Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New design renders passenger trains handicapped-accessible, compatible with freight trains

26.02.2003


As the deadline for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act draws closer, the commuter and passenger trains used in large swaths of the United States remain inaccessible to passengers in wheelchairs. Meanwhile, the elevated platforms many regional rail systems have erected to address this problem have created another, forcing bulky freight shipments off the rails and onto some of the busiest roadways in the nation.



Enter an engineering professor from the University of Pennsylvania who has designed a new train car that’s fully accessible to disabled passengers, compatible with freight trains and spacious enough to carry nearly 40 percent more passengers. The university has filed for patent protection.

"Current methods for boarding mobility-impaired passengers on commuter and intercity railroad trains are unsatisfactory from almost every perspective," said Edward K. Morlok, a professor of transportation and systems engineering. "The methods are demeaning to those passengers, create problems through delays and staffing requirements and can seriously interfere with freight shipping."


Problems arise when two different levels of platforms are found alongside the same set of tracks, a situation common in the northeastern U.S. Older low-level platforms deny access to disabled passengers, who cannot mount stairs to enter cars. Newer high-level platforms block the passage of freight trains, funneling truck traffic onto congested highways.

"With the ADA mandates coming into play, the conflict between universal accessibility and freight service is likely to worsen," Morlok said. "It’s a struggle with serious quality-of-life implications for many of our major cities."

Morlok’s answer to this dilemma is a split-level car divided into three sections, with the two ends at the level of a high platform (four feet above the rails) and the longer middle portion accessible from lower platforms (eight inches above the rails). Doors are situated at both levels, opening only at the appropriate stations, and a small lift within the car permits disabled passengers to move between levels.

Because the central portion of the car is lower, a second level can be added above it. To fit within railroad height restrictions in the Northeast, the double-deck levels are nested together to yield full headroom over aisles. The tri-level configuration carries some 130 passengers, compared to about 94 in current-generation cars with similarly wide seats.

"This solution is effective because it allows mobility-impaired passengers to quickly and safely board and exit railcars with little or no special efforts on the part of train crews," Morlok said. "Also, by making low-level platforms accessible to these passengers, commuter rail systems could abolish the high-level platforms where they impede freight traffic."

Morlok estimates that by more rapidly loading and unloading passengers, his design could shave 6 percent off the time it takes a commuter train to run its route and boost ridership 2 to 4 percent. Because fewer staffers would be required to assist passengers as they board and alight, the new design could slash train staffing costs by up to a third.

"All the evidence suggests smart operators will more than offset that by increasing train frequency -- a win-win for labor, the railroad and the public," he said.

Morlok has also developed a second car design whose vestibule features a stairwell that can rotate for access to either high or low platforms. Such a design would save considerable time for trains stopping at both types of platform; currently most such trains have to be reconfigured manually by conductors. It would also boost safety, since exterior doors could be added.

Steve Bradt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.upenn.edu/

More articles from Transportation and Logistics:

nachricht Study sets new distance record for medical drone transport
13.09.2017 | Johns Hopkins Medicine

nachricht Researchers 'count cars' -- literally -- to find a better way to control heavy traffic
10.08.2017 | Florida Atlantic University

All articles from Transportation and Logistics >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>