Railways To Go Metric

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by SpacePhoenix, 25 Jan 2015.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. NotATrainspott

    NotATrainspott Established Member

    Messages:
    2,799
    Joined:
    2 Feb 2013
    Metric conversion of the roads would be something done with a long period of planning and a short period of conversion. The Government would decide to start producing road signs with metric-only measures, placed at metric distances, but delivered with stickers for imperial measurements. Over the long term, road signs would be swapped over and ready with a minimum of effort and expenditure. Then, once a sufficient amount of them have been done, you have a weekend during the summer when people go around removing the imperial stickers. Road signs are primarily located where people already live or travel, and removing stickers is not a fantastically difficult process, so you could easily convert have tens of thousands of people going around converting millions of road signs in a couple of days. Motorways and trunk roads tend just to have national speed limit signs, so there's no need to change anything over here, and any modern digital road signage would be trivial to convert to show metric measurements.

    Converting cars wouldn't be incredibly difficult as the car manufacturers already have to produce RHD metric speedometers for the Republic of Ireland. They would be delighted for the roads to go metric as it means reduced costs for lower-end cars with analogue gauges, while higher-end cars with digital gauges can already be converted with the push of a button.

    Modern trains use digital speedometers, which are also necessary for the new signalling technology that is being rolled out across Europe, so there's no extra cost involved there. Even steam trains will need to have these fitted to continue running on NR rails, and there would be no great difficulty in dismantling their original speedometers and replacing the imperial numbers with metric ones.

    You have to remember that the current situation is the worst possible one, as the roads involve both metric and imperial measurements. Lorry drivers have to record the distances they travel in kilometres, and we have to buy fuel in litres, and we measure carbon emissions in grams per kilometre, yet we record distances in miles and yards. The cost of conversion would be negligible in the long term, yet the costs of not converting will linger every year in lost trade and reduced efficiency.
     
  2. starrymarkb

    starrymarkb Established Member

    Messages:
    5,985
    Joined:
    4 Aug 2009
    Location:
    Exeter
    Nautical Miles and Knots are defined in the Metric system because they are based on degrees of latitude/longitude - they aren't going to change. Similarly Feet will be used in the air, Russia has just switched their Airspace from metric to feet and knots above IIRC 3000ft. China is the only major metric airspace now.
     
  3. GrimsbyPacer

    GrimsbyPacer Established Member

    Messages:
    1,804
    Joined:
    13 Oct 2014
    Location:
    Humberside
    Most of the time Metric is used to refer to SI units. Most are decimal but many decimal measurements conflict with the SI system. SI uses secs, mins and hours like normal despite decimal time making sense.
     
  4. Murph

    Murph Member

    Messages:
    724
    Joined:
    16 Feb 2010
    Sorry, but I'm calling total BS on that last assertion. The cost of keeping the status quo indefinitely should be negligible. There simply is no reduced efficiency, and I simply don't believe that it's losing trade to any extent that matters. If a professional driver can't cope with both metric and imperial distances, and converting between them, frankly they are probably not fit to call themselves a professional.

    I see no compelling case for trying to force further metric measurement onto the roads. I struggle to see even a marginal case for it.
     
  5. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

    Messages:
    23,864
    Joined:
    1 Feb 2009
    Location:
    UK
    Why would you rename Intercity 125 when it is just a name? And you do realise the 225s already are metric don't you? 225kph = 139.8mph - the top speed, although not in service at that speed after it was deemed in cab signalling was needed.

    But they can and have sometimes done 140mph, sorry 225kph.

    It's just another click bait story. Even without clicking on the story I bet they have thousands of comments already.
     
  6. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

    Messages:
    12,782
    Joined:
    22 Feb 2011
    Location:
    Mold, Clwyd
    It will actually save money by not having to have a UK-specific speedo display and odometer in miles - all the cars will already have instruments in km for use elsewhere.
    The conversion is once only, the benefits last a lot longer.
    Then we just have to tackle the electric plug!

    Road legislation has nothing to do with rail though.
    What's more we might get faster trains.
    New train designs are generally going to be certified for 190kph or 118.1mph as standard across the EU.
    We plan to round that down to 115mph, but there would be no need to do that on a metric railway.
    There could be some interesting engineering discussions as to whether existing speed limits go up or down to a suitable metric value.
     
    Last edited: 25 Jan 2015
  7. HarleyDavidson

    HarleyDavidson Established Member

    Messages:
    2,529
    Joined:
    23 Aug 2014
    After checking the date, I've come to the conclusion that this whole thing is a whole load of BS. Not an inch of truth in it whatsoever.
     
  8. Murph

    Murph Member

    Messages:
    724
    Joined:
    16 Feb 2010
    The saving is very nearly zero. It's the same console unit, identical internally since odometers went digital, for both markets. The only difference is the printing on the front of it, which is sometimes just a thin overlay plastic card or a sticker. Even with old style mechanical odometers, there's no significant cost per unit to the vehicle manufacturers, it's just one of a huge number of market-specific parts. As justifications for disruptive change go, that one is about as flimsy as you can get. Changing does have big costs and disruption associated with it, retaining the status quo really doesn't have any major costs.
     
  9. crehld

    crehld Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

    Messages:
    1,994
    Joined:
    1 Nov 2014
    Location:
    Norfolk
    What an utterly ridiculous article. Factually it is wrong on a number of counts:

    1. It is a common misconception (in the case of the Daily Mail who know better it is an out-right lie) that the EU has the power to make us use the metric system. The EU's competence here only applies when goods or service cross a national border within the EU.

    2. The legal basis establishing the requirement to use metric measures in the UK is founded in a number of Weights and Measures Acts passed by the UK parliament - not the EU. Indeed the requirement to use the metric system under a number of circumstances was passed into law long before we even joined the EU or EEC as it was then. Indeed there are only three countries on the planet where the metric system is not the official method of measurement, and the UK ain't one of them! Yes, in some cases we are required by Europe to use metric, but as noted above this only applies when services cross borders within the EU.

    3. The European Railway Agency has no power to issue European-wide directives. These can only be approved collectively by national ministers. Indeed for the DfT to claim they asked for an opt-out in 2012 (as the article suggests) is ridiculous and an out-right lie, given the transport minister would have been the one who approved the measure in the first place!! (I could do into a detailed explanation of how EU policies are made, but there isn't the space here, nor I doubt would anyone really care).

    4. The decision to use metric here, as part of the ERTMS trial, seems to be a Network Rail decision and not an EU decision. Furthermore it only seems to be limited to those areas where ERTMS is being tested, so the vast majority of the network is staying in miles and chains, for the moment at least.

    In terms of the substance of the article:

    1. Given the metric system has been taught in schools over imperial measurement since the late 1980s, I imagine most Network Rail engineers are well versed in what a metre or kilometre is. Thus to claim it is a safety risk because no one knows what a kilometre is is ridiculous. I fail to believe there is anyone under the age of 50 who cannot work in metric.

    2. Given the article is about equipment for ERTMS, Network Rail are having to procure equipment which is being used Europe wide. Not only is it logical that we all use the same system, but if we were to ask for special UK-specific imperial equipment to be manufactured just for us it would no doubt drive up the cost.

    3. Quite frankly if railway staff cannot manage basic imperial to metric conversions, then this is more of a poor reflection on their own ability. Network rail should not be employing engineers who cannot work in metric and Arriva should at the very least be offering basic training to their drivers.

    4. The article suggests trains have been passing red signals... I thought these no longer existed under ERTMS? Even so unless there was a fault with the train's brakes it is most likely this is down to driver error rather than the nasty EU.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Given the changes are being made as party of a resignalling and improvement of the line in question, the status quo was never going to be retained and the costs and disruption would have been there regardless.
     
    Last edited: 25 Jan 2015
  10. Murph

    Murph Member

    Messages:
    724
    Joined:
    16 Feb 2010
    You're quoting me out of context. My reply was very clearly about road vehicles. I stand by my original assertion in its original context.
     
  11. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    41,679
    Joined:
    6 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    I don't understand what you're saying.

    Are you saying the railways will use decimal time?

    If so, that seems highly unlikely. If not, I don't understand why you're linking to decimal time?
     
  12. crehld

    crehld Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

    Messages:
    1,994
    Joined:
    1 Nov 2014
    Location:
    Norfolk
    My apologies, I though we were talking about the supposed metrification of the railways. Yes, retrofitting every car and roadside in the country with new odometers and signs would be rather expensive!
     
  13. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    41,679
    Joined:
    6 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    We are supposed to be.

    Can people please stay on-topic? No harm in making a new thread for roads in an appropriate forum!
     
  14. TheKnightWho

    TheKnightWho Established Member

    Messages:
    3,185
    Joined:
    17 Oct 2012
    Location:
    Oxford
    That's assuming that the status quo doesn't cause problems.
     
  15. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

    Messages:
    7,397
    Joined:
    21 Dec 2007
    Location:
    Newcastle (unless I'm out)
    My nomination for post of the day :
     
  16. B&W

    B&W Member

    Messages:
    61
    Joined:
    12 Aug 2013
    Been working in metric ever since I started in Engineering in the early 70s. Can't remember the last job or calculation I did in Imperial, certainly none since I was registered as C Eng decades ago. Usual Daily Fail scare/misinformation/ignorant jorno story.

    Also a bit of an insult to rail workers implying they could not do the simple conversions required.

    Brian
     
  17. transmanche

    transmanche Established Member

    Messages:
    5,471
    Joined:
    27 Feb 2011
    As noted elsewhere, it was successfully done recently in Ireland - and the world didn't end!

    In fact, over in Ireland they had a 'halfway house' for many years, where all distance signs were shown in km, but speed limits were still in mph. And it just worked...
     
  18. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    41,679
    Joined:
    6 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    I have moved PHILIPE's post, and its subsequent replies, about why he thinks we should leave the EU to a new thread: Why I think we should leave the EU

    Our forum rules do ask that "subsequent posts should remain relevant to the original topic", so if you want to post something on a new (perhaps in some way related) topic, please click the "New thread" button in the relevant forum, provide a quote and/or link to what you're responding to, and make a new thread about it.

    It only takes a few seconds do this, rather than several minutes to split a thread (and some threads can't really be split as it can get too complex).
     
  19. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

    Messages:
    4,037
    Joined:
    22 Apr 2010
    I am not opposed to the metric system - but, how much is it all going to cost ? Apart from mileposts, speed limit signs, there must be vast amounts of documentation showing imperial units, all of which would need replacing. In current circumstances, I would prefer money to be spent on improving the railway rather than on changing everything to metric.
     
  20. NotATrainspott

    NotATrainspott Established Member

    Messages:
    2,799
    Joined:
    2 Feb 2013
    The move to metric would be part of the move to the new in-cab signalling technology. Lineside posts would be replaced by digital balises in the four foot, which the train will read as it runs over them and from it read the speed limit for that section of track. Anything stored on computer (i.e. basically everything, these days) would be trivial to convert to kilometres an hour, so all printed documentation wouldn't be a challenge either.
     
  21. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

    Messages:
    11,332
    Joined:
    10 May 2010
    A lot of recent line openings only have a 'mile' at 1600 metres distance instead of the nearly correct 1609 metres (with all other markers suitably squeezed up) which will make conversion a lot easier!

    Miles and chains are quite easy to work with though! ;)
     
  22. Francis

    Francis Member

    Messages:
    163
    Joined:
    22 Dec 2011
    Location:
    Chorley, Lancs
    I did GCE O levels in 1970 and A levels in 1972 in Maths, Physics and Chemistry. Then degrees and further research in Chemistry. Everything then was in SI units. It just seems stupid that over forty years later, we still have not switched over properly. Effectively we are saddled with the expense of a dual system, where some things are reckoned in metric and others in imperial, and conversions have to be routinely carried out.

    Going to buy wood at our local DIY store, you give the bloke the measurements in metric, he back translates them approximately into imperial, and then tells you they aren't exactly the imperial measurements because the wood is all supplied in metric!. Just daft.

    No, I never understood what poles and perches were, nor foot-poundals nor British Thermal Units. The metric system is far more sensible. Would you really want to go back to reckoning up in £sd, units of 12 and 20.?

    The motorways already have roadside kilometre signs. Ireland has changed over quite satisfactorily. And perhaps driving in km/h rather than miles/hr people might be less likely to go at dangerous speeds. There isn't much difference buying a half-kilo rather than 1 lb, or 100 g rather than 1/4 lb. In fact, prices are easier to calculate in metric so it makes it more difficult for the supermarkets to deceive you with odd quantities.

    So I don't really see what the "metric martyrs" are campaigning for, except an excessive attachment to the past and a dislike of things allegedly modern and European.
     
  23. Bodiddly

    Bodiddly Member

    Messages:
    609
    Joined:
    7 Feb 2013
    Does anyone really care? :roll:
     
  24. Stompehh

    Stompehh Member

    Messages:
    138
    Joined:
    5 Apr 2013
    I'm an aerospace engineer. In my industry everything is a horrible mixture of imperial and SI units. It's a massive pain in the a**e! SI units are better in every way I can think of and it's about time we standardised on them.
     
  25. Gareth

    Gareth Member

    Messages:
    640
    Joined:
    10 Mar 2011
    Location:
    Liverpool
    Most engineers I meet (not a lot to be fair) tend to talk in kilometres anyway. I'm not an engineer but when I talk about things like, say, the length of a certain branch of rail line, I prefer klicks for some reason as well. I only ever use miles when I drive.
     
  26. AE

    AE Member

    Messages:
    46
    Joined:
    5 Jan 2012
    Don't tell the Daily Mail readers, their heads might explode, but their beloved Imperial Units have been defined in terms of metric equivalents for decades now (since around 1959 I think) - even in the US. There's no such thing as a standard yard or gallon anymore.

    All they are doing by perpetuating Imperial Units is using daft non-decimal multiples of the metric units.
     
  27. zuriblue

    zuriblue Member

    Messages:
    429
    Joined:
    12 Oct 2014
    Didn't a NASA mission to Mars fail because of that - some parts were Imperial and others were metric and it threw the calculations off?
     
  28. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

    Messages:
    23,864
    Joined:
    1 Feb 2009
    Location:
    UK
    I did read that, but never got round to checking Snopes or the like to see if that was an urban myth.

    But certainly doing bad conversions can cause problems, hence more reason to stop doing it as quickly as possibly by deciding to switch over - for good.

    I obviously know imperial measurements as I have to, but at school it was all metric. In 20-30 years time, there will be few people left alive that didn't learn it. Imperial will naturally begin to die out soon after.
     
  29. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

    Messages:
    7,979
    Joined:
    29 Oct 2009
    Apparently, former transport minister Philip Hammond apparently replaced 'Labour's kilometre' with miles in department reports soon after the last election, but the only news links I can find which report it were in the Daily Mail and Express so I wouldn't be sure as to the reliability

    http://www.sabre-roads.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=25219
     
  30. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

    Messages:
    23,864
    Joined:
    1 Feb 2009
    Location:
    UK
    That sounds like b**locks to me.

    The words Daily, Mail and Express almost serve as absolute proof!
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page