Belgian rail operator SNCB is facing criticism after reports that it will order several new carriages unsuitable for many people with mobility disabilities to access without assistance, The Brussels Times reports.
The SNCB intends to order more of the M7 model of train carriage, which does not match the platform heights at stations, write De Morgen and Het Laatste Nieuws.The decision is “incomprehensible”,said Ingrid Borré, vice-chairman of the National High Council for Persons with Disabilities (NHRPH).
“Such a wagon will easily last 30 years,” said Borre. “That means that it will be many decades before people with a mobility disability can take the train on their own,” she added.
These M7s are double wagons and are absolutely necessary to cope with the increase in the number of passengers. We are going to make sure that all trains have a multifunctional carriage, a large open space with an adapted toilet and an adapted intercom system”. These modified carriages, however, will also have a boarding height of 63 centimetres, which is taller than the platform height. People with disabilities will therefore still need to ask for assistance boarding, something which requires advanced booking.
Different platform heights occur in Belgium. The stations are gradually being adjusted to standardise the platform height, but that process is slow, Bruzz reports.