The Anonymous Widower

Progress On The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train

I took these pictures in Sheffield and Rotherham, whilst trying to take pictures of Class 399 tram-trains.

Note.

  1. The heavy-weight gantries for the electrification, which I suspect would support 25 KVAC electrification.
  2. It appears simple bi-level platforms are being built at Rotherham Central station.
  3. Could a stop being put at the New York stadium?

It certainly doesn’t seem to be an expensive system.

Single Or Double Track Electrified At 25 KVAC

The heavy rail route which is both single and double-track is electrified using standard 25 KVAC electrification.

Simple Voltage Changeover

In Karlsruhe, a ceramic rod is used to connect the overhead wires of different voltages. The pantograph of the tram-train runs on this rod, as the vehicle passes between the two voltages.

The different voltages would be handled automatically on the tram-train.

Kinetic energy or a battery will take the tram-train over the very short dead section.

I didn’t see it, but I suspect a similar system is used on the Tinsley Chord in Sheffield, where the two voltage systems meet.

The advantage of this simple system, is that voltage changeover can be completely automatic, with the driver only monitoring the changeover.

 

Simple Bi-Level Platform Extensions

This technique is used in Karlsruhe, where they have myriad problems due to various classes of tram-trains and conventional trains.

Modern construction methods will certainly help here.

How Did Network Rail Manage To Spend So Much Money?

The only feasible positive explanation is that this tram-train trial is being very comprehensive and covers all possible UK operations.

  • The tram-trains are tested on 25 KVAC at Rotherham.
  • Single and double-track.
  • The tram-trains are tested on 750 VDC all over Sheffield.
  • The tram-trains are tested on sharp curves and climbing hills on the Sheffield Supertram network.
  • The voltage changeover is thoroughly tested on the Tinsley Chord.
  • Platform designs get a rigorous test.

If the tram-train passes these tests and the regulators and operators like it, it’ll be passed for the UK network.

Is The Rotherham Trial A Tram-Train Or A Train-Tram?

When going from Sheffield to Rotherham, the Class 399 train, starts as a tram and changes to a train on the Tinsley Chord.

But when going from Rotherham to Sheffield, the vehicle starts as a train and changes to a tram.

So I suppose it’s both and it changes over where the voltage changes on the Tinsley Chord.

But just as in the Rotherham trial, provided there is an overhead wire with an acceptable voltage, the Class 399 tram-trains can run on any track, be it for trams or trains.

On What Routes Could A Class 399 Train Run?

There are several possibilities.

Extending An Existing Tram Network On A Heavy Rail Line

The tram-train runs normally on a standard tram line and then the route is extended on a heavy rail line, which is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.

This is what is being done at Rotherham.

More possibilities exist in Sheffield and probably on other systems like Birmingham, Blackpool, Edinburgh, Manchester and Nottingham.

Creating A Tram Link Across A Town Or City

Suppose a town or city has two electrified stations on opposite sides. Perhaps one handles trains from the West and the other handles trains from the East.

If a tram route can be created between the two stations, which is connected to the lines at the station, then tram-trains can run across the town or city.

This has been done in Karlsruhe and other European cities, but I doubt we’ll see a cross-city link like this in the UK for a decade or two.

Creating A Tram Link Between Two Electrified Lines

This is similar to the previous application, except that the tram route might be in a rural area.

One possibility might be from Cambridge to Marks Tey along a rebuilt Stour Valley Railway.

Running A Branch On A Heavy Rail Line As A Tram

Creating a branch line to tram standards should be cheaper than creating it to heavy rail standards.

The proposed Glasgow  Airport Tram-Train could be built this way, by building a tram track from the Inverclyde Line to the Airport.

The branch would have the following characteristics.

  • Segregated single-track from the Inverclyde Line
  • 750 VDC overhead electrification.
  • Low floor tram-trains.
  • Simple stations.

The tram-trains could run as normal electric trains from Glasgow Central station to West of Paisley St. James station, where they would take to the branch line and run as trams to the Airport.

As the performance of a Class 399 tram-train is not much slower than the current Class 314 trains that work some services on the Inverclyde Line, I feel that fitting the tram-train service into the service pattern on the line would be possible.

I estimate that a round trip from Glasgow Central to the Airport could be done within an hour, which would mean that to provide an adequate four tram-trains per hour, would require four vehicles.

Two other airports could be served in this way; Leeds and Liverpool

  • Leeds Airport would require electrifying as far as Horsforth station, where a tram track would lead to the Airport.
  • I suspect that the tram-trains could not only connect Leeds to the Airport, but Bradford as well.
  • Liverpool Airport from Liverpool Lime Street services would change to a tram at Liverpool South Parkway station.

I think we’ll be seeing tram-trains used for services like these.

Consider these points.

  • A suitable station on the electrified network is needed as a terminus.
  • A suitable junction must be possible between the branch and the electrified network.
  • Any number of stops could be built on the branch.
  • Simple tram-style 750 VDC overhead wires can be used, which would be less visually intrusive.

Some schemes will be simple like perhaps the Slough to Windsor and Eton Line and others would be more complicated.

Conclusion

In a year or so’s time, we’ll know if tram-trains are another method of expanding and improving the UK’s rail network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 22, 2017 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] is only a couple of weeks since I wrote Progress On The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train and progress seems to have accelerated in that […]

    Pingback by Progress On The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train – October 14th 2017 « The Anonymous Widower | October 15, 2017 | Reply


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