What is a Gangway?

If you’re new to the industry you might be wondering what exactly a gangway is. Well, a gangway is a narrow platform or walkway that extends outward to provide safe access to the tops of railcars, trucks, ships, vessels, or other elevated working areas. Most commonly Gangways are used by operators to access varied vehicles for the loading and unloading of railcars and trucks. Gangways can also be used to provide safe passage for loading operations involving marine platforms, docks, ships, or vessels. 

Gangway Cages | Safety Cages for Gangways

Gangways used for the loading and unloading of railcars or trucks are generally flat and telescoping or have self-adjusting stairs. These gangways extend from a platform to vehicle, giving operators and personnel safe access to load, unload, or complete inspections. These platforms might also include extra safety or technical features to assist workers, some of which might include safety cages. 

Marine gangways, which are used to access marine vessels such as ships and barges, are designed longer to avoid slipping from the connected platform and to provide safe passage for anyone walking across the gangway. Terms like “truss,” and “telescoping,” are often used to define how the marine loading platforms are used.  

These marine access solutions can also be referred to as an accommodation ladder, and the US Navy, US Coast Guard, among other agencies often call these platforms “brows.”  

Truck and Railcar Gangways 

Below we’ll outline some of the most popular types of truck and railcar gangways, many of these can be customized to fit a specific need. 

Self-Adjusting Gangways 

A self-adjusting stair gangway is design to self-level and can accommodate vehicles that have various heights. With a self-adjusting stair design, safety is increased allowing operators to set the gangways height as needed. These gangways can easily be retrofitted to replace older models. 

Flat Gangways 

The flat ramp gangways offer a simple and durable design which is best suited for hopper cars and truck loading and unloading. These gangways are an effective solution when the platform height and the vehicle height are the same.   

Telescoping Gangways 

Telescoping gangways can be the perfect solution for truck or railcar operations, these gangways use a telescoping extension and handrails to eliminate gaps between the platform and vehicle. These gangways increase safety, offer ease of use, and include slip-resistant walking surfaces with adjustable springs which can be used to raise and lower the heights with minimal effort.  

Marine Gangways 

While there are many different types of marine gangways, we’ll briefly cover the most popular variant we encounter.  

Dock & Marine Gangways 

These gangways can either be built as temporary or permanent platforms and are used to safely allow access to and from ships and other marine platforms. These gangways are designed to handle large and heavy loads and are usually larger in size when compared to railcar and truck access gangways.  

The surface area of the ramp is specifically designed to prevent water from collecting on the gangway and to prevent slips. 

Need a Gangway?  

There are various other types of railcar, truck, and marine gangways, some of which include skid mounted gangways, truss and beam gangways, column gangways, fixed length gangways, marine stage gangways, and more. Each type of gangway is designed to serve a specific purpose. Like any other industrial solution, a safe access gangway is usually just one working part of a much bigger solution, and these systems must function as one to work properly.  

If you’re unsure of which type of gangway best fits your needs give us a call at 281-890-6862. Understanding your specific needs will help us determine which gangway model fits best. Each of our gangways include slip-resistant walking surfaces and are designed using hot-dipped galvanized steel for durability and quality. 

 We’ve been providing various industries with best-in-class safe access equipment and gangways for over 60 years.  

Give Hemco a call at to discuss all your Fall Protection & Fall Prevention Needs at: 281-890-6862