It just gives a stable place for a conductor/brakeman/switchman to stand while on shoving moves instead of having to hang on to the side of the car. Blanking the windows means there's no glass for shitty kids with rocks to break. Locking up the body means the railroad doesn't have to worry about maintaining toilets, heating, AC, et cetera or worry about someone falling out of the cupola. It's just an economic measure and another example of railroads milking every penny they can out of rolling stock before retiring it.
Saw a new shoving platform in Portland yesterday. It was a BN green flat car, with a single bar running side to side right at the middle of the car. Thats it.
was the most spartan thing I have seen, but if it makes it safe then I guess it works.
Why not maje a CABoose for long shoves?
I think I'd hate that. I caught a few work trains while I was at GCRY that required riding on the flatcar and it was a little uncomfortable for me on the deck, especially when we were on the weed sprayer train and I was having to walk around on that deck while we were in motion.
Come to think of it, I think we have something similar here. It's an old flat car with a simple hand rail and platform welded on one end & they use it while switching cars on/off a rail barge.