The Anonymous Widower

Will We Be Seeing More Railway Stations?

I didn’t put any qualification like UK or London in the title of this post, as it is a question that applies to all railways.

The post was prompted by an article in the January 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Funding Buds For New South Wales Stations.

The article talks of two possible stations.

  • A Cardiff Parkway station near St. Mellions.
  • A Magor Walkway station between Newport and Severn Tunnel Junction stations.

Cardiff Parkway station seems the more conventional of the two and is proposed to support a proposed new business park, with car parking and a bus station,

This article on Wales Online is entitled Plans revealed for huge new development and train station in Cardiff that could create 15,000 jobs, gives more details.

On the other hand, according to The Magor And Undy Walkway Station Website, the second station at Magor Walkway appears to be less conventional.

But the two stations do illustrate two common reasons for developing new stations.

A New Station To Support Development

Cardiff Parkway station falls into this category and there are several for this reason in the pipeline.

We will see a lot more, as having a station at a new development, has many positive effects on the project.

A New Station To Provide Better Transport Opportunities

Magor Walkway station falls into this category and others include.

There are also schemes for airport links to Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds and Luton.

Why New Stations Don’t Get Built

Obviously, some stations don’t get built for reasons of practicality and cost.

The traffic may be there, but the proposed site is difficult, so a new station might be impossible to fit the space available.

When a re-opened station like Lea Bridge is reported to cost £11million, without car parking, new stations don’t come cheap.

So new stations need a good financial case to get built.

Another factor that is often ignored by campaigners for new stations, is the knock-on effects they will have on services through the station.

Stopping trains at a station on a single or double-track line will effectively block the line, thus slowing other traffic in the area.

But Innovation Is Making It Easier To Build New Stations

In the following sections, I shall detail some of the ideas and innovations that will make the building of stations easier.

The Rise Of The Single-Platform Station

Single-platform stations are not that common in the UK, and the first new one of this type I saw was James Cook station, which I wrote about in James Cook Station – The Reinvention Of The Halt .

Other recently built stations in this category include.

Note there is a parkway station on the list and Galashiels is a major train-bus interchange.

A good proportion of the list are also on newly opened lines.

Consider the advantages of a single-platform station.

  • There is no need for an expensive footbridge., that is part of the station.
  • Only one set of shelters, ticket machines and information displays are needed.
  • Single platform stations can be easily made long enough for the largest trains that will call.
  • Interchange to cars, buses and taxis is quick and easy.
  • Modern signalling makes bi-directional operation safe.

There may also be advantages in fitting a station into a restricted space, like shopping centres, airports, sports grounds or an historic town centre.

I think we’ll see a lot more single platform stations in the future.

The Express Stop Train

Next time, you’re on a train, notice how long it takes to perform a stop at a typical station.

It is often not a quick process.

  • Passengers have to lift children, buggies, bicycles and heavy cases over the step up or down between train and platform.
  • Passengers coming on get in the way of passengers getting off.
  • On a crowded train, that is not working under driver-only-operation (DOO) rules, the guard often has to struggle to get in position to open the doors.
  • Older trains without information systems, often mean that passengers aren’t ready to get off, so cause delays at the stop.

But look at the new trains for Merseyrail, I wrote about in Thoughts On Merseyrail’s New Trains.

  • They are designed to eliminate the gap between station and train and for passengers to step or roll across quickly.
  • They will have wide doors and probably ample lobbies, to ease entry and exit.
  • They will be information-rich trains, as are all modern trains.
  • They will be DOO, which avoids guard delays on crowded trains.
  • They will have high performance with respect to braking and acceleration.

I also wonder if braking and acceleration will be automated, so that they are fast, smooth and very safe in all weather and track conditions.

On Merseyrail, this will result in faster trains and a saving of nine minutes between Southport and Hunts Cross is quoted.

New trains on Greater Anglia, will also give substantial help in enabling a headline-grabbing Norwich in 90 and Ipswich in 60 service for all trains.

I suspect that as new trains improve their stop times, it will make it easier for a new station to be fitted into an intense schedule on a main line with extensive services.

Stations Without Electrification

Often electriofying stations is an expensive business, in planning, execution and in operation.

With the development of bi-mode and battery trains and especially ones that can switch mode automatically, I think we’ll see a lot more stations left without electrification, thus eliminating health and safety and heritage issues, whilst reducing costs.

The Station On A Train

Merseyrail’s new trains will be DOO and from the reports, it appears that all the CCTV needed for safe operation will be on the train, rather than the station.

So will this allow Merseyrail to simplify their stations, with the only CCTV needed on stations being only that for passenger and station security.

I wonder if the driver will have access to a station’s CCTV as he approaches. Being able to assess crowd density in a station on approach must be to the driver’s advantage.

Ticket Machines On A Train

Operators might even put a card-only ticket machine on the train, so the number of machines in stations can be cut to save costs.

I have seen this is in several places in Europe, but never in the UK.

Tram Style Operation Of Local Trains

There are two basic types of through platforms  in the UK, served by local or regional passenger trains.

  • Platforms where some freight and passenger trains pass through without stopping.
  • Platforms where all trains stop.

Merseyrail’s Northern Line and some of the branches of the Wirral Line would be examples of the second.

What would be the implications for station design, if say a branch line worked exclusively by one type of train ran to say a tram speed limit and the visual rules a tram driver would obey in the centre of Birmingham, Manchester or Nottingham.

Could we see new two platform stations built like say this station on the Croydon Tramlink?

Gentle Ramps To the Platforms

Passengers would just walk across the tracks to get to the other side.

I believe that Merseyrail’s new trains could work in this way.

Consider.

  • Stadler have enormous experience of trams and tram-trains.
  • Merseyrail’s new trains can be fitted with batteries, so for perhaps fifty metres either side of the station, the third rail can be removed.
  • The new trains look like trams, although they are trains.
  • There will always be a driver in the front of the train with a big horn, as the train enters the station.
  • Trains would be restricted to tram speeds in the station area.

Imagine a station on a network like Merseyrail or perhaps a branch line like the Walton-on-the-Naze Branch of the Sunshine Coast Line.

A train stopping at the station would go through the following procedure.

  • A safe distance from the station, after ascertaining, that the line in the station is clear, the driver initiates the automatic stop procedure or halts the train.
  • The train slows automatically from line speed to the tram speed perhaps fifty metres from the station.
  • The train proceeds automatically to the station at tram speed using onboard stored energy, as there is no electrification.
  • The driver would open the doors, so that passengers and their belongings can be unloaded and loaded.
  • Once everything is ready, the driver closes the doors and initiates the automatic leave sequence.
  • The train leaves the station at tram speed.
  • Once electrification starts and the train is connected, the train automatically accelerates back to line speed.

Note.

  1. The train is not at line speed anywhere near the station.
  2. The driver can take control at any time.
  3. The procedure is not very far removed from that used on the Victoria Line since 1967!

Effectively the operation of the train through the station is train-tram-train.

I wonder if Merseyrail have been thinking this way to create a tram-train link to Liverpool Airport.

Conclusion

Various innovations will mean that stations will cost less.

  • Simpler design.
  • Step-free without footbridges.
  • Less expensive features.
  • Equipment moved from station to train.

In addition, trains will find it easier to fit stops into busy timetables.

This will mean that the available station budget will go further and more stations will be built.

 

December 25, 2016 - Posted by | Travel | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] I said in Will We Be Seeing More Railway Stations?, it looks like design, technology, new trains and costs are making it easier to make a good case […]

    Pingback by Cambridge Thinks About More Stations « The Anonymous Widower | December 29, 2016 | Reply


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