Family friendly travel: how does each Train Operating Company fare?

How did your train company perform. Scores out of a possible 8 points. TfL Rail 3.5; C2C 3; LNER, Merseyrail, GTR: 2.5; Southeastern 2; HullTrains, Transport for Wales, Lumo: 1.5; Avanti West Coast, Grand Central, CrossCountry, ScotRail: 1; Other train operators did not respond to the survey.

This is the first scorecard to assess and compare train operating companies across the UK for their provision of family-friendly services and facilities.

The research finds that, overall, train operating companies across the UK are failing dismally to support families with young children to travel by train.

  • Only five companies – TfL, c2c, LNER, Merseyrail and GTR – scored above 2 out of a possible total of 8 points.
  • Overall the scores were disappointingly low. The highest scoring company – TfL – achieved a mere 3.5 points. 
  • The location of the two highest scoring companies – TfL and c2c – show that across the UK network, family friendly facilities/services are more available within Greater London and a small area of the South East. Journeys on these lines are relatively short.
  • 10 companies failed to respond suggesting they have little concern for the issues affecting families of young children using their services. These were: Chiltern Railway, East Midlands Railway, Eurostar, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, London Northwestern Railway, Northern, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, and West Midlands Railway.
  • Seven companies scored half a point for having some spaces available in train carriages to put an unfolded buggy. No company scored full points for this question, as none of the spaces available are dedicated solely for pushchair use.
  • For three-quarters of the companies that responded, step-free access to the platform is possible at all, or the vast majority of stations along the routes, but only five companies said level boarding was available in some places. For most train services, level boarding was not available.
  • Best examples of passenger assist service to help customers with young children board the train were given by Merseyrail, Southeastern and TfL. Yet all three companies could do more to publicise the service.

It was clear from responses (or lack of) that the majority of train operating companies are not taking the issue of family-friendly travel seriously. However, a small handful of companies – particularly TfL, Transport for Wales, Merseyrail, and LNER – indicated they are currently discussing the needs of families travelling with young children and aiming to find solutions in the design of newer trains and through additional services.

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