Train car compensator for platform gap spacing
Kind Code:

Compensating landing plates automatically deploy from a subway or railroad car as its doors open in spanning any gap spacing between the car and a station platform where the car stops.

Drago, Joseph J. (Aberdeen, NJ, US)
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Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Charles I. Brodsky (Marlboro, NJ, US)
I claim:

1. In a railroad or subway transportation car having openable and closeable doors for passengers to board and alight, a floor for passengers to stand upon and top and side surfaces for enclosing the car, the combination comprising: a movable landing plate integral with said transportation car adjacent said openable and closeable doors and extendable outwardly of said side surfaces; and means for automatically deploying said landing plate outwardly from said car in response to the opening of said doors and for retracting said landing plate to said car in response to the closing of said doors.

2. The combination of claim 1 wherein said movable landing plate is concealed beneath said transportation car floor to slide forwardly and rearwardly thereof.

3. The combination of claim 2, also including switch means for limiting the extent of forward sliding of said landing plate.

4. The combination of claim 3, including an electric motor to slide said movable landing plate forwardly in response to the opening of said doors and for sliding said movable plate rearwardly in response to the closing of said doors.

5. The combination of claim 3, including an air piston to slide said movable landing plate forwardly in response to the opening of said doors and for sliding said movable plate rearwardly in response to the closing of said doors.

6. The combination of claim 1 wherein said movable landing plate is hinged to a side surface of said transportation car to drop downwardly therefrom and be lifted upwardly thereto.

7. The combination of claim 6, also including cable means for limiting the extent of downward drop of said landing plate.

8. The combination of claim 6, including an electric motor to drop said plate downwardly in response to the opening of said doors and for lifting said plate upwardly in response to the closing of said doors.

9. The combination of claim 6, including an air piston to drop said plate downwardly in response to the opening of said doors and for lifting said plate upwardly in response to the closing of said doors.



A Provisional Patent Application covering the invention described herein was filed Dec. 7, 2006, and assigned Ser. No. 60/873,243.


Research and development of this invention and Application have not been federally sponsored, and no rights are given under any Federal program.




1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to manners of avoiding injuries to passengers boarding and alighting from subway and railroad cars, in general, and to compensations for existing gap spacings in platform constructions,in particular.

2. Description of the Related Art

Injuries to train passengers as a result of platform gap spacing has come more-and-more to the forefront. Such injuries were previously derided as resulting from the passenger's own carelessness in not noting the gaps that existed. “Being in a hurry”, “being too busy talking to another person”, “not looking”, were just some of the “reasons” spouted as to why the injuries occurred—and by implication, how they could have been avoided. Suggestions to avoid opportunities for accidents and injuries to arise have frequently been presented as common-sense solutions, such as: a) leave yourself plenty of time; b) be careful of slippery conditions; c) be careful around tracks and platforms; d) use handrails when boarding and exiting; and e) watch for a platform gap. Only through the actions of personal injury lawyers in the past few years have the inadequacies of platform and train design been revealed as the major cause of these accidents—almost all of them, tragically, resulting in major and significant injuries, and occasionally deaths.

As has previously been set forth, railway trains have been in use as a popular mode of transportation for well over a century. In the course of its travel, a railway train stops at various train stations along a predetermined route to pick up and discharge passengers and/or cargo. During a typical stop, the railway train approaches and enters a train station and moves into a position of adjacent proximity with a station platform, aligning at least one of its sides with the station platform's edge. Invariably, there is a gap between the side of the train car and the edge of the station platform. This gap varies in size but may be quite significant, especially if the station platform or the apparatus to the platform is curved. The gap between the train and the station platform poses a danger to the boarding and alighting passengers who may accidentally fall partially or entirely into the gap. The danger is especially great with respect to elderly, handicapped, and young passengers.

As a result of the personal injury lawyers' activities, remedial actions have started to be taken: a) recorded station announcements to be careful of the platform gap are increasingly being made to alert boarding passengers as to the problem; b) conductor announcements are being made on the trains to alert the exiting passengers; c) stenciled “watch the gap” warnings are being placed near platform edges; d) wooden edge boards are being tacked to the side of the platform to reduce the gap; e) coloring the platform edge in yellow as a warning sign is being implemented more frequently; f) railroad tracks are being moved closer to the platform in the areas where the gaps are more prevalent; g) tons of stone ballast are being added to the track bed, followed by elevating and shifting the tracks closer so as to try to make the car doors more level with the platform. By and large, the response of the industry has been that “Solutions could take a long, long while”. The explanation given is that “we can't go the opposite way and have trains striking platforms”.

For such reason, substantially all the efforts for correction have been taken by the station operators. Typical is the proposed development of planar sheet-like members which project outwardly from the platform as the train moves into proximity with the platform on its approach.


As will become clear from the following description, the present invention differs from these and like proposals by working from a modification from the train-position rather than from the platform-position.


These and other features of the present invention will be more clearly understood from a consideration of the following description, taken in connection with the single Figure of the drawing, in which:

FIGS. 1a and 1b are pictorial views helpful in an understanding of one embodiment of the invention in which a plate slides out from the train to the station platform from the area of the car doors; and

FIG. 2 is a pictorial view helpful in a understanding of a second embodiment of the invention in which the plate drops from the train to rest on the platform, similarly extending from the area of the doors to overlay the gap.


Recognizing that some of the train passengers may be vision impaired and not able to clearly see a written warning or a highlighted color area near a platform's edge, and recognizing further that other passengers may be hearing-impaired and not able to hear or understand a spoken warning, the embodiments of the present invention operate to offer their protection independently of the ability of the passenger to register the train station's intended alert. At the same time, the embodiments serve to operate substantially simultaneously with those energizations and controls of the train itself in opening and closing its passenger doors. Thus, in the first embodiment of the invention, contemporaneous with the actions of the train's engineer or conductors to open the doors, the control signals generated slide metal landing plates out from the body of the train underneath the doors, to extend to the platform—thereby closing the gap spacing (which otherwise could extend from some 2 inches to as much as 15 inches where the platform presents the general shape of a curve). Upon actuating the control to close the doors after the passengers have boarded or alighted, any appropriate type of retention spring or piston could be activated to withdraw the plate back, and the train can then start up and proceed on its way.

In FIG. 1a, the train doors are shown at 10, 12, the compensating landing plate slide is shown at 14 and the platform gap spacing is shown at 16. In FIG. 1b, the retention spring is shown at 20, the alternate piston is shown at 22, and the tracks on which the plate 14 slides are shown at 24. The plate 14 can be composed of any appropriate material to support the weight of the boarding and/or departing passengers. Reference numerals 50 identify windows on the side 51 of the subway or railroad car, reference numeral 55 indicates the slide track for the plate 14 as concealed in the floor of the car and reference numeral 60 identifies a limit switch at the edge of the compensating landing plate. The edge of the station platform is shown at 65 and the plate 14 can be composed of any appropriate material to support the weight of the boarding and/or departing passengers—such as ½ inch magnesium diamond plate. An appropriate electric motor with a threaded shaft and limit switch could be employed where the plate 14 meets the platform, or an air piston with spring tension can be employed to retract the compensating plate once the air is released.

In the second embodiment of FIG. 2, cables 30 can be included within the metal sheeting of the sides of the car and springs 40 may be employed to assist in dropping the plate 14 via a hinge 18 into position. In its operation, as the doors open, the tension on the plate is released and the plate 14 drops into position. The springs put pressure on the plate to start the plate downwardly on its initial descent. The weight of the plate 14 carries it down fully, along the cable path 35—and once the doors close, the procedure is reversed and the plate is pulled up. As with the embodiment of FIGURE la, the cables 30—or like connectors—would be activated by the same signaling energized by the train's engineer or conductors to control the door openings. (As will be noted both FIGS. 1a and 2 illustrate the compensating plate in its deployed position.)

As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, it is but a simple matter to retrofit existing trains to implement the teachings of the invention. The engineer and/or conductor activators for the doors are already in place. The gap covering plates (of whatever material selected) can be manufactured on a moment's notice. The cabling, the slide tracks, and any energizing motors needed to move the two can be implemented and installed just as easily. With the teachings of the invention, no longer would it be accepted to contend that “solutions could be a long time coming”, or that there are not very many inexpensive solutions.

Whether the teachings of the invention and its embodiments are incorporated as part of a railroad system, or as part of a government run subway system, dynamically moving the plates outwardly from the train car towards the platform in the described manner effectively operates to overlay the gap spacing and protect against the injuries it previously caused.

While there has been described what are considered to be preferred embodiment of the present invention, it will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications can be made without departing from the scope of the teachings herein. For at least such reason, therefore, resort should be had to the claims appended hereto for a true understanding of the invention.