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Rail firms ordered to improve disabled toilet access after top Paralympian was forced to wet herself

Anne Wafula-Strike was unable to access toilet facilities on a three-hour train journey Credit: ITV News Anglia

Rail firms have been ordered to improve toilet access for all disabled rail passengers after a Paralympian revealed she was forced to wet herself when she couldn't access a train toilet.

The Department for Transport (DfT) made the announcement on Wednesday morning after wheelchair racer Anne Wafula-Strike spoke out about her traumatic experience on a a three-hour journey.

Wafula-Strike, from Harlow, was travelling from Coventry to Stansted Airport shortly before Christmas when she found the train toilet was out of order.

The 42-year-old Team GB athlete told of how she hid her face with a hoodie in embarrassment and says her dignity was taken away by the episode.

Wafula-Strike told ITV News Anglia the experience has prompted her to speak out about the injustice faced by people with disabilities.

[The toilet] was bolted up with a big sign saying 'Out of Order'.

When the ticket collector came through, I explained my situation to her and she told me not to worry and said we'd get me off at the next stop.

But unfortunately, when we got to the next stop, the station that she'd suggested had no one at the platform to help.

– ANNE WAFULA STRIKE speaking to ITV NEWS
Wafula-Strike was unable to access toilet facilities on a three-hour CrossCountry service

Wafula-Strike's experience led Rail Minister Paul Maynard to meet with senior industry executives to discuss the issue of toilet access.

Now the rail industry has been urged to make sure disabled passengers are told before their trains depart if toilet facilities are out of order.

The DfT also claimed maintenance teams will ensure accessible toilets are more reliable and fixed faster when problems arise.

I take the issue of accessibility on our railways extremely seriously and these commitments from industry are just one step forward to improve things.

It is vital that all people, including disabled passengers, are able to use public transport and I will continue to push train companies on this matter.

– Paul Maynard, Rail Minister

Since 1999 all new trains have been required to have accessible toilets as standard, with older trains complying by 2020.

The DfT said 150 stations have been upgraded under the Access for All programme to remove barriers to independent travel, including installing signs, ramps and lifts.

A further 68 are in construction or development.

An Accessibility Action Plan will be published by the DfT later this year to address the issue across all modes of public transport