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Author Topic: Campaigning For A More-Appropriate Train Design - HOW?  (Read 3436 times)
grahame
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« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2019, 07:02:50 am »

Thank you all for your supportive comments.

Delighted to see your long and thoughtful feedback - thoroughly thinking through the issues. I'm going to add just one or two penneth ...

Quote
There also seems to be a policy of ordering short multiple units rather than trains long enough to meet present and reasonably expected demand.
On a route where two car units are very inadequate, and 3 car units somewhat inadequate, it seems that future trains should be at least 5 car, and that 6 car should be considered.
Not likely to happen though, "lets order some more 2 car and 3 car units"

And yes I know that they can run in multiple, but previous experience suggests that if the TOC has available shorter trains, that single unit operation will feature regularly.
It's not quite like that on the Wales & Borders franchise. There's a fair bit of portion working planned; in addition to the current Cambrian line services (2 coaches each for Aberystwyth and Pwllheli, ensuring a 4-car train between Machynlleth and Birmingham) the Manchester - South Wales service is intended to split at Swansea and the Liverpool - Chester to extend to both Cardiff and Llandudno with a split at Chester, giving a longer train from Chester to Liverpool. That could perhaps do with 3-cars rather than 2 beyond Chester on at least one of those portions though.

Hmmm ... I could foresee a situation where the 2 car from Pwllheli and the 2 car from Aberystwyth are NOT combined at Macynelleth but rather people are moved from one train to the other - onward 2 car not 4 via Welshpool.  The suggestion that this isn't happening tends to suggest adequate stock levels / no teething troubles which is what's being 'blamed' for 5 v 9 from Paddington.   Just beware of the risk.

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Re. the comments on the merits or otherwise of the split at Swansea; that's a whole different campaign. Because of the long journey time, I feel that services might as well terminate at Swansea from both directions, with new express services from Carmarthen (calling at only Llanelli and Port Talbot) to maintain through links to Cardiff with no changes.

Beware of mixing two campaigns and having them interdependent.   If each has a 1 in 4 chance of success, would linking them reduce the chance of success to just 1 in 16?

Quote
You might also contact Railfuture Wales - they'll likely know how far down the design route TfW have got & whether, therefore, your campaign might get somewhere, or it's too late....
I actually wrote to Rowland Pittard of Railfuture Wales for a second time a week ago asking for his comments, having not had a reply from my first e-mail a few weeks earlier. I've still not had a reply; is he still at Railfuture Wales?

Community rail seems to be very patchy ... strong in the South West, weak in the east end of GWR territory and in South Wales.  I'm not (yet?) all that well informed of the relative strengths of RailFuture branches for contact links (connecting individual campaigns) and I don't know of a TravelWatch SouthWales type organisation that does what TravelWatch SouthWest does (being involved in that latter, I could help oil introductions). I was surprised the other day to find the lack of stations friends and user groups in the valleys - not the exact area we're talking about, but perhaps that lack also extends to West Wales??

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« Last Edit: April 15, 2019, 09:00:46 am by grahame » Logged

Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, and on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest.
ChrisB
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« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2019, 11:29:58 am »

I actually wrote to Rowland Pittard of Railfuture Wales for a second time a week ago asking for his comments, having not had a reply from my first e-mail a few weeks earlier. I've still not had a reply; is he still at Railfuture Wales?

Yep, he's your guy there.

I was with him only two days ago. If you can drop me your real name by IM, I can drop him a line & chase up a reply, if that would help?
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Rhydgaled
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« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2019, 03:45:56 pm »

I actually wrote to Rowland Pittard of Railfuture Wales for a second time a week ago asking for his comments, having not had a reply from my first e-mail a few weeks earlier. I've still not had a reply; is he still at Railfuture Wales?

Yep, he's your guy there.

I was with him only two days ago. If you can drop me your real name by IM, I can drop him a line & chase up a reply, if that would help?
Thank you for the offer ChrisB. That won't be required at this point as I have now had a reply from him (unfortunately right at the start of a very busy fortnight at work (I was helping with the company's move to new premises over the Easter weekend), so I've only just found time to get back to him). He confirmed my belief that construction of the new trains will not commence this year. I've now asked him at what point he expects the deadline for changes to the design.

I could foresee a situation where the 2 car from Pwllheli and the 2 car from Aberystwyth are NOT combined at Macynelleth but rather people are moved from one train to the other - onward 2 car not 4 via Welshpool.  The suggestion that this isn't happening tends to suggest adequate stock levels
That does happen from time to time at present with the class 158s; one hopes there will be enough slack in the new fleet to cover for 'more trains than normal needing repairs' but unfortunately it doesn't look that way. I wouldn't be surprised if the full hourly service to Aberystwyth increases demand on that route to the point that portion would benefit from 3-car units year-round (and perhaps the Pwllheli portion in the summer) but with most of the new 3-car units expected to be deployed on Manchester - South Wales services it does look as if the ratio of 2-car to 3-car units could do with being revised in favour of the latter.

Community rail seems to be very patchy ... strong in the South West, weak in the east end of GWR territory and in South Wales.  I'm not (yet?) all that well informed of the relative strengths of RailFuture branches for contact links (connecting individual campaigns) and I don't know of a TravelWatch SouthWales type organisation that does what TravelWatch SouthWest does (being involved in that latter, I could help oil introductions). I was surprised the other day to find the lack of stations friends and user groups in the valleys - not the exact area we're talking about, but perhaps that lack also extends to West Wales??
There are a number of 'adopted' stations on the routes west of Carmarthen, plus two transport-user groups (North Pembrokeshire Transport Forum and Pembrokeshire Rail Traveller's Association) that I'm aware of; but no Community Rail Partnership anymore (to be re-established under the new franchise we're told).

If you were the only person (or even one of a handful) to raise the issue then I think quite reasonably the reviewers would decide it's not an issue that is of great importance to people.  And of course it may be that more people responding said they wanted 1/3 2/3 doors (highly unlikely, but the point is that in a consultation your view may not be in the majority).  Or maybe it was considered and advisors pointed out that the advantages of mid carriage doors were x, y, and z, so on balance it was the best design to go for.
I wouldn't be surprised if nobody else mentioned door layout, either way, in their responses; my recollection is that the questions regarding train design/quality were very superficial. To try and make my views on the different types of train required for different service groups known I had to make a bespoke submission outside the 'questionnaire' forms provided.

One final thought - are you sure that this layout is definitely proposed, and that TfW or the manufacturer haven't just used a stock image of a new train, whilst the detail is still to be finalised?
Transport for Wales have claimed that the images are, to a certain extent, placeholder designs (specifically they argued that the seats ('ironing-boards' were pictured) have not yet been selected). However, sadly they have confirmed that the wide 'doors at thirds' are intentional and are resisting changes to that aspect of the design.
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Don't DOO it, keep the guard (but it probably wouldn't be a bad idea if the driver unlocked the doors on arrival at calling points).
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« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2019, 11:32:30 am »

Following attending one of their meetings, I have now sent a cheque and membership application form to SARPA (the Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth Rail Passengers Association). I discussed the design of the new stock with two or three SARPA members at the meeting (there were others present but they didn't make their views known). Others felt that it may be too late to change the design and thought that the choice of the Civity platform meant the door layout was fixed. In this they didn't seem to have realised that the TPE class 397 is part of the same family and has single-width doors.

It is clear however that my biggest problem is that I don't know how hard it would be to change the door layout. The class 397 shows that the Civity UK family can have different door layouts, but without them having produced a UK 100mph DMU with anything other than a suburban layout I'm unclear how much design rework would be required. Rowland Pittard did get back to me saying that 'the design issue is on [Railfuture Wales'] agenda' but didn't make clear whether he thought changes to the door layout were possible.

Any ideas how I could find this out? I'm thinking of writing to CAF directly, but the only e-mail address I can find for their UK operation is a careers one. Do I write to the general enquires e-mail address (probably would be read by somebody in Spain!) or by post to the UK office and/or Newport factory site? Alternatively, does anyone happen to have a UK e-mail contact for them?
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Don't DOO it, keep the guard (but it probably wouldn't be a bad idea if the driver unlocked the doors on arrival at calling points).
Rhydgaled
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« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2019, 11:12:21 am »

I've been trying to find ways to simplify my argument. Essentially, I think it boils down to these points:
  • When car users are forced to try the train (eg. car in for repairs) there is an opportunity to impress them and potentially convert them to rail users. Thus the train travel experience should be as high quality as possible.
  • Long-distance passengers could be put off if trains designed primarily for short-distance passengers are used.
  • Passengers making shorter journeys mind a train designed for long-distances.

I'm still not sure of who the ultimate decision maker is in this scenario. Obviously it will be one of these three:
  • Welsh Government
  • Transport for Wales (TfW, a government owned body)
  • Transport for Wales Rail Services (the Train Operating Company (TOC))

A Welsh Government civil servant has informed me that TfW "exist to drive forward the Welsh Government’s vision of a high quality, safe,  integrated,  affordable  and  accessible transport  network  that  the  people  of Wales  are proud of". I was also told that "it would not be  appropriate  for  the  Minister  for Economy  and  Transport  to  intervene  in  operational matters such as the issues you have raised".

I can't speak for every person in Wales of course, but I can't see many of them being proud of running a fleet of 77 diesel multiple units past the net-zero carbon deadline in 2050. I can't see them being proud of reduced legroom, toilet provision etc. either. I, for one, would be ashamed if this new fleet is built as currently designed. If TfW aren't delivering the Welsh Government's vision, does that become grounds for the minister to intervene? The minister is visiting my area later this month. Should I ask the local Assembly Member whether a meeting with the minister could be arranged?

Should I be targeting the Welsh Government, TfW or the TOC?
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Don't DOO it, keep the guard (but it probably wouldn't be a bad idea if the driver unlocked the doors on arrival at calling points).
CyclingSid
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« Reply #20 on: October 13, 2019, 10:11:48 am »

How will the announced end of franchising affect Wales?
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Celestial
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« Reply #21 on: October 13, 2019, 06:12:42 pm »

integrated,  affordable  and  accessible transport  network  that  the  people  of Wales  are proud of". I was also told that "it would not be  appropriate  for  the  Minister  for Economy  and  Transport  to  intervene  in  operational matters such as the issues you have raised".

I can't speak for every person in Wales of course, but I can't see many of them being proud of running a fleet of 77 diesel multiple units past the net-zero carbon deadline in 2050. I can't see them being proud of reduced legroom, toilet provision etc. either. I, for one, would be ashamed if this new fleet is built as currently designed. If TfW aren't delivering the Welsh Government's vision, does that become grounds for the minister to intervene? The minister is visiting my area later this month. Should I ask the local Assembly Member whether a meeting with the minister could be arranged?

Should I be targeting the Welsh Government, TfW or the TOC?

I think you are flogging a dead horse here for the following reasons:-

Firstly, you don't seem to have any support, either by being part of a group who you are the representative for, nor any of the bodies you have approached.  If you are perceived as an individual with, dare I say it, a bee in his bonnet, then you are unlikely to get any access to the sort of people you want to.  Without that support, you're quite likely to come across like that, and if I'm honest, I sense that is the case.

Then you've got to think why those you've approached aren't interested. It's probably because they don't see it as the big issue that you do. And so they are not interested in taking on the case on your behalf.  I think it's telling that on this forum your last two messages haven't resulted in much response, and although there's less focus on Welsh issues, it might be because people can't see the big issue either.

Finally, you've also said that you've had a definitive view from TfW that the door layout is intentional and that they are not open to changes. So even if it is not too late to change their mind, by the time you did, the cost of doing so would be prohibitive, as CAF would rub their hands at glee at the prospect of a material contract change so late in the day.  Bear in mind that even if production hasn't started, a lot of work will have already gone into the design, sub-contracts let etc, so any variation will require a lot of re-work. I bet it would delay the production too, and that's never going to be acceptable to TfW or the Welsh Government.

Sorry, if that's negative, but just trying to be realistic. If I were to campaign for something about the new stock it would be for comfortable seats.  That's an issue that has got a lot of press, and even comments in parliament, and it might come at a time to avoid being stuck with ironing board seats for the next 20 years.

P.S. There's speculation in one magazine that TfW are thinking of taking on quite a lot more Mk IV's. It's just possible that by other means you might just get the quality of stock you are looking for on the longer distance runs, though whether that is just for a couple of years or not I don't know.



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