During our campaign we’ve found that mistakes made in the past have a long legacy – it’s why existing rolling stock used by most train operators doesn’t have space for unfolded buggies. It may not be feasible for all train operators to immediately change their train layouts, but they can avoid making the same mistakes again. That’s why we’re asking operators to sign up to five commitments:
- Unfolded Buggy Spaces and Reservations – To never order a new train or undertake a refurbishment without providing dedicated space for unfolded prams. These spaces must be separate and distinct from dedicated space for wheelchair users.
- Child Friendly Toilets – To consider the needs of young children and parents when designing toilets on trains and at stations.
- Communication and Engagement – To include a dedicated family friendly travel page on their website and provide live information on where best to stand on the platform.
- Assistance and Staff Training – To extend Passenger Assist to parents travelling alone with small children (under 5) and to include the needs of families in their staff training by the end of 2023.
- Breastfeeding – To sign up to the BfN Breastfeeding Friendly Scheme.
The responses have been coming in thick and fast, and we’ve also been busy meeting with operators to clarify our asks and how we can support them. Watch this space!
King’s Cross Family Lounge
London King’s Cross station opened a “family lounge” earlier last month, next to the Travel Centre on the main concourse. It has a soft play area, “beach hut” style pods with table top games that work well as areas for families to each lunch (one has been designed to have more privacy for breastfeeding), and a giant Hornby train set, which from our experience appeals as much to adults as to children. You don’t need to be travelling on an LNER service to use the Family Lounge.
The Family Lounge is a major success for our campaign, as we first mentioned the idea of family-friendly waiting areas when first meeting with LNER in June 2021, and we’re delighted with the significant effort and investment LNER have made in creating this space. We were consulted on the plans for its design, and some of the smallest CFFT campaigners have already tried it out and given it the thumbs up.
There is still much for LNER and other train operators to do to improve the travel experience on the train, but it does make the time stuck waiting for your train more enjoyable if you have children in tow. Let us know what you think if you visit!
CFFT on the (virtual) airwaves!
CFFT’s own Abby Taylor was on the podcast Standard Issue, talking about why it’s such a nightmare travelling on UK trains with children…and what the train operators can do about it. Do give it a listen!
Meanwhile, the difficulties of train travel with young children was recently highlighted on BBC Radio 4 (Costing the Earth – How can I be a more sustainable parent?):
“You are not allowed to just bring a pram on the train. You have to fold it down, you have to move a sleeping baby, stand in the vestibule area and hope that everytime the door opens you are not going to wake up the child. You are in everybody’s way”
That’s an experience that is familiar to us all!