How to achieve a fully accessible transport system in the EU — the view of the European Disability Forum

by Marie Denninghaus, Policy Coordinator of the European Disability Forum

EDF believes that all people have the right to enjoy seamless, accessible and independent travel. This is in accordance with the EU Treaties that guarantee the right to free movement for all citizens as well as Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Despite this fact, persons with disabilities can still not fully benefit from this right as the transport system throughout the EU remains largely inaccessible.

EDF is therefore actively lobbying the European Union to move towards a barrier-free Europe for all to achieve a fully accessible transport chain from door to door.

In the field of transport, this implies:

  • respecting the Design for All principle when designing transport vehicles such as trains or buses and surrounding infrastructure such as train stations
  • that information about a journey is made accessible and easy to understand for everybody
  • that information about the level of accessibility of a certain mode of transport is made available for all users
  • if transport is not fully accessible: providing assistance from the point of departure to the point of arrival at the final destination of a disabled passenger, tailored to his specific needs, at no extra cost
  • disability awareness and disability equality training for all personnel working in the transport sector
Image 1: Person using a wheelchair facing an inaccessible escalator in a railway station (credits: European Railway Agency)

The most important topics EDF is working on related to transport policy at the moment is the revision of the Regulation on Rail Passengers’ Rights (1371/2007) and the proposed European Accessibility Act. The Act would make products and services, including transport services such as ticketing or real-time information, more accessible for persons with disabilities.

Other important EU-level transport legislation and initiatives relate to rail accessibility (Regulation 1300/2014), passengers’ rights in air, waterborne, as well as bus and coach transport, and standardisation.

Image 2: Sign at Lille Europe station, France, showing that persons with disabilities have priority (credit: Marie Denninghaus)

About the European Disability Forum:

The European Disability Forum is an independent NGO that defends the interests of 80 million Europeans with disabilities. EDF is a unique platform which brings together representative organisations of persons with disabilities from across Europe. It is run by persons with disabilities and their families. EDF is a strong, united voice of persons with disabilities in Europe.

About the Author:

Marie Denninghaus is a policy coordinator who has been working for the EDF secretariat since march 2013. She is mainly responsible for the areas of accessibility of transport and the built environment, tourism, and consumer issues. Previous work experience includes communication work related to passengers’ rights and with the European Commission.

She studied Political Sciences and Economics at the University of Essex, UK, as well as University Jean Moulin Lyon III, France, and graduated from University College London (UCL) with a Master’s degree in European Studies.


Issues related to impaired and reduced mobility users are covered by the publication recently published by Springer on the Towards User-Centric Transport in Europe, Challenges, Solutions and Collaborations and will be discussed during the final event of the Mobility4EU project:

‘TUCTE 18 — Enabling seamless and sustainable mobility for all”



Connecting stakeholders to discuss and advocate for user-centric approaches and cross-modal cooperation in transport of passsengers and freight.

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European Transport and Mobility Forum Mobility4EU

Connecting stakeholders to discuss and advocate for user-centric approaches and cross-modal cooperation in transport of passsengers and freight.