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Europe’s Most Accessible Railway Nations

In a fast moving world, the availability of accessible public local transport and long-distance railway services aren’t just a matter of convenience; it’s a fundamental right. Accessibility in travel is crucial in strengthening participation for people with disabilities across various spheres of life.

Accessibility in travel is more than just structural adaptations like ramps or elevators. Accessibility means also providing assistive technologies, passenger information that is intelligible to all, and creating service offerings for travellers with special needs.

When railway stations and trains are designed to include everybody, it empowers everybody. For people with disabilities, it fosters social equality and opens more opportunities for individuals with diverse needs.

Outward mobility: a young man in a wheelchair is waiting at the airport.

Train Travel Accessibility – Evaluating Major Railway Nations

A team of mobility experts at Omio evaluated railway stations in 16 major European railway nations, with a particular focus on assessing the current state of accessibility.

We focused on critical aspects of accessibility, including wheelchair access to platforms and trains, guidance for the visually impaired, and the availability of digital visual passenger information.

European City: photo of a cane along a tactile yellow line

Our study looked at both major train stations in cities and smaller ones in the countryside to understand how easy it is for people to use the train systems. We analysed official data from railway network operators and paired it with firsthand observations. This allowed us to create a clearer picture of barrier-free train travel in Europe, and highlighted country-specific challenges.

We trust that our findings will offer valuable insights for improving accessible train systems and contribute to the ongoing discourse on mobility for all.


The Most Accessible Railway Nation


The Most Accessible Railway Nation

Our European study has revealed impressive results for the Netherlands. Nearly all train stations and trains in the Netherlands offer easy access to both the platform and trains. Additionally, 99 percent of stations own constructional pathways for the visually impaired as well as up-to-date digital information screens for people that are deaf or hard of hearing. All of this represents significant progress in creating an accessible railway infrastructure.

Only about three percent of Dutch train stations lack accessible pathways to the platform. This puts the Netherlands at the top of our list and makes it a leading European nation when it comes to accessible rail travel, setting an inspiring example for other countries. The Netherlands demonstrates how thoughtful design and dedicated effort can enhance the travel experience for everyone, regardless of their abilities.

United Kingdom

Major Challenges for the UK

United Kingdom

Major Challenges for the UK

In the UK, accessible train travel raises concerns with only 61 percent of platforms at British railway stations being accessible. Our analysis indicates that the United Kingdom ranks among the least accessible rail nations in Europe.

Ranking at number 9 out of the 16 countries analysed, it highlights alarming inadequacies for individuals with disabilities in national rail transport. Inaccessible transportation systems pose substantial limitations on the mobility and independence of people with disabilities, contributing to social isolation and restricting opportunities for employment and travel, among other consequences. Daily challenges in navigating public spaces undermine the quality of life and the ability to fully participate in society.

Moreover, beyond the state of barrier-free platforms, there is a need for further improvement in guidance systems for blind and visually impaired people at railway stations. Currently, only 60 percent of platforms are equipped with guidance, such as tactile pavement on the floor, for people with visual impairments,

Thankfully, digital displays with passenger information are available at 7 out of 10 platforms. As for the remaining platforms, travellers primarily depend on apps providing traffic information or well-informed staff and conductors to obtain current updates on their journey.

In summary, British railway operators and decision-makers still have much work to do to achieve complete accessibility in the railway system. The ongoing efforts and implementations are a positive sign for a future where mobility is fully accessible for everybody.

Reviewed: Busiest Railway Stations in Europe

London Liverpool Station
London Liverpool Street
80m passengers / Accessible platforms: ✅ / Tactile pavement on platforms: ✅ / Digital passenger information: ✅
Birmingham station
Birmingham New Street
31m passengers / Accessible platforms: ✅ / Tactile pavement on platforms: ✅ / Digital passenger information: ✅
Leeds Station
24m passengers / Accessible platforms: ✅ / Tactile pavement on platforms: ✅ / Digital passenger information: ✅
Manchester station UK
Manchester Piccadilly
23m passengers / Accessible platforms: ✅ / Tactile pavement on platforms: ✅ / Digital passenger information: ✅
glasgow central station
Glasgow Central
21m passengers / Accessible platforms: ✅ / Tactile pavement on platforms: ✅ / Digital passenger information: ✅

Czech Republic

Insufficient Accessibility in the Czechia

Czech Republic

Insufficient Accessibility in the Czechia

The Czech railway network significantly lags behind its European counterparts when it comes to rail accessibility. Despite having wheelchair access options inside all passenger trains, accessing the platform itself still remains an issue with only 20 percent of public platforms having stair-free or barrier-free access. Limitations like this do not just affect wheelchair users but also other people with mobility impairments, posing a major obstacle for those wanting to use long-distance public transport.

Additionally, only 1 in 2 platforms at Czech railway stations are equipped with guidance systems for the blind, with around 60 percent of the stations providing up-to-date visual travel information on digital destination boards. The status highlights the need for further investment to create an accessible railway network in the Czech Republic.

Study abroad for disabled students: photo of a group of students.

European Union Promotes Broad Accessibility

The European Union is pushing regulations for accessibility in public transport, including railways. The regulations emphasise the importance of accessibility and call on member states to take appropriate actions to ensure equal participation in public transport for everybody. The Czech Republic’s position in this ranking underscores the urgency to implement these EU guidelines and improve accessibility in railway transport.

The Most Accessible Railway Nations

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1 🇳🇱 Netherlands 97% 99% 99% 100.0
2 🇩🇪 Germany 81% 97% 98% 90.0
3 🇸🇪 Sweden 99% 90% 90% 87.0
4 🇳🇴 Norway 99% 90% 80% 76.8
5 🇱🇺 Luxembourg 31% 90% 90% 54.9
6 🇨🇭 Switzerland 49% 75% 75% 40.7
7 🇦🇹 Austria 57% 55% 80% 40.4
8 🇫🇷 France 33% 90% 70% 35.4
9 🇬🇧 United Kingdom 61% 60% 70% 34.3
10 🇮🇪 Ireland 40% 99% 60% 33.4
11 🇧🇪 Belgium 24% 75% 75% 29.2
12 🇪🇸 Spain 58% 70% 60% 27.4
13 🇩🇰 Denmark 22% 22% 90% 18.1
14 🇮🇹 Italy 15% 60% 70% 12.4
15 🇵🇱 Poland 60% 17% 60% 3.3
16 🇨🇿 Czech Republic 20% 50% 60% 0.0
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