Carlisle, Cumbria, England: Getting Around

When getting around Carlisle, Cumbria, it depends what you want to do and where you want to go. The most popular area to wheel or stroll around at is the City Centre; it’s a destination in itself, but also the starting point for going elsewhere using different public transportation options. If you need to rent a manual wheelchair, power wheelchair or a scooter, Shopmobility may be able to loan one to you. It is located on level 2 of The Lanes Shopping Centre Car Park, and is open Monday to Friday from 10am until 4pm. You will need to register, and provide some form of ID, such as a driving licence as proof of address.

TRAINS
Carlisle Railway Station is a classified Grade II railway station. A building is listed when it is of special architectural or historic interest considered to be of national importance and therefore worth protecting. There are 3 levels of listings for buildings in England & Wales, Grade II buildings are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them. From here you can catch direct trains to/from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Manchester airport and on the famous Settle to Carlisle Line.

There are 7 accessible parking spaces at the side of the station in the long-stay car park, there are also 2 accessible bays in the drop off zone. The station entrance has level access, and there is ramped access and also lift access to the platforms furthest away from the entrance. There are 2 accessible toilets located at the station on platform 4 and 1. Both are individual cubicles, with grab rails and room to side transfer.

You need to pre-book assistance (ramps on/off trains and book the wheelchair space) 24-hours in advance of your journey,using the train providers assistance line. As the Carlisle Station is managed by Virgin Trains, you can book all assistance via their ‘JourneyCare’ team. The phone number is: 08000158 123, alternatively you can complete the online form. However, the platform staff at Carlisle Station are all very helpful,and will assist you if you haven’t booked in advance, as long as there are staff available.

The number of wheelchair spaces per train depends on the train company (Virgin, Transpennine Express, Northern, ScotRail) and the number of carriages on the train (sometimes Transpennine Express trains have 4 carriages, sometimes 8). There are normally at least 2, often 4, wheelchair spaces per train. The spaces are big enough for a powered wheelchair, however no restraints are provided. You can book a seat and transfer out of your wheelchair if you prefer, although your wheelchair will then remain in the wheelchair space. Each carriage where there is a wheelchair space(s), there is an accessible toilet, with automatic doors, grab-rails and room to side transfer (normally to the left), although again this depends on the train and train company.  

BUSES
Bus services in Carlisle City Centre are run by two companies, Stagecoach and Reays. You can buy a day, week or month-long ticket, but be aware that it will only be valid on that company’s buses, so you can’t use that ticket on the other company’s buses.

Both providers use accessible ‘kneeling’ buses,which also have integral fold out ramps. In my manual chair I can normally board the bus without needing the ramp as most bus stops also have a raised section. However, there is an integral fold out ramp for those who can’t do that, or for power wheelchair users. The driver needs to get out of his cab to fold and unfold the ramp, so just ask if they don’t offer. There is one wheelchair space on each bus, therefore if the space is already in use by a wheelchair user, you will have to wait for the next bus. 

Buses also go further such as to Hexham, Newcastle, Edinburgh and the west Cumbrian Coast, however, you can also catch trains to these towns and cities. Buses are great for exploring locally. There are no toilets on the bus.

COACH
National Express Coaches stop at Carlisle Bus Station. From here you can board services to most large cities in the UK. The majority of the coaches now have a wheelchair lift, but check with the booking office (at the bus station) in advance.

Once on board you will have two options for travel. If you want to remain seated in the wheelchair, there is room for one wheelchair user to remain in their wheelchair on each coach. Alternatively, if you want to transfer to a coach seat, your wheelchair will be stored in the luggage compartment below–this option is only suitable for manual wheelchairs, either fixed frame of folding frames can be put in the storage area.

TAXIS
The majority of local taxi firms have both saloon cars & ‘black cabs’ with either integral or portable telescopic ramps for wheelchair users. Mention you are a wheelchair user when booking if you require a ‘black cab’. In black cabs you can remain in your powered or manual wheelchair, and they will use either an integral or portable ramp.

The black cabs can accommodate one powered wheelchair user and 2 able bodied people. It can be difficult getting a black cab during the school run period (Mon-Fri 8-9am and 2.30-3.30pm) as they are often used on school runs, so it is hard to get a black cab during work commuting times. 

Claire Unwin Claire Unwin (5 Posts)

I'm Claire. I live in Cumbria, in North West England, near the beautiful lake district and a short distance from Hadrian's Wall and Scotland. I've used a wheelchair since 1999, as I have a bone condition. I mainly use a manual wheelchair, but due to repeated soft tissue problems I use a power wheelchair for distance too. I love exploring the world and have been to some amazing places including Europe, Cuba, and this year a tour of the American Canyons. I hope you enjoy my articles, and find them useful.


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