Amtrak Boarding Heights

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lrh442

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Can you all educate me on boarding heights?
What is the boarding height of a Superliner, Amfleet/Horizon, Viewliner, Acela, Venture?
Are platforms either raised (what height) or ground level, or are there additional platform heights beyond those two?

My experience with Superliners is that raised platforms mean level boarding, and ground level platforms require a step stool.
I similarly recall that Amfleet/Horizon equipment requires a step stool plus vestibule steps for ground level platforms, but only vestibule steps for raised platforms.
 

neroden

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Most high-level platforms in the US are 4 feet above top of rail. Single-level equipment, except Talgos, has a 4 foot boarding height, sometimes plus an inch or two, but it's been tending to be exactly the same 4 foot height as newer cars are built. There can be variations of an inch or two due to irregular suspensions on traincars anyway.

Superliners have 18 inch boarding height.

Other commuter bilevels have had a wide variety of boarding heights.

Older "flag stop" platforms can be very low, even below the level of the rail. New platforms are usually a minimum of 8 inches above top of rail; freight companies have been obstreperous and obnoxious about platforms taller than this, but generally don't complain about 8 inch platforms. Denver's platforms are 15 inches, as are a number of the other fairly recent platforms; I'm not sure why.

Low-floor streetcars / light rail generally have boarding heights in the vicinity of 12 to 14 inches.
 

Dakota 400

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and ground level platforms require a step stool.
Thanks for posting this question and for your comment.

Many don't realize that some people have stability issues when having to step on the step stool in order to board or get off a train. Getting on a train, I toss my carry-on as far into the vestibule as I can (or give it to the attendant until I am on the train), grab the handle bar next to the doorway, and then get onto the train. Getting off the train, if there is an attendant or someone at the doorway, I will give them my carry-on and then carefully descend the steps and onto the step stool, clinging to whatever I am able to do.
 

daybeers

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Thanks for posting this question and for your comment.

Many don't realize that some people have stability issues when having to step on the step stool in order to board or get off a train. Getting on a train, I toss my carry-on as far into the vestibule as I can (or give it to the attendant until I am on the train), grab the handle bar next to the doorway, and then get onto the train. Getting off the train, if there is an attendant or someone at the doorway, I will give them my carry-on and then carefully descend the steps and onto the step stool, clinging to whatever I am able to do.
This is something that I don't see mentioned often. Accessibility and high-level platforms go much further than those with mobility issues and the elderly. I'm in my early 20s and I find all non-level boarding on Amtrak dangerous and nerve-wracking. Single-level equipment stairs in the rain are the worst.

I also don't count curved platforms or NYP as fully accessible. That definition should be access without other human assistance.
 

me_little_me

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I completely thought you were way past that.
Young people are such wimps. At that age, I could leap tall buildings with a single bound.

Actually, at that age I had an interesting experience in leaping up. In Officer Training School, we had to do the obstacle course. They showed us pictures in advance of them and when I saw that we had to leap over a 5' wall by placing one's arm on the wall and pushing down while jumping, I knew I was in trouble. I'm barely over 5' so instead of my arm being at shoulder height or below, I'd have to place my hand above my shoulder and would get little thrust. However, they do psych you up so when I got to the wall, I just put my hand up and threw myself over without even touching any part of the wall with anything but my hand. I landed on my feet and could do nothing but stare at the wall in shock. Meanwhile, the training officer stationed there was screaming at me to keep going but I remained facing the wall. As he started towards me to grab me and make me turn around and continue, I regained my senses and went on my way.

Had that been "real life", I'd have successfully jumped the wall at the enemy then gotten shot in the back. So much for being John Wayne in the movies.
 

lrh442

Train Attendant
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Oct 2, 2018
Messages
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Most high-level platforms in the US are 4 feet above top of rail. Single-level equipment, except Talgos, has a 4 foot boarding height, sometimes plus an inch or two, but it's been tending to be exactly the same 4 foot height as newer cars are built.

Superliners have 18 inch boarding height.

Older "flag stop" platforms can be very low, even below the level of the rail. New platforms are usually a minimum of 8 inches above top of rail; freight companies have been obstreperous and obnoxious about platforms taller than this, but generally don't complain about 8 inch platforms. Denver's platforms are 15 inches, as are a number of the other fairly recent platforms; I'm not sure why.
Thanks. Very informative. To clarify:
Superliners have a boarding height of 18" above the rail? My home station of KCY has level boarding (more or less) with Superliners, so the platform must be about 18" above the rail.
With a 4' platform, single level equipment doesn't drop the vestibule steps and it's level boarding?
High level platforms are likely to be passenger-only due to freight clearance issues?
 

lrh442

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Oct 2, 2018
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Also, I assume this means that Superliners cannot use a high level platform?
If so, then high level platforms mean passenger-only track and single-level equipment only? Mostly a NEC thing, then?
 

zephyr17

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No, Superliners can't use high level platforms. High level platforms are like 3 feet above the Superliner vestibule floor level.

Single level equipment vestibules are dead even with high level platforms as long as the step trap is shut.
 

NES28

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Per CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Title 49 § 37.42 issued Sept. 19, 2011, level boarding must be provided to all cars on a train. There is an exception for tracks with regular freight service. FRA has generally interpreted this exception as only applying where tracks are owned by a freight railroad. The standard platform height for high level cars has been set at 48 inches above top of rail; Superliner and California cars 15 inches. If there is a mixture of equipment used at a platform it should be built for the lower level (i.e. 15 inches). Some years before the industry had set the standard height for "low level" platforms (where there is freight service) at 8 inches. Based on this regulation most publicly-funded U.S. passenger rail projects have been constructed with high level platforms located on new passenger-only tracks, if necessary. Thus, while these had been generally limited to Pennsylvania RR Northeast Corridor stations they have now been installed at numerous stations south of DC (Raleigh, Roanoke, Brightline, etc.), most Empire Corridor stations (as far west as Niagara Falls), and the north end of the NEC to Boston, and at some stations in Maine. If the Superliners and California cars end up being replaced by single-deck cars because no one can figure out an ADA-compliant double-deck design, the U.S. will presumably go back to having a standard 48 inch floor height and this platform height will apply on all passenger-only tracks.
 

BCL

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Instead of jumping the wall at the enemy and getting shot in the front....I'm sure glad I didn't get drafted, I would have had real trouble.
I don't think anyone really goes in using siege tactics any more. Hopefully there's a hole in that wall punched by some sort of artillery or blown up by aircraft.
 

AmtrakMaineiac

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In Maine both Portland and Brunswick as well as North Station are full high level as they are located on tracks not used by freight or ones that can be bypassed. Other stations have mini highs with the rest of the platform being low level.
 

PVD

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Except for Schenectady (on a curve) the new stations along the Empire Service route have all gone high platform ... But legacy low levels still exist at Amsterdam, Rome, Utica, and Depew, Hudson and Rhinecliff. Not sure if I missed any...
 

neroden

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Except for Schenectady (on a curve) the new stations along the Empire Service route have all gone high platform ... But legacy low levels still exist at Amsterdam, Rome, Utica, and Depew, Hudson and Rhinecliff. Not sure if I missed any...
Nope, that's the complete list. Rhinecliff is getting high-levels in the next few years, before Amtrak gets sued over it again; they finally settled some weird issue related to unclear property ownership.

If the money ever gets committed and CSX can be bought off, Amsterdam would be relocated to a better location downtown, probably with platform sidings and high-levels.

Hudson improvements keep getting delayed due to unique conditions there, including a grade crossing, a junction, a bridge, and a historic station building; it's actually a bit tricky to design.

Rome, Utica, and Buffalo have no active projects planned.
 

PVD

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Nope, that's the complete list. Rhinecliff is getting high-levels in the next few years, before Amtrak gets sued over it again; they finally settled some weird issue related to unclear property ownership.

If the money ever gets committed and CSX can be bought off, Amsterdam would be relocated to a better location downtown, probably with platform sidings and high-levels.

Hudson improvements keep getting delayed due to unique conditions there, including a grade crossing, a junction, a bridge, and a historic station building; it's actually a bit tricky to design.

Rome, Utica, and Buffalo have no active projects planned.
Buffalo Exchange is done, Depew poses some bigger challenges, since it is pretty busy freight wise through there...
 

John819

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The recently ordered Siemens train sets for the NEC (and associated state sponsored routes) are all 48" units, but they have automated stair access for low level platforms and, importantly, wheelchair and mobility-impaired lifts on each car. (Also, the food service car is to be fully accessible.) Probably this is the future of Amtrak rolling stock - single level and accessible.
 

neroden

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So, I'm not quite sure what Amtrak is ordering, but I found a document on the California/Midwest Siemens Venture corridor cars from 2019: it doesn't specify which cars have built-in wheelchair lifts, but it does specify a *wheelchair accessible aisle*. This is apparently generally acceptable, and allows some flexibility in which vestibules have wheelchair lifts built in.
 

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