You asked for it, so here we go! The beginning of me blogging every train journey I take. And so we begin with a trip from Chippenham to Bath and back again with Great Western Railway (GWR).
Ticket Buying & Getting on at Chippenham
First thing’s first, we bought our return tickets from the counter where I also showed the clerk my Disabled Persons railcard in order to get the discount. For those of you who aren’t aware, the Disabled Persons railcard entitles a disabled person and their carer or travel companion a third off rail fares for every trip (assuming the disabled persons ticket and the carer’s ticket are bought at the same time. We had not pre-booked assistance (like you are supposed to) due to the fact this was a pretty last-minute trip. Despite this, it was a pretty smooth boarding process despite apart from a slight confusion about which train we were getting on. This is because the counter clerk mentioned one train but the earlier train that was supposed to have gone was delayed so we managed to get an earlier train.
It is only a short trip between these 2 stations, so we parked by the doors through choice. There seemed no point in shuffling through to the wheelchair space and parking me up in my manual chair for what is only a 1 stop journey.
Disembarking & Leaving at Bath
When it came time to disembark, the crew on the train already had the ramp that is stored on the train out AND the platform staff had the on-platform ramp ready, so basically, assistance was perfect despite us not pre-booking. When we tried to get to ticket hall level to exit the station there was a queue for the lift, but that is to be expected during the summer holidays when more people are travelling with luggage. Overall, the assistance and experience of this part of the journey was very smooth.
Getting on at Bath
For the return journey we, again, had no pre-booked assistance. Despite this, were able to get straight onto the train. Well I saaaaaay straight on, but there was a couple who stepped in front of us to board when the ramp was being put down, now while I understand they probably weren’t doing it maliciously, it takes just a moment to realise the ramp’s being put down for a reason and wait patiently for me to board first. I’m only asking for a moment’s patience, not the moon.
Once onboard, we were directed to the first-class carriage (where the only wheelchair space is located on the new GWR trains as far as I’m aware) and we parked my chair in the vacant wheelchair space. We were then offered seats (which we took). Strangely enough, the people who offered us seats were the same couple who walked ahead of us onto the train when the ramp was being put down instead of politely waiting for me to board first, maybe they felt guilty for their earlier impoliteness? Whatever their reasoning, it’d be a mistake to turn down a seat on a British train, and that’s a mistake we weren’t about to me
Disembarking & Leaving at Chippenham
There was a delay disembarking the train because the platform staff did not have the ramp ready despite Bath radioing ahead to tell them which train were on and that we’d require the ramp to leave the train. This kind of delay is sadly nothing new for wheelchair users who are regular train users and is in fact something that happens fairly often. When we arrived back at Chippenham, there were 2 lifts we needed to use to exit the station. There was one up to the footbridge and one back down to ground level again, there was no queuing to use either lift which was nice. I guess that’s one of the perks of using a smaller station with no so many people going through!
I hope this post gives you an insight into what can happen in the course of a train journey (even a short one like this) as a wheelchair user.
Em (Invincible Woman on Wheels)