On this chilly Wednesday morning, at Pully station, Carlos Kenedy is about to show us why he cannot freely take the train. At 11.38 am, the connection for Vevey is in sight on platform 2. A glance at the SBB application confirms that people in wheelchairs can board this train independently. The doors open; the metal step extends, but the space between it and the platform is too large. Embarking would be dangerous; it’s obvious.
This problem is recurrent, says Carlos Kenedy. “I happened to stay at the quay in Pully because I couldn’t get on. Or to stay on the train because I couldn’t get off. ”He encountered the same problem at the Pully-Nord station, which was recently renovated to meet the needs of people with reduced mobility (raised platforms, in particular).
The SBB indicates that the two train stations comply with the law on equality for people with disabilities (LHand). Passengers with reduced mobility can therefore, in theory, get on and off without assistance from the wagons.
“Sometimes there is no problem; sometimes it is uncomfortable and sometimes it is impossible because it is too dangerous, reports Carlos Kenedy. As you never know, you cannot anticipate. To go to Lausanne, I always take the bus while I live near the station. I put double the time. “
“Frustrating and stressful”
The Vaudois, who has been using a wheelchair since 1992, readily acknowledges the progress made in the accessibility of trains. “Being able to get on and off without getting organized in advance greatly improves the quality of life. It frustrates and stresses me to find myself in these situations where it is not possible. I never take the last train and I leave well in advance for my leisure or professional meetings, just in case. It takes away my confidence in being able to travel. Mostly alone. “
Carlos Kenedy reported the problem to SBB, who invited him to call the Call Center Handicap if he had any concerns. “This answer is not satisfactory. If I can’t go up, what will the call center do? Nothing. They won’t have time before the train leaves. Especially since in Pully, there are no staff who can help me. “
“I never take the last train, just in case”
Carlos Kenedy, wheelchair traveler
The SBB has long been aware of the problem that footsteps pose for people in wheelchairs, according to an interview published by the former federal government on its site in 2018. “We have to adapt 100 stations considered so far as conforming to the LHand, explained at the time the person in charge of the program “Access to the railroad 2023”. The platforms have certainly been raised, but there is a space between the steps and the edges of the platforms. Autonomous access to trains for people in wheelchairs is hindered or even prevented. We have to find solutions. ”
Carlos Kenedy is still waiting … Contacted by us, the SBB says “to understand the concerns encountered by this customer” and indicates that the customer service “invited him to report each problem encountered so that we can resolve the problem”. The steps which deploy when the trains open are adjustable, said spokesman Jean-Philippe Schmidt. “They are paid for each station. We will send a team to determine which train is causing the problem, then check and measure the spaces left between the step and the platform. If they are too wide, we can change the measurements and reschedule the trains for these stations. “
This may not be enough, suggests Caroline Hess-Klein, head of the equality department at the Inclusion Handicap association. She notes that even when international standards are met, it does not allow all wheelchair users to access the trains. “The maximum distance fixed by these standards for running boards allows some to take the train but not all. However, the law guarantees autonomous access to public transport for people with disabilities. ”
Created: 01.31.2020, 5:35 p.m.