Following my complaint to East Midlands Trains, I was contacted by their Customer Relations manager by telephone and we had an excellent exchange.
Firstly she was very apologetic about the way I’d been spoken to when making the booking and assured me that she would look into this. We then spoke at length about the issue of having enough space on a train for a blind person and their guide dog. She told me, as I’d already found out, that east Midlands trains do not have the policy of booking an extra seat for a guide dog owner with dog as other train operators do. I asked why this was and she explained that they feel that standard class seating is at a premium and can’t be allocated in this way. She then went on to say that if a blind person had insufficient space, i.e. only one seat on a train, they could speak to the train manager and ask to be seated where there is more space, this usually being in first class.
although I feel this is a good work around I explained to her that it might not always be possible to identify the train manager if they don’t come down the train, so it would be difficult to ask for help. I suggested that a possible solution would be to offer a blind person with a guide dog a discretionary seat in first class at time of booking. She was very receptive to this suggestion but could not change this policy herself. she asked me to put the suggestion to her in writing for her to take up with colleagues.
This I have done so hopefully things may change for guide dog owners travelling on east Midlands Trains.