The Anonymous Widower

A First Ride On A Class 710 Train Between Upminster And Romford

This morning I went to Upminster and took the Class 710 train to Romford and back.

All went well and what a difference from yesterday, which I wrote about in A Last Ride On A Class 315 Train Between Upminster And Romford?

These are my thoughts.

Capacity Improvement

These pictures show the interiors of the Class 710 train and the Class 315 train.

It looks like many more passengers can be squeezed into the Class 710 train, than the Class 315 train.

According to Wikipedia the Class 710 train can hold 189 seated and 489 standing passengers, whilst the Class 315 train has 318 seats.

Ride Improvement

I travelled along the route with a Transport for London engineer, who worked on the Crossrail trains.

We both felt the ride was a large improvement and we both felt that it Network Rail worked a bit of magic on the track, it would be a very good train service.

Could Four Trains Per Hour Be Possible?

My travelling companion had worked on the Docklands Light Railway, and we both felt that with a degree of automation, an increased frequency would be possible.


  • There is only one train on the line at any one time.
  • No other trains use the line.
  • The route is under 3.5 miles long.
  • The acceleration and deceleration of the new trains is superior to those of the Class 315 trains.
  • Do the Class 710 trains employ regenerative braking to battery technology?
  • The current operating speed is just 30 mph.
  • I’m sure Network Rail could improve the operating speed.
  • My travelling companion told me, that Crossrail had successfully tested the automated auto-reverse feature on the Class 345 trains

All these points convince me, that, track improvements and simple automation, much less sophisticated, than that of the Victoria Line or the Docklands Light Railway, could run the service at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).

There is one problem though.

This article on Time 107.5, is entitled New Train To Begin Running Between Romford And Upminster.

This is an extract.

From today, the new Overground train which has changes to certain features, will be implemented.

The key changes include a different colour at the front which has changed from yellow to orange.

Different LED lights have also been fitted to the train.

The new trains are also quieter so may sound different to the older trains.

As a result, Network Rail and Transport for London are reminding pedestrians using level crossings along the route to stay safe.

Network Rail and Transport for London seem to be worried about pedestrians on the level crossings.

I would think, it prudent, that before line speeds and the frequency of the service are increased, there should be a thorough period of testing to see how pedestrians cope with the new trains, at the level crossings.

What methods of automation could be used?

Borrow From Dear Old Vicky

The Victoria Line (aka Dear Old Vicky!) opened in 1968 and runs using a fully-automated system, at frequencies of up to 36 tph.

Under Service And Rolling Stock, in the Wikipedia entry for the Victoria Line, there is this description of the original automation system.

On opening, the line was equipped with a fixed-block Automatic Train Operation system (ATO). The train operator closed the train doors and pressed a pair of “start” buttons and, if the way ahead was clear, the ATO drives the train at a safe speed to the next station. At any point, the driver could switch to manual control if the ATO failed. The system, which operated until 2012, made the Victoria line the world’s first full-scale automatic railway.

The Victoria line runs faster trains than other Underground lines because it has fewer stops, ATO running and modern design. Train speeds can reach up to 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).


  1. The original ATO system worked for over forty years.
  2. The method of operation seemed to be very safe,
  3. But most remarkably, the electronics that controlled the trains, were 1960s technology and contained a lot of thermionic valves and relays

What would 50 mph running do for timings between Romford and Upminster?

By training I am a Control Engineer, and although, I’ve never worked on large-scale automation systems, I have worked with lots of people who have and firmly believe that a simple system based on Dear Old Vicky’s original design would work.

What sort of times could be achieved between Romford and Upminster?

  • The route can be considered to be two legs; Romford and Emerson Park and Emerson Park and Upminster, both of which are about 1.75 miles long.
  • The fastest way in a train between too stations, is to accelerate to cruising speed, cruise at that speed and then time the deceleration, so you stop neatly in the station.
  • The Class 710 trains probably accelerate and decelerate at around 1 m/sec/sec.
  • The acceleration and deceleration section of each leg will take 22.2 seconds and during that time the train will travel 0.15 miles.
  • So that means the train will cruise at 50 mph for 1.45 miles, which will take 104 seconds.
  • The two legs of the journey will take around 150 second or 2.5 minutes.

The time for a round trip from Romford to Upminster can now be calculated,

  • Four legs between station 4 x 2.5 = 10 mins
  • Two stops Emerson Park 2 x 1 mins = 2 mins
  • One stop at Romford 2 mins = 2 mins
  • One stop at Upminster 2 mins = 2 mins


  1. This is a total of 16 minutes
  2. The longer stops at Romford and Upminster are needed for the driver to change ends.
  3. I have repeated the calculations for a 60 mph cruise and it saves just 40 seconds.

But I do feel that improving the method of operation could allow four tph.

The Driver Could Control The Train From One End


  • Each cab could have a video screen showing the view from the other cab.
  • There could also be video screens on the platforms giving detailed views of the train in a station, as there are on many platforms now!

Would these and perhaps extra automation allow the driver to control the train from one cab, as it shuttled back and forth?

I suspect it would be cab at the Upminster end, as the platform is longer at Romford.

I believe that it would be possible and should allow stops of a minute at the two termini, as the driver wouldn’t be changing ends.

One minute stops would reduce the round-trip time to fourteen minutes and allow four tph.

Full Automation With The Driver In Control

The Docklands Light Railway is fully automated, so why not use a similar system on the Romford and Upminster Line?

But instead of having the system controlled by an operator in a remote signalling centre, the driver on the single train on the route is in control of it all.

The automation would enable fast stops and the driver would not have to change ends.

This would mean that four tph would be able to run at all times.

The System Would Self-Regulate

With public transport, things do go wrong.

Supposing someone turned up in a wheel-chair and it took five minutes to load them onto the train, so it left late.

This would mean that the train would be running late for the rest of the day, unless it was decided to wait for a few minutes, so it had the time of the following service.

After the wait, all trains would be on time.

Put Two Drivers On The Train

This would also be possible.

The train would have a driver in each cab.

  • The driver in the cab at the Romford end of the train would drive the train to Romford.
  • The driver in the cab at the Upminster end of the train would drive the train to Upminster.
  • At each terminus, they would swap over control, just as the two pilots do in an airliner.

There would probably need to be a simple interlock, so that only one driver could drive the train at the same time.

This should give the required four tph, as fast stops could be performed at all stations.

Using two drivers could be the ideal way to test out four tph and see whether it attracted more passengers.


The Romford and Upminster route has been markedly improved with the new Class 710 train.

I believe, that it is now possible to run four tph on this route, with some moderate extra expenditure or using two drivers.



October 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hitachi Targets Export Opportunities From Newton Aycliffe

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Very High Speed Trains (VHSTs) built in Britain could be exported to Europe and even further afield from Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe factory.

The article would appear to confirm, that the AT-300 family of trains is now a family with a very wide reach.

Trains in the family include.

Very High Speed Trains (VHST)

The article states that VHST trains will form part of the AT-300 family.

The big order to be handed out in the UK, is for 54 Classic-Compatible trains for High Speed Two.

The Classic-Compatible trains are described in this section in Wikipedia, by this sentence.

The classic-compatible trains, capable of high speed but built to a British loading gauge, permitting them to leave the high speed track to join conventional routes such as the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line. Such trains would allow running of HS2 services to the north of England and Scotland, although these non-tilting trains would run slower than existing tilting trains on conventional track. HS2 Ltd has stated that, because these trains must be specifically designed for the British network and cannot be bought “off-the-shelf”, these conventional trains were expected to be around 50% more expensive, costing around £40 million per train rather than £27 million for the captive stock.

The trains will have the same characteristics as the full-size High Speed Two trains.

  • Maximum speed of 225 mph.
  • Cruising speed of 205 mph on High Speed Two.
  • Length of 200 metres.
  • Ability to work in pairs.
  • A passenger capacity around 500-600 passengers.

A seven-car Class 807 train with twenty-six metre long cars would appear to be a partial match and tick all the boxes, except for the following.

  • The train’s maximum and cruising speeds are well below what is needed.
  • The train is only 182 metres long.
  • The train has a passenger capacity of 453.

Would a train with eight twenty-five metre long cars be a better fit?

  •  The train length would be 200 metres.
  • Twenty-five metre cars would not cause a problem!
  • I estimate the passenger capacity would be 498 seats.

The trains or members of the same family have already shown.

  • They can run on the East Coast, Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines.
  • They can run on High Speed One.
  • They can split and join automatically.
  • When needed they can run on local lines.

If I was Avanti West Coast’s train-Czar, I would be seriously interested in a Classic-Compatible High Speed Two train, that was very similar to one I already had in service. Provided, of course it did what it promised in the specification.

By adjusting the car-length and the number of cars, the Classic-Compatible High Speed Two train can probably made to fit any operators needs.

High Speed Trains (HST)

There are several fleets of these in service.

The picture shows one of LNER’s Hitachi trains going through Oakleigh Park station.

It would appear that the trains can be configured to the customers needs.

  • Trains have been ordered in lengths of five, seven or nine cars, with a maximum length of up to twelve or more cars.
  • Cars have been ordered in lengths of 24 and 26 metres.
  • Some fleets will be fitted with diesel engines for bi-mode operation.

Operating speeds will be as follows.

  • 100 mph operating speed on diesel.
  • 125 mph operating speed on electric power
  • 140 mph operating speed on electric power with in-cab signalling.

The signalling required for 140 mph running, is currently being installed between London Kings Cross and Doncaster.

High Speed Commuter Trains

As high speed lines proliferate, there will be a need for faster commuter trains.

In a few years time, the following lines out of London will see High Speed Trains like those made by Hitachi sharing tracks with commuter trains.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line

Already on the Great Western Main Line services to Bedwyn and Oxford are run by Class 800 or Class 802 trains, so these trains could be considered to be High Speed Commuter Trains.

  • Their 125 mph operating speed allows them to mix it, with the other High Speed Trains running into and out of London Paddington.
  • Digital in-cab signalling may allow running of both expresses and High Speed Commuter trains at 140 mph.

Other routes, where they could be used, would include.

  • London Kings Cross and Ely via Cambridge.
  • London Paddington and Cheltenham
  • London Paddington and Westbury
  • London St. Pancras and Corby.
  • Liverpool And Blackpool
  • Liverpool And Crewe

The trains would only be doing the same as already happens on High Speed One.

As more and more High Speed Trains run in the UK on existing 125 mph routes, there will be a greater need to increase the operating speed of commuter trains sharing the routes.

Regional Battery Trains

I described these trains in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

Their specification is given in this Hitachi infographic.

A Regional Battery Train has the following capabilities on battery power.

  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Ability to run for 56 miles.

It appears that all AT-300 based trains could be converted into either Regional Battery Trains or AT-300 trains fitted with batteries.

If you take one of Great Western Railway’s Class 802 trains, it will have the following specification.

  • 125 mph operating speed on electric power
  • 140 mph operating speed on electric power with in-cab signalling.

These speeds will be unaffected by fitting batteries, as when running using electrification, the batteries will effectively be more passengers, just as any diesel engines are today.

I also believe that the trains could be Plug-and-Play, with interchangeable diesel engines and battery packs. The train’s operating system would determine how much power was available and drive the car accordingly.

I also believe that Hitachi are being economical with the truth on range on battery power and that if every car was fitted with an intelligent battery pack, on some routes the range could be much greater in a few years.

As an example of their use, Harrogate is eighteen miles from electrification at Leeds. With a range of 56 miles, a Regional Battery Train could do the following.

  • Travel from London Kings Cross to Leeds using the existing electrification.
  • Travel from Leeds to Harrogate and back on battery power.
  • Travel back to London Kings Cross from Leeds using the existing electrification.


  1. Trains would charge their batteries on the run up from London Kings Cross.
  2. Trains would be travelling at up to 125 mph between London Kings Cross and Leeds.
  3. Once in-cab signalling is installed between London and Doncaster, this section could be run at up to 140 mph.

This battery train is no glorified milk-float!

There are other services off high speed lines , that could be handled

  • Bedwyn – 13 miles
  • Harrogate – 18 miles
  • Henley – 4.5 miles
  • Huddersfield – 17 miles
  • Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • Oxford – 10.5 miles

These are just a few of many examples, which are probably increased by a factor of two or three if you have charging at both ends of route without electrification.


Hitachi have developed a family of high speed trains, that can handle anything from fast commuter trains to very high speed trains.

They also probably have battery options to fit all of them.




October 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Screening For Coeliac Disease

People ask me if they should be screened for coeliac disease.

This page on Coeliac UK is entitled Screening For Coeliac Disease.

They quote this advice from NICE.

NICE has advised that people with close relatives (for example father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister) are at increased risk of coeliac disease and so should be considered for screening. This would involve having a blood test in the first instance.

That sounds fairly sensible to me.

October 5, 2020 Posted by | Health | | Leave a comment

A Ride In A Dynamo Electric Taxi

I came out of Marks and Spencer on Finsbury Pavement and an unusual black taxi was sitting on the rank opposite.

So I had to take a ride.

It was a Dynamo Electric Taxi based on a Nissan e-NV200 Evalia MPV.

These are my thoughts.


The Two Major Complaints About The LEVC TX Cab From Drivers

There are two major complaints about the LEVC TX from drivers.

  • It is too expensive to buy.
  • The range on battery power is not far enough.

I’ve also had several conversations about hydrogen power

My Taxi Use

As I have a Freedom Pass, I only travel in taxis about twice a month. Usually this is when I’m coming home from a railway station like Euston, Liverpool Street or Kings Cross in the evening and I want to get home quickly, or I am coming home with shopping, as I was today. Only occasionally, do I use a taxi with somebody else.

I’d be interested to know, the average number of passengers in a black cab.

Dynamo Has Developed A Vehicle To Sell

I feel that Dynamo have developed a vehicle that will sell.

  • The driver said that it is £20,000 cheaper than the LEVC TX.
  • The web site says that the battery range is at least twice that of the LEVC TX.
  • The capacity is one less than the lEVC TX, which is probably not a large disadvantage.
  • The cab includes four different charging methods.
  • It can even be charged from a 13-amp socket.
  • It can carry one person in a wheelchair.
  • Roomy enough for taller drivers.
  • Dynamo claimed to have talked to the drivers. As they have addressed, their two major complaints, that seems about right.
  • It has a glass roof, as does the LEV TX, which is a good feature for a cab,
  • It is 100 % electric and zero carbon.

Overall, it seems to have been designed to have a low cost of ownership. Being based on a standard vehicle must help.

Would It Appeal To Drivers In Smaller Towns And Cities?

After my stroke, I used a lot of taxis to go between my house and the local bus station in Haverhill, which was a distance of about four miles.

Haverhill is a town of 27,000 people without a railway station.

  • The nearest railway station at Dullingham is 10 miles away.
  • Cambridge is 18 miles away.
  • Bury St. Edmunds is 19 miles away.

I feel that the range could be sufficient to run a taxi service in a town like Haverhill.

So could the Dynamo taxi, bring black cabs to more areas?

Ride Quality

Ride quality was what I would expect from a modern vehicle.

Comfort And Space

Comfort was very similar to that of an LEVC TX, but there was a little bit less space. But that wouldn’t bother me.

Would I Use One Again?

I can’t see any reason not to!

I might even choose one in preference to an LEVC TX or a Mercedes Vito, as my road can sometimes be congested and a smaller vehicle might be an advantage.


The Dynamo Black Cab looks to be a serious alternative to the LEVC TX. Especially, as the design has addressed the two major complaints of drovers; cost and range and the vehicle is 100 % electric.

In my lifetime, there have been alternative black cabs, like the Winchester, the Mercedes Vito and the Metrocab.

I can see others joining the market.


October 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments