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Rail row Partial ruling in train accessibility case

disabled user on a train

Disabled users often need help on and off trains

(Keystone)

The Swiss Federal Railways will be temporarily allowed to roll out six of its new double-decker trains, following a legal challenge by groups representing Swiss wheelchair users that had suspended their use.

Inclusion Handicapexternal link filed the legal complaint in mid-January over the new trains, after discovering a series of problems, such as that the ramps to get on and off were too steep, and wheelchair users could not access them without assistance.

This runs counter to a 2004 law saying that disabled passengers should be able to use public transport independently, without the help of railway staff, Inclusion Handicap says.

The legal challenge demanded that six new trains already built be adapted, and that the changes also be applied to 56 trains under construction.

In its intermediate ruling, the Federal Administrative Courtexternal link in St Gallen on Friday partially lifted the suspension on the use of the six trains, which had come into effect with the complaint. These trains can be used until November 30. It also rejected a series of provisional measures demanded by the complaint.

The court has not yet decided over lifting the suspension for the trains under construction.

The Swiss Federal Railwaysexternal link welcomed the verdict in a statement, saying the trains in question would be in use from the end of February. This allowed the company to check the trains for functionality and reliability before they are fully put into service in December. It said it remained open to dialogue about finding solutions for disabled users.

Inclusion Handicap said it did not want to delay the tests on the new trains, so was satisfied with the decision in that sense. It added that court had said that the 15 problems mentioned in the group’s complaint could be corrected after the trains were finished.

SDA-ATS/RTS/ilj

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