The Anonymous Widower

A RAT Sighted At Acton Town Station

I was surprised to see an old train running through North Action station.

As it said on the side it was a Rail Adhesion Train, that I wrote about in Specialist Trains Lead The Charge Against Leaf Fall on The Piccadilly Line.

October 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

How Will Chiltern Railways Serve Old Oak Common

Whilst writing A Proposal For Two London Overground Stations At Old Oak Common, I got to thinking about how Chiltern Railways would use Old Oak Common station as a second London terminus, to relieve pressure on Marylebone station.

Lines At Old Oak Common

This map from TfL shows the lines in the area and the location of the proposed two new stations; Hythe Road and Old Oak Common Lane, for the London Overground.

Hythe Road station will be on the  West London Line between Willesden Junction and Shepherd’s Bush stations.

Old Oak Common Lane station will be on the North London Line between Willesden Junction and Acton Central stations.

How Will Chiltern Serve Old Oak Common?

Search the Internet for “Chiltern Railways Old Oak Common” and you find little of substance.

So exactly how will Chiltern Railways get trains to the station complex?

Using The Acton-Northolt Line

The Acton-Northolt Line is a logical route from Northolt Junction on the Chiltern Main Line to Old Oak Common.

But there could be problems with the Acton-Northolt Line.

  1. It will be on top of the tunnel taking HS2 out of London and building HS2 might be difficult.
  2. It is only single track and would need to be doubled.
  3. It might be difficult to find space to build the station around the platforms for HS2, Crossrail and the Great Western Main Line.
  4. Getting tracks to the Northern part of the site for a Chiltern station there, might be difficult.

Points 1 and 2 would probably combine together to delay the Chiltern extension until after HS2 is substantially complete.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr illustrates the problem of finding a place for the station.

Note.

  1. The Great Western Railway is the multi-track in black .
  2. The single track shown in black North of North Action station is the Acton-Northolt Line.
  3. Old Oak Common Lane station is just to the North of Acton Wells Junction.
  4. The curves to connect the Acton-Northolt Line to the North London Line would be very tight.

The preferred position for the station is probably in the area of the current Heathrow Express Depot.

An alternative position for the station could be at North Acton station.

This Google Map shows North Acton station and its relation to the proposed Old Oak Common Lane station.

Old Oak Common Lane station would be located North of the Junction, where the Dudding Hill Line and the North London Line split, in the top-right corner of the map.

The rebuilt North Acton station could have the following characteristics.

  • Two or possibly three, Chiltern platforms could be built North of the current Central Line platforms.
  • The station could have a walking route or moving walkway to connect it to Old Oak Common Lane station and the main Old Oak station complex.
  • It would also fulfil the aims of politicians to link the Central and North London Lines.

It could be a viable alternative with valuable over-site development.

Advantages and Problems Of Using The Acton-Northolt Line

The advantages of using this route could include.

  • It could open up development sites along the route.
  • New stations could be developed at Hanger Lane, Perivale, Greenford, Northolt, South Ruislip, Ruislip Grdens and West Ruoslip.
  • The new double-track line could be electrified without disrupting existing services.
  • It connects the Chiltern Main Line to HS2 and Crossrail.
  • It could enable a Crossrail extension along the Acton-Northolt Line.

The big problem would be doubling the Acton-Northolt Line and building the station, whilst the tunnelling work for HS2 was proceeding.

The Acton-Northolt Line And HS2

I do hope that HS2 is not being designed to block future use of the Acton-Northolt Line.

In fact, I hope the reverse is true and creation of a double-track Acton-Northolt Line is part of the specification for HS2.

Using The Dudding Hill Line

There is a connecting chord between the Chiltern Main Line and the Dudding Hill Line at Neasden.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows how trains would get between Wembley Stadium station and the Dudding Hill Line.

Note.

  1. The Dudding Hill Line is the line crossing all the tracks to the South of Neasden.
  2. The route would mean that Chiltern trains would be sent to their destination; Marylebone or Old Oak Common at Neasden.

The biggest problem may be where to put the station, as the Dudding Hill Line passes slightly to the West of the Old Oak Common complex.

But look at TfL’s visualisation for Old Oak Common Lane station.

The Dudding Hill Line is shown in the visualisation running under the pedestrian and cycle route to Cictoria Road.

This Google Map shows the area in detail.

Note.

  1. The North London Line goes North-East.
  2. The proposed Old Oak Common Lane station would be built where the road is closest to the North London Line.
  3. The Dudding Hill Line goes North.

There would appear to be a site ripe for development to the West of the Dudding Hill Line.

Advantages and Problems Of Using The Dudding Hill Line

The advantages of using this route could include.

The station could be built in combination with London Overground’s proposed Old Oak Common Lane station.

  • There is a lot of space for the station.
  • No new track is required, although the Dudding Hill Line would need upgrading.
  • Good connections to HS2 and Crossrail will be built for Old Oak Common Lane station.
  • Thestation on the Dudding Hill Line could also be used by the proposed West Orbital Railway.
  • Construction would not be a difficult job and would not affect existing services.
  • The site would not be affected by HS2.

The problems are mainly about connectivity to other lines, but well-designed connections to Crossrail and the Central Line would solve a lot of these problems.

Conclusion

There are at least two feasible options for a Chiltern station in the Old Oak Common area.

 

 

October 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Is It Possible To Squeeze Two New Tracks Through Tottenham Hale Station?

Now that the area behind the station is more or less cleared and the signalling cables seem to have been rerouted, you can get a better idea.

Will the new tracks be the Slow or Fast Lines?

As the third track is being installed for STAR at the present time, it would appear that the two new lines will be the Slow Lines.

October 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

UK Rolling Stock Strategy: Diesel, Bi-mode and Fuel Cell-Powered Trains

The title of this post is the same as that on an article in Global Rail News.

I will not repeat myself here, but I laid down my thoughts in The Intelligent Multi-Mode Train And Affordable Electrification.

In that post, I said that an Intelligent Multi-Mode Train would have these characteristics.

  • Electric drive with regenerative braking.
  • Diesel or hydrogen power-pack.
  • Onboard energy storage to handle the energy generated by braking.
  • 25 KVAC and/or 750 VDC operation.
  • Automatic pantograph and third-rail shoe deployment.
  • Automatic power source selection.
  • The train would be designed for low energy use.
  • Driver assistance system, so the train was driven safely, economically and to the timetable.

Note the amount of automation to ease the workload for the driver and run the train efficiently.

After discussing affordable electrification, I came to the following conclusion.

There are a very large number of techniques that can enable a multi-mode train to roam freely over large parts of the UK.

It is also a team effort, with every design element of the train, track, signalling and stations contributing to an efficient low-energy train, that is not too heavy.

 

October 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A Proposal For Two London Overground Stations At Old Oak Common

Transport for London published this proposal a few weeks ago, but it’s only now that I’ve found time to document it here.

TfL’s Proposal

This document on Tfl’s web site, gives full details of their proposals.

The Location Of The Stations

This map from TfL shows the location of the two stations.

Hythe Road station will be on the  West London Line between Willesden Junction and Shepherd’s Bush stations.

Old Oak Common Lane station will be on the North London Line between Willesden Junction and Acton Central stations.

This Google Map shows the area.

Three features on both maps link them together.

  • The Grand Union Canal.
  • The layout of the two Overground Lines that meet at the distinctive Willesden High Level Junction.
  • The long silver-roofed North Pole Depot at the bottom of the maps.

Note from the Google Map, how much space is available.

Are Two New Stations Needed?

There are various factors at work here.

More Stations And Entrances Shorten Journey Times

Research has shown that the more routes you give passengers, the quicker and easier the journeys.

Old Oak Common Is A Large Site

25,500 new homes and 65,000 jobs are being created in the Old Oak Common/Park Royal area and two new stations are probably needed.

The North And West London Lines Pass Separately Through The Site

Two separate stations give direct services to the following.

  • West and South-West London via the North London Line.
  • North and North-East London via the North London Line.
  • Clapham Junction for South London via the West London Line.

Some might argue, that a new spur from Willesden High Level Junction, where the two lines divide direct to the combined HS2 and Elizabeth Line station, may be a better and cheaper option.

But this would only provide a connection to North and North-East London. Connections to the latter area, are also provided by the Elizabeth Line with a change of train at Liverpool Street or Stratford.

Conclusion About Two Stations

I’m convinced, that two Overground stations are needed and I suspect eventually, there will be other stations.

Hythe Road Station

TfL’s proposal for Hythe Road station would be built to the North of the existing embankment of the West London Line, which would be demolished.

This visualisation is from the TfL document.

It would appear to be reminiscent of Shoreditch High Street station, but built at ground-level.

Conclusion About Hythe Road Station

It is an inherently simple proposal, that can be built around an existing rail line, so it shouldn’t create too many construction problems.

Old Oak Common Lane Station

TfL’s proposal for Old Oak Common Lane station would incorporate an overbridge extending westwards to Victoria Road, to allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross the railway.

This map from the TfL document shows the location of the station.

And this Google Map shows roughly the same area.

The line breaking off to the North is the Dudding Hill Line, which is an important part of a proposal for a new railway line in West London, which I wrote about in New Railway Line For West London Proposed.

This visualisation is from the TfL document.

Note.

  • The bridge for cyclists and pedestrians to Victoria Road.
  • The Dudding Hill Line passing under the bridge.

It very much looks like Old Oak Common Lane station could have platforms on the Dudding Hill Line, which would be a very important addition to the West Orbital Railway proposal.

Cnclusion About Old Oak Common Lane Station

TfL’s proposal looks comprehensive and reasonably simple to build.

It also includes provision to connect to the proposed West Orbital Railway.

What Else Would I Do?

Here are my thoughts.

An East-West People Mover

The only one thing I would definitely add, is some form of people mover stretching East-West across the whole Old Oak Common site.

My preferred option would be to use a high-level moving walkway perhaps enclosed in a glass tunnel, which would stretch from Victoria Road in the West to perhaps Wormwood Scrubs Park in the East.

Escalators and lifts would give step-free connections to Old Oak Common Lane, HS2, Elizabeth Line and Hythe Road stations.

We’re not getting any younger!

Terminal Platforms

Both stations could have terminal platforms in the visualisations.

But they would surely be a good idea to allow extra services to be run to and from the major station complex.

Both new stations will have a platform on each track.

Would it be a good idea to have a third platform, that could be used as a bay platform in both directions?

A Terminal Platform At Hythe Road Station

The West London Line currently has a Milton Keynes to East Croydon service and this must mean that services to the West Coast and Brighton Main Lines are possible from a Hythe Road station.

  • Trains to the South could go to Clapham Junction, East Croydon, Gatwick and any desired station South of London.
  • Trains to the North could go to Wembley Central, Watford and Milton Keynes.

A stopping service on the West Coast Main Line would be complementary to HS2. Take for instance, sports or music fans going to an event at Wembley Stadium.

A Terminal Platform At Old Oak Common Lane Station

The only passenger services on the North London Line are London Overground services, between Stratford and Eichmond, but surely a terminal platform at Old Oak Common Lane station could be useful in providing some needed services.

If the West Orbital Railway is created, this will add eight trains per hour after Acton Central. This might be too many trains for the route, so perhaps there would be a need to turn-back some trains from Stratford at Old Oak Common Lane?

A terminal platform at Old Oak Common Lane station might be used for an extended Gospel Oak to Barking service.

Building The Stations

I haven’t had a good look at the sites of the two stations and I don’t know the area well.

But I do have the feeling that both these stations can be built independently without affecting any other projects.

So they could be built at any convenient time in the development of this large site.

 

 

 

 

October 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A First Visit To Walthamstow Wetlands

Walthamstow Wetlands opened today, so I went to take a look.

It was well worth a visit.

I shall return!

October 20, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Just Add Trains

I took these pictures of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, as it passes past the Engine House on the Walthamstow Wetlands site.

This section, which is probably one of the easiest bits to electrify, looks to be ready for the trains.

Note that the pictures looking down on the line were taken from the fire escape on the side of the Engine House, shown in the last picture.

This Google Map shows the Gospel Oak To Barking Line crossing the area.

Note.

  • The Engine House has a green label saying Walthamstow Wetlands.
  • The bus stops by the Ferry Boat Inn have buses to and from Tottenham Hale and Blackhorse Road stations.
  • The Engine House is about a hundred metres from the bus stops and
  • The Engine House has a step-free entrance and a lift inside.

The Engine House is certainly worth the walk.

October 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , | 2 Comments

Can Class 230 Trains Work On Third Rail Electrified Lines?

London Underground’s D78 Stock used to share tracks between Gunnerbury and Richmond stations with London Overground’s Class 378 trains.

So the answer to my question used to be yes and I suspect that the Class 230 trains could be configured, so that they could still run on third-rail electrified lines.

Running A Service Using Class 230 Trains

Now that West Midlands Trains have ordered three Class 230 trains for the Marston Vale Line, I think we can see how operators could use the trains.

  • The operator has enough trains to run the service, even if one train is out of service for routine maintenance or repair.
  • The trains are stored overnight in a convenient siding or terminal station.
  • The trains will be supported by probably a well-designed service vehicle and if needed a fuel bowser.
  • The trains will be refurbished to a high standard, with wi-fi, power sockets and universal access toilets.
  • Vivarail have talked about on-board drinks machines.
  • Drivers and support staff would probably come from the local area.

You could even envisage a train with an onboard ticket machine.

Would A Third-Rail Ability Be Any Use?

Consider the following lines.

Bromley North Branch Line

The Bromley North Branch Line is a short branch line between Grove Park and Bromley North stations.

  • Service is three trains per hour from Mondays to Saturdays.
  • There is no service on Sundays.
  • Bromley North station is Grade II Listed and has a ticket office.
  • The branch is double-track and fully electrified with one intermediate station.
  • The service is run by a two-car Class 466 train, which travels to the line each morning.
  • The Class 230 train has a higher passenger-focused specification than the twenty-year-old Class 466 train.

I believe that one Class 230 train could run the existing service, but as Bromley North station has two platforms, that two trains could run a four trains per hour service.

I also believe that the Grade II Listed station could be released for sympathetic development, by doing the following.

  • Improving the automatic ticketing facilities and perhaps putting ticket machines on the trains.
  • Closing the ticket office.
  • Putting staff on the platform to assist passengers who need help.

The station could become a transport hub with cafes and stops catering for the needs of train travellers and those using the many buses serving the station.

The South Eastern franchise is up for renewal in the next couple of years, and I think that those bidding will have ideas about what to do the the Bromley North Branch Line.

 

 

October 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Could Three-Car Aventras Run Services On The Greenford Branch?

Services on the Greenford Branch Line between West Ealing and Greenford stations, are currently provided by a two-car Class 165 train.

Consider.

  • There are no plans to electrify the line.
  • West Ealing station has a recently-constructed bay platform to serve the branch.
  • The branch line is a 2.7 mile double-track line with three stations.
  • The intermediate stations at Drayton GreenCastle Bar Park and South Greenford have short platforms, that can only accept two-car trains.
  • The service frequency is two trains per hour (tph).
  • Each trip takes eleven minutes.

In an ideal world, the service would be electric and four tph.

Proposals For New Trains

Most proposals seem to suggest moving the branch line to the London Overground and using one of their Class 172 trains. But these trains are now being moved to West Midlands Trains, so that proposal would seem to be a non-starter.

Three-Car Aventras

Could three-car Aventras run services on the line using battery power?

I discussed such a train in A Detailed Look At A Three-Car Aventra, after West Midlands Trains ordered thirty-six of the trains.

These are my thoughts.

Capacity Increase

A three-car train would give a fifty percent increase in capacity on the line.

Is this capacity increase needed?

The Link With Crossrail

Under Services in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, it is indicated that twelve tph will pass through West Ealing station, although it is not yet known how many will stop.

Surely, when Crossrail opens fully, an integrated service with good connections will be created at West Ealing.

I believe Crossrail will work in one of two ways at West Ealing.

  1. In a London Underground-like manner, all trains will stop.
  2. Perhaps four or six tph will stop.

I suspect that Londoners won’t accept the second pattern, as they are used to the Underground and the Overground, where there are not many limited-stop services and a train comes along every few minutes.

So this would mean that there will be trains every five minutes in both directions at West Ealing station, creating a steady stream of passengers for the Greenford Branch Line.

Passengers will get fed up waiting thirty minutes for the branch line train.

As West Ealing will be a well-equipped station, waiting fifteen minutes for a train will probably be acceptable to passengers.

Anything less and there will be masses of complaints.

The Link With The Central Line

What applies at West Ealing with Crossrail, surely applies at Greenford with the Central Line.

Short Platforms

I feel that selective door opening on the Aventra could handle the short platforms on the branch.

Four Trains Per Hour

I think it be possible to work a four tph West Ealing to Greenford shuttle, as the branch line is double-track.

But it may need another cross-over to be installed.

Four tph would need two operational trains.

Charging The Trains

The trains could be charged at either end of the branch line, although for practical reasons, charging might use 25 KVAC overhead at West Ealing and 750 VDC at Greenford, as these are used on other tracks in the respective stations.

But as Aventras can be dual voltage, this could be handled by the trains.

As the line is only 2.7 miles long, charging could probably be done at one end only.

Other Alternatives

It would not be balanced to ignore other possibilities.

Refurbished Two-Car Diesel Trains

Two refurbished two-car diesel trains, like say Class 150 trains could also work four tph. on the branch.

But these would probably present services and refuelling problems.

Class 230 Trains

Two Class 230 trains could also work four tph. on the branch.

Consider.

  • They could work the branch on diesel or battery, or a combination of both.
  • Trains would be refurbished to a modern standard, with wi-fi and power sockets.
  • Two-car trains would fit the stations on the branch.
  • They are designed for remote servicing.

I think that a dedicated fleet of three two-car Class 230 trains would be a viable alternative.

Conclusion

Three-car Aventras could provide a good service on the Greenford Branch Line, but there are issues and it may be more complicated than anyone thinks to run a service, that is acceptable to passengers.

But three two-car Class 230 trains would be a viable alternative.

October 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Detailed Look At A Three-Car Aventra

In Bombardier and CAF To Make 413 Carriages For New West Midlands Franchise, I wondered if the three-car Aventras ordered by West Midlands Trains had a battery capability.

The Train Weight

I need a good estimate of the weight of a typical Aventra carriage.

Wikipedia gives the following values.

  • Bombardier Aventra – A nine-car Class 345  train weighs less than 350 tonnes, which gives a figure of 39 tonnes per car.
  • Siemens Desiro City – A twelve-car Class 700 train weighs 410 tonnes, which gives a figure of 34 tonnes per car.
  • Bombardier Electrostar – A five-car Class 378 train weighs 159.5 tonnes, which gives a figure of 32 tonnes per car.

Bombardier seem to play their weight figures close to their chest, so I’ll just use a figure of 35 tonnes per car. But it does appear that Aventras, could be heavier than Electrostars.

The Battery Weight

I tend to think in terms of New Routemaster hybrid bus batteries, which have a capacity of 75 kWh.  Surely hybrid bus batteries are fairly common and if you were needing a battery for a new application, it might be where you will start.

The best estimate I can make is that a 75 kWh battery weighs about 600 Kg. I will use this until I find a better figure.

Could the weight of the battery explain the increase in weight between an Electrostar and an Aventra?

Aventras Have A Lot Of Traction Motors

From what I’ve seen on the Internet, it appears that Aventras have a lot of powered bogies.

A Three-Car Aventra

I think that a three-car Aventra would have a formation something like.

  • DMSLW – Driver Motor Standard – Wheelchair and Universal Access Toilet
  • PMS – Pantograph Motor Standard
  • DMS – Driver Motor Standard

Note.

  1. I estimate it would have about 230 Standard Class seats in a traditional layout. or perhaps 150 in a Metro layout.
  2. There would be a couple of wheelchair spaces.
  3. Would a toilet be provided on the train? Crossrail puts them in the stations! Does Birmingham?
  4. Each car would be fully motored.
  5. Could each car have its own battery, so they handled their own regenerative braking efficiently?
  6. All the cars would be connected together by an electrical bus fed from the pantograph car.
  7. West Midlands Trains have said the new trains will be 90 mph units.

The capabilities are not unlike the current Class 323 trains.

The Aventras have advantages over the older trains.

  • They are articulated, which gives more space.
  • They are wider inside due to thin, strong car sides and underfloor heating.
  • Design of lobbies has improved.
  • A mixed traditional/metro interior can be used as in Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.

They could also be designed to a slightly longer length if required. But this might have operational and depot issues.

I expect Bombardier will have used every trick and dodge to get this order.

What Size Of Battery Is Needed To Handle Regenerative Braking?

I’ll do the calculation for one car with perhaps a hundred passengers running at 90 mph or 145 kph.

I’ll assume each passenger weighs 80 Kg with all their baggage, which gives a one-car mass of 43 tonnes.

The amount of energy in that one car is a very surprising figure of just 10 kWh.

How Far Could A Three-Car Aventra Go On Battery Power?

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

The three-car Aventra will be an efficient train, but it will have features like air-conditioning, so I suspect that a figure of 4 kWh per car-mile will be achievable, if the following is done.

  • Air-conditioning is very intelligent and efficient.
  • The train is very well insulated.
  • All electrical equipment on the train like lights, toilets and doors are efficient.
  • Operation ensures batteries are fully charged before entering battery sections.
  • Pantograph operation will be intelligent to snatch a sneaky charge on a short length of electrification.
  • Regenerative braking energy is stored on the train.

3 kWh per car-mile may even be possible.

Suppose the battery in each car had a capacity of 75 kWh. This would give the following ranges with various energy consumption rates.

  • 3 kWh – 25 miles
  • 4 kWh – 19 miles
  • 5 kWh – 15 miles

It certainly is important to get the train as energy efficient as possible.

Increasing the battery capacity will increase the range proportionally.

This would mean that a very efficient train with a double-size battery could go fifty miles without wires.

Where Practically Could These Trains Run?

There are several possibilities.

Camp Hill Line

The Camp Hill Line is an obvious possibility.

A lot is said about the reopening in Future Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the line.

There has also been speculation in the railway press, that chords will be created to allow trains on the line to run directly into Birmingham Moor Street station.

Moor Street Station

If these trains were to run into Birmingham Moor Street station would the bay platforms at the station be electrified?

This would allow the trains batteries to be charged before returning along the Camp Hill Line.

But it would open up interesting possibilities.

With electrification at stations like Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington to charge the batteries, could services South of Birmingham be run by three-car Aventras running on batteries?

Both |Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington Spa are under forty miles by road from Birmingham,

I think it could be possible, but West Midlands Trains are acquiring a lot of diesel trains.

Extending Existing Electric Services

From May 2018, the electric services on the Cross City Line will run between Bromsgrove and Lichfield Trent Valley stations.

Could trains running on batteries extend services?

Conclusion

Three-car Aventras are an interesting possibility.

I think we’ll be seeing a lot of them around the UK.

October 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment