Accessible rail systems: A global study

Global map with different coloured dots depicting different levels of accessibility in different cities.If you are a wheelchair user and want to travel by train, the best places are in Asia and Europe. That’s according to a global study on accessible rail systems. The key points of the study are:

    • The lack of accessibility is not only an issue in developing countries.
    • The systems’ accessibility level varies even among cities of the same country.
    • 62% of all systems with good accessibility are located in Asia and Europe.
    • 19% of the systems do not provide any information about their accessibility status.

The title of the article is, Wheelchair accessibility of urban rail systems: Some preliminary findings of a global overview. It is open access from ScienceDirect. 

The article has a graphic showing the level of accessibility by city (shown above). It shows Sydney as “fully accessible”. However, in 2021 Sydney is still retrofitting lifts into urban rail stations. The historical context of accessibility, or lack thereof, in each country is a key factor in the current accessibility status. 

The authors conclude,

“This study aimed to present a preliminary and general overview that can be valuable as a starting point for other studies on this subject. Thus, we encourage future studies to consider the real accessibility at the stations (and the availability of all the required infrastructure), not just the accessibility that is declared by the systems’ operators on their official website, as that information may not be updated nor even realistic.”

The research was carried out by an international team funded by institutions in Taiwan, Brazil and Chile. 

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