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National Rail

The accessibility of the national train network has improved significantly over the last decade. Train companies have invested in trains with a number of accessibility features, including wheelchair spaces and accessible toilets.

However the main problem that rail passengers face is actually getting onto the train in the first place. Station accessibility is improving but still leaves a lot to be desired. However all Train Operating Companies (TOCs) are obliged to offer you assistance in making your trip. You do however need to inform them up to 24 hours before you embark on your journey. Assistance can include a ramp being laid out for you to board and disembark the train, or making a staff member available to accompany you.

If you know the name of the train company you want to travel with, you can find their contact details here:

If you do not, then comprehensive station accessibility information can be found here by typing in a station name:

In some cases where the TOCs cannot offer you assistance or access at a particular station, you are well within your rights to ask for a taxi to the nearest station where assistance can be given. This falls under the ‘reasonable adjustments’ clause of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). TfA can assist you with this, so get in touch.

Mobility scooters on trains

Not all mobility scooters are allowed on trains, and different train companies have policies about the scooters they will allow on.

It largely depends on the size and weight of your scooter, but the organisation Rica has put together an information sheet setting out the policies of each different company. You can find the information here:

Priority Seating Card

Many train companies have launched a Priority Seating Card Scheme. The cards are designed for people, including pregnant and older people, who need a seat on public transport to show. They say, “Recognised by Southern (or First Capital Connect, or First Great Western) as needing a seat”.

They aim to minimise the embarrassment some disabled people, especially people with invisible impairments, face when asking for a seat in the face of members of the public who may judge you as ‘not looking disabled’.

You can apply for the card by filling out a form from the train companies’ websites, enclosing evidence of your impairment or pregnancy (for example, a doctor’s note or a certificate): Great Western Railway, First Capital Connect , Southern, Thames Link and South Eastern. You can also phone Transport for All and we can post you the form and details.

Although the Priority Seating card is offered by rail companies, there is nothing to stop you showing your card on the Tube or bus in order to ask fellow passengers for a seat. Of course, there’s no obligation to ‘prove’ you’re ‘really disabled’, and many disabled and older people simply ask politely if they can sit down. We also have members who use a bus pass to show that, though they might not ‘look disabled’, they are entitled to a priority seat.

Priority seat cards are available if you:

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