A revolutionary new table could save the lives of wheelchair-users involved in train crashes.
The table has been designed to absorb the impact of a wheelchair-user who hits it at high speed while travelling on a train, leaving them with only minor injuries.
Wheelchair-using train passengers are usually secured only by their brakes, which stop them moving when the train is travelling at normal speeds, but they can become insecure or even airborne if there is a collision or sudden braking.
Research by the Rail Safety and Standards Board has found that wheelchair-users are more likely to be severely injured in a train crash.
But Dr Emmanuel Matsika, an engineer at the University of Bolton, has now designed a lightweight but highly durable fold-down table that can be placed in front of a wheelchair-user travelling on a train.
If the wheelchair-user hits the table at speed, it absorbs the impact, leaving them with only minor injuries.
The table has been repeatedly crash-tested, with “very positive” results.
Matsika said: “Such is the design of the table, it doesn’t matter how big the person is, or how fast they are propelled, the table will absorb the force in a controlled manner.
“On impact the internal structure of the table will concertina, thereby cushioning the impact.”
His work has been supervised by “crashworthiness” expert Professor Clive Chirwa and materials expert Professor Peter Myler, at the university’s Bolton Automotive and Aerospace Research Group.
Matsika now plans to patent his design and present his findings to regulatory bodies.
2 February 2012