Navigating Black Out Conditions on Public Trains

The American Public Transportation Association has laid out a set of standards for emergency egress for access to rail transit vehicles, including trains and subways. These standards specify that any rail transit vehicle must be equipped with an emergency lighting system designed for rail transit vehicles, emergency signage, and low location emergency path markings. All of these standards are meant to help both crew and passengers find their way to emergency exits and learn how to properly open and use those exits in the event of an emergency.

Several options exist for adhering to these standards and creating safer conditions for rail travelers in the event of a mechanical failure or accident. Egress lighting, for example, can be installed in strips along the floor to guide passengers to doorways under normal conditions. Electrically lighted emergency signage can also be installed.

However, one of the main problems with electric emergency lighting is that these systems can fail in the event of a blackout, whether that blackout is caused by a sudden loss of city power, a rail accident, or a mechanical failure. This is a huge obstacle for cities and municipalities that have rail transit vehicles as they are responsible for ensuring that crew members and passengers can exit vehicles safely and reliably.

Solutions for Egress during Blackout Conditions
Reflective tape is a commonly relied upon alternative solution to electrical egress systems. However, this type tape requires light in order to be seen. So, while reflective tape may work during daylight hours as an effective egress system, it will not work during dark, blackout conditions. This is one of the reasons why another option is growing in popularity; glow-in-the-dark fire exit signs and eco-friendly egress markings. Glow-in-the-dark emergency exit signs are typically made from an inorganic photoluminescent material which collects ambient light from the sun and artificial light sources and uses that energy to glow when the lights go out.

One of the main benefits of glow-in-the-dark egress systems is that they do not require any electricity to operate. Any unnecessary wiring in a rail transit vehicle presents an additional fire hazard. Thus, wire-free glow-in-the-dark signs present a lower risk than electrical signs, are more reliable in emergency situations, and have substantially lower installation and energy costs. The materials used in photoluminescent egress systems are also safer to the public than those found in tritium based egress systems.

Whichever egress marking method your train system uses, make sure that all of your rail cars surpass federal standards by clearly marking all potential exits, walkways, and potential hazards during emergency situations. If you have questions about the benefits of using photoluminescent systems, we encourage you to contact Jessup Manufacturing Company, maker of GloBrite® products, to receive additional information.

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