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Crossrail (and HS2) platform height dubbed complicated and burdensome

with 5 comments

London Assembly Transport Committee leader Caroline Pidgeon says 1100mm non-standard height platforms on the new-build central section of the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) in London will make journeys “unnecessarily complicated and burdensome” for those with disabilities, ‘Rail’ magazine reported.

'Rail' magazine, 1100mm Crossrail platforms are burdensome

Apparently the magazine’s ‘technical expert’, Gareth Dennis, has decided that the Crossrail platforms should have been built at the standard 915mm height. However, Mr Dennis, an HS2 aficionado, or ‘afictionado’, has been strangely quiet about the decision to build HS2 stations with, er, 1100mm platforms. The HS2 trains would stop at more stations on the classic network, with the lower platforms, than they would at the new-build stations.

The effect of choice of platform height on disabled travellers is probably viewed as ‘acceptable collateral damage’, when the focus is on fast boarding for ‘able-bodied’ people. HS2 trains are supposed to spend just 120 seconds, from wheel stop to start, at intermediate stations on the captive network.


Written by beleben

August 6, 2018 at 6:13 pm

Posted in HS2

5 Responses

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  1. Heathrow Express & new stations on the East London line were built with 1100mm high platforms. DfT tried, but failed, to persuade the EU rail authority to allow platforms around 1200mm high to match the high floor levels of high speed trains. The 2011 HS2 Consultation leaflet just said platforms would be a different height without specifying the implications.


    August 6, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    • Indeed so, because the DfT like the sound of “level access” without thinking about how to properly (and more simply/cheaply) roll it out, i.e. with low-floored trains set to 950mm under tare loading conditions. Also because (on topics of infrastructure/train compatibility at least) infrastructure doesn’t really have a strong lobby group in the halls of power. Train manufacturers do.

  2. The 1100 platform height arises because the classic drawbar height was very likely set by the height of the shafts between which the draught horse was attached to the coal tub, at which the tractive force was most directly transmitted from the horse to the wagon – in line effectively with the shoulder and hip joints of a large horse – with a large horse at 16-18 hands (1.62-1.82 metres) from ground to withers, and the shoulder joint around 60-70 % of the horse ‘height’, this would be 960mm-1120mm for a 16hh horse. setting the solebar/buffing/drawgear height for all early railways over 200 years ago, and making ut necessary to have all rolling stock designed around transmitting traction & braking forces through the train at this height. Of course some modern train designs, accommodate the loads through a monocoque structure – effectively a tube, which can have the floor at a lower height between the ends, a detail that the CAF FLIRT’s for Greater Anglia have included, and both these with Bombardier and Siemens deliver a roll-through flat floor-door-platform deal where the platform can be delivered close enough to the step board. The Hitachi bodyshell has an unfortunate 2″ ‘step’ (and trip hazard to those who forget its there) just inside the doors, on the Class 395 and 385, and the IEP, as a feature of their bodyshell design. The same height issue applies across Europe – all buffers and basic couplings need to be at the same height on standard gauge rolling stock.

    Two factors then block the delivery of roll on access W6 dynamic gauge, and curved platforms. On the Crossrail core, DLR, and the East London Line, there is a tight control on the type of trains, and the platforms are straight, so that the platform can be set with a very tight gap between it and the step boards at the doors. The W6 dynamic gauge can be infringed, if the only trains operating don’t have any parts that conflict with parts of the platform which encroach into that envelope. However if there are engineering trains or other types of train using the line you can be sure that there will be an indicator lamp, switch or some niggling detail that will get smashed off by a platform extension to eliminate the need for a ramp.

    That TSI is there for a reason, very much to steer the delivery of railways where everything fits not just by default (like the solebar height & drawgear) but by design, the regulated standards which an operator or train builder MUST use, to avoid the position we still see year after year with the legacy of braking systems, coupling systems etc & trains that cannot work together on the same tracks. Trains were more interoperable in 1923 perhaps? UK operators .. stubborn


    August 9, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    • Yep, pretty much. Of course, if the train specifier said “give us a floor at 950mm tare loading or you won’t make the pre-qual” rather than “give us really hard seats and no WiFi” then the train manufacturers would have to do precisely that.

  3. Other than the time when, for example, I specifically criticised HS2 on this front. And continue to do so in print.

    Gareth Dennis (@GarethDennis)

    December 27, 2018 at 8:17 pm

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