Rome, 13 February 2019
Today the Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (FS Italiane Group) SalaBlu+ app was unveiled. The app is dedicated to offering station assistance services to disabled people and people with reduced mobility, even temporarily, who choose to travel by train. With SalaBlu+, whose functions were illustrated by Maurizio Gentile, managing director and general manager of RFI, you can request assistance directly from your smartphone at one of more than 300 stations managed by the Sala Blu service, staying in touch with the operators by chat or telephone. The application, which can be downloaded from the Android and iOS stores, offers an easy way to build your trip, consult the departure and arrival timetables of any station, receive notifications about your trip and contact a Sala Blu operator (recall service).
The assistance service has also been enhanced with the new web-chat for people with hearing disabilities; the function is accessible through the SalaBlu Online portal, and allows you to request assistance with the same response time as a phone call.
The main national associations of people with disabilities were involved in the process of creating SalaBlu+, in order to pay particular attention to ensuring the services are accessible.
SalaBlu+ has, in fact, been certified by the ASPHI Foundation (Avviamento e Sviluppo di Progetti per ridurre l’Handicap mediante l’Informatica) for compliance with the accessibility guidelines published by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium).
The channels available to people with disabilities and reduced mobility are completed by the SalaBlu Online portal, available at www.rfi.it, on freephone number 800.90.60.60 (from landlines) and on the national number at ordinary rates 02.32.32.32 (from landline and mobile phones).
The launch of the new SalaBlu+ app and the SalaBlu Online web-chat underscores RFI's and the FS Italiane Group's commitment to improving the travel experience of disabled people and people with reduced mobility who choose to travel by train. This is reflected in the data on service bookings, which are constantly on the rise: since 2011, when activities started on behalf of RFI, the number of services provided free of charge at the railway stations belonging to the Sale Blu network has more than doubled, rising from 150,000 to about 360,000 at the end of 2018.
More than 300 stations are now served, also thanks to the expansion of the network with the inclusion of 23 new stations at the beginning of 2019. The number of "fast" stations, where only one hour's notice is required to book the service, has doubled in the last 5 years to 30 today. The supply of approximately 470 new lifting mechanisms for wheelchair users is also nearing completion.
Moreover, in order to promote intermodal transport, RFI has set up an integrated train/aircraft assistance service at Fiumicino Airport. The initiative, which is the result of a collaboration agreement with ADR Assistance, the Rome Airport company dedicated to the PRM service, seeks to provide continuous assistance to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility in transit from the train to the plane and vice versa.
Finally, in order to encourage the use of the train and ensure better accessibility for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, RFI is implementing an intense programme of gradually eliminating physical obstacles in most stations throughout the country. In 2017 and 2018, 100 railway stations completed renovation and removal of architectural barriers, including the construction of new elevators and escalators, for a total investment of about 500 million euros.