This page looks at what are known as 'niche' technologies. This term usually refers to lower capacity and specialist transports which either act as 'feeders' for the more 'mainstream' transports or fulfill rôles that other transports are incapable of providing.
Water transport is actually one of the oldest transports in recorded history, with dug-out canoes being used for thousands of years. According to the Wikipedia online encyclopædia, a ferry is a boat or a ship carrying passengers, and possibly their vehicles, on a relatively short-distance, regularly scheduled service whilst a foot-passenger ferry with many stops, such as in Venice, is called a waterbus.
Many transport advocates would suggest that in the present-day era the benefits of water transport as a form of urban transit is very much under-rated (and therefore under used), except perhaps by the tourist / leisure orientated industries. One city however where they have little modal choice is Venice, Italy, as here there are few roads and indeed alongside many watery thoroughfares few footpaths either. So even walking is not always an option! (OK so swimming might be another option, but it can be dangerous with the modern day motor boats and polluted water).
The primary focus of this page is look at water transports which are used as part of the overall local transport scheme. Not looked at in detail are the longer-run ferries such as those which cross the English Channel connecting Great Britain with the rest of Europe, or those which sail in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden and in many ways are more akin to full-blown car-carrying cruise ships (even though journeys typically last for just one night) than humble "ferries".
|A busy scene on the Grand canal with a waterbus calling at the Academia waterbus stop and freight boats passing by.||Many cities globally have a river or two - in Venice there is a network of rivers and other waterways throughout the city - this is a typical "street" scene near to the main bus station.|
|Waterbus stops typically comprise of a sheltered waiting room on a floating pontoon which juts out slightly into the canal.|
|When there are waterways instead of roads even the local delivery van becomes a local delivery boat!||Venice is also famous for its gondolas, which presumably were the water equivalent of the rickshaw or taxi but nowadays are primarily used by tourists.|
Perhaps Venice is a special case because it has so many "water streets" that for much of the city boats are the only viable option. Far more cities feature just a handful of watery routes where within the overall scheme of things the water transports perform just a secondary rôle. (Plus, sometimes leisure-orientated tourist services too).
Known as Venice of the East Bangkok, the capital of Thailand also uses water buses in several parts of the city, providing an often faster, inexpensive transport alternative to the heavily congested roads. However whilst at one time the city featured many canals (known locally as khlongs) most of these have now been filled in and converted to roads. Bangkok is also building an extensive urban railway (metro) system, with much of the system being elevated over city streets.
Known as Venice of the North Amsterdam, Holland has many canals which (like Venice) divide much of the city centre into many small islands. However virtually all transport is land-based (mostly trams plus a metro) - with the exception of freight carrier DHL all freight transport has also been shifted to 'dry land'. Waterbuses only exist in one location, this being the main waterfront, which is not part of the canal system.
|Pratu Nam Pier, which is an interchange between the western Golden Mount line and the eastern NIDA line, Khlong Saen Saeb, Bangkok.
|Although Amsterdam, Holland, has an extensive canal system its primary use has been relegated to leisure orientated transports, such as seen here.|
London is another of the cities where within the overall scheme of things water transports perform just a secondary rôle, although water transport is being used extensively in connection with the construction of the site for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Whilst there is widespread support for riverbuses along the River Thames through the centre of London to take on a more high-profile rôle in the urban travel system the reality (so far) is that the river - as a thoroughfare - is primarily used by the leisure industry. The principal constraint is that the people who allocate funds raised from the London-wide "pay once & ride at will 'Travelcard'" (public transport season ticket) to the transport operators will not give the riverbus operators sufficient money to make it commercially viable for them to accept Travelcards without levying a supplementary fare, and having bought Travelcards few Londoners are willing to pay extra / supplementary fares for transports which they would have expected to already be included in price of their already expensive tickets.
London's river buses should not be confused with the Woolwich Ferry which links the north and south riverbanks but does not serve other destinations along the river. This ferry is completely free at point of use - but then it dates from an age when things were done for 'the social good'. (It is funded via local government).
|The Woolwich Ferry which links the northern and southern sides of the River Thames, providing perhaps the most pleasant way to cross London's watery divide.||In the days before fixed bridges were built ferries linking rural communities on opposite sides of rivers were commonplace. This example links Lower Kingswear with Dartmouth, in south Devon. The pontoon carries eight cars and is towed across the River Dart by a small tug.
Despite the building of Mass Transit Railway and road tunnels which provide quicker alternatives that serve many more localities within the urban area (and beyond) Hong Kong's 'Star Ferry' has remained a very popular way to cross across Victoria Harbour, between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The ferry operates four routes across the harbour, with the main and most route being between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui, which at the busiest times operates at 6 minute intervals. The fares on this route are slightly higher at weekends and public holidays than 'normal' weekdays.
These views comes from the free online "Wikipedia" encyclopædia (links open in new windows) and show a Star Ferry boat (left) and the partially enclosed upper deck on one of these ferries (right). Travelling upper deck on the Central - Tsim Sha Tsui route attracts a higher fare.
Water transports are also frequently used for inter-urban travel, linking with offshore islands and remote riverside communities where difficult terrain makes the water an easier option than land transport and where inland lakes mean that the distances to be travelled across the lake can be much shorter than if the journey had been made by travelling on dry-land transports (rail or road). In the modern era some of these boats will also carry vehicles too, depending on local circumstances.
|Some ferries also carry trains, as well as cars and lorries. This car deck has some freight wagons and (not seen) some through passenger carriages on a train linking Germany with one of the Danish Islands.||The Norwegians also find that sometimes the easiest way to link remote waterside communities is by boat - especially those communities located within fjords where the option of travelling by land involves negotiating steep mountains.|
Another way to 'cross water' is by a bridge. Bridges of course come in many different sizes and shapes, but they normally all have one thing in common, this being that they are 'solid' so that even if it is an opening bridge where the section which actually crosses the water / valley / whatever moves (slides, lifts, tilts) part of it always remains attached to dry land - so do not qualify as being forms of transport. The only type of bridge which actually moves is the transporter bridge.
Transporter bridges are very rare, with there only being about a dozen globally - and not all of them working either. The basic principle is that the 'deck' which is used by people crossing the waterway will hang from a much higher span by wires or a metal frame and will be moveable so that it crosses from one side to another. This makes this type of bridge somewhat akin to a ferry which instead of being on the water's surface hangs above it.
The reasons for building transporter bridges vary. Typically they were built over navigable rivers or other bodies of water where there is a requirement for ship traffic to be able to pass below. In this way they act as an alternative to opening bridges. Often transporter bridges were built where it was seen as being impractical to build the long approach ramps that would be required to reach a high span, or in places where ferries are not easily able to cross - for instance because at low tide the water's edge is too shallow for a ferry - and the requirement for boats to pass along the waterway preclude a fixed bridge.
In the present era transporter bridges have fallen out of favour, because they can only carry only a limited load - often even less than ferry boats - and the rise in motorised personal transport has seen ideas related to bridge approach ramps changing very considerably.
The oldest transporter bridge is the Vizcaya Bridge which was built in 1893. Known as Bizkaiko Zubia in Basque and Puente de Vizcaya in Spanish this bridge links the towns of Portugalete and Las Arenas (part of Getxo) in the Biscay province of Spain. The gondola which can transport six cars and several dozens of passengers makes the 164m (538ft) 1&frac;12 minute crossing of the mouth of the Nervion River every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day all year round. There is also a high level walkway at the top of the towers, which are accessed by lifts (elevators). Fares vary depending on the time of day, and with the bridge being located within the larger conurbation of Bilbao can be paid for using Bilbao's Creditrans transport stored value electronic ticket.
There are three transporter bridges in England, plus one in Wales. Of these only the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge which crosses the River Tees is in a fully operational condition. The Warrington Transporter Bridge is disused whilst for safety reasons services on the Newport (South Wales) Transporter Bridge were suspended at the end of 2007. Once / if it receives the required maintenance it is expected to reopen. The other British transporter bridge is the modern Royal Victoria Dock Bridge, which is located in London's Docklands area. However, although designed with the potential to be used as a transporter bridge, it has so far only been used as a high-level footbridge.
|The Vizcaya Transporter Bridge seen from the quay side and a closer view of the gondola whilst in transit.
The Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge seen at dusk and the gondola at one end awaiting more passengers plus the departure time.
Transports for hilly locations.
A very unusual and innovative solution for helping cyclists up steep hills can be found in the Norwegian city of Trondheim.
Known as the Trampe Bicycle Lift the manufacturer describes this as being somewhat akin to a ski lift - except that most of it is located just below the street surface so that people and vehicles can cross its route safely and without hindrance. Apart from the compact machinery & motor housing units at the start and end points the only things which protrude proud of the ground are the moving footplates used by the cyclists.
When using the lift the right foot is placed on the starting point (the left foot stays on the bicycle pedal), the keycard is inserted in the card reader and one pushes the start button. After a few seconds the user is pushed forward and a footplate emerges. A common mistake among tourists and first-time users is that they don't keep their right leg outstretched and their body tilted forward. This makes it hard to maintain balance on the footplate, and can result in falling off.
In the summer months it is used extensively by both commuting inhabitants of Trondheim and tourists with rented keycards. It is also sometimes used by thrill-seeking teenagers balancing on the footplate without a bicycle and by parents with young children in pushchairs (prams, buggies, etc.)
The footplates are 20 metres apart, which means that if several people wish to use it at the same time then they can, albeit with 20 metre gaps between them. The speed of the lift is 2 m/s (4-5 mph), giving a maximum capacity of 6 cyclists per minute or 360 cyclists per hour.
This installation opened in 1993, and in addition to being a useful facility for local people and tourists it acts as a working prototype with the aim of obtaining sales of similar systems elsewhere. It is 130 metres in length, although the concept allows for lengths of up to 400 metres, with longer runs being catered for by several installations.
|These four images come from the manufacturers' website, which can be found at http://www.trampe.no/english/index.php.
More images can be found in their photogallery; other pages on the website include a video of the system in operation, schematic diagrams plus more detailed technical information.
Additional information can be found on these pages:-
http://188.8.131.52/engelsk/psmaler/eng_picture.asp?thisId=950631995 Trondheim.com website.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7j1PgmMbug8 Video of the lift in operation on YouTube.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trampe_bicycle_lift the free online "Wikipedia" encyclopædia.
(all links open in new windows).
Much more well known, and well proven with many years of use are the funicular and / or rack & pinion 'cog-wheel' railways which are used in many hilly localities to overcome steep inclines where normal 'adhesion' railway systems would not be practical.
Although perhaps more usually thought of as a type of railway which would be found on rural mountainous railways, there is no reason why this type of railway should not be suitable for urban areas too. Obviously however only on routes which merit it.
Perhaps one of the best known examples is to be found in the German city of Stuttgart, where the Rack Railway (Zahnradbahn in German) first commenced services on 23rd August 1884. Nowadays this line is 2.2km (about 1 1/3rd mile) in length, over which distance it climbs 205metres with a maximum incline on the passenger section of 17.5% although the line to the depôt includes a section of track where the incline is 20%. Apart from road crossings the line is entirely located on its own private right of way.
|Line 10 of the Stuttgart (Germany) urban travel network features a reserved track rack & pinion light rail line. Much of the system is on roadside private rights of way, although some sections are completely separate from the roads. The route is single track, with a passing point at a centrally located intermediate station.|
|These images show a train emerging from an off-street section of line and crossing the road for the start of a roadside section of line. The signals seen by road users operate as normal traffic signals except that they do not have a green lamp. The tram driver is provided with tram-style 'white light' signals which here are showing 'go' and the letter 'A' which tells the driver that the signalling system knows that the tram is approaching and that the signals are being changed in its favour. For added security at this blind junction the tram driver can see that the road traffic has red (stop) signals.|
|Because of limited sight lines mirrors are located opposite some residential entrances so that the people living there can verify that it is safe to drive out of their driveways.||Attached to each vehicle at the 'uphill' end is a bicycle trailer.
Travelling by train with bicycles is looked at on a different page.
Comparative views showing how the rack and wheel rails move at a point / turnout / switch. Whilst it is usually acceptable for wheels to pass over small gaps in the track where the rails for the diverging directions meet, it is essential that the rack track remains continuous at all times.
Line C of the Lyon, France métro combines both 'adhesion' and 'rack & pinion' operation along different sections of its route. This is the only métro line anywhere globally which combines these different systems.
The line's origin is in a former rack + pinion railway which in the 1970's and 1980's was converted and then extended (several times) to its present status of being 2.5km (a little over 1.5miles) in length, with 5 stations. The steepest gradient is 17%, which is too steep for either steel wheel or rubber tyred railway transport technologies unaided. It uses the 'strub' rack system.
Line C of the Lyon, France métro is unusual because it combines both 'adhesion' (left) and 'rack & pinion' (right) operation along different sections of its route.
Perhaps the most famous British example of the rack & pinion system is the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which nowadays operates as a tourist orientated leisure service but was originally built to carry industrial freight. Being aimed at tourists the use of steam locomotives could be considered to be appropriate, although diesels are also used too. Apart from the land trains and a few other transports which are also in backward looking fossil-fuel loving Britain virtually all the other (land) transports shown on this page are electrically operated.
The Snowdon Mountain Railway, North Wales.
For more efficient operation on the steep gradients the locomotives on this railway were built with angled fireboxes. For safety (to prevent a runaway carriage from careering out of control downhill) the trains always have the locomotive on the downhill side of the passenger carriage.
Switzerland is famous for its many different types of hill climbing railways and whilst some of these (nowadays) survive because they provide tourist-orientated services in areas of outstanding natural beauty (and winter ski resorts) there are still some which meet 'real' urban transport needs.
One of the best examples used to in the city of Lausanne, where métro line M2 featured the rack & pinion system. Dating back to 1877 the La Ficelle (as it was known then) was constructed to connect the lakeside resort of Ouchy with Flon in the city centre. There were several intermediate stops, one of which was conveniently located for the Swiss Federal Railways Station (Gare CFF).
There were two complimentary services, with one being a two-station shuttle between Flon and the Gare CFF and the other serving five stations with electric locomotives powering two-vehicle trains. For safety the locomotive was at the 'downhill' end of the train. As with many 'mountain' railways this line was predominately single-track, albeit with a passing loop in the middle. In Lausanne this loop was located at a station (called Montriond) and gave rise to a most unusual arrangement whereby uphill trains were required to enter the station first so that its tracks could then be used as the station 'platform' for the downhill trains. At quieter times when only one train was in service then both uphill and downhill services used the 'proper' platform.
On 22nd January 2006 the line was temporarily closed in connection with a northward extension, a process which included adding several new stations, an upgrade to double-track throughout plus a conversion to driverless automated rubber-tyred "mini-métro" trains which call at stations fitted with platform doors.
Clicking either of these Lausanne images will lead to a dedicated page showing larger and more images in a popup window; alternatively clicking here will open the page in a new full-size window.
|Two trains pass at Montriond station, which was the midway passing point. A very unusual feature was that the uphill track was also the platform for downhill trains!||An additional service was provided by a single carriage shuttling between Flon in the city centre and the Gare CFF (the location of this view). Note the steeply graded other platform which was used by trains descending towards the waterside terminus of Ouchy...|
In October 2008 the line reopened after having been rebuilt and extended at the northern end. It now uses fully computerised, automated rubber tyred métro trains which are the same as some of the rolling stock used on the Parisian métro system. The line is now about 6km (approximately 3.7miles) in length and features 14 stations which are much more closely spaced than is normal for an urban metro system. Over this distance it climbs 375 metres (approximately 410 yards) with an average of gradient of 5.7%, although there are places where it is as much as 12% (about 1 in 8). To help cope with the steep gradients this system has some special features which include:-
The regenerative braking system is used whenever possible, with three downhill trains being claimed to produce enough electricity to power one uphill train. One quirk is that the constraints in braking distance and deceleration are such that uphill trains are allowed to travel more quickly than downhill trains.
|Montriond station is no more; it was replaced with not one but two new closely spaced stations!||To improve adhesion the running rails used by the load bearing rubber tyres are ribbed (so that water wicks away) and where deemed necessary heated in the winter.|
Two views of the station for the Swiss mainline railways (Gare CFF) which were taken on the same platform as the single carriage older system image seen above, showing how it has been rebuilt to the same gradient as the other platform. Note the use of platform doors - a design feature of all stations as a more fully enclosed system reduced the chances of trespass and danger. Also note the staggered seats and 'bum rests' on the platform wall.
Mini-métro trains are looked at on the Automated 'Driverless' Metro Systems page.
Only some mountain lines use the rack & pinion system, others (generally shorter lines) use cables. These are usually single-track with two vehicles in service at a time with them being located at opposite ends of the cable so that the descending vehicle counterbalances the ascending vehicle and they pass at a half way loop. One such example exists at Lugano, in Switzerland.
The funicular railway of Lugano which links the city centre with its railway station.
|Two cars the midway passing point. There used to be a station here but it is no longer used.||Car 2 at the upper station, which is located next to the city's main railway station.|
Higher capacity examples come from the French City of Lyon, which actually has two funiculars, both of which use Vieux-Lyon Métro station as their lower starting point. One serves the Basilica whilst the other goes to St Just.
|View out the front of a downhill (Vieux-Lyon) bound train from the Basilica as it enters Minimes Théâtres romains station, this being the only intermediate station and conveniently located to also act as the passing point. The station's name reflects the nearby Roman ruins.||The funicular to St Just crosses a short viaduct after leaving Vieux-Lyon station and commences its steeply graded uphill journey through the hills.|
Whilst most funicular systems use just two vehicles the system in the French city of Laon uses four. Dating from 1989, it replaces a rack + pinion railway and links the railway station with the town hall in the city centre via one intermediate station.
The Poma 2000 shares many attributes with other funiculars, including that...
However it also has some attributes which are less common for funicular railways...
Also classified as a cable-driven people mover, for most of the year the system only operates Monday - Saturday, but in the summer it is used on Sundays too.
The Loan Poma2000 funicular people mover.
Faced with severe environmental issues related to motor vehicle exhaust fumes the Italian city of Perugia decided that the only solution lay in restricting car and motorcoach access to parts of the city centre. However they also recognised that another part of the solution lay in improving public transport so that fewer people would want to drive their own cars and that visitors who come by motorcoach should also be happy to leave their vehicles outside of the city centre. Therefore, in addition to increasing car and coach parking capacity on the outskirts of the historic city centre and installing escalators between the parking areas and the city centre, they built a new metro system.
Being a small city (population a little below 165,000) on a hilly location they reasoned that they needed a lower capacity system capable of climbing steeper gradients, and wanting to maintain attractiveness by means of a high service frequency they opted to use lower capacity 'cabin' type vehicles which would operate as a funicular railway.
Known as the MiniMetro the Perugia system can operate so frequently that waiting time is almost non-existent. 3.2km (2miles) in length the system currently has seven stations, although a second line with two further stations is planned. There are 25 rubber-tyred vehicles which like normal railways can be added or removed from service as required depending on expected passenger numbers. Five metres long each, they are fitted with eight tip-up and one fixed 'special needs' seats and have a maximum capacity of 50 passengers. Other features include an acoustic 'doors closing' alarm and LED display which provides 'next station' and destination updates. The systems' top speed various between 36-43km/h (22-26mph)
Services are only cable operated between stations, as at the stations they are automatically detached from the cable and conveyed through the station by an independent conveyor system.
Although generally welcomed the MiniMetro has attracted some complaints by people who live close to the route who cite the continuous hum of the cable pulleys as being somewhat noisy.
The name MiniMetro is a registered trade mark, so can only be used on systems developed by the Italian company Leitner, who are specialists in automatic aerial ropeways and chairlifts - so it is not surprising that some practices from these transports (such as disengaging from the cable at stations) have been ported over.
Along with some other automated 'cabin' transports more photographs of the MiniMetro can be found on the Monorails, Maglevs and 'Cabin' Transports. page.
|An elevated section of line showing how it has been dovetailed to fit between existing residential buildings. In the distance can be seen one of the cutting-edge designed stations.
|Calling at an underground station.
Before electricity became the universal choice several cities used cable-operated tram / streetcar systems. Nowadays only San Francisco still uses this technology. Here the cable takes the shape of a large under-road loop which is in continuous motion; to obtain propulsion the cable cars use special 'grippers' which lock onto this cable through a slot in the roadway located between the running rails.
At one time there were many cable lines operated by rival private companies which used incompatible track gauges. Although most lines were closed or electrified a few survived long enough to be appreciated for what they were. Nowadays they have become part of the tourist scene but the locals do still use them as legitimate urban transit - especially in the morning peak hour before the tourists swamp them.
|The San Francisco cablecars.
The two views on the left show the vehicles which operate on the California Street service, these cablecars are double-ended (ie: can be driven from either end) and can use simple 'stub-end' termini to reverse direction; the other type of vehicle (as seen on the right) operates on the Powel - Mason & Powel - Hyde routes, and at termini must use a turntable to reverse their direction of travel.
Another hilly city with several street-running cable transports is the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon. There are in fact three such systems, serving different parts of the city, although as with most cable systems (nowadays) they operate as street-based funiculars with interlaced tracks and passing loops.
|The Bica funicular which dates from 1893 and is 283m in length.
|Lavra's lift, which dates from 1884 and is 188m in length.
The Glória funicular, which dates from 1885 and is 276m in length.
Elsewhere in Portugal - in the town of Viseu - a modern urban funicular opened in September 2009.
Linking the upper and lower parts of town this line is 400m in length with a maximum angle of 16% (64m overall rise).
These images date from when construction was still underway. Since they were taken the rest of the paving has been laid - so that just the tracks show - and to keep pedestrians and motor vehicles off the track much of the route has been fenced in - as seen in the bottom right edge of the image on the right.
A different type of cable system is used in the Italian city of Trieste, where tram route No.2 of the urban transport system links Piazza Oberdan, on the northern edge of the city centre, with the village of Villa Opicina in the hills above.
For most of the journey the line operates as a conventional electric tramway with a mixture of street running and reserved track. However on the steepest section of the line a funicular type system has been added to the tramway with the trams being pushed uphill / braked downhill by a pair of cable powered tractors / dummies which are always below the tram with the tram just resting on them.
The cable hauled section is 799 metres in length and climbs a vertical distance of 160 metres with a maximum gradient of 26%. It is single track below the passing point and interlaced double track above the passing point. The 'country' section of line north of the cable section mostly runs along side the main road and is single track with passing loops.
|One of the latest generation of cable tractors, braking a descending tramcar..
|Opicina Tramway Tramcar 402 at the Piazza Oberdan terminus.
The Trammffordd Y Gogarth (Great Orme Tramway in English) in Llandudno, North Wales, is the only cable-hauled tramway still operating on British public roads.
First opening in 1902, and still using its original tramcars, this system features twin funicular railways where the ascending and descending tramcars must operate as matched pairs counter-balancing each other, so it is not a cable car system as in the San Francisco mold. Both funiculars meet at a midway station, which is where the winding house is also located. Passengers wanting to make a full journey need to transfer between upper and lower railways at this station. The combined length of the two lines is approximately one mile (1.6km).
The upper line extends from the midway station to the Great Orme's 679ft (207m) summit, and on days when the weather is favourable the views can include Snowdonia, Anglesey, the Isle of Man, Blackpool and the Lake District.
The lower line links Llandudno town with the midway station. It includes sections of both street running and roadside right of way.
Clicking any of these Great Orme Tramway images will lead to a dedicated page showing larger and more images in a popup window; alternatively clicking here will open the page in a new full-size window.
|The lower line includes a section of street running; for safety motor vehicle access to this road is restricted to authorised vehicles only - this is to avoid the hazard of a tramcar travelling in one direction meeting an oncoming vehicle travelling in the opposite direction on a road so narrow that there is no space to pass.||This descending tram almost clipped the blue hatchback stuck in a queue of traffic (beyond the junction) which was caused by single-file alternate directional traffic trying to pass a broken-down vehicle in the road further down the hill. Note the modern 'white dots" signal - these were introduced in Britain for street tramway operation in 1991.|
It is questionable whether modern health and safety legislation would permit the construction of a new system - complete with street running - such as operates here; however as this line is already open it probably benefits from what is known as "grandfather" rights. (There should be no reason why there would be a problem for a new system that is away from the public highway).
Being aimed at leisure travellers services only operate between late March and late October, with trains running at 20 minute intervals from 10am (10.00) to 6pm (18.00) (March and October 5pm / 17.00).
More information and photographs of the Great Orme Tramway can be found by following this link http://www.greatormetramway.com/ which opens in a new window and leads to the "official" Great Orme Tramway website.
|Originally the line was equipped with an overhead wire which was used for communicating between tramcars and a control centre. Nowadays the trams use radio communications and the overhead has been dismantled, nevertheless for decorative and historic reasons the tramcars retain their trolley-poles.||The passing point on the lower section - still in the street domain but "off-road". The 'swept path' of the vehicle on the left slightly fouls the public highway and the white dotted line next to the double yellow lines delineates this and is intended to discourage road vehicles from straying too near the tracks.|
Another British urban funicular is the The Bridgnorth Cliff Railway, which is sometimes also known as the Castle Hill Railway. This is located in the town of Bridgnorth in Shropshire.
Claimed to be both the steepest and the shortest railway in Britain this line links the Low Town of Bridgnorth and the River Severn with the High Town, which is adjacent to the ruins of Bridgnorth Castle.
The line dates back to 1890, when a public meeting in the town agreed to investigate a railway as an easier way of linking the two sections of the town avoiding the need to scale over 200 steps. Construction began in 1891, and the line opened in 1892. By way of comparison it would be interesting to see if a similar project could be carried out with such rapidity in the modern era - knowing the present day planning process and bureaucrats liking for detailed studies (often multiple studies) which often give the impression of 'paralysis by analysis' it is very probable that such a project would take over 5 years.. and thats before construction even begins!
Originally the trains were water powered with each car housing a 2000 gallon water tank beneath the passenger compartment. These were filled at the top station and emptied at the lower station. The weight of the car with the water gently rolling downhill would be sufficient to haul the ascending vehicle. However in 1943 the gas powered engines which pumped the water to the top station became life-expired and the line was rebuilt to operate electrically. It reopened in 1944, and with trains now completing the journey more quickly than before passenger numbers increased. The present rolling stock dates to 1955.
This railway provides a full daily service 6.5 days a week, with, to allow time for routine maintenance, there being a later start to the working day on Sunday mornings. Although of course visitors to Bridgenorth are welcome to use the line its primary purpose to provide transport for local people.
More information and photographs of the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway can be found by following this link http://www.bridgnorthcliffrailway.co.uk/ which (opens in a new window and) leads to the "official" Bridgnorth Cliff Railway website.
|The upper station with a train in & people at a viewpoint.||The viewpoint overlooks the funicular railway, the lower town, River Severn and the local area.|
|A close view of one of the cabins which is about to arrive at the upper station, and some of the winding gear.|
For people who prefer to walk there is a steeply graded footpath & stairway, which starts next to the lower station entrance but at the top arrives at a location that is remote from the upper station.
Elsewhere in Britain funicular systems mostly exist at seasides and are of the Cliff Lift variety, these typically being short cable railways located on very steep inclines featuring small 'cabins'. Although they can provide a useful transport service for local people nowadays they typically provide 'leisure-orientated' services in the summer months only.
A railway which combines both urban transport for local people and seaside leisure-orientated transport is the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway.
This line links the twin towns of Lynton and Lynmouth on the rugged coast of North Devon. Construction work began in 1887 and was completed in less than three years. This railway is water powered, with the water coming from the West Lynn River which is over a mile away. The two carriages feature a 700 gallon tank mounted between the wheels. Trains operate with a member of staff onboard whose duties include acting as brakeman and controlling the speed of the journey.
In addition to the two stations at each end of the line there is a halt, with road access, at North Walk - this being just below Lynton station. This is used to transport larger freight items, for which the passenger carriage bodies can be removed to provide a flat load bed. In the early days of private motoring cars would sometimes be carried up the hill in this way. During rail replacement over the winter of 2006, the halt was used extensively for access and material storage.
The railway is now classified as a listed monument. Services operate roughly between mid-February and mid-November, with heavy maintenance being carried out during the winter.
More information and photographs of the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway can be found by following this link http://www.cliffrailwaylynton.co.uk/ which leads to the "official" Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway website. A video of this line in action can also be found here...http://www.rewindstudios.co.uk/. (both links open in new windows).
|The Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway, on a thoroughly wet July day in the 'non-summer' of 2007.|
The off-street funiculars seen above all operate on the basis of ascending and descending vehicles running on twin tracks counterbalancing each other. A variant of this system however sees just the single vehicle running on a single surface track with a dummy weight on a (usually) narrower track below. In many ways this type of funicular is more like the well known lifts (elevator in the American dialect) which can be found in many buildings - except that whilst lifts (normally) travel vertically, these funiculars will travel at an angle.
One such example is the funicular railway at Southend-On-Sea in Essex. Because of its location (on the side of a cliff) this is also sometimes known as a 'cliff lift'.
This line opened in 1912. The funicular vehicle travels on 4ft 6in gauge running track whilst the counterweight uses an a 1ft 9in gauge track below.
The cliff railway at Southend-On-Sea, in Essex, as seen in the mid 1980's. Note the fixed stairs which flank the line on one side.
Of course cliff lift type funiculars also exist overseas too... the two examples below come from France and the French Canadian Province of Québec.
|The Montmartre funicular, Paris, France, is flanked by a steep stepped walkway.||Québec City, Canada.|
Whereas most funiculars use wheeled transports running on top of rails and having the cables below them a little-used variant sees the vehicles hanging from the rail with the counterbalance cables being above them.
Perhaps the best example of this is the Dresden Schwebebahn, which is a suspended funicular railway. Opening in 1901 this system uses trains which hang from a single rail, which means that it is technically also a monorail, and indeed it was built by the same person (Eugen Langen) who later went on to build the 11km Schwebebahn (hanging railway) in Wüppertal. The Wüppertal Schwebebahn is a high capacity urban transport, it is looked at in greater detail on the Monorails, Maglevs and 'Cabin' Transports page.
The Schwebebahn is one of two funicular railways in Dresden, the other being the much more conventional Standseilbahn Dresden. Both lines are operated by the Dresdner Verkehrsbetriebe AG, who also operate the city's tram and bus networks.
|Above both and below left the Dresden Schwebebahn.|
Right: Looking out of the back of a descending car of Dresden's Funicular railway (Standseilbahn Dresden), passing an ascending car that has been specially decorated for the 110th anniversary of the funicular, which was celebrated on the 30th October 2005.
Image sourced from the free online "Wikipedia" encyclopædia (link opens in a new window)
More well known types of hanging funiculars are systems which typically involve small cabins (sometimes also called gondolas) or open chairs which are located and hauled above the ground by means of cables. Sometimes the vehicles are directly attached to moving cables and sometimes they are hang from fixed cables (ie: which only support the vehicle's weight) with other cables moving the vehicle(s).
More than any other type of transport these hanging / suspended systems have a multiplicity of names which even in English speaking nations often vary widely depending on where the person lives and the type of English they speak. The online "Wikipedia" encyclopædia (which is mostly written in the American dialect) uses a generic term of 'aerial lift', and then subdivides them many ways further depending on the type of vehicle, how many cables it uses and how it operates.
|Left: Upper station of Caron's cable car (Val Thorens, Savoie, France)
Right: Furtschellas cable car, Engadin, Switzerland.
Left: Closer view of a twin cable system showing how it is supported from the upper cable while the lower cable pulls it. Cable car Rasa near Intragna, Switzerland.
Right: Rotating cable car cabin on a system which serves the Titlis mountain in Switzerland.
|The language dilemma over what to call these becomes even more acute when 'overhead wire' and 'ground-level wire' powered systems meet, as here in Llandudno, Wales.
Here we see the Great Orme Tramway which is actually a funicular railway that includes sections of street running and the Great Orme Aerial Cable Cars, which features small gondola cars that hang from a single wire.
|Above Left: Twin cable gondola system which serves Ngong Ping village in Hong Kong
Above Right: Classic 1960s 4-seater monocable gondola lift in Emmetten, Switzerland
Left: Passenger and freight gondolas on the twin cable gondola system in La Grave, France.
Left: Small gondola sized cable cars at the Sentosa station of the Singapore cable car system. This twin cable system uses detachable-grip gondolas which seat four people, and includes one intermediate station.
Right: Interior of an intermediate station on the GMD Mueller gondola system in Gstaad, Switzerland. At this station the gondolas detach from the line, automatically travel through the building on tracks and attach to the line of the second section. The drive motors for both sections are visible below the bullwheels
Whilst most of the hanging cable transports seen on this page are in rural areas (rather than major cities) there is no reason why such transports cannot be used in conurbations as well, although it is useful if they meet a real travel need and are suited to the expected passenger demand. In other words, it would be foolish to expect them to act as an alternative to a high capacity rail service.
An example of an urban cablecar can be found in London's docklands area. Opening just months before the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this system is not just aimed at tourists who wish to see the locality from a different angle but also at local people who may prefer to use it as an alternative to a journey which requires two trains.
|Emirates Royal Victoria cable car terminus and some cranes from when the Royal Victoria Dock was a working dockyard. Close nearby is Royal Victoria DLR station.||Two Emirates Air Line cable cars and an aircraft (seen near the top of the image) pass by the distinctively styled Crystal building, close to Royal Victoria DLR station.|
From the water's edge it is possible to see inside the cable car terminus (best seen in the larger version of this image),
and (from a different location) the cable support roller assembly just outside the terminus.
|Left: Open chairs on the ski lift at Praz-de-Lys / Sommand (Haute-Savoie, France)
Right: The return bullwheel of the chairlift of Col dei Baldi, Alleghe, Italy.
|Left: Bubble chairs on the Marchner chairlift, Kronplatz mountain (Plan de Corones in Italian), South Tyrol, Italy. Whilst the chairs facing / coming towards the camera are empty people's feet can be seen hanging
from the cabin in front.
Right: Top station of the same chairlift showing (amongst other things) the safety netting in case a passenger has not been properly seated and falls out.
|An eight-seat chair, at Perisher (Australia), carrying seven passengers at the time of photographing.
Serving a beginners run it features a detachable mechanism, uses a magic carpet for boarding, and a gentle ramp for alighting.
Image courtesy and © copyright of Roderick B Smith 28-September-2009
|Left: The gondola mounting of a small ropeway, for example a chairlift. The mounting consists of a metal clasp which in normal mode is held in the closed position by two steel
springs, thereby forcing the clasp to firmly grip the steel rope.
Right: The grip of a Doppelmayr detachable quad chairlift built in 1985 as parked on a sidetrack in the lower lift terminal.
The telemix / chondola is a relatively new innovation in the world of ski lifts, and was first introduced by Poma, a French lift manufacturer.
Telemix / Chondola in Åre, Sweden.
Left: Gold Coast Funitel at the Squaw Valley Ski Resort, California, USA.
Right: Funitel at La Plagne, France.
|Left: Empty T-bars but full chairlifts on a system at Sauerland/NRW Germany.
Right: T-Bar at Galicowa Grapa, Poronin, Poland, with fencing to encourage passengers to travel to the end of the line, and discourage non-passengers from 'getting in the way'.
Left: Detail of modern rope tow at loading station. The small hand grips help minimize "slippage" and encourage safe passenger separation. The red button is an emergency stop for use by the attendant if an obstacle, such as a fallen skier, blocks the rope line. The thin line looped under the rope is a safety limit: if a rider goes past this point, it disconnects the circuit and stops the tow. The foreground coiled yellow line is for deployment to mark a loading queue.
Right: Side view of magic carpet.
Specialist Winter Weather Transport.
Whilst the transports seen above are often used in snowy weather they are mostly suitable for all weather conditions. However one form of transport which is rarely seen away from snow and ice is the sleigh.
Sleighs are ideal for wintry weather when snow and ice can make the use of rubber-tyred transports hazardous.
Children going for a sleigh ride! Seen crossing the tracks at a station on Stockholm, Sweden's 'Nockebybanan' light rail line.
Although sometimes seen as 'leisure orientated' niche transports seaside railways can - and do - also meet real transport needs for which larger railways could be unsuitable.
The first views are of the former electric trains that operated on the 1½ mile long pier at Southend-On-Sea, in Essex. They were introduced in 1949 (replacing older trains which operated a pre-war service) and in all there were four 'trains' each of which consisted of seven four-wheel carriages. The system was electrified at 500v dc using a centrally located third rail and the track gauge was 3ft 6in (approximately 106cm).
The line closed in the late 1970's - some reports suggest 1978 whilst others say that public services ended in October 1976 but for the benefit of the lifeboat crew some occasional trains continued to operate until July 1979. In 1986 a new two-train diseasal (disease diesel) service was opened.
Clicking either of these two Southend Pier (electric) railway images will lead to a dedicated page showing larger and more images in a popup window; alternatively clicking here will open the page in a new full-size window. In time some diesel railway images will be added to that page too.
Additional Southend Pier railway photographs from when the line was in full use plus much information about services and how they operated (sometimes using four trains at a time!) can be found
|An electric Southend Pier Railway train (in passenger service) standing in the platform at the pier head station.||Inside former Southend Pier railway motor car.|
|The two diesel trains are named, as seen in this view which was taken at the station at the landward end of the pier.||Inside one of the diesel Southend Pier railway passenger carriages.|
A still extant electric pier railway is to be found at Hythe, Hampshire. These trains also serve a 'real' transport function in that they meet the ferry boats which ply across the Solent from Southampton and dock on the pier. This is reputed to be the oldest pier railway "anywhere" globally - the pier opened in 1881, the railway opened in 1909 and was electrified in 1922. The pier is 2100' (approx 640m) in length, the railway is electrified on the third rail principle at 240v dc and the trains run on 2ft (approximately 61cm) gauge track. (This railway is not illustrated).
The Hythe Ferry has a website which can be found here:- http://www.hytheferry.co.uk/ Link opens in a new window.
In Blackpool the North Pier features a short (diseasel) tramway which links the pier entrance with the theatre at the far end. Of special note is that the entire journey from pier entrance to theatre is "weather protected" - either inside the tram or via sheltered platforms and walkways - obviously someone has realised that in inclement weather passengers (OK, in this case theatre patrons) don't want a soaking. Would that similar thoughtfulness applied to ALL British transport systems! The person (people?) responsible for this thoughtfulness should be given a peerage, knighthood, or similar - & made a British government Transport Minister!
Clicking either of these two Blackpool North Pier images will lead to a dedicated page showing larger and more images in a popup window; alternatively clicking here will open the page in a new full-size window.
The diesel powered North Pier tramway in Blackpool.
Another seaside railway, but one that travels along the seafront rather than a pier is the Volks Electric Railway (VER). This railway is located at the fashionable British south coast resort of Brighton.
Built by Magnus Volk and with the first section having been completed in 1883, the VER is the oldest surviving operating electric railway anywhere globally. (The first electric railway opened in 1881 in Lichterfelde, Berlin, Germany but it no longer operates). It is electrified at 110v dc using an insulated 3rd rail offset between the running rails for the live, with the return being via both running rails. The track gauge is 2ft 8½in (approximately 83cm).
In its present-day form the VER is just under 1¼ miles in length (approximately 2km). At one time it was longer but for various reasons it has been shortened at both ends. The present-day eastern terminus is near to Black Rock, with the station being about 450yds (approximately 400m) from the Brighton Marina - which with its retail and eating facilities would form an ideal destination for the passengers who at present are deposited on the wrong side of a somewhat uninviting complex road junction and car parking area. The western terminus is near to the Brighton Aquarium and about 240yds (approximately 220m) from the Palace Pier. Unfortunately for the VER this is far enough away for it to not be noticed by those visitors who do not already know about its existence - when it was shortened there was a 20% drop in revenue from passengers no longer taking ‘impulse’ rides on the railway. From time to time there have been proposals to extend the line back to its original length and especially at the Palace Pier end this would enhance the VER's usefulness and ridership as it would also be nearer to this major visitor destination - as well as the town centre - and be more visible to more potential passengers. There is one intermediate station, which is also where the depôt is located.
The VER has a website which can be found here:- http://www.volkselectricrailway.co.uk/ Link opens in a new window.
|Approaching a pedestrian level crossing with the pier in the distance behind it.||Waiting to board whilst passengers disembark at Black Rock station (the eastern terminus).|
|Warning sign with flashing lamp as at the level crossings.||The level crossings are necesary because the line is fully fenced in - as seen here - and although there are a few underpasses there are no other ways to reach the beach from the promenade.|
Another level crossing - with a 'kissing gate' for pedestrians and hand opened double gates which allow authorised motor vehicles to access the pebble beach. As the various images show, services are formed of one and two vehicle trains.
Not strictly a railway "land trains" are usually used to provide local transport within a specific area at seaside resorts, tourist destinations or special events where large crowds can be expected. Usually they consist of a motor unit pulling half a dozen or so passenger vehicles, perhaps with the entire 'train' being decorated to look somewhat like a steam engine pulling passenger coaches.
Land trains may operate either on a specially reserved lane within the public footpath or on the public highway as is used by other road traffic; in either situation they will travel at a sedate speed because the ride is itself part of the 'visitor experience'. Land trains sometimes come in for criticism from local bus companies because they often offer free (or very cheap) transport and the commercial bus companies see them as providing unfair, subsidised competition.
|This land train was seen in Weston-Super-Mare at the height of the summer holiday season.|
|Land train seen outside the National Railway Museum, York.||Land train seen in Paris, France in a district popular with tourists close to the Montmartre funicular.|
More modern styled 'beach trams' at Sentosa, which is a small island near to Singapore City that has become a recreational resort destination.
These operate over two different routes linking various parts of the island resort with Beach Station, which is the Sentosa Island terminus of the Sentosa Express Monorail - this being one of the transports which link Sentosa Island with the mainland.
Images sourced from the free online "Wikipedia" encyclopædia. These links (which open in new windows) lead to pages about Sentosa from where more information and images can be found.
Lifts, Escalators & Moving Walkways.
Often overlooked as a form of transport are lifts, escalators and moving walkways.
In addition to railway stations, escalators and lifts (or 'elevators' in American English) can frequently be found at large department stores, shopping centres, on cruise liners (ships) and many other multi-floor buildings. Their purpose is of course to provide transport between the station platforms & entrances / exits, different floors, decks, etc.
A variant of the escalator is the moving walkway which is usually located where large numbers of people need transport along a long 'corridor' such as interchange passageways at railway stations or between the terminal and the 'gate' at airports.
It is very unusual for anyone to be charged a fee for travelling on these transports - although of course at some locations access to these transports will be restricted to people who have paid to use 'other' transports.
Although relatively rare there is no reason why escalators (or a series of escalators and / or moving walkways) could not be used over longer distances - although the travel time might be somewhat extended when compared to travelling similar distances on wheeled transports. In a few locations experiments have been tried with moving walkways which travel 'at higher speed' and are therefore more suited to longer distance travel, however as is explained further down this page, there have been issues with people falling over when joining / leaving the higher speed walkways.
Sometimes people refer to moving walkways as 'travolators'. However the word Trav-O-Lator is actually a brand name for a moving walkway which has been distributed exclusively by United Technologies' Otis Elevator Company. In many ways this confusion is similar to the situation with vacuum cleaners whereby the brand name (Hoover) has slipped into common usage as a name for a type of product, rather than just one of several rival manufacturers of a specific type of product.
One of the most significant existing examples of the use of moving walkways and escalators to cover a 'longer distance' is the Central-Mid-Levels escalator system in Hong Kong. With a total length of 800 metres this is the longest outdoor covered escalator system anywhere globally.
Consisting of 20 escalators and 3 moving walkways (as well as fixed stairways and static walkways) it was designed to carry 27,000 people a day, but actually carries over 55,000 people daily. The total travel time is 20 minutes although to shorten this many people walk while the system moves. It operates a tidal flow system running downhill from 6am to 10am and uphill from 10:30am to midnight everyday.
The total vertical climb is 135 metres, this being equivalent to several miles of zigzagging roads if travelled by car. It has been operating since 1993 although the official opening was on 15th October 1994.
This walkway transport system performs a very important role in Hong Kong since it links Des Voeux Road, in Hong Kong's Central district with Conduit Road in the Mid-Levels, passing through narrow streets. It is also a tourist spot, with many restaurants, bars, and shops lining its route.
|The Central-Mid-Levels escalator and moving walkway system in Hong Kong. The reversible nature of the moving walkways and escalators explain the white arrow / no entry signs at entry / exit points.
The yellow hatched area at the entrance areas are to discourage people from congregating there as this causes congestion -which can be a safety hazard if a moving walkway or escalator is bringing people to that location more quickly than they can leave.
Because of the often long distances within / between the terminals and the 'gates' where passengers actually board / alight the aircraft moving walkways have become a well known type form of surface transport at airports.
|Moving walkways linking the terminals at Copenhagen airport, Denmark
|Detroit International Airport Edward H. McNamara Terminal uses moving walkways for shorter distance travel (seen at ground level) and what is called an Express Tram for longer journeys within Concourse A at the terminal. This people mover is located 21ft (6.4m) metres
above the main terminal floor and consists of a single track guideway over 3700ft (1128metre) in length along which two twin-car cable-driven trains travel at up to 31mph (50km/h). The vehicles carry up to 208 passengers at a time ride upon an air-cushion, similar to a hovercraft.
There are three stations, the intermediate station also acts as a passing loop.
|Some airports even allow luggage trolleys on the station platforms, with access being via a combination of lifts (elevators), ramps, moving walkways and escalators. This rather dull image comes from Kloten airport, Zürich, Switzerland. This image was sourced from S-VHS-C videotape and is a little fuzzy.||British airports do not offer this facility and instead feature physical devices to actively prevent luggage trolleys on station platforms. This image was sourced at London's Heathrow Airport.|
|Luggage trolleys on the platform at Schipol airport Amsterdam, Holland, railway station.||Luggage trolleys on the platform at Geneva airport, Switzerland, railway station.|
|Moving walkway at Amsterdam Schipol airport.||There seems to be an assumption that lifts installed to provide special needs 'accessibility' at underground railway stations must be located in dedicated vertical lift shafts. This example (in Düsseldorf, Germany) shows an alternative solution where passengers have a choice of an angled lift (with 'see-through' glass walls to enhance personal safety), steps and an 'up' escalator - all in the same access shaft.|
|Moving walkways installed at Waterloo station London with a 'static' walkway in between.||Escalator and moving walkway etiquette on the London UndergrounD. Stand on the right, walk on the left!|
Away from airports and railway stations...
|Inclined moving walkways, fixed steps and a double sided glass lift make it easy to enter and leave a food store at west London's Westfield shopping centre. The moving walkway is better for people with shopping trolleys etc., than escalators.|
|Wall climbing glass lifts and escalators at the Exchange Shopping centre, Ilford, Essex. In many ways this will be typical of many shopping centres globally.||Short escalators at a shopping centre in Kassel, Germany. Despite being so short escalators such as this are installed because they offer mobility benefits to people for whom climbing steps (and ramps) can be a challenge.|
Outdoor escalator and inclined moving walkway at San Roque de Portugalete, Vizcaya, (Bilbao) Spain. These solutions for conurbations with steep hills makes an interesting contrast with the 'bike lift' seen nearer the top of this page.
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Lift and escalator oddities.
Some of the weird and the wonderful aspects of lift, escalator & moving walkway transport.------------------------------- ------------------------------- ------------------------------- -------------------------------
Also known as Spiral escalators these take up much less horizontal space than straight escalators. However early spiral designs were failures - for example, in 1906 a spiral escalator was installed at the London Underground Holloway Road station but it was dismantled almost immediately and little of the mechanism survives. However it is understood that this was a true spiral escalator (similar to the spiral fixed steps used as emergency stairways) and not the gently curved versions seen here.
Locations which use curved escalators include: the Westfield San Francisco Centre in San Francisco, California; Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada; The Times Square shopping mall in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong; and the Wheelock Place in Singapore.
Almost always escalators are 'straight' - so exceptionally unusual are these curved escalators which exist at a shopping centre in San Francisco, USA. The
image on the right clearly illustrates the difference between the two types of escalator.
Click the projector icon or this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaN6I5EU1Vg to watch a short video which has been placed on the 'youtube' file-sharing website showing these curved escalators.
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|Normally escalators have a short 'flat' section at each end as it makes for easier boarding & alighting. However they seem to have overdone it here... seen at an office centre near London Bridge station, in London.||A very unusual escalator...
This image of a most extraordinary combined escalator / moving walkway arrived with me via an email message which looks at the bizarre - I think it is in Japan somewhere.
The Double-Deck Lift.
A double-deck lift ('elevator')
This example is believed to have been seen in Québec City, Canada, Elsewhere double deck lifts & elevators are featured in the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, International Finance Centre in Hong Kong, the American International Building and Citigroup Center in New York, Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas, and the Mori Tower in Tokyo.
Double deck lifts are lifts designed such that two lift cars are attached one on top of the other. This allows passengers on two consecutive floors to be able to use the lift simultaneously, significantly increasing the passenger capacity of a lift shaft.
The High-Speed Moving Walkway.
Dating from 2002 and originally introduced as an experimental prototype, this high-speed walkway is located at Montparnasse - Bienvenüe métro station in Paris, France. It is known as the trottoir roulant rapide which can be translated as fast rolling pavement (ie: fast moving pavement / footpath / walkway) which is sometimes abbreviated to TRR. It is also nicknamed the TGV, this being a well known term (in France) for the 300km/h 186mph very high speed trains (train a grande vitesse) - although in this instance the initial T stands for trottoir and not train.
The TRR is designed for distances between 150metres and 800metres in length; this example is 185metres in length and has a rated capacity of 10,000 passengers per hour. At first it operated at 12 km/h but too many people were falling over, so the speed was reduced to 9 km/h.
Using this walkway is like using any other moving walkway, except that for safety there are special procedures to follow when joining or leaving. Staff (seen here in yellow jackets) vet who can use it as you must have at least one hand free to hold the handrail. So, if you are carrying bags, shopping, etc or are infirm you must use the regular walkway to the right.
On entering there is a 10 metre acceleration zone where the 'ground' is a series of metal rollers - you MUST stand still with both feet on these rollers and use one hand to hold the handrail and let it pull you so that you glide over the rollers; the idea being to accelerate you so that you will be travelling fast enough to step onto the moving walkway belt. People who try to walk on these rollers are at significant risk of falling over.
Once on the walkway you can stand or walk; there is no special sensation of travelling at speed.
At the exit there is a deceleration zone where again you MUST stand still and let the handrail pull you as you slow down, again whilst gliding over metal rollers. Then you just walk off
According to RATP it has been estimated that commuters using a walkway such as this twice a day would save 15 minutes a week and 10 hours a year.
With the concept having been proven to be successful in 2007 a similarly themed high-speed walkway has been included in the newly opened Pier F of Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Canada. However the Canadian installation is of the pallet type rather than the belt type. The pallets "intermesh" with a comb and slot arrangement. They expand out of each other when speeding up, and compress into each other when slowing down. The hand railings work in a similar manner. The walkway moves at roughly 2 km/h when riders step onto it, speeds up to approximately 7 km/h for the bulk of the length, and slows to 2 km/h again at the end.
Meanwhile, in May 2009 it was announced that because of its unreliability and the number of users having accidents, in 2011 the TRR will be replaced with a standard moving walkway travelling at just 0.8 km/h.
The high speed moving walkway at Montparnasse - Bienvenüe Métro station in Paris, France.
Click the projector icon or this link
|Additional information sourced from the English and French language pages at the free online "Wikipedia" encyclopædia
the BBC website http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3001182.stm
a French language page about the history of the Parisian installation http://www.rue89.com/2008/08/15/la-piteuse-histoire-du-trottoir-roulant-rapide-de-montparnasse
and a Canadian article about the installation at Toronto Pearson International Airport
http://www.gtaa.com/en/news/torontopearson_today/details/2caa66e7-b3f0-4e11-ae2e-ec7cd2cd5f72 (links open in new windows).
The Self Starting Escalator.
Escalators running needlessly when no-one is around consume energy and incur extra 'wear & tear', both of which add to the transport system's operating costs. To find a balance between what is needed and what is just 'convenient' escalators at quieter locations are often configured to only start moving when people are about to travel on them. This facility also makes two-way escalators possible, as seen below.
Self starting escalators are very difficult to demonstrate by means of static photographs, so to see this in action click the projector icon or this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vaMPnuthS0 to watch a short video which has been placed on the 'youtube' file-sharing website. Note how the escalator starts from rest as a pedestrian approaches.
The Two-Way Escalator.
At some locations the same escalators can be used by passengers going both up and down.
Normally these escalators are stationary (this also saves energy plus wear & tear) and both the 'two way traffic' and blue 'one way' road signs are illuminated.
To use all a person has to do is walk on - and they automatically spring to life. But, whether going up or down depends on whether the person boarded it at the top or bottom...! At the same time the blue lamp at the far end extinguishes and instead the 'no entry' sign lights up.
It was noted that the escalators seemed to detect the number of people boarding and were very quick to stop when the last person in the direction of travel alighted, which made photographing the 'no entry' sign somewhat awkward, but this is probably good as it means that people waiting to travel the other direction have a better chance of having their turn.
Especially when the escalators are travelling 'down' people wanting to travel up tend to wait rather than use the adjacent fixed steps.