Difficulties to Read and Write Under Lateral Vibration Exposure : Contextual Studies Of Train Passengers Ride Comfort

Sammanfattning: Many people use the train both as a daily means of transport as well as a working place to carry out activities such as reading or writing. There are, however, several important factors in this environment that will hamper good performance of such activities. Some of the main sources of disturbance, apart form other train passengers, are noise and vibrations generated from the train itself. Although there are standards available for evaluation of ride comfort in vehicles none of them consider the effects that vibrations have on particular passengers' activities. To address these issues, three different studies were conducted to investigate how low frequency lateral vibrations influence the passengers' ability to read and write onboard trains. The first study was conducted on three types of Inter-Regional trains during normal service and included both a questionnaire survey and vibration measurements. Two proceeding laboratory studies were conducted in a train mock-up where the perceived difficulty of reading and writing was evaluated for different frequencies and amplitudes. To model and clarify how vibrations influence the processes of reading and writing the fundamentals of Human Activity Theory was used as a framework in this thesis. In the field study about 80% of the passengers were found to be reading at some point during the journey, 25% were writing by hand, and 14% worked with portable computers. The passengers applied a wide range of seated postures for their different activities. According to the standardised measurements, even the trains running on poor tracks showed acceptable levels of vibration. However, when the passengers performed a short written test, over 60 % reported to be disturbed or affected by vibrations and noise in the train. In the laboratory studies it was found that the difficulty in reading and writing is strongly influenced by both vibration frequency and acceleration amplitude. The vibration spectra of real trains were found to correspond well to the frequency characteristics of the rated difficulty. It was also observed that moderate levels of difficulty begin at fairly low vibration levels. Contextual parameters like sitting posture and type of activity also showed strong influence on how vibrations cause difficulty.