Man in wheelchair carried off crowded train for taking up too much space

An NS train waiting on the tracks (Photo: TahR78/Wikipedia)
An NS train waiting on the tracks (Photo: TahR78/Wikipedia)An NS train waiting on the tracks (Photo: TahR78/Wikipedia)

Sven Romkes from Assen managed to just get a spot with his wheelchair in a packed train from Almere station to the north on Tuesday evening. But two young men decided they'd rather have his spot. They picked him up, wheelchair and all, and carried him off the train. Romkes was left on the platform, watching the intercity train to Leeuwarden leave without him, De Stentor reports.

Almere station was very crowded on Tuesday evening. Several trains were canceled, leaving only one train running to the north. Romkes, 37, got on the train last. "I didn't want to get in the way of the other people", he said to the newspaper. "Once I was inside, in the middle section between the coupes, two boys arrived. Of the student type, you could say. They saw that I could no longer reach and decided before I realized it to lift me off the train, wheelchair and all." 

According to him, bystanders looked shocked, but didn't intervene. "You know, sometimes things happen before you realize it's happening. I had such a feeling yesterday. Suddenly I was outside again. It all happened before I realized it. I still tried to reach a conductor, but it was too late. The train drove off right in front of me. Leaving me on the platform, the students on the train."

Left behind at the station, Romkes called some friends to tell them what happened. They advised him to tweet about it, so that the world can know how people with disabilities are sometimes treated. His tweet was shared hundreds of times, also getting responses from Public Health Minister Hugo de Jonge and rail company NS.

"I am always super satisfied with NS, they always help me and I have nice contact with the conductors", Romkes  said to De Stentor. "They said they were very shocked by my story and offered me, among other things, a spot in an experience group for people with a disability who want to travel by train. They also want to involve me in a working group that works to get more people with disabilities to work at NS. And I got flowers."

Romkes is satisfied with the company's response and happy to be involved in their efforts to make the railways more friendly to people with disabilities, he said. NS offered to track down the two young men who manhandled him through surveillance camera footage. "But I don't find it necessary", he said to the newspaper. "The situation received the attention it deserved."