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Railroad ADA Accessibility, Interoperability, and Logistics Capacity Project (RAIL-C)

The problem:

  1. To meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility requirements, passenger trains with conventional single floor cars (and many bi-level cars) as used in the Northesast and elsewhere must have high level platforms (roughly at car floor level) at all stations that are to be accessible.
  2. Such platforms do not provide enough clearance for many freight cars and their loads, thus requiring either curtailment or termination of freight service (as has happened on many lines) or expensive additional tracks to bypass the passenger platforms.
  3. Even high level platforms result in demeaning boarding processes for wheelchair passengers, requiring crews to manually place bridge plates over the necessarily substantial gap between car and platforms.
  4. High platforms have been opposed and blocked on historical preservation and aesthetic grounds at many stations.
          …for more information, click here.

The solution:

  1. A new car design that meets ADA requirements at low level platforms as well as high level ones.
  2. Additional features that eliminate the manual bridge plate.
          …for a description, click here.

The benefits:

  1. One new car of this design on each train makes all station boarding ADA compliant.
  2. Remotely controlled doors reduce work of train crews, speed loading, and reduce injuries.
  3. Other passengers who have boarding and alighting difficulty can use the car—those with baby carriages, luggage, bicycles, etc.
  4. Once all trains are equipped with one car, then the earlier cars can be replaced incrementally to make all cars on a system ADA compliant.
          …for more information, click here.

Preprints of Journal Articles:

Edward K. Morlok, "The need for a new commuter car entranceway design for mixed high and low level platforms," Transportation Research Record 1793 (NAS-NRC, 2002), pp. 40-46. A preprint is available here.

Edward K. Morlok, "Resolving the conflict between mobility-impaired passenger requirements and freight service on mixed high and low level platform U.S. railroad lines," Transportation Research Record 1848 (NAS-NRC, 2003), pp. 70-78. A preprint is available here.

Edward K. Morlok, Bradley F. Nitzberg, and Lee Lai, "Boarding and alighting injury experience with different station platform and car entranceway designs on U.S. commuter railroads," Accident Analysis and Prevention, Vol 36, No. 2, pp. 261-271. The full article as it appears in the journal is also published online via ScienceDirect.

Edward K. Morlok and Bradley F. Nitzberg, "Speeding up commuter railroad service - comparative actual performance of different platform and train designs," Transportation Research Record (NAS-NRC, 2004), No. 1872, pp. 37-45. A preprint is available here.

ADA-Compliant Passenger Rail Car Designs To Maintain Full Freight Service (Including Excess Dimension Load) Clearances And Meet Restrictive Northeastern Passenger Rail Line Vertical Clearances

   Entranceway and Car Body (EBD) Designs:
EBD 1.1 Car Entranceway for HL and LL Platforms (255 KB)
   Compatible with mini-HLPs; ADA-compliant at HLPs
EBD 2.1 ADA-compliant Car Entranceway for both LL and HL Platforms (101 KB)
   Preserves full Freight Service Clearances
EBD 2.1 Perspective drawing only (9.8 KB)
EBD 3.1 High Capacity Tri-Level Rail Car for Northeastern Vertical Clearances (94.9 KB)
   With full headroom on all aisles
EBD 3.1 Perspective drawing only (11.3 KB)
EBD 3.2 High Capacity Tri-Level Rail Car for Northeastern Vertical Clearances and High-Level Platforms Only (82 KB)
EBD 3.3 High Capacity Tri-Level Rail Car for Northeastern Vertical Clearances and Low-Level Platforms Only (81.9 KB)
EBD 4.1 and 4.2 Variations on EBD 3.1 with Reduced Overall Height and Increased Underfloor Space for Structural Members (38.8 KB)
   High capacity tri-level rail car with gallery or Hedley-Doyle (longitudinal) seating options, with 14 ft 6 in roofline and lower floor approximately 25 in above rail

Related Reports and Papers:

Self-Sustaining Public Transportation Services (72 KB):
Lessons from the C&NW Experience (1980).
This paper describes how one major US commuter railroad reduced costs while improving service, resulting in the covering of costs from revenues. While over 20 years old, the relevance for the current situation of diminishing government support for transit is obvious. The approaches to major technology choices (new passenger trains and operating practices) and service design (fares, quality features, etc.) are still valid today.

Grand Central Capacity Study (1.82 MB), (1963)

Urban Bus and Rail Transit Supply Functions (422 KB), (1975)

Of Historical Interest:

First Railroad in the U.S. (?) and It's Connection to Penn

Philadelphia Metropolitan Area Travel Trends, Projections, and Commentary

Urban Travel Trends in the U.S.

Support for the work listed above has come from many different public and private sources in addition to the UPS Foundation Professorship at the University of Pennsylvania. This support, and the continuing assistance of many individuals and organizations, is gratefully acknowledged but implies no endorsement of the findings.

     

 
| Home | Publications | Professional Activities | Honors and Awards | Courses Taught |
| Intermodal Research | RAIL-C (ADA Accessibility, Capacity) Project |
| Network Capacity and Flexibility Project | Logistics Systems Engineering |
| Research Support | Research Reports | Interesting Transport Data and History |
| Current Ph.D. Candidates | Ph.D. Graduates | Undergraduate Projects |

Last updated: April 12, 2004