Three Generations, One Train Journey: How Passenger Assistance Makes Family Adventures More Enjoyable 

An illustration of a red and grey train traveling along a track beside green grass with trees and a bright blue river. The trees are reflected in the water and there are blue mountains with a blue sky and fluffy white clouds in the background. The train is seen from the front but its carriages curve around the track and the river to the left of the image. The image is bright and conveys a sense of warmth and a long journey.

Sunshine! Finally, the long winter had loosened its grip, and the promise of golden fields and warm air whispered of long-awaited adventures. This time, the adventure involved a train journey to Surrey, a chance for a special family outing with my daughter, Sunny (26), and my mum, Glenys (a sprightly 75!). 

Now, train travel can be a mixed bag for our little family unit.  While we all share a love for exploring new places, we each have our own set of needs that can sometimes turn a trip into a bit of a logistical dance. For me, as a wheelchair user, navigating stations and boarding trains requires its own kind of assistance. Sunny, on the other hand, has anxiety, particularly in crowded spaces like train platforms. And then there’s Mum – bless her heart – her enthusiasm for outings has often overshadowed her awareness of her body’s needs, especially when it comes to her breathing difficulties. 

In the past, trying to coordinate all our individual needs could be a stressful experience. There was the time Sunny, running late and overwhelmed by a crowded platform, ended up on the wrong train, leading to a cascade of anxiety and a vow to never trust trains again. Needless to say, that particular excursion wasn’t exactly conducive to a fun day out! Mum, on the other hand, has pushed herself too hard on occasion, leaving her breathless and needing to rest for the entire afternoon upon arrival and missing out on a lot of fun. Perhaps that’s a hereditary trait – something to keep an eye on, Sunny (of course, we all know Mum would never admit it, but the resemblance is uncanny)! 

Thankfully, I know how much using the Passenger Assistance app has transformed my train travels and so I was excited to introduce it to Sunny and Mum for our trip to Surrey. All our access needs are different and I love how the app is so inclusive. Our assistance requests were sent from the app to the train company who carry out the assistance. When we arrived at the station, a member of station staff helped me from the platform onto the train and I began the day relaxed and ready to enjoy the journey. Sunny felt a sense of calm by requesting help finding her seat. The app was a big help for Mum too as by communicating her breathing difficulties to staff, she felt empowered to take things at her own pace. She enjoyed the journey more, chatting with us and taking in the scenery. 

If you’re thinking of planning your own family adventure, the Passenger Assistance app is a fantastic option if you prefer to request assistance ahead of the day. You can download the app or request assistance online at 

We were headed towards a favourite Surrey High Street for our day out, to do a spot of shopping, but accessibility proved to be a bit of a challenge. Some of the shops we wanted to get into weren’t set up for wheelchairs, which was frustrating but sadly not unexpected. Still, we managed to find some treasures. Mum finally found the photo frame she’d been searching for and I treated myself to a new candle (seeing as my ADHD brain loves indulging in scent so much!). 

Feeling a little hungry, we found a lovely cafe tucked down a side street with level access, where we could relax and enjoy a delicious spot of lunch. Of course, Mum had to have her obligatory “nice cup of tea”! 

By the afternoon, I started to feel a bit tired, so we decided to head back to the station. It had been lovely but I knew I was reaching my limit. The return journey was just as smooth as the first and we chatted happily about our little adventure. It was such a simple pleasure, just being together, laughing and chatting like only we can do. 

On our journey home from Surrey, afternoon sunlight streamed through the train windows, bathing the countryside in burnished gold as we rattled towards the south coast. The gentle rumble of the tracks lulled us into a peaceful rhythm, a welcome change from how we’d sometimes struggled in the past. 

As we didn’t need to frantically search for seats, we were instead able to relax into the return journey. We laughed together as Sunny showed Mum some funny cat videos on her phone (which Mum tolerated with gentle amusement!). There were a few damp eye moments too, as we reminisced over past precious moments together. Living far away from each other makes these in-person connections all the more special. 

It definitely isn’t always this easy. Thinking of the times I can’t leave home due to my health only reminds me to cherish these moments more. To be fully present, watching the early summer sunshine dapple the passing landscape and basking in the love of my family.