The Anonymous Widower

Could This Happen In The UK?

This article on the BBC web site is about how the French have ordered 2,000 new trains that are too wide for the platforms.

The French train operator SNCF has discovered that 2,000 new trains it ordered at a cost of 15bn euros ($20.5bn; £12.1bn) are too wide for many regional platforms.

But could it happen here?

The front cover of the February 2014 edition of Modern Railways has a headline of Mind the Gap. Inside it describes how at some London Underground stations there is a problem of large gaps between trains and station platforms with the new S Stock.

But the London Underground problem is for a different reason. As the lines get upgraded and new trains are delivered, London Underground is endeavouring to get the platform-train interface to help passengers and especially those with accessibility problems. And they have some curved platforms that make this difficult and will need rebuilding.

Regularly on the Overground, I see a wheelchair-bound passenger push themselves effortlessly into and out of the Class 378 trains, where the interface is easy.  As the Overground platforms are lengthened for the new trains, any small gap problems are probably being addressed.

On the Continent except on Metros, there is usually a step-up into the train, which with heavy cases or a baby in a buggy is a slower process.

I wonder how long it is before some anti-Europe and anti-metrication politician or dinosaur, blames the EU and/or metrication for this French problem.

After all, the French are only probably doing what London Underground are and adjusting the platforms to their shiny new trains.

But are the new French trains solving the problem of access?

I can’t find any detailed descriptions of the trains or even their class, so I can’t answer that one.

This train-platform problem will happen more in the future, as many train platforms in the developed world were designed in the steam era and have been updated over the years. I suspect we’ll probably find some newish stations may have to be rebuilt for the next generation.

So we will see more of approach taken by the French and London of ordering a train, that you want for passenger needs and then adjusting those stations that don’t fit the new trains.

After all you would prefer to have the same type of train for all your lines like London Overground has done with the Class 378 rather than have a special version for some stations. If you look at the Class 378 as a go-anywhere train on the Overground, it has a dual-voltage and selective door opening capabilities to cope with lines without overhead electrification and short platforms.

I suspect that the French problems are worse as it’s a much larger number of trains and stations and there are politicians with axes to grind.


May 21, 2014 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , ,

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