VoSAP has been voicing the need for “Accessible India Campaign” since Jul 2014 to bring everyone together and work in campaign, mission mode to change the infrastructure – make our buildings, transportation and digital assets, fully accessible. VoSAP is happy that H’ble PM launched this campaign on Dec 3 2015. VoSAP also played lead role in providing inputs (Vision 2020 goals) to BJP manifesto committee in 2014 general elections for Specially Abled People, which are now stated goals of GOI.
Indian Railways is the biggest transportation mechanism in our country and to make it Accessible and SAP friendly is a great opportunity to seize. VoSAP has developed this proposal with 10 suggestions for kind consideration and suitable inclusion in the upcoming Railway Budget to demonstrate deep commitment for the needs of 7 crore people (Effectively 35 crore people, assuming average family size of 5), very large population that will benefit upon implementation of these suggestions.
[A] Accessibility Related Suggestions:
- Based on variables such as number of platforms, trains/day, average daily passenger traffic at the station (5% 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. Options suggested here include (a) low cost, foldable ramps, (b) manual wheel chairs at multiple designated locations, (c) elevators to go across the platforms, (d) Stair-lift that can carry passenger with the wheel chair (e) Power wheel chair with motorized lift (instead of foldable ramps) to elevate the wheel chair for safe and easy entry into the railway cart (f) Existing electric carts with ability to raise the cart for direct entry to the cart.
Many of these solutions are available in India. Advanced solutions, models for mass production can be developed to execute these measures, wherein spare parts, repairs, operators etc. are provisioned for. Some of the capital intensive solutions can be vendor operated wherein additional fees are collected by them for providing those services.
- Every railway station should be made fully accessible for all types of persons with disabilities. 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.
- One Accessible toilet per platform should be provided. CSR funds or PPP model to be deployed.
- Mobile app and Railway website should be fully compliant to Universal Accessibility standards. It should also carry information as which Railway station has what type of Assistive Devices available, where it is available and advance booking options along with ticket booking.
- At bigger stations, 1 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. Multiple electronic sign boards at every platform for announcements display for hearing impaired.
- Update seat numbers with Braille and similarly tickets to be printed in braille if not printed online.
- As part of long term solution, at minimum 1 specially designed fully accessible railway car should be added to every train – this car will have chairs, sleeper coach, rest rooms etc. internal design as per the universal accessibility standards. This car / carriage will also have permanent ramp and space for wheel chair movements. This will be a permanent solution. As railways modernize, 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.
[B] Training Related Suggestions:
- Special Training of Railway Police, Porters, Ticket Checkers and Station Masters for the Special Needs of Specially Abled People and how to provide help to them on the station (luggage help, wheel chair help, holding hand of visually impaired and get them to the seat in the train etc.) as well in the trains to ensure their travel is safe and required help is provided
- Railways should hire min 5% of their employees who are Specially Abled People / Persons with Disabilities. Identify certain jobs and include required special skill development and training programs within Railways HR department and Training institutes for making these Specially Abled People productive. Budget for their special needs, tools etc. but huge opportunity to Empower thousands of SAP and their families who can be employed for back office jobs, ticket windows, at manufacturing and services locations etc.
[C] Inclusive Business Practices by Vendors of Indian Railways:
- All vendors to Indian Railways will need to follow baseline requirements such as 5% employment of Specially Abled People, Accessible office and factory buildings including Accessible toilets.
In VoSAP’s view, with great visionary leader, H’ble Rail Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu ji, and his budget team will work towards including these suggestions in the upcoming budget and support “Accessible India Campaign” launched by H’ble PM Shri Modi ji. Needless to say these initiatives, package for Specially Abled People by Railways will have far reaching strategic impact and opportunity for much larger goodwill creation.
VoSAP is looking forward to work together to transform our Railways, take pride for providing SAFE, Accessible services to crores of Specially Abled People and make Railways as PREFERRED mode of transportation.