Having stations accessible to travellers in every aspect is one of the main challenges. Although this goal is constantly evolving, as the needs of travellers increase, Spanish transport networks stand out for introducing actions aimed at adapting their infrastructures to these new requirements.
The universality in the use of transport is one of the basic lines of action in the provision of railway services in the Spanish network, one of the countries where more advances have been introduced in recent years. For this reason, the improvement and modernisation programmes in stations are designed to contribute to fulfilling the objective of making infrastructures and facilities an increasingly valuable space for citizens.
Thus, and as stated in es.movilidad, the Safe, Sustainable and Connected Mobility Strategy 2030 prepared by the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda and which will guide the actions of MITMA in terms of mobility, infrastructure and transport in the next 10 years, “all agents involved in the transport sector have the responsibility to ensure reasonable mobility opportunities for all people and universal accessibility must be articulated around 5 axes, interrelated with each other: infrastructures or fixed installations; rolling stock or vehicles; the link between the two of them, which conditions the basic movements of boarding and disembarking; the information, signalling and orientation systems, and the provision of the service itself”.
Renfe’s Accessibility Plan 2020-2028 also stands out among the improvement programmes in terms of accessibility, which aims at promoting real and universal accessibility in all phases of the journey, from the departure station to the destination, including the inclusive train. The operator’s goal is for 77% of trains and stations with more than 750 daily passengers to be accessible by 2023, to achieve 100% by 2028.
Achieving an accessible railway that allows to exercise one’s right to mobility and that eliminates limiting barriers requires, precisely, working for an accessibility that reaches all contact points between stations and passengers, from self-service machines, information and communication channels, training for workers and collaboration with social agents and specialised entities.
These objectives guide the station modernisation plans of the Railway Infrastructure Manager (Adif), which are developed according to four main lines of action: passenger buildings rehabilitation and modernisation; accessibility improvement; safety increase and environmental actions.
Axis 1 of the Safe, Sustainable and Connected Mobility 2030 strategy: ‘Mobility for all’
The Mobility Strategy has universal accessibility as one of its essential objectives.
• Mobility as a right of citizens and an essential element of social cohesion.
• Sustainable, safe, accessible, and cost-reasonable mobility solutions for all citizens.
• Universal accessibility.
• To offer everyone, everywhere, alternative mobility solutions to the private vehicle.
• To ensure the mobility of people with disabilities and MIP.
• To integrate urban development and mobility policies, promoting urban developments based on criteria of proximity and autonomy of the citizen.
Services to improve accessibility at stations
In December 2020, the assistance service for people with disabilities or reduced mobility that the Railway Infrastructure Manager, Adif, provides in stations for passengers of all railway operators launched a new brand, ‘adif acerca’, a free service that until then Renfe provided with the brand ‘Atendo’.
This is a personalised care and support designed for passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility that guides, informs, and facilitates the travellers’ access and transit through the stations, also supporting them in the boarding and disembarking from the trains. The service includes welcoming passengers at the meeting point of the departure station, assistance in the transit through the station, and with their boarding and settling in on the train, as well as the collection at destination in the assigned place on the train and their disembarkation and accompaniment to the place previously established in the station of destination.
Dialoga is a service aimed at improving communication and access to information for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The stations that have this assistance have information monitors with pre-recorded videos in Spanish sign language, as well as text messages. They represent, for example, in textual form the public announcement system of the station.
The PULSE system is a device that will allow blind people to call the lift with an application installed on their mobile. It is a proposal from ONCE that has not yet been developed, but that will be a universal solution, compatible with all types of lifts.
4.0 Station: A model for all types of travellers
In the quest for universal accessibility, the Spanish railway network is beginning to implement the 4.0 model in its stations. One of the characteristic points of these new infrastructures is the new toll equipment, a series of lathes that have a new technology that implies improvements in terms of information to the traveller and accessibility.
These are modern validation control equipment, some specifically intended for users with reduced mobility, which take up less space than traditional ones, have a more intuitive interface and a screen that informs the user about the validation of the transport ticket using graphics and text in the contactless reader and on the ground, in addition to LED lighting on the doors, to inform the traveller about the result of the validation.