Boarding trains – without barrier

Most of us know how hard it is to climb aboard a train with a wheelchair, stroller or large suitcase. Intended for long-distance trains, the new ZeroStepBoarding system from Knorr-Bremse company IFE solves the problem by providing almost barrier-free access.

Sometimes there really is nothing to discuss. Take, for example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the USA. To make it easier for people with reduced mobility to use public mass transit services, the rules are very clear: The maximum permitted height for the step from platform to vehicle must not exceed six millimeters.“In design terms, this is extremely challenging – the major obstacle being the brush strips and door seals used to protect railcar interiors against contamination,” explains Johann Wilflinger, an entrance systems developer working for Knorr-Bremse company IFE. However, the company is on the verge of launching series production of an almost stepless solution that does not exceed the ADA-mandated maximum height of six millimeters. The name of the new system? ZeroStep Boarding.

Barrier-free reliability: The ZeroStepBoarding sealing system also withstands the stresses and strains of long-distance train travel (rendering) | © IFE
IFE Zero Step Boarding Entrance System consisting of pressure-tight E3D-e1 door and sliding step (rendering) | © IFE

ZeroStepBoarding: no other active elements required

The solution is based on two brilliant ideas. “First, we replaced the brush strip with a step-on, ramp-shaped scraper,” Wilflinger continues. The next step was to add an even more advanced sealing system. “Despite the inclined ramp, the sealing system is still capable of building up sufficient pressure to protect the passenger car interior against, for example, the pressure waves created whenever trains pass each other or enter tunnels. And it does so without needing a second, counter posed seal.”Unlike other near-stepless approaches, ZeroStepBoarding does not require additional active elements such as hinged sealing flaps, platform lifts or inflatable gaskets. The development team also devised a solution for transforming the sealing flap from a ramp-shaped incline into a vertical door seal. By eliminating active elements that would otherwise consume energy, this totally passive approach also makes the solution much less complex, hence much more reliable. This in turn boosts availability

Ideal for various types of entrance systems

Designed in particular for the proven, pressure-tight E3D-e1 entrance system used for intercity and high speed applications, this newly developed solution also integrates with other systems in the IFE portfolio. For future high-speed trains, IFE will be offering ZeroStep Boarding capable of supporting maximum pressure loads of up to 6k Pa.“Never before have passengers been able to board a long-distance vehicle so easily,” states Oliver Schmidt, CEO of Knorr-Bremse GmbH in Austria with global responsibility for Knorr-Bremse’s entrance systems business. Because the door strips are interchangeable, IFE will be able to offer optimized solutions that comply with barrier-free access regulations across multiple rail markets – including, of course, the TSI-PRM standard used in Europe.

Easier entry, easier exit: step-free access to the ICE L train of Deutsche Bahn produced by Spanish manufacturer Talgo | © Deutsche Bahn AG / Oliver Lang
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