TransPennine Express Passenger Assistance

Monday 14th December 2020
We’re proud to provide accessible rail travel for customers at stations and onboard our trains with our passenger assistance service. We know that booking assistance can seem daunting so we caught up with our Accessibility and Integration Manager, Natasha Marsay, to get the lowdown on the services we provide and find out more about her role.


Image of Natasha Marsay, Accessibility and Integration Manager at TransPennine Express

Hi Natasha, thanks for joining us. In a few sentences can you tell us what your role entails?

My role as Accessibility and Integration Manager is so varied it’s essentially a role of three parts. Firstly accessibility; I look at our stations and trains to make sure they’re accessible for all our passengers, working on new initiatives to enhance the experience for customers. Secondly transport integration; I look at how our services integrate with other modes of transport such as cycling, and make sure that our customers can get to their final destinations from the stations. And finally, I assist with communities; looking at how we volunteer and support the communities served by our trains.

What’s your favourite thing about your role and the work you do?
I love making a difference. Whether it’s seeing a small change have a huge effect on someone’s journey, or telling a community organisation they’ve been successful in their application for a Transform Grant. Anything that positively touches people’s lives really makes my day.

How did you get into the rail industry?
Honestly, it was a happy accident. I previously worked in community development at RNIB and stumbled across an article about companies who were still recruiting through the pandemic. I was curious as to who would still be hiring and stumbled across this job. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was something I really wanted to do. It was an opportunity to make a difference on a massive scale and who can say no to that!

What would you say is the achievement you’re most proud of so far in your career?
This is so difficult as all my jobs have been drastically different, but I was fortunate enough to interview Lord David Blunkett about employment for disabled people and his experiences in finding work. It was a really honest and refreshing conversation about a topic so close to my heart.

Has anyone inspired you during your career?
I don’t think any one person in particular has solely inspired me, but I do take inspiration from seeing other disabled people – particularly women – thriving in business. The rate of disabled people in full-time employment is so drastically low, to be able to break stereotypes and achieve success when people expect nothing from you is such a powerful thing. If I could ever inspire other disabled people, then that would be a real highlight for me.

Award-winning disability blogger Chloe Tear receives passenger assistance at Huddersfield train station from a TransPennine Express colleague wearing PPE. They are arm-in-arm walking through the station exit.

How can customers book passenger assistance?
You can book passenger assistance in many different ways; by calling our customer contact centre on 0800 107 2149 or by textphone on 18001 0800 107 2149. You can also fill in the web form here. Another way to book passenger assistance is at our ticket offices where one of our friendly station teams will be able to support you.

You can currently book assistance up to 10pm the night before you wish to travel. However, if you’re travelling between two TransPennine Express managed stations, you can book passenger assistance up to 2 hours before you travel. You can also turn up on the day and request assistance, but please be aware you may have to wait if the station teams are busy.

What assistance is available at stations and onboard your trains?
There are plenty of different ways we can assist you at stations; we can provide a ramp to help with boarding and alighting trains. We can also assist with lifting luggage on and off the train and helping you around the station. You can also get assistance using the stairs at stations where step-free access isn’t available, and we offer wheelchairs or buggies to help cover longer distances.

Onboard the train we can help you find your seat and locate the nearest toilet facilities. Please speak with our friendly onboard teams and they’ll be happy to help if required.

What PPE are colleagues wearing to keep customers safe when providing assistance?
It’s so important to keep our customers and colleagues safe in these unprecedented times, therefore all our team members are wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Alongside a face covering, our colleagues have additional PPE depending on the type of assistance that’s required. They have disposable sleeves for when they’re guiding a blind or partially sighted customer, and gloves for handling luggage or wheelchairs. All PPE is disposed of correctly and changed between every assistance carried out.

Can customers receive assistance at unstaffed stations?
Yes, assistance is provided by the onboard teams for boarding and alighting the train. We advise you book this in advance so the Conductor onboard is ready to meet you at the station.

A sunflower lanyard with card attached promoting the sunflower lanyard scheme.

What is the Sunflower Lanyard scheme?
The Sunflower Lanyard is a brightly coloured lanyard people can wear to highlight that they have a hidden disability. If you’re wearing a Sunflower Lanyard, colleagues should recognise and understand that you have a non-visible disability and you may need a little extra help, a priority seat, or extra time when travelling. However, they won’t know what your particular disability is, what challenges and issues you may face, or what help you might need. The Sunflower Lanyard also has cards that can be attached to the bottom to provide more information, for example ‘I have a visual impairment and may find it hard to socially distance’.

Where can customers get a Sunflower Lanyard?
You can pick up a Sunflower Lanyard from any ticket office at our staffed stations. We’ll be happy to give you a lanyard, even if you don’t require passenger assistance. You can also request a lanyard from our friendly social media team. Simply message them asking for a Sunflower Lanyard giving your name and address. You can contact them on WhatsApp at 07812 223 336, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Can a mobility scooter be brought onboard?
Yes, you can bring a mobility scooter onboard, however to keep you safe your scooter does have to fit a certain size criteria. This is so you can manoeuvre your scooter onboard and safely board and alight the train. If your scooter exceeds the criteria, you or your companion will need to fold or dismantle it before boarding. You can then use a station buggy or wheelchair to board the train if you need one. You can also request assistance from colleagues to help lift the folded or dismantled scooter on and off the train and store it safely in one of the luggage racks on board.

Do mobility scooter users need a Scooter Card?
Yes, scooter users will require a Scooter Card to drive their scooter onboard. You can get one by filling in the online form here, or by calling our contact centre on 0800 107 2149 and asking for a form to be posted to you.

Are assistance dogs allowed onboard and do customers need to reserve a space for them?
Assistance dogs are allowed on all our services. To make sure you have extra room please mention that you’ll be travelling with a dog when booking passenger assistance, so we can ensure extra room is available.

Huddersfield train station with a clock in the foreground and a sign reading Customer Assistance in the background.

Are there accessible toilets onboard your trains?
All our trains have accessible toilets. You can see the train plans here to find exactly where they are on each of our trains. If you wish to book a seat near an accessible toilet, please mention this when booking your passenger assistance and we’ll make sure you’re seated near one.

Do you offer priority seating and wheelchair spaces onboard your trains?
All our trains have priority and wheelchair spaces which can be reserved in advance.

To find out more and book your assistance head to our Assisted Travel page. And if you fancy following in Natasha’s footsteps and joining our railway family, our latest vacancies are on our dedicated careers site.

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