The Anonymous Widower

Example Cost And Timescale For A Step-Free Footbridge

This article on Network Rail’s web site is entitled Investment In West Calder Gives Station Accessibility A Lift.

The project replaced an existing bridge.

  • It cost £2.7 million.
  • It took ten months to build and commission.
  • Station access was maintained at all times.

It looks to have been a well-managed project.

This picture shows the bridge.

How would it compare with the recent winner of Network Rail’s competition to find a new footbridge design?

Having not seen either bridge in the metal, I’ll give my judgement when I have.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition

The title of this post is the same as that of this page on the Network Rail web site.

This image from the page shows the winning design.

Obviously, it has several passenger friendly features.

  • Safe steps with double-handrails on both sides and a take-a-break step at halfway.
  • Lifts.
  • A covered bridge with good views of the station.

But what I like about it are these design and manufacturing features.

  • The width and height could be easily adjusted for different locations.
  • It could accommodate escalators.
  • Three- and four-platform bridges could follow the same theme.
  • It could be built in a factory and just lifted in a few pieces onto a prepared site.
  • Cost of an installation could be calculated on the back of an engineering envelop or fag-packet.

I also think it is one of those good designs, that will inspire its users and perhaps prompt younger people to take up design or engineering as a career.

A Network Rail Standard Footbridge

If this standard off-the-shelf design or something like it or better was available, how many stations could be given step-free access in the next few years?

As Network Rail sponsored this competition with RIBA, let’s hope they follow through their original initiative.

The footbridge could even have applications outside of the railway industry!

73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

This is the first paragraph.

Selected stations will, subject to a feasible design being possible, receive an accessible route into the station, as well as to and between every platform.

It appears that £300million of additional funding will be used to create full step-free access at seventy-three stations.

Stations That Could Benefit From This Standard Bridge

I have visited several of the stations and I feel that a standard bridge approach could benefit these stations.

I shall add to this list, as I discover more stations, that are suitable.

 

 

April 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 20 Comments

Catford Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Catford station is on the list.

This pictures show the current state of Catford station.

Note.

  1. The railway line is on an embankment, with a bridge over the road.
  2. There are steep stairs to both platforms.
  3. There are small shelters on both platforms.
  4. There is a small station building by the subway under the tracks.

I suspect that a lift on either side of the tracks will need to be installed.

This Google Map shows the station.

It looks like it will be rather a tight squeeze to fit the lifts around the stairs and the current station building.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a rebuild of the current station building and the stairs, to create space for the lifts.

The route between Catford and Catford Bridge stations used to involve a walk along the A205, but now there is a level walk through a new housing development, which also has a small supermarket.

You enter Catford Bridge station, directly onto Platform 1.

This Google Map shows the two stations and the walking route between them.

I estimate that it is less than a hundred metres.

Adding step-free access at Catford station will not complete the project.

Look at these pictures of Catford Bridge station.

To cross the tracks at the station, there are two bridges; the road bridge and a footbridge at the station.

Neither of the bridges are step-free.

It would be difficult to add lifts at the A205 end of the station, as there is little space. It would also mean passengers would be walking along the A205, with all its traffic and associated pollution.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Catford Bridge station?

It could replace the existing metal bridge!

 

April 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

From Groningen To Leer By Train

On my recent trip to the Netherlands and Germany, I didn’t get to do this trip by train and had to make do with a slow bus ride.

However I’ve just found this video on YouTube.

The Freisenbrücke is about an hour from the start of the video.

I should fast forward, as there is only so much travelling on a single-track rail line, that you can watch before falling asleep.

I got this impression of the route in the video, which was made in October 2014.

  • The route is mainly single-track, with some passing loops at stations.
  • the track is not electrified, except for short sections at either end.
  • The track was almost straight.
  • The track, stations and signalling appear to be in good condition.
  • There were a large number of level crossings.
  • The train took around one hour and twenty minutes between Groningen and Leer stations.

I can imagine that Deutsche Bahn and Arriva Netherlands were a good bit more and just annoyed, when the MV Emsmoon destroyed the bridge.

Wikipedia says this about the accident.

On 3 December 2015, Emsmoon collided with the Friesenbrücke [de], which carries the Ihrhove–Nieuweschans railway over the Ems. The cause of the accident was reported to be miscommunication between the bridge operator and pilot on board the ship. The bridge could not be raised as a train was due, but the ship failed to stop and collided with the bridge, blocking both railway and river.[4] The bridge was so severely damaged that it will have to be demolished. Replacement is expected to take five years

I suspect, it’s not just an massive inconvenience for the railway, as a couple of miles South on the River Ems, is the Meyer Werft shipyard, where cruise ships up to 180,000 tonnes are built.

I found this document on the NDR.de web site and gleaned the following information.

  • The cost of rebuilding could be up to eight million euros.
  • The new bridge will be finished in 2024, if all goes well.
  • Environmentalists are bringing lawsuits against the construction of the bridge.

It will be a challenge to rebuild this bridge.

This video shows the new bridge

Let’s hope that one of those large cruise ships dopesn’t hit the bridge.

Conclusion

This surely has been a very costly acciodent.

 

April 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trying To Get Near The Footbridge Underneath The Ordsall Chord

The Ordsall Chord scheme incorporates a foiotbridge across the Irwell, which should give good a good view of the massive bridge.

I tried to get near it yesterday.

But as you can see, I failed.

There’s just too much construction in the way!

February 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

World’s Longest Sea Crossing: Hong Kong-Zhuhai Bridge Opens

The title of this post is the same as this article on the BBC.

It certainly looks to be an impressive bridge.

But I think it shows just how far design and construction of large bridges has moved in the last couple of decades.

In A Solution To The Northern Irish Problem!, I proposed building a fixed link between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The Chinese bridge has a length of 55 km, whereas a link between Northern Ireland and Scotland would be about 30 km.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised that the opening of the Chinese bridge will push politicians, engineers and financial institutions to look seriously, at a fixed link across the North Channel.

October 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

Now That’s What I Call A Footbridge!

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Network Rail Launches Footbridge Design Competition.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A competition for new footbridge design ideas has been launched by Network Rail and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Entrants are asked to design fully accessible footbridges that can be used across Britain’s rail network and that further improve the legacy of rail pioneers.

Hopefully, something better than some of those on Britain’s rail network will be designed.

I was in Wales last week on the Ffestiniog Railway and saw this bridge.

Surely, someone can come up with something like this, that meets all the regulations and looks a lot better, than Network Rail’s standard offering in green-painted steel.

My father used to build structures like this with timber and bolts to create extra floors and storage in his print works in Wood Green. From about the age of seven, I was his little helper.

Perhaps, thirty years later, I had a barn built at a house I owned. The architect had the building designed in a similar manner.

Someone, ought to enter Network Rail’s competition with a similar design.

July 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Can Discontinuous Electrification Be Handled?

On the proposed South Wales Metro, it is proposed to use discontinuous electrification to avoid rebuilding a lot of bridges and other structures.

This document on the KeolisAmey web site details their plans for the new Wales and Borders Franchise.

The document states this about the electrification.

Discontinuous overhead line electrification to 25 KVAC with permanently earthed sections around restricted structures, saving 55 interventions e.g. rebuilding bridges/no need for wire in Caerphilly tunnel.

So how are these interventions avoided?

The Karlsruhe Solution

On the Karlsruhe Stadbahn, similar Citylink vehicles to those proposed for Cardiff need to work on both the main line 15 KVAC used in Germany and the 750 VDC used by Karlsruhe trams.

To isolate the two voltages, a ceramic rod is placed in the catenary. The vehicle’s pantograph just rides across the voltage boundary and the vehicle’s electrical system uses whatever voltage is present.

Bridges On The South Wales Metro

These pictures show some of the types of bridges on the Cardiff Valleys Lines.

They are a real assortment.

  • Some station footbridges from the Victorian era with nice castings and decoration, but no much-needed step-free access.
  • Some quality brick and stone arch bridges.
  • British Rail-era steel bridges, with no architectural merit
  • Some modern road bridges in steel and concrete.

I also saw sizeable pipelines over the railway, which would need to be raised.

The greatest number were simple steel bridges like the one at Caerphilly station, designed to get pedestrians and cyclists, who were not using the railway, from one side of the tracks to the other.

I suspect the simplest way would be to erect two standard gantries at a safe distance of a few metres either side of the structure.

Between the two gantries would be an conductor, like this one. that I photographed in the Berlin Hauphtbahnhof.

It would be earthed, so that it offered no danger to life. There could even be extra supports under the bridge.

At each end, it would be connected to the 25 KVAC using a ceramic rod or other insulating device.

The vehicle’s pantograph would then ride from one side of the bridge to the other on its own track without being lowered.

Anything electrified at 25 KVAC would be kept at a very safe distance from the bridge.

In the earthed section, when the vehicle would be receiving no power, the vehicle would automatically switch to battery power. There would be no driver action required, except to monitor it was all working as it should.

As on the South Wales Metro, it appears that all vehicles using the lines proposed to be electrified will have their own onboard batteries, there shouldn’t be any problem.

In some ways, this discontinuous operation is a bit like using your laptop connected to the mains. When say the cleaner pulls out the plug to put in the vacuum cleaner, your laptop switches automatically to the battery.

The Caerphilly Tunnel

The Caerphilly tunnel is over a mile long. This picture shows the tunnel entrance.

It would probably be possible to electrify using a rail in the roof, but why bother if the trains running through the tunnel could go from one end to the other on their own battery power?

Trains could lower the pantograph before entry and then raise it again, when under the electrification at the other end.

This could be performed automatically using a GPS-based system.

I have also had an e-mail, which said this.

As I understand Caerphilly will have a natural bar in it but be much closer to the train roof than would be allowed with a live one.

Now there’s an idea!

A composite or earthed metal rail would be fixed to the roof of the tunnel, so that the pantograph could run smoothly from one electrified section on one side of the tunnel to the electrification on the other side, using battery power all the way.

Cost Savings

In Novel Solution Cuts Cardiff Bridge Wiring Cost, I talked about another method applied in South Wales to avoid rebuilding a bridge.

At this bridge, traditional electrification methods were used, but the need to demolish the bridge was avoided by using advanced insulation and protection measures.

This was my final statement.

Network Rail reckon that the solution will save about £10 million on this bridge alone, as it avoids the need for an expensive rebuild of the bridge.

The savings on this bridge will be higher as it is a large bridge over several tracks, but even saving a million on each bridge in the South Wales Metro is £55 million, which will probably be enough to build much of the infrastructure to extend to The Flourish, which would appear to not need expensive viaducts or electrification.

Should Downhill Tracks Be Left Without Electrification?

I think this may be possible on the South Wales Metro, as vehicles coming down the hills could use gravity and small amounts of battery power.

Regenerative braking would also be continuously charging the batteries.

It would certainly be simpler, than having to constantly swap between overhead and battery power on the descent, where the electrification was discontinuous.

As the lines are going to have a more intensive service, there will be additions of a second track in places to allow trains to pass.

Any electrification that could be removed from the project would be beneficial in terms of building and operational costs.

Other Routes

This post has used the South Wales Metro as an example, but I don’t see any reason, why the discontinous method and that used on the Cardiff Bridge can’t be applied to other bridges and structures over the lines on other routes in the country.

I suspect, that if they’d been used on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, electric trains would have been running months ago!

Conclusion

Look what you get with thinking, when you have a Bonfire of the Boxes!

 

June 7, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Novel Solution Cuts Cardiff Bridge Wiring Cost

The title of this post is the same as an article in the May 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Network Rail has applied an insulating coating to the underside of a bridge in Cardiff to protect against flashover from the future Overhead Line Equipment (OLE). It also intends to fit surge arresters at the bridge to prevent any sudden spikes in voltage overcoming the protection provided by the coating.

Network Rail reckon that the solution will save about £10million on this bridge alone, as it avoids the need for an expensive rebuild of the bridge.

Could wider applications of solutions like this, reduce the cost of electrification?

May 25, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Hackney Wick Station And The Florida International University Pedestrian Bridge Collapse

The title of this post might seem a bit unusual, as the two locations are in different continents and thousands of miles apart.

But there is a connection, in that the new Hackney Wick station and the Florida International University bridge, were built using the same construction method called accelerated bridge construction.

There are some major differences.

  • At Hackney Wick a short, fat subway was built alongside the railway and moved in using self-propelled modular transporters. In Florida a long thin span was installed , in a similar way.
  • The Hackney Wick station subway, probably weighs a lot more than the pedestrian footbridge.
  • The Hackney Wick subway and the platforms and track on top, was fully reinstated before trains could cross, whereas the Florida span was part of a cable-stay bridge, which hadn’t been completed.
  • The Hackney Wick subway will be carrying trains of several hundred tons, whereas the Florida bridge will be carrying people.

It looks to me, that there has been some inaccurate calculations, which led to the collapse of the Florida International University bridge.

March 16, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment