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Offline prissi

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Trains in GB and their schedule
« on: August 21, 2012, 07:49:39 PM »
I just came back from a trip to the UK, and I noted that there were two different timetables (and the reality) which did not match. Each schedule was matched partly (for one leg) but somehow the trains were not operated like in the printout from national rail. Is this common?

And I rode on something which reminded me of the HST diesel tilted trains run by "East midland". Are those really HSTs? (They are only 10 years young than me then ...) And is this the original design decision, to reach through the window over the door to operate the outside know ??? How does smaller people get off these trains?

Offline sdog

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2012, 07:53:50 PM »
wikipedia illustrates their article of Class 43 (HST) with a picture of a train in East-Midlands livery.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_43_(HST)

Offline prissi

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2012, 08:00:15 PM »
Well, it was certainly less shine, but indeed the exact unit ;)

But I wonder about the doors. Are they really only outside operated (with the notorious british weather) or was this a special unit. (But the glass still had a BR in its frame.)

Offline sdog

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2012, 08:05:07 PM »
Oh, you mean the door-openers were not just broken on the inside, but not even there? I thought you were sarcastic about not very well working doors. This thread will get interesting.

Offline ӔO

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2012, 08:34:49 PM »
I thought it was common knowledge, that in the UK, the only railroad related thing that was ever on time was the light that shone through Brunel's box tunnel.

And also, being 10 to 30mins behind schedule doesn't count as being late.

Offline Carl

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2012, 07:23:47 AM »
I just came back from a trip to the UK, and I noted that there were two different timetables (and the reality) which did not match. Each schedule was matched partly (for one leg) but somehow the trains were not operated like in the printout from national rail. Is this common?

It's true -- there's the passenger train timetable and the working train timetable for each and every route. The working timetable is more precise -- times are given in half-minutes, for instance -- but other than that I'm not really sure why there's a disconnect here.

There are sites that allow you to see the two timetables next to one another for any given train. Here's an example:
http://rail.staging.swlines.co.uk/schedule.php?uid=C01178&date=2012-08-22


Also -- yes, the doors on those HSTs can only be opened from the outside, and this is by design!  ::-\


AEO -- typically more than 10 minutes late counts as "late" for performance monitoring purposes, I think. Usually 30+ mins is required for any kind of compensation, though.

Offline prissi

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2012, 08:43:37 AM »
Maybe my confusion with timetable are from the many different companies. But on National Rail, the printout (Daily schedule button, even thouhg it was a sunday) and the ticket I bought from First Capital Connect had different schedules printed out (a week before).

On the Platform then I had a train (said HST from east midlands with in the outside knobs) which was on neither of them. (It was only 2 min late according to the screen on the railway track, all my trains actually run according to the times on the screens.) The station also only had paper plan for First Capital Connect, so I could not check whether this was a special run (but it was not announced as such.)

Anyway, as I may settle in Britian this autumn, I will learn more about it.

Offline Carl

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2012, 08:50:59 AM »
That's very strange -- last minute engineering works can happen, but in general there should only be one set of times released to the travelling public! Different operators on the same route can get confusing, though.

Offline kierongreen

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2012, 05:35:00 PM »
Trains in the UK are classed as on time if they arrive within 5 (shorter routes) or 10 minutes (longer ones) of scheduled arrival time. Statistics vary from route to route but usually around 95% of trains are classed as on time. HSTs are very much still in operation even though they are around 35 years old. While they still have manually operated doors many now have a modern interior including wifi and power plugs at seats. BR built trains to last - some diesel locomotives are now over 50 years old and still in regular main line service!

Offline sdog

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2012, 06:19:32 PM »
Also -- yes, the doors on those HSTs can only be opened from the outside, and this is by design!  ::-\


Do you know a reason for this design? Or rather how it was supposed to work. Did BR rely on passengers trying to get in to open the doors.


I suppose the way to open doors through a window, Prissi described, is a workaround by passengers not a design concept?

Offline Ters

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2012, 06:57:59 PM »
HSTs are very much still in operation even though they are around 35 years old.

Is 35 years anything to write home about when it comes to railroads? Lots of stuff in Norway is that old or even much older. In fact, newer stuff has come and gone, while the the old stuff keeps rolling along.

Offline prissi

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2012, 09:18:07 PM »
For diesel engines, 35 years is a lot, most engines die around this age. One of the oldest in germany was the S Bahn in Berlin, which reached 68 years due to their special situation between powers. But for engines 40 years is old.

I think the door design went back to 200 years earlier. When the first cars were built, the were derived from coaches, which had their doors always outside ( http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Datei:Personenwagen_Bayerische_Ludwigsbahn_1835_11092010_01.JPG&filetimestamp=20100912204858 ) That design was still common in 1919 ( http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Datei:Metropolitan_465_%27Dreadnought%27_9-compartment_third_built_1919.jpg&filetimestamp=20080804020441 ), and aparently still not uncommon in the 1960ies, when the HST were concieved.

Offline ӔO

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2012, 11:29:12 PM »
AEO -- typically more than 10 minutes late counts as "late" for performance monitoring purposes, I think. Usually 30+ mins is required for any kind of compensation, though.

aha, thanks for that info.
Even 10mins behind schedule is unthinkable under normal conditions for japan and germany.

For my area, GO train is renowned for having terrible service quality. 30~60mins delay is pretty normal, and being behind by 2hrs+ or cancelling entirely is not unheard of. I think our problem is the fact that much of the infrastructure isn't owned by GO train. And CN rail, the company that owns most of the infrastructure, is notorious for running behind schedule with their long and slow freight trains.

I think that UK has a similar situation, now that multiple companies must share certain areas.

Offline Ters

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2012, 04:46:19 AM »
If one were to believe the whining in the media, trains running less than 10 minutes behind schedule is unthinkable under normal conditions in Norway. The company that's operating the trains and gets all the complaints can't do anything about much of it, as it's caused by malfunctioning infrastructure they no longer own, while it apparently doesn't make any difference to the company owning the intrastructure, as they get paid for how far the trains drive irrespective of how long it takes and seem virtually unknown to the public. I've heard that the latter company favours passenger trains, though, so long and slow freight trains suffer even more.

Offline Junna

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2012, 07:31:46 AM »
If one were to believe the whining in the media, trains running less than 10 minutes behind schedule is unthinkable under normal conditions in Norway. The company that's operating the trains and gets all the complaints can't do anything about much of it, as it's caused by malfunctioning infrastructure they no longer own, while it apparently doesn't make any difference to the company owning the intrastructure, as they get paid for how far the trains drive irrespective of how long it takes and seem virtually unknown to the public. I've heard that the latter company favours passenger trains, though, so long and slow freight trains suffer even more.

The division of infrastructure from operations, an idiotic idea that was first implemented in Sweden in 1988, is a disastrously dumb idea and has consistently produced those problems.

Down with EU directive 440/91!

Offline prissi

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2012, 07:43:35 AM »
Well, it does not help either to divide. Germany has not dived infrastructure from operation, and since there is a subsidise on maintance, it was used actually to increase profit instead of maintenance in same places. SInce roads are public, maybe the rail network needs to be public too. Infrastructure seems something, which is a monopoly and thus markets cannot really work.

Train running 10 minutes later might considered a problem in Switzerland or Japan (if I remember correctly, banning desaster like Typhoons and earthquakes an average shinkansen deviate less than 6s from schedule ...) But in Germany a train only counts as delayed when its more than 5 minutes behind.

Offline The Hood

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2012, 09:43:12 AM »
In the UK now it is 5 minutes counting as late for anything (in the past long distance trains could be 10 mins late). Having done some work on this for Network Rail and the train companies in my last job, I know that the various companies have to pay penalties to the others if they cause delays (either from broken trains or broken infrastructure). Trains always being late in Britain is a bit of a myth that's hung around since the 90s (when they were) - and we run a much busier network than most other countries so it's harder to keep knock-on delays down. Unfortunately fixing all these problems while having a structure of various companies all trying to make a profit inevitably means we have to pay more for our tickets than anywhere else in Europe.

In answer to prissi's original question, there are several "timetables" used - the working timetable (the standard), the passenger timetable (the published one derived from the working timetable), a 12-week plan (which has ammendments for engineering works) and a daily plan (what is planned for a given day - this is the closest to what actually runs). On Sundays in particular, when lots of planned and short-notice engineering work happens because of lighter traffic, the daily plan can be quite different from the working timetable. This I guess is what happened? It could also be due to e.g. sporting events, especially if you were visiting during the Olympics.

Offline prissi

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2012, 11:43:08 AM »
Well it was last sunday, and I booked the ticket more than a week ahead. Maybe that is why those thing did not matched.

And I could not complain on delays, those train were punctual. It was just a little confusing with all those companies using different platforms sometimes even for same destinations and so on.

The rolling stock was a little worn down, but they were surpisingly fast. Actually, Most annoying was the train to Cambridge which run through tight tunnels north of Kings Cross at probably 80-100 mph which nearly popped my ears out. Ah, and figuring out those HST doors ...

Overall, I have the impression that the GB rail somehow came over most of the privatisation troubles (of which I was warned by various people before). I had worse experience in other countries, so far.

Offline merry

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2012, 01:38:37 PM »
HI guys,

Well, the Hood has explained the UK timetabling thing quite well. Fundamentally, travelling on a Sunday in the UK (and sometimes Saturday) puts you at risk of timetable changes, and it's good practice to check close to the date. The reason's simple: traditionally, Sundays have less travel demand so major changes inconvenience the least people, and they are generally paying lower fares so put up with it. Not always true nowadays, but you get the idea.

Now, to the doors.
The 'Slam Door' was, I understand, invented in the late 1800s - and became the required solution in the UK. Basically, the door will always latch closed if shut firmly (i.e slammed !). It is therefore impossible for the passenger to fall out by leaning on the door. Prior to this, the door had a non-sprung handle that could be left open or closed. It was also deemed unacceptable that a passenger could accidentally pull a handle inside the train and inadvertently open the door. The simple and robust Victorian solution to this was to only have a handle on the outside, and to provide 'droplight' windows on every door. You have to deliberately lean out to open the door - it can't be an accident (but stupidity is still possible: the Victorians thought that it was reasonable if you die by being stupid...). Originally, the windows had a leather strap to support the window (the strap had holes over a peg, like a belt on your trousers). Later, British Railways developed the droplight used on the BR Mk1, Mk2, and Mk3 vehicles.

The 1973 HST design has the Mk3 carriage design, complete with droplight windows and air-conditioning (the only major change was a 3-phase electrical system, making it incompatible with normal loco-haulage but more efficient especially in transmission loss and for electric motors such as on the air-conditioning).
 Incidentally, the Mk3 was the first 'monocoque' carriage: incredibly strong in end-on collision; see the Colwich crash in the late 1980s, a 110mph head-on collision where the only fatalities were one driver and those in the Mk1 buffet cars.

I recall (from an article I read) that when BREL sold Mk3 carriages to Ireland in the late 1970s/early 1980s, the Irish wanted power doors. So BREL developed a hydraulic closer that operated the hinged door without handles. It was clever, because the closer initially operated at very low force (so you could remove your fingers from the door gap, being warned by the pain before they became trapped!), but eventually latched the door closed. But BR never retrofitted this to stock.
In the 1990s, there were a spate of people falling out of train doors at speed (some due to faulty slam locks, some due to idiocy opening the door!), and central locking above a low speed was implemented throughout the UK fleet. Interestingly, the BREL power door closer was never implemented even as a retrofit in the UK.
Since the 1980s, new UK stock has been built with power doors as the default, almost always sliding (often 'plug' types). This is safer but there is a lot more to go wrong, and there was a big scare when one type of stock developed a nasty habit of opening the doors at speed on crowded trains!!
 
The Severn Valley Railway (a heritage steam line)  still operates a GWR carriage with twist handle doors. Platform staff and the Guard have to make a special check to ensure they're safely shut. Even so, I have observed the door hanging open in the past as it went by the trackside gang I was in (so we of course phoned the signalman & he had the train stopped for inspection!).
It is interesting that only a year ago, China railways ordered something silly like 5000 or more slam door lock mechanisms urgently - from a metalwork company in Hull in the UK [we buy unrelated parts from them, and we had to wait slightly longer because the lock job had a tight deadline]. So China is still fitting slam door locks to new build rail vehicles - probably because it's a robust and simple design, if a little confusing for people who haven't experienced it before.

I guess that is all you want to know about slam doors, probably a lot more, but maybe interesting to some folks here.
Disclaimer: I don't work on the UK's railways & never have directly, I just remember a lot of engineering-type stuff! This is what i understand, others may be able to correct me!.

TTFN,
Merry

Offline The Hood

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2012, 03:36:37 PM »
The rolling stock was a little worn down, but they were surpisingly fast. Actually, Most annoying was the train to Cambridge which run through tight tunnels north of Kings Cross at probably 80-100 mph which nearly popped my ears out.

I remember that well from student days!

Offline kierongreen

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2012, 04:37:43 PM »
Privatisation caused huge problems in the UK as the private track owner contracted out maintainance. Since the goverment took effective control of the infrastructure and maintainance the situation is much improved. It's not quite as good as it was under British Rail though, and is costing much more despite a large growth in passenger numbers. Might be down to a fair bit of money still ending up in shareholders or lawyers pockets...

Offline Ters

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #21 on: August 23, 2012, 05:38:55 PM »
Neither infrastructure nor passenger services (with two in the end insignificant exceptions) were privatized in Norway, at least not in the truest sense of the word, but they were none the less made separate organizations. Yet it appears that the government forgot about the infrastructure company. I guess new trains are more fun than new signals, rails and sleepers. It was rediscovered when everything suddenly began breaking down.

Offline sdog

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #22 on: August 23, 2012, 10:04:40 PM »
I can't really make the connection from the requirement to slam the door shut, to not having a handle on the inside. The former one seems to be a rather sensible design. Not having powered doors is also not really very necessary. They could still (and they do i think in HST) central locking.

Opening it while driving is the same degree of idiocy as doing so through an open window. Especially as windows that can be opened far enough to lean out are required, are by themself a safety concern.

I don't want to push anyone from the UK into a defensive position, where they have to explain something they wouldn't in other circumstances. It's just the link between non-automatic and no-handle i fail to understand.




ps.: The strangest thing: i read on the net that the door-handles were removed from the HST in a refit in the early 90s when central locking was installed. Leading to lots of commuters leaning out of the windows of trains pulling into station, trying to open the doors in vain.

Offline merry

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2012, 10:28:36 PM »
OK, the (late Victorian) logic is was that if a handle is light enough touch to operate, a door can too easily be opened from the inside, and that's an accident waiting to happen.
Leaning out to open the door is not. After all, you only need to do so when the train is stopped at a station. Leaning out any other time is idiocy... and idiots deserve what they get (death!).
Makes sense...remember children were very dear to the Victorian heart - they are too short to reach out (so are safe from gross idiocy) but could operate an internal handle inadvertently, so we don't have those. This is perfect logic from that point of view. Convenience was not a significant consideration.

The point about commuters is not quite right.
Commuters have long had the dangerous habit of opening the door as the train rolled into the statoin, in order to save 5 seconds on disembarking. No care for the platform staff knocked flying...or killed (maybe 5 or so staff a year in the UK, i recall from the stats). I have politely asked people not to do this on occasion...to their surprise, but when explained they did understand why.
It was central locking which was added in the 1990s. Handles were not removed - they are still there now, as Prissi experienced this weekend. Commuters did the usual impatient trick of leaning out to open the door as the train rolled in, but it didn't open - because the central locking was engaged until the Guard released the doors. Much annoyance from commuters, and confusion in general.

With power doors commonplace, the manual slam-door stock again causes confusion: now people stand there looking gormless until someone (usually older) drops the window and lets them out...ah, the complexity of simple technology!

TTFN!

Offline isidoro

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #24 on: August 23, 2012, 10:31:32 PM »
Those ideas of privatization of the 80's have nearly always come to the same result: private companies dealing with public services make them of lower quality and more expensive.  Just the opposite they were supposed to become.  Not only transportation, but communications, education, health, mail...

The main purpose of a company is to make money, which is ok, but that is fairly incompatible with giving quality and good prices.

But, on the road of becoming private, some good money went to the pockets of few people near the power.

Offline sdog

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #25 on: August 23, 2012, 11:01:39 PM »
OK, the (late Victorian) [...] Convenience was not a significant consideration.
Did the upper classes have porters or railway employees waiting at the stations who opened the doors from the outside for them? I guess posh people wouldn't risk their suit's arms doing such things.

Quote
With power doors commonplace, the manual slam-door stock again causes confusion: now people stand there looking gormless until someone (usually older) drops the window and lets them out...ah, the complexity of simple technology!
I would never have guessed this was the way to open a door, even back in the days i was used to hard to operate german equivalents of slam doors (on those: http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Datei:Silberling.jpg&filetimestamp=20060411092056).

Reading the advice "open the window to open door" would still have left me puzzled...

Thanks a lot Merry for the explanation. To conclude, the slam door = open from outside
btw, how did children in school age cope with those doors, this was also on local trains?

It's rather fascinating to learn about such simple things that show such unbridgeable gaps between cultures that are rather similar in most other aspects.

Offline kierongreen

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #26 on: August 24, 2012, 11:12:42 AM »
A child old enough to travel on their own should be able to open doors by lowering window and reaching out easily enough. I certainly had no problem doing this when I was 10 or so.

Offline dom700

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #27 on: August 24, 2012, 12:34:29 PM »
aha, thanks for that info.
Even 10mins behind schedule is unthinkable under normal conditions for japan and germany.

Well I dont know about Japan, but in Germany we have a lot of people trying to get onto a train - by braking through the drivers window with their bodies
According to an online tool providing details about late trains, its a cause about par with construction sites.

Offline el_slapper

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #28 on: August 24, 2012, 02:31:46 PM »
In France, separation of rail & train companies has been a disaster, also. In the middle of years 00s, we had a surge of "train delayed due to broken rail" in Paris suburban network. Before, they wer unheard of. Late 00s, they invested back on rail maintenance, & it's much better today. Just, today, other things are getting old, as signs or stations(many of them are being rebuilt, with a huge impact on traffic).

For how to open door, I'd say that best interface is no interface. Driver opens & closes doors for everyone, & there is no lever or button for passengers to play with. We have it on automated subways, & a few piloted ones. Works wonders. Noone shouts "please ooooopen - pleeeeeeese!!!!!" half a second before subways stops, at a station where half people would go down anyways.

Offline greenling

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #29 on: August 24, 2012, 02:44:11 PM »
http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Datei:Silberling.jpg&filetimestamp=20060411092056
I drive sometimes in those Vehicles.And i have infos over this Vehicle.
This vehicle have no Slamdoors the doors in this Vehicle are Drehflattüren http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drehfaltt%C3%BCr .
That sometimes people have problems to open this door to get in or get out the vehicle lay on the Age of this Vehicle and on a
Safeysystem with the name TB0 http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/TB0 .
Sorry that the link are in German it. :-[
« Last Edit: August 24, 2012, 03:06:47 PM by greenling »

Offline prissi

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #30 on: August 24, 2012, 03:45:59 PM »
Slam door were folded in germany to take less space. But the sound were similar. Those types were quite common on non high speed rail and ICs. Slower trains (like the no longer existing IR) had also slam doors. But all those doors were closed via a central lock since the 70ies (at least).

The only trains without doorlock were the old S-Bahn in Berlin until mid 1990is and the east berlin subways until mid 1980ies.

Offline VS

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #31 on: August 24, 2012, 07:03:14 PM »
I think nearly all of Czech Railways wagons still do have fully manual slam doors, so head over here for some retro train rides :P Other than that, I know that all units close automatically, but whether they can't be opened when moving... no idea. I never tried ;)

Offline prissi

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #32 on: August 24, 2012, 09:06:13 PM »
I think those are like germany, you can turn the handle easily, because it is decoupled from the actual door.

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #33 on: August 24, 2012, 10:33:20 PM »
Those ideas of privatization of the 80's have nearly always come to the same result: private companies dealing with public services make them of lower quality and more expensive.  Just the opposite they were supposed to become.  Not only transportation, but communications, education, health, mail...

The main purpose of a company is to make money, which is ok, but that is fairly incompatible with giving quality and good prices.

But, on the road of becoming private, some good money went to the pockets of few people near the power.

Before 1948, all railways in the UK were in the hands of private, profit-making companies, and (save for the unfortunate effects of the Second World War), British railways were of extremely high standard and the envy of the world. It was private money that built the railways, and the state that partly destroyed them in the 1960s with the "Beeching Axe". Politicians are no more likely to act in the public interest as opposed to their own interest than businesspeople. Both politicians and businesspeople have some incentive to do things that benefit others by means of feedback mechanisms: politicians have elections, businesspeople must satisfy their customers in order to make a profit. However, whilst, with politicians, elections occur once every four or five years and involve a single choice about every issue all at once (where all but what are perceived to be the most important issues of the day have little or no effect on the outcome of elections), businesspeople's feedback is constant and related specifically and only to their area of control. The government can get away with running the railways badly as long as it can convince the electorate that its overall policies are less bad than the opposition's. A business does not have this luxury.

Further, the state, unlike a private enterprise, has the general coercive power of lawmaking which politicians can and readily will abuse for their own short-term interests. The more that the state controls, the more that falls within the sphere of this potential abuse of power. A good example of this in connexion to railways is that, in the 1960s, following the Beeching cuts, a number of private enterprises wished to re-open some of the closed lines for profit. If they had done so, they would have provided a very useful service to people who lost out to the state's recklessness at a net benefit to the treasury. They were forcibly prohibited from doing so by the state because the government of the day did not want to be embarrassed by the prospect of being proven wrong about the wisdom of the Beeching closures, and the unions, who had a disproportionate influence on government policy, did not want the possibility of there existing railway operators over whom they had a less disproportionate influence than the state, paying the market rate rather than an artificially inflated rate for the services of drivers, etc..

As to present day railways in the UK, the state still has a controlling influence. The railways are not privatised at all, but franchised: the state contracts with private companies to run specific services for a set period on very rigid conditions stipulated by the state on infrastructure provided by the state. The companies have no incentive to invest for the long-term because they are not guaranteed to continue to have the right to run trains past the end of their franchise term, the state continues to be in a position to abuse its power (and, for example, award a franchise to the company who promises to pay it the most money in return for doing so, rather than the company that is likely to provide the best services, as is demonstrated by the recent awarding of the West Coast franchise to First Group rather than Virgin Rail), and the state continues to own all the infrastructure, which means that there is no private investment in infrastructure, and all the perverse incentives that go with the disconnexion of the infrastructure from the operations. It is interesting to note that the advantages of having the trains run by the owner of the infrastructure was recognised as long ago as the 1820s, and why in the 1990s it was thought fit to reverse that position is thoroughly obscure (and yet another example of abuse of state power).

Offline kierongreen

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Re: Trains in GB and their schedule
« Reply #34 on: August 24, 2012, 11:06:51 PM »
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the state continues to own all the infrastructure
This statement is not correct on two counts:
1) The infrastructure was privatised in the 1990s so "continues" is misleading.
2) Network Rail is not technically state owned (although it is guaranteed by the state).

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British railways were of extremely high standard and the envy of the world.
The industrial revolution came early to Britain, so we got quite a headstart over other countries. Plus since we owned 1/3 the world at that point we were the "envy" (for better or worse) of most of the world in any case.

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the state that partly destroyed them in the 1960s with the "Beeching Axe"
Changing times destroyed the railways, not the state. The railway system as it existed in the 1930s and earlier would never have been profitable after the Second World War. Regardless of ownership there would have been huge service cuts in the face of competition from road and air. The fact that the railways were state owned in the 1960s meant that the decision was political to let railways be closed, but shareholders would have been even more savage and demanding. To retain a network of reasonable size you would have to pay a subsidy, personally I would rather this were spent on infrastructure, vehicles, and staff to keep the railway running, not lining the pockets of shareholders.

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rather than the company that is likely to provide the best services
Past performance is no guide to that in the future. First has a wide variety of operations in the UK, some have better performance than others but you can't know that Virgin would definitely operate a better service than First. That said I'd be more than happy to see Intercity running it all again (as an aside, I know it's the East Coast but I wonder when we'll get back to BR timings for London to Edinburgh, fastest now is still over 10 minutes slower than under BR).

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general coercive power of lawmaking
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the state continues to be in a position to abuse its power
Oh please. Lawmaking is necessary for society to function. To remove lawmaking functions from the state would allow private companies to abuse power at will. Private companies act in the interest of their shareholders, the state acts in the interest of the wider public via our elected representatives. There are past examples of both abusing power, that's why we have a mixed economy with safeguards to protect the public from either abusing power as much as is practicable.

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the unions, who had a disproportionate influence on government policy
Unions without whom we'd be working 10 hour days, 6 days a week and with a handful of days off a year.