Second chance for Euro sleepers

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					 Second chance
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     A glimpse into
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         the future?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Eurostar trains
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        and double-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       deck sleeper




 for Euro sleepers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         trains at St
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pancras
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       International
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              station




     A small group is researching       fact that all high-speed lines             By Michael Guerra           field of view and people are
                                                                             mjxguerra@compuserve.com          milling on the platform
     the viability of a new overnight   are bi-directional, so it should
                                                                                                               reading the destination dis-
     passenger service between          be possible to bypass all but        Imagine standing beneath          plays by the doors of each
     London St Pancras and the          the major blockades.                 the refurbished Barlow roof       car, being welcomed by
     Continent, that would start in                                          at St Pancras, having just        smiling train staff.
                                        The signalling problem is a          finished dinner in the
     2008-9.                            more serious issue, though it                                          You find your car, and then
                                                                             Midland Grand Hotel.
     The group has established          may be possible to fit the                                             your compartment, which is
                                                                             In front of you the train indi-   on the upper deck. Your lug-
     working relationships with the     traction with a universal            cator shows the numerous
     Channel Tunnel Rail Link,          “aerial” or pick-up that is fed to                                     gage slides under the
                                                                             odd destinations for your         already made-up bed. You
     Eurotunnel, RailNet Europe, the    a computer that analyses the         train which include: Chur         still have time to take a walk
     International Union of             signals and then determines          via Basel and Zurich; Venice      outside, so leaving your lug-
     Railways, the European Union’s     which system they belong to          via Lausanne and Milan;           gage and locking your berth
     DG-TREN, the Strategic Rail        and what the signal means.           Stockholm via Amsterdam,          behind you with your tick-
     Authority, the Rail Regulator,                                          Copenhagen and Malmo;             et’s magnetic stripe, you            There is a clunk of the doors,        act and the train slows for Lille    at 09.30. The last Iberian section   Andalucia, you arrive in
                                        While preliminary market             Seville     via     Barcelona,
     and the Department for                                                                                    take the stairs down and out         the sound of brakes being             Europe. The train is now sta-        follows the line down to             Sevilla, with plenty of time to
                                        research suggests that such a        Madrid and Cordoba.                                                    released, and a small ding-dong       tionary at Lille Europe, and it is   Marseille, Narbonne, cuts            explore, find your hotel and
     Transport.                                                                                                on to the platform.
                                        service is sustainable, until all    The train is due to leave at                                           noise in the corridor.                being split into four. The sec-      inland to the new sub-Pyrenean       enjoy your stay. You step off the
     It has also been in contact with   the costs are understood the                                           The train is the full length of                                                                                                                      train into the heat, with the
                                                                             21.30 from platform five,                                              Slowly the train pulls out into       tions follow each other at five-     tunnel into Spain passing
     rolling stock manufacturers                                                                               the platform – 440 yards,                                                                                                                            sights and sounds of debarka-
                                        groups does not know exactly;        and the time is 21.00.                                                 the night, curving over the           minute intervals, the front turn-    through Girona and arriving in
                                                                                                               and consists of four separate                                                                                                                        tion; luggage trolleys, chatter-
     and has produced a security        hence the research.                  Through the glass wall the                                             freight terminal, over the East       ing north towards the Belgian        Barcelona at 07.00, then via
                                                                                                               sections: the rear one, your                                                                                                                         ing, children falling behind.
     strategy that complies with the                                         dark blue train appears to                                             Coast main line and into the          border where it will cross           Zaragoza Delicias into Madrid
                                        Our research suggests that a                                           one, is going to Spain, the
     UK requirements for running                                             disappear into the night                                               tunnel to Stratford. There is a       Germany into the Netherlands,        Atocha at 09.20, finally via the     Your train is a little dustier, the
                                        one-way ticket to Zurich in a                                          next to Italy, the third to
     trains through the Channel                                              beyond the old arched roof.                                            knock at the door which is            stopping in Amsterdam to             AVE line to Cordoba (10.50)          windscreen showing signs of
                                        shared compartment should                                              Switzerland and the front to
                                                                                                                                                    opened by the uniformed con-          change drivers at around 03.30.      arriving in Sevilla Santa Justa at   insect encounters. A new driver
     Tunnel. This required              not cost more than £100. The         You take the escalator down       Scandinavia.
                                                                                                                                                    ducter who checks the tickets         It will then reach Copenhagen        11.30.                               climbs down from the cab
     correspondence with around                                              one level to the departure        You look back along the
                                        service the group is                 area where a few cafes are                                             and asks at what time you             at 06.00 for the first set-down,     You are woken for breakfast as       (probably changed at Atocha),
     10 different UK bodies!            researching is not seeking a                                           train while the driver pre-          wished to be woken, and if you                                                                                  and talks to the train manager
                                                                             still open. You walk up to                                                                                   then off over the Øresund to         the train passes Zaragoza, the
     The group’s proposal is to run     subsidy.                                                               pares himself for departure.         would like to take a full break-                                                                                before wandering off to find his
                                                                             the ticket barrier, insert your                                                                              Malmo and Stockholm, arriving        sun already high above the
                                                                                                               Ahead of him the glistening          fast in the diner, or a continen-                                                                               next AVE back to Madrid.
     high-speed sleeper electric        Currently the research is split      ticket and proceed to pass-                                                                                  at 11.00. The next section runs      Aragon plain. You dress while
                                                                                                               ribbon curves eastwards to           tal breakfast in the compart-
     multiple units (possibly double-                                        port and security control.                                                                                   on and eventually connects           listening to the World Service       s If anyone is interested in our
                                        into five main areas.                                                  the tunnel.                          ment.
     deck to make use of the UIC-C                                                                                                                                                        with the line to Mulhouse, set-      and then pad along to the next       project, either in submitting
                                                                             The train is available for        You retrace your steps to
     gauge) from St Pancras             s Route suitability using                                                                                   Your journey is to Seville, the       ting down in Basle at 06.00,         car where a hot and cold buffet      thoughts or ideas, or wishing to
                                                                             boarding so you make your         your compartment, lower
                                        RailNet Europe to interface                                                                                 end of the line. As you reach         Zurich 07.00, and Chur at 08.00.     breakfast is ready. You dine         help in a practical or financial
     International to a variety of                                           way to the travelator where       the blind, take a quick
                                        with the 12 national                                                                                        Stratford after a few minutes         The Italian section circumnavi-      until Madrid where half the          way please write to: Michael
     destinations up to 1,500 miles                                          staff check your ticket and       shower, and then change for
                                        infrastructure managers.                                                                                    the train slows, comes to a stop      gates Paris and joins up with        passengers alight. Emerging          Guerra, Secretary, London
     away, and to run either                                                 wave you up.                      bed. You turn off the main
                                        s Security.                                                                                                 for a minute and then contin-         the Sud-Est to Dijon via the         into bright spring sunshine you      Direct Sleeper Group, 6 Nash
     refurbished or new loco-hauled                                          The gleaming dark blue            light, open the blind and            ues, having picked up the                                                  are grateful for the tinted win-     Close, Welham Green, Hatfield,
                                        s Rolling stock specification,                                                                                                                    TGV route to Lausanne at 06.00,
     stock to destinations up to 600                                         articulated cars fill your        look out into the station.           dozen or so businessmen from                                               dows and the gauze blind.            Herts AL9 7NN
                                        involving both infrastructure                                                                                                                     then through the Alpine tunnel
     miles (possibly attached to                                                                                                                    Docklands.                            into Italy for Milan at 08.00 and    A couple of hours later, after       Or preferably by email to:
                                        managers and rolling stock
     other trans-European overnight                                                                                                                 It is raining again, restricting      arriving in Venezia Santa Lucia      climbing off the Meseta into         mjxguerra@compuserve.com
                                        suppliers.
     services).                                                                                                                                     the view out so you lower the
                                        s Service specification                                                                                     blind and read the card intro-
     The true niche for these
                                        s Marketing/branding.                                                                                       ducing you to the facilities of           W hy Nightstar was never going to succeed
     services seems to be that they                                                                                                                 your Grande Classe compart-
     should leave in the evening,                                                                                                                   ment.                                    There is of course the Nightstar ques-               specification (especially electrical with
     after work, and arrive at around   In designing new rolling stock                                                                                                                       tion. Having had years to investigate                its numerous loco interface variations)
                                        the group is looking at the total                                                                           There is a small shower with a
     breakfast time (before work).                                                                                                                  flip-up toilet assembly inside.          this, and having talked to some of                   and steel construction meant that the
     This is a niche not currently      package. The group has a wide                                                                                                                        those involved in that project it is hard-           cars were far too heavy and required
                                                                                                                                                    There is a hanging space for a
     serviced by either the airlines    experience of the different                                                                                 couple of jackets, a small basin         ly surprising that it was not going to               too much power.
                                        sleeping cars of the past 50                                                                                with glass and bottle of mineral         succeed.                                             Stock built from aluminium extrusions,
     or other high-speed rail
     services.                          years and it is interesting to                                                                              water.                                   The reasons are many but can be out-                 with greater insulation and reduced
                                        note what conditions equate to                                                                              There is a small sway as the             lined as the following. The service was              lighting and heating loads would have
     The main practical problems                                              Eurostar’s £200million plan to run Nightstar sleeper                                                           ill-conceived, running trains from a
                                        a good night’s sleep and an           trains to mainland Europe was abandoned in 1997                       train continues to curve and                                                                  meant a car of around half the
     involve negotiating access
                                        enjoyable journey.                                                                                          accelerate towards Ebbsfleet.
                                                                                                                                                                                             number of stations in the UK to a num-               weight/passenger with a lower power
     around overnight maintenance                                             despite the fact that a fleet of 30 carriages had been
                                                                                                                                                    Ebbsfleet passes in a flash and
                                                                                                                                                                                             ber of stations in Europe was always                 requirement, further simplified by not
     blockades and the difficulty of    The group’s research is at a          built.                                                                you turn on the small flat-
                                                                                                                                                                                             going to make the number of possible                 having to interface with other traction.
     designing traction that can        critical stage. It is looking for     The plan was to run night trains from London to                       screen display that pivots from
                                                                                                                                                                                             combinations of trains a shunter s
                                        partners to help in furthering                                                                                                                       nightmare. We have simplified the                    Security: It soon became apparent that
     interface with any number of                                             Amsterdam, Dortmund and Frankfurt, as well as                         the side of the berth.                                                                        European Infrastructure Managers
                                        the research to its logical           from Swansea, Plymouth, Glasgow and Manchester
                                                                                                                                                                                             service, yet we are able to serve many
     signalling systems, without                                                                                                                    It takes a little while to get used      times the number of destinations with-               were not keen on investing in secure
     interfering with any others. Of    conclusion, and possibly take it      to Paris.                                                             to the headphones (so as not to                                                               passenger areas, or secure sidings,
                                                                                                                                                                                             in Europe than Nightstar.
     course, much of the                on to the next stage.                 Some compartments had their own shower and                            annoy the neighbours) and you                                                                 when the market was too small.
                                                                                                                                                                                             The rolling stock was too heavy,
     infrastructure the group is        Michael Guerra is the secretary       toilet while there were also reclining seat                           settle down for one of the               required too much power and was too                  We have come up with a practical alter-
     planning to use is still under     of the group. In the                  “sleeperettes” for the budget traveller. The coaches                  movies on the 10 channels or             small. The UK gauge meant that the                   native that precludes the use of major
                                                                              – pictured – were eventually sold and are now being                   watch the progress of the train          cars were always going to be smaller                 infrastructure     investment        and
     construction. The maintenance      accompanying article, he
                                                                                                                                                    via the traincam. The Chunnel            than the classic sleeper. The high                   increases the flexibility of the service.
     problem may be offset by the       outlines the possibilities.           operated in Canada by VIA Rail.
                                                                                                                                                    passes before the end of the first



10                                                                                                                       Railwatch December 2003   Railwatch December 2003                                                                                                                            11

				
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