Making trains and other infrastructure accessible to people with reduced mobility is one of the major goals of French railways operator SNCF*. The various disability regulations in force are driving the group to continue with and improve this upgrade project. Accessibility is therefore a technical and regulatory issue, but can also be a corporate goal with competitive value**, as SNCF positions itself as a pioneer in terms of accessibility.
It's in this context that SNCF Engineering called on Dény Security to help simplify access to toilets for travelers with reduced mobility within its high-speed TGV trains. The result of a year's worth of development and a close collaboration between the Dény Security Design Office, SNCF and the manufacturer of the toilet module, this new-generation accessibility lock is designed to be fitted to toilet modules aimed at people with reduced mobility. It is fitted with 3 different tactile indicators which allow people with reduced vision to find out easily and quickly whether the toilets are occupied, unoccupied or out of order.
During the design process undertaken with SNCF, the top priority was ensuring the reliability of the accessible lock. In fact, it is important that the lock can withstand several years of relatively intense use in the train network. The question of maintainability, or the ability to keep the locks in good working order at limited cost, is also important for SNCF and was integrated into the development of this solution.
This question of reliability helped influence the simplicity of its operation, ensuring that the lock is easy and comfortable to use for all passengers. To do this, a code of colors and shapes was adopted. Green, red and yellow were thereby associated with tactile symbols: a round convex, round concave or cross-shaped indicator on the outside of the toilet module allowed people with reduced vision to identify correctly whether the toilet was occupied or not.
The challenge consisted equally of perfecting a locking system which met the limitations relating to the work of SNCF personnel. This is why the new accessible locks offer similar functionality to that of previous solutions. They can therefore, in the event of a malfunction, render the toilet model out of order using the Berne key they normally use. If a user needs to be rescued for any reason, SNCF train crew can also open the accessible lock from outside the toilet module.
Initially, the project for deploying the new accessible locks covered about a hundred train sets. This number continues to increase as the solution had been developed to be compatible with the majority of existing rolling stock.
Finally, the outlook is opening up beyond the French market and across all of Europe: the subject of accessible locking systems is becoming of interest to more and more European rail operators.