Why did it take BR so long to adopt sliding doors?

Discussion in 'Traction & Rolling Stock' started by RichmondCommu, 13 May 2015.

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  1. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    G'day everyone,

    Some forum members will not doubt be aware that in the late 1930's both the LNER and the LMS designed new build EMU's with air-operated sliding doors. In the 1960's BR followed their lead by introducing the class 303's (aka Blue Train units) to the Mk 1 design again with air-operated doors.

    Given the above, why did it take BR until the mid 1970's to start introducing other designs with sliding doors? I'm really curious to know why they did not consider sliding doors on for instance the class 304's, or the 309's and 310's etc. And for that matter all the first generation DMU's that were built.

    What happened on the Southern Region is hardly surprising given that they were no doubt just following what the Southern Railway had already started but none of the other designs seem to make sense.

    Your thoughts and contributions would be greatly appreciated!

    Kind regards,

    Richmond Commuter!
     
    Last edited: 14 May 2015
  2. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    Maybe because hand-operated doors were cheaper to make and maintain, and all but the smallest stations had platform staff who could shut the doors ?
     
  3. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    Whilst I would agree with your point regarding platform staff its hard to imagine the privately owned LNER and LMS introducing a rolling stock design which would end up costing them more money.
     
  4. CyrusWuff

    CyrusWuff Established Member

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    One possible explanation could be dwell times...With at least six doors per side (one per seating bay), VEPs especially could empty out extremely quickly.
     
  5. Springs Branch

    Springs Branch Member

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    I remember reading (in Modern Railways, but many years ago, possibly when Class 313s were first introduced) that extremely speedy loading & unloading had been the reason the one-door-per-seating-bay arrangement survived so long on high-density/suburban units.
     
  6. Smudger105e

    Smudger105e Established Member

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    The 1963 stock (VEPs CIGs etc) had 3 wires in the 27 way jumprs allocated to doors open left, doors open right and doors close, so power operated doors were considered. I assume cost was a major consideration.
     
  7. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    There was certainly a feeling that dwell times would suffer, particularly as the slam doors were mostly open well before the train stopped, and woe betide anyone standing near the edge of the platform.

    Traditionally British commuter trains have had more seating and less standing space than in most other countries. Having a slam door in a seating bay meant it didn't take up any extra floorspace, whereas a sliding door needs its own vestibule which is otherwise only useful as standing space, if people are willing to stand.
     
  8. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    The Southern was traditionally a commuter railway that served London which was far busier than other commuter termini (e.g. Glasgow or Liverpool). It also had a long, established history of converting/building suburban stock with doors to each bay which could be run off the production line at a time when new rolling stock was required quickly. Dwell times were considered (by the Southern) to be quicker with doors to each bay as opposed to only two/three sets of sliding doors per carriage. Plus slam doors were easier to maintain - no electronics to go wrong.

    The Southern carriage works at Eastleigh had years of experience of traditional carriage building who also built much of the 1950s commuter stock for the Eastern Region (i.e. AM2, AM7).

    I seem to vaguely remember BR trialling an EPB with sliding doors in the 1970s but nothing came of it.
     
  9. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    There were the 306s in 1949 though' as the first mainline sliding door stock in the south-east.
    As pure commuter trains, i.e.where each passenger is nominally fit and carries virtually no luggage, 12-seat non-corridor compartments have the maximum seated capacity. The problem is that when the load gets high enough to require standing, things slow down drastically. Those standing have to step through the seated passengers' feet which wasn't even good if everybody was alighting. I have been one of 24 (12 seated and 12 standing) in one of those compartments during Ray Buckton's early '70s work to rules and it was far worse (amd probably more hazardous) than a 306 with the same number of passengers.
     
  10. Juniper Driver

    Juniper Driver Established Member

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    Class 306's had sliding doors although I can't actually remember traveling on one.

    As just said^^^^ (doh)
     
    Last edited: 14 May 2015
  11. Smudger105e

    Smudger105e Established Member

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    And Lancing
     
  12. JohnElliott

    JohnElliott Member

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    'The 4Sub Story' briefly touches on this; when the railways were nationalised, it was decided to model suburban stock on the Southern pattern (slam door for each seating bay) and that set the pattern for the next 30 years. Or, if you prefer, set the design of suburban rolling stock back by 30 years.

    Given the postwar shortages that were encountered building the 4Subs (for some time, it was only possible to build trailer coaches because of lack of electrical supplies) that would also be a reason to avoid powered doors.

    It would have been interesting if, at the time of the 4DDs, a couple of prototype EPBs with powered doors had also been built. But the increased dwell times would probably have ruled out having all the EPBs like that.

    (It'd be fun if someone with more Photoshop skills than me could mock up what a power-door EPB might have looked like).
     
  13. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    That was my point, i.e. once all the seats have been taken in a fully compartment coach, dwell times start to increase as passengers have to climb over the feet of those sitting. At these times, the 306s did much better at stations. Probably also true for the 506s and the merseyside LMS designed EMUs if passenger numbers there were up to GEML levels.
     
  14. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    That still leaves you with the thorny issue of relatively long journeys without a seat.

    The SUB/EPB layout to my mind represents the best compromise that allows a high seating capacity and a relatively quick access and egress - important on routes such as the Dartford and North Kent lines, which whilst suburban, could entail quite long journeys.
     
    Last edited: 14 May 2015
  15. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    Yes but to an extent, that should be expected on some busy commuter trains. Most of the main lines out of London have fast(er) trains stopping after about 20-30 minutes where there is often an exodus of those standing. More standees who have used metro services to get to those stops then get on but the trains then usually gradually quieten down at each succeeding stop.
    The seat for every passenger argument is a bit like the train from every where to everywhere else position. The infrastructure is finite, and providing more trains for just two inward and two outward journeys per day is not viable even if the infrastructure can accommodate them. Part of the deal with season tickets for peak-hour travel is that seats cannot be guaranteed,* but I think there is a real obligation to provide the means for the total volume to actually be able to board the trains.
    Back to the core issue on this thread, as we all know, slam doors every 8 feet along coaches was already in use and cost convenient (just like steam), providing that the number of injuries from incorrect use was largely ignored and no consideration of the needs of less mobile passengers was expected. Once the safety of railway users became law, their days were numbered, BR bit the bullet and started to catch up with the rest of Europe.

    * - yes I know that no ticket gives an absolute gaurantee of a seat but for those choosing to travel at times that make better use of the transport investment, it is a more realistic expectation that seats are available, else the whole line and its service is fundamentally inadequate.
     
    Last edited: 14 May 2015
  16. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

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    Not as quick as an EPB or SUB though! ;)
     
  17. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    Tut...of course....(not to mention Ashford for underframes etc)
     
  18. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Yes, but not very many seats and sliding doors, just like having lots of doors and lots of seats, are both a compromise for the same problem (limited infrastructure) that you've outlined. The difference being, when you have relatively longish journeys that are also heavily loaded (such as to Dartford and beyond) ample seating becomes more important.
     
  19. phil281

    phil281 Member

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    Has anyone got any more info on this?
     
  20. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    I don't think that slam doors will be back anytime soon for sound safety reasons. Similarly, the removal the capacity constraints imposed by the infrastructure will continue, notably in London & the SE where most of the real commuting takes place. The Thameslink programme, Crossrail 1 & (maybe) 2 give considerable improvements in overall capacity with very little take of the most expensive resource here, i.e. land.
    So it's the choice of trains that maximise their total passenger capacity for peak-hour traffic, allowing the minimum dwell times to increase line frequency, that also have sufficient seated capacity to encourage off-peak optional (as in leisure) travel thereby using the capital investments that are expensively only provided for about four hours commuter use on five days per week. Those trains generally need 1/3 & 2/3 doors except for those services where the average journey times are well over 1 hour to prevent the slow processions out from the ends of each coach.
     
  21. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    That still doesn't negate my point though. Lack of seating will be an unfortunate compromise for some longer distance travellers. True, a ticket doesn't guarantee a seat, but in the past, the railway has generally aspired to provide one for longer distance journeys. To not do so would be a step backwards IMO.
     
  22. Class 170101

    Class 170101 Established Member

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    Frankly unless capacity can be increased on mostly existing infrastructure with some targeted enhancements then unfortunately standing will become the only way of accommodating people beyond pricing them off peak time trains.

    More capcity provided in the shoulder peaks would make more efficient use of Rolling Stock - that it would see more than one 'peak' time trip but incentives are going to be needed to push people towards these trains. Rumours of TOCs looking at Super Peak fares may also push people towards these trains through dis-incentives.
     
  23. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    As I said, I think that in some cases, the aim will be to provide the maximum capacity (which may at times require some passengers to stand for part or all of their peak hour journeys). The distance is becoming less relevant, it's the duration of the average journey that determines the requirements for seating.
    You mentioned the GE services. Well, a Shenfield to LST 315 takes 31mins to do a semi-fast to Stratford, but an ex Clacton/Ipswich outer suburban train takes less than 30 minutes to get from Chelmsford to Stratford even when it calls at Ingatestone and Shenfield. Does that mean that the metro passengers should get more seats than the outers?
    As lines into London saturate, they will have a period of no seats for many peak travellers. The periods may well become permanent as decisions are made not to commit large amounts of capital to meeting loads over short periods. The business case will be slanted to providing capacity to match most of the day's needs not just a short morning and evening rush.
     
  24. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Well, I didn't mention the GE ( more experience of the Southern) but yes, it has indeed been traditional practice to provide higher a density seating layout for suburban services (although in the past, suburban services have been shorter in terms of number of carriages).

    You're missing my point, in that lots of doors and seats are also a way of providing additional capacity without providing additional infrastructure. Just that this is seated capacity, rather than overall capacity. And yes, you can still fit a lot of standees in EPB layout stock, just they tend to be spread out along the aisle, rather than in the vestibule.
     
    Last edited: 14 May 2015
  25. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    They definitely need Crossrail 2 in my opinion. I think it would be useful right now but one can't build a railway over night.

    Back on the subject of sliding doors. I do think on and off boarding times are slower. I imagine train companies take this into account when designing timetables but at some stations they allow only a minute for passengers to join and alight trains. I sometimes think perhaps 2 minutes might help.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I think their is a physiological perception that if you have to stand for 20 minutes on a fast service that isn't good but if you have to stand on a stopping service for 20 minutes it isn't so bad.

    If I have a 20+ minute journey I am likely to want a seat but if I have 2x10 minute journeys with a 5 minute gap between services, I won't be so bothered if I have to stand.
     
    Last edited: 14 May 2015
  26. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    Well you could potentially put eight doors per side onto modern stock with power doors now.
    Although you might need plug doors to cut down on internal space use.
     
  27. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Yes, I would have thought that plug doors would be the ideal technology for a modern multi-door layout.
     
  28. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    We don't do ourselves many favours with the gentle action of our sliding doors. In some countries they open just as the train stops, then a brief tone - SLAM - and away. This discourages people from trying to beat them.

    A layout with a lot of standing will always carry more passengers in total than one that tries to maximise seating. Two fundamental reasons: someone standing up takes up less floor area than someone in a seat, and people can stand in circulation areas and move out of they way when needed.
     
  29. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    That's true but plug doors are slower than sliding.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    My mistake, I must have been thinking of another recent tread that mention GE.

    Not at all. The days of slam doors are gone. They aren't safe enough for the 21st century, and even busy stations don,t have enough staff to ensure they are used properly.
    To have lots of power swing doors on a train is just asking for reliability issues, would increase weight and probably dwell times. So a train with lots of sliding doors would of necessity have lots of vestibules meaning lots of standing space.
    I stand by what I've said, passengers who travel on the busiest of trains that are the reason for the high levels of investment may just have to put up with stands of up to 1 hour in the future and 30mins could become the norm on some lines. If seats were so important, patronage would fall but there doesn't seem to be any signs of that. All there is moaning about it, but that's the way of commuters,- been there, done that.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    That's not the same thing. Standing on a train is much the same whether it covers 30 miles non-stop in 30 minutes or 15 miles with a few stops in 30 minutes, assuming comfort through reasonable track condition and braking respectively. The distance is irrelevant.
     
  30. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I wouldn't get in the way of Desiro doors!
     
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