The Anonymous Widower

Porterbrook Awards £11m Contract To Modify New Digital Heathrow Express Fleet

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Porterbrook has unveiled a £11m contract with Bombardier to modify 12 Class 387 trains in preparation for their use on the Heathrow Express rail link.

The 12 specially converted ‘Electrostar’ trains currently operate on London commuter services for GWR but will now form a dedicated Heathrow Express fleet of electric multiple-units.

As other Class 387 trains are used on Gatwick Express, I’m sure that the trains will end up as some of the best airport expresses in the world.

But I feel that this is the most significant paragraph in the article.

The deal will also see the company fit digital signalling equipment, called ETCS, to the Class 387s – the first-time digital signalling will have been fitted on an existing fleet of electric passenger trains and will result in ‘type approval’ from the ORR which will enable ETCS to be fitted on all Electrostar fleets.

Fitting ETCS to the Heathrow Express trains will have several benefits.

More Trains Between Paddington And Reading

With the refurbishment of the Class 387 trains for the Heathrow Express, there will only be three types of trains between Paddington and Reading stations.

  • Class 387 trains
  • Class 800/801/802 trains
  • Class 345 trains

Within a few years, all of these trains will be able to use ETCS and the benefits will be more trains between Paddington and Reading stations.

The trains would probably be a few minutes faster too!

All Electrostars Will Be Able To Be Updated With Digital Signalling

If the digital signalling works for the Class 387 trains, it would appear that it could be fitted to all the other Electrostars.

This could be very significant, as several busy lines have a high proportion of Electrostars.

These are my thoughts on some lines.

Brighton Main Line

The trains working the Brighton Main Line include.

  • Gatwick Express’s Class 387 trains.
  • Thameslink’s Class 700 trains, which are already using ETCS.
  • Southern’s Electrostars.

Could we see digital signalling increase the capacity of this line.

East London Line

The East London Line is an all-Electrostar line and in the next few years, with the coming of Crossrail, it will probably need more services.

I suspect it will be using digital signalling and ETCS in a few years time.

North And West London Lines

If the East London Line were to be successfully signalled to bring capacity benefits, I could see the North London and West London Lines following suit.

The Class 710 trains, that will be boosting passenger capacity are Aventras and will be compatible with digital signalling. The freight locomotives are also being upgraded to digital signalling.

c2c

In a few years time, c2c will be using only Electrostars and Aventras! So why not use digital signalling?

As more new trains arrive with digital signalling, more lines will be converted to digital signalling and ETCS.

Conclusion

The updating of twelve Class 387 trains for Heathrow Express is a big step in the creation of a digital railway.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Rail Company In Bid To Build Multi-Million-Pound Rail Depot Near Ipswich Station

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Rail company Freightliner has revealed that it is hoping to build a new multi-million pound depot for its trains just outside Ipswich station.

Freightliner said it wants to build an extensive workshop to maintain its locomotives and wagons, with around 20 new full-time and part-time jobs created to help it carry out the maintenance currently carried out at other depots across the country.

This Google Map shows the current position of Freightliner’s yard at Ipswich station.

Note the yard tucked in to the South of the station. It looks like fuel is being delivered.

It is not very large and according to the article, its position means that to refuel, locomotives have to cross the Great Eastern Main Line.

Part of the yard could also become the site for additional platforms for Ipswich station.

This article in the Ipswich Star, says this about the position of the new depot.

It wants to build a massive new workshop to maintain its locomotives and wagons on land where there are currently little-used tracks beside Ranelagh Road.

This Google Map shows the position.

Several freight trains are visible in Ipswich Yard and just to the North are the little-used tracks, mentioned in the Ipswich Star. It looks like this will be the new location of the depot.

The new depot will be well out of the way of Ipswich station, which can just be seen in the bottom-right corner of the map.

As the new depot will create extra jobs and be able to handle wagon repairs, that currently need to go to Manchester or Southampton, it seems that Freightliner’s plan is a good one.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Infrastructure Delays Force Northern To Soldier On With Pacers

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

Forty-six Pacers remained in traffic with Northern at the start of January, after they were supposed to have been sent off-lease.

Northern are saying they are still in service because of delays in the delivery of the electrification through Bolton, which would have allowed the replacement of Pacers with electric trains.

The situation has not been helped by the late delivery of eight Class 769 trains, which could be running partially-electrified routes.

The Class 331 trains should also be arriving this year.

As there are also some more Class 319 trains in store, it does look like Northern’s blaming of the late electrification is on the mark.

 

 

 

 

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Seabed Rocks Could Act As Green Energy Stores

The title of this post is the same as that of this press release from the University of Strathclyde.

This is the first four paragraphs.

Rocks in the seabed off the UK coast could provide long-term storage locations for renewable energy production, new research suggests.

An advanced technique could be used to trap compressed air in porous rock formations found in the North Sea using electricity from renewable technologies.

The pressurised air could later be released to drive a turbine to generate large amounts of electricity.

Using the technique on a large scale could store enough compressed air to meet the UK’s electricity needs during winter, when demand is highest, the study found.

I read about this in today’s copy of The Times, which also says the following.

  • There are suitable areas in the North and Irish Seas that can be used.
  • The rocks could store fifty percent more energy than we used January and February.

As similar technology is being used in salt caverns in Germany and the United States, I feel that the idea has possibilities.

 

January 22, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments

No Progress On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

I was talking to a station guy on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line yesterday and he told me, it will be two weeks before the new Class 710 trains start running.

He indicated that the Class 378 trains don’t fit the route, which I do find strange, as the Class 710 and Class 378 trains should eventually be sharing the North London Line.

According to Wikipedia widths of the trains are as follows.

  • Class 172 – 2.69 m.
  • Class 378 – 2.80 m.
  • Class 315 – 2.82 m.

By comparison a Class 345 Aventra is 2.78 m.

Perhaps that twenty millimetres is critical!.

But the guy had a point, when he suggested the line should have had a slightly larger gauge,, as it might have been possible to run a few redundant Class 315 trains on the route.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a rumour that the Class 717 trains didn’t fit the tunnels into Moorgate.

It sounds like there has been a lack of people, who can read a tape measure.

 

 

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments