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

Another train travel blog, this time Birmingham New Street to Chippenham and back (via Swindon) with Cross Country and Great Western Railway for a day trip home.

Outbound

Ticket Buying & Getting On at Birmingham New Street

Tickets were booked on Trainline as per usual. All assistance was booked assistance over the phone with Cross Country and I arrived at the New Street assistance reception 20 minutes before the train and was taken to the platform by a staff member.

On Train

As usual on Cross Country trains, the train doors and corridor were tight even for my standard sized chair. The ramp was overly steep and the wheelchair space was really small.

Getting On at Swindon

That train took me to Swindon, on these journeys I’d expect to switch trains at Bristol Temple Meads but rail works led to the train being rerouted via Swindon instead. I can’t fault the accessibility and service at Swindon, particularly as those trains don’t pass through Swindon often. I then switched trains for a Great Western Railway train to Chippenham.

On Train

The next leg of the journey was on Great Western Railway, which meant automatic first class train travel and THAT meant free coffee and plenty of space in the wheelchair space. I’ll call that a win win!

Disembarking & Leaving at Chippenham

On arrival at Chippenham, train staff (as opposed to station staff) disembarked me and I was able to wheel out of the station and home.

Return

Getting On at Chippenham

For the return journey I made myself known at Chippenham station 20 mins before train departure. I then made my own way over to platform using the lift and was put the train on with the ramp.

On Train

As this train was Great Western Railway , that again meant first class travel and lots of space on the wheelchair space. However, I didn’t have coffee this time as it was late.

Getting On at Swindon

When I got off my Great Western Railway train I was told that the train I’d booked assistance on to Birmingham was cancelled. This meant deciding whether to get the next train, which could get me to Birmingham but would involve an extra change at Didcot Parkway, or wait for the next direct train. In the end I decided I’d wait for the next direct train as I didn’t want to add the stress of an extra change in a new station into the mix. It was just my luck that the next direct train was also delayed by 20 minutes! I also learned that there’s no ramp at Swindon station for that particular train type, so I had to wait until a member of train staff was found to get the ramp from inside the train to get me on the train

On Train

Onboard there were the same issue as usual , tight doors and corridors, a steep ramp and a small wheelchair space. There was also luggage in the wheelchair space when I boarded but this was soon cleared when I asked who the luggage belonged to and declared that it would need moving, As I was not on my booked train I was also wary about assistance issues with regard to getting off the train.

Disembarking & Leaving at Birmingham New Street

My wariness about assistance issues was well founded as there was a bit of a delay in assistance arriving to get me off the train. Once I’d disembarked I was able to leave the station and wheel back to university accommodation.

I hope that this post shows what a train trip home from university in a day looks like for me as a wheelchair user.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

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