A deaf rail passenger who struggles to lip read on public transport due to face coverings claims he was refused a priority seat in a carriage and told they were 'for staff'.
Adam Rea, 29, from Congleton, who is profoundly deaf in both ears since birth, feels strongly about being able to socially distance.
He said he wanted to sit on a priority seat on Saturday's CrossCountry train from Manchester Piccadilly to Macclesfield so he could be distanced from other passengers but that a crew member would not allow it - and instead sat in the seat himself.
A CrossCountry spokesman has now apologised to Adam for his disappointment - but said the seats had been blocked off to allow those queuing for food to distance themselves.
They said the staff member - who was a caterer - 'would have explained this if asked'.
However, Adam claims he was not given this explanation.
He said: "Being deaf is hard work and I have to put up with everyone’s attitude towards me and the coronavirus crisis has left me lonely and isolated.
"There were red labels on the disabled seats saying 'not in use' so I told a staff member I was deaf and asked why I couldn't sit there.
"But he was talking through the mask and I had to raise my voice to ask him to take his mask off. Finally he removed it and I said again I have the disability rights to have a disabled seat.
"He said 'it's for staff only' and advised me to use any available seats with no window on the same carriage."
He added: "For the third time I said I've got to have disabled seats - but he constantly refused and wouldn't let me. I had to force myself to use a table with four seats all to myself that I didn't even want to be at and I was quite close to other passengers and it wasn't social distancing.
"He could have used the First Class carriage because it was the next carriage and it was empty. There were four rows with empty seats in this carriage and there were red labels saying 'not in use'.
"I was very upset, hurt, angry and disappointed at how I'd been treated as a disabled passenger."
Adam added: "His behaviour was completely shocking and disgusting.
"I filmed him and when I walked through the station I could see him filming me too - but I didn't do anything wrong other than catching him out."
A spokesman for CrossCountry said: "We are sorry this customer was disappointed during their recent journey. To enable people to safety distance themselves when being purchasing food we have blocked off the two rows at the end of the last carriage where the catering is served.
"This is explained on the labels at each seat, with one row showing the seats as only for people queuing and the others ‘not for public use’ to create the space at the door. Unfortunately, this has to include that priority seat, but there are others in the carriage and many more throughout the train. Our staff member in the video was the caterer waiting to serve any customers, and would have explained this if asked.
"If they would like to get in touch with us directly we’d be happy to explain the circumstances in more detail, and how they can talk to us in advance to ensure they have a reserved place for their future journeys."