31 Aug 2011

Crossrail stock decision deferred

London Overground - Canonbury

Following the row over the award of the Thameslink rolling stock contract to Siemens, the Secretary of State for Transport has put the decision about rolling stock for Crossrail on hold.

This project needs a thorough rethink, especially at the western end of the route. It should not run over the GW main line beyond Heathrow Junction. One possible option would be to run the trains onto the Hammersmith branch of the Metropolitan, thereby releasing capacity on the busiest stretch of the Circle Line.

The whole service could then form part of the London Overground system. That answers the fleet procurement question, as a further build of the Bombardier class 378 would do the job nicely.

5 Aug 2011

Siemens ugly duckling

How has the Siemens train for Thameslink come to end up looking like this? Of more concern for the passengers is that it looks like a rehash of the wretched class 319 units that have plagued the route since it opened in the late 1980s, with windows and doors in precisely the same positions, and complete with unglazed sliding door pockets.

This practically guarantees either that loading and unloading will be slow or that there will be insufficient, and/or cramped seating - and on a route where passengers may be on the train for an hour or more.

And what is the reason for the sharp curvature of the bodyside at floor level? This cannot be necessary in order to clear the loading gauge, because there are projecting steps at each doorway. The main effect of this curvature is to reduce further the limited width available at floor level, an inconvenience that will probably be compounded by fitting ducts at skirting level.

This train appears to perpetuate the general trend in British rolling stock design - that each generation of trains is worse than the one before.