Every day in Italy 5,7 million people take the train to get around. (1) But theapartheid towards people with disabilities. Disabled people, in the beautiful country, cannot take trains or access railway stations. Here are the numbers of shame.
Rail transport in Italy it is divided as follows:
- regional rail services, 2,9 million daily users (2018 data). Of these, 1,5 million rely on 20 local concessionaires (802 thousand in Trenord in Lombardy, 215 thousand in CTI in Emilia-Romagna, 190 thousand in Atac in Lazio, 142 thousand in Eav in Campania) and 1,4 million in Trenitalia convoys,
- subways, 2,8 million passengers every day. The 7 Italian cities with underground lines (Milan, Turin, Genoa, Rome, Naples, Brescia and Catania) serve just over half of travelers on the London Underground. But passengers are growing, 65 more every day in 2018 than in 2017. And the modest coverage increased from 176 to 247 km, between 2010 and 2019, (2)
- interregional trains. High speed (AV) is used every day by 170 thousand users (+118, 2010-2018). In 2019, 376 high-speed trains circulated every day (200 Frecciarossa, 90 Italo, 60 Frecciargento, 26 Frecciabianca). Intercity trains, on the other hand, are in decline, with only 50 travelers (-46%, between 2010 and 2018).
- tram. Traffic-proof urban rails are present in 14 Italian cities.
And where urban public transport works, the use of cars can be reduced, which still covers 60% of journeys and is a primary factor of atmospheric pollution, which is cause of the most serious epidemic on a planetary scale.
The Frecciarossa - Trenitalia's most popular high-speed train - can have 1000 (or 500) seats. Of these, only 2 are equipped for the disabled, 2 are reserved for the disabled, another 2 are reserved for their carers. That is to say that 5,2% of the Italian population - such is the incidence of disability in Italy - can access 0,4% (or 0,8%) of the total places. (3) Intercity, with 2 more reserved (but not equipped) seats, reach 1,2% overall. The regional, at best, have two equipped places and several reserved by means of a sticker with a symbol. The oldest regional ones - especially in the South, where the average age of trains exceeds 19 - are not even equipped.
The shame is highlighted, only in part, in the following numbers:
- 2 seats on each train - 0,2-0,4% of the total seats on the Frecciarossa - can be booked and used by wheelchair users. Who are obliged to use only the equipped places,
- 17% of the stations railway (320 out of 2050) is accessible to people with disabilities and equipped for their assistance. (4)
The real shame is the one that emerges between the lines of the paragraph 'Warnings', on the page'Infoaccessibility', in the site website of RFI (Italian Railways Network). (4)
'It should be borne in mind that for passengers in wheelchairs, or in any case unable to use stairs, autonomous access to trains along the station tracks presupposes that these can be reached with a barrier-free path (on the floor or with a lift or ramp) and that there is no unevenness between the height of the platform platform and the floor of train carriage '.
European standards of railway interoperability (2007) are applied, according to RFI, only 'for new trains and new stations'. And they would be 'in progressive application also on the already existing infrastructures subject to renewal interventions. ' But which generation will witness the overcoming ofapartheid of people with disabilities, when will the work be completed on 83% of the stations without accessibility?
Over-65s, and the over-80s - whose prevalence in Italy (22,6% and 7%, respectively) ranks first in the EU population (Eurostat, 2018 data) will certainly not be emancipated from this discrimination. Nor can they still receive alternative public transport services. (5)
Seniors and people with walking difficulties (or inability), in practice, 'before setting off'must'acquire information 'on:
- 'height of the embedding floor of the selected train, by contacting the railway undertaking',
- the 'programmed track, by consulting the online timetable service, where it is also possible to check if the selected train is equipped with a carriage equipped for the transport of passengers in wheelchairs’,
- 'Any temporary outages of the lifts could cause variations in the degree of accessibility of the station'. In this regard, it should be noted that information about the unavailability of lifts and ramps is communicated online only if more than 30 days (!).
Commuters not able to walk, in practice, they still have access to a limited number of trains even on equipped stations. An example above all is the Rome-Civitavecchia line, where trains run every half hour but patience champions can only benefit from 1 in 3 trains, with a wait of 90 instead of 30 minutes.
Metro moreover, in many stations indicated as 'accessible', it is not equipped with lifts (often out of order, in Rome as elsewhere). And the so-called stairlifts are not able to transport electric wheelchairs, due to capacity limits linked to their weight and / or size.
Last but not least, given the systematic misalignment between the platform platform and the train access floor, the disabled person must book the assistance service at least 48 hours in advance. Otherwise being able to trust only in the extraordinary courtesy of the staff of the Blue Room, who always do their utmost to compensate for the structural deficiencies.
'Railway undertakings and station managers ensure, through compliance with the TSIs for persons with reduced mobility, the accessibility of stations, platforms, rolling stock and other services for persons with disabilities or reduced mobility ' (EC reg. 1371/07, article 21, Accessibility).
'In case of non-compliant or non-compliant adjustment the TSIs envisaged to protect the accessibility of stations, platforms, rolling stock and other services for persons with reduced mobility - pursuant to Article 21, paragraph 1, of EC regulation 1371/07 - to be assessed also in relation to multi-year plan of interventions for the accessibility of the stations and the relative economic-financial coverage, to be defined in the context of the program contract stipulated with the State, the railway companies and the station managers are subject to the payment of a fine of 2.000 euro to 10.000 euro, for each individual case '. (6)
'' The service and station managers, to the extent of their respective competence, they guarantee full accessibility and usability of the same in compliance with the provisions of the regulatory provisions and the service charters (…).
Should the recovery the availability of infrastructures or station equipment does not occur within the established and indicated terms (...), the user with disabilities or reduced mobility has the right to compensation, defined by the service and station managers, to the extent of their respective competence, in their own service cards.
In the case of a trip indicated on the timetable published as usable by users with disabilities or reduced mobility is rendered with unsuitable material or replaced with a replacement or supplementary car service not accessible or unsuitable, the user with disabilities or reduced mobility who has already purchased a ticket travel that can be used for the journey concerned has the right, in addition to a refund of the ticket, to compensation '
La A Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), on closer inspection, entered into force on 3.5.2008. (9) That is to say, one year after the adoption of the EC regulation 1371/07 laying down general provisions on rail transport in the European Union. This regulation - as well as the rules derived from it, referred to in the previous paragraphs - is not consistent, on closer inspection, with the rights of persons with disabilities as stated in the CRPD Convention.
'States Parties to this Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community, including by ensuring that: (...)
(C) Community services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs'. (9)
People people with disabilities and reduced mobility have the full right to obtain public transport services on equal terms with the general population. This right is a corollary of the constitutional right to equality and equal social dignity, which corresponds to the task of the State to remove obstacles that can cause discrimination linked, among other things, to the personal conditions of individuals.
The European legislator it must update the EC regulation 1371/07 to ensure the full implementation of the rights affirmed by the UN CRPD Convention with particular regard to rail transport. In the meantime, the Italian government, the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces must guarantee the consistent application of the rules in force. For our part, in the meantime, we will report to the competent authorities every episode of discrimination to the detriment of only physically weaker people.
Stop apartheid, # Égalité!
(1) Legambiente Report, Pendularia 2019
(2) Subways and trams in and around Europe, at a glance http://www.urbanrail.net/eu/euromet.htm
(3) ISTAT report Know the disability 3.12.19
(5) Although the law 28 n. 5.2.92 (framework law for assistance, social integration and the rights of handicapped persons). Which provides that 'the regions regulate the ways in which the municipalities arrange interventions to allow handicapped people the possibility of moving freely on the territory, using, under the same conditions as other citizens, specially adapted collective transport services or alternative services.'(Article 26, Mobility and collective transport)
(6) Legislative Decree 70/14, disciplinary measures for violations of the provisions of Regulation (EC) no. 1371/2007, relating to the rights and obligations of passengers in rail transport. Article 16, Sanctions for non-compliance with the obligations to protect the right to transport for people with disabilities or reduced mobility
(7) Resolution of the Transport Regulation Authority no. 106/2018. Annex, Measure 5, Right to accessibility and usability of services and stations
(8) Measure 5 referred to in previous note 8, point 4. 4. 'The indemnities (...) are determined taking into account the following criteria, where applicable:
a) the duration of the unavailability of the infrastructure or equipment;
b) the distance to be covered to reach the first station, whose accessibility is guaranteed,
functional to the planned trip;
c) the possibility for the user to benefit from an accessible and economically equivalent alternative transport'
(9) CRPD, Article 19 (Living independently and being included in the community). The full text of the Convention and its Additional Optional Protocol, both ratified by the EU and its Member States, on
Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.