There have been great improvements in terms of access for disabled people in the last decade or so, but there is still a great deal of room for improvement. One such area is whether mobility scooters are allowed on trains.
Rights and Mobility Scooters
There is no right to take your mobility scooter by rail set out in law, it isn’t a statutory right. So there is no guarantee of whether you can get your mobility scooter on to a train. It comes down to the individual rail service provider’s discretion.
This can be problematic, there are, at last count, at least 21 rail service providers in England, each with its own Passenger Charter and accessibility policies.
The Passenger Charter and accessibility policy is where the contract between you and the rail provider is set out, it states what rights you have above those set out in the law, and is a contract for your behaviour so you can be sanctioned by the rail company if you are in breach of them.
Each rail provider has a different “Making rail accessible – helping older and disabled passengers DPPP” document, and herein lies the problem: if you’re taking your mobility scooter on a long journey, it might involve several changes and therefore several different rail service providers.
These providers can potentially have different policies regarding mobility scooters, so you could get on at one end perfectly happily, receiving assistance from the staff and parking your scooter in the allotted space with no problem, only to find that the next train you try get on won’t allow it. There goes your journey. You might have to reroute via a different provider or take a taxi, a very expensive way of completing your journey.
Reasons for Not Allowing Mobility Scooters
There can be reasons for not allowing mobility scooters on certain trains. They might not have a safe place to store them, or the gap between the train and the station side is too big to reasonably handle the scooter. Mobility scooters are heavy and unwieldy, you might require assistance from staff, who are otherwise engaged. Trains might be very crowded at certain times of the day, and getting a mobility scooter on and off the train could be impossible in a safe and reasonable time frame. They can be too heavy for a train as well.
While all these reasons sound reasonable, they can sound like excuses for not wanting potential delays to services. As a profit motivation, this is understandable. As a human motivation, it is inexcusable and denies many disabled people their right to travel.
Size and Weight Limits
Most companies will let you on the train with your mobility scooter, though it might have to comply with certain limits, typically 300kg (including your weight) and less than 1.2 metres long. To travel with a scooter you could also have to have a permit supplied by the rail provider. These aren’t hard to get hold of but you could end up having to get a few to make your journey possible.
Who Provides for Mobility Scooters?
We’ve assembled a list of those companies that do allow mobility scooters on their trains so you can check before you travel. More detailed information is available on the sites of the rail providers.
- Greater Anglia – Yes
- Arriva Trains – Yes
- C2c – Yes
- Cross Country – Yes
- Chiltern – Yes
- East Coast – Yes
- East Midlands – With a permit
“To apply for a scooter card please contact us on 08000 11 33 23 or 03457 125678 option 3,
or email email@example.com”
- First Great Western – With a permit
Call 0800 197 1329 (06:00 to 23:00) or download the following PDF for guidance:
- First Hull – Yes
- First Transpennine Express – With a permit
- Gatwick Express – Dismantled Only
- Grand Central – Dismantled Only
- Heathrow Express – Dismantled Only
- London Overground – Yes
- Merseyrail – Yes
- Northern Rail – Dismantled Only
- ScotRail – Yes
- SouthWestern – Yes
- SouthEastern – Yes
- Southern Rail – Yes
- Virgin – Yes
General Conditions and Assistance
There are general conditions for scooters: they have to be no longer than 1200mm and no wider than 700mm, generally there is a weight limit of 300kg (including rider).
There are other conditions as well, look for the DPPP document on the websites of the providers, that will contain all the information you need.
If in doubt, contact the provider’s Assistance Team via the website or phone, they will be able to help.
A more detailed (if slightly outdated) report on mobility scooters and trains can be found here: http://www.rica.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/pdfs/mobility/mobility-scooters-and-trains.pdf