In this issue
Issue 92 • September 2021
This week marks the 40th anniversary of TGV operation in France, and hence 40 years of high-speed rail across the country. The TGV network has continued to grow since its initial Paris–Lyon route, and there are more plans to further expand. In fact, across Europe – nay, the world – high-speed networks keep growing. Because, well, they just work.
The future of transport will without question rely on high-speed rail: it's efficient, better for the environment than aviation, and frankly, simpler for passengers. I don't have to turn up at St. Pancras two hours in advance of my train's departure to Paris. High-speed rail travel is just fantastic. It's trains, but fast.
The whole Future Rail team seems to agree with me, anyway. So, we decided to dedicate a good chunk of this issue to them.
We profile Tibet's first bullet train – and some of the nifty engineering required to handle the challenging terrain it travels through. We also look into the somewhat dubious rumours of a high-speed underwater railway from China to the US, via Russia and Canada. It sounds too good to be true, and spoiler: it probably is. We also chronicle the legal issues that have faced HS2 since the project's inception, in light of Siemen's and Talgo's recent complaints.
As well as all of that, we also look at some of the new technology being used, trialled, or developed for rail. Our cover story looks at the increasing use of body cameras by staff on the railways. We explain why they are a valuable tool against the abuse that rail staff are, sadly, increasingly having to endure.
We also highlight some interesting new technology with the potential to improve post-pandemic UK railways, as we showcase some of the winners of this year's First of a Kind competition. They're all great, obviously, but SignalBox was particularly handy during some scheduling issues (read: cancellations) faced by yours truly on a recent journey on the East Coast Main Line.
And, out of the Netherlands is a new piece of remarkable technology that has the potential to improve the accessibility of train travel for deaf passengers, by using AI to translate last-minute station announcements to sign language. It really is impressive.
On the important topic of making trains more accessible, we also speak to Alan Benson about SWR's new assistance scheme, which cuts down the time required for advance booking from 24 hours to just 15 minutes. I'll say again: it cuts the time down from 24 hours to 15 minutes. Colour me impressed. Trains should be for everyone, and this is taking us one step closer to that. But there's still more to do, as Alan explains.
Oh, and a couple of tube stations opened in London this week, in case you hadn't heard.
For this, and more, read on. You can follow us @FutureRail_Mag too.
Peter Nilson, editor