Title

RESOLVING CONFLICT BETWEEN MOBILITY-IMPAIRED PASSENGER REQUIREMENTS AND FREIGHT SERVICE ON MIXED HIGH- AND LOW-PLATFORM U.S. RAILROAD LINES

Authors

E K. Morlok

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2003

Subject Area

policy - disability, policy - disability, mode - rail, mode - car

Keywords

Wheelchairs, Railway carriages, Railroad transportation, Rail transportation, Physically handicapped persons, People with disabilities, Passenger trains, Passenger cars, Passenger car entrances, Low-level platforms, High-level platforms, Handicapped persons, Freight trains, Freight service, Disabled persons, Design, Clearances (Railroads), Car clearances (Railroads), Barrier-free design, Barrier free design, Architecture and the physically handicapped, Americans with Disabilities Act, Accessibility, Access for the physically handicapped

Abstract

The first objective is to explain the conflict that has emerged and is growing between (a) requirements to make passenger trains accessible for passengers in wheelchairs and for other mobility-impaired travelers and (b) requirements for general freight service on the same tracks on certain types of railroad lines. The second objective is to present two designs for railroad passenger car entranceways that appear to resolve this problem and that have additional benefits as well. The conflict emerges in situations in which high-level platforms are used (at stations) on tracks that are also used by freight trains, because such platforms intrude into the normal clearance envelope of freight trains. High-level platforms are now most commonly used in the northeastern United States, but more extensive use elsewhere is contemplated because of various benefits for passenger service. After the problem is presented, reviews are completed of previous evaluations of various generic approaches to providing platform-to-train access--in foreign railways and in rail transit contexts--to identify characteristics of effective solutions that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Then two related new approaches designed for North American railroad conditions are presented. It is hoped that research into this problem will be encouraged along with testing and ultimately the deployment of technologies that will provide effective transport for mobility-impaired travelers on the railroads while maintaining characteristics necessary for freight service.