Improved Rail Transportation for Persons with Disabilities

Toronto, February 5, 1998 - Passengers with disabilities will soon be able to take advantage of more accessible rail cars and services which will help to make rail travel easier. This will be possible thanks to a new rail Code of Practice prepared by the Canadian Transportation Agency and released today at Toronto Union Station.

"This Code was built based on careful consultation with the rail industry and with persons with disabilities, with government bodies and with the general public", said Marian Robson, Chairman of the Canadian Transportation Agency. "It avoids rigid procedures and precise measurements and offers instead practical, functional solutions."

VIA's CEO, Terry Ivany, indicated that "growing numbers of persons with disabilities want to travel and we want them as customers. We are committed to making our trains more accessible and look at this Code as yet another step in reaching that goal."

Certain provisions of the Code apply to the accessibility of rail cars. For example, each passenger train should have at least one wheelchair tie-down in a coach car. Those trains with only one tie-down should have storage space for one other wheelchair.

Other provisions deal with service-related issues. The Code requires, for example, that when dining cars are not accessible, carriers must serve food and beverages to persons with disabilities. Limited assistance should also be provided at mealtime.

The Code further mentions that carriers should respect the wishes of persons who decide they do not require special services.

"The rail industry has made considerable progress over the past few years and I believe this Code will help bring about further improvements," explained Eric Norman, Chairman of the Canadian Council on Disabilities.

Although the measures outlined in the Code are voluntary, the Agency will monitor carriers' progress in implementing it.

While attending the launch in Toronto, the federal Minister of Transport, David Collenette, said that "every Canadian should have physical access to safe and efficient transportation across this country. Today's announcement will go a long way in ensuring that passengers with disabilities can benefit from our great rail network as easily as all Canadians. The CTA, rail carriers and the community of people with disabilities are to be congratulated for this initiative."

The Canadian Transportation Agency is responsible for the economic regulation of all modes of transportation under federal jurisdiction. Its mandate includes that of ensuring that persons with disabilities have access to the transportation network without having to face undue obstacles.

Backgrounder attached

Information: Monique Boivin (819) 997-0345

This release is available in alternative formats and on Internet at in both official languages.

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