The Anonymous Widower

East Midlands Parkway Station – 11th July 2019

I took these pictures at East Midlands Parkway station.

These are some of my thoughts.

Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station

The station is dominated by the coal-fired Ratcliffe-on-Spar power station, with its eight massive cooling towers.

When I was leaving Liverpool University in the late-1960s, I don’t think any of my fellow students thought coal had a future.

Several of my group of Electrical Engineers went into nuclear engineering, but many like me went into computing, electronics and instrumentation.

But still the Government ploughed on with mining coal and burning the filthy stuff to produce electricity.

Now the current government has decided, that they’ll all be gone by 2025!

And good riddance to them!

It has amazed me, they have survived this long.

I can remember reading in the Guardian in the 1980s of proposals by enlightened thinkers to retrain miners as insulation teams to insulate our terrible pre-war housing stock, which wastes vast amounts of energy.

But politicians of the left, including some who are still around today, glory in the honest toil of working in a coal mine.

I’m afraid, that I’ve met so many children of miners, whose major advice from their father, was to never go down a mine except as a tourist.

Burning coal, has been one of the worst cul-de-sacs of the human race.

An Inadequate Train Service

I have scarcely been to a station with such an inadequate train service.

Logic suggests, that it would have a service something like two or four trains per hour (tph) to major cities within half-an-hour.

But read what is said under Services in the Wikipedia entry for the station.

Here’s the first two paragraphs.

Fears were raised by various bodies, notably East Midlands Airport, about the service pattern proposed for the new station.

Donington Park motor racing circuit is nearby, and its owners have expressed their desire for spectators to use the station or coach services when travelling to the circuit. The owners are also in support of any future light rail transport to East Midlands Airport itself.

On my visit, I took a train from Leicester and then had to wait nearly an hour to get one back to where I started.

Abellio certainly have scope to improve the service.

In Leicester Station – 11th July 2019, I wrote that I felt that if Abellio apply similar logic to that which they are applying in East Anglia, that there could be a significant improvement in services on the Midland Main Line, to the North of Leicester.

  • Three tph – Fast trains between Leicester and Sheffield via Derby and Chesterfield
  • One tph – Stopping train between Leicester and Sheffield via Derby and Chesterfield
  • Three tph – Fast trains between Leicester and Nottingham
  • One tph – Stopping train between Leicester and Nottingham
  • One tph – Stopping train between Leicester and Lincoln

As the new trains will have a better performance, more could stop at East Midlands Parkway to even out the terrible stopping pattern.

Station Usage

Wikipedia gives the station usage as just over 300,000 passengers per year.

This compares with  Louthborough station, which is the next station to the South having a usage of 1,300,000 passengers per year.

Even the new Ilkeston station further North with only two platforms and of a much simpler design, had a usage of 250,000 passengers in its first year.

As this Google Map shows, the car parking has attracted a few takers.

I do question though, if the station should ever have been built!

I hope Abellio have a plan to breathe some life into the station.

Megabus

Note the Stagecoach Megabus in the pictures.

This provides services all over Yprkshire and is decribed under Multi-Modal in the Wikipedia entry for the station.

This is the first paragraph.

From 30 March 2009, the station has been used as an interchange station for combined multi-modal journeys using Megabus-branded services run by Stagecoach (the operators of both East Midlands Trains and of Megabus). The MegabusPlus services transport passengers from cities in the north of England to East Midlands Parkway, where passengers transfer to rail for the service to London.

At a first glance, it looks like a crazy idea.

But Stagecoach wouldn’t run it, if it wasn’t needed or profitable.

Charging Battery Electric Trains

In The Mathematics Of Fast-Charging Battery Trains Using Third-Rail Electrification, I showed how a third-rail-based fast charging sstem, like that proposed by Vivarail could transfer several hundred kWh to the batteries of a train stopped in the station, for a few minutes.

East Midlands Parkway station with pairs of tracks between generously-spaced platforms with a gap between the tracks, would be an ideal location for such a charging system.

  • The two third-rail would be laid together between the two tracks.
  • The third-rails could be shielded, but as they would only be live with a train on the top, would it be necessary?
  • The driver would only need to stop the train in the correct position, but they do that anyway.
  • An adequate electricity supply shouldn’t be too much of a problem!

In a three minute contact between the train and the third-rail, I believe it would be possible to transfer up to 200 kWh to the batteries of the train.

Conclusion

This station has problems.

I’ll be interested to see how Abellio attract more passengers and use the station to passengers and their own benefit.

 

 

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Leicester Station – 11th July 2019

I took these pictures at Leicester station today.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Long Straight Platforms

The two main platforms for trains to and from London are long and straight and can easily accommodate the longest trains that do or will use the station.

Wide Spacious Platforms

The two island platforms are wide and spacious.

In my time at the station, I didn’t see any trains use the outer platforms and I do wonder if the station is used to the maximum capacity allowed by the layout.

The Station Could Have More Trains And Be A Better Interchange

When you arrive at Ipswich station on a fast train from London, one of the half-hourly services has an easy connection to either Bury St. Edmunds and Cambridge, Felixstowe, Lowestoft and/or Peterborough. and staff and information screens are there to speed you on your way.

Leicester station doesn’t seem to welcome you to continue your journey elsewhere

Abellio And Ipswich Station

Abellio with their new trains and timetable, will be increasing frequencies, so that Suffolk’s County Town with a population of 133,000, will have the following services.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) to Bury St. Edmunds. – Doubled from current.
  • One tph to Cambridge – A second hourly service will be available with a change at Ely.
  • One tph to Felixstowe – Might be doubled, now thst the Felixstowe branch has more capacity.
  • Three-four tph to London – Faster and up from two expresses and a stopping train per hour.
  • One tph to Lowestoft – Better timetable and faster.
  • Three tph to Norwich – Up from two tph
  • One tph to Peterborough – Doubled from current one train per two hours.

The creation of the East-West Rail Link will see a doubling of the service to Cambridge and one train per two hours to Oxford.

Applying Abellio’s East Anglian Rules To Leicester

Leicester is a city and County Town, with a population of 330,000.

These appear to be the current services.

  • Two tph to Birmingham
  • One tph to Cambridge, Peterborough and Stansted Airport
  • Two tph to Derby
  • One tph to Lincoln – Stopping train via Loughborough and East Midlands Parkway.
  • Four tph to London
  • Two tph to Nottingham
  • Two tph to Sheffield

Leicester doesn’t seem to have the sort of train service the City deserves.

This is the London, Ipswich and Norwich philosophy as proposed by Abellio and in the process of being delivered.

  • New maximum-length and maximum-speed high-capacity Class 745 trains will provide more seats on the route.
  • A fifty per-cent increase in train frequency from two tph to three tph.
  • Four express services per day, only stopping at Ipswich, have been introduced, giving a ninety minute service between London and Norwich.
  • Four trains per day between Lowestoft and London.

What would a similar philosophy for London Midland Main Line, look like at Leicester?

  • Three tph to Derby, Chesterfield and Sheffield.
  • Six tph to London
  • Three tph to Nottingham
  • All trains would be maximum-length with a capacity at least similar to a 2+8 HST.
  • Greater Anglia’s Class 745 trains will have 757 seats in two classes and a buffet. Expect a similar specification on the Midland Main Line.
  • Services will be faster, with I suspect no trains taking longer than an hour from Leicester to London or Sheffield.
  • Could there be a couple of non-stop trains every hour between London and Leicester?

This service would be a lot better and it only needs.

  • An extra tph between London and Sheffield via Derby and Chesterfield
  • An extra tph between London and Nottingham.
  • Enough new maximum-length trains, which will probably be bi-mode trains, that are scheduled to arrive in 2022.

Four tph between London and Sheffield and London and Nottingham would surely be the ideal, but there just isn’t the capacity to the South of Kettering and in St. Pancras station.

So will we see extra services on the Midland Main Line to boost services North of Leicester?

  • One tph between Leicester and Sheffield via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby and Chesterfield.
  • One tph between Leicester and Sheffield via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway, Ilkeston, Langley Mill, Alfreton and Chesterfield.
  • One tph between Leicester and Nottingham via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway and Beeston.
  • The one tph Leicester to Lincoln service could also be included.

The services would be as follows.

  • Trains would probably be shorter versions of the maximum-length bi-mode Midland Main Line trains.
  • They would use the outer platforms at Leicester station to give cross-platform interchange with the frequent London trains.
  • Services could possibly be extended past Sheffield to Leeds and past Nottinghm to Newark or Lincoln.

Leicester’s excellent platform design would see an increase in the number of trains and hopefully passengers.

Leicester And East-West Services

I also think, that there is sufficient capacity in Leicester station to add the following East-West services.

  • Four tph to Birmingham
  • Four tph to Cambridge
  • Four tph to Peterborough

The following should be noted.

  • Abellio has a substantial interest in all three stations and Leicester.
  • The routes are often run by two-car Class 170 trains.
  • The trains are often full.
  • There is only short sections of lines that are electrified.

I believe that there should be the  following service between Birmingham and Cambridge.

  • Four tph
  • At least four-car bi-mode trains.
  • At least a 100 mph capability.
  • Stops would include Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March and Ely.
  • At the Birmingham end, services could go via Birmingham International and Coventry.
  • At the Cambridge end. perhaps two tph could be extended to Audley End and Stansted Airport.
  • At Leicester there would be an easy interchange to London, the East Midlands and Sheffield.
  • At Peterborough, there would be an easy interchange to London, Leeds, Newcastle and Scotland

It could be argued that if there is a need for a Cambridge and Oxford rail link, then Britain’s fastest growing high-technology hub, needs to have a high quality rail link to Birmingham via Leicester, Coventry and Birmingham International.

One overcrowded hourly two-car diesel train is not suitable for this important rail route.

Currently, trains take two hours forty-five minutes between Birmingham and Cambridge, which means with a fifteen minute turnround at either end, twenty-four trains would be needed for the service.

So it is probably not feasible, but I suspect it could be an aspiration for Abellio.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abellio try to take over the Birmingham and Stansted Airport service from CrossCountry.
  • Greater Anglia’s four-car Class 755 trains would double the capacity and be able to use electrification at both ends of the route.
  • Greater Anglia have a few spare Class 755 trains, so is this takeover in their ambitions.
  • Would the service be easier for Abellio to run, than CrossCountry?

This is a service to watch over the next couple of years.

Class 755 Trains In The East Midlands

I also suspect that Class 755 trains could be in Abellio’s plans for the East Midlands. Lincolnshire’s railways are little different to those of East Anglia.

The Bridges At The Southern End Of The Station

An East Midlands Trains driver told me, that one of the problems of electrifying through Leicester station with 25 KVAC overhead wires, is that the bridges at the Southern end of the station are a problem.

The general impression, I got was that the structure under the bridges is so complicated, that there would need to be a massive reconstruction of the railway.

So if this meant that the railway had to be closed for a number of months, is this the reason for only electrifying as far as Market Harborough?

Surely, if the Midland Main Line is only to be partly-electrified, then Leicester would surely be a better changeover point.

Charging Battery Electric Trains

In The Mathematics Of Fast-Charging Battery Trains Using Third-Rail Electrification, I showed how a third-rail-based fast charging sstem, like that proposed by Vivarail could transfer several hundred kWh to the batteries of a train stopped in the station, for a few minutes.

Leicester station with the two tracks between widely-spaced platforms with a gap between the tracks, would be an ideal location for such a charging system.

  • The two third-rail would be laid together between the two tracks.
  • The third-rails could be shielded, but as they would only be live with a train on the top, would it be necessary?
  • The driver would only need to stop the train in the correct position, but they do that anyway.

In a three minute contact between the train and the third-rail, I believe it would be possible to transfer up to 200 kWh to the batteries of the train.

Conclusion

Leicester station is a station, that suits the ambitions of the City.

But the unimaginative train service as provided by Stagecoach, is very fourth-rate and has left Abellio with a lot of scope to improve the train service throughout the East Midlands.

Stagecoach have only themselves to blame for losing the franchise.

 

 

 

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Mathematics Of Fast-Charging Battery Trains Using Third-Rail Electrification

In Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains, I talked about how Vivarail are proposing to fast-charge their Class 230 trains.

  • The trains are fitted with special high-capacity third rail shoes.
  • Third-rail electrification is laid in stations.
  • The third rail is powered by a bank of bstteries, that are trickle-charged from the mains or perhaps even solar power.
  • When the train connects to the rail, the rail is made live and a fast transfer takes place between third-rail and train.

So how much electricity could be passed to a train during a stop?

The most powerful locomotive in the UK, that can use 750 VDC third-rail electrification is a Class 92 locomotive.

According to Wikipedia, it can produce a power output of 4 MW or 4,000 kW, when working on third-rail electrification.

This means, that in an hour, four thousand kWh will be transferred to the train using conventional third-rail electrification.

Or in a minute 66.7 kWh can be transferred.

In Vivarail’s system, because they are transferring energy between batteries, enormous currents can be passed.

To illustrate how batteries can can deliver enormous currents here’s a video of  a guy using two car batteries to weld things together.

These currents are possible because batteries have a low impedance and when the battery on the train is connected to the battery bank on the station, the two batteries will equalise their power.

If we take the example of the Class 92 locomotive and conventional electrification, this would be able to transfer 200 kWh in three minutes or 400 kWh in six minutes.

But I believe that battery-to-battery transfers could be at a much higher current

Thus in a typical one or two minute stop in a station, upwards of 200 kWh could be transferrred to the train..

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 6 Comments