Booked assistance not turning up can cause delays and unnecessary stress when travelling. Knowing what assistance you can expect and what to do if it fails to turn up can help make your journey less stressful.
What assistance you can expect
You can arrange assistance for your journey when you book your ticket. You can ask the train company to arrange the following:
someone to meet you when you arrive at the station and help you get to your platform
someone to help you on and off the train and on to your next train or to the station exit
a ramp to help you on or off the train
help carrying bags or luggage
You should be able to book assistance by telephone or online. Your booking will confirm what assistance you’ve asked for.
You may find that booking assistance by telephone is more reliable. Being able to book online does not always mean that there will be staff available. It can be helpful to telephone and check your booked assistance, particularly if you’re travelling through a smaller station.
There are things you can do to help your journey with booked assistance go more smoothly.
Take the company’s contact details with you
Make sure you have the train company’s contact details with you so you can notify them of problems with your journey. Tell a friend or colleague about your plans so they can also tell the train company.
Check if there’s a helpline number
Some smaller stations have a dedicated helpline for booked assistance, especially if the station is not always staffed.
Arrive at the station at least 20 minutes early and tell station staff you have booked assistance. This gives them time to check help is in place and make other arrangements if necessary.
If you cannot find a member of staff, go to the ticket office or use the help points on platforms. Some large mainline stations have Network Rail Assistance Offices where you can find assistance staff. Check with the rail company about what’s available.
If you’re at an unstaffed station and there are no help points or an assistance helpline, you could try contacting the train company or National Rail Enquiries on 03457 48 49 50.
Ask staff at the station to remind their colleagues on your train or at other stations on your route that you have booked assisted travel. This can be helpful if there are staff changes during your journey.
Once on the train, tell staff:
what assistance you have booked
what stop you need
any connecting trains you need to catch
Some trains have train managers or conductors who usually check tickets. You can also speak to them about your assisted travel.
If your train does not have staff on board
Some companies have a contact number for the train manager or support services.
You could also use Twitter to send a direct message to the company. They will try to contact the train manager or station staff for you. Tell them the:
route or train you are on
carriage you’re in
Some trains have ‘help’ or ‘emergency’ points that let you talk to a member of staff to tell them your assistance has not turned up. These can vary on different services but most work like an intercom with a button to press for assistance. Other systems might just alert the train crew to find you.
They’re usually in or near the wheelchair spaces and are not the same as emergency brake buttons that could stop the train.
You might also find it useful to sit close to the train doors so other passengers are aware you may need help getting off the train and find a member of staff to assist you.
Train companies must help you
Train operators have a duty to get you to your destination. From the start of your journey make sure staff are aware of any problems caused by booked assistance not showing up.
Train companies must get you on an alternative route. This can involve booking you on another train service or paying for a taxi to get you to your destination.