torsdag 20 juni 2019

Britain’s new inter city trains - could have been better.

Long distance trains in Britain dating from the 1970s and 1990s are being replaced wholesale by the new 800 series trains from Hitachi. They could have been worse, but the designers have not really addressed some of the fundamental problems which go back to the time when mark 3 stock was introduced in the 1970s.
  1. Seats misaligned to windows. This is primarily a matter of getting the bay dimension correct in the first place. If this is 1.90 metres there is sufficient legroom for everyone and all the seats can align.
  2. The luggage space is in the wrong place. People will not use the large luggage areas as they are not secure. The optimum location for luggage is between seat backs but this means that most of the seating should be in facing pairs as in the mark 1 and mark 2 stock. As soon as the seats are arranged in an airline configuration, this useful luggage space is lost. Given that it is too late to change the fundamental design, the large luggage areas should be fitted with some means of securing cases eg with lockable cables and keys with a coin deposit system. Otherwise people are not going to use them.
  3. Space next to the unglazed sliding door pockets should be used for luggage or toilets or equipment cabinets.
  4. The discomfort of the seats is due to insufficient lumbar support. This could easily be remedied by changing the shape of the foam inserts.
  5. The vehicles are too long. The end space cannot be used for seating due to the tapered shape and it cannot be use for entrance vestibules as there would be excessive platform gaps.
  6. The vehicles are difficult to get on and off - indeed, hazardous - due to the design of the steps and the large gaps. Retractable steps should have been fitted. The excessive length of the vehicles is probably a factor.
  7. The overall design of the trains is ugly, with a flat roof with lumps of equipment spread along the top, giving the trains a horrible skyline, rotten aerodynamics and likely problems with snow and rain. These items should have been faired into the roof, as an stock such as Electrostar series.
  8. There is a huge gap between vehicles. This is also terrible both visually and aerodynamically. The space aught to be closed by rubber fairings or extended panels, or the vehicle bodies built out and used for equipment. There is probably quite a lot of equipment which could usefully be relocated here from under the floor or elsewhere.
I would question the wisdom of having a single fleet huge fleet to a single design from a single supplier. Britain’s railways have run the risk of a fault affecting the entire fleet, and then what? It has happened enough times before. The current problem with the Boeing 737 Max is only the latest in a series of such events; the same thing happened with the Merchant Navy class of steam locomotives in the 1950s, when the fleet had to be taken out of service and replacements drafted in from all over the country.

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