Wednesday 23 March 2011

Free and Easy

A funny thing happened to me the other day: I got a lottery ticket. The strange thing about this was that I hadn't asked for it, and I hadn't paid for it. It came free with my Merseyrail ticket to Liverpool.

Turns out there's a promotion on at the moment: buy a ticket and get a free card for the People's Postcode Lottery, giving you the chance to win iPads and TVs and such like. Which is nice, if a bit odd. And if I'm honest, a bit naff. I'm not against freebies - this is about the only way I'll ever get an iPad - but there's just something a bit tacky about it. I don't quite know why.

I reserve the right to change my mind on this if I win a prize, incidentally.

In other news, Merseytravel's put a notice out asking for tenders for new rolling stock. Previously, it had been reported that Merseyrail's trains probably wouldn't be replaced until about 2017. The tender documents are asking for expressions of interest in replacing them.

No need to get ahead of ourselves; the phrasing is so tentative, it's practically tiptoeing round the idea. "Considering its options", "should it decide to" - it's short of saying "possibly maybe" - but it's still exciting. Can I throw in a few requests for the new trains here?

1) Space trains, like the newest ones on the London Overground, the 378s. Not only are they extremely sexy, not only do they allow for more passengers, but it's also fun to ride them on the connections between carriages. When I was on the Metro in Paris, I spent practically all my time inbetween carriages, surfing. Plus it'll stop all those idiots who walk between Merseyrail cars and don't close the doors behind them, leaving it swinging and banging for the rest of the journey until you want to ram a spike in your ear.

2) Air conditioning. The current trains seem to have two heating options: "nothing" or "surface of the sun". It'll also put a stop to those noisy open windows in the tunnels.

3) Crosswise seats. I know this kind of flies in the face of my pleasing for the space trains, but longitudinal seats wouldn't work on Merseyrail; they're just not right for long journeys, like from Southport to Hunts Cross. Stick with the current four-four-four layout and it'll be fine.

4) Proper space for line diagrams, not those stickers on the roof they currently have.

5) LCD screens broadcasting adverts. That's a bit ambitious I know, but I love it on the Heathrow Express: it's like being in Children of Men, only without the horrifying dystopian misery.

6) The capability to be made dual voltage. I've been told this is a pretty easy thing to implement, but I'd still like it to be made clear. If we're ever going to get Merseyrail extended, it probably won't be third rail, so it'll be nice to have the potential built into the trains. One day to Wrexham and Wigan, eh?

Thanks for that. If Merseytravel want to hear any more of my great ideas, you know where I am.


Anonymous said...

Dual voltage not technically difficult but does bung up the cost a lot. So not likely. Third rail now back in favour with Ministry after a period out of favour so future extensions now likely to be third rail after all. You can follow these debates in the various railway magazines btw. 'Modern Railways' is best and very professional. Not aimed at trainspotters but industry types. Chris.

Robert Hampton said...

Some modern classes of EMU are designed to have dual-voltage capability retrofitted if necessary. London Midland's class 350s can be modified to run on 750V DC if needed (some were temporarily subleased to Southern for use on their 3rd rail routes a while back). Likewise Southeastern's class 375 units can have pantographs fitted (indeed, some already have).

The 378 is a good starting point, although the longitudinal seating would be unsuitable for Merseyrail. Unfortunately I don't think any current EMU design would be suitable without modification. The tight curves and confined loading gauge of the Liverpool Loop tunnels means that specially designed rolling stock would be the best bet.

Someone did mock up a picture of a 378 in Merseyrail colours. It was a very good Photoshop job but sadly I can't link to it because it was hosted on which has been down for weeks.

And yes, the Postcode Lottery is a bit of a tacky promotion, although to be honest I'm just miffed that Aigburth station appeared to have run out of scratchcards when I renewed my Trio there today, meaning I was denied a chance to enter. :/

Gavin Kincade said...

I'm bemused that someone thought it a good idea to choose a photo of a train crossing a viaduct covered in buddleia - the message seems to be 'Maintenance? What maintenance?

You are right that TV screens on trains are a horrible dystopian thing. Here in the midlands, some of the 323s have screens which show an endlessly repeated loop of local interest items and bits of Sky News.

Anonymous said...


Dr Fear said...

Not sure if longitudal seating is such a bad thing. For a start, it means I'm not facing anyone I don't know and so have to avoid eye-contact incase I get a smack in the face. Secondly, I'm sure London Underground & Overground lines can be at least as long as Merseyrail lines. Also, I'm doubt a lot of people do the full extent of the Northern Line, from Southport to Hunts Cross.

Michael Roche said...

I won on the postcode lottery/merseyrail scratchcard , registered the win but got nothing back. 4 weeks later still waiting.