Exclusive: “I should have just kicked her off.” Investigation launched into Train Manager’s alleged angry tirade at Deaf woman

Posted on July 23, 2014

Virgin Trains are investigating an incident in which a Train Manager allegedly subjected a Deaf woman to a angry tirade which horrified other passengers.

Michelle Quayle boarded a train from Crewe to Manchester Piccadilly on Saturday morning.

She was sitting in her seat reading a book when the Train Manager got her attention by waving his hand in front of her face.

Her written complaint to Virgin Trains states:

“He was huffing and puffing red faced shouting at me. I gestured I was deaf but he continued to shout. I gestured pen and paper so he could write down what he was saying but he stood adamantly and continued to shout. All the passengers were looking at me now. The lady next to me tried to say something to him but he looked away ignoring her and carried on staring eyes shouting directly at me.”

According to her complaint, she gestured again to him to write down what he wanted to say, then took out her purse, which held a bus pass covering part of her journey – which she says the Train Manager took away as the train pulled into Wilmslow station.

When he returned, her complaint states:

“At this point I wanted my bus pass back in case he left with it again, I tried to take it, he [but he lifted] up his elbow and shook his head no.”

Her complaint states that he continued shouting at her before agreeing to write on the paper.He wrote down “pay first” and then asked in writing which station she had boarded at.

There was more confusion when Quayle gestured to him to add a Disabled Railcard discount for her journey.

Her complaint says the conductor shook his head, before he realised what she wanted and, in her words, “angrily hit some buttons on his ticket [machine].”

Quayle says:

“After he stormed off, I was shaking and reduced to tears. All the passengers rallied round me to see if I was okay. The older lady next to me kindly gave me a tissue.”

A witness on the train sent us her own complaint to Virgin Trains. She wrote:

“[The Deaf woman] was crying and obviously distressed. As he turned and walked past me he said ‘I should have just kicked her off’ and muttering more down the carriage. He effectively silenced a women who couldn’t communicate, laughed in her face, abused and degraded her in front of a carriage of people. His behaviour was despicable and I hope action is taken.”

Shortly after the incident, several passengers tweeted Virgin Trains to express their disgust at what they had witnessed:

(Please note: a Deaf twitter user corrected this man on his use of the term ‘deaf and dumb.’)  

Quayle describes the incident as being “absolutely disgusting and degrading.” She said: “I have no idea what abuse was thrown at me because I couldn’t hear/lipread a word.”

Her complaint to Virgin Trains also states:

“Never ever in 29 years of my deaf life have I ever experienced an encounter such as this. Sure I’ve come across impatient people, people with lack of awareness but never abuse such as this. Never has my deafness ever brought me down, I have aspired to live my life to the full. After this experience, for the first time ever, it has hit me hard and knocked me for six.”

We contacted Virgin Trains about the incident, sharing the written complaints and tweets with them. Their spokesman said:

“We take this allegation extremely seriously and have launched an investigation to uncover the full circumstances of this case. Naturally we are not in a position to comment further until this investigation has concluded and we are in command of all the facts. However, we would like to apologise for any distress experienced.”

By Charlie Swinbourne, Editor

Photo by Jamie McCaffrey

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