The Anonymous Widower

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 »

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

    Pingback by The Glasgow Airport Rail Link Will Be A Tram-Train « The Anonymous Widower | December 20, 2016 | Reply

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