Barrier-free conversion Rail passengers criticise temporary staircase at Beuel station
Beuel · The Beuel railway station is to become barrier-free. However, during the years of reconstruction, platform 2 is almost inaccessible for people with walking difficulties, wheelchair users or people with prams. Those affected are annoyed.
Since the reconstruction of Beuel station, Helga P.'s (name changed) way to her workplace starts with a quite demanding sports programme. Twice a day, the 56-year-old has to run up and down 52 steps. And under time pressure. She only has five minutes to complete this obstacle course. But she doesn't always manage it, because climbing stairs is difficult for her. "Although I use public transport out of conviction, I switched back to the car a long time ago," she says.
For years, the 56-year-old has been taking the regional train from her flat in neighbouring Rhöndorf to work in Bonn. Within eleven minutes she is at the station in Beuel, from where the connection to Bonn city centre is actually well organised. But since the station is being rebuilt to be barrier-free as part of the S13 expansion, passengers can only transfer to another platform or to the bus stop via a high bridge. The associated temporary staircase is quite a challenge: 104 steps are an extremely athletic feat for many, which usually also has to be mastered under great time pressure. Before the construction work, passengers could only reach the platform via stairs, but they were shorter.
Helga P. is annoyed. "Has Deutsche Bahn even thought about how a normal passenger is supposed to manage this?" she asks. "Not to mention people with limited mobility or parents with prams." The stair construction is as high as a two-storey building, she says. After Deutsche Bahn recently announced that work on the extension of the S13 would be further delayed, Helga P. has drawn consequences. "I now go to work by car again. It's faster and, above all, more comfortable. But that can't be in the spirit of the desired traffic turnaround."
Eberhard and Annegret Schnieders are also stunned by the railway's sign that, due to construction work on the passenger subway, the central platform can only be reached via the temporary overpass. "We wanted to go on an excursion with our granddaughter. But how are we senior citizens supposed to manoeuvre the pram over the bridge?" says the 67-year-old and shakes her head. "Old and frail passengers and young parents are simply cut off from public transport here. And that for several more years," she says. Instead of going to Bonn's city centre, she now takes her buggy and granddaughter towards the banks of the Rhine.
"As long as the 9-euro ticket is available, I will still use public transport from time to time, but after that it's over," says Helga P. She has been paying 85 euros every month for her job ticket. "A lot of money, considering that I have no chance of getting my connection. Climbing stairs is already difficult for me. How am I supposed to manage this course in two or three years? Maybe even in snow, black ice or rain?" she asks. "No, I've been lost as a loyal passenger. Is that really the strategy behind the policy?" It's an assessment the Schnieders share. "Today it's our grandson's buggy, tomorrow maybe one of us will need a walker or a rollator. For us, it is clear that we are no longer welcome at the station in Beuel. But nowadays we shouldn't have to talk about accessibility," says Annegret Schnieders.
Deutsche Bahn refers to mobility service centre
"The passenger overpass was built at the beginning of the year in accordance with the current standards and, due to the complex structural situation, is unfortunately the only way to get to the central platform at the moment," a railway spokeswoman tells GA in response to a query. "During the construction period, passengers with limited mobility can use the Bonn main station as an alternative. This is equipped barrier-free and service staff on site will be happy to assist travellers. In addition, passengers with limited mobility can obtain information and advice from our mobility service centre." This service can be reached at 0180 6 512 512 or at email@example.com.
According to Deutsche Bahn, the station in Beuel will be made barrier-free by 2024 as part of the expansion for the S 13 between Troisdorf and Bonn-Oberkassel. By then, a new passenger subway as well as three new lifts, which will allow barrier-free access to all tracks, are to be built. "Work on the station is continuing steadily, and in March the subway was already lifted in piece by piece," says the spokeswoman.
(Original text: Gabriele Immenkeppel; Translation: Mareike Graepel)