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Rail Budget 2016: Railways should be made disabled-friendly, says NGO

Railways should provide suitable solutions and devices for passengers to safely get into the train, the memorandum said.

Every Indian railway station should be made fully accessible for physically challenged people by incorporating measures as per universal accessibility standards, a NGO run by an Indian-American said ahead of the annual railway budget.

Ramps with proper gradient and holding bars on both sides should be added, allowing wheel chairs to enter and move around in the station along with electric carts as per universal accessibility standards, Voice of Specially Abled People (VoSAP) said in a memorandum submitted to the Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, ahead of his annual budget.

VoSAP has been voicing the need for Accessible India Campaign since July, 2014 to bring everyone together and work in campaign, mission mode to change the infrastructure make our buildings, transportation and digital assets, fully accessible.

Based on variables such as number of platforms, trains per day, average daily passenger traffic at the station (5 per cent of which assumed to be people with disabilities including Senior Citizens), type of station etc.

Railways should provide suitable solutions and devices for passengers to safely get into the train, the memorandum said. Options suggested here include low cost, foldable ramps, manual wheel chairs at multiple designated locations, elevators to go across the platforms, Stair-lift that can carry passenger with the wheel chair, power wheel chair with motorised lift (instead of foldable ramps) to elevate the wheel chair for safe and easy entry into the railway cart and existing electric carts with ability to raise the cart for direct entry to the cart.

VoSAP asked the minister that at bigger stations, one ticket booking window should have lower height for wheel chair passengers and similarly identify designated area with proper mark and display for loading and unloading of Specially Abled Passengers where porters with wheel chairs are available and reserved area on the platform close to their reserved coach with proper marking and colors for their safety.

It stressed on the need to have multiple electronic sign boards at every platform for announcements display for hearing impaired. As part of long term solution, at least one specially designed fully accessible railway car should be added to every train, VoSAAP suggested, adding that this car / carriage will also have permanent ramp and space for wheel chair movements. This will be a permanent solution.

As railways modernise, all new passenger cars should meet accessibility requirements. This will also provide huge export opportunity for producing such accessible carriages to SAARC and African countries, the memorandum said. Prabhu is set to announce the annual Railway budget today.

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