lördag 9 juni 2007
Electrostar train mods needed
I am pleased to see there are additional trains on order for Southern.
I am less pleased to see they are more of the same. The Electrostar is essentially a 20 year old design based on the 1980s Networker. Whilst in many ways it has now settled down there are a lot of problematic and unaddressed features, as I pointed out recently in an article in Rail Professional. I would have thought it was in everyone's interest to have a mark 2 Electrostar.
(1) Ride quality. This is dreadful. The problem is probably due to insufficient inter-vehicular damping.
(2) Location of doors - for the services the stock is used on these should go to the ends as in class 444 used on South West Trains. Railway managers have a prejudice against this configuration as the believe it takes longer to load and unload passengers, but this based on comparison with end-door stock all of which has a bottleneck inside the doorway so the comparison is not like with like. This could achieve some weight saving also.
(3) Weight. The trains are even heavier than the slam door stock it replaced. This has an adverse effect on performance and energy consumption. I suspect things like seats are a contributory factor. Every component needs to be scrutinised, especially things like seats, of which there are a lot in each vehicle. Airline style seating has to be heavier as it needs heavier framing; with back to back seating, the seat backs are fixed to each other, making a rigid structure.
(4) Luggage space - there is insufficient, partly due to body profile and partly due to airline style seat configuration and other things resulting in loss of luggage space between seat backs.
(5) Insufficient width. Many years ago I was informed by Railtrack's area Gauging Engineer that there is no need for the lower bodyside curvature ie the bodyside can be vertical from 1200 mm above rail level to the bottom of the windows ie 2.82 metres in the C1 loading gauge. It then needs to reduce towards the cantrail. As I understand it the narrow width of Electrostars at cantrail level is necessary due to the soft suspension and its effect on the Kinematic Envelope of the vehicles. The trouble is this results in a loss in luggage space. The optimum bodyshell cross-section is similar to the Metropolitan Line A stock.
If Bombardier modified the bodyshell all future builds of Electrostars would benefit, without losing the compatibility benefits.
Note - I emailed these comments to Southern and received a response from Richard Lancaster of Southern Customer Services. They note what I said but sadly they are content to accept whatever Bombardier are willing to churn out from their factory, so they are not going to be asking for any changes. That's how things are in Britain.
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