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Tiresome Trains

Train terror... exaggeration? Slightly but boy is it a nightmare!


Marley goes for treatment in Faro hospital every week and sometimes more than once. He doesn’t have the specialists he needs in our home town of Portimao so we must travel back and forth. This is a little more difficult as I don’t drive so I go with him by train. Lots of friends are lovely and offer lifts but realistically with the wait we get once we are there it’s just not worth it.

Hunks and Joy Rides...

Low and behold the trains in the Algarve aren’t like the fancy ones we are used to with disability ramps, oh no. I have to position myself with a nice smile next to muscular men when my carriage approaches to ask them for a lift. Then there isn’t any assigned seat to leave the chair so you must leave it by the door of the train and hope no one decides to nab it for a joy ride.


One day a few weeks ago unfortunately for me there were no muscular hunks around and a lady smaller than me offered to help. Obviously I was incredibly grateful however a little nervous as I knew how heavy the chair is. I warned her but she assured me she could manage. However as she picked up the front she realised she couldn’t and Marley fell onto the floor of the train. He wasn’t badly injured but he could have been, he fractures easily and what if he’d fallen the other way?!

Back to the Stone Age

The woman was distraught but as I assured her it was not her fault in the slightest, she had done the best she could. The problem here is there isn’t the right assistance for the disabled.


 If this is what happens with a 6 year old boy imagine a large elderly man! We are in 2017, this shouldn’t be happening.

So during the journey I questioned the ticket officer about the appalling train standards. He said some (and only a few) stations in the Algarve had some wooden ramps but you must call 24 hours in advance. I have tried since this incident on 5 separate occasions to book this service from different stations to no avail. He continued to say I just needed to ask for help. The ironic part is I turned to him and said ‘ok I’m getting out in Portimao would you give me a hand?’ His response... no it wasn’t part of his job description!


How is this possible in this day and age and now with my son terrified of getting on a train what am I meant to do except get on with it? The point in this article you ask? It isn’t to come across like I’m complaining but more to advise anyone with mobility issues to be careful when using public transport, it isn’t easy. And also the more people who are aware maybe something will start to change.

Get on with it!

If you or a loved one have mobility issues and need to use public transport I advise you to look into this in advance and try disabled services out on a trial run to make sure they work for you. Be prepared to position yourself near someone with some muscles and don’t forget you can’t take the chair to your seat.


Try and pack as light as you can, another thing to carry is tricky. Sometimes communication to the transport companies or fellow passengers is key, so however hard it is sometimes remain as calm and dignified as possible. If someone understands your needs the more likely it is that they will try and help you. 


 Obviously if you have a wheelchair don’t forget to put your brakes on when the train is moving – this sounds silly but I’ve been culpable of forgetting this minor detail. Also keep in mind if you have a registered disability here in Portugal you are often entitled to discounts on public transport.  

Get informed!

This is just a snippet into the difficulties some people face on a day to day basis however there are ways of making it easier and just knowing someone else may be going through the same thing gives me comfort each day. The more awareness we can raise the better and it can be helpful to so many.


‘The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking. -Albert Einstein’

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