Getting Trains on time – guidelines

Katie writes….

After the trip at the weekend in London when Liz 5 and N missed the train by one minute, I have decided it is time to update the current guidelines on Getting Trains.

SONY DSCIt is about making sure that the simple things that go on in the Mere Mother’s head are down on paper.  Just in case of the worse-case scenario.

Missing the train happened 18 months ago.  The PA called Jade and N were strolling down Euston Road and it was not until they reached Kings Cross station that N decided she needed the loo.  No, she could not wait until she got on the train, and no she did not want to risk going to the toilet on the British Rail East Coast train.  Especially as last time the accessible toilet also had a very accessible door that stayed open and wouldn’t close.  So much for automatic doors.

Of course the accessible toilets at Kings Cross are miles from the platform.  N has an assortment of bags hanging of every hook on the back of the wheelchair.  Jade is pulling the bright red suitcase with all the electrical appliances inside (battery for the wheelchair; batteries for the cochlear implant; battery charger to charge the batteries for the implant; batteries for the communication aid; the charger to charge the batteries; battery charger for the communication aid and the extension lead).  The toilets are too small to get the wheelchair plus all the bags on the back and the communication aid in front.  All the bags have to come off one by one and put on the floor inside the toilets.   Then the sink is in the way of the communication aid and there is barely room to swing back the communication aid pole, never mind swinging a cat.

This process is lengthy, as everything then has to be packed back onto the chair and N and Jade eventually emerge from the toilets to find the train has left the platform without them.

Here are the updated Train Tickets Guidelines.

  1. We are unable to get a refund on Advance Tickets.
  2. DO NOT buy an advance ticket on the internet if it costs more than £40 a person as you are unable to get a refund if the PA is ill or N is ill at the last minute.  This will mean that N loses the money
  3. Often the flexible ticket is the best.  Flexible tickets mean that if N is unable to go she can still use the ticket any time that month.
  4. However, if you buy a train ticket about two months early you can go down much cheaper.   This way it may just cost £35 for two people using the rail card.
  5. If you go to the station they will advise you on the cheapest option.  It is worth a drive down but can take a while so try and do it when there is a swap over with PAs so N is not getting bored at the station whilst you sort it out.
  6. Or you can phone Grand Central and chat to one of the nice people at the end of the phone.   Ring 0844 811 0072
  7. If you are driving down to the station arrive in plenty of time   After 630am it is unlikely that you will get parking space.  Ask live in PA or a parent to drive the car and drop you off.
  8. If on long journey to London give plenty of time to go to the Loo before arriving in London.
  9. Never get off the train and leave N on her own even if no one has arrived with the ramp to get N off.
  10. When coming home from Kings Cross always ensure that you arrive 30 minutes before the train departs.    Leave plenty of time for the toilet.  Be at customer information desk 15 minutes prior to the train leaving”.

Happy travels!

And of course N should learn from her mistakes.  And of course I should not really have to write the Guidelines.  N should be telling the PAs herself and not need me to write anything down.  A lot of this is about time, it would take ages for N to write these on her own and she wants a life, not a continual risk assessment.  So, as the Mere Mother and ‘Director of Quality’,  I will send them in draft for N to take a look at with one of the other PAs and see if she agrees to them or wants to make any changes.

Then, Helen (blond and beautiful)  PA/Co-Ordinator, can email to the team, together with the new Payment for Meals Out Policy that is, at the moment, work in progress.   That is one I have done at least 5 times over the last few years, but for some reason gets lost in the system or becomes out of date, or we change our mind about what meals to pay or not to pay for.



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