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COST 335
Passengers Accessibility of Heavy Rail Systems

COST 335 image

Chairman : Mrs. Ann Frye (UK)
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Mobility Unit
Fax: +44 171 271 52 53
Email: (email removed)

Vice Chairman : Mrs. Annie Brouder (F)
Fax: + 33 1 53 25 62 70

Scientific Secretary :
European Commission
Directorate General for Energy and Transport
Fax: +32 2 296 37 65
Email: (email removed)


3 years; completed October 1999.


17 COST Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

International organisations: European Disability Forum, UITP, UIC, UNIFE.


The main objective is to produce guidance for governments and railway operators on best practice in achieving full accessibility for their services and facilities. To be addressed are both technical and economic issues and the extent to which totally independent access can be achieved.

Secondary objectives include the raising of awareness among train operators of the actual and potential size of the market for rail travel among disabled and elderly people, and giving them a clear indication of the wide range of issues involved in realising that market potential.


COST 335 will build on guidelines drawn up by ECMT (European Conference of Ministers of Transport) and on a report from the working group on accessibility of UIC (Union internationale des chemins de fer), which directed the requirements towards harmonisation of rolling stock standards and a more holistic approach. COST 335 will evaluate the whole journey from door-to-door. Its programme includes:

  • Economic aspects, including definition of the market, the commercial case for accessibility, the costs of measures, public or private financing, social issues and marketing opportunities
  • Pre-travel information issues, including standardised approaches to content, quality, format and availability of information
  • Access to and within station issues, including ease of access, ticket reservation and purchase, waiting areas, toilet facilities, catering, information and signs
  • The interface between station and rolling stock, including platform height, tactile marking/surfaces, boarding/alighting equipment, other boarding/alighting aids, rolling stock technology to minimise horizontal/ vertical gaps and luggage transfer
  • Rolling stock design, including doorway width/height, gangway width, seating layout, wheelchair space, toilet facilities, catering, lighting, position of handholds, colour contrasts, etc.; on-train information and access to emergency facilities
  • Staff issues, including availability, skills and training, and health and safety
  • Fare structures, including information, incentives to travel/fare concessions and through ticketing
  • Group travel, including availability of wheelchair spaces, booking arrangements, training and information for the users
  • Compatibility and inter-modal transfer issues such as compatibility between systems of information, facilities, ticketing, luggage registration and transfer/ transit information
  • Regulatory framework, addressing legislation/ regulation, codes of practice/guidance and the maintenance and monitoring of standards.

In order to develop this work programme, 4 Working Groups have been established:

  • Stations
  • Rolling Stock
  • Passenger Information & Staff Training
  • Economics & Marketing Aspects


Improving accessibility aims not only at expanding the railways market but also at contributing to the provision of public transport services to all citizens in an equitable way.

Disabled and elderly people can plan and undertake a journey only if they can be confident that all stages of the journey will provide compatible levels of accessibility. Rail travel, both local and long distance, is an obvious field in which compatibility between methods of access is required. Without it, the scope for disabled and elderly people to make use of the European rail network is very limited. There is a substantial actual and potential passenger market for the railways among this section of the population. Indeed, the combined total of disabled and elderly people (100 million) is approximately 24% of the total European population; this proportion is expected to rise to more than 30% (over 130 million) within 25 years, according to the consensus view and informal studies.

Additionally, there are many people who are not disabled, but to whom policies and facilities designed for disabled people would be helpful, such as passengers with luggage, etc. Finally, research has shown that improved accessibility improves the quality of the public transport system and therefore increases its attractiveness to many passenger categories.

In order to understand how to reach this potential market it is necessary to conduct an in- depth study of the market, then use this to identify the requirements for design and refurbishment.

Benefits to Different Users

  • The technical requirements developed will be useful to governments, industry or other bodies who wish to develop technical standards for rolling stock, stations and interface mechanisms.
  • The economic and market information can be used by railway companies to develop related commercial policies.
  • The social information may be used by governments or local authorities to define and implement policies for improved accessibility to rail services.

Related Activities


Proceedings of the Seminar held in Brussels on 30-31 October 1997
Manuscript completed in January 1998
1998 - 200 pp - 21.0 x 29.7 cm
Also available in German
PDF files for download: English (1.8 MB), German (2.5 MB)

Final Report
Manuscript completed in November 1999
1999 - 259 pp. -17.5 x 25.0 cm
ISBN 92-828-8223-3 - EUR 19328 - Price: EURO 24.0
PDF files for download: English (6.3 MB); French: Part 1 (1.2 MB); Part 2 (1.7 MB); Part 3 (0.4 MB); Part 4 (0.4 MB); Part 5 (0.4 Mb)

Stations Handbook
1999 - 17.5 x 25.0 cm
ISBN 92-828-8222-5 - EUR 19327 - Price: EURO 20.0

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