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NOW CLOSED Do you travel by train with a child in a buggy? Take part in a short survey and win £200 of high street vouchers(80 Posts)
We've been asked to find out what you think about travelling by train with a child/children in a buggy/pushchair. Please take a few minutes to share your views and experiences by filling in the survey below.
The survey is open to all UK Mumsnetters who have travelled by train with at least one child who uses a buggy/pushchair in the past four months.
If you would like to take part in the survey, please click here.
Everyone who takes part will be entered into a prize draw, where one MNer will win £200 of high street vouchers.
Thanks and good luck with the prize draw!
i think its so expensive to travel by train that i could hire a golden coach.
today cost me over £50 to travel peak time to london return
what a rip
as you were
can't complain about NX East Anglia, but my child is a bloody nuisance on all forms of transport. I'm taking him into London next week, and slightly dreading it!
(As an aside, that may be the last survey I can tick the 25-29 age group box <weeps, agedly>)
I have dreadful south west trains experiences, they are horrendous.
Thank goodness I don't have to do a train journey more than twice a year. I hate it. Shame my son doesn't.
Can you take part even if your child is no longer pushchair age, but you used to travel with a child in pushchair?
I hate hate hate taking a buggy on trains. We're going away tomorrow but I'm hoping to stick to a sling...
First Great Western services are impossible to even board! The carriages are raised above the platform at quite a height, and the platform staff rarely help to lift a buggy because it's not their job.
Not sure Norman - will get back to you!
I've entered. Do have some troubles with trains but unfortunately the only way to get into London!
Norman - it's open to all UK MNers who've travelled by train with a child in a buggy in the past 4 months, so if it was longer ago than that, I'm afraid you're not eligible to take part this time.
That counts us out then - ds is 11!
I've entered. Breastfeeding a 10 week old baby sat on the floor of the train at the end by the toilets because the aisle was too narrow for pram, plus there were no seats.
I havent done it by buggy, but wheelchair is a nightmare, I think I would rather take a car/taxi/bus before I try that again with either wheelchair or buggy
Been there Embers and immediately after feed he did an enormous poo and I had to change him on the floor by the doors because on my 5 carriage train with 5 toilets not one was working and they were actually locked.
The 'helpful' guard sat in his little cubicle reading his paper gave me a filthy look.
I've taken DS on trains a few times - if there's nobody in the wheelchair space it's OK but if there is, it's a nightmare. Obviously don't mind wheelchairs having priority, but I had a pram I couldn't fold and they took the seats out of the bike spot at the end of the carriage so I couldn't even sit there. Had to stand, swaying, trying to keep hold of the pram. Not good.
My worst experience with them was when travelling to London; my local station had two platforms and to get to the London side I have to climb up loads of stairs and cross over the platform by bridge.
I was on my own and no one offered to help so I asked an employee to help me, she said 'No' apparently you have to get on the train on the wrong platform, travel by train for 20 minutes in the wrong direction until you get to a station with a lift and come back again. I told her to stop being ridiculous, she said 'People in wheelchairs do it so I don't see why you shouldn't!'
That's not the bloody point, people in wheelchairs shouldn't have to do it!!!! I complained heavily, they built lift access a few months ago, I like to think my complaint went someway to making it happen!
We travel by train a lot (I don't drive) but I usually time it to avoid busy trains, and usually get the slow one of poss as I know there's more chance the bike/wheelchair area will be free. Northern Rail are great for this.
I used to travel to London on Virgin quite frequently and they were SHITE for using with a pushchair. I would fold my buggy but there'd be no bloody place to put it - had to leave it in the vestibule. And they always smelt of hot piss.
I sometimes forget how awful it is and take DS on the train on a day trip. We inevitably end up stuck on the fold-down seat by the exit because there's nowhere else for the buggy to go. The carriages are so grotty, I feel dirty from just being there.
Petrean, that is exactly the issue at our closest station. I naively hoped we were the only one.
I filled in the survey as despite my son being 7 years old, we travel with a special needs pushchair. He LOVES train journeys, I hate the pushing and shoving to get on the train, then trying to fit my long, folded pushchair into the storage area, then trying to find us a seat together, usually at the opposite end of the train to where I have had to cram his pushchair meaning I am then worrying for the whole journey that someone will take it off the train with them when they stop at their station without me seeing. It could be a more pleasant experience!
My biggest bugbear is changing facilities onboard trains. I had to change my 2yo's nappy (mucky not just wet) with her slithering on my knee in one of those tiny toilet cubicles last time we went by train.
Done. I am looking forward to the day I no longer need to travel with child and buggy on the train. The only time it's not a bore is on the short hop into Victoria station for us - where staff at my local station are a delight and more than happy to help when needed. Clapham Junction on the other hand wins the award for the least helpful staff in the WORLD.
Done. Not too bad for me, but only because dh and I do the trips together. Can't imagine doing it solo.
Both he and I have always helped people with their buggies when out in London, hoping it's good karma if I ever need it
Bloody appalling oop 'ere in't frozen north. Lifts don't seem to have made it this far north (Manchester) and the staff are more often than not dreadfully rude. There are TWO staff I have come across that have been helpful. TWO! northern rail I am looking at you here.
Oxford road I asked if there was a lift and told no and then the station chap just walked off, luckily a very nice passenger helped me up and over the bridge. Broadbottom has no lift, it does have access to the manchester bound side, but it has STEPS! Genius!
I could go on and on and on.
I travel frequently on the train with a child in a wheelchair, could I fill the survey out?
I have to say at my local station if you can't get over the bridge for whatever reason (buggy, bike, impaired mobility, luggage, any reason really) you can go to the end of the platform where there is a gate and a bell. You ring the bell and someone comes and escorts you across the line when it's safe. No comments or questions about why you aren't using the steps, either.
There was no suitable place to put this on the survey but South West trains have the stupid idea of putting priority seats right down the aisle so if you are pregnant or disabled you can't sit down and stay with your child in the buggy (which you prob can't fold and stow because of pregnancy/disability and lack of room on overhead storage racks).
That is assuming you can even see the priority seats when you're stuck in the crush in the atrium...
I've been told not to travel because I had DS in a buggy and refused access to the lift and interrogated about why I would use it. Apparently disabled people book it in advance Bollocks Richmond Station staff and bollocks to your wet denial South West trains.
do tubes and trains in other countries count?
erm, I actually find it all fine. I have travelled solo with all 3 DCs currently all under 5 quite a few times. Maybe because I used to commute by train I know what to expect.
I use Winchester train station a fair bit and that has no lift. Often people offer to help. If they do not I ask people. Hardly anyone says no. Once there was no one about. I walked older DC to top of stairs with baby under my arm. Told them to wait with bags. Went back down and carried baby and buggy up. It is not rocket science
The worst thing I find is other people once you are in a carriage because I really need to sit all mine together - but again someone has always moved once I have asked. Some people say no, but someone else has always said yes. Often people offer to move before I ask. You have to be assertive. It helps that the four of us only take 2 seats up.
I have always changed nappies in the vestibule (in my pram if it is not folded), the toilets are too skanky to take a baby in.
You do always have to be ready to fold when the train rolls in, usually I don't have to though, which I am grateful for. I think the design of the trains on the lines I travel on are great, most carriages have some sort of space you can put your buggy in.
coffeeinadrip - yes that's fine - please go ahead
mousymouse - I'm afraid the survey doesn't include the tube/underground or trains outside of mainland UK
Gosh pink. That sounds great if it isn't a station where it's so busy that you literally have to hold the toddler's hand otherwise they get swept away in the crowds flooding up the stairs. Or the flow prevents you from getting back down them to the buggy. Or you're traveling with three kids and the youngest (buggy user) has sn and is too big to carry up and down stairs whilst you leave your three year old unattended.
Tbh, we have usually managed. The London stations are undoubtedly the worst, and I have been caught out at stations with no lifts at all. On one occasion a really lovely lady helped me up three escalators. (just an ordinary joe member of the public, no staff to be seen anywhere) and when we eventually got to the top and I found a flight of about ten stairs to get out at street level, two policemen stood and watched me wrestle with an sn buggy and a non-walking three year old all the way to the top. I'm sure they might have moved if i'd actually dropped the kid with the disability down the stairs, but I couldn't be sure.
So, I can't actually fill the survey in, because it was such a horrendous experience I vowed never to do it again.
Which is something you might want to highlight to whoever has put this survey together. There are a whole raft of families that don't travel by train with small children or children with disabilities because it is so horrific. So whilst they are asking those that do it, they are missing out on the views of a whole untapped army of potential customers. Or those that were customers once and vowed never to do it again.
I travelled down to london, by train(s), what i dont get is that trains are supposed to be PUBLIC transport, yet none of the TUBE stations seem to have a lift?? Such a god damned pain, the esculators are ridiculous and no one wants to help you, even with a baby in a buggy and two suitcases. Stupiodity. Last time i got the coach which takes over an hour longer, but involves only changing onto a train once and no underground. Instead of two trains and the underground
It worries me that a capital apparently ready to host the olympics has no lift access to many, many of it's stations....
Miss Kitty I second the Richmond staff, they were astonishingly crap. They - and the guard on the SW train I was running to catch - watched me climb flight of steps with buggy containing toddler under arm (appreciate they aren't allowed to help, apparently) run across the bridge, down another flight of steps with toddler balanced and when I hit the bottom step the guard closed the train doors. And waved to me. Next train 3 minutes away, whinging toddler. I could have wept.
And to add the lemon juice to the wound, a SW trains employee appears when I'm nearly weeping at the bottom step and says 'Madam, you do realise there is a lift'.
Last time I was there, I asked to use the lift and was told I wasn't authorised to.
I no longer travel to Richmond.
Yup they are a special kind of sadist at Richmond station. I might just email SW trains this thread but they won't give a monkeys because there's no competition. They don't even have enough staff on duty to operate the lift and make sure the trains are safe arriving and departing.
I take it the tube counts? or is this just about mainline trains?
Ryoko - this one's just about overground trains, not the tube.
Done. I commuted every day before I had DS, so I was aware how truly rubbish train travel would be with a baby/small child. As a result, I deliberately bought a pushchair which is light enough that I can carry it up flights of stairs by myself, with baby inside. However, I have no idea what we'll do if we have another child in the future - probably travel by car.
Even when stations do have lifts, they're so hideous that I'd still usually rather struggle down the stairs - anything rather than suffer the 2 minutes of hell in a piss-soaked death-trap.
I used to travel by train with buggies loads, even with a double buggy on many occasions. Unfortunately my babies are now 12 and 14 ... years!
I'd happily do a survey like this about buses too. They are so overpriced (it costs me £4.10 for a return ticket to travel the 2 miles to the childrens centre) and run only once an hour. Which is a real pain when the bus only has space for 2 buggies, so after waiting in the cold with 2 small children I'm told there's no space (because even if I took the kids out the buses no longer have anywhere to put a folded buggy).
Compared to this the trains are far cheaper (off-peak) and easier. Except that I have to get the bus to the station...
We have to commute in rush hour to london with our daughter as there were no spaces in day care in Sevenoaks. We are not the only ones. We go in the disabled section but it's annoying when regular commuters sit there so we have to stand, when there are spaces elsewhere. She's pretty good as its part of her routine. Also nice having her to chat to on the commute home (and the nursery doesnt shut until 630 so no stress on getting out early).
I actually fit DD who's now just 6 (even though on the survey I
had a mindfart and clicked 5 ) in a buggy as she has walking difficulties. So despite the ages of the children we've never travelled without a pram or buggy in the last 11 years
I haven't, so not completing the survey, but would just like to say that National Express East Anglia are utterly useless - the trains to Ipswich are the old fashioned ones where you have to push the window down and use the handle on the other side of the door. I've often had to rescue women who are wedged in with a pram and can't reach, and then have to swing a heavy door open and wiggle their pram down the massive step.
No matter how helpful are, it's the 21st century and those sorts of trains just aren't accessible enough.
*how helpful other passengers are
I had to answer 'strongly disagree' to the staff helping either on the station on on the train. I have never ever had help from a member of staff, it's always a member of the public. I have to say that I take DS and his buggy all over the place on trains and tubes and have never had to yank him up the stairs - someone has always helped - even at Richmond!!
I find the train carriages too high up to lift the buggy into as well. And DS was useless - we went a couple of months ago, and although he is well able to walk he screamed and refused to get on the train without me. I did not want to risk getting on first just in case the guard didn't see him and the train left without him. (I know it's unlikely, but the possibility is so horrendous that I would not even slightly risk it) Luckily there were some other helpful passengers there but I cannot physically lift a buggy with a 3 year old and a week's worth of luggage on it by myself. I have had help from a staff member once. There are usually no staff even on the platform or train itself. I always try to help anyone I see who is struggling.
If you are using a virgin train and there is only space for a wheelchair/unfolded buggy in one carriage, there is nobody to ask which carriage to use, and the train does not wait for long enough for you to look for the symbol, I always feel rushed to get on. Not a problem if you are a single able bodied person with a small bag, but for anyone with large luggage or children with them or I imagine a disability, it is stressful trying to get on in time.
In the town I grew up in there are no lifts at the station, just an underpass with steps. The answer there too is to take the train to the next station and change platforms there. Luckily stations in either direction are only 5 minutes away. Annoyingly, there is actually access to the station on foot from both sides, but again, there are only steps leading up to one side.
I use(d) buses regularly with the pushchair, and have never had a problem, even when I've had to fold it up. Even the buses with a step tend to have a fold out ramp. Why can't trains have something like this? I can't imagine how wheelchair users get on.
I find with some of the local services the train carriages are less cramped and there are large areas near the doors with pull out seats so you can sit with your child in the pushchair, or leave the pushchair there and sit nearby. Virgin and CrossCountry are the worst for cramming too many seats in too small a space.
We don't drive and live close to two mainline stations, both of which are only accessible by steep flights of stairs. The larger one (Bromley South, a pretty major commuter station) has had vague plans for lift access for years, and it looks like it might finally happen this year. I'm expecting DC2 in April, so this should make the prospect of travelling a bit less daunting.
The journey I hate most is going up to see the in-laws in the North West, which means we have to use Virgin Trains. It always boggles my mind how they got away with designing long-distance trains with almost no luggage space, and very little concession to those with wheelchairs or buggies.
It's going to vary hugely depending on where you live - my part of south London has ramps or now lifts to all platforms at 3 stations, but the fourth is steps only to both platforms - luckily it doesn't tend to be vital to use that one.
Clapham Junction (at least now with lifts) is still terrifying in the rush hour, with gaps to trains up to 2 feet high AND across!
My main problem is going out of London as we can book seats for adults but invariably crammed in next to other adults and no space left for the under-5s.
Done I have a 11yr old with spinal problems and a 3yr old still in her buggy. The trains are not good for people with children and trying to travel in rush hour for hospital appointments is an absolute nightmare!!!
It can be absolutely horrendous. I remember a journey on my own down to Exeter with a 5 year old and a 3 month old. In order to try and wedge the techno xt into the too small luggage area I had to leave the 5 year old with the baby so she didnt roll off the seat.
Then I was holding up the whole carriage as it didnt fit in the space and they had doublebooked the seats and so I got back to the seats to find a couple trying to move my ds and baby somewhere else.
There were tears. No help from any staff though.
notcitrus - we book a seat for under 5-s, even for babies - they're not expensive and gives you peace of mind.
I ended up complaining to Vigin trains when I last travelled with a buggy. I had my 10 month old son and 5 yr old with me, I was also 12 weeks pregnant when due to a fault with the platform information, we all piled on to the wrong train. I realised and went to speak to the guard, who let me get off at the next stop and I waited for the right train.
This train which was half an hour late was absolutely heaving. I managed to heave my buggy and 5yr old onto the train inbetween piles of siutcases and was promptly stuck and unable to sit down anywhere.
The train manager then came along and rudely insisted I took my sleeping youngest out of his pram, collapse it and stand for the next hour, holding my son, pregnant and trying to entertain a 5yr old.
When I complained at having to do this, he threatened to throw me and my sons off at the next stop, I was in tears, tired, upsetting both my children, but nevertheless had to do as he insisted in order to get home. It was hell.
My husband complained via e-mail to the company when I eventually got home and was told that it was company policy that prams had to be collapsed. No-one has ever told me that before, and it makes no sense either. never again will I travel with Virgin Trains.
When I was using the carrycot bit of my pushchair, it barely took up any less space collapsed than unfolded. A ridiculous rule. This thread shows that mums are happy (well, not happy, but not too bothered) to sit in the end bit on a fold-down seat, so why not make that space available? It's not asking for much, is it?
whatispi - how do you book your seats? Never been able to do it online and been told can't book a child ticket without paying a whole child fare, which adds a lot to my and MrNC's fares with a 1/3 off railcard, given it's only an issue for long-distance travel.
Done I've always received help boarding etc but it's not always the train staff that help usually lovely members of the public
I guilt into helping us by looking harassed
I agree re the gaps between train and platform being enormous (am talking about Manchester to Salford/Bolton). I need two hands to lift the buggy on board, as the gap is too big to bump it up. It's so big that my four year old also needs hands-on assistance to navigate it, so i have to get one on, get off, get the other on, and hope that the driver doesn't close the doors in the middle of all this. Folding the buggy would entail a third trip off/on, so i dread the day I have to do this.
Again, when lifts are out of order ie all the time, i can carry the buggy two-handed with dd2 in it. problem is then that dd1 can get a bit lost in the crowd if it's busy.
notcitrus - we just book on trainline.com - just book the under 5 at a child rate - down to cornwall and wales etc it rarely goes over 12quid with the family railcard and so its worth it. We have got an over 5 as well obviously though.
Travelling by train is a nightmare with or without pushchair, the amount of times I've stood for over an hour long journey with a baby in a carrier while people stare at me is unreal.
People have pushed DH away from the bar that he was holding on to because they needed their bag to sit there when he had DS in the carrier, not the other three areas they could put it and still no one got up even after being asked. This wasn't even at rush hour, 2pm midweek.
I've had fantastiuc experiences and awful experiences on the same trains from the same stations! Luckily, the journey I do is about 5 minutes long so it cant ever get that bad. Other than the time the guard watched me be bashed about trying to get off then bollocking me the other end for not managing to fight my way through the crowd at the door! An hour later I made it back to my station £10 poorer!
Done. Travel by train to see family. Long distance with 18m old. Generally ok on trains round here, just wish there was some way to get a Pushchair on with sleeping baby in without having to get her out and fold it. Sitting in vestibule next to loo is not great!
yes please can we have one of these surveys about buses so we can all
have a good bitch air our views
The gap to get on the train at Richmond is huge, impossible to get my double buggy on. I asked the guard on the platform to help me on the train (was recovering from CSection) and he refused, said I needed to call 24 hours in advance to book assistance!
The next time I did call 24 hours ahead and was told on the phone that in fact they cannot help me onto the train and I should take my 10 week old twins out of the pram, fold it up and get on the train that way - er thanks Southwest trains, really helpful.
I travelled between Swindon and Plymouth with first great western. The staff at Chippenham were useless, my DD was asleep in the buggy and as there was a bridge to the exit and i was alone with suitcases I asked a bloke in hi vis stamped FGW how I should get across. His response was something along the lines of 'up the stairs and over but you will need to do a few trips by the look of it.' and then he walked over laughing. I obviously rang customer care and complained immediately but I never heard anything back... Not to mention the fairs are extortionate! It's twice the cost of fuel for a car journey instead between Swindon And Bath!! They should wear masks and striped jumpers as my old dad would say.
I've filled it in, but have to agree it seems a bizarre survey because generally as far as train operators are contributing its shit. Random members of public, brilliant! Carrying pushchairs, offering seats, taking DD on their knee on packed commuter trsin and reading Dear Zoo for a sodding hour. we generally travel off peak which is ok- but can we do something about filthy floors; DC will want to crawl under table
I go to manchester fairly regularly for shopping / meeting up with friends and my DD is at the age where she sleeps in her pram all the way round, best age.
However, i've never found help from a guard / train employee, but have had loads of help from members of the public.
I usually travel off peak when its nice and quiet, and my train station - home end, is small, has no facilities, which isn't an issue, however the toilets at the manchester end have been closed and replaced with port-a-loo's. Which is disgusting and inconvenient.
imnotperfect That's terrible about virgin train's, i was thinking about going on the train to Derby to visit uni friends with my daughter, as they always ask. The train is a virgin train usually, but defiantly not now. Thats awful.
Thesoupkitchen, I had the same treatment as you at Reading Station. I was so angry, I wrote to First Great Western's chief executive to complain. The response sums up the entire attitude of the railway industry. Apparently platform staff have important jobs to do and are not employed to assist customers.
I was travelling with a 3 month old sleeping in his pram. The chief executive suggested that I would not have struggled to board the train and wouldn't have needed to ask for help if I'd collapsed my pram - because my fellow travellers would have really appreciated me waking a sleeping baby against his will ...
I have a famiy and friends railcard and sometimes I find it's cheaper to pay for my 2yr old and use the card than to pay for one adult ticket! My biggest gripe is that on our small line there isn't enough room for more than 2 buggys or one wheelchair and you often find tourist putting their suitcases in the area for wheelchairs and prams and sitting there. But then during the summer when a lot of tourists use the train, the train is often packed and I've heard of trains refusing to take any more prams aboard because there isn't any room for them and then you have to wait 2hrs for the next train and run the risk of having the same thing happen again. Also as I breastfeed I never find there's enough room on the train to nurse my baby comfortably. The toilet either has rubbish and unsafe changing areas and I've even been on trains before where there has been no where to change the baby at all!!!
Me and a friend thought of taking a buggy with my daughters larger baby doll in it dressed up to make a girls w/e cheaper. We didn't risk it in the end and petrol between two was cheaper than full price adult tickets....
I don't much like travelling with a buggy by train, but it is certainly preferable to the buses where I used to live (London Borough of Bromley)
Argh don't get me started! I have to travel from the south east to yorkshire to visit my Mum and it is impossible to plan a journey where I can change trains with the buggy. I am told the routes which are perfectly feasable aren't permissibble. Their routes would make me run through London with the pram since Victoria underground does not have disabled access and Canterbury and Faversham train stations don't have lifts so I can't change platforms. I called indis who told me my pram had to be less than 50cm! Also I had to fold it up on the train ( with baby in it?). I feel disabled on the train without the DDA to help. I'd like to think this survey will help but every time I have contacted train companies I get a brush off.
I've travelled with my son many times to visit family from when he was a baby to when he was a toddler. It's extremely hit and miss i find. It's impossible to phone and book a space for a buggy in advance ( even though it's possible to do this with a bicycle/ wheelchair) so it's Russian roulette as to the kind of train you get and the kind of staff you encounter.
Generally when I'm travelling with DS it have a phil and teds double with the back seat carrying luggage (suitcase and travel cot), so i prefer not to have to fold my buggy, as that's a lot of hard work whilst carrying a child.
So I play Russian roulette as to whether the wheelchair space is available on GNER, sit in the vestibules on virgin and hope for a sympathetic conductor who doesn't insist on me dismantling. And on central trains try and charm my way into the luggage carriages and sit on the floor next to the buggy. Obviously I make sure it's not impossible to fold the buggy up, but I try hard not to as it's so difficult to do so.
It would make such a difference if all trains had a few fold up seats and tables that were available to book in advance for buggy use. It's hard enough travelling with a baby, just being allowed to book a space and helping you need it would be so brilliant.
The gap between the train and the platforms on many south west London trains is so treacherous that I wont travel on my own with my two dcs as they are both under 3 and I need the double buggy.
I don't know how other people do it, but I'm certainly not risking it. In addition, how the hell would I get up the stairs? I don't want to have to rely on the good nature of other people to assist.
just wanted to add a short note, after taking DS (2.4) in to London on a Greater Anglia train yesterday (used to be NX East Anglia!). Brilliant service, can't fault it really. Ticket seller was great, chatting to DS, and gave him a blank ticket to play with, which DS thought was the best toy ever. Lifts to either platform were working (but slow!). Space for pushchairs (Maclaren Triumph) to go down the aisle, and then storage for it at the end of the carriage. Much nicer trains than NXEA had! Very clean too! Staff were all helpful at both ends of the journey, and DS had a whale of a time. Very positive experience.
We came back at the tail end of rush hour though, and it was certainly busier, and I wouldn't want to fight the crowds on my own with a Buggy (we met DH to come home!). It was on the old style of train too, so less space. However, DS seemed to enjoy it, and we managed to fold down the pushchair and hide it under the seat, and then get it back out just as we arrived to our home station.
Thank you to everyone who completed the survey. We have done the prize draw and the winner is......
Congratulations! You have won £200 of high street vouchers. I'll PM you to get your details.
this what happened to us with pushchair on train
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