A DYSLEXIC student was hit with a £20 train fine even though he asked for help, handed over money for a ticket and showed his disability card.
Oliver Edwards, 22, was slapped with the penalty fare – four times the price of his ticket – when he arrived in Sittingbourne, Kent.
Oliver said the office was closed at his departing station, Sheerness on Sea, Kent, and because he could not read the self-service machine he asked for help from a conductor who told him to buy a ticket on the train.
But when he got on the train nobody was available to help.
I was annoyed and upset that the woman wouldn’t let me buy a ticket, but I stayed calm.
Oliver said: “I was sad. I don’t usually ever get on the train without buying a ticket, but I did what I was told.
“I was annoyed and upset that the woman wouldn’t let me buy a ticket, but I stayed calm.
“I wasn’t trying to jump the train. I wanted to buy a ticket and it was incredibly difficult to do so. It made me more annoyed when I gave her my £5 note and she just handed it back with a fine.
Oliver’s dad used to buy the tickets for him but he died a couple of years ago and now he has to manage by himself.
Rubbing salt in the wound, the inspector even had the audacity to write on his ticket fine in the box for Grounds Info “can’t read”.
He added: “Usually I go to the train station a few days before I travel because in the morning no-one’s at the ticket office.
“I think it makes using the train more difficult because if there’s nobody at the station, no ticket people on the train, I now have to worry about getting a fine.
“I feel worried about buying my ticket on the same day now.”
The British Dyslexia Association claimed it was ‘immoral or illegal to make it unreasonably difficult to access’ services by making the only way to buy tickets digital.
PENALTY FARE OUTRAGE
Helen Boden, chief executive of the BDA, said: “In some cases, dyslexia can be so severe that someone can’t read, which can make many everyday tasks that are taken for granted by others incredibly difficult.
“It is important that businesses make reasonable adjustments for these people and that they make staff aware of how to handle such sensitive issues properly to avoid undue stress and embarrassment for all concerned – not just because it is the right thing to do but because dyslexia is legally recognised as a disability in the UK, so the law requires it.
“There are many advantages to services becoming more digital – but we must remember that many people still need to speak with a human to be able to access services and it is immoral or illegal to make this unreasonably difficult to access.”
Oliver said the member of staff told him the machines were dyslexia friendly but he explained he cannot read or spell.
Southeastern said: “We’re really clear that wherever possible, you must purchase a ticket before boarding a train.
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“A penalty fare isn’t a fine, but rather a reminder to our passengers that they must buy a ticket before boarding a train.
“We would strongly encourage anyone who feels that they have received a Penalty Fare Notice in error to appeal to our independent appeals service.
“Under our Disabled Persons’ Protection Policy, which can be found on our website, if you are disabled and haven’t been able to purchase a ticket before travelling, for a reason related to your disability, you will not be subject to a penalty fare, and you’ll be able to purchase the full range of tickets available to you, including any appropriate discount that applies either on board the train or at your destination.”
Oliver has filed a complaint and will be appealing the fine.
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