By our reviewer Ross Lannon

I’m not gonna lie, when it comes to public transport… I can be a bit of a snob.

Despite my physical disability, I have been fortunate enough to drive an adapted vehicle for the past 10+ years – hence why my railway experience is very limited.

When Access Cornwall told me that they were looking into accessible train travel in Cornwall, I knew that I was the perfect man for the job, in order to provide a completely unbiased opinion.

My limited experience in train travel allowed me to go into this journey with no preconceived ideas about accessibility.

For a full visual account of my trip, check out my highlights video below:


With thanks to the GWR Community Fund, Access Cornwall are producing a guide to help those with accessibility challenges to use trains in Cornwall.

Booking Tickets & Assistance

Booking tickets via the Great Western Railway (GWR) app couldn’t have been any easier. Once I had selected my travel times and paid for my tickets, I then used the Passenger Assistance app. This was also incredibly easy to use and a lot quicker and stress-free compared to previous experiences I had years ago, where you would have to ring or visit the station 24 hours in advance to secure assistance.

Using the Passenger Assistance app, I was able to select the train times that I had booked via GWR, and highlight which facilities I needed help with. For example, use of a ramp and a dedicated wheelchair space onboard.

Confirmation of my assistance was then later emailed. A complimentary carer ticket is only available if you own a Disabled Person’s Railcard.

Truro Train Station

Upon arrival at Truro station, I parked in one of the many disabled bays available. Unfortunately the pay and display parking machine was not wheelchair accessible, as it was positioned on a raised curb. Luckily I wasn’t travelling alone today, otherwise this would have been a much bigger issue for me.

Once I made my way onto the platform, the staff were very friendly in advising me where I needed to be. But I’m not going to lie, it all felt very overwhelming at this stage. I felt like a deer in the headlights, as there is always that fear of missing your train or the assistance not turning up.

However, my fears soon vanished as a man with a ramp appeared! It was also at this point that I was informed my journey would be taking a slight detour…

A Change of Plan

My original route from Truro to St Ives involved 1 changeover at St Erth. However, I was then informed that there is currently no disabled access between platforms at St Erth station this time of year. Usually there is an accessible bus route to transport you between platforms, but this only runs between the months of March to November.

Therefore, I was advised to stay on the train to Penzance, which would then bring me back to St Erth on the other side of the platform, for me to continue my journey to St Ives.

Are you confused yet? Yeah me too.

Able-bodied passengers would be unaffected, as there is a stepped walkover for them between platforms. Staff did inform me that plans for a lift are in place, with work due to start in May 2023.

When booking my tickets I was not informed of this, which is definitely something that needs better communicating – as the delay in Penzance added an extra 40 minutes to my journey. Whilst it wasn’t a major issue for me on the day, it could have been for somebody else who was in a rush for work or other appointments.

Back on Track

Once my detour to Penzance was over, I was then back on track to board my train from St Erth to St Ives. Once again the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful, ready and waiting with the ramps for me.

Onboard the train there were designated “priority” spaces for wheelchair users. These were also situated in the carriage beside the accessible toilet which was ideal. The views from St Erth to St Ives were beautiful and I would definitely recommend this as a day trip out.

Final Thoughts

Despite my little detour, I cannot fault the assistance received from GWR staff. From booking via the Passenger Assistance app, to the ground staff waiting with the ramps, I couldn’t have asked for a better service.

Going into this journey I was unsure how accessible train travel really was. However, I definitely feel more comfortable now knowing how spacious the wheelchair area was, and that I could access the bathroom for any toilet breaks. I also really enjoyed being a passenger for a change as well, it was nice to sit back and enjoy the views along the way!

Hopefully my video at the start enabled you to see how smooth the staff assistance was, with wheelchair access on and off the train.

*Please note I was travelling on a Saturday – avoiding rush hour times*

To see more of my adventures, you can follow “A Life on Wheels” on Facebook, or @rosslannon on Instagram, Twitter & TikTok. Subscribe to my blog for free at


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