Train travel as a wheelchair user
Whether local or national, rail is a simple way to get from A to B without the stress of driving or flying and like all other travel it’s best if you do some preparation before your journey (but much less than flying!). Here’s our tips on Wheelchair train travel.
Rail travel in the UK can be relatively inexpensive by combing offers and the use of rail cards. For example, the Disabled Adult Railcard firstly gives you a discount, and then allows for a second person to travel at the same rate. This discount is currently 1/3 off. Booking online is easiest to get the best available fares and pick up tickets at the station.
If you are a wheelchair user and stay in your own chair for the journey you automatically qualify for a discount without having a railcard, but this is only on Anytime fares (these are the highest fares) and only available in person at the station. So it is worth buying a Railcard if you travel more than 3-4 times a year.
Non Railcard Discounts available on adult Anytime fares*
First Class / Standard Single or Day Single or Return 34%
First Class / Standard Day Return 50%
*Sometimes it may be cheaper to buy an undiscounted Off-peak or Advance ticket.
*Correct at August 2016
Assistance can be arranged from the taxi rank to the train in one phone call, and at your destination they will make sure you are taken to the appropriate pickup point in the station. Assistance, in theory, can be arranged for nearly every manned station and some unmanned stations within the UK, but in some rural stations the support can be more hit and miss.
If you are buying your tickets with Virgin Trains you can simply phone the Assistance Team direct and purchase your ticket and book assistance in one step. With other companies, buy your ticket online and then phone and book assistance from the relevant train company’s Assistance Team.
What you need to know
They will ask you a series of questions such as how you plan to arrive and leave the station? If you need assistance from the taxi rank/drop off point? Will you need the ramp to board the train? Will you be travelling in your wheelchair? That’s really it.
When you arrive at the station you either meet the staff at the designated spot of make yourself known to a member of staff and they will make sure you get on the train.
On the train
It’s always useful to get the train manger to phone ahead to your destination station to make sure that they know you are coming. Mistakes do happen so it’s also useful to have a mobile phone on you. The accessible wheelchair spaces on the trains are usually by the accessible bathrooms. These bathrooms are usually snug, not as tight as on a plane but certainly not big enough for a hoist or someone to be easily able to assist you, so plan ahead. You can however easily get an average manual or power chair in.
Refreshments – bring your own unless you know there is a trolley service or you are travelling with a companion. The buffet car can be far away and the aisles are not wheelchair accessible for you to get down the train. Some train managers will be helpful enough and go for you.
You can travel in manual, or most power wheelchairs or with most walking aids/frames. It’s best to check with individual train companies about Scooters as they vary in size and don’t always fit in the wheelchair space or can be too big/heavy for the ramps.
Who you going to call?
Phone numbers for the train companies can be found here.
Posted on: 23rd August 2016, by : Strictly Wheels