CP has new ombudsman for passengers with special needs

The company is committed to promoting improvements that ensure everyone's accessibility and comfort

CP - Comboios de Portugal has been expanding its commitment to passenger inclusion in a continuous effort to make rail transport an accessible, comfortable and safe experience for everyone.
Over the last few years, significant improvements have been made to rolling stock and services to ensure that special-needs passengers have increasingly barrier-free journeys.

At the beginning of 2024, CP's new Ombudsman for Passengers with Special Needs, Diogo Martins, 34, took up his post. His job is to advise on practices that defend and promote accessibility to CP's services for all citizens. For the last 19 years, the position has been held by Lieutenant-Colonel António Neves, who contributed greatly to the inventory of access obstacles and helped prioritise the adoption of measures to make mobility an acquired right.
Diogo Martins, who has taken part in various accessibility tests on CP rolling stock since 2012 and has also taken part in meetings of the company's Advisory Council for Passengers with Special Needs, is passionate about the railway and is an Ambassador for #DiversityInTransport. He specialises in accessibility, particularly on trains, and over the years has taken part in various projects, including European ones, to improve services and accessibility to public transport and promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities. He suffers from Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, a rare and progressive disease.

"Being appointed as a Special Needs Customer Ombudsman is very important on a personal level, recognising a lifetime of work dedicated to improving accessibility to public transport, but because this is the company in which my passion for trains was born and raised. It's not just about liking trains, it's about understanding that the public transport sector, and in particular the railway sector, will be essential for the future of humanity," says Diogo Martins, who wants to help make services more "accessible and inclusive". "This is where I think this position makes all the difference, by showing a vision of diversity and inclusion, by appointing a disabled person for the second time," he said.

His first objectives as an Ombudsman are to identify opportunities for improvement and to listen to and involve people, outlining short, medium and long-term priorities. Diogo Martins says that he has found in CP "openness to change what is necessary" and, above all, "the will to do it" and to "do it well".

More ramps on the trains and various accessibility improvements

CP's rolling stock has been subject to accessibility improvements. By the end of January, all 34 Porto urban trains are expected to be equipped with new access ramps. In the same period, all the trains on the Cascais line will be equipped with portable ramps eliminating the time restrictions on the SIM service - Integrated Mobility Service for Passengers with Special Needs, which CP workers provided at the stations.

By the end of March, the goal is for 45 UTE 2240 series coaches, which run on the electrified network on the regional service and are also assigned to the Coimbra-Figueira da Foz urban service via Alfarelos and the Sado Line, to be equipped with an access lift, which will allow boarding and disembarking at any station.
A new system for attaching the ramp to the train has also been developed for the Lisbon Urban double-decker trains to prevent the ramps from moving during boarding and disembarking, increasing the safety of this operation.

CP is also progressively updating the toilet and access door control buttons on several of its trains, making them more intuitive and displaying relevant information about their status (e.g. free or occupied toilet).

In Intercidades carriages, in addition to the audible passenger information system, there will also be visual information inside and outside (such as destination, stops, warning messages, etc).

The new trains being purchased by CP fully comply with European standards for the transport of passengers with reduced mobility by rail.

Alongside these and other improvements to the rolling stock, CP will launch a new website in 2024, which will bring improvements in terms of accessibility, and a new app.

In recent years, CP has been reducing the time needed to request SIM assistance - from 48 to 24 hours, then to 12, and since last year it has been six hours. The aim is to continue reducing this period.

In 2024, CP will also have new vending machines that will be accessible and easier to use, as well as selling all services.

Who is Diogo Martins?

Born and raised in Lisbon, Diogo Martins is 34 years old and suffers from Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy. He is passionate about the railway and an advocate of accessibility for everyone.

Among other things, he co-founded and was the first president of the Centre for Independent Living, developing the first personal assistance pilot project for people with disabilities; coordinated a Working Group for Accessibility in Lisbon's Public Transport Network; and helped develop an accessibility assessment tool, its data model and methodology for the "Mapping accessibile transport for persons with reduced mobility" study for the European Commission. He is currently directly involved in "Accessible EU", also a European Commission project involving accessibility assessment in all member states.

He has completed various training courses in urban planning, mobility and transport, most recently in railway infrastructure. He is a certified trainer and accessibility consultant, having worked with various transport companies in Portugal and on a number of European projects to improve accessibility to public transport services and promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities. He has taken part in several conferences and published on these topics.

He is an Ambassador for #DiversityInTransport and now CP's Ombudsman for Passengers with Special Needs.

What is CP's Advisory Council for Passengers with Special Needs?

The Advisory Council for Passengers with Special Needs is made up of several associations, namely ACAPO - Associação dos Cegos e Amblíopes de Portugal, ADFA - Associação dos Deficientes das Forças Armadas, APD - Associação Portuguesa de Deficientes, APS - Associação Portuguesa de Surdos, CNOD - Confederação Nacional dos Organismos de Deficientes and Fundação LIGA, and the Instituto Nacional para a Reabilitação, Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP), Associação Nacional de Municípios Portugueses (ANMP), as well as CP.

The Ombudsman for Passengers with Special Needs advises on practices that defend and promote accessibility to CP services for all citizens with special needs. Their main mission is to help consolidate customer confidence in the services CP provides, defending and promoting the rights, guarantees and legitimate interests of these customers. It must also identify obstacles in the services provided by CP and help prioritise interventions to improve mobility and accessibility, as well as make recommendations to CP's Board of Directors with a view to correcting practices that affect the quality and efficiency of the services provided by the company in this area.