Over the weekend, I went to Galway for one night – Oranmore to be precise – and I took the train from Heuston Station.
For those of you that don’t know what’s involved with getting a train in a wheelchair, I shall fill you in.
I have to buy my ticket in the station as opposed to online but, apparently, you can reserve spots for a wheelchair on some Dublin/Cork services.
So, once I buy my ticket, I have to alert a member of staff of which train I’m getting so they can get the ramp out in time. The staff members will also ask what station you are heading to so that they can phone ahead and organise it so that someone is waiting with a ramp at the end destination.
The ramp is a little bit steep so I always need an extra hoosh up. On the Irish Rail trains, there is one carriage that can facilitate a wheelchair user. There are two tables that have chairs removed so two people in wheelchairs can go on that train. There is also a bathroom that fits a wheelchair and it has bars on the walls.
I very rarely use the train as I prefer to drive whenever I’m going across the country. I prefer this simply because I treat my car like a giant iPod and I am a fiend for stopping at the magic roundabout in Athlone for a McDonald’s. That being said, for the handful of times that I have used Irish Rail since I started using a wheelchair, I feel that they run a good service. However, on every journey, there is a mild panic that they will forget to get the ramp out and I’ll have to stay on the train FOREVER.
I will, in future, attempt to cover more public transport options. I regularly use Dublin Bus and since January of 2013, 100% of their fleet are accessible. This means that all buses have working ramps that allow a wheelchair user to get on and off with little to no assistance.
I rarely need to use the Luas but when I do, there are very few problems in doing so. You can get on and off the Luas easily, there is room for a wheelchair and there are lifts at any stations that are above ground level. Because of where I live, I don’t need to use the DART but I will make a couple of day trips soon so I can review what they have on offer.