The Anonymous Widower

Should The Drain Get The First New Tubes For London?

Introducing new trains onto a rail route can be a difficult process, where all sorts of problems occur.

Testing And Introducing Class 710 Trains

Currently, London Overground are introducing Class 710 trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

As the trains are about eighteen months late, I think that there must have been problems.

I’ve never tested a train, but the modern train must require lots of systems to be tested and Aventras and other recent trains could best be described as computers-on-wheels.

So I must admit, I was a bit surprised, when I heard that first route to receive the new Class 710 trains was the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

  • The line had only been recently electrified.
  • Both diesel and electric freight trains use the route.
  • Eight trains are needed to run a complete service.

As this will be the first time the trains are used, there would appear to be a lot of things that could go wrong.

The simplest route, where the new Class 710 trains are to be used is the Romford-Upminster Line.

  • It is 5.4 km long.
  • It is single-track
  • It has a 30 mph speed limit.
  • There is only three stations, each of which are a single platform.
  • The journey takes nine minutes.
  • The service operates every thirty minutes.
  • There is only one signal.
  • Only one train is needed for the service.

It must be one of the simplest electrified railways in the world.

My instincts would have been to put a single train on this line and constantly shuttle it backwards and forwards.

This was exactly how Bombardier tested the Class 379 BEMU train on the Mayflower Line.

  • Only the train is being tested.
  • Passenger systems can be tested.
  • Drivers can be trained.
  • Passengers can be asked their opinions.

If the train fails, there is a regular bus service between the two stations and service engineers are not far away at Ilford Depot.

There must be good reasons, why this approach hasn’t been used.

Perhaps, it’s just that London Overground are not going to use a Class 710 train on this route. There have been rumours of this, that I talked about in A Heritage Class 315 Train For The Romford-Upminster Line.

The New Tubes For London

London Underground are buying New Tubes For London from Siemens for four lines.

  • Piccadilly – 100 trains
  • Bakerloo – 40 trains
  • Central – 100 trains
  • Waterloo & City – 10 trains

First trains are to run on the Piccadilly Line in 2023.

I think that it will not be a simple case of replacing one fleet of old trains, with another fleet of new trains, as has been done in the past.

It was managed successfully in recent times on the Victoria Line, when 2009 Stock trains replaced 1967 Stock trains.

But Siemens design is more radical and may need track and platform work to be performed before the trains can be run.

My research in The Train-Platform Interface In London, showed that the interface seemed fairly consistent on the Piccadilly Line, so it may be easy to design trains to run the line efficiently with step-free access between train and platform.

But what about the section of the line, where the trains share track with the S8 Stock trains of the Metropolitan Line.

If the Piccadilly Line has to be closed to make it fit for the New Tubes for London, then it will be a major undertaking, even if it is done in sections.

It would be a high-risk undertaking.

A Test Line For New Tubes for London

I believe there would be advantages in creating a test line for the following purposes.

  • Test the engineering for track and platforms.
  • Test the train performance and reliability.
  • Test the Automated Train Control
  • Test the passenger systems.

One of the suburban sections could be used, but there could be problems.

The Waterloo & City Line As A Test Track

On the other hand the Waterloo & City Line could be an ideal test track.

  • It has only two stations.
  • It is step-free
  • It is only 2.4 km. long.
  • Journeys take four minutes.
  • It is integrated with a depot.

The only problem is that trains have to be moved in and out by the use of a crane.

Using the Waterloo & City Line as a test track does have other advantages.

Alternative Routes During Closure

If the line had to be closed for any period of time for track or platform work, then in 2023, there will be some excellent alternative routes.

  • Northern Line to Tottenham Court Road and then the Central Line to Bank.
  • Northern Line to Tottenham Court Road and then Crossrail to Moorgate.
  • Bakerloo Line to Embankment and then the Circle/District Lines to Monument.
  • Jubilee Line to London Bridge and then the Northern Line to Bank.
  • Southeastern From Waterloo East to London Bridge and then bus or walk.

There is also the direct 76 bus and possibly others.

It should be noted that from late 2021, the Northern Line platforms at Bank station will be much improved.

So, if the Waterloo & City Line was used to test the trains, this in itself would not present any problems during closure or unreliable service.

Improved Capacity For The Line

According to an article in the November 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Deep Tube Upgrade, new trains for the Waterloo & City Line will give a capacity increase of twenty-five percent.

This is much-needed.

Automatic Train Control Testing

Testing of any automatic control system must be very rigorous and the short double-track route of the Waterloo & City Line would be ideal for testing automatic control of the new trains.

Trains could test twenty-four hours per day and every day of the year and not annoy anybody.

Driver Training

It could a valuable resource in training new drivers and converting others to the new trains.

Ongoing Train Development

It is London Underground’s and Seimen’s objective to have the same trains on as many lines of the London Underground as possible.

Siemens might get it right first time, but each line has its own quirks and design features and having a short line in London, where the next version of the trains could be tested by the public could be an advantage.

Conclusion

I believe that introducing the New Tubes for London on the Waterloo & City Line before the other lines could give advantages in the testing and designing of the trains and for the passengers of this short route.

 

 

December 3, 2018 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

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