Light At The End Of The Tunnel for Accessible Train Travel by Kate Stanforth

10. April 2019

Travelling when you have additional needs can be a difficult process.  From planning your journey to coincide with accessible stations, to navigating booking systems, I’ve collated a handy guide of tips for travelling by train.

Disabled Persons Railcard

This gives you access to 1/3 off train fares for you and a carer.  For information on eligibility and how to apply, visit www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk or pick up a leaflet at a manned station.  The card costs £20 for one year or £54 for three years.

Booking your Journey

Most companies have a dedicated phone or text service which you contact to book your assistance and some have booking forms on their website.  Nearly all companies will ask you to book 24 hours in advance but many now recognise you might want to book at short notice.  Phone the accessibility line or visit a manned station to book last minute support – although short notice assistance is not always guaranteed.

Type of Train

Electric trains compared to diesel are generally much more wheelchair accessible.  The assistance helpline will advise you on the type of train at the time of booking.  Launching next month are the new ‘Azuma’ trains which include features such windowless seats for those with light sensitivity, automatic audio and visual announcements and four wheelchair spaces.

Mobility Scooters

Most companies will do all that they can to accommodate a mobility scooter as long as it fits the specified maximum dimension/weight limit.  Check these online with the train provider before travelling and phone prior boarding if possible.

Assistance Dogs

By law, assistance dogs are allowed to travel on trains.  If booking assistance, ask for a seat with extra legroom or an extra seat for your dog to make sure they aren’t going to be left blocking an aisle.

Sunflower Lanyard

The green sunflower lanyards were launched as a discreet way for staff members to recognise if you may need some extra help; ideal for passengers with a range of hidden disabilities.  Staff with a red sunflower lanyard from London North Eastern Railway (LNER) are ‘Sunflower Ambassadors’ who have received extra disability training. To get a lanyard, go to any manned LNER station or email them here.

Jam Card

Virgin Trains launched the ‘Jam Card’ which stands for ‘Just a Minute’ for people who have communication barriers.  You can apply for one at the Virgin Trains website or by downloading their app.

 We love these helpful options if you’re getting away this Easter.  Written for us by Allied Mobility’s guest blogger, Kate Stanforth.

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