The Anonymous Widower

Council Pitches £375m Light Rail Scheme Linking South To Heathrow Airport

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

Spelthorne Borough Council has submitted proposals for a light rail link from Staines-upon-Thames to Heathrow airport to provide “joined-up journeys” into the airport from the south.

The light rail link would run from close to Stains station to the Heathrow,  every six minutes and take just seven minutes.

Based on trams, the same size as the Midland Metro, it would provide a capacity of 2100 passengers per hour to and from the Airport.

Note the following.

Markets Served

In Could Rail Access To Heathrow Be Formed Of The Best Bits Of Various Schemes?, I noted four main uses for transport to Heathrow Airport.

  • Passengers
  • Workers
  • Supplies For The Airport And The Aircraft
  • Air Cargo

Spelthorne’s plan only serves a very limited market of passengers and workers living in Staines, who need to go to the Airport.

If you have a direct train or bus, would you go to Staines and change to a tram? No way!

The plan does nothing to get polluting trucks off the road, although it might be a vote winner in Spelthorne.

Heathrow Southern Railway’s Plan To Extend Crossrail To Staines

I question whether Spelthorne have read the plans for Heathrow Southern Railway (HSR), which I first heard about in the December 2016 Edition of Modern Railways.

I wrote about HSR, Crossrail and Staines in Heathrow Southern Railway’s Plans For Staines. This link would do the following.

  • Provide up to six trains per hour (tph) between Staines all Heathrow stations, HS2 and Central London.
  • Transport passengers to Paddington in less time, than it takes to get to Waterloo at present.
  • Use Class 345 train with a capacity of 1500 passengers.
  • Give nearly three times the capacity of a light rail system with four tph.
  • Give over four times the capacity of a light rail system with six tph.
  • Allow passengers between Staines and the Airport would also be able to use services between Heathrow and Waterloo.
  • Need perhaps a couple of extra trains for the Staines extension of Crossrail.

I have no costings for the addition of the extra platform at Staines station, but I suspect that it is less than £375million.

If Heathrow Southern Railway is built, Spelthorne’s plan would be as dead as a dodo.

Conclusion

I see no future in Spelthorne’s light-rail plan, so it should be buried now before it costs taxpayers more money.

 

 

August 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | 3 Comments

Falling Off A Cruise Ship

This story on the BBC is entitled British Woman Rescued 10 Hours After Falling Off Cruise Ship In Croatia.

Happily the lady survived.

I am reminded of a old story.

A consultant and his friend, after a busy winter decided to go on a cruise in the Caribbean, where they had been told, they would be able to liven up their boring sex lives.

They were not enjoying themselves, as there wren’t any spare ladies under the are of fifty.

So one night, after having a few too many rum punches, they were at the blunt end of the ship, moaning about their lives telling very rude jokes and smoking lots of cigarettes.

One joke involved the consultant gently tapping the other on the shoulder and he let go of his drink. In trying to catch it, he slipped and started to disappear into the sea. The other tried to catch him and the outcome was that both of them fell in the sea.

Luckily, the episode had been seen by a seaman, who immediately raised the alarm., as he knew the sharks in the area, were very quick to find a free meal.

Within ten minutes or so, the consultant had been pulled unharmed from the water, but all they found of his friend was his left foot.

Back on board the ship, the consultant was summoned to see the Captain, as he needed to put a report in the log.

The Captain spoke to the consultant. “These waters are very dangerous! So how do you, as a consultant explain, why you didn’t get eaten by the sharks, like your friend?”

The consultant was uncharacteristically brief with his answer. “Professional Etiquette!”

August 19, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

DB Says Innovative Freight Train Project ‘Very Promising’ So Far

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Global Rail News.

This is the first paragraph.

A project to design innovative freight wagons, which is being financed by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), DB Cargo and VTG, is producing ‘very promising’ results.

The article is worth reading in full and in my mind it could be important in the development of efficient and reliable freight trains.

I remember in the 1960s, British Rail were trying to run faster freight trains and a lot of wagons derailed.

Research at Derby using computer simulation solved the problem and went on to lead to a greater understanding of the dynamics of steel wheel on steel rail.

I do know that British Rail Research had one of the best tools for this job; a PACE 231-R analogue computer.

 

This is the one, that I worked on at ICI.

They were a powerful computer, which were capable of solving a hundred simultaneous differential equations.

They were late 1950s technology, based mainly on electronic valves, that responded to tender loving care.

But two of them working together, did the dynamic calculations for the moon landings, when linked to the digital computers of an Apollo capsule and lander.

On Apollo 13, when Jack Swigert said “Houston we have problem”, it was these machines, that were used to find a way to bring everyone home.

And the rest, as they say is history!

In my view, after over fifty years in computing, the rescue of Apollo 13 was the greatest piece of computing ever done with an electronic machine.

The second paragraph of the Global Rail News article has this phrase.

feature new digital systems which optimise handling.

Does this mean the Germans are worried about the handling?

I do sometimes wonder, if dynamic systems are best analysed using analogue computers and the demise of the technology means the same problems keep returning in different guises.

There can’t be many of us left, who’ve used an analogue computer seriously.

August 19, 2018 Posted by | Computing, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Heathrow Southern Railway And Woking Station

This news item on the Heathrow Southern Railway web site is entitled Plans Announced For £1 billion Rail Link Between Southampton And Heathrow.

This is an extract.

We hope three trains an hour (tph) could be running to Southampton by 2026.”
That is the message from Graham Cross, chief executive of Heathrow Southern Railway (HSR), which is preparing plans for a £1 billion rail link between the city and the UK’s biggest airport.

This map shows a schematic of the Heathrow Southern Railway.


Hethrow Southern Railway’s plans are as follows.

  • A new section of railway will connect the Chertsey Branch Line to Heathrow Terminal 5 station.
  • This new section of railway will be built alongside the M25 to minimise environmental disruption.
  • From there trains will call at Heathrow Central and Old Oak Common stations before terminating at Paddington station.
  • Trains will connect Heathrow to Woking station and on to Basingstoke and Guildford.

Currently, the service between Southampton Central and London is as follows.

  • South Western Railway – One tph – Poole and Waterloo
  • South Western Railway – One tph – Weymouth and Waterloo – Stops at Woking
  • South Western Railway – One tph – Weymouth and Waterloo
  • Southern – One tph – Southampton Central and Victoria – Stops at Gatwick

If we take Graham Cross at his word, that the following frequencies to various stations.

  • Gatwick Airport – 1 tph
  • Heathrow Airport – 3 tph
  • Old Oak Common – 3 tph
  • Victoria – 1 tph
  • Warerloo – 3 tph
  • Woking – 4 tph

Passengers from Southampton.Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth would have a much larger choice of London stations.

As Heathrow Southern Railway also plan to run two tph between Paddington and Guildford via Heathrow, Woking could become a busier place.

These pictures show Woking station.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note some of the characteristics.

Four Long Through Platforms

The station has four long through platforms, which can accommodate the longest ten-car trains used by South Western Railway.

Twelve-Car Class 387 Trains

Two five-car Class 444 trains are 230 metres long, when running as a ten-car train.

If Heathrow Southern Railway want to run Class 387 trains, train lengths will be as follows.

  • Eight cars – 163 metres
  • Twelve cars – 280 metres

Twelve-cars trains may be too long for the platforms at Woking and other stations. but as Heathrow Southern Railway won’t open for a few years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see new trains used by Heathrow Express and Heathrow Southern Railway.

Splitting And Joining Trains At Woking

I also think, that these platforms are ideal for pairs to join and split here, so that trains are say tencars between Woking and Paddington via Heathrow and Old Oak Common  and five cars to the South West of Woking.

Conclusion

Woking’s long platforms will be used to great advantage by Heathrow Southern Railway to match their services to the capacity needed.

  • For passengers and workers to and from Heathrow Airport.
  • For commuters and passengers to and from Paddington, Central London, the City of London and Canary Wharf
  • For passengers to and from HS2 at Old Oak Common.

Heathrow Southern Railway will do a lot more, than just provide Southern access to Heathrow.

A Shorter Bay Platform At The London End

There is a shorter bay platform at the London end of the station, which is currently used for stopping trains to London.

It can’t handle long trains like the through platforms and for this reason along, I doubt it will be used by services to Heathrow.

But I wouldn’t be surprised to see a second bay platform added to improve capacity.

A Shorter Bay Platform At The Country End

Wikipedia says this about Plstform 6, which is a short by platform facing West.

The first train of the day to Portsmouth Harbour via Eastleigh starts from this platform, and it is often used to stable diesel locomotives in the event of a train failure.

It is probably best filed under operationally useful and I doubt it will be used by Heathrow Southern Railway, as it faces away from Heathrow.

Woking Station Is Surrounded By Tower Blocks

In the pictures, you can see tower blocks rising all round the station.

There will obviously be more, even if as I suspect the local residents object.

But we do need more housing in this crowded country of ours and Woking is a convenient distance from London for commuters.

Should Tracks At Woking Station Be Remodelled?

After Heathrow Southern Railway opens, trains calling at Woking station will use the following routes towards London.

  • Via Clapham Junction to Waterloo.
  • Via Heathrow to Old Oak Common and Paddington

And the following routes away from London.

  • Via Basingstoke to Bournemouth, Exeter, Poole, Salisbury, Southampton and Weymouth.
  • Via Guildford to Portsmouth

An ideal layout might be two wide island platforms, as they have at Reading stations.

The platforms are connected to a wide overbridge with coffee kiosks and useful shops, by escalators and lifts.

The picture shows the wide open spaces of the overbridge at Reading on the day it opened.

At Reading passengers can change trains, by waiting on the platform or sitting on the overbridge.

Would a similar design work at Woking?

Certainly something designed on similar principles to fit the circumstances of Woking station would!

Reading incidentally manages at least six tph on each face of the wide island platforms.

They are able to do this because.

  1. The platforms are very wide.
  2. Trains are increasingly Class 800 trains with modern doors.
  3. There are both up and down escalators.
  4. There are lifts.

I suspect, that when InterCity 125 trains no longer call at Reading and all trains are using modern in-cab signalling, that the frequencies of train through Reading will rise significantly.

Space To The West

To the West of Woking station, where the routes to Guildford and Basingstoke divide, there is a lot of space and if required a flyover or dive-under could be built to minimise the need for flat junctions.

West Byfleet and Byfleet & New Haw Stations

West Byfleet and Byfleet & New Haw stations are between Woking station and Byfleet Junction, where Heathrow and Waterloo services will divide.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows Byfleet & New Haw station and Byfleet Junction.

Note.

  1. There is only four tracks between Byfleet junction.
  2. Byfleet junction connects to the slow lines.
  3. Crossovers connect the slow and fast lines.

This layout means that fast trains coming from Heathrow will have to go through the slow platform at Byfleet & New Haw station.

There are two ways to increase safety.

  • Increase the number of tracks between Woking station and Byfleet Junction to six, with dedicated tracks for Heathrow services.
  • Rebuild the platforms on the two intermediate stations to the design rules in Two Platform Stations With 125 mph Trains.

It all depends, whether Heathrow Southern Railway want to use 125 mph trains on their services to Heathrow!

I discussed this in Will Heathrow Southern Railway Use Trains Capable Of 125 mph?, where I came the conclusion that the railway will be built to that standard.

Will Woking Station Be Rebuilt?

To work efficiently, as a railway station, I very much feel that Woking station will be rebuilt.

As at Reading, this will probably be done without too much disruption to passengers and trains.

It is quite a large station site and I wonder, if the ideal solution would be to build a concrete deck over the station and railway and put developments like housing, offices, shops, cafes and green spaces over the top.

Why shouldn’t we create more land for useful purposes?

The Station Concourse

The station could have a massive concourse.

  • Wide lines of gates on either side would give quick access to the Town Centre and the Car Parking.
  • Escalators and lifts would lead down to the platforms
  • Useful shops and cafes would be on the concourse.

Think Edinburgh Haymarket station, only bigger, more spacious and with escalators

A Capacity Of 24 Trains Per Hour

The new station should be designed to allow up to 24 tph, through the station.

Currently, services include

  • 14 tph to Waterloo
  • 4 tph to Portsmouth
  • 2 tph to Salisbury and/or Exeter
  • 6 tph to Southampton, Bournemouth and/or Poole

Perhaps it would be sensible to design fora capacity of 12 tph on all branches.

With modern signalling and perhaps a degree of automatic train control, these frequencies shouldn’t be a problem.

Wide Platforms

Wide platforms, that allow passengers to change trains, by just getting off one train and onto another a few minutes later are an essential.

A double-faced island platform could be used or a single wide platform in each direction as on Thameslink at St. Pancras station.

The platforms at St. Pancras work reasonably well and have been designed to handle 24 tph.

  • They have three escalators.
  • They have a lift.
  • The platforms are fully-manned.
  • Passenger information displays are magnitudes better than most stations.
  • There are Harrington Humps for step-free access to the Class 700 trains.
  • Only one class of train uses the platforms.
  • Modern digtal signalling is used.
  • Passengers use the station to change trains, when perhaps they are on a train going to one direction and need another.

To complicate matters at St.Pancras, there is a flat junction to the North of the station, where services go to and from the Midland Main and East Coast Main Lines. It appears the junction causes no delays to services.

So perhaps at Woking we could see one very wide platform in each direction.

Building On Experiences At London Bridge, Reading And St. Pancras

I’m sure that Network Rail and their architects can use the experience gained at other stations in the UK to create an interchange station at Woking, that is fit for the 21st Century.

Conclusion

I feel there is a lot to be gained by creating a bold interchange at Woking station to integrate the Heathrow Southern Railway and the existing services into Waterloo

 

August 19, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Will Heathrow Southern Railway Use Trains Capable Of 125 mph?

If the Heathrow Southern Railway is built, by the time it opens, there will have been significant developments.

  • Digital signalling based on ERTMS, with the possibilities of a degree of automatic control will be commonplace.
  • Train manufacturers will offer 125 mph trains, that with the right interiors will be able to perform well on 100 mph routes with frequent stops.
  • 125 mph bi-mode trains will have arrived.
  • Great Western Railway services into Paddington, with the exception of local services will be run by 125 mph Class 800 trains.
  • The opening of Old Oak Common station with its connections to High Speed Two, may mean that some Great Western Railway services stop at that station.

These developments may mean that on the Western end of the Great Western Main Line, there will be a need for a train with a lot of acceleration, to avoid inducing delays in the complex schedule of trains serving Paddington and Old Oak Common stations.

The easy way to achieve the required acceleration, may be to use more powerful trains, which will probably be capable of 125 mph.

But would they offer advantages over other parts of the routes Heathrow Southern Railway will serve?

The following must be considered.

The Top Speed Of Third-Rail Trains

Currently, the Class 395 train, is the fastest train fitted with third rail shoes.

But the train only has a top speed of 100 mph, when on lines electrified using third-rail electrification.

The world record for a train powered by third-rail electrification was set by a Class 442 train at 108 mph.

As several trains in the UK can cruise at 125 mph, could it be that the dynamics of third-rail electrification impose a limit to top speed?

This article in Rail Magazine, is entitled Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.

In Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, I analyse the train in detail.

This was my conclusion.

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, that a 125 mph bi-mode train is a practical proposition.

  • It would need a controllable hydrogen or diesel power-pack, that could deliver up to 200 kW
  • Only one power-pack would be needed for a five-car train.
  • For a five-car train, a battery capacity of 300 kWh would probably be sufficient.

From my past professional experience, I know that a computer model can be built, that would show the best onboard generator and battery sizes, and possibly a better operating strategy, for both individual routes and train operating companies.

Obviously, Bombardier have better data and more sophisticated calculations than I do.

My calculation might be wrong, but it’s in the right area.

Using batteries with third-rail electric trains, may be an alternative way to overcome any problems with the dynamics of that method of electrification.

But I do suspect that if train manufacturers were asked to produce an electric train capable of running at 125 mph using third-rail electrification, they would take the money and build the trains.

Upgrading Track To 125 mph

Virtually all of Heathrow Southern Railway’s proposed or possible routes to the South and West of Heathrow are third-rail electrified

South Western Railway know that speed on these routes sells tickets, so much so that they are refurbishing the Class 442 trains for the Portsmouth route because of their higher performance.

Network Rail may get a lot of criticism for their performance with electrification, which work on new track layouts and improvements,seems not to attract.

They have also been very successful in designing and executing 125 mph track upgrades to the Midland Main Line.

So would it be possible to upgrade some of the routes to allow faster running?

Consider.

  • Fifty miles of line upgraded from 100 mph to 125 mph running saves six minutes.
  • Waterloo to Weymouth is 143 miles.
  • More powerful trains might save time on station stops.
  • The routes are four tracks to Basingstoke.
  • As modern digital signalling is applied to this route there will be further time savings.

At the moment there is no point, as South Western Railway only has trains with an operating speed of 100 mph.

But these trains will probably be replaced in the next few years or so and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them replaced with trains that are capable of 125 mph, which would make updating sections to the West of Woking possible.

South Western Railway

Surely faster services to Bournemouth, Poole, Portsmouth, Southampton and Weymouth will be of interest to South Western Railway, even if it means new trains.

The New Route Between Heathrow And Woking

Heathrow Southern Railway intends to build a new route between Heathrow Terminal 5 and Working stations.

  • A tunnel will connect  the Western end of Heathrow Terminal 5 station to new tracks running alongside the M25 to connect to the Chertsey Branch Line to the West of Chertsey station.
  • Trains would pass through Chertsey and Addlestone stations, before joining the South Western Main Line at Byfleet Junction.
  • Trains would pass through West Byfleet and Byfleet & New Haw stations to reach Woking station.

It is a well-designed route, that uses the M25 to minimise environmental damage.

From what I have said earlier about 125 mph third-rail trains, upgrading of routes to 125 mph and South Western Railways desire for faster services, I can see no reason, why this route shouldn’t be built for 125 mph operation.

125 mph trains would mean.

  • Removing level crossings at Chertsey and Addlestone stations.
  • Upgrading West Byfleet and Byfleet & New Haw stations.
  • Probably upgrading between Byfleet Junction and Woking station for 125 mph running.

But there would be about fifteen miles of high speed rail line, which for ease of operation would probably be electrified with third-rail.

Trains would switch electrification systems in Heathrow Terminal 5 station.

Conclusions

I am led to the following conclusions.

  • 125 mph third-rail trains will become a reality.
  • South Western Railway and Heathrow Southern Railway will look at them seriously.

I also feel that Heathrow Southern Railway will be a 125 mph railway.

 

August 19, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Two Platform Stations With 125 mph Trains

Increasingly, we are seeing stations in the UK, where there is only two platforms and trains pass through the station without stopping at 125 mph.

If HS4Air is built, there will be several stations between Gatwick Airport and Ashford, where this will happen.

I must admit, that I don’t like being on a platform, where trains past through, so perhaps it is a personal thing.

With me it’s not just 125 mph trains, but freight trains as well.

But for reasons of safety, I think we could come up with a better design of station.

I shall use Penshurst station on the Redhill to Tonbridge Line as an example.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note that it is very simple with a platform on each line.

Currently, it gets a single train per hour (tph) in both directions.

HS4Air would probably mean that at least another four tph, passed through the station at 125 mph.

Platform-edge doors would be a difficult and expensive solution, but why not make access to the platform only possible, when a train is stopping?

Looking at Penshurst station, this station also needs some more facilities, like a fully accessible footbridge.

The footbridge would be outside the secure area.

For slower passing trains and heavy freight trains, the use of wide platforms and rear access will suffice as these pictures from Hackney Wick station show.

If more stations were built to the rules used at Hackney Wick, the UK’s railways would probably be safer.

August 19, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dalston Goes French

I know that De Beauvoir Town, where I live, is next to Dalston’s Kingsland Road, which is the local High Street, but surely for the local Marks and Spencer to sell sandwiches labelled in French is going a bit far.

What would the Rees-Moggies say of this?

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Food | , , , | Leave a comment

Brompton’s Electric Bicycle

Brompton were promoting their new electric bicycle at Kings Cross.

It looks a neat front wheel drive, pedal-assisted design.

At nearly £3,000, it would only be a bike for a serious commuter. Although, I suspect many will buy one to potter around their local area.

What I found interesting was that the battery weighs three kilograms and has a capacity of 0.3 kWh.

This energy density is very much in line with the most efficient, large traction batteries in road vehicles, trains and trams.

 

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

At Least Three Class 710 Trains Were Hiding At Willesden TMD

Today, I spotted at least three Class 710 trains hiding behind Willesden TMD.

You certainly can’t miss them with their orange fronts.

August 16, 2018 Posted by | Travel | | Leave a comment

How Removing Level Crossings Can Get Complicated And Expensive

This article in the East Anglian Daily Times is entitled Multi-Million Pound Lift Could Boost Rail Link From Sudbury To Colchester.

Greater Anglia intend to improve the service on the Gainsborough Line by running direct services between Sudbury and Colchester Town stations.

One of the reasons for doing this, is that the increasing number of passengers travelling between Sudbury and Colchester will avoid changing trains at Marks Tey station.

This Google Map shows Marks Tey station.

Note.

  • The two platforms on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • The single platform for the Gainsborough Line.
  • The footbridge over the main line.

As can be seen, the only step-free interchange with the Gainsborough Line is to and from trains going North to Colchester and Ipswich.

These pictures show the frootbridge and the Gainsborough Line platform.

It is not an ideal interchange for passengers other than the unencumbered, fit and healthy.

I suspect some passengers from Sudbury to London might even take a train to Colchester first and then use the lifts to change to a London train.

And then there’s the Car Parking!

Note in the Google Map, that the station has two car parks, one on each side of the line. So most using the car parks will have to cross the line on the footbridge.

Also note, that the car park on the Northern side of the station, is connected to the station using a pedestrian crossing over the single track rail line, that connects the Gainsborough Line to the Great Eastern Main Line.

According to the East Anglian article, this rail line is used twice a day. But when the Sudbury to Colchester Town service starts, it will be used twice an hour. Anf if this service is successful, I can see Greater Anglia wanting to run the service with a frequency of two trains per hour (tph), which would mean four tph going over the pedestrian crossing.

Understandably, Network Rail want to remove the pedestrian crossing.

This is a paragraph from the East Anglian article.

The national fund has £300m available – and Mr Burles said he estimated that the cost of the work at Marks Tey would be between £4m and £5m. It is at the top of Greater Anglia’s “wish list,” but political support would be necessary if the money was to be released.

As to the political support, the Gainsborough Line and Marks Tey are in a total of five constituencies; all of which are Conservative.

I suspect, Chris Grayling could be under severe pressure from this one.

Although you have to remember that to many civil servants in the Department of Transport, Suffolk is just an area, you pass through on the way to your weekend cottage in Norfolk.

 

 

August 16, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment