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Train Travel for Wheel Chair Users

By: Jonathan Webb - Updated: 25 Jan 2019 | comments*Discuss
Train Travel Train Travel Wheel Chairs

In recent years rail companies have made great improvements not only to making their trains more accessible for disabled passengers but in making many stations step free or installing lifts to compliment footbridges, enabling train travel to be a realistic option for many wheelchair users.

Planning Your Journey

When planning to travel by train it is advisable, especially at major city stations, to book assistance in advance as station staff can then be allocated to help you onto the platform and onto the correct train by using a wheelchair ramp that all main stations have.

For local services there is usually no need to book a seat in advance, as most suburban trains have space reserved for wheelchairs. This is often marked on the outside of the appropriate carriage and station staff can advise the guard of your destination ,so that they may help you off the train when it arrives.

On services with driver only operated trains it is important to ensure that staff at your destination station are aware of what train you are on. This can either be booked in advance by telephone or station staff at where you board will usually inform the station staff at your destination.

If you are a user of a mobility scooter it is worth checking that it can be carried on the train you wish to travel on, as some train companies have restrictions on the size and weight of a vehicle that can be conveyed by rail. It is also advisable to confirm that there are no engineering works being carried out on the days you wish to travel as on these occasions train services can often be replaced by buses or coaches. These are not always able to carry wheelchairs.

If you are making a longer journey by rail it is advisable to book tickets in advance, as space for wheelchairs is often limited on express trains and it also means that you are able to take advantage of cheaper tickets, that are often considerably cheaper than turn up and go tickets.

At The Station

Many stations,especially the newer type, now have specially adapted ticket windows with lower ledges making it easier for wheelchair users to communicate with booking office staff.

Where there are no staff present there is usually a self service ticket machine. New generation machines are also more accessible for wheelchair users. Many trains calling at unstaffed stations often carry an onboard wheelchair ramp enabling the guard to help you on and off the train. You should however ensure that the station you are travelling to and from is step free and/or staffed if you feel you will need assistance.

At some stations, where there is no step free bridge or lifts, wheelchair users may have to cross the railway line by using a boarded crossing, sometimes called a barrow crossing. At such stations a member of platform staff will assist you across the line to the platform that you need to be on. These crossings are very safe and are protected by warning lights that inform staff whether it is safe to cross or not.

Most modern rolling stock is now fitted with disabled accessible toilets which not only have electronic sliding doors but are fitted with emergency buttons, should you get into difficulties when you are inside. This alerts a member of onboard staff who will come to your assistance.

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BURDETT; try the SNCF website, available in English as well as French. It gives comprehensive information about disabled travel in France
Miep - 25-Jan-19 @ 10:12 AM
Is there an agency that can book tickets from St Pancras, change at Lille for Nimes.I have reservation for a disabled seat on Eurostar on the 10,15 on April 7th but am having a real problem in booking and getting assistance from Lille to nimes. I do not speak French well. I would be grateful for any help you can give me
Burdett - 8-Mar-18 @ 4:34 PM
I am a wheelchair user and my local station never has anyone to assist me to get on the train. I always book assistance but I have to rely on a the guard to put ramps up to the train for me both on outward journeys and return journeys as Egham Station have no staff after 4pm in the afternoon. Who will be responsible for getting me off of the train if their are no guards on South West trains in the future?
Stephen - 5-Jan-17 @ 7:12 PM
What about people with mobility issues who aren't in wheelchairs. My problem would be getting up from the seat before the train door closes
Rrr - 1-May-15 @ 1:27 PM
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