I am sure all the train operators across the UK will offer similar services for their disabled passengers, however I am only familiar with South West Trains – our local operator.
Services from South West Trains
South West Trains are, as you would expect, “committed to giving excellent customer service to all of our passengers.” For their disables customers this includes, in no particular order:
Book assisted travel
SWT recommend that you let them know if you require assistance at least 24 hours in advance of travel. You can do this:
- In person at your local South West Trains station
- By completing an online form for booking assisted travel
- By calling Assisted Travel on Freephone: 0800 52 82 100 (Fax: 023 8072 8187).
Booking in advance lets SWT check the accessibility of the stations you will be using, plan with you the journey best suited to your needs, and arrange alternative accessible transport if it is necessary and available.
The 24-hour notice period also gives them time to relocate employees if you are going to travel from a station that is usually unstaffed at the time you will be travelling.
If you cannot give 24 hours notice, they say they will do their best to assist you but cannot always guarantee that assistance will be available, especially if your intended journey involves another train operator’s services.
Braille, audio or large print versions of all South West Trains literature are available from their Customer Service Centre.
There are Help Points at all SWT stations. These Help Points are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Help Point operators can give “up-to-the-minute” train running information, as well as advise on both train and station accessibility. They can also arrange alternative transport should the need arise. In the London area SWT’s are currently in the process of renewing the Help Points to equip them with induction loops to assist hearing aid users.
The following stations have universal toilets, accessible to wheelchair users and customers who hold RADAR keys under the National Key Scheme: Aldershot, Ascot, Basingstoke, Bournemouth, Brentford, Chandlers Ford, Clapham Junction, Dorchester, Eastleigh, Farnborough, Farnham, Fleet, Guildford, Kingston, Mortlake, Petersfield, Portsmouth & Southsea, Richmond, Salisbury, Southampton Airport (Parkway), Southampton Central, Surbiton, Wimbledon, Winchester, Windsor & Eton Riverside, and Woking.
At stations that have Tarmac or concrete-surfaced car parks, there are designated parking spaces available for blue badge holders.
Passengers who have a disability that makes it difficult or impossible for them to use the car park ticket machines can purchase their ticket at the station ticket office. SWT employees will then notify our car park contractors that a ticket has been purchased.
SWT guards provide up-to-the-minute train-running information and are able to help mobility-impaired passengers board and alight services. On many services guards will move through the train to check tickets and answer enquiries. Should you have an impairment that might affect either the way you board or alight the train or receive information, you can notify the guard so that they are aware of your needs. Obviously this is important should the scheduled running of the train have to be changed because of disruption.
Wheelchairs can be catered for providing they are no wider than 700mm and no longer than 1200mm. The maximum weight is limited by:
- The capabilities of the individual member of staff assisting the passenger
- The stated maximum safe working load of the ramp (between 230kg and 300kg depending on the type of ramp).
Reservations are available to wheelchair users on all mainline services that have designated wheelchair spaces and/or priority seats. Reservations are not available on some London area services because many of these services do not have reservable wheelchair spaces. However, most of these London area trains are extremely frequent and have large vestibule areas that can accommodate a number of wheelchair users.
To bring a scooter on SWT services, passengers must own a vehicle that meets SWT’s standards of manoeuvrability, size and stability. They therefore require scooter users to send in details of their scooter so they can be assessed. A permit to travel, known as a Scooter Card, can be issued. For safety reasons, only passengers who hold a Scooter Card will be allowed to bring scooters onto SWT services. To apply for a Scooter Card, please contact the Customer Service Centre.
Disabled Persons Railcard
Disabled Persons Railcard holders generally get one third off tickets. To apply for a Disabled Persons Railcard, either call the application helpline on 0191 218 8103 (textphone 0191 269 0304) or download an application form online at www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk.
Registered visually impaired passengers who travel with a companion are entitled to the discounts below on full fare tickets for both themselves and their companion. Visually impaired passengers do not have to hold a Disabled Persons Railcard to claim these discounts but must be travelling with a companion to qualify.
For people who travel in their own wheelchairs who do not have a Disabled Persons Railcard the discounts below also apply. The same discount will also apply to one companion.
The discounts are:
Single – 34%
First Class or Standard Day Return – 50%
First Class or Standard Open Return – 34%
Disabled People’s Protection Policy
SWT’s Disabled People’s Protection Policy (DPPP) details the ways in which SWT will protect the interests of disabled passengers who use their services and how they will comply with their responsibilities under the legislation relevant to this area of their business. The “Statement of Policy” from their DPPP can be read on their website.