Various railway discussions, serious and lighthearted.

Our transport is heavily oil-based. What are the alternatives?

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Various railway discussions, serious and lighthearted.

Post by adam2 »

Our Albanian friends have shown how to run electric railways at much lower cost than Network Rail manage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unhXEQQk8G8

I think for passenger use, that the line featured would have be SLIGHTLY upgraded, with roofed carriages even for third class, and the overhead put a BIT higher up !
Last edited by adam2 on Sun Oct 20, 2019 6:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by adam2 »

Meanwhile, in Romania, they have a low cost diesel powered railbus.

Perhaps we could do with a few for country branch lines! Note the ingenious means of reversing at the end of the route.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zeBIxI7n1I
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Post by emordnilap »

Ingenious. Looks like the future.
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Post by adam2 »

And here is another overseas railway, electrification looks unwise due to the limited clearances !
Ever wondered about all the space "wasted" alongside rail lines ? No such wasted space here.
Even the actual track is used for other purposes between trains.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFqvFie_OTc
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

The same thing happens in India with the track used as a highway between trains. In India they use rail carts between trains on the mainline track as well.

There used to be a few "Railbuses" used on British railways befor it was British Rail.

We have had some "discussion" in our local paper about whether or not a train station is a train station or a railway station with the railway fraternity insisting that it is a "railway station." What would you call a bus station or a bus stop if not those words? So why cannot a station where trains stop be a train station if a station where buses stop is a bus station?
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Post by adam2 »

In the UK there used to be "steam railmotors" on the old GWR and elsewhere.
These were a steam powered railbus. The machinery was built into one end of the vehicle, and fitted with remote controls such that it may be driven from either end.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osxrz2mW0zA

This is believed to be the only steam railmotor in the world in running order.
And astonishingly it was allowed to run on the national rail network, as shown in the video.

As recently as 10 years ago, I forecast a return to this technology for branch lines. Seems unlikely now as batteries are so improved as to make battery trains viable for the duties once performed by steam railmotors.

Nice bit of history though.
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Post by Little John »

genuine question; what is the advantage of rail over road? That is to say, trains versus buses?

Is it cost either in terms of initial infrastructure or ongoing running/maintenance? Or, is it energy efficiency? Or both?

I mean, there is no reason why several road bus carriages could not be connected up to make "road-trains". Furthermore, the cost of a motorway road is about 10 million quid per mile as compared to a rail track of many times that per mile, apparently. Given that we already have an extensive road infrastructure in place, adding an extra dedicated lane onto existing roads will probably be a lot cheaper per mile I would have thought, And certainly vastly cheaper than reinstating rail lines.
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Post by adam2 »

Little John wrote:genuine question; what is the advantage of rail over road? That is to say, trains versus buses?

Is it cost either in terms of initial infrastructure or ongoing running/maintenance? Or, is it energy efficiency? Or both?

I mean, there is no reason why several road bus carriages could not be connected up to make "road-trains".
The main advantage of rail over road is much reduced friction, steel wheels on steel rails are inherently much more efficient than rubber tyres on tarmac or concrete.
A basic railway as used overseas is probably cheaper to construct than a road.
Also a train can be of almost any length, as each vehicle follows the rails.
A commuter train can carry over 1000 passengers, that would need about 10 buses, each with a driver needing wages and an engine needing fuel and maintenance.
Even two bus like vehicles coupled together would be problematic in urban streets.
Also trains can attain higher speeds. Buses are limited to 60 MPH or 30MPH in urban areas, actual speeds in urban areas are often in single figures.
Local trains often exceed 60 MPH and intercity trains regularly attain twice that.
A bus driver must be able to stop in the distance seen to be clear. There is no such requirement on railways as they are equipped with signals.

Trains are usually considered more comfortable than buses, and some have facilities such as a restaurant, most unlikely to be found on a bus.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD_0zZj69dY
Dining on the train, wont find that on a bus !
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Post by adam2 »

An old and no longer used way of saving fuel and time on the railways was the use of "slip coaches"
These were one or more passenger carriages attached to the rear of an express train.
The slip coach was detached from the rest of the train, at speed, thereby avoiding the loss of time by stopping an express at a minor station, and saving fuel if compared to stopping and then accelerating.

The slip coach was equipped with a special coupling that could be uncoupled at speed from within the train, it would then coast a mile or more towards the station, and be stopped by the guard in the correct place.
It would be unfortunate to stop too early !
Slip coaches were equipped with a warning bell, there being no steam supply for a whistle.

Some trains conveyed several slip coaches, to be detached at different points en-route.
Sometimes the slip coach terminated at the relevant station, others were coupled to a local train, thereby providing a through coach from London to an obscure branch line.

It would never be allowed today !, the last one ran in about 1960.
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Post by careful_eugene »

Little John wrote:genuine question; what is the advantage of rail over road? That is to say, trains versus buses?

Is it cost either in terms of initial infrastructure or ongoing running/maintenance? Or, is it energy efficiency? Or both?

I mean, there is no reason why several road bus carriages could not be connected up to make "road-trains". Furthermore, the cost of a motorway road is about 10 million quid per mile as compared to a rail track of many times that per mile, apparently. Given that we already have an extensive road infrastructure in place, adding an extra dedicated lane onto existing roads will probably be a lot cheaper per mile I would have thought, And certainly vastly cheaper than reinstating rail lines.
I think safety has got to be a big factor in this, there are far fewer railway accidents than accidents on the roads.
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Post by adam2 »

Yes, that is a good point.
The loss of half a dozen lives in a railway accident is called a "disaster" and is enquired into and discussed for years.
The loss of well over a thousand lives on the roads is accepted as "one of those things"

For some years there has been no loss of life whatsoever in railway accidents.
The saving in NHS resources alone must be considerable by use of trains rather than roads.

EDIT TO ADD.
Whilst no PASSENGERS have died in UK rail accidents for some years, there have been a regrettable number of fatalities among railway staff, together with suicides and trespassers. Please see the following posts for the details.
Last edited by adam2 on Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by clv101 »

Energy efficiency is a good reason, steel wheels on steel rails are very efficient. Add to that the relative easy of electrifying gives trains a brighter future than road transport.
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Post by Little John »

clv101 wrote:Energy efficiency is a good reason, steel wheels on steel rails are very efficient. Add to that the relative easy of electrifying gives trains a brighter future than road transport.
Dedicated road-train lanes could be electrified.

I have read all of the for and against arguments on here over the last couple of days. But, I am not yet convinced about them The one about how road trains could not easily get into city centres is a particular one. The same could be said of rail-track trains. It's just a matter of infrastructure priorities.

Secondly, road-train carriages could be semi autonomous. Thus, they could be un-hitched from the main train and then carry on under the own power to cover all of the streets and rural outposts that ordinary rail track trains cannot do. Having once completed their autonomous part of their daily routes, they could then re-hitch up to a main road train. Also, this main road train, if it was running on dedicated electrified road lanes, could be used to recharge the carriages up so that they, too, could run on electric for the autonomous parts of their routes.

If all of the above was properly and centrally managed, it would be possible to devise a public transportation system that potentially led to significantly fewer changes of transportation types on journeys.

There is a reason rail track trains took a back seat when the ICE became mass produced. They are far less flexible. I can see an argument for them for long haul journeys up and down the country. But, beyond that, no. Don't misunderstand me, as things stand, the train is better than a contemporary coach for anything over a short journey. But, with the kind of system I just outlined, I do not think that would be so.
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Post by PS_RalphW »

adam2 wrote:

For some years there has been no loss of life whatsoever in railway accidents.
The saving in NHS resources alone must be considerable by use of trains rather than roads.
This is not entirely true. Suicide by train is quite common, accidental death at road crossings, or by trespass on the lines is regularly reported, 2 track employees were recently killed by a train.

I have not seen any total figures for these deaths, but they must be significant.
EDIT

network rail
Of the fatalities on the railway in 2018/19:

Six occurred on a level crossing
28 involved people trespassing on the railway
279 were suicides or suspected suicides
I expect London Underground are not included
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Post by adam2 »

I did say "railway accidents"
Suicides are no more the fault of the railway, than the traditional "head in gas oven" suicides were the fault of the gas board.
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