The Anonymous Widower

MML Wires Could Reach Market Harborough

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the June 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

It appears that Network Rail have a problem.

So Network Rail are now looking for a twelve mile long extension lead.

A Network Rail spokesman, says they are looking at various options, including an underground cable or extending the Overhead Line Equipment.

Extending The Electrification To Market Hrborough

There must be a scenario, where extending the electrification as far as Market Harborough, is a feasible and cost-effective engineering solution.

Consider, the MML between Market Harborough station and Glendon Junction, where the Corby Branch Line joins.

  • The distance is less than twelve miles.
  • There are no stations.
  • Glendon Junction is the only junction.
  • The electrification will reach as far as Glendon Junction from St. Pancras.
  • The route is is a double-track railway, which appears to be over fairly level terrain.
  • There appears to be wide margins on either side of the railway.
  • There are about half-a-dozen bridges over the railway, some of which could have been fairly recently built or rebuilt.

I doubt, it would be one of the most difficult of electrification projects.

East Midlands Trains Services To And From London

If you look at the current long distance service of East Midlands Trains, there are the following four services between St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield stations.

  • Nottingham (stopping) – Stops at Luton Airport Parkway, Bedford, Wellingborough, Kettering, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough and Beeston.
  • Sheffield (semi-fast) – Stops at Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby and Chesterfield
  • Nottingham (fast) – Stops at Market Harborough, Leicester and East Midlands Parkway
  • Sheffield (fast) – Stops at Leicester, Derby and Chesterfield.

Note.

  1. Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Psrkway, Derby, Nottingham, Chesterfield and Sheffield stations, all get at least two trains per hour (tph) to and from London.
  2. Include the Corby service and Bedford, Wellingborough and Kettering have two tph to and from London.
  3. All trains stop at Leicester station, which gives the city four tph to and from London.
  4. Market Harborough to Leicester is only sixteen miles.

Bi-Mode Trains

From 2021, it is expected that these services will be run by 125 mph bi-mode trains.

So how will electrification help these bi-mode trains.

Class 802 Trains

Suppose the services were to be run by a Class 802 train, which can do at least 125 mph using electric power.

An article on Christian Wolmar’s web site, is entitled Bombardier’s Survival Was The Right Kind Of Politics.

This is said.

The Hitachi bi-mode trains can only go 110 mph when using diesel.

The article was written a year ago, so this figure may be higher now!

So a Hitachi bi-mode will be able to go to the end of the electrification at either Glendon Junction or Market Harborough, as fast as the track allows and then at 110 mph on diesel.

Currently, services between St. Pancras and London take around seventy to eighty minutes.

What difference would the planned electrification to Glendon Junction make to this time?

Consider.

  • Electrification to Glendon Junction or Market Harborough station could save more time, through faster running.
  • Electrification to Market Harborough would mean only sixteen miles to Leicester would be on diesel.
  • Electrification at Market Harborough station would cut time for those services stopping at the station.
  • Track improvement could allow more 125 mph running using electric power.
  • Modern in-cab digital signalling might allow sections of even faster running under electric power.
  • Modern trains should save time at stations.

I’m certain that the right combination of improvements to track, stations and trains, will mean all services between St. Pancras and Leicester would be around an hour with Class 802 trains.

Bombardier’s Proposed 125 mph Aventra Bi-Mode

Bmbardier have announced a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra, which I wrote about in Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

I said this about the train.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.

This train with its faster speed on diesel would certainly achieve a time between St. Pancras and Leicester of under an hour.

I also think that this time will be achieved, whether or not, the wires are extended to Market Harborough.

Improving The Track

Many politicians, union leaders and environmentalists, see electrification as the main answer to better train services.

But before you can electrify a route, the track must be in a state, so that trains can run at a high speed, with long gentle curves and as few junctions as possible.

In the Wikipedia entry for Market Harborough station, there is a section called Future. This is said.

Market Harborough station is located on a large curve on the Midland Main Line, as a result of this line speeds through the station have always been relatively slow, at around 60 mph (100 km/h). The track layout is set to change significantly over the next couple of years as Network Rail engineers set about straightening the line, as part of their overall plan to increase overall line speeds.

How many other sections between Glendon Junction and Leicester could benefit from this type of improvement?

Should Market Harborough To Leicester Be Electrified?

As Market Harborough and Leicester stations are only about sixteen miles apart, surely it would be sensible to electrify this section, if Glendon Junction to Market Harborough is electrified?

I have flown my helicopter from Market Harborough to Leicester and the whole route has the following characteristics.

  • Double-track
  • Fairly level
  • Wide margins.
  • Market Harborough is the only station.
  • There are junctions South of Leicester.

It would be fairly easy to electrify, but for one thing.

Although, there are only half-a-dozen bridges South of Market Harborough, it would appear there to be up to twenty bridges on the Northern section, some of which look like they would need serious work to get the wires underneath.

I have a feeling that electrifying between Market Harborough and Leicester would cause massive disruption to road traffic, if some bridges needed to be demolished and rebuilt.

A bi-mode travelling at upwards of 110 mph would probably achieve the same times on this section, without the disruption.

Conclusion

I think that electrification between Glendon Junction and Market Harborough station will happen.

  • The section wouldn’t be the most difficult to electrify.
  • As there needs to be an electrical connection between Market Harborough and Glendon Junction, electrification of that section of the railway, might be a cost-effective solution to provide the connection.
  • Electrification of Market Harborough station would cut the time to make a call at the station.
  • It would offer enough time reduction on the Midland Main Line, that to give Leicester a four tph service to and from St. Pancras, with a journey time of under an hour, using existing train designs.

However, electrifying from Market Harborough to Leicester would be more difficult and I can’t see it offering any substantial benefits over a modern bi-mode train.

 

 

 

May 24, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Class 700 Trains Now Have Tables

I took this picture yesterday, on a Class 700 train.

But they still have hard seats, no wi-fi and no power sockets.

May 24, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | 2 Comments

The New London Rail Maps Are Out, And They Are Horrible

The title of this post, is the same as that on this article from CityMetric.

I haven’t seen the maps yet, so I won’t comment in detail.

But read the article!

Could it be that London’s rail maps are now getting so complicated, there needs to be some very deep thought?

May 24, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

London Tram Enhancements Included In Growth Fund

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Metro Report International.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Transport for London is to finance around one-third of the cost of double-tracking the Elmers End branch of the tram network, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced on May 21.

TfL is to provide £3·3m from its Growth Fund towards the estimated £9m estimated project cost. In addition to double-tracking the short branch, this would add a second tram platform to the Elmers End terminus. TfL says that this would enable service improvements and ‘address reliability issues’ on the network.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the track layout between the Arena tram stop and Elmers End station.

My thoughts on the various works follow.

Double-Tracking

From the map, it doesn’t appear that a very large amount of track needs to be doubled.

This Google Map shows some of the single track section of the route.

Note the passing loop to the South of Elmers End is visible, at the top of the map.

It would also appear that there is space to add the second track, which used to exist when the tram line was the Addiscombe Line.

These pictures, which were taken from a tram, show the section of line in the map.

I suspect that a second track linking the double track at Arena to the passing loop South of Elmers End can be created.

Electrification Or Battery

Battery trams will soon be running on many tram networks around the world, including Birmingham in the UK.

Tramlink has a problem, in that they have two types of trams.

  • Twenty-four CR4000 delivered before 2000.
  • Twelve Variobahn delivered after 2010.

Because of their age, I think the CR4000 trams might be difficult to be fitted with batteries.

But Munich already has Variobahn trams fitted with batteries.

If battery power were needed just on the route to Elmers End, I think it would not be an economic decision to fit all trams with batteries.

Obviously, if in the future, more trams were to be ordered, there may be other routes, where batteries are ideal.

I don’t think, there will be any issues about putting up more wires.

Being able to use the current trams on the new track to Elmers End would be very convenient

For these and other reasons, I suspect this line will be electrified.

The New Elmers End Platform

Elmers End is the only one of the four Tramlink termini with a single platform, as Beckenham Junction, New Addington and Wimbledon all have two platforms.

So a second platform at Elmers End would surely make running a service easier, when things go a bit awry.

The need was illustrated as my tram left Elmers End. We stopped for a couple of minutes in the passing loop just outside the station to let another tram enter the platform.

After the proposed works, the two trams would have passed on the double-track to the East of the Arena tram stop.

This Google Map shows the platforms at Elmers End station.

 

These pictures show the station and in particular, the current single tram platform.

Note.

  1. Platform level is such, that platform-to-tram is step-free.
  2. The current platform has a cross-platform interchange with the Northbound Platform 2 on the Hayes Line.
  3. It would appear, that there is space alongside for a second platform, although it might mean the loss of some car parking spaces.
  4. Some equipment might need to be moved.
  5. The footbridge could probably need to be made step-free.
  6. There is space to add the gantries for the electrification.

The original Addiscombe Line had a platform on the other side of the tracks as shown in the map earlier in this post.

I doubt this old layout will be used, as a flat junction would be rather difficult to operate and a flyover would be expensive.

Could we see a staggered platform layout, so that both platforms are accessible from Platform 2?

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track arrangement at New Addington.

The line appears to be singled a convenient distance from the terminus and then it splits again just outside the platforms.

Beckenham Junction and Wimbledon, both use a similar track layout.

If a layout similar to this were to be applied at Elmers End, it would have the collateral benefit of reducing the current three sets of points to two.

A single track, would also be easy to squeeze through the gap into Elmers End, provided there was space for the points before the platforms.

I believe this layout, would work with staggered platforms.

Would The Elmers End Platforms Be Made Longer?

Wikipedia talks about expanding Tramlink. Under Phase C of Trams 2030, this is said.

Furthermore, if extra capacity is required, tram stops could be lengthened to serve either longer trams or two trams coupled together on services between Wimbledon and Beckenham Junction or Elmers End.

I think that Elmers End will be future-proofed.

An Increase In Frequency To Elmers End

The Wikipedia entry for Elmers End station, says this about current tram frequencies under Services.

Trams depart from the station every 12 minutes; this service falls to four trams per hour during the early morning and evenings. Each tram travels towards Croydon town centre; trams on Route 1 continue to West Croydon tram stop, before travelling back as Route 2 to Beckenham Junction, while trams on Route 4 continue to Wimbledon.

A second platform would surely allow the five trams per hour frequency to be doubled to ten trams per hour, if this was thought necessary.

These trams would either be turned in Croydon or continue to Wimbledon.

Some might use a proposed diverting loop in Dingwall Road, by East Croydon station.

More Trams

If more trams are needed, I’m sure Stadler would oblige with a few new Variobahn trams.

Future Expansion

I also think, that because after the Elmers End scheme is completed, all the Tramlink termini will have two platforms, this will make it much easier to expand the system.

Conclusion

It seems a relatively simple scheme with no serious construction problems.

 

 

 

 

 

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Hackney Wick Station Opens

Hackney Wick station is now almost fully rebuilt and the new facilities are open to passengers

It is a design, that draws heavily on brutalist architecture, but the general feeling is that people seem to like the station.

The station is simple in layout, with a double subway through the embankment, which was built alongside and inserted at Easter 2017, as I wrote about in A Tough Way To Spend Easter.

  • One side of the subway is reserved for ticketed passengers and the other when it opens will be a new route under the railway.
  • Access to the platforms on top of the embankment is by well-designed high capacity staircases and two lifts.
  • The staircases have similar hand-rails with built-in LED lighting, as I saw yesterday at Abbey Wood station.
  • The station does not have ticket gates and relies on passengers to just touch in, as at several stations on the London Overground.
  • But then the station will be used for large sporting events at the Olympic Stadium.
  • It also has wider platforms than it used, to accommodate large numbers of passengers.

There is still some work to do, like adding the signage and opening the subway for those not using the railway.

I only met one person, who didn’t like the station. He struck me as an artistic type and said the money should have been spent on other things.

But Hackney Wick needed a new high-capacity station and a high-capacity walking route under the railway.

  • It is the nearest station to the Olympic stadium.
  • There is a large amount of housing development in the area.

Currently, the station handles two million passengers a year and this will surely rise.

A Comparison With The New White Hart Lane Station

Various sources say that the rebuilding of Hackney Wick station will cost £25million.

White Hart Lane station is also being rebuilt in conjunction with Tottenham Hotspur’s new ground and redevelopment of the area.

This also needs to give access to a high railway line, which is on a brick viaduct, that can be incorporated into the structure, rather than replaced, as at Hackney Wick.

According to this article in Construction Enquirer, the budget is £18million.

Modern step-free stations to handle two million passengers per year, don’t come cheap!

On the other hand, once built most stations last for at least a hundred years.

White Hart Lane opened in 1872, whereas Hackney Wick opened in 1980.

So it looks like the Victorians did a longer lasting job, than British Rail!

May 22, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

A First Ride In A Nine-Car Class 345 Train

This morning, I had a first ride in a nine-car or full length Class 345 train.

I just took it between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington stations and back again.

The overall impression, is how much longer they seem, than the seven-car version currently working between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

May 22, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Gravitricity Gets An Imperial Seal Of Approval

This article on Renewable Energy Magazine is entitled Gravitricity Technology Turns Mine Shafts into Low Cost Power Storage Systems.

This is the first paragraph.

A report by independent analysts at Imperial College London has found that Scotland-based Gravitricity’s gravity-fed energy storage system may offer a better long-term cost of energy storage than batteries or other alternatives – particularly in grid balancing and rapid frequency response services.

I am starting to believe that Gravitricity’s simple, but patented system has a future.

The Imperial report says the system has the following advantages.

  • More affordable than batteries.
  • Long life.
  • No long term degredation.

The main requirement is a shaft, which can be newly sunk or an old mine shaft.

Hopefully, reusing old mine shafts, must save costs and remove hazards from the landscape.

No-one can say the system isn’t extremely scientifically green.

I have some thoughts.

Eco-Developments

Could clever design allow a mine shaft to be both capped and turned into an energy storage system?

Perhaps then housing or other developments could be built over the top, thus converting an area unsuitable for anything into something more valuable. with built in energy storage.

More Efficient Motor-Generators

One of the keys to efficient operation of a Gravitricity system is efficient motor-generators.

These are also key to efficient regenerative braking on trains, trams and other vehicles.

So is enough research going into development of efficient motor-generators?

May 22, 2018 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments

London To Rainham And Back On Thameslink

Today was the first Monday of a new timetable and I took a trip to Rainham (Kent) station from London Bridge on the new Thameslink service,, before returning to Abbey Wood station.

Note.

  1. I took a picture at each station as we went out to Rainham.
  2. There is a lot of housing and commercial development going on by Dartford and Rochester stations.
  3. Thameslink are scheduled to run trains between Luton and Rainham (Kent) stations every thirty minutes.
  4. There were two Class 345 trains at Abbey Wood station.
  5. I went in a Class 700 train with eight-cars.

There was the odd cancelled train on the route, but what surprised me on the return journey, was that my train passed four Class 700 trains going in the other direction.

I must assume, that Thameslink were training more drivers for the route.

The Service I Took

The Thameslink service between Luton and Rainham, that I took from London Bridge to Rainham is a replacement for the Southeastern service between Charing Cross and Gillingham.

  • Both services use the same route between London Bridge and Gillingham.
  • Both services stop everywhere between London Bridge and Gillingham.
  • Both services are well-connected to other services at Abbey Wood (Crossrail), Woolwich Arsenal (DLR), Greenwich (DLR) and London Bridge (Northern and Jubilee).
  • The previous Southeastern service took 66 minutes between London Bridge and Gillingham,
  • The current Thameslink service is timetabled to take 82 minutes.
  • The Thameslink service takes over forty minutes to turn round at Rainham.

Given that the Thameslink Class 700 trains are 100 mph trains and the previous Class 465 trains are only 75 mph trains, I find it extraordinary that faster and more modern trains are delivering a slower service.

Complaints

There have been complaints about the new timetable, so I asked a couple of station staff, what they felt about the new Thameslink service from Luton to Rainham.

They seemed in favour and added, these points about the service.

  • It would help with getting the service out of trouble, when there were delays East of Rainham.
  • It gives a direct connection to Dartford.
  • The extra capacity will help.

The service to Rainham will surely act as a collector service for those changing to Crossrail at Abbey Wood.

Rainham to Bond Street with a change at Abbey Wood, should be under an hour and a half.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Abbey Wood Station – 21st May 2018

Abbey Wood station has been progressing and I took these pictures.

The layout of the connecting bridges between the Crossrail and North Kent Line platforms is now clear.

  • At the London End, there is a simple footbridge, with steps to each pair of platforms.
  • At the Main Entrance End, there are wide steps and a lift between the station ticket hall and each pair of platforms.
  • The third bridge in the middle is the unusual one with wide steps and a single escalator to each pair of platforms.

I would assume, that the direction of the escalators is as follows.

  • In the Morning Peak, the North Kent Line escalator is set to Up and the Crossrail escalator is set to Down, to speed passengers from the North Kent Line to Crossrail.
  • In the Evening Peak, the Crossrail escalator is set to Up and the North Kent Line escalator is set to Down, to speed passengers from Crossrail to the the North Kent Line.
  • At other times with less traffic, both escalators would be set to Up.

I have seen a lot of station layouts all over the UK and Europe and never one like this.

I doubt, I’ve even seen a pair of platforms connected by three separate bridges too!

Could it be a design of genius to allow thousands of passengers to change between the two pairs of platforms in a short space of time?

Other station layouts that enable this rate of passenger transfer, like the interchange between Crossrail and the Central Line at Stratford station, arrange for a cross-platform interchange, with lines going in the same direction sharing a common platform.

But that arrangement would have been difficult at Abbey Wood, unless perhaps the Crossrail tunnel emerged closer to the station or a flyover or dive-under were to be built.

Both options would have required more space and would have been a lot more expensive.

The design of Abbey Wood station with its three footbridges and wide platforms, would appear to be a more affordable alternative.

Train Length

In some of the pictures, a Class 345 train is shown in one of the Crossrail platforms.

This is a full-length train, which is 205 metres long.

The pictures show just how long these trains are.

LED Lights On The Stairs

Three of the pictures in the bottom row, show the stair handrails with their light underneath.

I Like them.

 

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Transport for London’s New Rail Line

Today, Transport for London have taken over Heathrow Connect, in preparation for the full Crossrail.

The service is now run by TfL Rail, just like the Liverpool Street to Shenfield service in the East of London.

It’s even shown on some of the new Underground maps.

I photographed this map at Kings Cross St. Pancras.

Note the double blue line, which indicates the new route of the former Heathrow Connect, running from Paddington in the top-right corner of the map to Heathrow Terminal 4 towards the bottom-left.

The intermediate stations shown are.

Note that TfL use Heathrow Terminal 2 & 3 for the main railway station at Heathrow and Wikipedia uses Heathrow Central.

A Trip To Heathrow From Paddington

This morning, I checked into the new TfL Rail service at Paddington, using my Freedom Pass and took the 09:11 service to Heathrow Airport.

I got out at Heathrow Terminal 2 & 3 station before returning later on another TfL Rail service to Paddington.

I took these pictures on the route.

Note that the Class 360 trains are still running on the route, as there are operational issues with Crossrail’s new Class 345 trains in the tunnel to Heathrow.

Contactless Card/Oyster To Heathrow

TfL Rail also accepts contactless card or Oyster on this route.

According to TfL’s Single Fare Finder, the single fare is £10.20 in the Peak and £10.10 in the Off-Peak.

But,I’m not sure about railcards, the affect of capping or the price if you buy the ticket on line.

Freedom Passes To Heathrow

As I’d used my Freedom Pass, the two journeys cost me a big fat nothing!

It won’t be long before the many Freedom Pass holders, will realise, that Heathrow will be in their free travel area by a comfortable train and they will possibly use it more often, than the Piccadilly Line.

TfL Rail Service Frequency

Currently, the frequency between Paddington and Heathrow is two trains per hour (tph).

Provisional service details are shown under Services in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, when the line opens fully in December 2019.

  • Four tph between Abbey Wood and Heathrow Terminal 4 stations
  • Two tph between Abbey Wood and Heathrow Terminal 5 stations

All services will call at the following stations.

  • All stations between Abbey Wood and Paddington stations.
  • Ealing Broadway station
  • Heathrow Terminal 2 & 3 station.

Plans for stopping at Acton Main Line, West Ealing, Hanwell, Southall and Hayes & Harlington stations are yet to be decided.

I suspect that TfL would like all Heathrow trains to stop at all intermediate stations, just as services do between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, in the East of London.

But Great Western Railway may have other ideas!

Speaking for myself, I’d like to see four tph on the TfL Rail route between Paddington and Heathrow, as soon as possible.

The Future Of The Class 360 Trains

When Crossrail sort out the Class 345 trains, the five sets of five-car Class 360 trains will be surplus to requirements.

They will also be joined in the sidings in a couple of years, by twenty-one similar four car trains, that are being replaced with new Class 720 trains, by Greater Anglia.

As they are modern 100 mph trains, they should find a home somewhere!

They could even be exported to Thailand, where a similar fleet operates.

 

 

 

May 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment