Letter to the Editor

Sir – I consider the Network Rail report on the feasibility of double-deck trains in the UK to be poorly researched and grossly misleading. The statement on p6 of the report that double-deckers only offer an 8% increase in seating for a 20 m vehicle compared to single deck is absurd.

I have been designing double-deck passenger trains for 45 years, not only for domestic clients in Australia where we have in New South Wales one of the largest fleets of 20 m suburban double-deck EMUs in the world, but also for clients in Europe, China, Japan and USA.

I believe double-deckers are not only possible in the UK, but can potentially offer in the order of a 70% to 80% increase in seating compared to single-deckers on the DC lines south of London where heavy and bulky transformers are not required. Clearly, infrastructure changes would be required to accommodate the extra height of double-deckers, but their viability is contingent on there being a significant passenger capacity increase to justify that cost.

The author of the NR report has made the mistake of working back from the long European double-deck cars rather than starting from first principles and developing a concept that is tailored to suit the unique UK conditions. It just needs some lateral thinking to come up with a car cross-section that does not require alterations to existing station platforms, but which offers significant passenger seating increases.

On p35 the report states that a high-density single-deck four-car train of 20 m stock seats 270 and the equivalent double-decker would seat 324, a 20% increase. In reality, a four-car DD set could seat about 472, an increase of 75%. By way of comparison, when Sydney went all double-deck the increase in seating was 94%.

It is my contention that these capacity increases would give DfT a much more reasonable basis for assessing the viability of double-deckers in the UK. It can be done!

John Dunn
Managing Director, Transit Design Pty Ltd
Sydney, Australia.