The Anonymous Widower

Could IPEMU Trains Use KERS?

I have just read this article on The Business Desk, which is entitled Torotrak’s bus KERS system gets all-clear. The article starts like this.

Torotrak, a developer and supplier of emissions reduction and fuel efficiency technology in vehicles, and Wrightbus are celebrating the successful completion of the in-service trial of the Flybrid mechanical kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) for buses.

The trial was conducted with Arriva, one of the largest bus operators in the UK.

It must have been successful, as other reports say Torotrak shares have risen and the company is expected to start production of the Flybrid KERS in 2016.

I’m probably not the only engineer, who’s wondering, whether the technology can have applications with trains.

My one regret is that I only bought a thousand pounds worth of shares in the company.

January 5, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

The Future Of The Calder Valley Line

On Saturday and Sunday, I did four trips on the Calder Valley Line

The pictures aren’t as comprehensive, as I would like, but at times the rain was very heavy.

The Route And Trains

This diagram clipped from Wikipedia, shows the route of the Calder Valley Line.

Calder Valley Line

Calder Valley Line

Note.

There is not much electrification.

  • Leeds to York is either electrified or will be in conjunction with the Huddersfield Line electrification.
  • Other routes between Leeds and the other Bradford station; Forster Square are electrified.
  • Manchester Victoria station is electrified.
  • Preston station is electrified and hopefully will be electrified to Blackpool North station.

The trains are a mixture of diesel Class 150 and Class 158 trains, run by Northern Rail. The Class 150s are a bit small and uncomfortable for the route and the top speeds of 75 mp for the Class 150s and 90 mph for the Class 158s, are probably not fast enough, especially as the two ends of the line have higher speed limits.

The Future

Wikipedia has a section on the Future of the Calder Valley Line. This is said.

Improvements to the line are proposed as part of Network Rail’s Northern Hub plans, which would allow for more frequent services on the line. Some services via Bradford would also be extended to Chester,Crewe, Liverpool and Manchester Airport. The Chester & Liverpool services have since been incorporated into the new Northern Rail franchise agreement – awarded to Arriva Rail North in December 2015 and due to start in April 2016, these will be marketed under the “Northern Connect” brand and operated by new 100mph DMUs once delivered. The Manchester Airport trains will follow one the Ordsall Curve is completed in 2018.

Low Moor station, between Bradford Interchange and Halifax, is due to be re-opened in 2016. A business case is being developed to re-open Elland station between Halifax and Brighouse.

There is no mention of electrification, for which the earliest dates are quoted as somewhere in the period from 2019-2024.

But there is this article is on the Shields Gazette web site, with a title of Electrification of the Calder Valley is ‘top priority’ says Rail Minister.

This article is backed up by other statements, so Network Rail and the Government are thinking seriously about electrification of the Calder Valley Line.

Network development and/or electrification is happening at both ends of the Calder Valley Line and I’ll look at both.

Network Development in Leeds and Bradford

The West Yorkshire Metro has proposed electrification of the Harrogate Line and have performed an extensive new station study.

They have already opened Apperley Bridge station and Kirkstall Forge station will follow in a few weeks.

The new stations survey mentions these new stations.

As I said earlier Low Moor station is being built. It will be on the unelectrified line between Bradford Interchange and Halifax. If Elland station is reopened, then it will be the other side of Halifax towards Brighouse. To serve both these new stations trains will have to serve the following stations.

  • Bradford Interchange
  • Low Moor
  • Halifax
  • Elland
  • Brighouse
  • Huddersfield

This is a modification to the current hourly service from Bradford Interchange to Huddersfield via Brighouse.

In the next few years hopefully, Huddersfield will be electrified, but there is no chance that this route into Bradford Interchange will be electrified at the same time. It would probably be pointless, as Bradford Interchange station, unlike Bradford Forster Square station is not electrified.

To make matters a lot more complicated, the stupid fact that Bradford has two entirely separate stations, means the following.

  • There is no train, that calls at both Leeds and Bradford and goes on to Huddersfield and Manchester.
  • There is no train, that calls at both Leeds and Bradford and goes on to Halifax and Hebden Bridge.
  • There will be no direct train between Leeds and Low Moor.

I think other journeys of less than twenty or thirty miles in the Leeds-Bradford area will probably be either impossible or much more complicated than they should be.

Also, at the moment, two of the Leeds-Bradford routes are electrified and the Calder Valley Line is not.

The only new electrification in the area planned, will be the fast route on the Huddersfield Line from Leeds to Huddersfield via Dewsbury.

To help in comprehension, this is a Google Map, showing how the Calder Valley Line links into Bradford Interchange.

Bradford And The Calder Valley Line

Bradford And The Calder Valley Line

Bradford Forster Square Station is in the North-East corner of the map, with Bradford Interchange below it.

Note how the Calder Valley Line comes in from Leeds in the east,  before doing a turn to the north and Bradford Interchange station. After reversing in the station, trains leave the station in a southerly direction towards the new Low Moor station and onto the West. Because of the dark scar below the line, I wonder if in the past, there has been a connection by-passing the station.

It’s a mess!

The solution needs to be four-fold.

  • Electrify Leeds to Huddersfield via Dewsbury. This is being done.
  • Electrify the Calder Valley Line from Leeds through Bradford and Low Moor as far as Halifax.
  • Electrify the link between the Calder Valley Line and the Huddersfield Line through Brighouse.
  • Sort out the absurd situation of the two Bradford stations.

This would enable the West Yorkshire Metro to expand its network of electric trains in the area. It could even use IPEMUs, which would charge their batteries on the electrified core network and then provide services to other towns and cities.

I’m sure that the West Yorkshire Metro can be ambitious and will have other and better ideas.

Network Development in Lancashire

Currently, there is a lot happening at the other end of the Calder Valley Line.

  • The Todmorden Curve has opened and a new hourly service runs between Blackburn and Manchester Victoria.
  • Manchester Victoria station is becoming a top class station and an electrified hub for services spreading out from Manchester.
  • Manchester Victoria to Liverpool Lime Street is now electrified.
  • Manchester Victoria to Blackpool North via Bolton and Preston is being fully electrified.
  • The Ordsall Curve is finally being built to link Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria stations.
  • Merseyrail is acquiring a new fleet of trains, which may include IPEMUs.

With the devolution of local rail services to local bodies, I suspect other things will happen.

Northern Connect

Northern Connect is a new sub-brand that will be introduced by Arriva Rail North.

Services in the sub-brand using the Calder Valley Line include.

  • Chester to Leeds via Warrington, Manchester Victoria and the Calder Valley
  • Blackpool North to York via Preston and Leeds
  • Bradford to Manchester Airport via the Calder Valley.

Will the first two services call at Bradford Interchange and will the third call at Leeds?

According to the January 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, these routes will be worked by new diesel multiple units.

The Chester and Manchester Airport services may need to be delayed until after the Ordsall Chord is opened.

But whatever happens Arriva Rail North will be running more services on the Calder Valley Line.

For commercial reasons, they would like to do the following.

  • Run faster services.
  • Run more frequent services.
  • Run services with smart new trains.
  • Run services with electric trains.

All except the last could be possible in the next few years.

The Current Infrastructure

The Calder Valley Line between Halifax and Burnley is summed up by Wikipedia like this.

For the section between Halifax and Burnley the line uses the valley of the River Calder, which in fact comprises two separate valleys with rivers of the same name, that of West Yorkshire and the Lancashire River Calder thus giving the services their name; it also follows the Rochdale Canal from Todmorden into Manchester. Since the route crosses the Pennines, there are many tunnels to negotiate en route.

I counted twelve tunnels and at least two major viaducts. The tunnels include at least three over a thousand metres, one of which; the Summit Tunnel is over 2.6 miles long.

The Summit Tunnel is one of the oldest rail tunnels in the world, is lined with 23 million bricks and has been used continuously since it opened in the 1840s.

This Google Map shows the challenging nature of the line.

Between Burnley And Todmorden

Between Burnley And Todmorden

Note how the line threads its way between the hills and houses and uses a tunnel to get through.

It must be a nightmare on which to work.

As if the hills, valleys and rivers wasn’t enough, stuck in the middle of the line is the Grade II Listed Hebden Bridge station. I wrote about it in Hebden Bridge and feel that the heritage lobby will strongly resist any changes to this station.

In fact, electrification across the Pennines could bring out all the environment lobby, who feel views are more important, than jobs and prosperity.

I have a feeling, that any sane electrification engineer will look at this line between Manchester Victoria and Halifax and between Blackburn and Todmorden  and say that electrifying the line is just not on!

He or she would also feel that leaving the sleeping giant of the Summit Tunnel lie would be best.

But apart from that, the line seems sound and in good order.

Electric Trains On The Calder Valley Line

If electrification of the Calder Valley Line is a top priority of politicians how can that be squared with the undoubtedly difficult nature of the work that would be required to electrify the line.

So what can be electrified?

  • As I said earlier, there will be strong pressure to electrify around Leeds and Bradford. to perhaps as far as Halifax and Brighouse.
  • I also suspect that electrifying from the West Coast Main Line at Preston to Blackburn would be relatively easy.

So this would leave the these gaps of lines and routes without electrification.

  • Blackburn to Halifax – Around thirty miles
  • Manchester Victoria to Halifax – Around thirty-five miles
  • Blackburn to Manchester Victoria – Around forty miles

All of these runs would be totally within the range of an IPEMU.

Preston to Blackburn electrification, might also allow IPEMUs to take over the following routes.

  • Blackpool South to Colne and possibly on to Skipton on a new section of track.
  • Blackpool North to Settle
  • Manchester Victoria to Clitheroe via Blackburn

So I believe it is possible for the Calder Valley Line to get electric trains, without the cost and disruption of installing the overhead wires.

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 5, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment