The Anonymous Widower

The Glasgow Airport Rail Link Will Be A Tram-Train

This article on the BBC is entitled Plans for direct tram-train link between Glasgow Airport and city.

This is the three opening paragraphs.

Plans to create a “tram-train” link between Glasgow Airport and the city centre have been unveiled.

The £144m Glasgow Airport Access Project could see journey times cut to 16.5 minutes and would bypass the need to use the busy M8.

It would involve a specially-designed hybrid tram-train using the existing railway network and on-street tracks.

That sounds like a sensible plan.

What Is A Hybrid Tram-Train?

As I said in Were The New Merseyrail Trains Designed In A South London Pub?, I believe that Stadler have designed a rail vehicle, that can.

  • Be equipped to run on any of the electrified rail lines in the UK.
  • Run as a train on heavy rail lines such as that between Glasgow Central and Paisley St. James stations, where it would use 25 kVAC overhead electrification.
  • Run as a tram on a dedicated tram track to the Airport, built without electrification, using onboard energy storage charged on the journey on the electrified line between Glasgow and Paisley.
  • Provide step-free access by making sure that the trains fit the platforms, which would all be built to the same height.

I believe that the trains could be a version of those that Stadler are building for Merseyrail. After all, the Swiss company are already building special trains for the Glasgow Subway.

How Many Trains?

As it takes about sixteen minutes between Glasgow Central and Paisley St. James stations., one train would probably provide an hourly service.

But obviously, things do go wrong, so at least two trains would be needed, with one as a spare or in maintenance.

Two trains could provide two trains per hour (tph), with four trains needed to  provide 4 tph.

Trains, Infrastructure And Costs

Merseyrail is paying £9million for each similar four-car train, which includes extras like maintenance.

The only differences would be.

  • Glasgow’s trains would be 25 kVAC trains, whereas Merseyrail’s are 750 VDC third-rail trains.
  • Interior fit and colour scheme.

Note that Stadler have said that the Merseyrail trains can have 25 KVAC equipment and batteries fitted.

I would buy five trains to provide a four tph service, with one as a spare or in maintenance.

This would leave around £100million for the only new infrastructure, which will be a rail spur to the airport from the West of Paisley St. James station station on the Inverclyde Line.

This spur could be built along the following lines.

  • Single- or double-track.
  • On-street or dedicated fenced off track.
  • No electrification.
  • Traditional signalling or in-cab.
  • Simple stations like the tram stops in Birmingham, Croydon, Edinburgh or Nottingham.
  • Step-free level access.

I think a single-track bi-directional track would work, but space should probably be left for double track, if it proves very popular.

It might be better to think of the rail spur as a long well-landscaped siding, which just happens to end within a few metres from an airport terminal.

I think that this link could be built inside the allocated budget of £144million.

Other Airport Links

Note that if this works for Glasgow, what about Bristol, Cardiff, East Midlands and Leeds/Bradford and Liverpool Airports?

Leeds/Bradford Airport

This article on the BBC is entitled Leeds Bradford Airport railway station one of three planned.

This is said.

The proposed new station about one mile (1.6km) from the airport would also act as a park and ride for commuters to Leeds and Harrogate.

I wonder if the trains at Leeds/Bradford Airport will go the last mile? It would need the Leeds-Harrogate Line to be electrified, but it would give the Airport the high-class rail link it needs.

Liverpool Airport

I believe that Merseyrail’s new trains, have the capability to serve Liverpool Airport in the same manner, in which the Glasgow Airport Rail Link could be built and operated.

There are more details here in Thoughts On Merseyrail’s New Trains.


Stadler will sell a lot of these trains to provide links into places like airports and town-centres.



December 20, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

In The Brick Caverns Under London

I took these pictures as I walked through London Bridge station to the Underground.

I do like well-executed brickwork! I hope they don’t cover it with plaster or concrete.

I certainly don’t think they’re finished yet! The lights are for light rather than to a design that fits.

This set of brick arches will form a level passageway between the inner concourse of the station and the exits towards the City and the Underground.

London Bridge looks like it could take the mantle of London’s best railway station from Kings Cross.

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Were The New Merseyrail Trains Designed In A South London Pub?

In Thoughts On Merseyrail’s New Trains, I postulated that the new Stadler trains could work as trams on appropriate infrastructure.

I looked at the pictures in The Design Of Tram Or Tram-Train Stations, which I wrote in March 2015 and came to the conclusion, that Merseyrail’s new trains might be able to run on the London Tramlink with some modifications.

  • The ability to run on 750 V DC overhead electrification.
  • Precise adjustment to the platform height.
  • Tram lights and signalling to make the vehicles comply with regulations.

So why do I say that the new Merseyrail trains were designed in a London Pub?

  • Both Merseyrail and South London have networks with third-rail electrification.
  • Merseyrail need a train to match their tunnels and platform heights, which are sized to the current Class 508 trains.
  • South London has the London Tramlink, which runs Stadler Variobahn trams.
  • The London Tramlink has strange infrastructure between Birkbeck and Beckham Junction stops, which could be improved if trams and trains could share lines and platforms.
  • The London Tramlink would like to extend to Bromley South station.
  • Merseyrail have been talking about running a tram-train to Liverpool Airport.
  • Stadler have experience of trams, trains and the very special experience of Zwickau, where Stadler DMUs share tracks with electric trams.
  • Stadler builds the tram-trains for Karlsruhe, Chemnitz and Sheffield.
  • Karlsruhe has a problem of two different sized tram-trains, which has been solved, by clever design of the vehicles and the platforms.
  • Every Stadler train seems to be different, with different car dimensions to fit the customers tracks and different power systems to give them the required performance.

I think that a Stadler engineer or perhaps more came over to look at both London and Liverpool’s problems and after riding round South London, they ended up in a local hostelry and lots of alcohol was added to the mix to see what would happen.

The result was a concept, which I think of as a train-tram with the following features.

  • The ability to run as a speedy commuter EMU train on either 750 VDC third-rail, 750 VDC overhead   or 25 kVAC overhead electrification.
  • The ability to run as a tram on 750 VDC overhead electrification.
  • The ability to run on energy stored in an onboard energy storage device.
  • It could be built to fit any of the tram gauges and platform sizes in the UK and quite a few around the world.
  • Level access to the vehicle from platforms of the correct height at all times.
  • Signalling would either be using traditional signals or in-cab displays. The second would be preferable, as it could display the same format at all times.
  • The ability to run the Glasgow Airport Rail Link, in a city where Stadler are providing trains for the Subway.
  • The ability to run on the other tram lines in the UK, if the vehicle were to be built to the correct size.
  • The ability to run on standard heavy rail infrastructure.

If you see the Zwickau DMU in a train station, you think it’s a train, if you see it at the stops in the centre of Zwickau, you think it’s a tram.

Get the dimensions and the look of the vehicle right and no passengers will bother that it’s a train, when running in tram mode.

The big advantages come with certification.

  • As it’s a train, certification for heavy rail and lines without electrification is the same for any new train.
  • Adding the vehicles to a tram network, would be like adding any new tram type to any existing tram network.

Merseyrail have got in first with an order, but I wouldn’t rule out something similar used to extend the London Tramlink or vehicles for the Glasgow Airport Rail Link.

Where could you run a train-tram with onboard energy storage on London’s third-rail network?

  • Extend Ttranlink from Beckenham Junction to Bromley South
  • Abbey Wood to Thamesmead
  • Grove Park to Bromley South via Bromley North and Bromley town centre.
  • Greenehithe to Bluewater.
  • Chessington South to Chessington World of Adventure.

These are just for starters.

I also didn’t include short branch lines and routes without electrification, but close to 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Ticketing In Liverpool And Manchester

On my trip to Wigan, I travelled around Liverpool and Manchester extensively on both days.

Whether the cities like it or not, transport-wise, the whole of Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester  is one ticketing area.

I bought a Lancashire Day Ranger at £15 on both days. But!

  • That is not expensive for me, but it probably is for others.
  • It doesn’t include Manchester’s or Blackpool’s trams.
  • It doesn’t include the Wirral Line in Liverpool.

Why can’t I just touch in with my contactless bank card, like I can in London?

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Sydney to trial contactless payments on public transport network.

Sydney will be using London’s system, so why can’t Liverpool and Manchester?

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment