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A travel service for the disabled that's on track!

A travel service for the disabled that's on track!

Eve Butcher reports on how travelling by rail in Tunbridge Wells is street ahead of the rest!

Source: Kent & Sussex Courier
Author: Eve Butcher

As many of you will appreciate, getting around as a wheelchair user in Tunbridge Wells is often difficult.

When I am out I often wonder what challenging delights the pavements of Tunbridge Wells will offer me that day, from dodging dog mess to negotiating around cars that sometimes park across a dropped kerb. You just never know what the day may have in store.

Luckily, however, I don't mind a challenge now and again.

As you may recall from a previous column of mine, public transport in Tunbridge Wells has rarely been plain sailing for me and the ability to use buses and taxis in a hassle-free way is pretty much a no-go.

Thankfully, however, the same nightmares with access and public transport do not apply to trains any longer and I have next to no problems boarding or booking them, thanks to the extremely helpful and efficient service provided by Southeastern's Assisted Travel.

When I was younger boarding a train was a degrading and humiliating experience for me.

Due to lack of space and facilities etc I used to have to travel in the 'guards compartment' alone with just bikes and a cup of very questionable liquid in the corner on the floor for company, and for some reason there were always bars on the windows.

As well as this, I would sometimes miss my stop as I had no way of knowing which station I was at because I couldn't see through the window and had no interaction with anyone to ask them.

However, in the last few years since the introduction of both new disability access legislation and new trains, my experience in getting a train could not be more different since those days.

I still have to phone Assisted Travel prior to my journey, but I do not mind this as it is a small price to pay for the excellent service I receive.

Staff are always friendly and my booking is dealt with quickly and efficiently.

All I have to do is phone and tell them where I want to go and they will organise ramps at each stop for me and will telephone each station ahead to let them know I need assistance on and off the trains.

Staff at Assisted Travel will also help by telling me if a station has lifts and access or not and will offer alternative means if possible.

The trains themselves are also a vast improvement.

I can now travel with fellow commuters and enjoy my journey in relative comfort instead of feeling like an animal on its way to the circus.

Having studied at university in Canterbury and commuted there and back on weekends, I have used the train several times and have only had a few hiccups! Overall I really cannot fault the service that the Assisted Travel team provide.

It is a comfort to know that where wheelchair-friendly taxis in Tunbridge Wells can be disappointing, trains are doing their best to get accessible public transport on the right track.


Read orignal article here.