The Anonymous Widower

How Long Will It Take Bombardier To Fulfil Their Aventra Orders?

I was reading this article in The Guardian, which is entitled Full speed ahead for train builders as minister pulls plug on electrification, when I found this useful nugget of information, from the General Manager of Bombardier’s Derby plant.

Building trains in an “ergonomically correct” fashion, he says, means completing and testing the carriage’s constituent parts, then assembling them, rather than wiring them up afterwards – and also takes the risk away from a production line which boasts a rate of 25 carriages per week.

It sounds like Bombardier’s engineers have been drinking and swapping ideas, with Toyota’s production engineers a few miles down the road at Burnaston.

But even so 25 carriages a week is an impressive  figure, as that is almost three Class 345 trains for Crossrail in a week.

Bombardier have not been producing at that rate until now, as if they had, there would be Aventras in sidings all over the place. In The Class 345 Trains Are More Numerous, I described how I saw four yesterday and Transport for London have said they will have they will have eleven in service by September.

But this is all consistent with not going into full production, until you are sure, that you’ve got everything right, as any prudent company would do!

The Trains On Order

Bombardier have the following orders for Aventras.

  1. Crossrail – Class 345 – 70 x nine-car – 630 cars – To be delivered in 2015-2018
  2. London Overground – Class 710 – 45 x four-car – 180 cars – To be delivered in 2017-2018
  3. Greater Anglia – Class 720 – 89 x five-car – 445 cars – To be delivered in 2018-2020
  4. Greater Anglia – Class 720 – 22 x ten-car – 220 cars – To be delivered in 2018-2020
  5. South Western Railways – Class xxx – 30 x five-car – 150 cars – To be delivered in 2019-2020
  6. South Western Railways – Class xxx – 60 x ten-car – 600 cars – – To be delivered in 2019-2020
  7. West Midlands Trains – Class xxx – 36 x three-car – 108 cars – To be delivered from 2020
  8. West Midlands Trains – Class xxx – 45 x five-car – 225 cars – To be delivered from 2021
  9. c2c – Class xxx – 10 x six-car – 60 cars – To be delivered from 2021

This gives a total of 2,618 cars to be built.

The Building Schedule

Orders 1 and 2 are both directly or indirectly for Transport for London, with Wikipedia stating that the Class 710 trains for the Lea Valley  Lines are being stabled at Ilford TMD, where the current Class 345 trains are also stabled, whilst they are being tested between Liverpool Street and |Shenfield stations.

I suspect that this close relationship between the orders means that Bombardier and Transport for London have agreed a delivery schedule, that brings in trains as they are needed. There’s not much point in building Class 345 trains for Crossrail, when some won’t be needed until 2019, if there is a more urgent need for Class 710 trains for the Overground.

To improve matters for Bombardier, Orders 3 and 4 for Greater Anglia, will probably be stabled in part at Ilford TMD.

Bombardier have not only got four substantial initial orders, but because they can all be introduced into service from Ilford TMD, they must have a tremendous advantage in terms of testing, introduction into service, manpower and costs.

So it looks to me that the two London orders will be built first, followed by the Greater Anglia and then the South Western Railways.

The London orders total 810 cars, which would take 32 weeks using Bombardier’s figure of 25 cars per week in The Guardian.

But assuming they started full production on the 1st of August, that gives them seventy-two weeks until the end of 2018, which gives a equired production rate of under twelve cars a week.

Surely, given their past history of building around a couple of thousand Electrostar cars, that must be achievable. Especially, as the modular structure of the Aventra, which has been developed with suppliers, must make building quicker.

The Greater Anglia and South Western Railways orders, which total 1,415 cars, would need to be built in 2019-2020 or lets say a hundred weeks.

So the build rate would be 14 cars a week, which is well below Bombardier’s figure.

The Body Shells

It should also be stated that Bombardier make their body shells at Derby, whereas Hitachi make their’s in Japan and ship them to Newton Aycliffe. This must ease having a high production rate for Bombardier, as for this you must have timely and reliable deliveries.

The Class 345 and 710 trains seem to have different car lengths, so it would appear that their production of body shells is flexible.

Little can be discerned about the production process from the Internet, as articles like this one on Global Rail News, which is entitled Bombardier completes first Crossrail body shell, are short on production details.

If they have a capacity to produce twenty-five body shells a week, I don’t believe that this can be done without the use of sophisticated designs assisted by large amounts of automation, as used in most car and van body production.

I have found this picture of a number of Aventra car body sides on the Internet.

Note the double-skinned nature of the body sides, with reinforcing ribs inside, which must have great strength, light weight and a minimum number of components. I have read somewhere, that Bombardier are extruding aluminium for body components.

All of the holes could then be automatically cut by robots.

The joys of modern manufacturing!

Final Assembley

Modern manufacturing methods, as employed by car companies for years doesn’t mean you have to produce a sequence of identical vehicles on the line. Computer systems make sure all the components to build each car arrive at the right time.

A Class 345 train might have four or five different types of car, so similar methods would be used to speed production of the individual cars.

West Midlands Trains

Abellio, who own Greater Anglia, have decided they want to use Aventras on their new West Midlands Trains franchise.

According to Wikipedia, the new franchise is proposing to introduce the following trains

  • 333 new Aventra carriages in three and five-car trains.
  • 80 new CAF Civity carriages in two and four-car trains.

Some of the trains are direct replacements for other trains.

  • The 36 x three-car Aventras will replace the 26 x three-car Class 323 trains.
  • The CAF Civity trains will replace various diesel multiple units around Birmingham.

In some ways the puzzle is that there are 29 x five-car Aventras on order for electrified suburban lines.

Adding up the current and future number of electrified carriages on Birmingham suburban routes, shows that the number of carriages to be used will increase by three times.

New electrification is on the way.

  • Chase Line to Rugeley Trent Valley.
  • Cross-City Line to Bromsgrove.

But these short schemes won’t need all those trains, unless West Midlands Trains are going to run ten-car trains across Birmingham.

But possibilities exist.

  • Electrification further towards places like Nuneaton and Worcester.
  • Electrification of the Camp Hill Line across the City Centre.
  • Aventras will be using batteries to reach places without electrification.
  • Some Aventras could be bi-mode. I discuss the concept of a bi-mode Aventra in Is A Bi-Mode Aventra A Silly Idea?.

All will become clear in the next couple of years.

The West Midlands Trains orders for Aventras  total 333 new carriages, which will all be pretty similar to previous orders, except in details like car length, number of cars, top speed and the interiors.

At Bombardier’s quoted production rate of 25 cars per week,l that means they would take jus fourteen weeks to build them, after the design was finalised.

That sounds unbelievable!


This order is for just sixty carriages, which will be delivered as six x ten-car trains.

This is an extract from c2c’s Press Release.

The Aventra is one of the fastest-selling trains in the UK rail industry, and these new trains will be manufactured at Bombardier’s factory in Derby. Each new train, which will operate in a fixed set of 10-carriages, will include over 900 seats, plus air-conditioning, wifi, plug sockets and three toilets onboard. Each new carriage is larger and contains more seats than on c2c’s current trains, so each 10-carriage new train provides capacity for 15% more passengers onboard compared to a current 12-carriage c2c train.

So three x four-car trains working as a twelve-car train are replaced by one ten-car train, which results in.

  • A modern instead of a twenty-year-old train.
  • 15% more capacity.
  • Wi-fi and plug sockets.
  • Better passenger experience.
  • Two cabs instead of six.
  • Fixed-formation trains don’t have end gangways.
  • Twenty bogies instead of twenty-four.

Revenue per train will surely increase, but electricity and maintenance costs will also decrease.

So the accountants get a double dose of pleasure!

c2c also hint that more new trains are on thew way.

But as they are also reported to have extended the lease on their Class 387 trains, they have excellent cover whilst waiting for delivery of new Aventras.

Currently, they have the equivalent of 25 x twelve-car trains with a few spares.

So a complete train replacement if they like the Aventras, will probably be something like another twenty to thirty trains.

This would seem to be a very low-risk plan!

The New South Eastern Franchise

The needs of the current South Eastern and West Midlands franchises are surprisingly similar.

  • High speed running on HS1 and the West Coast Main Line.
  • Suburban services in city networks; London and Birmingham.
  • A few short branch lines.
  • Some lines without electrification.
  • An ageing fleet without wi-fi.

So could we be seeing a mass fleet replacement with Aventras, as in West Midlands Trains.

Note that one of the bidders for this franchise is the same consortium of Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui, who successfully bid for West Midlands Trains.

Abellio bought a large number of Aventras for Greater Anglia and helped develop battery power for the trains.

So could we be seeing a large number of Aventras added to the fleet for the South Eastern franchise?

Currently, the franchise runs 824 Electrostar and 674 Networker carriages.

To replace the Networkers would be 27 weeks of production at Bombardier’s rate of 25 carriages a day.

The South Eastern franchise also needs more high speed trains for HS1. I can’t believe that Bombardier couldn’t achieve a top speed of 140 mph with an Aventra. They probably will have a solution for covering the line between Ashford and Hastings. My money’s is on some form of energy storage.


Bombardier would not quote the capability of being able to make 25 trains per week to a newspaper like the Guardian, if they didn’t know it was possible.

But to meet the deliveries needed by the four initial customers, probably needs about half the quoted production rate, which is the sort of conservative thinking I like.

This gives Bombardier the float to sort out production problems or non-delivery of sub-assemblies outside of their control.

But it would also give them the capacity to fit in other orders. Suppose Crossrail decided to extend to Gravesend or Southend and needed another five Class 345 trains, then in theory, that is only two days production, provided the suppliers can deliver.

The UK’s railways are going to be full of Aventras.




August 20, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Personalised Water From South Western Railway

I was at Waterloo station this morning and the new operator; South Western Railway, was giving out free water.

The postcode on the water is HR1 3EY, which suggests the water came from Berrington Water.



August 20, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Toilets In Class 345 Trains

I visited this topic in Do Crossrail Trains Need Toilets? over two years ago, when I said this.

Surely, a much better and more affordable solution would be to update the ribbon maps in all Underground and Crossrail trains to show if the station had toilets, in the same way, they show the step free access. Some extra signs on stations showing the status and location of toilets would also be a good idea.

Incidentally on the Essex and Reading legs of Crossrail, several of the stations already have decent toilets. Getting off a train and catching the next one, to have a relaxed toilet break, is probably not a huge delay, due to the high frequency of the trains.

London has a chance to set high standards in this area, without putting toilets on any trains.

My views haven’t changed, but I do think that now the Aventra is in limited service, I can speculate further.

Walk-through Trains, First Class And Toilets

London now has five walk-through trains.

In some ways the Class 700 train is the odd train out, as it has both First Class seating and toilets.

It should also be noted that Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains don’t have First Class, but it appears they have toilets.

Walk-through trains are an undoubted success, as any Overground or Underground passenger will confirm, after seeing the way other passengers move around the train to both get a seat and be able to make a convenient exit.

First Class causes problems, as it blocks off this passenger circulation, unless it as one end of the train. But this means that First Class passengers might have a long walk to their seat at the wrong end of the day.

I wonder if walk-through trains encourage passengers to not use First Class, as the freedom to circulate in Standard Class makes the travel experience better.

It will be interesting to see how posh commuters from Frinton take to Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains.

Another problem of First Class sitting at one end of the train, is that if toilet provision is made, there must be a toilet near to First Class.

So if you don’t have First Class in a train up to perhaps ten cars, you can get away with perhaps a universal access toilet and a standard one.

From comments I get, most people seem to like the Class 395 trains or Javelins, that work the Highspeed services to Kent. These trains are six-car, with no First Class and two toilets.

So are these trains setting the standard for the Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains?

Toilets On Class 345 Trains

The initial layout of Crossrail with terminals at Abbey Wood, Heathrow, Reading and Shenfield, has a longest journey from Reading to Shenfield of 102 minutes according to the Crossrail web site. But there are toilet facilities at Reading and Shenfield.

However, there is the possibility, that Crossrail trains may serve other terminals like Gravesend, High Wycombe, Southend and Tring.

Tring to Southend would be a journey of two hours, so a toilet is probably a necessity.

The current Class 345 trains have been designed to be nine-car units, although at present they are running as seven cars because of platform length issues at Liverpool Street.

I’ve read somewhere that Crossrail has been designed so that the trains can be increased to ten cars, if there should be a need for more capacity.

  • Platforms have been lengthened to at least two hundred metres.
  • All stations seem to have been updated for a large number of passengers.
  • Lengthening from seven to nine cars is obviously a simple matter.
  • A similar lengthening of the Class 378 trains was not a major exercise.

So surely, it would be a simple matter to slot in a car with a toilet.

So perhaps we might see an extra tenth car added to Class 345 trains, that is tailored to the route, as this ability to add and remove cars, is a feature of all Aventras.

Hitachi’s Class 800 trains also have the capability, as I suspect every well-designed train has.

The Ultimate Airport Train

Imagine a tenth car on Heathrow services.

  • Disabled toilet.
  • Ticket machine.
  • Visitor information and shop.
  • Space for large luggage.

The mind boggles!


If an operator wanted Aventras with a disco car, I’m sure Bombardier would oblige! At a price!


August 20, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow Looks To Venice With Water Taxi Service To Airport

In Wikipedia, there is a section called Venice of the North. Included in the list of thirty-seven cities are the likes of Ansterdam, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Lubeck, St. Petersburg and Stockholm.

But surely Amiens, Colmar, Manchester, Skipton and various places I’ve never heard of, is taking the list too far!

The title of this post is the same as an article in the Scotsman, about a Glaswegian, who intends to start a water taxi service to Glasgow Airport.

This Google Map shows Glasgow Airport, which has the Black Cart Water to the North and the White Cart Water to the East.

The two waters join to the North of the Airport and then flow into the River Clyde.

This is proposed.

  • The boat terminal at the airport would be on a pontoon on the White Cart Water, about five hundred metres East of the airport.
  • Transfer from the airport to boat would be initially by golf buggy.
  • The trip to the City Centre would take 25 minutes by fast boat.

It’s the sort of plan, that if carried out with style could work very well!

This Google Map shows the River Clyde through Glasgow.

Unlike the Thames through London, it appears to be straight.

The Airport is at the West of the map between the fork of the Black and White Cart Waters.

It was always thought that river buses on the Thames wouldn’t work, but over recent years, the Thames Clippers seem to have made a success of it.

Perhaps someone will make the same concept work in Glasgow.


I wish the guy well and I suspect that in a few years, the Clyde will be an important commuter, tourist and sairport route.

It just needs the right design of boat.

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

What Is Happening At Platform 9 At London Bridge Station?

I regularly come home from Waterloo station, by walking to Waterloo East station and then getting a Southeastern train to London Bridge station, from where, I get a 141 bus to a zebra crossing on the corner opposite my house.

Location is important, when buying a house!

You might ask, why I don’t use the Jubilee Line between Waterloo and London Bridge. I prefer not to be in a dark tunnel in an small-diameter Underground train, when there is a full-size alternative on the surface.

When the new Southeastern Franchise is awarded, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a succession of large-windowed trains, like Aventras,  replacing the over twenty-years-old Class 466 trains. They could become a tourist attraction linking Greenwich and Westminster via The Shard, that would be so much more interesting than the Jubilee Line.

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the proposed platform layout for London Bridge station from 2018.


  • The island Platform 6 and 7 is flanked by two lines coming from Charing Cross station.
  • The island Platform 8 and 9 is flanked by two lines going io Charing Cross station.
  • The tracks through Platforms 6 and 9 appear to be on loops from the track going through the other paired platform.

I assume the layout is to get sufficient platform capacity for the ten-car trains going through the station.

Look at this Google Map of the station.

The Platforms are numbered from top-right to bottom-left.

  • Platform 1 doesn’t appear to be complete and will be a bi-directional platform into Cannon Street station.
  • Platforms 2 and 3 are the first through island platform and serve Cannon Street.
  • Platforms 4 and 5 are the second through island platform are are for Thameslink.
  • Platforms 6 and 7 are for trains coming from Charing Cross.
  • Platforms 8 and 9 are for trains going to Charing Cross.
  • Platform 10 upwards are bay platforms for terminating services.


  • The generous width of the through island platforms.
  • Ot appears it might be possible to put a second platform on the other side of the track through Platform 9. Let’s call it Platform 9a
  • This extra Platform 9a and the bay Platform 10 could be easily connected, with a walk-through.

These pictures were taken from outside the station and show the area to the West of Platform 9.

Some substantial construction work is going on.

These pictures were taken inside the station.

I wonder what the final outcome will be!


August 20, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

The First Year Of The Night Tube

This article on City AM has a title of The Night Tube has topped expectations by boosting London’s economy by £171m in its first year.

This is a paragraph that details the economic effects.

Figures released to mark the first anniversary of the service show that the Night Tube is expected to top 8m journeys this weekend – which will be 15 per cent more than forecast, and has boosted London’s economy by £171m in its first year, supporting more than 3,600 jobs.

When you consider that Friday and Saturday night running has been achieved without any visible new infrastructure, this must be considered a good result.

It’s even created a few more jobs on the Underground, so why were the unions against the concept at the start? This is detailed in this section called Strike Action in the Night Tube entry in Wikipedia.


I have been following the Night Tube and it appears the only serious overnight death on the Underground, since the Night Tube started was the death of a student on a section of the Underground, that was not part of the Night Tube.

The couple of times, I’ve used the Night Tube, most of the passengers seems to be workers going to and from their jobs. Some looked tired, but serious drunks were noticeable by their absence.

Gatwick Airport

I was going to Victoria to get the Gatwick Express to the Airport and the Night Tube certainly seemed to be becoming a popular route for catching an early flight. I even saw a couple of obvious flight crew.

Cities Outside London

Are other cities following London’s lead?

  • There are grumbles on the Internet about Merseyrail’s early closure.
  • Manchester Metrolink seems to close at eleven.
  • The Nottingham Express Transit seems to close at Midnight.
  • The Sheffield Supertram seems to run from before six in the morning until around midnight.
  • Edinburgh trams seem to run until half an hour before midnight.
  • The Midland Metro don’t say on the web site.
  • The Newcastle Metro runs to around midnight.
  • Blackpool Tramway has a last tram around one in the morning.
  • The Glasgow Subway closes half an hour before midnight most days, but at six on a Sunday.
  • Cardiff trains seem to shut around eleven.

Compare this to the London Underground, where the first train is generally before six and the last one is around or just after midnight.


The Night Tube has been good for London and it will soon be joined by the Night Overground.

With massive investment going into local transport systems in Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, I wonder which of these cities will follow London’s example.


August 20, 2017 Posted by | Transport | | 2 Comments