diamond geezer

 Thursday, December 07, 2006

"TfL announce air conditioned tube trains by 2009" - good? or bad?

"The Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines will get new air-conditioned trains from late 2009." [press release]
good: And about time too. There's nothing tube travellers complain about more in the summer than sweaty overheated tube carriages. And now it'll be lovely and cool, like a New York apartment.
bad: But for the other 10 months of the year, air conditioning really isn't very important at all, and tube passengers have completely different grumbles.
bad: But air conditioning is only being introduced on four of London's twelve tube lines - the ones in the shallowest tunnels - and not the deep level lines where all the sweatiest sweat is.
bad: But aircon won't be arriving until late 2009, so that's another three record-breakingly sweltering summers to survive unaided.
bad: But it's only the Metropolitan line which gets new air-conditioned carriages in 2009. The rest of this rolling stock upgrade doesn't start until 2012.
bad: But the full fleet of 190 ice-cool trains won't be in place on these four lines until 2015, by which time we may all have died from overheating.

"Trains on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines will increase in size from six to seven carriages, an overall capacity increase of 17 per cent."
good: And about time too. Current 6-carriage trains always stop short of the end of the platform, leaving hordes of passengers rushing forward to cram into the last doors of the rear carriage. There'll be less pushing and shoving in future.
bad: But 16 of the platforms on the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines are going to be too short for these new longer trains. Either somebody's got to find the money to extend them (and we've got to put up with long-term engineering works) or some of the doors on the new trains will have to stay shut when they pull into the shorter stations.
bad: But the new 7-carriage trains won't fit into some of the existing railway sidings. The sidings at Farringdon, for example, only just fit 6-carriage trains, and will be useless come 2015.

"Train interiors will be larger thanks to a new seating layout and door design. This will help ease congestion." [pictures here]
good: And about time too. The new carriages will be able to carry 9% more passengers, which means fewer people left standing on the platform.
bad: But if there's more space, then something's got to be removed to make room for it. And what's being removed are several of the seats. "More capacity" really means fewer people sitting and more people standing.
Metropolitan line A Stockbad: But at the moment every train on the Metropolitan line has a nominal 448 seats. The new trains will have only 307 individual seat places. If you're commuting for over an hour all the way from Amersham into town, that lack of seats is really going to hurt. Perhaps not surprisingly, Metropolitan commuters are seething.
bad: But the new seats will be hard plastic things with thin cushions, and not the comfy upholstered seats passengers are currently used to.
bad: But there are overhead luggage racks and coat hooks in today's Metropolitan carriages, and none of these will be replaced. Where is Chorleywood Man supposed to store his briefcase and brolly now?
bad: But the needs of the long distance Metropolitan commuter are completely different to the needs of the one-stop Circle line user. Why should all these new trains have to use the same carriage layout?

"Trains will have wide aisles and an end-to-end walk-through design"
good: And about time too. There'll be space for wheelchairs and luggage and pushchairs, which can only be a good thing. And better security too, because you'll be able to see all the way from one end of the train to the other and need never feel isolated.
bad: But that'll just make it easier for rag week students, buskers with accordions and gangs of muggers to work their way down the entire train seeking money and valuables.
bad: But you know what the articulated interior design of these new trains really reminds me of? Bendy buses. Cavernous seat-lite bendy buses. Giant walk-through people carriers for the mass movement of human cattle. A lowest common denominator travelling experience, coming soon to a railway line near you.

"Better signalling means the upgrade will deliver 21% more trains per hour on the busiest sections of the upgraded lines."
good: And about time too. More frequent trains can only be a good thing. There'll be 5 extra trains an hour to Uxbridge, for example, and as many as 34 trains per hour on the south side of the Circle/District line. Hurrah!

"The work will be undertaken by Metronet."
bad: It'll be a bloody disaster, then.


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