…you get the sort of “reasonable adjustmemt” or “making it easier for our disabled customers” type treatment you’d never have dreamed was possible or thought to ask for. So much so you’re almost scared to say yes to it.
I got to Reading yesterday and one of the assisted travel guys got me off the train from Didcot, walked with me across the station and got me on to the train to Waterloo. The guard came over and asked where I was travelling to saying “don’t worry if they aren’t right there with the ramp at Waterloo, I’ll come and check on you.”
Then there was an automated announcement “can the guard contact the driver” and he did from a thing right by the wheelchair space I was in. There was a problem with the track right outside Reading and we would be delayed.
This went on for a while and I was just waiting and texting the friend who I was meeting in London that I’d be a bit late and what have you. The train that had gone out before mine came back and we kept waiting. It was getting on for half an hour late and I was hearing all the people complaining about how little time it was giving them to get to their final destinations and how they’d be late and just glad that I travel with a lot of spare time.
Then the guard came back over to me and said it looked like trains would get moving again soon but that the one I was on would likely be cancelled because it was nearly time for the one after. Before I even had a chance to say anything about sorting help to get me off the train and over on to the next one (on a different platform) he added that he was trying to make special arrangements for me.
Because the train was going to Waterloo even if it was cancelled. So he’d asked if he could escort me to Waterloo on that train no matter what to save messing with ramps and the like . I was like “What?!” and he held a finger up and said “ssh!”
Eventually it was announced it was cancelled. And he came back to me and said I was going to Waterloo on that train regardless. I asked and he said he’d stay with me (I would have been too panicky to sit by myself) so I agreed.
He went off to clear the train and we started moving. I was worrying about that but he came back after a few minutes. I read my book, he flicked through his paper and we chatted and joked a bit. A few places it stopped or paused and you could see people at the station looking confused to see us on the “out of service” train. We considered waving but gave it a miss.
We got to Waterloo about ten minutes quicker than the stopping time and much sooner than the passenger train everyone else took which left after ours did.
And I had a great time in London.
The journey home however was really disappointing. It wasn’t the level of service I’d come to expect from South West Trains. There were other passengers on it and it stopped at stations other than Waterloo and Reading.