The Anonymous Widower

First ‘717’ In UK In June

The title of this post is the same as that of a short article in the May 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

The first Class 717 EMU, built by Siemens for Govia Thameslink Railway’s Great Northern suburban services into Moorgate, is due to arrive in the UK in June.

The article also makes these statements, about the new Class 717 trains.

  • The first unit is planned to enter service in September.
  • The full fleet of 25 x 6-car units will be deployed in Winter 2018.
  • The current Class 313 trains will be replaced.
  • The new trains will have no toilets or First Class.
  • The new trains will have power points and wi-fi.

By virtue of the cross-platform connection between the Northern City Line and Victoria Line, these trains will improve a valuable link between North East London and the City of London.

When Crossrail opens in December 2018 at Moorgate station, the Northern City Line will have a step-free below-ground connection to Liverpool Street station and all the Underground lines serving the two stations.

Ducking and diving will move to a whole new level.

What Will The New Trains Do For Me?

For my own part, if the frequency on the Northern City Line is increased, I shall use the line from Essex Road station to get to Moorgate for Crossrail and the Central Line.

I suspect my house will go up in value!

How Will The New Trains Affect The Service?

The New Trains Are Faster

The current Class 313 trains are 75 mph trains, whereas the new Class 717 trains are 100 mph trains.

This increased operating speed will have two effects, when running on the East Coast Main Line and to Letchworth Garden City.

  • Time might be saved.
  • As their operating speed is the same as Thameslink’s closely-related Class 700 trains, they might make keeping to time easier.

Time savings on the Hertford Loop Line, will be more difficult, as the line only has a 75 mph operating speed.

However, speed improvements on the Hertford Loop Line would surely result in faster trains to Hertford, Letchworth Garden City and Stevenage.

The New Trains Could Change Voltage Faster

Trains on the Northern City Line need to change voltage at Drayton Park station. I have observed Class 700 trains, do this on Thameslink and they do it without fuss and very reliably.

The Class 717 trains will probably use the same pantograph, so we could be seeing a smoother and faster changeover.

The New Trains Will Probably Be Ready For ERTMS

The Class 700 trains are fitted for ERTMS, so they can work the Thameslink tunnel under Automatic Train Operation.

As this method of signalling and control will be fitted to the East Coast Main Line to improve caacity, the new Class 717 trains will probably be ERTMS-ready.

It should be noted that the Hertford Loop Line has been used as an ERTMS test track and I suspect engineers know the performance improvement ERTMS would bring to the line.

I suspect in a few years, the Northern City Line and services out of Moorgate will be run automatically, with the driver monitoring the system.

The New Trains Will Stop In A Shorter Time At Stations

The new Class 717 trains will have the these advantages of modern trains over the current ones.

  • They will be able to accelerate to line speed in a shorter time.
  • They will be able to brake faster.
  • Wider doors and larger lobbies will enable shorter loading and unloading times.
  • The trains will have better systems to help the driver.

These will all result in time savings at each stops.

Currently, the four destinations have the number of stops to Moorgate.

  • Hertford North –  49-53 minutes – 12 stops
  • Letchworth Garden City – 75 minutes – 19 stops
  • Stevenage – 68-72 minutes – 14 stops
  • Welwyn Garden City – 47-48 minutes – 16 stops

Because of the high number of stops, saving a minute at each stop would speed up the train service.

Less Trains Could Be Needed For The Current Service

As an example, take the Moorgate to Letchworth service.

The current service is one train per hour (tph), which takes 75 minutes. In its simplest form, allowing for turnround at both ends, trains take up to three hours for the round trip, so three trains are needed for the service.

But if the faster Class 717 trains can save a minute at each stop and run faster on the East Coast Main Line, it might be possible to reduce the round trip to several minutes under two hours. If that is possible, then only two trains would be needed for the route.

Improve The Hertford Loop Line

With its low operating speed of 75 mph, the new Class 717 trains can’t take full sadvantage of their increased speed.

There are already plans for new bay platforms at Gordon Hill and Stevenage stations, so what other plans are being progressed to improve the Hertford Loop Line?

The New Trains Could Have Less Seats And More Capacity

I can only give a rough estimate for this as I can’t find the capacity of a Class 717 train.

These are cars, car length and capacity for various trains.

  • Class 707 trains -five x 20 m. – 275 seats + 533 standing
  • Class 717 trains – six x 20.2 m. – No figures.
  • Class 313 trains – three x 20.2 m. – 232 seats
  • 2 x Class 313 trains – six x 20.2 m. 464 seats

A rough calculation for the Class 717 train using the figures for a similar Class 707 train and adjusting for another ytailer carriage gives the following.

339 seats + 657 standing = 996 total

Incidemtally, I’ve stood on a crowded Class 707 train, and it was not an unpleasant experience, as there were plenty of handholds.

This picture shows handholds on the seats and between carriages.

I hope the Class 717 trains have 2 + 2 seating, like the Class 707 trains.

Improved Services To And From Moorgate

Current services to and from Moorgate station are as follows.

  • Three tph to Welwyn Garden City
  • Three tph to Hertford North, with one tph extended to Letchworth Gsrden City.

This means that there are six tph between Alexandra Palace and Moorgate stations.

From the May 2018 timetable change, the service levels will become.

  • Four tph to Welwyn Garden City
  • Five tph to Hertford North, with two tph extended to Stevenage or Watton-at-Stone.
  • No direct services will run to Letchworth Garden City. Change seems to be a cross-platform interchange at Finsbury Park.

The service termination at Watton-at-Stone station is only temporary until Network Rail build a new bay platform at Stevenage station.

These changes mean  that there will be nine tph between Alexandra Palace and Moorgate stations.

This frequency is already achieved in the Peak, from Monday to Friday. But it now appears, it will be running all day from the May 2018 timetable change.

I found this document on the Rail Delivery Group web site, which is entitled 6,400 Extra Trains A Week To Run To More Places, More Often.

It says these services will be added in 2019.

  • An increase of 2 Hertford Loop trains per hour, Moorgate-Hertford
  • An increase of 1 Hertford Loop train per hour, Moorgate-Stevenage
  • An increase of 1 train per hour, Moorgate-Welwyn Garden City

In the May 2018 edition of Modern Railways, this is said.

New Class 717 EMUs will eplace the current Class 313s on these services from the autumn, with a further frequency boost planned in May 2019.

Adding this all together gives the following.

  • Five tph to Welwyn Garden City
  • Seven tph to Hertford North, with three tph extended to Stevenage.

This means that there will be twelve tph between Alexandra Palace and Moorgate stations. Or a train every five minutes.

It would appear that the overall effect of what Govia Thameslink Railway is doing is as follows.

  • Restricting the running of Moorgate services on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Provide a five tph Turn-Up-And-Go service from Welwyn Garden City.
  • Provide a seven tph Turn-Up-And-Go service from  Hertford North.
  • Provide a six tph Turn-Up-And-Go Thameslink service from Stevenage.
  • Provide a three tph service to Moorgate from Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone. Could it be expanded to a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph.
  • Stations North of Stevenage will be served by Thameslink services to Cambridge and Peterborough.
  • Thameslink services will stop at Stevenage and Finsbury Park for interchange with Moorgate services.

Will all of of this, downgrade Welwyn North station, by offering better services at Knebworth, Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone and Welwyn Garden City stations?

Consider.

  • Welwyn North station handles about 600.000 passengers a year.
  • Welwyn North station only has a service of two tph.
  • Welwyn North station lies on the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct.
  • Knebworth station handles 600,000 passengers a year, but is on a four-track section of the line.
  • Watton-at-Stone station, which is perhaps four kilometres to the East handles 100,000 passengers a year, but appears to be short of car parking.

I’m pretty certain, that if Welwyn North station could be closed, then the notorious bottleneck of the Digswell Viaduct could be eased.

So are Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway working towards a situation, where this will be able to happen.

They could do the following.

  • Provide more car parking at Knebworth, Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone and Welwyn Garden City stations.
  • Build a new Park-And-Ride station in South Stevenage on the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Improve timings between Stevenage and Moorgate.
  • Extend more Hertford North services to Stevenage. Six tph would probably be the limit for a single bay platform at Stevenage.

Shutting Welwyn North station would be controversial and heavily resisted.

How Many Trains Will Be Needed?

In May 2019, I think the service will be as follows.

  • Five tph to Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City
  • Four tph to Moorgate to Hertford North,
  • Three tph Moorgate to Stevenage.

I’ll now look at each separately.

Moorgate To Welwyn Garden City

Trains take just under around 47-48 minutes and there are sixteen intermediate stops.

Currently, I suspect a train takes two hours to do a round trip, which would allow up to 12-13 minutes to turn round at each end.

  • Three tph would need six trains.
  • Four tph would need eight trains.
  • Five tph would need ten trains.

But supposing the Class 717 trains, with faster running on the East Coast Main Line and faster stops could reduce this to under thirty minutes with a round trip of an hour.

  • Four tph would need four trains.
  • Five tph would need five trains.

Note.

  1. Currently, all trains are turned in Platform 4.
  2. Will Platform 4 be able to handle four tph after the May 2018 timetable change?
  3. Will Platform 4 be able to handle five tph after the May 2019 timetable change?
  4. There are sidings easily accessible to the North of Platform 4.
  5. Trains leaving Welwyn Garden City for Moorgate use a flyover to cross to the Up Slow line.

If five tph with just five trains is possible, it’s well worth achieving. But it could be a hard ask!

Moorgate To Hertford North

Trains take around 49-53 minutes and there are twelve intermediate stops.

This service would be another two hour round trip.

  • Three tph would need six trains.
  • Four tph would need eight trains.
  • Five tph would need ten trains.

The new Class 717 trains couldn’t probably do the trip in thirty minutes, but a ninety minute round-trip would surely be possible.

  • The proposed four tph would need six trains.

Note.

  1. Four tph is the frequency that will be running from May 2019.
  2. Four tph could also be easily handled in the bay platform at Hertford North station.

Any track improvement would help.

Moorgate To Stevenage

Trains take around 68-72 minutes and there are fourteen intermediate stops.

The new Class 717 trains with their faster running  and faster stops, should be able to do this trip under the hour, with a possible two-hour round trip.

If this could be achieved the service would need the following trains.

  • The proposed three tph would need six trains.
  • Four tph would need eight trains.

Improving the Hertford Loop Line, so that the Class 717 trains could fully use their 100 mph operating speed could be key.

Summarising The Trains Needed

Summarising gives.

  • Three tph between Moorgate and Stevenage would need six trains.
  • Four tph between Moorgate and Hertford North would need eight trains with a two hour round trip.
  • Cut that to a ninety-minute round trip and six trains could be needed.
  • Five tph between Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City could possibly be run with five trains or need as many as ten.

A pessimistic answer for the number of trains could be as high as 24, which fits well with a fleet of twenty five trains.

But an optimistic solution might need.

  • Six trains for Stevenage
  • Six trains for Hertford North
  • Five trains for Welwyn Garden City

This would leave several trains for increasing frequency.

Increasing The Service After May 2019

Improving The Hertford Loop Line

If the Class 717 trains could use their speed, this would enable faster journeys and could allow extra paths for more trains.

ERTMS On The Moorgate Lines

It is already used by Thameslink and is scheduled to be used on the East Coast Main Line.

Will it be added to the Hertford Loop Line and on the Northern City Line?

ERTMS and a degree of Automatic Train Control, could be a game changer.

Fitting the necessary equipment to the Class 717 trains, shouldn’t be the most difficult of jobs, as the system is already fitted to Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

Increased Frequency Into Moorgate

Consider.

  • Currently, in the Peak, the Class 313 trains running under control of conventional signalling manage 11 tph at times.
  • From May 2019, Gover Thameslink Railway will be running 12 tph into Moorgate all day.
  • Thameslink and Crossrail should be handling 24 tph, by the end of 2019.
  • Brixton station on the Victoria Line handles upwards of thirty tph with two platforms.
  • Transport for London and Londoners have a lot of experience about loading and unloading trains.

Look at this schematic of the vast Crossrail complex linking Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations.

Note the Northern City Line in dark blue at the left, with a new pedestrian tunnel linking to Crossrail. This will help handle the passenger flows between Crossrail and the Northern City Line.

With ERTMS and Automatic Train Control, I wonder what, is the maximum number of trains that can be handled at Moorgate?

Twelve is obviously possible with the current infrastructure, as it is only one more than what is currently achieved in the Peak.

My experience says that with good electronic and organisational systems, that fifteen tph should be possible in both directions between Moorgate and Finsbury Park stations.

An Extra Train To Stevenage

Current plans envisage three tph between Moorgate and Stevenage.

The new bay platform at Stevenage would easily handle four tph and if the sufficient trains are available, I could see this extra service implemented.

The following frequencies would be achieved.

  • Four tph – Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone.
  • Eight tph – Hertford North.

The Northern City Line would obviously need to be able to handle the extra train.

Gordon Hill Station As An Extra Terminus

Gordon Hill station is sometimes used as an extra terminus to turn trains from Moorgate in the Peak.

I can see this continuing, as surely it increases the capacity at the Moorgate end of the line.

Conclusion

It will be interesting to swee how this line develops in the future.

 

April 27, 2018 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. […] In First ‘717’ In UK In June, I wrote about what will be happening in the May 2018 timetable change. […]

    Pingback by A Good Timetable Change In May For De Beauvoir Town « The Anonymous Widower | May 2, 2018 | Reply

  2. Are 717’s quieter than old 313 ‘s for residents living near track.

    Comment by Mary | August 7, 2018 | Reply

    • I don’t know for certain, but the latest trains have better aerodynamics and tight bolts.

      So they should be quieter.

      But the proof of the pudding will be in the eating!

      Tell me when you hear one!

      Comment by AnonW | August 8, 2018 | Reply


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