Virgin Trains Went The Extra Mile – Thank You!

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Written By The Bimblers

Rob and Bridget - The Bimblers are two of the UK's leading accessible travel bloggers. Their motto: Life is an adventure; let's make it accessible.

It’s not often we get something for nothing so imagine our surprise when Virgin Trains upgraded us to first class – free!

Let’s be honest with each other here – we probably looked out of place!

It was an early Sunday morning start, and we both looked bedraggled (haha, I’m not in the picture). In Bridget’s defence, early mornings are not a good time for her. Fortunately, the carriage was pretty empty, so we didn’t get too many funny looks!

Hat’s off to Virgin for going above and beyond our expectations. They’ve won a new regular customer, that’s for sure.

Here’s What Happened …

We took our first-ever city break in Cardiff, our first official bimble.

The idea behind this trip was to test what it’s like taking a wheelchair on a train and travelling without assistance, also to see what difficulties we’d have staying in a non-disabled hotel room?

We arrived at Lime Street station and stood/sat with the waiting passengers. We were immediately approached by a Virgin Trains employee who enquired if we’d booked assistance?

We explained we hadn’t and that as long as we could get to the train, Bridget will be able to climb the one step to get on board. He seemed to accept this, and off he went.

Within a couple of minutes, we were then approached by another member of the Virgin staff, he said he was aware we hadn’t booked assistance, but he’d be happy to help us get on the train anyway.

Virgin Trains

He opened the gate and offered to push Bridget along the platform, I didn’t want to look ungrateful, so I agreed. Little did he know he’d just ruined our experiment, but we were so impressed we went along with it!

We noticed he’d walked past our carriage, so we stopped him and explained we’d booked seats in the carriage behind us. He asked where we were heading to, and when we said Cardiff with connections in Crewe and Birmingham, he said you’ll be more comfortable at the front of the train and started walking again.

OK, he was effectively kidnapping us, but even I knew what was at the front of the train (first-class), so we were willing detainees!

Travelling First Class

Arriving at the front of the train (first-class), he pushed a button, and a ramp came out of the train …how cool is that?

He then pushed Bridget onto the train and parked her in the wheelchair space. He helped her out of the chair to her seat and advised us to accept any freebies the staff offered us.

He gave us a big smile and said I’ll phone ahead and make sure you are met at the other end, then off he went.

Well Impressed …

The pair of us couldn’t stop smiling! Our first ever bimble, and there we were lording it up in first class. It was just a shame we had to get off at Crewe…

When we arrived in Crewe, we were met by another Virgin employee, true to his word. He ramped us off the train and positioned us on the platform, so we were outside our booked carriage for the next leg.

Our train to Birmingham arrived, and he held the crowd back, put a portable ramp up and made sure we got on first.

On to Birmingham …

This was our first taste of “without assistance”. We found our seats, but we had nowhere to put the chair because we hadn’t booked a wheelchair space. Eventually, I abandoned it in the doorway and hoped for the best.

We were feeling a little disheartened. Well, I was Bridget was furious with me because I’d had the stupid idea of not booking assistance. I reassured her nobody would steal her wheelchair, and we endured the cattle cart for the next hour or so.

Pulling into New Street, we were praying the Virgin man’s kindness had extended down to Birmingham. It had, and we were met at the door with a ramp, then guided to the Cardiff train and ramped on there.

We had booked seats on the Cardiff train, but they were at the other end of the carriage from the wheelchair space. I dumped Bridget in her seat then hauled the chair through the carriage to the dedicated area.

I used the rest of this leg to tweet VirginTrains to thank them for their excellent service. I just wished I’d have got Virgin Man’s name to thank him personally.

Arriving in Cardiff …

Without sounding cocksure of ourselves, we had every faith in our new Virgin friend and half expected to be met at the door in Cardiff!

We were met and not only ramped off before everyone else but escorted to the main exit to make sure we didn’t encounter any problems in the station.

Virgin Trains …

When we set off for Cardiff, we couldn’t have predicted receiving this level of service. Virgin Man didn’t need to do what he did and what made it all the more special was he did it without a fuss!

Virgin trains should be very proud of their employees as they set the standard for others to follow!

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