Title: Projects and developments
Pages: 66 - 67
Text: Projects and developments
New trains for the Brussels Metro
Brussels is in the throes of a switch from trams to underground trains. It has reached the pre-Metro stage at which the central area services have been buried below the streets they once rolled over and suburban services are still en plein air. The present underground rolling stock is basically an up-dated tram and conditions at rush hour are, if anything, worse than those in London's tubes - except on the new, very spacious station concourses and platforms.
The next stage is the introduction of a new design of underground train revealed at a special exhibition at the Brussels Design Centre recently. On show were a prototype train, driver's cab models, special seating and masses of drawings showing all the stages of design gone through by industrial designers Philip Neerman et Cie, the Societe des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles (STIB) three manufacturers are the Ministere des Communication- Promotion Transport Urbains.
The new train has an 18-metre long, 2.7-metre wide power car picking up electricity from a third rail instead of the pantograph being used at present. Four double doors each side, 1.3 metres wide, make entry easy. Instead of sliding, the doors pivot outwards and along which saves space and does not require a double skin consytruction for door storage. The cars, to be used in two, four and five unit trains, are aluminium with grp front and rear. Visibility from the ergonomically contoured grp driver's console is excellent. An almost full width windscreen takes up about half the train's frontal area. Dual language, back-lit destination signs are plainly visible through it. Eac car has seating for 44 and standing room for 170. The seats are to be manufactured by a Belgian subsidary of United Oil Products (much of the design of the aluminium framed fiberglass unit with integral skina nd foam cushions was carried out at UOP's design centre near Northampton). The cushions are tough but cannot be repaired so after major damage or wear they are replaced. Visitors to the exhibition were poled to discover their preference for blue or orange seats.
The train clearly owes a great deal to similar vehicles throughout the world - after all, part of the five years' work that went into the design was a rigorous study of the French, Russian and various other systems including London Transport (a very slim report because LT wasn't very keen to part with its hard won know-how). The most up-to-date but well-proven technological advances have all been combined in an attractive and functional package. There weren't any of the size limitation that LT had to cope with, so the trains are spaciouoos and in that respect comfortable. They are bright and airy, not at all claustrophobic, which is an importamt consideration as the average journey time is about 15 minutes. Part of Metro's total approach is the redesign of stations and sign graphics for which a system has been proposed that transcends Belgiums dual language problem.
The trains are schceduled for introduction in 1975 when complete automatic control of lines in the central Brussels are will be completed. The control system is essentially the same as that used on London Transport's Victoria Line. Present peak passanger densities in STIB's main East-West through route are about 10,000 passangers per hour in each direction. The new stock will raise this by a factor of four or five so the Bruxellois can look forward to far less crowded trips to and from work.
The exhibition of the new trains and new sign systems for the stations is part of a very large public relations campaign botht o increase usage of th esystem to tide the public over its present disadvantages and to achieve some feedback from passangers about the type of sytem they would like to see. And what is good for Brussels may not be good for many other cities throughout the world, the Belgian government thinks. Seeking to recover the country's former status as a foremost builder of railways and hop abroad the same boat that sold the Paris Metro to Mexico and Montreal, the Brussels system is a key factor in a package of railways technology that the Belgian government is offering abroad.
Pocket paging for far-flung firemen
Pocket-paging pioneer Multitone Electric has turned its attention to the fire brigade and designed a communications system for alerting firemen to report to unattended fire stations when the alarm is raised. The first installation will cover 36 fire stations in the 2000 square mile area of the Suffolk and Ipswich Brigade.
Chief Fire Officer Howard Griffiths was frank about the reason for the change from sirens to Multitone's all-radio system - local residents have complained for years about the noise. But sirens were anyway a hit and miss affair. Freak wind conditions could call out the men from the wrong station and some part-timers working in exceptionally noisy surroundings could never hear the alert.
The new system is operated from a central point, in this case Ipswich, and uses lightweight pocket receivers carried by all the firemen. Between the headquarters and the pocket sets is a two-stage link formed by the brigade's conventional high power vehicle communications system transmitting an audible pulse code to special sets installed in the unattended stations. These verify the incoming call and retransmit to the pocket receivers in the area. The whole process is automatically controlled and contains numerous safeguards to prevent false alarms, unnecessary callouts and equipment failure.
Immediately an emergincey call is routed to fire HQ by the 999 operators, the duty officer locates the nearest unattended station, selects its code number on a simple push button console, deptresses the button labelled Fire Call and, lifting a safety flap pushes the send signal control. The specific address code for that station is then transmitted for five seconds and if all is well with the equipment the station set answers back its code number - the system serves up to 90 remote locations - and commences retransmitting the call to the pocket sets t a slightly higher frequency. The fireman hears a strdent fire call note and, wning tools , can be racing to the station in under a m minute from initiation the call.
Built into the systenm are a lot of extras demanded y Suffolk and Ipswich before they considered t complete. The equipmt can be tested automatically Instead of the fire call button a test button is depressed, resulting in a different tone signal at the pocket set the fireman can ignore. There is also a facility for calling senior officers operating away from HQ, a one-way voice hook-up for for issuing instructions to return to his vehicle, radio for further orders or report to a fure. At the unattended station the sets, powered by emergency batteries if necessary, can operated doors or switch on lights at night. Miniaturisation of the elcetronics package in the pocket sets also make it possible to include two way radio communications which would mean that a single set carried by every fireman will provide communications both on and off the fireground. The Suffolk and Ipswich installation - 560 alertors and 36 station sets with a few spares - cost around £140,000.
Filter knocks out kidney antibodies
The most successful organ transplant technique is the use of a donor's kidney to replace a diseased kidney in patients who have lost the use of both of these organs. One good kidney is sufficient for a normal life. With better than an even chance of success the technique has reached the stage where it is almost routine.
But despite advances in tissue typing there is still the chance that the host body will not accept the new organ and will produce antibodies to attack its cells in much the same way as it would respond to an invasion by bacteria.
Dr Holger Hyden in the Institute of Neurobiology, Goteburg University, thinks that the way to beat the antibodies is to clean them out of the body with a biological filter connected into the blood stream between an artery and a vein. His apparatus, used for a few hours each day, is compact enough to allow the patient some mobility and avoids the continuing use of immuno-suppressive drugs that lay the body open to potentially more disastrous diseases and demand sophisticated sterile isolation wards in the hospital.
The filter is an ellipsoidal chamber of methacrylate plastics, like Perspex containing glass plates arranged in such a way that the patient's blood follows a convoluted path coming into contact with the maximun surface area. The plates are treatec with substances that are active against the antibodies and are bounc to the glass surface chemically in E way that prevents them dissolving ir the blood and entering the patient's body. No pumps are required tc circulate the blood - it flows uncle' its own pressure - but for safety thE filter is fitted with alarms to indicate blood temperature drop or loss of pressure. The complete unit is about Bin square and Sin deep and is slung from a strap around the patient's neck. The blood is drawn from vessels in the forearm which rests on the unit's integral support brackets.
One drawback of glass plates is that after a few hours they may cause the blood to clot inside the treatment chamber, so Dr Hyden is now examining the possibility of making the whole apparatus in plastics. He suggests that the filter could be used at home, a nurse or technician calling to connect and remove it at suitable intervals. If a blood clot occurred while the patient was unattended a valve to turn off the blood flowing through the unit would render it safe until help arrived.
Preparing the permanent way
British Rail has been experimenting : with continuously laid concrete permanent ways for about three years. It's a logical step on from continuous welded rail and provides a very even, maintenance-free surface. The latest experiments have been carried out with some new 3 automatic equipment at Duffield, just north of Derby, where a 1.8 mile stretch of concrete ribbon is soon to be subjected to the pounding of expresses on the main London - Sheffield line. The equipment, a 54-yard long train of four units including BR's original slip-form paver, now three years old - has been specially designed by Robert McGregorand Sons of Chesterfield.
The paver itself has been thoroughly tested on a number of small sections of track in locations that have a common advantage - easy side access for dumper trucks to satisfy the machine's hunger for concrete. But in actual track laying conditions the paver would be working down cuttings, in tunnels, high on embankments and close to fast working lines. Concrete has to be supplied to the machine along the line of work. But the paver is preceded by two welding gangs connecting up upper and lower steel reinforcing meshes and they too have to be supplied along the prepared track base. The solution is a concrete feeder unit, a vehicle bearing a hopper and twin feed screws, at the head of the train. Concrete is dumped into its hopper and directed over the heads of the welding gangs or, conveyors running the length of the train to the paver. The conveyors are supported on two travelling gantries which are designed to pick up pallet loads of the reinforcing steel mesh.
The train is guided by sensors on each side of the feeder and paver units. These locate on to tightly stretched piano wires accurately aligned by surveyors ahead of the train. The wires are also the guide for the track's camber. A sliding link between two of the conveyors takes up the differences in forward movement between the two powered units, the feeder and the paver. A sensor, activated when the 3 metres permitted travel is taken up, directs the feeder unit to move on a bit and take up the slack. The paving train is followed by a small wheeled unit which holes the newly laid concrete to take standard rail fittings.
Outside Radcliffe on Trent is a recently opened piece of line consisting of six short sections of various types of experimental track. Two of the sections are prototypes for the track of the Channel Tunnel and others are for Liverpool's new underground loop. These are resiliently mounted in a bed of plastics to reduce vibrations under the city's older buildings. At Radcliffe the paver also copes with the extra width of concrete bed necessary to take points which switch trains off the existing line on to the experimental track. Trains on this line are usually quite slow but the new section is curved sufficiently to reproduce the stresses that much faster expresses would cause.
Ink squirt replaces stylus
Most chart recorders use some kind of vibrating stylus to mark the graph paper with ink, but the weight of the pen and the need to maintain an adequate ink supply make them insensitive devices and messy to maintain. Siemens has developed a new type of recorder, a liquid jet oscillograph, in which the stylus is a 10 micron diameter beam of liquid ink pumped at the chart paper and directed by a moving magnet galvanometer.
A fine glass capillary is moulded into a filter, and its upper end is bent at right angles to the galvanometer's axis of rotation and drawn to a 10 micron nozzle. The ink is pumped through the filter capillary and nozzle and escapes under high pressure as a fine jet. The capillary is mounted through the galvanometer's moving magnet so that as it is deflected by the measuring current the nozzle moves and the ink jet writes a clearly defined oscillogram on to the paper strip.
Radar answer to motorway madness
After Mullard's radar cats-eyes comes a suggestion by Lucas in Britain and RCA in the States for a carborne radar designed to prevent rear-end collisions by tracking cars ahead and sounding a warning when the separation distance becomes unsafe.
The compact RCA set transmits a continuous signal which is received by a passive reflector mounted on the rear of the vehicle ahead. The reflector doubles the frequency of the transmitted signal and reflects it back to the transmitted signal and reflects it back to the transmitter. By measuring the time required for the signal's round trip the distance to the reflector can be calculated. A buzzer is activated if the separation distance fails below one car length for each 1 Omph of speed of the car carrying the radar. The device can also automatically release the accelerator and apply the brakes. Additional passive reflectors could be installed on traffic islands, bridges and walls, at a suitable distance to stop the car if it left the road in their direction. He also promised a mass production price of between £20 and £40 in about five years'time. The reflector would cost about £4 and could be combined with the annually renewed US licence plate and be fitted cheaply to older cars. Provided that every vehicle has a reflector, the system works for those cars carrying the more costly transmitter.
The Lucas system is almost identical and ties in with a number of devices the company has launched for partially automatic car control like the motorway cruising device announced in late 1970 (DESIGN 265/63). The company has fitted out a Ford Zodiac and a Triumph for trials. Again Lucas claims the cost could come down to ''about the same price as a good car radio". Both these devices go part of the way towards a completely automatic guidance system for'cars and are a feasible medium-term solution to Britain's increasing fog-borne motorway madness incidents.