Why has progress in cars been so much better in the last 40 years compared to trains?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Bessie, 11 Aug 2019.

  1. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    Absolutely. I can still picture some of the Mk1 travelling environments, and it certainly isn’t rose-tinted spectacles. For me the provided a quite pleasant travelling experience. The only things which are better now are the lack of slam doors (although personally I had no problem with them) and crashworthiness.

    Things arguably moved forwards with Networkers and Electrostars (especially the earlier versions of Electrostar), but have slipped very much backwards with recent designs like the 700.
     
  2. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Yes indeed. That anyone can regard the environment of a 700 as superior to a CIG for example is beyond comprehension. Some of the earlier Electrostars are also very pleasant environments, although the lack of compartments counts against them IMO.
     
  3. Butts

    Butts Established Member

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    GWR HST 1st Class Armchair compared to a Hitachi Class 800 Ironing Board that replaced them ?

    Scotrail Turbostar 1st Class decent plump seat compared to it's Hitachi anorexic successor ?

    And the list goes on.....

    All newer trains seem to be afflicted by a visit to weightwatchers resulting in skeletal products that are claimed to be ergonomically superior- by whom !!!!

    The same thing is happening with a lot of Aircraft.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 14 Aug 2019
  4. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    Compartments are dead because:
    they are a waste of space in terms of passenger capacity
    they can be unsafe when travellers are alone in quiet times
    they have extended load/unload times
    they are (within the UK loading gauge) incompatible with modern acceptable acessability needs
    they encourage an attitude of 'private space' to the detriment of some passengers​
    Fortunately the railway has at last removed them from public service rail transport.
     
  5. Meole

    Meole Member

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    Comparative cleaning costs ? Compartments more easily petty vandalised ? Construction costs ?
     
  6. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Whilst most of these are practical considerations for the railway, (although supposedly being "unsafe" at quiet times, or not meeting accessability requirements would only be considerations if the whole unit/train was formed of compartment stock), they have little bearing on what constitutes a pleasant travelling environment.
     
  7. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    My list was mainly based on actual experience when compartment stock was the norm on both suburban and longer distance trains, but yes, trains with passenger cubby holes did tend to become rats nests owing to the behaviour of certain passenger types.
     
  8. DerekC

    DerekC Member

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    Yes - several times - it didn't seem any different from a Class 450 (which I am used to for journeys of over an hour) in terms of seat comfort. Not ideal - I much prefer the 444 - but you can live with it. I do like the general feeling of openness and space. And it can do what it was designed for - swallow lots of passengers quickly.

    I don't think there is any doubt that trains have developed enormously in the last fifty years - and in many of the same ways as cars. @ComUtoR and @Bald Rick have come up with good lists of the improvements. The rate of change is slower because, as many others have said, train life is much longer than car life - but I can get on a 30 year old Class 159 to ride to Exeter and it's not a bad experience because it has been refurbished and fitted out with modern(ish) passenger information systems etc.

    There is a danger in all this focus on "must have new" - politicians are very driven by photo-ops and cutting the ribbon as a new train leaves the works or welcoming it on arrival in London are much sexier than new trackwork or signalling (although they do like a hard hat and hi-vi). Also "twenty new trains for XX route" makes a good headline. I think this has had the effect of biasing investment towards new trains and away from new infrastructure and we shouldn't encourage that. Buy new trains when you need to, but refurbish the good mid-life ones first.
     
  9. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Whilst there are many reasons for the 700 interiors being the way they are, I find them a vastly inferior travelling environment to the mk 1's on the Southern Region fifteen years ago.
     
  10. DerekC

    DerekC Member

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    Oh dear - I hope this thread isn't degenerating into an anti-700s rant - can we get back to talking the subject. I think having trains that last a long time is a good thing if we refurbish and upgrade them so that they are still able to compete in terms of passenger experience. And at the same time you can usually improve the energy efficiency (regenerative braking, more efficient diesel power plant, even hybrid, although the railway hasn't really got to grips with hybrids yet).

    Renewing your car every five to ten years is an immensely wasteful process in terms of resources used. That is balanced to some extent by improvements in fuel efficiency, but in the past few years fuel efficiency gains in cars have been stalled by the tendency to buy big crossovers and 4x4s. At least people don't care about what trains look like on the outside!
     
  11. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Funnily enough I have spent a lot if time in the GW 800s recently, and found the seats definitely more comfortable than the HSTs. Can’t comment on the Scotrail trains as I’ve never been on a 170 up there.

    As for other new trains seating: 700s are definitely better than 319s, 317s, and (in my view) 365s, 717s definitely better than 313s, and 345s are definitely better than 314s. I haven’t been on the new Anglia, Northern or EC trains yet so can’t comment.

    But then seat comfort is opinion.
     
  12. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    I went on one of the 331s last week. The environment was OK and the AC worked well enough. The seats were similar to the 700s except they were slightly softer. Unfortunately, the ride wasn't that good at speed, -there was an almost continuous rapid vertical oscillation. I doubt that it was the track which was between Doncaster and Wakefield. Given the that Mill Hill bumps are handled so well by the 700s, the CAA stock doesn't seem that we'll set up.
     
  13. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    The presence of tables is a definite improvement over the previous stock. The windows line up nicely as well, although Leeds - Donny isn't the most exciting route in terms of scenery.
     
  14. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    The presence of tables is a luxury only practical on relatively low density routes like DON to LDS. My dislike was the ride quality. 100mph on tracks that carry the main London to Leeds service should not have such abberations, - or trains that use them should have a better track tolerance.
     
  15. St Rollox

    St Rollox Member

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    Nail on head.
    I look at my own area, Greater Glasgow, and laugh okay quietly snigger at new works being done on railway infrastructure.
    Oh look what we're doing at Queen St Station.
    Hold on, didn't it open in 1841?
    And it's took to 2020 to build a longer platform and upgrade the concourse.
    Investment is the key.
    As a mate who visit China said, there's train stations there that look like airports.
     
  16. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Not a bit of it.

    Even the most cramped 150 could fit a small, under window table where the seating bay is.
     
  17. Butts

    Butts Established Member

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    Are you seriously contending that a GWR 800 First Class Seat is better than an HST one ?

    An ironing board versus an armchair ?

    Does anyone else agree with this - perhaps I am missing something !!!
     
  18. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    One suspects that the people actually building those airport like stations in China, don't get paid a lot.
     
  19. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    Good points. Has the comfort of your seat improved? I'd hope so, given how long your sat on the train.
     
  20. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    I agree with everything you say except the comfort part. I find them to be less comfortable. In fact when I sit on some declassified first class seats, I find them to be less comfortable than the standard class seats on other older rolling stock. To think some people even pay to sit on these less comfortable seats when they are being used as first class seats. That is my opinion however.

    Certainly the class 700s are great to be able to walk through. Less great are the class 800s when the catering is the other five carriages and you would like to get some food and can't. My fault for not bringing food with me I guess.

    I will say this though, if you were driving a car you'd have to stop somewhere to get some food.

    If driving to work you must concentrate. If stuck in traffic you can't exactly do to much, as the traffic will most likely be moving, abet slowly.

    On a train you can do so much more. Even when stuck somewhere you can do something. Even if you can't, you don't have to concentrate like you do in a car. I'll happily let the train take the strain.

    Maybe I would be worth comparing train improvements to bus improvements.
     
  21. takno

    takno Established Member

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    The concourse was fairly obviously upgraded in the 60s, and they only started needing the platforms in the last couple of years. Sure China has got stations that look like airports, but do all of China's stations look like airports? I bet they've got more than a few Glasgow Queen Sts kicking around, or more likely cities that would kill for a rail connection at all, let alone one with the facilities of the old queen st
     
  22. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    oOOOOooooooOH Thanks for thinking about the person up the pointy end.

    Before I start I'd like to address the elephant in the room... Objectively, yes. 100% trains have improved and very much for the better. We are at a point where we are babystepping into automated trains. If they ever get the core up and running...

    Subjectively is where it gets messy. Nobody is going to agree on their seating preference or layout but they are still improvements and additions over what we had in the days of the Rocket.

    Objectively... Cab design has come a long way too. There is a bigger focus on the Driver and everything now seems to be more wrapped around a central position and within reach. Controls are standardized and I'm pretty confident I could get in almost any 'modern' EMU and drive it without thinking. My first day in a 700 felt like I'd been driving it for years. Safety has also improved and crash worthiness is more rigorous.

    I have air con in a 700 and a 319 had a hand sized fan screwed to the bulkhead.
    700's have improved lighting with spots and main lights. 465's your lucky if one side works.
    700s have a dimable HMI/DMI interface as well as dimable interlock lights. 465 fault/interlock lights can be blinding (can be dimmed(ish)), 376 Mitrac gets a screen on/off option.
    The seat in a 700 is like the seat in my Jag. You can adjust it many ways and there is even an adjustable height DSD. Anyone who drives or drove a 319.. I point you towards the Cobra seat. 376s are a better seat but your trapped against the CPBC housing.

    For the Driver there are also Objective improvements :

    The PIS is automated - Various iterations of PIS but overall little need for manual announcements. The 700 PIS can be updated remotely.
    GSMR is a superior product - CSR was ok but out of date and poor quality. The BIG RED BUTTON is a leap in railway safety.
    700s have a HMI/DMI interface - 319s had bugger all, 465's you can figure stuff out with what indications in the cab you get, 376 has a Mitrac.
    MCB's and Isolations are more cab based.
    Headlights that automatically set to red when you take the key off is a good step forward. Automated night/day will be the next logical step.
    ASDO/MSDO/FASDO/ASDA/CSDE are both safety and Driver aids. With safety; every little helps.
    Probably more that don't specifically spring to mind.

    Subjectively...

    I miss standing up in a 319 and a 508. 700s are comfortable but sometimes you wanna stretch your legs. 319s/375s have a horrible view out the window. Anything with a burst through door means your view is restricted and your seating is biased to the left. 376s have an awful seating position and your squished up against the controller. The view out the side window often leads you to crane your neck. Don't miss the monitors as your then clambering out your seat.

    Cab fans and aircon is great but you often end up tripping out the fan because it's noisy or plain broken. I'd rather be in a 700 as you can sit in them in the middle of summer on the hottest day and still need a coat because its so cold but I like to have the flexibility to have my window open and feel a nice breeze or just to have a nose into peoples gardens...

    Cobra seats were hell but at least you could stand. I've ripped many pairs of trousers because I'm been caught on various shards and sticky out bits of metal in both Networkers and Electrostars.

    I miss the space you had behind you in a 508 but the cab itself was a touch cramped. 319s were dark and dismal. 376s are pretty open especially when compared to a 375 and that bloody door ! 465s aren't to bad and you can see where they started to think more about cab design but again, the Daddy of them all is a 700. I remember coming back from St Albans on a horribly cramped and overcrowded train. Suffice to say, the rear cab was full of Drivers. About 8 or us in total if I remember rightly.

    Mitrac and HMI take the guesswork out of fault finding and onboard issues. There are those who live by 'Air and Amps' and those who love new and shiny. The information and feedback you can get from a 700 is incredible but it can be a bit too much. There needs to be an option to 'mute' some of the information and make it more on demand. The problem with technology is that 'computer says no' as evidenced by the issues found when the grid went bye bye.

    The next 40yrs will be the more interesting. Will ATO be more widespread ? ETCS ? HS3 ? Will we see a Maglev at any point in the UK ? Onboard interactive displays ? I see a lot more technology going into trains and lots of potential for passengers and I guarantee in 40yrs time there will still be complaints about how comfortable the seat is !
     
  23. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    Thanks for the fascinating insight.

    I do have to ask, whilst not being entirely serious here, has anyone driven a steam train and a class 700 and if so, which drivers seat is more comfortable? I appreciate there are many kinds of stream engine and they no doubt have many kinds of different seats.
     
  24. Crossover

    Crossover Established Member

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    The HSTs ride terribly between Sheffield and Wakefield (or at least used to - like being on a trampoline!) so there is a chance the track may not be up to much on the shared section, at least

    I was reading the thread thinking the same - that a better comparison may be trains (and aircraft to an extent) to buses. Again, I feel a chunk of it comes down to design life and rate at which things get "moved on" - a bus has, generally, got a lesser designed lifespan than trains or aircraft
     
  25. St Rollox

    St Rollox Member

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    1970s upgrade?
    That still left puddles from the rain on the main concourse and down the low level.
    Just general underinvestment depending on which party was in government.

    China, well it's an authoritarian state.
    Seems the drawing board to opening of a mega station was 3 years.
    And of course workers getting paid 1960s wages.
    Wouldn't be too hard on them since they supply most of our cheap home goods and clothes.
    I've a receipt for a washing machine bought in 1994.
    It's was the same price as one i bought last week.
    Would you be prepared to give up the goodies?
     
  26. muz379

    muz379 Established Member

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    Many of the improvements you have mentioned in relation to cars are safety improvements , given road death statistics and the constant drive to improve such statistics it seems obvious why such improvements have been so forthcoming .

    Also I think you have missed out some of the stuff that has happened behind the scenes with trains as well , like better fuel efficiency from modern DMU's , WSP as standard on new EMU's and DMU's , better crash worthiness on all stock , ERTMS as standard , OTDR as standard now . It seems that there have also been improvements on trains in the same time period , maybe the comparison between driver experience of a car and driver experience of a train would be a more accurate one ?
     

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