- pressing for improvements to rail operators’ Disabled People’s Protection Policies (DPPPs) when new franchises are let
- checking in detail the draft DPPPs of new operators and recommending improvements if necessary
- discussing DPPPs with the Office of Rail and Road
- encouraging all operators to adopt best practice
- meeting rail companies and the industry on a regular basis to discuss accessibility matters
- researching the design of new trains and gaining passengers’ views.
- accessible toilets
- tactile paving at platform edges
- improved colour contrast on footbridges and stairs
- handrail improvements to modern standards
- non-slip flooring
- induction loops for hearing-aid users at ticket offices, help points, public address systems and so on
- modern public address and customer information systems
- improved lighting
- accessible ticket counters.
- the length of delay before compensation is paid
- whether the type of delay entitles you to compensation – some will pay only if the delay was the fault of the rail industry
- the percentage of the fare refunded as compensation
- you need to avoid certain stations which are not accessible to you
- you have impaired mobility or another disability which makes it difficult or impossible to step up into or down from trains
- you cannot walk long distances easily - at some larger stations you can book help such as using the station’s wheelchair or electric buggy
- you have a visual impairment
- you use a wheelchair or mobility scooter and need ramps to get on and off the train and, where possible, to reserve a space aboard it
- you need to be shown to a seat on the train
- you cannot carry your luggage.
Transport Focus was one of the organisations involved in 2009 in formulating the guidance, drawn up by the Department for Transport, which sets out the content of DPPPs .
Transport Focus is consulted on the content of each new operator’s DPPP and on any major changes to it once it has been approved. Overall responsibility for administering DPPPs now rests with the Office of Rail and Road.
Each rail service company must produce a Disabled People’s Protection Policy (DPPP), a statement of its practices and policies on the arrangements it makes to assist older people and those with reduced mobility to travel by train. Each rail company must be licensed to operate; a condition of that licence requires a DPPP to be drawn up and abided by. Each DPPP must be revised annually and approved by ORR. The requirement applies to all passenger-train and/or station operators.
Each DPPP now comprises two distinct documents:
Making Rail accessible: helping older and disabled passengers, setting out the arrangements for passengers, which must be produced in a handy size and displayed in racks at staffed stations where their trains call. It must contain:
- Policy summary;
- The details of the assistance which can be provided;
- The arrangements if alternative transport by road is necessary;
- Providing information about train services;
- Information about tickets and fares;
- Arrangements at stations and on trains;
- Making connections;
- How you can be assisted if services are disrupted;
- How to contact the operator;
- Alternative formats: e.g. large print; audio versions; Braille; Easy read.
A policy document: Making rail accessible: guide to policies and practices, comprising:
- Operator’s strategy;
- Management arrangements;
- Monitoring and evaluation;
- Access improvements;
- Working with others;
- Staff training;
- Emergency procedures;
- Communications strategy;
- Car parking.
The second document is not generally available to the public although the company may include it on its website or will send you a copy if you request one.
The content of DPPPs varies slightly from one company to another because, amongst other reasons:
- different operators’ policies about providing on-train staff;
- the availability or absence of reservable on-board accommodation;
- differing policies on the carriage of mobility scooters;
- some train companies do not manage stations (e.g. CrossCountry Trains; open-access operators; charter-train operators);
- some rail companies do not operate passenger trains (e.g. Network Rail);
- some train companies operate only “heritage” stock and/or charter services;
- the availability, or not, of on-train catering;
- the provision, or not, of first-class accommodation on their trains.
Both documents forming the DPPP must be available to the public upon request; Making Rail Accessible – Helping older and disabled passengers leaflets should be in brochure racks at staffed stations. The racks should display copies of the DPPP of each operator serving that station. DPPPs should also be shown on websites and be made available in a variety of formats (Braille; audio; large-print; easy-read; etc) within seven days of request.
The DPPP must also state the operator’s policy regarding passengers who cannot buy tickets, or can buy them only with difficulty, at the station due to their disability.
Each DPPP must undertake to provide whatever assistance the company reasonably can to disabled passengers who need to travel at short notice and who have not been able to book assistance or on-train accommodation.
The DPPP must tell you the hours the train operator’s contact centre is open and how far in advance you should book assistance. Some train operators require only a few hours’ notice of your journey and some offer a turn-up-and-go service. You should check all these details with the operator whose service you want to use.
The DPPP requires operators to advise within 24 hours if any breakdown or non-availability of equipment reduces a station’s step-free nature or access to facilities: e.g. lift breakdown; accessible toilet out of order; or absence of staff. This information must be available to all assistance help lines and on websites.
Each DPPP must also state how passengers will be assisted to find a seat aboard train on which it is not possible to reserve. It must tell you if staff are supposed to be available at stations and/or on trains.
Station operators must liaise with companies operating kiosks and shops on their premises to ensure co-operation in making them accessible, where possible.
DPPPs require rail companies to offer you a taxi, fully accessible if necessary, if you cannot use a specific station (e.g. due to the stairs or steep slopes there or if the lift you need to use is temporarily out of action or if no staff are available there to assist). It is important that operators ensure that the taxi is accessible to you. Many ‘accessible’ taxis are designed to carry a wheelchair but may be wholly unsuitable for you if you cannot step up into it and stoop as you do so. Make sure that you specify your needs when booking. In some parts of the country fully-accessible taxis, where actually required, are rare and notice is usually necessary to book one.
Network Rail operates no passenger trains but does directly manage the largest stations on the network and so has its own DPPP. Some airport stations (for instance Prestwick International Airport) have independent station operators each of which has its own DPPP.
If you need to know anything which you cannot find in the DPPP or on the company’s website it is best to contact them and ask.
The National Rail website includes a database, Stations Made Easy, covering all stations in Great Britain and giving, for instance:
- diagrams of the layout of each station and its facilities
- photographs of all facilities at the station – e.g. as appropriate ticket office, waiting room, toilets, ticket machine, steps/stairs, footbridge, lifts, seating, car park, location of help points, platform shelters and so on.
- The Plan a Route way-finding guide from the entrance to points within the station can assist you if you are unfamiliar with it to find your way about by using the photographs as landmarks of station geography.
In addition, a text section gives fuller details, for instance, of:
- the station’s accessibility
- staffing hours when assistance can be provided
- ticket-office opening times
- details of the car-parking arrangements and set-down/pick-up points
- the availability of taxis
- how to retrieve lost property.
This section contains a wealth of additional information about accessibility and mobility access.
Transport Focus very much welcomes this level of detail. It enables you to assess for yourself
- whether or not you will able to use that station without help;
- whether a companion can help you;
- whether staff help is needed and how much; or
- if it is simply inaccessible to you and you need to use another station.
Any sudden changes to a station’s accessibility (perhaps a lift breakdown) which affects your ability to use it should be shown on the station profile within 24 hours of the incident.
We recommend that having checked the details on the National Rail website you confirm with the train company when booking your assistance that no changes to accessibility have taken place since the information on the website was last refreshed.
Each company sets its own rules for carrying scooters so check with them before you attempt to travel. Full details are given in each company’s Making rail accessible – helping older and disabled passengers DPPP document, online or ask their accessibility assistance phone line. Ensure that all the stations you wish to use have step-free access.
Many companies will carry non-folded mobility scooters, generally the smaller, lighter and more manoeuvrable types. Even so, the company may not let you take them on all trains or all routes.
Some train companies will only carry your scooter if you hold a scooter permit issued by them. Other train operators will convey only your scooter if it is folded down and placed in the luggage rack. In many cases staff will not lift them into or out of the train; you or your companion will need to do this.
The Research Institute for Consumer Affairs (RICA) undertook research in 2013 into acceptance of scooters on trains. For more details see the RICA report and National Rail Enquiries. The same rules on maximum weight and size as for wheelchairs apply to scooters: not longer than 120cm, not wider than 70cm and total weight of up to 300kg for scooter and rider. Some ramps can only carry up to 230kg.
In many cases train companies expect scooter users to reserve a space to accommodate the scooter - usually with at least 24 hours’ notice. You may have to transfer to a fixed seat on the train; the company will advise you.
You can buy tickets at the station (from the ticket office or the ticket machine), online or by telephone before you make the journey. In some cases you can choose to collect your tickets from the ticket machine at some stations; you will be given a reference number and instructions for this. Some types of ticket can be printed at home or stored electronically on a device such as a mobile phone. Make sure that you understand the conditions applying to these tickets before you pay for one.
Reductions are available for many disabled passengers. See the Reduced-rate fares for disabled passengers pages.
You must hold a valid ticket or have authority to travel by train. However, if no means of buying a ticket or obtaining authority (for instance a permit to travel) are provided at the station where your journey starts, or if the ticket office there is closed and the ticket machines are out of order, you can pay during or at the end of your journey, without incurring a penalty fare.
Even where booking offices are open or ticket machines are available, you may not be able to use them if:
- you are travelling alone and your visual impairment prevents you using a ticket machine;
- your ability to operate the machine by touching the screen or pressing buttons effectively or accurately is considerably reduced; or
- if the ticket machine or ticket office is located a long distance from the platform where your journey begins and your shorter way to the platform does not pass it or you can reach it only after a long or awkward route (e.g. having to use stairs or steep slopes).
In cases such as these you may pay during or at the end of your journey without incurring a penalty fare.
You can find in the company’s Making rail accessible – helping older and disabled passengers DPPP document or on the website if its ticket machines are accessible to you, which stations have accessible machines and if they can issue tickets with a DPRC reduction for both you as railcard holder and for the person travelling with you. No penalty is due either if the machines cannot issue both types of ticket and you have to pay the correct fare on the train.
Many stations are having accessible ticket counters fitted. If you cannot use the counter or if you cannot get inside the ticket office (e.g. due to steps or a narrow doorway) staff should come out from behind the counter to serve you. If they do not do so, you may pay during the journey.
Full details of station accessibility (including ticket offices and ticket machines, staff availability to assist, car parks, toilets etc) can be found either on the National Rail website or on each train company’s website, or by phoning the company’s Passenger Assist helpline.
Several companies are trying to improve their ticket machines so that you can use them even if you have a visual impairment.
You may find it more convenient to buy your ticket online or over the telephone. All train companies provide facilities for this. If you are booking assistance and time permits, you may prefer to buy your tickets and make reservations and assistance-booking requests in a single transaction by phone. Any of the train companies involved in your journey can do this for you.
At the departure station
If staff do not meet you at the time or place booked, find another member of staff if possible – the ticket office or at the ticket gate is usually best. If this is unsuccessful, use the help point if one is available or phone the company’s assistance helpline and explain your predicament.
Getting on (or off) the train
We do not recommend that you try and get on or off the train alone. You should always be wary of other passengers attempting to assist you; they may be well-intentioned but may not be able to assist you properly or advise the best way to board or alight.
With a wheelchair
We advise you against attempting to get a wheelchair on or off a train unless properly deployed ramps are available - unless the floor of the train is absolutely level with the platform. You should be wary of accepting assistance from untrained fellow passengers.
Always check when getting on the train that the ramps are located at the doorway nearest to the space designated for wheelchairs. The appropriate doorway should be marked by a recognisable version of the ‘wheelchair’ pictogram:
On the platform
If you feel that you may have been forgotten about, try and attract the attention of a member of staff or ask another passenger to do so. Use the help point if one is available or phone the company’s assistance helpline if you cannot find staff.
On the train
If staff are available on the train try and attract their attention as they pass through the coach or ask a fellow passenger to try and find them. Use the intercom, if provided, to speak to on-train staff or phone the company’s assistance helpline.
You are allowed to take three items of luggage into the train: one large suitcase, a smaller bag and one other item which can be held on the lap if necessary. No item of luggage should be larger than 30 x 70 x 90cm.
You can ask for help with your luggage. This service can only be provided at staffed stations. Staff are not employed solely to carry luggage. They will usually carry luggage only within the station premises and from the entrance or to the exit. Please remember that staff members’ age and health can affect their ability to carry your luggage. If you do need help with your luggage, make this clear when you book assistance.
Generally, the amount of luggage which can be carried for you should not weigh more than 50kg in total, even if you are travelling with a companion, as it has to be carried in a single manoeuvre. At some larger stations, coin-operated self-help luggage trolleys are available.
If you have booked assistance to take you by buggy or wheelchair between the station entrance/exit and the train your luggage will be carried for you.
Train or station staff, where available, may be able to lift luggage into or out of the train or onto or from the luggage racks. Please check with the train company’s assistance helpline when making your travel plans to get accurate details of how much assistance with luggage can be provided and where it can be provided.
Even the best-laid plans can sometimes go wrong.
Delayed or cancelled trains
If your booked train is delayed or cancelled before your journey starts, and as a result your travel plans will be upset, station staff should assist you. They can amend your assistance booking to allow you to travel by a later train or on another day, as you prefer. If the station is unstaffed, you should phone the company’s assistance line and explain the problem.
Your ticket will be refunded in full if you decide not to travel at all as a result of delay or cancellation. It can be endorsed, if necessary, for travel on a different train.
If the disruption occurs when you are aboard the train, contact train staff to assist in rearranging assistance or again telephone the company’s helpline.
If planned engineering work affects your journey, the assistance booking staff will do what they can to minimise any inconvenience. If buses are replacing trains for part of the journey and you find them inaccessible, the company will provide you with a suitable taxi over the affected part of the journey. Details of these revised arrangements should be available at least two months before the date of travel. Always check as far in advance as possible.
Emergency engineering work is sometimes necessary. In such cases, train or station staff will assist you in revising your journey plans. Where necessary they will arrange a taxi if trains are not running and you cannot use the replacement buses. At times and in some places, this may take some time to arrange.
On the train
Toilets for wheelchair users have been provided on longer-distance trains for many years. Those on older trains which came into service before the current regulations applied may be much less accessible, for instance due to the less generous layout of the cubicles.
Wheelchair-accessible toilets in newer or refurbished vehicles must comply with current regulations on their size and features, for instance:
- the height of pedestals, paper dispensers, washbasins and coat hooks, etc
- the layout of soap, water and drying facilities
- door-closing, locking and opening procedure
- a call-for-aid system must be provided
- sufficient turning space for a wheelchair
- adequate space for a carer.
Similar rules apply to the layout and features of accessible toilets at stations.
We recommend that accessible toilets should be unisex. If they are enclosed within gender-specific toilets, a member of the opposite sex cannot assist the disabled person, if necessary.
Many accessible toilets are locked, usually requiring a National Key System (NKS) or ‘RADAR’ key. You can buy these keys from town halls, social security offices, Age UK etc, as well as online from RADAR. They cost a few pounds each and will open most accessible toilets on the rail network and elsewhere. Station staff have a key. (Some station toilets cannot be opened by RADAR keys and staff assistance must be sought.) A fee may be charged for the use of accessible station toilets – especially if use of the standard toilets involves a fee.
The number of accessible toilets and the stations where they are being installed is increasing. Operators’ DPPPs and Stations Made Easy can give information on where these can be found.
The Department for Transport has recently begun funding 'Changing Place' toilets, provided with hoists and other equipment to accommodate the needs of disabled people of any age. These have already been installed at Sutton (Southern Railway), at Weymouth (South West Trains) and London Paddington (Network Rail). More are planned, for instance at Preston (Virgin Trains) and Brighton (Southern Railway).
Rail service companies commit in their DPPP to ensuring that staff are fully trained to assist passengers at all points of their journey, whether planning it or actually travelling.
We cannot emphasise to the industry strongly enough that staff training is vital to providing the type of help you need in the way you want. It is especially important for staff who deal directly with passengers. It is particularly necessary that staff should be trained to best assist you – although that often comes down to simply asking you what you prefer.
Further training needs to be given to staff so that they can identify passengers with “hidden disabilities” and assist appropriately. This should improve assistance to these passengers who sometimes complained in our recent research (click here for details) that their needs were not appreciated or fully understood.
Staff on the train need to look after passengers with reduced mobility. They should make themselves known to you and check that all is well with your journey; if not, they should do what they can to put it right. This is very important if the train has been delayed or cancelled and if you are trying to make a connection.
Many train companies now offer ‘Try the Train’ days to familiarise you with trains and stations and how best to use them and their facilities. This can be especially useful if you are a wheelchair user or have impaired mobility as it allows you to test ride the trains and see the sort of help that Passenger Assist can provide. From this you can assess for yourself how easy rail travel can now be and what level of assistance, if any, you should ask for.
The design of trains has improved considerably in recent years and after refurbishment even many older trains are now much more accessible than they were when built.
A range of stations across the country has benefitted from millions of pounds’ worth of accessibility improvement to make the going easier: lifts and slopes have replaced stairs; automatic doors have been installed to ticket offices and waiting rooms; dropped kerbs make it easier to get to the station entrance; accessible facilities have been installed at stations; new information systems are provided on many trains and platforms; tactile paving at stations enhances the journey experience for visually-impaired passengers; induction loops at help points and ticket offices assist hearing-aid users; improved lighting and clearer glass at ticket windows enables hearing-impaired passengers to lipread more easily.
Come and try it for yourself. Contact your local train company and see what arrangements they plan to familiarise passengers like you with what rail can now offer. If you have not travelled by rail recently you may well be in for a very pleasant surprise.
Any passenger can take a dog on the train. No separate ticket is required for up to two dogs for each passenger holding a ticket. No special requirement has to be made in the case of assistance dogs.
However, if booking assistance, always tell the Passenger Assist staff if you have an assistance dog. This will enable them to ensure that a suitable space is made available for the dog away from the aisle if no space is available beneath your seat. Some companies will reserve the seat next to yours so that your dog has space to lie down.
Some rail companies (for instance Arriva Trains Wales) have gone further in providing a ‘protected space’ for your assistance dog. Click here for more details. Train staff indicate that the space beneath the seat next to you is for your dog by a special label.
Dogs are generally not permitted in catering vehicles but assistance dogs may enter them with you if the steward agrees.
Similarly, an assistance dog can travel with you in sleeping-car accommodation. No additional charge over the fare and sleeper fee is made for this but you must advise the assistance helpline and give at least 24 hours’ notice.
Of course, even assistance dogs cannot occupy seats or sleeping berths.
Exceptionally on South West Trains, if all standard-class seats are full, you can sit in a first-class seat if you have an assistance dog. You need not seek permission from on-train staff to do so as this benefit is confirmed in the DPPP.
Several train companies (at present Southern Railway, First Capital Connect and First Great Western) now issue priority seat cards to passengers with a proven medical need. You should apply to the relevant train company for a card if you think that you are entitled. Fuller details are given below:
- Southern Railway: http://www.southernrailway.com/your-journey/accessibility/priority-seat-card/
- First Great Western: http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/~/media/PDF/YourJourney/AssistedTravel/web_priority_app.ashx and section 7.2 of the DPPP
- First Capital Connect: http://www.firstcapitalconnect.co.uk/customer-care/priority-cards/
You must apply by post, with a recent photograph and suitable evidence of the need to occupy a seat when travelling. No charge is made to issue priority seat cards.
These cards enable you to demonstrate your need without having to explain your disability and need to sit down to strangers. The card is especially useful if you have a hidden disability and if the train has no on-board staff. Again, it is not a fool-proof guarantee that other passengers will stand to let you sit down if all seats are occupied, but does simplify the task of explanation and entitlement.
We encourage other companies to follow best practice and provide such cards.
If you hold a priority seat card you must still buy a valid ticket. A priority seat card does not entitle you to a reduced fare; you need a separate Railcard for that purpose.
Most trains now have seating, marked as ‘priority’, which is intended for those passengers in greatest need of a seat: for instance, people with a disability, older passengers, expectant mothers or those carrying infants; or those with a broken limb. It is a legal requirement to provide these seats in new trains. Purpose-built priority seats are located close to doors, are more easily accessible than some other seats and provide space beneath them for an assistance dog.
You can book priority seats for many longer-distance journeys. On many suburban trains and those making shorter journeys often no seats are reservable.
A priority seat can be used by any passenger, but should be given up if needed by another with greater need. However, the law does not require other passengers to give up priority seats and staff have no legal power to move them – unless you have a specific seat reservation for that seat.
Reserved priority seats are intended for the person holding a valid reservation for it.
Priority seats are indicated by pictograms such as:
usually accompanied by the wording “priority seats”.
Priority seats are also provided at some stations – on platforms and in waiting rooms. The same arrangements apply as on trains.
In some cases on-train staff may use their discretion to allow you a first-class seat if all the standard-class seats are taken. This is not, though, an automatic right.
Disabled Persons Railcard
Certain types of disability entitle you to a Disabled Persons Railcard (DPRC). See if you qualify; full details are available on the DPRC website, by phone from any of the train operators’ assistance help lines or pick up a Rail travel made easy leaflet at the station.
The Railcard (currently £20 for one year or £54 for three years) offers you up to 34% reduction (50% off to a child holder) and 34% to an adult making the same journey with you, on all general ticket types in either first or standard class. DPRCs must be applied for by post or online. They cannot be bought at stations.
Ticket types available
Most National Rail fares, Single or Return
(Discounts also on some Railrovers and Ranger tickets but not always 34%)
DPRC holder’s companion
If you do not qualify for a DPRC but are 60 or older you can get a Senior Railcard online or at stations with no formality other than proving your age. This Railcard will give you up to 34% off all general ticket types. See http://www.senior-railcard.co.uk/ for full details. Anyone travelling with you will need their own Railcard for a reduction.
Always bring your Railcard with you when you travel; without it your reduced-price ticket is not valid and you may be charged a penalty fare or for a new full-fare ticket.
Fares for passengers without a Railcard
Ticket types available
Visually-impaired passenger if accompanied. Both passengers qualify for the reduction
Wheelchair user in own chair, accompanied or alone. If accompanied, both passengers qualify for the reduction.
Anytime Single or Return
Anytime Day Return
* Undercuts the Railcard-based 34% reduction.
These reductions are allowed only on Anytime Singles or Returns and Anytime Day Returns and only if:
- you are visually-impaired and accompanied. Documentary evidence of your disability must be shown at the ticket office. No reduction applies if you travel alone.
- you use your own wheelchair and remain in it throughout the journey may benefit from the same reduction alone, or with a companion, who also receives the same reduction.
These fares predate the DPRC and today’s fare structure. They cannot be bought from ticket machines. If a ticket machine is the only retailing means at the station, passengers may pay the fare en route without penalty.
It may be cheaper to buy full-price Off-peak Returns or Advance tickets than to use these reductions on Anytime fares. Check your options at the ticket office, with National Rail (08457 484950; www.nationalrail.co.uk) or with the company concerned before you buy.
Season tickets for visually-impaired passengers
A visually-impaired adult or child who cannot travel alone can apply for an adult season ticket which is endorsed to allow two persons to travel for the price of one. You must provide documentary evidence of your entitlement.
The ticket carries the photocard details of the visually-impaired person; the companion needs no other authority to make the same journey. Any companion can travel on any day but the two passengers must travel together.
An electric wheelchair usually has at least four wheels and is operated by buttons and/or a joystick on the arm of the chair.
A scooter generally has a steering column with handlebars; some have only three wheels.
All train companies carry wheelchairs within the weight and dimension limitations mentioned above and subject to space being available.
Wheelchairs count as wheelchairs - whether power-assisted or not.
The type of spaces for wheelchairs varies between train types.
On new or refurbished trains, the wheelchair space is close to the accessible toilet, where provided, and may have a table and usually a call-for-help button next to it. Some older trains may lack the table and help button, but will provide a dedicated space, usually just inside the passenger seating area. A few newer trains accommodate wheelchairs in a separate part of the train but in dedicated spaces. If a backrest for the wheelchair is provided you should ensure that your wheelchair is correctly positioned against it and that its brakes are applied.
You cannot generally take onto trains a wheelchair which is wider than 70cm, longer than 120cm or which weighs more than 300kg when you are in it. Some older trains cannot accommodate wheelchairs wider than 60cm. Check with each train company whose trains you will use.
On some older trains, wheelchairs may be accommodated in the ‘flexible space’ where cycles and larger luggage may also be placed. At all times, wheelchairs have priority over other items in these spaces.
Some wheelchair spaces may have tip-up seats in them which other passengers can use if the wheelchair space is not occupied. They must give up these seats to enable the wheelchair to fit properly into the space.
For some journeys it is possible to reserve the wheelchair space. Some companies do not reserve any accommodation on some or all of their trains and on those services, which are usually frequent, wheelchairs are carried on first-come first-served basis.
Fuller details are shown in each company’s Disabled People’s Protection Policy (DPPP) or from their assistance helpline. All DPPPs give details of wheelchair accommodation on the company’s trains; some are more informative than others, with illustrations or diagrams of coaches and the location of wheelchair spaces, priority seats, wheelchair-accessible toilets and so on. If you cannot find the information you need, contact the train company.
On many longer-distance trains two or more wheelchairs may be accommodated, but probably not together; one may be in first class and the other in standard class. The train company will advise you.
A wheelchair will generally not be carried if the designated wheelchair space is occupied. It is potentially dangerous to you and to other passengers and staff if the wheelchair is left in areas of the train (for instance in the doorway vestibules) which are not intended for them.
Some train companies insist on or recommend bicycle reservations while others will accept cycles subject to space availability. Not all train companies have the facilities to accommodate cycles and many only carry them outside peak travel periods. Some companies may also charge you to take your bicycle on the train. It is therefore vital that you check with the relevant train company before you travel.
We consult over 20,000 passengers a year to produce the Bus Passenger Survey (BPS) - a picture of satisfaction with bus travel across England (outside London). You can find out more and download BPS reports here.
We are unable to help passengers with specific complaints about bus and coach (scheduled domestic) services. However there are other organisations that will be able to help you.
Visit our Bus Complaints page for information on who to contact in your area.
For bus related research visit our Bus Research & Publications section.
- answered all of the issues that you raised in your complaint
- was factual and contained accurate information
- explained how the train company will attempt to prevent a reoccurrence of your complaint, or how it is working to tackle the problem
- was a personalised reply to your own concerns
- offered, where appropriate, a level of redress/reimbursement that was appropriate to your complaint and within industry national guidelines
- was clear and easy to understand
- was handled within the timescales set by the train company.
- Transport Focus will aim to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence within five working days of receiving it
- if you contacted Transport Focus before contacting the train company concerned, your complaint will be forwarded within five working days and the company will be asked to respond to you directly
- if you want Transport Focus to make a representation on your behalf to a train company, then it will investigate your complaint with the train company concerned and aim to respond to you with the outcome within 35 working days. If this is not possible then you will be kept informed about what Transport Focus is doing.
- aim to answer at least 95 per cent of telephone calls that they receive, with at least 85 per cent answered within 20 seconds
- will return your call within 24 hours or when Transport Focus is next open for business, if you can’t get through to an advisor and you leave a message
- will handle your call in a professional, polite and helpful manner
- will keep you informed during the course of the call and explain what is being done if you are placed on hold.
The rail industry standards on queuing time are that operators must make “reasonable endeavours” so that no one has to queue for more than five minutes during peak periods and three minutes during off-peak periods. A sign at the station should advise when peak periods occur. If you decide to board a train without a ticket, as the queue at the ticket office and/or ticket machine was too long and by queuing you would miss the train, it is advisable to get permission from station staff and/or seek out the conductor aboard the train and explain the situation. If you are given permission to board without a ticket we recommend that you take the name of the member of staff.
If you do get on the train without having bought a ticket and there were facilities to pay, or you did not get permission from station staff to get on without a ticket, you may be prosecuted for fare evasion, charged the full fare for the journey or issued with a penalty fare.
We receive complaints from passengers who have boarded trains as the queue for tickets was too long to allow ticket purchase before the train leaves, who have received a penalty fare, if the train company cannot establish the situation at the station at the time. Station operators are supposed to monitor queue times to ensure that they comply with the three- and five-minute queue times. We encourage them to do so and to publish the results, although most will not publish them.
Where it is not possible to pay before boarding the train (for instance, because the station is unstaffed and has no ticket machine) you may board the train and pay the usual fare during the journey.
Call National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50 or visit www.nationalrail.co.uk
In areas where penalty fares may be issued, if you cannot buy a ticket at the station a permit to travel should be purchased from the machine, where provided. You are expected to insert coins up to the value of the fare or as many coins as you have and this permit is redeemed en route as credit toward the price of the ticket which you could not buy. Without a permit to travel you may be issued with a penalty fare.
If you cannot buy an appropriate ticket for a journey you want to make because the range of tickets sold at the station where you start your journey is restricted, before you travel you must (if you can) buy a ticket or permit to travel that entitles you to make at least part of the journey. This is then used as credit en route towards the full cost of the ticket you actually require.
If you are stranded at a station with no means to pay for a ticket, an arrangement may be made for somebody else to pay for a ticket for you under the so-called ‘SILK’ arrangement. Payment can only be made in person at a station and only full-price Anytime Single tickets can be purchased. There is an administration fee to use this service.
The ability to make this arrangement requires a staffed ticket office at the station where the ticket is paid for and at the station where it is to be issued.
If you are stranded because of circumstances within the control of a rail company, the company should help you. This may involve arranging alternative transport (usually rail replacement buses or taxis), providing overnight accommodation, or getting you to another convenient station from which you can travel.
Up to two children under the age of five can accompany each fare-paying passenger free of charge. However, children under the age of five who are travelling free can only occupy a seat if it is not required by a passenger who has paid for their fare.
Children between the ages of five and fifteen are entitled to a discount of at least 50% on most tickets. Some train companies also offer a cheaper flat fare for accompanied children.
People of 16 and over must have an adult ticket.
A penalty fare can be issued in the case of children travelling without a valid ticket or authority.
At times of severe disruption ticket conditions may be relaxed. However, this must be clarified with the train operator before boarding a different train.
We consult over 50,000 passengers a year to produce the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) - a network-wide picture of passengers' satisfaction with rail travel. Passenger opinions of train services are collected twice a year from a representative sample of journeys. Passengers' overall satisfaction and satisfaction with 30 specific aspects of service can, therefore, be compared over time.
You can find out more and download National Rail Passenger Survey reports here.
We consult over 20,000 passengers a year to produce the Bus Passenger Survey (BPS) - a picture of satisfaction with bus travel across England (outside London). You can find out more and download BPS reports here.
Each passenger can travel with up to two dogs or two small domestic animals free of charge on most train services. Additional animals may be carried at the discretion of the train company and a charge may be made. Dogs should be on a lead throughout the journey, including at stations, and may need to be muzzled.
Other animals must travel in a suitable container, not larger than 60 x 60 x 85 cm, kept closed during the journey, and which can be held on your lap. Animals, other than dogs, which are too large for a container of this size, cannot travel by train.
You may be asked to move to a different part of the train if other passengers object to travelling with animals. Animals may not occupy a seat, be taken out of the container in which they are travelling or be taken into catering vehicles. Under certain circumstances, animals may have to travel in a baggage area of the train where provided.
Livestock or non-domestic animals will not be conveyed.
If in doubt, check with the train operator before you travel.
Special arrangements apply to assistance dogs.
- train companies will not normally accept a claim if you were told about the delay before you bought your ticket
- if the train company has introduced a temporary timetable the delay repay guarantee will be based on that temporary timetable rather than the original one
- you must submit your claim within 28 days of the journey date.
|15-29 mins*||25 per cent||12.5 per cent|
|30-59 mins||50 per cent||25 per cent|
|60-119 mins||100 per cent||50 per cent|
|120+ mins||100 per cent||100 per cent|
- a weekly season is said to cover 10 single journeys
- a monthly season covers 40 single journeys
- an annual season covers 464 single journeys (it assumes that you will travel over some weekends as well as in the week).
If your season ticket is lost the train company which sold you the ticket may, at its discretion, issue a duplicate season ticket provided that:
- the lost season ticket is valid for at least a month,
- you inform staff at the ticket office where you bought your season ticket, giving any explanation of the loss, as soon as you reasonably can,
- you agree to return the lost season ticket immediately, if you find it, to the ticket office where you bought it and
- you pay an administrative charge.
Only one duplicate ticket will normally be allowed in any 12-month period. However, train companies will not issue more than two duplicate season tickets in any 12- month period in any circumstances.
Different arrangements apply in the case of electronic season tickets - such as those issued on Oyster cards. If the ticket has been registered, it is usually possible for it to be cancelled and replaced. Full details are available from the point of issue.
If your train is running late or cancelled and you decide not to travel, you can return the unused ticket at that time to any ticket office and claim a full refund. This applies to all types of paper ticket, including Advance tickets, regardless of where they were bought. Alternatively you can send your unused tickets to the train operator and they will give you a full refund.
In the case of electronic tickets (those on smartcards such as Oyster or on mobile telephones or other electronic equipment) you should check how to proceed from where the ticket was bought.
If your train is cancelled you can return the unused ticket at that time to any ticket office and claim a full refund. This applies to all types of paper ticket, regardless of where they were bought. Alternatively you can send your unused tickets to the train operator and they will give you a full refund.
In the case of electronic tickets (those on smartcards such as Oyster or on mobile telephones or other electronic equipment) you should check how to proceed from where the ticket was bought.
If you have not used a ticket and want a refund then the following applies for different tickets:
- Ticket types - most Single and Return ticket types can be refunded if they are wholly unused. An administration fee is usually raised. Check with the train company.
- Advance tickets - these are not refundable at all unless the train is delayed or cancelled and you decide not to travel. The date of travel can be changed if the booked train has not yet departed and an administration fee and any difference in fare is paid. If you choose not to use an Advance ticket at all, other than if the train is delayed or cancelled, it has no refund value.
- A Season ticket - if you have a season ticket which, on issue, was valid for one month or more, and you want to replace this and buy another season ticket for a different journey, you will be entitled to a refund on the original ticket, calculated pro-rata to the number of days of validity remaining when the ticket is handed in and taking any administration fee into account. The new ticket’s validity must begin the day after the original ticket was handed in and be for a period at least as long as the original ticket.
If you hand in a season ticket as you no longer intend to use it, the cost of the tickets which you would have had to bought will be deducted from the amount paid and an administration fee will be charged. The refund is not calculated on a pro rata basis and towards the end of the ticket, may have little refund value.
- Bought directly from the company’s ticket office or self service machine - if the ticket is returned to any train company’s ticket office no later than 28 days after the expiry of the ticket’s validity, you will receive a refund subject to any use made of the ticket. There may be an administrative charge and the refund will be processed as soon as possible.
- Bought online from an independent retail site - the retailer’s refund conditions should be checked before purchasing. You should contact the retailer directly for further information.
A ticket is your evidence of your right to make a rail journey and its safekeeping is your responsibility. Train companies are under no obligation to reissue tickets at no charge to you and usually refuse to do so. If you do find yourself in this position then speak to on-train or station staff immediately. If you cannot produce a valid ticket when asked you may be liable to an additional charge or penalty. Please see What can happen if I am on a train without a valid ticket?
If you have reserved a seat and have to stand for all or part of the journey, the train company will compensate you for this by refunding up to the full Single fare for the journey. If you have paid a fee for your seat reservation this will also be refunded.
To be eligible for this compensation you need to contact the train company you travelled with within 28 days of completing the journey and produce a ticket and reservation valid for the journey.
We represent all users of the SRN. This includes motorists, freight and business users, as well as pedestrians and cyclists using the network.
The SRN in England is around 4,300 miles long and is made up of motorways and trunk roads, the most significant ‘A’ roads. All other roads in England are managed by local and regional authorities. The Highways England network represents around two per cent of all roads in England by length, but it carries a third of all traffic by mileage. Two thirds of all heavy goods vehicle mileage in England is undertaken on the SRN.
Click here to find out which roads are part of the SRN.
In the first instance you should contact Highways England directly.
If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from Highways England, you could refer your complaint to the Department for Transport’s Independent Complaints Assessor (ICA).
If you think Highways England has not done everything possible to resolve your complaint, you can also ask a Member of Parliament to contact them on your behalf, or ask them to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).
The PHSO will expect you to have tried to resolve your complaint at the earlier stages of Highway England’s complaints procedure before they look into it.
Click here to make a general comment about the Strategic Road Network (SRN) or Highways England please click here.
Parliament has defined our role as being about the experience of using the Strategic Road Network (SRN), rather than motoring in general. Taxes and charges for motoring that are levied by the Government, local authorities or commercial providers must therefore be outside our scope; none of those taxes or charges are payable in respect of usage of the SRN.
The position of a road user is very different from that of a rail or bus passenger, who has entered into a contractual arrangement with the operator when buying the ticket. There is no direct payment for a road journey, so there is no scope for making any refund where there are problems with that journey.
Not at all. We will be working closely with the many well-established user bodies in the not-for-profit and private sectors, and want to draw on their expertise and active engagement with members to strengthen the advice we will be submitting to Government as the statutory consumer representative for road users.
Improving safety on the Strategic Road Network (SRN) is a key objective of the investment programme now getting under way, and it is clearly in the interests of road users. We will use the evidence we gather through our research to bring about improvements. We intend to base specific interventions on aspects of safety on the evidence we build up on the priorities of the different groups of users.
The Strategic Road Network (SRN) is used by almost all of us in some capacity and we are clear that we represent all user types. We have already been working with organisations across this range, and we recognise that there will both be some common interests shared across all users, such as road surface quality and safety, and other issues where user interests potentially clash. We will ensure that all relevant views are brought to the attention of the Secretary of State and of Highways England.
We have a track record of finding out what passengers want and working with the transport industry to deliver improvements.
We have appointed Guy Dangerfield as road user director, and are continuing to strengthen our capabilities around the challenges of roads, having spent recent months working with key stakeholders to understand the issues road users face. From 1 May 2015, Theo de Pencier, will be joining Transport Focus’s Board. Theo will champion the views of users of the strategic road network as he is currently the chief executive of the Freight Transport Association (FTA). He is due to retire from the FTA shortly. More importantly, the Government has entrusted us with this new role because of our successful record of speaking up for passengers, and it is confident that the skills we have finessed there will transfer well to road user issues.
Though we are funded by the Department for Transport (DfT), as an executive non-departmental body we are separate from it. On roads, as well as on rail, bus, coach and tram, we campaign for improvements based on the evidence we gather from road users and passengers.
Our road user activity will be wholly funded by the Department for Transport (DfT), alongside the funding it already provides for our work for rail, bus, coach and tram passengers.
The role of Transport Focus, as a consumer body, has to be restricted to representing users of a transport service, not those people otherwise affected by that service. Highways England is setting up a range of measures to ensure that it can engage directly with communities alongside its roads, and others affected by them.
You can find out more by visiting Highways England’s website.
The Dartford Crossing is an integral part of the Strategic Road Network (SRN), managed by Highways England (HE) and its partner Connect Plus. However, the Severn Bridges, whilst also part of the SRN up to the Welsh border, are run under a long-term concession by Severn Crossings Ltd, and so are formally outside the scope of Transport Focus. The M6 Toll, a privately-owned road, is also beyond our scope. There are a number of other toll roads and crossings, including the Humber Bridges and the Mersey Tunnel, which are overseen by local highway authorities.
No. However, a provision in the Infrastructure Act 2015 allows local highway authorities to commission work from us to represent users of roads for which they are responsible. No such arrangements with local authorities are in place at present.
Roads which link the major conurbations with each other, and with the main ports and airports, together form the SRN; but there are also many important connecting roads which fill gaps in the network that are the responsibility of local highway authorities. You will can find who this is for a road in your area using the DirectGov search tool (where it comes up with multiple authorities, in an area with two tiers of local government, it will be the larger county-level authority that has responsibility for roads).
An act of Parliament, the Infrastructure Act 2015, decided that we should focus on the Strategic Road Network, which, with some 4,300 miles of motorway and trunk road, is only 2 per cent of the total length of road in England, but carries a third of total traffic. So, even though almost every journey will also involve the network of regional and local roads run by local highway authorities, the SRN embraces the very busiest roads and is a crucial component of the road user experience.
Roads are a devolved matter, and so responsibility for operation of roads, and for engaging with users, rests in the first instance with the Scottish Government / Welsh Assembly Government / Northern Ireland Executive.
The Government has put in place a new structure to deliver a substantial increase in investment in England’s motorways and trunk roads. The Highways Agency has been turned into a publicly-owned company, Highways England, with a clear remit to modernise the network through £15 billion of investment over the next five years. To ensure that the new company is fully accountable to its users and taxpayers, Passenger Focus has turned into Transport Focus and now also represents the interests of road users. The Office of Rail Regulation has become the Office of Rail and Road and will monitor the efficiency with which Highways England carries out the investment programme. This monitoring is separate from Transport Focus's role as the road user watchdog.
Reservations can be made at the time of purchase or later if you produce your ticket. However, reservations are not available on all trains or routes. There may be a charge for this service.
You will only be entitled to a seat on your train if you have made a reservation. Some services are known to be particularly busy and you are advised to reserve a seat. If possible check when booking to see if this applies to your journey.
If your train is cancelled, the seat reservation does not apply on another train.
If a reservation which you have paid for is not honoured you can claim a refund of that fee.
If you do not have a valid ticket or a valid reason for not having one (as defined in Can I board a train without a ticket?) and you board the train, the train company has a number of options:
The full fare can be charged for your journey
Under the National Rail Conditions of Carriage you could be charged the full fare for the journey. Typical examples of being found aboard a train with an invalid ticket include: where you have a ticket but have forgotten your Railcard; or where you have an Off-peak ticket but travel in the peak; or where you have an Advance ticket but are on the wrong train. In some instances you may be charged the full Anytime (peak hours) fare; in others it may be the cheapest fare available for journeys made at that time.
You can be issued with an Unpaid Fare Notice (UFN)
If staff on the train consider that your ticket is not valid and that a full fare should be charged you can pay immediately and then, if desired, complain to the train operating company to seek redress. If you do not have the means to pay immediately – or if you choose to complain/appeal before paying – the inspector can issue an Unpaid Fare Notice (UFN). This is not a fine or a penalty but an ‘invoice’ for the fare for the train you are on.
An Unpaid Fares Notice is different from a Penalty Fare.
You can be issued with a Penalty Fare
Penalty fares were originally introduced to tackle ticketless travel on suburban services whose frequent stops made effective on-train ticket examination impractical. They have since been introduced on other, longer-distance services. They require the passenger to provide a valid reason for not having a ticket. They do not exist on all train routes, and where they are in use clear signs at stations should clarify this to passengers.
If you are in a designated Penalty Fares area and you are not able to produce a valid ticket for inspection you are liable to pay either twice the full Single fare to the next station at which the train is due to stop, or £20, whichever is the greater. Any travel beyond that next station will be charged at the full Single fare. You can pay the penalty fare on the spot although you do have 21 days in which to pay. If you feel that you should not have been issued with a penalty fare you may appeal. Details of the appeals procedure are shown on the penalty fare notice issued to you.
Prosecution for fare evasion
The Railway Byelaws make it an offence to travel without holding a valid ticket and being able to show it on request. A breach of this byelaw is punishable in law and, if found guilty, you would be subject at present to a fine of up to £1000.
An operator can also prosecute for ‘intent to avoid a rail fare’ under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889, s.5 (3) and you may be fined or sentenced to imprisonment for up to three months. Transport Focus may be able to help or advise you if you have received a court summons. However, we recommend you also seek legal advice if you are being prosecuted
The industry introduced in May 2013 a Code of Practice on dealing with passengers who either have no ticket at all or whose ticket is invalid.
The use of an independent appeals body is one of the requirements of the Penalty Fares scheme and two agencies currently offer this service:
- IPFAS (Independent Penalty Fares Appeals Service) and
- IRCAS (Independent Revenue Collection and Support).
If you have been contacted by one of these companies then they will be legally acting on behalf of the train operator who issued you the original penalty fare.
These bodies handle appeals in accordance with guidelines approved by the Department for Transport (DfT). These are designed to ensure consistency across operators and they will typically uphold appeal cases where an operator has failed to meet the required regulations of the scheme (e.g. if warning notices were not properly displayed or where appropriate discretion has not been used).
Transport Focus can provide advice for passengers and may be able to help. Please contact us if you would like any further advice or support.
You will usually have 21 days in which to pay an Unpaid Fare Notice (UFN), but you should carefully check the wording on the notice to be sure.
You should be aware that the ‘clock does not stop ticking’ once an appeal has been lodged with the train operating company; the 21-day deadline to pay the fare applies from the point the UFN has been issued. If the 21-day deadline has passed and the debt has not been paid, the train operating company can begin an escalation process which is usually in the form of chase-up letters but each of these letters adds a further administration fee to the original debt for which you may still be liable to pay even if the appeal is successful.
If a debt remains unpaid the operator can pursue payment through the usual civil process for unpaid debts (e.g. a debt collection agency). This is a civil rather than a criminal law action but it can nonetheless affect the person’s credit rating and the operating company does have the option of reverting to a criminal prosecution for breach of byelaws.
If you are unhappy about how you are being treated by the train company and feel they have not listened to your reasons then please contact us as we may be able to help.
If you are issued with a Penalty Fares notice you have 21 days to appeal against it or to pay it. The address/process is set out in the paperwork handed to you by the revenue inspector. If the appeal is upheld you do not have to pay the penalty, only the outstanding fare.
If the appeal is rejected then the appeal body will write to you asking for payment within a set time (usually about 14 days). It is only after this point that administration charges are applied.
The section called ‘Ticket questions’ contains a number of different scenarios which may answer your question. Please read these, and if you still need help or advice then give us a call.
This is a recent innovation and not all train companies offer this form of ticketing. Printed e tickets are accepted forms of ticket and some train companies issue tickets that can be used when stored on mobile phones.
It can be confusing for passengers to understand what times of the day and week are classed as off-peak, as they vary between train companies and routes. You should check that the ticket is valid for the time when you wish to travel before buying.
If the ticket is used when it is not valid, you may have to pay the difference between its price and a full-fare ticket or you may receive a penalty fare.
These have been introduced in some areas (e.g. Oyster cards in London). The fare is deducted from the card as you travel from the pre-purchased value. This type of ticket can allow travel on one ticket changing onto different types of transport.
A season ticket allows you to make an unlimited number of journeys between the points or within the zones specified on the ticket within its period of validity. Season tickets can offer considerable savings where the same journey is made frequently. They are available for periods of one week or from one month to one year. A photocard with the holder’s details has to accompany the season ticket at all times for it to be valid.
These tickets, mainly intended for leisure travel, allow unlimited travel for a number of days in specified areas or regions. Morning restrictions may apply on weekdays. Railcard and child reductions are usually available. They can offer good value for money.
A Railcard enables you to obtain a reduction (usually 34%) on most tickets. A wide range of railcards are available e.g. 16 to 25 Railcard, Family and Friends Railcard and Senior Railcard. The Railcard should be shown at ticket offices when paying the fare and the Railcard must be shown along with the ticket for it to be valid. Failure to produce, when requested, the valid railcard will mean that you will be treated as having joined the train without a valid ticket and may be charged the full fare for your journey or issued with a penalty fare.
A first class ticket entitles you to travel in first-class accommodation. Some services also offer complimentary catering or other items to first-class ticket holders at no extra charge but the offer may vary at different times of day or at weekends and public holidays, at the discretion of the train company.
If you are sitting (or standing) in first-class accommodation without either a first-class ticket or authorisation from the train operator’s staff, you may be charged the difference in fare between the ticket that you hold and the full first-class Single fare or issued with a penalty fare.
You might be able to upgrade a standard class ticket to first class – check with staff for the relevant conditions and costs.
Advance tickets are only valid on one specific train. The time and date of that train is shown on the ticket itself or on the reservation card issued with it. If you travel on any other train, the ticket is not valid and you will have to pay for a full-fare (Anytime) ticket or you may receive a penalty fare.
When you buy a train ticket, you enter into an agreement with the companies whose trains you can use. All tickets are subject to conditions that relate both to the class of travel and when and how the ticket may be used.
If the ticket is not used in line with these conditions, it will not be valid and you may have to purchase a new ticket at full price or you may receive a penalty fare. It is therefore important that you understand and comply with the conditions applying to the ticket that you are using. Speak to a member of station staff if you have any doubts of the validity of your ticket before you board the train.
Sometimes good deals can be had, for example, by travelling with a group of friends or family. Additional or different conditions may apply to these tickets, however, so check at the time of purchase – if you travel on a service on which that ticket is not valid, you may have to pay for a new full-fare (Anytime) ticket or be issued with a penalty fare.
If you want to know who operates your station or the one you are travelling to, please use the search on the National Rail Enquiries website using the link below:
The National Rail Enquiries website provides detailed information about every station. This can be accessed using this link: National Rail Enquiries station search.
It provides comprehensive information on station facilities and services, ticket-office opening times and means of buying tickets, staffing times, accessibility, ticketing and links to live departure/arrival information.