The Anonymous Widower

Is This The Hippest Train Status Displays?

In Technology Doesn’t Have To Be Complex, I described how Transport for London were using the suspension to assess how crowded trains are on the London Overground.

In my post, I suggested that the information could be used in modern station displays to show the train loading.

Yesterday, this article in the Standard, had a picture of such a display, at Shoreditch High Street station.

So today, I took one of my own.

According to the Standard, passengers like the display.

It should be born in mind, that this is only the first version and I’m certain the information captured from the train suspension will find be used in several innovative ways.

 

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Should Thameslink Be Extended To Corby?

I ask this question as someone who created his pension pot from writing the algorithms to allocate resources in the planning of projects and because I know that the number of train paths on the Midland Main Line is very tight for the number of services required.

This document on the Network Rail web site has this paragraph.

Electrification of the MML north of Bedford to Kettering and Corby is scheduled to be completed by December 2019.

The Wikipedia entry for Corby station has a section entitled Future, where this is said.

It is planned that a half-hourly London St Pancras to Corby service will operate from December 2019 using new Class 387 trains, once the Midland Main Line has been electrified beyond Bedford as part of the Electric Spine project. Network Rail has also announced that it plans to re-double the currently singled Glendon Junction to Corby section as part of this scheme.

So how will the second service in each hour be provided?

Bedford To St. Pancras

Looking at Bedford, it would appear the following trains run to London.

  • East Midlands Trains in 39-40 minutes
  • Thameslink in 57-59 minutes at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).
  • A Limited-Stop Thameslink in 52 minutes.

As Thameslink has now fully introduced an all-Class 700 train service, could we be seeing a faster service?

Bedford To Corby

The current hourly service between St. Pancras and Corby stops at Bedford and takes thirty-four minutes between Bedford and Corby with stops at Wellingborough and Kettering.

A modern electric train like a Class 700 train, might be able to do the return trip from Bedford to Corby in under an hour. If a Class 700 train can’t do it, then a Class 387 train certainly could.

This would mean that one way to provide the extra service between St. Pancras and Corby would be to extend one of the four tph Bedford to Brighton services to Corby.

This approach would give the following advantages

  • No extra train path is needed South of Bedford.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would get a choice of service.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would have a direct link to Crossrail.

But there would be disadvantages.

  • The Thameslink service would be a few minutes slower.
  • The Class 700 trains don’t have tables, cup-holders, wi-fi and power sockets.
  • The Class 700 trains are only 100 mph trains and probably not fast enough.

The obvious solution is to run the service with a faster electric train, which addresses the deficiencies of the Class 700 trains.

The Ultimate Solution

The Midland Main Line  between Bedford and Glendon Junction for Corby is at least three tracks, with in most places space for a fourth.

I believe the following improvements should be made to the route between Bedford and Glendon Junction.

  • All the tracks between Bedford and Corby should be upgraded to be as fast as possible, so that 110 or 125 mph trains to Corby could make full use of their speed, without using the two Fast Lines.
  • Wellingborough station should have the fourth platform restored.
  • Extra stations, including a Parkway station, could be added if required.

Thameslink would acquire a number of 110 or 125 trains and replace the four tph service between Brighton and Bedford, with a four tph service between Brighton and Corby.

Class 387 trains would probably be acceptable. Especially, as Govia Thameslink Railway uses these trains on Cambridge services.

The consequences of doing this would be.

  • The current one tph path between St. Pancras and Corby on the Fast Lines would be released.
  • Platform needs at St. Pancras would be reduced.
  • No extra Slow Line paths would be needed.
  • Bedford would get the same four tph service to London all day.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would get four tph to St. Pancras.

Twelve faster trains would be needed to provide a full four tph service between Corby and St. Pancras.

Alternatively, you could extend just two opf the four tph from Brighton tom Bedford to Corby!

This would mean.

  • Bedford would get the same four tph service to London all day.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would get two tph to St. Pancras.

Six faster trains would be needed.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion, that by providing some extra 110 or 125 mph trains for Thameslink, that the service on the Midland Main Line can be improved significantly.

It also leads me to believe that the specification of the Class 700 trains was created by someone with worse vision than George Shearing.

The trains lack a lot of features like wi-fi and power sockets.

But more importantly, they lack the 110 mph capability of trains like the |Class 350, Class 387 and Class 379 trains, which enables them to run efficiently with express services cruising at 125 mph.

 

 

 

 

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Bombardier and CAF To Make 413 Carriages For New West Midlands Franchise

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

This is said.

Future operator West Midlands Trains has made a £680 million order with Bombardier and CAF for 413 carriages.

Bombardier will manufacture 36 three-car and 45 five-car Aventra trains at its Derby site, while CAF will produce 12 two-car and 14 four-car Civity trains. In total, 107 new trains will be delivered.

The electric three-car Aventras will operate on metro services, the electric five-car units for outer suburban and long distance, while CAF’s DMUs will run on dedicated services to the towns and cities around Birmingham.

These are my thoughts on the various parts of the order.

The Three-Car Aventras

The thirty-six three-car Aventras will probably replace the twenty-six Class 323 trains, which lack wi-fi and other passenger-friendly features.

It should also be noted that the Aventra has a slightly unusual and innovative electrical layout.

This article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required.

This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept, which is probably more to do with spreading weight around the train for better dynamics than anything else!

Obviously for West Midlands Trains, there is no need for 750 VDC, but will there still be a pair of power cars?

So it looks like there may be a reorganisation of the electrical system in the trains.

A few other points.

  • I am surprised that some of the trains aren’t six-cars, as every other set of new trains seem to be single and double lengths.
  • According to Wikipedia, the trains will have end gangways.
  • The trains are air-conditioned and have free wi-fi and power sockets.

Hopefully, the full specification and Tops-number will be disclosed soon.

Are Batteries An Inherent Part Of The Operation Of Three Car Aventras?

Suppose each car in the train was a self-contained power car.

  • Each car could also have  a 75 kWh battery, which is the size of one on a New Routemaster hybrid bus.
  • Regenerative braking would be efficient as it would use the battery in the same car.
  • Batteries can be topped up using the 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Passenger services like power-points would be powered from the battery.

If we assume that each car needs 5 kW to do a mile, this would give the train a range away from the wires of 15 miles.

Would it be possible for trains to run on the Camp Hill Line and the proposed Camp Hill Chords into Birmingham Moor Street station solely using battery power?

I think it is possible and after the battery-powered trams on the Midland Metro, it’s another case of emphasising the B in Birmingham.

The Five-Car Aventras

These will probably be vaguely similar to the other two five-car Aventras; Class 701 and Class 720.

Differences highlighted in the various articles and Wikipedia include.

  • According to Wikipedia, the trains will have end gangways.
  • The trains will be 110 mph units.

Both are firsts for Aventras.

I don’t think it will be long before a train operator buys an Aventra capable of 125 mph.

The CAF Civity Trains

The CAF Civity are a mixture of two-car and four-car units and will be used to replace some older diesel multiple units and augment some of the more modern Class 170 and Class 172 trains.

Class 230 Trains

West Midlands Trains have also ordered three Class 230 trains for the Marston Vale Line.

The route has the following characteristics.

  • It is roughly twenty-four miles long.
  • Trains take just over forty minutes for the journey between Bletchley and Bedford stations.
  • There are plans to extend the service to Milton Keynes Central station.
  • It is a diesel island in a sea of electrified lines.

 

Wikipedia says this about the Infrastructure.

Apart from a short length of single track at both ends, the line is double track, and is not electrified (barring short lengths at either end). It has a loading gauge of W8 and a line speed of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h). The line’s signalling centre is at Ridgmont.

I would suspect that two trains are needed to provide an hourly service, so buying three trains gives a spare, that might augment the services at busy times.

The flexibility of the Class 230 trains will give a choice of operating modes.

  • Using 25 KVAC overhead electrification at the ends.
  • Using onboard diesel power.
  • Using batteries charged at the ends of the route.

I suspect that the most efficient will be a mix of all three.

The trains are also designed for remote servicing, so they could be based in a siding at Bedford, Bletchley or Wolverton and supported by a well-designed service vehicle and a fuel bowser.

Conclusions

West Midlands Trains seem to have gone for a sensible Horses-for-Courses solution.

I have a feeling that their concept for the Marston Vale Line will be used elsewhere.

 

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Penistone Line And Rotherham Tram-Train Trials

The Penistone Line Tram-Train Trial

The Penistone Line from Sheffield to Barnsley, Penistone and Huddersfield was the line originally selected for the tram-train trial.

In the Wikipedia entry for the line, this is said about the tram-train trial.

On 18 March 2008, the Department for Transport released details of a proposal to trial tram-trains on the Penistone Line, the first use of such vehicles in the UK. The trial was to start in 2010 and last for two years. Northern Rail, the operator of passenger services on the line, asked potential manufacturers to tender for the design and construction of five new vehicles, which Northern Rail would subsequently lease. In addition, Network Rail planned to spend £15m modifying track and stations to make them compatible with the new vehicles.

However, it was announced on 15 September 2009 that a city tram-train trial between Rotherham and Sheffield would replace the Penistone Line scheme.

More about the trial is said in this article on Rail News, which is entitled Penistone Line Is Chosen For £24m Tram Trains Trial. In particular, this is said.

One of the biggest initial tasks is to set a specification for the building of the five diesel-electro hybrid tram trains at a cost of £9 million. The trains will have to be equipped with braking systems suitable for on-street running and a Train Protection Warning System which is required for running on lines with ‘heavy’ rail passenger and freight trains.

The article was written in 2008 and Chemnitz hybrid Citylink tram-trains didn’t enter service until 2016.

So was the trial on the Penistone Line a disaster before it even started?

It had the following problems.

  • It was expecting a diesel-electric hybrid tram to be designed and built before 2010.
  • A long distance was involved.
  • The track-work needed to connect to the Sheffield Supertram could have been incredibly complicated.
  • The first all-electric Citylink tram-trains weren’t delivered to Karlsruhe until May 2014, which was seven months late.

For these and other reasons, I think that the decision of the trial to be delayed and to use Rotherham, was a prudent decision.

The Rotherham Tram-Train Trial

Consider these characteristics of the current trial, between Cathedral and Rotherham Psrkgate.

  • The tram-trains are virtually standard Karlsruhe Citylink tram-trains, adapted for UK 25 KVAC and painted blue!
  • A simple chord connecting the two systems.
  • A few miles of electrification, that could be powered by either 750 VDC or 25 KVAC.
  • Modification of the recently-built Rotherham Central station.
  • Building of a new terminal tram stop at Rotherham Parkgate.

It’s a simple plan, but one that covers a lot of design possibilities and has few, if any, risky elements, that haven’t been done in the UK or Karlsruhe.

The following can be tested.

  • The Class 399 tram-trains on the Sheffield Supertram network and an electrified main line.
  • Passenger entry and exit at Rotherham Central station and all over the Supertram network.
  • Operation under both 750 VDC or 25 KVAC.
  • Signalling systems on both tram and main line networks.

The one thing that can’t be tested is a diesel hybrid tram-train as they have in Chemnitz, as they haven’t ordered any!

But if they did want to order some, they could easily be tested between Cathedral and Rotherham Parkgate.

Conclusion

The original plan to use the Penistone Line and diesel-electric tram-trains was impossible.

Network Rail might have got this one right at the second attempt.

They could even run a UK version of the Chemnitz hybrid tram-train on the test route between Sheffield and Rotherham.

 

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment