Wheelchairs & Scooters
Wheelchairs & Mobility Scooters on London Underground
London Undergrounds aim is to enable independent access to our stations for all of our customers, including wheelchair users and those using mobility scooters.
Under the terms of our Conditions of Carriage we do not require wheelchair users to be accompanied when they travel on our network.
There are no restrictions on the size of wheelchair or mobility scooter that can be carried on the Tube.
However, in reality, some users might find that using an electric wheelchair or scooter is not a practical option at some stations as the layout and size of facilities make it too difficult. Even at stations which are currently step-free from the street to platform, users may still encounter some of the following barriers:
- at some stations the lifts may be too small to accommodate certain sizes of scooters.
- the step and gap between the platform and the train may be too large to negotiate
- the size and availability of the space set aside for wheelchairs on trains
Although we are working hard to improve access for wheelchair users and other customers with mobility impairments, the age and infrastructure of the network makes this difficult to achieve.
While we are working to improve access, it is important for wheelchair and scooter users to check that the route is appropriate and manageable. Information about the station layout, routes and the size of the step and gap between the platform and train can be obtained from the LU Customer Service Centre (tel: 0845 330 9880) or the 24 hour Travel Information Call Centre (tel: 020 7222 1234 / text: 0207 918 3015). They will also be able to give up to date information about any other restrictions such as lifts being out of service.
You can also use the accessibility options on the Journey Planner tool on the TfL website to select routes which do not include stairs or escalators, or using wheelchair accessible vehicles Tfl website - Journey Planner to plan
LU produces a regularly updated Step-free Tube Guide which gives details about the step and gap between the train and the platform at all LU stations, enabling customers to make informed decisions about whether to travel and the best route to take. This can be obtained from the London Underground Customer Service Centre or via the TfL website. This information can also be found on www.directenquiries.com
Station staff can also give information and assistance to customers about the accessibility of the stations and trains. They are also able to give advice about the destination station before boarding, calling ahead to the destination station to check that the lifts are working and that appropriate assistance is available if required.
Staff are trained that assisting wheelchair and mobility scooter users to board trains is at their own discretion i.e. that they can assist if they feel able and it is safe to do so.
London Underground does not use manual boarding ramps to assist wheelchair users, as the time needed to deploy them is too great to be of use on the high frequency services that we operate. There are also safety issues due to narrow platforms and high numbers of people on some platforms.
LU does not train our staff in ‘manual handling’ of customers and does not advocate staff lifting wheelchair users on and off trains due to issues of safety for both customers and staff as well as potentially issues of dignity.
In some cases, where the step and gap are not so large, it might be relatively easy for staff to ‘bump up’ a manual wheelchair user into/out of the train. However the weight and design of most electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters mean that this is usually not practical.
Currently the stations on the Jubilee Line Extension – those between Westminster and Stratford - are considered to be the most accessible to wheelchair and mobility scooters users. Over the next five years new trains are being introduced on the Victoria, Metropolitan, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Piccadilly lines. These trains will have improved access and facilities for wheelchair users.
As these new trains come into service we will be carrying out works to many of the platforms on these lines to reduce the step & gap which will make boarding easier.
If, for whatever reason, a wheelchair or scooter user finds that their journey is not possible by tube, staff are trained in how to offer a reasonable alternative. In many cases this will be by helping to plan the journey using accessible buses. If a lift is broken or unavailable at a step-free station and there is not an appropriate alternative accessible bus journey, station staff will arrange an accessible taxi to take you to the nearest alternative step-free station or your final destination station at our expense. However, due to the limited space available in taxis and the policy of many taxi operators, we cannot provide alternative transport by taxi for some mobility scooter users. Please note that staff are only able to arrange this taxi alternative for routes that are normally accessible using the tube.
It is up to each individual wheelchair or mobility scooter user to decide what is appropriate and safe for them. LU staff will offer assistance where it is safe and appropriate for them to do so.
However, in some rare instances, staff may prevent people from travelling if they believe that not doing so would cause injury to other people, themselves or damage to assets (e.g. wheelchair users on escalators).
Please note: if your mobility scooter is fitted with lights these should be turned off when you are in the station. Any lights on the platform may distract the train drivers and they are trained to stop instantly if they see a red light.