Why Do Escalators Have Those Vertical Grooves?


May 22, 2019 15:14 By Fabiosa

Millions of people around the world use escalators daily. But have you ever wondered how exactly it works?

Why Do Escalators Have Those Vertical Grooves?888photo / Shutterstock.com

In fact, this device consists of two chains moving at an inclined angle and two pairs of wheels on each step. The whole construction is driven by an electric motor. Similar to a conveyor belt, an escalator is a kind of conveyor made of steps.

At the top and bottom of the escalator, the steps level to form a flat platform easy to step off and on.

This is clear.

Why Do Escalators Have Those Vertical Grooves?oradige59 / Shutterstock.com

But do you know why the steps of the escalator have grooves? Internet users decided to get to the bottom of it.

User Siddharth-Snehl pointed out that the older models were made of wood and had a smooth surface, which led to a huge fire in a London underground interchange station. It turned out that a burning matchstick got underneath the boards and lit up the grease and garbage that had been accumulating there. After this incident, the grooves and combplates were introduced.

Rob Lion:

Any object (foot, bag, etc.) large enough to rest across two or more grooves will be lifted up and onto the stationary platform. Without the grooves and engaging comb, that gap would be a dangerous pinch point that would be prone to grabbing and pulling in objects.

It turns out that there is much more to the escalator design than we thought.

Why Do Escalators Have Those Vertical Grooves?nomadFra / Shutterstock.com

This seems to be the purpose behind this feature, as backed by another user Mitch Rees-Jones:

The grooves are designed to keep objects like trash and your feet from getting stuck at the end of the escalator. As each step gets to the end of the escalator, the grooves thread into the comb plate at either the top or the bottom of the escalator (depending on the direction it's going) so that shoes/luggage/other objects are pushed upward by its teeth, keeping them from getting stuck.

Did you know about this? Have you ever had an escalator incident?