Ethan Fuller, our Design Engineer, explains how he recently helped one of our rail customers with at tricky access problem for their new trains.
I recently helped provide a bespoke wheelchair ramp design for one of our rail customers, Transpennine Express who needed to make sure their new trains were accessible to people with reduced mobility.
Transpennine Express operates intercity train services linking key cities and major towns in the North of England and Scotland.Over the next four years, they will be delivering more than £500m of investment to transform the services on the network.This includes the introduction of state-of-the-art intercity trains that are faster and more reliable, refurbishment ofthe remaining stock and a further investment of £18m in their stations.
In an ideal world station platforms would be the same height and carriages be a standard design so that wheelchair ramps can fit any station or carriage. But as we know, this isn’t the case,door entrances and heights differ from train to train which means platform and train step heights also differ.
When we looked at the new Transpennine Express trains, we could see that a standard rail ramp with a length less than 2800mm would hit the boarding step.If we went for a ramp longer than 2590mm, it would be too heavy and long.This would be a problem for staff, making it difficult for them manoeuvre and deploy it.
Working with Joe Munro, Rail Operations Management Graduate, and drawing on our in-house expertise and in-depth knowledge of the sector and working with Joe Munro, we designed a ramp with hinged end plates that can self-adjust to various heights.After testing a prototype on one of their new trains and making a few minor adjustments, we were able to make sure ramp performed exactly as required.
The final result is a wheelchair ramp which features end plate interfaces with lower step to take the load of the ramp and set the distance to the locating holes.Pins on the end plate are able to locate directly into the train’s locating holes, ensure a secure fix.
Our portable rail ramp design has provided the Transpennine Express with a quick, easy and lightweight answer to accessibility problems.But that’s not all, being portable has the added benefits of overcoming the need for infrastructure work and the potential risk of mechanical failure.All in all a great, cost effective solution that we can be proud of.