New Swiss trains ‘do not meet needs of disabled passengers’
The new double-decker Bombardier trains ordered by Swiss federal railways (SBB) in 2010 at a cost of nearly two billion francs do not meet the needs of disabled people, according to an umbrella organization for the disabled in Switzerland.
Inclusion Handicap has lodged a complaint with the Swiss civil court in an attempt to correct the faults before the Twindexx trains are put in service, it said in a statement.
Just before Christmas Inclusion Handicap was allowed to inspect the new trains and found 15 faults. Among them, the buttons to open the doors are placed too high for wheelchair users and ramps are too steep to allow them to leave the train unaided, it said. What’s more, the lighting is such that reflections on digital signs make them too hard for people with sight problems to read.
As a result the organization has appealed against last November's decision by the federal transport office to grant SBB an operating permit for the trains.
SBB ordered 62 of the Twindexx trains from Bombardier in 2010, the biggest contract in Swiss rail history.
Intended for the long-distance lines Geneva-St Gallen and Bern-Zurich, they will have around ten per cent more seats than current double-deck trains and can go through curves up to 15 per cent faster, according to Bombardier.
The first trains were initially expected to be in service by the end of 2013, however disputes between SBB and Bombardier has led to long delays in their construction.
Since the majority of trains have not yet been constructed, it should be possible to make the necessary adjustments without incurring significant extra costs, said Inclusion Handicap.
“The objective of Inclusion Handicap’s appeal is not to stop the trains being tested. But it is important to ensure that the necessary adjustments are made immediately, before the construction of more vehicles,” it said.
However the complaint could add several millions to the bill and provoke further delays, said broadcaster RTS.