Virgin Trains from Newcastle to London King Cross
As it turned out there was no need to worry. Turned up at the meeting point, which was easy to find, an hour before the train was due to depart. Within five minutes of reporting in some one turned up to take us via the lift across to the first class lounge. Loads better than before, then we didn’t see the first class lounge. Here drinks and changing facilities where available. After ten to fifteen minutes the staff member returned and told us our train was in and took us to board. We had treat ourselves to first class tickets which using a disabled persons railcard reduced the cost by a third. So as well as use of the lounge it also included all food and drink on the train. The ramp was used to get my wheelchair on board and the staff member placed the luggage in the rack for us. The automatic doors where lovely and wide with a disabled space which was roomy for the wheelchair and next to the disabled toilets. We were informed that carriage L was the disabled carriage. The carriage had power points to let you charge your devices but these where broke on the outbound journey. Other customers were able to change carriages if they wished but not so easy for me. There was a call button next to the disabled space but there was nothing in brail to indicate this.
Toilet was a push button door, clean and spacious for a train but not big enough to manoeuvre a wheelchair in nor to transfer by sliding. Both closing, locking and opening the door where done by push buttons and these did have brail around them.
Arriving at London it was nice to see assistance waiting for me this time to get the ramp and help us to the car pick up point.
The return journey was good but a few issues. The first being still not being able to locate the assistance help desk. As last time we went to the first class lounge and checked with the staff member there who was very short and rude with us demanding to know why we had not reported to the help desk. He seemed rather put out having to do this for us even though he had to check us off his list and let them know we were there. Assistance was nice and early and took us across to the train to board a good twenty minutes before it was due to leave. However upon arriving at the train the carriage which was designated as the disabled carriage for first class had no disabled toilet, just a standard one which was in the next carriage over. Also being an older Virgin train the carriage was out dated, squeaking and the doors where not wide enough to get through in the wheelchair. So once on the train I had to get out of my wheelchair, move into the carriage so that my carer could fold the wheelchair up and bring it into the carriage, put it in place then unfold it so I could sit down.
To be fair I was offered to wait and get the next train home which was a half an hour later, but I just wanted to get home. After a rather noisy, bone shaking three hour journey back to the North East it was a pleasant surprise to be met by another staff member who helped us off the train and to the taxi point.
So all in all a pleasant journey with no real major hiccups, however the carriage and toilet issue could have caused some major problems, so like your trains Virgin – you’re getting there!