SNCF 'first class' for disabled help

1 February 2015

What a pity Shane Hryhorec had such a traumatic time with a wheelchair on the SNCF (Connexion, December).

My own experience was so different – I have never been so pampered in my life.

I’m not permanently disabled but, while in Paris I slipped a disc. Walking was extremely painful and it was obvious that returning to the Languedoc on the train was going to be a problem.

I arrived on the platform at Gare de Lyon in a wheelchair kindly loaned by a neighbouring hospital.

As my reservation was for an upstairs seat in second class, I simply asked the TGV team on the platform if I could sit downstairs instead.

They said: “We can do better than that” and, in spite of having no prior warning, whisked me off to a first-class carriage where I was given a disabled seat, opposite the door and close to the loo.

Fellow passengers offered to bring me coffee or anything I needed from the buffet car.

On arriving in Montpellier where I had to change trains, another assistance team were waiting for me at the carriage door with big smiles and another wheelchair. They took me up in the lift to the restaurant, then came back to fetch me when it was time to board the TER.

At Carcassonne station, which has no lift or escalator, again another team were waiting with a wheelchair which they had to push across the tracks to the car park where they settled me into the car.

It was summer, the stations were busy but nothing was too much trouble. All this came with smiles, at no extra cost, not even for the first-class seat. I take my hat off to them all.

Jacqueline AMAR, Fontiers-Cabardès, Aude

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