The Anonymous Widower

The Level Crossing At Hampden Park Station

I was in Eastbourne today, so I went and had a look at the level crossing at Hampden Park station.

To make sense of the pictures, this is a Google Map of the area.

In various places on the web it is described as one of the busiest in Europe.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

New Merseyrail Fleet A Platform For Future Innovations

The title of this post, is the title of this article on the Rail Technology Magazine web site.

The article mainly consists an interview with David Powell, who is programme director of rolling stock at Merseytravel.

It is very much an article worth reading, as it describes the process of choosing trains and how Merseyrail and Stadler will develop the trains during their relationship.

This is a direct quote from the article.

We will be exploring, with Stadler, what the options are for having the trains becoming self-powered. This isn’t the bi-modes that lots of other people are talking about in the industry; this is on-board electrical storage.

I am a great believer in on-board energy storage and I believe its deployment in the UK, is closer than most people think.
N

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

More Closures On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

This article on the Islington Gazette details the further closures on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line. This is said.

The Barking to Gospel Oak Overground line will be closed for eight weekends as electrification work continues.

It had originally closed for eight months, reopening in February, but work was not finished on time due to design problems and the late delivery of some materials.

The line will be shut every Sunday from June 4 until July 23, with additional Saturday closures on July 9, 16 and 23.

Further temporary closures will be needed in the future to complete the work.

I know the electrification needs to be completed, but the engineers and planners of this job, have not exactly covered themselves in glory.

Compare this project with the one a few miles away, where Volker Fitzpatrick are rebuilding Hackney Wick station, which seems to have gone a lot smoother, despite I would suspect being a much more challenging project.

Several mistakes would appear to have been made on the electrification and I hope the companies and individuals involved will be properly names and shamed.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Class 319 Flex Units To Be Class 769

This is the title of a short article in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

Giving the Class 319 Flex train, its own unique class number of 769, must say that Porterbrook, Northern, Network Rail and the Department of Transport, think that the bi-mode conversion of a Class 319 train is a viable project.

The article gives some new details about the trains.

  • Northern have ordered eight units, which will be delivered before the end of May 2018.
  • The first unit is at Wabtec’s Brush Traction facility in Louthborough.
  • Completion of the design and the first load testing is plasnned before the end of May.
  • The first unit is due to be completed with driver training underway, by the end of the year.
  • Northern will get a total of thirty-two Class 319 trains, which probably include the eight Class 769 trains.
  • Tri-mode functionality and dynamic mode changeover on the move are being considered.
  • Full production rate is a Class 769 train every two weeks.

The Class 319 Flex train has definitely moved from concept to a real train.

The article finishes by saying that Porterbrook expects further orders soon, while  it is also considering transferring the concept to other roiling stock, such as the Class 455 train.

Why Convert Class 455 Trains?

The Class 319 and Class 455 trains are very similar electrical multiple units based on Mark 3 coaches.

But there are a few differences.

  • The Class 455 is third-rail only, whereas the Class 319 is dual-voltage.
  • The Class 455 is a 75 mph train, whereas the Class 319  is a 100 mph train.
  • South West Trains’ Class 455 trains have had an extensive refurbishment and are fitted with 2+2 seating.
  • South West Trains planned to upgrade the traction package of the Class 455 trains, which would include new AC traction motors and regenerative braking. This article in Rail Magazine has full details.

A Class 455 Flex train could have the following specification.

  • The updated 2 x 2 seating.
  • The new traction package with AC traction motors and regenerative braking.
  • 75 mph operating speed on both electric and diesel.

It could be a better financial proposition for both the leasing company and the train operator.

In The Class 319 Flex Train And Third Rail Routes, I looked at various third-rail routes that could be served with a Class 319 Flex train.

Some of these routes could be served by a Class 455 Flex train, instead of the Class 319 Flex train.

The article states that Porterbrook are expecting further orders and could it be, that the company have assessed the number of bi-mode trains required and found that a large proportion of the available Class 319 trains might need to be converted.

So creating a Class 455 Flex train for use in areas with third rail electrification, might be aprudent action.

South Western Railway, will have around ninety well-maintained Class 455 trains with the refurbished interiors going spare, so there is certainly no shortage of trains to convert.

South Western Railway And Class 455 Flex Trains

South Western Railway, themselves could have some uses for the trains.

I doubt that the trains would be acceptable running long distance services from say Waterloo to Salisbury, due to being designed as short distance commuter trains and the lack of a toilet and tables.

They would be ideal for the following local services.

In some places like the Lymington Branch, they would release Class 158/159 trains to boost services on the West of England Main Line.

Merseyrail And The Class 455 Flex Trains

In the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Chris Stokes talks about the problems of running services between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations on the Borderlands Line. He concludes with the following.

So the operation of the route is very tight, but it appears to work quite well.

There has been talk of using battery trains on this route in place of an expensive full electrification, which would allow Merseyrail’s new Stadler trains to run the route in the following manner.

  • At least two trains per hour (tph).
  • Longer trains.
  • Calls at new stations on the route.

In an ideal world, the service would terminate at the Northern end of the line by going round the third-rail electrified Loop Line under Liverpool City Centre.

But the Class 455 train appears on a brief look to be the same size as Merseyrail’s current Class 507 trains, so it should be possible to use the Liverpool Loop.

So could a Class 455 Flex train work the route in the following manner?

  • Use diesel power between Wrexham Central and Bidston stations.
  • Use electric power from Bidston to Liverpool.
  • Join the other Wirral Line trains and terminate in the Liverpool Loop, stopping at the four stations in Central Liverpool.

As to frequency, you could run as many trains as you want, as the Borderlands Line is double-track, with the exception of a short single track section between the two Wrexham stations.

A round trip would take nearly three hours based on current timings, which would mean the following numbers of trains would be needed.

  • One tph – three trains.
  • Two tph – six trains.
  • Four tph – twelve trains.

As Merseyrail like to run four tph on the various branches, why not use this frequency on the Borderlands Line?

It would be a Turn-Up-And-Go service, that would benefit a large number of people.

Does the service have to terminate at Wrexham?

It certainly wouldn’t require any electrification or challenging engineering to open up these and other possible routes.

The Class 455 Flex train may have other uses in Liverpool.

Northern’s services in the area will probably use a few Class 319 Flex trains alongside their Class 319 trains, that already serve Liverpool Lime Street.

So where services are being extended from Merseyrail’s third-rail network, why not use some Class 319 Flex trains, as these trains have a third-rail capability from their days South of the Thames?

  • There may be an engineering or operational problem with a dual-voltage Class 319 Flex train.
  • The pantograph of a Class 319 Flex train might make the train too large for parts of Merseyrail’s third-rail network.
  • A third-rail only Class 455 Flex train may be a better financial proposition for leasing companies and train operators.

Or it could be that Porterbrook’s response to the Class 319 Flex train has been so positive, that the alternative offered by the Class 455 Flex train is welcomed.

Merseyrail’s prime route for a bi-mode Flex train would be the Canada Dock branch.

  •  There is a long term aspiration to run a passenger service.
  • The branch is not electrified but it could connect to Liverpool’s third-rail network at both ends and also to 25 KVAC at the Southern end.
  • Numerous freight trains use the route.
  • Perhaps four stations at about ten million pounds a time would need to be rebuilt.
  • Liverpool Football Ground would get a station.

Class 455 Flex trains could run a Southport, Ormskirk or Kirkby to Liverpool South Parkway service tomorrow.

Conclusions

The Class 319 Flex train or more properly the Class 769 train looks to be a successful concept.

I’m also convinced that Porterbrook have decided the market is larger than they originally thought, so they are seriously looking at converting Class 455 trains, to make sure they have enough trains.

 

 

 

 

May 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bank Junction Goes Buses And Cyclists Only

On Monday, the 22nd of June 2017, the City of London brought in an order making the busy Bank Junction buses and cyclists only between seven in the morning and seven in the evening from Monday to Friday.

I took these pictures soon after ten in the morning.

The first few pictures were taken from the top of a Routemaster bus on Route 21, as it travelled from where I live across the city to London Bridge station.

Note.

  • Most drivers seemed to be avoiding the area.
  • The City of London Police were telling drivers, but didn’t appear to be ticketing anybody.
  • Much of the congestion seemed to be caused by half-empty polluting Tour Buses.
  • One pedestrian was moaning that he couldn’t use his car to get around the City.

Overall, it appeared to be a calm start.

The Upgrade Of Bank Station

I have only shown the area on the surface, but under the ground around Bank Junction, a massive construction project is starting in the City of London’s twin goals of more and better office accomodation and transport links.

Bank station is getting a major upgrade, which will include.

  • In The New Tunnel Under Bank Station, I wrote about an upgraded pedestrian tunnel that crosses the area.
  • In Between Bank And Cannon Street Station, I wrote about how Bloomberg are helping develop a new step-free entrance to the Waterloo and City Line and Bank station, which will open by early 2018.
  • A new Northern Line tunnel to create more space on the platforms and increase frequency on the line.
  • The station weill receive a forty percent increase in capacity.
  • Full step-free access with thirteen new escalators and three new lifts.
  • A new entrance to Bank station opposite Cannon Street station.
  • Two North-South moving walkways.
  • Some of the £600million project cost will be funded by oversite office development.
  • Hopefully, much of the work will be finished by 2021.

There’s more in this article in the Guardian, which is entitled Bank station upgrades point to London’s bigger, busier future.

Bank Station And Crossrail

You may wonder, why if Bank station is so important, that Crossrail doesn’t call and Crossrail 2 won’t either.

It may not, but the Central Line will have good connections to Crossrail at Stratford, Liverpool Street, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street stations.

So passengers for Bethnal Green, Bank, St. Paul’s, Chancery Lane and Holborn will change from Crossrail to the Cwntral Line at a convenient station.

In addition, Crossrail will feed passengers into loops in the District, Hammersmith and City and Jubilee Lines.

Travellers will pay their money and take their choice.

Other Developments At Bank

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more pedestrian routes linking the City stations of Bank, Cannon Street, Fenchurch Street, Liverpool Street and Moorgate; both on the surface and possibly underground.

I would also make sure that all buses in the centre of London are low-emission vehicles. That certainly doesn’t apply to those polluting and jam-creating Tour Buses and tourist coaches.

 

May 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Station Collateral Benefits

In Cambridge Gets Its Own Mini-Crossrail, I wrote about the opening of the new Cambridge North station.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Great Northern completes refurb of Fen Line Class 387s and it details how Great Northern now runs air-conditioned trains through Cambridge to Cambridge North and Ely stations and then down the Fen Line to Kings Lynn.

It also appears that some of the fast Cambridge trains have now been extended to Ely with a second stop in Cambridge at the new station.

So the opening of Cambridge North station, seems to have given Ely and the Fen Line a better service to London.

Cambridge North is not a run-of-the-mill station.

  • It is large with lots of parking.
  • It is close to the Cambridge Science Park.
  • It is in the middle of a very affluent area, where train travel is used extensively toget to London, Cambridge and Norwich.

But perhaps most importantly, two major train operators; Great Northern and Greater Anglia,provide services to London.

Have Great Northern’s air-conditioned trains fired the first shots in the competition between the two operators?

Passengers will be the main beneficiary in the next few years.

 

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Trains Along The South Coast

I had lunch today with an old friend who lives near Bosham station in West Sussex.

They indicated that the train service along the South Coast to Brighton wasn’t the best.

So I thought, I’d have a bit of an explore on Wikipedia.

The route between Ashford International and Weymouth stations can be divided into four sections.

Weymouth To Southampton – The South Western Main Line

The South Western Main Line runs between Weymouth and Southampton Central stations.

  • There are twenty stations.
  • The operating speed is 100 mph.
  • The line is fully electrified.
  • The line is double-track, except for between Dorchester South and Moreton stations.
  • There would only appear to be one level crossing at Brockenhurst station.

it is a high quality electrified line, where a well-driven train can keep up a good time.

The fastest trains take an hour and twenty minutes between Weymouth and Southampton with nine stops.

Southampton To Brighton – The West Coastway Line

The West Coastway Line runs between Southampton Central and Brighton stations.

Following the line on Google Maps, the line could probably have an increased speed limit, but the problem is obvious in the number of level crossings.

Timings on the line are as follows.

  • Southampton Central to Brighton takes one hour forty-five minutes.
  • Portsmouth to Brighton takes one hour twenty minutes.
  • Portsmouth to Southampton takes forty minutes.

These times are for faster journeys without changes.

Brighton To Hastings – The East Coastway Line

The East Coastway Line runs between Brighton and Hastings stations

Fastest journeys between Brighton and Hastings take an hour.

Hastings To Ashford International – The Marshlink Line

The Marshlink Line runs between Hastings and Ashford International stations.

  • There are nine stations.
  • The operating speed is 60 mph.
  • The line is double-track with sections of single-track.
  • The line is not electrified.
  • There are several level crossings.

Fastest journeys between Ashford Internsational and Hastings take forty minutes.

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

One sub-section is entitled High Speed To Hastings and it lists options as to how high-speed services could be run to Hastings via Ashford International station and the Marshlink Line.

  1. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC
  2. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC
  3. Use Class 802 Electro-Diesel Trains
  4. Use Class 395 Or Class 801 Trains With Batteries

I examined the options in full detail in Options For High Speed To Hastings.

Class 313 Trains

When I travel to the area I inevitably find that I’m travelling in a Class 313 train.

  • The trains entered service in 1976.
  • The trains are the oldest electric multiple units in service on the British mainland.
  • The trains are only three cars.
  • The trains have no toilets.
  • The trains have a maximum speed of 75 mph.

Their biggest problem, is that because the trains have such a poor performance, all routes on which they are likely to run have to be geared to a train running at 75 mph, that is not the quickest at executing a stop at a station.

It should be remembered that the time a train takes to stop at a station, unload and load passengers and then restart and accelerate to linespeed, is a major factor in determining the schedule on a route with a lot of stations.

Train manufacturers and operators have been doing a lot of work to reduce this time and a modern train could be almost a minute or even more quicker than a Class 313 train, at each stop.

Wikipedia says this about the introduction of the Class 313 trains, which replaced more modern and faster Class 377 trains.

The 313s commenced operations with Southern on 23 May 2010, providing a two-trains-per-hour service between Brighton and Seaford, and some trains between Brighton and Lewes, Hove, West Worthing and Littlehampton.[12] From 13 December 2010, their operation expanded to stopping services from Brighton to Portsmouth Harbour and the Littlehampton to Bognor Regis shuttle.

The decision to use 313s on the Coastway lines has been controversial, as they are much older than the 377s and have fewer on-board passenger facilities.

The rail union RMT criticised the move and many publications including the BBC have questioned the introduction of 35-year-old trains with no lavatories in place of much newer units. These trains are deployed on services that operate predominantly over short distances, such as Brighton to Hove and Brighton to Seaford, and some longer (but stopping) services that provide predominantly local links that run alongside 377s on faster services.

The introduction of 313s on the Coastway routes facilitated the delivery of additional capacity on high-demand suburban routes in South London, where 10-car trains services are to be introduced combined with platform lengthening.

This report on the BBC gives more details.

The Major Problems Along The South Coast

Summarising the previous sections, the major problems on the route can be summarised.

  • The Class 313 trains with their poor performance are not fit for purpose.
  • The numerous level crossings significantly reduce the operating speed of the route.
  • The lack of electrification on the Marshlink Line is a serious obstacle to better London-Hsstings services via HS1.

I would also question, if there is sufficient capacity along the line, especially as there are now three Premier League clubs along its route.

In the following section, I shall detail what is proposed and a few extra actions, that I feel should be taken.

Improve The Marshlink Line

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

One sub-section is entitled High Speed To Hastings and it lists options as to how Southeastern  High-Speed services could be run to Hastings via Ashford International station and the Marshlink Line.

  1. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC
  2. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC
  3. Use Class 802 electro-diesel trains
  4. Use Class 395 Or Class 801 trains With Batteries.

As to which option is chosen, Modern Railways says this.

The option to use a ‘hybrid’ electric/self-powered (diesel or battery) train is suggested as being a ‘more cost-effective way forward’, with linespeed improvements then delivered in an incremental way.

I examined the options in full detail in Options For High Speed To Hastings.

If the improvement was comprehensive, it would give the following advantages.

  • High-Speed services from St. Pancras to Hastings.
  • Journeys from Ashford International to Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth would be all electric and if desired could be without a change of train.
  • Better connectivity along the South Coast to Continental services at Ashford International station.
  • A secondary route from London to Brighton in case of closure of the Brighton Main Line.

If an off-the-shelf solution like Class 802 trains were to be used, the improvements could be delivered in a timely manner.

Remove As Many Level Crossings As Possible

Removal of level crossings is a sensitive issue, but from Southampton to Ashford International, they are a serious limit on the operating speed of the trains.

But it is not just the trains that suffer, but road traffic as well.

Consider Hampden Park station, where Wikipedia says this about the level crossing.

The level crossing at Hampden Park is thought to be one of the busiest in the country, with an average fourteen train movements an hour off-peak, and this can lead to significant traffic congestion on adjacent roads.

As some services actually cross it twice to call at Eastbourne station, this level crossing certainly needs to be eliminated.

Improved Stations

Several of the stations have been upgraded, but I believe that step-free access and longer platforms are needed at quite a few stations.

Brighton and Hove Albion are now one of three Premier League football teams along the South Coast and Falmer station needs to be improved, so that higher-capacity trains can serve the ground on match days.

The Plans Of South Western Railway

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways also gives details of the plans of the new South Western Railway franchise from December 2018.

This is said.

A direct service will link Portsmouth, Southampton and Weymouth, while there will be a second hourly semi-fast service between Portsmouth and Southampton offering a total of 29 additional services between the cities on Mondays to Saturdays.

Wikipedia also says that there will be another thirty five Monday to Saturday services between London and Portsmouth, with more on Sundays.

Services Between London And Portsmouth

Currently, on a typical day there are sixty-nine down services and seventy-one up services. So as thirty-five extra services are going to be provided, then that means there will be a twenty-five percent increase in services between London and Portsmouth.

So would this mean that London to Portsmouth has a frequency of five trains per hour (tph), as against three tph for Southampton?

As South Western Railway will be introducing additional Portsmouth to Weymouth services, will this mean that there will be two fast routes to London from Weymouth?

  • A direct train.
  • One with a change at Havant on to Portsmouth Direct Line services.

South Western Railway have certainly thought long and hard.

The Class 313 Trains Will Go To The Scrapyard

With all the fast 100 mph trains rushing between Ashford International and Brighton and Portsmouth and Weymouth, the Class 313 trains will be worse than inadequate and the best place for them will be the scrapyard.

I just wonder though if South Western Railway’s unwanted but new Class 707 trains could replace the Class 313 trains along parts of the South Coast.

  • They are 100 mph trains, probably with a good stopping performance, which could save a minute at every stop.
  • They are five-car units.
  • They have toilets.

As an illustration of the difference the new trains could make, the current Portsmouth to Brighton service takes around one hour twenty minutes with twenty stops.

A rough estimate indicates that Portsmouth to Brighton could be under an hour with new 100 mph trains.

The only problems would be that they couldn’t work a Marshlink Line without electrification and services along the South Coast are provided by three different companies.

Conclusion

A lot of improvement is possible in services along the South Coast.

Adjusting current timings for new trains with a better stopping performance could give the following sectional timings.

  • Ashford International to Hastings – 35 minutes
  • Hastings to Brighton – 60 minutes
  • Brighton to Portsmouth – 60 minutes
  • Portsmouth to Southampton – 35 minutes

I believe that an Ashford International to Southampton time of three hours is possible.

This is a similar time as going via London and using HS1.

 

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Crossrail And Heathrow In Legal Dispute Over Fees

This title of this post is the title of an article in the Financial Times.

This dispute will run and run, as it is a gift to the lawyers.

As it is the greedy owners of Heathrow, won’t allow Crossrail trains to go directly to Terminal 5, which means you will have to use the Piccadilly Line or change trains.

But I think, that there are obstacles to Heathrow’s plans to rip-off passengers.

  • They still need to get Planning Permission for the Third Runway.
  • Transport for London will start to upgrade the Piccadilly Line in 2019 and new trains will arrive in 2022.
  • Heathrow Express will still only get you to Paddington at a rip-off price.

The other winner could be Gatwick, who seem to want to work with Transport for London, rather than fight with them.

May 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

The New Orchard At Hackney Downs Station

I took these pictures of some of the new trees installed on the sunny side of Hackney Downs station.

It surprised me, that they are apple trees.

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

Cambridge Gets Its Own Mini-Crossrail

This morning I went to see the very newly-opened Cambridge North station.

The station is probably best described as a Parkway station close to the Cambridge Science Park and the A14 on the Northern Side of Cambridge.

The station is not short of facilities and service pattern.

  • Two through platforms and one bay platform, all capable of taking a 12-car Class 700 train.
  • Two avoiding lines for freight trains.
  • Full step-free access.
  • 450 car park spaces.
  • Parking under cover for a thousand bikes.
  • Access to the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.
  • Close to the A14.
  • Customer toilets.
  • A proper ticket office and several ticket machines.
  • A square outside to meet people if it’s sunny.
  • Retail units and some greenery will be added later.
  • Currently, it is planned for about four trains per hour to stop at Cambridge North station in each direction.

According to this article on the BBC, the station cost £44million.

It is all pretty impressive and practical.

Are Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely stations the first four stations of a Cambridge Mini-Crossrail or Metro?

Consider.

  • Cambridge South station could be built close to Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
  • Lines fan out from Ely to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich, Kings Lynn, Norwich and Peterborough.
  • Lines will fan out to the South of Addenbrooke’s to Bedford, Hitchin and Kings Cross, Stansted and Liverpool Street.
  • Cambridge station has more platforms than many terminal stations.
  • Cambridge North station has space for extra platforms.
  • A lot more trains could stop in the stations.

It will be interesting to see how the system develops in the future.

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