Following incidents of railway staff being presented with what they believe to be false lanyards by people abusing the system, the railway declared it would only allow those with a letter from their GP to board its carriages unmasked.
Staff have also been abused by passengers refusing to wear face coverings, which also influenced the railway’s policy.
But an online mental health support group, Sunny Spells and Cloudy Days, has challenged the railway’s decision to enforce GP letters, and said two of its members have been denied access to the railway.
Based in Telford, the group has nearly 1,000 members from across the UK and offers support to those with mental health issues.
Group spokesman James said: “There are so many people that don’t have letters from their GP for things such as anxiety, which is covered in the list of reasons why you may not have to wear a mask, and they will be using legitimate lanyards.
"We’ve had a member from Wolverhampton and one from Telford who made contact with us saying they had been refused access as they wouldn’t provide medical evidence.
“Our call to the railway is to realise there will be a lot of people that have legitimate lanyards and as a company they should be trying to support vulnerable people getting back into society.
“It’s not OK for railway staff to suffer any abuse and we totally understand that, but we feel they need to handle the situation with more care.”
In response, railway director Dr Malvern Tipping said the company had to put the health and safety of its staff, many of whom are vulnerable, first.
Mr Tipping said: “Our first priority is to protect our staff, who are frontline workers, and to mitigate any risk to them. We are happy to address the concerns raised by Sunny Spells and Cloudy Days by advising them that the company’s policy is that those persons who are clearly either severely mentally disabled or physically disabled, and assisted by a carer, will be exempted from having to wear a face mask.
“In such cases, the disabled person and their carer will be transported in a carriage on their own so as to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading to others.
“Very young children are also currently exempt. All other persons, no matter what ailments they claim to have, will have to wear a face mask unless they provide a signed letter from their GP giving good reason why they should not have to do so.
“Our staff continue to face the wrath of the face mask recusants and the Covid-deniers. However, we are not going to be bullied into making our working environment less safe by such a small minority.”