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Author Topic: Request stops - replacement of arms by buttons  (Read 598 times)
grahame
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« on: July 15, 2018, 08:02:17 pm »

From the July edition of Rail User Express

Quote
At FoFNL’s AGM and Conference in Thurso, Alex Hynes, Managing Director of Abellio ScotRail/Network Rail Alliance, outlined improvements to the Far North Line, including a new push-button system that allows passengers wishing to board at a request stop to communicate directly with the train, obviating the need to prepare to stop on a visual signal.

All very well, provided that the reliability is much better than that of help points, and that the communication really is direct with the train - not Trowbridge to Mumbai to Doncaster to Swindon to Cheshire to Warminster (know what I'm talking about, anyone?).  Oh - and that all trains are fitted and we don't have another six month 'can't stop at' fiasco.

FoFNL - Friends of Far North Line.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2018, 08:15:21 pm »

I know in the past I've tried to stop a train with an arm signal only to see as it came closer it was a freight.  Roll Eyes So a push button system should avoid that as well as avoiding the driver needing to be ready to stop on a visual signal that probably usually isn't there. But certainly if it isn't reliable it won't be worth anything.
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broadgage
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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2018, 09:31:04 am »

Knowing the declining standard of reporting these days, I do wonder if it actually means "direct communication with the train" via some complex and indirect system.

If I were designing such a system, I would wire the push button to a signal lamp beside the track. Nothing extra need be fitted to the train.
The signal would have to be of a type not confused with other railway signals, which effectively rules out red, yellow, or green lights. A rapid flashing white light would stand out and seems suitable.

A simple time out circuit would extinguish the lamp after say 30 minutes. The passage of a train should NOT extinguish the "request stop" light, to avoid any problems with an ECS or freight train cancelling the signal and passengers then being left behind.

Anything involving extra equipment on the train, or messages routed via help points and call centres is doomed to failure.
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Western Pathfinder
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2018, 09:35:48 am »

I was thinking along the same lines myself,however a flashing White is the warning for a level crossing is it not ?.
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2018, 10:16:41 am »

It's a laudable intent to save the need for trains to slow down so that they can see a hand signal in the event of someone wanting to be picked up. 

There are concerns and opportunities I can see ...

Concerns

1. That an electronic / help point/ communication system will be more expensive to run and more prone to failure

2. That we might move a further step for "operational reasons" to having to book the stop ahead of time, rather like cycle reservations.  "Driver needs to know before the train sets out from its starting point".  "Stops must be booked ahead of time online".  "Book by 10 p.m. the night before so it gets printed out in driver's rotas"..

Opportunities

1. Timing improvements for train that pass a series of such stations and rarely call at more than one or two of them

2. On lines where only a handful of trains call at tiny stations (on request or always), this system offers the opportunity for a much better service to be offered at these stations.   Taking lines as different as Exeter to Barnstaple and Oxford to Worcester, is there an opportunity for a clockface service that stops at any station at all on the line if required, without the need to slow down trains which the majority of the time would pass at speed. A real opportunity to improve the country station.
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martyjon
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2018, 10:47:49 am »

No need for buttons or arms, just install motion activated CCTV linked to a green / flashing yellow signal on the approach to such a location (request stop station).
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PhilWakely
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2018, 11:34:22 am »

It's a laudable intent to save the need for trains to slow down so that they can see a hand signal in the event of someone wanting to be picked up. 
<snip>
Opportunities

1. Timing improvements for train that pass a series of such stations and rarely call at more than one or two of them

2. On lines where only a handful of trains call at tiny stations (on request or always), this system offers the opportunity for a much better service to be offered at these stations.   Taking lines as different as Exeter to Barnstaple and Oxford to Worcester, is there an opportunity for a clockface service that stops at any station at all on the line if required, without the need to slow down trains which the majority of the time would pass at speed. A real opportunity to improve the country station.

Exactly how do you create such a timetable. Say 80% of services pass a request stop 'at speed' and the remainder require braking, dwell and acceleration time. Do you report 80% arriving early at the next scheduled stop and thus requiring wait time, or 20% arriving late and the potential for not making up that time?
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broadgage
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2018, 11:38:21 am »

I was thinking along the same lines myself,however a flashing White is the warning for a level crossing is it not ?.

It is. That is why I proposed a RAPID flashing white light rather than the slow flash for a level crossing.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2018, 02:51:55 pm »

No need for buttons or arms, just install motion activated CCTV linked to a green / flashing yellow signal on the approach to such a location (request stop station).
Probably more reliable than a communication-based system but motion detectors are not infallible. It would also be prone to false positives from cats, random visitors, spotters, etc. And more seriously, whereas a breakdown in a communication system to all users, a breakdown in this system would not be.
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martyjon
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2018, 04:34:50 pm »

No need for buttons or arms, just install motion activated CCTV linked to a green / flashing yellow signal on the approach to such a location (request stop station).
Probably more reliable than a communication-based system but motion detectors are not infallible. It would also be prone to false positives from cats, random visitors, spotters, etc. And more seriously, whereas a breakdown in a communication system to all users, a breakdown in this system would not be.

That why I suggested a green / yellow flashing signal; green being no movement in say past hour, flashing yellow mean motion detected within past hour.
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eightf48544
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2018, 04:51:12 pm »

Sorry to put a damper on it but I've just thought of a snag.

Currently the train slows being prepared to stop so that some one arriving on the platform at the last minute can stick their hand out hopefully in time for it to stop.

Depending on where the driver's indication is trackside or in cab the driver could reach a point where they've received no stop signal so doesn't brake but then someone presses the button at the last minute.

Like pressing the bell of bus 10 yards from the stop.
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bignosemac
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2018, 05:32:11 pm »

The current manual system ain't broke. No need to waste time, effort and money fixing it.
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grahame
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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2018, 06:25:11 pm »

Many is the time I've passed by places such as Ascott-under-Wychwood, Breich and Dilton Marsh and wondered at the abysmal passenger traffic that each of those stations generates close by where people live and / or work. Perhaps the traffic at each of those three is low because the number and utility of the services is also low; plenty of trains going through, but I would argue that an hourly service is about the minimum for best effective transport provision for day return trips.

But there's a problem.  You can't really stop every train - at least initially - as you'll have lots of zero passenger calls.  And you can't really make them into request stops either, with the need for the train to slow down and then move away again more often than not, with the delays that causes to exisiting passengers for no gain.

But pehaps there is an opportunity.   The current system is not broken - it does what it says on the tin.   But is it wasteful and could do more?  Let's say you can get passenger numbers at Ascott-under-Wychwood up from 4,600 per year to 13,800 per year and the station currently costs £9,200 per year to maintain ... then you are reducing your costs from £2.00 per passenger to 66p per passenger, and that make the whole of their journey much closer to viable to the rail industry - an extra £1.33 each.   No need for the train to stop or slow down any more if there's no passengers, and timetables can be (and are) adjusted and have slack for times when passenger numbers and load speeds are outside the commonly experienced metrics.
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Bob_Blakey
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« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2018, 08:27:06 am »

No need for buttons or arms, just install motion activated CCTV linked to a green / flashing yellow signal on the approach to such a location (request stop station).

Also how would that work on a single track/platform site where trains run in opposite directions. It is entirely possible I am missing something obvious here!
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2018, 08:57:18 am »

Many is the time I've passed by places such as Ascott-under-Wychwood, Breich and Dilton Marsh and wondered at the abysmal passenger traffic that each of those stations generates close by where people live and / or work. Perhaps the traffic at each of those three is low because the number and utility of the services is also low; plenty of trains going through, but I would argue that an hourly service is about the minimum for best effective transport provision for day return trips.

But there's a problem.  You can't really stop every train - at least initially - as you'll have lots of zero passenger calls.  And you can't really make them into request stops either, with the need for the train to slow down and then move away again more often than not, with the delays that causes to exisiting passengers for no gain.

But pehaps there is an opportunity.   The current system is not broken - it does what it says on the tin.   But is it wasteful and could do more?  Let's say you can get passenger numbers at Ascott-under-Wychwood up from 4,600 per year to 13,800 per year and the station currently costs £9,200 per year to maintain ... then you are reducing your costs from £2.00 per passenger to 66p per passenger, and that make the whole of their journey much closer to viable to the rail industry - an extra £1.33 each.   No need for the train to stop or slow down any more if there's no passengers, and timetables can be (and are) adjusted and have slack for times when passenger numbers and load speeds are outside the commonly experienced metrics.
If I've understood correctly, you're saying that a system which makes it easier to timetable request stops can lead to more trains potentially stopping at a station, which in turn leads to more passengers because there are more journey opportunities (which then leads to more trains etc in a virtuous circle). Perhaps if a communication-based system might be unreliable, a system that's a sort of hybrid might do. In other words, waiting passengers could press a button which would activate a signal of a suitable colour at a suitable point in advance of the station as per martyjon's idea. So no potentially unreliable and expensive communications, motion detectors etc, but still giving the driver some advanced warning and eliminating the need to slow every train.
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