Wheelchair access to train, bus etc in Switzerland

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maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
682 posts
top member
Oct 15, 2019 - 10:57 AM

Hi everyone,

Regulars to this site may recall that we had to cancel our planned visits to Switzerland for 2018 because of my health issues.  We had hoped to try to visit in 2019 but this also proved to be impossible.  We really want to be able to go back to Switzerland next year possibly September to avoid busiest tourist time and have best weather.  However I now rely on a wheelchair outdoors (I can potter around indoors using a walking frame ) so will need to do research on accessibility.  I can contact Swiss Air about assistance at the airports and transporting the wheelchair which is a foldable electric chair and I know there are wheelchair spaces on mainline trains and some buses (e.g. the no 21 from Thun to Interlaken).  But I cannot recall ever seeing people using them and I am not an unobservant person as my sister has been a wheelchair user for a long time now making me more aware of possible problems.  Are Swiss people generally too healthy to need wheelchairs and do disabled travellers not visit Switzerland?  Is there a general website that would give me information about accessibility or will I need to check out all the different venues I would like to visit separately?  Also accessibility on different types of transport?  I would assume the bigger cable cars will be ok but I would need assistance on rolling gondolas to get me and the chair into the gondola.  I have seen the personnel helping with pushchairs so perhaps as long as the gondolas are manned I would manage.  Postbuses?  Funiculars?  So many possible problems I don't know where to start!  Can anyone help with advice?  I have plenty of time to research if necessary but need to decide first whether it is a feasible idea so that I can book suitable accommodation early - the apartment we had in Uetendorf in 2017 would be suitable but is popular so I would need to get in touch in good time.

Hoping my desire to return once again to my favourite places in the world is not a vain one!

Maggie

Arno
Arno
14101 posts
expert &
moderator
Oct 15, 2019 - 3:47 PM

Hi Maggie,

I'm sorry to hear your mobility has been compromised, not just temporarily! I think Switzerland is pretty well equipped for wheel chair users transportation wise. Of course the terrain isn't always great with slopes and cobble stone streets here and there. Being prepared is key I guess. I think only the smallest cableways may not be able to transport a wheel chair. If it's fold-able it should not be an issue anywhere. I do recommend to check the website of each venue though, just to be sure. Buses might be more of a challenge. As far as I know, not all bus stops and buses are ready yet for wheelchair users who can't out of their chair while boarding.

Some interesting links:

I hope this gets you started, and that you will be able to enjoy Switzerland again, albeit in a different way.

Last modified on Oct 15, 2019 - 3:47 PM by Arno
1960man
1960man
2254 posts
top member
Oct 16, 2019 - 1:07 AM in reply to maggiehorswell

My sister in law is mobility impaired and a CH lover so I'm fairly aware.

A law was passed a few years ago requiring train operators to start making at least one vehicle in a train wheelchair accessible. Also the global trend is for trains and buses to have low floors. Therefore many Swiss trains are now accessible.(there is a call ahead number cited on all Swiss timetables) I would say that things are pretty well catered for on the main Swiss transport network, so you would be able to travel to main destinations in the mountains (eg Zermatt)

mountain lifts (especially Gondolas) are possibly a different matter and might need individual research

Robertkelly1
Robertkelly1
7 posts
new member
Oct 16, 2019 - 6:03 PM

Hi.

sagetraveling.com may be a useful site to look at as they have information on wheelchair accessibility for trips in the Jungfrau/Interlaken region.

Good luck.

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
682 posts
top member
Oct 16, 2019 - 10:10 PM

Thank you all for your advice and links - they give me a good starting point for my research into the possibilities. At the moment I am able to get out of the chair to get into our car - I mainly have problems with breathing, balance and stamina if I attempt to walk very far. So I could get out of the chair to get into a gondola with a little assistance and fold the chair to stow it inside. It would need someone to hold the gondola up while we do this manoeuvre! I am aware of the hilly nature of pavements even in cities which is why we have opted for an electric chair as even here in Birmingham we are not all flat! (As Mike is also 76 I was getting concerned about him having to push me everywhere!) Cobbles could still be a bit problematic I agree. I have not yet got my chair (it is on order) and will have to practise using it here to see how well it copes with different terrains! We are just so keen to spend time in Switzerland again even if it means a different experience from what we have previously been able to enjoy!

Thanks again,

Maggie

Annika
Annika
6101 posts
expert &
moderator
Oct 17, 2019 - 6:14 AM in reply to maggiehorswell

Hi Maggie,

I'm so sorry to hear about your health issues. I can imagine it's pretty difficult to accept the fact you'll be dependent on a wheelchair now. Good to hear you're still determined to visit Switzerland though, even if you and Mike have to adapt to these new circumstances! Practicing with your wheelchair at home would be a good idea I think.

Your trip to Switzerland will require a more detailed planning now, and as suggested you'd best contact the railway and mountain transportation companies you'll be using in advance to find out how they can help you. In the end, I don't think there are that many journeys you'd have to refrain from, as in the majority of cases a wheelchair can be handled. And I'd also expect employees and other travelers to help you and Mike out if your wheelchair has to be carried in or out of a train with non-level floors.

Good luck with your preparations, and I hope you'll still be able to enjoy Switzerland next summer!

rockoyster
rockoyster
7611 posts
expert
Oct 17, 2019 - 1:51 PM in reply to Annika

Hi Maggie,

Good on you for getting stuck into the planning for your next trip. I’m sure it will work out fine with some careful preparation.

We are just approaching the end of a 5-week trip. We fly out on Saturday.

If I had known earlier I would have paid more attention during our travels but here’s just a few random observations:

  • around Thun all the buses seem to be those low floor jobs that tilt down towards the pavement when they stop.
  • in Vevey an elderly gentleman in a wheel chair was waiting at a bus stop and the driver got out and installed a small ramp so he could board the bus.
  • the new trains of the Appenzeller Bahn are very accessible. They even have wheelchair access points marked on several platforms.

Not much of this may be relevant to you but here’s wishing you all the best for your next trip.

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
682 posts
top member
Oct 28, 2019 - 1:28 PM

Many thanks for your input and good wishes Rockoyster. Am about to read your trip report now which I am sure will be as interesting and fun to read as ever!

I am clearly going to have to do more research than usual if we are to embark on what will be a different way of experiencing Switzerland!

Maggie

Steph
Steph
1979 posts
top member &
moderator
Oct 29, 2019 - 11:52 AM in reply to maggiehorswell

Hi Maggie,

I just found this page providing insight into wheelchair accessible hotels, parkings and ATMs, if this can be of any support for you.
- www.paramap.ch/

Best,
Steph

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
682 posts
top member
Oct 29, 2019 - 12:00 PM

Thanks Steph, will check it out.

Maggie

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