Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Argentina tunnels rail line with history of deadly accidents

This is somewhat older news, but still interesting. It's the same line that had a horrible collision earlier in the year killing 51 people.

There are a couple of standout points to me:
1. It is surprisingly cost-effective as a means of grade separation. The 52 grade crossings for vehicular traffic would, in America, typically cost somewhere around $70 million each, and an additional several million for each pedestrian crossing. Even then, this would not entirely prevent pedestrian strikes or vehicles interfering with train traffic, though admittedly, it likely doesn't matter statistically. Of course, American tunneling costs are also quite a bit higher. I suspect that much of the cost with this project is due to relocating the fifteen stations underground, though building the tunnels large enough to accommodate bilevel trains undoubtedly plays its own part in it.
2. There is an absolutely tremendous amount of traffic on that line. If I'm not mistaken, the ten million passengers per month on that lone 35km line is three times the number of passengers on all California commuter rail lines combined.
3. This also appears to be part of an upgrade for the line in question, renewing its electrification and signaling systems. Currently it appears to be using electric locomotive hauled single level equipment, which heaps even more shame on California's commuter lines. Since the equipment on the line will be sixty years old by the time the tunnels are completed, and aging equipment has been blamed for the earlier collision, I don't think that the double deck height of the tunnel is simply future-proofing: I would be highly surprised were there not to be a double deck EMU contract timed with the new tunnel openings.

5 comments:

  1. Using bi-levels at all on a line with that much passenger density seems a bit dodgy to me, but if the tunnels are large enough for them, does that mean they're also wide enough for 3-4 tracks (most tunnels being round and all....)...?

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    1. RER Line A is introducing increasing numbers of double deck trainsets, and that is the busiest mass transit line outside of South East Asia (something on order of a million passengers per DAY).

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    2. Certainly it's possible to use bi-levels in such usage, but if it's possible to lengthen the platforms, that's a much better solution. Bi-levels make boarding/disembarking slower and more difficult for passengers, particularly in a crush-loading situation.

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  2. Yes, I don't quite understand. If they are going underground, wouldn't it be way cheaper to double the frequency with single-levels?

    Plenty of subway lines exceed 10 million passengers a month with single-level equipment.

    P.S. They have a station named "MORON"!!!

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    1. The Tokyo yamanote line exceeds 100 million passengers per month with single-level equipment...!

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