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Accessible Train Travel FAQ   Travel by Car/Bus/Trains

Started Sep-29 by Feisty Old Broad Shorty (TOILETHEA1); 155 views.

Accessible Train Travel FAQ

I love to travel by train for shorter distances, where the hassle of air travel just isn’t worth it. I am a frequent rider of Amtrak in the Northeast United States, but I have also taken my share of trips on the railways of Europe. Like you, I once had a lot of questions about how to arrange a trip suitable for me and my power wheelchair. With this list of frequently asked questions, I’ll show you how to conquer the world’s railways in no time!

If you’re looking for information about subway and metropolitan train systems, check out the city-specific destination guides I have written. That’s where you’ll find all of the relevant information for public transportation systems.

How can I get my wheelchair on a train?

Train networks across the world, including Amtrak in the United States, can accommodate both manual and powered wheelchairs. Due to the gaps between the train and station platform, “bridge plates” and ramps are used to allow wheelchairs to roll smoothly onto the train.

 

The image above depicts three different boarding ramp types used in train stations around the world. From left to right: Amtrak bridge plate; Dutch National Rail boarding ramp at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport; Eurostar boarding ramp at London St. Pancras station.

How can I request boarding assistance and ensure that it is provided?

I highly recommend that you purchase rail tickets at least 24 hours in advance of your departure, particularly when traveling internationally. I use two strategies, depending on where I am traveling:

  1. For domestic travel within the United States, Amtrak is the primary operator of rail services. Assistance can be requested at booking, directly through the Amtrak website. You’ll also receive a 15% discount on your ticket, if requesting a wheelchair seating space.
  2.  
  3. For international travel outside of the United States, there is no single rail operator. This can make figuring out who to call difficult for wheelchair users. I prefer to purchase tickets in-person, at the train station, 1-2 days prior to my planned travel. In a pinch, I have gotten away with purchasing a ticket only a few hours in advance. The ticket sales agent at the train station can help you to place the request for wheelchair assistance. Many rail operators provide significant discounts to persons with disabilities, so be sure to ask about that.
  4. Early arrival to the train station is important. You’ll need to contact the info desk to announce your arrival at the station. You will be instructed to wait for the assistance staff at the info desk or on the boarding platform. In foreign countries, where rail travel is more commonplace, there is great pressure for trains to depart on time. This means that rail operators and their station personnel dedicate extra attention to ensuring that wheelchair passengers are boarded quickly. I have had a few bad experiences, but nothing that has ever resulted in my being left behind.     

  5. More at   https://wheelchairtravel.org/railway-travel/

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