Sheffield wheelchair user struggles to board trams after works completed

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A wheelchair user says she has had her ‘independence taken away’ by problems with new tram tracks across Sheffield .

Julie Dallison, who has spina bifida and travels on the city’s tram network every day, has struggled to get around as usual since the tram system was upgraded.

The 48-year-old, from Broomhall, is no longer able to get on trams unless the conductor or a passenger realises she needs help, and has had to get a taxi to hospital appointments instead on two occasions.

She said: “Since they have done the new tracks, the trams seem to be higher than the platform.”

“I have been restricted where I can go or not.

“It has taken my independence away and it makes me very angry and disappointed.”

Work on the city’s tram network took place over several months months, with rail replacement now completed in the city centre, Hillsborough and Gleadless Townend.

Stagecoach Supertram, which runs the network, says there has been ‘no change to the floor height of our trams when people are boarding and alighting’ and it ‘welcomed’ customers with disabilities.

A spokesman added: “In fact, our trams have a sophisticated automatic system to make it easier for people to enter and exit our services - the tram adjusts its suspension, depending on the weight on board, to ensure the door is at a suitable height for customers to board and alight at stops.

“We also suggest that customers using a wheelchair may wish to board and alight the front carriage, where it will be easier for the driver to assist them if required.

“We are sorry to hear of the issues experienced by this customer and we are more than willing to meet with her so that we can offer support and advice about how she can best use our services in future.”

The manager of Sheffield’s Shop Mobility Limited said there were other problems for passengers who used mobility scooters, as only scooters that meet certain requirements can be carried. Passengers must be assessed for a scooter permit.

Mark Arber said: “Most people do not have portable scooters, which are the only ones allowed in trams now. Portable scooters do not have very strong batteries, which makes it very difficult to board and get off trams.”

Supertram said it complied with a national code of practice on scooters.