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Wheelchair users who use, or have used the London Underground


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I was just wondering if any wheelchair users regularly use the underground system in London, and how easy/hard it is to do.

 

I am writing a piece at the moment about wheelchair users experience with public transport, especially the tube in London, and I noticed that there are a number of tube stations that do not have lifts. I was wondering how much this has affected anyone who uses a wheelchair when they have been trying to travel in London.

 

Also - any information just in general about how accessible public transport is would be greatly appreciated!

 

Thanks!

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I'm not a wheelchair user but I used to be a member of a popular disability forum run by the BBC before it closed last year and this subject came up regularly there. Usually it was wheelchair users visiting London asking people in London whether they would be able to use the tube.

 

The general consensus was that the tube is very impractical for people with wheelchairs and that visitors would be much better off using the bus network, particularly in central London. All buses in London have ramps and although it's not perfect system it's much more accessible than the tube for wheelchair users.

 

Transport for London do provide maps showing which stations are accessible to wheelchairs and you can see it's only a small proportion and many of these are on the outskirts of London where the stations aren't underground and therefore easier to adapt. There is the Jubilee line of course which is fairly new and is designed to be completely accessible but this is the exception really.

 

It is not only whether a station has a lift but whether there are no steps at all between the entrance to the station and the platform. Many stations with escalators or lifts still have a small number of steps in the corridors. Others have several different ways to get to the platforms and only one has no steps so you can end up going a long way around or struggling to find the right route.

 

Finally when you get to the platform you have to be able to get on the train. There can be a small step between the train and platform or simply a large gap which a wheelchair cannot get across. Some wheelchairs have small front wheels so even a gap or a couple of centimetres can be a problem as the wheels can get stuck.

 

There also has to be enough space to accommodate a wheelchair on the train, when they are busy it can be too crowded for a wheelchair user to get on.

 

Some wheelchair users living in London might use the tube to get from the suburbs into a central London station which is accessible and then take the bus to their destination from there but of course they can do that on the overground rail network too.

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There was a TV programme some ten or so years ago about a guy in a wheelchair wanting to get from A to B on the underground and how he had to be routed around various stations, put in taxis and generally messed about. I think there were less than 9 stations centrally that could accommodate wheelchair users.

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I'm a wheelchair user and although I've never used the underground I am just about to go to eurodisney via train from Sheffield to st pancrAs and then Eurostar, watch this space n I will let u kno how it goes.

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I'm a wheelchair user and although I've never used the underground I am just about to go to eurodisney via train from Sheffield to st pancrAs and then Eurostar, watch this space n I will let u kno how it goes.
You shouldn't have a problem at the london end, as St Pancras has been modernised to within an inch of its life

 

You might have to queue for the lift behind lots of people who can't take their suitcase down the escalator for some reason, but it's doable quite easily

 

We've done the underground using an accessibility map - as we were taking a babybuggy with us. It was much easier than we were expecting

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There was a TV programme some ten or so years ago about a guy in a wheelchair wanting to get from A to B on the underground and how he had to be routed around various stations, put in taxis and generally messed about. I think there were less than 9 stations centrally that could accommodate wheelchair users.

 

Channel 4 news have been running a series of articles recently called No Go Britain about the difficulties people with all sorts of disabilities have accessing public transport around the UK. One article featured a lady using an electric wheelchair trying to board a Victoria Line train at a central London station. The station had been made completely step free so she could reach the platform but then was too frightened to try boarding the train because of the small gap between the train and platform. She thought her wheels were likely to get stuck in it and she didn't want to risk disrupting the train.

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The funny thing is that most underground stations were built with lift access. However as the passenger numbers went up, the lifts got replaced by escalators, often meaning the station building was moved, so it's no longer above the platforms. Most of the old lift shafts have been reused for other purposes too, so even the stations that did have lifts often can't have them replaced.

 

Then there's the stations which have the lifts leaving from one floor below ground (by steps), and arriving one floor above the platforms with steps down.

 

The issues of a 19th century designed transport system and modern expectations on access...

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