The Anonymous Widower

The Original Walk-Through Train In The UK

It’s not often, you are more or less alone in one of London Underground’s S8 Stock trains, that is stationary.

But this train was stuck as a red signal outside Farringtdon station on a quiet day over the Christmas period, so I took advantage.

You can understand, why these eight car and 134 metre long trains can handle a couple over a thousand passengers for big matches at Wembley and also make journeys acceptable for long-distance commuters from Amersham, Chesham, Uxbridge and Watford.

Note the following features.

  • Walk-through design.
  • Better seats than Thameslink’s Call 700 trains.
  • Wide all-double doors and lobbies.
  • Wheelchair spaces with tip-up seats.
  • Big, wide windows.
  • Space under the seats.

Air-conditioning, step free access to platform and selective door opening are not shown.

The trains started to enter service in 2010 and they will probably have an interior refresh in around five years time, with the probably addition of wi-fi and USB power sockets.

Transport for London have used similar designs for three trains since.

The refurbishment of Docklands Light Railway trains has also been following similar principles.

January 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Do Escalators Attract Passengers?

 

These are passenger figures from 2016 in millions on the London Underground’s Victoria Line

  • Walthamstow Central – 22.77
  • Blackhorse Road – 8.45
  • Tottenham Hale – 13.21
  • Seven Sisters – 19.61
  • Finsbury Park – 32.74
  • Highbury & Islington – 20.22
  • Warren Street – 20.35
  • Pimlico – 11.49
  • Vauxhall – 32.23
  • Stockwell – 11.42
  • Brixton – 33.46

Note.

  1. I have left out the very busy stations which are major interchanges like Kings Cross St. Pancras, Euston, Oxford Circus, Green Park and Victoria.
  2. Perhaps the figures for Finsbury Park, Stockwell and Warren Street, should be divided by two, as these stations have two lines.
  3. Most stations have connections to National Rail services.

Brixton and Vauxhall only have indirect connections to National Rail, but they have a higher number of passengers compared to say Finsbury Park, Highbury & Islington and Walthamstow Central, which all have direct connections.

But these two stations have three escalators.

Seven Sisters seems to attract more passengers, than Tottenham Hale.

But then it is double-ended!

So does more escalators at a station increase the number of passengers using the station?

It is also worth looking at single line stations with no connection to National Rail stations on both sides of the Euston Rpad.

Again the figures are for 2016 in millions.

  • Angel – 20.10 – Three escalators
  • Archway – 9.94 – Escalators
  • Chalk Farm – 5.61 – Lifts
  • Covent Garden – 17,19 – Lifts
  • Euston Square – 14.40 – Stairs and a lift to one platform
  • Goodge Street – 8.46 – Lifts
  • Great Portland Street – 9.86 – Stairs
  • Mornington Crescent – 5.04 – Lifts
  • Regent’s Park 3.35 – Lifts
  • Russell Square – 12.36 – Lifts

Note.

  1. Angel and Archway have been rebuilt to replace lifts with escalators and they show higher usage.
  2. I’d love to have before and after figures for these two stations.

This is only a crude analysis, but I’m certain it shows that stations with escalators have higher passenger numbers.

It could also be, that London Transport, knew where the passengers would go and built stations they felt would be busy accordingly.

They certainly put a lot of escalators on the Northern extension of the Piccadilly Line.

These are 2016 for the stations.

  • Cockfosters – 2.04 – Stairs
  • Oakwood – 2.88 – Stairs and Lift
  • Southgate – 5.65 – Escalators
  • Arnos Grove – 4.65 – Stairs
  • Bounds Green – 6.62 – Escalators
  • Wood Green – 13.20 – Escalators
  • Turnpike Lane – 10.98 – Escalators
  • Manor House – 9.12 – Escalators

Note.

  1. I think it can be said, that this section of the Piccadilly Line did very well to get the access right.
  2. The catchment areas of the five Northernmost stations overlap and many travellers will use different stations depending on how they feel.
  3. Southgate attracts more passengers than the two adjoining stations.
  4. Wood Green and Turnpike Lane are the busiest stations as they connect to the shops at Wood Green and lots of buses.
  5. Only Cockfosters has car parking.

I think at the end of the line, the escalators draw passengers.

Escalators And The Disabled, Elderly, Buggy Pushers and Suitcase Draggers

There’s also no doubt, that a large proportion of the many passengers in these categories can handle an escalator, even if they have problems with stairs.

Conclusion

My crude data isn’t good enough to draw a firm conclusion, but I suspect Transport for London know the answer.

If escalators do attract passengers, surely transport operators should install more of them.

 

December 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

Plastic Bag Fee ‘To Double To 10p’ And Include Every Shop

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

This is the guts of the story.

The 5p fee for plastic carrier bags in England will be doubled to 10p, and extended to all shops, under plans set out by the environment secretary.

The change is contained in a government consultation aimed at further reducing the plastic used by consumers and could come into effect in January 2020.

Smaller retailers, who are exempt from the current levy, supply an estimated 3.6 billion single-use bags annually.

I’m all for this, if it cuts down the amount of plastic, that blows around the country, before ending up in the seas.

This is the bag I use.

Note.

  1. It folds up, so that it first into my man-bag.
  2. It easily holds two days of my food shopping.
  3. The handles re very comfortable, even when carrying eight bottles of beer.
  4. I’ve had it over a year now and it is finally showing the odd sign of wear.
  5. It is big enough to hold a copy of the Sunday Times without folding.

It did cost be five pounds from M & S, but how much have I saved on five pence bags?

It is not a perfect bag, but it is a good start.

Other things, in the same vein, that I’d like to see.

  • A charge on takeaway food, especially pizza boxes, which seem to end up in front of my house.
  • A fine for piling household and commercial waste around litter bins, which is very prevalent in this area, despite council camnpaigns to stop it.
  • Remove the foxes back to the countryside, so they don’t spread the rubbish all over the street.

As to the latter, foxes seem to have eaten most of the cats, hedgehogs and birds, so it is their only way to get food.

December 27, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Should Railways Have A Pop-Up Service Capability?

Most of us will be familiar with the concept of Pop-Up Retail.

This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry.

Pop-up retail, also known as pop-up store (pop-up shop in the UK, Australia and Ireland) or flash retailing, is a trend of opening short-term sales spaces that started in Los Angeles and now pop up all over the United States, Canada, China,Japan, Mexico, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia. The pop-up industry is now estimated to be a $50 billion industry. Pop-up retail has been an increasing factor during the retail apocalypse of the 2010s, including seasonal Halloween retailer Spirit Halloween, who has operated stores in vacant spaces during the season.
Chris Stokes in his column in the December 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, gives a summary of and praises Adrian Shooter’s Vivarail project and its Class 230 train.
He then says.
Two of the units are scheduled for export to the United States, to demonstrate for the potential for ‘pop-up’ commuter services; the cost of a one-year period are said to be equivalent to the consultancy costs for opening a new route. Should such an approach be considered in this country too? The gestation period for new services on freight-only routes is probably the best part of 10 years, but it doesn’t have to be like that.
So is Chris’s concept a viable proposition?
Examples In The UK
Chris then goes on to give an example of a successful pop-up station.
When floods swept away the road bridge at Workington in 2009; Network Rail and Northern constructed a pop-up station and introduced additional trains in less than two weeks.
Recently, Liverpool Lime Street station was partly-closed for rebuilding, so Network Rail extended Platform 4 at Liverpool South Parkway station, so that it could be used as a terminus for trains from London and the South.
The picture shows a Virgin Pendelino in the temporary platform.
Passengers could then transfer to Merseyrail to complete their journey to Liverpool City Centre.
Incidentally, I’d like to know how many passengers to and from Liverpool, found it more convenient to catch their London train from Liverpool South Parkway station. Perhaps, after Merseyrail has its new trains, many passengers would like to use Liverpool South Parkway for longer journeys?
Does anybody know of any other instances of pop-up stations like these in the UK?
What Is Needed To Create These Pop-Up Stations?
Various elements must be brought together to build a pop-up station.
Types Of Stations

I can envisage three types of simple stations.

  1. A one-platform station on a single-track line.
  2. A two-platform station on a double-track line.
  3. A one-platform station on a double-track line.

Note

  1. Type One, would be the simplest and would be worked bidirectionally.
  2. Type Two, would probably require a bridge across the tracks.
  3. Type Three, would need crossovers at both ends of the station, to allow the single platform to be worked bidirectionally.

Obviously, Type 1 would be the most affordable and probably easiest to install.

The Platforms
This picture shows the temporary extended platform at Liverpool South Parkway station.
Only, if you look to the left, do you realise, it is not a permanent structure.
The only problem was that at 150 metres in length, it was a long walk. But most pop-up stations would not be for eleven-coach Class 390 trains.
Scaffolding and prefabricated platforms, should be able to cope with most situations.
Station Buildings
The platform extension at Liverpool South Parkway station didn’t need any buildings, as it was added to an existing station.
But surely, Portakabin and their ilk can come up with something that would work for a couple of years, with perhaps a waiting room or shelter, a ticket machine and even toilets.
A Station Bridge
A proportion of two-platform stations will need a bridge, so that passengers can get from one platform to the other.
At the present time, where a temporary bridge is needed, Network Rail generally put up vast scaffolding structures, like this one at Forest Gate station, used during station reconstruction for Crossrail.
Passenger-friendly it is not!
What is needed is a well-designed temporary footbridge system, that can be lifted in place in sections from a train.
Some footbridge versions might even have lifts and could be installed as pop-up bridges at stations, which urgently need step-free access.
Perhaps, pop-up stations could use a version of Heatherwick Studio’s rolling bridge.
I shall add some pictures of the open bridge, when they fix it.
  • It would certainly bridge the gap between two platforms with a double-track railway in between.
  • In a rail application, the bridge would be interlocked with the signalling and controlled by the signaller.
  • Signals and lights could be added to the bridge  to ensure complete safety.
  • Wikipedia says the original at the Paddington Basin cost £500,000, which could probably be reduced if more were built.
  • This page on the Merchant Square web site, shows the bridge in action.
  • I suspect this bridge would work on single- or double-track lines, without electrification, or with third-rail or with overhead electrification.
  • At many stations it could just be dropped in place from a rail-mounted crane, after preparing the existing platforms.
  • I suspect though, that there would be a limit to the number of trains per hour it could handle.
One of Heatherwick’s bridges, would certainly help in telling the locals, that they have a new station or step-free bridge across the railway.
I wonder if Heatherwick Studio has been talking to Network Rail.
Signalling
The signalling might have to be modified to ensure safety.
When all trains were fitted with in-cab digital signalling, as is planned, then this would surely make pop-up stations and services easier to install.
Tracks
The installation would surely be designed to minimise work on the tracks.
Only the Type Three station would require more than minimal work to the tracks, but the station would only have one platform, which would not require a bridge.
Modern Trains And The Pop-Up Station
Chris Stokes talks about running new pop-up services on freight-only lines, but I believe that there will be calls to use pop-up stations to provide extra stops on existing services.
As an example, suppose that Greater Anglia wanted to assess the demand for a new Soham station. In a year or two, the company will be operating at least an hourly service along the line with their new Class 755 trains.
These trains are part of the new breed of modern trains, which will have the following.
  • The ability to execute a fast stop at a station.
  • Level access will be possible between train and platform.
  • On-board CCTV systems to ensure safe loading and unloading of passengers.
  • Modern in-cab digital signalling.

This will enable the trains to make a station stop without causing problems to the existing timetable.

So if Network Rail, had the ability to quickly install a pop-up station, modern trains would allow a service to be tested at a reasonable cost.

The Practicalities Of Installing A Pop-Up Station

Suppose a station were to be installed at Soham or any other suitable place.

I would expect Network Rail to produce standard designs for the foundations of their pop-up stations.

Network Rail periodically close a line to replace track or do various other work. When a line is closed for this work and a pop-up station might be needed on the route, the standard foundations would be installed.

Then, when the budget for the station had been obtained, the station would be installed and commissioned in a suitable possession.

Conclusion

I believe a pop-up station is a feasible proposition.

If a pop-up station is a feasible proposition, then it follows that to install perhaps five stations on a freight-only line to create a totally new passenger service is also a feasible proposition.

 

December 5, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Has The Possibility Been Created For A Pedestrian Tunnel Between Bank And Moorgate Stations?

This visualisation shows the Bank Station Upgrade at Bank station, which is now underway to sort out the station’s problems of capacity and poor step-free access.

This is the bottom-left corner of the visualisation.

Notice that there are two fat tunnels running top to Bottom across the visualisation, which are the Central Line tunnels, with the Eastbound on the left and the Westbound on the right.

There are also four tunnels running left to right across the visualisation.

The top two, which are sticking out to the left of the Eastbound Central Line tunnel, are the current Northern Line running tunnels

  • The top one is the Northbound tunnel going to Moorgate station.
  • The other one is the current Southbound tunnel, which under the plans for Bank station will be closed to trains and used to improve passenger access to the Northbound platform. If you go to the Northern Line platforms, there are tell-tale blue hoardings, indicating where better access will be created.

These pictures show the current state of the current Southbound tunnel.

It looks like at least three sections of the wall between the two platforms will be removed.

The third tunnel, which is shown pink in the visualisations is the connecting tunnel between the Central Line and the new entrance to the station on Cannon Street.

Note the following.

  1. It has a travelator.
  2. it connects to a lobby, where there are triple escalators to the Central Line.
  3. It appears to come to a stop under the Eastbound Central Line platform.

What lies at the Northern end of this tunnel?

The fourth tunnel, which is the new Southbound running tunnel for the Northern Line, has been helpfully drawn with a rail track inside.

This is the top-right corner of the visualisation.

Note.

  1. There are three cross passages between the two running tunnels, just as there appears to be three blue hoardings in the existing Southbound running tunnel.
  2. The Northbound running tunnel now has a wide platform, which has been built inside the existing Southbound tunnel.
  3. The new Southbound running tunnel will be built with a wide platform.
  4. There are three escalators leading to the new Cannon Street entrance.
  5. There are three escalators leading down to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) platforms

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the layout of lines at Bank station and between Bank and Moorgate stations.

Note.

  1. The Central Line is shown in red.
  2. The Northern Line is shown in black.
  3. The DLR is shown in turquoise.
  4. The two Northern Line tracks cross to the North of Bank station.
  5. The lines at Moorgate station are shown at the top of the map.
  6. Crossrail is shown in violet.

The new Southbound tunnel will be created to the West of the DLR platforms.

This article on IanVisits is entitled Behind The Scenes At London Underground’s Bank Tube Station upgrade.

I suggest you read the article and I feel, you will get the impression the Bank Station Upgrade is a very difficult project, that is being achieved in an innovative manner by the contractors.

In one section, the article describes how they are actually building the new Southbound tunnel, through the piled foundations of existing buildings.

A Travelator Between Bank and Moorgate  Stations

I now feel I can answer the question in the title of this post.

The Route

If the route started at the Northern end of the long connection tunnel with the travelator at Bank station, a route could probably be found on the West side of the Northern Line to break-in to the basement of the Crossrail station at Moorgate station.

This image shows a cross-section through the Moorgate Crossrail station.

Note that under the escalators leading down from the Moorgate Ticket Hall to Crossrail, are a pair of circles.

  • These are the Northern Line running tunnels.
  • A travelator tunnel would be at this level but perhaps twenty or more metres to the West (left in the cross-section).

With modern design and construction techniques, I would expect that a connection could be made.

The Length

I estimate that the travelator would be between three and four hundred metres long.

As there are longer travelators either built or in planning in the world, I suspect, the length wouldn’t be a problem.

By comparison, these are example travelators in London.

  • Jubilee to Northern/Bakerloo Lines at Waterloo – 140 metres.
  • Sloping travelators to Waterloo and City Line at Bank – 76 metres
  • Proposed Central to Northern Lines at Bank – 94 metres

A travelator between Bank and Moorgate stations would probably be, the longest in London.

Building The Tunnel

If you read the IanVisits article, it details how the new Northern Line and travelator tunnels at Bank station were excavated.

I suspect similar techniques could be used to build the new tunnel.

The biggest problem would be removing the tunnel spoil and I suspect that if the tunnel were to be built, when a building on the route needed to be replaced, this would make construction a lot easier.

Why The Tunnel Should Be Built

The main argument for building the tunnel is that it would connect Bank station directly to Crossrail.

Why The Tunnel May Not Be Needed

There are various reasons, why the travelator may not be needed.

Pedestrianisation

The City of London is in favour of pedestrianisation and has already disclosed plans to make Bishopsgate, which is one of the most important North-South arteries through the Square Mile, much more pedestrian friendly.

I would expect more initiatives like this to follow.

So many travellers will use their feet on the surface, between Crossrail and Bank, when the two stations are completed.

Improved Northern Line Connections

The connections to the Northern Line will be improved at both Moorgate and Bank stations, when Crossrail and the Bank Station Upgrade are completed.

So those travellers needing or wishing to do a one-stop transfer, will find it easy.

Connectivity between Crossrail And The Central Line

Crossrail and the Central Line have good connectivity.

  • Stratford – A cross-platform interchange.
  • Liverpool Street – A step-free connection
  • Tottenham Court Road – A step-free connection
  • Bond Street – A step-free connection
  • Ealing Broadway – A step-free connection.

If travellers need Bank and they are coming from either direction on Crossrail, they can change at a convenient station.

Given that Bank station will have a large number of step-free entrances after the Bank Station Upgrade is completed, I suspect many Crossrail passengers will transfer to the Central Line to avoid the walk from Moorgate or Liverpool Street stations.

Conclusion

It may be feasible to build a trevelator between Bank and Moorgate stations, but developments already in hand, may give the project a very bad financial case.

 

December 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Station Dwell Times On The London Overground

This afternoon, I had to go to Walthamstow for lunch, so on the way out, I checked how long it was between brakes on at James Street station and the Class 315 train was moving again.

The dwell time was a very respectable thirty seconds, which is probably more down to the driver and the signalling, than the nearly-forty-year-old train.

Coming back, I took the Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Gospel Oak station..

The driver gave a display of precision driving a Class 172 train, with the intermediate stops, all taking thirty seconds or less.

From Gospel Oak, I switched to the North London Line and took a Class 378 train to Canonbury station, from where I walked home.

The dwell times on this line were more variable, with two times at thirty seconds or less, two at nearly two minutes and the rest in-between.

From these small number of observations, it would appear that the minimum dwell time on the London Overground is thirty seconds.

Various factors will determine the actual dwell time.

  • Trains must not leave early, as passengers don’t like this.
  • Trains must not leave, before the driver has ascertained it is safe to do so.
  • If a train arrives early, then the dwell time might be lengthened, even if the train leaves on time.
  • Large numbers of passengers or a passenger in a wheelchair, who needs a ramp will lengthen the dwell time.

I should say that today, the trains were not full and there were plenty of empty seats.

Conclusions

If trains and drivers can handle thirty second dwell times, then everything else associated with a station stop, must be capable of the same fast response.

This thirty-second dwell time may have repercussions for rapid charging of battery/electric trains, that I wrote about in Charging A Battery-Powered Class 230 Train.

I think there are three options for charging a train at a station stop.

Plug the Train Into A Power Socket

Can you plug you mobile phone into the mains, give it a reasonable charge and then disconnect it and store all leads in thirty seconds?

Use a Pantograph To Connect To 25 KVAC Overhead Electrification

Even if a driver or automation is very fast at raising and lowering the pantograph, I don’t believe that in a total time of thirty seconds, enough electricity can be passed to the train.

This method might work well in longer stop at a terminal station, but it is unlikely, it could be used successfully at an intermediate stop.

Use 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification

750 VDC third-rail electrification has a very big advantage, in that, trains can connect and disconnect to the electrification automatically, without any driver intervention.

Look at this picture of a train going over a level-crossing.

The ends of the third-rails on either side or the crossing are sloped so that the contact shoes on the train can disconnect and connect smoothly.

As you have to design the system for a possible thirty-second stop and don’t have the time available for the first two options, I am fairly certain, that the only way a worthwhile amount of electricity can be transferred to the train’s battery, is to use some form of system based on tried-and-tested 750 VDC third rail electrification.

There may also be advantages in using a longer length of third-rail, so that the connection time is increased and more than one contact shoe can connect at the same time.

Automation would control the power to the third-rail, so that no live rail is exposed to passengers and staff.

After all a train on top, is a pretty comprehensive safety guard.

 

 

 

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October 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Bi-Mode Good, Tri-Mode Better

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Engineer.

It is an informative article about the creation of the Class 769 trains.

These are some points.

Class 150 Performance

Class 769 performance on diesel is likely to be as good as that of a Class 150 train, if not better.

When running on electric power, they will still be capable of 100 mph.

Extensive Route And Performance Modelling

Extensive computer modelling has been carried out to make sure the train performs.

Access To The Original Designers

It appears that they were able to call in some of the original designers and that at least some of the iriginal drawings were available.

An Extensive Project

The article quotes these figures on the resources used to design the conversion.

  • 60 engineers
  • 45,000 engineering hours
  • 2,500 drawings
  • 3,500 detailed components

I suspect that this could account for the late running of the project.

Approvals

There is a large section on approvals, which is well worth a read. It looks to me, that they are making sure, that these trains fit all regulations and not those that apply to upgrades and improvements.

Noise

They are also going for better noise than a Class 15x train, which must be a good thing.

Raiding The Class 150 Parts Bin

They obviously needed exhausts for the two diesel engines, so in true Colin Chapman fashion, they looked round for something that was readily available and would do the job.

As Class 319 and 150 trains share a lot of components like bogies, the exhausts for the converted trains are from a Class 150 train.

Maintenance Costs

The new trains will obviously cost more to maintain than a Class 319 train, but will probably be cheaper to run than a Class 150 train.

The Ultimate Class 769 train.

The article indicates what could be possible.

  • Air cooling
  • CCTV – both saloon and forward facing
  • At seat USB and power sockets
  • Ethernet backbone to support engine control and Wi-Fi
  • Interior and exterior rebranding
  • Guard’s door control panels.

Not a bad specification for a thirty-year-old train.

Orders

There may be more orders in the pipeline.

Conclusion

I think that these trains will do what they are intended to do in a reliable and quality manner.

Tailpiece – Class 455 Flex

The article finishes with a disclosure about what might happen to the Class 455 trains.

These have been extensively refurbished and have been retrofitted with three-phase AC traction systems incorporating regenerative braking. There would be space on the intermediate trailer coach for batteries that could be charged by the regenerated energy and by the diesel engines. Such a feature could have several benefits such as being able to stop the diesel engines in terminal stations and to supplement diesel engine power when accelerating.

Could this be a four-car efficient runabout for branch lines, as they are only 75 mph trains?

 

 

 

September 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Swiss-Style Wheelchair Ramp

I took this picture of a wheelchair ramp at Interlaken Ost station

At least I noticed several low-floor trains with gap fillers.

I think most of these pictures were taken of trains built by Swiss train manufacturer; Stadler.

I think that this is the way to go.

Stadler are using gap fillers on their Class 777 trains for Merseyrail. This is said in Wikipedia about the design of the trains.

The trains will also have platform gap fillers so wheelchair users will not have to use ramps to board the train.

Will there be step-free access on Greater Anglia’s Class 745 and Class 755 trains?

It’s obviously good for passengers, but what’s in it for train operators?

It’s all about making the dwell time in a station as short as possible.

September 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Greater Anglia Shows Off First Aventra Carriages

The title of this post, is the same as that on this article on Global Rail News.

This is said.

Greater Anglia said the trains’ underfloor heating and air conditioning units will do away with the need for heating vents and create more legroom for passengers.

It does appear that Bombardier are trying very hard to create a more efficient and extremely passenger-friendly train.

September 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Naming Of Swiss Trains

Unlike most countries, a high proportion of Swiss trains seemed to have names.

I like the idea, but there was no explanation on the trains, as to who these people are or were.

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment