Update transport.md

Proposer
frankieroberto
State

Accepted

Vote Score

2

Age

2366 days


@frankieroberto edited manifesto/transport.md - over 6 years ago

Railways

Automate the national rail system (including London Underground) in order to increase throughput of the existing system and enhance safety. The automation plan should be created with rail unions to keep redundancies to a minimum throughout the process and avoid industrial action.

Develop a long-term plan for complete electrification of the national rail network, and the replacement of diesel trains with electric multiple-units. This has the benefit of reduced emissions, improved efficiency, quieter and more comfortable trains. Alongside electrification, signalling should be updated to ETCS level 2 or 3 standard for improved safety and efficiency.

frankieroberto

@frankieroberto - over 6 years ago

Removing paragraph on 'train automation' – this technology doesn't really exist outside of metro systems, partly because it wouldn't have a huge benefit on longer-distance routes (also because of higher speeds). Far more important to press ahead with electrification and signalling upgrades (which automatically stops the train from passing red signals).

London Underground is a devolved issue (to the GLA), and so shouldn't be discussed in this manifesto IMO.

frankieroberto

@frankieroberto - over 6 years ago

(I missed the previous PR on this, apologies)

Floppy

@Floppy - over 6 years ago

My earlier PR was, I admit, not properly evidence-based. Let me see if I can find some to support it, otherwise I'll support this instead.

frankieroberto

@frankieroberto - over 6 years ago

It all depends on what you mean by 'automatic' – there's various bits that can be automatic, from signalling safety systems to train movements to full automation with no 'driver' or even any staff on the train at all.

If you look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Listofdriverless_trains you'll see that there are no driverless mainline trains anywhere in the World. There's a good article here on the history of unattended train operation and the London Underground: http://www.londonreconnections.com/2014/driverless-trains-piccadilly/

Basically, fully automated train operation can only happen safely on lines which are completely contained (e.g. no level crossings, no freight trains, well fenced in, and probably with platform edge doors too).

Upgraded signalling and electrification on the other hand is proven technology, and has lots of benefits.

philipjohn

@philipjohn - over 6 years ago

Automation as a general principle seems to me to be a future certainty. We already have driver-less cars on the streets and these will be ubiquitous in years to come, so I don't think it's a stretch of the imagination to consider automation in other forms of transport. The safety aspect is real, but it's a present, not future, concern so I think we should certainly be looking at future automation.

To that end, perhaps as part of this, @Floppy's original proposal could be edited to work from an investment point of view - i.e. stimulating technological innovation in that area.

The tube bit can probably be taken out as part of such an edit which would broadly mention transport. However, to my mind we ought to be including the underground, overground et al as part of a broader transport infrastructure plan and as such we might want to be able to influence them.

frankieroberto

@frankieroberto - over 6 years ago

@philipjohn self-driving cars are still only licensed for testing, in some states, with a driver always behind the wheel ready to take control when required. I’m sure the technology will continue to improve, but they're a long way from becoming ubiquitous – and who knows whether it'll ever be safe (or legal) to have no driver present.

Fully automated mainline train operation hasn't yet even been tested anywhere in the World, as far as I'm aware.

The point of the manifesto is to set policy, and "automate the rail network" is a policy that just doesn't stand up at the moment (it’s also a bit vague, as automation can take various forms).

It's also not clear whether the benefits of train automation on the mainline rail network would be worth the considerable expense – the improvements in train headways might be marginal given the longer distances and faster speeds.

On the other hand, upgraded signalling IS proven to improve efficiency, reliability and safety, and electrification means lighter trains (less energy required), the ability to make use of cleaner sources of energy, zero emissions within stations, and quieter, smoother journeys. This is why the current and previous government have committed to electrification schemes. I'm suggesting going even further and committing to full electrification (even if it takes 100 years).

philipjohn

@philipjohn - over 6 years ago

Yep, I agree with you and think you addition should be included. I'd just rather we rephrase the bit about automation to be about encouraging innovation in that area, rather than just removing any mention of it at all.

What might be better actually, is to let this PR through and have a separate one with adjusted wording on automation. I'd be happy to do that.

Floppy

@Floppy - over 6 years ago

I'm happy to go with this. As @philipjohn says, I can add back in some automation wording, but you're right that the stuff you mention is more immediately relevant. 👍