Two on a train
I was working on my other laptop-based hobby – the Access All Facebook group page – where someone was asking about taking her wheelchair-bound sister to Brussels on Eurostar, and about suitable hotels.
The hotel issue is going to have to be another story, except to say that I’m having a right struggle to find any complete information. Lots of hotels are “accessible” and have “disabled” bed-and bathrooms, but what is that makes them suitable, what’s been done – and in this case, does the room have a hoist?
Eurostar is an easier matter – there’s an excellent website which not only covers the Eurostar service but links you to the St Pancras website which lists places in the station you might find yourself, shows you photos and tells you blow by blow what to expect … to the level of “these doors are always open” or “these doors are wide-opening” … so a person with access issues can not only get a vague general idea that they’ve been remembered, but that they’re core to the operation of the station and access was planned into its redevelopment.
As for the actual trains – Eurostar have two wheelchair places adjoining two companion seats, next to the disabled toilet, on each train. That’s two, but at least it’s two on every train! And book both the chair place and the companion seat together and you get a discounted fare.
The company also offers a selection of “special” meals for those travelling in Business Premier and Standard Premier classes (served to your seat, book at least 24 hours in advance) and Waitrose snacks for the proles in the buffet car. Ha, the spellchecker does not know what a “prole” is – cool!
FYI, there’s also 10cm more legroom in the Premier classes.
I like the way Eurostar think!
Overnight to the slopes
In addition to the Corail Lunea services from France, there’s also a direct day- or overnight-service ski train from St. Pancras International or Ashford International to the heart of the Alps. The train takes you to Moûtiers, Aime-la-Plagne or Bourg-St-Maurice.
There’s no sleeping cabins or couchettes, but the Eurostar train operates the normal Standard and Standard Premier service, including meals at your seat in Standard Premier.
Specialist equipment for disabled travelllers
D’oh … of course … it was so obvious.
Anyone who needs specialist equipment – hoists, a profiling bed – needs to google “disabled equipment hire” for the destination of their choice.
It’s gonna be a hassle and a cost, but realistically a fully adapted room is going to be a lot more expensive anyway.
Hire companies have beds, hoists, power chairs and scooters and can deliver them to and collect them from their holiday home or hotel.
Train London to Frankfurt
Germany’s Deutsche Bahn has received permission to run its 200mph Inter-city Express (ICE) trains through the Channel Tunnel from 2015/6.
The DB plan is for three services a day in each direction – each carrying 888 passengers in 16 coaches – on a new generation ICE train. In Brussels, the trains will split, with eight carriages carrying 444 passengers heading to Rotterdam and then Amsterdam. The other eight carriages will head to Cologne and then Frankfurt.
Deutsche Bahn officials said the journey time from Cologne to London would be less than four hours
Three pairs of trains will connect Frankfurt and London via Cologne, Brussels, and Lille, with one train running in each direction in the morning, at lunchtime, and in the evening.
This will also be the first time that Amsterdam and Rotterdam have a direct connection with London.
All ICE trains feature a disabled toilet and wheelchair spaces.