Jess Grugeon here to talk a bit about my experience of train travel.
I have mostly felt inspired to write about trains through the very frustrating fact that the lifts at Bedford are being changed- They have been out of use from Oct 3 and they won’t be back until Dec 3. Meanwhile they are offering taxis from Bedford to Luton when you can rejoin the train to London. Not quite as convenient.
As my home town of Bedford lies to the north of Luton, 37 mins from London St Pancras. I have often taken the train to St Pancras. In earlier years many friends of mine lived in London so I was often St Pancras bound.
The slow train that goes through London, stopping at every station on it’s way, arrives in Brighton, eventually. I have sat on this train many times as my brother used to live there. He also lived in Newcastle so I know that route fairly well.
Two days before the lifts were stopped, I took a train to St Pancras to meet up with some friends.
As usual, as the guy attempted to slot me in to my allotted space, he was met with a stack of suitcases to redistribute – I do not understand why the general public feel encouraged to pile luggage so consistently in a clearly designated spot. Possibly they are motivated by the same feeling that allows them to watch a ramp being placed next to a train and to push their way on first, using the ramp for their suitcase.
I imagine every disabled person finds train travel a bit anxiety-making, despite having booked. I often travel alone and I will never forget that return journey from London where they forgot to collect me and I went to Wellingborough.
The ramp and guy were waiting but he didn’t come in and I couldn’t get off!
I also won’t forget the train that stopped at Luton and evacuated everyone, except me of course. Everyone then climbed the steps to another platform where they caught the fast train. I was finally taken off the broken train and told to wait for the slow train. There is no lift at Luton.
I must try to remember the positives. On returning to Bedford I was met by a guy who has worked at Bedford station for years. He never fails to make me smile. Even though my carer met me, with the car, he insisted on pushing me right out to the car, even offered to put my chair in the boot. If only every staff member working in assisted travel could be as positive, helpful and friendly.