Mehlem Deutsche Bahn plans to carry out work at Mehlem station over the next ten years. During a local inspection, the SPD and the Disabled Association Bonn looked at the shortcomings.
For wheelchair users, those who have difficulty in walking or who are visually impaired, mothers with prams, senior citizens with walking frames or even travellers with heavy luggage, Mehlem railway station is hardly usable. If you are coming from Bonn heading south and get off at platform 3, you can only leave the platform feasibly via a staircase. That is, if you can get out at all, because the edge of the platform is too low and therefore, the distance to the entry steps of the trains is too wide. But that's not all: tactile features for the visually handicapped to distinguish the boundary between the platform and the track are completely missing on platforms 1 and 3.
The route to the platforms is also difficult, as Daniela Werdin from Selbst Aktiv, the working group for people with disabilities in the SPD, discovered. She was on crutches and could only move at a snail's pace, due to presence of uneven surfaces and larger potholes. "With wheelchairs or walking frames you constantly get stuck, criticised Werdin, who elicited nods of agreement.
The financing of the construction work has been secured, says the railway
Together with other SPD politicians and the disabled community in Bonn, the members of the working group travelled around the station to draw attention to the shortcomings in accessibility. They more than found what they were looking for: numerous stairs, the absence of lifts, platform edges that were too low, a steep ramp that could only be used by electrically operated wheelchairs - the list was endless. The conclusion of the group was therefore not very positive: "Actually, everything is missing here", was the unanimous bottom line.
This is a situation that Deutsche Bahn (DB) would like to change - albeit in the long term rather than in the medium term. "Mehlem station will be upgraded to be accessible for the disabled", said a company spokesman in response to a GA request. The site will then be completely overhauled and the platforms will be raised, among other things. This was decided together with Nahverkehr Rheinland (NVR). Although the funding has already been secured, it is not yet possible to say when the work will commence, only that "it will be in the 2020s."
Disabled travellers can call the mobility service
But why so long? According to the DB spokesman, Mehlem station belongs to the third modernisation phase of the railway – along with 33 other stations in the Rhineland. In the first and second phases, further stations have been and will continue to be renewed. The DB and NVR will jointly determine which have priority. One criterion, for example, is user numbers. "Accessibility is very important", emphasised the spokesman. Unfortunately, it is only possible to modernise one station at a time. In the course of the DB offensive so far, about 75 percent of the stations in the Rhineland have been refurbished.
But this is of little help to those who currently use Mehlem station and cannot ascend the stairs. They should contact the DB Mobility Service Centre before starting their journey, on 0180/651 2512, according to a tip from the spokesperson. "There, the staff will look for alternative travel options.” However, if you end up spontaneously in Mehlem, you will end up with the short straw. If no help is in sight, you have no choice but to wait for the next train.
Original text: Ayla Jacob
Translation: John Chandler