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'[OT]: London Underground (was RFID zapper)'
On 4/7/06, Howard Winter <h2org.demon.co.uk> wrote: HDRW
> I don't know whether this counts as "large scale", but in about 1967 the Victoria Line opened on the London
> Underground. For the 80-odd years of electric underground trains up to that point trains were driven by the
> driver, by hand, and signalling used the "block" system, where a train could not enter a block (protected by a
> signal) until the previous train had vacated it. This gave a large spacing between trains, and a maximum
> speed of 35mph.
> The Victoria Line introduced automatic trains - there is still a driver, but his job is to open and shut the
> doors, and signal the train to start, and to stop it in an emergency (people jumping in front of the train,
> for example) and he can drive it the old way if needed, but driving between stations, keeping a safe spacing
> from the train in front, and stopping at the next station is al under automatic control. The speed limit is
> increased to 56mph, and with much smaller gaps between the trains - they arrive at a rate of about one a
> minute during the Rush Hour - no hand-driven line can match this rate.
I was recently in London for awhile (sorry I didn't offer to meet up
with anyone...this trip was too packed with work). Every time I'm
there, I buy my weekly Oyster pass, and get everywhere I need to get
via the Tube.
Just out of curiousity, when an advancement like the automatic train
gets introduced, is it then gradually passed on to the other lines? I
personally love the entire Tube system. Walking through the
interchanges, you have to wonder how the convoluted hallways,
staircases and escallators were ever planned out. I can barely imagine
doing that on a computer system today, let alone by hand 75 years ago!
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something
completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete
On Fri, 7 Apr 2006 13:23:04 -0400, Josh Koffman wrote:
> I was recently in London for awhile (sorry I didn't offer to meet up
> with anyone...this trip was too packed with work). Every time I'm
> there, I buy my weekly Oyster pass, and get everywhere I need to get
> via the Tube.
When I've been working in London I used to drive to an Underground station and do the rest by Tube - it's
certainly the easiest way if there's a convenient station at the other end - which is usually the case.
Something like 2 million people use the system each day - comparable to the population of a number of small
> Just out of curiousity, when an advancement like the automatic train
> gets introduced, is it then gradually passed on to the other lines?
Sadly, not really! the big criticism of the system has been lack of investment for some time. New lines such
as the Jubilee do have the latest technology, but refits are rare. The Northern Line (the oldest of the
deep-tunnelled lines, the earliest parts dating from 1890) has had new rolling stock in the past couple of
years - previous to that it dated from 1937! Despite that it wasn't in bad condition, actually. They have
been improving the signalling infrastructure on the Northern Line, but I don't know if automatic operation is
included - I suspect not.
> I personally love the entire Tube system. Walking through the
> interchanges, you have to wonder how the convoluted hallways,
> staircases and escallators were ever planned out. I can barely imagine
> doing that on a computer system today, let alone by hand 75 years ago!
I find it really hard to think in three dimensions as they must for this sort of thing. It's amazing what
they achieved - the Piccadilly Line around South Kensington actually threads its way between building
foundations, as you'll see as the train does a number of to-and-fro turns at pretty-much the maximum angle
possible (look down the length of the train to see what's happening). One of the Shell buildings on the South
bank has the Bakerloo Line tunnels running through its lower levels - going across the basement you have to go
up a staircase, along a corridor, then down another staircase - and in doing so you've just gone over the
It's closed at the moment (until next year, I think) but there is a London Transport museum at Covent Garden,
and it has a Depot that you can visit at Acton (I think). The latter has busses, trams, trolley busses
(electric busses powered from twin overhead wires) and a number of Underground trains from different eras,
along with various bits of equipment that are just lying around, such as Otis lift mechanisms, and control
panels from the now-defunct power station that London Transport used to operate. Fascinating stuff!
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