RVAAC Subcommittee on Rooms and Spaces - Meeting #4
Conference Call – November 20, 2014 (1 to 3 pm ET)





  • Rooms and Space s Subcommittee
  • Introductions
  • Review updated Rooms and Spaces proposal
  • Review and discuss Controls and Operating Mechanisms
  • Discuss Handrails, Grab-bars and Stanchions
  • Next steps
  • Assignments
  • Adjourn



Controls and Operating Mechanisms

Operable part. A component of a device or system used to insert or withdraw objects, or to activate, deactivate, adjust, or connect to the device or system. Operable parts include, but are not limited to, buttons, levers, knobs, smart card targets, coin and card slots, pull-cords, jacks, data ports, electrical outlets, and touch screens.

Scoping: the technical requirements apply to operable parts at wheelchair and transfer seating locations, restrooms, sleeping compartments, and dining and lounge car seating locations. If operable parts are provided for the public at any seating location, equivalent operable parts shall be provided at wheelchair and transfer seating locations. On intercity (Amtrak) train cars, call buttons to summon train personnel shall be provided at wheelchair and transfer seating locations, within sleeping compartments and within restrooms. In sleeping compartments, controls for all lights and HVAC shall meet the technical requirements.

Technical requirements:

  •  location.


  • The height of operable parts shall be 610 mm (24 inches) minimum and 1220 mm (48 inches) maximum above the vehicle floor (see figure).
  • The lateral position shall be a maximum of six inches in front of, or behind, the centerline of the wheelchair seating space and clear floor space in sleeping compartments.
  • Operable parts shall be 10 inches maximum from the vertical plane adjacent to the side of the wheelchair or mobility aid closest to the operable part.
  • controls 12” minimum from inside corner (does not apply to manual door handle/latch for use when power fails)
  • Redundant controls are permitted (e.g., on a tethered or wireless remote).

 The height of operable parts shown in elevation to be 610 mm (24 inches) minimum and 1220 mm (48 inches) maximum above the vehicle floor.

  • Operable parts shall be operable with one hand and shall not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. The force required to activate operable parts shall be 22.2 N (5 lb) maximum.
  • Power door buttons shall be 2 inches across minimum.
  • Controls shall meet section 508 standards
  • Controls shall be tactilely discernable without activation (e.g., raised buttons or have surrounding border raised 1/32 inch minimum)
  • Two-state controls (e.g., on/off, hi/low, etc.) shall provide visual and tactilely discernable indication of their state (e.g., toggle, pushbutton which remains depressed when activated).
  • Call button shall have audible and visual indication that call has been received/responded to.
    • Note: some buttons light up and buzz when activated, then flash and have intermittent tone or voice message when personnel answer.


Handrails, grab-bars, and stanchions

Technical requirements:

  • Edges shall be rounded.
  • Gripping surfaces shall have a cross section complying with the following:
  • Circular Cross Section. Gripping surfaces with a circular cross section shall have an outside diameter of 32 mm (1¼ inches) minimum and 51 mm (2 inches) maximum.
  • Non-Circular Cross Section. Gripping surfaces with a non-circular cross section shall have a perimeter dimension of 100 mm (4 inches) minimum and 160 mm (6¼ inches) maximum, and a cross section dimension of 57 mm (2¼ inches) maximum.

Non-Circular Cross Section

Non-circular cross sections (square with rounded corners (a)  and elliptical (b)) shown with the largest cross section dimension 57 mm (2 ¼ inches) long maximum and a perimeter dimension of 100 to 160 mm (4 to 6 1/4

  • Clearance.  Clearance between gripping surfaces and adjacent surfaces shall be 38 mm (1½ inches) minimum.


Handrail shown with a clearance of 38 mm (1 1/2 inches) minimum between gripping surfaces and an adjacent surface.

  • Structural Strength.  Allowable stresses shall not be exceeded for materials used when a vertical or horizontal force of 250 pounds (1112 N) is applied at any point on the grab bar, fastener, mounting device, or supporting structure.


September 4, 2014

Rooms and Spaces Subcommittee Report:


Scoping: Each new Amtrak car shall have a restroom meeting the technical requirements, except dining and lounge cars where no restroom is provided for the general public. Where restrooms for the public are provided in a car, a restroom meeting the following requirements shall be provided. A car, other than provided by Amtrak, with no public restroom shall not be required to have an accessible restroom. Accessible restrooms shall be in close proximity to seating spaces for persons using wheelchairs and mobility aids and shall be connected to those spaces by an accessible on-board circulation path. In fixed-consist trains, not provided by Amtrak, where a restroom for the public is not provided in a specific car, an accessible restroom shall be permitted to be provided in an adjacent car provided: a) required wheelchair spaces in the car without a restroom are located in the end of the car closest to the connection with the car that has an accessible restroom; b) the accessible restroom is as close as practicable to the connection between cars; c) doors along the path are automatic; and d) the floor surface across the transition is “smooth” (see surface requirements in ABA/ADA Guidelines). Meets the requirements for an accessible on-board circulation path (see Surfaces).

Technical Requirements:

  • 60” turning circle
    • The Board should solicit comments from wheelchair and mobility aid users as to whether there are configurations without a turning circle which are nevertheless usable
  • Allow side approach to toilet/water closet (WC)
    • Clear floor space of 32 inches by 54 inches.  Thirty-two inches to be measured from the outer edge of toilet bowl rim; 52 inches to be measured from the back wall of the toilet, extending parallel to the center line of the toilet.
  • Power door
    • Controls comply with Controls and Operating Mechanisms
    • controls 12” minimum from inside corner (does not apply to manual handle/latch for use when power fails)
  • Grab bars on side and behind water closet (use buildings and facilities requirements)
    • See also ANSI specifications for vertical grab bars.
  • Grab bar along front of lavatory (may serve as WC side grab bar)
  • Fold-down grab bar permitted on open side of WC, provided it meets force requirements for folding/deploying and does not intruded into required clear floor space when not deployed
  • Lavatory faucet controls (and soap dispenser, if provided) shall be proximity (e.g., infra-red) activated
  • Where feasible, lavatory should be within reach of person seated on WC

Single–level dining car

  • Table space for two wheelchairs, transfer seats for two (storage?)
  • Table top 34” max
  • 29” min under table, extending 17” min back from seating position edge
  • 32” min width

Sleeping compartment

Scoping: at least one compartment in each sleeping car shall meet the technical requirements below.

Technical requirements:

  • Side transfer to toilet, shower chair; meet requirements for restrooms above
  • 60” turning circle in sleeping area with bed deployed
  • Controls for all lights, HVAC, call button, etc., within reach ranges (allow duplicate controls; tethered remote also allowed))
  • Positive door latch, operable from outside by train personnel
  • Use VIA design figure 1 shown below as model (other configurations which meet the space requirements may be possible)
  • Bed at wheelchair seat height (18”)
  • Table usable by wheelchair user: 34” max top height; 29” min under clearance to 17” from approach edge; 32” min width under approach edge

Lounge car

Scoping: single-level lounge cars shall comply with the following technical requirements. Bi-level lounge cars shall comply on the lower level. Bi-level lounge cars shall have direct access to station platforms on the lower level. Where vertical access is provided, accessible seating spaces shall also be provided on the upper level. Where a bi-level dining car is provided, an accessible bi-level lounge car shall be directly coupled to it.

Technical requirements:

  • Table space for 2, same as dining car
  • Accessible restroom
  • Self-serve area meets ABA/ADA Guidelines for cafeteria
  • Vending machines meet ADA/ABA guidelines for controls and operating mechanisms

 (See figure 1)


Sleeping area with turning circle and single bed/sofa.  Outside the sleeping compartment, a car corridor is shown at the top of the drawing running the length of the drawing. Washroom section of sleeper compartment, entered from the vestibule on the right of the drawing and exited into the sleeper on the left.



Fig. 1 Top view A end of VIA sleeper car

Overall dimensions for restroom/shower combined with sleeper compartment
Length VIA: 15’7” Length Amtrak: 9’5”
Width VIA: 8’5” Width Amtrak: 6’9”