UK

Discrimination Row After Special Needs Children Are Forced To Sit On Train Floor

14/08/2013 15:02 BST | Updated 14/08/2013 15:28 BST

Special needs children as young as four were forced to sit on the floor of a train after being told they would spoil the journey of first-class passengers.

The group of 10 children, from Stage Right theatre group, were returning from a fun day trip to Edinburgh Fringe when they found the standard class carriage of their CrossCountry train crammed full of commuters.

When volunteers asked the train manager if the children could sit in the near-empty business class carriage, they were reportedly told the other passengers "do not need the likes of your children spoiling their journey."

special needs children business class ban train

The young children of the Stage Right theatre group had to sit on the packed train's floor

Workers from the charity said the children, including one little boy who only has one leg, were then threatened that they would be chucked off the train.

After the Stage Right leaders pleaded with the train manager to let the young children sit in the empty business class seats, she reportedly responded by saying: “If you don’t stop talking to me, I will throw you all off, then how will you get back to Motherwell?”

Now, the volunteers have accused the rail company of intolerance after other families paying the standard fare were allowed into the more expensive section.

Rebekah Aitken, 25, who runs the group, furiously responded to the treatment of the young children, branding the train manager's snub as "discriminatory."

She told the Daily Record: "We were discriminated against because of the disabled kids we had with us.

"I’m embarrassed for the kids as they were paraded in front of the passengers and made to feel like an inconvenience.

"The train manager thought they weren’t of the standard to be allowed to sit in the business carriage but she moved other kids and parents, who had paid the same train fare, into those seats.’

Ms Aitken's co-worker, Elaine Berry, 26, added that the nasty incident had ruined the children's day out.

“Their memories of what had been a brilliant day are now of her and their train journey home," she said.

A spokesman for CrossCountry apologised over the incident and vowed it would be investigated thoroughly.

“We are sorry to learn of the circumstances of the Stage Right Theatre School on their recent journey," they said.

“We expect our staff to be polite and helpful at all times and it is extremely disappointing if their behaviour was as described.

"We will investigate the circumstances as a matter of urgency and will be in touch with them as soon as this is completed.

“We would like to offer our sincere apologies to Rebekah, Elaine and all the children for the poor quality of their journey back to Motherwell.”