Railway station platform gap solutions effectiveness
The gap between a railway station platform and any train represents a major hazard and risk for all passengers boarding and exiting trains. This risk is amplified for mobility device users, people with a disability, the elderly and young children. The risk of slips, trips, falls, entrapment, and injury is ever present.
This project provides a fact base to recognise the problem as well as a pathway to a solution by testing proof of concept prototype/s. It is proposed to work closely with mobility device users and other vulnerable road users, to test and assess:
- effectiveness for a range of existing platform gap solutions; and
- a modular, automatic ramp that can be placed permanently on the platform (or train carriage) and only rise and/or extend when needed.
In order to minimise risks involved with the platform gap railway staff often manually deploy portable access ramps at designated locations along the station platform, which can be a confusing process for many in a busy station environment. In recent years various suppliers have commercialised fixed rubber block products to the platform edge to minimise the gap.
However, the fixed nature of these platform gap products means that some form of vertical and horizontal gap or offset is often present given the broad range of different passenger and freight train rolling stock operating on the rail networks.
An effectiveness study similar to what was done with earlier research from ACRI on entrapment risk for mobility devices at rail flange gaps is proposed. Collating definitive evidence of entrapment risk and ease of navigation will entail:
- production of a mock adjustable station platform to train floor jig
- design and conduct a laboratory experimental matrix program examining different horizontal and vertical gap combinations with and without platform gap products and a range of able-bodied pedestrians, lived experience pedestrians, mobility device users and lived experience mobility device users
This will also be supplemented with a series of survey and/or interview questions of the participants of the lab study. In parallel to the iMOVE project ACRI and DoT Victoria will work with the MODTAS and ROFRAUS teams to develop/refine working prototype/s of the automated ramp concepts that allows for mobility impaired commuters to board and alight from trains unassisted.
The mobility access ramp prototypes promise to close the vertical and horizontal gap between the train and platform, allowing uninhibited access and egress for all commuters in particular those with impaired mobility, parents with prams, children, and mobility aides.
The prototype automated ramp system/s will also be included in the lab entrapment risk experiments. Options to undertake the lab experiments at a relevant industry exhibition are currently being explored. ACRI, DoT Victoria, and other rail industry partners are also working together to test (in at least shadow mode) at a representative station platform/environment.
Pending availability and timing this may be able to coincide with ongoing trials of the High-Capacity Metro Trains (HCMT) at Newport Station with the Victorian Government via DoT Victoria and Metro Trains Melbourne. Further options for demonstration/testing are also being explored in Sydney, NSW, and Brisbane, QLD.
The separate complimentary ACRI/DoT Victoria project will also include an optional tram / light rail specific prototype of the MODTAS automated ramp system. The result of this project will be objective evidence of which scenarios the different platform gap filler products are most suitable for use.
The objectives of this project are to:
- Generate objective evidence of which scenarios the different platform gap filler products are suitable for use in.
- Demonstrate and measure the effectiveness of the automated ramp prototypes in the same variety of scenarios.
- Provide an objective understanding of the effectiveness and characteristics of the various platform gap solutions will be useful for rail industry organisations to inform business case drivers for example deciding to deploy an automated ramp option versus manual ramp versus fixed rubber block type option/s.
- Propose solutions for enhanced accessibility for all commuters at train station platforms, which is a critical component of the future compliance requirements for new and existing train station platforms and this work will significantly advance the cause.
UPDATE: March 2023
A recent demonstration of the automated ramp technology at ARRB’s Melbourne headquarters. Click the play button to watch this short video,