French train stations can be difficult to navigate if you have reduced mobility, are sight-impaired, are wheelchair bound, or like me, able-bodied but traveling with a small child in a baby buggy/stroller.
Often, signage is confusing, there can be lots of stairs at the station and a lack of elevators (or elevators exist but are out of order!), public toilets are locked and the attendant is AWOL and someone to help doesn’t speak your language. And that is BEFORE you actually attempt to get onto a train….
But, a light is shining on the horizon. French train stations – and trains – are seeing a great overhaul and update to improve service and accessibility for ALL passengers.
One of these improvements is the introduction of the Alstom Régiolis trains.
The Régiolis trains are the first certified 100% accessible trains for persons with reduced mobility, and have other improvements to facilitate ease of journeys:
– Dedicated spaces for wheelchair-bound travelers near doors, with ramps to facilitate entry/exit, SOS buttons with interphones and 2 seat spaces for accompanying passengers.
– Information screens visible and audible from all seating areas, including designated priority seats.
– Adapted seat heights for travelers with guide dogs to allow the dog to lie underneath the seat.
– More pronounced contrasts of the interiors and entry/exit doors for people who are sight-impaired.
– More spacious toilets with room for wheelchair-bound travellers to manoeuvre, manual locks, call buttons and automatic buttons with braille and lighting.
The Régiolis trains have already been rolled out in 2013 to some regions in France (Aquitaine, Lorraine etc) with the Provence Alps Cote d’Azur expecting integration of the new trains in this region over 2014 and 2015.
A welcome addition to transport options in this region.