Back with another travel post this time. My experiences of travelling from London Waterloo to Kingston with Southwestern Railway. A couple of caveats to this blog post: 1. This will be an outbound only journey as I was only heading from Waterloo to Kingston for a gig at Kingston Pryzm, and then found an alternative route back into London afterwards. 2. In case you were wondering why this post doesn’t include me getting TO London, I already blogged on my experiences getting from Birmingham New Street to London Euston, so I didn’t think it was necessary to write about that again. Now onto the post.
Ticket Buying & Getting on at London Waterloo
The ticket buying and assistance booking process was the usual. I booked the tickets through Trainline and assistance through the Passenger Assistance app. It was when I turned up to the station that things got a little more unusual. When I got to Waterloo, I made myself known to the staff at the assistance point and they asked if I wanted to get an earlier train as I was quite early for my booked train. I said no to that as that meant I would arrive in Kingston waaaaay too early for my hotel check in. With that sorted I headed to grab breakfast and coffee and came back later around when my train was due in. It transpired that my train was running a little bit late. The staff member then made quite an annoyed comment to the effect of ‘THIS is why I said to get an earlier train’. This annoyed me for several reasons, partly just because it made me feel like an annoyance and a burden for wanting to get that specific train (when people generally want to get specific trains for whatever reason. But also, because A) I run to my schedule and decide what train I get for ME not what’s easiest for others and B) my train was nowhere nearby when I turned up and was offered an earlier train so the offer and my train running late can’t have been connected.
When the train arrived, and the staff member put the ramp down, I was somewhat sceptical as it seemed a little off to me. Then I apparently slipped on the ramp somewhat (I didn’t feel like I slipped but the staff member seemed to believe so and commented that it was because I ‘hadn’t approached the ramp properly’. Believe me, I had approached properly, I’m a near full time wheelchair user who uses multiple trains a month. I know how to properly approach a ramp and would NEVER approach in a dangerous way that was going to lead to me slipping.
Frankly the entire assistance situation felt like a ‘blame the disabled person for the issues’ exercise.
The actual trip itself was quite short so there was not too much to report. I positioned myself in the wheelchair space and the guard came to double check where Iwas getting off the train. I did mention my nerves about getting off the train as I am used to being left waiting and assistance not turning up with the ramp. The guard was very nice and reassured me that I would definitely be helped off at Kingston.
Disembarking & Leaving at Kingston Upon Thames
Thankfully, station staff at Kingston were there with the ramp when my train arrived, and the guard was able to assist me off the train (counterbalancing my chair to allay my fears about the steep ramp). Station staff then pointed me to the lift, and I was able to quickly go on my way.
I hope this insight into wheelchair accessible travel between London Waterloo and Kingston was helpful!
Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)