Railway stations and access for the disabled
Not enough railway stations provide step free access for the physically disabled.
Almost all the British railway system was built before disabled people existed in the public eye. When the stations were originally built lifts did not exist and disabled people were not in the mindset. If you wanted to get across the railway lines to another platform you had to go over a bridge. Inevitably that means using steps, not a wheelchair friendly concept.
It is only now that the needs of the disabled, mothers with buggies and elderly people are considered. Stations at the end of a line and stations used by intercity trains are usually ‘disabled friendly’. In other words there are lifts and they are ‘step free’. Train stations that are intended for commuting in and out of a big city are far less likely to be ‘disabled friendly’.
Slowly all the railway stations are being brought into the 21st century but it is slow and very patchy. As a rule of thumb the smaller the station the less likely that it will have been adapted for the disabled person.
Help and assistance
If you are traveling and you use a wheelchair then it is advisable to go to the booking office at a station to buy train ticket at least 24 hours in advance and explain that you will need assistance. Also don’t forget your disabled persons rail card if you qualify.
I’m very lucky
My mobility scooter only weighs 18 Kg. I can get it on and off trains myself. If there are steps then I am not frightened to ask for help. So far no one has refused but I am careful who I ask. Always a bloke who looks fit and not wearing a suit.
Staff at most railway stations can arrange ramps so you can wheel a wheelchair on and off the train. Fot some reason the staff are very reluctant to carry my mobility scooter, they do not believe it can be so light.
Use the internet
So how can you find out what facilities are available at a train station. The website National Train Enquiries is good. It will tell you everything you need to know about every British railway station. Enter the railway station name or code and this will display all the basic information and then there are 5 other tabs that will give you additional information.
On this website there is also masses of other useful information for example the nearest railway station to various sports grounds and airports. If you are planning on going anywhere by train then do use this site.
Use the website trainline to buy your train tickets in advance. The price for intercity journeys is often discounted and you can also get the discount using your disabled persons railcard. Help or assistance will still need to be organised if that is required. You must specify which station will be used to collect the tickets and you must have the credit/debit card used to buy the tickets via the website. I have often used this service and never experienced any problems.
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