Travelling On Trains With a Disability
Last week, BBC Local Radio broadcast an interview with a wheelchair user who wanted to set the record straight when it came to helping people with disabilities travel on the train. It was an insightful interview that made us aware of the troubles that disabled train users often encounter. One of the main points outlined how and when to help disabled users on the train, pointing out that members of the public should ask before trying to help somebody in a wheelchair or mobility scooter. This interview was aimed at giving the general public an insight into what it’s like travelling on trains with a disability. But, rather than advising the public on how to help, i thought it would be better to outline what a typical train journey looks like for people with disabilities.
Before You Leave
To make travelling on trains with a disability go as smooth as possible, you need to make sure you prepare beforehand and find out the rules of the particular train line you’ll be travelling with. You can do this by calling the company or looking them up online eg. Mobility scooters Northern Rail. Each train line has their own rules but there are some things to consider regardless:
- Make the trainline aware that you need assistance so they can organise help for you.
- Be aware that most train lines only accept the following: manual wheelchairs, powered wheelchairs & folding mobility scooters.
- There is probably a weight limit, too. Make sure your vehicle is under the weight limit for your train line.
- It’s always better to travel with somebody as staff may not help you.
You’re not on your own, there are companies out there that focus on helping disabled people travel without any hassle. They’ll help you with booking tickets and organising personal assistance on the day. One such website is called CrossCountry trains that offer a service called Journey Care.
At the Train Station
Train stations are usually busy, a bit frantic and it seems like nobody is entirely sure of where they’re going. Because of this, it’s a good idea to arrive in plenty of time to compose yourself before finding your platform. There’ll be a member of staff to see the train off so make sure they’re aware that you need a ramp and give them time to set it up before you get on. Another thing to point out is that people may not be courteous of you and your needs so you need to be prepared for this. It’s every man for himself when it comes to train travel. When you’re nearing your stop, give yourself enough time to get off the train without panicking.
Making Railway Travel More Accessible
Even if you do follow this article and prepare as much as you can, you may still feel stressed and a bit lost when you’re at the train station and on the train. To improve railway travel for people with disabilities, rather than asking the person to do more, councils and train lines need to do more. There needs to be more of an effort to make railway travel more accessible to disabled people. Below are some ideas we came up with, let us know below what ideas you have to improve railway travel.
- Trains with automatic ramps that don’t require disabled users to wait or hold up queues.
- Separate tickets for disabled users who require extra assistance or specific seats.
- More in-depth training for train station staff so they’re always fully equipped to help people disabilities on the platform.
- A separate entrance or carriage that could be used by the lesser abled: mothers with prams, elderly people & disabled people.
What about travelling abroad? check out our article that explains how to enjoy mobility abroad by clicking the link.