Alstom Prioritises Accessibility in Public Transport

To meet the accessibility and inclusivity values within its ESG strategy, Alstom continues to work with Fundación ONCE.

Throughout its train concepts and designs, the rolling stock manufacturer aims to improve and add value for customers worldwide. Alstom therefore collects and analyses feedback from passengers to help evolve the transport industry.

For example, since 2019, Alstom has been collaborating with the Spanish organisation, Fundación ONCE to gain insights from individuals who face challenges in accessing public transport.

Established in 1988, Fundación ONCE aims to enhance the quality of life for disabled groups, representing approximately 3.8 million individuals and their families in Spain.

Alstom Spain actively works with Fundación ONCE to enhance the accessibility and inclusivity of its trains. Flagship projects like metros for Barcelona’s TMB, airport shuttles for Catalonian operator FGC, and high-capacity urban trains for Renfe have all been successfully assessed with Fundación ONCE.

New metro trains for Barcelona
New metro trains for Barcelona

This collaboration has brought specific issues and considerations to Alstom’s attention. For example:

Santiago Ruiz González, a long-standing Project Manager and Expert in Accessibility and Innovation at Fundación ONCE said:

“For travellers in a wheelchair, having a sliding ramp that fits the space between the train and the platform … is essential. Likewise, it is important that the ramp is not too steep. There is usually a downward slope on entry which in turn makes exiting the train more difficult. It is very likely that there is a significant propulsion upon entry of the train. The bigger issue here is that the vertical bar at the entrance of the vestibule becomes a potential obstacle and makes it very difficult to position oneself in the space enabled for wheelchair users. This can become very stressful, and it is imperative that we find ways to avoid other passengers getting hurt and prevent damage to the train.”

In response, Alstom proposed a specific vestibule without a vertical handrail bar for some doors on the new metros in Barcelona. TMB agreed to the proposal and supported the project. Consequently, the new trains incorporated this solution along with a comprehensive range of design innovations catering to all passengers.

Through careful design processes, the accessibility of the new 7000 and 8000 Series Metropolis metro trains in Barcelona was further enhanced for individuals with disabilities.

These design enhancements included wider automatic doors, acoustic warning lights, intercoms positioned at an ideal height for wheelchair users, dedicated “next stop” pushbuttons, emergency handles, colour contrast signage, and digital image analysis to detect wheelchair users on-board or priority seat occupation.

Alstom and Fundación ONCE extended their collaboration in 2023, with Fundación ONCE taking on the role of key strategic advisor to Alstom for enhancing mobility solutions. Today, Fundación ONCE is an essential advisor, reviewing Alstom’s products in the design phase and providing valuable advice on improving accessibility for people with disabilities and those without.

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