Snow: railways can't win

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Dave1987, 14 Jan 2013.

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  1. GB

    GB Established Member

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    It was a reaction to the forecast snow. If the level of snow that was forecast never materialised then I don't see how GA are to blame.

    It appears with some people you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.
     
  2. blacknight

    blacknight Member

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    Just like the rest of the country then but how many snow days are there in the UK & can odd day of snow justify the cost of investment
     
  3. SPADTrap

    SPADTrap Established Member

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    Easy to say after it had all occurred.
     
  4. blacknight

    blacknight Member

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    Just like speed restrictions on motorways just have to drive to prevailing weather & road conditions.
    Look out of the window & work out journey time will be increased. Have we turned into a nation of moaners?
     
  5. Buttsy

    Buttsy Established Member

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    In answer to your question, quite clearly yes and it's always been that way...
     
  6. Pugwash

    Pugwash Member

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    If the rolling stock that is provided by the train leasing company is substandard then Greater Anglia should be getting compensation from the train leasing company which could be passed back to the customer.

    As it is customers put up with substandard rolling stock when they have had above inflation fare increases for the past 10+ years.

    Not good enough from Greater Anglia / the DFT.
     
  7. fusionblue

    fusionblue Member

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    The problem seems to be that the system needs to "overnight" in expectation of events (snow, olympics) rather than a step change of route (or mainline) during the day as and when circumstances change (which i admit is more difficult).
     
  8. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    In Japan they fit sprinklers to the track so the snow melts and runs clear of the trackwork.

    Although that might be hard to implement on lines that aren't concrete slab as you would be dumping huge amounts of water onto the ballast.
     
  9. O L Leigh

    O L Leigh Established Member

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    TOC criticised for taking sensible precautions in the face of a future predicted event...? Seems like just bad luck that conditions didn't turn out as bad as expected. Having made plans and contingencies what can then be done once these have been put into action and turn out to be an over-reaction? It's easy to be wise after the event, especially when it's someone else who has to make the decision.

    As for snow-proofing the trains, yes it is possible to prevent snow ingress. You simply seal up all the vents on the traction motors. The only problem is that you lose all cooling and the train dies due to the motors being cooked. I seem to recall that GA were looking at fitting a new design of cooling ducts to the Cl317 and Cl321 fleet, but no system can be guaranteed 100% effective. But even then, trains would be running at reduced speed in snow due to the Rule Book requirements.

    O L Leigh
     
  10. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

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    Why?

    Just because it has stopped falling doesnt mean there isnt the potential for problems.

    Main problems are that the snow on the ground is disturbed by the train and that disturbed snow is sucked into the motors, the faster the train goes the more snow is disturbed.
     
  11. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    I dunno about using railways on Sodor as a benchmark - they seem to have some pretty shoddy operating practices - can you imagine if GA:

    • Bricked up naughty stock in a tunnel?
    • Had two units swap their numbers to confuse people?
    • Took shortcuts instead of following the regular route?
    That's surely no way to run a railway? :lol:
     
  12. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

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    So you want trains to be built so they can handle any exceptional weather do you?
    You going to pay?

    The more you want trains to do, the more they cost, most of our trains are equipped (or modified) to cope with most weather issues but you cannot cover everything all the time.

    Put a blanket 30mph speed limit and there wont be any problems with any trains, the service would be ridiculous, but everything that was running would be fine.

    We run one of the most intense rail services in the world with very little "wiggle" room, maybe we should half the number of services to improve reliability and triple the ticket prices to suppress demand, job done.
     
  13. Pugwash

    Pugwash Member

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    I think you will find we already do pay, Greater Anglia have very high mile per mile fares and make a huge profit even given that the rural lines must run at a massive loss.

    C2C have lower cost tickets per mile, newer stock and no speed restrictions due to supposed bad weather.

    The leasing company should have to pay for the upgrade, I would love to know how much they paid for the 321's and how much they charge GA per year for them.
     
  14. Dave1987

    Dave1987 Established Member

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    Indeed on GEML during the peak the trains are very close together. The thing is if GA hadn't put in a plan like they did, the snow had come down as forecast and units had failed due to snow getting into the traction motors then GA would have been criticised for not implementing a contingency plan. How can they company possibly win? Just sit back and hope for the best? The evening peak would have been chaos had the snow come down as it was forecast to had the contingency plan not been put in place.

    Like another post put on the motorways you drive to the conditions, exactly the same on the railway.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    C2C have a very small line compared with GA you cannot compare the two!!!
     
  15. HH

    HH Established Member

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    Good point, although not a lot of snow was laying on the ground, temperatures were above freezing.
     
  16. Pugwash

    Pugwash Member

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    Passengers really don't care about which line is more complicated, they just want regular, punctual, clean trains and reasonable fares.
     
  17. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    New designs of permenant magnet motor like those used on the AGV are entirely sealed and have no internal cooling whatsoever.
    This will make this a minor inconvenience.
     
  18. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    We certainly don't have enough spare tunnels to do that!
     
  19. Dave1987

    Dave1987 Established Member

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    I totally understand that and I believe that that is what every TOC tries to provide given the available resources and infrastructure. The point I am trying to make is that GA control put this plan in place to guard against the major delays that could have happened had they tried to run a normal service and the snow had come doen as heavy as it was forecast. If it had snowed as much as it was supposed to would GA have been praised for putting contingency plans in so proactively? They tried to base the service on what was forecast just like supermarket stock their shelves based on what the weather is going to do. Passengers have the right to expect a good service from their TOC but I dont think they should be slated just because the weather didnt do what the forecast said was going to happen. C2C run a much smaller service so I believe that they can react to what is happening far quicker. Whereas on GEML the control room have to decide what is going to happen before the peak starts and then cannot just reinstate the services as the units and crews would be all in the wrong place. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I think GEML control may be a little less proactive to weather reports in the future :D
     
    Last edited: 15 Jan 2013
  20. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    If the climate is changing (whether down to us or not - that's an argument for another day) then for future rolling stock procurement I do think it should be a consideration at the very least.

    Trains can, and are, built for harsher conditions and I am not sure how much extra it would add to the cost. Upgrading existing fleets is probably more expensive than doing it from day one.

    Because of the temperature yesterday, the snow that fell very early in the morning (I was up at 5am and it was fairly thick) melted very quickly. It then remained as water and froze later on, so arguably the conditions were worse than if it had been very bad snow and cold enough not to melt/re-freeze for a few days.

    It snowed again in the afternoon here, which meant by the evening our driveway was really slippery - more so than when we had the really bad snow last year.

    I think it was quite reassuring to see that TOCs (and LUL) were preparing for the worst. Even the gritters for the roads appeared to be ready.

    Aren't we down to get more snow this week and next? Perhaps GA will be vindicated in due course.
     
    Last edited: 15 Jan 2013
  21. HH

    HH Established Member

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    Well the situation in East Anglia was a bit different - overnight snow was very light; there was heavy-ish snow in the afternoon, the evening saw little and was relatively mild. A further light snow happened in the early night, but that wasn't relevant to yesterday. This morning saw no issues.

    TOCs should generally be prepared; that goes without saying. The question is whether GA should have acted as they did, or whether they were a bit precipitate. I don't know the answer, but it's reasonable to ask the question.
     
  22. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    Of course.

    I think the answer is that it was a bit of a gamble, but GA played safe. It didn't work out this time, but very easily could have done. This approach may well work next time, as I don't think the snow is over yet even if it has (for the time being) melted away.
     
  23. Dave1987

    Dave1987 Established Member

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    Indeed the problem now is GA will be very reluctant to impement such a plan again even if heavy snow is forecast. This could have a huge impact on the service if it did actually snow heavily and the service was severely disrupted.
     
  24. dk1

    dk1 Established Member

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    Several trains from Norwich have this afternoon been delayed or cancelled because heavy snow which gridlocked the City & prevented traincrew from getting into work. Worst affected are those on the 16.00 Nrw-Lst which was cancelled. The passengers then transfered to the 16.30 which has failed with traction motor problems just a few minutes out. It is now returning to Norwich & passengers transfered to the 17.30 (17.00 already left & will pass at Trowse).
     
  25. Dave1987

    Dave1987 Established Member

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    Surely this shows the reason why the call was made yesterday???
     
  26. dk1

    dk1 Established Member

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    Ironically the 90s where not part of those traction at restricted speed. Does not usually affect in the way it does the 317s which have always had an avertion to snow particually the fine stuff.
     
  27. jnjkerbin

    jnjkerbin Member

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    The problem is that if trains are not run at a reduced speed, then some units may be out of service for some weeks/months. A few winters ago, almost every morning there were about 20 or so bulletins on SE's website of short formed services for a few months after the snow, because damage that can be done as a result of snow.

    The choice is between causing disruptions for one day, to mitigate the risk of inconvenience for weeks, or having either more or less disruption on that day - it is impossible to tell - with potentially long lasting disruption.

    I personally would rather be delayed one day and have a seat as usual for the next few months, rather than not be so severely disrupted but have to stand for months while the damage is fixed.

    Just my spin on it :)

    Joe
     
    Last edited: 15 Jan 2013
  28. Dave1987

    Dave1987 Established Member

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    That is a very sensible way ok looking at it. Ironically I wonder what would have happened if Virgin have done a similar thing to what GA did and also got it wrong, would they have got the hammering in the press and on social media that GA have had? And no this isnt going to turn into another have a go at Virgin thread Im just curious as to whether people think Virgin would have been criticised in the same way. Would the passenegers who think GA made a hash of it think they should have just taken a chance and run a full service in the knowledge that if the snow did come down as forecast then the service would have been majorly disrupted??
     
  29. TGV

    TGV Member

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    Rolling stock can be designed to withstand some effects of snow - such as motor blower resilience to snow clogging as already mentioned. This is assuming that there is a robust enough business case to modify a train that is already in service. If not, an occasional restriction isn't a big price to pay. If it is a new train then there's less of an excuse - this sort of thing should really be thought of, but if the vehicles are 25-30 years old - there isn't much of a motivation to carry out an expensive modification - whether you are a TOC or a ROSCO.

    What is much harder to mitigate against in design is the effect of the compound of snow/ice/ballast at high speed. The damage this can cause to the underside of a train (or the sides including window smashing on occasion) is significant. The only mitigation against that is a TSR.

    However, speeds up to 160km/h should be possible in moderate snow. Further reductions would likeley be needed if it is very heavy and settled.
     
  30. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    Very likley Wales will experience very bad snowfall on friday so it will be interesting to see how ATW & FGW cope.
     
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