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Electrification


Lysanderix
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As a frequent cyclist in the 1950s ,to and from Firth Park Grammar School ,the old tram track which made a 90degree turn from Barnsley Road down Stubbin Lane was a well known “accident waiting to happen”….with many a cyclist having his front wheel taken out of his control as he headed ,at break neck speed ,away from school and down to the “Terminus” with not a few broken limbs as a result. Can’t recall the police ever being called to the scene.🙂

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It does have to be said that monorails have gained a bad reputation, largely because many of them had no point switching system. But this has now been overcome. And in many places they have been built there is a risk of earthquakes, so the construction costs will rise in those places. But in the UK I don't see that adding to the costs and the building cost would be a lot less than the London Underground system being built.

What is not widely known is that the monorails that have already been built so far, not only made a profit in the first year of operation, but continued to do so each year.  I bet the Supertram system didn't make a profit in the first year and I wouldn't be surprised if it struggles to make money. Especially with constant rail replacement needed. 

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It doesn't sound as if you are a Sheffield resident if you are unaware of the finances of Supertram and the rail replacement programme.  Constant rail replacement is not true. The first rail replacement programme was only after several years of use. The programme of replacement since then has been no particular burden not experienced by similar tram systems in this country and abroad. The service initially ran at a big loss but this was reversed when it was decided to put conductors aboard to collect fares. But if you really want to start on that cost business let's add up the cost and depreciation/replacement cost of the many thousands of cars which drive in and out of the city every day. Then factor in the diesel and petrol costs. Then factor in the wear and tear on highways and infrastructure. Now add on the cost to the nation of serious road traffic accidents requiring hospital treatment and the cost to commerce when roads are closed after a fatality.  Have I gone far enough?  A mass transit system averts the need for many of those costs I have just mentioned and could be called cost benefits.  We could, of course, ask passengers to pay the full cost of their travel or we could subsidise it through local taxation. Either way, it would be very much less than the cost of each driver and passenger travelling in private transport.  It is not worth my while relocating my residence to be near a tram route but I am very envious of those people who do have that benefit.  Your monorail idea is a fantasy which is neither practical nor wanted. The tram is a reality whose time has yet to come as we reluctantly accept the need to cut car use. 

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I agree almost entirely with Fentonvillain but a current problem is the shortage of drivers which makes one wonder if we are seeing the beginning of the end of public transport given that our privatised bus services are seeing the same problem.

Perhaps nationalisation and direction of labour is the answer…..or is that is too socialist for a nation currently enthralled with private enterprise.😁

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6 hours ago, fentonvillain said:

It doesn't sound as if you are a Sheffield resident if you are unaware of the finances of Supertram and the rail replacement programme.  Constant rail replacement is not true. The first rail replacement programme was only after several years of use. The programme of replacement since then has been no particular burden not experienced by similar tram systems in this country and abroad. The service initially ran at a big loss but this was reversed when it was decided to put conductors aboard to collect fares. But if you really want to start on that cost business let's add up the cost and depreciation/replacement cost of the many thousands of cars which drive in and out of the city every day. Then factor in the diesel and petrol costs. Then factor in the wear and tear on highways and infrastructure. Now add on the cost to the nation of serious road traffic accidents requiring hospital treatment and the cost to commerce when roads are closed after a fatality.  Have I gone far enough?  A mass transit system averts the need for many of those costs I have just mentioned and could be called cost benefits.  We could, of course, ask passengers to pay the full cost of their travel or we could subsidise it through local taxation. Either way, it would be very much less than the cost of each driver and passenger travelling in private transport.  It is not worth my while relocating my residence to be near a tram route but I am very envious of those people who do have that benefit.  Your monorail idea is a fantasy which is neither practical nor wanted. The tram is a reality whose time has yet to come as we reluctantly accept the need to cut car use. 

I actually live very close to the Herdings Park Terminus. For several years (during the summer) it was often taken off with a crap replacement bus service. The Trams (when I used them) were timed wrong. With Herdings Park trams being chased by Halfway Trams. Which meant if you were on a Halfway tram (especially coming back from the University stop (the stop for the walk to the hospitals) you would not get the connection to Herdings Park. Resulting wait 15 to 20 minutes for the next tram (it was quicker to walk).  I don't use them now as I have no need to go into the city. There's nothing there anyway!  Walked passed the Herdings Park Tram stop the other day. It was heavily vandalised, no glass, no timetable or fare lists or anything else. It's not a pleasant place to wait for a tram, especially for old people and women even during the day and I wouldn't dream of being there at night.

People will not give up cars to travel on the tram, unless you hit them really hard with costs. My Uncle was hit like that being an old man. With road tax at over £700 a year and rising fast at the cheapest he could get it. He was then hit with a £200 battery replacement. So he gave up on it. He does like to go places on holiday in the car. So I said to him what about renting a car for holidays? And he said nearly all the rental companies have an age limit, and those that don't charge more than the holiday would cost.   When walking past the road up from Gleadless Townend I saw no sign of traffic decreasing (it's probably getting worse) and when Supertram is not on it's own lines it can stuck in traffic just like the cars it's meant to be keeping off road. 

Monorails are not fantasy and they are very practical. They have been built in various parts of the world as mass transit systems. Unfortunately they have also been built in theme parks - as rides of the future. I think that has given them some bad press.  Your right they are not wanted, because they are not talked about in the context of mass transit systems.  For this reason you can't get an accurate figures on the construction of one. Whereas tram systems are very commonly built and so the price of one can be worked out.

However they have one great advantage over any tram system. They simple can NOT crash into or be crashed into by other road uses. And they can not run over a person and kill them.  You talk about the cost of road accidents, but you don't factor that in when dismissing the monorail.  Monorail adds zero to that cost, but no tram system can do that.  

Transport systems are not decided by the public. They are decided by government, or local government, which are lobbed by companies or interest groups.  For example the Sheffield Supertram was built to take some of the cars off the main road (Mansfield and City) as the truck people were complaining of delays by traffic jams on that route.  You can see that in the early publicity flyers put out by the Supertram people.  Sheffield Council had also a lobby and was quiet obsessed with the development at Halfway and the Crystal Peaks area. So they wanted a good transport system to serve that area. You can see this in one of the publicity books Sheffield Council put out too. It features the map of the area.  

         

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6 hours ago, Hopman said:

Looks like a monorail to me!

However several cities now have driverless cars, these have systems which are safe and cannot crash into each other. And go at the correct speed, which most drivers seem incapable of doing.

Of course that opens up some interesting possibilities. There would be no need to own a car. You would simply request one to pick you up. And when done it would go to the next person and transport them. They would be based in one big storage area. You wouldn't need to be able to drive. No driving licences. No garages, driveways to your house. And no parked cars anywhere. In fact most people who own cars for the most part of it's life it simply sits there doing nothing (except rust).  The system would wipe out nearly all local public transport systems (such as bus and trams) too.  No timetable, no sharing with somebody, sitting next to that strange person on the bus. 

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I think that we need to differentiate between monorails and elevated transport systems.  There are ground based monorail systems, virtually all of which are historic and had limited success.  History Dude is singing the praises of overhead transport which can come in a variety of forms.  Simple elevated tracks have the advantage that they can be brought down to the ground outside the central area and either run as trams (ie streetcars) or else on their own reserved track.  Suspended railways can have their height reduced, but must always have the overhead structure.  Again, there is a small technical distinction between suspended monorails and other suspended railways but other than for pedants it is pretty irrelevant.

It is interesting to note that New York, which used to have an extensive elevated railway, closed the overhead system by 1973 and finally removed it by 1977.  However for a more modern driverless elevated railway see the Dockland Light Railway.

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By definition mass transit needs to move people, so it needs to be where they live. I can't imagine a monorail system going along Abbeydale Road or Ecclesall Road ever getting planning approval. There would be objections to it being an eyesore, it was bad enough persuading residents the tram overhead was nothing like as visible as railway structures.

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30 minutes ago, Lemmy117 said:

By definition mass transit needs to move people, so it needs to be where they live. I can't imagine a monorail system going along Abbeydale Road or Ecclesall Road ever getting planning approval. There would be objections to it being an eyesore, it was bad enough persuading residents the tram overhead was nothing like as visible as railway structures.

Yeah I bet they would! Mind you could ask them if they would like to be in Abbey Road Cemetery a bit more earlier than required or perhaps their children. Last time I checked about 1,000 kids a year die in traffic "accidents".  The chances are your death will be reported on the radio as a traffic message telling people to avoid say "the junction of Abbeydale Road due to an accident".  

The simple way to avoid such problems is NOT TO MOVE people around. The old legs is very efficient, once placed in the right environment, and in some cities the speed is down to less than 10 miles per hour. If you have been stuck in a traffic jam for 30 minutes, you'll know why that is. There are solutions and they don't involve any transport systems. But most people are educated in a way of thinking in straight lines. Such as "walk, horse, car".  They don't think outside the box. You can tell this when people start thinking about the future.

For example who lives in a city like this taken from the 1927 film:

 

Or in Star Trek, with cars, old trams airships, trains and of course transporter booths!

Star Trek future street 

Metropolis 1927.jpg

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Having moved from a question about electrification of the railways we seem to have moved onto urban rapid transport and especially monorail. Whilst all very interesting I would point out that, as far as I can tell, no monorail system moves freight and with some 17 million tonnes being moved annually on a system that also handles millions of passengers isn’t it all rather academic?😁

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I doubt railways are electrified for the movement of freight. The HS2 project isn't about the movement of goods. Due to the gross weight of many good trains they have great difficult getting them moving. so getting them up to 200 miles an hour isn't a concern.  I got onto the subject of monorails, because too much money is being spent on fast passenger trains to support the MASSIVE city of London. At the expense of more local services, which haven't been upgraded for years and will not under the present schemes. Due to shorter distances these would cost less to build than a very long route. Plus would come into service faster than the long routes. 

Generally speaking you really have to make at least four tracks available if you want to have both freight and fast passenger services. As having them both on two tracks causes problems. The first is that the speed of goods services will never be the same as a passenger service. Which means chasing trains. This means for most lines passing loops are added to hold a freight train. But this increases costs. (1) they need to build them. (2) signal systems to control them and (3) stopping and starting a heavy goods train. Especially getting it started again. This increases fuel costs and slows the service of the train. Rather than having a train at a constant speed of about 50 mph, with four tracks lines. Lastly freight services are more accident prone and can have dangerous loads. Running them at very high speed is asking for trouble.

The fastest freight services are probably the container trains. Which are easily lifted from train to truck. Indeed that has always been the problem with goods. You have to get them on (and off) the train, especially heavy items. This is why monorails are not used for goods. Though you could carry parcels in them. But many factories are not built near railway lines, so they don't transfer goods to rail due to the expense of doing so.  But they strange thing is that you often see very large business built at the side of railway lines, yet have no connection with them. Yet they have extensive parking for road vehicles and trucks. So they could use it. Maybe with the truck driver shortage, some firms might consider sending things by rail once more. Especially the ones that send them in containers. For despite the railways running a lot of the container traffic I bet you will still find a great deal of container trucks clogging up the UK motorways. But even that would require more investment in railways.  The road lobby (which of course likes to see the railways fail) would argue against that.

Of course the original question is a bit like those on BBC's Question Time. Where questions are answered, but the questions are set in the context of TV news or Newspaper headlines. For example you wouldn't get an audience member on that asking about should the UK be building monorails? If it wasn't been aired by the press already.  Therefore like I have done, you have to put the context of the question into what about this? Rather than a question that feeds the interest of some body such as Network Rail or Midland Mainline. Who would be the real beneficiaries of the electrification, rather than the general public.        

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I accept what you have to say about widening the answers….and I was a little “tongue in cheek” when I first posed the question.However, I really cannot see that a monorail is the answer to the mass movement of bulk freight or passengers.


Anyone with slightest knowledge of transport recognises the limitations of rail transport in these days of J I T …with the time consuming need to transfer goods from rail to road for delivery to the user  .This is why in the UK rail is almost entirely used for the movement of bulk freight and, of course, containers…..which is not the case everywhere.

Back in the dark ages I worked for a company which was rail served ….with our own siding and signal and we found that the cost of maintenance by BR and their “lackadaisical “attitude made its use uneconomical ,given the demand for rail delivery was limited.That said, when Freightliner came about we became big users….it was a brilliant service, fast, reliable and competed on price with road delivery……Sadly it only served a few regional terminals….Glasgow was the one we used on a regular basis!

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Monorails for the mass movement of freight was never really a possibility. And very long distance is not an option. They do beat tram and subway systems hands down. However nearly all that have been built on the ones that run on top of the track, rather like a train. Just way up in the air. This type is however the more expensive type and not very efficient in terms of moving people around. 

The suspended system is the real deal. The pylons for that can easily go down the central reservation of main roads. They are metal and therefore easy to move into place. The track sections lift into place. One of these systems was built in China in 1971 and it's still running good. I have seen some images of it being constructed way back then and you can see that the roads that the run along are often still in use when the pylons are being put in place. You couldn't say the same for Supertram. You could do it in phases. Phase one put the pylons bases in place along the entire route. Then (2) the rest of the supports. Phase 3 would be the track sections. Phase 4 station construction.

These systems can follow rivers, cross section a hill side slope, without the need to cut into the hillside at all. A conventional line would require the side cutting into along it's entire route. Then the side walling to keep the rest of the bank back. All the monorail engineers do is sink a tube into the hill side at certain points.     

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The Germans have. a pre WW1 system still operating in Wupppertal  . …and, of course, across in Ireland there are the remains of the Listowel .and Ballymena monorail system. 

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Didn't the scientist Eric Laithwaite develope some form of linear driven train? Remember seeing a lot of news articles about it in the seventies.

Has there been any developments in battery driven trains? possibly using charging points sunk into the track at various locations along the line, a bit like a wireless phone charger in a car, charging the batteries as the train passed over the charge point's.

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World's first commercial MAGLEV system: Birmingham, UK 1984  I've ridden it myself many years ago.  Laithwaite was propounding his ideas back in the 1970s, possibly earlier.  There was a copy of his book in the Physics library at school and a few of us had ideas about creating "LIMP" the Linear Induction Motor Project.  A lack of funds, lack of official (ie teaching) support and an absolute ruling (headmaster) that we couldn't use the supports for the fence around the all-weather hockey pitch put paid to it though.

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I'm lucky enough to have been on the Shanghai Maglev train, it is a very short run to the airport and back. It runs mostly at slow speeds because of the high operating costs.

My impression is that it is a technical success but a commercial white elephant.  You can save a few minutes at tremendous cost which is of no benefit to the average person.

I felt the same over the whole HS2/electrification issue; - do I really want to get to London 20 minutes earlier?  Probably not.

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Perhaps it's not for Northerners wanting to get to London 20 minutes earlier, but for us poor sods "down south" trying to escape up north!

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Remember travelling on the Maglev from Birmingham International. The journey to the airport was only a few minutes and made at quite a slow speed. Just as well really, as on the return journey it "fell off" the magnetic wave and we ground to a halt, something it did quite regularly apparently. We ended up walking back the few hundred feet.

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Back to topic ,I read that in 1981 the British Rail Board published a paper concerning electrification and the Midland Mainline was included in the proposals…..A later plan was for the line to have been electrified( via. Derby) and been operational by 2020…..but this was cancelled on account of cost.

 

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