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American Train Operator Criticised for Overcharging Travellers with Disabilities

Back view of man in his electric wheelchair at underground platform waiting for train with motion blur of passing train in the background

Amtrak is under fire for reportedly telling a group of people with disabilities that it would cost $25,000 for them to travel by train on a route that typically costs just $16 per person.

The group, including five wheelchair users, wanted to travel together from Chicago to Bloomington, Ill. for an office retreat, according to NPR. All five work at Access Living, a Chicago disability service and advocacy organisation.

However, the train has just three cars, each of which can accommodate one person in a wheelchair. Amtrak reportedly told the group it would cost $25,000 to remove seats so that the other two members of the party could be accommodated. Officials from Access Living told NPR that they had previously made arrangements to be accommodated on similar trips with Amtrak, but were told that the train service’s nationwide policy had changed prompting the $25,000 quote.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said over the weekend that Amtrak “must do better” and wants a meeting with the train service’s CEO Richard Anderson.  Later Amtrak changed course.

“Amtrak officials have contacted Access Living and we apologise for their inconvenience as we have been working through how to serve their travel needs. We assured them that as valued customers we will accommodate all passengers who use wheelchairs aboard the same Amtrak trains they originally requested between Chicago and Bloomington-Normal, Ill.,” Amtrak said in a statement.

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