Have you heard about this?
National Rail is carrying out a trial at 36 stations over the next six months for passengers with disabilities. Many people with disabilities have to book assistance in advance if they want to travel and National Rail are aware that many people would like to make a spontaneous journey. This project allows people just to turn up at participating stations.
Journeys can only be made between a limited number of stations where there is level access to the platforms and where staff are available across the hours that trains run. The details of the stations participating can be found on the Disabled Persons Railcard website. You can still book assistance and the prioritised pre-booked assistance will still be in place.
So how does it work?
Remember it is only a trial applying to 36 London stations and applies only point–to–point journeys with the participating stations. If you are travelling to a destination outside the trial stations, pre-book your assistance as usual.
If you want to Turn Up and Go it is advisable to turn up at least ten minutes in advance to allow enough time for assistance staff to be put in place. There may be a slight delay if the station you are at cannot make contact with the receiving station to arrange your assistance on arrival. Check before travel in case of the inevitable engineering works or if there is a large scale public event as there may be disruption to the service.
You can still pre-book your assistance at least 24 hours in advance and pre-booking is recommended if your journey on a specific train is essential. Priority will be given to pre-booked assistance ahead of Turn Up & Go passengers.
Most trains can accommodate wheelchairs that are within the dimensions given in government public transport regulations (700mm wide 1200mm long) there are a small number of older trains that can only currently carry wheelchairs that have a maximum width of 670mm. The maximum combined weight of a person and their wheelchair is limited by two things – the capabilities of the individual member of staff assisting the passenger and the stated maximum safe working load of the ramp. If you are a scooter user you still need to follow the train operator’s policies.
So what do you think? Will it make life easier and more interesting for you? Why not go to your local station and ask if they are participating in the project. Ask for a leaflet which gives a map of the participating stations and also a list of those stations.
It is going to be very important to let us know how you get on – whether it works for you. Also, let National Rail know your experiences – firstname.lastname@example.org – if they get a lot of positive feedback – they may make it permanent.