Railway platform height
Railway platform height is the built height – above top of rail (ATR) – of passenger platforms at stations. A connected term is train floor height, which refers to the ATR height of the floor of rail vehicles. Worldwide, there are many, frequently incompatible, standards for platform heights and train floor heights. Where raised platforms are in use, train widths must also be compatible, in order to avoid both large gaps between platform and trains and mechanical interference liable to cause equipment damage.
Differences in platform height (and platform gap) can pose a risk for passenger safety. Platform ramps, steps, and platform gap fillers together with hazard warnings such as "mind the gap" are used to reduce risk and facilitate access. Platform height affects the loading gauge (the maximum size of train cars), and must conform to the structure gauge physical clearance specifications for the system. Tracks which are shared between freight and passenger service must have platforms which do not obstruct either type of railroad car.
To reduce construction costs, the platforms at stations on many railway systems are of low height, making it necessary for passenger cars to be equipped with external steps or internal stairs allowing passengers access to and from car floor levels.
- 1 Height categories
- 2 Africa
- 3 Asia
- 4 Eurasia
- 5 Europe
- 6 North America
- 7 Oceania
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 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)
These are floor heights. The platforms can be much lower, overcome by onboard staircases.
Typical Algerian platforms are 550 mm (21.7 in) above rail.
China Railway platforms are classified into the following categories of "low" 380 mm (15.0 in), "medium" 550 mm (21.7 in), "high" 760 mm (29.9 in) and "ultra high" 1,250 mm (49.2 in) (latter 2 for most new and rebuilt platforms). Areas adjacent to broad gauge countries/regions, such as Xinjiang and Inner-Mongolia, are still equipped with low platforms. Under the concession period since late 2016, platforms on the southeastern corridor from Shenzhen to Ruili to be 1,250 mm (49.2 in) ATR, whereas the northern-, central-, and western-Chinese platforms to be 380 mm (15.0 in) ATR, are recommended.
Most CRH platforms are 1,250 millimetres (49.2 in) above top of rail, with the remainders being 760 millimetres (29.9 in).
Hong Kong China
Platforms on the MTR are 1,250 mm (49.213 in) above the rail for the Tung Chung Line and Airport Express, collectively known as the Airport Railway. The height of those on other lines (excluding Kowloon Southern Link and Shatin to Central Link) built by MTR is 1,100 mm (43.307 in) .
East Rail Line platforms are 42 in (1,066.8 mm) high. Since all the former KCR lines excluding light rail are built to the same specs, the platform height on the West Rail Line, Ma On Shan Line, as well as the MTR-built Kowloon Southern Link and Sha Tin to Central Link is also 3 feet 6 inches (1066.8 mm) high.
Iranian platforms are 380 mm (15.0 in), 550 mm (21.7 in) and 760 mm (29.9 in). Like in China, areas adjacent to broad gauge countries/regions such as the eastern regions such as around Mashhad and Zahedan, still equipped low platforms.
- 760 mm (29.9 in) for long-distance trains (originally step-fitted passenger cars pulled by steam engines);
- 1,100 mm (43.3 in) for commuter trains (step-less electric multiple units at a time when long-distance trains were not); and
- 920 mm (36.2 in) shared platforms that could serve both with relatively little discomfort (roughly level with the step on passenger carriages but not too low to board commuter trains).
However, increasing electrification and the phasing-out of locomotive traction in favor of multiple units has made the distinction a matter of historical, rather than practical relevance. Recently, at JR Group stations in urban centers such as Tokyo and Osaka, whose lines were the earliest to be electrified, 1,100 mm (43.3 in) is the norm and lower-level platforms are generally raised to this height during station improvements or refurbishment. Elsewhere, such as Hokkaido and the Tohoku/Hokuriku region of Honshu, 920 mm (36.2 in) – and even 760 mm (29.9 in) platforms are still commonplace. As this represents a potential obstacle when boarding modern commuter trains, workarounds such as a step built into the floor of area-specific trainsets are often employed. Nevertheless, with accessibility becoming a greater concern as Japan's population ages, raising the level of the platform itself (in tandem with other improvements such as elevators and escalators) is seen as the most practical solution.
In at least one case, with the E721 series EMU used on JR East lines in the Tohoku region, the floor of the train itself is lowered to be nearly level to existing 920 mm (36.2 in) platforms. This makes level boarding feasible at many stations (and boarding less of a hassle at stations with the lowest 760 mm (29.9 in) platforms). However, this (along with a different standard of electrification) also makes through service southward to Tokyo impossible, and prevents them from running on certain through lines, such as the Senseki-Tohoku Line, since the Senseki Line portion uses the higher 1,100 mm (43.3 in) platforms (and DC electrification).
In contrast to the above standards, the standard gauge Shinkansen (Bullet Train) has, since its original inception, used only 1,250 mm (49.2 in) platforms. However, exceptions from this include the "Mini-Shinkansen" Yamagata Shinkansen and Akita Shinkansen lines, which use 1,100 mm (43.3 in) platforms to maintain compatibility with conventional JR trainsets.
North Korean platforms are standardized at 1,250 mm (49.2 in) only. In there, 1,250 mm (49.2 in) is the norm, lower-level platforms are already raised to this height.
Korail adopted 550 mm (21.7 in) high platforms to operate KTX. Typically, older platforms are lower than 500 mm. For metro trains, higher platforms which height after 1,135 mm (44.7 in) are used. Nuriro trains are using mechanical steps to allow both type of platforms. Korail has a long-term plan to change platform standards to higher platforms; both EMU-250 and EMU-300 are designed to use higher platforms.
There are two standard heights of platforms in Russia; they are 200 and 1,100 mm (7.9 and 43.3 in) above rail heads. 1,100 mm (43.3 in) high platforms are gradually changing to 550 mm (21.7 in) platform height. 200 mm (7.9 in) platforms are used primarily on lines with either small passenger flow or using double-decker trains.
In late 2015, there are three standard heights of platforms, which include:
- 200 mm (7.9 in) for long-distance trains (originally locomotive-hauled step-fitted passenger carriages);
- 1,100 mm (43.3 in) for direct-current only commuter trains (step-less direct current commuter electric multiple units at a time when long-distance trains were not); and
- 550 mm (21.7 in) for shared platforms that could serve both with relatively little discomfort (roughly level with the steps on passenger carriages but not too low to board commuter trains).
In some urban areas, such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, served only by local traffic, use 1,100 mm (43.3 in) platforms for direct-current electric multiple units. Elsewhere, 550 mm (21.7 in) - and even 200 mm (7.9 in) platforms are almost commonplace. In some cases, such as VR Sm4 of Finland, the floor of the train itself lowered to be nearly level to 550 mm (21.7 in) platforms. This makes level boarding feasible at some stations (and boarding less of a hassle at stations with the lowest 200 mm (7.9 in) platforms).
In Turkey, the standard platform height for commuter railways is 1,050 mm (41.3 in) and for mainline & high-speed railways it's 550 mm (21.7 in). But most of the platforms throughout the network are old and thus out of standard.
In Kazakhstan, only Astana Nurly Jol station and Russian Railway's Petropavlovsk station have 550 mm (21.7 in) platforms. Almost everywhere else, the platforms are 200 mm (7.9 in) above the rails.
The European Union Commission issued a TSI (Technical Specifications for Interoperability) on 30 May 2002 (2002/735/EC) that sets out standard platform heights for passenger steps on high-speed rail. These standard heights are 550 and 760 mm (21.7 and 29.9 in) .[note 2] The 550 mm (21.7 in) for most member states, 760 mm (29.9 in) for Great Britain / Netherlands / Spain / Portugal, and 915 mm (36.0 in) for Ireland / Northern Ireland.
The proposed 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) (Russian gauge) railways (e.g. Arctic Railway and Kosice-Vienna broad gauge line) and the proposed 7 ft 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm) (Brunel gauge) railways will be 200 mm (7.9 in) for Sweden and Norway, 200 mm (7.9 in) and 550 mm (21.7 in) for Poland and Slovakia, and 380 mm (15.0 in) for Germany and Austria.
Platforms for Eurotunnel Shuttle are 1,100 mm (43.3 in) above rails.
Belgium has been using mixed type of platform heights (due to the age of the network, and the different companies running it before 1923). As of 2017 the most common platform heights for small stop places and stations are low platform heights of 280 mm (11.0 in).
There is nevertheless a plan to comply with the European TSI by raising all low platform heights to one of the European Standard Heights. Most stations will by then be equipped with 550 mm platforms, and direct current EMUs dedicated platforms will be upgraded in their final version to 760 mm. Some stations, or stopping points, already having 760 mm platform heights will keep the platforms at these heights.
In Finland, platforms 550 mm (21.7 in) above rail for the southern area, and platforms 200 mm (7.9 in) above rail for the northern area. The Finnish bi-level railcars have bottom steps 410 mm (16.1 in) above rail and entrance doors 1,970 mm (77.6 in) above bottom step, which mean 1,830 mm (72.0 in) clearance for 550 mm (21.7 in) platforms and 210 mm (8.3 in) vertical gap for 200 mm (7.9 in) platforms.
Germany's EBO standard (Ordinance on the Construction and Operation of Railways) specifies an allowable range of 380 mm (15.0 in) to maximal 960 mm (37.8 in) . 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 to 350 mm (11.8 to 13.8 in) so that platforms are constructed as low as 300 mm in accordance with BOStrab that requires the platform height not to be higher than the floor height.
The traditional platforms had a very diverse height as the nationwide railway network is a union of earlier railway operators. Prior to followed by the European TSI standard the EBO standard requires that new platform construction be at a regular height of 760 mm (29.9 in) .[clarification needed] The TSI standard of 550 mm (21.7 in) height, historically common in the East, is widely used on regional lines. Only the S-Bahn suburban rail systems had a higher platform height and these are standardized on 960 mm (37.8 in).
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 1,067 mm (42.0 in) above top of rail creating a step of 152 mm (6.0 in) , while the diesel fleet is typically one step (150 to 200 mm or 5.9 to 7.9 in) higher than the platform.
On Dublin's Luas tram system, platforms are approximately 280 mm (11 in) 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 (33.1 in) . Dutch infrastructure maintainer ProRail has committed to upgrading all stations to 760 mm (29.9 in) platform height.
Typical Polish platform is 550 mm (21.7 in) high. In some urban/suburban areas (e.g. around Warsaw) platforms used by local traffic are higher (760 to 1,060 mm or 29.9 to 41.7 in).
While older Spanish platforms are lower than the rest of Europe, many platforms are now 680 mm above rail. Following track gauge conversion from Iberian gauge to standard gauge, platforms to be raised to 1,250 mm (49.2 in) for new regional trainsets.
Sweden has generally 380 to 580 mm (15.0 to 22.8 in) platforms for mainline trains. Stockholm Commuter Rail has almost always its own platforms at 730 mm (28.7 in) height which allows stepless trains of type X60. The Arlanda Express service has 1,150 mm (45.3 in) 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. The stations Sundbyberg and Knivsta have one platform each used by both commuter trains and regional mainline trains, which can cause uncomfortable steps, but is accepted. Sundbyberg has 730 mm and Knivsta has around 500 mm. Stockholm Central station has after the commuter trains moved to the "City" station, two high 730 mm platforms, now used for mainline trains. The Stockholm Metro and Saltsjöbanan have 1,125 mm (44.3 in), while tramways in general have a very low platform, often also used by buses which must allow boarding from places without platform.
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 760 mm (29.9 in) on its international platforms.
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In Canada, only Montreal's Central Station and Quebec's Gare du Palais have high level platforms at 48 inches (1,219 mm) above top of rail. Almost everywhere else, the platforms are 8 inches (203 mm) above the rail.
Metro and light rail
The Montreal Metro, the Toronto subway and Scarborough Rapid Transit, Union Pearson Express, Trillium Line, Vancouver Skytrain, Calgary C-Train, and Edmonton Light Rail Transit have high level platforms.
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 use stairs inside the older streetcars still common on the network, but newer streetcars (the Flexity Outlook series) are low floor and handicapped accessible.
Federal rules and regulations as well as local traditions vary. Tolerances are specified in Federal regulations related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), though exact specifications are not part of the law.
Commuter rail trains
- All Connecticut commuter rail stations, including those of Shore Line East (west of Old Saybrook station) and the Metro-North Railroad, other than those north of Hartford on the Hartford Line and those on the Waterbury Branch, have high-level platforms.
- While most of the MBTA lines out of Boston's South Station have a platform height of 48 inches (1,219 mm), those out of North Station mostly have platform heights of 25 inches (635 mm).
- Over 90% of Metro North and LIRR stations have high-level platforms.
- Nearly all NJ Transit commuter operations (minor branch lines excepted) use 48-inch (1,219 mm) high platforms.
- SEPTA has mostly 25-inch (635 mm) platform heights other than at a few major stations, some stations shared with Amtrak, or others that have been upgraded recently.
- MARC has high-level platforms at every Penn Line station from Washington Union Station to Baltimore Penn Station, except West Baltimore. On the Camden and Brunswick Lines, Greenbelt, Baltimore-Camden, and Monocacy (partial) stations have high-level platforms. All other stations have low-level platforms.
- The Metra Electric District in the Chicago area, together with the South Shore Line, uses a mixture of 48-inch (1,219 mm) and 25-inch (635 mm) platform heights.
- Sonoma–Marin Area Rail Transit utilizes diesel multiple units with platform heights of 48 inches (1,219 mm).
- Coaster platforms in San Diego County also utilizes diesel multiple units for service, but with shorter 22-inch (559 mm) platforms.
- Once electrified, new Caltrain trains will be equipped for both 22-and-50.5-inch (559 and 1,283 mm) platform heights in anticipation of sharing facilities with California High-Speed Rail trains.
- The Regional Transportation District in Denver has fully high-level platforms on its commuter rail lines.
- The WES Commuter Rail uses all 48 inches (1,219 mm) platforms on its 15 mile line.
- Other US commuter rail systems generally have low-level platforms or platforms 25 inches (635 mm) above top of rail.
There are substantial differences in platform height between eastern and southern/western rail systems, intercity and commuter rail. Eastern US rail stations serving the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C. to Boston, have a platform height standard of 48 inches (1,219 mm) above top of rail, as do some on the Keystone Corridor to Harrisburg, the Empire Corridor to Albany (Rhinecliff and Hudson being the exceptions), and along the New Haven–Springfield Line. Washington Union Station has high platforms for the Acela trains and low-level platforms for the other trains. Union Station in Worcester, Massachusetts has a high level platform, and the Downeaster service to Maine uses high level platforms at most stations. Outside of the Northeast, only the Virgin Trains USA service in Florida has high level platforms. Most intercity stations, particularly in the southern/western United States, use 8-inch-high (203 mm) platforms, while southern/western US commuter rail systems use 25 inches (635 mm) above top of rail platform heights. 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 in (203 or 635 mm) to 15 inches (381 mm) were canceled.
Metro and light rail
In 1981, the Transit Journal published by the American Public Transit Association suggested that light rail platform heights have been standardized to "slightly over 3 feet," making them very similar to the standard UK platform height of 915 mm (36.0 in).
The New York City Subway's R36 WF order, used on the 7 service from 1962 to 2003, had a floor height of 45 inches (1,143 mm) Above Top of Rail (ATR). It inferred with newer cars that New York City Subway A Division (IRT) trains and platforms are all 45.5 inches (1,156 mm), while B Division (BMT/IND) floor and platform height is very close to 44.875 inches (1,140 mm). However, since the height of some platforms visibly varies by several centimeters across short distances, these numbers must be understood as approximations.
Boston's MBTA level entry floor heights differ by line, with the Blue Line at 41.5 inches (1,054 mm) ATR, Orange Line at 45 inches (1,143 mm) and Red Line at 49 inches (1,245 mm). Boston's MBTA Green Line streetcar floor height (with steps) for its obsolete Boeing-Vertol model was 34 inches (860 mm) ATR, while the newer Breda Type 8 low floor model is 14 inches (356 mm) ATR and 35 inches (889 mm) ATR over the wheels. Philadelphia's SEPTA trains are 42.5 inches (1,080 mm) ATR. In Washington, D.C., the Metro is 38.5 inches (980 mm) ATR. The San Francisco BART, a hybrid metro/commuter rail built with wide-gauge tracks, has a floor height estimated to be 42 inches (1,067 mm).
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail system upgraded all its stations to 14-inch (356 mm) platforms with the acquisition of low-floor light rail vehicles after 2002.
Some light rail systems were updated from streetcar use, and thus feature a combination of high platform stops and curbside tram stops. San Francisco's Muni Metro was constructed with a floor height of 34 inches (864 mm) and inherited at-grade and 6-inch (152 mm) platform heights from the system's previous streetcar-based design. Many of these stops cannot have platforms due to the street-running geometry ruling out construction on many thoroughfares; its car designs have been fitted with movable stairs.
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.
In New South Wales, by 2000, the platform step (the difference between the platform height and the train floor height) had been allowed to grow to a maximum of about 300 mm (11.8 in), which was uncomfortably large. For Sydney's 2000 Olympics, new and altered platforms were designed to match the Tangara trains, which are 3,000 mm (9 ft 10 1⁄8 in) wide, leaving a platform gap of about 80 mm (3 1⁄8 in) and a step height close to zero. This has become the standard for all subsequent platforms and trains in NSW.
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. The Gold Coast and Sydney light rail networks have low floor trams and platforms at all stops.
- The proposed 1,524 mm (5 ft) Russian gauge railways for northern China which will seamless link with Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
- In reference to EU documentation on interoperability of trans-national high-speed rail (see EU Directive 96/48/EC) platform height is measured from the top of the running surface of the rail.
- Redevelopment of Kowloon Station, 1995, HKU Scholars Hub
- Under the Wires to Lo Wu, The Railway Magazine, November 1983
- "Info". www.law.go.kr. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
- "ГОСТ 9238-2013". 1 July 2014.
- 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
- "Technical Standards and Specifications Manual of Rail Baltica" (PDF).
- "De Belgische Kamer van volksvertegenwoordigers". www.dekamer.be.
- "Eisenbahn-Bau- und Betriebsordnung (EBO)" (PDF) (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 (1) "Haltestellen sollen Bahnsteige besitzen (...)."; § 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" (PDF). www.prorail.nl. Prorail. 12 December 2008 (22 January 2009). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 7 March 2013. Check date values in:
- "ProRail invests 450 million euros in accessibility". www.prorail.nl (Press release). Prorail. 13 October 2009. Archived from the original on 28 November 2010.
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- Department for Transport (11 March 2010). High Speed Rail – Command Paper (PDF). The Stationery Office. section 8.4, p.127. ISBN 978-0-10-178272-2.
- "HS1 Network Statement" (PDF). www.highspeed1.com. 17 August 2009. section 18.104.22.168 "Track Gauge & Structure Gauge", page 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 April 2014. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- SMA Rail Consulting (April 2016). "California Passenger Rail NETWORK SCHEMATICS" (PDF). California Department of Transportation.
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- Robin Washington (25 February 2015). "On the T, One Sized Doesn't Fit All". Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
- "BART-San Francisco Airport Extension Final Environmental Impact Report/Final Environmental Impact Statement". Federal Transit Administration. June 1996. pp. 3–501 – via Internet Archive.
- "S200 SF Light Rail Vehicle" (PDF). Siemens. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
- "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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