helen-louise (baratron) wrote,

  • Mood:

this is why I have muscle strain

One of the reasons I'm feeling so sick and strained is that someone decided to close Platform 12 of Clapham Junction station. I don't know whose decision this was - Railtrack National Rail or Southern or one of the engineering contractors - but it was really inconvenient for me. You see, normally all fast, long-distance trains to London Victoria stop at Platform 12. My train from Clapham back to Norbiton goes from Platform 11, which is immediately next to Platfom 12. This means that I don't need an escort to do this journey with a heavy bag - as all I have to do is pull my bag down off the train, saunter across the platform, and then hump it onto the next train. I can manage this even on a reasonably bad pain day.

So you know what happened. Today, for no apparent reason, Platform 12 was closed and everything was stopping at 14 - which normally is used only for slow suburban trains to Victoria. The first I knew of this was when the train pulled into Platform 14 - which meant I had not pre-arranged someone to help me with my bag. Clapham Junction is an old station and has no lifts, only flights of stairs leading to a bridge above the platforms and a tunnel below. So, there I was, with 3 minutes to change platforms and get my connection, and two huge flights of stairs - one to get down, and another to get up. I was crying with pain and stress by the time I was halfway up the stairs to Platform 11, and could see that my train was sitting there with the doors open, ready to go.

Whose fault is this? I don't know. Should I, knowing that I have a disability, hyper-anticipate every single possible engineering work change, and ask in advance for details of journeys I take on a regular basis? (This would get old fast - and I doubt whether the staff at South West Trains could tell me on Friday about Southern's plans for Sunday, which would mean phoning up a multitude of people and wasting large amounts of spoonage). Should I have been pro-active on the train, and asked the guard to make certain that the train really would stop at Platform 12, the place it always stops? (I have never actually known Platform 12 to be closed before - I've seen 14 closed, and 15, and sometimes 5 & 6. Never 12.) Is it my own fault for getting injured because I didn't look around for someone to carry my bag for me - knowing that I had a 3 minute connection with half an hour till the next train, only a bare platform to wait on (no covered waiting room, let alone a heated one), and that the first three people I asked would say "more than me job's worth"/"we're not insured for lifting" even after I cried and said "DDA?" at them? (The DDA, or Disability Discrimination Act, has things about public transport where you're required to give a minimum of 24 hours notice if you need "special arrangements" made at a station. I don't bother with their special arrangements, because I don't need to use a wheelchair and can make my own arrangements with friends - which is what I'd have done had I known that the train was coming into a different platform). Just making an announcement at East Croydon would have given Richard enough time to come up and meet me - I have, on occasion, been on trains and heard announcements to warn passengers that the train would be arriving at a different platform than usual. Even an announcement as we were pulling into Clapham would have been better than nothing - while it wouldn't have helped, at least I'd have had a few more seconds to figure out what to do.

I don't know. I'm not trying to put the blame on other people if it is really my fault. And I didn't realise how heavy my bag was - as it has wheels which work reasonably well, I hadn't realised it would actually hurt me to have to bump it up the stairs until I tried. But, I dunno. I can't be the only person who'd be inconvenienced by an unexpected platform change. Just telling the train companies this so they can start making announcements might help someone in the future. If only I can figure out what to say in the letter :/
Tags: disability

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