As a disabled adult living in Britain, there are barriers to inclusion that myself and other disabled people face on a daily basis. Inclusive travel is definitely one of those barriers, or more to the point, the lack of it. I have travelled by train regularly and as a wheelchair user I have to book assistance in advance. I am well versed to the problems that can and do occur.

There have been times when the assistance has not arrived. So I have either been left waiting to board the train or left stranded on a train. On one occassion I was left stranded on the last train of the evening that arrived at my destination. As the lights on the train went off and then the lights in the station went off I started to panic. Thankfully, after a couple of phone calls, I was able to alert staff in the station that I was still on board the train. It was by far, the most concerning incident that I have encountered!

Earlier this week I took my first train journey since before the pandemic started. It was a relatively short return journey from Liverpool to Salford, though I had to change at Deansgate on the outbound journey and again at Oxford Road on the inbound.

The service from Northern Rail was absolutely faultless and both journeys went seamlessly. As the assistance was booked in advance, the train journeys were to a set time. I purchased an Off-Peak Day Return for any permitted route. As my work in Salford finished earlier than expected I arrived at Oxford Road a couple of hours early.  After speaking to staff at the station I was able to board a train back to Liverpool earlier than expected.

I have had some troublesome train journeys in the past and encountered hostile staff at a few stations where I have felt I had caused an issue by arriving earlier than expected.  The staff from Northern Rail ensured my first train journey in more than two years was faultless. It is always a conern when I have to change at different stations to catch another train, not this time though. Northern Rail exceeded my expectations. Hopefully, this is the start of a new trend.

Only time will tell on that one though.

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