Bringing People Together
Oh my word it's not just you, not just you by a long chalk! SWT claim that the down time is a safety precaution in case the Shepperton Bound Service slid on wet rails. Personally I'm not at all convinced.
Now my theory is that this was an unintended consequence of a timetable change. I'm pretty sure that the Shepperton service arrived almost simultaneously with the London bound service and then moved on shortly after. Now the timetable has changed and there are about 3 minutes between the services - frankly I suspect that the service has still to depart Fulwell in some instances yet the barrier stays down.
SWT tell us that they hope to be able to lift this safety restriction some time this month - only a cynic would note that the date they've given coincides with the Winter timetable coming into operation!
It does seem to me that the barriers come down well before the train arrives - could it be that selfishly they are only looking at the issue of ensuring the trains never have to stop and wait for the barriers to come down?
It also has the effect of holding up the buses so that it really is a case of 'none come for ages and then they all come at once'..
Do you think NetWork Rail gives a damn, you, me, all of us to them are irrelevant, they lord over a grubby, dirty, poor, over priced railway system were the customer is of little concern? Try talking to them and find out for yourself?
Sorry, only just noticed this message stream, but I don't share your cynicism. From my experience in the safety profession I had expected this problem to have a genuine safety implication, and I think it has something to do with the signalling system. We all know that it takes some time for the train to arrive from Sunbury after the gates go down; I suspect there is no red signal after Kempton Park, so the gates have to be down before the train is released from that station. The same seems to be the case from Fulwell. Traditionally, the signalman has left the gates up until that train arrives from Fulwell, because he can stop it at the end of Hampton platform. However, if has been suggested, the train fails to stop and slips on the proverbial "leaves on the line", then nothing would stop it from going through the crossing. Having said that, and not wishing to alarm anyone, I don't imagine the automatic braking device would stop the train in time if it failed to stop for any other reason. The solution would seem to be to add a stop signal at the amber signal before Hampton Station; this would also mean an additional amber signal at Fulwell and I guess the cost might be prohibitive. But at least that would give the signalman a bit of breathing space between Fulwell and Hampton and allow the gates to be raised in safety between Sunbury and Fulwell trains.
When the London train left at 21/51 minutes past the hour and the Shepperton train left at 23/53 minutes past the hour then they were able to open the gates in between trains. Now the London train is supposed to be 20/50 minutes past (always late in the few times I have caught it but that's another story) and the Shepperton train is supposed to be 23/53 still and the barriers don't open. In fact the Shepperton train seems to be frequently late too and so the barrier is down for much longer than you might expect. I wouldn't be surprised if the real reason is it halves SWT's electric bill by not having to open the gate. I didn't use to be so cynical but...