Robert Wightman sent in the following comment, and I felt it deserved its own thread.
I just returned today from a 7 week trip to London, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, India, Thailand and Hong Kong so I thought I would just give you a few impressions of what I saw:
Docklands Light Rail:
It is about as light as a concrete version of the Chicago L. It runs with automated 2 car trains of 2 section articulated cars with high platforms and full grade separation. They use a conductor to operate the doors which he does from one of the doors like a GO Train conductor. The platforms in the Docklands area are built for 3 car trains but the other stations only accommodated 2 car trains at the moment but could be expanded.
Platform safety walls with doors that open beside the subway’s doors:
These are on the Jubilee Line in London and on about 95% of the stations in Hong Kong. They seem to add about 10 to 15 seconds to the station dwell times because the trains slow almost to a stop about 1 car length from the end of the station then creep slowly along until the doors are properly aligned then there seems to be a 3 second delay as if something is checking to make sure the doors are properly aligned. Then there is a 3 to 5 second delay while the doors close before the train starts.
Wide open vestibules between cars:
They have these in Delhi India, Bagkok Thailand and Hong Kong and they are great. You can easily move from one car to another to spread the load and people can also stand in them to increase capacity. The vestibules are about 6 feet wide in Hong Kong and 4 to 5 feet wide in Delhi and Bangkok. You would think that they would run in fixed sets but in Hong Kong it is a mix and match at will structure. It appears that they were at one time in 8 car units numbered say 8000A to 8000H with A and H being the cab cars while B, D and F had the Pantographs but now they are all mixed up.
Croydon Tram Link London:
This is run with 2 section articulated cars with no couplers. The cars are low floor between the outer two trucks and high floor over the outer two trucks to the ends of the cars. There are four doors in the low platform sections and none in the high floor ends. I only had time to ride from the Wimbleton station on the green line to Croydon and back but in this section there was a little bit of mixed trafffic operation. (About 1 to 2 blocks to allow access to a parking lot and a few blocks of operation with buses but no private autos). A couple of sections with single track operation with passing siding like the Liberty Line in Pittsburgh.
Hong Kong Trams:
Hong Kong still has one tram line operated with single truck double decker cars that run on narrow guage track. They are spotless with no graffiti or trash in them and are in like new condition. My wife’s comments on getting on one was, “These cars are so clean and brand new.” If you get to Hong Kong you must ride them for a flat fare of $2.00 Hong Kong, about $0.33 Canadian.
Robert Wightman is a former North Toronto resident now living in Brampton. He has more comments and photos that he will send soon.