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Old July 8th, 2011, 10:17 PM   #201
Pablo Diablo
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Would there be an issue with gradual conversion to 750v DC overhead (tram style)? Forgive me if this is a gross oversimplification, but wouldn't that essentially just be swapping the rail for a cable? I wonder if this could be a cheaper solution to allow Merseyrail to take over the borderlands line? Would just require the new stock to have both third-rail pickups and a pantograph.

The Barcelona Metro uses DC overhead. In tunnels it's a rigid bar rather than a cable. And doesn't the Tyne and Wear Metro use overhead? How does that work in the tunnels?

As a side note, would changing Merseyrail into a Tyne and Wear Metro style system make it more efficient? Taking the system out of NR control and using cheaper light-rail vehicles as the new stock? Surely that would reduce running costs and make extending the network cheaper?
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Old July 8th, 2011, 10:22 PM   #202
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Originally Posted by Mostly Lurking View Post
Yes to that, but we are all idiots sometimes, it's just a quesiton of how often, for how long, how much, and when. I've spent many idiotic moments in my life, fortunately none of them in such a dangerous place, and fully expect to be an idiot again, hopefully not in a way that will cause such a dreadful accident. Unless you have "HSE" stamped through your body like a stick of rock, and are averse to any needless or thoughtless risk taking, you may commit an act of idiocy yourself now and then. And, at that moment, you too will be an idiot.

I think you are right - at that specific and tragic time, the boy was behaving idiotically, if an idiot is someone behaving in a way that is oblivious to sense and consequence. I don't know a boy or girl who hasn't been an idiot at some time or other, or many adults for that matter. (Of course, in the old days, an "idiot" was someone of low intelligence, and I don't know how intelligent this boy was, but presumably children of lower intellect are a bit more at risk than brighter children simply because they'll not be as good at remembering public information films etc about risks such as the third rail. But, as a stranger, I've no idea, he might have destined to become Liverpool's next nobel prize winner, had he survived, there is no way for us to know this from the basic facts published about his tragic death).

There are semantics here. If I was to be pedantic I'd say I think you probably also meant that the child had behaved idiotically. Intelligent, cautious and otherwise sensible people can behave idiotically sometimes, without being idiots per se.

Boys are more reckless than girls. Young people are less conscious of the consequences of taking risks than older people. Some people, who are very successful in life, are risk takers who could easily have ended up dead or maimed as a result of their predelictions and behaviours. Train lines are dangerous, as are deep bodies of cold water, fast roads without crossings, and other places where, tragically, children, young people and adults behave idiotically every year and die as a consequence.

You've expressed sympathy to his family. It's hard to imagine how hard it must be for them, and how much regret they must feel that he just didn't realise how stupid and dangerous it was to do what he did. I think that even if the boy behaved idiotically for a moment before his early death, it's not hard to extend sympathy to him also for his lost life, and to feel sadness at his lost potential. We'll never know what he could have become or achieved or potentially contributed to society, who he would have helped in his life or what he would have grown to know and share.

Last edited by design_man; July 8th, 2011 at 10:38 PM.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 03:07 PM   #203
Martin S
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pablo Diablo View Post
Would there be an issue with gradual conversion to 750v DC overhead (tram style)? Forgive me if this is a gross oversimplification, but wouldn't that essentially just be swapping the rail for a cable? I wonder if this could be a cheaper solution to allow Merseyrail to take over the borderlands line? Would just require the new stock to have both third-rail pickups and a pantograph.

The Barcelona Metro uses DC overhead. In tunnels it's a rigid bar rather than a cable. And doesn't the Tyne and Wear Metro use overhead? How does that work in the tunnels?

As a side note, would changing Merseyrail into a Tyne and Wear Metro style system make it more efficient? Taking the system out of NR control and using cheaper light-rail vehicles as the new stock? Surely that would reduce running costs and make extending the network cheaper?
I believe that the issue is this Pablo. The power that trains need to accelerate is the product of the voltage muliplied by the current (volts x amps), so to have the same power at low voltage you need a correspondingly higher current. Where you have a high current, you have high resistance and so a 25,000 volt cable will only be around 20mm in diameter and will have less resistance than a much larger conductor rail. That is why conductor rail systems need more frequent sub-stations - effectively the conductor rail acts as the element in an electric fire and wastes the electrical energy as heat.

If you were to have a 750v overhead wire with the same power output as provided by the conductor rail, it would have to be very chunky and with frequent sub-stations. (Trams do not have the power requirement of commuter trains with their greater size, weight and acceleration).

Before the modern 25kV overhead system was standardised upon, routes such as the now-closed Manchester - Sheffield route via Woodhead used 1,500V DC and the size of the overhead line supports was massive.

Use of aluminium, which has higher conductivity than steel, has made it possible to reduce the size of conductor rails (some of it is used on Merseyrail) and has made possible the suspended rail with underneath contact which is used by the DLR. This form of conductor rail is less dangerous as it is fitted with a plastic hood to both sides and top and is less susceptible to ice or snow build up.

I'm not sure whether it would be possible to run overhead lines in the tunnels. Improved technology has enabled the wires to be fitted closer to structures and, normally, the clearance problem in tunnels is at the train roof edges rather than right on the centreline but I suspect that the single line tunnels on Merseyrail would have insufficient clearance for OHLE.

Looks like we won't get the vertical integration that Tyne and Wear Metro enjoys. However, I guess there is a case for lighter weight vehicles as Merseyrail trains mainly do not share tracks with other rail vehicles.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 05:55 PM   #204
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin S View Post
... the suspended rail with underneath contact which is used by the DLR. This form of conductor rail is less dangerous as it is fitted with a plastic hood to both sides and top and is less susceptible to ice or snow build up.
BART (San Francisco) uses 1000vDC third rail with top contact and an insulated canopy over the third rail. However it achieves this by using paddles rather than shoes and the UK system does not seem to be amenable to retrofit. There is a nice photo of Daly City station that shows canopied top-contact third rail at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BA...androtated.jpg

I think the best that can (and should) be done is for Merseyrail to make some education videos and direct mail a couple of DVDs gratis to every school in the area twice a year. Demonstrating how, for example, a wedged-in football or a stick is not an insulator (I don't know that happened in this case but based on what I have read it is a possibility). And how easy it is to trip or slip or misjudge a jump or spill a drink.

Quote:
I'm not sure whether it would be possible to run overhead lines in the tunnels. ... I suspect that the single line tunnels on Merseyrail would have insufficient clearance for OHLE.
I'm told the circle was designed with 25kV OHLE clearances, not sure about the Mersey Tunnel though.
Quote:
...Looks like we won't get the vertical integration that Tyne and Wear Metro enjoys. However, I guess there is a case for lighter weight vehicles as Merseyrail trains mainly do not share tracks with other rail vehicles.
Long distance passenger trains to Rock Ferry and freight to the docks via Bidston remain possibilities for reopening in the long term.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 08:12 PM   #205
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin S View Post
I believe that the issue is this Pablo. The power that trains need to accelerate is the product of the voltage muliplied by the current (volts x amps), so to have the same power at low voltage you need a correspondingly higher current. Where you have a high current, you have high resistance and so a 25,000 volt cable will only be around 20mm in diameter and will have less resistance than a much larger conductor rail. That is why conductor rail systems need more frequent sub-stations - effectively the conductor rail acts as the element in an electric fire and wastes the electrical energy as heat.

If you were to have a 750v overhead wire with the same power output as provided by the conductor rail, it would have to be very chunky and with frequent sub-stations. (Trams do not have the power requirement of commuter trains with their greater size, weight and acceleration).

Before the modern 25kV overhead system was standardised upon, routes such as the now-closed Manchester - Sheffield route via Woodhead used 1,500V DC and the size of the overhead line supports was massive.

Use of aluminium, which has higher conductivity than steel, has made it possible to reduce the size of conductor rails (some of it is used on Merseyrail) and has made possible the suspended rail with underneath contact which is used by the DLR. This form of conductor rail is less dangerous as it is fitted with a plastic hood to both sides and top and is less susceptible to ice or snow build up.

I'm not sure whether it would be possible to run overhead lines in the tunnels. Improved technology has enabled the wires to be fitted closer to structures and, normally, the clearance problem in tunnels is at the train roof edges rather than right on the centreline but I suspect that the single line tunnels on Merseyrail would have insufficient clearance for OHLE.

Looks like we won't get the vertical integration that Tyne and Wear Metro enjoys. However, I guess there is a case for lighter weight vehicles as Merseyrail trains mainly do not share tracks with other rail vehicles.
Ok yeah, that makes sense.

This is how the Barcelona Metro is powered...

The overhead bar does look pretty thick.

So do you think T&W/DLR style light-rail vehicles would be a good choice for Merseyrail? Surely they'd be cheaper to buy and maintain? As well as causing less wear on the rails.
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Old July 10th, 2011, 12:16 PM   #206
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I've always wondered why their haven't been more moves on Merseyside to fully separate Merseyrail from the National Rail system like the T&W Metro. Would it actually end up being very expensive to do (i.e. segregating the far ends of the lines) or is it just not very practical for how the network is used?
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Old July 10th, 2011, 04:17 PM   #207
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Originally Posted by Cherguevara View Post
I've always wondered why their haven't been more moves on Merseyside to fully separate Merseyrail from the National Rail system like the T&W Metro. Would it actually end up being very expensive to do (i.e. segregating the far ends of the lines) or is it just not very practical for how the network is used?
I'm not sure what more moves could have been made.
Merseyrail spent well over a million quid lobbying for it.
The McNulty report in May 2011 recommended it.
The decision that it was not going to happen was made by DfT barely two weeks ago.

The most obvious reason is that the unions (RMT and ASLEF) are opposed and their members are in the trenches, so to speak. There are reasons of safety. Paddington and Potter's Bar serve as drastic examples of what can happen when railtrack and signalling maintenance is taken out of public responsibility.

And as an aside doing this would greatly complicate any possible future attempts to return freight trains to the Birkenhead docks.
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Old July 10th, 2011, 05:49 PM   #208
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I am a regular user of the T&W metro system and it is a great system, I will just say one thing though and be careful what you wish for as one bad thing about the Metro is it's lack of fare integration with normal rail. So if you want to travel from say London to Whitley Bay you have to buy another ticket for the last bit of the journey rather than a through fare like you can have in Liverpool.

Many a times I've arrived late at night in Newcastle or Sunderland only to realise I haven't enough change for the metro ticket (and the machines don't take notes) so had to either risk travelling without one or spend a fortune at a nearby takeaway or pub just to get change for the ticket for the last bit home.
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Old July 11th, 2011, 01:39 PM   #209
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Overhead is more expensive than you might think. Ignoring the costs of erecting a load of supports and keeping their tension right, they have to insulate all of the lineside kit against interference due to the higher voltage used, and in tunnels of the type on Merseyrail it would probably require insulation of the utilities near to the tunnels. That is if there is enough clearance anyway.

I can see Mersyrail acquiring dual voltage stock, but only to allow extension onto the city line and possibly any further extensions of the network.
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Old July 11th, 2011, 02:57 PM   #210
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Despite having worked in OHLE design for mainline and trams, and having travelled on Merseyrail thousands of times I must confess that I've never really looked at the issue in any depth...... but from memory only, I would've thought OLE was physically viable in these tunnels (but could be wrong).

Relatively low Power requirements negate any need for 25kV OLE. This power is generally proportional to system speed and tractive load which are both relatively small in this case. The comparatively low speed Light rail/tram application can readily be accommodated by the low voltage DC/AC systems.... for merseytram for instance the city-centre sections were mainly trolley wire as opposed to catenary.

Also the systems are normally short distance networks, limiting power transmission costs and losses etc. 25kV could also be an issue as regards insulation of infrastructure etc bringing its own safety risks.

There are probably a few ways to make 3rd rail safer that may be much cheaper than retro-fitting with OLE.
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Old July 15th, 2011, 05:31 PM   #211
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I thought you lads might be interested to see a couple of photos I managed to take while inside Lime Street Signal box today. I'm just sorry I didn't take my proper camera!

Just one guy works in the box alone now controlling about 45 movements an hour on a rather antique set up. The only one of its kind left in operation today.









Very interesting place!
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Old July 15th, 2011, 08:05 PM   #212
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Thanks for posting those pictures Tony. I didn't realise those old electro-mechanical boxes still existed. Still, I was down in Cornwall last week and they are still using semaphore signals even on the main line down to Penzance.
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Old July 16th, 2011, 02:08 PM   #213
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Great picture Tony. What happens when he needs a wee?
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Old July 16th, 2011, 02:15 PM   #214
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish Blood English Heart View Post
I am a regular user of the T&W metro system and it is a great system, I will just say one thing though and be careful what you wish for as one bad thing about the Metro is it's lack of fare integration with normal rail. So if you want to travel from say London to Whitley Bay you have to buy another ticket for the last bit of the journey rather than a through fare like you can have in Liverpool.

Many a times I've arrived late at night in Newcastle or Sunderland only to realise I haven't enough change for the metro ticket (and the machines don't take notes) so had to either risk travelling without one or spend a fortune at a nearby takeaway or pub just to get change for the ticket for the last bit home.
But fare integration isn't impossible - and neither are machines that take notes or debit/credit cards? There is a certain level of fare integration on LU, DLR and Manchester Metrolink.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 10:41 AM   #215
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The signal box at Lime Street is due to be closed in 2015, and work moved to the new regional control centre. The following year, signalling in the Allerton & Speke, Halton & Runcorn and Warrington areas will move.

Between 2019 and 2024 the Liverpool - St Helens line will be moved, and at some point after 2024 the Merseyrail signalling will be moved (assuming it stays a a relatively normal train company and doesn't go light rail or anything).

All signal boxes on these lines and in these areas will close as the signalling is moved to the regional control center.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 08:49 PM   #216
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It is also likely that Northern Rail and Transpennine Express will be merged in 2014.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 10:01 PM   #217
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It is also likely that Northern Rail and Transpennine Express will be merged in 2014.
Oh no.
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Old August 8th, 2011, 03:19 PM   #218
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Quote:
Public transport smartcard revolution to start this autumn on Merseyside
by David Bartlett, Liverpool Echo
Aug 8 2011

MERSEYSIDE’S technological revolution in public transport will get underway in the autumn when “smartcards” are introduced for passengers.

The cards – similar to London’s popular Oyster cards – will be rolled out in bid a take the hassle out of travelling on a bus, train, or ferry and encourage more people to use public transport.

In London, the introduction of the Oyster card has seen a transformation in the way people pay for their travel – only 1.6% of transactions are now done using cash.

The transport authority has been running a number of small scale trials since last year and believes the time has come to start rolling out the technology.

In October the new branding for smartcards will be launched and people renewing season tickets will start being issued with them.

Once the cards are in full operation for public transport Merseytravel hopes to expand their use for small scale transactions at shops.

Chief executive Neil Scales said: “I am quite excited about this. It will help attract more people on to public transport.”

Some buses already have card readers on board including Cumfy bus, Avon, and Arriva 500 and 501 services.

And Merseyrail’s eight most used stations already have barriers which are smartcard enabled.

Card readers will be installed at other stations and at ferry stops to allow passengers to “tap in” to the system at the start and end of their journeys.

Pensioners have already been using their passes, which are smartcard enabled, on some journeys.

Merseytravel is keen to make sure the system is glitch free before it launches into wider use and around 100 Merseytravel staff have been involved in a trial in an attempt to iron out any bugs in the system.

Merseytravel said it is investing a “seven-figure” sum in technology after receiving a £2.2m grant from government.

It will be the biggest smartcard network outside the capital, once fully introduced.

The pay-as-you-go Oyster cards are scanned by a reader at the ticket barrier at the start and end of every journey and the cost automatically deducted.

Cardholders can also arrange to have e-mails warning of delays by informing the authority of a route.
Source - Liverpool Echo
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Old August 8th, 2011, 03:28 PM   #219
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Finally!

They haven't explained the fare structure yet though. I'd like to know whether touching in on a bus and then changing to the train would charge me an Arriva bus single and a Merseyrail single or a Merseytravel saveaway day pass? Hmm.
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Old August 8th, 2011, 03:32 PM   #220
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Fare integration is a nightmare waiting to happen, it's great that it's happened on some of the bus routes with Stagecoach tickets and arriva valid on either buses.

I would like to see how it works with rail, I was at Chester on Saturday, the machines still want to sell you a very expensive ticket instead of a reasonably priced one.
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