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Old June 5th, 2007, 06:18 AM   #81
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Originally Posted by Songoten2554 View Post
wow that was harsh that Breeching did i am amazed but i am glad there is still railways in England

but i want to know something is there going to be new Light Rail or subway that will be constructed outside of London?
Lots of talk, little action!

Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham and Nottingham have had light rail / tram systems built in recent years to add to the true Metros already in existence in Newcastle and Glasgow. Lots of other places have threatened to join the list (e.g. Portsmouth-Gosport, Leeds, Liverpool) but progress seems slow.

The two in London (DLR and Croydon Tramlink) have been stunning successes, but those outside London have sometimes been of questionable cost-benefit (e.g. Sheffield, Birmingham). Huge expansion earmarked for the successful Manchester Metrolink is struggling with funding sadly.
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Old June 5th, 2007, 12:59 PM   #82
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Beeching went far too far. Many lines had to go, granted, through being duplicates or completely under-used, but many many towns of quite some size lost their rail links which was a travesty... Mansfield (pop 70,000, station re-opened 1995), Gosport (pop 70,000), Corby (pop 50,000), Daventry, Wisbech, Witney (all pop 20,000). Other strategic routes like Carlisle - Edinburgh, Spalding - Boston, Grimsby - Spilsby via Louth, the Woodhead tunnel and Uckfield - Lewes were closed and vast tracts of rural Britain were left tens of miles from the nearest railway.
I can't believe towns of this size lost their rail service. It seems Dr Beeching was indeed a little over-enthusiastic. It's a pity the rights-of-way for these closed lines weren't preserved. Maybe some like the the Grand Central could have been used today for new lines e.g. for freight or high-speed passenger services.
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Huge expansion earmarked for the successful Manchester Metrolink is struggling with funding sadly.
If the proposed road-pricing scheme is implemented in Manchester would it provide a reliable and sufficient source of funding for public transport improvements? What are the chances of road-pricing becoming a reality there?
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Old June 5th, 2007, 03:20 PM   #83
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I'm not being an apologist for Beeching, who I accept went too far. If all of his closures had been implemented, much of our Merseyrail network would not exist as lines such as Liverpool - Southport or Liverpool - Ormskirk would have been closed.

However, railway closures started long before Beeching and continued long after him. Woodhead tunnel was not closed until 1981 and I think that Uckfield - Lewes was later.

Beeching did lay the foundation for the modern railway with its emphasis on high speed passenger services and bulk freight. He was one of the most hated figures of his era but he had a clear vision for the future of Britain's antiquated rail transport industry.
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Old June 5th, 2007, 08:41 PM   #84
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I'm not being an apologist for Beeching, who I accept went too far. If all of his closures had been implemented, much of our Merseyrail network would not exist as lines such as Liverpool - Southport or Liverpool - Ormskirk would have been closed.

However, railway closures started long before Beeching and continued long after him. Woodhead tunnel was not closed until 1981 and I think that Uckfield - Lewes was later.

Beeching did lay the foundation for the modern railway with its emphasis on high speed passenger services and bulk freight. He was one of the most hated figures of his era but he had a clear vision for the future of Britain's antiquated rail transport industry.
It pains me to say I probably support the majority of Beeching's closures... Railway Mania left us with a legacy of hundreds of railway backwaters which never had any hope of being anywhere near economical... Bottom line was to what extent could taxpayers be expected to keep tiny rural branch lines alive when they were carrying a handful of passengers a day with the advent of the car? If they had all have been kept open (and assuming the public pot available for British rail would have been the same regardless), they would have simply sucked money away from the trunk routes which all needed electrification (the GWR and most of the Midland are still waiting).

It is testament that closures went a little overboard when entire lines have been re-opened (e.g. the 'Robin Hood Line' through Mansfield and several lines in the Welsh Valleys) or when stations serving sizeable towns have been re-opened (e.g. Yate).

I find this graph very intersting though:



...Journies on Britain's Railways exceed those at pre-Beeching levels, despite the network being reduced by a third of its route Km and by 3,000 stations. What is the biggest shame is that this actually proved to be a false economy, as a lot of the traffic on the trunk routes were dependent on the branch lines that fed them, hence the crash in passenger levels due to Beeching's Axe.
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Old June 6th, 2007, 04:27 PM   #85
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The advent of the cheap automobile may have contributed to the decline in rail journeys. The growth since 1980 is phenomenal! much greater than I expected.
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Old June 6th, 2007, 07:28 PM   #86
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Even though loads of railways were closed, Britain still has a very extensive railway network. I may be wrong but I feel that a greater percentage of the UK is covered by railway than in the majority of other European countries.
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Old June 6th, 2007, 07:59 PM   #87
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One thing that is frustrating about transport in the UK is how bad it is now compared to what it USED to be. Almost every town and city had a tramway or something similar. And railways too. Look at Glasgow... despite having a fairly extensive underground railway network (by UK standards) it has HUGE amounts of disused tunnels that could easily be converted back into suburban railway lines. Its a similar story for the rest of the country. My own city, Preston, relatively small, has a stupid amount of disused railway infrastructure in the city centre alone, including an abandoned tram tunnel and railway tunnel running directly beneath the city centre:
Accura I am in complete agreement with you, Britain has made railways all over the world for over a century and yet our own transport system sucks.

The irony is that it wouldnt take long to get it back on track yet we dont see any investment or consideration, all we get is billions and billions going into the national rail and still we have the slowest trains in Europe.

Other Asian devloped and developing countrys can integrate new technlogy into thier system easily as they are growing it would be difficult for Britain to do that since we have old infrastrucure in place already but continual upgrade and look after could solve this problem.


In Scotlands two biggest and busiest airports Glasgow and Edinburgh we dont have mono-rail or light railway access to the airports and yet a railway line pass's infront of Edinburgh airport!!! This is courrption and bad managment!!!

I have been to many airports in Asia and they all have rail links to airports.
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Old June 6th, 2007, 08:02 PM   #88
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The advent of the cheap automobile may have contributed to the decline in rail journeys. The growth since 1980 is phenomenal! much greater than I expected.
Look at Japan they are so well organised and efficient in travel, yes they have cars but if you look at train systems there you'll see how far behind UK is. Cheap automobile is no excuse for having run down railways and dis-used trains.

Everyone keeps talking about global warming so why not make trains rather than take cars.
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Old June 6th, 2007, 09:24 PM   #89
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duplicate, i am sorry
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Old June 6th, 2007, 09:25 PM   #90
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Look at Japan they are so well organised and efficient in travel, yes they have cars but if you look at train systems there you'll see how far behind UK is. Cheap automobile is no excuse for having run down railways and dis-used trains.

Everyone keeps talking about global warming so why not make trains rather than take cars.
My comment on cars was reflecting a social phenomena after the second world war.

To me the surprise is the extraordinary extent that ridership has rebounded since the 1980's. The amazing thing to me is the total negativism, by forumers, about the UK trains. I have ridden on trains all over the world in the last tweny years and let me assure you that the UK trains in the UK are phenomenally good compared to most countries of the world. They rival Japan as boringly consistent, crowded and heavily used. Most railway professionals that I have talked to aspire to achieve the quality of the UK railways

Of course they can always be better
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Old June 7th, 2007, 10:42 AM   #91
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My comment on cars was reflecting a social phenomena after the second world war.

To me the surprise is the extraordinary extent that ridership has rebounded since the 1980's. The amazing thing to me is the total negativism, by forums, about the UK trains. I have ridden on trains all over the world in the last twenty years and let me assure you that the UK trains in the UK are phenomenally good compared to most countries of the world. They rival Japan as boringly consistent, crowded and heavily used. Most railway professionals that I have talked to aspire to achieve the quality of the UK railways

Of course they can always be better
I agree here that I don't understand how so many British people knock their train network and some claiming it to be amongst the worst in the world.

This is utter nonsense. I have travelled many a country's rail network and Britain is up there with the best in many respects.

Some positives:
* A brilliant, extensive network. Despite the Beeching cuts, Britain remains with one of the world's densest rail networks.
* Excellent price reductions on many long distant lines, especially if you book early and can understand the fare structure (* see later in negatives)
* Most trains are in good condition
* Some spectacular stations. Many of the smaller stations also very high quality
* Wonderful historical lines and structures
* Some great modern structures.
* Good reliability. I know people often complain about this, but trains in the UK seem to run pretty well on schedule when compared to other nations. I travel quite a bit by train, in the UK and abroad and don't see any major differences with other country's networks.

And of cause the negatives:
* Confusing fare system due to so many different companies and special offers.
* Although long distance fares can be very cheap, short distance fares are terribly expensive.
* Trains seem a bit cramped sometimes, compared to German trains anyway. I'm sure they have the same gauge, so maybe it's just due to carriage design - anyone can answer this?
* Few services on Christmas day (????????!)

Overall the network is pretty good in my opinion. I just think it's a topic British people love to moan about.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 04:25 PM   #92
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Trains seem a bit cramped sometimes, compared to German trains anyway. I'm sure they have the same gauge, so maybe it's just due to carriage design - anyone can answer this?
The British Railways share the same "rail" guage as most of Europe but they use the smallest "loading" guage of any railroad.

Rail guage is space between the rails. Loading guage is the height and width of the actual carriage. This is defined by the many historic tunnels and bridges on the British network. Germany almost completely rebuilt all its railway after WW II and they have the largest loading guage in Europe which allows taller and wider carriages than are found in Brittain.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 04:25 PM   #93
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The British Railways share the same "rail" guage as most of Europe but they use the smallest "loading" guage of any railroad.

Rail guage is space between the rails. Loading guage is the height and width of the actual carriage. This is defined by the many historic tunnels and bridges on the British network. Germany almost completely rebuilt all its railway after WW II and they have the largest loading guage in Europe which allows taller and wider carriages than are found in Brittain.
The distance between the rails, the track gauge, is known as standard guage and is 1435mm or 4' 8 1/4" and this dates from George Stephenson's colliery railways in the North East.

As its name suggests, standard gauge is in use pretty much everywhere, though certain countries, such as Ireland, Spain, Portugal and most notably Russia use wider gauges. There are also many narrow gauge systems, particularly in mountainous areas. Switzerland has an extensive network of 1 metre gauge railways.

The factor that mainly affects the size of rail vehicles is the structure gauge. This is the limiting dimensions that bridges, tunnels, station platforms etc are built to and which dictate the maximum width and height of passenger and freight vehicles.

The British rail system suffers from being pioneering and was built to a narrow structure gauge. However, even in Britain we have the Great Western railway from London to Bristol and the West Country, which was built to serve the abandoned broad gauge 7' network.

Most European countries were signatories to the Berne convention, which laid down a standard European wide structure gauge. This meant that not only were bridges and tunnels made higher and wider but the distance between adjacent tracks (known in railway parlance as the sixfoot) was larger than in Britain. The principal consideration at the time of the Berne Convention (mid-nineteenth century) was that there be sufficient width and headroom to allow wagons laden with bales of hay to pass through.

This means that modern European passenger vehicles are built to more generous dimensions than they are in Britain. However, probably the largest structure gauge in use in Europe is on the Channel Tunnel, which allows double deck car carriers with internal standing room to pass through. The USA has even larger gauges which allow double stack containers to be carried.

Despite our restrictive gauge, a large amount of work has been done to increase gauge clearances and clear important freight routes to carry first 8' 6" containers, and more recently 9' 6". Also, the introduction of Eurostar trains, which have wider dimensions at platform level, resulted in a gauge clearance exercise on the routes to the continent. However, Eurostar is generally built to the more restrictive British gauge.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 07:56 PM   #94
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Back to subways, does anyone have any more photos of Merseyrail or information about it? It is suprisingly hard to find much information about the system.

Also, is Birmingham's system also in its own seperate right of way or does it run in the street? Any information/photographs about that system?
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Old June 9th, 2007, 03:15 AM   #95
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Back to subways, does anyone have any more photos of Merseyrail or information about it? It is suprisingly hard to find much information about the system.

Also, is Birmingham's system also in its own seperate right of way or does it run in the street? Any information/photographs about that system?
Haven't got many Merseyrail photos - I need to go and take some - but what sort of information are you interested in?

As for the Birmingham metro, though I am not too familiar with it, I believe it is all on a old railway formation with the exception of a street running section in Wolverhampton. There has been talk of extending it further into Birmingham town centre maybe by running underground but there is very little money available for public transport projects outside of London.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 03:37 AM   #96
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I decided to take my camera out today so here is a description of the Merseyrail underground system, which I have also posted on the UK Transport and Infrastructure forum.

Merseyrail, the rail system serving Liverpool and its surrounding towns has the largest British underground system outside of London in terms of route miles. This serves the city centre of Liverpool and the town centre of Birkenhead on the other side of the River Mersey. In all there are 6.5 miles of underground route and five underground stations, two of which are interchanges.

This map shows the location of these stations, which serve the Wirral Line (green) and the Northern Line (blue):



The system grew out of the Mersey Railway between James Street in Liverpool and Hamilton Square in Birkenhead, which was opened in 1886. James Street station now forms part of the lower floor of a sixties office building but was once housed in a Victorian building complete with hydraulic tower.



The station has lift access to the underground platforms but, during the week, the more fit passengers can make use of an underground passageway which climbs up to emerge in India Buildings in Water Street.



The underground station is a rare example of a double track station constructed in a bored tunnel. This photo shows the Birkenhead bound platform serving trains from Liverpool Central.



The second platform has not been in regular use since the system was extended in 1977. It used to serve trains from Birkenhead bound for Liverpool Central (low level) but is now by-passed by the Loop Line. However, whenever the Loop is closed due to a breakdown or for maintenance (as it was for much of last month), the old platform is brought back into use.

There is a third platform at James Street, located on the Loop Line which is used by passengers from the Wirral arriving in Liverpool.

This artwork adorns the wall of the old platform, which was not modernised during the Merseyrail works of the 1970s.



The corresponding station in Birkenhead is Hamilton Square. Originally, this was almost identical to James Street but here both platforms are still in active use and have been modernised.

This shows a train bound for Rock Ferry from Liverpool.



Hamilton Square also serves trains to New Brighton and West Kirkby, which have their own platform parallel to the main station. This was constructed as part of the burrowing junction works of the 1970s, which allowed trains serving the Birkenhead Park branch to burrow under the Rock Ferry branch and therefore, increase the capacity of the junction.

The station building at Hamilton Square:



The tower was for hydraulic power for the original lifts. A similar structure was built at James Street but was destroyed during the Second World War.

The station is named after the adjacent Victorian square which is one of the finest in Britain. Birkenhead was conceived by shipbuilder John Laird as being a city of the future and was laid out on a Manhattan style grid. Apart from Hamilton Square, the town never fulfilled that promise - part of the reason being its being by-passed by the railway.

A close-up of the tower showing the still visible Mersey Railway signage.



From Hamilton Square, the Mersey Railway continues straight on to Birkenhead Central, where it emerges into daylight and continues partially in cutting and tunnel till it finally gets to ground level at Rock Ferry. There it joins the old Birkenhead to Chester Line, which has now been electrified all the way to Chester with a branch to Ellesmere Port.

A branch from Hamilton Square continues in tunnel until it reaches Birkenhead Park where it meets the old Wirral Railway which links it to New Brighton and West Kirby. This was electrified in the 1930s.

In the late 90s, a new station was opened at Conway Park to serve business retail and leisure developments in central Birkenhead. Though not strictly an underground station, this was built by opening out the railway tunnel and propping the resultant cutting with the large concrete beams above the platforms.



Conway Park currently has a five and ten minute interval service to Liverpool but, electrification of the branch from Bidston to Woodchurch and on to Wrexham, which has been planned for several years will introduce a five minute interval.

The entrance to Conway Park has this ornate canopy:



Originally Conway Park was to have been a cut and cover underground station with an office development built on top. Unfortunately, rising costs after the Kings Cross fire meant that would not be economical so the present design was substituted.

There is a plan to extend the Birkenhead Heritage Tramway which serves the ferry terminal at Woodside as far as Conway Park and a reservation has been allowed for it, although nothing has been announced for some time.

Another heritage attraction in Birkenhead is the old Shore Road pumping station which drains the Mersey Tunnel:



The tall brick tower in the background is one of the ventilation towers of the Mersey Road Tunnel built in 1934.

The rail tunnel runs at a steep gradient down to the centre of the Mersey. Beneath it, a drainage tunnel slopes up to meet it at mid-river. Water has to be constantly pumped from the drainage tunnel and is used to cool office buildings in Liverpool. Nowadays, this work is done by electric pumps, but in Victorian times, a huge steam beam engine was housed in this building for that purpose. The engine, though no longer in use, is still operable and can be visited by tourists.

Here is the equivalent at Mann Island, near Liverpool's Pier Head:



On the Liverpool side, the Mersey Railway used to run to Central Low Level station, which was located beneath the old high level station which closed in the early 70s. However, following the MALTS report (Merseyside Area Land Use and Transportation Strategy), a scheme was drawn up for a single line loop serving James Street and the three rail terminals in Liverpool - Exchange, Lime Street and Central. This would distribute passengers more evenly around the city and allow a high capacity service.

The Wirral Line loop was built between 1972 and 1977 and has four new underground stations. This is Central Deep Level which is typical of the design:



The stations have platforms floored with Pirelli rubber tiles and seating units of glass fibre. The tunnel lining is of melamine. Unlike the London Underground, adverts are confined to displays in the platform wall. The design is now 30 years old and is in need of some refurbishment but has lasted the test of time. Following the Kings Cross fire in 1987, it is very unlikely that the materials used in these stations would now be permitted.

A major problem with the Loop Line has been the rising water table in Liverpool that has caused water seepage into the deep level tunnels. A drainage installation has now been installed to counteract this problem and seems to be working satisfactorily.

At the same time as the Loop Line was constructed, a Link Line was built to connect the old lines running into Liverpool's Exchange and Central (High Level) stations. This is effectively a Crossrail line and has underground stations at Moorfields (low level) and Central (low level).

This is Moorfield Station which serves the main business areas of the city:



This must be unique in the world as being the only underground station you actually have to go upstairs to get into! At the time of its construction, the city was developing a high level pedestrian walkway system, which has since been abandoned. However, there is a ground level entrance in Old Hall Street, which is open Monday to Friday:



Here is the underground concourse at Moorfields which links the two entrances with the Link and Loop line stations:



In planning the Merseyrail underground system, the designers wanted to produce a design quality similar to that of the then recently opened Victoria Line in London. To a certain extent that was compromised by spending cut-backs and there is a ubiquitous use of yellow composite panels in many of the subterranean passageways but Moorfields has a spaciousness not seen in some of the other stations.

Here is the northbound Link Line station at Moorfields with a train to Kirkby. The passenger stations are almost identical to those on the single line Loop, the only significant difference being the flatter tunnel profile, which arises from this station being built as cut and cover rather than bored through the sandstone rock.



The Link Line consists of two single track tunnels which emerge at Leeds Street in the north of the city centre and continue on to Southport, Ormskirk and Kirkby. In the other direction, they form a junction with the old Mersey Railway tunnel from James Street to Liverpool Central (low level). This is Central Low Level station with a train departing northbound:



Central Low Level is a cut and cover box with a single island platform. Though it now serves the Northern Line, in its former role as the Liverpool terminus of the Mersey Railway it once had a service to Paris which was used by emigrants using the trans-Atlantic steamers.

Liverpool Central, which serves Liverpool's main shopping areas is the principal station of the underground system and is due for redevelopment within the next few years. It's main entrance is from this shopping mall in Ranelagh Street, built on the site of the old High Level Station:



A major shopping and residential development is to commence shortly on the old station site behind this new mall. In the background is Lewiss store which is a well known landmark in Liverpool. The store was threatened with closure only a few weeks ago but now appears to have a future. One of its main advantages is the fact that it has this link to Liverpool Central in the basement via a subway:



The Lewiss entrance from the main concourse:



Central Station's main concourse. With passengers arriving from destinations as wide as Chester, Southport, Hunts Cross and West Kirby, this is easily the busiest station on the whole network:



From Central, the Link Line continues southwards and joins up with the old Cheshire Lines tunnel, which served Central High Level station. This continues in a series of tunnels till it emerges near to Brunswick Station, which was constructed in the 90s.



This shows a train travelling toward Hunts Cross. The stairs and ramps link the station to housing in Dingle which sit on a cliff above the waterfront.

The trains used for the Merseyrail Electric service are the 507 and 508 units originally built for the Southern Region of British Rail. These started life as four car sets but only three car were required for Merseyrail so the fourth cars were left in London and can still be seen on some services into Waterloo.

Following privatisation, some of the 508s were sent back to London though complaints of overcrowding mean that Merseyrail are now anxious to have them back. Though most Merseyrail services are formed from three car sets, peak hour often requires six cars.

The Merseyrail franchise is operated by a consortium of Serco and Ned Rail (Netherlands Railways). They have consistently acheived the best operating results in the country. However, the trains introduced in the 70s will need replacing in the next few years and the opportunity may be taken then to extend the network. One option would be to extend the Hunts Cross line through Brunswick to Warrington Central.

Merseytravel, the governing body would also like to wrest control of the network from Network Rail to permit more efficient and cheaper maintenance. Though Merseyrail forms part of the national rail network, it is largely self-contained and the electrics do not need to share their tracks with any other services.

I hope you have found this description of Merseyside's underground system interesting. For a system of its size, it has many unusual features. I will leave you with this photo of the entrance to Lime Street Wirral Line station:



The ability to pop up almost anywhere is one of the charming features of underground rail systems.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 11:07 AM   #97
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Excellent pics and really interesting (and informative!) writings to go with them.

thank you
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Old June 10th, 2007, 12:28 PM   #98
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Great photoessay. I find that Liverpool's system, with its central city loop, has a lot of similarities to Sydney's suburban train system.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 04:41 PM   #99
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Cheers for that, great post.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 06:23 PM   #100
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Great photoessay. Thanks for the info.
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