17 February 2009 An adventure on a train!!
I thought as we are doing a campaign on transport I thought id hop on a train (not that I can hop) and see how facilities measure up in my area in Cumbria. So I thought id make a trip to the town of Kendal home of the mint cake and the closet Town to the Lake District. This journey although not to long can cause its issues simply because there is a change in-between at a place called Oxenholme which is a small village on the out skirts of Kendal.
As you can see Carlisle has quite a large railway station with several platforms its on the main line between Glasgow and London Euston station, also has connections to Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Scotland. So it is reasonable to say that it has its fair share of commuters which means it can get busy. The journey I was going to take involved a Virgin Pendolino and it was the line down to London Euston, Oxenholme is on this line and is the only village in Britain to be on a main line route.
The first thing you notice when waiting for a train here is there are plenty of staff willing and able to help anybody boarding onto a train who have wheelchairs, push chairs etc. During this wait for the train the obvious happened there was a delay of about 10 minutes, however there was a problem once it arrived which is common with people who have disabilities the steps.
The steps on Virgin trains are extremely awkward to negotiate as they are usually high from the platform and also a second step comes out below the main step but it is to narrow and I do not ever feel confident stepping on to it, in fact I fear that I could fall down the side of the train. Wheel chair access on these can be sorted out by the attendants on the station but I always wonder what about unmanned stations how could they get on board???
Anyways I was on the train and Oxenholme is usually the second stop from Carlisle but we had to pass through the local town of Penrith which is the usual stop. So it was a 40 minute journey so that gave me time to check out the loo’s on board which are always specious however it looked like they were soaking on the floor ( I just hope it was water I stepped in J) this could be a problem due it being slippery.
Got to Oxenholme station and because of the steps getting off these trains is a worry for people such as our self’s because of how narrow the steps are on the train so I am very careful getting off, luckily not that many people get off here but if people were in a rush off the train I could get knocked over or anything on busier stations. Anyways I only had couple of minutes to get to the 3rd platform to change to get to Kendal however nature called but I was lucky due to the lo being on the side I got off it was decent as toilets go on train stations.
A usual problem with train stations is getting from one side to the other, however on the whole this is another problem but here it was and underpass which was just ramp access which was great even though it was slightly steep for me walking. But I got to the platform in time to catch the connecting train to Kendal which is on the Manchester Airport to Windermere line.Due to the proximity of Oxenholme and Kendal (there practically the same place) the journey only takes couple of minutes. Getting on this train was a lot easier as the door was at the level of the platform and there were plenty of handles and railings to use to hoist myself onboard.
As the journey wasn’t to long I didn’t get to check the train out but it was very specious due to tourists using it to and from the airport for luggage. One thing I noticed first was this line has just one track thus meaning stations have one platform (as above shows) making it easier for a disabled person obviously to catch trains etc. Didn’t take long at all to get there and again train was easy enough to get off it was getting out of the station which was awkward as there was a very step hill to negotiate to eget out of the station. However this isn’t due to the railway authorities it is actually how Kendal is because it’s the only town in the Lake District this basically means it’s a really hilly place, but its very beautiful and scenic and its worth a visit.
Kendal was good but its not about my trip its about the Journey so after a few hours I set off back to Kendal station, however after the horrendous climb back to the station missed the train but luckily there was a taxi outside so I hopped into that and went to Oxenholme station directly. Because as I say there virtually the same place just cost several pound to get there, however it was a longer wait for the train back up to Carlisle but it was a nice sunny day so I didn’t mind even though it was really cold.
The same issue occurred once train was here as getting on the Virgin Voyager trains is just the same with silly narrow steps which cause significant difficulty getting on and off the train.
Once I got back to Carlisle I had one last problem getting back to the side of the station to exit as you can see above the bridge is huge and although there is a ramp it is so steep it’s unbelievable and was a real struggle getting up there isn’t even any banisters to help. To make matters even worse in the middle of the foot bridge there is a big slope which is a nightmare to negotiate as its steep and has no handles or banisters to hoist myself with I ended up with sore hamstrings and also a sore back getting over to leave the station.
Anyways that was my journey it was to a nice part of the country but just a bit of a pain getting on and off the train due to steps etc.I am thinking of another journey over a longer distance il keep you posted of how this goes as well at a later date. There will also be a post coming up soon about a recent case up here were a disabled member of society successfully got a change implemented on a station up here i will write it up soon as I am trying to get in contact with this person first.
Anyways any reaction to this post will be much appreciated.
All the best
Bobby Ancil replied on 18 Feb 2009 at 16:01Report abuse
Brilliant post, Dave. Sounds like you had quite a day.
Please keep carrying out these surveys and recording them and then sending them in.
Send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to the address on thsi website.
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