The following two sections give Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) current and future fleets.
VTEC have a current fleet comprising the following locomotives and coaches.
- 32 – Class 43 locomotives
- 117 – Mark 3 coaches
- 31 – Class 91 locomotives
- 302 – Mark 4 coaches
- 31 – Driving van trailers
The Class 43 locomotives and the Mark 3 coaches are formed into InterCity 125 trains.
- Two locomotives and nine coaches per set.
- 125 mph capability
Which gives thirteen diesel trains.
The Class 91 locomotives and Mark 4 coaches are formed into InterCity 225 trains.
- One locomotive, one driving van trailer and nine coaches per set.
- 140 mph capability
- Ability to run London to Edinburgh in under four hours.
Which gives thirty-one electric trains.
Adding the two figures together gives a total of forty-four nine-car trains.
VTEC’s future fleet will include.
- 10 – Five-car Class 800 electro-diesel trains.
- 13 – Nine-car Class 800 electro-diesel trains.
- 12 – Five-car Class 801 electric trains.
- 30 – Nine-car Class 801 electric trains.
Adding these together counting the five-car trains as half gives fifty-four nine-car trains.
Or ten more nine-car trains!
In addition six to eight InterCity225 trains could be retained in service to run limited stop trains between London and Edinburgh.
This increase in capacity can only me good for passengers, with more services and destinations.
Questions About Class 800/801 Trains
What is the capacity of a nine-car Class 800/801 train?
I can’t find this on the Internet and I suspect it hasn’t been decided.
Wikipedia gives the capacity of an InterCity 225 train as 406 Standard and 129 First Class seats.
It should also be noted that the car length in a Class 800/801 is twenty-six metres, as opposed to the twenty-three metres of the InterCity 225.
I would hope good design can make excellent use of this space.
Will two Class 800/801 trains be able to work as a pair?
I suspect the answer to this is yes, as the closely-related Class 395 trains regularly do this.
The most common use would be to run two five-car trains as a ten-car set.
This would be a 260 metre long train, which is perhaps fifteen metres longer than an InterCity 225 train.
Some lengthening of platforms may be necessary, but it probably isn’t a major problem.
Will coupling and uncoupling of a pair of Class 800/801 trains be automatic?
In The Impressive Coupling And Uncoupling Of Class 395 Trains, I linked to videos of the closely-related Class 395 trains, doing just this in under a minute.
I would be very surprised if two Class 800/801 trains couldn’t do the same.
Will a Class 800 train and a Class 801 train be able to work as a pair?
There may be circumstances, where this is needed on electrified lines, so I would be very surprised if this is not possible.
At what station will a Class 800/801 train be able to call?
The nine-car trains are 234 metres long and a pair of five car trains will be 260 metres long, so platform length will mean they can’t call at a lot of smaller stations.
But a five-car train will be only 130 metres long, which will be shorter than a pair of four-car multiple-units working together, which are regularly seen on the UK’s rail network.
So the five-car trains will probably be able to serve a surprising number of stations.
Will Class 800/801 trains have a faster turn-round time?
If you look at the times of trains between London and Leeds, this things happen.
- A few minutes after a train leaves the platform at Leeds and Kings Cross, the next incoming service arrives.
- It then waits in the station for nearly half-an-hour before going back.
Effectively, an hour must be added to each Out and Back journey between London and Leeds.
This time will enable.
- Passengers to unload and load.
- Train to be prepared.
- Crew to be changed if required.
Any delay of a few minutes can hopefully be recovered.
Train preparation time will probably be better with the Class 800/801 trains, as hopefully automation and better design will speed the process.
But cutting this thirty minutes substantially would probably require passengers to be marched around like the Brigade of Guards, which is of course not possible.
Hopefully, the new trains will be designed, so that ingress and egress for all passengers will be easier and faster but at some stations like Leeds, the station layout is more of a bottleneck than the train.
A few minutes reduction in turn-round time might be possible, but nothing that would mean a train doesn’t occupy a platform for half-an-hour.
How long will A Class 801 train take between London and Edinburgh?
Currently the fastest journey time using an InterCity 225 is around four hours and twenty minutes, but they have done it in under four hours in test runs.
For marketing reasons, I suspect that VTEC would like to dip under four hours with the fastest trains.
As the Class 800/801 trains have a similar 140 mph performance to the InterCity 225, I suspect that four hours will also be possible.
But the big difference will be that the Class 800/801 trains will probably have faster stop times at any intermediate stations.
So I suspect that the average journey time between London and Edinburgh will drop.
How Will VTEC Use Class 800/801 Trains?
Returning to my original question, I’ll now attempt to answer it in the next few sections.
I think we can assume the following.
- There will be at least two trains per hour (tph)
- Trains will usually be nine-car trains.
- Class 800 trains will not normally use diesel power on the route.
- Some trains could be two five-car trains running as a pair.
- A proportion of trains will do the trip in under four hours.
- Intermediate stops as now will be optimised to the passenger traffic.
- Intermediate stops will be faster.
I also think, that the InterCity 225 sets will be improved, so they can match the times of the Class 800/801 trains.
I think that once improved signalling on the East Coast Main Line is working and allowing running faster than 125 mph, we could be seeing trains being able to go from London to Edinburgh and back in under nine hours, assuming a thirty minute turn-round at both ends of the route.
This would mean that a dedicated London to Edinburgh fleet of just eighteen trains would be required to run a two tph service. Three tph would need another nine trains.
Speed up the trains so, that a round trip can be done in eight hours and sixteen trains are needed for the two tph service, with eight more trains needed to up the service to three tph.
If VTEC’s application to operate extra limited stops services to Edinburgh is successful, it is proposing to operate these by retaining six to eight InterCity 225 sets.
Interesting! So will some or all hours see a third train between London and Edinburgh.
Are the thirty-year-old InterCity 225 trains, showing the same survival instincts of their ten-year-older predecessors; the InterCity 125s?
London-Aberdeen And London-Inverness Services
Currently times on these routes from London are as follows.
- London-Aberdeen – seven hours and four minutes – three trains per day
- London-Inverness- eight hours and four minutes – one train per day
So what times could a Class 800 achieve on these routes?
Times North of Edinburgh with an InterCity 125 are as follows.
- Edinburgh to Aberdeen takes two hours and thirty-six minutes – Fastest ScotRail takes two hours sixteen minutes.
- Edinburgh to Inverness takes three hours and thirty-one minutes – Fastest ScotRail takes three hours nineteen minutes.
I suspect that a Class 800 train running on diesel power could match the InterCity 125 times and approach the ScotRail times.
But as they would be running on electric power to and from London in four hours, times could be as follows.
- London-Aberdeen – six hours and sixteen minutes
- London-Inverness – seven hours and nineteen minutes
So over half-an-hour could be saved on both routes.
Currently trains leave London at these times.
- 10:00 – Aberdeen
- 12:00 – Inverness
- 14:00 – Aberdeen
- 16:00 – Aberdeen
Note that there is probably no 18:00 train, as that would arrive in Aberdeen at 0110.
That is probably too late, but a well-driven Class 800 train, might get to Aberdeen around 00:30, which could be acceptable.
There is also the possibility of running a pair of five-car Class 800 trains to |Edinburgh, where they split with one train going to Aberdeen and the other to Inverness.
If the 16:00 train were to split, the Inverness portion would finish its journey before midnight.
A schedule like this from London could be possible.
- 10:00 – Aberdeen and Inverness
- 12:00 – Inverness
- 14:00 – Aberdeen and Inverness
- 16:00 – Aberdeen and Inverness
- 18:00 – Aberdeen
Both Northern cities would get four trains per day from London, because of two factors.
- The ability to run on electric power between London and Edinburgh, which knocks time off that section of the route.
- The ability to split and join trains at Edinburgh, which saves paths on the East Coast Main Line.
It should be noted that any electrification North from Edinburgh will help.
Stirling to Edinburgh and Glasgow could be electrified by 2019 or 2020.
- Trains would run to the South of Stirling on electric power.
- Any splitting going North and joining going South would take place at Stirling.
- Trains would still stop at Edinburgh to load and unload passengers.
- Crew change currently takes place at Edinburgh, but that could happen at Stirling.
With a well-executed stop at Stirling, electric power between Stirling and Edinburgh and a few other improvements could we see the following?
- London-Aberdeen – six hours
- London-Inverness – seven hours
It would certainly please VTEC’s Marketing Department.
Services To St. Andrews
The Open Championship was last held at St. Andrews in 2015, so by the next time it is held at the Home of Golf, it is likely that a station will have been built for the town.
This new station must be able to accept Class 800/801 trains, which during a major event might need to run to the area.
This reasoning must apply to lots of places either on or within fifty miles of the East Coast Main Line.
Leeds is generally served by 2 tph from London in around two hours ten minutes.
These are usually nine-car InterCity 225 trains, with a couple of InterCity 125 trains, that go to places like Harrogate, which are not electrified.
As the speed limits on the East Coast Main Line are increased as trains are fitted with in-can signalling, I suspect that VTEC’s Marketing Department will be pushing for times between London and Leeds to be under two hours.
I can’t believe that VTEC will not extend services from Leeds by making use of five-car trains running to Leeds as a pair, where they would divide and join.
I am assuming that Class 800/801 trains can join as well as the closely-related Class 395 trains, which do so it in under a minute.
Places that could be served include.
- Some stations like Harrogate and Horsforth are not electrified, so would need Class 800 electro-diesel trains.
- Five-car trains could serve a lot of stations on the Leeds-Bradford Metro network, thus opening up the possibility of services to places like Headingley for the cricket and rugby and Saltaire for the culture.
- Could a five-car Class 800 electro-diesel train run over the Settle and Carlisle Line to Carlisle and Scotland?
- Extending some services from Leeds may mean that platform space is released at the station.
I think that the possibilities to extend services from Leeds using the five-car Class 800/801 trains are large.
Other Extended Services
What can be done at Leeds can surely be done at other places.
If the two trains can couple and uncouple within a minute, that means that a pair of trains can arrive in a station and go through the following sequence.
- 00:00 -A joined pair of Class 800/801 trains arrive in the station and load and unload passengers.
- 00:03 – Close the train doors
- 00:04 – Start the automatic decoupling process.
- 00:05 – The first train leaves the platform.
- 00:08 – After three minutes the second train leaves the platform.
I believe that the stop could be under ten minutes and the trains would be a safe three minutes apart, as they left the station.
So where could trains be split?
- Newark or Peterborough – Lincoln and Nottingham
- Doncaster – Hull and Sheffield
- York – Scarborough and Harrogate
- York – Middlesbrough and Sunderland
- Newcastle – Ashington and Sunderland
- Trains could go in a loop to serve several stations.
- Sunderland could be on such a loop.
- As trains would only be five cars, they could stop at most stations in need of a service.
- Stations like Peterborough, Doncaster, York and Newcastle with more than one through platform in each direction would probably be preferred stations for split and join.
- No electrification is needed away from the East Coast Main Line.
Obviously, passenger needs and traffic patterns will decide, where the trains split and join.
The big conclusion will be that more places will receive long distance services to London and the places in between.
But these trains will really put the squeeze on smaller operators like Hull Trains and Grand Central Trains, as VTEC will be serving their station.
This article on the BBC is entitled London Marathon 2017: Club runner Josh Griffiths finishes as fastest Briton.
Everybody including Josh, is surprised.
But Josh’s feat is not unique.
He then won Commonwealth Gold in 1974 in a record time that still stands.
Good luck, Josh
There is an article in the Sunday Times with the title of Residents Get Up Steam To Halt Eailway Extension.
It has a subtitle of.
A plan to link a heritage line to the national network is dividing a Sussex community.
It’s all about the Rother Valley Railway wanting to create a 2.5 mile link between Robertsbridge and Bodlam.
This section called Future Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Rother Valley Eailway says a lot more.
There is also this article on Kent Online, which is entitled Rail groups get go-ahead to extend Tenterden-Bodiam line to Robertsbridge.
There are a lot of long comments, of which this from Zaphod is one.
Disgusting. The concoction of smoke billowing out of these things is horrendous. To inflict this on an already over polluted part of Britain is insane. Due ti the travelling nature of this loco it will make sure we all get a lung full. All those with long problems, asthma, bronchitis etc etc are going to suffer. They put grotesque pictures on cig packets to discourage us from smoking then inflict us with this … duh. But I do love these machines & their engineering but unfortunately firing one of these up & running it across the countryside is pure and simple LETHAL.
It doesn’t look to be full steam ahead just yet.
If I have a problem, it is that they propose to use a level crossing to cross the A21.
This Google Map shows the route of the line from Robertsbridge station to the A21.
Note that the A21 leads down from the roundabout in the North-East corner of the map.
This map from Wikipedia shows the Western end of the Rother Valley Railway.
My question is the following.
Why would any sane Planning Authority allow the creation of three new level crossings, given the problems and the strong feelings they create?
Perhaps the economic benefits justify the disruption!
This article on the BBC is entitled First coal-free day in Britain since Industrial Revolution.
This is opening two paragraphs.
Britain went a full day without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the National Grid says.
The energy provider said Friday’s lack of coal usage was a “watershed” moment.
Let’s hope it’s not a long goodbye.
Sadly, whilst there are people like Trumkopf about, it will be a long time before coal burning across the world descreases to a low level.
These pictures show some of the electrification gantries around Rotherham Central station.
The overhead gantries would appear to be Network Rail’s standard for 25 KVAC, rather than the lighter-weight structures used on the Sheffield Supertram for their 1500 VDC.
So are Network Rail future-proofing the gantries for later conversion to 25 KVAC or are they being wired to that voltage, so that the tram-trains can be tested on the 25 KVAC as well?
The latter would be prudent, so that the problems and strengths of dual-voltage 25 KVAC/1500 VDC tram-trains can be assessed.
However, as I returned to Sheffield later, it appeared that the line connecting Rotherham and Sheffield had both heavy-weight and light-weight gantries in place.
Could there be a last minute change of project scope to include 25 KVAC running in the Sheffield tram-train trial, which also explains the timing of the rebuilding of the College Road Bridge?
This is said under Future in the Wikipedia entry for the Sheffield Supertram.
A tram-train extension to Rotherham is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in 2018, with a fleet of seven Vossloh Citylink Class 399 tram-trains in a UK first. This will involve trams operating on Network Rail’s Dearne Valley Line from Meadowhall Interchange to Rotherham station with a short extension to Rotherham Parkgate Shopping Centre. The proposed station will be a combined tram stop and railway station. It is also planned that Rotherham Parkgate will be the hub for longer distance inter regional services, while Central station will be the hub for local, Yorkshire based services. To cater for the tram train services, Rotherham Central will have a third platform built. It is thought that constructing the station will cost around £14 million (£53 million including the railway service to Leeds) and deliver economic benefits worth over £100 million. A study has concluded that it is not worth expanding Rotherham Central railway station because it would cost £161 million to expand the station but only deliver benefits worth £76 million. This is why constructing a new station is considered more viable.
That explains a lot, especially as it is a big change from what was being said perhaps a year ago.
There is an article in the Yorkshire Post, which is entitled Rotherham could get new rail station, which gives a lot more detail.
- Parkgate station could cost up to £53.2 million
- Parkgate would be the inter-regional station.
- Central would be more local
- Rotherham should have one train per hour (tph) to Leeds and Manchester, three tph to Doncaster and six tph to Sheffield.
As I came through the Rotherham Parkgate area on my train between Leeds and Rotherham earlier, I didn’t see any evidence of station construction.
I think that Network Rail by putting up gsntries that can accept 25 KVAC electrification have made sure that they can fit any future plans.
So long as they can get some sort of wiring along the route and a reversing facility somewhere in the Rotherham area, I can see tram-trains running next year.
If Parkgate station is built, then provided any tracks are in the right place, this shouldn’t be a problem.
But the interesting idea could be to use Class 319 Flex trains on the route to Leeds via the Wakefield Line. The gaps in the electrification would be initially covered by the trains onboard diesel power.
As electrification is installed, they would eventually be able to do Rotherham Central to Leeds under electric power.
Whilst, Network Rail were electrifying the tram-train route, would it not be prudent to put up the wires to Meadowhall Interchange station or even Sheffield station?
The other way they could also electrify the short Swinton to Doncaster Line, which would allow electric trains from London to reach Rotherham Parkgate, Meadowhall and Sheffield stations.
I can certainly see something like the following services through Rotherham when Parkgate station is open.
- 1 tph Sheffield to Leeds calling at Parkgate and Central
- 1 tph Doncaster to Manchester and Manchester Airport calling at Parkgate and Sheffield
- 2 tph Doncaster to Sheffield calling at Parkgate and Central
Add in three tram-trains per hour between Sheffield Cathedral and Parkway via Central and the required frequencies are achieved.
It will be interesting to see what finally happens.
This was not what you would call a quality journey.
By train it took 56 minutes, which is about nine minutes longer than it would take in the average car according to various web sites.
There are also nine stops in another Cook’s Tour of Yorkshire.
It was also in a Class 142 train or Pacer.
The map clipped from Wikipedia shows the Wakefield Line, which is the route the train took.
These pictures were taken on the journey.
In this day and age for a journey of an hour a better train is needed, especially as the two end points are Leeds and Sheffield,where the two cities have a joint population of about 1.3 million.
The fastest trains between Leeds and Sheffield are run by CrossCountry and take forty minutes using the Wakefield Line.
As the fastest Rotherham Central to Sheffield trains take 14 minutes, I think it is reasonable to assume, that the right train could do Leeds to Rotherham Central in 26 minutes.
Both trains are 100 mph units, as against the 75 mph of the Class 142 train, which probably defines the timetable.
From my observations, the route is not particularly arduous and I suspect that either train could do the journey in just over forty minutes, even with all the stops.
Certainly, the current service is truly dreadful and inadequate.
It appears that the overhead wires are going up for the tram-train to Sheffield. Or at least the gantries!
Shipley station is one of the few triangular stations in the UK, as this Google Map shows.
As I passed through, I took these pictures.
It certainly, is a station, that needs more information and better sign[posting.
But mainly, it shows how building a station in a triangular junction is a complicated affair.
It is the Eastern gateway to the iconic Settle and Carlisle Railway, that after suffering temporary closures in 2015-16 because of Storm Desmond and some of the most challenging reconstruction in recent years, the line is now ready to play its part as one of England’s most memorable tourist attractions.
These pictures show the station and the lines towards Settle.
But Skipton and its station can get more important.
Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for the station, these improvements are mentioned.
More Virgin Services To London
Virgin Train’s new Class 800/801 trains are more flexible than the current trains working to Leeds.
I think we will see two five car trains joining together to form ten-car trains, as this will make better use of the capacity of the railway.
So could a five-car train from Skipton connect with a five-car train from Harrogate and become a ten-car train from Leeds to London?
I suspect the answer is yes, despite the fact that the Harrogate Line is not electrified.
More Capacity On The Airedale Line
This is needed and could be by allowing six instead of four car trains or increased frequencies.
The length increase to six-cars would be necessary for the Class 800/801 to run to Skipton.
More Trains To Carlisle Via Settle
After all the money spent on this line, I can see the line made to work hard to pay back the cost.
More Trains To Morecambe via Lancaster
If one line gets more trains, why not the other?
It also needs better trains than the Class 150 train, I saw going to Morecambe.
Skipton To Colne
SELRAP have been lobbying to reopen the rail link between Skipton and Colne.
There are problems with reopening the line, especially around Colne.
But I think it is one of those projects, that if that keen hill-walker and Prime Minister; Theresa May said go, it would happen.
It certainly, isn’t a crazy project.
I ate in Salts Diner and as you can see, I had a large gluten-free full-English breakfast with tea and juice for £9.95.
I took the train from Bradford Forster Square station to Skipton station.
It is a route on which there are interesting things to see,
Everything must come second to the World Heritage Site at Saltaire.
Shipley station is an unusual concept in that the station is built in the middle of a triangular junction.
This Google Map shows the station
It has five platforms and four lifts.
There is a section called Commuter Use in the Wikipedia entry for the Keithley and Worth Valley Railway.
This is said.
As a privately owned heritage railway, the line does not specifically serve commuters; however, a study by Ove Arup & Partners funded by Metro looked at the feasibility of a daily commuter service between Oxenhope and Keighley in 2009. After the first stage of the study was released, Metro stated concerns about a lack of funding and available rolling stock, meaning that services are unlikely to run in the short to medium term
Given that we live in an era of innovative rolling stock, why not run a battery train between Keithley and Haworth?