The Anonymous Widower

A Design Crime – Charging Devices On Swiss Trains

I didn’t find a Swiss train with well-designed designed charging points.

I did find a few and they seemed to be for three-pin plugs and high-up above the window.

My adapter has only two pins and kept falling out, as my phone cable wasn’t long enough to place the phone on the table or the seat.

In the end, I put it in my top pocket to get it charged.

It was a bit difficult to use, as there wasn’t enough space for me in the pocket.

I didn’t see a USB port on any train.

In my view these are the way to go, as they will work for all users, from every country.

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

A Design Crime – Stratford International Station

I went to Canterbury today and took the Highspeed service from Stratford International station.

These are pictures I took at the station.

Most stations have the odd design issue, but Stratford International has a whole warehouse that’s full of them.

International In Name, But Not Trains

Stratford International station must be the only station in the world, which is billed as an International station, where all trains are domestic.

That to me is fraud!

Should I report the station to the Police?

Connecting With Stratford Station

I travelled to the station via the domestic Stratford station, which meant I had to walk the best part of a mile through the Eastfield Shopping Centre, which was mainly closed as it was earl;y in the morning.

Surely the connection could have been designed to be a shorter walk.

It’s not even straight through the Shopping Centre, but you have to double back after going right through almost to John Lewis.

It’s just designed so you pass as many shops as possible. I was wanting to use a train, not buy something.

 

This Google Map shows the two Stratford stations.

stratford2

Topsy could have designed it better. Even when she was about five!

Surely something better can be done.

The Link To The Docklands Light Railway

You could use the Docklands Light Railway, but then that introduces more changes into to your journey.It is the route recommended by the National Rail Journey Planner.

But the DLR station is on the other side of a road, rather than inside Stratford International station.

The Link To Crossrail

It’s only going to get worse when Crossrail opens, as passengers wanting to go to between say Paddington and East Kent will be drawn to Stratford, only to discover the struggle through Eastfield to Stratford International.

The alternative route via Abbey Wood will be slower and will probably mean extra changes.

There will be one better route available from Crossrail to Stratford International, when the new line opens and that will be to go to Canary Wharf station and, take the short walk to Poplar DLR station. A trip on London’s unique Docklands Light Railway will take you direct to Stratford International station. The DLR always delivers when the chips are down, just as it did in the 2012 Olympics.

No Place To Wait Before The Platforms

Except for a few uncomfortable seats designed by a sadist and what looks to be a comfortable cafe, there is no place to wait on the station concourse before going to the platforms.

A few comfortable seats would be welcome.

The Bleakest Platforms In The UK

That is being charitable, as in all my traels across Europe, even in say a very cold Eastern Europe, any set of platforms as unwelcoming.

Perhaps I should try Siberia!

Appalling Train Access For The Disabled

Considering that the Class 395 trains are the only ones to use the platforms, the disabled acess using a ramp is so nineteenth century.

I joked about the quality of this to a member of staff and they said that in the rush hour, they are sometimes assisting as many as four passengers.

It’s probably lucky that the HighSpeed service is not an intense one, as with this level of disabled access, there would be train delays.

Conclusion

The station and line is a disgrace and especially for the disabled.

Considering it was only built a few years ago, everybody concerned should hang their heads in shame.

What would I do?

  • Where the DLR goes under the main line platforms at Stratford station, between the two subways, I’d extend the DLR platforms underneath and provide direct access between the two levels. This must be possible and would enable passengers to change between main line, Crossrail and Central Line services with the DLR between Canary Wharf and Stratford International.
  • Try and improve the connection to the DLR at Stratford International
  • Replace or modify the Class 395 trains/pltform interface with something fit for purpose, that had level access to the platforms, so wheelchair passengers could just roll in.
  • Do something about the bleakness of the station.

I’d also increase the number of Highspeed services through the station, so that all destinations got at least two direct trains per hour from Stratford.

I would also add some extra new destinations like Eastbourne and Hastings.

 

 

February 14, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Design Crime – Train Platform Interface At St. Pancras Thameslink

Frank Grdner has been complaining at the problems of travelling on planes in a wheelchair.

I took these pictures of the step between platform and train at St. Pancras Thameslink station.

All of the trains including the 1980s built Class 319 trains seem to require the same step-up into the train.

As the Platforms at the station were built after the Class 319 trains became the most numerous trains on the route, this a real design crime of the highest order.

It would appear that Merseyrail will offer roll-across access with their new trains, so why isn’t Thameslink.

But then in an ideal world, St. Pancras station needs a substantial rebuild underground.

January 11, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Design Crime – Class 395 Train Platform Interface

I took these pictures of the step you need to ascend to get into a Class 395 Train.

All of these pictures, were taken on platforms that were specifically built for the trains and no other train type calls at these station.

Perhaps my biggest gripe with these terrible doors, is that there is no wide door, which you would need for a large wheelchair.

These trains may have a high top speed, but they’re not designed for quick safe stops.

 

The Class 395 trains were built in Japan around 2009 and the Class 378 trains for the Overground were built around the same time.

Compare these pictures taken on the Overground with those above.

Note that the first two pictures were taken in a platform used by other train, so the access isn’t quite as good.

Perhaps Japanese railways don’t allow people in wheelchairs to use trains.

If they do, how come we get trains as wheelchair-unfriendly as the Class 395 train, which need a ramp to get the wheelchair on and off the train.

 

December 28, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

A Design Crime – Ebbsfleet International Station

If there is one station in the UK, that has been deliberately designed to be difficult to use, it is Ebbsfleet #international station.

Take this evening, when I had taken a lift to the station after the football at Ipswich, as the Great Eastern Main Line was having its annual rebuild and I didn’t want to spend an hour in a rickety bus, rather than in a comfortable Mark 3 coach.

Arrive at most stations in the UK or the world for that matter, and the first thing that you see is a ticket office or a ticket machine.

But not at Ebbsfleet International!

You are presented with a departure board, which tells you where trains will be going and if like me, you are going to St. Pancras International station, you notice that alternative trains leave from platform 2 and 5. Platform 2 is to the left on the level and platform 5 is to the right down a set of steps

So if you have just a fewminutes before your train, perhaps it would be a good idea to buy a ticket, as you enter the station.

But you can’t, as the only ticket machines are by the platforms. on either side.

Whose stupid idea was this?

If ever a station needed a ticket machine as you come in, with a sign saying that the next St. Pancras train leaves from platform X, it is Ebbsfleet International.

As it was, after about four minutes, I was able to determine that I had twelve minutes before the next train from platform 5, so I was able to walk down the set of steps, buy a ticket and get to the draughty platform about eight minutes before the train arrived.

Is Ebbsfleet International, the only station in the UK, where to transfer across a concourse between two ends, there is a set of steps in the middle?

It could be considered that Manchester Piccadilly has steps, but it does have fifteen platforms and was designed over a period of well over a hundred years.

The entry problem could be eliminated by more or relocated ticket machines and a small display telling passengers for St. Pancras, where to go.

It is all down to the bizarre layout of the station.

This Google Map shows the two-station layout of the station.

Ebbsfleet International Station

Ebbsfleet International Station

The lines going North South through the station are the Eurostar and the HighSpeed domestic services between St. Pancras International and Ashford International stations. The lines branching off to the South East, take the Highspeed domestic services to Faversham.

The Faversham lines have their own platforms 5 and 6 and there are two other platforms 2 and 3 in the other side of the station, sandwiched in-between the Eurostar lines.

This station was built on a green field site with plenty of space, so surely a better layout of lines could have been provided so that all Highspeed domestic services used the same pair of platforms.

Getting There

Ebbsfleet International was certainly designed to be difficult to get to from other parts of the London and the South East.

Romford is a major station in East London, with this recommended route to Ebbfleet Inyternational.

  • TfL Rail to Stratford
  • DLR to Stratford International
  • Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International.

It may be step-free, but there is certainly quite a distance on the flat.

This is the route from Guildford

  • South West Trains to Vauxhall
  • Victoria Line to St. Pancras
  • Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International

Not a route that I’d recommend to anybody with a heavy  case or any difficulty in walking.

This is the route from Greenwich.

  • Southeastern to Charlton
  • Southeastern to Gravesend
  • Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International

That route truly is a corker.

This one might improve as according to Modern Railways for August 2016, that Thameslink will be starting a service between Luton and Rainham via Dartford and Greenwich. Hopefully this would mean a route from Greenwich to Ebbsfleet Internation as follows.

  • Thameslink to Gravesend
  • Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International

That is only one change, but you’d still need to go over the step-free bridge at Gravesend.

The solution would be to do either of the following.

  • Create a proper passenger connection between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International stations.
  • Allow North Kent services that go to and from Dartford to call at Ebbsfleet International station.

Why didn’t the traditional North Kent services call at Ebbsfleet International station from Day 1?

Get the connection right and all those stations between London Bridge and Rainham would have a two trains per hour service to Ebbsfleet International.

Future Expansion

Ebbsfleet International also seems to be designed deliberately to make extension difficult.

Space for extra platforms for these possible services seems not to have been left.

  • Termination of Continental services, should St. Pancras get too busy.
  • A Crossrail extension from Abbey Wood station.
  • An East-West service from Reading and Gatwick.

Expansion can only probably be achieved by  adding further complication and difficulties for passengers at this truly dreadful station.

The designer’s dictionary, certainly didn’t include that important word future-proofing.

He certainly gave Eurostar and the Highspeed domestic services, one of the least passenger-friendly stations in the world. that fits well with Eurostar’s other crap stations.

  • The extremely passenger-unfriendly St. Pancras.
  • The bleak, isolated and draughty Stratford International

Perhaps the airline industry had a hand in its design, in the hope they could strangle the whole enterprise!

Stratford and Ebbsfleet could also have been designed the way they are, so that they didn’t have easy and quick interchanges with Crossrail.

That would have meant, that passengers would use this more affordable service rather than the expensive Highspeed domestic ones, that always seem half-empty, when I use them.

The three stations are all certainly design crimes and taken together they make the Channel Tunnel Rail Link a design crime of the most immense proportions

But given that it is impossible to do much with the station, what should be done now?

  • The draughty space between the two separate stations, should be made more welcoming.
  • Information should tell passengers the next trains to all stations.
  • Ticket machines must be provided as you enter, rather than being hidden away.
  • The steps to platforms 5 and 6, should be replaced by short escalators and an inclined lift.

Perhaps most importantly, contactless ticketing using bank cards and Oyster must be available on all Highspeed domestic services. I can use that to get to Gatwick Airport, so why not Ebbsfleet International?

Related Posts

A Trip To Sheppey

A Twelve-Car Ready Railway

Along The North Kent Line

Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations

Connecting North Kent And The Medway Towns To Ebbsfleet International Station

Extending Crossrail To Gravesend

Rainham (Kent) Station

Thameslink To Rainham

Through The Medway Towns

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Sheppey?

 

 

September 18, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 7 Comments

A Design Crime – Milk In Plastic Tubes

i got my morning cup of tea on the Caledonia sleeper, with milk in plastic tubes.

A Design Crime - Milk In Plastic Tubes

A Design Crime – Milk In Plastic Tubes

I hope the young man, who first designed this abberation, is truly sorry for what he created.

I say young man, as nobody over fifty starting to feel the aches and pains of life would have created this design.

It was certainly a man, as any woman, who had worn nail polish, would probably have discarded the idea.

Years ago, when I chewed my nails, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to open these awful containers.

They should be consigned to the dustbin of history and I declare them a design crime.

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Food, Travel | , , | 3 Comments

A Design Crime – The Forthside Bridge In Stirling

I first wrote about the Forthside Bridge in Stirling in Stirling, when I thought it was impressive.

But on my second visit to the City, I realise that practically, it isn’t as good as you’d expect.

It’s biggest problem, is that it was not properly integrated with the station, the main road through the city and the shopping centre.

I was staying on the wrong side of the tracks and to get to my train, I needed to cross the bridge, enter the station and then walk back across the tracks on another bridge.

In a sensible station design the bridge in the station would lead to a second ticket gate on the other side. One guy told me, it used to and he thought about buying a flat on the other side, until the ticket gate was removed.

Note.

  • When I arrived on Friday night, I went to the Shopping Centre to buy a jumper at the Marks and Spencer there! It closed at 18:00. On a Frioday night! Ridiculous!
  • On Saturday, I went to Pizza Express at about 21:00. Staff probably outnumbered the patrons.
  • It was certainly a lot busier on the other side of the tracks.

So was one guy about eighteen right, when he said the bridge was all bullshit.

I’m nominating the Forthside Bridge in Stirling as a design crime.

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Travel, World | , , | Leave a comment

A Design Crime – Manchester’s Totally Crap MiGuide

When I see things like this, it really gets my anger up.

All I want in a City Centre, is a map that will show me where to go, not some indecipherable device, that I probably can’t work, as I have the sort of fingers that don’t work well with touch screens. I don’t want to be bombarded with advertising.

If I need information, like the nearest gluten-free restaurant, I’ll search Google.

Give me maps on liths like Ipswich, Glasgow, Preston, Bristol, Birmingham, Southampton and Sheffield! Or big ones with seats like Krakow!

Manchester used to have some nice maps, but they seem to have been removed.

Perhaps they’;re kept with the Ed Stone?

These devices are total crap, that should be consigned to the dustbin of the future.

They’re certainly a Design Crime.

January 4, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , , | 5 Comments

A Design Crime – Crap Station Design In Kassel

Some parts of Kassel’s urban tram system might well have been good, but these images of some of the stations, show the crap level of some of the design.

One thing that surprised me was the crudeness of some of the stations I visited, which just had steep steps and no lifts. This certainly wouldn’t be acceptable in the UK for a new station and I’m surprised that German disability rules allowed such a station design.

I nominate their stations as a Design Crime.

 

 

February 16, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Design Crime – How Not To Design Platform Edge Doors

I took these pictures on Metro Line 1, which has some stations with platform edge doors.

Unlike all others I’ve seen, they are only half height and the thick pillars partially obscure the view of the station from inside the train. As there is no station display inside the train, which can be seen from most seats, these doors meant that I missed my stop.

January 13, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment