05. August 2015

Three quarters of German stations have barrier-free access

Access to stations for the disabled: differences between the federal states

Now what? The train platform cannot be reached. People with disabilities face this problem at a quarter of all German train stations.
Berlin, August 5 2015. People travelling with bicycles, wheelchairs or pushchairs know all about the difficulties of journeying by train. Nevertheless, as of today, more than three-quarters of all 5485 train stations in Germany are barrier-free. That is the conclusion of a federal state ranking compiled by the German Pro-Rail Alliance based on figures published by DB Service & Station. “A share of around 75 percent barrier-free stations in Germany shows that the country is making good progress. However, there is still a lot to be done to prepare for the needs of an aging society,” said Dirk Flege, managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance, on Wednesday in Berlin. The large difference between federal states is very noticeable. Whereas the best performers – largely rural Schleswig-Holstsein and the city-state of Berlin – have a 94 percent share of barrier-free stations, Saarland only manages 49 percent. Bavaria, which always likes to project itself as a top performer, is below the German average with 72 percent, the same as North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.

Stufenfreie Bahnhöfe in Deutschland

Anteil in Prozent, 2015


„‘Barrier-free access’, as defined by station operator Deutsche Bahn, means that all travellers can get onto the platform without requiring help from others. It is an important component of ‘barrier-free travel’, which does not just make demands on station construction but also includes trains themselves as well as the process of buying tickets and planning travel. To be classed as barrier-free, the entire travel chain has to be organized so that passengers with limited mobility can use the train without any problems. To help it prioritize the stations that need to be improved to enable wheelchair access, Deutsche Bahn agreed on the ‘one thousand passengers’ principle with the Federal Railway Agency. This says that railway stations with over 1,000 passengers per day should be equipped with lifts or long ramps, whereas stations with less that 1,000 passengers a day will only be adapted in special cases, such as if there is an old people’s home or facilities for disabled people nearby.

“For us, the marked differences within Germany clearly show how much support the federal states give to their stations.” Flege contradicted the commonly held view that only rail infrastructure companies are responsible for ensuring that access at stations is barrier-free. “Funding for railway station is the joint responsibility of Deutsche Bahn, the German government, the federal states and the local authorities,” said Flege, who welcomed the recent announcement by federal transport minister Alexander Dobrindt that 50 million euros will be invested in improvements to small and rural train stations by 2018. “Dobrindt’s special programme can only be a beginning. 50 million euros spread over three years is not enough. What is needed is 150 million euros annually, going beyond 2018. Where there are legal obligations to create barrier-free access to stations, local authorities and the federal states must not be left to cope on their own.” The managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance referred to its Train Station of the Year competition. “The jury naturally values barrier-free access very highly. It goes without saying that the winning stations in 2015 will be barrier-free.”

Additional information (German)