Title:
Railcar designs
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention relates to entranceway designs, covering doors, steps, and other components; and car design and seating arrangements for passenger transport vehicles. In particular, the present inventive entranceway and access arrangement subject matter are especially applicable to railroad cars for rail lines which serve both high and low level station platforms. The present inventive seating arrangement subject matter is especially applicable to passenger transport vehicles having overhead clearance restrictions, such as railroad cars.



Inventors:
Morlok, Edward K. (Swarthmore, PA, US)
Application Number:
10/254929
Publication Date:
03/27/2003
Filing Date:
09/26/2002
Assignee:
MORLOK EDWARD K.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61D1/06; B61D23/02; (IPC1-7): B61K13/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LE, MARK T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NATH, GOLDBERG & MEYER (Alexandria, VA, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. An apparatus for enabling access to a vehicle having (i) an entrance doorway and (ii) a floor which is at about a same or a higher elevation as a platform outside the entrance doorway, said floor having a recess below said floor adjoining said entrance doorway, said apparatus comprising: a recess cover for access to said vehicle at about floor height; a stairway assembly disposed in said recess for access to said vehicle from one or more height(s) about at or below said floor height, said stairway assembly comprising at least one stair rise and one stair tread, wherein said recess cover and said stairway assembly are attached together to form an integrated entryway device; and a transverse pivot axis through said entryway device, said entryway device being supported along the pivot axis and being pivotable thereabout between a first pivot position, wherein the recess cover is exposed and generally horizontal at about the same elevation as the floor of the vehicle, and a second pivot position, wherein the stairway assembly is exposed within the recess in said floor, wherein rotation about said pivot axis is arranged generally horizontal and extends generally in the vehicle's longitudinal direction.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a rotatable shaft disposed along said pivot axis, said rotatable shaft being fixedly connected to said entryway device.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: a manual or powered operator, fixedly connected to one or both of said rotatable shaft and said entryway device, for pivoting said entryway device between said first pivot position and said second pivot position.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: one or more extension plate(s) connected to said recess cover near a transverse edge portion thereof, said extension plate(s) having one edge pivotably or slidably connected to the recess cover near said transverse edge portion thereof, wherein in said first pivot position, said edge portion adjoins said entrance doorway and said extension plate(s) is pivotable or slidable between a storage position substantially parallel to said recess cover, and a bridge position bridging a gap between said entrance doorway and said platform.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: one or more extension board(s) within said stairway assembly independently pivotable or extendable between a storage position, in which each extension board is housed beneath a stairway tread, and an extended position in which a selected one or more of said extension board(s) bridges a gap between a platform and said stairway assembly.

6. The apparatus of claim 5, further comprising: a mechanism for extension and retraction of each said extension board; and a stop mechanism which limits an amount of extension and retraction.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: one or more locking mechanism(s) associated with said entryway device that lock rotation of said entryway device.

8. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said vehicle is a railroad car.

9. An apparatus for enabling access to a vehicle having (i) an entrance doorway and (ii) a floor which is at about a same or a higher elevation as a platform outside the entrance doorway, said floor having a recess below said floor adjoining said entrance doorway, said apparatus comprising: a recess cover for access to said car at about floor height; a stairway assembly disposed in said recess for access to said vehicle from one or more height(s) about at or below said floor height, said stairway assembly comprising at least one stair rise and one stair tread, wherein said recess cover and said stairway assembly are attached together to form an integrated entryway device; and a transverse pivot axis through said entryway device, said entryway device being supported along the pivot axis and being pivotable thereabout between a first pivot position, wherein the recess cover is exposed and generally horizontal at about the same elevation as the floor of the vehicle, and a second pivot position, wherein the stairway assembly is exposed within the recess in said floor, wherein rotation about said pivot axis is arranged generally horizontal and extends generally in the vehicle's longitudinal direction; a rotatable shaft disposed along said pivot axis, said rotatable shaft being fixedly connected to said entryway device; a manual or powered operator, fixedly connected to one or both of said rotatable shaft and said entryway device, for pivoting said entryway device between said first pivot position and said second pivot position; one or more extension plate(s) connected to said recess cover near a transverse edge portion thereof, said extension plate(s) having one edge pivotably or slidably connected to the recess cover near said transverse edge portion thereof, wherein in said first pivot position, said edge portion adjoins said entrance doorway and said extension plate(s) is pivotable or slidable between a storage position substantially parallel to said recess cover, and a bridge position bridging a gap between said entrance doorway and said platform; one or more extension board(s) within said stairway assembly independently pivotable or extendable between a storage position, in which each extension board is housed beneath a stairway tread, and an extended position in which a selected one or more of said extension board(s) bridges a gap between a platform and said stairway assembly; a mechanism for extension and retraction of each said extension board; a stop mechanism which limits an amount of extension and retraction; and one or more locking mechanism(s) associated with said entryway device that lock rotation of said entryway device.

10. An arrangement for increased comfort and passenger utilization of a double deck transport vehicle car having an upper level and a lower level, said car comprising: a ceiling for said upper level; a bottom deck for said lower level; an intermediate deck forming a floor for said upper level and a ceiling for said lower level; at least three longitudinal aisles; and seats mounted to said floor and/or mounted to one or more wall(s) for the upper level, and mounted to said deck and/or mounted to one or more wall(s) for the lower level, said seats arranged transversely in rows having on one level a bench seat on each side of a single longitudinal aisle, and on the remaining level three or four seats separated or flanked by two longitudinal aisles, wherein said intermediate deck has raised sections located under the upper level seats, wherein said intermediate deck is spaced vertically from the bottom deck by (i) a selected greater standing head room height above the lower deck aisle(s) and (ii) a selected lesser seated head room height above the lower deck over the lower level seats, wherein said intermediate deck is spaced vertically from the ceiling for said upper level by (i) a selected greater standing head room height above the upper deck aisle(s) and (ii) a selected lesser seated head room height above the intermediate deck over the upper level seats, and wherein the lower deck aisle(s) is/are offset laterally from the upper deck aisle(s).

11. The car arrangement of claim 10, wherein said car further comprises: at least one wheel truck or axle located at each end of said car; and an intermediate single deck car portion located above each said wheel truck or axle and having access to each level of said double deck car arrangement.

12. The car arrangement of claim 11, wherein said access to each level of said double deck car arrangement is via a stairway and/or an elevator device.

13. The car arrangement of claim 11, additionally comprising: an entryway at about floor elevation of said intermediate single deck car portion, for access to a high level platform; and an entryway at about floor elevation of said lower level car deck, for access to a low level platform.

14. The car arrangement of claim 13, wherein each said entryway additionally comprises: one or more extension plate(s) having one end pivotably or slidably connected to said car, wherein said extension plate(s) pivot(s) or slide(s) between a storage position and a generally horizontal bridge position, said bridge position bridging a gap between said entryway and said platform.

15. The car arrangement of claim 10, wherein the difference between said selected greater standing head room height and said selected lesser seated head room height is between about four inches and about eighteen inches.

16. The car arrangement of claim 11, additionally comprising: an entryway; an intermediate deck floor which is at about the same elevation or higher than a platform outside the entryway, said floor having a recess below said floor adjoining said entryway; and an apparatus for enabling access to said car, comprising: (1) a recess cover for access to said vehicle at about floor height; (2) a stairway assembly disposed in said recess for access to said vehicle from one or more height(s) about at or below said floor height, said stairway assembly comprising at least one stair rise and one stair tread, wherein said recess cover and said stairway assembly are attached together to form an integrated entryway device; and (3) a transverse pivot axis through said entryway device, said entryway device being supported along the pivot axis and being pivotable thereabout between a first pivot position, wherein the recess cover is exposed and generally horizontal at about the same elevation as the floor of the vehicle, and a second pivot position, wherein the stairway assembly is exposed within the recess in said floor, wherein rotation about said pivot axis is arranged generally horizontal and extends generally in the vehicle's longitudinal direction.

17. An arrangement for increased passenger utilization of a passenger transport car, said car comprising: at least one wheel truck or axle located at each end of said car; a low level deck portion located between said wheel truck(s) or axle(s) located at each end of said car; an intermediate deck portion located above each said wheel truck or axle; an entryway at about floor elevation of said intermediate single deck car portion, for access to a high level platform; and an entryway at about floor elevation of said lower level car deck, for access to a low level platform.

18. The arrangement of claim 17, additionally comprising: one or more extension plate(s) having one end pivotably or slidably connected to said car, wherein said extension plate(s) pivot(s) or slide(s) between a storage position and a generally horizontal bridge position, said bridge position bridging a gap between said entryway and said platform.

19. The arrangement of claim 17, additionally comprising: a stairway and/or an elevator device for movement between said lower level and said intermediate level of said car.

Description:

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/325,452, filed Sep. 27, 2001; U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/385,129, filed May 31, 2002; U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/385,142, filed May 31, 2002; and U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/391,774, filed Jun. 25, 2002; the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of Invention

[0003] The present invention relates to entranceway designs, covering doors, steps, and other components; and car design and seating arrangements for passenger transport vehicles. In particular, the present inventive entranceway and access arrangement subject matter are especially applicable to railroad cars for rail lines which serve both high and low level station platforms. The present inventive seating arrangement subject matter is especially applicable to passenger transport vehicles having overhead clearance restrictions, such as railroad cars.

[0004] 2. Background

[0005] A. Entranceway and Platform Designs

[0006] Existing, traditional passenger railcar entranceway designs, in combination with the use of high level (hereinafter “HL”) and low level (hereinafter “LL”) platforms, create many serious problems for passenger and freight service. These problems include the following:

[0007] Safety Concerns. Doors and traps are typically left open between LL stations that are close to one another, permitting passengers and employees to board or alight from moving trains. Such insecure entranceways can lead to serious injuries and deaths. The actual boarding and alighting injury rate of U.S. commuter rail passengers and employees in 1995-2000 averaged 3.48 injuries/million passengers on mixed platform/traditional entranceway systems, compared to only 0.45 and 0.91 on systems with secure entranceways and only HL platforms or only LL platforms, respectively.

[0008] ADA Accessibility Problems. Wheelchair passengers can be accommodated at HL platforms, but only by time-consuming manual placement of a bridge plate between the car and platform to bridge the non-compliant horizontal, and possibly vertical, gap(s) between the car and the platform. At some LL platform stations, mini-HL platforms for wheelchair access have been installed, often set back from the usual platform location to clear freight trains and cargo. Their use often requires a second stop of the train. Thus mobility-impaired passengers are treated differently from others, and the means to accommodate them results in service delays.

[0009] Long LL Platform Dwell Times. Because crewmembers must be certain no one is trying to board or alight when a train starts, usually some entranceways are not opened, lengthening the stop (dwell) time. Operating procedures for the use of entranceways further lengthens the time, slowing schedules.

[0010] Higher Operating Costs. Manual operation of traps, and sometimes doors, and the need for entranceway surveillance results in the need for more crewmembers. In 2000, mixed platform systems experienced a vehicle operating labor cost about one-third higher than systems with secure entranceways as a percentage of total operating cost.

[0011] Compatibility with Freight Service. Many freight cars, and/or their cargo loads, are wider than passenger cars, and do not clear standard location HL platforms safely. Switching of cars often requires crewmembers to ride on the side of cars, making HL platforms a very serious safety hazard. Further, railroads have developed many freight routes to accept excess dimension loads-high and/or wide loads that extend well beyond the sides and/or roof of standard freight cars. Solutions to this problem are expensive: separate tracks, gantlet tracks, or retractable HL platforms. As a result freight railroads have generally opposed HL platforms or restricted them to certain locations where they would not interfere with freight service.

[0012] Low Level Boarding and Alighting Difficulty. By design, the first step is 9 inches above and 5 inches away from a properly located LL platform. This designed first step horizontal gap is awkward and large for many passengers. In practice, the vertical gap can be much larger, as high as 17 inches, making entry into a car from a LL platform difficult and slow for all passengers.

[0013] Various partial solutions to these problems have been proposed, but none deals effectively with all of these problems.

[0014] Existing Platform Designs. There are two traditional platform designs, low level and high level. The LL platform design is the oldest, and it is found at most suburban stations and many large city stations. Because U.S. commuter railroads are part of the national system of freight and passenger railroads, national standards, as well as federal and state regulations, apply to platforms and also railroad cars. American Railway Engineering and Maintenance Association (hereinafter “AREMA”) specifications call for the top surface of a LL platform to be 8 inches above the height of the rail, and its edge to be 5 feet 1 inch from the center of the track.

[0015] Although a few stations had them in the early 1900s, HL platforms have become more common in the last two decades. Many stations have been rebuilt with HL platforms, primarily to speed loading and unloading, and to assist in providing ADA accessibility. HL platforms should be 4 feet above the top of the rail, and 5 feet 7 inches from the edge to the track centerline.

[0016] However, HL platforms also create problems. Since many freight cars are too wide to pass HL platforms safely, clearance for freight trains past HL platforms is usually provided by having either separate tracks or parallel rails that shift the train away from the other rails so as to provide adequate clearance, also known as gantlet tracks. Recently some commuter lines have installed retractable HL platforms, where the outer section of the platform is rotated upward and out of the way of trains.

[0017] It is expected that a mixture of both HL and LL platforms will continue to characterize U.S. rail systems in the foreseeable future. The reason is that neither can be used universally. HL platforms are required for some trains, such as Amtrak's new high speed Acela trains. And LL platforms are retained for many reasons, including cost, compatibility with freight service, and the use of some new commuter and intercity cars that are compatible with LL platforms only.

[0018] Existing Entranceway Designs. The use of both LL and HL platforms on the same rail line has necessitated a special design for the entranceway to railroad passenger cars. This traditional railroad car entrance consists of a high level (HL) door, stairway, and trap arrangement. At HL platforms, only the door is opened. At LL platforms, the trap generally must be raised once the door is opened because the trap normally, although not always, extends under the door. The raised, open trap then allows passengers to use the stairway. Almost all passenger cars that are currently used on lines with both HL and LL platforms in the U.S. have this entranceway design, with one entranceway in the vestibule at each end of the car. Almost all have remotely controlled doors, enabling one train crewmember to open all doors at HL platforms, but requiring manual rotation of each trap if doors are to be opened and closed at LL platforms. Thus, the use of this entranceway design with LL and HL platforms results in the many operational and safety problems described herein.

[0019] A further problem with the use of this design at LL platforms is that the tread of the lowest step is set back from the edge of the platform, and produces a higher than a normal step. This is because of the cross section restrictions on railroad cars and locomotives established by the Mechanical Division of the Association of American Railroads (hereinafter “AAR”), in the form of Equipment Plates. The bottom step tread should be, by design, 5 inches away from the platform, measured horizontally, and 9 inches above the platform. These two dimensions result in a large distance, to be referred to herein as the LL first step gap, for the passenger to negotiate at the lower or first step. Often this gap is considerably larger due to track maintenance that raises the track height or shifts the track laterally away from the platform. Station platforms also are prone to settling, and can be close to or at rail height, for as much as a 17 inches vertical gap. Loading from streets at track level, necessary where a street crosses the track and platform area at some stations, creates an similarly high first step.

[0020] It is noteworthy that some new double deck cars, used on many commuter rail lines outside the Northeastern U.S., have a feature designed to overcome the LL first step gap problem. Even though these cars have a lowest floor approximately 17 inches above ground level, which is about the same height above the rail as the first step in a traditional entranceway, they are equipped with a step about 10 inches above the rail that is extended from the car side at stations to facilitate boarding and alighting. However, these cars are designed for use with LL platforms only and are too high for the vertical clearances found in many Northeastern rail lines. Thus, they provide no solution in the case of lines with HL platforms, or a mixture of HL and LL platforms.

[0021] Various means have been used to try to solve this long-standing problem, in conjunction with the traditional entranceway. In the past, the conductor or other train crewmember would manually place a box-like step at each entranceway, but with smaller crews this is no longer possible. Recently some commuter rail agencies have installed wooden step-up platforms on to of the permanent standard location LL platform. These step-up platforms are typically approximately 7.5 inches high by 16 feet long, and are functionally similar to the box step. The short length of this step-up platform means that it serves only the adjacent entranceways of two cars. The step-up platform also creates a safety hazard if hit by a train. At least one commuter rail line, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, has added a permanent lower step closer to the platform, but this extends beyond AAR Plate B limits. Thus, the LL first step gap problem remains.

[0022] Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) Accessibility Requirements. The problem of mixed platforms has recently become even more difficult because of the need to accommodate wheelchair and other mobility-impaired passengers. To provide accessability, many agencies are installing a mini-high level (hereinafter “mini-HL”) platform at stations with LL platforms. These are short, about 20 feet in length, to reduce costs. The high level permits placing a bridge plate over the gap between the platform and car entranceway trap. This enables a wheelchair to be rolled between the platform and train. However, this procedure is labor intensive and time consuming.

[0023] The use of a bridge plate is necessary because the ADA regulations limit the horizontal gap between a platform and train to 3 inches, and the vertical separation to 1½ inches In the case of retrofitted railcars, these gaps can be as large as 4 inches and 2 inches, respectively, with a 50% passenger load on the car. Current passenger cars are 10 feet wide at the floor, so the gap to a HL platform must be at least 7 inches, using the standard location of HL platforms on passenger lines. Even if cars were built to the maximum 10 feet 8 inches width permitted by Plate B, the 2 inches gap would be exactly the maximum allowed by the ADA. Naturally there are deviations, so ADA requirements realistically can not be met without some type of bridge plate.

[0024] However, the fact that many freight cars and loads carried are wider than passenger cars requires that the mini-HL platforms be set back from the usual passenger platform location if freight trains use the track, in order to clear freight cars safely. The use of such set-back HL and mini-HL platforms increases the horizontal gap, reinforcing the need for a bridge plate.

[0025] In addition, it is expected that there is a slight lengthening of schedules to accommodate wheelchair and other mobility-impaired riders. One reason is an increase in the dwell time due to the need for a train crewmember to walk to storage location of the bridge plate, unlock it and bring it to the train entranceway, place it over the entranceway gap between train doorway and station platform, allow the mobility-impaired passenger to use the bridge plate, and then return the plate to locked storage. A second reason is that two stops are often made, one at the regular LL platform, and another at the mini-HL platform.

[0026] Freight Service Compatibility Issues. While it is clear that standard location HL or mini-HL platforms do not provide adequate clearance for many typical freight cars or their cargo loads, the extent to which platforms must be set back will vary with the line. Of course, if no freight cars pass a HL platform or if they are all of a narrow body design—as is true in a very few cases, then no set back is needed. There are at least two distinct levels of set back that may be necessary:

[0027] 1. The first set back is simply to safely clear standard freight cars that are wider than passenger cars. The AREA manual calls for a track centerline to freight platform distance of 6 feet 4 inches. A freight platform is approximately the same height as a passenger platform. Such a platform is set back 9 inches farther from the track centerline than a standard HL passenger platform. Thus, a setback of about 9 to 12 inches probably is sufficient.

[0028] 2. Most significant freight lines have been upgraded, sometimes over many decades, to accommodate high and wide loads. Excess dimension loads require more than the prescribed minimal clearances. The normal location of clearance-limiting elements of a railroad have long been set so as to provide for excess dimension loads. For example, AREA standards for railroad bridges and tunnels provide a clear width of 9 feet from the track center. Reducing clearances through encroachment of HL platforms is opposed by both the freight railroads and affected shippers and industries for obvious reasons. Variations in the current clearances among particular lines, from earthworks, highway overpasses, etc., and in the plans and realistic options for future clearances on these lines, naturally leads to variations in the HL platform set backs that would be required for freight service. For example, it has been reported that Conrail had agreed to permit new mini-HL platforms located 7 feet 6 inches from the track centerline on some of its freight lines. This example provides a set-back dimension that might be acceptable on some other lines also, and it results in a passenger car side to platform gap of 2 feet 6 inches. Where a greater clearance is needed, a separate track or gantlet track could be required.

[0029] The following U.S. Patents also attempt to address the dual-level platform issues described above and provide entranceway designs for passenger transport vehicles.

[0030] U.S. Pat. No. 95,579 to Gilmer discloses an auxiliary platform trap door which is lowered to provide a flat entryway surface for access to a station platform and is raised to provide access to a fixed stairway to ground level.

[0031] U.S. Pat. No. 3,675,593 to Tonne, et al. discloses a stairway design providing access to a high-level platform and to ground level. A fixed upper step, at floor level of the vehicle, and a fixed lower step which is one step up from street level, are provided, along with a two-piece auxiliary step which can be raised so that both pieces are horizontal and level with the entryway, for platform access, or lowered to a vertical riser and a horizontal thread, comprising an intermediate step between the two fixed steps.

[0032] U.S. Pat. No. 4,058,228 to Hall discloses a combination access stairstep and elevator means for use in a passenger vehicle entryway. In its retracted position, a passenger elevator platform member projects part of its width into the entryway to serve as an access step for passengers who can ascend and descend on foot. Such platform member is mounted as part of a dual-arm parallelogram linkage mechanism, the parts of which in normal position are compactly stowed at a common level out of the entryway passage beneath the passenger deck. To accommodate disabled persons, the platform member may be fully extended outward into the entryway for use in elevating persons unable to climb stairs and passengers in wheelchairs between deck level and curb or ground level.

[0033] U.S. Pat. No. 4,175,495 to Kleim discloses an entrance step arrangement for vehicles, especially rail vehicles, which has at least one fixed intermediate step; a movable cover for covering up the step or steps; a foldable guard plate; and transmission elements and related safety devices interposed between a drive and movable element. The entrance step arrangement provides high-level and low-level access to a high platform, to a low platform, or to ground level. The axes of rotation of the movable elements are arranged horizontal and parallel to the outer contour of the vehicle. The guard plate, which is foldable outwardly, folds down into a lowest step by rotation about one axis. The step cover provides access to a high-level platform, and is pivotable about a second axis, inwardly behind the tread edge of the floor of the vehicle to expose the stairway.

[0034] U.S. Pat. No. 4,275,664 to Reddy discloses a step-platform operator for transit vehicles for driving a movable step and a movable platform between open and closed positions. The arrangement provides access to a station platform and to ground level. In one position, the entryway platform is horizontal and provides access to the station platform, while the step is raised to a position inside the railcar body. In a second position, the platform is rotated upward about one axis to a vertical position to expose the stairway, and the movable step is rotated about a second axis to a lowered position outside the railcar body.

[0035] U.S. Pat. No. 5,150,659 to Bickel discloses a step system for vehicles, comprising a pivoting step support system for accommodating platforms of varying heights. One or a plurality of steps and/or plates are provided and can be positioned at a position above the floor of the vehicle, at a position equal to the level of the floor, or below the floor. The step system is mounted to the floor area such that it is positionable from a position above the floor of the vehicle, by means of a pivoting movement about one axis of at least 180 degrees, into a position lower than the floor. In the position above the floor and in the position below the floor, opposite surfaces of the step may be walked upon by a person entering and exiting a railroad car, by pivoting the step about a second axis. The step or plate is supported in a pivotable or rotatable manner around a longitudinal axis of rotation located at the floor area of the vehicle, such that adjustment of the height of the step or plate results from the pivotal or rotational movement of the step or plate by a parallelogram-like rotational movement.

[0036] Applicant has developed a new entranceway design for passenger transport vehicles such as railroad cars. The inventive design overcomes the many serious problems that result from the use of the current entranceway design in conjunction with a mixture of high and low platforms on commuter and intercity railroads. These problems are especially common in the Northeast United States, but also exist in Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, and elsewhere. Among the problems which are overcome by the present inventive subject matter are the following:

[0037] long dwell times and resultant slower service,

[0038] passenger (and employee) accidents and injuries,

[0039] difficulties in complying with ADA accessibility requirements,

[0040] increased train crew size, and

[0041] inadequate clearance for freight trains (and their cargo) at high level platforms.

[0042] Various partial solutions to these problems have been proposed, but none deals effectively with all of the problems. The inventive design addresses all of these problems simultaneously, and is intended to be used on both new railcars and retrofitted into existing cars.

[0043] The inventive design combines the stairway, trap, and a built-in bridge plate in such a way that it provides full access and door security with both HL and LL platforms. It is also designed to bridge the gap to a HL platform set back away from the track, termed a set-back HL platform, at both mini-HL and full length HL platforms, so that it provides adequate clearance for freight trains. It provides access for wheelchair passengers at all HL platforms. Transition of the entranceway from its configuration for one type of platform to another can be accomplished from a single location on the train, so that all entranceways are properly configured for each station. Further, the inventive design utilizes the usual remotely controlled HL sliding door, but also a second stairway-level remotely controlled stairway panel door, to fully cover the trap opening while the train is moving. This prevents passengers from jumping onto or alighting from a moving train. Finally, it enables opening of all entranceways from a single location, thus ensuring maximum passenger flow and minimizing station dwell time.

[0044] B. Car Body and Seating Arrangements

[0045] Many single level cars are used where overhead clearances do not permit a standard double-deck car. These restrictions occur, for example, in the New York and Philadelphia areas. For increased capacity on existing routes and greater operating efficiency, there is a need for new designs for higher capacity cars which can be used without modifying ancillary facilities and equipment such as tunnels, bridges, stations, overhead electrical lines, and the like.

[0046] The following U.S. Patents provide dual-level car arrangements or address space utilization in passenger vehicle design.

[0047] U.S. Pat. No. 1,673,682 to Hulse discloses a passenger railway coach, where the portion of the car between the wheels of the vehicle has double decks and the portion overlying the wheels has a single deck. Access to the car is via the single deck portion, which is connected to each level of the double deck portion by a stairway. Passenger seats in the double deck portion are arranged longitudinally in two rows. Seats on the lower level face inward, towards each other, around a center aisle. Seats on the upper level are arranged back-to-back and face outward, with an aisle on each side of the car. The ceiling of the lower level is not planar, with the ceiling over the center aisle arched above the height of the ceiling over the two rows of seats. Correspondingly, the upper level is raised in the center above the level of the two aisles, with the seats placed on top of the raised center-arch portion.

[0048] U.S. Pat. No. 3,971,455 to Molzon discloses a double deck bus having an upper deck which is at a selected headroom height from the lower deck, and at a selected headroom height from the vehicle roof. A channel aisle with a selected standing headroom is provided in the upper deck. An aisle is also provided along the lower deck, and is offset laterally from the upper deck passageway to provide the selected standing headroom throughout its length without interfering with the upper deck aisle channel.

[0049] U.S. Pat. No. 4,951,560 to Setan discloses a double deck rail car having baggage racks for each deck, characterized in that the top-deck floor is lowered beneath the rows of seats on the top deck to make sufficient room beneath the top deck ceiling for baggage racks to be installed, with baggage racks for the bottom deck being integrated in the bases of the seats on the top deck.

[0050] Applicant has solved the problem of limiting certain transport lines or routes to single level cars because of height restrictions, providing a double-deck car body design which complies with height restrictions while maintaining passenger comfort. The inventive double-deck car body design provides normal ceiling height over the aisles while meeting restrictive overhead clearances. Thus, the disadvantage of loss of usable car space or capacity is overcome. The inventive car body design provides the following features:

[0051] Full double deck section between trucks, with a full height aisle on both of levels of this sections, in addition to the normal floor height end sections, while remaining compatible with limited overhead clearances such as found on Northeastern United States railroads, including the New York and Philadelphia terminals.

[0052] Seating capacity is increased substantially over that of a single level car, and space is easily provided near the doors and lift between car floors for wheelchairs and mobility-impaired travelers.

[0053] The inventive car body design can be used with the inventive entranceway designs, standard end vestibules having stairways, traps, and doors, and with HL platform-only or LL platform-only entranceway arrangements.

[0054] The inventive car body design can optionally be equipped for approximately level entry to both LL and HL platforms by use of separate doors from a low and an intermediate level in the car. When combined with an internal elevator device for movement between levels, this design provides full access in compliance with ADA requirements to both LL and HL platforms. This design also avoids the need for, and expense of, new HL platform installations.

[0055] Various passenger amenities can be provided in the ample body space, for toilets, storage of bicycles and luggage, etc. The upper level can be provided with vista-dome style end windows, affording passengers visibility fore and aft, as well as side visibility. The car can be fitted with other accommodations as well, for example as a sleeping car, dining car, lounge car, baggage car, and the like, while continuing to exhibit improved capacity characteristics.

[0056] C. Improved Passenger Access Arrangements

[0057] Accommodation of mobility-impaired passengers, and in the United states meeting ADA requirements, at any LL platform station is a significant problem for railways worldwide. Most LL doors are one step above a standard location LL platform. One solution has been to install new HL platforms which meet the requirements of mobility impaired passengers. There is a substantial cost for installing and maintaining HL or mini-HL platforms, and there is a growing conflict between freight and passenger service with respect to adequate clearances past passenger station platforms. In addition, there are special demands on train crewmembers associated with the transportation of mobility-impaired passengers.

[0058] To enable wheelchair passengers to board and alight at standard LL platforms, either of two approaches is currently employed. First, where the station platform is sufficiently wide, a long moveable ramp can be attached to the car floor at the door, the other end resting on the platform, enabling wheelchair passage between the floor and platform. The ramp might be carried on the car, or be located at the station. Second, where the platform width is insufficient, then a lift of the type used by Amtrak and others on bi-level cars could be used. This is carried on the train. However, superior to both the ramp and lift is the inventive LL platform.

[0059] Further, even at standard HL platforms, mobility-impaired passenger accessibility allows only minimal horizontal and vertical gaps between a car and a station platform. These requirements can not realistically be met with cars that conform to current, longstanding railroad industry maximum car envelope limitations of AAR Plates B or C, and HL platform locations that conform to the AREMA standards for structures along a rail line. These factors, along with current track and structure maintenance practices, result in non-compliant vertical and horizontal gaps, requiring some type of gap filler.

[0060] Applicant has developed a design for railroad passenger cars and platforms which provides the technology needed to solve the problems associated with rail passenger and freight service in the Northeastern U.S., as discussed above. Important features of the inventive design are:

[0061] It provides an entranceway that operates with standard high level (HL), mini-HL, and low level (LL) station platforms and that has remotely controlled doors (and other elements). Thus it permits all doors to be opened and closed at all stations on current mixed HL and LL platform systems.

[0062] It provides an entranceway and car body design that, in conjunction with any of the standard platform designs (HL, mini-HL, set-back mini-HL, retractable HL, and LL), meets ADA accessibility requirements for mobility-impaired persons.

[0063] By eliminating the need for any type of HL platform to meet ADA requirements, LL platforms can be retained. HL platforms restrict clearances for freight cars and cargo, and interfere with freight switching operations. Furthermore, this entranceway design provides, with standard LL platforms, most of the advantages for passenger service previously found only with HL platforms.

[0064] A new LL platform design is presented that eliminates special efforts required of the crew to accommodate wheelchair or other mobility-impaired passengers and does not impair line clearances.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0065] The present invention relates to an apparatus for enabling access to a vehicle having (i) an entrance doorway and (ii) a floor which is at about a same or a higher elevation as a platform outside the entrance doorway, said floor having a recess below said floor adjoining said entrance doorway, said apparatus comprising:

[0066] a recess cover for access to said vehicle at about floor height;

[0067] a stairway assembly disposed in said recess for access to said vehicle from one or more height(s) about at or below said floor height, said stairway assembly comprising at least one stair rise and one stair tread,

[0068] wherein said recess cover and said stairway assembly are attached together to form an integrated entryway device; and

[0069] a transverse pivot axis through said entryway device, said entryway device being supported along the pivot axis and being pivotable thereabout between a first pivot position, wherein the recess cover is exposed and generally horizontal at about the same elevation as the floor of the vehicle, and a second pivot position, wherein the stairway assembly is exposed within the recess in said floor,

[0070] wherein rotation about said pivot axis is arranged generally horizontal and extends generally in the vehicle's longitudinal direction.

[0071] The present invention further relates to an apparatus for enabling access to a vehicle having (i) an entrance doorway and (ii) a floor which is at about a same or a higher elevation as a platform outside the entrance doorway, said floor having a recess below said floor adjoining said entrance doorway, said apparatus comprising:

[0072] a recess cover for access to said car at about floor height;

[0073] a stairway assembly disposed in said recess for access to said vehicle from one or more height(s) about at or below said floor height, said stairway assembly comprising at least one stair rise and one stair tread,

[0074] wherein said recess cover and said stairway assembly are attached together to form an integrated entryway device; and

[0075] a transverse pivot axis through said entryway device, said entryway device being supported along the pivot axis and being pivotable thereabout between a first pivot position, wherein the recess cover is exposed and generally horizontal at about the same elevation as the floor of the vehicle, and a second pivot position, wherein the stairway assembly is exposed within the recess in said floor,

[0076] wherein rotation about said pivot axis is arranged generally horizontal and extends generally in the vehicle's longitudinal direction;

[0077] a rotatable shaft disposed along said pivot axis, said rotatable shaft being fixedly connected to said entryway device;

[0078] a manual or powered operator, fixedly connected to one or both of said rotatable shaft and said entryway device, for pivoting said entryway device between said first pivot position and said second pivot position;

[0079] one or more extension plate(s) connected to said recess cover near a transverse edge portion thereof, said extension plate(s) having one edge pivotably or slidably connected to the recess cover near said transverse edge portion thereof,

[0080] wherein in said first pivot position, said edge portion adjoins said entrance doorway and said extension plate(s) is pivotable or slidable between a storage position substantially parallel to said recess cover, and a bridge position bridging a gap between said entrance doorway and

[0081] said platform;

[0082] one or more extension board(s) within said stairway assembly independently pivotable or extendable between a storage position, in which each extension board is housed beneath a stairway tread, and an extended position in which a selected one or more of said extension board(s) bridges a gap between a platform and said stairway assembly;

[0083] a mechanism for extension and retraction of each said extension board;

[0084] a stop mechanism which limits an amount of extension and retraction; and

[0085] one or more locking mechanism(s) associated with said entryway device that lock rotation of said entryway device.

[0086] Additionally, the present invention relates to an arrangement for increased comfort and passenger utilization of a double deck transport vehicle car having an upper level and a lower level, said car comprising:

[0087] a ceiling for said upper level;

[0088] a bottom deck for said lower level;

[0089] an intermediate deck forming a floor for said upper level and a ceiling for said lower level;

[0090] at least three longitudinal aisles; and

[0091] seats mounted to said floor and/or mounted to one or more wall(s) for the upper level, and mounted to said deck and/or mounted to one or more wall(s) for the lower level, said seats arranged transversely in rows having on one level a bench seat on each side of a single longitudinal aisle, and on the remaining level three or four seats separated or flanked by two longitudinal aisles,

[0092] wherein said intermediate deck has raised sections located under the upper level seats, wherein said intermediate deck is spaced vertically from the bottom deck by (i) a selected greater standing head room height above the lower deck aisle(s) and (ii) a selected lesser seated head room height above the lower deck over the lower level seats,

[0093] wherein said intermediate deck is spaced vertically from the ceiling for said upper level by (i) a selected greater standing head room height above the upper deck aisle(s) and (ii) a selected lesser seated head room height above the intermediate deck over the upper level seats, and wherein the lower deck aisle(s) is/are offset laterally from the upper deck aisle(s).

[0094] The present invention further relates to an arrangement for increased passenger utilization of a passenger transport car, said car comprising:

[0095] at least one wheel truck or axle located at each end of said car;

[0096] a low level deck portion located between said wheel truck(s) or axle(s) located at each end of said car;

[0097] an intermediate deck portion located above each said wheel truck or axle;

[0098] an entryway at about floor elevation of said intermediate single deck car portion, for access to a high level platform; and

[0099] an entryway at about floor elevation of said lower level car deck, for access to a low level platform.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0100] FIG. 1(a) is a drawing which depicts the inventive entryway device positioned for a lower level platform.

[0101] FIG. 1(b) is a drawing which depicts the inventive entryway device positioned for a high level platform.

[0102] FIG. 2(a) is a drawing which depicts the inventive entryway device positioned for use at an adjoining HL platform, with the recess cover exposed and generally continuous with the railcar floor, the doors closed, and the bridge plate in the stored, vertical position.

[0103] FIG. 2(b) is a drawing which depicts the inventive entryway device with the recess cover exposed, the doors closed, and the bridge plate in the functional, horizontal position resting on an HL platform.

[0104] FIG. 2(c) is a drawing which depicts the inventive entryway device with the recess cover exposed, the doors open, and the extension plate in the functional, horizontal position resting on an HL platform to form a bridge.

[0105] FIG. 2(d) is a drawing which depicts the inventive entryway device in transition from the HL position to the LL position.

[0106] FIG. 2(e) is a drawing which depicts the inventive entryway device positioned for use at an adjoining LL platform, with the stairway exposed, the doors closed, and an extension board in the stored, retracted position within the stairway assembly.

[0107] FIG. 2(f) is a drawing which depicts the inventive entryway device positioned for use at an adjoining LL platform, with the stairway exposed, the doors closed, and an extension board in the extended position.

[0108] FIG. 2(g) is a drawing which depicts the inventive entryway device positioned for use at an adjoining LL platform, with the stairway exposed, the doors open, and an extension board in the extended position.

[0109] FIG. 3(a) is a drawing which depicts a side cross sectional view of the inventive car, through its center aisle.

[0110] FIG. 3(b) is a drawing which depicts an end-on cross sectional view through level 2 of the inventive car.

[0111] FIG. 3(c) is a drawing which depicts an end-on sectional view through levels 1 and 3 of the inventive car.

[0112] FIG. 3(d) is a drawing which depicts a side cross sectional view of the inventive car, through an outside wall.

[0113] FIG. 4(a) is a drawing which depicts a top elevation of the level 2 and level 3 seating areas of one embodiment of the inventive car.

[0114] FIG. 4 (b) is a drawing which depicts a top elevation of the level 1 and level 2 seating areas of one embodiment of the inventive car.

[0115] FIG. 5 is a drawing which illustrates one set of typical height dimensions of an end-on cross sectional view of level 1 and level 3 of the inventive car subject matter.

[0116] FIG. 6(a) is a drawing which depicts a side cross sectional view of an alternate embodiment of the inventive car, through its center aisle.

[0117] FIG. 6(b) is a drawing which depicts an end-on cross sectional view through level 2 of an alternate embodiment of the inventive car.

[0118] FIG. 6(c) is a drawing which depicts an end-on sectional view through levels 1 and 3 of an alternate embodiment of the inventive car.

[0119] FIG. 6(d) is a drawing which depicts a side cross sectional view of an alternate embodiment of the inventive car, through an outside wall.

[0120] FIG. 7(a) is a drawing which depicts a top elevation of the level 2 and level 3 seating areas of an alternate embodiment of the inventive car.

[0121] FIG. 7(b) is a drawing which depicts a top elevation of the level 1 and level 2 seating areas of an alternate embodiment of the inventive car.

[0122] FIG. 8(a) is a drawing which depicts a side cross sectional view of the inventive improved-access car, through its center aisle.

[0123] FIG. 8(b) is a drawing which depicts a top elevation view of the inventive improved-access car.

[0124] FIG. 8(c) is a drawing which depicts an end-on sectional view through the intermediate level of the inventive improved-access car.

[0125] FIG. 8(d) is a drawing which depicts a end-on sectional view through the lower level of the inventive improved-access car.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Definitions

[0126] The term “platform” as used herein refers to a landing alongside railroad tracks, including the ground and elevated surfaces above ground-level.

[0127] The term “mechanism for mounting” as used herein refers to a support for fixing one thing to another.

[0128] The term “mechanism for driving” as used herein refers to a motive force or power for pushing, propelling, guiding, controlling, or directing movement of a thing.

[0129] The term “stop mechanism” as used herein refers to a device that obstructs, regulates, or blocks movement of a thing.

[0130] The term “locking mechanism” as used herein refers to a device for holding, closing, or securing in place so as to immobilize.

[0131] The term “elevator device” as used herein refers to a surface or an enclosure raised and lowered in a vertical plane to transport people or freight.

[0132] The term “bench seat” as used herein refers to a seating arrangement providing seating space for at least one, and preferably two or three passengers in a single seating unit, with or without separate seat pads, seats backs, and armrests.

Entry Arrangements

[0133] The present invention relates to an apparatus for enabling access to a vehicle having (i) an entrance doorway (10) and (ii) a floor (12) which is at about a same or a higher elevation as a platform (100) outside the entrance doorway (10), said floor (12) having a recess (14) below said floor adjoining said entrance doorway (10), said apparatus comprising:

[0134] a recess cover (16) for access to said vehicle at about floor height;

[0135] a stairway assembly (18) disposed in said recess (14) for access to said vehicle from one or more height(s) about at or below said floor height, said stairway assembly (18) comprising at least one stair rise (20) and one stair tread (22),

[0136] wherein said recess cover (16) and said stairway assembly (18) are attached together to form an integrated entryway device (24); and

[0137] a transverse pivot axis (26) through said entryway device (24), said entryway device (24) being supported along the pivot axis and being pivotable thereabout between a first pivot position, wherein the recess cover (16) is exposed and generally horizontal at about the same elevation as the floor (12) of the vehicle, and a second pivot position, wherein the stairway assembly (18) is exposed within the recess (14) in said floor,

[0138] wherein rotation about said pivot axis is arranged generally horizontal and extends generally in the vehicle's longitudinal direction.

[0139] In a preferred embodiment, said apparatus further comprises: a rotatable shaft (28) disposed along said pivot axis, said rotatable shaft (28) being fixedly connected to said entryway device (24).

[0140] In another preferred embodiment, said apparatus further comprises: a manual or powered operator, fixedly connected to one or both of said rotatable shaft (28) and said entryway device (24), for pivoting said entryway device (24) between said first pivot position and said second pivot position.

[0141] In another preferred embodiment, said apparatus further comprises: one or more extension plate(s) (32) connected to said recess cover (16) near a transverse edge portion thereof, said extension plate(s) (32) having one edge pivotably or slidably connected to the recess cover (16) near said transverse edge portion thereof,

[0142] wherein in said first pivot position, said edge portion adjoins said entrance doorway (10) and said extension plate(s) (32) is pivotable or slidable between a storage position substantially parallel to said recess cover (16), and a bridge position bridging a gap between said entrance doorway (10) and said platform.

[0143] In another preferred embodiment, said apparatus further comprises: one or more extension board(s) (34) within said stairway assembly (18) independently pivotable or extendable between a storage position, in which each extension board is housed beneath a stairway tread, and an extended position in which a selected one or more of said extension board(s) (34) bridges a gap between a platform (100) and said stairway assembly (18).

[0144] One of ordinary skill in the art will readily understand that many mechanisms for mounting an extension board are known in the art. In a preferred embodiment, without limitation, one or more slide(s) may be employed to mount an extension board beneath a stairway tread.

[0145] In a particularly preferred embodiment, said apparatus further comprises: a mechanism for extension and retraction of each said extension board (36); and a stop mechanism (38) which limits an amount of extension and retraction.

[0146] One of ordinary skill in the art will readily understand that many mechanisms for driving and stopping the translation of an extension board are known in the art. In a preferred embodiment, without limitation, a reversible electric or hydraulic motor may be employed to drive an extension board between a retracted and extended position and stop the extension board in the desired position.

[0147] In another preferred embodiment, said apparatus further comprises: one or more locking mechanism(s) (40) associated with said entryway device (24) that lock rotation of said entryway device.

[0148] One of ordinary skill in the art will readily understand that many mechanisms for locking the rotation of the entryway device are known in the art. In a preferred embodiment, without limitation, one or more hole and pin arrangement(s) may be employed to lock the entryway device to prevent rotation.

[0149] In a particularly preferred embodiment, said vehicle is a railroad car.

[0150] Thus, the present invention further relates to an apparatus for enabling access to a vehicle having (i) an entrance doorway (10) and (ii) a floor (12) which is at about a same or a higher elevation as a platform (100) outside the entrance doorway (10), said floor (12) having a recess (14) below said floor adjoining said entrance doorway (10), said apparatus comprising:

[0151] a recess cover (16) for access to said car at about floor height;

[0152] a stairway assembly (18) disposed in said recess (14) for access to said vehicle from one or more height(s) about at or below said floor height, said stairway assembly (18) comprising at least one stair rise (20) and one stair tread (22),

[0153] wherein said recess cover (16) and said stairway assembly (18) are attached together to form an integrated entryway device (24); and

[0154] a transverse pivot axis (26) through said entryway device (24), said entryway device (24) being supported along the pivot axis and being pivotable thereabout between a first pivot position, wherein the recess cover (16) is exposed and generally horizontal at about the same elevation as the floor (12) of the vehicle, and a second pivot position, wherein the stairway assembly (18) is exposed within the recess (14) in said floor,

[0155] wherein rotation about said pivot axis is arranged generally horizontal and extends generally in the vehicle's longitudinal direction;

[0156] a rotatable shaft (28) disposed along said pivot axis, said rotatable shaft (28) being fixedly connected to said entryway device (24);

[0157] a manual or powered operator, fixedly connected to one or both of said rotatable shaft (28) and said entryway device (24), for pivoting said entryway device (24) between said first pivot position and said second pivot position;

[0158] one or more extension plate(s) (32) connected to said recess cover (16) near a transverse edge portion thereof, said extension plate(s) (32) having one edge pivotably or slidably connected to the recess cover (16) near said transverse edge portion thereof,

[0159] wherein in said first pivot position, said edge portion adjoins said entrance doorway (10) and said extension plate(s) (32) is pivotable or slidable between a storage position substantially parallel to said recess cover (16), and a bridge position bridging a gap between said entrance doorway (10) and said platform;

[0160] one or more extension board(s) (34) within said stairway assembly (18) independently pivotable or extendable between a storage position, in which each extension board is housed beneath a stairway tread, and an extended position in which a selected one or more of said extension board(s) (34) bridges a gap between a platform (100) and said stairway assembly (18);

[0161] a mechanism for extension and retraction of each said extension board (36);

[0162] a stop mechanism (38) which limits an amount of extension and retraction; and

[0163] one or more locking mechanism(s) (40) associated with said entryway device (24) that lock rotation of said entryway device.

[0164] The inventive design combines a stairway, a trap, and an optional built-in bridge plate in such a way that it provides full access and door security with both HL and LL platforms. It is also designed to bridge the gap to a HL platform set back away from the track, termed a set-back HL platform, so that it provides adequate clearance for freight trains. It provides access for wheelchair passengers at all HL platforms. Transition of the entranceway from its configuration for one type of platform to another can be accomplished from a single location on the train, so that all entranceways are properly configured for all stations. Further, the inventive design utilizes the usual remotely controlled HL sliding door, but also a second stairway-level remotely controlled panel stairway door, to fully cover the openings while the train is moving. This prevents passengers from jumping onto or alighting from a moving train. Finally, it enables opening of all entranceways from a single location, thus ensuring maximum passenger flow and minimizing station dwell time.

[0165] Basic Design and LL Platform Operation. FIG. 1(a) and (b) illustrate the essential design features in the overcall context of a railcar entryway, in partial cut-away form. The stairway and trap can be considered a stairway-trap-block, which rotates about the axis A-A to provide access for the different platform types. FIG. 1(a) shows the block entryway device in position for a LL platform, which also depicts a top and bottom car door set in the open position for LL platform access. Both doors are opened simultaneously, and closed simultaneously, thus eliminating the open entranceway safety problem, and the concomitant dwell time delay.

[0166] The block optionally incorporates a sliding lower step that can be extended at LL platforms just before the doors are opened, shown extended in FIG. 1(a). This eliminates the LL first step gap problem. Use of the retractable step is optional at any station, so that it need not be used at a platform that is unusually high or close to the train. At LL platforms, both doors are opened simultaneously, and closed simultaneously, thus eliminating the open entranceway safety problem. The sliding step is retracted after the LL door is closed, so that the car conforms to the AAR Plate B requirements when it is moving.

[0167] Transition between LL and HL Platforms. When traveling from a LL station to a HL station, the configuration of all of the entranceways on one or both sides of the train can be changed by remote control. Passengers must not be in the step block area, and this is ensured, for example, by locking a door that prevents use of the stairway-trap-block area.

[0168] To change from the LL to HL platform configuration, the block is rotated about the axis A-A, as shown in FIG. 1(b), stopping when the recess cover (16) surface is generally horizontal. Shown in FIG. 1(b) is the optional, preferred rotating bridge plate attached to the outer edge of the stairway-trap-block with a hinge. The bridge plate is approximately horizontal in use and is rotated perpendicular to the trap surface so that it will rest close to or against the closed HL door when the trap is in the HL position.

[0169] The reverse procedure is followed in going from HL platforms to LL platforms. FIGS. 2(a) through 2(g) depict a number of positions of the inventive entryway device in use, transitioning from a doors-closed position for HL use through a fully deployed position at an HL platform, through rotation to a doors-closed position for LL use, and finally through a fully deployed position at a LL platform.

[0170] In particular, FIG. 2(a) depicts the inventive entryway device positioned for use at an adjoining HL platform, with the recess cover exposed and generally continuous with the railcar floor, the doors closed, and the bridge plate in the stored, vertical position. FIG. 2(b) depicts the inventive entryway device with the recess cover exposed, the doors closed, and the bridge plate in the functional, horizontal position resting on an HL platform. FIG. 2(c) depicts the inventive entryway device with the recess cover exposed, the doors open, and the bridge plate in the functional, horizontal position resting on an HL platform. FIG. 2(d) depicts the inventive entryway device rotated about 45° from the position in FIGS. 2(a)-(c), in transition from the HL position to the LL position. The direction of rotation shown in FIG. 2(d) is only an example; the entryway device is expected to be rotatable in either direction about its axis. FIG. 2(e) depicts the inventive entryway device positioned for use at an adjoining LL platform, with the stairway exposed, the doors closed, and an extension board in the stored, retracted position within the stairway assembly. FIG. 2(f) depicts the inventive entryway device positioned for use at an adjoining LL platform, with the stairway exposed, the doors closed, and an extension board in the extended position. FIG. 2(g) depicts the inventive entryway device positioned for use at an adjoining LL platform, with the stairway exposed, the doors open, and an extension board in the extended position.

[0171] Currently, conventional traps are lowered when trains are traveling from a HL to a LL platform station with the doors opened, except where an inside trap is used. The same timing would apply with the inventive design. Moreover, if the stations on a line switch from one type of platform to another, and then back again, as occurs on some lines, the remote control of the transition enables rapid reconfiguration of all entranceways so that all can be used at each station.

[0172] HL, Mini-HL, and Set-Back HL Platform Operation. When the train arrives at a HL platform, the first event is to lower the optional bridge plate(s), again all simultaneously, by remote control, so that it/they rest on the HL platform. Simultaneously, an optional entranceway railing on each side of the bridge plate would descend. Then, the HL doors are opened. Once all passengers have passed, the door is closed, the bridge plate is raised by rotation upward against the outside of the HL door, and the optional railing is raised simultaneously. The train can then depart the station.

[0173] The bridge plate is designed to completely cover any gap between a HL or set-back HL platform and the train entranceway. Thus, the ADA accessibility problem, and the more general safety problem with a large trap-to-platform gap, is eliminated. Wheelchair passengers can be readily accommodated without the need for a crewmember to manually place a standard bridge plate at the entranceway. The optional railing would guide wheelchair and passenger movement. When passenger transfer is completed, the HL door is closed, the bridge plate and railing are then returned to the stowed position, and the train can depart.

[0174] The inventive entranceway configuration for a HL platform will also work for a mini-HL or full set-back HL platform. There are numerous advantages for this flexibility, not the least of which is the elimination of the need for the retractable HL platform, gantlet tracks, or separate tracks for freight and passenger service, and the attendant costs where clearance must be provided for freight trains. Thus, set-back HL platforms can be used wherever it is felt that HL platforms are needed, without restricting freight service. The inventive design is also entirely compatible with mini-HL platforms that are set back from the usual HL position in order to provide freight clearance.

[0175] To ensure that the step block, doors, and appurtenances are in their proper positions at all times, the usual interlock devices known to those of skill in the art, may be incorporated. It is contemplated that detector(s) or other monitoring device(s) on the train or along the tracks, to check for proper positioning, may be incorporated as well.

[0176] Design Features for Transition Safety. If the car has the traditional rail passenger car vestibule's feature of a door between the passenger compartment and the entranceway area, this door is expected to be locked during the transition. If not, a door, such as a bi-fold door, can be placed just inboard of the step block area and locked during the transition. In the case of center or quarter point entranceways, the necessary door could be either at the opening to the seating area, creating a mid-car vestibule, or just inboard of the step block area. In addition, one or more passenger detectors of weight, presence, etc. may be used to ensure that no one is in the stairway-trap-block area before locking the door and commencing the transition.

[0177] Compatibility with Various Car Designs and Entranceway Locations. A final important feature of the inventive design is its compatibility with both new car designs and older, existing cars. Recent commuter and intercity cars differ in entranceway location—center of body, quarter points, or ends—and vary in number of passenger lanes from one through three per entranceway. The inventive design is intended for all of these types of applications.

[0178] It would also be advantageous to replace the trap-step-door assemblies of existing traditional vestibule cars with the inventive design, and such retrofitting is expected to be possible. In fact, most intercity cars with end vestibules now have rotating step blocks for the two or three lower steps. These are smaller and do not rotate a full 90 degrees, because their purpose is simply to provide a smooth streamlined exterior. Thus, this new entranceway design is compatible with all of the standard railroad passenger car body configurations used on mixed HL and LL platform railroads.

[0179] Thus, the inventive entranceway design provides the following advantages and features:

[0180] 1. Provides a secure entranceway at both LL and HL platforms, i.e., all doors are closed before the train departs, at all stations, reducing injuries to passengers and employees.

[0181] 2. Enables all doors to be opened at all stations, reducing dwell time, and speeding service.

[0182] 3. Enables remote control of powered stairway LL and HL doors throughout the train, eliminating need for extra crewmembers for door operation and surveillance.

[0183] 4. Enables HL platforms to be set back to clear standard freight cars safely.

[0184] 5. Where necessary, HL platforms can be set back further to provide extra clearance for excess dimension loads or switching operations.

[0185] 6. Transitions by remote control between the LL and HL configurations. Doors keep passengers out of the area ensuring no injuries can result from the transition.

[0186] 7. Transition is rapid, enabling reconfiguration between closely spaced stations.

[0187] 8. Meets ADA accessibility requirements at HL and mini-HL platforms effortlessly, speeding the boarding and alighting process, and eliminating the need for special effort by crewmembers to accommodate wheelchair and other mobility-impaired passengers.

[0188] 9. Eliminates the LL first step gap where it exists, which is often of necessity, as at station platforms that cross streets.

[0189] 10. Can be used with any standard entranceway configuration—at end vestibules, at midpoint or quarter points along the car side, etc., and with doorways of varying widths—one, two, or three passenger lanes.

[0190] 11. Designed to fit into a standard end vestibule door and stepwell area, so that existing cars can be retrofitted with the inventive design.

[0191] 12. Can improve financial performance, through reduced costs, and increased revenue from reduced run times, and possibly increased frequency.

[0192] One of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the recess cover and stairway may be made from any number of materials known and ordinarily used in the art. Thus, as a non-limiting example, the recess cover and stairway threads may be wood, composite, metal, or other material, and form a solid plate, an open lattice or grate material, or other similar structure which is sufficient to support the weight of passengers and vehicle operators, their belongings, cleaning equipment used to clean the vehicle, and the like. In a preferred embodiment, for reasons of durability and cost, the recess cover is metal, most preferably steel.

[0193] Further, one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that while a stairway commonly consists of threads and risers, risers may be replaced in the stairway structure by other supporting elements which produce the desired rise in the stairway. In a preferred embodiment, for reasons of durability and weight reduction, the structural support for the stairway treads is a tubular, L-beam, or I-beam steel frame.

[0194] One of ordinary skill in the art will also understand that the orientational relationship between the recess cover, the stairway assembly, and the location of the pivot axis is variable depending upon the desired external access height for the stairway and ease of operation of the entryway. In general, the greater the difference in height between the floor and the platform to be accessed via the stairway, the smaller will be the angle between the recess cover and the stair treads. A preferred embodiment depicted in the figures herein has an angle between the recess cover and the stair treads of approximately 90°. However, it will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that the design of the orientational relationship between the recess cover, the stairway assembly, and the location of the pivot axis is initially a question of geometry. It is to be noted that additional factors, such as counterbalancing the stairway assembly about the pivot axis, may also be taken into consideration in designing the present inventive subject matter entryway.

[0195] Similarly, one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the relative sizes of stairways treads, stairway risers, and the recess cover are variable depending upon the location of other nearby elements in the car body, the other factors discussed above, and additional factors which will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art.

Seating Arrangements

[0196] Additionally, the present invention relates to an arrangement for increased comfort and passenger utilization of a double deck passenger transport car having an upper level (50) and a lower level (52), said car comprising:

[0197] a ceiling (54) for said upper level;

[0198] a bottom deck (56) for said lower level;

[0199] an intermediate deck (58) forming a floor for said upper level and a ceiling for said lower level;

[0200] at least three longitudinal aisles (60); and

[0201] seats (62) mounted to said floor (12) and/or mounted to one or more wall(s) for the upper level, and mounted to said deck and/or mounted to one or more wall(s) for the lower level, said seats (62) arranged transversely in rows having on one level a bench seat on each side of a single longitudinal aisle (60), and on the remaining level three or four seats separated or flanked by two longitudinal aisles (60),

[0202] wherein said intermediate deck (58) has raised sections (64) located under the upper level seats,

[0203] wherein said intermediate deck (58) is spaced vertically from the bottom deck (56) by (i) a selected greater standing head room height above the lower deck aisle(s) (66) and (ii) a selected lesser seated head room height above the lower deck over the lower level seats (68),

[0204] wherein said intermediate deck (58) is spaced vertically from the ceiling (54) for said upper level by (i) a selected greater standing head room height above the upper deck aisle(s) and (ii) a selected lesser seated head room height above the intermediate deck over the upper level seats,

[0205] and wherein the lower deck aisle(s) is/are offset laterally from the upper deck aisle(s).

[0206] In a preferred embodiment, said car arrangement further comprises: at least one wheel truck or axle (70) located at each end of said car; and an intermediate single deck car portion (72) located above each said wheel truck or axle (70) and having access to each level of said double deck car arrangement.

[0207] In a particularly preferred embodiment, said access to each level of said double deck car arrangement is via a stairway (74) and/or an elevator device (76).

[0208] In another preferred embodiment, said car arrangement further comprises: an entryway at about floor elevation of said intermediate single deck car portion (82), for access to a high level platform; and an entryway at about floor elevation of said lower level (52) car deck, for access to a low level platform.

[0209] In a particularly preferred embodiment, said car arrangement further comprises: one or more extension plate(s) (32) having one end pivotably or slidably connected to said car,

[0210] wherein said extension plate(s) (32) pivot(s) or slide(s) between a storage position and a generally horizontal bridge position, said bridge position bridging a gap between said entryway and said platform.

[0211] In another preferred embodiment, the difference between said selected greater standing head room height and said selected lesser seated head room height is between about six inches and about eighteen inches.

[0212] In a particularly preferred embodiment, said car arrangement further comprises:

[0213] an entryway;

[0214] an intermediate deck floor (12) which is at about the same elevation or higher than a platform (100) outside the entryway, said floor (12) having a recess (14) below said floor adjoining said entryway; and

[0215] an apparatus for enabling access to said car, comprising:

[0216] (1) a recess cover (16) for access to said vehicle at about floor height;

[0217] (2) a stairway assembly (18) disposed in said recess (14) for access to said vehicle from one or more height(s) about at or below said floor height, said stairway assembly (18) comprising at least one stair rise (20) and one stair tread (22),

[0218] wherein said recess cover (16) and said stairway assembly (18) are attached together to form an integrated entryway device (24); and

[0219] (3) a transverse pivot axis (26) through said entryway device (24), said entryway device (24) being supported along the pivot axis and being pivotable thereabout between a first pivot position, wherein the recess cover (16) is exposed and generally horizontal at about the same elevation as the floor (12) of the vehicle, and a second pivot position, wherein the stairway assembly (18) is exposed within the recess (14) in said floor,

[0220] wherein rotation about said pivot axis is arranged generally horizontal and extends generally in the vehicle's longitudinal direction.

[0221] Car Body Design. The basic inventive design is shown in FIG. 3. The double deck section is between the trucks. The lower level between the trucks is designated level 1, the intermediate levels above the trucks are at a standard height and are designated level 2, and the upper level is designated level 3. FIG. 3(a) provides a side view of the car, along its center, showing a representative location of the seats, doors, and stairways.

[0222] The unique feature that enables provision of full aisle ceiling height is the nesting of the ceiling and the seating areas of the levels 1 and 3, as shown in FIGS. 3(c) and 6(c). Full height ceilings are not generally necessary above seats, and often are not provided in transportation vehicles. As depicted in FIG. 5, while meeting a vertical height limit of 14 feet 10 inches imposed by some facilities, this nesting yields an aisle ceiling height of about 82.5 inches. The ceiling above the seats is about 74 inches, which is higher than most persons are tall. All aisle ceilings have 82.5 inches headroom as shown. If floors are thicker, either the level 3 seating area step height is increased, or the aisle ceiling height is correspondingly reduced. Both seating areas have a ceiling height, at center of car on level 3, of 74.5 inches. An 84 inch ceiling height results from a level 3 aisle to seating area floor height difference of 12 inches, which can be achieved by two 6 inch steps. Seating area headroom is then 72 inches.

[0223] In comparison, a standard U.S. doorway is about 80 inches high, and ceilings about 79 to 80 inches high are common in many railroad cars. In the inventive designs, the level 1 floor is maintained at about 17 inches above the rails, the standard for drop center passenger car floors. Below 15 inches above the rails, the car body must be drastically narrowed in order to conform to AAR Plates B and C.

[0224] In an alternate embodiment, the overall height of the car can be reduced to 14 feet 5 inches, with ceiling heights of 80 and 72 inches. Thus, there is room for dimensional variations, including thicker floors.

[0225] A result of the inventive designs is that the floor of the seating areas on level 3 is one standard 8 inch step above the aisle floor elevation. Thus passengers step up to be seated in seats above the lower level aisle(s). In addition, the inventive design provides considerable flexibility in vertical dimensions. For example, if a somewhat lower overall car height is desired, this can be achieved by having a larger vertical separation between the aisle floor and the seating area floor, increasing it from one step height to two. A wide car facilitates having such a step up arrangement. For example, two steps each 6 inches high results in a car only 14 feet 6 inches high.

[0226] In a preferred embodiment shown in FIGS. 3(b) and 3(c), levels 2 and 3 has the familiar two abreast bench seating on each side of a single center aisle. Level 1 has three abreast single seats, separated by two aisles. This places the center row under the aisle of level 3, as needed to provide full aisle ceiling height. The layouts are further illustrated in FIG. 4(a), which shows a top elevation. Further, the single seats of level 1 avoid crowding and narrowing of the aisle and/or seats on this level.

[0227] Level 1 is also ideal for wheelchairs, because of the two aisles and access from both sides of the wheelchair spaces. This also places wheelchairs close to the lift, which is used for passage to level 2, should the wheelchair passenger be using a HL platform station. Of course, the wheelchair spaces optionally are provided on level 2, in addition, or as a substitute for those on level 1.

[0228] The low ceiling at the center of level 1 extends for its entire length. Even though almost all passengers can walk under the low ceiling without stooping, the entire car has been arranged so that no passenger must pass under the low ceiling in order to get to any seat. Upon entering level 1, a passenger can choose from three options, described here for a passenger entering the LL door from the side opposite the lift in FIG. 4(b): (1) go up the two-lane wide stairs to level 2, (2) walk along the adjacent level 1 aisle past the seats, and then possibly up the stairs to level 2, or (3) pass under the low ceiling and use the aisle or stairway at the other side of the car. Once on level 2, then the passenger can choose to go up to level 3, or down the other stairway to level 1, along the opposite aisle from the one just left. The only exception to having all three options immediately upon entering is on a car equipped with a lift on the side entered, in which case the stairway to level 2 is not adjacent to the doorway. Access to all levels is provided with full height ceilings, of course, but the route is more circuitous. However, realistically, very tall persons encounter low ceilings in many locations, and ducking under a ceiling for about 3 feet is not expected to present a significant problem. A stairway connects levels 2 and 3 at both ends of the center section. Passengers boarding on level 2 from a HL platform clearly can go to either other level directly.

[0229] In an alternate embodiment, the arrangements of Levels 1 and 3 are optionally interchanged, with level 3 having three abreast single seats, separated by two aisles, and level 1 having two abreast bench seating on each side of a single center aisle. This alternate arrangement is depicted in FIGS. 6(a)-6(d), and FIGS. 7(a) and 7(b).

[0230] Seating Capacity. The seating capacity of the inventive design is considerably greater than that of single level designs. As a basis of evaluation, capacities will be compared for cars that are devoted entirely to seating. Naturally some spaces are reserved for wheelchairs, and possibly for other uses that reduce seating capacity. Capacity of the inventive car will be based on a design with two sets of double lane doors at approximately the quarter points (where levels 1 and 2 meet), providing for four passengers boarding or alighting simultaneously. Four lanes through the doors is identical to the number provided on many recent commuter service cars, including single level push-pull cars for the New York, Washington, Boston, New Jersey, and Philadelphia areas, and Electric multiple-unit cars for the New York and Connecticut electrified lines.

[0231] With seats that are of the usual wide variety, yielding four seats abreast on levels with a center aisle, and with a 33 in pitch, which is common but generous for commuter applications, an example of the capacity of a car is:

[0232] Level 1: 11 rows×3 seats/row=33 seats Level 2: 4 rows/end×4 seats/row×2 ends=32 seats

[0233] Level 3: 14 rows×4 seats/row=56 seats Total=121 seats

[0234] This capacity compares very favorably with single level commuter car designs. Single level cars with four lanes of doorways can have a maximum of about 25 rows, yielding 100 seats. Thus the inventive car design yields additional capacity of more than 20%.

[0235] In addition, the inventive design leaves some unused space on level 1 under the stairway to level 3 that can be used to provide other passenger amenities. One possible use is for bicycle storage, as most commuter rail lines now permit bicycles to be carried on off-peak trains. Another use is luggage space. And if maximum seating capacity were the goal, then this space could be used for a somewhat narrower bench seat for two persons, increasing capacity to 125 seats. Capacity may be increased further to 129 seats by turning the center seats to face outward rather than forward or backward.

[0236] In an alternate embodiment, it is possible to have bench seats for 2 passengers on one side and 3 passengers on a second side on levels 2 and 3 of the inventive car using a narrower seat than assumed in these calculations, in which case the number of seats would increase to about 145. This compares to about 121 on a single level car. However, the narrow seats of the 3-2 arrangement are generally unpopular, and fewer commuter agencies are choosing this type of car.

[0237] Design Options. As would be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art, there are numerous design variations that enable this basic tri-level design to be adapted to different circumstances. One such variation is to use a standard end vestibule. This is accomplished by simple eliminating the HL and LL doors, and placing a vestibule at one or both ends of the car. This vestibule could be of many types: the inventive design, for remote control operation; a standard vestibule; a LL door only type; or a HL only type. Another variation is to use the quarter point door design incorporated here, but to have only HL or LL doors. A third variation is to retain the HL and LL compatible design, but have only one door instead of two on each level. A fourth variation is to have one-lane rather than two-lane doors at some or all entrances. A fifth variation is to have single leaf doors instead of double leaf doors.

[0238] Another variation is to have entranceways at level 2 only. This results in an increase in seating capacity over that possible simply by eliminating the level 1 doors. Such a car could have either the inventive entryway for HL and LL platforms, or HL doors only. In this case the nesting can be inverted, so that level 1 has a center aisle with full ceiling height, while the seating areas have a lower ceiling. Also, different passenger accommodations could be installed, such as wide or narrow seats, sleeping or conference rooms, parlor car seating, or dining or lounge facilities.

[0239] Thus, the objective of a substantial increase in capacity over a conventional car has been achieved in the inventive designs. Further, the inventive design is compatible with use of the inventive entranceway design that provides fully remote control operation with all types of HL platforms, and with LL platforms.

Improved Access Arrangements

[0240] The present invention further relates to an arrangement for increased passenger utilization of a passenger transport car, said car comprising:

[0241] at least one wheel truck or axle (70) located at each end of said car;

[0242] a low level deck portion (80) located between said wheel truck(s) or axle(s) located at each end of said car;

[0243] an intermediate deck (58) portion located above each said wheel truck or axle (70);

[0244] an entryway at about floor elevation of said intermediate single deck car portion (82), for access to a high level platform; and

[0245] an entryway at about floor elevation of said lower level car deck (84), for access to a low level platform.

[0246] In a preferred embodiment, the car arrangement, additionally comprises:

[0247] one or more extension plate(s) (32) having one end pivotably or slidably connected to said car,

[0248] wherein said extension plate(s) (32) pivot(s) or slide(s) between a storage position and a generally horizontal bridge position, said bridge position bridging a gap between said entryway and said platform.

[0249] In another preferred embodiment, the car arrangement, additionally comprises:

[0250] a stairway (74) and/or an elevator device (76) for movement between said lower level and said intermediate level of said car.

[0251] Basic Car Body and Entranceway Design. The basic design is shown in FIG. 8(a); the car body consists of a lowered or drop center section, the lower level, and two end sections, intermediate levels, with floors at the usual car floor height of a single level car, about 51 inches above the rail. The lower level floor is about 17 inches above the rail, and thus one step above the standard location for a LL platform. One or more HL doors are provided on intermediate level, for HL platforms. Similarly, lower level has one or more LL doors for LL platforms. To enable passengers to move freely between levels 1 and 2, stairways are provided at each end of the car. For wheelchair and other mobility-impaired passengers, one or more lifts, or elevator devices (76), are provided. FIG. 8(b) shows the lift located between the two sets of doors, so that mobility-impaired passengers have access to both HL and LL platform doors and both levels. Where the doors are not adjacent to the lift, aisles must be sufficiently wide for wheelchairs. FIGS. 8(c) and 8(d) present cross sectional views further illustrating the two floor levels.

[0252] Entranceway Design and Operation at HL and LL Platforms. At standard platforms, ADA accessibility mandates maximum vertical and horizontal gaps between the car and platform. A rotating bridge plate with railings, optionally powered, is provided. This bridge plate is remotely controlled and interlocked with the doors. It replaces the manually operated bridge plate now commonly used at HL platforms. This bridge plate would rotate downward after the train stops but before the doors are opened, and simultaneously optional hand rails would rotate downward into position, preventing passengers from stepping, or wheelchairs from rolling, off the bridge plate into the gap between the car and the platform. After the doors are closed, the bridge plate and railings are retracted, and the train would depart.

[0253] The powered bridge plate design achieves three important objectives. First, it results in an entranceway that meets ADA vertical and horizontal gap requirements. These can not realistically be met currently with cars that conform to current and longstanding railroad industry maximum car envelope limitations of AAR Plates B or C, and HL platform locations that conform to the AREMA standards for structures along a rail line. These factors, along with current track and structure maintenance practices, result in non-compliant vertical and horizontal gaps, requiring some type of gap filler. Second, the powered bridge plate is compatible with the mini-HL platforms that have been constructed at many stations to accommodate wheelchair passengers. These are often set back from the normal HL platform location so as to clear freight trains-typically from about 1 foot up to about 1 foot 6 inches back from the normal HL platform location. The latter location is 7 feet 1 inch from the track centerline, so as to clear both wide freight cars and many (but not all) excess dimension loads safely. A longer bridge plate and railing assembly is needed for such platforms. Since an even greater set-back is possible with the inventive design, it is expected to be compatible with all existing HL and mini-HL platforms.

[0254] In some cases, a set-back of 8 feet 6 inches is required on some lines where the issue of installing new mini-HL or HL platforms has arisen. The inventive design is compatible with such a set-back.

[0255] An Improved LL Platform and Entranceway Design. At LL platforms, the lower level doors are used. For situations where the platform is unusually low, a sliding step can be installed about 9 inches above the rail. This is extended in such situations, but be retracted before train departure so that the car conforms to the AAR Plate B and C envelope requirements.

[0256] It is desirable to eliminate manual tasks when accommodating wheelchair passengers at LL platforms. This can be achieved as follows: the LL platform is raised about 8 inches at a point about 8 feet from the centerline of the track. The edge of the raised part is marked by closely spaced stanchions, so that pedestrians know there is a step at that location. The lower level entranceway is then equipped with a powered rotating bridge plate that spans this gap. The design for HL platforms is similar, and the operational sequence with the doors is identical. Naturally this bridge plate would also be equipped with railings. If it is desired that the normal height portion of the LL platform be wider than the 2 feet 11 inches of this step-up location, then the step-up platform could easily be set back further.

[0257] The bridge plate can be installed only on those cars that are to be used by mobility-impaired passengers. However, with this platform design, those cars are not restricted to any particular location on the train. Furthermore, the platform remains entirely compatible with all entranceways designed for use with LL platforms, since the track side portion is in the standard position. The step-up is located so as to satisfy all railroad clearance requirements for freight cars and loads, so that it in no way restricts freight traffic.

[0258] An option is to eliminate the LL platform next to the track, and use only the step-up platform for all passengers. This has obvious safety benefits, by virtue of keeping pedestrians away from the track. In this case, the step-up platform could be located closer to the track, if desired, the minimum distance to the track centerline permitted by AREMA standards being 7 ft (2133.6 mm). All passenger cars would then be equipped with the bridge plate.

[0259] Eliminating the Conflict between ADA and Freight Service Requirements. The inventive entranceway design, with or without the step-up LL platform feature, eliminates most if not all of the advantages of installing new HL platforms, and thus eliminates the source of the conflict between freight service and passenger service needs on the same rail line. It is new, or recently constructed, HL and mini-HL platforms that have created the problem of compatibility, because until recently railroads simply did not install such platforms where they would infringe on freight operations. The three primary reasons for using HL platforms are: (1) speeding passenger boarding and alighting, (2) enabling use of remotely controlled doors (so that even a small train crew can open and close all doors at every station), and (3) making rail travel accessible to wheelchair and other mobility-impaired riders (so as to meet ADA requirements). The LL doors are only one step above a (standard location) LL platform, and thus entry and exit at such a door should be almost as rapid-if not equally rapid—as that with level entry and exit. All LL doors are remotely controlled. And LL platform access meeting ADA requirements is provided. Thus all reasons for using HL platforms from a passenger service perspective are addressed.

[0260] Further, the inventive design eliminates the extra tasks required of train crews to accommodate mobility-impaired passengers at HL and mini-HL platforms, namely the placement of the manual bridge plate. Also, the second stop often required at mini-HL platform is eliminated. This is beneficial to mobility-impaired passengers, other passengers whose ride is shortened, and to the passenger train crewmembers.

[0261] The issues of clearance for freight trains and excess dimension loads, and for safety in switching operations, which require crewmembers to ride on the side of freight cars, resulting in an obvious safety hazard with HL platforms, are simply eliminated. Even a mini-HL platform within the usual range of set back can encroach on the pre-existing clearances of many rail lines. While current freight service may not require larger clearances, the presence of such a platform reduces future options for larger cars or handling excess dimension loads.

[0262] The inventive entranceway and car body design has numerous advantages compared to existing designs. In particular, the ability to accommodate mobility-impaired passengers, and thus meet ADA requirements, at any LL platform station represents a major accomplishment. This avoids the cost of installing and maintaining mini-HL or HL platforms, and eliminates the growing conflict between freight and passenger service with respect to adequate clearances past passenger station platforms. Particularly with the improved LL platform design, it enhances the accommodation of mobility—impaired travelers, and reduces and probably eliminates—the special demands on train crewmembers associated with the transportation of mobility-impaired passengers.

[0263] The invention being thus described, it will be obvious that the same may be modified or varied in many ways. Such modifications and variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention and all such modifications and variations are intended to be included within the scope of the following claims.