HYDERABAD: In a significant step towards making trains more accessible for persons with disability, elderly and passengers with limited mobility, the South Central Railway has put in use a foldable wheelchair and a ramp in some of its trains on a pilot-bassis.
The service will commence from January 18 and the Guntur-Vikarabad Palnadu Express would be the first train to be equipped with the facility.
While wheelchairs have been provided at all the stations to make accessibility easier for such passengers, boarding a train and reaching their allotted seats still proves to be a challenge.
However, now passengers can meet the station master on duty and ask for wheelchair with seat access. They will also have to mention their alighting station so that information is passed on in advance to the station master concerned. The on-board house keeping staff will assist passengers to alight at the particular station. The facility is available on nominal charges.
An initiative was taken up on Guntur Division to provide a hassle-free access to passengers by developing a user-friendly prototype ramp which was further perfected in consultation with the industry. The ramp will help in pushing the wheelchair into the coach. The initiative also saw the developing of wheelchair that could have access into the narrow aisles of all coaches.
The real big challenge was to make a wheelchair comfortable enough for persons with disability so that they can enter all coaches, particularly third AC coaches which are generally narrow. The foldable wheelchair is light weighted, user-friendly and maneuverable helping them move easily along the aisle. Other features include swivelling footrest and foldable hand rest.
The chair comes equipped with handbrake and locking mechanism. The foldable ramp is capable of taking a load of 250 kg and is accessible to all coaches including AC.