Trains. We moan and groan about them – the fares; the overcrowding; never getting a seat; ‘disruption due to engineering works’; ‘leaves on the line’ – the list is endless.

But despite all of this they are essential. Disabled people too need to use trains and deal with all of these irritations but for them of course there is an added problem – access.

‘Ah,’ say train companies; ‘don’t worry we’re here to help you. We have a special team ready to listen to your needs and provide solutions. Just phone us – all will be well.’ Sounds great doesn’t it? Maybe you wish all your problems with the trains could so easily be fixed! But don’t hold your breath. Read on and decide whether you are better off.

First port of call is the Assistance Phone Line. Yes, pleasant, helpful people well trained in disability awareness. They send me confirmation – a piece of paper to wave at station staff. I sleep peacefully dreaming of my journey.

However, they lull me into a false sense of security and, despite experience, I am hooked. Talk about second chances. I’ve given them many. I am awash with the M&S vouchers they send me every time I have had a bad experience.

To make my journey I need human contact; no distant voice will do at this point. A living person to manhandle the ramp that allows me and my scooter to get on or off the train. But where are they?

My paper tells me they will be there. I can assure you that when you are on the train and needing to get off, the absence of that person is quite frightening. The sound of doors closing rings in your ears; in panic you press to open them but still no one appears and the doors close again.

Help is at hand though in the form of the passengers who come up with various suggestions from ‘let’s carry her off’ to blocking the door to stop it closing.

It works; the driver sees what’s wrong and I am off the train. Perhaps I should carry a bottle of whisky around to revive me after these experiences.

On other occasions I have arrived at unmanned, deserted stations firmly clutching my piece of paper; my passport to trouble-free travel. But there is no one to wave it at. Nothing for it but to take a taxi and sit back and wait for the M&S voucher.

Passengers, I salute you; you have got me out of sticky situations. So, many thanks for being there. Maybe I’ll suggest to the train companies that you get the vouchers as well.

When you are annoyed with the train service next time though, remember disabled people and their added challenge.

It might help. No guarantees though.