Voodoo ergonomics

While fully sympathising with the thrust of this debate about train provision in Brockley started by Brockley Kate, we look at the squashed faces of our fellow commuters in a different way. The crush is a symptom of success, not failure.

Train services have definitely become more crowded in the last few years - just as they were forecast to. Those who've lived in Brockley longer than us remember the days not so long ago when few people would board or disembark a train at Brockley Station.

These new commuters reflect the changing demographics of the area, encouraged by the imminent arrival of the East London Line. As we said here, it is their spending power which will drive the ongoing regeneration of Brockley long-term. And, lest we forget, they are us. Brockley Nick and Brockley Kate are both relative newcomers who've added to the strain on train carriage space. We did so in-part because we knew a new tube was on its way.

Changes to train timetables take ages to plan and implement. Even in the most positive scenario, we couldn't expect new trains to be scheduled before next summer, by which time, we'll have a lovely new tube service which will deliver a massive capacity boost on the line.

Until then, what option do we have other than to sit tight or travel to one of the several other stations within fairly close reach (St John's, Ladywell, Nunhead, New Cross, Crofton Park, Lewisham)? Kate suggested an alternative to more frequent services - more carriages. We agree that this would help on the evening services, but the morning trains aren't going to get any longer.

There is a third way we can think of. That is to substitute the older carriages for more modern ones. The difference in capacity between two similarly-sized trains is astonishing. The old trains, with their narrow doorways, extra seats and perspex walls allow very few people to stand. The newer designs are a joy - wide doorways and plenty of standing room offer the Brockley commuter a completely different experience. If new carriages can't be purchased and delivered quickly, then our old carriages could be swapped with newer ones elsewhere in the network, where crushes are not a regular occurrence.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

It can be easy to overstate the coming of the tube as a reason to move anywhere - most people I've spoken to aren't aware that it's happening. Were I not a reader of this blog, I'm not sure I would be either.

welcome to 2009 said...

Really anon? I'm not doubting you, but what kind of person hasn't heard that the East London Line is coming? It's been all over the news for years and mentioned in just about every Lewisham Council magazine.

If they're people who've been in the area for years, then maybe that;s a bit less surprising, but anyone who's moved to the area in the last three years and done even the slightest bit of research would have been aware of it.

Anonymous said...

Different people have different interests in life.

I havent seen anything on the ELL outside of TfL propaganda papers and online blogs. Where are the signs in Brockley station, for example?

Headhunter said...

The ELL extension actually appeared on Tube maps about 6 months ago, as a dotted line, however since then the Tube people seem to have deleted it again. For a brief instant Brockley appeared on the same Tube map as Notting Hill, Angel and Bank...

I agree re the carriages at Brockley. Why are they so short? Brockley has the platform length to accommodate more carriages

westsider said...

anon, good point about signs at the station, I think theyre coming soon.

But anyone who actually uses the train would have to try hard not to see the massive amount of work going on at New Cross Gate and wonder what was going on at least.

The blinkered ignorance of most people never ceases to amaze me though.

Nina said...

Basically if you used the ELL before it closed you know what's happening with it. If you never used it and don't keep up with tube improvement work because you don't use the tube then you wouldn't know about it. So most commuters know about the line extension.

On a different note I was wondering if people here generally feel comfortable using St Johns? I'm asking because I'm always hesitant to get the train there after dark when I'm alone. It's not the area and although the station's a bit odd I don't have a problem with it. It's that every time I've got the train there in the last 6 months there's been someone who seemed oddly aggressive exiting the station and I was wondering if I should put it down to coincidence or if anyone else has had a similar experience?

Anonymous said...

Sorry Nina, that was me

fabhat said...

Hi Nina,

I haven't had that experience at St John's, and do use it regularly daytime, and after dark. Was it the same time every time you saw this person?

Graeme said...

Isn't one of Bozza's latest proposals to place a few coppers at railway stations to increase the feeling of security? I guess St John's will be too small to be allocated one.

Anonymous said...

Is it really only in recent years the trains have been over crowded?

I seem to remember a 1920's report along similar lines put this forward as a reason to extend the ELL.

In recent times 1980's-1990's there were reports the trains were so crowded people could not get off at Brockley let alone get on!

Re Modern trains if they have more capacity, why do people get on and immediately stand by the doors?

Why is it now normal practice for people to get on the train or tube before passengers have got off?

Let's educate the commuters into how they themselves can improve their travel experience on public transport.

Why doesn't Kate carry an underarm spray to use in self defence?

Alex said...

'Why is it now normal practice for people to get on the train or tube before passengers have got off?'

This is one thing I can't stand. The trains are crowded enough to get out of in the first place without having to fight your way through people getting on the train.

When faced with this situation I have no hesitation in telling them to wait and if that doesn't work, barging my way past the idiots hoping that it might teach them a lesson for future travel.

I noticed someone mentioned on the other thread about 'partial commuter' movement. I can confirm this also happens at Crofton Park after seeing 2 or 3 people park up and come straight into the station this morning.

drakefell debaser said...

Agreed, it does my head in too although I find overland commuters to be much better than tube commuters, who rush for seats like they are pushing cloth and 10 seconds from embarrassment.

The Cat Man said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

sigh....just when you thought he'd gone away.

Brockley Nick said...

As discussed in (many) previous threads, we will not allow inflammatory comments. Please your own blog for that.

Brockley Kate said...

"Why doesn't Kate carry an underarm spray to use in self defence?"

?!
I think perhaps you mean Nina?
Worth remembering that in this crazy modern 21st century world, there IS more than one female posting comments on here.

patrick1971 said...

Redesigning of the trains to allow more standing room: both Southern and Southeastern ran a consultation on this some years ago. They wanted to make all seating transverse. Communters, however, didn't like this idea, so the compromise result is what you see on some Southeastern routes now: those carriages with a large standing area at one end and only 2x2 seating.

Graeme: there are already police at Lewisham station at most times of day, I've noticed recently.

Anonymous said...

OOh - a girl!

Richard Elliot said...

In quite a bit of Continental Europe and Australia they have double decker train carriages which have loads more capacity. I've never heard a good reason why we don't have then here.

My suspicion is that one or two bridges might be too low, but the double deckers aren't actually that much taller then regular trains. Just much better designed.

Re the comments on St Johns - I've never had or seen any problems, but it does have the feeling of quite an isolated and gloomy station at night.

tyrwhitt ali said...

Nina, I use St John's late at night on occasion, and I've never seen anyone hanging around. I don't like it because it's dark, but there are normally enough people walking towards Lewisham Way that I don't feel too spooked out.

Brockley Jon said...

Yes, ditto re. St. Johns, I often use it late at night, and have never had a problem - but then, I am a bloke. I can understand that the odd positioning of it, effectively on an island, would put you off. But I'd much rather use that late at night than use New Cross (although that is what happens 90% of the time, because of the lack of trains to St. Johns!).

Brockley Kate said...

Richard - my understanding is that due to the age of much of our rail network, and the fact that bridges, tunnels etc were designed for very early train types, it simply isn't viable to run double-deckers. I can see why that's a reasonable case. Think about the cost of enlarging tunnels and bridges around the network!

Tamsin said...

Also possibly all the platforms. Think how much closer to the track American (certainly) and European (I think) platforms are.

Brockley Kate said...

Yeah that's true - you'd need to drop the train's floor and that would mean dropping the height of all the platforms etc.

Monkeyboy said...

LUL are spending a packet on improving the 'Platform Train Interface' (do like to give simple problems a grand title)around the network. There is a legal obligation to reduce gaps and trip hazards (the biggest cause of injuries) but has to work for loads of different rolling stock. The new Victoria line trains are causing a lot of work to be done on platforms.

...welcome to my world...

patrick1971 said...

A trial of double decker trains was carried out on Dartford to London Bridge services at some time in the mid to late 1970s, IIRC. It was found at that time that the increase in capacity was countered by an increase in offloading times, so they were never introduced.

(Yes I am a bit of a transport geek.)

Brockley Kate said...

Really? Wicked. I woulda loved to have travelled on one of those!
I wonder whether a similar study carried out today would have concluded the same thing? I bet trains today are much more crowded than they used to be - or is that my generational prejudice talking???

Headhunter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Headhunter said...

I used to love the double decker trains in Japan. I used to rush up to the top deck like a little kid! They also used to have clever seats - all the seats always faced in the direction of travel so there was never any problem for people who hate to travel "backwards".

When the train arrived at it's terminus and all the passengers had disembarked, the driver flicked a little switch and all the backs of the seats in all carriages would flip on a pivot to the other side of the base, et voila, they were all facing the direction of travel again without physically having to turn the train round.

jon s said...

MB,

I don't get how flow dynamics of exiting people are a problem. Sydney has had doubledecker trains for year. They used to have seats you could flip to face your mates or forward :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CityRail_T_%26_G_sets#G_sets

fabhat said...

HH if you want a doubledecker hit closer to home than japan or OZ, you can get doubledesker trains in France too - I was so excited when I made a trainbooking on a double decker and got a seat on the top deck too!

max said...

Headhunter, are there many "Headhunter woz ere" (just an example) etchings on the windows of Japanese double deckers?

Headhunter said...

Yeah I've been on the ones in France as well. They had them in China too when I was there in 1999 - between Beijing and Tianjin.

Japanese trains were always absolutely spotless. You could have performed surgery on the floor. Scratching the windows would have been bordering on sacriligeous!

Tamsin said...

Didn't old style trams have flicky seats as well and could be driven from either end. The driver used to unhook his joy-stick and walk around the outside to then slot it in the other end and the conductor would walk from end to end of both floors flicking the backs of the wooden slatted seats across.

(My uncle, as a boy, apparently used to absolutely hate travelling with his back to the direction of travel my mother recalls on one occasion when the train they were on was being shunted backwards and forwards in and out of sidings and the solemnly swapped seats four or five times. She wonders what the other people in the carriage thought!)

Tamsin said...

The flow dynamics was a longer time at stations. At the time they were doing the study the usual rolling stock was the old style with the slam doors all along the carriages. Really fast on and off - particularly if you diced with death by opening them as the train was pulling into the station and jumping out to hit the platform running.
Now that everything has central doors anyway and is so much slower at the station there might not be such a difference.

jon s said...

Hmm, maybe we need a new study for double decker trains to ease congestion.

btw. Helsinki has some that are really clean.

drakefell debaser said...

True, there must become a point where extending the platform is no longer viable, so up will be the only way.

Brockley Kate said...

They also have double deckers in the Netherlands. Highlight of arriving at Schiphol is getting the train into Amsterdam!

Richard Elliot said...

Looks like my idea of double deckers is an almost fool proof way forward! Anyone know someone at the Ministry of Transport so that we can get it implemented? ;-)

Re the comment made about platforms. The doors are usually designed to be the same height as they are on the current single decker trains, so no alternations to platform height should be needed.

Monkeyboy said...

If man can put cheese in a can why can't he perfect the personal jet pack? Someone suggest it to Boris, big problems require bold thinking.

Graeme said...

It's that old thrust vs weight of fuel dilemma. Damn those laws of physics!

Anonymous said...

Bold thinking and a ready supply of test pilots.

Here is amusing jet pack story, those damn clever Japanese again.

http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-01/japanese-water-jetpack

Paul said...

I think there's another solution. Make some of the through trains stop at Brockley. It would be easy to implement and some of those near empty trains that speed through Brockley during the rush hour could make serious in-roads to easing the stress on Brockley Station

Anonymous said...

Are they near-empty so they can pick up shedloads of people somewhere else? Or does everything going through Brox only stop at the 'Cross and the 'Bridge?

Anonymous said...

If you mean the trains that whizz through on the 'fast' track then how could it stop? it would be 10ft from the platform.

Cllr Dean Walton said...

@Paul...but some do now. Until recently during the evening rush between 1700 and 1835 the train times were 1715, 1735m 1745, 1805, 1825, 1835 - roughly. There were trains running in the big gaps - but these didn't stop at Brockley. In the latest timetable trains that used to run fast to Forest Hill and the like now stop at Brockley and Honor Oak Park.

Dean

Latest Tweets

Brockley Central Label Cloud

Click one of the labels below to see all posts on that subject. The bigger the label, the more posts there are!