14:30 in Magazine - article by stationmaster
In the global market, railway operators require manufacturers to provide proposals covering a broad range of aspects, such as differences in power-feed equipment used by different countries and lines, variations in types of rolling stock, and services passing through electrified and non-electrified zones. To meet these needs and provide swift answers, Hitachi Limited has developed an innovative “integrated railway systems simulator” which evaluates complete rail systems from an all-over viewpoint, including coordination between multiple types of equipment, such as rolling stock, signalling, and traffic control. It has the capability to evaluate the effects of changes in conditions, further facilitating the installation of new facilities and equipment in line with technological advances. Hitachi will be enabled to realise optimal equipment location and appropriate energy allocation, providing solutions that match global railway infrastructure improvement plans through comprehensive simulation.
HISTORIC EMU TOOLKIT LIST
Electric Traction Instructions (Cape) 1928.
4. Driver’s Personal Kit.
Each driver must be in possession of a kit-bag or box containing the following articles:
• 1 carriage door-lock key
• Working time book
• 1 oil hand-lamp tri-colour)
• 2 x red flags
• 12 x detonators
• 1 duster
• Electric Traction Instructions (Cape)
• General Train Regulations General Appendix
• Local Appendix for System.
• Emergency Equipment.
• 1 pair rubber gauntlets,
• 1 rubber mat, 30in. by 24in. by 3/4 in
• 1 pair insulated pliers, 8in
• 2 x screwdrivers, 5in and 8in
• 1 fitter’s 2lb hammer
• 1 lead hammer
• 2 x cold chisels
• 2 x 15in second cut files
• 3 x double-ended spanners
(six sizes specified in fractions of an inch)
• 3 x double-ended box-spanners,
(six sizes specified in fractions of an inch)
• 1 Tommy-bar for spanners
• 1 oil-feeder
(NOTE – A box for emergency equipment is provided in each motor coach, and drivers are responsible for the safe custody of the aforementioned, and any other articles which may be added from time to time.)
AGEING ROLLING STOCK: METRORAIL IS NOT ALONE!
South Africans tend to think local railway problems are unique to this country. Residents of Calgary (in the Canadian province of Alberta) probably think the same way about theirs. This was a recent press report:
“Just call it the Little Engine That Couldn’t. It’s a kinder name than what many Calgary commuters have been calling the C-Train over the past five weeks, with bad luck and brittle infrastructure causing a massive headache for light rail transit (LRT) riders. ‘Always be at your stop on time and leave yourself extra travel time as things happen that are out of our control,’ was the official social-media message issued by Calgary Transit in late July.
“They sure weren’t kidding. Over the past 30 working days, Calgary’s LRT network has suffered 18 major delays, forcing transit officials to issue public statements apologising and explaining the setbacks.
“Half of the C-Train stoppages were mechanical in nature. Electrical breakdowns, doors refusing to close and other failures of track and train account for nine transit system stalls, up to 20 minutes long. A handful of delays were medical in nature: though such cases are officially unexplained beyond ‘medical emergency,’ fainting aboard crowded train coaches has been an issue for busy transit systems around the world.
“The rest of the unscheduled stops are in the bad luck category — a freight train breaking down in the path of the LRT, a vehicle colliding with a passing C-Train, and one case of a stray dog running along the line.
“For people in a rush — and what commuter isn’t — the frequency of foul-ups is a massive frustration. Missed meetings, lost appointments and lame excuses to the boss make for miserable mornings, and that’s not to mention the aggravation of a delay on the ride back home.
“To be crammed armpit-to-elbow aboard a sweaty C-Train coach, only to be told there’s a 20 minute delay, gives new meaning to the phrase ‘Highway to Hell.’ For delays to be such a regular part of taking transit is like volunteering for a migraine headache.
“But the good news as the LRT packs ever tighter over the next two weeks with returning students?
“Sorry Calgary — there isn’t any for the immediate future. ‘Our trains are old and our mechanics do their best to maintain them, but we have to use everything we have right now due to the demand,’ said Theresa Schroder, spokeswoman for Calgary Transit. ‘During rush hour we have all available buses on the roads, and with trains, the way the track is set up, we can only do so much.’
“Upgrades are ongoing: The 18 delays cited above don’t include planned service restrictions taking place almost every weekend, when tracks are reduced to one-way to allow for infrastructure improvements. New trains are gradually on the way too, but for now Calgarians are still riding aboard a system with LRT coaches dating back to the days of Mayor Ralph Klein and disco.
“If the trains and track are getting a little funky with age, Schroder says rotten luck — like the mutt running on the tracks — has added to woes typical of a big city transit system.
‘We are in the process of upgrading the entire system and that will help, but we’re going to have passenger emergencies, and cars stuck on the tracks, and things beyond our control,’ she said. That’s going to happen, no matter what — it’s the way the system is.’
“The system is old, but at least Calgary Transit’s communication with passengers is cutting edge. Within minutes of a breakdown, explanations are sent out via social media, explaining the latest delay. Of course, passengers can answer right back: ‘If this summer taught me anything it’s that Calgary Transit is falling apart,’ was one passenger’s pithy post in response to the frequent delays. There’s no relief around the corner, but the chair of the city’s transportation committee says the end of regular breakdowns is at least in sight. ‘Unfortunately, we are behind on infrastructure — there were just too many years of too few improvements,’ said Alderman Andre Chabot. ‘But city council just approved new LRV cars to replace the existing fleet, and these are new modern cars with all the bells and whistles. They should start to arrive within the next couple of years.’”
THE HEATHROW POD
Personal rapid transit (PRT) aims to combine the best features of railways and private cars. The vehicles travel on and are restricted to a guideway – hence the similarity to rail – but each is separate and individual – like a car.
PRT has not got off the ground quite as quickly as its protagonists would have liked. It doesn’t come cheaply and authorities able to raise the sort of money needed tend to be uncertain that the idea will work.
The latest exponent is London’s Heathrow airport. The bus service, carrying some 500,000 people annually, has been withdrawn between Terminal 5 (T5) and the Business Car Park. Passengers are now using the 21 vehicle “pods” travelling on almost 4km of guideway. By 21 August, approximately 63,000 trips had been completed, and today about 800 people are being moved daily. The system has performed very well so far with an average waiting time of 30 seconds.
People love the fact that it is on demand, doesn’t stop for anybody else and gets you quickly to the terminal. Most users are extremely impressed. The five minute ride has been described as “futuristic”, “rapid” and “a transport revelation.”
Advantages claimed in the airport context include:
• Keeping down congestion and noise near the terminal
• Greater environmental efficiency than cars.
• Cutting down on waiting time for passengers as opposed to mass transit systems on a schedule
• Noise reduction
• Allowing for individualised destination points
Each temperature-controlled Heathrow pod has been designed for privacy and comfort and allows passengers to select their own direct destination. There are no timetables as a central computer ensures that pods are distributed at each station according to passenger demand. When waiting for a passenger, the pods recharge themselves at battery points, so are always ready to go.
The overall cost of PRT is very dependent on the environment to be served. At Heathrow, the system had to fit into a very complex existing environment, without disrupting any other airport services. Much depends on the expected demand which determines the number of vehicles required. The typical range is between £4-8 million (say R44-88 million) per kilometre. That includes the guideway, the stations along the way, the vehicles and the control systems.
The Heathrow pods were designed and built in Britain by Ultra Global PRT. Originally, the company explains, the concept was aimed at urban cities – but these are very complicated environments. PRT slots in well with airport requirements – a lot of people moving around and between terminals and transfers that need to be as smooth and simple as possible.
Footnote: About fifteen years ago, Cape Town’s Golden Arrow Bus Services – in association with an American manufacturing concern – tried to interest the city in a PRT system. However, nobody went along with the idea.
UK SIGNALBOXES ON THE WAY OUT
Signal boxes will be a thing of the past in the UK within 20 years. Network Rail plans to consolidate all signal operation in 14 control centres. The aim is to “apply universal operating procedures across the network, boosting service reliability and saving money and manpower.”
Existing operating centres include Derby, Gillingham, Cardiff, Saltley, Edinburgh, Ashford, Didcot and Glasgow. New centres are proposed for Romford, Three Bridges, York, Manchester, Rugby and Basingstoke.
There are still more than 800 signal boxes in Britain, compared to 10,000 a hundred years ago. Staff are to be slowly reduced from today’s complement of 5,500 to around 1,700 over the next 15 years. Many signal personnel will be retiring at the age limit (65), so little in the way of redundancies is expected.
PAKISTAN MAY HIRE LOCOS
Pakistan Railways (PR) is facing an acute shortage of locomotives, resulting in “dozens” of passenger trains being suspended and others being delayed for up to 12 hours, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded across the country.
PR general manager (operations) Saeed Akhtar told The Dawn newspaper that locomotives may be hired from India if the government approves current proposals. According to Akhtar, China and the Czech Republic are keen to rent locomotives to PR: “We will advertise. The responsibility of maintaining locomotives will be on the supplier and PR will pay the rent on daily basis,” Akhtar says.
DEFIBRILLATORS FOR CHICAGO COMMUTER TRAINS
Though federal law in the USA requires defibrillators on passenger airlines, this is not the case on commuter trains. In 2009, Boston became the first city in North America to begin installing defibrillators on its trains. Chicago is to follow suit – if the Metra rail authority can find $1.1 million for the project.
On 12 August, Metra’s board agreed to instal 427 defibrillators on its trains, work facility and police vehicles. The agreement came after a committee examined all medical assistance calls on Metra rail lines — excluding Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe — over a two-year period. Within that time, there were 250 calls, 20 “appearing” to be heart related problems.
The defibrillators cost between $900 to $1,000 each, and another $500 to $600 is needed to pay for a container and installation. In addition to the $1.1 million budget, it would cost about $500,000 every two years for inspection and maintenance, as well as training employees to use the devices.
RUSSIAN RAILWAYS PRIVATISING
Rossiiskie Zheleznie Dorogi (RZhD – the Russian State Railway) hopes to complete the share sale of its Freight One cargo subsidiary by the end of September 2011, the St Petersburg Times reports, quoting company president Vladimir Yakunin. The aim is to sell off 75% minus two shares in Freight One, which operates about 21% of Russiâ’s freight rolling stock. RZhD is one of several state-owned entities that the government wants to wholly or partially privatise by 2017. The government, Yakunin explained, will decide what and when to sell, but said the sale of a majority stake in Russian Railways itself was unlikely and cautioned against a breakup of the monopoly. President Dmitry Medvedev has called for the privatisation process to accelerate.
[RZhD operates on the 1,520mm gauge – Editor.]