Wednesday 28 June 2023

The 48th meeting of the Passenger Accessibility Group of Experts (PASSAGE)

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The 48th meeting of the Passenger Accessibility Group of Experts (PASSAGE) took place in Gdansk, Poland on 23 and 24 May. The meeting was hosted by PKP (Polish State Railways) and was attended by representatives from Belgium, Portugal, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Morocco.

Simon Revelli from Trenitalia (Italy) and Marie Jeanne Lopez Anaya from Renfe (Spain) provided insights on the accessibility session that took place during The World Congress on High-Speed Rail held in Marrakech from 7 to 10 March 2023. Simon Revelli conducted a review of five presentations on the topic of accessibility delivered by colleagues from Italy, Germany, Turkey and the USA during this congress. Marie Jeanne López Anaya presented Renfe’s approach to accessibility and shared information on the various accessibility programmes and training initiatives organised by Renfe.

Following that, a series of presentations were conducted by PKP as host of the meeting. Paweł Wróblewski provided an overview of the structure and responsibilities of the companies within the PKP Group, with a focus on the perspective of PKP SA (Polish State Railways Joint Stock Company), including representative illustrations, and Daria Brun showcased the research and development endeavours undertaken by PKP SA.

Nina Scherf, representing the International Rail Transport Committee (CIT), was the external guest in charge of presenting the latest news regarding EU legal developments on accessibility and PRM assistance. During her presentation, she outlined the advances made in the ongoing EU Disability Card project. Additionally, she presented a summary of the contractual regulations pertaining to the carriage of luggage on trains.

As usual, David Sarfatti, Senior Advisor at UIC, provided an update on the latest advances of the UIC Assistance Booking Tool (PRM ABT). Specifically, he discussed the ongoing testing and improvement of a dedicated web browser designed for blind and visually impaired call centre staff who use the UIC PRM ABT. In addition, there was a discussion on the development status of a public page containing information from call centres to book assistance for international rail travel.

The first target topic of the 48th meeting was accessibility features inside rolling stock, including onboard ramps, dedicated spaces for wheelchair users, universal toilets, priority seating, and pictograms and buttons. The second topic centred on learning materials. Participants had prepared presentations on both topics, sharing their experiences and showcasing best practices. Notably, there was a presentation highlighting the way accessibility practices borrowed from other sectors, such as museums, could be applied to the railway industry.

UIC representative, Vanessa Pérez Miranda, shared the latest UIC news regarding progress on updating the UIC recommendations for the organisation of assistance services for PRM (now IRS 10145) which would be published in the following weeks.
During the round table session, updates on the latest developments concerning railway accessibility were provided. For instance, Boaz Yariv from Network Rail (UK) delivered a presentation on the inclusive design aspects of the ticket sales counter and staff sales workstations implemented at Network Rail stations.

On the second day, a demonstration of the Good Maps app was conducted for participants. This app offers real-time, turn-by-turn navigation without the need for GPS. It utilises the camera on iPhones and smartphones to provide innovative navigation assistance in both visual and audio formats.

The presentation by Paweł Wróblewski on the modernisation of historic PKP SA stations provided members with relevant information and insights in preparation for the planned technical visit to Gdańsk Główny railway station.

Finally, the members visited Gdańsk Główny, a large historical railway station currently being modernised and restored, and explored the challenges regarding accessibility within protected historical buildings.

The group’s next meeting will take place in Malmö, Sweden, in October 2023 hosted by Trafikverket.

For more information, please watch our Passage presentation video:

For further information, please contact Vanessa Pérez

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