With 25 years’ experience operating in the rail door market and more than 14,000 door systems installed on rail cars worldwide, Norgren has further enhanced its technologically advanced, high-performance product offering to the rail sector with the development of a curved door actuator solution for on-board toilets. This innovative new system not only meets the challenges of today’s improved on-board toilet facilities but also provides improved access for both able-bodied and disabled passengers while satisfying limited space requirements.

The provision of wide openings for toilet doors on trains is a vital prerequisite for disabled access and, in addition to providing automatic synchronisation of curved door operation, Norgren’s latest toilet door curved actuator also offers an ‘engineering advantage’ through robust guiding, low maintenance costs (guiding tracks only need greasing once a year) and easy replacement.

According to Mark Wrigley, global sector head of rail at Norgren, said that close collaboration with suppliers and manufacturers is key to the successful design and integration of rail door systems. He stressed that such collaboration is particularly important when designing toilet modules that provide an enhanced user experience and meet current and proposed future legislative requirements for disabled access.
Mark commented, "Both external and internal passenger rolling stock doors have seen a gradual evolution since the days of bulky, hand-operated door panels. In the case of today’s highly advanced and space-efficient train toilets, access to the cubicle is one of the most important points, and one which can be easily forgotten.

"Design considerations to enable optimum access include the provision of doors which allow sufficient manoeuvring space outside the WC – 1.5m x 1.5m should be regarded as the minimum. Also, door furniture should be designed to allow operation by people with limited dexterity or strength."

Incorporating automatic synchronisation, the basic set-up and function of Norgren’s curved actuator facilitates integration with a curved guiding profile (designed and developed by Norgren), toothed belt, motor and controller. The system allows doors to be opened to a maximum width of 1,100mm. These are fully adjustable via actuator/counter rail position. The time in open position is controllable up to 60 seconds and the maximum force is 60N.

Further benefits of the curved actuator system include door leaf carriages which are very simple to replace and maintain due to their easy access. Depending on specification, Norgren has factored in the ability to change strokes and vary the radius, offer double or single leaf layout, and add locking solutions or switches for feedback signals. Furthermore, the company can offer additional features to control safety, manage diverse push buttons, incorporate locking switches, and integrate infrared obstacle detection devices and logic.

The solution, ideal for wheelchair access, incorporates a locking system and emergency access override and complies with all standard rail door specifications, including obstacle detection.

Mark Wrigley added, "Ergonomics and human factors are naturally fundamental to the successful design of toilet facilities, particularly when ensuring easy access and use by disabled customers. To summarise, Norgren’s solution meets all the legislative, practical and functional requirements necessary to maximise the limited space, makes operation easier through the push-button action, and allows trouble-free wheelchair access for disabled passengers."