Hello everyone and welcome back to My Blurred World.
I hope you’re all doing really well.
It’s been a while since I’ve published a new blog post but I’m finally back today writing about my recent experience with passenger assistance on the train.
This might not be a post that interests a lot of you but it’s a subject that needs to be heard of in my opinion and I’m hoping that the more awareness that is raised surrounding it, the more will be done to resolve the issue.
This post is also a part of Holly (Life of a Blind Girl) and I’s #SeeingThroughSightLoss series which focuses on raising awareness of visual impairment, sharing our experiences etc. Since we both had bad experiences with train assistance last week, we thought it would be a good idea to include this post in our series.
I mentioned in my post about my journey to independence that I was planning on trying passenger assistance on the train when travelling to Manchester last week which is exactly what I did or planned to do.
I booked my assistance in advance, stating clearly that I am visually impaired and therefore would need to be guided to and from my seat on the train and also to the metrolink from Piccadilly station to Victoria in Manchester.
When I arrived at the train station I was departing from, I went to the ticketing office and explained that I had booked assistance, everything seemed to be fine, the assistance turned up but he only took my luggage and I was left with my mum who had to take me on the train. Mum was coming with me as this was my first time trying assistance and I felt safer having her there incase something went wrong. I got on to the train with mum and the man who was supposedly my guide said “Your seat is there.” Now as someone who is severely sight impaired, I had no idea where ‘there’ was but he then just rushed off the train, telling my mum that he had to get off as he didn’t want to go to the next station.
We arrived in Manchester Piccadilly a couple of hours later and both Mum and I remained seated for a good few minutes as we were expecting my assistance to arrive and take me off the train. It was lucky that Piccadilly was the last stop on the journey otherwise I could have ended up in a completely different destination as my assistance didn’t turn up to make sure I got off the train safely. Again, my mum had to take me off the train, we waited on the platform for a few minutes following this incase we saw some form of assistance approaching but there was nothing. As I mentioned previously, the assistance was meant to help me off the train and take me to the connection to Victoria which is where I needed to go. If my mum wasn’t with me, I would have been completely lost. I would also like to mention that hardly any of the stops were announced on the train on our way to Piccadilly so there is no way that I would have known where we were or what the next stop would be. There was no announcement when we arrived at Piccadilly either which I found to be quite shocking.
We eventually arrived at Victoria and waited for Holly and her mother to arrive at the station, when they did they explained how they experienced the same thing when it came to assistance, you can read about Holly’s experience in her post which will be linked at the end.
Although we were extremely frustrated with our experiences with assistance during the day we resolved to forgetting about if for the night as we didn’t want it to spoil our night. We had been looking forward to Shawn Mendes’ concert since September when we booked our tickets and we didn’t want anything to stop us from enjoying it. We will be writing a post about the concert itself and our experience which will definitely be a more up-beat post so look out for that in the next week or so.
We set off home on the Saturday, Mum and I cut it a bit fine when going back to catch our train, we had five minutes to spare before our train arrived but the assistance was waiting for me on the platform which I thought seemed quite promising. We explained to the man that I needed to be guided on the train and to my seat but we weren’t impressed when yet again he only took my case and mum was left to guide me once again. We started to question if the assistance I had booked had only been told to take my luggage but on the confirmation e-mail I received, it clearly states that I have a visual impairment and therefore would need to be guided on and off the train.
We arrived back at our origin station and yet again, the assistance didn’t turn up. This frustrated me even more than the first time because if mum wasn’t with me, I would have ended up in a completely different destination as our station wasn’t the last stop.
I was extremely nervous to try train assistance in the first place and the experience I had definitely hasn’t boosted my confidence. All I want as a visually impaired person is to be able to travel independently and feel confident whist doing so but the fact that train assistance is so unreliable prevents me from doing this and it makes me feel very restricted. I don’t want to have to depend on my mother to come with me places, I want to be as independent as possible but I’m not able to do that as I can’t depend on the support that is vital when wanting to gain that independence.
I have filed an offical complaint with the train operating company and I am hoping that more will be done to make sure that passenger assistance is provided at the right times and that they provide the necessary support. It doesn’t give me much confidence when wanting to travel independently and it also doesn’t give my parents peace of mind if they were to let me go on the train on my own.
Since Holly and I live so far apart, one of the main things we want to conquer is independent travel, we would love to be able to hop on a train and travel to see each other but as assistance isn’t reliable or at least not as reliable as we would like it to be, we can’t do that at this moment in time which is extremely frustrating.
I am hoping that in the future issues like this will be resolved and blind/VI people like myself can feel comfortable and confident when wanting to travel alone.
Thank you for taking the time to read today’s post, I hope you all enjoyed it.
Be sure to go over to Holly’s blog and read her post also, you can read it here.
What kind of experience have you had with passenger assistance? Positive? Negative? Let me know in the comments or via social media.