Meeting with associations of persons with disabilities held on the new low-floor train
ZAGREB, 5 December 2022 –The final meeting of the project “Accessibility 2022” was held in Zagreb. The project was implemented by the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM) in cooperation with the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering in Zagreb (FER) and associations dealing with the subjects of persons with disabilities, and a new low-floor train of the Croatian railways was selected as the venue for the meeting. It was an opportunity to introduce representatives of associations and everyone present to the new low-floor train on the Croatian railway, as well as to exchange experiences and information on accessibility, especially in rail passenger traffic. During the meeting, which gathered representatives of associations of persons with disabilities, HAKOM, FER and HŽPP and HŽI, the results of the project were presented, aimed at raising social awareness on the issue of persons with disabilities in society, improving digital and physical accessibility and exploring the application of new technologies in passenger rail traffic in relation to persons with disabilities.
In his welcoming speech, Executive Director at HAKOM Miran Gosta pointed out that HAKOM, as a national regulatory body, protects passenger rights and wants to increase the quality and availability of railway services. Network services can significantly facilitate the day-to-day needs of people with disabilities, which requires the variety of choices and the availability of network services, including services based on a network of lines and facilities such as stations. HAKOM actively contributes to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society by raising the level of services, cooperates with academic community, railway passenger undertaking and thus finds innovative solutions based on established real needs of persons with disabilities. The aim is to raise awareness of people with disabilities, improve physical and digital accessibility and explore the application of new technologies in relation to people with disabilities. This is a continuation of the activities we have been carrying out for many years. Accessibility is one of the fundamental principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities and reduced mobility shall enjoy the same rights, freedoms of movement, freedom of choice and non-discrimination. In cooperation with FER, HAKOM conducted a study on the accessibility of passenger transport services and submitted the analysis to the carrier. We hope that the recommendations will be implemented,” he said.
New low-floor trains will ensure better mobility of citizens
The President of the HŽ Passanger Transport Management Zeljko Ukić introduced the new low-floor suburban transport train in which wheelchair access is provided, places for passenger accommodation are also provided, and toilet has been adjusted. Currently, 40 of these trains are available in urban and suburban traffic, and in order to ensure better mobility of citizens and improve the HŽ service, he is continuously procuring new trains with the support of the Government and the Minister. 21 new trains, co-financed by the EU funds, are under production. By the end of 2023, trains will be operated in urban, suburban and regional transport and will be adapted to the technical specifications for interoperability for persons with disabilities and reduced mobility. In addition to providing access to and accommodation for people, trains will include tactile signs, keys and handrails without sharp edges. Three such trains, the latest generations, will be put into service by the end of this year – announced Ukić, adding that with 21 electric motor trains from EU funds, the Government of the Republic of Croatia has given consent to HŽ passenger transport for seven trains for regional transport. Also, as part of the National recovery and Resilience Plan 2021-2026, HŽ will acquire two trains, electric battery and battery trains, which will operate on non-electrified tracks, and the contract for the first train will be signed by the end of this year. We hope that all of our old trains, and there are over 60 of them over 40 years old and not adapted in this way, will be able to replace them completely by the end of the decade, he added.
Subhi Tawfiq, a member of the Board of HŽ Infrastruktura, pointed out that HŽ Infrastruktura has implemented all the guidelines of the European Commission in all its reconstruction projects and will make sure that the dynamics of adjustment are as fast as possible. One of the current projects is Zagreb main station, which will include the Office of the Ombudsperson for persons with disabilities in order to find even better solutions and facilitate access to the infrastructure in the best possible way.
Apps that will contribute to affordable rail transport
Head of the FER team Professor Željka Car stressed that there is a huge motivation of students interested in this area and willing to work on projects that will enable the application of new technologies and their useful use. Student Lea Matković demonstrated and developed a prototype of accessible rail transport solutions for people with disabilities. It is an application that helps, among other things, purchase and reserve tickets and the need for assistance, and also offers other services that people with disabilities could benefit from when travelling by train. Katarina Mišura, a student, developed a prototype application that could facilitate travel for the blind and visually impaired. The application shall be based on the use of electronic position markers, which may be located on board a train or at stations, and shall be linked to the application on the smartphone of a blind or highly visually impaired person, thereby providing information on the position of the compartment, seat, train or station parts, etc.
Kristijan Solina, the manager of the railway services sector at HAKOM welcomed all initiatives that were achieved in cooperation with HAKOM in order to improve the service and presented regulations that were implemented to improve the rights of all passengers. - HAKOM will continue to control compliance with regulations through inspection and cooperate with the Ombudsperson for persons with disabilities, and we ask passengers for opinions because their perspective is most important. We expect improvements from this project, we hope for even better systems and more advanced technologies on trains, and HAKOM will monitor everything and implement cooperation that is important and can solve a lot of things.
Inspection solutions have brought improvements
HAKOM’s inspectors for the regulation of the rail services market and the protection of rail passengers’ rights, Ivica Škrtić and Ivan Šimunec, presented examples of inspections carried out by them, which resulted in improvements for passengers. Thus, assistance was provided to persons with disabilities when arriving and going to the station and entering and leaving the train, by prescribing a reorganisation of the transport and general instructions for working with the lift platform, and the inspection showed that no verified point had sent passengers about the nearest station with staff for assistance to persons with disabilities, information was provided at inadequate places, so a decision was issued to remedy irregularities and currently HAKOM carries out checks.
Every two years HAKOM publishes posters and brochures on passenger rights because often passengers do not know their rights and obligations. The new brochure will be issued next year, aligned with the new regulation on passenger rights and general conditions and will be available in stations, trains and on HAKOM’s website.
Snježana Malinović, Sales Director of HŽ Putnički Prijevoz d.o.o. presented new low-floor trains adapted for the transport of people with disabilities and reduced mobility in which the final meeting was held, and Laura Mikulić from HŽ Infrastruktura spoke about the preparation of documentation for modernisation and reconstruction of positions and obligations arising from the current regulations. She pointed out good cooperation with the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, and in the preparation of study documentation with associations, citizens and units of local government and self-government with which solutions are found. Accessibility is equal to freedom — she added.
Dr.Sc. Ivana Rašan from FER said that FER survey was conducted to see what could be additionally offered to persons with various forms of disability in cooperation with themselves. - The man is the key to everything, and then technology. - She pointed out and recalled the projects that FER and HAKOM have been working on since 2017. The applications and projects were presented in fair representatives of Matea Žilak and Matea Zovko, and included the quiz application which simultaneously teaches and simulates various difficulties of persons with disabilities and thus helps designers and developers to become aware of how to create an accessible display on the screen, an accessible website and methodologies for creating accessible websites and mobile applications, research into the accessibility of HAKOM websites, electronic communications operators, Croatian Post, the HŽI and the HŽPP, an educational game for raising awareness and learning about the proper way to communicate with persons with disabilities in various situations, as well as methodology and materials for holding workshops in schools on the topic of persons with disabilities in order to raise the level of knowledge and awareness.
How do we remove or at least reduce barriers that still exist?
People with disabilities feel positive displacements that are happening, but difficulties are still present and sometimes it is not necessary to do much to address them. Roman Baštijan (the SUMSI Alliance) presented his vision of an ideal train journey. Subsequent adjustments are not good, perishable and inefficient. We need to think ahead, he said.
Marija Livajušić from the center of UP2Date presented negative experiences of blind and highly visually impaired persons and pointed out that the train never stops in the same place, and silent audible announcements that are not understandable to them are rare. The doors open too quickly and fool themselves, mostly the trains are too high. When we arrive on the platform by train never stops in the same place, every exit orientation is unknown. It is essential for the blind and visually impaired to have a defined destination point. The human approach can be awkward, sometimes there are no bad intentions, but employees do not manage and give us information that is not important to us and it would be good to carry out education.
The train should have a display with announcements of stations, for the deaf with announcement braces heard through the loudspeaker, it is necessary to install a video wall with sign language, install an inductive loop. It would be good if the signs towards counters and platforms were frequent, and possible purchase of tickets via tablets at the counter,” said Alma Zulim of the Association of deaf and deaf Istria County and drew attention to the difficulties faced by deaf and
Dr. Mirjana Dobranović of the Association for Promotion of Equal Opportunities (UPIM) spoke about difficulties encountered by persons with higher mobility, such as too high platforms and the absence of elevators, while the mother of disabled persons Nadica Bijelić also spoke about difficulties encountered by persons with disabilities.
During the meeting, new application solutions were tested, which were designed to enable people with difficulties to make easier and better use of railway passenger transport, and after the meeting, a Millennium photo was taken in front of the train and the work of one of the currently ten mobile platforms of the HZ infrastructure was demonstrated, which are located at the most frequented stations and can be used by persons with disabilities in a wheelchair.
For additional information please contact:
Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM)
- Roberta Frangeša-Mihanovića 9 Street
- 10110 Zagreb, Croatia
- Tel. + 385 (0) 1 700 70 07
- Fax + 385 (0)1 700 70 70
Media inquiries can be submitted online using HAKOM’s official website: www.hakom.hr
HAKOM - Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries – ensures preconditions for a fair market competition, stable growth and environment for innovations in the electronic communications and postal services market. HAKOM protects users’ interests and the possibility of choice among various communications and postal services at affordable prices, defines sustainable competitive conditions for operators and service providers under fair conditions for return on investment, and provides support to economic growth, public services and the quality of life in the Republic of Croatia by using modern technologies. HAKOM’ strategic goals are: to promote regulation of the electronic communications and postal services market, to support growth of investments and innovations in the electronic communications and postal services market, to provide efficient use of limited resources, to accelerate the growth of broadband products and services, to provide affordable offers of communications and postal services, to provide protection and informing of users, to build an efficient and comprehensive information system, to define and implement efficient processes, and to acquire multi-disciplinary expertise in market regulation.