Are Mobility Scooters Allowed On Trains?

Welcome to Mobility Scooter Geek, where today we’ll be discussing: “Are Mobility Scooters Allowed On Trains?”.

As a mobility aid user, there are going to be times when you want to go on a trip somewhere, or even just to some shops that are not quite local to you (or your scooter isn’t suitable for road use).

So naturally, you’ll want to use public transport to get there, including trains.

So let’s take an in-depth look at the rules around mobility scooter use on trains. We’ll check out whether there are any laws on this, and the rules of the train industry as a whole, as well as the individual train companies.

Are Mobility Scooters Allowed On Trains

Introducing: Are Mobility Scooters Allowed On Trains?

Let’s check out what the law has got to say about this…

The Law – Mobility Scooter Accessibility on Trains

There’s no specific law governing this

Firstly, there are no laws saying mobility scooters must be allowed on trains.

That is, there is no direct, specific law which says that. We’ll go on to discuss why.

However, there are more general equality and discrimination laws which companies must follow to allow as much access as possible for disabled people and those with mobility issues.

For example:

The Equality Act 2010

In the UK, the Equality Act 2010, which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995, is a law providing protection for discrimination arising from disability.

It covers key areas of normal life including employment, education, facilities and services (such as hospital access), and transport.

Therefore, companies (and all organisations) have a duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Firstly, you never have to pay for the adjustments.

Regarding the adjustments they make, they only have to made if it’s reasonable. And that depends on your disability, how practicable the changes are, if it would actually solve the problem, and the size and financial resources of the company.

As a result, the rail operators must make access easier by doing the following:

  1. Changing the way things are done – for example, a new practice or policy. Including changing things that would be a barrier for you (unless it’s not reasonable to do so).
  2. Changing a physical feature to improve access (for example, steps, entrances, toilets, doors etc.) In the case of disabled access, reasonable changes could be providing ramps, widening doors, and installing automatic doors.
  3. Providing extra aids or services. According to the Equality Act 2010, these auxiliary aids and services must be provided by companies to aid your access. This can be things like extra staff assistance.

Companies have a duty to do these things if you’re placed at a substantial disadvantage compared with non-disabled people.

If they don’t cooperate with these duties, the Equality Act says this is unlawful discrimination and you can make a discrimination claim under this Act.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The UK is also a signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which gives clear guidelines to follow that help disabled people.

It says that countries must take “effective measures” to provide the “greatest possible independence” for persons with disabilities. The country’s government then must ensure its organisations and companies comply with these laws.

Therefore, companies like train operators must take actions that are:

“Facilitating the personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the manner and at the time of their choice, and at affordable cost.”

Article 20 – Personal mobility, UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

What does this mean for you getting access to trains on your mobility scooter?

It means that to comply with these  laws, all companies must ensure they provide as much access as they can to disabled people. Therefore, train operators must make take reasonable measures that allow disabled people to travel, or they are breaking the law.

That’s why all major UK train companies have provisions that describe what access they can offer to people with mobility impairments.

In other words, they must have rules that show exactly what disabled access they allow for.

That takes us to train companies and their rules…

Train Companies Rules On Mobility Scooter Accessibility

Bearing in mind, the laws they must comply with, which we have just discussed, let’s what the train operators are doing regarding access to trains for people on mobility scooters.

National Rail

National Rail is the association of the passenger train operating companies of England, Scotland and Wales.

Wheelchair rules

Regarding access for disabled people, they say that most trains can accommodate WHEELCHAIRS with dimensions less than 700mm wide, by 1200mm long. And a small number of older trains can only accommodate a width of 5500mm.

The maximum combined weight of wheelchair and person is limited by the capabilities of:

  1. the staff member involved; and
  2. the safe maximum load of the ramp (230kg to 300kg).

A staff member will NOT lift a person in a wheelchair, under any circumstances.

Mobility Scooters Rules

National Rail say that since mobility scooters come in many different shapes and sizes, and so many have problems on trains, such as:

  • Tipping over on ramps
  • Being heavier that the ramp’s safe load
  • Being unable to manoeuvre inside the carriage due to their shape

As a result, some companies and some trains cannot allow access for mobility scooters.

So you must contact the train company you’ll be travelling with, to ask if you’ll be allowed access with your scooter.

You must also give them the station and train you’ll be getting so they can check, since different stations and trains have different access capabilities.

If you need assistance, you can request an assistance booking until a minimum of 2 hours before your journey. That applies any time and day of the week.

Mobility Scooter Permit Scheme

In late 2020, National Rail enacted a new mobility scooter permit scheme.

This follows the successful implementation of a similar policy by the bus and coach operators association – the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT)

Mobility scooter accessibility on Buses and Coaches

 The CPT, in partnership with the government’s Department of Transport created a non-statutory voluntary Code of Best Practice for mobility scooter (Class 2 only) access.

Members must make clear their mobility scooter policies so that both staff members and passengers are aware of it.

One recommendation within this code is that their member bus/coach operators should have a mobility scooter permit scheme.

FYI, we’ve examined in-depth the issue of mobility scooter accessibility on buses!

National Rail are the train equivalent of the bus and coach operators association (the CPT), and though they don’t have a formal Code of Best Practice regarding mobility scooters, their members each have mobility scooter access policies, available on their websites.

National Rail’s mobility scooter permit scheme is a recommendation that their member train companies provide the opportunity for mobility scooter users to apply for a permit which will allow them to access the train on their mobility scooter.

This scheme was rolled out to 21 routes and 140 stations in the UK, to make rail travel more accessible for mobility scooter drivers.

How to apply?

All the train companies have information about their mobility scooter permit scheme on their website, and you can also call them to ask about it.

When you apply to the train company, you’ll give them details about your scooter: such as the make, model and dimensions so they can assess it. Then, if your mobility scooter is approved, you’ll get the permit (typically a card with your personalised details) and you’ll be issued with a personalised and identifiable sticker.

This scheme ensures that if you have the permit you know you’ll be allowed on the train, as long as the service is operated by that company.

Remember, that if your journey involves several different train operators, you’ll need a permit for each one, assuming they have a mobility scooter permit scheme.

Northern Rail

Northern Rail has been one of the major networks to launch a permit scheme, ensuring mobility scooter drivers travel to and from more than 100 stations on the Northern network.

As an example, here is the Northern Rail’s version of the permit, called a “Rail Ready” permit. It’s a simple process to apply online.

Train Operating Companies

Most train operators allow mobility scooters, as long as it has maximum dimensions of length 1200mm, width 700mm. In other words, they follow their maximum limits for space allowed for wheelchairs.

And many have a maximum weight limit of 300kg.

So your best chance of being allowed on trains on your scooter is to have a lightweight, folding mobility scooter. The lightest by a distance, by the way, is the Superhandy scooter.

Some of these companies operate a Scooter Permit Scheme.

IMPORTANT: However, each train company has different rules. We’ve listed them all below, their policy on scooters: whether mobility scooters are allowed, whether you need to apply to them for a mobility scooter permit, and what their maximum dimensions of mobility scooter are.

Here are the rules for each of the major rail service providers below:

Train Operating Company Policy: Are Scooters Allowed?Permit Scheme?Minimum Dimensions (L x W) (mm)Contact No.
Avanti West CoastYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 08000 158 123
c2cYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 70001702 357 640
Chiltern RailwaysYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 70008456 005 165
CrossCountryYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 7000344 811 0125
EMRYes, Permit SchemeYes (EMR Scooter Pass)1000 x 700 (& 300kg max. weight)0800 11 33 23
Elizabeth lineYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 (& 300kg max. weight)0343 222 3456
Gatwick ExpressYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 (& 300kg max. weight)0800 138 1016 
Grand CentralYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 7000845 603 4852
Great NorthernYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 (& 300kg max. weight)0800 058 2844
Great Western RailwayYes, Permit SchemeYes1200 x 700 (& 300kg max. weight)08001 971 329
Greater AngliaYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 (& 300kg max. weight)08000 282 878
Heathrow ExpressYes, only foldedNo1200 x 700 (& 200kg max. weight)0845 600 1515
Hull TrainsYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 (height: 1350mm & 300kg max. weight)03450 710 222
Island Line TrainsYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 (& 230kg max. weight)0800 528 2100
LNERYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 (except 550mm Width on First Class Diesel trains)03457 225 225
London Northwestern Railway / West Midlands RailwayYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 (& 300kg max. weight)0800 092 4260
London OvergroundYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 (& 300kg max. weight)0343 222 1234
LumoContact them to ask: or visit https://www.railhelp.
N/AN/A0800 031 8542
MerseyrailYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 08000 277 347
NorthernYes, Permit SchemeYes (Rail Ready scheme)N/A0800 138 5560
ScotRailYes, min. dimensionsNo1040 x 560 (& 300kg max. weight)0800 046 1634
SoutheasternYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 08007 834 524
SouthernYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 (& 300kg max. weight)0800 138 1016 
South Western RailwayYes, Permit SchemeYes1200 x 700 (& 300kg max. weight)0800 528 2100
Transport for WalesYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 (& 300kg max. weight & turning radius under 900mm)0333 005 0501
ThameslinkYes, min. dimensionsNo1200 x 700 (& 300kg max. weight)0800 058 2844
TransPennine ExpressYes, Permit Scheme & min. dimensions for Unfolded scooters. Folded scooters are okay even without permitYes, go here1200 x 700 (& 300kg max. weight)0800 107 2149
Please note: Even if your scooter is within the minimum dimensions, if the company has a Permit Scheme, you must have the permit to travel with your mobility scooter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there no specific law saying that train companies MUST allow mobility scooters on trains?

Because some mobility scooters are very large, heavy and have wide turning circles. Therefore, they may have problems with entering and exiting the train, as well as manoeuvring around while on the train.

In these cases it could be dangerous for the mobility scooter user, as well as other passengers.

If ALL mobility scooters were allowed on by law, it could be dangerous.

Therefore, the train industry’s solution is to enforce a maximum dimensions of scooter that can be allowed on, and a permit scheme, so that the scooter can be tested and approved before you’re allowed to take it on the train.

What challenges could you encounter on a train journey with a mobility scooter?

Even if your mobility scooter is the right size and weight, and you have a mobility scooter permit issued by the train operator (if they have such a scheme), you may not be able to board a train if:

  • There is no safe space to store the scooter
  • That particular service is very busy, overcrowded with people and no space is available to fit your scooter
  • There are staff shortages and no staff member is available to help getting your scooter on or off the train
  • A particular station or train may also not have the facilities and space required for your mobility scooter.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to check with the train company, giving the details of which station and train you’ll be getting, so they can check and confirm if they can accommodate you.

Summing Up: Are Mobility Scooters Allowed On Trains?

As you’ve read, then, it’s typically the case that mobility scooters are allowed on trains, even though there’s no specific law that says they must be allowed on board.

Be aware that only relatively small mobility scooters are allowed (we have some small ones on our Best Mobility Scooter Reviews list), since only these ones:

  • can fit
  • are not too heavy
  • can go up and down the ramp without too much difficulty
  • have enough manoeuvrability when on the train to get on and off.

Make sure your mobility scooter is within these dimensions, if you want to travel on trains.

The Motion Healthcare mLite scooter, for example, is lightweight and small enough (check out our mLite mobility scooter review).

The vast majority of train companies allow these smaller scooters on board, and some train companies have a mobility scooter permit scheme.

You can apply to them before you travel, and your scooter will be pre-approved. This way, you have peace of mind to know you’ll definitely be able to travel. Just make sure that you have a permit for all the train networks your journey will cover.

If it’s for a regular trip you like to make to some local shops on your mobility scooter, knowing you have this permit gives you ease and comfort before you travel.

Bear in mind that your ability to access the train also depends on how busy the train is at that time. So plan ahead with that in mind.

Hope this has helpful for you. Enjoy your train journey!