Train travel is the future: don’t exclude us

Opinion Piece from EDF President - How EU trains discriminate against the disabled

Dear EU leaders,

Horst Frehe wanted to take the earliest morning train to arrive at his meeting with the German Ministry of Health on time but received a startling reply: the train is running, but assistance for persons with reduced mobility is not available early in the morning. What if a passenger with reduced mobility needs wants to take a train from the airport to home? It’s a gamble: the combination of having to book assistance 48 hours in advance and possible flight delays means that he may be stranded in the airport. Taking the train flexibly and spontaneously, as other passengers do, is sadly still not possible for passengers with reduced mobility today in the European Union.

The revision of the EU Rail Passengers’ Regulation (1371/2006) could improve his life and the life of millions of other people with reduced mobility (potentially over 80 million Europeans with disabilities and 200 million Europeans aged 50+, not including travellers/tourists from outside the EU). The proposal of the European Parliament would reduce the period of pre-notification, allowing millions of persons with reduced mobility more freedom to use the train. While it is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, several Members States are blocking this step.

Train travel is important. It’s less polluting. It’s less costly. Accessible, affordable train travel is not only a question of human rights, it’s a question of environmental sustainability. As persons with reduced mobility are not able to access train transport, they are forced to turn to more polluting and expensive alternatives, such as cars.

What we are asking is not an impossible feat either. Member States such as Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands already have national provisions that go beyond our request (see fact sheet attached).

Therefore, we, the undersigned, demand that EU leaders walk the talk for human rights and sustainable development.

We demand that you don’t exclude persons with reduced mobility from accessing more environmentally sustainable options.

We demand that EU Member States support the proposed reduction of pre-notification for assistance.

The future is sustainable.

The future is inclusive.

Please don’t stand in the way of progress.


See full list here

  • 17 Members of the European Parliament
  • 22 European Organisations
  • 76 German organisations
  • 4 German personalities
  • 115 Hungarian Organisations
  • 14 French organisations
  • 13 Romanian organisations
  • 21 other nationaI organisations

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