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darmstadt
22nd June 2005, 19:59
New 'Heathrow Connect' Trains - do not want to go to Heathrow!

A new electric train service has just started between Heathrow Airport and
Paddington Station in West London, UK. This uses brand new
multi-million-pound trains made by Siemens in Germany/France. They were
specially designed for the British Airports Authority (BAA) and First Great
Western Link (FGWL) who have the main franchise for services out of
Paddington (in West London). The emergency evacuation instructions engraved
on the windows are all in French - somewhat important since there have been
at least three very major fatal crashes on the line.

The trains are highly computerised but not so automated in that they still
need revenue protection officers (ticket inspectors) to check tickets in the
three carriages. They are short trains. The route is a short one but
ordinary tickets and Travel Cards (one day go anywhere 'seasons') are
available - EXCEPT for the one mile link between the last station on the
mainline and Heathrow Airport itself. This is priced at 6 UK pounds, making
it the most expensive train fare in the world for the distance. Fare more
expensive per mile or kilometre than even for Concord. The equivalent bus
fare is a mere one pound 20 pence.

However these multimillions trains have a fault. This doesn't bother regular
travelers on the line well used to the vicissitudes of the alternative
ex-Thames Trains and FGWL services. But it might bother travelers from
overseas. This is that the on-board announcements are computerised.
Unfortunately however the computer controlling them hasn't a clue where the
train is and keeps on announcing that the "next stop is Paddington where the
train terminates," and "please mind the step between the train and the
platform." And "please make sure you take all of your belongings with you
when you leave the train." On the way to Heathrow every next station is
announced as Ealing Broadway (an intermediate stop) even if Ealing Broadway
has long been called at. And other intermediate stations, e.g. Southall, are
announced as being Hanwell or somewhere else.

There is also a problem with the computerised braking system in that at
Hayes and Harlington Station the trains invariable pull up a LONG way from
the entrance. Other trains pull up near the entrance. This means that sans
announcements from station staff passengers have to run after the train in
order to board it.

The trains are soon to be extended to four carriages long. For this they
have to be shipped back to Siemens in Europe. Apparently it is not possible
to do this work in the UK.

EddieC
22nd June 2005, 20:20
Apparently it is not possible to do this work in the UK.


Aah I fondly remember the days when we too could be proud of such fine engineering.

threaded
22nd June 2005, 21:13
Knowing the automated announcement system very well all I can say in my defence is they must have programmed the same location into all the train describers at each station. Which does not surprise me at all.

fiddleabout
23rd June 2005, 06:34
> Knowing the automated announcement system very well

If they rely on the porters to set up the station units no wonder it's a bit dodgy.

tim123
23rd June 2005, 13:05
I'm not entirely sure who you are knocking here darmstadt.

It's usually the British railway (note the small letter) that gets all the stick. But ISTM that the faults outlined in this item are mostly c0ck ups by a big German Company who ought to know better (apparently).

tim

SandyDown
23rd June 2005, 14:50
I have used Heathrow Express many times, frankly its brilliant, from Heathro to paddington in less than 20 minutes, very comfortable seats, very clean and cool.. while the underground takes for ever (and mostly you can't find a seat)... but must agre the computerised annoucements do get on your nerves after a while.

ChicoLondon
23rd June 2005, 14:52
This article refers to Heathrow Connect and not the Heathrow Express. They are two distinct services.

SupremeSpod
23rd June 2005, 15:02
Knowing the automated announcement system very well all I can say in my defence is they must have programmed the same location into all the train describers at each station. Which does not surprise me at all.

It has all the markings of being one of your feckups Threaded!

Standard Programmer Excuses #6 - It works on my box!

WageSlave1
23rd June 2005, 15:09
Standard Programmer Excuses #6 - It works on my box!

Yes, but what if it works perfectly on Borland, but come visual studio will the bloody thing compile!? :o

thunderlizard
23rd June 2005, 17:49
Station describers - personally I'd have soft-coded around that so that you could change them. Maybe that's why my contracts don't last very long.