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Using the London Underground on Wheels

One of the things I used to enjoy was travelling into London to meet up with friends and participate in my hobby (photography). Now that my mobility is pants, it’s something I really miss. Thanks to my scooter, I can still meet up outside of London where it’s easier to drive and park but London is very special to me and people keep telling me that I should still be able to travel in by train and that ramps can be used to get onto mainline trains and that many tube stations now have lifts and the trains are now accessible.

Now, I know that I can research it all online but I’d love to hear any personal experiences from the folks here who have travelled in this way. I’d be travelling alone using a scooter.

I have only been on the tube a couple of times since I started to use a wheelchair. There is an underground map that shows which tube stations are wheelchair accessible. We planned to use a Baker Street station, which was on this map, but with an exclamation mark next to it. We bought tickets, went through the barrier, looked for the lift and couldn’t see it. We asked the grumpy attendant where the lift was and he said “there isn’t one, you can take the wheelchair on the escalator”.

My husband and I didn’t have the nerve to do it, so the grumpy attendant took me down the very long escalator. We went down backwards, with him behind me, looking over his shoulder all the time and when we got to the bottom, he whisked me off. He then did the same thing down another very long escalator. It was actually quite exciting, being taken by someone who knew what he was doing and was really used to the escalators but it would have been scary and possibly dangerous with a novice. At the bottom, the guy took me onto the platform and showed me where there was a raised bit so that I could wheel straight onto the tube train. Most of the platform was a few inches lower than the edge of the train.

We travelled to Waterloo or somewhere like that, which is on a newer bit of the line. It was very easy at that end. It was properly accessible, at least to a wheelchair user, with all the platform level with the edge of the train and a good lift. I don’t know how easily a big scooter would fit onto the tube.

When we came back, my husband brought me up the escalator, which was fine, because he was facing in the direction of travel.

Sorry not to be able to provide a more encouraging story. I will use the tube again in a wheelchair but I would be nervous of doing it on anything other than a very small scooter. I’d make sure I read the small print on the disability access tube map, as well. I hope someone else can describe a better experience.

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Hello.

I know trains are very specific about the size of scooter they allow to travel on them. I know mine is certainly too big. I f you can go on a train, Charing Cross mainline has flat access straight across the river to the Southbank Centre. There is a lift at the end of the foot bridge and all of the Southbank is accessible and a good place to meet people.

Best wishes, Steve.

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Hello,

Trains especially the underground is a bit of a nightmare. You need to find stations that have got lifts, there are not many in hte West End and the City.

It is worth studying the London Tube map. Also there is a guide givving the accesssability of every station. Basically the hub stations are good but commuter stations are usually pretty hopeless

Judicious use of Google will generally give you a good answer. I find station staff on main line stations are helpful and will help you whenever possible. London underground staff are more concerned with getting trains in and out of the platform on time and not so helpful.

If you book tickets in advance through the internet then you can prebook disabled help faclities

Hope this helps,

Patrick

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Hi, Ive used trains several times. Mine is a regular sized electric wheelchair. You are strongly advised to book assistance, because they dont like it if you havent, as it holds the train up slightly, when they have to get the ramp out.

I have always got on the trains easily, but some doorways into the carriages can be tight. I damaged my chair arm that way.

I believe scooters arent accepted..maybe if it is a small one itd be ok.

Not used the underground, but think you need to check of scooters are allowed. If not, why not hire a wheelchair?

Hope you manage ok and enjoy your visit.

Look forward to reading how it goes.

pollx

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Major apologies for not replying. No excuse, just life getting in the way.

Thanks for the replies. If anything, I’m slightly more reluctant unfortunately. It looks like it’ll take too much planning and will take the spontinaity out of things which will spoil it for me.

I’ve found a website called justpark.co.uk where people rent out their drives/parking spaces for the day. I know someone who uses it and they say it’s very good.

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Kings Cross has got lots of lifts, and you can get to the Olympic Park - which is very accessible, and really worth a visit.

I travel by train alot all over the country using my wheelchair and would highly recommend it.i ring well in advance i always try to book my trains 12 weeks in advance to save a fortune i book my assistance at the same time.there a scheme called disabled person assistence scheme whereby they contact every station on your journey and they are there ready with a ramp to get you on and off.

id definitely book in advance as most trains dont have many wheelchair spaces and you take the chance of not being able to get on a specific train if you just turn up on spec.

now london for me transport wise is a pain in the bum,its getting better on the underground with more stations being accessible but id say that by far the majoraty arent acessable.the underground wheelchair maps are essential but very confusing.

the good thing about wheelchair travel in london is that theres a great bus service and every bus is accessible plus all black cabs are accessible even if some taxi drivers are a little reluctant :slight_smile:

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