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Bradford Lad: Keeping My Wheels Turning

Mike Coatesworth is willing to provide helpful information to the wheelchair-bound who intend to travel by train.

The other day, Lesley, Betty and I were taking advantage of the glorious weather and strolling through the centre of Bradford. The renovations intended to bring the city into the modern age are coming on quite well. I just hope that the designers remember to make the new buildings wheelchair friendly.

As we strolled towards towards the Oastler market a traffic warden asked me if I was the one who had his picture in the local evening newspaper. I acknowledge that I was the one.

\He said he enjoyed my columns and found them particularly relevant because his wife was disabled. He complained that long-distance buses were not wheelchair friendly because theywere not fitted with lifts. He asked how I, as someone who gets around in a wheelchair, had been able to manage when travelling by train. The furthest he and his wife had been by train was to Skipton, but they were keen to visit their daughter in London.

I told him I had encountered no problems when travelling by train. I called Train Journey Care in advance. They gave you details of suitable routes, train times and stations that are wheelchair friendly. If you have to change trains they arrange for you to be met and assisted by flriendly staff. While on the train catering staff come to you and ask if they can get anything for you.

On one occasion, while travelling by train with my daughter, we were told thgat Bradford-bound passengers had to disembark at the next station. Coaches were waiting to carry them on the remainder of their journey. I asked if the coaches would be wheelchair friendly, aand one of the rail staff went off to find out.

A fewminutes later the announcer said there had been a change of plans. Passengers bound for Leeds should disembark at the next station. Bradford passengers should stay on the train.

I was delighted that they should have made that change just for me.

On another occasion when a train was crowded we had to sit in the First Class section. A waiter asked f we would like coffee or tea. I told him we were Second Class passengers.

‘So what?’ he replied, ‘you’re sitting in First Class, so you get treated the same as other First Class passengers.’

I had a cuppa!

We've travelled by rail as far as Birmingham and encountered no problems. Just let them know in advance that you need help and you should have a pleasant journey. And remember to pack a few sarnies and drinks if you are going on a long journey. Some trains don't have a buffet service.

If wheelchair users require further travel information e-mail me at mikeles847-jodie@yahoo.co.uk and I’ll help if I can.

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