'It really knocks my confidence' My life as a wheelchair user at Wales' train stations

Joshua Reeves works for disability charity Leonard Cheshire and is a disability campaigner. Here he writes about his experiences of visiting train stations in south Wales.

As a wheelchair user, travelling by train can be very daunting for me.

I'm confident if I'm heading to Swansea, where I work. But if I'm going somewhere I don't know, I'm always worrying if my destination will be accessible to wheelchairs.

Take last October. I was going to Pontypool to give a presentation about disability to Lloyd's Bank. As Pontypool station is inaccessible, I knew I'd have to get off at Cwmbran.

So, a fortnight ahead of time, I booked a taxi with Transport for Wales to take me between the two stations.

Joshua Reeves beneath the steps at Grangetown station Credit: ITV Wales

But, when I got to Cwmbran, there was no sign of the taxi. I spent an hour and a half sitting in Cwmbran waiting for the taxi to arrive. As a result, I missed my presentation and the chance to speak to Lloyd's bank.

The same thing happened on the way back. This time, I spent 2 hours sitting in a cafe waiting for the taxi to arrive. When it turned up, the driver refused to take me to the right platform at Cwmbran station, and I couldn't get there myself because the battery on my wheelchair was nearly dead.

Eventually, I got a taxi back to Cardiff, but it was a wasted day.

My local station, Grangetown in Cardiff, isn't accessible at all. The UK Government say they're going to fix it. But I haven’t seen a timetable for when. I want to see it written down, so I know when it’s going to happen.

It makes me think that we’re living in a world where disabled people are still being pushed back. My grandmother used to say that I was lucky I wasn’t born in the 80s because I’d be treated differently to how I am now.

But although we're living in a digital world where disabled people are more likely to socialise and be independent, it knocks my confidence when I can’t access train stations.

Joshua said his local station in Grangetown, Cardiff, "isn't accessible at all". Credit: Google Maps

It makes me sick to see that we still haven’t thought about everyone in this world. We think about the ‘normal person’, but what is ‘normal’?

The people who build these stations need to think about disabled people, about mums pushing prams. They might be disabled themselves in future. What will happen then if they can’t walk and are faced with a steep flight of steps?

Perhaps they could build hover boards for us. Then we can go up and down the steps like Daleks. Or maybe they could simply build disabled ramps everywhere in Wales and England.

That would make me so happy. It would make me feel that the world really does care about everyone - not just the generic human being.

Watch Joshua's journey to reach the right platform at Cwmbran station:

We asked the UK Government, Transport for Wales and Network Rail to respond to Joshua's criticisms.

The Department for Transport said:

"While we know there is still more to do, we have made progress in improving access for disabled passengers, with three in four rail journeys now through step-free stations.

“Last year we announced 73 stations would benefit from £300million of Access for All funding to improve accessibility, including 11 stations in Wales, and train operators are also investing in access improvements.”

Transport for Wales said:

"We are fully committed to building a fully accessible rail network for Wales and the Borders, and developing accessible stations is at the forefront of our planning."

Network Rail said:

"We are committed to improving accessibility at railway stations across the Wales and Borders route."