Rome, 3 December 2019
An investment of 400 million euro across two years (2018 and 2019) to improve the accessibility of stations and over a thousand assistance services each day for people with reduced mobility or disabilities who choose the train for their travels.
On the International Day of People with Disabilities, the Italian State Railways Group confirmed its daily commitment to rendering the railway system increasingly accessible for all.
The Group's commitment to inclusion in the transport sector is evidenced by the recent appointment of Gianfranco Battisti—CEO and General Director of FS Italiane—as “European Ambassador for Diversity”, conferred by Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport.
“The Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane Group," says Chief Executive Officer and General Director Gianfranco Battisti, “is continuously committed to promoting all actions able to construct a company and a workplace that is increasingly inclusive and sustainable, in which passengers, workers and any person with a physical, sensory or intellectual disability are placed at the centre, in respect of every need and against all prejudices. Through assiduous and fruitful discussions, direct and personal or mediated by the associations by which they are represented, we gather ideas, advice and proposals with the aim of seeking to identify solutions to problems and criticalities.”
The constant commitment that FS Group dedicates to the needs of passengers, workers and any person with a physical, sensory or intellectual disability is aimed at reducing inequality and promoting an increasingly inclusive and sustainable society and business world through the gradual elimination of physical and cultural barriers.
Amongst the actions promoted by the FS Group are discussions with the Associations (ADV, ANGLAT, ANMIC, ANMIL, ANPVI, ASBI, CoordDown, ENS, FAND, FIABA, FIADDA, FISH, Lega Arcobaleno, UICI and UNMS), taking place through periodic meetings with the involvement of both the Italian Rail Network and the transport companies of Trenitalia and Busitalia, resulting in an increase in collective sensitivity regarding these issues over the years and the generation of a widespread corporate culture based on inclusiveness, solidarity and accessibility.
For example, dialoguing with and listening to the national and regional representatives of the main associations for people with disabilities led to the design of the new Rock and Pop regional trains, the first convoys of which have already been delivered to Emilia-Romagna, Veneto and Liguria, to guarantee even greater provisions than those set out under European legislation, in terms of comfort and accessibility.
The FS Italiane Group's commitment is also reflected through an intensive plan of operations aimed at eradicating architectural barriers in the stations and through the assistance services offered by the RFI Sale Blu circuit for people with reduced mobility and disabilities in promoting accessibility aboard the train.
A 400-million-euro investment has been fielded by RFI in the last two years for the operations aimed at eradicating architectural barriers in approximately 100 railway ports of call, distributed across the entire territory, with a constant increase in the services provided in over 300 stations belonging to the assistance circuit operated by the 14 Sale Blue. Since the end of 2010, the number of services has more than doubled, rising from 150,000 to around 360,000 services in 2018. The forecast for 2019 is to exceed 400,000 operations.
The SalaBlu+ smartphone application, developed with the involvement of the main national associations for people with disabilities, has also been designed to improve the accessibility of services and thus the travel experience overall.
In addition to meetings with the associations and the relative Beta Testers aimed at improving the accessibility of the apps (Trenitalia, Sala Blu+, nugo), the FS Group initiatives include courses held by FISH (Federazione Italiana per il Superamenti dell’Handicap—being the Italian federation for overcoming disabilities) and FAND (Federazione tra le Associazioni Nazionali delle Persone con Disabilità—the federation between the national associations of persons with disabilities) focused on training railway workers on the issues related to accommodating and supporting passengers with disabilities.
Once again this year, the FS Group has joined the Festival of Paralympic Culture, renewing its participation in FIABADay, the awareness campaign organised by the Fondo Italiano Abbattimento Barriere Architettoniche (FIABA—being the Italian Foundation for the Elimination of Architectural Barriers).
Finally, great attention is focused on the needs of people with reduced mobility or with disabilities, also through the FS Italiane Group's media channels, such as La Freccia and the digital weekly Note. Ample space in the publications was dedicated to events such as Disability Pride, which promotes the civil rights of people with disabilities, to people generally and to many Paralympic protagonists.