Railway platform height
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On a railway the platform height refers to the height of a railway platform above the rail. The value varies between railway systems. A related term is "train floor height" which is the height of the floor of the rail vehicle. There are a wide number of standards for platform heights and train floor heights. Platform height impacts both the loading gauge, which is the maximum size of train, and must be within the structure gauge.
Platform height (and platform gap) are risk factors in passenger safety - platform ramps, steps and platform gap filler together with hazard warnings such as "mind the gap" are used to minimise risk, and/or simplify access
Many train systems use a lower platform and steps on the train up to the train's floor.
- 1 Height categories
- 2 Asia
- 3 Europe
- 4 North America
- 5 Russia
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Buses, trams, trolleys and railway passenger cars are divided into several typical categories.
- Ultra low floor tram - 180 mm (7 in)
- Low floor tram - 300 to 350 mm (12 to 14 in)
- High floor tram - more than 600 mm (24 in)
- Low floor train - 550 mm (22 in)
- Train (in UK or narrow gauge) - 800 to 1,200 mm (31.5 to 47.2 in)
- Standard North American passenger cars - 1,300 mm (51 in)
- Train (standard gauge (except UK) or broad gauge) - 1,300 to 1,370 mm (51 to 54 in)
The majority of railway systems in Australia use high level platforms with a platform height a small distance below the train floor level. Exception to this include Queensland who have narrow gauge trains and lower platforms, and South Australia who have trains fitted with low level steps to enable the use of low level platforms.
New South Wales
Over a long period of time, the gap and step between platform and train got worse and worse, to the extent that boarding or alighting trains could become difficult for some people. Starting with the Airport railway line and the Olympic Park railway station, new standards were defined so that the gap is minimised with fillets and the step eliminated with the platform and the train at the same height.
Metro and Light Rail
The tramway network in Melbourne have some low level platforms and low floor vehicles, but most trams have steps and are boarded from the road. The Adelaide Tram line has low platforms at almost all stops and operates almost entirely with low-floor trams which also have retractable ramps for street boarding where required by persons unable to step up.
Chinese platforms are 381mm, 550mm, 760mm and 1250mm.
Hong Kong platforms on the MTR are 1100 mm above rail.
Iranian platforms are 381mm, 550mm and 760mm.
North Korean platforms are 1250mm.
European Union high speed rail
The European Union Commission issued a TSI (Technical Specifications for Interoperability) on May 30, 2002, (2002/735/EC) that sets out standard platform heights for passenger steps on high-speed rail. These standard heights are 550 mm and 760 mm.[note 1] The minimum platform length shall be 400 m. Platform rebuilds shall be finished until 2020.[clarification needed]
Germany's EBO standard (Ordinance on the Construction and Operation of Railways) specifies an allowable range of 380 mm to maximal 960 mm. This would not include light rail systems that follow the BOStrab standard (Ordinance on the Construction and Operation of Tramways) with newer metro lines to use low-floor trams which have a usual floor height of 300 mm to 350 mm so that platforms are constructed as low as 300 mm in accordance with BOStrab that requires the platform height to be lower than the floor height.
The traditional platforms had a very diverse height as the nationwide railway network is a union of earlier railway operators. Following the European TSI standard the EBO standard requires that new platform construction be at a common height of 760 mm height. Only the S-Bahn suburban rail systems had a higher platform height and these are standardized on 960 mm.
While older platforms on the Dublin and Kingstown Railway were at lower levels, all platforms are now 915mm above rail and all new platforms are being built at that level. Amongst other work, there is an ongoing program of platform renewal. Both Irish railway companies (Irish Rail in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland Railways in Northern Ireland) have had some derogations from EU standards as their mainline rail systems, while connected to each other, are not connected to any other system.
The electric DART fleet has carriage floors at 1067mm above top of rail creating a step of 152mm, while the diesel fleet is typically one step (150-200mm) higher than the platform.
On Dublin's Luas tram system, platforms are approximately 280mm above rail. Tram floors are at the same height, but have internal steps over the bogies.
European Commission decision 2002/735/EC which concerns trans-European interoperability for high speed rail specifies that rolling stock be built for operational suitability platform height of 840 mm. New Dutch rolling stock on regional lines has been ordered with level entry at 760 mm above the track.[when?] Dutch infrastructure maintainer ProRail has committed to upgrading all stations to 760 mm platform height.
Typical Polish platform is 550 mm high, as in France, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Czech Republic. In some urban/suburban areas (e.g. around Warsaw) platforms used by local traffic are higher (760–1060 mm).
While older Spanish platforms are lower than the rest of Europe, many platforms are now 680 mm above rail. After gauge conversion from 1668 mm Iberian gauge to 1435 mm standard gauge, platforms will change to higher (1250 mm).
Sweden has generally 380 to 580 mm platforms for mainline trains. Stockholm Commuter Rail has almost always its own platforms at 730 to 1150 mm height which allows stepless trains of type X60. The Arlanda Express service has 1150 mm platform height with floor at platform level. They have their own platforms and trains, which are incompatible with mainline platforms and trains, even if the Arlanda Express goes on a mainline.
High Speed 2 is expected to be built to dimensions conforming to the European Union technical standards for interoperability for high-speed rail (EU Directive 96/48/EC) i.e. either 550 mm and 760 mm; High Speed 1 has a platform height of 760mm on its international platforms.
In Canada only Montreal's Central Station and Quebec's Gare du Palais has high level platforms at 48 inches (1,200 mm) above top of rail. Almost everywhere else, the platforms are 8 inches (200 mm) above the rail.
- Metro and Light Rail
On the Toronto streetcar system, most stops are without raised platforms, but there are a number of low-level platforms on streetcar lines that have been upgraded to LRTs in central lane reservations (St. Clair Avenue, Spadina Avenue, Queens Quay, the Queensway), on Roncesvalles Avenue, and at isolated points elsewhere in the system, usually at larger transfer points involving island medians in the roadway. Passengers must still use stairs inside all streetcars (which are high-floor and upwards of 30 years old) to board and alight at all stops, until new low-floor streetcars are delivered (expected to be in 2013).
Federal rules and regulations as well as local traditions vary. Tolerances are specified in Federal regulations related to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), while NOT specifying height above the rail, in the 49 CFR Part 37, Appendix A, §10.3.1(9) and DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION DISABILITY LAW GUIDANCE - FULL-LENGTH, LEVEL-BOARDING PLATFORMS IN NEW COMMUTER AND INTERCITY RAIL STATIONS (2005). Train platform heights are being specified in recent changes to Sec 37.41 (2006), as described below.
There are substantial differences in platform height between eastern and southern/western rail systems, intercity and commuter rail. Eastern US rail stations serving the North East Corridor from Washington DC to New York, have a platform height standard of 48 inches (1,200 mm) above top of rail. Most intercity stations, particularly in the southern/western United States, use 8-inch-high (200 mm) platforms, while southern/western US commuter rail systems use 25 inches (640 mm) above top of rail platform heights. Recent proposed ADA regulatory changes to support platform level entry forcing a change in southern/western platform heights above top of rail from 8 or 25 inches (200 or 635 mm) to 15 inches (380 mm) were canceled.
- Example of Changes
RailPac suggests in a report that changes to the 8" and 25" platform height standard are happening. "Another problem is the proposal for the height of platforms for new stations. The Federal Department of Justice (DOJ) wants to have platforms 15 inches above the top of the rails. At this time, most are 8 inches high (except on the northeast corridor). The DOJ is still in the process of creating the proposal, but the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is treating it like an existing rule.
Some of the effects of this include the problem of a single height platform when multiple types of railcars (with different platform heights) use a station. Right now, Amtrak cannot use the new platforms at certain stations because the platforms do not match with the height of the railcars. If Amtrak uses those platforms, it is in danger of losing operating funds. The 15 inch height will cause problems with freight cars passing them. If this rule is in effect when the Coast Daylight is ready to run, it will greatly complicate the service.
At this time, there is a new platform at the Hanford station which was built with state money but the FRA will not allow trains to use that platform.
The CRCC decided to ask federal legislators to work on changing the rule of platform height, in order to allow more flexibility."
The changes described above are explained in Federal Register: February 27, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 38) page 9764, Commuter and Intercity Rail Station Platform Accessibility, "Amtrak cars serving the area in which the commuter system will be operated. This means that cars in the eastern part of the US would have floor heights of 48 inches above top of rail, while those in the southern/western part of the US would have floor heights of 15 inches above top of rail. The purpose of this proposal is to prevent situations—some of which the Department has encountered—in which Amtrak and commuter rail cars with different floor heights use the same station platforms, complicating the provision of level entry boarding."
- Metro and Light Rail
Transit Journal by American Public Transit Association, (1981), suggests that light rail platform heights have been standardized to "slightly over 3 feet." (914.4 mm) and is very similar to the UK 915 mm platform height standard. The New York City Subway's R36 (1962 World Fair Specification) order, used on the 7 service from 1962 to 2003, has a floor height of 3 feet 9 inches (45 in; 1,140 mm) Above Top of Rail (ATR). It is inferred from newer cars that New York City Subway A Division (IRT) trains and platforms are all 3 feet 9.5 inches (45.5 in; 1,156 mm), while B Division (BMT/IND) floor and platform height is very close to 44 7⁄8 inches (1,140 mm).
Boston MBTA Blue Line level entry floor heights is 41.5 inches (1,050 mm) ATR. Boston's MBTA Green line tram (with steps) floor heights for the Boeing-Vertol were 34 inches (860 mm) ATR and Breda Type 8 low floor is 14 inches ATR and 35 inches ATR over the wheels. Philadelphia's SEPTA trains are 42.5 inches (1,080 mm) ATR. In Washington, DC, WMATA Metrorail is 38.5 inches (980 mm) ATR. San Francisco BART floor height is estimated to be about 42 inches (about 1067mm). San Francisco Muni Metro tram (with steps) floor heights for the Boeing-Vertol is 34 inches (860 mm) ATR, and it is assumed the newer Breda cars are the same.
There are two standard heights of platforms in Russia, they are 200 mm and 1100 mm above rail heads. 1100 mm high platforms are gradually changing to 550 mm platform height. 200mm platforms are used primarily on lines with either small passenger flow or using double-decker trains.
- 2002/735/EC, sections 7.3.4 and 4.2.5
- "Commission Recommendation of 21 March 2001 on the basic parameters of the trans-European high-speed rail system referred to in Article 5(3)(b) of Directive 96/48/EC". eur-lex.europa.eu. European Union. 21 March 2001. section 6.1. Retrieved 7 March 2013. "Platform height is measured between the track running surface and the platform surface along the perpendicular"
- "Eisenbahn-Bau- und Betriebsordnung (EBO)" (in German). Bundesministeriums der Justiz / juris GmbH. Section 13: Bahnsteige, Rampen. Retrieved 7 March 2013. "13.1 : Bei Neubauten oder umfassenden Umbauten von Personenbahnsteigen sollen in der Regel die Bahnsteigkanten auf eine Höhe von 0,76 m über Schienenoberkante gelegt werden; Höhen von unter 0,38 m und über 0,96 m sind unzulässig. Bahnsteige, an denen ausschließlich Stadtschnellbahnen halten, sollen auf eine Höhe von 0,96 m über Schienenoberkante gelegt werden. In Gleisbogen ist auf die Überhöhung Rücksicht zu nehmen"
- BOStrab § 31 (8) "Die Bahnsteigoberfläche soll nicht höher liegen als der Fahrzeugfußboden in seiner tiefsten Lage"
- "Network Statement 2010 Combined Network based on the Railways Act". www.prorail.nl. Prorail. 12 December 2008 (22 January 2009). Retrieved 7 March 2013. [not in citation given]
- "ProRail invests 450 million euros in accessibility". www.prorail.nl (Press release). Prorail. 13 October 2009.[dead link]
- Ellis' British Railway Engineering Encyclopaedia. Iain Ellis. 2006. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Great Britain). Railway Division, Institution of Civil Engineers (Great Britain) (2001). Railway infrastructure, Issue 3. John Wiley and Sons. 3.1.2 Specification of the System, p.19.
- Department for Transport (11 March 2010). High Speed Rail - Command Paper. The Stationery Office. section 8.4, p.127. ISBN 978-0-10-178272-2.
- "HS1 Network Statement". www.highspeed1.com. 17 August 2009. section 18.104.22.168 "Track Gauge & Structure Gauge", page 14. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "2002/735/EC: Commission Decision of 30 May 2002 concerning the technical specification for interoperability relating to the rolling stock subsystem of the trans-European high-speed rail system referred to in Article 6(1) of Directive 96/48/EC". eur-lex.europa.eu. European Union. 12 September 2002. sections 7.3.4. and 4.2.5. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
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