Ouch Too - a place for and about disabled people.

Forum => Talk => Topic started by: independentgirl84 on 12 Jan 2018 10:15PM

Title: going by train
Post by: independentgirl84 on 12 Jan 2018 10:15PM
Hi guys, just writing this post out of curiosity more than anything else - how do rail services in the UK treat people with disabilities? I'm in Ireland and the current situation is horrendous. Stations are largely unmanned and those requiring assistance need to give at least 24hrs notice before travelling. I'm so tired of seeing stories of people stranded on trains and platforms. It's really degrading in 2018.
Title: Re: going by train
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 12 Jan 2018 11:10PM
It varies a lot.

Not all stations are accessible and where they are, there can be staffing problems.  Despite major industrial action by rail worker's unions, the practice of having trains with no guards is increasing, and whilst some stations are manned by staff who can help, others aren't, leaving people who need help to board unable to board their train.

There are insufficient wheelchair spaces and priority seats, leading to disputes over who is or isn't entitled to use them. 

For some years I had badly deteriorating night vision (now treated) to the point at which I needed a white cane not so much to find things as to compensate for poor balance, but navigating some railway stations was a nighmare.  Even now, with other vision problems, I struggle with overhead display boards, and eye-level displays seem to be beyond the wit of designers of new stations. 

I took a journey from my nearest mainline railway station to another mainline station a couple of years ago and despite recce'ing the place three times, I was unable to find the disability welcome office(!)  Evidently it was beyond the wits of either the designers of the modern building or those running the place to put big signs up so people could find it.

I planned beforehand and went online to see the layout of the station.  I phoned the rail company to find out which platform the train would be and to ask for assistance, and they said to contact the station, and vice-versa.  Passers-by helped me instead.  Even something as simple as working out in the general melée which way the exit was was horrendous.

However, on the way back, from a London station, I was intercepted by a kind member of staff.  He offered to help and got me not just onto the platform but found me a seat on the train.

So I think our rail companies are letting disabled people down (and I'm sure that others here can think of their own personal examples plus things they've read about), but there's still some kindness to be had from staff members and from ordinary people.
Title: Re: going by train
Post by: Sunshine Meadows on 13 Jan 2018 05:43PM
The railway companies are supposed to use joined up thinking and do things like have lifts working to get disabled people to the platforms, and have people there to help with the ramps getting on and off trains. However there are regular stories in the British press about failures in service.

I dont use trains myself apart from a trip on a scenic railway in Wales years ago where the disabled assistant service was good.

Title: Re: going by train
Post by: auntieCtheM on 13 Jan 2018 10:10PM
A few years ago I needed to use a wheelchair for a few weeks.  I went up to London by train, pushed by an elderly friend.  My local station was wheelchair friendly.  When we got to London I was able to get out of the wheelchair to get off the train and as I was being pushed around the station a nice BR man came and did the pushing.  On the way back the same man came and pushed me to the train.
Title: Re: going by train
Post by: JLR2 on 15 Jan 2018 11:12AM
I found the disabled service at Inverness station really good, when I was travelling to Aberdeen for my niece's wedding. I contacted the station to ask for their help using their on-line guidance and when I arrived at the station, at the arranged time, there was a member of staff waiting for me in the ticketing office and he saw me to my train making sure I was comfortable in my seat and confirming the date and time of my return to the station when once again he was there to see me back to my car.
Title: Re: going by train
Post by: independentgirl84 on 15 Jan 2018 12:14PM
Thanks a million guys - this is all really interesting. I would've responded sooner had I remembered I started this here thread - doh!
The reason I ask is because we are going to Blackpool in  the summer (boo for getting rid of the handy airport by the way, Blackpool) and are planning to take the train from Manchester to Blackpool. It sounds like rail travel over in the UK is similar to over here in terms of reliability! No matter, I'm well used to it by now!

Hugs to all. I'm still lurking - Haven't forgotten ye! xx
Title: Re: going by train
Post by: KizzyKazaer on 15 Jan 2018 09:18PM
Ooh, good old Blackpool - you'll have some fun there if you don't mind the 'kiss me quick'-hats sort of vibe  ;-)  (I'm assuming this is your first visit...) I had quite a few pleasurable long weekends in Blackpool during the late 90s/early to mid 2000s, though not in the summer.  You'll hopefully find that food and drink tends to be cheaper there, too!
Title: Re: going by train
Post by: independentgirl84 on 16 Jan 2018 09:42AM
Heehee, I was there ages ago Kizzy, when I didn't need a wheelchair and Blackpool had its own airport! I know some of it is tacky. This time my friend and I are bringing the kids. Just wanted somewhere with a beach and a few bits to do, that we could do at a leisurely pace.  Easily pleased, me! :)
Title: Re: going by train
Post by: AndMac on 16 Jan 2018 03:52PM
I've not used the trains for about six years, when I was far more mobile. The issue for me wasn't access, but reliability.
The final straw came when I was late for a training day, having taken an extra early train 'just in case', because the expletive train broke down. We were then overtaken by the next train, which would have got me to my destination in plenty of time.

I didn't like Blackpool at all, but I knew I wouldn't, and children are far more easily pleased, there will be plenty for them to do.

 The pleasure in Blackpool for me, is that I have experienced it as a sample of British culture, and I never have to do it again.