Southern helps Ryan continue his passion for train travel

Published: 03 Oct 2022

Southern has helped a teenage rail enthusiast with Muscular Dystrophy build back his confidence while travelling by train.

Ryan Horrod, 13, is progressively becoming more dependent on using a wheelchair as his condition worsens.

The youngster, who lives in Ferring, recently got his first electric wheelchair, but it can’t be lifted on and off Govia Thameslink Railway’s (GTR’s) Southern services.

He has used a manual wheelchair for trips from Goring-by-Sea, his nearest station, with his mother, Anne, but doesn’t use the chair when boarding or exiting the train, as the youngster can still walk short distances.

In a bid to give Ryan the confidence to continue his passion for travelling by train, GTR’s Accessibility Lead, Carl Martin, and Area Station Manager, Graham Thrower, recently spent the morning with him and his mum at Brighton station.

They showed Ryan how easy it is to find help from station staff to board and exit the train using a ramp.

They also showed the family how to call for help if assistance wasn’t ready on hand – through a station help point or through the train passenger alarm system, which allows you to speak to the driver.

Speaking about the experience, Anne explained how Ryan now feels confident while travelling on the train. “Carl and the staff at Southern were so helpful – very knowledgeable, happy to answer all of our questions, and with a smile at all times,” she said.

“Ryan is a massive train enthusiast but he was anxious about going up and down the ramp. I was worried about what might happen if something did go wrong and someone wasn’t there to meet us.

“The fact that he could ask all his questions about all the different scenarios means he is now really confident that whatever happens there is something in place to help.”

She added Ryan said it was “a brilliant day” with the team and the station manager gave him a whistle, which Ryan has been using at home to make train announcements.

Carl Martin stressed: “Here at GTR we want to give everyone the confidence to travel on all our trains, whatever assistance they may need.

“It was a huge pleasure to be able to help Ryan and his mum,” he added.

The exercise was part of GTR’s ‘Try A Train’ programme, which it runs across Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern for schools, organisations and individuals.

This helps build the confidence of people who might need assistance or be anxious about the rail environment.

Advice is available online at Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern’s websites – simply search “assisted travel”.

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