I have put off going on a train with a pushchair for as long as possible. I have always had this fear that the pushchair would end up under the train. Or I’d get stuck at the bottom of a thousand steps with a pushchair, shopping, screaming baby and surrounded by commuters. There was no way I was going on a train unless I had to!
I did take Little Man on a train a few months ago in my Close Caboo baby carrier to go to the Country Living Christmas Show. It worked really well. The bus, train and tube were all fine. The only problem was having to carry Little Man, shopping and a bag ALL day.
I arranged to go to The Baby Show at ExCel and knew that having the pushchair with me would make everything so much easier. The shopping could go in the pushchair, the change bag, coats, STUFF! Everything could be shoved in the pushchair. It would be a lot easier than trying to carry everything and Little Man in our Boba Carrier.
How did I plan our first time taking a pushchair on a train?
So I planned everything. I’m a bit of an organisation freak and have to plan every minute of a journey before I leave home using an online journey planner. I dropped LP off at her Nanny’s for the day and headed over to Farnborough train station with Little Man. They’re doing a huge extension to the car park and so it was closed unless you had a season ticket.
Luckily I was aware of this and drove up the road to a public car park. I’d even organised change – thanks to Dave, and got the last parking space in the car park! So lucky, no idea where I would have gone if I hadn’t been able to park!
Little man was in his pushchair for the day but I did envy all the people I saw with car seats that turned into pushchairs – they looked so light and great for nipping here and there between commuters.
Dave had bought my train ticket for me the night before (£30 just to get to Waterloo!) and so I just had to get onto the right platform. Farnborough is really accessible with a lift either side of the footbridge. So this was easy to go up one lift, across the footbridge and down the lift the other side. It was incredibly time consuming though!
So how to get a pram on a train
We then waited for the train and I was pleased to see the gap between the platform and the train wasn’t big enough to get a wheel stuck in, let alone big enough to lose a pram down! I was able to lean on the back of the pushchair so the front wheels rose to go onto the train one movement rather like going up and down a kerb.
If the gap had been bigger I would have got on the train first, lifting the pushchair backwards onto the train. Once I was on the train and positioned myself and the buggy in one of the ‘standy up’ sections where the doors are next to the wheelchair spaces. This left Little Man to snooze in the pushchair without having to fold it.
Getting off the train is easiest – and safest – by exiting the train first and taking the pushchair out backwards. That is, unless someone decides to give you a hand! Getting on a bus with a pram is much the same process and something you really get used to when using a pram for travelling with a baby.
How did I find taking a pushchair on a train?
The journey was fine although I think just being there annoyed the guard. ‘Are you going ALL THE WAY to Waterloo?…. You do know this train gets very busy don’t you?!’ – I got to Waterloo and wandered around aimlessly for a sign to a lift to get down to the underground. Not being able to find a lift I asked a guard for help and he pointed me in the right direction.
I got in the lift and down to where the barriers are to go through to the underground. It was then that I saw a ‘Lift Out Of Service’ sign to get us to the platform. I didn’t really think. I just went full steam ahead to the escalator and balanced the pushchair whilst holding on firmly. It wasn’t how I’d imagined getting to the tube! After two sets of escalators we found ourselves at the platform! Phew!
It’s It’s only now that I wonder how wheelchair users would have got down the escalator?! Wheelchair wheelies on moving stairs anyone? Not particularly great to have the only lift at an ‘accesible’ station out of service for disabled people and those with pushchairs, and for the next few months too! It’s definitely easier travelling on trains with a pushchair when you have friends or family around to help you.
The journey on the Jubilee Line and DLR were both really straight forward and pleasant. I hate public transport so that is as much of a compliment as they get! I got to ExCel to find that it was also an incredibly pushchair friendly venue. Full marks to ExCel!
The journey home was just as straightforward. Despite Little Man screaming for most of the train journey from Waterloo back to Farnborough we did eventually get home in one piece!
What did I learn from taking a pushchair on a train for the first time?
So what did I learn? Commuters are stressed, moody, don’t like babies and definitely don’t like screaming babies at 5pm on a Friday when they’re trying to read their book. Rush hour with a pushchair and screaming baby is definitely best avoided. Also, however much you check a journey and check for accessible routes, Out of Service signs can hinder even the most well organised journey.
I was quite keen to take both LP and Little Man on a train by myself. But I won’t be taking a double pushchair. I wouldn’t be able to get it and two small children down, or up, an escalator by myself. If I take both of them on public transport it will be with one in a pushchair and one in a carrier. So much easier!
Lastly, the London transport system is actually fantastic. You can get anywhere in London so quickly and easily, it’s something we should all appreciate and make use of. Even if it does cost the earth to get to London in the first place!
Baby change facilities on trains
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that baby changing facilities on trains or at train stations are few and far between as well as being just as appealing as their toilets. It’s best to try and orchestrate nappy changes around your travel arrangements if possible. I always find restaurant change facilities much nicer than train ones!
Now the only thing I need to try is getting on a bus with a pram and working out how to get on and off bus with pram. Have you ever taken prams on buses? I’d loved to know your thoughts as a buggy user. I’ll keep you updated on our public transport pushchair adventures too.