Author Topic: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)  (Read 1305 times)

MikeFromLFE

  • Previously known as Millimole
Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« on: July 25, 2019, 08:25:12 am »
This is as much a rant as a question, and could equally have been posted in The Pub.....but here goes
Mrs M has increasingly poor mobility, she uses a stick rather than a wheelchair, and (I'm sure she wouldn't mind me saying) can get very flustered in busy surroundings.
She is labelled as 'Disabled' by officialdom being the recipient of PIP, and a proud displayer of Blue Badge, and has been awarded the Order of the Disabled Bus Pass.
We are increasingly travelling by train - although we can both drive, neither of us enjoy the journey, and with her rail pass, journeys are eminently affordable.

When we are able to plan journeys in advance the rail assistance scheme works like a dream when changing trains (the staff at Sheffield station seem to love showing us their goods lift and overbridge!), but only up to the door of the train. And the scheme is no use if - like yesterday - we were unsure of our travel plans (we left Birmingham much earlier than expected due to the temperature)
This is where our / her problem lies - when on the train, or when boarding the train - there is often a scrum to board, particularly at commuter stations, such as Birmingham & Leicester (an increasingly common journey pair), meaning Mrs M and I are left searching for seats. The assistance people will get you onto the train, but don't want to help to get you to a seat (I gather this may mean that the departure gets delayed). Some trains have 'Priority Seats' - generally occupied by business-folk wanting the extra legroom, or youths with oversized backpacks.

While I accept that most people, most of the time, are mostly OK - is there a way that the gallery can recommend for Mrs M to approach the issue of actually (a) not getting crushed in the scrum to board, and (b) getting a seat without getting at worst abuse, or least 'the look of shame'?
Too many angry people - breathe & relax.

Diesel

  • or Richard
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2019, 08:36:54 am »
Hi, I don't know what the solution is here but I get occasional insight into this problem when my Mum travels by train and relies on rail assistance. I've helped her onto the train before but that has its risks, I once got stuck on the train and had an unplanned trip to Bedford whilst my car was sat in the drop off at Luton Parkway...

My suggestion would be to contact Scope the disability charity (disclaimer I work for the charity). Contact centre can provide advice by phone or email https://www.scope.org.uk/advice-and-support/ or there is an online community where you may have find some insight and suggestions - https://community.scope.org.uk/

All the best, Richard.

MikeFromLFE

  • Previously known as Millimole
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2019, 10:05:12 am »
My suggestion would be to contact Scope the disability charity (disclaimer I work for the charity). Contact centre can provide advice by phone or email https://www.scope.org.uk/advice-and-support/ or there is an online community where you may have find some insight and suggestions - https://community.scope.org.uk/
Thanks Richard - I've registered on the forum and asked the question on there. It does seem to be a lively group, so maybe there will be some advice there - if not I'll contact Scope directly.
Mike
Too many angry people - breathe & relax.

Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2019, 12:03:48 pm »
On many services you can book seats.  Most regular travellers reluctantly respect bookings and it may even be possible to book the priority seats.  Also, with a seat booking the train manager should assist if there is a problem.

Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2019, 12:09:27 pm »
I recall that Transport for London had a scheme where people who needed a seat could get a 'Please offer me a seat' badge. This means you have to label yourself as something to other passengers, but you essentially have to do that to ask people to move out of the priority seating in the first place. 

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2019, 12:29:17 pm »
Paging barakta.  Barakta to the dusty old courtesy Minicom please...

(Barakta is currently a stick user, regularly travelling between Mordor Central and Leicester for work.  I expect she'll have something useful to contribute if she makes it back from Leicester before the rails melt.)

But it mostly comes down to preformative disability:  Barakta seems to find public transport easier if she's wearing a tubigrip (which draws attention to her visible-if-you're-paying-attention hand/arm disabilities), and has found that attitudes to offering her a seat have improved since she decorated her hiking pole with rainbow tape.  In combination with her dark blue glasses, people tend to read her as visually impaired or autistic, and the nice ones[1] will stand back or offer her a seat.

(Similarly, on the odd occasion she's had to use an NHS-beige BAHA when her usual black/charcoal ones are in for repair, she's experienced an improvement in deaf awareness from bus drivers etc.)

Youths With Rucksacks tend to respond to asking nicely, and are generally the ones who'll offer to help with luggage etc.  The real menace are the Men In Suits Who Are More Important Than You in the commuter scrum.  There's nothing you can do about their horrendous attitude; they're the ones who've been known to push people's wheelchairs or kick guide dogs out of the way, so you can't expect them to give you a second to get your footing sorted out before stepping in/out of the train.

Does Mrs M have a Disabled Railcard?  Won't help much with these issues (but will often invoke an extra helping of hand-faff patience or deaf awareness from train managers and ticket office staff), but 1/3 off (for two people if travelling together) isn't to be sneezed at.


[1] Intersectionality no doubt applies.  She's a white woman on the younger side of middle age (old enough to be legitimately disabled, young enough to not be an irrelevant Old Person), with a generic educated British accent, all of which is likely to help.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2019, 01:11:40 pm »
Impulse travel hardly works if you have disability.
Booking assistance and reserving a seat is tolerable but not always practical.

A fold-up wheelchair can buy space and sympathy but you don't HAVE to travel in it.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2019, 01:27:11 pm »
The abandoning ambulant disabled people at the door of the train thing was news to me, though.  I suppose I've only really noticed assistance being used by:
a) visually impaired people, who are put in a known priority seat so the assistance staff can find them at their destination
b) wheelchair/scooter users, who obviously get assisted onto the train and into the designated wheelchair space
c) people who are ambulant but unable to carry their own luggage, which assistance staff will place in an appropriate rack (usually a random passenger helps them disembark, even if assistance staff are waiting on the platform)

All of which amply demonstrate that staff are able to enter the train to provide assistance if necessary.  >:(
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

MikeFromLFE

  • Previously known as Millimole
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2019, 05:40:21 pm »
Thanks all - useful thoughts.
Something that was flagged up on the Scope forum as suggested by Richard was that when we've booked assistance we've never asked for help to be seated - only to board. Subtle but apparently important difference!
They also suggested that even if assistance isn't booked (impulse travel) throwing oneself on the mercy of the assistance desk (at a major station) or Random Staff Member (at a smaller station) generally works.
We've got a Disabled Railcard - hence our increased use of the trains - it makes days out (and other journeys) very affordable.
I fear Mrs M might be in line for a folding lightweight wheelchair if the current round of procedures don't improve matters, and I've already started scoping out options along that route - I hadn't considered that they would work as a 'flag' to assist with this type of issue - thanks.
Kim - your footnotes on Intersectionality (new word to me) would also apply to Mrs M - she fits that sort of bill, maybe a bit older, but she does tend to dress .... er.... nicely (think your granny at M&S) (no don't :facepalm:) which may have an effect. It's the scrums at Leicester & Birmingham she finds the most troubling - and you rarely seem to see the guard-conductor on that journey, they hide in the back cab!
The Leicester <> London services are suspended this afternoon, but I think the Cross Country routes are OK.
Too many angry people - breathe & relax.

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2019, 06:00:45 pm »
<OT> I understand the cables fell down at West Hampstead due to the heat.

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2019, 06:14:25 pm »
My wheelchair has two sets of brakes: one set is a pair of occupant-operated 'spoon' brakes that munch the tyres but grip the wheels more firmly than
The cable-fed hub brakes operated by the pusher.

Both sets are in frequent use and the hub brakes mean the chair can be used as a walking frame.

My chair is longer from fore to aft than you might imagine, wider than you may think, need quite a large turning circle and raises my knees so space under many tables may be restricted.

A chair brings a HUGE range of AWKWARD but can still be handy.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Dormant but requires tea
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2019, 06:58:16 pm »
They also suggested that even if assistance isn't booked (impulse travel) throwing oneself on the mercy of the assistance desk (at a major station) or Random Staff Member (at a smaller station) generally works.
But how well does that work at unstaffed stations? How do train staff tend to react when unexpectedly finding a wheelchair user waiting to board? Maybe one to ask these Scope people.
The unwilling rider and the one who leaves each control in turn without reluctance, with no desire to come back, obviously cannot be making the same journey, even though their brevets are identical.

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2019, 07:27:52 pm »
At unstaffed stations, you press the big green button on the white Information thing.
This connects you by phone to a Control Centre, who then phone the train staff.

Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2019, 07:56:54 pm »
If you try that in most parts of the glorious southeast d'azur, the only train staff is the driver, and they can't answer the phone and they definitely can't put the ramp down.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2019, 08:03:23 pm »
It's okay, I'm sure the information point things are answered with all the reliability of lift alarms.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2019, 08:09:09 pm »
To be fair, they HAVE answer and help when I returned from Christchurch.

Having an abled companion is helpful thobut.

Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2019, 08:25:18 pm »
I've not been following this thread to the letter, but has anyone mentioned that this service delivery sounds mostly like crap?

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2019, 09:52:19 pm »
If you want tales of travel woe, follow Tanni Grey-Thompson and Doug Paulley on Twitter...

Cudzoziemiec

  • Dormant but requires tea
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2019, 08:08:59 am »
My son pressed the big green emergency button at least once if not twice when he was small and it was definitely answered promptly. Whether the little blue info button is answered so smartly I don't know.
The unwilling rider and the one who leaves each control in turn without reluctance, with no desire to come back, obviously cannot be making the same journey, even though their brevets are identical.

barakta

  • Bastard lovechild of Yomiko Readman and Johnny 5
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2019, 04:29:21 pm »
I do not know much about assistance other than it varies hugely by provider and station and is often shit. I don't use it (don't really need it and having to talk to staff is more difficult for me as a deaf person).

There are 2 main types of assistance:
1) Prebooked
2) Turn up and go (TUAG)

I have full-time wheelchair using and visually impaired friends who find that some staff won't help you get a seat even if you've booked or requested that for booked or TUAG assustance. Other times the staff are genuinely trying their best and but the other passengers refuse to follow instructions cos they're selfish bastards. One friend had a business man start haranguing him for making him move from the wheelchair space and it was only luck that others heard and were supportive of friend and didn't "get nasty" to him (scrounger rhetoric etc).

I am told by a little birdie coincidentally that *tomorrow* the Office for Rail and Road is publishing a guide of the MINIMUM standards required for disabled passenger access and assistance on the railway. That will be an INTERESTING read, and there's activism planned if it's not satisfactory.

So in practicality terms I see Mike has already picked up the distinction between assistance onto train and assistance to seat - so definitely DO stress access to both is needed. Be clear you need staff to TELL other passengers to move from priority seating "we will need help to ensure Mrs Mike gets a seat please" etc etc (I'd argue that even tho it was buses, Supreme Court case First Bus v Paulley says that staff have to TRY and ask for disabled spaces to be vacated on a train even if they can't enforce it).

If staff won't do it, ask the station/train operating company (there are different rules about what assistance can be provided by each cos our railway is a patchwork of multiple orgs for buckpassing purposes) for a copy of their full assistance provision policies. If you know certain stations in advance, google or look in advance for this and have a copy to hand to ask for it to be enforced.

Making a fuss on twitter can have some effect. My little birdie friend does this a lot AS WELL as meeting high level management to show the frontline experience does not match policy expectations... Cos then when he issues legal proceedings he can show he's really tried his best...

So sadly yes, try adjusting how you ask and then complaining a lot!

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2019, 05:17:31 pm »
The Comedy Crip Trio
(click to show/hide)
has had fun getting to AUK Reunions.

Thankfully, we're bright and retain some black humour.
As a trio, we have had numerical weight and most of our travels haven't been too disastrous. As a trio, we possibly get more sympathy and co-operation than solo travellers.

MikeFromLFE

  • Previously known as Millimole
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2019, 08:45:17 pm »
Thanks all. As ever YACF comes up trumps and gives me optimism!

Sent from my Moto E (4) Plus using Tapatalk

Too many angry people - breathe & relax.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2019, 09:51:02 am »
You have said that the disability railcard makes train travel eminently affordable. Would that stretch to booking first class? Better class of sc(r)um and wider seats...
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #23 on: August 03, 2019, 10:06:44 am »
Disabled Person's Railcard gives ⅓  off for passenger and AN Other, so two can travel for 4/3 of the regular price. Many services no longer have First Class and those are often the most nightmarish.

1st class fares can still have eye-watering prices.

barakta

  • Bastard lovechild of Yomiko Readman and Johnny 5
Re: Disabled Train Travel (non-cycling)
« Reply #24 on: August 03, 2019, 05:11:34 pm »
Often, even if you have first class tickets they can sometimes refuse to provide assistance to get into first class.

Some ToCs don't have accessible toilets in first class (or it is broken).