Why do Network Rail still use some imperial measurements?

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DavidGrain

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When I bought my present car the dealer said they did not have the handbook in stock but I could read it online. I looked on line and realised it was the American version with about 600 pages and it never mentioned my hybrid version of the car at all.
 

Shrop

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You despair of metric vs imperial measurements on railways? You should try roads! What other country could be so mixed up that imperial measurements were phased out in school teaching in 1974, ie FORTY SEVEN years ago, and yet to this day it remains ILLEGAL to provide distances on roads signs to a town/city, or to a hazard like a junction in metric? :s:rolleyes:. When almost every single member of the adult population has been taught in schools AND learns to drive on our roads, wouldn't you think it would make sense to adopt metres and kilometres on our roads? Hmm, a bit complicated for our Ministers methinks! :lol:
 

Irascible

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Unless you're building a road it doesn't matter though, it's just a countdown. You could measure it in badgers if you wanted & be just as usable.
 

swt_passenger

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You despair of metric vs imperial measurements on railways? You should try roads! What other country could be so mixed up that imperial measurements were phased out in school teaching in 1974, ie FORTY SEVEN years ago, and yet to this day it remains ILLEGAL to provide distances on roads signs to a town/city, or to a hazard like a junction in metric? :s:rolleyes:. When almost every single member of the adult population has been taught in schools AND learns to drive on our roads, wouldn't you think it would make sense to adopt metres and kilometres on our roads? Hmm, a bit complicated for our Ministers methinks! :lol:
The official braking/ thinking/stopping distance chart amazingly gives speeds in mph (or km/h in brackets) but the distances in metres (or feet in brackets):
 

45669

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Imperial measurements might have been phased out in schools, but not out here in the real world. And not every single adult has been taught about metres and things in school because an awful lot of us left school long before 1974. A very long time before 1974 in my case - and many other people that I know.

When the money went decimal there was a set date (15th February, 1971) after which 'old' money became 'new' money. However, that was as far as it went; we can still buy pints of milk and many people still think in feet and inches. On a recent gardening programme, for example, we told to plant some flower or other six inches apart. And a sculptor on the tele, quite a young fella, was going to make his next creation ten feet tall.

At least I knew what they meant. But if everything, distances, measurements, weights, liquids, etc. had all also changed on the 15th February, 1971 we might, just might, have got used to it by now. As it is, metres and things are quite meaningless to many of us in my generation. Talking of roads, hills are sometimes now shown as 'x' % instead of 1 in whatever. What's that all about??!
 

DavidGrain

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We traditionally measure gradients as 1 in x but now road gradients are measured as %. Knowing railway gradients, I though that if they were converted to %ages they would all be so close together around 1 or 2% that it would be difficult to gauge the steepness in the mind. It was during a trip to the Harz Mountain Railway in Germany that I realised how it had been dealt with there. Gradients from Wernigerode to the top of the Broken Mountain were show as 'per mil' with the symbol ‰. However the line running south from there still had 1 in x markings. One good thing about the Harz timetables is that it showed both the distance and the altitude for each station so it was possible to calculate that the climb of the Broken was an average of 1 in 30 all done by adhesion with a long train hauled by a 2-10-2 steam engine.
 

45669

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We traditionally measure gradients as 1 in x but now road gradients are measured as %. Knowing railway gradients, I though that if they were converted to %ages they would all be so close together around 1 or 2% that it would be difficult to gauge the steepness in the mind. It was during a trip to the Harz Mountain Railway in Germany that I realised how it had been dealt with there. Gradients from Wernigerode to the top of the Broken Mountain were show as 'per mil' with the symbol ‰. However the line running south from there still had 1 in x markings. One good thing about the Harz timetables is that it showed both the distance and the altitude for each station so it was possible to calculate that the climb of the Broken was an average of 1 in 30 all done by adhesion with a long train hauled by a 2-10-2 steam engine.
That's all very well, but how is one supposed to know how steep it is?!! 'x%' on a road sign is completely, totally and utterly meaningless!!! It's been 1 in whatever ever since my first memories of motoring sitting on my Dad's knee in the front passenger seat of my uncle's 1936 Y type Ford 8, so why change it??

PS: Shap's still 1 in 75 is it not?
 

mcmad

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Imperial measurements might have been phased out in schools, but not out here in the real world. And not every single adult has been taught about metres and things in school because an awful lot of us left school long before 1974. A very long time before 1974 in my case - and many other people that I know.

When the money went decimal there was a set date (15th February, 1971) after which 'old' money became 'new' money. However, that was as far as it went; we can still buy pints of milk and many people still think in feet and inches. On a recent gardening programme, for example, we told to plant some flower or other six inches apart. And a sculptor on the tele, quite a young fella, was going to make his next creation ten feet tall.

At least I knew what they meant. But if everything, distances, measurements, weights, liquids, etc. had all also changed on the 15th February, 1971 we might, just might, have got used to it by now. As it is, metres and things are quite meaningless to many of us in my generation. Talking of roads, hills are sometimes now shown as 'x' % instead of 1 in whatever. What's that all about??!
At what point will there be more drivers on the road who haven't been taught imperial and have no concept of yards in a mile than those who don't understand metric?
 

TravelDream

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UTC is a time standard, GMT is a timezone. There's other timezones along the meridian that will match UTC like Western European Time ( also Zulu time if you really want ) but for general users of clocks that's another "who cares what it's called" :p

They are basically the same though and it's a bit of pedantry to say they aren't. UTC is always the same as GMT. In the summer, we follow BST and not GMT. BST is GMT+1/UTC+1.
 

AM9

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When us oldies have all kicked the bucket I suppose.
Not really. There are some who couild easily use the official measurement standards but choose to say otherwise for some wierd xenophobic reason. They seem to be of the 'NIH'* persuasion.
* Not Invented Here.
 

RSimons

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Unless you're building a road it doesn't matter though, it's just a countdown. You could measure it in badgers if you wanted & be just as usable.
I haven't listened to them for a long time, but in Canada a CBC radio news magazine program, when it had light-hearted items from England, used to close them with a description of where the place was in terms of appropriate units from Reading, e.g. 'Mr. Pearson is a butcher from Tewkesbury, approximately 690,000 sausage-lengths north west of Reading'.
 

AM9

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I haven't listened to them for a long time, but in Canada a CBC radio news magazine program, when it had light-hearted items from England, used to close them with a description of where the place was in terms of appropriate units from Reading, e.g. 'Mr. Pearson is a butcher from Tewkesbury, approximately 690,000 sausage-lengths north west of Reading'.
Although you jest, there are still plenty who forsake both metric and imperial measures and can only see things in terms of olympic swimming pools, double decker buses, countries the size of Wales, and I suppose in their time barleycorns laid end to end! :rolleyes:
 

DavidGrain

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The argument for teaching just metric in schools years ago was that when the children leave school that is what they will be using. One headmaster pointed out that the children in his school left at 3.30 every afternoon.
 

stuu

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That's all very well, but how is one supposed to know how steep it is?!! 'x%' on a road sign is completely, totally and utterly meaningless!!!
No, it means there is e.g. a for every metre, or yard if you prefer, that you go forward, you will go up/down by the signed percentage. So 20% means up/down by a fifth of the distance travelled forward. Or 1 in 5

Also more intuitive as a bigger number means a steeper hill
 

Annetts key

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The argument for teaching just metric in schools years ago was that when the children leave school that is what they will be using. One headmaster pointed out that the children in his school left at 3.30 every afternoon.
And of course, the bigger question, is, when will we move to using metric time measurement?
 

181

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how is one supposed to know how steep it is?!!

No, it means there is e.g. a for every metre, or yard if you prefer, that you go forward, you will go up/down by the signed percentage. So 20% means up/down by a fifth of the distance travelled forward. Or 1 in 5

The way I think of it is to divide 100 by the number on the sign to get the figure that is meaningful to me. I.e. 20% = 100/20 = 1 in 5, 12% = 100/12 = 1 in 8 and a third, etc.

Imperial measurements might have been phased out in schools, but not out here in the real world. And not every single adult has been taught about metres and things in school because an awful lot of us left school long before 1974.

The argument for teaching just metric in schools years ago was that when the children leave school that is what they will be using. One headmaster pointed out that the children in his school left at 3.30 every afternoon.

I hadn't yet started school in 1974, but you're right that the rest of the world didn't suddenly change, and school isn't the only place you learn units. Many people use a mixture of units, and in everyday life when most of us aren't designing bridges or spacecraft it works OK -- I couldn't tell you how many pounds there are in a hundredweight, but give me a distance in km and I'll multiply it by 5/8 to get a proper mental image of it of it. And to me mountain heights are in feet in the British Isles and metres elsewhere (which incidentally makes the numbers in Scotland and the Alps about the same).

It seems right and proper that the metric system exists as a worldwide standard and is used for engineering etc., and everyone ought to understand it, but saying that it's the only system that should be used in any circumstances, as some on this thread do, seems rather extreme. In many parts of the world it's common to use a lingua franca like English or Swahili for some purposes and one's own local language for others, so why not do the same with units?
 

mark-h

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I had not previously noticed that it is specifed in mixed units - length in inches x width in mm (including sprocket holes).
Motion picture film is the same, 35mm wide but with the length measured in feet (16 frames [images] per foot, camera film was 8 images per foot).

To add to the confusion reels of film are sometimes referred to in K referring to kilofeet, for example, 2K is 2,000 feet!
 

The exile

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You despair of metric vs imperial measurements on railways? You should try roads! What other country could be so mixed up that imperial measurements were phased out in school teaching in 1974, ie FORTY SEVEN years ago, and yet to this day it remains ILLEGAL to provide distances on roads signs to a town/city, or to a hazard like a junction in metric? :s:rolleyes:. When almost every single member of the adult population has been taught in schools AND learns to drive on our roads, wouldn't you think it would make sense to adopt metres and kilometres on our roads? Hmm, a bit complicated for our Ministers methinks! :lol:
Though newly placed roadsigns seem to be at metric distances, judging from the weird yard measurements a lot of them show (Give way in 440 yards etc = 400 metres)
 

DavidGrain

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I had no problems when prices started to be shown in pence/kilo rather than pence/lb because to me it was a simple calculation in my head to halve the price and subtract 10%. Now I am more likely to just count the number of apples or tomatoes or whatever I want.
Similarly when converting Celsius (I still call it Centigrade) to Fahrenheit, I never bother with this multiplying by 9/5 nonsense, I just double it, subtract 10% and add 32.
 

Dr_Paul

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Because no-one under 60 has been taught imperial measurements I think that their continued use is risky.
A few years back I said, rather naughtily, to a bunch of young kids that when Britain leaves the EU, all measuring will be going back to imperial, and their horrified faces were a picture when I described feet, inches, yards, furlongs and miles, and ounces, pounds, stones, quarters, hundredweights, etc.
 

DavidGrain

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Talking, as someone did above in measuring land in football pitches, By chance I can across this video about the size of Kansas in cricket pitches.
 

Irascible

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They are basically the same though and it's a bit of pedantry to say they aren't. UTC is always the same as GMT. In the summer, we follow BST and not GMT. BST is GMT+1/UTC+1.
A time zone is a geographical area so it matters if you work with them, just like units for road/rail distance. And, well, if you leave or enter one.
 

Dr_Paul

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Maybe, but lots of people know what a 5% discount means when something is reduced in a sale…
I can understand a percentage discount in a shop or the addition of a percentage of a price for a handling charge, but I really can't grasp what a percentage means when it comes to hills. A 'one in ...' does make sense, it's one foot down or up in so many feet along; a percentage doesn't make sense in this context. And its adoption can't be anything to do with going metric, as 'one in...' it would work just as well in metres as feet.

I think that some of the resistance of old codgers like me to going metric is that many of the imperial measures come from experience rather than, in the case of metric length measure, a scientific measurement which seems arbitrary when dealing with everyday business. An inch or a foot is an easily understandable measure for length, width or height (yards are for distance only); ounces and pounds much the same for weight (I think stones only apply to people's weights). If one has grown up with them, it's difficult to convert to a system that seems less 'natural'. It's not a question of my being dogmatic or nostalgic; I always use mm when working with precise measurements in, say, book or magazine production, as these are far more convenient than fractions of an inch.

My pals from Continental Europe find imperial measures baffling; to them, having grown up with purely decimal systems of weights, measures and money, they are amused why old'uns like me still use such complex systems.
 

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