The Anonymous Widower

The Aventra Car Length Puzzle

I think that Bombardier have a very flexible nature to how long a car can be in the new Aventra. This flexible length, could be enabled in part, by the way the trains are built, which I believe used aluminium exclusions and a lot of specialist weldimg. I wouldn’t be surprised that if you wanted a 40 metre long car, then Bombardier would be able to build it.

They now have three orders for the train and they can be summarised as follows.

The information has been gleaned from  Wikipedia, Modern Railways and other sources.

Crossrail Class 345 Trains

The Class 345 trains for Crossrail have the following characteristics.

  • 9 cars – Wiki
  • articulated trains
  • 200 metres long – Wiki
  • Around 23 metres long cars – MR
  • 3 pairs of doors per car – MR

Seating will be a mixture of Metro-style and some groups of four.

This article in Rail Technology Magazine says a lot about the design of the trains. This is said about seating.

“The layout of the seats is also different per different carriage, so where people will crowd there’s more space, and at the end of the trains, where people might not be crowding on, there’s more seats. So a lot of thought has gone into the ergonomics of this train.

“But generally, the average journey on this train will be 15 minutes – so what people want is to be safe, comfortable, and air conditioned, but they really want to get on. Capacity is one of the big drivers – but 450 seats if a really good ratio.”

So perhaps the old Tube rule will apply – If you want a seat go to the front or back of a train.

Dividing nine-cars into a 200 m. long train, gives a car-length of 22.22 m, which is probably good enough for around 23 metres.

But if you assume that the two driving cars are identical and the trailer-cars between them are 23 metres long, you get two 19.5 metre driving cars at either end. Given that the train is articulated and there is a need for a Crash-worthiness crumple zone at both ends of the train, it could be that so that the middle trailer cars are identical as they are in the Class 378 train, that the end driving cars are slightly shorter, which could be structurally stronger.

If the two driving cars are 20 metres, then you get a trailer car length of 22.85 metres.

Could it be too that all different facilities like wheelchair spaces and transverse seating are in the driving car?

I also have this feeling, if I remember correctly, that if you can cantilever a heavy weight forward in the nose, that this helps dissipate the kinetic energy in a crash. It’s why car engines are often placed as far forward as the design will allow.

This statement can be found a couple of times on the Internet including in this article on Railway Gazette.

There will be a mixture of ‘metro-style’ and bay seating, with four wheelchair spaces and a number of multi-use spaces with tip-up seating to accommodate prams or luggage.

Only a detailed look inside a finished train will find out what they are really like.

London Overground Class 710 Trains

The Class 710 trains for London Overground have the following characteristics.

  • 4 cars – Wiki
  • articulated trains (?)
  • Around 20 metres long cars – MR – Similar to Class 378 trains
  • 2 pairs of doors per car – MR

Seating will depend on where the trains are deployed and will be Metro or traditional, although the September 2016 edition of Modern Railways says its all longitudinal. Passengers won’t like that between Liverpool Street and Cheshunt.

Abellio East Anglia Trains

These trains haven’t been allocated a class yet and this is the best description from this article in Rail Magazine describes the trains.

The Bombardier units will be based on the Class 345 Aventras being delivered for Crossrail, but with the focus on seating capacity rather than standing space. The trains will come in two versions: ten-car and 240 metres long; and five-car and 110 metres long. All will be electric.

Note, if these train and car lengths are correct, the cars are longer than for the Class 360 trains and a ten-car Aventra is as long as a twelve-car Class 360 train.

I think it would be reasonable to assume, that the driving and trailer cars for both length of trains are identical, as this would give the operator various advantages.

  • Having only one type of driving car must ease driver training and rostering.
  • Servicing will surely be easier to organise.
  • If say a route needed a six-car train, then an extra car could be easily added.

Three different ways of calculating the car lengths can be used.

Method 1 – If d is the length of the driving car and t is the length of the trailer car, you get two simultaneous equations.

2d+8d = 240

2d+3t = 110

These give a trailer car length of 26 metres and a driving car length of 16 metres.

I don’t think that sixteen metres is too feasible, even if Bombardier could build one.

Method 2 – The driving cars are 20 metres long.

This car length would be a compromise driving car length that would work with both Class 345 and Class 710 trains, to give identical driving cars across all trains.

The length of a trailer car will be as follows.

  • 10-car – 25 metres.
  • 5-car – 23.3 metres.

What is intriguing is that if 25 metre trailer cars were used in a five-car train, this would give a train length of 115 metres. So two five-car train running as a pair, would fit any platform able to take a ten-car train.

Method 3 – The trailer cars are a fixed length.

  • 20 metre trailer cars would give 40 and 25 metre driving cars for 10-car and 5-car trains respectively.
  • 23 metre trailer cars would give 28 and 20 metre driving cars for 10-car and 5-car trains respectively.
  • 24 metre trailer cars would give 24 and 19 metre driving cars for 10-car and 5-car trains respectively.
  • 26 metre trailer cars would give 16 and 16 metre driving cars for 10-car and 5-car trains respectively.

I suspect there’s a compromise in there somewhere, that will allow both types of car to be all of the same length.

I suspect that it could be 20 metre driving cars and 25 metre training cars, as indicated by Method 2.


  • Both train layouts, allow two five-car trains to fit a ten-car platform and if they can, work as a pair.
  • As with the Crossrail trains, I wonder if the driving cars will have all the specials like disabled toilets, wheelchair and bicycle spaces and First Class seating.
  • You could even  have different versions of the driving cars. First Class, bicycle, accessible toilet etc.
  • Perhaps only one First Class seating area is needed per train.
  • Would all routes need bicycle spaces?
  • If the trailer cars were longer, then this would mean there could be a more relaxed interior with more space for tables.

Again as with the Crossrail trains, only a detailed look inside a real train, will show the car lengths and the interiors.


It all leads me to the conclusion that Bombardier have a very flexible design.

  • Pictures show the driver’s cab to be generously-sized.
  • Pictures show that the driver’s cab might be cantilevered outwards from the train, which would increase crash-worthiness.
  • I’m tending to believe that driving-cars will all be the same for the driver, but the space behind the cab will be used for special parts of the train like disabled toilets, bicycle spaces and First Class seating. The latter is traditionally placed at one end of many EMUs, anyway.
  • Trailer cars might be of a flexible length between 20 and 26 metres long.
  • Saying you could only have one length of trailer and dtiving cars would be so Henry Ford
  • The number of doors in each car can be two or three pairs.

Bombardier have attempted to allow the customer to procure a train to their precise needs.

But overall, I’m still puzzled.




August 28, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

A Contactless Card Explosion

According to Becky Barrow in the Sunday Times, it not yet ten years since contactless cards were introduced.

She says that during the first six months of this year, we spent £9.3billion using the cards.

In the same period of 2009, we spent just £315,953 and half of that was Patsy and Edina in Harvey Nicks.

That is some increase.

When contactless cards were introduced on London’s buses, after listening to quite a few idiot techophobe politicians, I set up a very tight Internet trawl about ticketing problems on London’s transport.

I have not found a single problem reported in a newspaper or web-site.

My problem with contactless cards, is that I can’t use them for small train or tram trips outside London. Every train company and local authority seems to be reinventing London’s wheel.

No wonder London gets all the tourists!

I also had a small problem where a branch of a well-known store set up their tills incorrectly and AMEX thought it was fraud and refunded my purchases.


August 28, 2016 Posted by | Finance | , , | 2 Comments

Meet Linda From Coventry: She’s In The Driving Seat At Citroen

The title of this post is from an article in the Business section of The Sunday Times.

How many ladies run car companies? And how many are English and run iconic quirky French ones?

According to the article she is the first British woman to run a big car company and only the third woman in ever.

She’s probably one of the first widows of either sex too!

I think it must be well done to Linda from Coventry!

August 28, 2016 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Should We Ban Microbeads In Household Products?


Read this article on the BBC

August 28, 2016 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

Hitachi To Power Up Before Hinckley

This is the title of a small article in the Sunday Times, which talks about Hitachi’s plans to build a new nuclear power plant at Wylfa on Anglesey.

Hitachi would build a proven commercial reactor, that could be built by 2025.

Why are we bothering to still even think about the gold-plated Franco-Chinese dead elephant at Hinckley Point?

Hitachi is a private company and have to live from good designs, technology and engineering, whereas those behind Hinckley Point are governments or their agencies.

When you consider that the last big project of Hitachi in the UK, was to build a factory at Newton Aycliffe to construct trains and it would appear that that has gone to the plans, I suspect that going for Wylfa and putting Hinckley Point out of its misery, would be a pair of decisions, that have the much lesser risk.

August 28, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Hamilton’s 55-Place Penalty Be Good For The World?

If you want a good explanation of how Lewis Hamilton ended up with a 55-place penalty in a 22-car race, then this article on the BBC, which is entitled Belgian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton’s grid penalties explained.

It does what it says in the title.

This extract, which describes the new technology in Formula One, is significant.

Governing body the FIA realised that the turbo-hybrid engines were highly complex pieces of kit, as well as introducing revolutionary new technology.

How revolutionary? A road-car petrol engine has a thermal efficiency – its ability to convert fuel-energy into usable power – of about 29%, a figure they have been stuck at for decades. A road-going turbo-diesel can be as efficient as about 35-40%.

Modern F1 engines, the best of which produce more than 950bhp, are approaching 50% thermal efficiency – and exceed it when the hybrid system is on full energy deployment.

It is a truly amazing step forward in technology in such a short amount of time, and these advances will soon filter down to road cars, which was the whole point of introducing them into F1.

So that means that if your vehicle does say 29 mpg, then in perhaps a decade, its equivalent will be doing over 50 mpg, as increased thermal efficiency translates into less fuel usage.

There is a lot of innovative technology generally getting itself involved with the humble internal combustion engine and where they are used.

  • Engines, whether petrol or diesel will get more efficient, in terms of energy efficiency.
  • Engines will get lighter and smaller.
  • Transmission and braking will increasingly be electric, with onboard energy storage.
  • Energy storage for larger applications like buses, trucks and trains, will use alternatives to batteries.
  • Engines will become more complex and will be controlled by sophisticated control systems.

It is definitely a case of |Formula One leading the way.

But I suppose Formula One is one of the few places where there is an incentive to be more efficient.

With passenger cars, more efficient vehicles have generally sold better. But an incentive is probably needed to get people to scrap worthless and inefficient vehicles.

Perhaps a properly thought out carbon tax, would accelerate more efficient buses, trucks and trains.

It is interesting to note, that hybrid buses are commonplace, but when did you see a hybrid truck?

Could it be, that local politicians have more control over the bus fleets in their area and many of the worst trucks are run by cowboys, who don’t care so long as they earn their money?

It is also easier to complain about your buses, than say trucks moving builders rubbish around, if they are noisy, smelly or emitting black smoke.

But I do think the key to more efficient buses, trucks and large off-road construction equipment, is probably a mixture of better engines and some better method of energy storage, that means say an eight-wheel thirty-tonne truck, could sit silently at traffic lights and then move quietly away, when the lights go green. A lot of buses can do that! Why not trucks?

I also think that the next generation of trains will use onboard energy storage.

  • It enables regenerative braking everywhere, saving as much as a quarter of the electricity.
  • Depots, sensitive heritage areas and downright difficult lines can be without electrification.
  • It enables a get to the next station ability , if the power should fail.

As modern trains from many manufacturers, are increasingly becoming two end units with driving cabs, where you plug appropriate units in between to create a train with the correct mix for the route, energy storage and hybrid power cars will start to appear.

Intriguingly, Bombardier have said that all their new Aventra trains will be wired for onboard energy storage.

So a four-car electric multiple unit, might be changed into a five-car one with on-board energy storage to run a service on a short branch line or over a viaduct in an historic city centre.


August 28, 2016 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daryl Murphy To Newcastle

Daryl Murphy is leaving Ipswich to go to Newcastle United.

It is reported in this article on the BBC. This is said.

“It’s a really good move for him in his career, at his age, and it’s good for us,” McCarthy told BBC Radio Suffolk.

I agree.

Daryl is thirty-three and I’ve met him a couple of times and found him to be an intelligent man, who is a good talker at a meeting.

He must be seeing the end of his career and going to Newcastle is a simple way to get a pension pot.

Town also get some money in and given the new rules about loan players, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mick does another deal on the lines of Grant Ward from Tottenham at a reported £600,000, according to this article in the EADT. Someone said about that deal yesterday, that Ward came to Ipswich because he had worked with Bryan Klug, when he was at Tottenham.

Perhaps, a case it’s not what you know, but who you know!

Incidentally, living in North London, quite a few Tottenham fans have told me, that they sold the wrong player.

In some ways though, if Ward continues to contribute goals from midfield, Murphy won’t be missed so much.

When did Ipswich last have four quality midfield players in Bishop, Bru, Dozzell and Ward with a combined age of just eighty-five?

One of the rumours going around yesterday, was that McCarthy will be signing Adam Armstrong.

I don’t think he’ll be bought, as he’s just signed a new deal at Newcastle. But there is an interesting link between Ipswich and Armstrong. His father; Alun, played for Town for three years, leaving in 2004.

Could we be seeing a case of the son following his father?

Although, I suspect the son, could be a similar player to his father and quite different to Murphy.

But does Ipswich need a similar target man to replace Murphy? Perhaps, one on the subs bench, like Leon Best. Intriguingly, Ward and Best both played for Rotherham United last season.

As I said, it’s all about who you know!

I suspect that, if he thinks it is a possible deal for Armstrong, McCarthy will be using all his Yorkshire strength and Irish charm to bring it about.

We’ll know what is happening, when all is revealed late on Tuesday.

August 28, 2016 Posted by | Sport | | Leave a comment

What A Plonker!

Of all the stupid road accidents that happen every year, yesterday’s one in Kent must rank as the most stupid.

This article on the BBC, which is entitled M20 motorway shut after lorry crash causes bridge collapse, gives full details.

There will be a lot of questions asked about this digger and as Dellboy would say, its right plonker of a driver.

  • Why didn’t the truck and the digger have a specialist escort?
  • Did the driver understand metres and/or feet and inches?
  • What is the name of the company responsible, so that I can sue for a ruined holiday, spent camping on the M20?

At least the driver didn’t kill or serious hurt anybody, although it must have been a close run think for the motorcyclist.

A couple of weeks ago, I was seriously delayed because of another plonker, who crashed with a train on a level crossing at Waterbeach.

I think we could bring in a law, which meant that everybody, who is delayed by anything like this incident can contact a central insurance number or web site, where you can easily add your claim to the pile.

After all if my train is late, I can get a refund and have been able to for years. Recently, I was travelling  on a Cheap Day Single ticket from Manchester to London, which arrived in London about two hours late, due to an unspecified problem. I filled in a form on the Virgin web site, when I got home and I had my compensation in a week or so.

The insurance companies have the power to knock some sense firmly into the minds of these idiots, who endanger everyone’s lives.


August 28, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments