The Anonymous Widower

The Crazy Idea Of Female-Only Compartments On Trains.

This article on the BBC is entitled Labour MP says ‘merit’ in women-only train carriages.

This is the first paragraph.

Women-only train carriages could combat the rise in sexual offences on public transport, a Labour MP has said.

My use of crazy in the title of this post, is based on what Lord Adonis said on Radio 5 Live, this morning. He also indicated that the solution was to moderate peoples’ and especially men’s behaviour everywhere.

But I don’t think female-only compartments are a good idea for very practical reasons.

The latest generation of commuter trains like the Class 378 trains of the London Overground are walk-through.

This seems to be a design that is used in modern London Underground and Crossrail trains. Putting separate compartments in a train like this, would block off the ability to walk along the train to perhaps position yourself  at the appropriate place to disembark at your station.

I also think that this type of layout is safer and more passenger-friendly.

About a year ago, I had a severe nose-bleed on a train, caused by an excessive sneeze. I had no tissues, but a lady sitting opposite had several and even helped clean me up.

I’d be interested too, to see an analysis of all harrassment on trains differs according to train type.

Conclusion

Like Lord Adonis, I tend to believe that harrassment on trains is better stopped by other means.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment

Technology Doesn’t Have To Be Complex

This article on the Rail Tecjnology Magazine web site is entitled Easing The Capital’s Cramped Carriages.

On the London Overground, the Class 378 trains are Electrostars with an air suspension.

Note the rubber suspension bag between the bogie and the car on this Class 378 train. As more people, dogs, buggies and heavy bags are loaded into the train, more air is pumped into the suspension bag to keep the train level, so that the train rides better and passengers don’t have to step up and down to get in.

The pressure in the bag gives a very good estimate of the number of passengers in each particular carriage in the train.

The Rail Technology Magazine article describes how this information is collected and  then processed and distributed to the iPads and iPhones of station staff, so they can direct passengers to the least crowded parts of the train.

I have read that other train manufacturers are working on sophisticated head-counting software using CCTV cameras, as I saw deployed on a 141 bus in Transport for London’s Latest Plot To Get Us To Climb Stairs. That device has disappeared, so I suspect there were problems, privacy issues or it just cost too much.

The system on a Class 378 train must be a lot simpler and cheaper to install, especially if the train has been wi-fi enabled. The Class 378 trains don’t have wi-fi, but many Electrostars do.

As information is always key in any system, it can lead to various developments.

  • Modern station displays can be updated to show the train loading.
  • There may be cases where train loading affects the platform a train would use at a terminus.
  • Automated messages about train loading could be displayed on the train.
  • Detailed train loading information must be useful in designing a train interior and also station layouts.

I suspect that those behind this project have got lots of applications.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Major District Heating Scheme to Connect £6bn Meridian Water Development

The title of this post is the same as a press release from Vital Energi.

This is the first three paragraphs.

London’s latest £85m district heating infrastructure is taking shape in Enfield and will be delivered by Vital Energi on behalf of energetik, the energy company owned by Enfield Council.

The new district heating network will accommodate up to 30,000 homes and businesses, including the £6bn Meridian Water development. energetik want to revolutionise the local energy market and improve the reputation of district heating, in a currently unregulated market, to ensure customers receive a quality service.

Vital Energi will design, build, operate and maintain the main energy centre for Meridian Water and install the district heating network over the next 12 years, under a contract worth £15m. This heat network is part of an integrated energy and regeneration strategy in Enfield that will interconnect with energetik’s other networks at Arnos Grove and Ponders End.

The Meridian Water development is certainly going about things in an impressive way.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

The Texas Bullet Train

In the past, I have spent quite a few hours driving the long distances around Texas.

This article in Global Rail News is entitled Progress For Texas’ High-Speed Railway.

Texas Central Railway is proposing a high speed rail line between Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, with the following characteristics.

  • 240 miles long.
  • Stations at Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston.
  • Routed along major infrastructure corridors like Interstate highways and freight railways.
  • Ninety minute journey time.
  • A train every thirty minutes.
  • Based on Japanese Shinkensen technology.
  • Wikipedia mentions, that the line could open as early as 2020.
  • Possibility of expansion to Austin and San Antonio.
  • Fluor Corporation, which is a very large engineering and construction company, headquartered in Texas, is involved in the design.

There’s more here on the Texas Central web site.

There’s also an appraisal of the line in this article in Dallas News, which is entitled Proposed Routes for Dallas-Houston High-Speed Rail Revealed.

Some points from the article.

  • Dallas would like the railway to connect to their extensive DART light rail system and perhaps even terminate at Dallas Union station.
  • A construction cost of $10 billion is given.
  • An in service date of 2021 is given.

Dallas certainly seems in favour of the project.

Conclusion

There certainly seems to be a degree of good will and support for this project.

Being Texas, they just had to label it a bullet train, but I’m more surprised that they seem to use railway instead of railroad.

 

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Transformation Starts Here

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled First GWR High Speed Train Off-Lease This Month.

It describes how the first InterCity 125 for ScotRail is leaving Great Western Railway for refurbishment to meet the new regulations coming in on the 1st of January 2020.

What other train in the world, after forty years front-line service, could be given a full upgrade to be made ready for more years of service?

 

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Beginning Of The End For The Thameslink Works

They seem to have been going on for ever, but this article in Rail Engineer entitled Thameslink – The Final Countdown, describes the work in the last few months before the new Thameslink service opens next year.

This is the first paragraph.

With just a few months to go, including two major commissionings, the rebuilt, remodelled and resignalled London Bridge becomes fully operational on 2 January 2018. The Thameslink service resumes through the high level station via the new segregated alignment between Blackfriars and Bricklayers Arms Junction, engineered into the remodelled layout as a key objective of the project together with the introduction of Automatic Train Operation (ATO) overlay to ETCS.

So it looks like from January 2nd, 2018, instead of a jolly round South London, Thameslink trains will be calling at their own pair of platforms in London Bridge.

Other points and milestones flagged up in the article include.

  • British Rail’s Network South East proposed thought up this plan in 1990.
  • The complete concourse at London Bridge opens in January 2018.
  • Other fit out work in London Bridge station will continue until May 2018.
  • Most of the track works at London Bridge will be sorted during the August Bank Holiday blockade.
  • The Christmas 2017 Blockade will finish things off for the January 2nd opening.
  • ATO (Automatic Train Control) will go live on 2nd January 2018 and allow twenty trains per hour (tph), through the Central Core of Thameslink.
  • 24 tph will start with the May 2018 timetable change.

Let’s hope it’s all been worth the trouble and strife.

Certainly, the flag-ship of the scheme; London Bridge station looks capable of becoming one of the world’s great railway stations.

  • Interchange between the various routes at the station is easy.
  • Signage and information set new standards.
  • It has a proper bus station and taxi rank.
  • Although not completed yet the connection to the Underground looks like it will be much better than most .

But to me, the biggest advantage is that London Bridge will become an easy-to-access rail hub, which will be my starting point for many journeys, as I have a regular bus service to the station from virtually outside my house.

The high-frequency rail link between London Bridge and Waterloo East station, also gives me a  relaxed route home from Waterloo station using the 141 bus from London Bridge station to a stop perhaps fifty metres from my house.

Going to London Bridge station, the walk is a perhaps a hundred metres to the bus stop, but there is no roads to cross. The buses run from five in the morning to midnight and during the day, there is a bus every few minutes, which takes just under half-an-hour to London Bridge. According to Transport for London’s Journey Planner, the fastest journey is thirty-three minutes with a lot more walking, the Overground and the Jubilee Line.

St. Pancras takes the same time with a long underground walk to Thameslink, so it looks like my fastest way to Gatwick and Brighton will start with a bus to London Bridge station.

Conclusion

I don’t know what it’s like in other cities, but in London, it’s often as quick, but easier and more pleasant to use the buses rather than the Underground or equivalent, if the journey is short.

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

First, MTR Take Charge On South Western

The title of this post is the same as this article on RailNews.

Some points from the article.

  • The Class 707 trains are going because they are more expensive to lease.
  • 400 extra trains on Sundays.
  • Comprehensive refresh of all trains
  • All suburban trains will have toilets.
  • Southampton Central and Wimbledon stations to be updated.
  • Flexible tickets for part-time workers.
  • A new tariff for sixteen to eighteen year olds in full-time education.

Perhaps the most interesting point, was that they have decided to look at the future of the Island Line with the local Council.

A few thoughts on their plans.

Class 707 Trains

In An Exciting New Aventra, I commented on this article in Rail Engineer, with the same title.

I said this in my post.

The Most Affordable Train

The article describes how the train was designed to give the best whole life cost.

This sentence sums up the philosophy.

It’s actually about a 50/50 split between the whole life cost and the first capital cost. That makes it a bit more difficult because we’ve got be competitive on the first practical cost, but additionally we have to offer a really high availability, strong reliability, combined with much better energy consumption and less track damage.

As someone, who used to own a finance company, that leased trucks and other expensive equipment, the product described is the sort of product that leasing companies love.

That looks like a good reason to lease an Aventra.

More Trains On Sundays

All train companies seem to offer this.

All Suburban Trains Will Have Toilets

A lot of train companies seem to care about toilets, so is there a correlation between decent toilets and increased revenue?

Flexible Tickets For Part Time Workers

Do travellers get this in London? If so, extending it over the whole area must be logical!

16-18 Year Old Tickets

London does this!

Island Line

This is one of these routes, where someone will come up with an idea, that’s so Monty Python, it will work superbly!

August 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Is A Bi-Mode Aventra A Silly Idea?

In How Long Will It Take Bombardier To Fulfil Their Aventra Orders?, when discussing the new London Midland franchise, that has recently been awarded to West Midlands Trains, I said this about the proposed eighty new carriages for the Snow Hill Lines.

As it is unlikely that the Snow Hill Lines will be electrified in the near future, could we be seeing an Aventra bi-mode for the Snow Hill Lines?

So is the bi-mode Aventra a silly idea?

The Five-Car Aventra

It looks like the formation of a five car Aventra like a Class 720 train is something like DMSLW+MS+MS1+PMS+DMSL

The codes are as follows.

  • D – Driving
  • L – Lavatory
  • M – Motor
  • S – Standard Class
  • W – Wheelchair

So this means the following.

  • All cars are motored for fast acceleration and smooth regenerative braking.
  • As all cars are motored, there must be a heavy-duty electrical power bus running the length of the train.
  • Both driving cars have a toilet.
  • The wheelchair area and the fully-accessible toilet are probably together in one driving car.
  • The pantograph is on one of the middle three cars.

It should also be noted that the Aventra has a slightly unusual and innovative electrical layout.

This article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-Iron batteries if required.

This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept

It would appear that this could be the reason, why in the document I found MS1 was used for one of the intermediate cars, as this is the car with space for the energy storage.

Do Aventras Have Batteries For Regenerative Braking?

Until I get a definitive statement from Bombardier, that they don’t, I will believe that they do for the following reasons.

But the main reason, is that as an Electrical Engineer, I believe it to be stupid and seriously bad design to not use some form of energy storage to handle the energy produced by regenerative braking.

Energy Storage In A Bi-Mode Train

If you look at the five-car Class 720 train, all axles are motored. This will give fast acceleration and smooth regenerative braking, which is just what both train operators and passengers want.

If a bi-mode train had energy storage, if say its speed was checked by a yellow signal, it would be able to regain line speed using the energy stored when it slowed down. So passengers wouldn’t have to endure the vibration of the diesel engine and the jerks as it started.

No competent engineer would ever design a modern bi-mode train without energy storage.

Where Would You Put The Power Pack On An Aventra?

Although space has been left in one of the pair of power cars for energy storage, as was stated in the Global Rail News article, I will assume it is probably not large enough for both energy storage and a power pack.

So perhaps one solution would be to fit a well-designed power pack in the third of the middle cars, which would then be connected to the power bus to drive the train and charge the battery.

This is all rather similar to the Porterbrook-inspired and Derby-designed Class 769 train, where redundant Class 319 trains are being converted to bi-modes.

Diesel Or Hydrogen Power Pack

Diesel will certainly work, but London and other cities have hydrogen-powered buses.

The picture is from 2013, so the technology has probably moved on.

Intermittent And Selective Electrification

Modern trains like an Aventra can raise and lower the pantograph automatically, so they can do this to make best use of what electrification exists to both power the train and charge the energy storage.

Techniques like these will be used to minimise the use of the diesel power pack.

So on lines like the Snow Hill Lines sections could be electrified, where the engineering is easy and affordable, to with time reduce the use of unfriendly diesel.

Strangely, one of the first places to electrify, might be the tunnels, as after the electrification of the Severn Tunnel, our engineers can probably electrify any railway tunnel.

I also don’t see why third rail electrification can’t be used in places like on top of viaducts and in well-designed station installations.

Conclusion

A five-car Aventra bi-mode is definitely not a silly idea.

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August 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Long Will It Take Bombardier To Fulfil Their Aventra Orders?

I was reading this article in The Guardian, which is entitled Full speed ahead for train builders as minister pulls plug on electrification, when I found this useful nugget of information, from the General Manager of Bombardier’s Derby plant.

Building trains in an “ergonomically correct” fashion, he says, means completing and testing the carriage’s constituent parts, then assembling them, rather than wiring them up afterwards – and also takes the risk away from a production line which boasts a rate of 25 carriages per week.

It sounds like Bombardier’s engineers have been drinking and swapping ideas, with Toyota’s production engineers a few miles down the road at Burnaston.

But even so 25 carriages a week is an impressive  figure, as that is almost three Class 345 trains for Crossrail in a week.

Bombardier have not been producing at that rate until now, as if they had, there would be Aventras in sidings all over the place. In The Class 345 Trains Are More Numerous, I described how I saw four yesterday and Transport for London have said they will have they will have eleven in service by September.

But this is all consistent with not going into full production, until you are sure, that you’ve got everything right, as any prudent company would do!

The Trains On Order

Bombardier have the following orders for Aventras.

  1. Crossrail – Class 345 – 70 x nine-car – 630 cars – To be delivered in 2015-2018
  2. London Overground – Class 710 – 45 x four-car – 180 cars – To be delivered in 2017-2018
  3. Greater Anglia – Class 720 – 89 x five-car – 445 cars – To be delivered in 2018-2020
  4. Greater Anglia – Class 720 – 22 x ten-car – 220 cars – To be delivered in 2018-2020
  5. South Western Railways – Class xxx – 30 x five-car – 150 cars – To be delivered in 2019-2020
  6. South Western Railways – Class xxx – 60 x ten-car – 600 cars – – To be delivered in 2019-2020

This gives a total of 2,225 cars to be built.

The Building Schedule

Orders 1 and 2 are both directly or indirectly for Transport for London, with Wikipedia stating that the Class 710 trains for the Lea Valley  Lines are being stabled at Ilford TMD, where the current Class 345 trains are also stabled, whilst they are being tested between Liverpool Street and |Shenfield stations.

I suspect that this close relationship between the orders means that Bombardier and Transport for London have agreed a delivery schedule, that brings in trains as they are needed. There’s not much point in building Class 345 trains for Crossrail, when some won’t be needed until 2019, if there is a more urgent need for Class 710 trains for the Overground.

To improve matters for Bombardier, Orders 3 and 4 for Greater Anglia, will probably be stabled in part at Ilford TMD.

Bombardier have not only got four substantial initial orders, but because they can all be introduced into service from Ilford TMD, they must have a tremendous advantage in terms of testing, introduction into service, manpower and costs.

So it looks to me that the two London orders will be built first, followed by the Greater Anglia and then the South Western Railways.

The London orders total 810 cars, which would take 32 weeks using Bombardier’s figure of 25 cars per week in The Guardian.

But assuming they started full production on the 1st of August, that gives them seventy-two weeks until the end of 2018, which gives a equired production rate of under twelve cars a week.

Surely, given their past history of building around a couple of thousand Electrostar cars, that must be achievable. Especially, as the modular structure of the Aventra, which has been developed with suppliers, must make building quicker.

The Greater Anglia and South Western Railways orders, which total 1,415 cars, would need to be built in 2019-2020 or lets say a hundred weeks.

So the build rate would be 14 cars a week, which is well below Bombardier’s figure.

The Body Shells

It should also be stated that Bombardier make their body shells at Derby, whereas Hitachi make their’s in Japan and ship them to Newton Aycliffe. This must ease having a high production rate for Bombardier, as for this you must have timely and reliable deliveries.

The Class 345 and 710 trains seem to have different car lengths, so it would appear that their production of body shells is flexible.

Little can be discerned about the production process from the Internet, as articles like this one on Global Rail News, which is entitled Bombardier completes first Crossrail body shell, are short on production details.

If they have a capacity to produce twenty-five body shells a week, I don’t believe that this can be done without the use of sophisticated designs assisted by large amounts of automation, as used in most car and van body production.

I have found this picture of a number of Aventra car body sides on the Internet.

Note the double-skinned nature of the body sides, with reinforcing ribs inside, which must have great strength, light weight and a minimum number of components. I have read somewhere, that Bombardier are extruding aluminium for body components.

All of the holes would then be automatically cut by robots.

The joys of modern manufacturing!

Final Assembley

Modern manufacturing methods, as employed by car companies for years doesn’t mean you have to produce a sequence of identical vehicles on the line. Computer systems make sure all the components to build each car arrive at the right time.

A Class 345 train might have four or five different types of car, so similar methods would be used to speed production of the individual cars.

West Midlands Trains

Suppose Abellio, who own Greater Anglia, decided they wanted to use Aventras on their new West Midlands Trains franchise.

According to Wikipedia, the new franchise proposals include the following new trains.

  • 100 new carriages for the Cross-City Line
  • 80 new carriages for the Snow Hill Lines
  • 225 new carriages for services from London Euston
  • An indeterminate number of new carriages for the Abbey line

So how many of these could be run by Aventras?

  • The Cross-City Line is similar in nature to some of the Greater Anglia routes that will be run by Class 720 trains.
  • London Euston services could be served by an Aventra with a slightly higher top speed. Why not a 125 mph train, so it can mix it with the Pendelinos? Ian Walmsley has said in Modern Railways that a 125 mph Aventra is possible.
  • The Abbey Line could be served by an appropriate number of Class 710 trains, with whatever interior WMT want.

As it is unlikely that the Snow Hill Lines will be electrified in the near future, could we be seeing an Aventra bi-mode for these lines?

I discuss the concept of a bi-mode Aventra in Is A Bi-Mode Aventra A Silly Idea?.

The West Midlands Trains requirement totals to about 450 new carriages, which will all be pretty similar to previous orders, except in details like car length, number of cars, top speed and the interiors.

At Bombardier’s quoted production rate of 25 cars per week,l that means they would take just eighteen weeks to build them, after the design was finalised.

That sounds unbelievable!

The New South Eastern Franchise

The needs of the current South Eastern and West Midlands franchises are surprisingly similar.

  • High speed running on HS1 and the West Coast Main Line.
  • Suburban services in city networks; London and Birmingham.
  • A few short branch lines.
  • Some lines without electrification.
  • An ageing fleet without wi-fi.

So could we be seeing a mass fleet replacement with Aventras in both franchises?

Note that one of the bidders for this franchise is the same consortium of Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui, who successfully bid for West Midlands Trains.

Abellio bought a large number of Aventras for Greater Anglia and helped develop battery power for the trains.

So could we be seeing a large number of Aventras added to the fleet for the South Eastern franchise?

Currently, the franchise runs 824 Electrostar and 674 Networker carriages.

To replace the Networkers would be 27 weeks of production at Bombardier’s rate of 25 carriages a day.

The South Eastern franchise also needs more high speed trains for HS1. I can’t believe that Bombardier couldn’t achieve a top speed of 140 mph with an Aventra. They probably will have a solution for covering the line between Ashford and Hastings. My money’s is on some form of energy storage.

Conclusion

Bombardier would not quote the capability of being able to make 25 trains per week to a newspaper like the Guardian, if they didn’t know it was possible.

But to meet the deliveries needed by the four initial customers, probably needs about half the quoted production rate, which is the sort of conservative thinking I like.

This gives Bombardier the float to sort out production problems or non-delivery of sub-assemblies outside of their control.

But it would also give them the capacity to fit in other orders. Suppose Crossrail decided to extend to Gravesend or Southend and needed another five Class 345 trains, then in theory, that is only two days production, provided the suppliers can deliver.

The UK’s railways are going to be full of Aventras.

 

 

 

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Personalised Water From South Western Railway

I was at Waterloo station this morning and the new operator; South Western Railway, was giving out free water.

The postcode on the water is HR1 3EY, which suggests the water came from Berrington Water.

 

 

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment