Planning a national journey￼
Planning a longer journey within the UK can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if you require additional support due to a disability or mobility problems.
Giving yourself plenty of time to plan and breaking the journey into bite-sized chunks can help.
Think about the following when planning your journey:
- Which modes of transport will you need to use? Will you need to use more than one?
- Will you be making this journey more than once a year?
- Do you need help to access your chosen mode(s) of transport?
- Think about other aspects of your journey before ringing to book assistance so you can ask for all the information without having to make multiple calls. For example, if travelling by coach are you able to access the onboard toilets? Does your train have refreshments served or will you need to move to a buffet car?
- When ringing to book transport assistance or accessible travel, have to hand the size of your wheelchair or mobility scooter and total weight with you both in, and out of it, if possible.
- What mobility equipment do you have? Do you need to take it with you or can you manage the journey and hire it at your destination?
- What local transport do you need once you arrive at your destination?
Remember that your local Hubs Mobility Advice Service will be happy to help you and can signpost you to the correct travel operator and mobility organisations.
Help with cost
If you are planning to travel by rail or coach often, it will be worthwhile buying a Railcard or Coachcard. This will provide you with discounts on journeys. Allow time to purchase your concessionary card before booking your travel.
You can apply for a Railcard online. When using a Disabled Person’s Railcard, your travelling companion’s fare will also be discounted.
You can apply for a National Express Disabled Coachcard online. Be aware that your local authority concessionary bus pass cannot be used for discounted National Express fares.
Ferry operators within the UK offer senior and disability concessionary fares; however, these will vary between operators. Contact them to check whether you need to apply for these in advance.
Unfortunately, airlines do not offer discounted fares for disabled or older passengers.
National transport operators offer special assistance for older and disabled passengers. This includes, but is not limited to, providing help with moving around the station or terminal, getting on and off, loading and unloading luggage, and supporting registered assistance dogs to travel on buses and coaches.
Assistance must be booked in advance of travel and it may be useful to double check the special assistance booking one or two days prior to your journey.
Travel assistance is free of charge and can take various forms – advising someone when they reach a particular stop, providing a ramp, physically helping them to get on or off, ensuring they are safely seated prior to departure, helping with mobility equipment, transportation through the terminal or station, for example.
Your transport operator will have staff dedicated to booking assistance for those passengers who need it. Ask if they offer a trial travel scheme, so you can gain confidence prior to travel.
Travelling with mobility equipment
Most national rail and coach companies can accommodate passengers in wheelchairs and sometimes mobility scooters, depending on their size and weight, and the size of the train or coach.
Prior to travelling, make sure your mobility equipment is well labelled. If being stowed during the journey, remove as many detachable parts as possible (footplates, for example,) and keep them with you to avoid them becoming lost or damaged.
If your wheelchair is no bigger than 1200mm long (including footplates), 700mm wide, with an above floor footrest height of 150mm and a sitting height (from ground to top of head) of 1350mm, you should have no difficulty travelling on public transport.
Because of the wide range of weight and shapes of mobility scooters, check in advance whether the ramps, lifts, or the size of the coach or train can accommodate your scooter.
The operator’s Accessible Travel Team will be able to help you. Have details of your scooter or wheelchair to hand when you contact them.
National Operators – Coach, Rail, Boat and Plane
While there are many transport operators in the UK, listed below are some who operate nationally on a larger scale and therefore have a wider choice of travel destinations, departure dates and times, and most importantly, have equipment such as ramps or lifts for access to trains and coaches.
(8.00am – 8.00pm, 7 days a week), or by completing the form below.
Call the Passenger Assistance Team on 0800 0223720 or text 60083.
Further information can be found via the National Rail website.
All UK airports and ferry operators offer passenger assistance. Information on how to book this in advance can be found on individual websites.
Think about how you will get about once you reach your destination.
- Are you staying in a city centre location with good accessible transport links or is your location more rural?
- Do you need a wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAV) taxi to take you to your location? Alternatively, if you plan to travel a lot during your visit and are able to drive, or your travelling companion can drive, it may be more cost effective to hire a WAV self-drive vehicle from a specialist hire company.
- If you’re unable to travel with your wheelchair or mobility scooter, a hire company could meet you at your destination with a suitable model.
- Local disability or accessible transport groups, in the area you are staying, will be good sources of local information.