Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Make mine a double

Posted in Europe, Great Britain, Outside Europe, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 27 February 2010

There are several accepted ways to increase capacity on the railways. You can run more trains, but that depends on the infrastructure working properly on a more intensive basis. You can run longer trains, which requires more rolling stock and longer platforms. Or, you can run taller trains that have more than one level – double-deck trains. Double-deck trains are operated on commuter routes in many countries around the world, especially in Europe, and are also used on the TGV network in the form of the TGV Duplex. The E1 and E4 Series Shinkansen trains are also double-deck, designed specifically to reduce overcrowding on the Tōhoku and Jōetsu Shinkansen. However, double-deck trains have, with one exception, never been seen in Britain owing to the small loading gauge. The exception is the 4DD Class (no sniggering please over the fact that it’s “DD” :D). This saw a pair of four-car EMUs built by the Southern Railway in 1949 for use on the route between London and Dartford. This were built to similar specifications to the existing 4Sub Class units. As a consequence, and in order to fit the loading gauge, the 4DD units did not have open, full length upper decks, but instead having the upper compartment between two lower compartments, reached from the lower compartment by flight of stairs. These units, although they were never given a TOPS classification, were retained until 1971 with little difficulty in terms of the operation, although they were somewhat cramped. Nevertheless, they operated quite happily alongside the ordinary single deck trains. So, with more and more people using the railway today, what prospect of reintroducing double-deck trains today? Well, High Speed 1 has been built to the loading gauge used in Europe, which obviously is capable of operating double-deckers, and so the prospect of using double-deck high speed trains is good. With High Speed 2 planned to be built to similar specifications, then this is also a possibility. But, seeing them on the traditional network is unlikely without massive work to increase the loading gauge, because it is just too small. So, if you want to commute on a double-deck train, you’ll have to head to Europe.

Bulleid 4DD class
British Pathe – Double Deck Train 1949
Bulleid Double Decker Society
“Britons squash plans for double-decker trains”


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