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Easing the capital’s cramped carriages

We’ve all been there – you’re standing on the platform on the way to work, hoping to board the next train that pulls up, before seeing the crowd of packed passengers in front of you, crammed into the carriage like sardines.

It’s a problem found all over Britain’s busy rail network, and as DfT stats have recently shown, is worse in London – where some of the most crowded services arrived at their last destination carrying more than twice the train’s maximum capacity.

Labour have, unsurprisingly, picked up on this in the past, even calling overcrowded trains a “national disgrace” (although we’ll not forget about that infamous incident involving Mr Corbyn and one of Virgin’s half full trains).

But today, a new innovation has been announced in London that could ease this problem, without taking any passengers off the network.

The project, called Orinoco 2, which lets platform staff direct passengers accurately to less crowded parts of the train is currently being used by Arriva Rail London on its fleet of 57 Class 378 trains to give passengers a bit more space to breathe.

Facilitated by the RSSB, the innovation uses an air suspension system on each carriage which pumps more air into the suspension bags as more people board the train in order to keep the floor of the train at the same height above the tracks, regardless of how heavy the carriage is.

The new technology uses a sensor in the air bag to measure changes in pressure, and then on-board computers use this information to calculate how many people have boarded the service.

This data is fed back to Arriva Rail London’s station teams, and sent to staff on the platform via their iPhones and iPads.

It’s a clever innovation, and for passengers regularly travelling in the capital it could help deliver more comfortable, spacious services.

Top Image: tirc83

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Steve King   22/08/2017 at 11:52

All very clever, but what happens to dwell times as people rush up and down the platform? You already get these announcements all the time on LUL, but there is never enough time to actually move along the platform - you just have to cram in at the nearest set of doors. Spend the money on actual improvements, not gimmicks!

Davd R   22/08/2017 at 13:05

London only once more. S*d the rest of us.

Mark Hare   22/08/2017 at 15:14

@Davd R - what a ridiculous comment. No doubt you're a Northerner with a chip on your shoulder but I'm sure any of the Northern TOCs are free to develop or procure a similar system for their trains if they wanted to. You'll have noted in the article that according to the DfT figures overcrowding is worst in London so the need for a system like this is greater in the South, hence it makes sense for trials to take place on commuter services into London, no?

SWB   22/08/2017 at 19:29

Why not do as the Japanese and have workers stationed at each door to push passengers into the carriage so the doors can close? You don't hear those passengers complain much as they stand cheek-to-jowl with their fellows during every commute. They have learned to retreat to their inner "happy place" and ignore the crush. It's a trick that we all need to learn.

King's Lynn   23/08/2017 at 11:32

@SWB: Seriously? In London? Which London do you refer to here, sir...? The one in Shangri-La? As to the rest, all very nice in principle but I think planners always forget one thing: Stupid-Human Nature (aka laziness). How many trains have we travelled on where people just can't be arsed to walk down the platform a bit, preferring to cram themselves in to the closet carriage to the exit, despite that carriage being stuffed to the gunnels and the one two or three down practically empty? I think the only way that this would work is if the trains were loaded at gunpoint.

Manek Dubash   24/08/2017 at 13:30

As for the cheap shot at Corbyn, it's been shown that the video that Virgin Trains released shortly afterwards was selective, and didn't show that the seats he passed on his way to the front of the train were either reserved or had people already in them, not visible due to the high seats backs, or because they were children. He wasn't lying.

JG   03/01/2018 at 15:56

In the first place.......why are trains allow to exceed their maximum carrying capacity ?? If this were a car, truck or a coach, the driver or operator would be facing charges. Maximum Safe Carrying Capacity is put in place for a reason. Why does the rail industry constantly disregard this.... ???

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