South Western Railway welcomes Southampton Can Doers to Try the Train

Friday 19th October 2018
  • 12 Students with additional learning needs take the train from Eastleigh to Southampton
  • SWR Community Ambassadors on hand to answer questions
  • Students’ confidence grew while they learned
South Western Railway (SWR), wants to ensure that everyone, no matter what their situation, can use its trains. But sometimes it can seem a little daunting to those who have never travelled by train before, particularly those who may have learning difficulties.

To make this happen, SWR has a team of 25 Community Ambassadors who go out and about on Try the Train days with various groups, such as students, job seekers and disabled customers to find out how any barriers preventing people from using the trains can be broken down.

SWR's Accessibility and Inclusion Manager, Michael Adlington recently worked with the Leonard Cheshire's Can Do Project and Eastleigh College to organise a trip for 12 of the College's students – all of whom have mild learning difficulties. The students wanted to become more confident when using the railway independently, so they can travel to their volunteer work placements. Eight of SWR’s Community Ambassadors took them from Eastleigh to Southampton Central, where they had a tour of the station and chatted with the staff, learning about the railway and how to make the whole travelling by train experience easy.

The students all thoroughly enjoyed the event and they learned not only how to buy the ticket and make the journey, but also who and how to ask for help should anything go wrong. Comments from students on the day included:

“I feel brilliant, happy and I enjoyed it.”

“I really enjoyed learning how to get the train. I will (get) the train in the future.”

“I enjoyed learning about the railway from the staff and I would use the train in the future.”

One student was asked: “What did you find was the most useful part of the day?” The answer? “Everything!”

South Western Railway’s Phil Dominey masterminded the day. He said: “It was a joy to welcome the students to the Try the Train experience. The idea behind it is to show people who are reluctant to use the railway that it’s much easier and straightforward than they think – especially with help from staff. The day was a resounding success and we look forward to welcoming them again on their next journey.” 

Megan Smith-Josephs, Southampton Can Do Programme Co-coordinator said: "A wonderful day provided by South Western Railway who provided so much more than expected, participants loved the day and we can't wait to run this session again with more Can Doers."