Hello and a warm welcome to Russell's Blog.
The purpose of my blog is to put into words and feelings some of the photographic events that I involve myself with. An aide memoire that life is a journey.
Hopefully the content may amuse, inform, and, if I'm lucky, inspire and challenge readers who wander into this part of my website.
InnoTrans is the biennial international trade fair for transport technology and is held over six days at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds.
In addition to 2,800 exhibitors occupying all the 41 available exhibition halls at the site, there are also extensive outdoor displays at InnoTrans 2016 making use of 3,500 metres of track.
Naturally, as a trade fair, the event showcases the latest in transport technology and provides visitors with the opportunity to see what manufacturers are capable of supplying. This is where it can get interesting from the view point of passengers.
It can be particularly illuminating to compare the standard and quality of the train interior offered to passengers on some of Europe’s railways with what is, or very soon will be, available to passengers on trains in the United Kingdom.
Clearly it’s important to compare ‘apples with apples’. A comparison of a train built primarily for short commuter style journeys against one used for lengthy inter-city journeys would be largely meaningless.
But some things should be a given whatever the length of journey, surely?
Such as a comfortable seat and increasingly these days, when passengers are likely to be carrying assorted smart 'phones, tablets, etc, adequate provision of power and USB sockets for device charging.
Nevertheless, my perception on the evidence that I saw at InnoTrans, is that passengers in both first and standard class on European railways get a far far superior ‘in train’ experience. The seats are more comfortably padded, with generous leg room and are invariably placed in line with the train windows. Virtually no use is made of longitudinal seating. The trains have bright interiors and overall provide a more welcoming and comfortable ambience.
It was also interesting to note the parsimonious number of power sockets - with glaringly in my view no separate USB sockets - specified by SouthWest Trains in their newly built Siemens class 707 electric units, compared with what is on offer to passengers in trains specified for Dutch and Swiss train operators built by Stadler.
I know which I would rather spend time in on a daily commute.
I’ve put a number of separate galleries together with images from InnoTrans which can be accessed from here;
While browsing the various images, do have a close look at the passenger train interiors and decide which you would rather enjoy a journey in.
The Crossrail project is currently the biggest construction project in Europe and is one of the largest single infrastructure investments ever undertaken in the UK. Once complete in late 2018 the Elizabeth line, as it has now been officially titled, will run over 100km from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new tunnels under central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
The Elizabeth line will have a brand new fleet of 66 ‘Class 345’ trains to operate the Transport For London (TfL) services. The first of the new trains was unveiled to the press at the train manufacturers, Bombardier Transportation UK, at their workshops in Derby on 29th July 2016 and I was fortunate to have an invite from TfL to attend.
The first completed train was being demonstrated on Bombardier’s test track whilst a second train, in an advanced stage of fitting out, was in a nearby building and available for examination. Some of the features are still being finalised so, for example, the colour of the material used for the seats in the passenger coaches will be different when the trains are eventually delivered and enter service. Nonetheless, it was possible to get a clear impression of what passengers can expect from these new trains once they are introduced into service from May 2017, initially between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.
My photographs of the new Class 345 taken at the press event are available in this gallery;
Many thanks to TfL for the invitation to attend the press launch and to Bombardier Transportation UK for their hospitality.
Crossrail’s comprehensive website here http://www.crossrail.co.uk is packed with facts, figures and information about the progress of this project which will bring significant journey benefits to passengers along the route of the Elizabeth line when it opens.
After a few years in the planning and development, West Yorkshire Combined Authority has recently opened a new station in West Yorkshire at Kirkstall Forge.
The new station is on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines out of Leeds and opened on 19th June 2016. Initially one train per hour will call in each direction, with additional services during the morning and evening peaks. I was there to take a few photographs of the station and the first trains to call which are available here;
I also attended the formal opening event held on 27th June that had been arranged by Commercial Estates Group (CEG) who are developing the 57 acre Kirkstall Forge site. In addition to people from CEG, the event was also attended by representatives from West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Network Rail, the Northern rail franchise and the local MP Stuart Andrew. Here are a few photos from this event;
Together with a new station at Apperley Bridge station which opened on 13th December 2015, Kirkstall Forge is part of West Yorkshire’s £15.9m Rail Growth Package. It’s great to see new stations being opened in West Yorkshire to support the travel needs of the local population and also to give alternatives to road transport.
A new station is being built at Low Moor on the outskirts of Bradford and was also the subject of my first blog. The development has recently been hampered by the discovery of a substantial old mine shaft on the site which has required filling. Regretably it looks like the additional work required will mean that the opening of the station is unlikely to be during the ’Summer 2016’ which is the date being quoted by West Yorkshire Metro website at the time of writing.
Images following the monthly progress with the building of the new station at Low Moor are available in this gallery;
I’ve been watching the progress with the construction of Transport for Greater Manchester's Metrolink Second City Crossing (2CC) over the past few months. Images from my visits are documented in this gallery;
I’m not an engineer by training, but I can appreciate the many challenges that a project of this nature offers – particularly when it’s being carried out in the full gaze of the public everyday in the heart of the city.
The new Metrolink tram stop in St Peters Square in particular is one part of the project which is now really taking shape, as the images from my latest visit on 27th May 2016 show;
I doff my (hard) hat to the guys and gals involved with 2CC. When the job is finally done and the trams are running, I’m sure they’ll take deserved pride in what they’ve achieved. And I hope 2CC inspires a few students currently studying at school to consider pursuing a career in civil engineering.
No doubt Metrolink, like all public transport systems, has the occasional nightmare day which leaves customers and staff frustrated in equal measure. But it is nonetheless a first class example of how a modern urban transit network can help the regeneration, continued growth and prosperity of a great city and its suburbs.
I bet those cities and large urban conurbations in the UK without a similarly efficient system – Bristol, Leeds/Bradford and Southampton/Portsmouth to name a few – must look on with envy.
The introduction of brand new trains into service is always a significant event for the railway, usually accompanied by a bit of razzmatazz.
The new Class 700 electric multiple units (EMUs) built by Siemens for the train operating company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) have been under test for a few months now from the new depot at Three Bridges. Photos from some of the early test runs are available in this gallery;
The new trains are but one element of the £6.5bn government-sponsored Thameslink Programme, the purpose of which is to transform north-south travel through London. Further details are available on the Thameslink Programme website;
With the introduction of the new EMUs into passenger service on the Thameslink routes expected within the new few weeks, GTR arranged a press event at London Blackfriars on 24th May 2016. The event was well attended with representatives from GTR, Siemens, Network Rail, the Department for Transport, rail user groups and assorted media present. Many thanks for the invitation to attend.
One of the new trains was available for close examination and a subsequent short ride through the South London suburbs to East Croydon.
The new trains are intended to be high volume ‘people movers’ – designed to convey large numbers at peak periods from A to B as efficiently as possible – to that end the train builder has certainly met the design brief.
Photos of the new Class 700 at the launch event are available in this gallery;