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Infrastructure against delays

by DoDo Sun Jun 1st, 2014 at 12:57:55 PM EST

Low rolling resistance, long train lengths and high capacity are the main advantages of rail over other transport modes. However, in some situations, these same characteristics turn into disadvantages: for example, they can aggravate bottlenecks and cause delays to cascade. While at first sight, these situations may seem traffic nuisances to be addressed by more efficient dispatching, a truly efficient solution involves the construction of special infrastructure.

Below the fold, I will show three of these situations, explain why they are a special problem for railways, and show the respective solution, all of it thoroughly illustrated.

Both the international express (on the right) and a local (in the distance on the left) are stopped at red lights because a third train is crossing in front of them

Intersecting paths

In any transport mode, the basic problem of traffic dispatching is to keep vehicles out of each others' paths. For surface transport with separate paths for opposed directions, there are three basic forms of conflict:

  1. the crossing of unrelated paths (green vs. all others on the diagram below);
  2. the intersection of opposed directions at a bifurcation (red vs. blue);
  3. paths merging at a bifurcation (orange vs. blue).

On roads, the basic solution to all three involves either traffic lights at a level crossing or roundabouts. Excepting light rail, roundabouts are no real option for rail because the minimum curve radius of rail vehicles is much longer (and the desirable minimum even longer: due to lower deceleration/acceleration, you don't want trains to slow down too much). As for crossings, those involve gaps and thus increased wheel and rail wear, and are often substituted with a succession of two opposed bifurcations (switches/points; orange vs. blue or red vs. blue on the diagram). Of course, the basic solutions limit capacity, especially on rail: one direction has to wait for the passage of much longer vehicles with longer braking distances than on roads.

A long freight train is crossing over from the mainline to the track of a diverging bypass line at 40 km/h, blocking the opposite mainline track, thereby adding three minutes to the delay of the passenger train I was riding

Trains are supposed to avoid conflicts at level junctions when running by schedule. However, if a train arrives at the junction with a delay, the next train scheduled to pass on a conflicting path may have to wait, thus the delay will cascade. If you have good information flow and a computer model of tracks and trains, you can predict the travel times of trains already in motion. However, this won't help when you're right next to a station where the first delay in the cascade emerges (a train departs late). That is, the dispatcher couldn't have predicted in time that it would have been better to let the second, non-delayed train pass the junction first.

Location matters for another reason, too, one that makes the rail version of the "intersection of opposed directions at a bifurcation" problem really special: the intersection is most often between parallel tracks, and that in built-up areas. Why?

  • Many of the busiest junctions are for special rail installations which are parallel to, and right next to a mainline: freight sidings, marshalling yards, maintenance facilities.
  • These are rarely duplicated on both sides for both directions, as is usual for the road equivalents (gas stations, highway rests and service areas).
  • Even for junctions of 'truly' diverging lines, stations strike again: separate tracks often continue side-by-side into a station where the actual crossing of paths takes place.


The above-fold and the freight train photo were actual examples of the opposed directions conflict at a junction station. Below is another (at the same station), a situation like in the first diagram above: a late train from a branchline (diesel multiple unit [DMU] left of centre) departed from its station platform and crosses over to the mainline tracks, thereby blocking a train that arrived in the opposite direction on the mainline (bottom right).

Actually, you can have the intersection of opposed directions conflict at stations without a 'proper' junction: the paths of trains to/from two different platforms can cross. This will happen frequently if the station is the terminus for train services and trains have to reverse.

An example of the above is Rekawinkel on Austria's old Westbahn. The situation below is almost exactly like on the drawing: the electric multiple unit on the left just turned back but can't cross over to the Vienna-bound track until the locomotive-hauled train from Vienna passed (itself crossing over to the "wrong side", to let a third, faster train overtake it later).

Finally, there is another special case of conflict between opposed directions: at transitions between left-driving and right-driving networks (for example east of Metz en route from Paris to Germany).

Now that we see the problem, let's look at the general high-capacity solution: junctions with at least one bridge or tunnel (and several curves). It's obvious that in all of the above cases, the nice big curves and perpendicular bridges familiar from road (think cloverleaf junctions on highways) won't cut it. Instead, you squeeze a ramp between the other tracks and then have the tracks pass above/below each other at a shallow angle. (In practice, usually even the bridge looks like a box tunnel.) In railway English, this is covered by the term "flyover". The railway German term Gleisüberwerfung (c. track throw-over) is narrower and more descriptive. The railway French term saut-de-mouton (sheep jump) is not just spot-on but funnier. In railway Hungarian, a term doesn't even exist, because not a single one has been built yet.

I show two examples. The first is an old one at Česká Třebová in the Czech Republic, a city that grew at the big junction of the lines from Prague, Brno (and Vienna) and Ostrava. Its role is to separate freight and depot-bound traffic from passenger traffic. The first photo from the ground is reproduced from my 2008 diary Trains in Moravia; I shot the second from the train window en route to InnoTrans 2012.

Flyovers can be even more expensive than 'normal' bridges, because you can rarely use terrain to limit earthworks and you may need retaining walls if the width of the right-of-way is very limited. Flyovers spread in Europe in recent times only thanks to high-powered passenger trains (multiple units with distributed traction or relatively short double-deck trains hauled by modern locos): such trains can climb steeper grades, thus the approaches can be built shorter, as on my second example below.

A flyover on the 3+2-track east approach of Berlin's Ostbahnhof (East railway station) which currently facilitates the access of different train types to different platforms (in East Germany times, it was also useful for train reversing)

Train meets

You may have noticed that all of the above considered main traffic routes with lots of traffic and separate paths for opposed directions. On routes with light traffic, however, it's cheaper to have a single path for both directions, in which case the main traffic problem is the meeting of vehicles travelling on the same route but in opposed directions. On roads, drivers solve this by pulling aside at a suitable location. On a fixed guideway, however, you absolutely don't have this option. You need a section where paths separate, a multi-track section with at least the length of the longest trains.

The most common place for train meets on single-track lines is a station with at least one extra track (called siding) where trains have to stop anyway. I show two examples at station Morgó on the Kismaros–Királyrét narrow-gauge railway in Hungary. On the first, a locomotive-hauled train is arriving (left) while a pointsman is waiting to throw the switch for the DMU from the other direction, which is waiting on the siding (right):

The DMU had to wait another minute, because the locomotive-hauled train was followed by the solar-powered narrow-gauge motor car on a test run:

On lines across low population density areas (like much of the USA), or on specialised lines like mining railways, stations might be too far and between. Then you build a 'station' without cargo or passenger facilities or even any buildings: a passing loop (British – and EU – railway English) or passing siding (American railroad English).

Let me note in advance that trains don't have to stop at passing sidings: if the train first to arrive slows down a bit, its leading unit can arrive at the other end of the siding just after the end of the second train passed it. In North American railway English, such a dispatching wizardry is called a rolling meet (or in some regions a mallard). I couldn't find a truly good video, but on the one below, the second train passes the end of the first and the signal that just turned green around 06:05 in.

Let's return to Europe, where single-track lines have relatively frequent stations and you want to run passenger trains on schedule. What happens if two trains are scheduled to meet at a station, but one of them is delayed? If the schedule is tight, then, obviously, the other train has to wait, thus the delay cascades. If the first two trains meet upon further trains as they travel on, then the delay will cascade further. To avoid this, trains are scheduled to meet with buffer times of a few minutes. Usually the train more likely to be delayed is scheduled to arrive earlier and then wait a few minutes (see the green train at Einstadt station and the purple one at Deuxville station on the virtual train diagram below). Sometimes the other train is scheduled to wait after the train meeting before departing (green train at Deuxville).

However, such buffer times aren't an ideal solution:

  • they extend travel time by default,
  • they don't help if it's the other train that is delayed (purple train at Einstadt and green train at Deuxville on the second diagram below); nor
  • if the first train's delay exceeds the buffer time (purple train at Deuxville).

Double-tracking is an expensive solution, justified only if you want high train frequency. However, you can do with less by turning the relationship of infrastructure and schedule on its head: first you prepare a regular-interval (clockface) schedule ignoring train meetings, and then add an extra track only at locations where trains would meet by that schedule:

In English, such a selectively double-tracked section can be called a passing loop/siding, too, and is treated as such from a signalling viewpoint. But, although these European passing loops aren't longer in absolute terms than North American passing sidings and dispatching resembles the "mallard", there is a key difference: they are much longer than the maximum length of the trains they were built for. This way, you can have a buffer time for delays without idling: usually, the time a train takes to run the length of the siding minus train length.

The example I show is the first application in Hungary (and the occasion for the present diary). This 2.3 km passing loop was built as part of the total upgrade of the Budapest–Esztergom line (more on that in a comment), and will be used for train meets in two more years (after the rest of the line is finished).

Of course, American passing sidings can be used for rolling train meets with buffer times against delays, too, if both trains are much shorter than the maximum train length. In the example below, two NJ Transit passenger trains have a rolling meet (the second train appears 1:20 in, the switch is thrown at 1:55).

Passengers crossing tracks

Now here is a problem that most West European rail passengers won't be familiar with any more. Vehicles can block each other without crossing each other's paths: if their passengers cross each other's paths. On roads, you can have bus-loads (or tram-loads) of people crossing at pedestrian crossings, but this is usually synchronised with the management of road traffic at an adjacent road crossing, with traffic lights. On rail, however, this type of conflict can lead to additional delays at busy junction stations, where trains in opposed directions might be scheduled to arrive at almost the same time to catch connections. If one train is delayed, then either it won't be allowed to leave or enter the station until the train in the opposed direction leaves (thus increasing its delay), or the other train will have to wait (the delay cascades).

Both situations occur frequently at the main station in my hometown, a junction for one mainline and two branchlines. Since the introduction of a coordinated regular interval (clockface) timeplan, up to seven passenger trains occupy the platforms simultaneously. On the example below, a three-minute delay is cascading between two trains that arrived from opposed directions on the mainline:

The solution is to prevent passengers from crossing the tracks. This is done with elevated platforms and platform bridges or tunnels above/below the tracks. After much empty talk, my station is finally getting these in a reconstruction (the roofs of the first two island platforms are visible on the right while you see another delayed train left of centre blocked by passengers of the train right of centre).

On the example of an in-service elevated platform below, at station Kelenföld in Budapest, the train on the left is given the signal to depart while passengers are boarding the train on the right – this wouldn't be possible with passengers walking across the tracks.

Of course, delays aren't the only or even primary reason for this infrastructure:

  • elevated platforms provide for comfortable and wheelchair-suitable boarding (the main selling point towards the public),
  • keeping passengers from the track at all times improves safety,
  • safety is improved in particular when non-stop trains pass the platforms, which then can be allowed to do so at higher speeds.

Obviously, the main motivation for elevated platforms with over/underpasses is safety. For example, Prussia started a programme of platform tunnel construction in reaction to the Steglitz Rail Accident, which occurred in the outskirts of Berlin in the evening of 2 September 1883. The calamity arose when the station dispatcher chose to let an express train pass before allowing passengers to board an already arrived, late suburban train. The 300 waiting passengers stormed across the barrier and across the through tracks, and this impatience cost at least 39 of them their lives.

:: :: :: :: ::

Check the Train Blogging index page for a (hopefully) complete list of ET diaries and stories related to railways and trains.

The idea for this diary first came to me almost four years ago, as I observed the constant delays during my daily commute, in full awareness of the reasons the same kind of delays rarely happened to me when travelling abroad. It took so long because I set it upon myself to do the photography for all the illustrations myself, and the line upgrade project including one of my 'targets' (the passing loop) got delayed.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat May 31st, 2014 at 09:22:05 AM EST
Said line upgrade has an interesting story.

Until a decade ago, the Budapest–Esztergom line was as decrepit as any other branchline. However, a lot of rich people moved to housing projects along it, and got stuck in traffic jams on the parallel main road, thus demand for something better got the ears of decision-makers. The first improvement, from 2002, was the standard solution on the cheap: new vehicles, without much investment in infrastructure. But this boosted traffic beyond capacity: up to three coupled two-car DMUs at up to half-hourly frequency were chock-full carrying 14,000 passengers each day (much more than what made some exemplary line renewals the victims of their own success in Baden-Württemberg). Of course, delays were frequent.

With 85% financing available from the EU's 2007-2013 Cohesion Fund, finally it was time to touch the infrastructure. First the crumbling post-war "temporary" bridge over the Danube was replaced in 2008. Next was the Esztergom-end half of the line, which includes the passing loop. Buses replaced trains from June 2012 to let total reconstruction commence (see November 2012 photo). The busiest third of the line (between the previous two sections) is being double-tracked completely since the start of 2012, thus the entire line was out of service for a year (allowing the modern DMUs to be employed elsewhere). What remains to be tendered is the Budapest end and electrification (new EMUs have been tendered already), leaving just one out of the 15 rail lines radiating from Budapest without overhead lines.

Now if only at least some of the dozens of decaying branchlines further from the capital would get the same treatment...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat May 31st, 2014 at 09:28:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a shame asdf isn't around lately, because I would have been curious about his commentary from a North American viewpoint, especially on the "mallard" operation. My source on this is O. S. Nock: Railways of the USA (of which I own a copy); the following is from Chapter Fiveteen:

This book was written almost four decades ago, however, and I couldn't find a modern reference, so I wonder if the "mallard" term/slang is still in use.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat May 31st, 2014 at 09:32:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The picture of people walking across the tracks really triggers my Yikes-response. You do not do that! No walking on the tracks!

Guess I have internalised all the "walking on the tracks puts you in mortal danger" signs.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat May 31st, 2014 at 02:36:32 PM EST
You can go overboard on that. Here in the UK we don't have any crossing of the tracks at stations, but there are pedestrian level crossings where footpaths cross the track.

Sadly, due to a few recent incidents where people obviously don't understand the warning to "Stop, look, listen, cross quickly" Network Rail have begun to take a zero tolerance attitude and these footpaths are being taken out of use. In some cases tunnels or bridges are being substituted at truly ludicrous expense.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jun 1st, 2014 at 02:19:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
due to a few recent incidents where people obviously don't understand the warning to "Stop, look, listen, cross quickly"

This was my take, too, but since then, I read more about that accident, and it was less clear-cut:

Proactive not reactive | International Railway Journal

The accident occurred after the girls opened the manual gate and walked onto the tracks while the crossing sirens were still sounding. They thought the siren was for the Cambridge-bound train that they wanted to catch, and had already passed the crossing. It was at this point that they were hit by a second passing train that was travelling through the station from Birmingham to Stansted Airport. They were killed instantly.

A scathing analysis presented to the court by safety specialist Dr Tony Cox of the final risk assessment of the level crossing conducted eight months before the accident found that the assessment neglected to show that the level crossing in question had extremely short visual sighting times. The low-frequency of off-peak services also created an incentive to catch immediately departing trains, while the positioning of ticketing facilities on only one platform at the station meant that passengers often had to use the crossing more than once.

Cox estimated that there was a "near miss" at the crossing at least once a week, adding that the failure to warn passengers of the passage of a second train was a very significant factor in the two girls' deaths and a huge failure of the level crossing system in place.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jun 1st, 2014 at 05:16:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding the Ingatestone underpass: Ł4 million for a footpath underpass, huh!? Seeing that the article was a year old, I had to check what came of it. It's now open:

NetworkRail_New - News Releases - Local MP visits new Ingatestone underpass

Brentwood MP Eric Pickles was in Ingatestone on Friday 25 March to see the newly completed underpass, which allowed Network Rail to permanently close Ingatestone Hall footpath level crossing.

The crossing was identified in 2011 as having inadequate sighting when trains approached. Working closely with Essex County Council, the decision was taken to close the public crossing immediately that same year and pedestrians used an alternative route crossing the railway.

Different ways to make the crossing safer were investigated such as clearing overgrown hedgerow, lowering train speeds and diverting the footpath to a nearby under bridge.

...Work began soon after to build the £4.5m underpass underneath the railway tracks using a `box and jack' method sliding the underpass under the railway while trains were still running over the top to avoid disrupting services.

So £4.5m in the end even. <shakes head> Without knowing the specifics, this sounds like the super-inflated costs known from the USA.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jun 1st, 2014 at 05:28:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about the crossing where the girls were killed, but the Ingatestone crossing had clear sight lines of at least a kilometre in each direction. It was a gentle bend on an embankment which did not have significant vegetation.

when it was closed it was clear that nobody ever really understood what the problem was, cos the issue of sight lines was the least likely.

When I shot the pictures of the steam engine Oliver Cromwell a few years back, that was taken at a crossing about 4 miles further on which has far worse sightlines from the west side, yet afaik it's still open

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 03:04:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the Ingatestone crossing had clear sight lines of at least a kilometre in each direction

Hm. I checked and the crossing in question is here. There is a gentle S curve to the south-west, so I estimate a line of sight on (left-driving) trains from London of 600 m from the north-west side of the tracks, or 15 seconds at the line speed of 90 mph. To the north-east, there is another curve and I estimate a line of sight of 400 m from the south-east side of the tracks, that's 10 seconds. I also found this FoI request, and photos of the crossing are included on pages 26-30 of "Area Docs Part 2.pdf".

As for what exactly Network Rail sees as a problem, although I blame the Brentwood Gazette journalists for being lazy in reporting their communication in full, it is confusing. In its first longer letter (pages 12-13 in "Area Docs Part 2.pdf"), they refer to high train frequency, and "sighting" that is 27% of the required in one direction and 79% in the other, and say neither whistles (residential area) nor mini traffic lights (station area, more than two tracks) are a possible mitigation and trains would have to be slowed to 25 mph. In a letter on page 8 of "Area Docs Part 1.pdf", however, Network Rail says that one of the three tracks is a siding used by freight trains, which on occasion blocked the footpath, and pedestrians have been walking around the freight trains, thus extending the time they spent in the danger area. (The use of the track by long freight trains is vehemently denied by a protesting local.) However, in another letter on page 36 of "Area Docs Part 2.pdf", Network Rail says that the problem they see is the curvature of the line alone and not foliage or misuse of the crossing. It appears however that three tracks (as opposed to two or one) are a problem.

Even if Network Rail is right, they didn't explain themselves properly on the outset even to the local council (much less the locals) and when the local council denied their initial request for closure, they went one level higher to get it.

The fact that Network Rail waited two years (and further protests) until the actual decision to build the tunnel is also a scandal, though at least it contradicts the hypothesis that the whole affair was a corrupt deal to give an over-priced contract for unnecessary infrastructure to a contractor.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 05:21:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I can see the siding causing problems, tbh I'd forgotten about it. As far as I can tell it's mainly used as a passing loop to hold northbound freight trains during peak periods, but I've seen long ballast trains parked there for a couple of days in anticipation of permanent way work. So it could be an issue.

As for the sightlines on expresses, hmm the absence of any reported incident on the crossing suggests it isn't anything like the problem Network Rail want to portray it as. But I think NR were probably over-reacting to the Enfield incident and got caught out closing a popular crossing without any plan to replace it. So all the justifications were done after the fact to cover their backsides.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 09:50:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Denmark we have quite a lot of level foot crossings on the small local stops serving single-track rail lines.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2014 at 03:21:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In France too.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 03:22:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We have that too, but then you cross at the designated crossing, not just walk around liek they do in those pictures. The designated crossing is Safe as long as you follow the rules, otherwise tracks are Dangerous.

Effective indoctrination should start early, be repeated often and divide the world in clear cut categories.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 03:47:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot to note that the bans on crossing the tracks which became ubiquitous long ago where you live are of course gradually being introduced here along with station reconstructions, with exceptions in line with the "designated crossing is Safe as long as you follow the rules" maxim. For example, on the only line in Hungary where trains currently reach 160 km/h, all stations and stops have either footbridges or underpasses, but most of those weren't built to be accessible for disabled people. So station masters regularly open gates for the elderly (and not just them) after the train left.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 6th, 2014 at 03:32:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This reminds me of a stereotype-contradicting observation I made: in Italy, I have never seen people violate the don't-cross-the-tracks signs, but I saw such violations several times in Austria and Switzerland.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jun 1st, 2014 at 05:19:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like you've never been to Calabria.....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 08:34:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well true, I submit I was only in Sicily and in Northern Italy (north of Siena) and not for a lot of time even combined.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 09:36:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of delays, we have right now no trains on the Uppsala-Stockholm line, which includes Arlanda airport. I think a cable fell down, started a grass fire that burnt out more cables and stuff. This happened Wednesday last week and trafic is scheduled to return to normal next monday, so ten days. Exact reasons why the cable fell and why it takes so long is still unclear, but the perpetual lack of maintenance is probably part of it.

In south of Sweden we also have a strike that started today on Öresundstågen to prevent the company using temporary employments to replace normal employments. Somehow I doubt the strike will cause as much delays as the poor maintenance is doing.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 04:05:03 AM EST
Another excellent diary Dodo. Köszönöm. I always appreciate your insightful articles and your rail pieces are helpful in understanding how rail works.

Paul Gipe
by pgipe (pgipe(at)igc.org) on Tue Jun 3rd, 2014 at 09:29:13 AM EST
Off topic, I saw a Renfe Ave yesterday at Toulouse Matabiau, on the recently-opened Barcelona connection. I scrambled across the station (not across the tracks, via the underpass) thinking that a photo of this new phenomenon would be worth adding to a rail diary here. But before I could reach the locomotive, the train left the station. No pic...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 3rd, 2014 at 03:21:56 PM EST
Toulouse? I could understand Nice or Montpelier but what is the transport imperative between Barca and Toulouse?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 4th, 2014 at 02:45:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bordeaux to Barcelona?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 4th, 2014 at 04:10:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. Also, without whipping up regional-capital rivalry (hot at the moment with Hollande's look-I'm-actually-doing-something proposals to reduce the number of regions) Toulouse is a considerably larger city than Montpellier (Toulouse urban area c. 1 300 000 pop, Montpellier urban area c. 400 000). Both the Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées regions are part of the transborder Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euroregion with Catalonia.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jun 4th, 2014 at 05:10:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking at AENA statistics for the air competition in previous years, I find a curious pattern. While there was almost no traffic between Barcelona and Montpellier and 20-30,000 between Barcelona and Toulouse, the traffic between Barcelona and Nice has exploded from a few tens of thousands to almost 200,000 last year. Sadly I can't find rail statistics, but it should have been minimal, the main alternative must have been road.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 4th, 2014 at 11:20:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice is France's largest airport outside Paris, and, um, money...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jun 4th, 2014 at 11:29:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Other facilities on the higher end:
  • What is the translation for the German word "Überholbahnhof"? It's a station (not accessible to passengers) solely for overtaking. For example "L'Arboç" on the line Madrid-Barcelona.

  • Fast railroad switches can accomodate speeds of 200km/h or more. Some of them are "clothoids switches". The curve radius or curvature increases linearly and likewise decreases towards the end of the switch. This one in Bitterfeld used to be the biggest switch in the world. It's 170m long and has 11 motors. Now the biggest switches are on the lines Madrid-Barcelona (180m long, 220km/h regular speed) and LGV Est.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Wed Jun 4th, 2014 at 06:31:10 PM EST
what's the point of the platforms if it's not available to passengers ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 5th, 2014 at 02:29:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Evacuation after an emergency stop, I'm guessing.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jun 5th, 2014 at 03:07:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the translation for the German word "Überholbahnhof"?

I have seen "overtaking station" in print, but I believe proper railway English doesn't distinguish and calls this a "passing loop", too. Since you showed a Spanish example, I note that Spanish-language rail literature uses the acronym "PAET" to denote it almost universally, and it took me some time to find that it is short for Puesto de Adelantamiento y Estacionamiento de Trenes (place for the overtaking and stabling of trains).

I didn't want to overload the diary by talking about the use of sidings for overtakings, too, but Nock's book described a North American operation even more special than a mallard:

  1. At a long siding, an even longer freight train stops with its end still on the siding.
  2. An AMTRAK passenger train arrives on the main track and passes the lower end of the siding.
  3. As the AMTRAK train progresses, the freight train pulls back until its front is on the siding.
  4. The AMTRAK train progresses non-stop past the upper end of the siding.
  5. The freight train moves forward again and leaves the siding.

Now the biggest switches are on the lines Madrid-Barcelona (180m long, 220km/h regular speed) and LGV Est.

A record set to fall:

Switches ordered for TGV Bretagne-Pays de la Loire | International Railway Journal

The longest turnout will have a tangent of 1/65 and will be more than 230m long.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jun 5th, 2014 at 03:05:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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