The Anonymous Widower

Will The Class 230 Trains Be Coming Home?

Long term readers of this blog, will notice, that I keep returning to the short Greenford Branch Line in West London.

  • It is four kilometres long
  • It runs between West Ealing and Greenford stations.
  • Greenford station is step-free and West Ealing station should be by December 2019.
  • There are three intermediate stations.
  • It is mainly double track, with a short length of single track at either end.
  • Two trains per hour (tph) is provided by a single Great Western Railway (GWR) Class 165 diesel train.

It will be a valuable feeder route for passengers to and from Crossrail, which is rumoured to be opening to Reading in December 2019.

An opening of the Western branches of Crossrail between Paddington and Reading would bring the following services to West Ealing station.

  • Two tph between Paddington and Reading
  • Two tph between Paddington and Maidenhead
  • Four tph between Paddington and Heathrow Terminal 4
  • Two tph between Paddington and Heathrow Terminal 5

Two tph shuttling between West Ealing and Greenford is a bad match to the future ten tph on Crossrail.

Four tph Run Between West Ealing And Greenford Stations

This would obviously be ideal, but is it possible?

This Google Map shows West Ealing Junction, where the Greenford Branch joins the Crossrail tracks alongside the Great Western Main Line.

Note how the two tracks of the Greenford Branch Line start in the North-west corner of the map.

  • They join into a single-track , which passes under the footbridge.
  • The tracks then split a few metres to the East of the bridge.
  • The Northern track goes into the bay Platform 5 at West Ealing station, which must be over eighty metres long.
  • The Southern track joins the Crossrail line towards Paddington.

The track layout allows the ocassional refuse trains to pass along the Greenford Branch Line, but would also allow four tph to be run into the bay Platform 5.

This picture shows the current state of the step-free bridge at West Ealing station.

Once this bridge is complete, probably later this year, West Ealing station will be ready for four tph to Greenford.

The simplest safe operation would be for an incoming train to West Ealing station, to wait at Drayton Green station, until it was passed by the outgoing train. Once the points and the signals were set, the incoming train, would move into West Ealing station.

This Google Map shows the lines at the Greenford end of the Greenford Branch Line.

Note how the two tracks of the Greenford Branch Line start in the South-East corner of the map.

  • They join into a single track.
  • After a few metres, the tracks split into two.
  • The Western track dives under the Westbound Central Line and goes into the bay Platform at Greenford station.
  • The Northern track goes under both Central Line track and joins the Acton-Northolt Line.

It would appear that the track layout is designed so that four tph can work into Greenford station.

The Problem Of The Trains

The current Class 165 train works the line well.

  • A two-car train has enough capacity
  • At 45 metres long the train fits the short platform at Greenford station.
  • I estimate that in a month, the train does about 5,400 miles.

Bu as the only GWR diesel train, surrounded by large numbers of electric trains, the Class 156 train probably has to trundle some miles to be serviced.

In an ideal world, the train would have the following properties.

  • Less than fifty metres long.
  • Self-powered.
  • Ability to be serviced locally.
  • To run a four tph service, two trains and a spare will be needed

To look after the trains and hold the spare train, a convenient facility will be needed.

This Google Map shows the wider area around West Ealing station and West Ealinging Junction.

Note the sidings between the Great Western Main Line, the Greenford Branch and the Plasser UK factory.

These sidings are where GWR stable some of their Class 387 trains.

But if the rumours are correct, that Crossrail is going to take over London to Reading services in December 2019, GWR will probably have less use for this facility.

It would surely, be an ideal mini-depot for the Greenford Branch Line fleet.

  • It is a secure site.
  • A refuelling facility could be provided, if necessary.
  • I a passenger service were to be started on the Brentford Branch Line, that is only a few miles away.

There may be a small amount of trackwork needed for efficient operation.

Did A Small Revolution Start In Bedford Yesterday?

In A First Ride In A Revenue-Earning Class 230 Train, I wrote about my ride in the first Class 230 train to enter public service.

This was the conclusion to my poat.

It is a well-designed train, that impressed me.

It should find a niche in the train market.

The fact that the train is in service, will in itself provoke interest from train operating companies and Councils and other groups promoting new or reopened train services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more orders this year.

So will a small fleet of Class 230 trains be coming back to London, where they spent the first nearly forty years of their working lives?

  • The Class 230 train is the right size.
  • The Class 230 train is a quality train, with an interior, that can be tailored to the route.
  • Servicing can be organised locally.
  • Diesel or battery power is available.

A fleet of four trains would provide the following services.

  • Four tph on the Greenford Branch Line.
  • One tph on the Brentford Branch Line.

One train would be spare.

What About The Costs?

Transport for London is probably very happy with the current service on the Greenford Branch Line, as it is not their responsibility.

If Crossrail opens to Reading in December 2019, I suspect GWR will look at this leftover from privatisation as a increasing nuisance.

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 230 train has a section on Cost Comparison.

  • Using the figures for a Class 150 train, GWR are spending about 14,300 pounds a month, plus staff and fuel to provide the current service.
  • Three Class 230 trains providing a four tph service would cost an operator about 25,300 pounds plus a month, staff and fuel.

How much extra revenue for Transport for London, would a four tph service on the Greenford Branch Line generate, if Crossrail were to open to Reading?

I have no evidence, but after my ride yesterday, I feel that Class 230 trains could transform the economics of rail services in West Ealing.

Conclusion

Bring a small fleet of Class 230 trains home!

And while you’re about it, reopen the Brentford Branch Line to passenger trains with an hourly service.

 

 

 

April 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

A First Ride In A Revenue-Earning Class 230 Train

When I heard that London North Western Railway were running a new Class 230 train between Bedford and Bletchley, I just had to go.

These are my thoughts.

Comparison With D78 Stock

I regularly used the D78 Stock from their introduction in 1980 until their retirement in 2017. In Raw Material For A New Train, I showed a few pictures of one of the last D78 Stock trains to be in service.

The picture with the orange doors shows a Class 378 train, at the same platform as the D78 train for comparison.

The trains have certainly undergone changes with new wndows and a new interior, but some components like the  longitudinal seats, appear to have just been refurbished.

But the Class 230 train has retained the well-lit feel of the D78 Stock.

An Interior For All Passengers

Passengers come in many different types and the interior has been well-designed to cope all types of passengers who might use the train.

As it also takes clues from other trains, that work on high-capacity routes, I feel it would cope well if on perhaps a weekend, there was some form of event or festival.

Longitudinal Seating

Vivarail have retained some of the old London Underground longitudinal seating, which must be unique in the UK outside the London Underground/Overground and the Glasgow Subway.

But it does seem to fit in more seats.

Seat Comfort

To me, seat comfort is all important, as I have a posterior that objects to certain seats, like those on Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

But these seats were fine, despite the fact they looked like the dreaded Thameslink seats. But then perhaps the padding is different!

Tables

LNWR have chosen to fit several tables in these trains, which were big enough to lay out a tabloid-sized newspaper.

Wi-Fi, Power And USB Points

Wi-fi is fitted to this train and there were numerous power and USB points. The latter were in the armrests of the longitudinal seats, which in my view, is the obvious, if not essential place. Other train manufacturers please note!

An Unfussy, Surprisingly Quiet And Workmanlike Ride

Passengers don’t generally rave about the quality of the ride in Underground trains and I would generally describe the ride of the average Underground train as workmanlike.

But then I’ve been riding Underground trains for at least sixty-five years and a modern S7 Stock train, is so much better than the 1938 Stock trains I can remember.

The ride of the Class 230 train is unfussy, surprisingly quiet and it still has that workmanlike quality of forty-year-old Underground trains.

Without doubt though, the ride and especially the noise is much better than the Alstom Coradia iLint, that I wrote about in My First Ride In An Alstom Coradia iLint.

Engine Noise

The two diesel engines beneath our feet, were not any more noticeable, than the engine on one of London’s Routemaster buses.

I would expect that High quality noise suppression techniques have been used.

An Air Of Quality

The finish of the train appeared to have a good quality

Operating Speed

Using the |SpeedView app on my phone, the train seemed to trundle on happily at around 45-50 mph.

Passenger Reaction

The passengers seemed to be fairly pleased with their new train, and several said it was better than the single car Class 153 train.

A Senior Manager from LNWR, also seemed pleased with his new train.

Conclusion

It is a well-designed train, that impressed me.

It should find a niche in the train market.

The fact that the train is in service, will in itself provoke interest from train operating companies and Councils and other groups promoting new or reopened train services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more orders this year.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Does Outlook 256 Have A Mind Of Its Own? It’s Just Appeared From My Computer

Outlook 256 must be one of the biggest piles of doo-dah I’ve ever found.

Firstly, it locked up, so that it wouldn’t respond to any of my commands.

So then I rebooted my computer, as one does.

It is now no longer on the task bar and I can’t find out where it is in the computer’s menu.

Allthe other programs in Office 256 seem to be working.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | Computing | , , | 3 Comments

The Norwich-In-Ninety Timetable

The Norwich-In-Ninety trains are now visible on the National Rail timetable.

London To Norwich

Norwich-In-Ninety trains leave London at 11:00 and 19:00!

The current times of the 11:00 train are as follows.

  • Liverpool Street – 11:00
  • Colchester – 11:46
  • Manningtree – 11:55
  • Ipswich – 12:07
  • Diss – 12:36
  • Norwich – 12:50

Those of the faster train are.

  • Liverpool Street – 11:00
  • Ipswich – 11:55
  • Norwich – 12:30

I can remember in the 1960s, the diesel service was advertised as two-hour two-stop between London amd Norwich.

Norwich To London

Norwich-In-Ninety trains leave Norwich at 09:00 and 17:00!

The current times of the 09:00 train are as follows.

  • Norwich – 09:00
  • Diss – 09:17
  • Stowmarket – 09:29
  • Ipswich – 09:41
  • Manningtree – 09:52
  • Colchester – 10:02
  • Chelmsford – 10:21
  • Stratford – 10:45
  • Liverpool Street – 10:55

Those of the faster train are.

  • Norwich – 09:00
  • Ipswich – 09:33
  • Liverpool Street- 10:30

Note that the current Southbound services are slower than those going North.

The Current Linespeed

For part of my trip back from Ipswich today, I was following the linespeed using the Speedview App on my phone.

  • Between Kelvedon and Hstfield Peverel the train averaged around 100 mph.
  • It then slowed to 60 mph through Chelmsford.
  • By Ingatestone, it was up to 90 mph, before slowing for 60 mph through Shenfield.
  • There seemed to be some checking from a slower train, but at places into Liverpool Street it was up to 80-90 mph.

The Norwich-In-Ninety improvements certainly seemed to have helped.

It certainly left me with the feeling that the elderly Class 90 locomotive and Mark 3 carriages could achieve Ipswich to Liverpool Street in around an hour.

The Future

These four services are probably just the start. These four services can probably be achieved with one train.

  • Leave Norwich at 09:00 and arrive in Liverpool Street at 10:30
  • Leave Liverpool Street at 11:00 and arrive in Norwich at 12:30
  • Leave Norwich at 17:00 and arrive in Liverpool Street at 18:30
  • Leave Liverpool Street at 19:00 and arrive in Norwich at 20:30

Although, Greater Anglia will be running the initial service with Class 755 trains, the company has ten Class 745 trains on order.

The only thing so far disclosed, is that the Liverpool Street and Norwich service will go to three trains per hour (tph).

It should also be said, that the design of the new trains and their power, should make station stops much faster.

But what pattern of stops will be performed by the three trains?

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

Are Greater Anglia’s Flirts Faster Than 100 mph?

Over the last fifty years or so, a lot of fast trains have been introduced onto the UK’s railways.

It does seem that often the design speed and what is possible differ by up to twenty miles per hour.

It is probably in part good design, as it means that an accidental overspeed can be safely handled.

Greater Anglia has ordered two fleets of Stadler FLIRTs.

Note

  1. Both trains share a lot of features and are capable of 100 mph.
  2. Some Norwegian electric FlLIRTs have a top speed of 120 mph. They have an extra powered axle, but do they have ostensibly the same running gear and electrifical systems?

So would it be reasonable to assume that Stadler have designed FLIRTs, so that faster versions can be created?

If the answer is in the affirmative, there is two interesting possibilities.

London To Norwich Services

The section of line between Norwich and Haughley Junction has the following characteristics.

  • Double-track
  • 31 miles long.
  • 100 mph operating speed
  • Electrified
  • A few level-crossings
  • It is fairly straight
  • There is the Trowse swing bridge over the River Wensum
  • Passenger services on the route will be run only using Stadler FLIRTs.

Network Rail have been very successful in upgrading routes like this for faster running and as the Trowse swing bridge will be replaced, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this section of line upgraded to perhaps 110 mph. This would save a couple of minutes, if the trains could take advantage.

Other services in East Anglia would also benefit from works to improve line speed.

Midland Main Line Services

The Midland Main Line will receive brand-new 125 mph bi-mode trains in 2022.

If Class 755 bi-mode trains could be configured to run at 125 mph, like their electric cousins, they must be a possibility.

Conclusion

Only Stadler know if their Class 745 and 755 trains can be upgraded to higher speeds.

But if they can be upgraded, they could be a very useful train for UK railways.

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

Platforms 10-14 At Paddington Station

This Google Map shows the Western end of Paddington station.

Note.

  1. In the top right hand corner of the map you can see the canal boats parked alongside the station.
  2. The light brown flat roof, would appear to be the roof of the London Underground station, which has two platforms and is served by the Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines.
  3. The thin platform pointing out from under the road bridge at the is probably the extension of the two Underground platforms, which are numbered 15 and 16.
  4. The next platform end which is wider, is platforms 12 and 14.

Now look at this picture taken by the end barrier on platform 15.

Note.

  1. The road bridge is over the top.
  2. Platform 14 is opposite, which is fitted with overhead electrification.
  3. The track for Platform 15, is the Westbound Underground line and has typical London Underground electrification.
  4. I think the signal gantry at the end of the platform can be seen on the Google Map.

The Google Map and my photo are two different views of the same area.

The Length of Platform 14

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled All Change At Paddington.

This is an extract, which is talking about Platform 14.

To extend the platform’s operational length to 164 metres, it had to be extended at both ends. On the London end, the buffer stop had already been moved by 11 metres, and that was all the room available. The country end had also been extended as much as possible.

164 metres is an interesting length.

The length of a four-car Class 387 train is just over eighty metres, so two working as a pair would fit Platform 14.

In Weight And Dimensions Of A Class 345 Train, I state that the length of a seven-car Class 345 train is 159.74 metres.

It looks like platform 14 can accept either of the electric trains that work the suburban services out of  Paddington.

The Length of Platform 12

Platform 12 is the other platform face of the island containing platform 14.

I took these pictures as I walked down the Underground platform.

I then left the Underground station and took these pictures on the island containing platforms 12 and 14.

Note that the train in Platform 12 is an eight-car Class 387 train, which is around 160 metres long.

The end of the train appeared to be about the same place as the end barriers on the Eastern end of the Underground platform.

As a S7 Stock train is 117.45 metres long, I estimate that the length of Platform 12 is almost 280 metres.

This picture was taken at the Eastern End of the platforms from behind the buffers.

As there is perhaps forty metres, between the buffer stop and the train, does that mean that Platform 12 and its neighbour; Plstform 11 are long enough to accommodate any of the following.

  • Up to four four-car Class 387 trains.
  • Two seven car Class 345 trains.
  • A Class 345 train at the maximum length of nine or ten cars.

Network Rail seem to have provided a lot of space for future services.

Conclusion

There is certainly enough space to run a Western Cossrail service to Reading. The space is available now, so it should be available in December 2019.

The only restriction would be that Platform 14 can only handle a seven-car Class 345 train.

 

 

 

 

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

From Paddington To Victoria The Hard Way

On Friday, I tried to use the Bakerloo Line at Paddington station and it was in chaos because of related engineering work.

So today, instead of going between Paddington and Victoria by using the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines, I thought I’d use the Circle Line and go direct.

But it turned into a struggle.

  • A train arrived within a minute but didn’t say where it was going.
  • It turned out to be Olympia, so I changed at Earl’s Court for Victoria.
  • Close to my exit from the train at Victoria was a lift saying it was going to the Way Out.
  • But it didn’t and I had to climb back up to the platform where I started.
  • Another set of stairs took me to the sueface.

When I got to the surface, I saw an information office and asked if they could point me to a bus spider map, so I could find out if a bus would have been easier. They hadn’t a clue and probably only wanted to see me a tour.

But I found one in an obvious place.

And ascertained that a 36 bus would have been just the job.

The picture shows one going the other way, just outside the station.

It is a bit slower, but not if you have a heavy case or a child in a buggy.

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Amusing Seats At Victoria

The seats at London Bridge station, that I wrote about in Matched Seats And Roof At London Bridge Station, have now been installed at Victoria station.

Would they have amused Queen Victoria?

This press release from Network Rail is entitled Network Rail Puts Passengers First With Installation Of New Modern Seating At London Stations, gives more details on the new seating.

  • Seating capacity at each station will be increased from 150 to 400.
  • The seats were made by Green Furniture Concepts from Malmo in Sweden.

Generally, passengers I’ve asked, seem pleased with the new seats.

 

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Access Issues At Crofton Park Station

I was alerted to the problems of access to trains at Crofton Park station, by a reader to this blog who commented here.

So as I was passing through, I decided to stop and take a few pictures.

The pictures are in order, as I walked around the station.

  • I walked to the Southern end of Platform 2.
  • I used the step-free access to exit the station.
  • I walked across the railway on the nearby road bridge on Ley Grove.
  • I entered the station using the step-free access at the Southern end of Platform 1

There wasn’t one step on the route.

These are my comments on various issues at the station.

The Simple Step-Free Access

The simple step-free access on the Southbound Platform 2 is shown in full.

Both platform access paths are similar and easy, although there is a slope up to Ley Grove and the bridge across the railway.

This Google Map shows the Platform 2 access.

The wide platform, the two contactless card readers and the seat by the entrance can clearly be seen.

It is a simple design that seems to be well-used by passengers. And not just those who need step-free access.

This type of entrance may work well in London, because contactless ticketing is commonplace. But would it work all stations, where ticket checking is non-existent or a ticket needs to be purchased before getting n the train?

Bad Signage

The locals will know about the entrances, but surely better signage is needed from the road across the bridge to these two entrances.

Steps To The Main Entrance

These are pretty typical of Victorian stations and are fairly long and steep.

I suspect passengers with access problems take care in planning their journeys

Platform To Train Access

The Southbound access is not too bad and is a typical step common all over London, but Northbound access is high with a chasm between the platform and the train.

The Google Map shows the reason.

 

Partly the reason is the curve of the railway line and the platforms, which rules out the standard solution of a Harrington Hump in the middle of platform, which is usually placed correctly by Thameslink to be by the wheelchair bays on the Class 700 train.

I think the map also shows that to straighten the line through the station would be a major undertaking and probably mean closing the station and the railway line for a couple of weeks.

But as a lady said to me, a friend of hers fell into the chasm.

Perhaps the only solution is to have a powered wheel-chair lift like a fork-lift truck, as the Germans do at some stations.

One on each platform and staff to man it would probably be more affordable than rebuilding the station.

There may also be an alternative solution for walk-through trains like the Class 700 train or London Overground’s Class 378 train.

This picture shows the Southern end of Platform 2,, with a train alongside.

Note that the end of the platform is straighter.

Why not put the Harrington Hump, in this position?

  • It would be alongside the step-free access to the station.
  • It would not be a major construction.
  • It could perhaps be twenty metres long.
  • It helps that all trains stopping at Croftton Park station are eight-car trains.
  • Phone apps to instruct passengers what to do at particular stations are getting better and more comprehensive.

As the trains are walk-through, passengers can move forwards the front before arrival,  if they are getting out at Crofton Park station.

Conclusion

Crofton Park station’s simple method of step-free access icould be used at many stations.

But we also need a method to deal with the curved platform problem and the chasms, it creates.

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Why Are Abellio Starting Norwich-in-Ninety With Class 755 Trains?

At the May timetable change Abellio Greater Anglia will be running four trains per day between London and Norwich in ninety minutes.

I have read that this is possible with the current Class 90 locomotive /Mark 3 coach train sets and that is a fall-back position.

I was also told by a former employee of Greater Anglia, that one night, he was a passenger between Norwich station and Illford depot in an empty Class 321 train, that achieved an incredible time.

So why take the risk with untried Class 755 trains on the first day of the new timetable?

  • Abellio must be very sure that the trains will perform, as they say in the brochure.
  • They also know all the publicity that running new trains will bring.

But could Abellio just want to check the public’s reaction to these trains with effectively a locomotive in the middle, before they decide on the 125 mph bi-mode trains for the Midland Main Line?

I don’t believe that building a 125 mph version of Class 755 train would be beyond the bounds of possibility.

The Weight Of A Class 755 Train

I haven’t been able to do my energy calculation for a Class 755 train, as I can’t find the weight of a Class 755 train on the Internet.

However, I can estimate the weight of a four-car Class 755/4 train from the Stadler data sheet for the train.

This gives the following.

  • Mean Acceleration Electric (0-40 mph) – 1.1 metres/second squared
  • Maximum traction – 200 kN
  • 202 seats and 27 tip-up seats

I think it is reasonable to assume that the acceleration rate is for a train with a typical load of passengers.

Using Omni’s Acceleration Calculator, this gives a time of 16.256 seconds to accelerate from 0-40 mph.

Then putting this time into Omni’s Newton’s Second Law Calculator, gives a train mass of 181.8 tonnes.

As passengers can weigh around twenty tonnes, if they weigh 90 Kg each, with baggage, bikes and buggies, I would estimate that an empty Class 755/4 train weighs around 160-170 tonnes.

By comparison.

I don’t think a figure of 160-170 tonnes is out of line, with a figure of 180 tonnes for a typical loaded train.

Remember too, that these trains are Stadler FLIRTs, where FLIRT is Fast Light Intercity and Regional Train.

Applying Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, gives these figures for the kinetic energy of a train.

  • 90 mph – 40 kWh
  • 100 mph – 50 kWh
  • 125 mph – 78 kWh

As some electric FLIRTs can nun at 125 mph, I believe that a bi-mode FLIRT, based on the Class 755 train could be designed with these characteristics.

  • 125 mph on electric power
  • 125 mph on diesel power

Acceleration on diesel to 125 mph would probably be the biggest problem and it is likely that more power than for a Class 755 train will be needed.

Do Abellio Greater Anglia’s initial Norwich-in-Ninety trains give a clue in that they will be two four-car Class 755 trains working as an eight-car train?

  • It will be eight passenger cars and two power cars at the 25% and 75% positions in the formation.
  • Stadler have built the similar Stadler GTW with two power cars in a single train.

So I suspect that Stadler know the dynamics of these trains very well.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me, that Stadler had offered a bi-mode Stadler FLIRT with two power cars, for the Midland Main Line.

  • The power car concept has been sold to operators with diesel, electric and battery power options.
  • Stadler are proposing to use battery power in the Class 93 locomotive to boost performance.
  • Many would believe, as I do, that hydrogen power could be added to a Stadler power car.

So are these runs at 100 mph with two four-car Class 755 trains, a final trial of the technology to prove that similar higher-powered trains could run at 125 mph on the Midland Main Line, before Abellio sign a contract?

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment