The Anonymous Widower

KLM Replaces Plane With High Speed Train

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is to replace one of its five daily flights between Brussels and Amsterdam Schiphol with reserved seat capacity on a Thalys high speed train service from March 29 2020.

KLM say this the start of a process and will be extended provided the timings are as good.

But how do train and plane compare between Schipol and Brussels?

To give the trip a bit of perspective, note these approximate road distances.

  • Heathrow and Liverpool – 210 km.
  • Heathrow and Manchester – 197 km.
  • Schipol and Brussels – 206 km.

Incidentally, you can’t fly direct between Heathrow and Liverpool and there are only four flights per day between Heathrow and Manchester.

I looked up flights between Schipol and Brussels and the flight time is 45-50 minutes, as opposed to the ytain time of one hour thirty-four minutes.

Prices vary, but I suspect that the train is a little bit cheaper, although it probably depends on how early you book.

I think it’s true to say,you take the mode of travel that suits you best!

I have gone to Amsterdam by train three or four times.

  • I go from St. Pancras to Amsterdam Centraal.
  • St. Pancras is just a direct bus ride from my house.
  • I get a gluten-free meal on Euirostar.
  • I get a big table on which to lay out my pper.
  • I could do it cheaper on easyJet, but it wuld take a bit longer.

But I’ve never come back from Amsterdam t London by train.

  • You have to change trains to clear immigration and customs in Brussels.
  • A couple of times, I’ve flown back from Hamburg.

I can honestly say, that the as more direct trains go to and from Europe, I’ll use them more often.

The Future

Over the next few years, we could see a lot of short haul air routes losing market share to high speed trains.

  • Train companies will see a busy air route and run a competing train service.
  • Many tourists prefer to travel around Europe by train and I’ve met many from North America, Australia and the Far East on train journeys.
  • Global warming will sell seats on trains and especially electric ones.
  • Routes like High Speed Two will add lots of extra capacity.
  • Trains are an easy sell.
  • Governments will invest in railways and perhaps cut prices, as it is an easy way to to be seen to be combating climate change.

We also mustn’t forget that driving cars is getting an increasingly expensive and time-wasting process. I don’t miss driving at all!

 

 

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

Protests After Claim That Hitachi Has Lost T&W Contract

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

This is the introductory paragraphs.

There have been protests in north east England after a report claimed that Hitachi has been ruled out of the three-way contest to build a £500 million fleet for Tyne & Wear Metro.

The other contenders are CAF and Stadler, and the source of the claims says ‘insiders’ at Nexus have been told that Hitachi will be ‘overlooked’.

It should be noted that the two other bidders have orders for similar trains in the pipeline.

CAF

In TfL Awards Contract For New DLR Fleet To Replace 30-year-old Trains , I wrote about how CAF had been awarded the contract for new trains for the Docklands Light Railway.

I also said this about the possibility of CAF being awarded the contract for the new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

In Bombardier Transportation Consortium Preferred Bidder In $4.5B Cairo Monorail, I indicated that as the trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro and the trains on the Docklands Light Railway, are of a similar height and width, it might be possible to use the same same car bodies on both trains.

So now that CAF have got the first order for the Docklands Light Railway, they must be in prime position to obtain the Tyne and Wear Metro order!

A second order would fit well with the first and could probably be built substantially in their South Wales factory.

Stadler

Stadler seem to be targeting the North, with new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail and Class 399 tram-trains for Sheffield and bids in for tram-trains and and new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Their trains are both quirky, accessible and quality and built to fit niche markets like a glove.

Only Stadler would produce a replacement for a diesel multiple unit fleet with a bi-mode Class 755 train, with the engine in the middle, that is rumoured to be capable of running at 125 mph.

Note the full step-free access between train and platform, which is also a feature of the Merseyrail trains.

Does the Tyre and Wear Metro want to have access like this? It’s already got it with the existing trains, as this picture at South Shields station shows.

Stadler’s engineering in this area, would fit their philosophy

I first thought that Stadler would propose a version of their Class 399 tram-trains. for the Tyne and Wear Metro and wrote Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With Tyne And Wear Metro’s Class 994 Trains.

This was my conclusion.

I am led to the conclusion, that a version of the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle similar to those of the South Waes Metro, could be developed for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

My specification would include.

  • Length of two current Class 994 trains, which would be around 111 metres.
  • Walk through design with longitudinal seating.
  • Level access between platform and train at all stations.
  • A well-designed cab with large windows at each end.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at any voltage between 750 and 1500 VDC.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at 25 KVAC.
  • Pantographs would handle all voltages.
  • A second pantograph might be provided for reasons of reliable operation.
  • Ability to use onboard battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would use the batteries on the vehicle.

Note.

  1. Many of these features are already in service in Germany, Spain or Sheffield.
  2. The train would be designed, so that no unnecessary platform lengthening is required.
  3. As in Cardiff, the specification would allow street-running in the future.
  4. Could battery range be sufficient to allow new routes to be developed without electrification?

I also feel that the specification should allow the new trains to work on the current network, whilst the current trains are still running.

But since I wrote that comparison in June 2018, Merseyrail’s new trains have started to be delivered and Liverpudlians have started to do what they do best; imagine!

The Tyne and Wear Metro has similar ambitions to expand the network and would a version of the Class 777 train fit those ambitions better?

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised if Hitachi misses out, as the experience of the Docklands Light Railway or Merseyrail fed into the expansion of the Tyne and Wear Metro could be the clincher of the deal.

They would also be the first UK customer for the Hitachi trains.

 

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

Plans To Reopen The Brentford To Southall Railway

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Ian Visits.

I have posted on the Brentford Branch Line several times previously and Ian says this about Hounslow Council’s thinking.

The council has been working on a scheme for some years to resurrect the line, with a new station built in Brentford and passenger services restored to Southall. A key factor for the plans is that Southall will then be on the Elizabeth line, which they hope will drive a lot more traffic on the spur down to Brentford.

In order to part-fund the 4-mile railway, Hounslow Council has now agreed to undertake a full business case to look at introducing a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) within the Great West Corridor (GWC).

In my trips to document the updating of Syon Lane station with a new step-free footbridge, I have talked to several people, who would find a rail link to Southall useful.

Ian also says this about the latest situation.

As part of the proposal, the council has also commissioned Network Rail to begin a detailed study (known as ‘GRIP 4’) on building the new train link from Brentford to Southall, following encouraging early studies into the feasibility of such a link.

At least, this will give the Hounslow a list of all the problems and a cost estimate.

A few of my thoughts.

What Should Be The Frequency Of The Service?

The current truncated Brentford Branch Line is mainly single track, but from my helicopter, it appears that there would be space to add an additional track for as much of the route as required.

Preferably, there should be a service on the branch of at least two trains per hour (tph). Although, ideally four tph is much better, as it attracts passengers in large numbers.

It should be noted that from December 2019, there will be four tph on Crossrail calling at at Southall station all day. Connections should surely be well-arranged.

Four tph would be possible between two single platforms at Southall and Brentford, but would require selective doubling or passing loops to accommodate the service and the freight trains going to Brentford.

This Google Map shows the various sites clustered around the branch.

The branch runs from the North-West to the South-East across the map.

  • The Great West Road is a couple of hundred metres to the South.
  • To the East of the branch, there are a collection of waste and scrap metal transfer sites, aggregate and concrete sites and others that hide away in big cities.
  • To the West is the massive Sky Studios complex.

I do wonder, if Sky would like a station? If they did, this would surely mean that a four tph service would be required.

What Is The Future Of The Industrial Site?

Because of London’s thirst for land for housing and office developments, sites like this inevitably get developed.

With its position between the River Brent and parkland, and the Brentford Branch Line, I believe that if new sites can be found for the various tenants, that this site could be a high quality housing development.

An intermediate station would surely be required.

What Should Be The Terminus Of The Branch?

I believe that the branch should terminate as close to the River as is possible.

  • There is a lot of new housing being constructed in Brentford.
  • I believe that Thames Clippers will eventually extend their river-boat services to Brentford and Kew.

But the problem would be that this would need an expensive bridge over the Great West Road.

These pictures show the Great West Road, where the current Brentford Branch Line finishes.

The tracks finish about a hundred metres North of the road, as shown on this Google Map.

The rusty footbridge over the busy road can be clearly seen.

Initially, I believe that the passenger service should terminate at the Great West Road.

If I was designing the station, I would build it much like the Deptford Bridge DLR station.

  • It would be on a bridge above the Great West Road.
  • It would be suspended from step-free towers on either side of the road.
  • Would it only need to be a single platform station?
  • The pavements on either side of the Great West Road would be improved to create a better walking environment.
  • If possible a walking and cycling route to Brentford and the River would be provided.
  • The design would leave provision to extend the railway South.

I also think, that it could be designed to enhance the collection of Art Deco and modern buildings in the area.

Could The Service Go Further Than The Great West Road?

This Google Map shows the former route of Brentford Branch Line, from just North of the Great West Road to the centre of Brentford.

Note.

  1. The former route is very green on the map.
  2. The Hounslow Loop Line crossing parallel and a few hundred metres South of the Great West Road.
  3. The only building on the route is some retail sheds between the Great West Road and the Hounslow Loop Line.
  4. To the \east of the Brentford Branch Line is a large and semi-derilict bus garage.

I’m sure that the railway could be extended through this area, as it is developed with housing and offices or parkland.

Could The Service Go Further Than Southall?

There is a section in the Wikipedia entry for the Brentford Branch Line, which is entitled Proposed Reopening, where this is said.

In April 2017, it was proposed that the line could reopen to allow a new link between Southall to Hounslow and possibly down to the planned Old Oak Common station with a new station in Brentford called Brentford Golden Mile.  The proposals suggest the service could be operated by Great Western Railway and could be open by 2020 with a new service from Southall to Hounslow and possible later to Old Oak Common

It sounds a good idea, but it would mean trains would surely have to reverse direction and cross over to the North side.

It must be better to provide full step-free access at Southall station, which should be finished fairly soon.

Crossrail will also be providing at least four tph to and from Old Oak Common.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed?

I am pretty sure, that several train types could do a Southall and Brentford round trip in under thirty minutes.

This would mean the following.

  • For a two tph service, one train would be needed.
  • For a four tph service, two trains would be needed.

I suspect too, that a spare train would be added to the fleet.

Would The Branch Be Electrified?

I doubt it!

  • The branch is only four miles long.
  • A 100 kWh battery would probably provide enough power for a four-car train.
  • It is unlikely electric haulage will be needed for the freight trains o the branch.
  • There is 25 KVAC electrification at the Southall end of the branch to charge trains with batteries.
  • The branch is probably short enough to not need a charging point at Brentford.

In my mind, it is a classic route to run using battery power.

What Trains Could Be Used?

I feel the trains need to have the following specification.

  • Abiility to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • A out and back battery range of at least eight miles.
  • Three or four cars.
  • 60 mph operating speed.

There are several proposed trains that meet this specification.

Class 710 Train

The Class 710 train would be an obvious choice, if London Overground were to run the service.

But it would need the 25 KVAC electrification be added to Platform 5 at Southall station.

Class 230 Train

The Class 230 train could be a lower cost option and would only require one of Vivarail’s clever charging systems at Southall.

Class 387 Train

A modified Class 387 train would surely be a choice, If Great Western Railway were to run the service.

But as with the Class 710 train, it would need Platform 5 at Southall station to be electrified.

Class 399 Tram-Train

A Class 399 tram-train to the South Wales Metro specification is also a possibility.

But as with the Class 710 train, it would need Platform 5 at Southall station to be electrified.

However, the lighter weight vehicle with a tight turning circle might allow the route to be extended further South.

Conclusion

I am led to these conclusions.

  • Battery power is capable of working the Brentford Branch Line.
  • At least two tph is needed between Southall and Brentford.
  • The operator will choose the trains.

IBut as they are a lower-cost and simpler option, this route could be run by Class 230 trains.

 

 

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