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“I frequently travel on trains with my kids. My local station (Menston) does not have a lift and when my kids were babies it was a nightmare either adding an extra 20min walk to get around to the other platform or hoping for a kind stranger to help us over the steps with a pram and a toddler. I once asked the ticket attendant to help me or I would have missed the train, unhappily he obliged.”Alice H
“So pleased [the difficulties UK families face with rail travel] is being addressed and yet equally so annoyed with myself for not questioning all the difficulties I faced when travelling with my son when he was younger – like why did I never think to ask to use a ramp to get up the massive steps (plural) of GWR trains? Oh yes, because I had to fold up the buggy – trying to get the timing right of getting my toddler out of the buggy with as little time as possible for him to be roaming free while I fold it up before the train arrives, lifting him onto the train first and hoping he’ll stay in the vestibule while I lift buggy and bags on behind us. [Some companies] do at least allow you to keep your buggy up but you have to go in a specific carriage which is also designated for wheelchair users and bicycles so good luck if you don’t get there early to bag a space. Using the loo was a joke – the baby changing table folds down over the loo so although I’m not advocating leaving your baby/toddler unattended on the table while you wee, it was a feat of acrobatics to hold him (who would want to put a child on the floor of a train toilet), wee, wipe, flush. Pretty sure I did once half fold up the table to wedge him in while I ducked down underneath to sit on the loo. I would say the kindness of other passengers saved me, particularly in helping to lift buggy down the giant step from train to platform.”Polly K
“I used to regularly travel to Devon in busy summer periods with my many children. During on long journey where I had to stand due to circumstances beyond my control, I needed to breastfeed my infant and I asked a train guard for assistance and despite having a while first class carriage that was empty, he could not find me a space to sit down to feed my baby for fifteen mins. I had to stand during the whole three hour journey, at just three weeks post partum while still bleeding heavily and feed my baby in front of a packed carriage of young people making their way to university. Thankfully, this was baby number four and I was a seasoned breast feeder. Not everyone is so lucky!”Reena L
“I was confident to take my baby on trains under 6 months in a sling but since then the idea of going on a train with a buggy and toddler has put me off and often I’ve wanted or needed to but avoided it because the facilities just aren’t there.”Helen L
“One particularly memorable journey for me (for all the wrong reasons) was a journey to my mum’s on what was then an Arriva Trains Wales train. My son was about seven months old at the time. We got onto the train thanks to the kindness of strangers willing to help me lift the pram on. The wheelchair space was full of luggage and I had no other option but to sit on the floor in the vestibule, standing when it got busy. I can tell you now, standing in the vestibule of a moving train while trying to breastfeed your child in front of strangers is unpleasant in so many ways. A few years (and many more similar train journeys) later I got on an Avanti West Coast mainline train on the way back from visiting family and friends in London with my by then very capable toddler. I got on and realized I wasn’t going to be able to wheel the buggy down the carriage until we got to a seat, so I collapsed it as quickly as I could as other passengers flooded on behind us and my son legged it down the carriage ahead of me. As under 5s travel for free he didn’t have a ticket, so my reservation was no good given that the seat next to mine was taken and neither he nor I fancied having him sit on my knee for the next two hours, but thankfully we found some unreserved space and plonked ourselves down. Now, what to do with the folded buggy? I thought to myself, surely there must be somewhere designated to put it, given that there was nowhere to leave it unfolded, and did a quick reccy…but no. My only option was to try and put it in the overhead storage, which had just enough space for the buggy but then of course left no space for our own luggage. At 6’3” it’s usually pretty easy for me to reach high up, but it requires a lot of upper body strength, and able-bodied-ness to lift something that big and bulky over your head, and it crossed my mind: I’d recently read, in Caroline Criado-Perez’s Invisible Women, that women have statistically 50% less upper body strength than men. The policy for buggies to be collapsed didn’t tally with the storage available, coupled with the population most likely to be travelling alone with children – women. Families simply hadn’t been factored into the design of this train at all.”Abby T
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