Problems With Booked Assistance

Your Rights

As a disabled passenger, you have the right to assistance, where possible, on the rail service. While these services have improved markedly, there are still issues with the system in places.

If you have booked assistance and the assistance has failed or not met with the standards you are entitled to, you have the right to complain and potentially to refunds or compensation. This is your statutory right and will not affect the standard of service you will face in the future.

Businesses are forbidden from discriminating both on the basis of disability and on the individual’s history of complaint.


If your booked assistance fails and you are left stranded or unable to access the rail service you’ve booked, the rail service must provide a viable alternative. This can be a different train, bus or taxi, provided free of charge to get you to your destination or the next accessible leg of your journey.

To arrange this, contact the rail staff at the station or call the rail service directly via phone or online.

If your train journey has changed, contact the rail service provider immediately and ask for the required assistance to be made available on your new route. They will do their best to accomodate you but due to time constraints, might not be able to provide the assistance you need.

If you need additional assistance in your journey, or your needs change, talk to the staff or contact the rail service directly, they will do their best to provide the assistance you need.

Do not feel you are being an imposition or a hindrance to the companies, it is their duty and obligation to help you in your travels.

Reasons Booked Assistance May Fail

There are a number of reasons booked assistance can fail, many of them reasonable. Accidents, security incidents, weather and unavoidable delays can all result in staff levels not being at the level required for your assistance. In these cases, you are entitled to complain but not necessarily to compensation or redress. In cases where the train was delayed, you might be entitled to a refund of up to 50% of the value of the ticket.

If the reason your booked assistance has failed was entirely avoidable, you might be eligible for compensation or refund. For example, if staff did not turn up when they were booked to assist you, the staff did not do what they said they would, or the equipment used was inadequate or broken.

In these cases, it is important you make a complaint.

Making a Complaint

If you need to make a complaint, make sure you are contacting the rail service provider who was running the service that did not meet the standards you expect. This information can be found on your ticket and receipt, as well as by looking online at the National Rail Enquiries site.

Each rail service provider has a different rate of compensation, so look on their relevant website or contact them directly by letter, phone or in person.

What you can expect on your Journey

During your journey on any rail service in the UK, you can expect the rail service provider to: know how to deal with any assistance you need, treat you courteously and with respect, understand the workings of any equipment needed to assist you, and be able to communicate with you in the way you can understand.

You can also expect that the equipment used in your assistance will be of adequate quality and design to provide the correct assistance, that the services such as the toilet and lifts are in correct and working order, and that if you have booked assistance, it will be there for you.

What you need to Complain

When you are making a complaint, it helps enormously to have as much information as possible about the issue at hand.

When contacting the rail service provider at fault, have:

  • The ticket you booked the journey with
  • The receipt for said ticket
  • Any railcard you used to book the ticket
  • Any reference number you have been given
  • Kept the original documents – only send copies as you are unlikely to get them back
  • As many details of the incident or problem as possible – dates, times, individuals involved, missing service, who you travelled with
  • How this affected you – delays, missed appointments, mental distress etc.
  • What you would like the rail service provider to do about it – fix it, compensation, refund

They should deal with your complaint within 2 weeks, and if you haven’t received a reply in 10 days, contact them again for confirmation of your complaint. If they haven’t dealt with your complaint in 28 days, you can seek to complain further.

Exercise your Rights

Disabled passengers have a lot of protection under the law, and all assistance should be made for them to be able to complete their journeys in a way that is suited to them. By making complaints and by holding these companies accountable, you not only get potential redress and compensation, you help to ensure they make the changes needed and prevent failures in the future.

Useful Resources

Disabled Passengers & Booking Assistance –

Making a complaint –

Compensation for delays –