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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Overseas travel by train or ferry

If you are travelling abroad by train or ferry, there are a number of things which you need to consider. Planning ahead and ensuring your needs can be met is important.

Travelling overseas by train

Before booking your journey, check with the train company or travel agent that they will be able to assist with any requirements you have. Make sure the train or station facilities you will be using are accessible to you. This could be access or storage for your wheelchair or other mobility aid or the accompaniment of an assistance dog.

Most European trains, including Eurostar, have a limited number of wheelchair accessible areas. You will need to let the booking staff know that you plan to travel in your own wheelchair.

Most trains can carry manual and powered wheelchairs, but may not be able to carry scooters and large powered wheelchairs.

Some journeys and train companies across Europe offer special discounted passes for disabled travellers. They may allow a companion to travel with you at a reduced rate. Check what is on offer before making a booking. Mobilise member may qualify for a discount on Eurotunnel.

Some stations have better access than others, so you should always check in advance to keep your journey as smooth as possible.

Travelling by train while overseas

Standards of accessibility for rail travellers in other countries varies a lot. In many other countries the platform level is much lower. Access between the platform and the street is therefore often much easier. However, access to the train is generally much more difficult with two or three steep steps up into the carriage. Facilities are being improved and assistance is generally available for disabled rail travellers.

You may be able to book your tickets in the UK for rail travel abroad. Some European rail companies have offices or agents in the UK. Whoever you use, make sure you ask the booking agent to request assistance to be provided if you need it.

For rail travel in some countries booklets may be available on facilities for disabled people. More information about facilities and assistance when travelling by rail in European countries is available on the ‘rail passenger’ website.

Travelling overseas by sea

Before booking, check with the ferry company, cruise operator or travel agent that they will be able to assist with any requirements you have.

Ferry companies and cruise operators often require disabled people to be accompanied by a non-disabled companion, depending on the nature and extent of the disability. If you are planning to travel alone, you should discuss this with the company first.

Larger UK ports have good facilities; outside the UK it can vary. If possible, check before you book to ensure your requirements will be met. For example, check for wheelchair ramps and accessible toilets.

Car ferries

If you're planning to take your car and you are the driver, some ferry companies as well as Eurotunnel may offer a reduction in price. You may have to be a member of Disabled Motoring UK (previously Mobilise). Contact Disabled Motoring Uk for full information.


Some cruise operators may require you to have medical clearance. Check with the operator or your travel agent at the time of booking, along with any other requirements you may have.

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