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.

Consider.

  • 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).

Note.

  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

Note.

  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

Consider.

  • 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.

Conclusion

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 | , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Anecdotally, the maximum safe acceleration/deceleration rate (taking into account standing passengers who may not be fully fit, and also wheelchairs) is 1.4m per second squared. The faster tube lines and modern trams on segregated lines usually come close to that in regular running, a 710 might be a little slower. So that will be the constraint to end to end journey time for any mode.

    I winder if the better approach to increasing usefulness and capacity on a short “isolated” line short of dual track or additional passing points might be to reengineer to support a automated unstaffed pod type solution, making this turn up and go with an ability to skip middle stop(s). “Morgantown” or a version on that on light metal rails, scheduled departures in peak (as is Morgantown) and on demand to destination off peak, with a fleet of smaller vehicles (20?).

    Comment by MilesT | October 7, 2020 | Reply

  2. I used the acceleration from the Class 345 train. Interestingly, 1.4 m/sec/sec would knock 56 seconds off the trip.

    Your solution would require a full rebuilding of the line and closure for many months. That would not be good for customers and they might go away for good.

    But at some time in the future, when very light rail has been proven, it might be possible.

    I also think, no decision should be made until Crossrail opens, as that might serious change the number of passengers using the route.

    Comment by AnonW | October 7, 2020 | Reply


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