Railway cycle network

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by tonich, 31 Jan 2018.

  1. deptfordmarmoset

    deptfordmarmoset Full time tea drinker

    Armonmy Way
    I think Bonckers Johnson came up with an idea for cyclepaths above London railway lines.

    Back to reality, though, I'm not sure I would want to spend too many long periods of time cycling alongside a continuous fence. That said, a path I use quite often runs along a railway line between Millwall football ground and Bermondsey in SE London, and it's flat, smooth and pretty straight but it's not long enough to irritate and has enough greenery to give a sense of space.

    After being overtaken by a pair of cargo bikes travelling with surprising speed, it now sets me thinking whether railway paths could become inter-town light freight routes for bikes. There's no shortage of parcel delivery trade from online orders and a few fewer vans clogging up the roads might make it an attractive proposition for more than just cyclists and the NHS.
  2. straas

    straas Über Member

    This sounds a lot more straightforward than it actually is.

    The railway isn't as simple as a set of tracks, there is a huge amount of infrastructure running parallel to the tracks, that most people wouldn't notice. This equipment isn't easily movable nor is there much room to put it anywhere, and this is discounting the electrified sections of track!

    Access is required to the tracks by subcontractors, network rail staff, signal men etc. A lot of these accesses run parallel to the tracks and require near constant clearance in the event that any emergency works are required on the tracks for whatever reason.

    Network rail also use this land for the storage of materials (ballast, sleepers, steels etc), and without it would need to purchase additional land for storage.

    Due to the low gradients required on the railway, it generally comprises a series of cuttings and embankments - widening either is generally not a straightforward job, especially as they are generally of pre victorian age. In rock cuttings, it is generally impossible without huge engineering schemes or the purchase of adjoining land (often back gardens)

    Additionally each "asset" network rail own is managed by a different team, getting these teams to agree over anything is difficult at best.

    It may be something that might work on certain sections, but not wholesale.
  3. mgs315

    mgs315 Senior Member

    You mean across the sleepers in the 4ft? You’d have to be wary of signalling assets such as AWS, TPWS, points, cross-track cables etc and that’s just in overhead/non-electrified areas. If you’re talking 3rd Rail areas you’ll also have stuff such as impedance bonds to deal with, not to mental the dangers of a live 700+ volt DC Rail at shin height. Also you need to stay 9ft from 25kV overheads.

    If you’re talking in the 6ft between two lines you’ll be foul of both of them. Very very hard to keep an eye on oncoming traffic from all directions on both lines. If you’re talking wideways (called ten-foot) you’ll probably find signalling location cases, gantry bases and all other manner of rubbish in the way.

    You also need to be in a position of safety for at least 10 seconds before the approach of a train which even discounting use of equipment or unassisted lookout warning isn’t always possible in certain areas, causing them to become red zone banned. It means you can’t work in the areas using anything less than separated warning systems (actually segregating you from open lines). Basically means if you want to access the track there you need a line block or a full-on possession in the area. Not something you’d get for cyclists funnily enough.

    Certain areas may be ok to borrow strips of land to put in small cycle paths between certain over or under bridges that connect to the roads between them but considering most places I’ve worked require us to access via the nearest station and just about creep down the side of cuttings just about keeping the minimum safe distance from open lines I don’t think you’ll have much room to get any reasonably useful cycle paths in. At least not in any vaguely hilly or busy areas.
    Tangoup51 likes this.
  4. colly

    colly Re member eR

    Plenty of reasons given here as to why it wouldn't work, but just because it's not viable for all lines and all situations doesn't mean it couldn't be worked into future developments and be considered as part of an overall future strategy.

    The biggest obstacles would be funding, acceptance and lack of foresight.
    DCBassman and mjr like this.
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