The Anonymous Widower

Another Problem For The Boeing 737 MAX 8?

This article on the BBC is entitled Russia Bird Strike: Plane Crash-Lands After Hitting Gulls.

The aircraft involved in the accident was an Airbus A321-211, which was flying Ural Airlines Flight 178.

This model of Airbus 311 has CFM56 engines.

So what has that got to do with the Boeing 737 MAX 8?

|Especially as the Boeing aircraft is powered by the successor to the CFM56, the LEAP engine.

This engine is also offered on the latest baby Airbus; the A320neo.

As the Ural Airlines crash was the second bird strike that brought down a baby Airbus after US Airways Flight 1549, I wouldn’t be surprised to see see  certification authorities, making sure that this type of aircraft can land safely a double engine failure., providing the plane has enough height.

Airbus seems to have proven, that good airmanship can handle an Airbus A320, when it is flying as a glider.

Given the questioned  nature of the design of the computerised controls in a Boeing 737 MAX, the authorities might take a lot of convincing, that these aircraft can be handled safely in similar circumstances.

I think it should also be born in mind, that although the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549i; Chesley Sullenberger was very experienced, the two Russian pilots were much less so, but were still able to carry out a successful emergency landing without any fire and only comparatively minor injuries to those on board.

If you think I’m being alarmist about bird strikes, read the Wikipedia entry for bird strike.

This is a paragraph.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reported 65,139 bird strikes for 2011–14, and the Federal Aviation Authority counted 177,269 wildlife strike reports on civil aircraft between 1990 and 2015, growing 38% in 7 years from 2009 to 2015. Birds accounted for 97%.

We must not get complacent!

I hope that ICAO, the FAA and other authorities are collecting the data on bird strikes in a comprehensive manner and thoroughly analysing it, so that airports with serious problems are identified, so that they can improve their countermeasures.

 

 

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Airliners Built To Take Lightning Strikes – Like The One That Hit A Plane On Sunday

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on stuff.co.nz.

The article was written over a year ago and doesn’t refer to the Moscow crash on Sunday, but an incident in New Zealand.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Passengers on a Sunday flight to Wellington “screamed” when lightning hit their plane, but lightning strikes on aircraft are not unusual and airliners are built to take it.

It is many years since a lightning strike was implicated in a deadly crash by an airliner, and lessons learned in the past have been incorporated into the design of modern planes.

The article should reassure those who worry about flying when there are thunderstorms around.

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

Who’ll Want To Fly In A Sukhoi Superjet?

I have just read the Wikipedia entry for the Sukhoi Superjet

After reading the sad tale of the jet that crashed in flames in Moscow on Sunday, I have been telling my friends and family, that flying in these aircraft is not a prudent thing to do.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Boeing 737: Much More Than Just The Max

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

It is a serious history, that explains how Boeing ended up in their current position.

I will still take a lot of persuading to fly in one!

The Sunday Times today has an article which is entitled Boeing Biggest Worry: Who’ll Want To Fly In A 737 Max?

Enough said!

I can see Internet designers putting together easy-to-use web sites to help passengers avoid aircraft they don’t like. There are some now, but they are rather clunky and you need to be fairly tech-savvy.

May 5, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Steps At Dalston Junction Station

Dalston Junction is a four-platform station and these are the only stairs at the station.

I think the design is excellent.

  • They serve all four platforms, so you can’t go the wrong way!
  • They are very wide, so have a high capacity.
  • There are effectively four handrails for those like me, who want or need to hold on.
  • Fit travellers who can lift their case, can use the stairs.
  • There is a landing half-way up.
  • The stairs are well-lit.
  • in 2017-2018, the stairs handled nearly six million passengers.
  • The small number of interchange passengers don’t need to use the stairs and walk between platforms on the level.
  • The steps are Transport for London’s typical low-slip design.
  • At the bottom of the staircase, there is a wide landing area with two train information displays and a 20-30 metre walks to the four platforms.
  • At the top of the staircase there is a wide lobby, with the wide gate-line in front of passengers coming up the stairs.
  • There is usually, a member of the station staff watching the passenger flows and answering any questions.

But above all there is a single lift about ten-twenty metres from the stairs, so avoiding the stairs is easy and obvious.

I have seen few stairs in stations as well-designed as these.

A few more general observations.

Wide Stairs With A Double Rail In the Middle

This design of stairs is being increasingly seen in London and around Europe.

In Stairs And A Lift At Cannon Street Station, I show a similar installation.

But there are loads like this monstrosity at Bethnal Green station in Before Overground – Stairs Not Fit For Purpose.

How many stations could be improved by widening the staircase?

Probably quite a few, but many staircases are constrained within solid walls.

Handrails

Transport for London generally use round and easy-to-grip handrails.

These are the best I’ve seen, which are on the Amsterdam Metro.

Some on British Rail-era stations are big and square and must be difficult for those with small or frail hands.

An Obvious Lift

At Dalston Junction, the lift is obvious as you approach the stairs.

But in some stations, the lifts are at the other end of the platform.

The Greenford Solution

These pictures show the solution at Greenford station.

Note.

  1. There is an up-escalator.
  2. A staircase,which is as wide as possible.
  3. There are three handrails with a low rail for those who prefer it.
  4. There is an inclined lift, which saves space.

I think we’ll see more step-free installations of this style.

Safety

I won’t comment on safety, as I don’t want to bring bad luck to the installations.

Conclusion

All those designing staircases and lift systems for stations, should be made to visit Dalston Junction and Greenford stations in the Peak.

April 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Automatic Door Opening On Thameslink

This morning I used Thameslink between City Thameslink and London Bridge stations.

On the three stations on this short route, the doors opened automatically, without passengers having to push any buttons.

This is normal London Underground practice and will it be used on the tunnel stations on Crossrail.

But it struck me, as I got on the train at City Thameslink station, where there is a large gap for passengers to fall into, that automatic opening may well be safer, as passengers don’t have to lean across.

April 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Good Design On The Amsterdam Metro

Sometimes, it’s good design that catches my eye as I roam around.

These pictures are from the Amsterdam Metro.

Most of the escalators I saw in The Netherlands had traffic lights and I like that. Stations in the UK don’t seem to have a policy about which side is up or down. Some shops also deliberately make their escalatoprs complicated, so you take a detour round the shop.

I would like to see a law, that all escalators (and ticket gates) had much better lights to show their direction of operation.

The wooden handrail must be the only one I’ve seen in a new station or building. Transport for London repairs old ones, but doesn’t seem to install new ones.

March 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dalston Kingsland Station Problem

One of my local stations on the North London Line is Dalston Kingsland station.

Unlike Hampstead Heath station and the three neighbouring stations of Canonbury, Dalston Junction and Hackney Central, there are no lifts at Dalston Kingsland station and the stairs are narrower without a central rail.

Looking at the passenger traffic at the stations  I have mentioned, gives the following numbers for 2017-18 in millions.

  • Canonbury – 3.0
  • Dalston Junction – 5.7
  • Dalston Kingsland – 5.5
  • Hackney Central – 4.3
  • Hampstead Heath – 3.3

Dalston Kingsland serves almost as many passengers as does the nearby Dalston Junction, but it is a very inferior station.

  • Recently,  a high capacity wide gate-line has been installed.
  • When trains call at the station, it is difficult to get to the platforms, unless you wait until arriving passengers have come up the stairs.
  • There are no lifts.
  • More housing is being built around Dalston Kingsland station.
  • In December 2018, the train frequency through Dalston Kingsland was raised to eight from six trains per hour (tph).

Is Dalston Kingsland station an accident waiting to happen?

Various plans and other improvements will effect the passenger traffic through Dalston Kingsland station.

More Trains Through Dalston Kingsland Station

In Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, I calculated that running the current combined eight tph service between Stratford and Clapham Junction/Richmond needs twenty trains.

  • Increasing this service from four tph to five trains per hour to both Western termini, would increase the frequency between Stratford and Willesden Junction to ten tph.
  • It would also require twenty-five trains to run the service.
  • London Overground has six five-car Class 710 trains on order, that will be used to improve the service on the North and West London Lines.

This would leave a spare train to cover failures and maintenance.

So it would appear that Dalston Kingsland station could get a train every six minutes in both directions.

Passengers would appreciate this, but what about the freight operators, that use the line?

Will a twenty-five percent increase in train capacity result in a similar increase in passengers using the stairs at the station?

The Effect Of London Overground Syndrome

In London Overground Syndrome, I described the syndrome like this.

This benign disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital, despite various eradication programs.

The North London Line through Dalston Kingsland station seems to have a particularly strong form.of the syndrome.

In December 2018, the frequency through the station was increased by thirty-three percent, but overcrowding in the Peak seems not to have reduced.

Could it be that because the line offers a more pleasant and easier connection between Stratford, Highbury & Islington, Camden, Hampstead, Willesden, Clapham Junction, Acton and Richmond, that any increase in capacity is welcomed and passengers transfer from a more crowded Underground?

There will be more Ducking and Diving!

Crossrail Effects

I suspect only educated guesses can be made, as to what effects Crossrail will have on Dalston Kingsland station.

Judging by the number of passengers, who get on and off Overground trains at Highbury & Islington station, a lot of passengers use the North London and Victoria Lines for commuting and other journeys.

Crossrail, with its connection to the North London Line at Stratford and eventually at Old Oak Common will take passengers from the North London Line and the various connections between the two lines, will further even out passenger traffic.

If it does, it will be Londoners Ducking-and Diving again!

Avoiding Dalston Kingsland Station

I think that some groups of passengers will avoid Dalston Kingsland station.

  • Like me, some travellers have a choice of station.
  • Passengers walking between the two Dalston stations, may choose to use the shorter step-free interchange at Canonbury.
  • As the frequencies on the Overground increases, passengers may find that a less obvious route is better for them.
  • I suspect some savvy passengers take a train from West Croydon at Dalston Junction station and then cross the platform at Highbury & Islington station.

It’s classic animal behaviour to avoid problems and go by a better way.

Northern City Line Effects

The Northerrn City Line between Highbury & Islington and Moorgate stations could have an effect on passenger numbers at Dalston Kingsland station.

In a couple of years, the line will be much improved.

  • Services will be running seven days a week.
  • Elderly Class 313 traiins will have been replaced by new Class 717 trains.
  • There will be a step-free connection to Crossrail at Moorgate station.
  • Frequencies will be significantly increased.

Overall, there will be a new high-capacity line running North-South within walking distance or a couple of bus stops of the two Dalston stations.

I have already started to use the line more, by catching a bus to Essex Road station for a train to Moorgate station. It’s quicker in the morning Peak.

HS2 Effects

I remember using the North London Line in the 1970s, between Broad Street and Willesden stations. It was terrible. But now, when High Speed Two opens in 2026, London’s Mucky Duck which has grown into a swan, will speed you to Old Oak Common station for your journey to the North.

Because many of these travellers will have heavy bags with them, all stations on the North London Line must be made step-free.

Highbury & Islington Station Improvements

Highbury & Islington station was rebuilt for the Victoria Line in the 1960s, when costs were much more important than passenger convenience.

The area outside the station is being sorted, but the plans are starting to be developed to create better and step-free access to the deep level platforms.

A much improved Highbury & Islington station would create a lot of easier routes from both Dalston stations.

Essex Road Station Improvements

Essex Road station has lifts, but is not step-free as the lifts go to well below the platforms, to which the final connection is a long set of steps.

The station sits on what must be a valuable site in Islington, which would be ripe for redevelopment.

Redevelopment of this station will happen and it will make things a lot better for me, as it is within my walking range or a short bus ride.

Bus Improvements

When I moved to Dalston in 2010, there was a good bus service to Highbury & Islington station along the Balls Pond Road.

But now, a South London Mayor has cut this, because I suspect we can use the Overground.

But this assumes that Dalston Kingsland station is has quality access. Which of course it doesn’t!

The buses must be improved along the Balls Pond Road.

Six-Car Trains Through Dalston Kingsland Station

I’ve deliberately left this to last, as it is the biggest and most difficult.

There are two routes through Dalston Kingland station.

  • Four tph on that use the West London Line to go to Clapham Junction station.
  • Four tph on that use the North London Line to go to Richmond station.

One or both of these routes might be possible to be run by six-car trains using selective door opening on the short platforms.

Lengthening the new Class 710 trains will not be a problem, as a few extra coaches would be ordered.

On the other hand lengthening the existing Class 378 trains may be more problematical, as they are out of production. I suppose that two five-car trains could be converted into a six-car and a four-car.

Six-car operation would surely add twenty percent to the passengers going through the station.

The Future Of Dalston Kingsland Station

The extra trains and capacity through Dalston Kingsland station will increase the pressure on the inadequate access at the station.

But some of the other improvements will divert passengers from the station and take the pressure off.

I suspect that Transport for London are hoping this will be sufficient action to keep the station functioning at a comfortable level, until it is rebuilt for Crossrail 2.

But that is a tough ask and could contain a lot of wishful thinking.

Conclusion

Dalston Kingsland station needs lift and wider and safer stairs in the near future.

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

Improving Safety On Stations

Some of London’s stations have stairs down to the platforms as this picture taken at Hampstead Heath station on the North London Line shows.

Hampstead Heath is a fully-rebuilt station.

  • Each platform has a set of stairs and a lift.
  • The stairs are also divided into two by a central double handrail.

Transport for London have posters everywhere, that say that passengers shouldn’t rush and to hold the handrail.

But accidents do happen, as I witnessed a few days ago at Manor House station.

So would it be safer, if at the top of the stairs, there was a display showing how long it was to the next couple of trains?

It might just encourage people to slow down, if they knew they had eight minutes before the next train, or it wasn’t for their destination.

 

 

 

 

March 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Two Platform Stations With 125 mph Trains

Increasingly, we are seeing stations in the UK, where there is only two platforms and trains pass through the station without stopping at 125 mph.

If HS4Air is built, there will be several stations between Gatwick Airport and Ashford, where this will happen.

I must admit, that I don’t like being on a platform, where trains past through, so perhaps it is a personal thing.

With me it’s not just 125 mph trains, but freight trains as well.

But for reasons of safety, I think we could come up with a better design of station.

I shall use Penshurst station on the Redhill to Tonbridge Line as an example.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note that it is very simple with a platform on each line.

Currently, it gets a single train per hour (tph) in both directions.

HS4Air would probably mean that at least another four tph, passed through the station at 125 mph.

Platform-edge doors would be a difficult and expensive solution, but why not make access to the platform only possible, when a train is stopping?

Looking at Penshurst station, this station also needs some more facilities, like a fully accessible footbridge.

The footbridge would be outside the secure area.

For slower passing trains and heavy freight trains, the use of wide platforms and rear access will suffice as these pictures from Hackney Wick station show.

If more stations were built to the rules used at Hackney Wick, the UK’s railways would probably be safer.

August 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments