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From: Ian Mcdonald Subject: London-Frankfurt launch postponed due to Siemens delays

Technical issues with Siemens are not the only problem likely to delay DB’s planned services to the UK. Looming larger will be the Home Office and Border Agency’s near-certain insistence that segregated platforms be provided at all the relevant DB, NS and SNCB stations to be served by these UK-bound trains, with luggage security checks and passport control before boarding, and no alighting passengers allowed before passing through the Chunnel. What likelihood is there that the operators will overcome this costly and unattractive albatross for their ambitions?

From: Henry Law Subject: London-Frankfurt launch postponed due to Siemens delays

A three year delay due to software problems? There was a time when the only things running through a train were a pipe for the braking system, and a pipe for the steam heat. Then they added electricity, with a dynamo-battery set under each vehicle and cables from vehicle to vehicle in case of failure.

Ventilation systems were passive

so didn’t break down and door operation was manual with someone on the station platform to check that they were properly shut before the train moved off. Trains like those are of extreme simplicity, inexpensive to construct and maintain, and are within the capacity of part-time amateurs to keep going.

And from the passengers’ point of view there has been little improvement – on the contrary, they got a comfortable seat, space, and somewhere for their luggage. Later on, into the 1970s other features were added, which required a cable with a hundred or so connections, but that was manageable too. It brought in features such as retention toilets, power operated doors and air conditioning, which are genuinely useful if they work and a menace when they don’t. The first is a matter of basic hygiene but the latter two could certainly be regarded as optional extras. But since then, the complexity has increased exponentially, and so has the cost. The people specifying railway vehicles need to take a good hard look at what is needed and what is not, and how much could be saved, and how reliability could be improved, by simplification – even if it means employing additional staff to do things that have been automated at vast expense; or running the

trains at lower speeds, because high speeds also give rise to hidden costs.

From: Chris Subject: Track configuration in the West Midlands

This project to build platforms on the existing lines at Curzon St would be much smaller in scope than those at Reading or Euston. Most importantly it would reduce the footfall at New St considerably (as well as offering a much better link with the lines serving Moor St) and give another, much better option for changing trains in Birmingham.

We are looking at widening the existing viaduct by 20-25 metres to the north of the Stetchford tracks. The station would butt right up against the HS2 station, adding three island platforms (with two extra tracks). Viaduct widening could be done one- third at a time to avoid the need for prolonged track closures. An overnight possession of one pair of tracks would allow them to be slewed over: there is no reason for the entire railway to ever close.

It is clear the Eastside area around HS2 will develop very quickly as a destination in its own right. It would be crazy for so many trains to continue to trundle past this important site at low speed without serving it. I suspect a station at this point will become essential at some point in the future; it might as well be done at the same time the HS2 station is built so as to allow a proper interchange from day one.

A tram extension is of no practical use for people transferring from classic rail to HS2 or vice versa. The elevation of the existing viaduct allows 250m long platforms to be built, with the western ends situated at the Fazeley St bridge where the four tracks dip down

into New St tunnel. It would be on a gentle curve, which isn’t ideal, but derogations are possible – look at the extensions of Farringdon’s Thameslink platforms as to what kind of thing is allowable when necessary.

From: Simon Hope Subject: HS2 in the West Midlands

The Go-HS2 proposals for

seamless interchange at the new Curzon Street station are vital for the success of this project. However, perhaps the most practical solution for solving most interchange problems is to build four outer platforms adjoining a re-aligned WCML. These could be used both by the new classic- compatible, and conventional trains to regional destinations, thus avoiding an increasingly congested New Street station.

From: Pedr Subject: London Midland cancellations

Travelling between Bletchley and the NEC in Brum on a Saturday lately, we noted that only a four- car unit was used, so the train was uncomfortably packed in both directions. On the return journey, people stood all the way from Birmingham International to Bletchley. There were units standing out of use at various sidings along the route, and so far as I can tell, it takes no more members of staff to run an eight- car unit than a four-car unit. This sort of thing gives railways a bad name.


rail technology magazine Dec/Jan 13 | 15

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