Do other manufacturers besides Stadler offer platform level boarding?

RailWonderer

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Stadler offer it on their FLIRT and their SMILE modular platform, seen on GA, and soon Merseyrail and TfW.
Do any other manufacturers offer a product that other ToCs could order? For wheelchairs, suitcases and safety in the crush loaded peaks it would be a useful thing to have. I'm surprised the UK has, for so long, not adopted the European system. It would allow for taller windows for more scenic views as well.
I assume it would be expensive for Siemens, Bombardier Alstom or Hitachi to manufacture a completely new platform to the UK loading gauge for marginal benefit.
 
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py_megapixel

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I believe CAF Civity units exist in Europe with sliding steps and level boarding. Alstom Coradias definitely do. Also DB run some Bombardier low-floor units with level boarding on S-bahns. However, none of these are designed for British railways.

Hitachi Rail Europe don't have much, if anything, in service outside of the UK, and I don't know about Siemens.
 

hwl

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Stadler offer it on their FLIRT and their SMILE modular platform, seen on GA, and soon Merseyrail and TfW.
Do any other manufacturers offer a product that other ToCs could order? For wheelchairs, suitcases and safety in the crush loaded peaks it would be a useful thing to have. I'm surprised the UK has, for so long, not adopted the European system. It would allow for taller windows for more scenic views as well.
I assume it would be expensive for Siemens, Bombardier Alstom or Hitachi to manufacture a completely new platform to the UK loading gauge for marginal benefit.
Unless level really is completely level then it presents a bigger trip hazard to those on foot especially in crush loaded peaks hence the aim of the using normal domestic step height to reduce this as there is lots of research behind that (see uneven paving slabs as good example of how a small difference can be very problematic) .E.g. Heathrow branch and Crossrail Core being mm perfect.

If you lower the floor for most of the vehicle then the 2 floor heights reduces capacity and flexibility for the internal layout. Most other manufactures have gone for the wide walk through corridor connections to reduce crush loading issues in peak. Ramp deployment also increase dwell times and has the risk that they won't retract.

The choice is highest capacity with uniform high floor heigh or low floor in places. It is worth noting that Greater Anglia when for Aventra where they had to maximise capacity.

HS2 requires ramps from conventional floor height to either new level platforms or down to the current range of platform heights. Everyone has access to the technology and the ability to do it from normal height vehicles but have been nervous about the reliability of extending ramps especially on commuter routes with low dwell times (there have been issues outside the UK with built in ramps)

With low floors you also need to find room for all the equipment that normally goes under the floor - the normal European solution is putting it on the roof - hence you don't get taller windows. putting the weigh further up also causes stability issues so lower potential max speed and clearance issues as the dynamic envelop increases with more suspension movement so you end up with a narrower body-shell to deal with this.
 

WatcherZero

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Its hard in Britain because the platforms while built to a rough target height wernt built that precise and will vary along the line, you will also have different rolling stock which has different floor heights operating on the same line. Really its more a infrastructure problem to solve through standardisation and rebuilds rather than a rolling stock problem. Where level rolling stock operates in the UK its after platform rebuilds to allow it.
 

43096

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If you lower the floor for most of the vehicle then the 2 floor heights reduces capacity and flexibility for the internal layout. Most other manufactures have gone for the wide walk through corridor connections to reduce crush loading issues in peak. Ramp deployment also increase dwell times and has the risk that they won't retract.
On the flip side - and having watched a wheelchair "self board" onto a FLIRT at Brundall shortly after they were introduced (ramps deploy, doors open, wheelchair wheels on, doors lose, off we go) - it's an absolute game changer for those with reduced mobility. For the train operator there's certainty around dwell times - no need for guard to wander over to find ramp, unlock it, walk back to train, deploy it, wheelchair on, then whole thing in reverse - without losing 3 minutes or more whilst the portable ramp rigmarole is undertaken.
 

py_megapixel

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On the flip side - and having watched a wheelchair "self board" onto a FLIRT at Brundall shortly after they were introduced (ramps deploy, doors open, wheelchair wheels on, doors lose, off we go) - it's an absolute game changer for those with reduced mobility. For the train operator there's certainty around dwell times - no need for guard to wander over to find ramp, unlock it, walk back to train, deploy it, wheelchair on, then whole thing in reverse - without losing 3 minutes or more whilst the portable ramp rigmarole is undertaken.
Just out of interest - how does the sliding step take on a FLIRT?

On the Alstom units in Germany which have them, it takes about 3 seconds to deploy and then the same to retract. That's a penalty of about 6 seconds - hardly massive when you consider all of the other things that could hold the train up, such as an obstructed door.
 

bussikuski179

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On Finnish FLIRTs (which run frequently stopping commuter services with extremely tight schedules) the ramp takes about 5 seconds from the button being pressed to it being fully deployed. The ramp is on only 1 door as well. At stations where the ramp is deployed, the train clearly sits longer than stations where it’s not. Though from pressing the button, there’s a good 2 second wait before the ramp starts deploying. These are 1st generation FLIRTs built from 2009 to 2017.
 

Domh245

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Aren’t all IET doors and vestibules at the same height though, and it would make no difference to boarding?
I had thought the same, but a bit of googling suggests that intermediate vehicle doors (and possibly the 'trailing' doors on the driving vehicles, although I cannot find any pictures of these) have got more of a step up into the train than in the leading doors. Compare:

Leading vehicle

Intermediate vehicle
 

swt_passenger

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I had thought the same, but a bit of googling suggests that intermediate vehicle doors (and possibly the 'trailing' doors on the driving vehicles, although I cannot find any pictures of these) have got more of a step up into the train than in the leading doors. Compare:

Leading vehicle

Intermediate vehicle
That’s weird. I thought the cars with gen sets underneath had some sort of ramp internally, and I’d have thought both ends of an end driving car would be the same height anyway? All the actual step plates look the same height whatever’s happening inside.
 
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James James

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The Swiss IC double decker stock (in use since 1997) has had level boarding since introduction (except at stations that are still at 35cm platform heights instead of 55cm - but that's rare for the stations where IR and IC services operate). However they don't have a step covering the entire gap - they have just a small platform that moves out minimally. Later trains do have that moving step, and it's certainly helpful.

And if you want capacity and level boarding, it's really hard to argue against such 55cm platform height double deck stock - except for inner-city S-Bahn style trains where you'll want to stick to single level. (Compare to Germany where double deck stock has 55cm entries resulting in a silly step down at the typical 76cm platforms.)

Can't say I've ever noticed having to wait for those moving steps on stock that has it, literally everything else in the stopping process takes more time.
 

Bletchleyite

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That’s weird. I thought the cars with gen sets underneath had some sort of ramp internally, and I’d have thought both ends of an end driving car would be the same height anyway? All the actual step plates look the same height whatever’s happening inside.
The end coaches have the coach floor at the same height as the door stepboard, while the others have it about 6" or so higher to accommodate the engine (a bit like say a Voyager). The much-talked-about ramp is to the corridor connection between vehicles.

To be fair, low floor pretty much does mean no underfloor engines, but you could at least do it with EMUs or put engines above the floor like FLIRTs do.
 

AlexNL

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On the FLIRTs operated by NS there is a small delay caused by the step extending and locking itself prior to the door releasing. However, this very short delay is more than compensated by the speedier boarding process as passengers no longer have to step up to get in the train.

The difference is especially noticeable with elderly people (they can just keep walking) and people having a child stroller or a bike with them. Rather than having to lift (and in some cases, ask help) they can just wheel it into the train.
 

Bletchleyite

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The Swiss IC double decker stock (in use since 1997) has had level boarding since introduction (except at stations that are still at 35cm platform heights instead of 55cm
Very few of those left, there's been a progressive conversion process, initially this involved adding a step on the platform itself but over time those stations have mostly been fully rebuilt to 55cm.
 

py_megapixel

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One thing which interests me is whether LHCS could be built low-floor.

Of course, that eliminates the problem of where you put the traction equipment, while introducing an alternative problem: where do you put the bogies?
 

Bletchleyite

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One thing which interests me is whether LHCS could be built low-floor.

Of course, that eliminates the problem of where you put the traction equipment, while introducing an alternative problem: where do you put the bogies?
If you can build low floor EMUs you can absolutely build low floor LHCS! :)

Typically you have a low floor section between them and a high floor section over them, with steps or ramps as required. Unless you're Talgo, where it's more like a low-floor bus with wheels acting wholly independently rather than being on bogies or even axles, so you can have a low floor throughout, but I believe that technology is under patent so if you want it you have to buy it from them.
 

AlexNL

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One thing which interests me is whether LHCS could be built low-floor.
Yes, that's possible. And it's happening.

The new Railjets for ÖBB will offer level boarding in 7 of 9 coaches (I'm not sure why two coaches won't), and the new coaches being built by Talgo for DB and DSB will also offer level boarding.
 

swt_passenger

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The end coaches have the coach floor at the same height as the door stepboard, while the others have it about 6" or so higher to accommodate the engine (a bit like say a Voyager). The much-talked-about ramp is to the corridor connection between vehicles.

To be fair, low floor pretty much does mean no underfloor engines, but you could
Ah right, so I’ve totally misinterpreted previous descriptions, I wrongly thought there were ramps all down the train, i.e. at both ends of any intermediate vehicles...
 

Bletchleyite

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Ah right, so I’ve totally misinterpreted previous descriptions, I wrongly thought there were ramps all down the train, i.e. at both ends of any intermediate vehicles...
There are. Those ramps are directly adjacent to the corridor connection between vehicles (so all corridor connection "floors" are at the same height throughout but the saloon and vestibule floors aren't). They are not between the vestibule and the saloon as some people think they are.
 

supervc-10

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The level boarding on the Manchester trams is wonderful. I say that even as a very able bodied 29 year old! My only real benefit is when I'm dragging a suitcase, but it makes it so much easier. It makes things faster when less able bodied people are boarding, or those with pushchairs.

Level boarding should always be attempted. It's not always possible, but it's definitely a major benefit. I wonder if future stock would benefit from level boarding at the disabled spaces, with split levels so the rest of the train has more space underfloor?
 

Bletchleyite

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Level boarding should always be attempted. It's not always possible, but it's definitely a major benefit. I wonder if future stock would benefit from level boarding at the disabled spaces, with split levels so the rest of the train has more space underfloor?
It's not entirely unusual in mainland Europe to have a 3-car DMU or EMU with only the middle coach low-floor. And you've got the Sheffield trams which are the same but the opposite way round. Often this is done by taking a perfectly decent but old high floor MU (something like a Class 150) and inserting a new-build trailer in between the two halves. A bit like these:


SBB NPZ (Neue Personenzug = new passenger train) EMU, high floor)


Same thing tarted up (and doubled up) with low-floor trailers inserted

These, to be fair, often operated with high floor EW I/II coaches inserted prior to this - the power car is somewhat overpowered.
 

30907

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As a matter of interest, what proportion of low-floor vehicles offer level boarding?
I ask, because my random experiences across Europe suggest many don't just much easier boarding than the traditional 3 steps up.
(Which takes me back beyond my first experience of mainland Europe to the London RF buses of my childhood trips to/from school... doubly OT, (not very) sorry!)
 

DavidGrain

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To have level floor boarding you need to standardise the platform heights. At my local station platform 1 is not too big a step but platform 2 where I usually get off is quite a step down from WMR class 172s and is an even bigger step down from Chiltern Mk IIIs.
 

rebmcr

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The level boarding on the Manchester trams is wonderful. I say that even as a very able bodied 29 year old! My only real benefit is when I'm dragging a suitcase, but it makes it so much easier. It makes things faster when less able bodied people are boarding, or those with pushchairs.

Level boarding should always be attempted. It's not always possible, but it's definitely a major benefit. I wonder if future stock would benefit from level boarding at the disabled spaces, with split levels so the rest of the train has more space underfloor?
Metrolink has a critical benefit that's not immediately obvious: all vehicles stop at all platforms.

If NR stations were built to the same tolerances, we'd have to have low Permanent Speed Restrictions at any location where bypass tracks wouldn't fit. (Such bypass tracks wouldn't necessarily require full quad-tracking, it can be accomplished with gauntlet tracks, as seen here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sechsschienengleis.JPG).
 

py_megapixel

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Metrolink has a critical benefit that's not immediately obvious: all vehicles stop at all platforms.

If NR stations were built to the same tolerances, we'd have to have low Permanent Speed Restrictions at any location where bypass tracks wouldn't fit. (Such bypass tracks wouldn't necessarily require full quad-tracking, it can be accomplished with gauntlet tracks, as seen here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sechsschienengleis.JPG).
Is that simply to avoid the danger of bodysides hitting platforms at high speed?
 

Energy

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To be fair, low floor pretty much does mean no underfloor engines, but you could at least do it with EMUs or put engines above the floor like FLIRTs do.
I wonder if you could do roof mounted, the MTU engines used the civitys are advertised so that they can be mounted on the roof which could allow for level boarding without the need for the generator car in the FLIRTs.
 

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