A DISABLED Didcot man was forced to drive his mobility scooter along country roads and tracks for three hours to make a hospital appointment — because guards stopped him taking it on a train.

First Great Western said 43-year-old Paul Jeffrey could not take his scooter on the train from Didcot Parkway to Oxford because it was too big and could prove dangerous to passengers.

Mr Jeffrey, who suffers from chronic asthma, diabetes and heart problems, took his 8mph scooter through back roads to get to the Churchill Hospital, Oxford — a 16-mile journey that took him three hours.

His route took him through Appleford and Culham and the centre of Abingdon before he headed north along the River Thames towpath into Oxford city centre and up Headington Hill to the hospital.

He then drove back along the same route for another three hours, arriving home at 6pm, having charged his scooter’s battery at the hospital for five-and-a-half hours.

Mr Jeffrey said: “I have used trains before and have never had a problem. I have even been as far as Feltham, where my sister lives.

“I asked to see the rules in black and white, and they could not show it to me. They just said I could not get on the train at all.

“I was not doing any harm — all I had to go was one stop from Didcot to Oxford. It meant that I nearly missed my appointment, and had to go all the way through country lanes to get there.”

He set off at 7am last Friday from his home in Laburnum Grove, Didcot, leaving plenty of time to get to his 10am hospital check-up.

Mr Jeffrey, who cannot drive and lives with his disabled mother, said he was worried other vulnerable people would be left abandoned on the station platform in the same way.

He said: “I’m not only speaking for myself. I’m speaking for others out there who are disabled.”

First Great Western’s policy says that only mobility scooters that can be folded down and carried on as luggage are allowed.

Other train companies impose size limits or ask owners to apply for a pass.

First Great Western spokesman Dan Panes said rules varied between operators because of different carriage sizes.

He said it was not safe to allow mobility scooters on board because they blocked doors and could not fit into carriages.

He said: “We do make our policy on mobility scooters absolutely clear, both on our website and through our customer service phoneline.

“We are really sorry we are not able to carry them. We would love to be able to, but we cannot carry them at the expense of the safety of other passengers.”

But Andy Burns, of Didcot-based disability firm True Mobility, hit out at the company, saying the obstruction from a scooter was no different to a large pushchair.

He said: “I have never heard of anything like this before.

“To many people, these scooters are lifelines. If they are not able to drive and not able to walk, this is their means of getting around.

“Twenty years ago, they would have been sat at home waiting for meals on wheels.

“First Great Western need to change their policy and keep up with the times.”