The Anonymous Widower

Bi-Modes Offered To Solve Waterloo-Exeter Constraints

The title of this post is the same as an article by Richard Clinnick in Issue 912 of Rail Magazine.

The article is in turn based on this Continuous Modular Strategic Planning document from Network Rail, which is entitled West of England Line Study 2020.

The document is probably best described, as a document, that will need a lot of digestion for a full reading, but it does provide the reasons for what is said by Richard Clinnick.

The Need For Bi-Mode Trains

This is the a slightly edited version of the start of the Rail Magazine article.

Bi-mode trains should be ordered as part of a scheme to improve the service offered on the West of England route between London Waterloo and Exeter St, Davids, according to Network Rail.

In their extensive study, NR explains that additional capacity could be achieved on the route not only through infrastructure improvements, but also through lengthening some services.

The Network Rail report says.

This cannot be achieved using the current rolling stock fleet currently in operation; which are coming to end of life. Therefore, in the medium term, the opportunity to introduce new,
potentially bi-mode, rolling stock capable of achieving faster journey times and providing more capacity should be considered.

The report also suggests that electric, battery and hydrogen are mentioned as possible power.

South Western Railway’s Short Term Solution

In the short term, South Western Railway (SWR) have reorganised the service to meet short term objectives, which are described fully in the Network Rail report, but can be summed up as follows.

  • There is a need for a capacity increase between London Waterloo and Basingstoke and Salisbury.
  • There is a need for a capacity increase between Axminster and Exeter St. Davids.

SWR’s solution has probably been strongly driven by the needs of COVID-19, which means that a greater amount of space must be provided for each occupied seat. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve made six journeys in SWR’s Class 159 trains and like most other travellers, I’ve had four seats to myself. The trains may be thirty years old, but like most British Rail trains of that era, they keep giving valuable service.

For most of the day, SWR seem to offer the following solution.

  • Nine-car formations of Class 159 trains work between London Waterloo and Salisbury stations at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph)
  • Six-car formations of Class 159 trains work between Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids stations, at a frequency of one train per two hours (tp2h)
  • Passengers use a one-way system at Salisbury to walk between the two trains.

Yesterday, I took SWR’s trains between Clapham Junction and Yeovil Junction stations to observe the working of the route and take a few pictures.

My Observations

These are my observations.

Salisbury Station

This Google Map shows Salisbury station and the nearby Salisbury Depot.

These are some pictures I took at the station.

Note that the train in the platform is a nine-car formation which is 207 metres long. I would estimate that the platforms are around 220-240 metres long.

Yeovil Junction Station

This Google Map shows Yeovil Junction station.

These are some pictures I took at the station.

Note that the two trains in the platforms are six-car formations which are 138 metres long. I would estimate that the platforms are around 140-50 metres long.

Replacement Of The Current Class 159 Trains With Bi-Mode Trains

Consider the following train lengths and capacities.

  • A nine-car formation of Class 159 trains – 207 metres – 588 seats
  • A six-car formation of Class 159 trains – 138 metres – 392 seats
  • A nine-car Class 802 train – 234 metres – 647 seats
  • A five-car Class 802 train – 130 metres – 326 seats
  • A pair of five-car Class 802 trains – 260 metres – 652 seats

The figures for Class 802 trains are taken from the trains that are in service for Great Western Railway (GWR).

The following timings should also be noted.

  • London Waterloo and Salisbury – One hour and thirty minutes
  • Turnback time at Salisbury – Up to thirty minutes
  • Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids – Two hours and six minutes
  • Turnback time at Exeter St. Davids – Trains appear to go to Exeter New Yard for refuelling.
  • Wait at Yeovil Junction – Fourteen minutes

Note.

  1. The wait at Yeovil Junction station is so that trains can fit in with the large lengths of single-track on the West of England Main Line.
  2. The need to refuel the diesel trains would appear to be a major constraint on running more services on the route.
  3. Both legs of the journey have convenient times of one-and-a-half and two hours respectively.

Overall, I think the timings are helpful.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

Hitachi have recently released details of their new Battery Regional train, which are summarised in this Hitachi infographic.

They have also signed an agreement with Hyperdrive Innovation to develop battery packs for their Class 80x trains, as I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

Looking at the length and capacity table, I displayed earlier, it would appear there are several ways to run the service between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids using Regional Battery Trains.

  • Run nine-car trains between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids
  • Run five-car trains between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids
  • Run nine-car trains between London Waterloo and Salisbury and five-car trains between Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids
  • Run a pair of five-car trains between London Waterloo and Salisbury and a single five-car train between Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids, with selective splitting and joining at Salisbury.

Alternatively, the route could be electrified. But that has a few obstacles and disadvantages.

  • Would the various jobsworths allow this substantial length of third-rail electrification?
  • Would there be serious objections to using overhead electrification?
  • Would the travellers on the route, be prepared for all the disruption?
  • There is also the excessive cost of electrification.

I also believe, that only limited small infrastructure improvements would be needed to replace the current diesel trains with battery electric bi-mode trains like the Regional Battery Trains.

Regional Battery Trains Between London Waterloo And Salisbury

Consider.

  • London Waterloo and Salisbury stations are 83.5 miles apart.
  • The fifty miles between London Waterloo and  Worting Junction is fully electrified.
  • Only the 33.5 miles between Salisbury and Worting Junction are not electrified.
  • In the infographic, Hitachi are claiming a 90 kilometre or 56 mile battery range and a static charging time of between 10-15 minutes.

It would certainly appear, that if a train from London passed Worting Junction with full batteries, it would reach Salisbury. Also a train leaving Salisbury with full batteries would certainly reach Worting Junction and the electrification.

There would be three ways of charging the Regional Battery Trains at Salisbury.

  1. Fit a number of charging stations on the platforms.
  2. Install 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  3. Install 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

I prefer Option 3 in a station like Salisbury.

  • It would be easy to install and British Rail probably drew up detailed plans several times, when full third-rail electrification was under consideration.
  • The trains will be fitted with third-rail shoes to access the third-rail electrification on the way to London.
  • Because of the depot, there’s probably a good power supply.
  • For increased safety, modern electrical design, could mean that power was only switched on when a train is connected.

As trains currently wait for some time in Salisbury, it would be likely, that trains would leave the station with a full battery.

Regional Battery Trains Between London Salisbury And Exeter St Davids

Consider.

  • Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids stations are 88.5 miles apart.
  • There is no electrification.
  • Yeovil Junction station is approximately half way and is 49.5 miles from Exeter St. Davids and 39 miles from Salisbury.
  • Typically, trains wait at Yeovil Junction station for up to fourteen minutes, to get through the single-track sections.

I believe that a similar method of charging to that at Salisbury could be used at Yeovil Junction.

There would also need to be charging at Exeter St. Davids station.

This Google Map shows Exeter St. Davids station.

Services from London Waterloo and Salisbury currently turnback at Exeter St. Davids station in the following manner.

  • They arrive from the track running to the station from the South East.
  • They unload passengers in Platform 1 which is the long platform on the East side of the station.
  • It seems that they then continue through the station to New Yard, where they refuel and do other things, that Class 159 trains do after a long journey.
  • At the appropriate time, they return to Platform 1, where they load up with passengers and leave by the way they arrived.

If a charging system or electrification, were to be added to Platform 1, the trains would be able to fill up in the station.

  • Currently, it appears that the Class 159 trains take over an our to do this complicated manoeuvre.
  • Hitachi are quoting a charging time of 10-15 minutes for their Regional Battery Train.

Could valuable minutes be saved, that would enable a more passenger-friendly timetable?

Charging Regional Battery Trains At Yeovil Junction Station

Currently, the timetable is arranged like this.

  • The Salisbury to Exeter St. Davids train and the Exeter St. Davids to Salisbury trains pass at Yeovil Junction station.
  • Both trains wait in the station for nearly fifteen minutes, which is an adequate time to fully-charge the batteries.

The picture shows the two trains in the platform together.

Currently, the timetable would seem to be ideal for battery electric train operation between Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids stations.

A Possible Timetable Between London Waterloo And Exeter St. Davids 

It did occur to me, that South Western Railway might be running a timetable, that could possibly be designed for Regional Battery Trains.

  1. A nine-car formation between London Waterloo and Salisbury could be replaced with a nine-car or a pair of five-car Regional Battery Trains.
  2. A six-car Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids could be replaced by a five-car Regional Battery Train.
  3. Trains could pass at Gillingham station between Salisbury and Yeovil Junction, as it is a two-platform station about half-way.
  4. Trains could pass at Honiton station between Yeovil Junction and Exeter St. Davids, as it is a two-platform station about half-way.

I think if it was needed, that two tph would be possible not only between London Waterloo and Salisbury, but also between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids.

I also think that the following detailed service pattern would be possible.

  • A pair of five-car Regional Battery Trains would leave London Waterloo at a frequency of two tph.
  • The front train would be for passengers for all stations between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids.
  • The rear train would only be for passengers for all stations between London Waterloo and Salisbury.
  • On arrival at Salisbury, both trains would charge their batteries.
  • When the batteries were fully-charged, the two trains would split.
  • The front train would continue on its journey to Exeter St. Davids, leaving the rear train in the platform.
  • The Exeter St. Davids to London Waterloo service would arrive at Salisbury and join to the train in the platform.
  • The pair of trains would then run to London Waterloo.

This service pattern has the big advantage that passengers travelling between a station East of Salisbury and one to the West of Salisbury, will not have to change trains

  • All stations on the line also get a two tph service.
  • Services would be the same or better on the whole route, to the pre-COVID-19 timetable.
  • There would be extra capacity between London and Basingstoke.

 

 

 

 

 

August 28, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , ,

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