Disability groups’ hope of an EU-wide rail passenger rights legislation, giving them the right to “turn up and go” on train journeys, looks likely to falter in the European Parliament.
One-in-six people in the EU reports having a disability, yet most trains and railway stations in Europe lack accessibility functions. Passengers must often give a station 48-hour notice to receive assistance with train travel.
Gunta Anca, Secretary-General of the European Disability Forum, said: “It’s about the right of people with disabilities to live the same life as everybody else.”
As a consequence, 80 million EU citizens with disabilities and millions of other passengers with reduced mobility still can't travel across Europe independently.
The bill is up for vote on Monday in the European Parliament Transport committee.
The vote will allow for the case to be articulate to the court, on whether legislation should be put in place to help those with a disability receive support to “turn up and go”.
Ms Anca added: “Disability groups are also warning that staff training falls short, and once onboard, access to facilities such as restaurant carts or toilets remains restricted”
“EU countries similarly have different procedures for requesting assistance, and services aren’t always available in other languages. On one side people with disabilities have the same rights. But on the other side, people with disabilities don’t have the same opportunity.”
The accessibility of stations varies across the bloc, with some countries and stations have already implemented shorter notification periods or eliminated the need for them altogether.
However, there is currently no EU-wide precedent, with campaigners in no doubts that a change and acceptance of the "turn up and go" on the committee and parliament would set a recognizable benchmark for accessibility and a common standard for passengers who require assistance in train travel across the continent.