The Campaign for Family-Friendly Trains is a group of parents working for better facilities for children and their families on the UK rail network.
I’m based in Stockport but a lot of my family and friends are in Shropshire, London and Yorkshire and, since poor eyesight prevents me from driving, the train has always been my main mode of independent transport when I want to go see them. This was all fine until I had my son in 2018 and realized how challenging rail travel is with a buggy, particularly when you’re travelling alone which I usually am. When my son was a little baby I spent many hours sitting on train vestibule floors, breastfeeding there, changing him there, singing him to sleep there, because there was nowhere to put ourselves that wasn’t in the way. It’s certainly easier now he’s bigger – and train travel is an adventure that he loves – but it could still be better. I want to change all that. I’d love to make rail travel more equitable and accessible, make it an attractive prospect for families, and get cars off the road.
I joined the Campaign for Family-Friendly Trains after numerous long-distance train journeys with my daughter from when she was 2 months old. We regularly travel on the Avanti West Coast line from London to see my family near Manchester. It didn’t take me long to realise there is a lack of support for parents travelling with young children on trains. I’m angry that long distance trains have no dedicated space to put an unfolded pram; fed-up at the many times I’ve changed my daughter on a train toilet floor; and annoyed at a lack of convenient space to breastfeed on trains.I strongly believe train travel in the UK should be accessible to everyone. It’s an issue of social justice, non-discriminaton, and essential to meet the government’s commitment on climate change. I’m also passionate about the power of ordinary people to hold companies to account.
Joe and his young family are based in London; they regularly make train trips. Frustrated that there was no space on trains for his sleeping toddler, Joe moaned on Twitter and eventually joined the Campaign for Family Friendly trains.
I live in South London with my husband and son. We don’t have a car for environmental reasons and for the fact we both hate driving, so we travel mostly by public transport and bike. With our family and friends spread out all around the country (including in Scotland), we spent a lot of time on the train before our son was born and largely enjoyed it. But I’ve been surprised by how the UK rail system makes travelling with a baby (already a huge logistical undertaking) unnecessarily challenging. I want to help change that.
I live in Sheffield with two children and my partner. We rely on the train to visit family (all over the UK in Liverpool, Somerset, London, Kent and Manchester). We can’t justify the expense of a car when we can walk or cycle for work and school. Pre-covid I used the train for work trips and conferences, often with a small child in tow. I am fed up of cramming my children onto the train between bikes and sitting them on luggage, breastfeeding on vestibule floors and getting stuck in ticket barriers. So I joined the Campaign for Family-Friendly Trains, to help find solutions that can make rail travel easier for families.
I live in Cambridge with my wife and two children. I want to choose train travel for environmental reasons and because it can be more reliable, relaxing and enjoyable than driving. We don’t own a car, instead cycling for local journeys, so train travel is usually cheaper for us than car hire.
My family-friendly trains campaigning journey began in January 2020 after I spent several hours sitting on the vestibule floor of a brand new GWR train from London Paddington to Plymouth. Our 18 month old son was asleep in his pushchair and the last thing I wanted to do was to wake him up to fold the pushchair in the middle of a 6 hour journey. I was shocked at how a new train had been designed and built without any space for pushchairs or any consideration of how families with young children could travel.
I hope that the Campaign for Family-Friendly Trains can help create a more inclusive and accessible railway, so that more families are able to choose train travel.
I live in Ipswich with my wife and 2 young children in early primary school and nursery. Since passing my driving test nearly 20 years ago I haven’t driven since. It started out with simply the insurance being too expensive for the little I’d use a car, and now I don’t want to own one for environmental and health reasons, and having no where to store one other than a street that is already overflowing with parked motor vehicles to the point a bus route was rerouted. I’ve traveled with my kids and had to endure the fun of carrying the buggy up and down stairs, sitting in the vestibule or floor, and the joys of disruptions where I’ve had to wait for 5 trains to leave before being able to board with the kids getting home nearly 4 hours late.
I have traveled much of the country by rail and most trips to Europe are by rail and often ferry too, to visit family and friends. I work processing public transport data which is used by millions.
I have spent the past decade and a half involved with cycle campaigning, more recently this has included cycle-rail integration. When I came across the campaign I just knew I had to get involved with my experiences of travelling, campaigning, and technology.
Want to join us?
If you would like to help with our campaign, please get in touch!