The Anonymous Widower

Gibbs Report – More Station Shelters Should Be Installed

The Gibbs Report, says that more station shelters should be installed.

The Gibbs Report says this about shelters.

When the decisions were taken to lengthen most services to 12 cars, and the trains were ordered, one element of the overall system was missed: the provision of shelters at stations. It is noticeable how, on wet days, peak passengers board together from places of shelter, causing overcrowding at that point and sub threshold delays at numerous stations. Most stations, whether large or small, do not have shelter along the full length of the platform, or a canopy. Even Gatwick Airport, is an example of this: fine on the sunny daypicture, but inadequate in the rain.

So it looks like the lack of shelters is a cause of train delays.

Conclusion

I have just watched the updating of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, where several new shelters have been added.

I am very surprised GTR didn’t realise the importance of shelter for passengers.

July 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

An Architecture Firm Wants To Turn The London Underground’s Entire Circle Line Into A Three-Lane Travelator

The title of this post is the headline on an article in the Independent.

It is rather an old chestnut and I think it’s been suggested before and even tried out in at Montparnasse station in Paris in 2002.

One of the railway web sites pointed out that the Circle Line in London is also used by District, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Line trains, so it would be rather difficult to design.

But I do think we could do with a few more travelators, escalators and lifts in London.

And in some stations Crossrail and other projects will bring these sorts of improvements sooner rather than later.

The Massive Liverpool Street/Moorgate station for Crossrail

Crossrail will combine the two Underground stations of Liverpool Street and Moorgate.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the two stations.

Note how Crossrail, which is shown in a purpley blue, lies between the two stations, with the Northern Line at the West and the Central Line at the East.

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

Note how escalators lead down at both ends and you can effectively walk between the two stations with assistance from escalators at both ends..

Passengers arriving on Crossrail will be able to get out of the Eastern end of the platforms and access the following lines.

  • Central Line
  • Circle Line
  • Hammersmith and City Line
  • Liverpool Street National Rail services.
  • Metropolitan Line

At the Western end of the platforms, there is access to the following lines.

  • Circle Line
  • Hammersmith and City Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Moorgate National Rail services.
  • Northern Line

Both entrances will be very much within walking distance to a lot of the Northern parts of the City of London.

And all routes inside the complex will be step-free with lots of escalators and lifts.

Regularly, I travel on trains into and out of Liverpool Street station and I often get to and from the station  by walking between the two stations, as I get a bus to and from Moorgate,

When it is raining heavily as it used to in the past, I will be able to use the Crossrail platforms and two long escalators.

When Crossrail is open through this massive station, thousands or even millions  of passengers will change their journeys because of the numerous new routes that will be available.

Paddington

Paddington station will be very much improved interchange.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the station.

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

In the building of the Crossrail station, a tunnel with full step-free access is being dug under the concourse of the main line station to connect the Bakerloo Line to the Crossrail station. This article in Rail Technology Magazine which is entitled Contract awarded for £40m Bakerloo Line link, gives a lot more details on the tunnel and its building.

I do think that, the techniques used in the building of this tunnel will find applications in other places.

Tottenham Court Road

Tottenham Court Road station will become a double-ended station.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the station.

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

Note Centre Point at the Eastern end of the complex.

The Eastern end of the platforms will have access to the Central and Northern Lines and numerous entrances in front of Centre Point. Much of this work is now substantially complete.

The Western end of the platforms will have access to  a new entrance on Oxford Street, just North of Soho Square.

As Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road will have a lot more pedestrian access, travelling to the area will be transformed.

Bond Street

Bond Street station will become an enormous double-ended station.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the station and the nearby Oxford Circus station.

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

Note the football pitches, which give an idea of size.

Bond Street station will have an interchange at the Western end with the Central and Jubilee Lines, but it will mainly be a station with entrances all over the place.

I have a feeling that Bond Street will the station of choice for most shoppers going to and from the area in the future.

If you’re using Crossrail, just make sure that you get in the right end of the two hundred metre long trains.

Oxford Circus

No work is planned here at present, although I think the station will suffer collateral benefits from the following projects.

  • The new Eastern entrance to Bond Street station, which will be ideal for John Lewis.
  • The pedestrianisation in the area.
  • Works to improve the Bakerloo Line, prior to its extension to Lewisham.

Oxford Street station needs more passenger capacity and is scheduled to be rebuilt in the next ten years or so.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see that if a block anywhere close to Oxford Circus gets redeveloped, Transport for London will be investigating how to get much-needed lifts to the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines.

I have a feeling that we could see something special at Oxford Circus station.

I wouldn’t discount a travelator connection between Oxford Circus station and the Eastern entrance to Bond Street station.

Bank

After Crossrail, the biggest station project in London is Bank station.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the station.

This visualisation, shows what the new Bank station will look like.

Bank Tube Station Layout

The development is comprehensive.

  • Two new entrances at Walbrook and Cannon Street.
  • Full step-free access with lots of new lifts and escalators.
  • Two travelators running North-South through the station.
  • A new tunnel for the the Northern Line, with wider platforms.
  • Escalator connection between Central and Northern Lines.
  • Better connection to the Waterloo and City Line and the Docklands Light Railway.

Completion dates look like 2017 for the Walbrook entrance and 2021 for the completed Bank station.

In some ways Bank station can be considered a Crossrail station, that isn’t on Crossrail.

But it is on the route of one of Crossrail’s little helpers; the Central Line.

Travellers will do one of the following.

  • From the Eastern branch of Crossrail,, they will walk across the platform at Stratford station and get the Central Line for a few stops to Bank.
  • From the Western branch of Crossrail, they will change at Tottenham Court Road station and get the Central Line for a few stops to Bank.
  • From any of the three Crossrail branches, they could use the Central or Northern Lines from Liverpool Street/Moorgate for one stop.

I would walk!

I think that this development will have one of the largest effects of any non-Crossrail  transport-related project in London.

I also think that the expansion of Bank station sets a very good precedent.

Both the new Walbrook and Cannon Street entrances are being incorporated into new commercial developments in the area. I know land in the City of London is probably some of the most expensive in the World, but how many improved stations could incorporate housing, retail or commercial development, or perhaps even a hospital.

Victoria

Victoria station is undergoing a major upgrade.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the station.

Progress has been made with a new entrance on Victoria Street and better connections between the three Underground Lines.

In some ways the biggest triumph at Victoria has been the ability to keep the station working fully, whilst the work is continuing.

A Philosophy For Better Underground Stations

 Common threads goes through all of the Underground stations I’ve detailed.
  • A large number of passengers.
  • More than one line.
  • Development above the station.
  • Innovative tunnelling.
  • Keeping the stations open if possible.

It would also appear that generally the construction companies do a good job and must be accumulating a large amount of knowledge and experience.

So where will they be using their skills next?

A Few Suggestions follow.

One Line Step-Free Stations

This group aren’t Underground stations, in the true sense of the word, but are a collection of Overground, Crossrail and National Rail stations in London that are being updated to full step-free access.

Included are.

Note that Crossrail will mean that twenty-four suburban stations will receive full step-free access.

Network Rail publishes this page on their web site, which is entitled Access For All – A-Z of station improvements.

It gives at least a clue to Network ail’s plans for particular stations.

 

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Close Up To A Class 345 Train At Liverpool Street Station

These pictures of a Class 345 train, were taken in Liverpool Street station.

I also had a chat with a group of drivers.

  • The drivers find the trains well-built, quiet and fast.
  • One driver said they were effectively two half trains.
  • Drivers seemed enthusiastic or jealous depending if they’ve driven one.
  • Greater Anglia’s drivers were crawling all over the cab!
  • There is masses of space under the trains.
  • They are virtually silent as they move off!

The services start on Tuesday, the 23rd of May.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Shipley Station

Shipley station is one of the few triangular stations in the UK, as this Google Map shows.

As I passed through, I took these pictures.

It certainly, is a station, that needs more information and better sign[posting.

But mainly, it shows how building a station in a triangular junction is a complicated affair.

April 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Low Moor Station

I arrived at Low Moor station on a direct service from Kings Cross.

As with several other new stations, it has been fairly very well-constructed, but the design has a few failings.

There Are Not Enough Trains

I was at Low Moor station for an hour taking pictures. In that time several local services went throiugh, but then only one train per hour stops in each direction.

At least two and possibly four trains per hour, as at Halifax, should stop.

Passengers on a wet, cold day will soon get fed up with waiting an hour for another train.

Trains to and from Manchester Airport should also stop.

It Is A Very One-Sided Station

The car park and the main access to the station appear to be on the Bradford-bound side of the station.

Lea Bridge station, that I use regularly near where I live, was built like this and you have to leave extra time to catch a train, as you have to cross the tracks on the footbridge, to go in one direction.

However at Ilkeston station, which I wrote about in Ilkeston Station Opens, the station footbridge replaces one that existed before the station was built. Passengers arrive on top of the station and then descend to the appropriate platform. Or they can walk-in at ground level from the car-drop-off areas or car parking on either side of the tracks!

What makes it worse at Lea Bridge station, is that they could have designed the station to have walk-in access from the road bridge over the lines, as the station does not have ticket gates.

There Should Be Ticket Machines On Both Platforms

I didn’t see the ticket machine, when I arrived, but one is not enough.

Imagine, you are in a hurry and have booked on-line for the 07:01 Grand Central train to Kings Cross and need to retrieve a ticket.

Will you be able to park your car, retrieve the ticket and cross the line before the train comes, especially if there is a queue for the sole ticket machine?

Surely too, ticket machines on the platforms are less likely to be vandalised, as CCTV will be expected.

Why Is There No Direct Access Between The Car Park And The Bradford-Bound Platform?

Both Lea Bridge and Ilkeston stations allow walk-in access to the one or both platforms. Why isn’t there a short flight of steps between the car park and the Bradford-bound platform?

I hope it’s not different rules being applied by different councils? It has been allowed at Kirkstall Forge station.

There Should Be Drop-Off/Pick-Up Areas On Both Sides Of The Station

Obviously, this can’t be arranged at all platforms at all stations, but many stations manage it for at least one, with a step-free bridge across the tracks.

Low Moor station doesn’t score well in this.

Poor Access With Bicycles To The Platforms

Cyclists come in all shapes and sizes, but many will find the steps unacceptably steep and will not use this station.

Or put their muddy bikes in the lifts!

Conclusion

It is a well-built, but rather poorly designed station.

I don’t think, it will attract the number of passengers it should!

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

The Electrical System Of A Class 319 Flex Train

This press release from Porterbrook, which is entitled Porterbrook and Northern to introduce bi-mode Class 319 Flex trains, says this about the electrical system of the the Class 319 Flex train.

The Class 319 Flex concept is designed to create a bi-mode train by fitting two diesel powered alternators, one under each of the driving trailer cars. The diesel alternators provide power to the existing traction and auxiliary equipment to allow the EMU to operate without an overhead or 3rd rail supply. The systems will provide power through the train’s DC bus, avoiding any significant changes to the existing equipment and creating a unit capable of operating from a number of different power sources whilst maintaining its full capabilities on electrified routes.

As an electrical engineer, it looks to me, that British Rail’s original design of the dual-voltage Class 319 train with a DC bus has actually helped in creating an easy-to-design and build interface between the new diesel powered alternators and the train’s current systems.

I have seen an early copy of the brochure for the Class 319 Flex train and can add the following statements.

  • The train is powered by two MAN D2876 LUE631 diesel engines, which each generate 390kW of power. This page on the MAN web site shows MAN’s range of engines for rail applications. This page shows the data sheet for the engine.
  • The engines are Stage IIIB compliant with respect to emissions and use Selective Catalytic Reduction technology to achieve this.
  • The proposed alternator is from ABB. This page on the ABB web site, shows their wide range of alternators.
  • A new negative return bus line will be added throughout the unit to prevent return current flowing through the vehicles or rails.
  • The design uses a power-pack raft. This should ease maintenance and replacement.
  • Obviously various modules and controls are added to enhance the uses of the system and allow the driver to control the new systems.
  • Great care seems to have been taken that the Class 319 Flex train will perform well on third rail lines.

I do have a feeling that the direction of technology over the last few years has certainly helped to enable a better design.

  • The major components have probably got smaller and more reliable.
  • Control system technology has moved on substantially.
  • Adding batteries to the train should be relatively easy, given the DC bus and the large amounts of experience from hybrid road vehicles.
  • 3D CAD  systems must help in a space-critical installation.

Combined with all the statements about design and testing in the brochure, I have no reason to suspect that the train designers are doing anything other than a comprehensive and professional job. Their choice of engines and alternators is certainly picking some of the best available and the brochure states that long-lead components have already been ordered.

 

March 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

The No Frills Station

I’m always putting in the same picture of Zwickau Zentrum station on the Vogtlandbahn in Germany into posts, so I thought I should give the picture a post of its own.

Arrival At Zwickau Zentrum Tram/Train Stop

The station is one of the simplest I’ve ever seen and it has been designed very much like a tram stop.

  • There is no footbridge, as if travellers need to cross the line, they just walk round.
  • The access is as step-free as it gets in Germany.
  • The other side of the platform is a stop for Zwickau’s trams.
  • There is no electrification, which must improve safety.
  • The station could be made long enough for any train that might call.
  • The station has been landscaped into the local environment.

But we’re starting to see simple stations like this in the UK.

These pictures show Galashiels station on the recently opening Borders Railway.

Galashiels is an interesting solution, as there is a single-platform step-free railway station on one side of the road and a comprehensive bus interchange on the other with seats, cafes, shops and warm shelter.

Both Zwickau Zentrum and Galashiels are served exclusively by diesel trains and as electrification can be a hazard to some passengers and is expensive, I would feel that most stations like this, would be better served by trains that are self-powered.

We shall be seeing more simple station designs like these, as architects and designers get very innovative.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

No-Frills Mini Trains Offer Route To Reopening Lines That Beeching Shut

That long title appeared in The Times today above a picture of a stylish single-carriage lightweight train.

This page on the Warwick University web site is entitled Revolution Very Light Rail Project, describes the project on which the Times article is based.

This is said.

The main objective of the project is to reduce the weight and cost of a railcar by half in order to facilitate low cost connectivity of suburban and rural areas. The Radical Train will demonstrate unique self-powered bogies (with integral hybrid propulsion and kinetic energy recovery system) combined with a modular, lightweight body-shell utilising advanced materials. WMG will be transferring expertise in lightweighting technology from the automotive sector into this project. Automotive lightweighting solutions are already employing advanced materials including ultra-high strength steels and fibre-reinforced polymer composites.

Other points from The Times include.

  • 18m. long, but could be 12m. or 9m.
  • 3.8 litre Cummins diesel hybrid engines. Routemaster buses have 4.5 litre Cummins engines
  • Speed of up to 70 mph.
  • Lithium-titanate battery similar to a Routemaster bus.
  • Target price of £500,000

The Times also says that the prototype could be running in 18 months.

So how feasible is what the article says?

The Short Branch Or Connecting Line

The most obvious application is the short branch or connecting line, which is worked by either a single train or perhaps a small number of small trains.

On their web site, Warwick University have an image of the train at St. Erth station, ready to depart on the St. Ives Branch. I wrote about this branch in St. Erth Station And The St. Ives Branch.

St. Erth Station

You have to admire the group in picking a station of character for their web site.

But it would also make a good test site for the train.

  • St. Erth station has two platforms.
  • The line is single track throughout.
  • There is a two trains per hour (tph) service run by a single Class 150 train.
  • The route has a high level of baggage.
  • The Class 150 train takes 14-15 minutes for each journey.
  • A well-designed modern train could save a few minutes.

But above all Cornwall has better weather than many places.

This line probably gets very busy in the Summer and I also suspect that Great Western Railway would like to run four tph on the branch.

They could probably do this with a passing loop around halfway and two trains with a better station calling performance than the Class 150 train. ERTMS, which would probably be fitted to the trains, would ease the problems of signalling on the line.

There are several branch lines in the UK, which are currently run by a single train and perhaps 1-2 tph, that could benefit with a 4 tph service, which these trains could provide.

In A Look At New Station Projects and also in The Times article, there are some branch line projects that may be suitable.

Most of these lines are reopened lines that were closed in the Beeching era.

Are The Trains Big Enough?

At eighteen metres long, I reckon that the capacity of a single unit is slightly less than a twenty-three metre long Class 153 train. An estimate gives somewhere between 50-55 passengers.

But pictures in The Times and on the Warwick University web site show a standard railway coupling, which can be used for the following.

  • Creating longer trains of two or more units working together.
  • Allowing one train to rescue another.
  • Allowing a train to be rescued by a compatible train.

So it would seem that creation of a train with a capacity of around 100 passengers by linking two units together is probably in the specification.

Working With Other Trains

The Times article says that the lightweight design means they can probably only run on captive lines with no other heavy trains.

But it also says that this will change with ultra-safe digital signalling, that enforced separation between trains.

By the time, these trains enter service, ERTMS will have been proven to be safe on UK railways.

I also suspect that the trains will use the most modern automotive industry structures. Pacers they are not!

The Longer Distance Service

A typical longer distance service would be one shown in The Times, which is to run a service between Newcastle station and a new Ashington station in the North East.

  • Most if not all of the track is intact.
  • Stations would need to be rebuilt or built from scratch.
  • To work the desired frequency of two tph would probably need two units.
  • Digital signalling would be needed, as there are freight trains on the same lines.

More details of the route are given on the South East Northumberland Rail User Group web site.

Running Under The Zwickau Model Into A Town Centre

These trains could almost have been designed to run as trams, as the diesel multiple units of the Vogtlansbahn do in Zwickau town centre.

Arrival At Zwickau Zentrum Tram/Train Stop

The picture shows one of the trains at the terminus of Zwickau Zentrum, after arriving at the town centre terminus from the Hauptbahnhof over a tram-style track under tram tram-style rules.

  • Note the tram-style infrastucture with a simple stop and track laid into the roadway.
  • The driver has large windows to keep a good look-out.
  • Horns and other warning devices are fitted.
  • Note the orange warning lights.
  • The train travels at a slow safe speed.
  • The stations or are they stops have no footbridges. Pedestrians and cyclists can cross the track, as they need.

I think that Warwick’s vehicles could travel like this to provide route extensions into a city or town centre of perhaps to an attraction like a theme park.

Have track! Will travel!

Conclusion

I think that Warwick have come up with a fresh design, that shows a lot of innovation and flexibility.

Not only is it affordable to build, but also probably can work with lower-cost infrastructure.

I look forward to seeing the prototype in action.

 

 

 

February 11, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

Incident At Dalston Kingsland Station

This article in the Hackney Gazette is entitled Dalston Kingsland: Four in hospital after sparks and smoke cause stampede off train.

As the problem was sorted by the London Fire Brigade using a bucket of sand to extinguish a fire in the battery pack of a workman’s drill, it doesn’t appear to have been very serious.

The injuries seem to have been caused by panic, as passengers tried to get away fro the problem.

I know Dalston Kingsland station well and although the entrance, ticket hall and gateline has been updated, the stairs are not the best.

So did everybody try to get out of the station on these stairs and it was this that caused the injuries?

I think there are questions that have to be asked about the design of the station and its operating procedures.

If you look at the passenger numbers for 2015-16 on the North London Line, you get the following.

  • Canonbury – 2.86million
  • Dalston Kingsland – 5.93million
  • Hackney Central – 5.98million
  • Homerton – 4.65 million
  • Hackney Wick – 2.10million

So the station has a fairly high usage.

At the moment, the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is closed, so is the station getting more passengers, who need to get across London?

It looks to me, that the incident could have been a lot worse.

Luckily it wasn’t, but I do believe that something must be done to improve the stairs at Dalston Kingland station.

 

February 9, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Will Passengers Step Up Into Scotland’s New Trains?

Obviously, I’ve not seen a new Class 385 train in the metal yet, but I despair at this picture.

class-385

As I wrote in A Design Crime – Class 395 Train Platform Interface, which is about another Hitachi product; the Class 395 train, it appears that the train-platform interface is no better.

It could be that the train was not in one of the platforms that it will actually serve, but if the Overground and its Class 378 trains were able to get it substantially right in 2010, then surely new trains and a rebuilt railway should be tip-top.

January 30, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment