The Anonymous Widower

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 | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

How Removing Level Crossings Can Get Complicated And Expensive

This article in the East Anglian Daily Times is entitled Multi-Million Pound Lift Could Boost Rail Link From Sudbury To Colchester.

Greater Anglia intend to improve the service on the Gainsborough Line by running direct services between Sudbury and Colchester Town stations.

One of the reasons for doing this, is that the increasing number of passengers travelling between Sudbury and Colchester will avoid changing trains at Marks Tey station.

This Google Map shows Marks Tey station.

Note.

  • The two platforms on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • The single platform for the Gainsborough Line.
  • The footbridge over the main line.

As can be seen, the only step-free interchange with the Gainsborough Line is to and from trains going North to Colchester and Ipswich.

These pictures show the frootbridge and the Gainsborough Line platform.

It is not an ideal interchange for passengers other than the unencumbered, fit and healthy.

I suspect some passengers from Sudbury to London might even take a train to Colchester first and then use the lifts to change to a London train.

And then there’s the Car Parking!

Note in the Google Map, that the station has two car parks, one on each side of the line. So most using the car parks will have to cross the line on the footbridge.

Also note, that the car park on the Northern side of the station, is connected to the station using a pedestrian crossing over the single track rail line, that connects the Gainsborough Line to the Great Eastern Main Line.

According to the East Anglian article, this rail line is used twice a day. But when the Sudbury to Colchester Town service starts, it will be used twice an hour. Anf if this service is successful, I can see Greater Anglia wanting to run the service with a frequency of two trains per hour (tph), which would mean four tph going over the pedestrian crossing.

Understandably, Network Rail want to remove the pedestrian crossing.

This is a paragraph from the East Anglian article.

The national fund has £300m available – and Mr Burles said he estimated that the cost of the work at Marks Tey would be between £4m and £5m. It is at the top of Greater Anglia’s “wish list,” but political support would be necessary if the money was to be released.

As to the political support, the Gainsborough Line and Marks Tey are in a total of five constituencies; all of which are Conservative.

I suspect, Chris Grayling could be under severe pressure from this one.

Although you have to remember that to many civil servants in the Department of Transport, Suffolk is just an area, you pass through on the way to your weekend cottage in Norfolk.

 

 

August 16, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Northumberland Park Station – June 12th 2018

The new Northumberland Park station is coming on and has allowed the temporary footbridge to go somewhere else!

The level crossing will not be reinstated and I was wondering how pedestrians and others will cross the railway. There is still an old bridge on the other side to the station, but it doesn’t look to be in the best condition.

I then saw the two staircases in the new station.

So will there be two separate routes across the railway in one bridge?

This image from Network Rail, shows the station from the Eastern side.

There appears to be the following.

  • Two bridge sections, with the one on the far side connected to the low station buildings.
  • Two sets of stairs and a lift giving access from the bridge to the current Platform 1 and new platform behind it, that will become an island platform.
  • Two tracks this side of the island platform.
  • With the two tracks on the other side of the island platform, this means the station will be ready for four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line.
  • A set of steps leading down from the near rend of the footbridge, this side of the extra tracks.

I have wondered for some time, when the West Anglia main Line is four-tracked and/or Crossrail 2 is built, which pair of tracks will be the fast lines.

In the interim it is obvious, that the third rack, which will run between  Meridian Water and Lea #bridge stations, will run on the near side of the island platform.

My only question is will it only handle trains towards Stratford or will the line be bi-directional?

But when the line is fully four-tracked, I think that the lines from West to East will be as follows.

  • Northbound Slow (Current Platform 2) – Local trains and Crossrail 2
  • Southbound Slow (Current Platform 1) – Local trains and Crossrail 2
  • Northbound Fast – Stansted and Cambridge services
  • Southbound Fast – Stansted and Cambridge services

I have put the slow lines on the West, as these are the platforms with the best access and few if any, fast services will stop in the station.

Crossrail 2 could of course change everything.

But I suspect that Northumberland Park station is being rebuilt, so that it will work with the most likely arrangement of tracks.

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Train Depot In Taffs Well, While Newport Factory Named As Preferred Bidder For New Diesel Trains

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

The interesting part is the holistic thinking, where a new depot is to be built at Taff’s Well, where the station is also to be modernised, with the addition of a Park-and-Ride.

Taff’s Well station is a very outdated affair, as these pictures show.

Note.

  1. The station could certainly do with a new step-free bridge.
  2. The train frequency is also being raised from six to twelve trains per hour (tph)
  3. Six tph will go to The Flourish.
  4. There will also be a new two tph service on the City Line.
  5. All trains will be new Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles.

That Park-and-Ride will certainly be needed.

As Taff’s Well station will be at the heart of the tram-train network, it is most certainly a good place for the depot.

The article also says that enhanced stabling facilities will be built at Treherbert and Rhymney stations.

Enhancements At Rhymney

Rhymney station is the terminal of the Rhymney Line.

 

These are my pictures of the station.

This Google Map gives an aerial view.

In addition to the enhanced stabling, the station will also be upgraded to accommodate more and longer Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts.

There’s certainly a lot of space for the stabling.

Enhancements at Treherbert

Treherbert station is the terminal of the Rhondda Line.

I took these pictures of the station in 2014.

This Google Map shows an gives view.

There certainly would appear to be space for the enhanced stabling.

 

 

 

 

June 11, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Reason Why The UK Is Fertile Territory For Tram Trains

The UK has several modern tram systems. If you look at the cross section of trams you get the following figures.

I wonder why Nottingham is twenty-five centimetres narrower!

If you look at the Class 399 tram-train, it has a width of 2.65 metres and a height of 3.67 metres.

So no wonder, there has been no problems with Class 399 tram-trains running on the Sheffield Supertram as trams!

Various trains that run local rail networks include.

  • Class 142 – Width 2..8 metres – Height 3.86 metres
  • Class 150 – Width 2.8 metres – Height 3.8 metres
  • Class 222 – Width 2.73 metres
  • Class 319 – Width 2.82 metres – Height – 3.58 metres
  • Class 345 – Width 2.78 metres – Height N/A
  • Class 378 – Width 2.80 metres – Height 3.78 metres
  • Class 700 – Width 2.80 metres – Height N/A
  • Class 769 – Width 2.82 metres – Height 3.58 metres
  • Mark 4 Coach – Width 2.73 metres – Height 2.79 metres

These are some figures from German trains.

  • DBAG 641 – Width 2.90 metres – Height 3.7 metres
  • BD Class 420 – With 3.08 metres
  • ICE 3 – Width 2.95 metres – Height 3.89 metres

I’ll look at various issues.

Tram And Train Height

I think this is not a big issue.

If a tram or electric train can run on a particular track, then there should be no height problems running a tram-train over the route, providing overhead wires can be erected.

UK Tram And Train Width

It would appear that the maximum width of UK trains is 2.82 metres. In some stations, where there is only one class of train, level access is possible.

The picture shows a Class 378 train on the London Overground.

This is not one of the best I’ve seen, but there is no reason, why someone in a wheelchair shouldn’t be able to wheel themselves into every train at every station.

This is in the train operating company’s interest, as one of the things that delays trains, is getting someone in a wheelchair on and off the train with a portable ramp.

If we take the UK train width of 2.82 metres and compare that to the width of a Class 399 tram-train, which is 2.65 metres, that means that there is seventeen  centimetres difference or eight and a half centimetres on each side of the train.

If the platform can be arranged to be level, that is not a large gap. It’s probably about the same size as this gap in this picture.

Shown is a Class 399 tram-train at a tram stop on the Sheffield Supertram.

Continental Tram And Train Width

But on the Continent, where the trains are wider and the loading gauge is bigger, the gap will be larger.

Trains on the Continent also often have a significant step up as this picture shows.

Shown is an Italian High Speed train.

If the EU wanted to improve train travel for the disabled, those in wheelchairs, those with buggies and the elderly, they should make it compulsory for all trains to have level access from the platform.

It’s very rare to find level access on the Continent and not that easy in parts of the UK.

Gap Fillers

But things are getting better, as this picture shows.

Shown is a Stadler Flirt with a rather nifty automatic gap filler.

Merseyrail’s New Class 777 Trains

Gap fillers will be fitted to Merseyrail‘s new Class 777 trains, which are being built by Stadler.

The Class 777 trains and the current Class 507 trains have the same width of 2.82 metres, but the new Stadler trains have an eighteen centimetre lower floor.

The picture shows a Class 507 train at one of Liverpool’s underground stations.

Eighteen centimetres wouldn’t be far away from the height of the step in the picture.

The design must also allow both classes of trains to be in service at the same time, to ease introduction of the new Class 777 trains.

Talk about Swiss precision!

South Wales Metro

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

For services around Cardiff and on the Cardiff Valley Lines, KeolisAmey Wales intend to acquire the following fleet.

  • 11 – four-car Stadler Flirt DEMU
  • 7 – three-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 17 – four-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 36 – three-car Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

Note.

  1. The Stadler Flirts look very similar to Greater Anglia‘s Class 755 trains, that by the time of delivery of these trains for Wales, will have proven themselves on the mountains of East Anglia.
  2. The tri-mode multiple units will be able to run on electric, diesel or battery power.
  3. The Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles look very similar to Sheffield Supertram‘s Class 399 tram-trains, that are providing a tram service in Sheffield and will soon be running on the rail network to Rotherham.
  4. It is an all-Stadler fleet.

This is a clip from the KeolisAmey document.

This looks like a visualisation of one of the Flirts, as the Citylink tram-trains have flat sides.

I will be very surprised if Stadler don’t provide the Cardiff area, with one of the best step-free networks in the world.

Conclusion

The UK’s standard tram width of 2.65 metres and our small loading gauge must make it easier to design tram-train systems for the UK.

 

 

 

 

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June 6, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disability Issues At Novara Station

Novara is a town about the size of Ipswich and the station is well-provided with equipment and signs to help those with various issues.

  1. Note.
  • Braille maps are everywhere and most handrails seemed to be marked.
  • Each platform had a lift.
  • The wheelchair lift is a common sight in Europe to overcome the bad design of trains, which don’t have level access.

Most stations I visited, were similarly equipped.

 

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

TiLo

Treni Regionali Ticino Lombardia or TiLo is a train company. which is described like this in Wikipedia.

TILO (Regional Trains Ticino Lombardia) is a limited company established in 2004 as a joint venture between Italian railway company Trenord and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS), both companies participate in the equity of TILO SA with participation of 50%.

The company’s goal is to develop the regional cross-border traffic between the Canton of Ticino and the Region of Lombardy.

I came across one of their thirty Stadler FLIRT trains at Milan Centrale station.

Note how Stadler have solved the step problem, as compared to the train I took to Navara.

Stadler are producing three fleets of trains for the UK.

The trains are reported to have gap fillers, like the FLIRT in the pictures.

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disabled Access On South Western Railway’s Class 707 Trains

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled RMT Backs Disabled Passengers Protest In London.

I will not comment directly on the article, but relate an incident, that I observed on Saturday, as I was travelling to Brentford station, to see Ipswich Town at nearby Brentford.

  • I was travelling in the fourth car of a ten-car formation of two five-car Class 707 trains, when we stopped at a station and seemed to be waiting a long time to depart.
  • I then noticed a guy in a motorised wheel-chair moving along the platform, who stopped at the door at the front of my car.
  • The guard then appeared on the platform, said something to the guy in the wheelchair and entered the train.
  • He returned a couple of minutes later holding the folding ramp, which he used professionally to load the guy and his wheelchair into the train.
  • A couple of minutes later after stowing the ramp, the guard closed the doors and gave the signal to start.

This picture shows the height difference at Brentford station.

This is not as bad as some train-plarform gaps, but why isn’t it flat?

A station-man on the London Overground once told me, that loading disabled passengers on to trains using a ramp,  is a major source of delay.

Saturday’s incident illustrated the problem beautifully.

It also showed the professionalism of one of their staff

South Western Railways use a very inefficient system.

  • The guard had to walk some way to load the passenger, as he happened to be at the back of the train.
  • He was actually in the second train, so had to walk on the platform.
  • The ramp had to be removed from and replaced in its cupboard.
  • How many times, do guards and station staff catch their fingers in the ramp?

If level access were to be provided between train and platform, the guard would just have acted as a guide to get the guy in the wheelchair on the train.

South Western Railways are getting a new fleet of Class 701 trains.

  • These trains will be walk-through, meaning the guard can get to where assistance is needed easily. And in the dry, if it’s raining hard.
  • Will the trains floors, be level with those of the platforms?
  • If not, will a Harrington Hump be provided?

Surely, this will mean many disabled in a wheelchair, like an acquaintance of mine, will be able to push or drive themselves into and out of the train.

It will of course help others like those with an infant in a buggy or dragging a heavy case.

Let’s hope the new fleet of trains, will be designed to access the trains in a much better way than the current Class 707 trains, and the older Class 455 trains.

Conclusion

Could this incident illustrate the problems, that prompted South Western Railway to decide to return the Class 707 trains to the leasing company?

Does what I saw , have any relevance to the role of guards on trains?

The incident I saw, would have required assistance from a second person, even if the access had been totally level.

Note.

  • London Underground and Overground try to always have somebody on the platform, when a train is in the station.
  • The Docklands Light Railway always have someone on the train.

South Western Railway could use either method.

 

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

A Pedestrian Connection Between City Thameslink Station And St. Paul’s Tube Station

In the Wikipedia entry for City Thameslink station, there is a section called Future Proposals.

This is said.

An underground passageway linking City Thameslink to St Pauls tube station to provide an interchange between the London Underground Central line and National Rail services on the Thameslink (route) has been suggested by London TravelWatch in a report in 2014 which suggested it would benefit passengers travelling from the Central Line catchment to Gatwick and Luton Airports.

St. Paul’s tube station does not have the best access, with two sets of escalators to get to the Easttbound platform, which is underneath the Westbound one.

This picture shows the lobby at the bottom of the second set of escalators.

The Eastbound platform is through the opening on the left.

Could a tunnel to the West be built from this lobby?

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of lines at City Thameslink and St. Paul’s.

It would appear that a pedestrian tunnel could be bored from the Western end of the platforms at St. Paul’s to connect to the Northern end of City Thameslink.

  • A travelator could be included.
  • It would create an accessible route into St. Paul’s station.
  • Intermediate entrances could be provided to give access to important sites like the Western end of St. Paul’s cathedral.

Property development between the two stations will probably be the catalyst to get this link built.

These pictures show Paternoster Square, which lies to the North of St. Paul’s cathedral.

I wonder if provision was made for an entrance, when the area was redeveloped around twenty years ago.

It would surely be an ideal place for an intermediate step-free entrance to any pedestrian tunnel linking St. Paul’s and City Thameslink stations.

Conclusion

Done properly, it would do the following.

  • Add step-free access at one of London’s most important stations for tourists.
  • Create a link between Thameslink and the Central Line.
  • Create a shared entrance to both stations in the Paternoster Square area.

Obviously, the figures would have to add up.

March 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kensington (Olympia) Station Full Tube Service Restoration Petition Signed By More Than 10,000

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

The article states that advantages of restoring a full Tube service include.

  • Better Tube service for local residents and business.
  • Ease congestion.
  • Improve air quality.
  • Provide a step-free station for everybody.

But this paragraph is surely the most relevant.

Footfall at Olympia London has risen from 700,000 to 1.6m since 2011 (when the full Tube service was removed), and is likely to increase over the coming years. Only by having a full Tube service can local transport options meet this increasing demand.

The more the footfall increases, the greater the need for a full Tube service.

Service on the District Line

The Wikipedia entry for Kensington(Olympia) station, has a section detailing the District Line Service.

This is said.

The District line shuttle to Earl’s Court and High Street Kensington runs at weekends and a very limited service also operates during the early morning and evening each weekday. There is no service New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day when these days fall on or partly on a weekend.

Prior to 2011, it was much more frequent.

Service On The West London Line

The Wikipedia entry for Kensington (Olympia) station, has a section detailing the West London Line Service.

This is said.

The London Overground services in trains per hour are:

  • 4 northbound to Willesden Junction, of which 2 continue to Stratford during the off-peak and all 4 during the peak.
  • 4 southbound to Clapham Junction.

Southern operate between Milton Keynes Central and East Croydon, typically once an hour.

London Overground have plans to increase their service by two trains per hour, starting in 2018.

Kensington ( Olympia ) Station Is Not Fully Step-Free

This Google Map shows the track and platform layout at Kensington (Olympia) station.

Platforms are as follows from West to East.

  • 1 – Terminus for District Line
  • 2 – Northbound West London Line
  • 3 – Southbound West London Line

Note the footbridge linking the island platform 1 and 2, with the other platform 3.

It is not step-free, which means that platforms 1 and 2 have step-free access to Olympia, but platform 3 does not.

Surely, whatever happens to the train service, this bridge must be replaced with one that is step-free.

Getting To And From Kensington (Olympia) Station

It’s easy for me to get to Kensington (Olympia) station, as I just walk to Dalston Kingsland station and get a direct train.

But what fastest routes do you use from these major Underground stations?

  • Bank – Change at Shepherd’s Bush
  • Canary Wharf – Change at Bond Street and Shepherd’s Bush
  • Euston – Change at Willesden Junction
  • Finsbury Park – Change at Oxford Circus and Shepherd’s Bush
  • Kings Cross St. Pancras – Change at Oxford Circus and Shepherd’s Bush
  • Liverpool Street – Change at Shepherd’s Bush
  • Paddington – Change at High Street Kensington to a bus.
  • Waterloo – Change at Clapham Junction

These routes all used Transport for London’s journey planner.

For some less important stations, you can get some complicated routes.

Marylebone is a classic, which involves two walks, two buses and the Circle Line.

For those, who went to Olympia before 2011, when there was a shuttle from Earl’s Court, will find they will need to change at West Brompton to get from Earl’s Court to Kensington (Olympia).

Wikipedia describes the pre-2011 service like this.

For a period before December 2011 the District line had an irregular short shuttle service of two or three trains per hour to High Street Kensington via Earl’s Court. One late evening train ran daily to Upminster.

To be charitable, you would say it is not a passenger-friendly system for most going to Olympia.

Conclusion

The petitioners would appear to have a very valid point.

 

 

March 7, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment