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Train firms ‘failing dismally’ to help families with young children – report

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Rail companies are “failing dismally” to help families with young children travel, according to a new report.

Only five operators in Britain scored more than two out of eight points in analysis by the Campaign for Family-Friendly Trains.

East Midlands Railway did not respond to requests for information suggesting they have “little concern for the issues”, according to the campaign group.

Spalding Railway Station (53298228)
Spalding Railway Station (53298228)

Thirteen firms were assessed on factors such as the availability of dedicated space for unfolded pushchairs, step-free access, baby changing facilities and information for families.

The lowest totals were awarded to Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Grand Central and ScotRail, with one point each.

TfL Rail – which is to rebranded asthe Elizabeth line from May 24 – earned the highest score with 3.5 points, out of the maximum 8.

Ten operators including East Midlands Railway failed to respond to requests for information, which the Campaign for Family-Friendly Trains suggested shows they have “little concern for the issues”.

The group wants trains to have areas for unfolded pushchairs to help passengers travelling with young children.

It claims uncertainty over the availability of these spaces is “frequently cited by parents as a barrier to train travel”.

No operator was found to have a dedicated area for unfolded pushchairs.

CrossCountry was among the operators with the lowest score (Andrew Milligan/PA) (56511649)
CrossCountry was among the operators with the lowest score (Andrew Milligan/PA) (56511649)

Campaigners also want rail firms to make it easier for passengers to get on and off trains, and obtain information relevant to families.

The report concluded: “Overall, train operating companies across the UK are failing dismally to support families with young children.”

Alice Delemare Tangpuori, a spokeswoman for the group, claimed the findings will “come as no surprise” to many parents who have travelled with young children on trains.

She said the railways should “be open to all” and it is “unacceptable that a large contingent are effectively excluded”.

She went on: “We hope this annual scorecard encourages train operating companies to continue to go the distance for families travelling on their services.

“As leisure and discretionary travel becomes more important for the railways, creating family-friendly trains must be a priority route to attract more passengers.”

Train companies have been assessed on how they well support families with young children (Danny Lawson/PA) (56511651)
Train companies have been assessed on how they well support families with young children (Danny Lawson/PA) (56511651)

Jacqueline Starr, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators, insisted the industry wants “everyone to be able to benefit from travelling by train”.

She added: “We value Campaign for Family-Friendly Trains’ feedback and are in frequent conversation with them and with Government officials.

“We want to make the railway more accessible to all and we’re reviewing what changes we could make in the short term to improve journeys for families.”

What score did my train operator get for family-friendly travel?

TfL Rail: 3.5 points

c2c: 3 points

London North Eastern Railway/LNER: 2.5 points

Merseyrail: 2.5 points

Govia Thameslink Railway (Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink): 2.5 points

Southeastern: 2 points

Hull Trains: 1.5 points

Lumo: 1.5 points

Transport for Wales: 1.5 points

Avanti West Coast: 1 point

CrossCountry: 1 point

Grand Central: 1 point

ScotRail: 1 point

The following operators did not respond to requests for information:

Chiltern Railways,

East Midlands Railway,


Great Western Railway,

Greater Anglia,

London Northwestern Railway,


South Western Railway,

TransPennine Express

West Midlands Railway.

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