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Offline becks

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2011, 20:56:35 »
Re the question of other tunnels raised by peterchall, yes there are tunnels between London and Gravesend via Bexleyheath and Sidcup, these are - Tanners Hill tunnel between New Cross and St Johns, Blackheath tunnel between Blackheath and Kidbrook (Bexleyheath line) and Swanscombe tunnel between Greenhithe and Swanscombe.  There are none between St Johns and Dartford via the Sidcup line.  However all these has enough clearance for the DD trains.

However, if I remember, I think these trains could also not operate via the Greenwich line due to the restricted tunnels in the Woolwich area.  As far as Higham and Strood tunnels are concerned, I can only assume that as these were converted from the canal tunnel in the 1840s there was less headroom or side clearance.

Offline peterchall

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2011, 12:31:55 »
Are/were there no tunnels on the lines they were used on from London - Dartford - Gravesend, or were the Higham and Strood tunnels lower than normal?
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Online mmitch

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2011, 10:07:54 »
I can remember seeing these in the 1960s. I always stood back and waited!
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Offline kenty

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2011, 03:49:55 »
Ah thanks Becks, I knew I went as far as Gravesend on one, but I was really really young at the time....
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Offline keniff

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2011, 19:17:06 »
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Offline becks

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2011, 19:04:13 »
Southern Region Double Decker trains

Regarding these unique trains, I worked on them in the early 1970s, just before their withdrawal, while an apprentice with British Rail at Slade Green depot.

In April 1948, immediately after railway nationalisation, the issue of overcrowding on South Eastern services out of Charing Cross, and on the Bexleyheath line in particular, was raised by the then Minister of Transport (not much changes really) and the Southern were asked to investigate the use of double decked trains.

The result was that during 1949, two unique four car units, numbered 4001 and 4002, designed by their Chief Mechanical Engineer OVS Bullied were built at Eastleigh and Lancing Works, and were unveiled on 1 November 1949, entering public service the following day.  Despite a lot of teething troubles and a return to works for modifications, they finally entered regular service in January1950.

Strictly speaking they were not true double deckers in the sense that buses are.  They consisted of alternate low and high level compartments with access to the upper one from a small staircase from the lower one.  Each compartment contained 24 seats spread between the lower and upper sections with just the single door each side for access.  Each four car unit had 552 seats as opposed to a “standard” four car suburban unit at the time with typically around 370 to 390 seats.  With 1104 seats in the 8 car train it was thought to be the answer to the overcrowding problem – it was not.

To make room for the two split levels, the carriages had to be designed from scratch. Apart from the 6” lower floor and 4.5” higher roof than a “normal” carriage (see the link in davej’s post of 10/3/2011), they had a flatter profile bodyside and the width at cantrail height (where the roof starts to curve) was considerably wider.  Also the lower floors necessitated specially designed low profile bogies.  The lower floor height also meant that they could not be not fitted with traditional wooden stepboards, as these would foul platforms and so stepping into them became difficult for some passengers, especially on curved platforms.

Due to their additional height and body profile, they were restricted to the Charing Cross / Cannon Street to Dartford / Gravesend routes via Bexleyheath and Sidcup only and were barred from passing through Higham and Strood tunnels, so they never visited Gillingham.

The windows in the upper compartments were curved and being so close to tunnels and bridges, could not open.  This necessitated special pressure ventilation, which always proved troublesome.

They were not the success that everyone hoped they would be, the main problem being the restricted routes they could run on and, more importantly, the prolonged station dwell time, especially at London Bridge in the morning peaks.  With only one door to 24 seats and internal stairs to cope with, it simply took too long for passengers to get on and off, and this resulted in delays and the “knock on” effect on other services.  No more were ever built and the two units, later renumbered 4901 and 4902, remained in service until October 1971 when they were finally withdrawn.  There is at least one of the driving vehicles still in existence, having been preserved and is currently with the Northamptonshire Ironstone Railway Trust.

The whole issue of running proper double decked trains in the UK has been raised many times.  They certainly do operate in many European and other countries, and I have travelled on them in Switzerland, Holland and France.  However, their use in the UK is a non starter for one main reason – our loading gauge, or the space available through tunnels, bridges and stations.

In general on mainland Europe, the UIC loading gauge is considerably larger than in the UK, and they allow trains up to 4.32m (14’ 2”) in height to operate (in North America it is even larger).  In the UK the general maximum height allowed is 3.91m (12’ 9”).  In addition to this, in the UK we have high platforms, whereas all of Europe have far lower ones.  This also means that carriage floors here have to be higher here than allowed in Europe.

All this prevents carriages being designed with two separate decks with enough room to be able to stand up in and to fit the restricted room on the UK rail network.

Offline Barrowboy

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #15 on: March 12, 2011, 10:58:02 »
I travelled on these double deckers occasionally when I comuted to town from Lewisham. I understand that they were withdrawn due to the poor ventillation.

Offline Bryn Clinch

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2011, 09:49:28 »
I remember them well when visiting Dartford, my aunt used to get us up early in order to benefit from the cheaper workmens tickets for a trip into 'Town'.
It was all very exciting and I can still visualise the host of men, some suited others in overals, each hurriedly making their way down Station Road. It was the more exciting because they were 'electric' trains, where I came from we only had steam!
Although not `double-deckers`, the `workmans` was a great boon to the less well-off. The evening before the journey my Dad and my Uncle (who had a tandem) rode to Gillingham from Sittingbourne and bought tickets for the following morning. I think that this had something to do with the very quick change at Gillingham (from steam to electric), thus eliminating the mad rush to buy another ticket at Gillingham. I always remember the difference in the carriages of steam and electric. One had the old `leather belt` arrangement that opened and closed the windows, the other, which appeared to be double-glazed, operated by a joystick.

Offline seb

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2011, 07:07:33 »
I can get confused because I said it was from a London station.  I travelled from all the stations to the coast regularly and I thought the double decker I refer to went from London Bridge.
Speaking to an old neighbour they reckon it was Charing Cross to Hayes!!??

Offline WildWeasel

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2011, 01:36:54 »
S-Bahn in Berlin has them....I think there are also triple deckers....
WW
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Offline kenty

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2011, 22:21:12 »
They certainly got as far as Gravesend 'cos I remember travelling on them from Swanscombe to Gravesend and I'm pretty sure it went on to Chatham but I can't be totally certain as I was only a youngster...
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Offline DS239

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2011, 19:10:34 »
Due to loading gauge restrictions the two Bullied 4DD units were confined to working the Charing Cross to Dartford services only.

Online Mike S

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2011, 17:21:14 »
Thank you exopper for bringing this to everyone's notice.   I too tell people about them and no-one would believe me.   I remember getting one in the early 60's from one of the London Stations to Rochester.   Travelled on one once but only saw two in total.
Did they ever venture as far as Rochester, as I always thought that they were limited to Dartford to London lines because of height clearance issues, such as Higham Tunnel.

Offline seb

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2011, 17:09:36 »
Thank you exopper for bringing this to everyone's notice.   I too tell people about them and no-one would believe me.   I remember getting one in the early 60's from one of the London Stations to Rochester.   Travelled on one once but only saw two in total.

Offline peterchall

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Re: double deck trains
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2011, 16:15:49 »
Strange they never caught on here and yet the rest of Europe seems to use them without problem. The Paris RER is nearly all that type
They were not true double deckers (see davej's link). True double deckers, where top and bottom decks are entirely separate, are common in Europe, but the UK Loading Gauge is too low toallow them here. One of the penalties of being the first country to build railways.
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