When Horst tried to take an early morning train to a meeting with the German ministry of Health, he was denied boarding: the train was there, but assistance was still closed. Taking a train after a flight is also an impossible task: most train stations require pre-notification of 48 hours, which leaves passengers with reduced mobility stranded if the flight is late.
This is why 10 Members of the European Parliament and over 200 organisations active in the fields of disability, rights of older people, environment and passenger rights published a joint letter to EU leaders calling on them to scrap pre-notification periods for assistance during train travel in the upcoming revision Rail Passenger Rights’ Regulation.
Train travel is increasingly on focus as a more environmentally sustainable mean of transport. However, the sad truth is that millions of persons with reduced mobility cannot access it freely, as assistance to board the train is restricted and subject to lengthy pre-notification periods.
The revision of the Rail Passenger’s Rights regulation has the potential to take a step in the right direction, by making assistance available at all times. However, some EU Member States are sadly blocking this improvement. The letter calls on them to, instead, support the proposal of the European Parliament.
“The future should be sustainable. The future should be inclusive. We call on EU leaders not to stand in the way of the future. Persons with disabilities should not have to jump through hoops to access train travel, and therefore they should take away the pre-notification barrier,” stated Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum.