"Push Button" Doors

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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"Push Button" Doors

Postby darthdoosh » Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:09 pm

Hey everyone, I don't think this has been discussed before (or at least I couldn't find a discussion). A few months ago I had my first experience with the HBLR, and it was the first time I ever noticed a train in this country having those "buttons" to open the doors only when someone is actually entering or exiting, and then all the doors would open at busier stops. I had first seen this in the UK, and I always thought it would be a great idea here with our seasonal temperature extremes - and all that hot or cool air escaping when every door is opened. Ironically, if I remember correctly, the class of MU in the UK I rode on with the buttons doors didn't even have air conditioning. Go figure! At first I thought maybe it just wasn't "the custom" for US trains to have those types of doors, just as we never really had commuter cars with compartments or rows of "slam doors." But then HBLR surprised me.

Any reason the LIRR and other tri-state commuter RRs haven't featured these doors? Does anyone predict that future trains might begin to feature them? My first guess would just be a question of "it's another thing that can break." But it seems like they could be beneficial to both the climate control systems and enhance rider comfort a slight bit on those extreme hot or cool days.
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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby LIRR415 MOBILE » Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:54 pm

Trains are usually instructed on extreme weather days to only open every other door to keep cool/warm air in the car as much as possible.

One reason that no commuter RRs have this is sometimes people can be a little..moronic (if that counts as a word). Bad things would happen at higher rates of speed.

Too many other reasons to name. All I know is that isn't something that will catch on, at least in North America.
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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby darthdoosh » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:37 am

LIRR415 MOBILE wrote:Trains are usually instructed on extreme weather days to only open every other door to keep cool/warm air in the car as much as possible.

One reason that no commuter RRs have this is sometimes people can be a little..moronic (if that counts as a word). Bad things would happen at higher rates of speed.


Thanks for the info on the weather instruction, I had never happened to notice that as a rider. Also, I must agree on the "bad things would happen at higher rates of speed" completely, haha. Perhaps to broaden the subject a bit, are there any thoughts on what the RR would want to implement technology wise for future rolling stock? I'm talking anything from ways to display ads and passenger information to security and safety, etc. For instance, I remember seeing a video on youtube with either a MNRR or LIRR M7 sporting flatscreen animated ad displays near the vestibule. Sounds cool in theory, perhaps a bit too fragile for practice. Any thoughts?
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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby talltim » Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:24 am

Don't really understand the 'bad things would happen at higher speeds' line. Unit in the UK have a central door release controlled by the traincrew, until released the passenger push buttons are inactive. The doors are also interlocked to prevent the engineer applying power until the doors are closed again.
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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby LongIslandTool » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:45 am

The Long Island M-1 cars had this feature, called "passenger release," but it was disabled in the 1970's after contributing to a fatal accident in Syosset.

The feature permitted employees to press a "passenger release" button instead of the "open" button on trainline door controls. This would illuminate a lamp located at each door next to a push button labeled "Press button to open doors". In this way, a train could platform with only the needed doors being activated.

In the accident, a passenger's foot was caught between the doors, and he was dragged off of the platform while passengers, not understanding the system, frantically pressed the "open door" button.

The buttons and lamps were removed, being replaced with blank stainless plates.
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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby MACTRAXX » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:57 am

Everyone: When the LIRR M1s were new the cars had a door opening feature that I believe was called a "Passenger Release" button...
There were buttons at certain M1 doors to allow the doors to remain closed during weather extremes like hot Summer days...
Perhaps a veteran employee like LI Tool can elaborate more on this...

I also recall that this feature was unsuccessful and this was removed along with the door modifications that were implemented following the tragic Donnenfeld incident in late 1974 in which a Doctor was dropping off his sons at Huntington and was caught in the doors-which was able to fully close around his leg-and he ended up being pinned against the girder of the Route 110 overpass and was electrocuted somehow by the third rail...

Before the M7s the LIRR used to key open half a door on each car so the air conditioning units would not be overworked...with the single M7 doors I believe they do this differently...

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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby talltim » Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:23 am

That sounds like they were missing that vital interlock between the doors being closed and the train being able to move (although I read of a UK case a while ago where someone was dragged along the platform because his coat got caught in the rubber seal)#, the door itself was fully closed.
Although surely the case you have mentioned is not the fault of passenger operated doors, the closure is still activated by the train crew, who should have checked that everyone was clear before allowing the train to proceed. Surely this could equally have happened with fully crew operated doors?
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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby SlackControl » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:25 pm

With the door open button on the M1s, would the passengers have to close the doors behind them, or would the conductor then close the doors normally before departing? Was there a trainline doors closed light on the engineers console, or was this implemented sometime later, perhaps as a result of this accident? If this accident didn't contribute to the door closed light system, when was it implemented?

On the M7s there is a toggle that allows every other door on the whole consist to be opened from a single control panel.
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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby LongIslandTool » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:58 pm

When the trainman activated the "passenger release" trainline button, the vestibule and outside lights illuminated indicating to passengers that they could open the door by pressing the corresponding button.

The trainman would then close all the doors by pressing the "close" button on his trainline panel. Passengers had no way of closing individual doors.

The "door closed" lamp on the engineer's console was a feature with which the M-1's were delivered. The indicating lamp was modified, however by placing it in a housing that would tilt it toward the engineer. As delivered it faced upward and had a dimming shutter on it with a "press to test" feature. In sunlight it was difficult to see. When any door in the train is open more than 3", the "door closed" lamp is extinguished and the controller will not draw power, leaving the train to coast.

A "door interlock bypass" switch (actually a circuit breaker) with a lead seal can be turned on which permits the train to draw power without the "door closed lamp" lit. Of course its use is governed by a number of Special Instructions in the Timetable.

After the accident, doors were modified to limit the distance a door could be held open before the engineer lost his door light and the train lost propulsion. A "push back" feature was also added to one leaf to permit the door to be pushed back against spring tension in the event that someone's ankle or show became stuck in it.
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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby Doc Emmet Brown » Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:04 pm

Tool is correct, only one slight error.. the dragging death was at Huntington not syosset.. it was a doctor seeing off his son, and at the time the platform had a slight bend on the west end.
The train actually moved only a few feet, and the dragging did not kill him, when he fell off the platform he came in contact with the 3rd rail, and was electrocuted.
Dec. 1, 1974 LIRR passenger Dr. Robert S. Donnenfeld is dragged to his death
after getting leg caught in M-1 car door at Huntington Station.

The "Passenger Release" feature was not used in route. It was used at the initial teminal, it was intended to keep the heat in, during the winter, and the air conditioning in during summer.
It did little good though, because the passengers liked pushing the button at their favorite door, and after a few minutes all the doors were open on the train.
The more effective way was keying one door open in each car, that kept the cars from losing too much heat, or AC.
After the dragging death of the doctor.. they started modifying the doors.
Before the doors were modified, the Conductor would press the door close buttons and there would be a ding, and the doors would close seconds later. The Conductor had no way to close the doors immediately.
The modification was the alarm type bell and the doors closing immediately, as we see on the remaining m-3's today.
One problem at first, was the RR started modifying the doors without telling the train crews.
This led to a funny incident at syosset.
Since syosset was on a curve, we had to step out away from the train to pass a hand sign to let the conductor know the doors were clear.
When we heard the ding.. we had enough time to walk back onto the train before the doors Closed.
So, you guessed it, me and two other collectors were passing the hand sign at syosset, and we had a newly modified m-1.. we leaned over the railing as we always did to pass the hand sign, and the doors closed and we were left at syosset.. we all got together as the train left and said.."what the heck was that" to each other.
True story, I had 2 years on the RR at the time, the 2 other collectors had several years. We had to call divide to let the Crew know we were left at syosset, and ask them to bring our gear to the NY station masters office. No cell phones then.. Pay phone or block line.
The two other Guys were George M. (from Port wash) and Ed K. (from bethpage) Not a bad deal, got out of working the train with a good excuse...
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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby darthdoosh » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:01 pm

Tool/MACTRAXX/Doc and others, incredibly interesting yet sad info - certainly answered my question and then some. Thanks so much for sharing.
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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby LongIslandTool » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:36 pm

Doc's correct. It was Huntington.
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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby talltim » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:26 pm

Sounds like door tech has advanced since then!
The trains I catch have passenger open and close buttons.Bbefore either passenger or centrally controlled closing an alarm sounds for 10 seconds or so. The doors will close themselves after a period (about 2 minutes I think), to conserve the air temp on the train.
Each door has a panel accessible by the crew, when open it seperates control of that door from the rest, so the rest can be closed the train can be checked for people stuck etc before the crew member gets back on and closes their door from the panel.
Similarly the doors can't be opened by passengers until the crew member has released them, normally they open their door, step off and check the train before releasing the rest.
On some Driver Only Operated services the door release and closure is controlled by the driver and forthis CCTV cameras ar placed along the platform with monitors beside the cab so the driver can make sure thedoors are clear before departure.
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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby Doc Emmet Brown » Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:14 pm

... And he is not being a wise guy.. in the UK they call the Engineer The Engine Driver, or Driver.
even better, a Female Conductor had a Badge that said Conductress last time I was there.
On a bus anyway..
I brought a few of the small red badges home with me, and gave them to some of the Female Conductors on the LIRR.. I suppose to this day You might see one wearing one on their lapel or hat, if they still work there.
Later the NY transit museum also sold them. Dont know if they still do.
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Re: "Push Button" Doors

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:55 am

Although there are quite a few LIRR examples, I think the question is more general in nature, so I've moved to the "General" forum.

I do have a question regarding this: did the MNRR M-1a's have this feature as well? The M-2's?
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