The Anonymous Widower

Is Existing UK Electrification Up To Scratch?

I ask this question after a very delayed rail journey from Leeds to London after the football yesterday.

I left Leeds on the 19:15 and all went well until between Grantham and Peterborough the train ground to a halt.

The driver informed us, that the previous train had had a pantograph failure and had brought the overhead wires down.

So we were stuck.

Free water was offered and I took a carrier bag to the buffet and looted half-a-dozen bottles for myself and a few fellow travellers.

But we waited and waited as the the train awaited a tow from a diesel locomotive.

Eventually, one arrived and it towed us to Peterborough, where the train started on its own power to London on the unaffected electrification.

We finally arrived at 02:10 at Kings Cross or four and a half hours behind schedule.

Virgin were rounding up taxis for everyone at Kings |Cross. But the length of queue was such, I came home using that lady of the night;Victoria and a 277 bus.

But consider other facts from last night.

  • At least four Southbound trains were delayed upwards of four hours.
  • Some Northbound trains, got no further than Peterborough.
  • Virgin probably had to make arrangements for large number of disgruntled passengers.
  • Taxis appeared to be in short supply.
  • The train ran out of snacks.

I also think from comments from friends, that problems with the overhead wires are not uncommon.

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled MPs Debate Reliability Of ECML Wiring. This is a paragraph.

Maskell had asked: “We already know that there is six times higher spend in the South than in the North on rail and transport infrastructure, but we also seem to have an east-west divide in rail – the East Coast route has received £3 billion less than that of the West. Will the Government bring forward their funding to upgrade the East Coast Main Line infrastructure, since the passenger performance measure is now at 25.1% because of overhead line failure?”

Rachel Maskell is MP for York Central.

It would appear that the electrification needs to be made more robust and improved in reliability.

East Coast Main Line Power Supply Upgrade

This page on the VolkerRail web site describes a project called East Coast the Main Line Power Supply Upgrade, which has the following project scope.

The Rail Electrification Alliance (REAL) is responsible for the delivery of Network Rail’s East Coast Main Line Power Supply Upgrade Project. The alliance, comprising of Network Rail, VolkerRail, Siemens, J Murphy and Sons, Jacobs and TSP, will construct new substations, install over 600km of new cabling and renew overhead line equipment (OLE) and structures over 246km of the ECML, from Wood Green in London to Bawtry near Doncaster.

The new power supply upgrade (PSU) is in direct support of the InterCity Express Programme, providing an enhanced traction power supply to enable the introduction of the new faster, more environmentally friendly Class 800 and 801 trains at the end of 2018, providing an improved service for passengers. The improvements will also reduce the amount of maintenance required for OLE.

Hopefully, this will reduce the likelihood of incidents like yesterday’s!

How Will The Class 800 and Class 801 Trains Deal With Line Problems?

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I looked at the electrical systems of how Class 800 and Class 801 trains and how they would cope with various problems, based on  this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

I found the following.

All Class 801 Trains Have At Least One Generator Unit

All Class 801 trains have at least one generator unit, so it can obviously provide hotel power and probably enough power to limp to the next station, in case of overhead line failure.

So if yesterday’s problem hit and the line was not physically blocked the electric Class 801 train could move to the next station or perhaps cross to an unaffected line.

The Class 800 train would just continue on its onbopard diesel power.

Locomotive Haulage Is Possible

So a rescue similar to yesteday’s is possible.

Automatic Coupling And Uncoupling

This is definitely in line with Class 395 train performance.

Automatic Train Identification Function

This is said in the Hitachi document.

To simplify the rearrangement and management of train configurations, functions are provided for identifying the train (Class 800/801), for automatically determining the cars in the trainset and its total length, and for coupling and uncoupling up to 12 cars in
normal and 24 cars in rescue or emergency mode.

I suspect most modern trains can do this.

One Twelve-Car Train Can Rescue Another

That would have been very useful yesterday.

Conclusion

The design of the new Class 800 and Class 801 trains will probably help in the coping with some of the problems on the East Coast Main Line and any other routes on which they operate.

I suspect there is already a lot of provision of crossovers for trains to cross between slow and fast lines and also to allow trains to run bi-directionally to get around various problems.

 

 

September 23, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , ,

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