Teenagers with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) from Cambridge and Peterborough recently took part in a “Try a Train” event hosted by station teams from St Neots and Stevenage. This event was part of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Preparing for Adult SEND Festival: My Life: My Future, which aimed to provide advice and practical experiences to support the transition into adulthood for young people.

The event, held until 3 May, aligned with Great Northern and Thameslink’s commitment to accommodating travelers with special needs and learning difficulties. The teenagers from Lime Academy Orton in Peterborough and Castle School in Cambridge had the opportunity to experience train travel, thanks to the event.

Station Manager Karen Chudovsky, Station Assistant James Francis, and Accessibility Engagement Manager Antony Merlyn led the group on a guided tour of St Neots and Stevenage stations. They taught practical skills like checking departure times, buying tickets, and safety tips such as staying behind the yellow line. The teenagers also learned about the support available from station staff.

In addition to the educational aspect, the teenagers received goodie bags containing Govia Thameslink Railway’s ‘Easy train travel guide,’ tailored for customers with learning disabilities. They felt safe and secure throughout the day, gaining confidence in navigating adult travel.

As a highlight, the group enjoyed a 25-minute train journey between St Neots and Stevenage, during which they were introduced to various train features. Upon arrival in Stevenage, they had a picnic lunch in one of the waiting rooms.

Great Northern and Thameslink provide passenger services to various destinations, including Bedford, Moorgate, Sutton, Wimbledon, and Brighton. The Try a Train session was linked to the council’s Regions of Learning Digital Badge, allowing individuals and schools to showcase achievements and skills gained from the event.

This was not the first Try a Train day organized by Govia Thameslink Railway. In a previous event in 2023 with Southern Railway, disabled passengers also had the opportunity to experience train travel. Antony Merlyn, the Accessibility Engagement Manager, emphasized the importance of such events in preparing young people for adulthood and building confidence in using train services.

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