Disciplined: The Adelaide train driver who said he locked disabled people on a train if they used the wrong carriage

Our visit to Australia using a wheelchair to get around six big cities has been a heart warming experience. Visiting Darwin,Brisbane,Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth we found staff in museums and galleries and the Northern Territories Parliament extremely helpful. Pavements had dropped kerbs and public transport was disabled friendly with spaces for wheelchairs on trains.

Margaret on the Adelaide metro – trouble free on the way in – the problem came on the way back

It was therefore completely unexpected and out of character when we ran into trouble on the Adelaide metro system – not with the train but its driver.

Each four coach metro train has two carriages with spaces for wheelchairs. On the way back at Adelaide City station I put Margaret in the nearest carriage and as the platform was level with the train it was no problem. When we reached the terminus Outer Harbor where the QM2 was docked the train is higher than the platform so I expected the driver to put down a ramp.

“You have got in the wrong disabled carriage”

We saw him put a ramp down for a wheelchair in a carriage nearest his cab. And other passengers alerted him to our need. What happened next was unbelievable. He came up to us saying we had got in the wrong disabled carriage and he was not going to let us out.Instead he said he was going to lock us in and we would have to return to the City station – a 40 minute journey – and start again He said he did this to other disabled passengers if they broke the rules.

There followed a short stand off as I refused to take my finger off the button that kept the door open before he finally relented and said as we were visitors to Adelaide he would put a ramp down but we were not to do it again This took less than 5 minutes but he still complained that he had lost part of his meal break.

The situation was all the more worrying because we had only 20 minutes to board the boat and if he had sent us back we would be stranded in Adelaide.

Good ending

This has had a good ending. I decided to complain to the metro authority using their website It was easy to use and contained information so I could identify the exact train service. They promised to reply within ten days but replied in three thanking me for providing accurate information. Not only did I receive an apology for the distress but they said they had identified the driver and given him a talking to. They also said appropriate action had been taken against him.

This restored my faith in the way the authority handled the complaint and made us feel disabled people were respected there.

It was also good to see the authority taking the issue seriously and replying promptly. There were no quibbles and I hope the individual reflects on his egregious behaviour and no longer thinks he can treat disabled people in this uncaring and disrespectful way.

6 thoughts on “Disciplined: The Adelaide train driver who said he locked disabled people on a train if they used the wrong carriage

  1. Makes you wonder how many other passengers had been stranded & strange no other complaints were made or had they & no action taken. Enjoy the rest of your trip.


  2. After reading your article David, l did wonder if we ought to actually be calling disabled people, people who are disenabled … by now. Can we not move on with our teminology.
    In actual fact for thirty odd years l have been terming ‘groups’ this way. People who are unemployed. People who are disabled. People who are homeless. It offends me that reporters on the tele call people ‘the’ homeless, ”the’ unemployed, ‘the’ disabled. Surely the fact that they are ‘people’ should come first? Maybe you could start that David?


  3. A lot better than our experience that has started a complaint against the hospital you are only too familiar with. Seems if you are 94 you are left to rot in their beds. I fear the complaints procedure here is going to be not so easy. Thank God for the Power of Attorney. Speak when you get back.


  4. Hi, there seems to be something happening with waspi womens claim going to revue, can’t find anything on bbc news on the net though. Do you know if there are any developments, thanks


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