, where there will be a vast increase in the use of public transport, it is likely that the difficulty in travelling for the handicapped will also increase.

However, there are signs that this may not always be the case. The Green Party's London mayoral candidate Jenny Jones has pledged to increase the number of accessible Tube stations, currently at 64, close to 90, one third of the total 270, by 2018.

"Actually, our public transport system for non-disabled people in this country is pretty good," Grey-Thompson added.

"And what I want to see is lots and lots more disabled people using it, but unless there's some massive changes - not only to the equipment but to staff training, we're not going to get more disabled people using public transport."

When asked whether the rail network is doing enough for its disabled passengers, a spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies said: "Train companies are committed to providing the service disabled passengers expect and deserve.

"We have recently introduced a new assistance booking system designed with input from disabled passenger groups that is leading to improved levels of overall customer satisfaction.

"We will continue to invest in improvements and are committed to increasing access to rail for disabled passengers."