Olivier-Guy Demoulin

Rail passengers with mobility issues can now request assistance through new app

Rail passengers that have mobility issues will from now on be able to request assistance to help them board and get off trains through a new app. The Belgian rail company NMBS’ NMBS Assist app with allow people that need it to reserve assistance from a rail company staff member at their local station. The new app should make it easier for people living with a handicap that limits their mobility to travel around the country by train.  

During 2022 more than 48,000 requests for assistance were made by rail passengers. 

Those with mobility issues can request assistance at 132 of NMBS’ 550 stations nationwide. However, the request needs to be made no later than 24 hours prior to travel. At 41 larger stations a request for assistance can be made up to 3 hours before a person plans to take the train. 

Previously requests had to be made either by telephone or by filling in a form on the NMBS website. However, from now on requests will be able to be made via an app that can be opened easily on any smartphone.

NMBS Assist was developed in collaboration with Konekt, an organisation that promotes the inclusion of people that are living with a handicap. During consultations a panel of people that have mobility issues were able to say what they expected from the new app. A prototype of the app was then tested among a group of potential users.

Easy to download

The advantage of the new app is that it enables both those living with mobility issues and their parents or carers to reserve assistance in an easy and user-friendly way. In order to do so they will first need to set up a My NMBS account. The app only displays the stations where it is possible to request assistance.

It also allows its users to book assistance for repeat journeys and to file an assistance request up to 30 days in advance. NMBS Assist is available in both the Apple and Google Play Apps stores.

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