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Posts Tagged ‘Transport for London

The blue paint delusion

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Expressing his “personal view as a non-cyclist”, Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe told BBC London last month that regardless of who caused a road accident, it was the cyclist who would fare worst. He would ‘never cycle in London’ due to traffic and safety concerns.

[‘Met police chief backtracks over cycling comments’, Órla Ryan, The Guardian, Friday 22 November 2013]

[…] Fourteen cyclists have been killed in London so far in 2013, six of them within a two-week period this month. All but one of the six were killed by lorries, coaches or buses, prompting renewed calls for restrictions on HGVs in the city.

The commissioner’s view seemed to shape the Met’s response to the fatalities, which saw police deployed on-street to ‘robustly enforce the law and educating road users about dangers’.

[Police launch major London road safety operation after spate of cyclist deaths, Peter Walker, Monday 25 November 2013]

[…] There was criticism from some cyclists after they were pulled over to be advised by police that they should be wearing high-visibility jackets or helmets, neither of which is compulsory. Police note that both are recommended in the Highway Code.

Whether police pulled over HGV drivers and asked whether they should be driving vehicles with massive blind spots in busy city traffic, is not recorded. Surely, there needs to be a complete change of approach to provision for goods vehicles, and cyclists, in London.

London Mayor Boris Johnson’s cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan ‘urged caution’ in interpreting a poll for the BBC of 1,070 Londoners on attitudes to cycling in the capital. He said the sample size of the Comres poll was “manifestly tiny”, and claimed that “all-consuming focus” on recent cycle deaths had “contributed to the fear that cyclists and potential cyclists feel”.

[BBC, 2 Dec 2013]

[…] “We know that fear about safety is a real and major deterrent to cycling and the mayor is doing more than any other politician in the country to address it,” [Mr Gilligan] said.

Money was being spent and new staff hired to “improve London’s roads for cyclists, something that was happening before this recent tragic spate of deaths”.

Written by beleben

December 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Mind the accessibility gap

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‘Step-free access to railway stations’ does not necessarily mean ‘accessible stations’, as a BBC News report on TfL services to Stratford’s Olympic Park demonstrated.

BBC News: 'How easy is the journey to the Olympic Park?', 05 Sep 2012

(To be fair, TfL has a better accessibility record than many other authorities, such as Centro in the West Midlands.)

Written by beleben

September 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Fans of the Underground

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Northern Line at Euston

London’s Underground is carrying record numbers of passengers. According to Transport for London’s 2011/2012 – 2014/2015 business plan, the Underground was programmed to carry 1.133 billion passengers and run 72.4 million train kilometres in 2011/2012. For 2014/2015, the corresponding figures are 82.4 million kilometres, and 1.245 billion passengers.

One of the problems arising from increasing usage is the control of temperature on the deep level lines. On the Metropolitan, District, and Circle, things are simpler due to their proximity to the surface, and the larger size of the tunnels and trains. (Even LU sometimes uses the term ‘Tube’ to describe the entire Underground system, including the sub-surface lines.) A map of Underground temperatures, recorded on 28 July 2008 in zones one and two, showed that the Central Line was the hottest, with temperatures of 32℃ between Holland Park and Mile End, and several other lines were at 29℃ or above.

In July 2003, the BBC covered TfL’s offer of a £100,000 prize for a cool idea for the tube.

London Underground has long grappled with the problem of how to cool narrow tunnels — some built more than a century ago — which lie up to 60 metres below London’s busy streets. So far, no solution has been found.

Now a £100,000 prize is being offered to anyone present Mayor Ken Livingstone with an answer to tube passengers’ summer woes. “But so far it has stumped everyone,” says the mayor.

The main problems are; that the Tube tunnels are only just large enough to accommodate the train carriages with no room left for bolted on air conditioning units; and that even if the carriages were cooled down this could dangerously transfer the heat to the tunnels.

Sinking huge ventilation shafts would be prohibitively expensive and unpopular with people living above the Tube.

But by May 2005, London Underground had determined that not one of the 3,500 prize entries was ‘original and workable’. It’s possible that the competition was just mayoral adware; a couple of years later, LU admitted that they had allowed a ‘number’ of ventilation fans to fall into disrepair, so it’s not clear how temperature figured in their priorities. TfL’s 2008 presentation on tube cooling seemed to be largely concerned with perceptual aspects, and ‘quick wins’.

According to the November/December 2007 article in Plant Engineer

[on the Underground] primary heat sources are 38% braking losses, 22% mechanical, 16% drivetrain, 13% train auxiliaries, 4% tunnel support systems, 3% passengers in trains and 4% passengers on stations. As for thermal losses, 79% goes into the tunnel walls, while 11% goes into tunnels – due to the piston effect of the trains – and the remaining 10% is removed by ventilation. The nub of the problem is that the biggest heat sink is failing as the temperature behind the walls rises way back into the clay. It’s now sitting at between 5℃ and 11℃ above the natural ambient of 14℃.

The Railway Technology article ‘London Underground Enters the Ice Age’ (24 October 2008) quoted LU Tunnel Cooling Programme director Kevin Payne on the difficulties of air conditioning the deep level lines.

TfL estimates that air-conditioning could increase energy consumption by as much as 10 – 15% in the tunnels. “If we add conventional air-conditioning and for some reason the train comes to rest inside the tunnel, the temperature inside and outside the tunnel will continue to rise and the air-conditioning unit will be forced to consume more energy,” says Payne. “Quite rapidly, the system won’t be able to cope and the temperature inside will rise steeply. There is genuine concern about excessive temperatures if we do nothing but add conventional air-con.”

Accepting this fact, TfL’s Tunnel Cooling Programme team has come up with an alternative solution it calls ‘Hydro Cooling’. Although in its relatively early development stage, the concept is based on reservation and refrigeration techniques that would build a reservoir of ice when the train surfaces at a station. Once in the tunnel below ground, the refrigeration system could be turned off and the system would draw on the reservoir of ice and circulate it via a fan coil unit.

Although the self-sufficient nature of the concept is a unique fit to the deep underground dilemma, the additional weight and mass caused by transporting blocks of ice onboard the carriages is a noticeable drawback.

“We have reached a stage where we have a full-scale cross-section mock up of a tube car fitted with the system. Although the current ice-building system we have is not railway rugged, a huge amount of work has been done to redesign the layout of the carriage in order to accommodate the fan coil unit that will take the warm air out and blow cold air back out,” says Payne.

The usefulness of research into using Hydro Cooling and blocks of ice (etc) remains to be seen, and it’s not clear whether these concepts are still being pursued. I’d have thought that since much of the heat arises from accelerating and braking the trains, a more promising way of cooling the future Underground would be to reduce mass in new rolling stock designs. In recent years, train energy consumption, and weight, has not really been on the London Underground radar. And for lines with long below-ground sections, there would seem to be no getting away from the need for sufficient deep ventilation shafts.

Written by beleben

July 11, 2012 at 10:54 am

Chelney hawks

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Proposals for an additional cross-London passenger railway, on the Chelsea – Hackney axis, can be traced back to the first half of the twentieth century, but funding was never forthcoming. In the days of the London Transport Executive, the ‘Chelney‘ line was generally envisaged as a self-contained small profile Underground railway. In the 21st century, the Chelney line has been re-imagined as ‘Crossrail 2’, featuring tunnels large enough for National Rail trains.

Chelney (Chelsea - Hackney) rail route, safeguarded course

Over the last six months, a working group of the “influential” business organisation London First has been looking at the case for Crossrail 2. According to its interim report, detailed planning of a suitable scheme “needs to start now”.

The study, led by former Transport Secretary, Lord Andrew Adonis, has considered work previously undertaken by Transport for London on a route for “Crossrail 2” between Chelsea and Hackney, and examined demand and congestion forecasts post 2020 and the impact of new national projects, including HS2.

Its conclusions are clear -– by the late 2020s, even after the completion of Crossrail, Thameslink and the current Tube upgrades, central, south-west and north-east London’s rail and underground networks will be heavily congested, and there will be a critical need for new capacity. This will be best provided by a second Crossrail line connecting these parts of London.

Around 1.3 million more people and over 750,000 more jobs are expected in London over the next 20 years and as such, planning for the next generation of transport improvements post 2020 must begin now.

The London First report presents some form of heavy rail Crossrail 2 as the one and only solution to providing adequate transport capacity on London’s North East to South West axis. However, it does not specify precisely what points should be served, or whether the railway should be a self-contained (possibly automated) tube line [‘Chelney tube’], or a regional interconnector built to National Rail standards [‘Crossrail 2’].

Crossrail 2, options presented by London First

Whether London First’s hawkish backing of Crossrail 2 is a good fit with the capital’s transport priorities, is open to question. In the central area, there are crowding issues on several Underground lines, which need to be tackled in the next few years (not the timescale of a new heavy rail line). Street tramways offer the possibility of replacing the Underground for short journeys in the centre, and for that role, would have a general time advantage. Using long trams, one way flows of over 10,000 passengers per hour should be feasible.

So there seems to be a good case for building a street-running tramway on the Chelsea – Hackney axis to meet the local transport needs of the next few years. In the longer term, a ‘Chelney Tramlink’ could be complemented by a Crossrail 2 tunnel using the safeguarded route, but built to take National Rail trains. There would be the possibility of connecting Crossrail 2 into the South West London and Eastern Region tracks.

Written by beleben

May 22, 2012 at 9:40 am