November 18, 2011

Part 2: The Renaissance Accessible Economy class

As part of the capital investment projects, nine Renaissance economy class cars will become more accessible through various upgrades including new accessible washrooms and wheelchair tie-downs.

"If all designs are implemented as planned, the accessible Renaissance cars may be one of the best accessible cars in the world", projects Uwe Rutenberg, International Transportation Consultant at Rutenberg Design Inc.

These cars will have a 1500mm diameter circle - in order for wheelchairs to have ample room to manoeuvre - in the washroom, at the entrance of the car as well as in the tie-down area.

In order to make this reconfiguration happen, the end of the Renaissance cars will be completely gutted, reconfigured and rebuilt. VIA is taking this renovation very seriously and a full-sized mock-up of the new washroom was built for testing. Various changes were implemented based on these tests, including the placement and size of grabbars in the washrooms and pivoting support arms near the toilet. This may seem like a small change, but it is very significant with respect to ease-of-use for the accessible community, and also for elderly passengers.

A visual depiction of the old vs. new layout is seen in the blueprint detail above, which shows clearly where the accessible washrooms and upgraded tie-downs will be placed within the car. There will also be space where a service animal can be accommodated, in the “tie-down area” labeled in the new layout section.

This work is one part of a larger overhaul which will improve the Renaissance fleet’s accessibility and efficiency.