The 42nd meeting of the Passenger Accessibility Group of Experts (PASSAGE) was held in Bruges, Belgium on 28 and 29 September. This was the PASSAGE group’s first in-person meeting since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The meeting was hosted by Tommy Zonnekein and Koen Thys (SNCB) and attended by representatives from Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Some of the members attended online, still unable to attend meetings in person due to travel restrictions. The meeting was held in compliance with the sanitary protocols in place in Belgium and with UIC’s specific sanitary protocol.
UIC representative Vanessa Pérez Miranda shared the latest UIC news regarding progress on updating the UIC recommendations for the organisation of assistance services for PRM (now IRS 10145) and the organisation of Rail Accessibility Day, a one-day international event held on 5 October in the framework of the European Year of Rail.
All the representatives reported on the latest news from their respective companies and countries in relation to accessibility in the railways and management of the pandemic.
Sandra Dobler, representing the International Rail Transport Committee (CIT), was the external guest in charge of presenting the latest news regarding EU legal developments on accessibility and PRM assistance. In particular, she presented the main changes and advances brought about by the recent recast of the Rail Passenger Rights Regulation (PRR), adopted on 29 April 2021 and due to come into force on 7 June 2023.
One of the target topics was level access conditions and boarding assistance devices. The discussion focused on ramps, platforms, lifts and other assistance devices. The participants had prepared presentations on this topic and shared their experience and best practices.
The participants also had the opportunity to take part in a technical visit to Bruges station, with a focus on ramps.
The second day of the meeting began with a discussion on traffic disruption, PRM services and alternative transport solutions. David Sarfatti (UIC) then presented the latest statistics on the use of the UIC assistance booking tool, which is increasing steadily due to international journeys.
Finally, the members went to Ghent to take part in a technical visit to the SNCB call centre.
The group’s next meeting will take place in Athens (Greece) from 30 November to 1 December, kindly hosted by TrainOSE.