The Anonymous Widower

My First Ride In A Class 745 Train

I took these pictures as I took a ride in a new Class 745 train between Liverpool Street and Colchester.

These are my thoughts on various subjects.

Seating

I found no problem with the seats in Second Class, although there have been reports, that they are harder than those of the Mark 3 coaches.

I came back from Colchester in one of British Rail’s finest products and prefer the new train.

Note that in both cases I had a seat with a proper table, so I was comparing like with like.

In the Class 745 train, I was sitting in one of the higher seats over a bogie and I like this position with its better view, which I have also used in the smaller bi-mode Class 755 trains, that are used for local services in Norfolk and Suffolk.

These higher seats, which are in groups of four are a good design solution to maintaining the level floor in the train over the bogies and with their large windows, I feel they would be ideal for families.

You are also slightly isolated from the rest of the train, so could be ideal for a group of people wanting to have a slightly confidential meeting on the train.

Do you get some of the advantages of a compartment, without any of the inconvenience for train operators and passengers.

First Class Seats

First Class looks spacious and the seat was better, as I stole a quick try, as I walked through.

If Greater Anglia continue Weekend First, I shall pay the extra if Ipswich lose on the way home.

Tables

In First Class all seats have proper tables and in Standard Class, there are more proper tables than in the Mark 3 coaches.

I didn’t check, but it appears most ailrine seats in Standard Class have a seat back table. As the Mark 3 coaches are well-provided with seat back tables, there would be protests, if the new trains aren’t the same.

The Buffet

I only passed through the buffet, when the train was in Liverpool Street station and it was closed.

So I didn’t get to see the food and drink offering.

The buffet is placed between First and Standard Class, which is where it should be.

Walk-Through Train

The Class 745 train is the UK’s first walk-through express train, with a level floor from end to end.

At very nearly 237 metres long, it is over thirty metres longer than Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, so the Class 745 trains must be the UK’s longest walk-through trains.

Note that a twelve-car Class 321 train is just over 2339 metres long, with a twelve-car Class 360 train at 244 metres.

But these trains are not walk-through.

 

Catering Trolley

One benefit of the level walk-through floor, is that it must be easier for staff to push the catering trolley through the train.

As, it came through on both trips, it looks like Greater Anglia are doing the right thing with catering in both First and Standard Class.

Ride Quality

I had no complaints, although not everyone likes sitting on top of the bogie, as it can be choppy.

It should be noted that like the bi-modes, the train has yaw dampers between carriages.

Note the second one lower down! That is not engineering by accountants!

Does these improve the ride? I didn’t ask Greater Anglia to take them off and have another ride!

Step-Free Access

One of my gripes with many trains is the large step to get in or out of the train.

Compare this picture, which shows a Class 717 train at Moorgate station, with this second picture of the step on a Class 745 train at Colchester.

Note too, the wide-double door, which is much more like that of a high-capacity commuter train, than an express designed for two-hour journeys.

I appreciate these touches, as I could have been in a wheel-chair after my stroke.

But the Devil thought I’d be a troublemaker, so she gave me a second chance and threw me back!

A Driver’s View

Sitting opposite was a Greater Anglia driver having his first trip on a Class 745 train.

He was training to change from Class 321 trains to the bi-mode Class 755 trains and seemed genuinely enthusiastic to get driving his new charges.

But he said the best feature of both fleets of new trains from a driver’s point of view in the acceleration and he showed me an impressive video, which compared the acceleration of the old and new trains.

This acceleration will save a few minutes,

He was also very interested in hydrogen power, so I told him about my adventures in the North of the Netherlands.

Performance

When Norwich-in-Ninety services started in May 2019, I wrote Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!.

I described a ride from Norwich to London in ninety minutes in the Mark 3 coaches hauled by a Class 90 locomotive, where for much of the route, we were cruising at the route’s maximum speed of 100 mph.

Today, the Class 745 train was at 100 mph for long periods and appeared to be running easily.

But then a Class 745 train, has a power output of 5,200 kW compared with the 3,730 kW of a Class 90 locomotive. The new train may have twenty-three percent more seats, but it also has nearly forty percent more power.

This is certainly one reason for the acceleration, shown in the driver’s video.

Various fast trains can be compared.

  • Pendelino Class 390/0 – 125 mph – 9 cars – 469 seats – 5,100 kW
  • Pendelino Class 390/1 – 125 mph – 11 cars – 589 seats – 5,950 kW
  • Class 745 – 100 mph – 12 cars – 747 seats – 5,200 kW
  • Class 755 – 100 mph – 4 cars – 229 seats – 2,600 kW
  • Class 801 – 125 mph – 9 cars – 611 seats – 4,000 kW
  • InterCity 125 – 125 mph – 8 cars – 514 seats – 3,400 kW
  • InterCity 225 – 125 mph – 9 cars – 535 seats – 4,700 kW

Note.

  1. Except for their 100 mph, the Class 745 fit well into the table.
  2. They have more seats than any other trains in the table.
  3. They have more power than a Class 801, an InterCity 225 and the short Pendelinos.
  4. The bi-mode Class 755 trains are no wimps either.

Both the Class 745 and Class 755 trains really are high-powered Swiss rockets.

Could they go faster?

There are 120 mph Flirts running in Norway, but the maximum speed on the Great Eastern Main Line is only 100 mph, so they couldn’t run any faster there.

But a senior Greater Anglia driver told me, that the bi-mode Class 755 trains have been designed for 125 mph.

As an engineer, this is not unexpected, as Europe has a plethora of rail lines with a 200 kph or 125 mph operating speed, that have branches that extend to sizeable towns and cities that need an improved rail service.

In the UK, think of LNER’s recently introduced services to Lincoln and Harrogate, where there is a 125 mph electric dash on the East Coast Main Line and a diesel trundle to the destination.

As the two classes of Greater Anglia  trains and the Norwegian Flirts seem to use the same running gear, is there lucking in that body a cheetah wanting to be unleashed.

If so, the Hitachi trains have a serious rival!

But could the Class 745 trains go faster on the Great Eastern Main Line?

For periods yesterday, the Speedview app on my phone, was showing a steady 100 mph. But the route to Colchester is crowded with 100 mph commuter trains, which probably preclude faster running.

But get North of Ipswich and in a few months, the only non-Flirt traffic, will be the freight trains to and from Felixstowe, which use the Great Eastern Main Line on the fifteen miles between Ipswich and Haughley Junction.

The Northern section of the Great Eastern Main Line has two major bottlenecks.

  • Haughley Junction, which needs remodelling to handle the large numbers of freight trains.
  • Trowse swing bridge and its single track, which needs replacing with a proper bridge and a double track.

Both projects are under development by Network Rail.

However, between the two bottlenecks, the track was built for Victorian high speed. and is reasonably straight across flat country, with one station and a few level crossings.

Currently, the Norwich-in-Ninety trains can achieve the following.

  • Norwich and Haughley Junction, which is 32 miles,  in around 26 minutes at an average speed of 73 mph.
  • Norwich and Ipswich station, which is 46 miles,  in around 35 minutes at an average speed of 79 mph.

Note there is a stop at Diss, where the Class 745 trains might save a few seconds because of their level access and fast acceleration.

Whilst the two major projects at Trowse and Haughley Junction are carried out, will Network Rail improve the track between Ipswich and Norwich to allow faster running.

Being able to average 100 mph between Norwich and Ipswich would knock several minutes off the journey time.

Conclusion

Hitachi have aserious competitor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 10, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , ,

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