The railway, on a path towards universalibility

ACCESSIBILITY HAS BECOME A PRIORITY IN THE RAILWAY SECTOR AND THE OBJECTIVE IS TO ACHIEVE PUBLIC TRANSPORT FOR ALL, FREE OF ARCHITECTURAL BARRIERS, WITH AN INFRASTRUCTURE AND ROLLING STOCK ADAPTED TO PEOPLE WITH REDUCED MOBILITY AND EQUIPPED WITH THE MOST ADVANCED TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES TO FACILITATE TRAVEL.

Free mobility in railway systems is a priority for administrations, institutions and companies in the sector. Universal accessibility is one of the objectives governing the projects both, in the new networks, and in the modernisation of existing infrastructure or rolling stock. All this also to comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the current regulations, such as Law 51/2003, of December 2, which in its article 3 defends equal opportunities, non-discrimination, and universal accessibility of people with disabilities (LIONDAU).

At European level, Regulation No. 1371/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 establishes the rights and obligations of railway passengers at European Union level. The main measures included regarding people with disabilities or reduced mobility are the obligation for railway companies to:

– Facilitate the acquisition of tickets for users, which will have no added cost for people with disabilities or reduced mobility.

– Ensure, as far as possible, the accessibility of trains and the range of railway services available.

Inform people with disabilities and people with reduced mobility about the accessibility of railway services and the conditions of access to rolling stock.

– Provide free assistance on board trains and at staffed stations.

In addition, at the beginning of 2021, the European Council adopted improvements to railway passengers’ rights, a reform aimed at “strengthening the rights of all passengers, in particular those with disabilities or reduced mobility”.

Among the key points, the following stand out:

– The strengthening of the rights of people with disabilities or reduced mobility, as the current exemption of regional trains from most provisions relating to people with disabilities or reduced mobility will be completely eliminated by 2023 at the latest. “From that date, the right to receive assistance when boarding and disembarking from trains will apply to all regional and long-distance trains in the EU.”

– The right to buy a ticket on board if there is no accessible option to buy the ticket in advance.

– The improvement of information flow and staff training.

– The reduction of the minimum notice period for people with disabilities or reduced mobility who need assistance from 48 to 24 hours, and voluntary agreements will be encouraged to shorten these notification periods.

To make accessibility a reality, public transport means and the associated railway industry have been incorporating over the last few years remarkable advances in this field to solve the aforementioned barriers.

“Public transport means and the railway industry have been incorporating over the last few years remarkable advances to make total accesibility a reality”