A demonstration of the doors and sliding ramp of the new M7 train cars, Source: SNCB

Everyone on board: Belgian trains will feature one autonomously accessible car

Everyone on board: Belgian trains will feature one autonomously accessible car

In addition, the country’s railways will invest billions to standardize the train station platforms

Yesterday, NMBS/SNCB, the Belgian national railway company, presented the first of 130 new train cars, which have been described as the first autonomously accessible in the history of the country’s transport.

The M7 double-decker cars, made by Alstom, have been designed with features such as automatic sliding ramps in order to make it easy for people with reduced mobility to get on and off the train. The door of the car stands at 76 centimeters of height which is supposed to match the standard height of the train station platforms.

In addition, the doors have a wider opening, handles have been added and the door opening buttons have been placed lower. The cars are also equipped with adapted toilets and an intercom system allowing wheelchair users to request help if necessary.

NMBS/SNCB said that the plan is to have every Belgian intercity (M7) train equipped with one such autonomously accessible car. The new cars will start being delivered for use from the second half of this year.

Massive overhaul of railway network to boost accessibility            

The news about the adapted train cars, however, represents only the tip of the iceberg. Although we mentioned above that the door height matches the standard station platform height, the reality is that currently in Belgium there are three different platform heights.

That is why, the NMBS/SNCB is also in the process of revamping the train stations, at the cost of billions of euros until 2032, in order to make them standardized and truly accessible since the trains represent only half of the picture so to say.

Currently, 103 stations are fully accessible. By the end of 2032, there should be 176 of them, mainly the stations which welcome nearly 70% of boarding passengers.

Apart from the height of the platforms, the aim is to have them all feature guiding lines for visually impaired passengers and accessible vending machines.

“We want ALL our travellers, including those with reduced mobility, to be able to take the train independently, from the time they purchase their ticket until they arrive at their destination,” declared Sophie Dutordoir, CEO of NMBS/SNCB.

Belgian Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet added that everyone should have the freedom to get on board and the freedom to choose sustainable mobility for their commuting needs.



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