Home > Public Transport > Underground Train Systems and Disability Access

Underground Train Systems and Disability Access

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 8 Jun 2015 | comments*Discuss
London Underground Glasgow Subway

When you're travelling to major cities, whether for work or for pleasure, one of the first things you'll need to work out is how you're going to get around. Travel guides often don't provide adequate information for disabled people, but this guide to underground train systems in the UK can help you decide whether or not public transport is going to be a viable option for you.

The London Underground

Not all stations on the London Underground offer level access or lift access for disabled users, but those which do are well distributed, so you can still get close to most locations. You can call 0845 330 9880 for advice. It is possible to sign up for a text alert system that will warn you if lifts are out of action, and staff are always available to help at the station.

Buying your ticket at the station is easy, with lower level ticket machines for wheelchair users and induction loops for the hard of hearing. Unfortunately there is a long way to walk at some stations between the street access point and the platforms, but staff can sometimes take you through short cuts. If the platform is too low for easy train access, look out for specially raised areas.

All London Underground trains have priority seating for disabled passengers and spaces for wheelchairs. The system can become extremely crowded during peak times and travellers with health problems should note that some underground stations can get very hot in summer.

The Glasgow Subway

The Glasgow Subway is small, with quick access to all platforms so that you won't have to walk far from the entrance. Unfortunately, access to almost all stations is via steps, with only St Enoch and Partick stations having full escalator access. The escalators are often out of order, so even these cannot be relied on. There is no lift access to stations.

If you can manage steps, you'll find that they are kept in good condition and have good solid handrails. Larger stations have benches where passengers can wait, but these are the narrow, tilted sort that many disabled people find difficult to use. Fortunately, trains are usually only five minutes apart.

Entry to stations is via narrow turnstiles but staff will open a gate for you if you have difficulty with these. Overcrowding on the trains is only a problem at peak times and between two and six on Saturdays during the football season. Trains have priority seats for disabled people and numerous poles you can use to help yourself get upright. There are no station announcements but most blind users find it easy to count the stops as there are only fifteen stations in total.


A hybrid system with some very old stations and some modern ones, Merseyrail is quite variable when it comes to access. For details of which stations are more accessible, you can call 0800 0277 347 (textphone service available). As long as they have at least an hour's notice, staff can be on hand to assist at any station - to book, call 0151 702 2704.

Trains are well designed for disabled access, with priority seating and with reserved spaces for standard size wheelchairs and mobility scooters. There are poles you can use for support and those stations where you'll need to negotiate steps all have good handrails.

Tyne and Wear Metro

As the Tyne and Wear Metro is a hybrid underground and light rail system, some parts of it are more accessible than others. Several stations have full wheelchair access but some passengers still run into difficulty getting their wheelchairs safely onto trains where there is too wide a gap between the platform and the train door, and as some stations are unmanned, there may be no staff available to help. The best advice is to try and plan your route so as to use only staffed or new-build stations.

At present, mobility scooters are not allowed on the metro, but this is expected to change in the near future, so watch this space.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hi I'm trying to contact you with a media enquiry about this topic for an article about wheelchair access to the Underground but the janem email address is rejecting all emails. Please could you contact me at my email address. Thanks.
Jane - 8-Jun-15 @ 3:19 PM
@Umberto - I have included the link to wheelchair access and avoiding stairs on the London transport network which should help you be able to plan your journey. here. Whether you take a taxi (which are also readily available outside the station) will be dependent upon how close your hotel is to the station. I have also included access to an interactive London map which offers other helpful features including how long it will take to get from place to place here. I hope this helps.
DisabledTravelAdvice - 20-Jan-15 @ 2:46 PM
my friend has asked me to accompany him to London and I'll be happy to do that - first obstacle is Victoria Station arriving from LGW - is there access to an underground train or is it better a Taxi. Last question is if there is wheelchair access in one of this three stations - South Kensington - Gloucester Rd. - High Street Kensington where we are looking at hotels - I hope you can answer me - many thanks - Umberto.
Steveweber18 - 19-Jan-15 @ 7:00 PM
@Fallguy - I have included a web link to the Epilepsy Society which shows you what help is available to you here. I hope this helps.
DisabledTravelAdvice - 22-Dec-14 @ 2:56 PM
What help is there for people who are epileptic, I have also severe memory problems, and I have water problems. I am not planning on travelling soon, as they have just found an old fracture in one of the bones in my spine. I had a motorbike accident in 1979,and the top of my spine was pushed up into my skull and fractured it, it was then pushed down into my brain, scraped my brain and I then had meningitis. I get confused easily as well and I get lost very easily. I do not use a wheelchair, I must add.I also suffer from Diabetes Insipidus , its not the insulin dependent diabetes, I just get EXTREMELY thirsty. I sometimes get a very severe sharp sudden pain,where the scar is and I may shout out and on the odd occasionI have sworn, because of the sudden stabbing pain-the hospital call the `ice-pick headaches`as if someone thrusts a mountaineering ice-pick into your skull.
Fallguy - 20-Dec-14 @ 11:45 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments