The Anonymous Widower

Jumping The Electrification Gap Between Leeds And Manchester

The Battery High Speed Train

An Aventra uses a modern version of the same bogies that are used in the Class 222 trains, which are capable of 200 kph. As the Class 387 train, which is a version of the Electrostar, can travel at 110 mph, I wouldn’t rule out that the more modern Aventra could run at 200 kph or 125 mph. Obviously, this speed would probably only be attainable in places on the East Coast Main Line.

Example times between York and Newcastle include.

  • East Coast InterCity 225 – 56 minutes
  • East Coast InterCity 125 – 62 minutes
  • Transpennine Class 185 – 67 minutes

So if the performance on the line of an Aventra IPEMU was the same as an InterCity 225, then this would knock eleven minutes of the trip to Newcastle

Acceleration on batteries would be the problem, not maintaining a high speed. that had been built up whilst running under the wires.

When jumping the gap in the electrification between Leeds and Manchester, as the train will have been running from either Liverpool or York, I would suspect that it would set out over the Pennines with a full load of electricity.


Manchester To Leeds Electrification Gap

The Manchester to Leeds electrification has now been paused and it is likely that it will not be completed in the next ten years.

The line has its problems as the three-car Class 185 trains, that work the line, are totally inadequate for the route.

There are two major routes between Leeds and Manchester.

The shortest distance by rail between Manchester and Leeds is just 43 miles. When I saw this, I didn’t believe it, but it’s all in this article in the Guardian.

So this means that if you want to run an electric train between Liverpool and Manchester to Leeds, York and Newcastle, the Aventra IPEMU would bridge the gap with ease.

The demonstration version of the Aventra IPEMU was a modified Class 379 Train and had a range of sixty miles on batteries.

So even this modified Stansted Express would have been able to bridge the gap on both routes with ease.

A fully engineered production Aventra IPEMU would be unlikely to have a shorter range on batteries.

So Aventra IPEMUs create a fully-electrified TransPennine route from Preston, Liverpool and Manchester in the West to Leeds, York and Newcsastle in the East.

Destinations In The West

These are all current Western destinations for Transpennine Express.

  • Barrow – On an unelectrified branch line from an electrified Carnforth.
  • Blackpool North – On an unelectrified branch line from an electrified Preston.
  • Liverpool – On a direct line from Manchester that is completely electrified
  • Liverpool via Warrington  – On a direct line from Manchester that is partially electrified.
  • Manchester Airport – Electrified from Manchester
  • Windermere – On an unelectrified branch line from an electrified Oxenholme.

All could be served by using Aventra IPEMUs.

I suspect it would also be possible to serve Chester.

I’m not sure how Aventra IPEMUs would affect slower services like York to Blackpool North across the Pennines, but I suspect they would be faster than the current diesel multiple units.

With the franchises being reallocated, I suspect that it will be done in such a way, that the trains across the Pennines give a much better service.

Destinations In The East

These are all current Eastern destinations for Transpennine Express.

Cleethorpes – Probably too far, but the Class 185 trains could run the service as they do now!

Hull – Hull is perhaps fifty miles East of the East Coast Main Line and I believe that a solution can be found to do this on an out-and-back basis.

Middlesbrough – This is a few miles from Darlington

Newcastle – Electrified all the way from Leeds

Scarborough – The York to Scarborough Line is forty two miles long and I believe that a solution can be found to do this on an out-and-back basis.

Whether Aventra IPEMUs can do the return trip from the East Coast Main Line on an out-and-back basis to Hull and Scarborough, depends very much on how the range of the trains work out, when the production trains are delivered. I suspect Bombardier know and have either calculated it or proven it on a test rig, but obviously they are keeping it quiet and sticking with the sixty miles total range obtained with the Demonstrator.

If they can’t make it, I suspect that they can provide some form of charging at the Eastern termini.

I do suspect that because of the reorganisation of the two franchises we may see some extra destinations in the East.

Times Across The Pennines

At present times on the major routes are.

Liverpool to Newcastle – 3 hours

Liverpool to Hull – 2 hours 30 minutes with a change at Leeds

As I indicated earlier there is eleven minutes to take off the Newcastle journey and the change at Leeds probably wastes ten minutes on the Hull trip.

Other factors would have an effect.

  • The time spent on a stop by the Aventra IPEMU will be less than that of the current Class 185 trains.
  • If diesel multiple units on the two TransPennine routes can also be replaced with Aventra IPEMUs, then these trains would be less likely to slow the fastest expresses.
  • The Aventra IPEMUs are faster than the current trains.
  • Network Rail will probably be able to do some small amount of trackwork to speed trains up in places.

I have no idea what the eventual TransPennine time will be, but it will be a few minutes less than today’s times.






September 29, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Coal In Terminal Decline?

I’m no lover of coal, because of all the pollution and carbon dioxide it creates. I’ve also never met anyone from a coal mining family, who would ever want to work in a mine.

So when I look at the latest freight statistics from the Office of Rial and Road, I am rather pleased to see that in the last year coal traffic on UK railways has fallen over the last twelve months, from 1.66 billion net tonne km to 0.64 billion net tonne km (a drop of 61.2%).

As this is mainly imported coal to be burned in coal-fired power stations, I don’t think it is bad for employment. Power stations may be closing, but new ones must be opening to fill the gap in electricity generation.

September 29, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

An Open Letter To George Osborne About Teeside

I should say, I have no connection to Teeside, except that I quite like the area.

There is little that can be done about SSI Redcar, other than hope for a miracle, as there is so much steel being produced in the world, that the price will only get lower and the plant will get less and less economic.

I also live in Dalston, which since the arrival of the London Overground five years ago, has very much gone up in the world! And in some ways, like employment, gone up for those at all levels in society.

So I very much feel, that improving a railway and other forms of public transport, can only make an area more attractive for investment, employment, living and leisure.

Teeside has been lobbying for a Metro for years, to link the knit the area together.

There is only one way that this can be provided in the absolutely necesary short time-scale.

The railway line between Newton Aycliffe and Middlebrough should be electrified, as soon as possible. Immediately, this would enable.

  • The new trains being produced at Newton Aycliffe by Hitachi, to get to the East Coast Main Line under their own power.
  • Direct electric train services between Middlesbrough, Darlington and all points North and South from Edinburgh to London on the East Coast Main Line.

Northern Rail or their successor have been mandated in the new Invitation to Tender for the franchise to provide 120 new carriages to replace the disgusting Pacer trains.

Some of these new carriages should be the IPEMU variant of the new Aventra trains, being produced by Bombardier at Derby, which could by the use of the electrification at Middlesbrough and on the East Coast Main Line and the trains on-board batteries be able to run on the following routes.

  • Saltburn to Bishop Auckland via Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley Line
  • Hexham to Nunthorpe via the Tyne Valley Line, Newcastle, Sunderland, the Durham Coast Line, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough.
  • Middlesbrough to Whitby could be done later.

The faster electric trains would increase capacity, decrease journey times and improve frequencies.

The only construction needed for the new trains, would be a small amount of platform lengthening and adjustments to the track and signalling.



September 29, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Other Train, Tram And Tram-Train Manufacturers And IPEMUs

The Aventra IPEMU is a Bombardier product, but I can’t see anything about using batteries in a train being patentable.

In the future we will see a range of energy storage devices based on all sorts of technology for transport applications. Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems describes the technology in Wikipedia

To deliver energy saving in transport, they need to be installed with regenerative braking and some clever control systems.

They are best generally described as kinetic energy recovery systems or KERS.

Applications will include.

  • Passenger Cars  – A sexy image would sell top-of-the-range hybrid and electric cars.
  • Buses – Hybrid and electric buses in cities are the way forward and they’ll need intelligent energy storage.
  • Trucks, Vans and other Commercial Vehicles – Why not, if it makes them more attractive to operators and makes vehicles more environmentally friendly?
  • Trams, Trains and Tram-Trains – The Aventra IPEMU is just the first.

Looking at KERS in motor sport and Formula One in particular, in Wikipedia, there are several ideas, some of which are based on batteries and others on mechanical systems like flywheels.

As buses, trams, trains and tram-trains tend to be large vehicles with plenty of available space, where quite a large KERS can be tucked away, it is probably not the demanding weight-sensitive application of say motor sport or passenger cars.

So I don’t see any reason why a train or bus manufacturer like Alstom, Hitachi, Siemens or Wrightbus will not fit KERS.

Wrightbus are mentioned in this press release from Torotrak entitled FUEL SAVING KINETIC RECOVERY SYSTEM PROJECT READY FOR NEXT PHASE. This is the first paragraph.

Wrightbus have confirmed that an innovative Kinetic Recovery System (KERS) project, developed in a collaborative partnership and partially funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, is in full service trials with project partner Arriva.

Overall, this project looks very like the partnership that created the IPEMU demonstrator to prove the technology for trains, as it involves a bus manufacturer, a couple of technology or engineering companies, a transport operator and funding from the Government.

Incidentally, Torotrak is a British company with links to BAe Systems.

According to the press release the prototype bus is in service in Gillingham in Kent.

I can’t believe that the other train manufacturers are not looking seriously at KERS.

It is interesting to look at this article from Bus and Coach, which describes the Wrightbus project.

It is complicated mechanical setup, compared to installing KERS in an all-electric tram, train or tram-train, where it is a matter of designing an intelligent control system to link.

  • Overhead electric supply at 25 kVAC or 750 VDC
  • Third rail supply at 750 VDC
  • Traction motors
  • KERS
  • On-board electrical systems like air-con, lights and passenger displays

The control system would balance the sources and needs according to route and load.

I think that any train manufacturer that doesn’t offer KERS  as standard on a train or tram will be an also-ran!




September 29, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment