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Monday, January 09, 2006


Gary's show on radio Scotland has been doing a piece about modernising & extending Glasgow's underground - a project estimated at £800 million. I sent this email & Gary, somewhat to my surprise read it out:

What we should be doing with the underground is to fully automate it as Docklands light Rail is. Without drivers it would be possible to run more units - probably single carriage units but 3 times as many of them & to run it all night. Running costs would be significantly reduced & capacity & speed significantly increased. This would also be far cheaper, since it only involves computerisation & electronics, than cutting new tunnels so we wouldn't be spending £2,000 per Glaswegian


Even more to my surprise the SPT representative agreed with me that automation was a way to go, that many European countries are automating their light rail & that while it can't quite run 24/7 because you have to do repairs but could run from 5AM to 3AM. He did say that the small size of tunnels could make the installation of new electronics tricky & it would still leave the underground without an escape tunnel (I see where he's going) but these are clearly solvable problems.

This is a line I have for some time been pushing to various people in the party with getting theoretical approval. My belief is that there is no technical reason why trains should nowadays have drivers & that if we are ever to have a public transport system with the flexibility to replace widespread car use it will be an automated one.

Sensible? yes. Undoubtedly.

Stands a cat-in-hell's chance of getting past the Unions? Not really.
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