Disabled passengers are entitled to help with their rail journeys, from booking the trip to getting on and off the train and the use of the available services.
Recent improvements in the last 10 years have made the rail system much more accessible to disabled persons, and the accompanying legislation makes it a legal obligation for a rail service provider to have a direct policy, approved by the governing body, regarding the access and assistance disabled people can expect on their services.
While rai services are not perfect, they are substantially better than they used to be, and more disabled passengers are using the rail services than ever before.
The first step in making a rail journey is having a destination, time and itinerary. When you know where and when you’re going to be travelling, you can then inform the relevant service providers for help.
There is help at every step of the way: you can contact the rail services directly via their website, by phone or by talking to them directly at the (manned) station.
Check Who You’re Travelling With
When booking your assistance for your rail journey, first find out which service is running the trains for the trip you need to make. If you are making a trip with a change, you might be using a different rail service provider, so be sure to check.
Book Ahead if You Can
When booking assistance, be aware that for unmanned and manned stations, there might not necessarily be assistance available at short notice. This is due to the availability of staff and staff distribution across the line. If you give the rail company at least 24 hours advance notice of the assistance you will require and where you will require it, they will be able to put staff in place to assist you on your journey.
Each service provider has a different policy regarding disabled persons, and while they all meet a minimum standard set by the Government, there can be differences in the level of assistance and access possible on their services. For example, some rail services will only let mobility scooters on board if they are dismantled, others will let them on with no problem.
Contacting Rail Service Providers
For each leg of the journey, contact the rail service provider directly and ask them to provide the assistance you need.
The number to call for the National Passenger Assist service is: 0800 022 3720
When you call this number, you will be redirected to the relevant rail service provider.
Or you can text (for free) 60083
You will receive a text with the correct number to call for assistance.
Disabled Persons Railcard
If you do not already have one, a Disabled Persons Railcard can be very useful. Not only does the disabled person get a ⅓ discount on Standard, Advanced, First Class, Anytime and Off Peak tickets for you and one person travelling with you, it makes getting Traveller Assist services easier.
When booking online with a Disabled Persons Railcard, you will be directed to the form needed to book assistance. When booking by phone or in person, you will be asked what assistance you need (if any).
A Disabled Persons Railcard costs £20 a year or £54 for three years.
Have your Disabled Persons Railcard on you when you’re travelling by rail or you will not be eligible for a discount. You might be issued a fine or made to pay for a new ticket if you cannot produce the card you booked with.
If you have been fined or bought a new ticket, you can arrange a refund by contacting the rail service provider who issued the penalty with the details of your railcard.
If You Have Difficulty with Form Filling or Deafness
For people with difficulties with filling out forms, assistance can be found by calling the rail service provider directly. They will have a team who are ready to help you.
There is also assistance at the station directly, if it is a manned station, but be aware that assistance might not be available at such short notice. Please provide 24 hours notice so the provider can have the right staff available to help you.
If you cannot make prior arrangements and turn up at a station without informing the company beforehand, they will do their best to help you but assistance might not be available, especially at manned stations.
For deaf travellers, booking online or in person are the ideal methods.
All rail staff have a minimum of training with providing the relevant assistance to disabled passengers. They will be aware of how to assist you in your journey, how all the equipment necessary works and how best to deal with your requests.
Feel free to approach any staff for assistance, they will do their best to help you.
If you have complaints about the service you have received, contact the rail service provider directly, they will not discriminate against you if you make a complaint.
Complete list of the rail service providers – http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/tocs_maps/tocs/TrainOperators.aspx
Assisted Travel Form for Disabled Persons Railcard holders – https://passenger-assist.org/assisttravel/TravelAssist.aspx?LAYOUT=BLANK&TOCCode=DLkP6_p3jo9SUbFl9cJ_ZQ==
Disabled Persons Railcard information – http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/prde83090a04000400aa38c2e2bbd524.aspx