In August 2022, Amtrak announced a new, much more accessible rail car, the Venture Car by Siemens. Here are some of the great improvements that have been made:
The rail car has a built-in wheelchair lift, making boarding and leaving the train much easier overall, and includes overhead LED displays that provide important information to passengers in a visual format.
Additionally, Amtrak’s accessible bathroom is spacious enough to park a full-size power wheelchair right by the toilet. There are grab bars on the walls next to the toilet seat as well as a roll-under motion-activated sink and an automatic push-button door.
The aisles inside the train are also spacious and allow wheelchair users to move throughout the train with much more ease. The aisles are currently 32 inches wide, making the passage through the train more safe for passengers who are wheelchair users, providing them with the freedom and independence that narrower aisles do not.
Another updated area in the Venture Car is the wheelchair seating area that has plenty of room for wheelchairs and scooters. It includes two seats, whose seat cushions are foldable, in case more room is needed.
Although the Siemens Venture Car shows great promise of a more accessible future, there are still some limitations, including the inconvenient placement of power outlets and tray tables in the seating area and the inability to recline the seats for disabled passengers. Moreover, Amtrak is considering reducing the 32-wide aisle to narrower ones. Hopefully, Amtrak will decide not to make this choice and will continue taking steps towards making the Venture Car more accessible, spacious, and comfortable for passengers with disabilities.