Travelling from Chippenham to London Paddington (via Swindon) as a Wheelchair User? Here’s How I Did It

Time for another train blog! This time it’s from Chippenham to London Paddington and back again for Arctic Monkeys at The O2

Outbound

Ticket Buying/ Assistance Booking & Getting on at Chippenham

I bought my ticket on Trainline including my Disabled Persons railcard discount. I booked an open return as I wasn’t sure when I’d be coming back the next day, I was aware that that may cause issues with booking assistance. When it came to booking assistance for the outbound journey, I was warned assistance was not guaranteed because I had not booked 24 hours in advance (my train was at 8:40am the next day and I booked assistance at like 10:30am the morning before or something!). The idea of not being assisted on to or off a train already scares me so I would appreciate it if train companies didn’t make it worse. Besides which, where’s the idea of spontaneity for wheelchair users if they HAVE to book 24 hours in advance?! I was however, told I could book my return assistance later and not in one call. When I arrived at Chippenham to travel, the train I was supposed to catch had a long delay, so I was put on a train to Swindon to catch it there. However, when I got off at Swindon, I found that my original train was cancelled, so I was just put on the next train to Paddington.

On Train

Onboard, the train I was originally booked on was a new style train, but this one ended up being an old-style train. Because of this, booking actually felt pretty much pointless as the wheelchair space I’d reserved was no longer reserved, thankfully there was one free. This train ended up also being standing room only, so I worried about getting assistance off such a busy train, but the GWR Twitter team assured me Paddington knew I was on the train and I would be met.

Disembarking & Leaving at London Paddington

On arrival at Paddington, my worries were well founded as no assistance turned up. I had at least a 10-minute wait and had to ask for help from multiple other passengers and the train manager (or driver I’m not quite sure) to get assistance off the train. Once off, I headed to the Tube to head for Uxbridge.

Return

Getting on at London Paddington

For the return journey, I arrived at Paddington 30 mins early as requested and was pretty much put straight on the train. When I booked assistance, the train I was getting was supposed to be an old-style train, but it was actually a new style train. This meant that the wheelchair space reservation I’d made AGAIN didn’t exist. 

On Train

Onboard the train, I was able to get a free coffee because I HAVE to sit in 1st class on the new style trains as it’s where the only wheelchair space is. Free coffee is a small perk, I guess. This whole disability thing has to have SOME perks, right?

Disembarking & Leaving at Chippenham

When I arrived at Chippenham, the assistance to get me off the train was already there, and I was able to disembark and leave the station straight away 

Thanks to Arctic Monkeys for putting on a fabulous show and reminding me why I love them so much! I hope this post gives another insight into travelling into/out of London on the train as a wheelchair user!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman on Wheels)

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