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Facilities for children and parents on trains

5 replies

familyfriendlytrains · 10/01/2020 21:07

Hi mums and dads,

I had a pretty terrible experience travelling over Christmas by train, where baby was sleeping in his pushchair but there was nowhere to put it, except right by the doors. This meant I had to sit with him on the floor even though our reserved seats were in the middle of the carriage.

In other countries trains are so much better for children and parents. For example, in Germany there are special family compartments you can reserve which have space to park a pram, room to crawl or play, and a changing table.

I've set up a Campaign for Family Friendly Travel to start a journey of one day achieving something similar here - please follow us on twitter - @trainsforkids

What experiences have other mums or dads had on the train? Would love to hear from you!

OP posts:
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ElluesPichulobu · 10/01/2020 22:01

I have much older kids now but regularly used trains with a small baby as it is so much easier than driving (no need to stop for feeding, changing etc).

as with bus travel, the key is to adapt your plans to what is available on trains. a travel carry cot like this is great as you can put it on a table if you can grab/reserve a table seat. if not then it will slide into the footwell of a non-table seat pair (you just have to put your feet elsewhere - the aisle works).

you can also get to know where the wheelchair space is in the trains you use and make a beeline for that door as soon as the train pulls in (often there is a wheelchair sign on the right door) - obviously as with buses you give priority to any wheelchair user but the space is usually empty.

I don't think it is realistic to expect train companies to invest thousands into family friendly rolling stock when realistically a tiny proportion of rail- user miles journeyed relate to families. the vast majority of custom and of money is from business travellers and they wouldn't be keen on losing half the seats in a carriage for this.

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Wheresthebiffer2 · 10/01/2020 22:07

in the UK i'd expect to have to fold my pushchair, abandon it somewhere like a piece of luggage, and go back to my reserved seat, and hold the baby for the journey. better facilities would be lovely, but realistically that isn't going to happen here any time soon. Like the PP says, you plan and prepare for what is likely to be the situation. with a toddler I always paid for and booked a seat for the child, so i could make a reservation, even though the child could have travelled free (depending on offers avail) but without a reservatioon.

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Doilooklikeatourist · 10/01/2020 22:13

Fold the pushchair and put it in the luggage rack
Sit in your seat
The passenger opposite me got me a coffee from the buffet car ( it was a long time ago )
I travelled from Wales , across London ( that bit in a taxi as I couldn’t cope with the tube as I’m a country bumkin ) then to Norwich
DS stood on the table and looked out the window for 3 hours , he was about 14 months

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bigbluefly · 10/01/2020 22:25

Travelled a lot across London. Easy peasy,

On the train soooo much easier than driving you don't have to stop wonder where the next stop will be etc, buggy folded by the doors and baby on you, a young baby highly unlikely to not be settle back down again from their pram.

Where on a train would your desired child carriage fit? Plan better and everything could be better. Having a baby is such a short amount of time in your life to put up with a few minor inconveniences vs encouraging whole companies to change their ways for a market that is possibly extremely limited. Also no way in the U.K. would I want to put my baby on the floor of a train.

I've just got back from Switzerland and when I went into the 'child' friendly carriage it was like a dump compared to the non child one, there were books but they'd been used by a million dc so ideally I didn't fancy my dd chewing on them for a while so I wandered off with my dc back to a different non dc specific carriage anyway, admittedly she's now 5 so no changing required (although you'd think the chewing has stopped too but alas) but you're forgetting how far some of the trains in Germany need to go etc. In the U.K. you can definitely plan around most journeys unless you regularly travel cross country with them again a very very limited market you're talking about here.

I do remember lugging dd around on the tube at two though, now that was a nightmare, can you also campaign for compartments to put tantrumming two year olds as well...

Good for you though op but you'll probably realise as they get older it was all fine actually but you needed to work around it instead of expecting the world to move out your way for a buggy (don't get me wrong I did this too at some point)

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VeniVidiVoxi · 10/01/2020 22:35

I travel reasonably often cross country by train for work. I won't get a train with my toddler. There are too many delays and cancelled trains. The carriages are overcrowded. People sit on seats they haven't reserved. Bags are often at the other end of the carriage piled toweringly high. Its more expensive than driving. It's such a shame. Anything that train companies could do to improve the service for everyone, with consideration for specific needs, would be great! Good luck with your campaign. C

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