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My proposal to get rid of 3rd rail and convert routes to overhead lines

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ComUtoR

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My big take is that 3rd Rail is rubbish, we really shouldn’t install any more, and should have a presumption of moving to OLE

The OLE comes down quite often. This causes trains to get stranded and not just in winter times.
 

Meerkat

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The OLE comes down quite often. This causes trains to get stranded and not just in winter times.
No ice on conductor rail.
No power shut off due to one escapee and much less risk for self evacuations.
Far easier access for staff and emergency services.
Plus the higher power, faster speeds, better efficiency.
 

ComUtoR

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There are advantages and disadvantages to both systems and well discussed in other threads. This is about trains getting stranded. I would be interested in the statistics for the number of times the wires comes down resulting in trains getting stranded compared to how many times ice on a conductor rail (or power failures) causes similar issues. Not forgetting the Kentish Town incident too. Trains can, and will get stranded. The focus must be on how to deal with that and a priority must be placed on passenger safety.
 

Busaholic

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My big take is that 3rd Rail is rubbish, we really shouldn’t install any more, and should have a presumption of moving to OLE (though of course places like Lewisham would be on the very late to never stages of that process....)
The problems (other than initially) weren't with third rail, though: once you've established conclusively the power's off, there's no problem other than psychological ones. On the other hand, would you wish to be rescued from a stranded train with the wires dangling and blowing in the wind a few metres away? I think I mightn't.
 

2HAP

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My big take is that 3rd Rail is rubbish, we really shouldn’t install any more, and should have a presumption of moving to OLE (though of course places like Lewisham would be on the very late to never stages of that process....)

There's still places where 3rd rail is needed. Ore - Ashford for one, maybe also Appledore - Lydd too, allowing the reintroduction of passenger services to Lydd.
 

Philip Phlopp

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No ice on conductor rail.
No power shut off due to one escapee and much less risk for self evacuations.
Far easier access for staff and emergency services.
Plus the higher power, faster speeds, better efficiency.
You'll go far.
 

Meerkat

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There's still places where 3rd rail is needed. Ore - Ashford for one, maybe also Appledore - Lydd too, allowing the reintroduction of passenger services to Lydd.
We are wandering off topic but why cant Ore - Ashford be OLE?
As for Appledore-Lydd - I bet that struggles to sustain a bus, let alone pay for all the level crossing work!
 

Horizon22

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My big take is that 3rd Rail is rubbish, we really shouldn’t install any more, and should have a presumption of moving to OLE (though of course places like Lewisham would be on the very late to never stages of that process....)

A few thousand bridges and tunnels might disagree with you there.
 

Philip Phlopp

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A few thousand bridges and tunnels might disagree with you there.

The bridge replacements that have been required because of electrification have been of considerable benefit to both road and railway users. We should be treating them not as an inconvenient cost associated with electrification, but a separate infrastructure enhancement in their own right.

We've put in new bridges which, for the first time, have had pavements, street lights and safe walking routes enabled, we've taken away weight limits letting refuse collection and delivery vehicles more easily get to households, and we've doubled carriageway widths, eliminating traffic light control across bridges. We've done all that whilst adding parapets and barriers that meet current Highways England guidance and minimise the risk of vehicular incursion onto the railway below, no risk of cement mixers falling on Mark 3 EMUs for our newly wired routes...
 

GRALISTAIR

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The bridge replacements that have been required because of electrification have been of considerable benefit to both road and railway users. We should be treating them not as an inconvenient cost associated with electrification, but a separate infrastructure enhancement in their own right.

We've put in new bridges which, for the first time, have had pavements, street lights and safe walking routes enabled, we've taken away weight limits letting refuse collection and delivery vehicles more easily get to households, and we've doubled carriageway widths, eliminating traffic light control across bridges. We've done all that whilst adding parapets and barriers that meet current Highways England guidance and minimise the risk of vehicular incursion onto the railway below, no risk of cement mixers falling on Mark 3 EMUs for our newly wired routes...
Exactly. 25 kV AC OHLE is so much more than straight electrification and is so much safer in situations such as this.
 

Horizon22

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The bridge replacements that have been required because of electrification have been of considerable benefit to both road and railway users. We should be treating them not as an inconvenient cost associated with electrification, but a separate infrastructure enhancement in their own right.

We've put in new bridges which, for the first time, have had pavements, street lights and safe walking routes enabled, we've taken away weight limits letting refuse collection and delivery vehicles more easily get to households, and we've doubled carriageway widths, eliminating traffic light control across bridges. We've done all that whilst adding parapets and barriers that meet current Highways England guidance and minimise the risk of vehicular incursion onto the railway below, no risk of cement mixers falling on Mark 3 EMUs for our newly wired routes...

I'm not denying there are benefits, but spend some time going up and down some of the urban London routes that have 3rd rail and you can see how much of an absolutely mammoth operation and extortionate expense with bridges and tunnels criss-crossed everywhere. Not to mention the station enhancements that would be required. I have no doubt some will be impossible and there with no practical alternative available. Anyway substituting 3rd rail for OLE is a little off-topic.
 

Energy

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Replacing 3rd rail with OHLE would be great but first we should prioritise diesel lines and convert 3rd rail to OHLE when the 3rd rail gear will need replacing soon or when most of the diesel lines have been electrified.
 

Bald Rick

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There are advantages and disadvantages to both systems and well discussed in other threads. This is about trains getting stranded. I would be interested in the statistics for the number of times the wires comes down resulting in trains getting stranded compared to how many times ice on a conductor rail (or power failures) causes similar issues. Not forgetting the Kentish Town incident too. Trains can, and will get stranded. The focus must be on how to deal with that and a priority must be placed on passenger safety.

Not sure there’s any statistics, but from managing networks of both systems there's no doubt in my mind that 3rd rail services are much more likely to be stranded. Part of this is that the third rail network is usually more complex and has more intense services. However part of it is simply because the conrail is on the ground and will need to be switched off (or trips off) for many more reasons than the OLE.
 

ComUtoR

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However part of it is simply because the conrail is on the ground and will need to be switched off (or trips off) for many more reasons than the OLE.

I am interested in this part. I was quite concerned where someone mentioned that the OLE wouldn't get turned off for trespassers. I've worked both and its switched off every time.

but from managing networks of both systems there's no doubt in my mind that 3rd rail services are much more likely to be stranded. Part of this is that the third rail network is usually more complex and has more intense services.

My personal experience is that I have been "stranded" with OLE problems more often than 3rd rail. I would agree that the consequence of OLE vs 3rd rail has been more intensive on DC because of the weight of services. However, I would add a caveat that a lot has to do with the ability to recover. In a complex area you tend to have more opportunity to divert services. Going through South London has plenty of opportnities to divert services but heading up to your place and you only have a few crossovers and when wires come down your pretty much up the proverbial. Some of my worst experiences have been because I have been trapped with nowhere to go because there are no junctions to provide an exit.

When it comes to AC vs DC I'll happily defer to the experts but when it comes to "stranded trains" there is soooooo much more than where the juice comes from.
 

Energy

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My personal experience is that I have been "stranded" with OLE problems more often than 3rd rail.
Remember that lots of the OHLE is cheap BR electrification, you don't hear the wires on HS1 coming down much.
 

GRALISTAIR

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At the end of the day it is politically impossible to convert DC to AC until a huge chunk of diesel is done first. Then obvious candidates like Southampton- Basingstoke get converted then all the rest. Will not happen in my lifetime.
 

AForumUser

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I don't think you could justify it on the grounds of safety either, given that the pollution from diesel running must take more years off both passengers and staffs lives.
 

A0wen

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At the end of the day it is politically impossible to convert DC to AC until a huge chunk of diesel is done first. Then obvious candidates like Southampton- Basingstoke get converted then all the rest. Will not happen in my lifetime.

Disagree - the issue will arise when some parts of the 3rd rail infrastructure need replacing because the decision will need to be what is best in the medium / long term. Some of the 3rd rail infrastructure will be coming up over the next 10 years.

We are wandering off topic but why cant Ore - Ashford be OLE?
As for Appledore-Lydd - I bet that struggles to sustain a bus, let alone pay for all the level crossing work!

The answer for Ashford - Ore is far more likely to be battery than anything else. The 171s are 17 years old so probably have another 10 years life in them, in which time hybrid / battery will have progressed still further and that saves the whole question of putting down 3rd rail and arranging the power supplies.

Appledore - Lydd is another one for the National Crayon Championships.
 

Bald Rick

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I am interested in this part. I was quite concerned where someone mentioned that the OLE wouldn't get turned off for trespassers. I've worked both and its switched off every time.

Agree that stranded trains is much more than just the power.

OLE is only switched off for trespassers if there is a indication they are close to it, ie up a gantry or on top of a train. Otherwise it stays on.

Similarly any obstruction on the track (flood, deep snow, trees, debris, cattle, bikes, trampolines, sheds, Emergency Services on the line etc.) the con rail will be isolated, whereas the OLE would be left on (unless the obstruction was in danger of coming close to the live OLE).

Another issue with con rail is abutting sections during an emergency switch out. For example, that’s why a trespasser at East Croydon will knock out the whole Selhurst / Windmill Bridge complex too, meaning you can’t run / divert to West Croydon.
 
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Grecian 1998

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It would seem politically impossible to convert 3rd rail to OHLE any time soon. If it was announced that Basingstoke-Southampton or East Croydon - Brighton would be converted when most of the Midland Mainline and Windermere-Oxenholme have been cancelled, it's likely to be perceived as sending a message that improving electrification in the south is more important than installing it in the midlands and north. Not a perception any government would be keen on currently.

Most of the lines south and SE of London also pass through long tunnels through the North Downs, which don't appear to have particularly generous loading gauges, so it wouldn't exactly be quick to convert them. The higher speed permissible using OHLE isn't likely to be that useful on congested lines like the Brighton line, where sections of 100mph running were reduced to 90mph some years ago. Not much point running at 100mph if all that happens is you catch up with the train in front sooner.

That said OHLE is clearly the superior system. Would it be particularly difficult to use OHLE to electrify Uckfield-Oxted and Ashford - Hastings and use dual voltage trains, or would the isolation of such OHLE systems render it impractical?
 

A0wen

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That said OHLE is clearly the superior system. Would it be particularly difficult to use OHLE to electrify Uckfield-Oxted and Ashford - Hastings and use dual voltage trains, or would the isolation of such OHLE systems render it impractical?

Yes - because you'd be introducing different stock to handle this and I think Uckfield has some of the loading gauge challenges you mentioned in the bit of your post I snipped.

Battery / hybrid is easily the most likely solution for these two - neither are particularly long lines and given they join the 3rd rail network at a point, charging could be achieved there.

Basingstoke - Southampton *might* be justifiable if it's an enabler of other things i.e. turning over Cross Country services to electric without the need for dual voltage stock, allowing electric haulage of freight or where the 3rd rail has limited capacity to handle the additional stock, where 25kv doesn't.
 

Bald Rick

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Relatively cheap might be a better way to phrase it - it was £ 344m at 1983 prices which would be £ 1168m today.......

And that included resignalling York and Newcastle, and the fleet.

But it didn’t include plenty of things that would be included in the cost if it was done now.
 

Energy

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Yes - because you'd be introducing different stock to handle this and I think Uckfield has some of the loading gauge challenges you mentioned in the bit of your post I snipped.
Southern already have dual voltage trains, some of the 377s are fitted with pantographs already and all can have them easily fitted.
 
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