The Anonymous Widower

Cardiff To Gloucester And Cheltenham In A Class 769 Train

As the time gets nearer for the entry of the Class 769 train into service at the end of the year, speculation is mounting about how the trains will be used.

In the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Class 769s For Wales.

After discussing how the trains will be used to deputise for the current Class 150 trains so that they can be made compliant with the Persons of Reduced Mobility regulations, the article goes on to say this.

None of the electrical equipment will be removed from ‘769s’ destined for Wales. After completion of Great Western Electrification to Cardiff, they could operate electrically from Cardiff to Severn Tunnel Junction, where they would switch to diesel operation for the rest of the route to Gloucester and Cheltenham.

The fastest direct trains take one hour fifteen minutes for the journey, so a round trip could be a few minutes under three hours, so that an hourly service would need three trains.

 

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Battery EMUs For Merseyrail

The title of this post is the same as an article in the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Two of the new EMUs Stadler will build for the Merseyrail network will be fitted with batteries.

This is also said.

The initial benefits of the trial will be the energy recycling properties of the batteries, but with a larger battery the option could be to run the units away from the electrified Merseyrail network using battery power.

Other reports suggest that battery power could move the trains in depots.

Another report in the same edition of Modern Railways is entitled Class 769s For Wales.

It discusses the use of Class 769 trains on the Borderlands Line.

This is said.

Would safety regulations permit Class 769s, or other third-rail EMUs retrofitted with diesel engines, to operate the Wrexhm-Bidston Line and continue in the Mersey tunnels to Liverpool? No definite answer was available as Modern Railways went to press. Each bi-mode unit would displace pnly one two-car Class 150/2 unit from the line, but studies have predicted large growth in passenger numbers if the change of trains at Bidston were eliminated.

It is an interesting concept.

  • Porterbrook have already talked about converting Class 455 trains into bi-modes.
  • These third-rail units don’t have pantographs to snag in the tunnels.
  • They have been refurbished to a high standard in recent years.
  • The fuel safety problem in the tunnel, is something for which Formula One engineers may have a ready-made solution.

I’m sure if it does happen, Scouse humour will go into overdrive, about London cast-offs and old trains. But Class 455 bi-mode trains would have the last laugh.

Conclusion

It is encouraging to see in these two articles signs of radical but in my view totally sound thinking.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

Finance For Crossrail

In the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a Crossrail Update, with a section entitled Planning Cash Comes Good.

It starts with this paragraph.

How often do you come across a rail project that receives more funding than it budgeted for? well, an update to the TfL Finance Committee suggests Crossrail could be heading that way. Long, long ago when the Crossrail budget was nailed down it was agreed that £600million should be contributed in the form of planning obligations – the idea bing that property developers who benefit from the improved transport links that will be provided by the Elizabeth Line should contribute to the capital cost.

This is the current progress.

  • So far £100million has been collected from Section 106 contributions, with £200million still to come.
  • However, the Mayor of London’s Community Infrastructure Levy has contributed £400million to date.
  • The forecast is that by the time the line opens receipts will have risen to £700million.

I suspect that other Mayors will be looking at Crossrail’s funding model.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Finance, Transport | | Leave a comment

Rolling Stock Leaser Beacon Rail Acquires 78-Train Fleet

The title of this post is the same as this article on Global Rail News. This is the first paragraph.

European rolling stock leaser Beacon Rail has acquired the 352-vehicle fleet of Bombardier Class 220 and Class 221 Voyager’s from subsidiaries of Lloyds Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The diesel-electric multiple units are currently in passenger service on the Virgin West Coast and the Arriva Cross Country franchises.

Is it just a tidying up by two banks of their asset portfolios or is there something more behind the transaction?

Beacon Rail Leasing is a ROSCO  or specialist train leasing company and this is their mission statement.

The Mission of Beacon Rail Leasing is to be the leading provider of high utility rolling stock to the Pan-European operator base. Management’s goal is to provide the company’s equity investors with superior returns by being the best managed and most efficiently operated rail operating lease company in the Pan-European Market.

So do they have a long-term plan for these trains?

In Modern Trains From Old, I write about three articles in the February 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is a relevant extract from the previous post.

Bi-Modus Operandi

This is the title of an article by Ian Walmsley in the magazine, who makes the case for adding an extra coach with a pantograph to the Class 220, 221 and 222 and effectively creating a bi-mode train.

The idea is not new and I wrote about it in The Part-Time Electric Train, after a long editorial comment in Modern Railways in 2010.

If anything, the case for convcersion is even better now, as quality high-speed bi-mode trains are desperately needed.

As the article suggests, they could sort out some of the other problems with the trains.

There are quite a few suitable trains.

  • Class 220 trains – 34 trains of four cars.
  • Class 221 trains – 43 trains of a mix of four and five cars.
  • Class 222 trains – 27 trains of a mix of four, five and seven cars.

All are 125 mph trains.

ROSCOs are always looking for innovative ways to make money.

So perhaps Beacon have got together with Eversholt Rail Group, who are the owner of the Class 222 trains and Bombardier, the manufacturer of all three classes of trains to create a series of affordable 125 mph bi-mode trains.

I have no idea if these trains will be updated, but on the 20th of July, this document, which is entitled Rail update: bi-mode train technology, was published by the Department of Transport.

This is said about the new East Midlands franchise.

The next operator will be required to deliver modern, fast and efficient trains. This includes a brand new fleet of bi-mode intercity trains from 2022, delivering more seats and comfort for long-distance passengers. The provision of these trains will replace plans to electrify the line north of Kettering to Sheffield and Nottingham, improving journeys sooner, without the need for wires and masts on the whole route, and causing less disruption to services. We do not intend to proceed with plans to electrify the line from Kettering to Sheffield and Nottingham, and there will be further investment to come to ensure Sheffield is HS2-ready.

Ian Walmsley’s proposal of adding an extra coach, wouldn’t deliver brand-new bi-mode intercity trains, but it could deliver refurbished Class 222 trains with the following characteristics for the new East Midlands franchise.

  • More seats in one or more extra carriages.
  • One extra carriage would have an automatic pantograph to access the 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Trains could probably be any length from five-cars upwards, that the operatir wanted.
  • Refurbished interiors.
  • Wi-fi, 4G and power sockets.
  • Ability to run on electricity South of Kettering.
  • Diesel power North of Kettering
  • Update the current rheostatic to regenerative braking using energy storage in both electric and diesel mode.
  • 125 mph operating speed.
  • A modern and efficient electrical and control system.

Note.

  1. I suspect that some features and equipment from the new Aventra would be incorporated.
  2. The trains might cost a bit more to lease, but they would generate more revenue and ultimately profits.
  3. But the biggest advantage of going this route, is that the concept can be tested by building a single carriage and inserting it into a refurbished test train.
  4. After the concept is proven and a go-ahead is given, trains could be built steadily. It should also be said that Bombardier did a superb job in lengthening London Overground’s Class 378 trains twice!
  5. An efficient control system could reduce the amount of time the diesel engines were running.

Similar conversions could be performed on the Class 220 and Class 221 trains.

Conclusion

It will be interesting to see what happens.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Auckland Mulls Battery-Electric Train Order

The title of this post is the title of this article on the International Railway Journal.

This is the first paragraph.

Auckland Council is expected to decide next week whether to proceed with an order for 17 battery-electric multiple units, which would replace DMUs on services on suburban services to Pukekohe.

The trains are being offered by CAF and are designed to work the Southern Line between Britomart Transport Centre in Auckland and Pukekohe.

The route is in two sections.

  • From Britomart to Papakura is electrified at 25 KVAC.
  • From Papakura to Pukekohe is run by a diesel shuttle.

The diesel shuttle runs over a distance of 18.38 km.

The plan would appear to be for the new trains to run as follows.

  • To Papakura using the current electrification, charging the battery as they travelled.
  • At Papakura they would switch to battery power for the shuttle to Pukekohe.
  • On return to Papakura, they would switch back  to the electrification and return to Auckland.

This would be a distance of 36.76 km. or just under twenty-three miles.

Conclusion

I think that this proposal is very significant.

CAF have put their money where their mouth is in this proposal, as if the trains couldn’t fulfil the requirements, it would be Spanish omelettes all over the place.

From the picture in the article on the International Railway Journal, it would appear that the offered trains are a version of the Civity train, which is being supplied to Northern as Class 331 trains.

A 23 mile battery range would be handy, as it could probably handle the Windermere Branch from Oxenholme.

 

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Borderlands Line

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talked about the Borderlands Line.

The article says this about the line and the passenger service.

The line is currently worked by two ATW Class 150/2 Sprinter units, which do their best to maintain the clockface hourly frequency. The Wrexham-Bidston Rail Users Association told the Wales & Borders franchise inquiry performance is far from ideal, highlighting late running frequently leads to trains being turned back at Shotton, meaning they do not reach Bidston to connect with Merseyrail services to Liverpool and leaving lengthy gaps at intermediate stations in England.

The article then talks about electrifying the line, but Network Rail have indicated that this would cost £207million. Apparently, third-rail electriication now needs palisade fencing along the track.

Enter The Class 455 Flex Train

In The Class 319 Flex Units To Be Class 769, I commented on the report, that Porterbrook were also looking at converting Class 455 trains to bi-modes.

Consider.

  • These trains could probably work Merseyrail’s tunnels, as they are closely related to the current trains.
  • They have quality 2 x 2 interiors.
  • They meet all regulations.
  • Performance is similar to the current trains.
  • They are four-cars.
  • Porterbrook will have ninety-one trains to place, when South Western Railway replaces them with Aventras.

The only problem is that the interiors are very red, which might upset half of Merseyside.

But I think it is possible that we could see Class 455 Flex trains working the Borderlands Line.

  • From Wrexham to Bidston, they would use their on-board diesel engines.
  • At Bidston, they would change from diesel to third-rail electric power.
  • From Bidston to Liverpool, they would join the queue of trains from the Wirral and go round the newly-rebuilt Loop Line.

I’m pretty sure, that if Merseyrail have signalled the Loop appropriately, that there would be enough capacity in the Loop to run two trains per hour (tph) between Wrexham and Liverpool.

Based on the following current timings.

  • Liverpool Lime Street -to Bidston – 17 minutes
  • Bidston to Wrexham – 1 hour

With a few performance tweaks, I suspect that a Class 455 Flex train could do the round trip in well under three hours.

So three trains could easily handle the current hourly service, but would give the following advantages.

  • Direct access to Liverpool City Centre.
  • Four-cars instead of two.
  • A much better interior.

The only problem would be checking that the Class 455 trains would fit the tunnels in the Loop Line. But seeing, that  the Class 455 trains, were built as a successor to the Class 508 trains used by Merseyrail, I suspect they fit.

Could Class 319 Flex Trains Be Used?

The reason I looked at Class 455 Flex trains first is that in a article in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled ‘319 Flex’ Units To Be Class 769, this is said.

The company reports considerable interest in the concept and expects further orders soon, while it is also considering transferring the concept to other rolling stock, such as Class 455 EMUs.

As Porterbrook will soon receiving around ninety of these trains from South Western Railway, these struck me as possibilities for the Borderlands Line.

If you look at Merseyrail’s current Class 507 and Class 508 trains, Class 455 trains and Class 319 trains, they all appear to have a similar 2.82 metre width and a 3.58 metre height.

So if Class 319 Flex trains could work the tunnels under Liverpool, what would this do to service on the Borderlands Line.

  • Their 90 mph as opposed to 75 mph operating speed could bring the round trip under two and a half hours.
  • Five trains would be needed for a 2 tph service.
  • Wrexham to Liverpool times of under an hour and fifteen minutes should be possible.
  • The better performance of the trains would allow extra stops to be made with ease.
  • The trains can have First Class seats and fully-accessible toilets.

In Wales Orders Some Golden Oldies, I noted how Arriva Trains Wales are acquiring five Class 319 Flex trains as cover for the refurbishment of Class 150 and Class 158 trains on the Cardiff Valley Lines.

So once all of these diesel trains have been refurbished, will we be seeing the Class 319 Flex trains moved to the Borderlands Line?

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment