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Old August 22nd, 2009, 10:53 PM   #1
NCT
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MISC | Integration between national and urban rail networks

I guess this is a pretty relevant issue for any country.

From my observations Britain's rail network is pretty extensive and carries a lot of commuter traffic in and around Major cities. Most small towns in and around large cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow are connected with the city centre through a direct rail line, and this is also certainly the case for London. In London and most PTE areas (Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham come to mind) there is always some form of integrated ticketing.

Operation-wise there seems a good degree of integration between National Rail and London Underground. It is not unkown for the two networks to share tracks (the most obvious example I can think of being London Overground with District on the Richmond Branch, Overground with Bakerloo?). LU and NR also combine to form a 4-track stretch, examples being District and C2C, Bakerloo and WCML, The Met and Chiltern (6 tracks in this case!), and stations are usually integral.

Most NR lines still don't operate tube-style services at turn-up-and-go frequencies though. Although South(east) London has an extensive NR network service patterns are still distinctively NR-style, with signalling and flat junctions being major problems I assume. Terminus capacity could also be a problem. There seems to be debates over whether modifying junctions and signalling or extending the tube network would be more cost-effective or practical.

National and urban railways in China are both growing at very fast speeds across the country, however national and urban rail seem to be mutually exclusive. Few cities have a radial rail network (in most cases there is only one mainline or two going through the city) and it is uncommon for main lines to carry any commuter traffic, for clockface timetables are unheard of and the pricing seems to be designed to deter short-distance traffic. There are examples of lines running next to each other (Line 1 in Shanghai and the HuHang Mainline) but stations are almost completely separate (e.g. Xinzhuang). Sharing tracks I think is still a big no-no.

I think it'll be good to see what each country is like when it comes to integration between national and urban rail networks, and to discuss the pros and cons of various degrees of integration.
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