Do other manufacturers besides Stadler offer platform level boarding?

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
57,209
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
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!)
It varies a bit. SBB and DB are standardising platform heights (SBB has mostly completed it, DB a bit lagging but well along the way), and at standardised stations there is indeed level boarding.

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.
I think it'd be difficult in UK loading gauge. But it needn't be a separate vehicle a la Stadler, it could just be a short end section of one of the main coaches with a counterbalance ballast at the other end.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

supervc-10

Member
Joined
4 Mar 2012
Messages
377
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.
This is exactly the sort of thing I was thinking about.

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).
Oh definitely- but a FLIRT style extending step can be fitted. The Metrolink is of course a very different beast to the mainline network.

It would definitely take a long time and a lot of investment to get all platforms to the same standards with the same. But I think that it's something that should be aimed for.
 

py_megapixel

Established Member
Joined
5 Nov 2018
Messages
2,098
I think it'd be difficult in UK loading gauge. But it needn't be a separate vehicle a la Stadler, it could just be a short end section of one of the main coaches with a counterbalance ballast at the other end.
Except in a few cases where platform length is really at a premium, I don't believe an extra generator car is a massive deal, especially if it can be placed at an end so that it hangs off short platforms.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
57,209
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
Except in a few cases where platform length is really at a premium, I don't believe an extra generator car is a massive deal, especially if it can be placed at an end so that it hangs off short platforms.
A l*comotive? :)

It's a shame the TPE LHCS wasn't low floor. I know it is as it is because it's a follow-on from Caledonian Sleeper, but with no engines to put under the floor it would have by far been the easiest to do, and CAF do offer low-floor products elsewhere.
 

61653 HTAFC

Veteran Member
Joined
18 Dec 2012
Messages
11,759
Location
Another planet...
A l*comotive? :)

It's a shame the TPE LHCS wasn't low floor. I know it is as it is because it's a follow-on from Caledonian Sleeper, but with no engines to put under the floor it would have by far been the easiest to do, and CAF do offer low-floor products elsewhere.
Though ordering low-floor stock for a network comprised entirely of high platforms would be a bit of an own-goal... TPE's choices have already come in for plenty of criticism as it is!
 

rebmcr

Established Member
Joined
15 Nov 2011
Messages
3,218
Location
Cambridge
Though ordering low-floor stock for a network comprised entirely of high platforms would be a bit of an own-goal... TPE's choices have already come in for plenty of criticism as it is!
I think the term "low-floor" has been used in this thread to mean "level with platform", as compared to "step up from platform".
 

61653 HTAFC

Veteran Member
Joined
18 Dec 2012
Messages
11,759
Location
Another planet...
I think the term "low-floor" has been used in this thread to mean "level with platform", as compared to "step up from platform".
My post was tongue-in-cheek, but the issue with "level with the platform" is that it requires all the platforms to be the same height (or within a fairly small margin of error), or a Stadler-style extending ramp. There's definitely a case to be made for trying to standardise platform heights as much as possible, though with the best will in the world it would take several years.

Going back to the question in the OP, I presume that other manufacturers would be able to produce something to the same effect as the Stadler system if the customer specified it and was willing to foot the bill.
 

TRAX

Established Member
Joined
2 Dec 2015
Messages
1,188
Location
Earth
Bear in mind that trains are usually purpose-built and specified by and tailored for a specific operation, so if a low-floor train is ordered, a low-floor train is made. So every manufacturer has at some point made at least one low-floor product because it is totally possible. In fact most of the time, when a train isn’t low floor nowadays, it’s because the customer hasn’t asked for it — so by default the train is high-floor as it makes for simpler conception and manufacturing/maintenance — not because it’s impossible, because it’s not. Just usually more technically challenging.

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.
Yes you could, the french Alstom Coradia Polyvalents have roof-mounted power packs and engines to enable a low-floor architecture.
 

James James

Member
Joined
29 Jan 2018
Messages
372
It varies a bit. SBB and DB are standardising platform heights (SBB has mostly completed it, DB a bit lagging but well along the way), and at standardised stations there is indeed level boarding.
IMHO DB aren't really doing it properly though: they standardised on 76cm, but are buying plenty of double-deck trains with lower entryway. (With the exception of the Skoda double deck trains that don't appear to be coming into service anytime soon - and those trains lose the upper deck above the doors hence have less capacity from what I understand.) Their decision is guided by closer-to-level passage through the train for single-deck trains, at the cost of making double decker trains a nightmare (either no level boarding, or reduced capacity).

Now the one nice thing about 76cm is that Talgo can build a train that is at 76cm throughout internally (although maybe they can do that for 55cm too?) - but I personally don't see the huge advantage of perfectly level interior - the food trolleys have no issues with 55cm trains after all.

The really fun thing to see is the Stadler Smile with mostly 76cm entries, and 2 55cm entries, just to be able to serve Germany well. The cost there is only 2 doors with level boarding in Switzerland and Italy, but it still seems to allow for reasonable throughput at Swiss stations.
 

py_megapixel

Established Member
Joined
5 Nov 2018
Messages
2,098
Going back to the question in the OP, I presume that other manufacturers would be able to produce something to the same effect as the Stadler system if the customer specified it and was willing to foot the bill.
Yes they would: Talents (Bombardier, but never ordered over here), Coradias (Alstom) and Civities (CAF) have low floor sliding step variants, though these variants have never been ordered for the UK and would therefore require adaptation for our loading guage
 

RailWonderer

Member
Joined
25 Jul 2018
Messages
373
I assume no ToC sees it as important enough to have a manufacturer build low floor or purchase the license from Talgo for the ‘bogie-less’ wheel design (as I understand it).
The cost is clearly not worth the benefit but I assume Stadler offered low floor as the default option and would probably have to build a high floor train from scratch. This was probably why the train, though pricier than other manufacturers, was not astronomical.

How likely is it commuter operations would order from Stadler? They seem to be the preferred choice only for metro and rural operation, with the exception of the 745.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
57,209
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
The cost is clearly not worth the benefit but I assume Stadler offered low floor as the default option and would probably have to build a high floor train from scratch. This was probably why the train, though pricier than other manufacturers, was not astronomical.
Stadler offers any floor height you like. It's a modular platform that can construct any size and shape of train from standard components. They cut their teeth on doing exactly this for the varied narrow gauge lines in Switzerland (which are very similar to UK profile apart from the lack of a cut-in at platform level, so there was no major design change to build for that), and it's why they were a natural shoe-in for the UK.

To give you the extreme ends of it, SBB ordered low-floor regional units, whereas PKP InterCity ordered a traditional high floor throughout, stepped entrance variant (presumably for the benefit of a flat floor for layout flexibility - disability provision there is rather poor compared with here).
 

RailWonderer

Member
Joined
25 Jul 2018
Messages
373
Stadler offers any floor height you like. It's a modular platform that can construct any size and shape of train from standard components. They cut their teeth on doing exactly this for the varied narrow gauge lines in Switzerland (which are very similar to UK profile apart from the lack of a cut-in at platform level, so there was no major design change to build for that), and it's why they were a natural shoe-in for the UK.

To give you the extreme ends of it, SBB ordered low-floor regional units, whereas PKP InterCity ordered a traditional high floor throughout, stepped entrance variant (presumably for the benefit of a flat floor for layout flexibility - disability provision there is rather poor compared with here).
Their catalogue is impressive, they offer many products other manufacturers probably wouldn’t make because it would involve designing and building a modular platform from scratch. They carved their niche offering products no one else would.

One thing I wondered was why Merseyrail for the 777s chose an underground train similar to the BVG IK U bahn trains,(in colour as well) instead of a regional design.
No gauge difference, like how the Met line S stock is built to the same gauge as mainline stock, but surprising.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
57,209
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
Their catalogue is impressive, they offer many products other manufacturers probably wouldn’t make because it would involve designing and building a modular platform from scratch. They carved their niche offering products no one else would.
Exactly. Their niche, which nobody else is remotely interested in, is small production runs (2 here, 3 there) of custom-profile trains. The origins as I said are the Swiss narrow gauge lines, but it's made for the UK market. FWIW, if Northern did see sense and wanted to order say 3 bi-mode units for Windermere, I'm sure they'd do a (relatively) good price on those too.

One thing I wondered was why Merseyrail for the 777s chose an underground train similar to the BVG IK U bahn trains,(in colour as well) instead of a regional design.
The METRO is really just a FLIRT variant (which is why they are called that by a lot of people) - all the single-deck stuff is to some extent. The body shape is more like the UK FLIRT than it is the BVG units, it just has a more BVG-like nose end - for good reason - Merseyrail wanted to maximise the length of the passenger accommodation within a strict length of the unit (though it seems they didn't *quite* get this spot-on and some signals will need moving). This is similar to why SWR have ordered Aventras with a "custom" stubby nose.

One key difference is that (and this contributes to the length thing) the METRO puts the electrical kit under the floor, the FLIRT tends to have it above the floor behind the cab.

As to why it's yellow, black and grey, that's because it's Merseytravel's house colours, which has been the case since the 1990s. That that's the same colour as BVG's units is as much of a coincidence as it being the same colour as Metrolink trams or Stagecoach's nasty new "school bus" livery for coaches.
 

py_megapixel

Established Member
Joined
5 Nov 2018
Messages
2,098
Their catalogue is impressive, they offer many products other manufacturers probably wouldn’t make because it would involve designing and building a modular platform from scratch. They carved their niche offering products no one else would.
Exactly. Their niche, which nobody else is remotely interested in, is small production runs (2 here, 3 there) of custom-profile trains. The origins as I said are the Swiss narrow gauge lines, but it's made for the UK market. FWIW, if Northern did see sense and wanted to order say 3 bi-mode units for Windermere, I'm sure they'd do a (relatively) good price on those too
Which will, I assume, also be why they were chosen to supply what is a relatively small fleet of custom-gauge, unusually small underground trains for Glasgow. Looking back now, it seems exactly their niche.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
57,209
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
Which will, I assume, also be why they were chosen to supply what is a relatively small fleet of custom-gauge, unusually small underground trains for Glasgow. Looking back now, it seems exactly their niche.
Indeed. To manufacturers who build a standard vehicle on standard jigs and just let you customise what nose you want on it and what seats you put in it and maybe a couple of length options, such as the Aventra, this is something they wouldn't be interested in other than at a very high price. To Stadler, with their more flexible platform, it's exactly what they do.

Same with powering it. The base product is an EMU, you can have that with third rail, a pantograph and transformer, diesel generators, batteries or whatever hasn't even been invented or asked for yet. As long as that thing feeds into the power bus at the required specification, it's fair game.
 

TRAX

Established Member
Joined
2 Dec 2015
Messages
1,188
Location
Earth
Their catalogue is impressive, they offer many products other manufacturers probably wouldn’t make because it would involve designing and building a modular platform from scratch. They carved their niche offering products no one else would.

One thing I wondered was why Merseyrail for the 777s chose an underground train similar to the BVG IK U bahn trains,(in colour as well) instead of a regional design.
No gauge difference, like how the Met line S stock is built to the same gauge as mainline stock, but surprising.
Exactly. Their niche, which nobody else is remotely interested in, is small production runs (2 here, 3 there) of custom-profile trains. The origins as I said are the Swiss narrow gauge lines, but it's made for the UK market. FWIW, if Northern did see sense and wanted to order say 3 bi-mode units for Windermere, I'm sure they'd do a (relatively) good price on those too.



The METRO is really just a FLIRT variant (which is why they are called that by a lot of people) - all the single-deck stuff is to some extent. The body shape is more like the UK FLIRT than it is the BVG units, it just has a more BVG-like nose end - for good reason - Merseyrail wanted to maximise the length of the passenger accommodation within a strict length of the unit (though it seems they didn't *quite* get this spot-on and some signals will need moving). This is similar to why SWR have ordered Aventras with a "custom" stubby nose.

One key difference is that (and this contributes to the length thing) the METRO puts the electrical kit under the floor, the FLIRT tends to have it above the floor behind the cab.

As to why it's yellow, black and grey, that's because it's Merseytravel's house colours, which has been the case since the 1990s. That that's the same colour as BVG's units is as much of a coincidence as it being the same colour as Metrolink trams or Stagecoach's nasty new "school bus" livery for coaches.
Actually the METRO range is based on the Tango platform, especially for the BVG IK units (and quite possibly the JK units, and perhaps the J units even ?), which is quite simply a puffed-up light rail vehicle.
The 777s are clearly more heavy-rail-designed, indeed with some similarities with the Flirt platform.
So they are not really to be compared with the Tango-based IKs.
 

James James

Member
Joined
29 Jan 2018
Messages
372
Actually the METRO range is based on the Tango platform, especially for the BVG IK units (and quite possibly the JK units, and perhaps the J units even ?), which is quite simply a puffed-up light rail vehicle.
The 777s are clearly more heavy-rail-designed, indeed with some similarities with the Flirt platform.
So they are not really to be compared with the Tango-based IKs.
Indeed - METRO is definitely not Flirt based: Flirts are always built with end-bogies powered, other traction equipment (transformers etc.) above the end-bogies, etc. METRO platform has powered bogies and traction equipment throughout the train.

There will be similarities and shared components between all of them regardless, but it's pretty clear the 777 isn't related to the Flirt.
 

Mikey C

Established Member
Joined
11 Feb 2013
Messages
3,630
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?
The level boarding and flat floor is great, but then the Metrolink doesn't have low floor vehicles. It's very much high floor, with the city centre platforms raised to be level with it.

A lot easier to do with a self contained system, with its own vehicles and infrastructure. Also, aren't all the platforms straight, as curved platforms must make it a lot harder to have level boarding?
 

supervc-10

Member
Joined
4 Mar 2012
Messages
377
Absolutely, and being its own system there's few issues with gauging or anything like that. I can't think of a Metrolink platform with a curve, although I'm not familiar with all the lines.

Low and high floor as discussed on here is somewhat confusing- the Stadlers are being described as 'low floor', but are obviously nothing like a low-floor tram like those used on the Croydon Tramlink, and of course the Metrolink vehicles are 'high floor' and use old heavy rail platforms in many places. I would imagine that the FLIRT's steps mitigate a lot of the issues with curves and slightly variable heights, as they extend until they reach the platform edge (or reach the end of their travel). Have any of the platforms in GA land required adjustment to work with the FLIRTs?
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
57,209
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
Metrolink, like the GA FLIRTs, has vehicles with floors at UK standard platform height - this is because it was built on the cheap and so very little work was needed on the original ex-BR stations, which were used pretty much as they were apart from boarding up the ticket offices and chucking a load of turquoise paint around. Obviously it's been transformed since then, but this legacy is something they're stuck with.
 

James James

Member
Joined
29 Jan 2018
Messages
372
Low and high floor as discussed on here is somewhat confusing- the Stadlers are being described as 'low floor', but are obviously nothing like a low-floor tram like those used on the Croydon Tramlink, and of course the Metrolink vehicles are 'high floor' and use old heavy rail platforms in many places. I would imagine that the FLIRT's steps mitigate a lot of the issues with curves and slightly variable heights, as they extend until they reach the platform edge (or reach the end of their travel). Have any of the platforms in GA land required adjustment to work with the FLIRTs?
Croydon Tramlink platform height: 35cm
Stadler GTW Seetal floor height: 35cm (these are mainline trains, they do have steps between carriages though). To be fair, the lowest the Flirt has gone is 55cm.
 

py_megapixel

Established Member
Joined
5 Nov 2018
Messages
2,098
Metrolink, like the GA FLIRTs, has vehicles with floors at UK standard platform height - this is because it was built on the cheap and so very little work was needed on the original ex-BR stations, which were used pretty much as they were apart from boarding up the ticket offices and chucking a load of turquoise paint around. Obviously it's been transformed since then, but this legacy is something they're stuck with.
I've always found Metrolink rather odd, because it was opened, as you say, on the cheap, and then had a batch of enormous upgrades, including at one point being shut down for a while to effectively redo their work in a more robust manner.

Of course, they did the ultimate in cost-cutting, and paired high-floor rolling stock (with that being the most cost effective at the time to serve the BR platforms) with what was effectively low floor platforms with Harrington humps in the city centre, requiring the rather bodgy-feeling and unreliable solution of folding steps.

I don't think the high floor is such a bad thing though, aside from the cost of building higher platforms. It gives it a nice "proper train" feeling, and the ramps up to platforms work well enough.
 

Alex27

Member
Joined
11 Mar 2020
Messages
56
Location
Kidlington
I think it would be worth having a look at the campaign for level boarding's website: https://www.levelboarding.org.uk I personally think level boarding should be mandatory on all new trains (Or at least part of the train) to make the life's of disabled passengers, and indeed everyone else's, better. There is a standard platform height, which all new platforms are built too (730mm by 915mm). Yes this is a big undertaking, but a very necessary one in my opinion.
 

py_megapixel

Established Member
Joined
5 Nov 2018
Messages
2,098
I think it would be worth having a look at the campaign for level boarding's website: https://www.levelboarding.org.uk I personally think level boarding should be mandatory on all new trains (Or at least part of the train) to make the life's of disabled passengers, and indeed everyone else's, better. There is a standard platform height, which all new platforms are built too (730mm by 915mm). Yes this is a big undertaking, but a very necessary one in my opinion.
Yes but old platforms aren't all that height and there are places where changing it would be prohibitively impractical, such as busy interchanges with buildings on the platforms.
 

Alex27

Member
Joined
11 Mar 2020
Messages
56
Location
Kidlington
Yes but old platforms aren't all that height and there are places where changing it would be prohibitively impractical, such as busy interchanges with buildings on the platforms.
In such a place Harrington humps can be used if it isn't practical to raise the entire platform, I accept this isn't going to happen absolutely everywhere but I think a lot of the network can be changed
 

Top