Challenges When Travelling

When recently travelling by train, I was reminded very clearly of my daily challenges.  Nick and I arrived at the station having an open ticket which means if we are forced to miss a train, we are able to catch the next one.

As we were dropped off at the station, it was heaving with people, it appears rush hour starts so early these days, it almost bumps into that of the mornings! The train we needed was not yet announced or up on the board, so we could not be sure which platform it would leave from.

Now for me pre-stroke and most other people, this would not be a problem, you simply wait until it is displayed on the board then along with the ‘rest of the world’, slight exaggeration admittedly but you get the picture, you dash to get onto the train and then if you are lucky you find a seat.

For the disabled amongst us, there is thankfully an assistance service which you can use and will drive you in a buggy to your train and find you a seat.

On our way to the assistance office, the train was announced on the board and the platform was adjacent to where we were and the rush started.  Having weighed up the situation I knew that I would not be able to get to assistance to ask for help before the train was full and would also, in reality, have pulled out.

So, you have guessed, I attempted the impossible, I tried to make my way towards the train being knocked by dashing commuters. I somehow became suddenly invisible, and almost went flying more than once. Fortunately, I saw one of the wonderful assistance men driving towards me having dropped someone off on the neighboring platform. In desperation, I called to get his attention and ask for help. He kindly moved the barrier and turned around, drove straight to me and helped me up. With speed, he drove me to my train and got me on, making sure I had a seat for myself and Nick. At this point boarded first with our bags.Ordinarily finding me on the train sounds a simple thing to do, but when the train is busy and standing room only, it was practically impossible for him, with the bags, to move along the train, to get to where I

Ordinarily finding me on the train sounds a simple thing to do, but when the train is busy and standing room only, it was practically impossible for him, to move back along the train, to return to where I was sitting!

As if that wasn’t enough I appeared to upset a high percentage of the passengers by having his seat waiting for him; you can picture it can’t you? The questions directed at me began with ” is this seat taken?” simple I could handle that one, but later I found myself entering into the stream of questions from some passengers the first being that one followed by “But are they actually on the train?” “Do you know they are on the train or just think they maybe?”  ” Have you proof they are on the train?” ” If they are on the train why are they not in their seat?” At that point I couldn’t help myself; my reply I’m sure came simply out of embarrassment. I replied quietly, slowly and calmly “I am sorry but I am disabled, I need help to get to the train, onto the train and with my bags, he is putting my bag out of everyone’s way then trying to make his way back to his seat”. Needless to say, the person who had asked so many questions each time, didn’t utter a word but simply moved on! Eventually, the questions had come so fast and so many times the lovely girl opposite replied with me ” No it’s taken”, bless her.

I would like to dedicate this blog to the lovely assistance man and lady opposite, both of which helped me immensely.

Prior to my stroke, I have to admit I would not have understood any of these difficulties, like every other commuter I would have just dashed towards my train hoping for a seat, not worry how wide the gap from the platform to the train was or how high the step. How things change. But there is hope and help for us all if you are travelling by train when you get to the station ask for assistance, they are superb and they automatically organise assistance for your on arrival at the other end, so you do not have to worry there either. You are also able to pre book the assistance by ring one of these numbers:

Freephone 0800 058 2844

Textphone 0800 975 1052

National Rail Enquiries 08457 48 49 50

Happy travelling everyone.

Remember my experience was because I did not want to wait an hour for the next train as then I would be dealing with fatigue, a whole blog on its own. I know, I’ve already covered that one!

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