It would be brilliant if I could take the train

Emma, 33, Nottingham


Emma is 33 from Nottingham. She explains the impact that inaccessible trains have on her life and how she's trying to change that.

If transport was more accessible, I would use it more often. We should all be able to go where we want and do whatever we want.

Emma Donaldson in her wheelchair smiling

It would be brilliant if I could take the train, but I need step-free stations. I have a friend who lives in the next town, but I can’t see them unless I take a bus. But buses are so uncomfortable for me, and a taxi is expensive. I want better options.

Why using public transport is stressful for me

Public transport should be my way to get out and about, and it should be my freedom. But it’s full of worries for me.

I worry - are the rail assistance staff going to forget about me? It happens to me, especially on trains. Whenever I’m left stranded like this, it’s awful. Sometimes I’ll be lucky and be travelling with a friend, not that it’s their job to provide rail assistance though.

The right staff are so important

When I’m travelling alone, it’s a nightmare when the person whose job is to help me doesn’t show up. I’ve had to rely on a random passer-by to help me find a guard. The guards always apologise of course, but an apology isn’t enough when I’m left in that kind of situation. 

I can’t overstate how important the right staff are. They need to be friendly, especially if you need that extra little bit of assistance. I’ve been travelling independently for around 15 years now. I seem to find that when you build “friendships “with the staff, then most of the time, the journey is pretty smooth. 

Pushing for change in my local area

A few years ago, a friend and I were saying how inaccessible local rail travel was. We joked that we should start a campaign to make our local stations better, and that’s what I did. I had a petition, and it went to parliament. We didn’t get any further at that time, but I didn’t want to give up, so last year I resurrected it again. I want to highlight this problem, and I hope I can make a difference. I’m still pushing for change in my local area.

I’m glad Leonard Cheshire are pushing for better rail travel across the country. If transport was more accessible, I would use it more often. We should all be able to go where we want and do whatever we want.
 

Get on Board: Making the economic case for “levelling up” inclusive transport

We’re calling for a new law that guarantees all rail journeys in Britain will be fully accessible by 2030. This must include an implementation plan with sufficient funding to ensure genuine progress is made.

Read about our research and the change we want to see in our policy report.