Every train operating company in the UK has a dedicated telephone line to make accessibility arrangements ahead of travelling. Trained railway staff will be on hand to:

  • Meet you at the station, either at a specific meeting point or a help point
  • Help you navigate through the station
  • Help you on and off the train, including ramp access where required
  • Meet you at your destination or help you on to a connecting service
  • Help with your luggage

Read on for information about accessibility on the UK rail network, including contact details for passenger assistance, accessibility information by train company and information on concessions for disabled travellers.

Who to contact for Passenger Assist

The Passenger Assist service allows you to book assistance up to 22:00 the night before travelling. All train companies offer Passenger Assist services.

You can contact Passenger Assist via the following methods:

Freephone: 0800 0223720

Textphone or minicom: 0845 60 50 600

This Passenger Assist line works for all train operating companies. You can also find out more about Passenger Assistance by Transreport - an app you can download to book assistance.

Accessible travel during the COVID pandemic

The COVID pandemic presents unique challenges to accessible travel. Passenger Assist is still available, but with some important changes to protect both you and train company staff.

Is Passenger Assist still available?

Yes, the service is still available, although it may look a little different than in normal times. Staff will be wearing face masks and will endeavour to socially distance from you where possible. All key services – such as helping you navigate the station, setting up a boarding ramp and transporting luggage – are still available.

Staff will wear face masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines where possible when providing assistance. If you’re using the lifts, staff may use the stairs instead of travelling in the lift with you, but they can still assist you in and out of the lift.

If you need to lip read, let the member of staff know and they should step back to a safe distance and remove their face mask before speaking. Alternatively, staff may use written messages to communicate if they are not comfortable with removing their face mask.

What if I can’t wear a mask?

You can still travel by train even if you are exempt from wearing a mask. As per government guidelines, you do not need to routinely show written evidence of your exemption, but you might feel more comfortable having something that communicates your exemption to other passengers, such as an exemption card or homemade sign. Exemption cards are an optional choice and not required by law in the UK – if asked, you need only to specify that you are exempt as per the relevant government guidance for England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Exemption cards can be produced at home using templates such as these from GOV.UK and GOV.WALES. In Scotland, exemption cards can be requested from NHS Scotland. Transport for Wales (TfW) also has a handy service for creating a named exemption note which will be recognised on all TfW services and most bus services.

Wheelchairs on trains

The vast majority of trains in the UK can accommodate wheelchairs within government-prescribed dimensions of 700mm by 1200mm (Width x Length). Some older trains can only accommodate wheelchairs with a maximum width of 550mm. If you need to reserve a wheelchair space, please get in touch with the train company operating your service ahead of travelling – the more notice you can give, the better. If you want to check if the train company you'd like to travel with has wheelchair spaces, check out National Rail's train formation guide.

Wheelchair spaces are often accompanied by one or two companion seats. If you’re a wheelchair user travelling with a companion, train companies will endeavour to make the companion seat available.

Stations with step-free access

National Rail has produced a handy map of all UK stations and accessibility provisions for each station. Use the search bar at the top of the map to search for a station or zoom in to locate it on the map.

Clicking on the pin opens up an information box detailing relevant accessibility information, including step-free access (full, partial or no access), accessible toilets, contact details and staffing hours.

Mobility scooters on trains

Generally speaking, train companies will accommodate powered scooters with dimensions not exceeding 700mm by 1200mm (Width x Length) and a total weight (including the user) of 300kg**.

However, mobility scooters come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and for that reason, several train operating companies may require mobility scooter users to apply for a Scooter Pass before travelling. The following train companies require Scooter Passes:

The links will take you to the relevant train company’s website, where you can apply for a pass.

**The exceptions to this rule are:

  • Heathrow Express, who permit a maximum weight of 200kg and require the scooter to fold down
  • Island Line, who permit a maximum weight of 230kg
  • ScotRail, who permit dimensions of 560mm by 1040mm

Discounts for travel companions

If you’re travelling with a companion, both passengers are eligible for concessionary discounts.

Wheelchair users, blind or visually impaired travellers and their travel companions are eligible for concessionary discounts on train tickets. These tickets can be purchased from staffed National Rail stations. The discounts apply to adult fares for both Standard Class and First Class seats.

There are two important points about companion discounts to note. First, if you’re travelling alone, discounts are not available. Second, you may be required to produce evidence of visual impairment from a recognised institution, such as your local authority. RNIB’s helpful guide has lots of useful information about registering as sight-impaired.

Ticket type

Discount

Anytime Single

34%

Anytime Return

34%

Anytime Day Single

34%

Anytime Day Return

50%

Priority seating

Most trains are fitted with priority seating for travellers who are disabled, elderly passengers, pregnant passengers or passengers carrying toddlers.

Priority seats are present on the vast majority of trains in the UK, offering space for customers with reduced mobility or who may need a little more room. Priority seats are usually identifiable by a blue badge labelled ‘Priority’. The train staff will be able to help you locate Priority seating if it’s not immediately visible.

Several train companies offer free Priority Seating Cards for people who would like extra assurance when asking to sit in a Priority seat. Transport for London also offers ‘Please Offer Me a Seat’ and ‘Baby on Board’ badges.

Train companies offering Priority Seating Cards:

Sunflower Lanyards

All train companies in the UK recognise the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.

The Sunflower Lanyard scheme allows travellers with non-visible disabilities to communicate to staff and other passengers that they may need a bit of assistance, or a little more time getting on and off the train.

Railway staff are trained to spot lanyards, wallets and other sunflower-marked items; and assist appropriately if requested to do so. Lanyards are available to collect at all Network Rail-managed stations or can be purchased through the Hidden Disabilities website.

Disabled Persons Railcard

Costing just £20 for the year, the Disabled Persons Railcard offers 1/3 off train tickets for you and a companion (if you’re travelling together).

Who is eligible for a Railcard?

You can apply for the Disabled Persons Railcard if you:

  • Have a visual or hearing impairment
  • Have epilepsy
  • Receive either PIP (Personal Independence Payments) or DLA (Disability Living Allowance)

You’re also eligible for a Railcard if you use a vehicle through the Motability scheme or receive Attendance Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement, or a War/Service Disablement Pension for 80% or more disability.

You can apply online for a Disabled Persons Railcard or order it over the phone on 0345 605 0525 (or 0345 601 0132 for textphone/minicom).

Disabled Persons
Railcard

1 year
£20

Save 1/3 on all train travel
Travelling with another adult? They will also get 1/3 off their rail fare

Great for:
People with a disability that makes travelling by train difficult. Proof of eligibility applies

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