The Anonymous Widower

The High Speed Local Train

If Great Western Railway (GWR) are going to run a train service between Paddington and Bedwyn, they need an electric train which can power itself on the last thirteen miles between Newbury and Bedwyn, which is not electrified and is unlikely to be so in the next couple of decades.

The train must also be capable of cruising at 125 mph on the fast lines of the Great Western Main Line between Reading and Paddington.

GWR have no choice, but to run the service with a five-car Class 802 train.

When Hitachi were designing these 125 mph trains in Japan, I don’t suspect that running a service over a distance of 66.5 miles between London and a small village in Berkshire, was in the specification.

This morning, I took the 10:05 service from Paddington to Bedwyn, with the intention of returning on the 11:41 from Bedwyn to Paddington.

These are a few of the pictures that I took.

But things didn’t turn out as planned.

  • Nothing serious and some animals got on the tracks between Reading and Swindon, meaning that we were some minutes late into Bedwyn, due to platform congestion at Reading.
  • The return journey was consequently delayed.

These are a few observations.

Operating Speed

These were speeds on various parts of the journey.

  • I timed the train at 115 mph through Southall and at 123 mph through Hayes & Harlington as the train accelerated out of Paddington.
  • The train was doing just short of 125 mph for the major part of the route between London and Reading, until it had to stop because of the congestion.
  • The train was doing around 100 mph on the electrified line between Reading and Newbury.
  • Between Newbury and Bedwyn, speeds were between 80 and 90 mph.

Similar speeds were attained on the return journey.

Passenger Numbers

As the pictures show, there weren’t that many passengers who were travelling to Bedwyn, although there were more heading back to London.

Many more joined and left the service at the three larger stations of Reading, Newbury and Hungerford.

Now that the service is hourly between Reading and Bedwyn and half-hourly between Reading and Newbury in modern, comfortable trains, I can see passenger numbers growing.

Current Service

There are eleven trains per day, between Paddington and Bedwyn, at an hourly frequency, which take around three hours for a round trip.

So it would appear that three trains are needed for the service.

The service is also supplemented by an hourly stopping shuttle train between Reading and Newbury.

Two years ago, the service was just one three-car diesel train per hour between Paddington and Bedwyn with a few additional stops from long-distance trains.

Bedwyn Station Improvements

I got the impression, that Bedwyn station is probably at its limit for car parking with the current twenty-five spaces and cars all over the place.

This article on the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, is entitled It’s A Rail Problem At Great Bedwyn and indicates that commuters and residents don’t see eye-to-eye with the car parking.

If the car parking were to be increased and usage at the station increased then I feel that a step-free bridge could be needed.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Bedwyn station?

The installation wouldn’t be difficult, but the politics could be.

Other Station Improvements

A quick look at other stations suggest these improvements.

  • Hungerford station, which has a large car park, needs a step-free bridge.
  • Kinbury station doesn’t have a bridge.
  • Midgham station doesn’t have a bridge
  • Theale station has improvements planned.

There are level crossings at Hungerford, Kintbury, Thatcham and Midgham.

Future Trains To Bedwyn

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I discussed how Hitachi were proposing to add battery power to Class 385 trains, which are in the same family as GWR’s Class 802 trains.

So surely, what is a power source for the goose is also a power source for the gander.

As it would only be a journey of thirteen miles both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, this would surely be an ideal route for the use of battery power.

The other route, where battery power could be used would be between Didcot and Oxford, which is just over ten miles.

A Future Service To Marlborough

I covered this proposal in A Station For Marlborough.

Marlborough would be served by a single-track branch line on an old railway alignment, probably terminating near the large Tesco superstore in a single platform station.

The advantages of doing this would be.

  • Marlborough, which is an important market town of 8,500 people would be connected to the rail network.
  • Adequate car parking could be provided.
  • Creating a station at Marlborough could be an alternative to expanding Bedwyn station, which could be problematical.
  • It would improve the economics of the Paddington and Bedwyn service.

This is the sort of service, that should be developed.

Other Possible Services

The big advantage of this high speed local service for Great Western Railway, is that when it is on the Great Western Main Line, it becomes just another 125 mph service or once digital signalling is installed a possible 140 mph service.

These routes could have this type of high speed local services.

Great Western Main Line

Great Western Railway has several routes, where Class 800 and Class 802 trains break away from the Great Western Main Line to operate local services.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn
  • Paddington and Oxford

It could be argued that services to Cheltenham and Hereford are also high speed local services.

East Coast Main Line

In April 2018, I wrote Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

This post was based on an article in Rail Magazine, which talked about running 125 mph trains on the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route.

This would make operation of the East Coast Main Line easier with herds of 125 mph trains steaming into and out of London.

I think, improvement would also extend to the Cambridge Line, in addition to the Fen Line.

  • Operating speed up from 90 mph to 110 mph plus.
  • Full digital signalling.
  • Automatic Train Control.

Journey times and frequency to and from London Kings Cross would be improved significantly.

Siemens would probably need to uprate the Class 700 trains for faster running, as 100 mph trains are just too slow!

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Edinburgh, large sections of the line are only double track.

It is the ambition of train operating companies to run more high speed expresses between London and the North of England and Scotland.

I can see a time, when all trains using the East Coast Main Line will have to confirm with a high minimum speed, otherwise the future plans cannot be fulfiled.

Midland Main Line

By the end of 2020, the Midland Main Line South of Market Harborough, will be a 125 mph electrified railway with a high speed branch to Corby, which will be served by a half-hourly twelve-car electric service.

From 2022, 125 mph bi-mode trains will be running services on the Midland Main Line.

I can see services between St. Pancras and Corby becoming another high speed local service.

  • Half-hourly service.
  • 125 mph running.
  • Limited stop between Corby and London, with stops at Kettering, Luton And Luton Airport Parkway.
  • The journey time could even be under an hour.

Selected trains could even use battery power to extend the service to Melton Mowbray.

West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line will become increasingly crowded with fast 140 mph trains, especially after the opening of Phase 2a of High Speed Two to Crewe in 2027.

I believe that this will mean that all passenger services using the West Coast Main Line will need to be run using trains capable of at least 110 mph and possibly 125 mph.

The new operation of suburban services on the West Coast Main Line; West Midlands Trains are replacing their fleet with new Class 730 trains. Like the previous trains, they are 110 mph units, but are they capable of upgrading to 125 mph?

If they are upgradeable, they would ease timetabling problems between London and the West Midlands, as they could mix it with Virgin’s Class 390 trains.

Further North, Northern run services like these.

  • Barrow and Manchester Airport.
  • Blackpool and Manchester Airport
  • Windermere and Manchester Airport

Currently, the operator is introducing new Class 195 and Class 331 trains, alongside the Class 319 trains.All of these trains are 100 mph capable, which is probably not fast enough, if they have to use the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Lancaster, some of which is only double-track.

In Northern Considering Options For More New Trains, I wrote about Northern’s future rolling stock plans.

I suspect some 125 mph trains are in their plans for both the East and West Coast Main Lines.

Implications For Freight

There must surely be pressure for freight trains to go faster.

The 110 mph Class 93 locomotive is on its way, but with rail freight increasing we need to radically think how we run freight trains on a busy passenger line.

Conclusion

We will increasingly see upgrading of suburban services that use 125 mph line and not just around London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 16, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , ,

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