The Anonymous Widower

Could Hitachi Produce A Bi-Mode Class 385 Train?

Before I start, I’ll ask a simple question.

Is It Advantageous To A Train Operating Company (TOC) To Have Electric And Bi-Mode Versions Of The Same Train?

Their are two pairs of electric and bi-mode train types in the IK.

  • The bi-mode Class 800 trains and the electric Class 801 trains.
  • The bi-mode Class 769 trains and the electric Class 319 trains.

As the latter was specified jointly by a TOC and a ROSCO, I’m sure that it is advantageous for two closely-related versions to exist.

Hitachi’s New Trains

Hitachi will soon have four of their new train types in service in the UK.

Class 800 Trains – Electro-Diesel

Class 800 trains will soon be in service with Great Western Railway. The July 2017 Edition of Midern Railways says this.

The RMT union’s National Executive Committee has accepted Great Western Railway’s latest offer detailing the operational procedures proposed fpor the new Inter-City Express (IEP) due to start entering service in October.

So if that it is an affirmative, trains could be running by the end of the year!

Class 801 Trains – Electric Only

Class 801 trains will soon be in service with Virgin Trains East Coast. Wikipedia says service entry is planned to be 2017, but there is nothing definite on the Internet.

Although the new trains did make the cover of the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

Note the headline of Azuma’s Are Coming!

I suspect though, that Sir Richard Branson will hate to be seen to have his trains in service after Great Western Railway.

Class 802 Trains – Electro-Diesel

Class 802 trains are just a version of the Class 800 trains, built not in Newton Aycliffe, but in Pistoia in Italy.

The July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways reports that two pre-production trains built in Japan arrived in the UK in June for testing, so the in-service date of December 2018 quoted in Wikipedia, should be achieved.

Modern Railways says this about the trains.

A key element in enabling fast delivery and subsequent entry into service is that the Class 802 trains are technically very similar to the IEP (Class 800/801) trains on order for both Great Western and East Coast services, featuring the same design of seats, kitchens and most components. Hitachi expects this to reduce significantly the time required for approvals prior to operational service. Key technical differences to the earlier lass 800 trains are different engine management software, enabling higher power output (700kW) from the MTU diesel power packs fitted with larger 120-litre urea (emission control) tanks.

Other features include larger fuel tanks, more powerful brakes and special features to cope with sea water spray at Dawlish.

Class 385 Trains – Electric Only

Class 385 trains are the babies of the four trains, being intended for Scottish routes between and around Edinburgh and Glasgow. Wikipedia gives an in-service date of December 2017.

Hitachi Have A Lot To Digest

Hitachi have the following trains on order for delivery by the end of 2019.

  • 46 x 3-car Class 385 trains
  • 24 x 4 -car Class 385 trains
  • 46 x 5-car Class 800 trains
  • 34 x 9-car Class 800 trains
  • 12 x 5-car Class 801 trains
  • 30 x 9-car Class 801 trains
  • 46 x 5-car Class 802 trains
  • 14 x 9-car Class 802 trains

That is a total of 252 trains involving a total of 1,456 carriages, which will have been built in three difference factories.

But at least they are all based on the same Hitachi A-train concept!

The Design Of The Class 80x Train

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I did more than discuss the posed question.

I looked at the overall concept of the trains, as discussed in this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which dates from 2014 and is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

The document provides this schematic of the traction system.

Note BC which is described as battery charger.

Reading the document in detail, I discovered the following facts.

  • The 80x trains are effectively Plug-and-Play and automatically detect the configuration of a train, be it a single unit or two coupled together.
  • Train length can be adjusted between five and twelve cars, by just adding or removing  trailer or motor cars.
  • In certain situations like train recovery, train length can be up to 24-cars.
  • Coupling and uncoupling of two trains takes less than two minutes.
  • Passengers are counted automatically. By a tiny Japanese robot walking up and down?
  • Trains can be locomotive-hauled.
  • The all-electric Class 801 train has at least one diesel power-pack per train for hotel power and emergency recovery in case of complete power failure.

The big omission is any talk of how regenerative braking is handled.

I have come to the conclusion, that the energy returned from the traction motors on braking goes through the APS (auxiliary power supply) to be used as hotel power, with any spare energy being stored using the battery charger in an appropriately-sized battery.

As a life-expired Control Engineer, I still know enough to realise that there is scope for a really intelligent control system, which takes note of myriad inputs to run the train in the most energy-efficient manner.

Inputs could include.

  • Train position from GPS.
  • Train route and terrain.
  • Outside weather conditions
  • Passenger load and expected journey patterns.
  • Signalling and other train issues.
  • Is electrification available?
  • How much fuel is on board?

The train could be driven against the following.

  • Minimum use of the diesel engines.
  • Maintaining an appropriate level of power in the batteries.
  • Optimal station stopping and restarting profiles.
  • Driving to the terrain.

But probably most importantly, the trains will make sure they stick to the timetable.

Driving trains will be going through the revolution that flying planes went through some decades ago, where the pilots’ roles became much more of a supervisory one. But , if course they were there for emergencies or unexpected situations.

So How Do The Class 385 Trains Compare?

There is a document on the Hitachi web site, which is entitled Development of Class 385 Semi-customised/Standard Commuter Rolling Stock for Global Markets, which gives insights into Hitachi’s thinking.

This is the introduction.

The Class 385 is based on the AT-200, which was developed for global markets with the aim of providing flexibility of configuration while making maximum use of standardisation. It is a semi-customised model of a type common in global markets, with fewer components and greater standardisation of components achieved by adopting the “mother design” developed for the AT-300 (a typical example of which is the Class 800) and competitive lead times achieved by shortening the specification-setting process.

Note the close relationship between the Class 385 and Class 800 trains.

The Hitachi document gives a schematic of the Class 385 traction system.

Compared with that given for the Class 80x train, it is a lot simpler, with each bogie having its own converter unit. This is to allow both the three-car and four-car trains to have similar electrical layouts, that is easily modified for the shorter train, which has a smaller number of traction motors to save one and a half tonnes.

The document also says this.

The Class 385 uses the same main electrical components as the AT-300. However, the following electrical systems were adopted for use in the Class 385.

It then describes how the traction, brake and door systems have been modified.

In this Hitachi promotional video, power sockets and wi-fi are promised.

So where is the auxiliary power supply to power all these features and how is regenerative braking handled.

In the data sheet for the AT-200 train on the Hitachi web site, the following details are given.

  • Three to twelve cars.
  • 100 to 125 mph operating speed.
  •  Dual Voltage (25KVAC / 750 VDC / Battery)

As the Class 385 train is a member of the AT-200 family, could it be that like the Class 80x, it has similar electrical layout to the larger train?

So I have come to the conclusion that the regenerative braking energy goes to a battery, that is used to provide hotel power.

How Big Would A Battery For A Class 385 Train Need To Be?

In How Big Would Batteries Need To Be On A Train For Regenerative Braking?, I work through the calculation of the kinetic energy in a four-car Class 710 train, which would be Bombardier’s equivalent to a Class 385 train.

I said this.

To calculate the kinetic energy in the train, which will have to be transferred to the battery, we need the mass of the train and its velocity.

I’ll start with the velocity of the train.

As it approached a station, it will be at whatever is the appropriate line speed, which to make things easy I’ll assume is 100 kph or just under 28 metres per second.

In most cases after stopping and discharging and loading a few passengers, it will probably return to a similar line-speed to go to the following station.

The mass of each car of an Aventra, is found at several places on the Internet, including this entry in Wikipedia iwhich gives it as 30-35 tonnes. So the four-car Class 710 train could have a mass of 130 tonnes. Add 100 passengers at an average of 80 kg. each and this would make the mass 138 tonnes

Applying the standard formula gives a kinetic energy of 53240741 joules or in common-or-garden units 14.8 kilowatt hours. So the energy of an Aventra going at 100 kph could power a one bar electric fire for fifteen hours.

If you take the battery in one of London’s Routemaster buses, that has a capacity of 75 kWH.

As the specification for an Hitachi At-200 includes a battery option, fitting has probably been engineered.

Could A Diesel Powerpack Be Fitted Underneath A Class 385 Train?

I can only suppose that just as the Class 801 train has an diesel generator under one car, that the Hitachi design for the AT-200 train has provision for this feature in case an operator requires it.

If as I believe the Class 385 train has a similar electrical layout to the Class 80x trains, then incorporating a small diesel generator would not be a major redesign of the train.

But having a Bi-Mode Class 385 train might clinch a few sales.

Would A Bi-Mode Class 385 Train Have Uses?

There is no use building a train, that doesn’t have any uses.

The Class 385 train has been built with very careful considerable for weight. The design document says this.

Railway businesses in the UK include ROSCOs, TOCs, and track maintenance and management companies.

The TOCs pay fees, called track access charges, which are based on the weight of rolling stock and the distance travelled, and are obliged to pay the track maintenance and management company for the electrical power consumed in train operation. Because lighter trains put less load on the track, they incur lower track access charges. As lighter trains also consume less electrical power, there was strong demand from the TOC to make the rolling stock lighter, right from the pre-contract stage.

So if the bi-mode version of the Class 385 is a bit heavier because of the diesel powerpack, the train will be more expensive to run, which is probably acceptable to the TOC.

Looking at Scottish rail routes, there are several services in the area between Edinburgh and Glasgow, which will be run on partially-electrified lines.

Conclusion

Due to the modular nature of these Hitachi trains, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is possible to fit a small diesel power pack under a Class 385 train.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?

I ask this question, because I think that it could be key to the announcements about electrification yesterday, as reported  in this article in Global Rail News, which is entitled UK Ditches Electrification Plans In Wales, The Midlands And The North.

If you look at all these Wikipedia entries for Hitachi trains being built for the UK.

You will find no reference to regenerative braking.

If you type “Class 800 regenerative braking” into Google, you will find this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

The only mention of the R-word is in this paragraph.

An RGS-compliant integrated on-train data recorder (OTDR) and juridical recording unit (JRU), and an EN-compliant energy
meter to record energy consumption and regeneration are fitted to the train.

If you search for brake in the document, you find this paragraph.

In addition to the GU, other components installed under the floor of drive cars include the traction converter, fuel tank, fire protection system, and brake system.

Note that GU stands for generator unit.

Traction System

I will start by having a detailed look at the traction system as described in the document.

The document provides this schematic of the traction system.

Note BC which is described as battery charger.

This is said in the text.

The system can select the appropriate power source from either the main transformer or the GUs. Also, the size and weight of the system were minimized by designing the power supply converter to be able to work with both power sources. To ensure that the Class 800 and 801 are able to adapt to future changes in operating practices, they both have the same traction system and the rolling stock can be operated as either class by simply adding or removing GUs. On the Class 800, which is intended to run on both electrified and non-electrified track, each traction system has its own GU. On the other hand, the Class 801 is designed only for electrified lines and has one or two GUs depending on the length of the trainset (one GU for trainsets of five to nine cars, two GUs for trainsets of 10 to 12 cars). These GUs supply emergency traction power and auxiliary power in the event of a power outage on the catenary, and as an auxiliary power supply on non-electrified lines where the Class 801 is in service and pulled by a locomotive. This allows the Class 801 to operate on lines it would otherwise not be able to use and provides a backup in the event of a catenary power outage or other problem on the ground systems as well as non-electrified routes in loco-hauled mode.

This is all very comprehensive.

But nothing is said about how regenerative brake currents from the traction motors are handled.

Any trained Control Engineer, of which I’m a life-expired example, can see all sorts of questions to ask.

  • Could it be that all regenerative brake currents are fed into the Auxiliary Power Supply and then used for hotel power and to charge the battery?
  • Is the generator unit switched on and off by a sophisticated control system, that uses GPS, train velocity, train weight battery level etc.
  • We know battery power can move the train in emergency, but is battery power used to help start the train?
  • How big is that mysterious battery?

In 2010, I wrote Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST, after taking a memorable trip.

One memory of that trip is of the skill of the driver as he adjusted the twin throttles of the power cars and used the brakes, as the train travelled up hill and down dale.

This line will be Class 800 territory and I suspect that it will be worked by two five car units working as a ten-car train.

As I think that each five-car unit will have three generator units, does this mean that the driver will have six throttles?

Control Engineering has moved on in the forty years since the InterCity 125 entered service and I suspect that like an Airline Pilot, the driver of a Class 800 train, will have little control about how power is delivered. Except probably in a supervisory role.

So on routes like the Highland Main Line, the Class 800 will come into its own, using the generator units and stored energy as appropriate.

Obviously, the less the generator unit is used the better, as this minimises noise and vibration, and cuts carbon emissions.

Other features in the train design have been disclosed.

All Class 801 Trains Have At Least One Generator Unit

All Class 801 trains have at least one GU (generator unit), so it can obviously provide hotel power and probably enough power to limp to the next station, in case of overhead line failure.

Third Rail Class 800/801 Trains Are Possible

The layout of the traction system surely makes a third rail  or even a dual-voltage version of the trains possible.

After all, their cousin; the Class 395 train is a dual voltage train.

Locomotive Haulage Is Possible

As I said, the specification is comprehensive.

The document is also forthcoming in other areas.

Train Configuration

This is said.

Trains have a unit configuration of up to 12 cars, including the ability to add or remove standardised intermediate cars and the generator units (GUs)
(generators with diesel engines) needed to operate commercial services on non-electrified lines.

So if say GWR wanted an eleven-car train, it would be possible.

Automatic Coupling And Uncoupling

This is said.

Because the coupling or uncoupling of cars in a trainset occurs during commercial service at an intermediate station, the automatic coupling device is able to perform this operation in less than 2 minutes.

This is definitely in line with Class 395 train performance.

Automatic Train Identification Function

This is said.

To simplify the rearrangement and management of train configurations, functions are provided for identifying the train (Class 800/801), for automatically determining the cars in the trainset and its total length, and for coupling and uncoupling up to 12 cars in
normal and 24 cars in rescue or emergency mode.

I suspect most modern trains can do this.

One Twelve-Car Train Can Rescue Another

See the previous extract.

Flexible Interior Layout

This is said.

The rolling stock is designed to facilitate changes to the interior layout to accommodate changes to services or to the number of cars in the train.

I suspect that was expected.

An Interim Conclusion

In answer to the question, I posed with this post, I suspect that the answer is in the affirmative.

Extra Evidence

I also found this article on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Hybrid Propulsion with a sub-title of Energy-saving hybrid propulsion system using storage–battery technology.

This is the introductory paragraph.

As a step toward producing environmentally friendly propulsion systems, Hitachi has supplied a hybrid propulsion system that combines an engine generator, motor, and storage batteries. This system provides regenerative braking which has not been previously possible on conventional diesel-powered trains, and enables increased energy savings via regenerated energy.

They list the advantages as.

  1. 10% improvement of fuel consumption
  2. 60% reduction of the hazardous substances in engine exhaust
  3. 30db reduction of noise in stopping at the station

They also give various links that are worth reading.

All of these pages seem to have been published in 2013.

Conclusion

I will be very surprised if Class 800/801/802 trains don’t have batteries.

Will the Class 385 trains for ScotRail have similar traction system?

 

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

UK Ditches Electrification Plans In Wales, The Midlands And The North

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Global Rail News. This is the first two paragraphs.

The UK government has abandoned plans to electrify the railway between Cardiff and Swansea, the Midland Main Line north of Kettering and the line between Windermere and Oxenholme in favour of bi-mode, or ‘alternative-fuel’, trains.

An announcement from the Department for Transport (DfT) this morning said electrification of the lines was no longer needed and that cancelling the work would result in less disruption for passengers.

So do I agree with the Government’s decision?

Before I answer that question, I will put a few facts into this post!

All Trains Should Be Powered By Electricity

Most trains in the UK are actually powered by electricity.

If you take the noisy and smelly Class 66 locomotive, the wheels are actually turned by electricity, although that electricity is generated by a 2,460 kW diesel engine and an alternator, which is then fed to the traction motors.

The great advantage of electricity is that when you need to deliver precise power to move the train, it is very easy to control.

As an example of precise electric control, think of a variable-speed drill or food mixer.

What makes some trains more efficient than others, is the way they handle the electricity and get it to the traction motors.

Electrification; Overhead Or Third Rail

Ptobably the most efficient way to get electrical power to a train is from an electrification system, which in the UK can be 25 KVAC overhead wire or 750 VDC third rail.

25 KVAC overhead electrification has the following problems.

  • Bridges and tunnels must be raised to give sufficient clearance for the wires.
  • Stations must be designed so that passengers can’t get near the wires.
  • Overhead wires are liable to damage.
  • Overhead gantries can be unsightly and subject to objection by local interest groups.
  • Erecting overhead gantries on an existing railway seems subject to various problems.

I could add that in the UK, we seem to be particularly bad at overhead electrification, but then most other countries electrified their lines decades ago.

750 VDC third rail electrification has one main problem, which is one of Health and Safety.

What is the purpose of this palisade fence at Abbey Wood station?

It certainly doesn’t protect passengers on the North Kent Line platform from where I took the photo from the 750 VDC third rail electrification in front of the fence.

The Crossrail tracks behind the fence are electrified with 25 KVAC, which is several metres in the air.

So is the fence to protect passengers on the platform behind the fence from running across the electrified track?

I think it probably is!

Electrification of both types has problems in certain track layouts.

  • Switches and crossings sometimes need very complicated layout of the power system.
  • Level crossings can present difficult Health and Safety problems.
  • Depots can be dangerous places, even without live rails and overhead wires.

Engineers are constantly coming up with ideas to make electrification safer and more efficient.

Diesel Power

Putting an appropriate diesel engine on a train coupled to an alternator is a common way to generate electricity to power the train.

But.

  • There is the noise and the smell.
  • Diesel engines are very heavy.
  • Diesel fuel has to be carried.
  • Diesel trains have to be regularly refuelled.

To cap it all, diesel trains are not very green.

Gas Turbine Power

One version of he Advanced Passenger Train of the 1970s was intended to be powered by gas turbines and this shows how engineers tried all sorts of power for trains.

Gas turbine power, although very successful in aircraft is probably not suitable for trains.

Hydrogen Power

The Alstom Coradio iLint is a train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. This is said in the Wikipedia entry.

Announced at InnoTrans 2016, the new model will be the world’s first production hydrogen-powered trainset. The Coradia iLint will be able to reach 140 kilometres per hour (87 mph) and travel 600–800 kilometres (370–500 mi) on a full tank of hydrogen. The first Coradia iLint is expected to enter service in December 2017 on the Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven line in Lower Saxony, Germany. It will be assembled at Alstom’s Salzgitter plant. It began rolling tests at 80km/h in March 2017.

As we have successful hydrogen-powered buses in London, I suspect we might see trains powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Battery Power

Powering a heavy train for a long distance, by means of batteries seems very much of a fantasy.

I was sceptical until I rode inn Bombardier’s Class 379 train, that took part in the BEMU trial.

I believe strongly, that the place for a battery in a train is not normally as a primary power source, but as an intermediate electricity store in much the way the battery is used in a hybrid bus or car.

The battery would be charged, when running on electrified track or by using an onboard diesel engine or hydrogen fuel cell.

It could then power the train on a length of track without electrification.

Regenerative Braking

Regenerative braking can save as much of twenty percent of the electricity use of a train.

Every time the train brakes, the traction motors turn into generators and transform the train’s kinetic energy into electricity.

On some systems like the London Underground, the electricity is returned to the network and used to power nearby trains.

But on some trains, it is passed through resistors on the train roof and just turned into heat.

Hybrid vehicles have shown how it is possible to use batteries to store and reuse the energy and I believe that this technique is now starting to be used on trains.

In Thoughts On Batteries, I said this.

A typical four-car electric multiple unit like a new Class 710 train, weighs about 130 tonnes or 138 tonnes with passengers. Going at a line speed of 100 kph, it has a kinetic energy of 15 KwH. So this amount of kinetic energy would be well within the scope of a 75 KwH battery from a Routemaster bus.

I think that the typical four-car electric multiple unit can easily be fitted with a battery to handle the braking for the train.

The physics of steel-wheel-on-steel-rail are also very efficient, as Robert Stephenson, if not his father, would have known.

So it would appear that combining regenerative braking with batteries of a practical size can improve the efficiency of a train.

One of the great advantages of handling the regenerative braking on the train with batteries, is that expensive transformers to handle the return currents are not needed at trackside.

Putting It All Together

I very much feel that the ultimate train should have the following characteristics.

  • The ability to work on 25 KVAC overhead and/or 750 VDC third rail electrification.
  • A suitable independent power source, which today would probably be diesel.
  • Regenerative braking.
  • A battery of sufficient size.
  • The ability to switch modes automatically.

As a Control Engineer, I feel sure that some form of Automatic Power Management would be welcomed by the driver.

The Class 800 Train

The Class 800 trains, have the following maximum speeds.

  • 125 mph on 25 KVAC overhead wires
  • 140 mph on 25 KVAC overhead wires with ETCS in-cab signalling.
  • 100 mph on diesel.

I think it is true to say, that on 125 mph lines, they may be capable of going faster.

But whatever they can do is probably well known now as Hitachi have over two years of experience of running the trains on British tracks.

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I analyse the posed question.

After spending several hours searching the Internet, I found this very helpful document on the Hitachi web site.

Reading every word several times, I came to the conclusion, that it is more likely than not, that all variants of Class 80x trains have batteries, that are used for the following.

  • Handling regenerative braking
  • Providing hotel power for the train in case of complete power failure.
  • Providing emergency train recovery in case of complete power failure.

I also discovered the following.

  • The all-electric Class 801 train, has at least one onboard diesel engine for emergency situations.
  • All Class 80x trains could be modified to use third rail electrification.
  • All Class 80x trains can couple and uncouple in under two minutes.
  • Class 80x trains can rescue another.
  • Class 80x trains can be locomotive-hauled.

Hitachi have worked hard to produce a seriously comprehensive train.

This specification will lead to some interesting operational strategies.

More Destinations

Great Western Railway currently has services between London Paddington and the following destinations in South Wales

  • Bridgend
  • Carmarthen
  • Cardiff
  • Llanelli
  • Neath
  • Newport
  • Pembroke Dock
  • Port Talbot
  • Swansea

But how many other stations in South Wales could benefit from a direct service?

The intriguing thing is that a Class 800 train is narrower at 2.7 metres, than the following trains.

A five-car Class 800 train is also considerably shorter and a lot quieter than an InterCity 125.

So it raises the possibility of direct services between London and the following stations.

  • Smaller stations in West Wales like Fishguard Harbour and Milford Haven
  • Important stations in the Cardiff Valley Lines.

Could a five-car Class 800 train reach Aberdare, Ebbw Vale and Merthyr Tydfil, with some platform and track modifications?

Or if not a five-car, what about a four- or three-car train, which due to the flexible nature of the trains, I’m sure is possible?

Joining And Splitting Of Trains

In Wales, smaller separate trains could join into a train of up to twelve-cars at say Cardiff or Newport stations and then run to London as a single train.

Similar processes could apply in West Wales, with trains joining at perhaps Port Talbot Parkway station.

Returning from London, the trains would split at an appropriate station.

The big advantage of this approach, is that two or even three services share one path and driver between the join/split station and London, which means an increased number of separate services and total seats between Wales and London.

Similar processes will be possible on the following sets of routes, which will or could be run by Class 80x trains.

  • London Paddington to Cheltenham, Gloucester, Hereford, Oxford and Worcester.
  • London Paddington to Devon and Cornwall.
  • Midland Main Line services.
  • East Coast Main Line services.

How many stations on these lines will receive a new direct service to and from London?

Network Rail’s Secret Weapon

I have been suspicious for some time, that Network Rail have a very sophisticated simulation of the UK rail network. In fact, I’d be very surprised if they didn’t have one.

But that’s because I’ve done extensive dynamic simulation and scheduling in my working life.

It’s just that some of the new franchises have developed some quite radical train patterns.

So I would suspect, a lot of the thinking behind the dropping of electrification has been thoroughly tested on the computer.

So how will the three lines quoted in the article be handled?

Oxenholme To Windermere

The Windermere Branch Line is just ten miles long with four stations.

This article in the Railway Gazette, says this.

‘We have listened to concerns about electrification gantries spoiling protected landscapes’, Grayling said when confirming the cancellation of plans to electrify the Windermere branch in the Lake District, adding that Northern would begin work to trial an ‘alternative-fuelled’ train on the route by 2021. Grayling mentioned the ongoing development of battery and hydrogen power in his statement, but Northern said it had only just begun to explore possible options following the cancellation of the electrification, and so any decision on the technology to be used was still some way off.

From May 2018 Northern plans to operate services to Windermere using Class 769 Flex electro-diesel units to be formed by fitting diesel powerpacks to Class 319 EMUs. New CAF DMUs would then be introduced to the route from December 2019.

It is both a short-term and a long-term solution, that is probably to the benefit of all stakeholders.

Given that the Class 769 train has been designed to serve Manchester to Buxton, you can’t accuse Porterbrook and Northern of hiding their creation under a bushel.

Cardiff To Swansea

The South Wales Main Line between Cardiff Central and Swansea stations is a forty-five mile double-track with the following operating speeds.

  • 90 mph from Cardiff Central to East of Bridgend station
  • 75 mph from Bridgend to   Swansea Loop North Junction
  • 40 mph from  Swansea Loop North Junction to Swansea

But there is a short section at 100 mph through Pyle station.

This is said in the article in Global Rail News.

Referring to the Cardiff-Swansea route, the statement said, “Rapid delivery of passenger benefits, minimising disruption and engineering work should always be our priority and as technology changes we must reconsider our approach to modernising the railways.”

The argument is based on the planned introduction of bi-mode Class 800 trains later this year.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the tracks and it doesn’t seem a badly designed route.

  • It appears to be fairly straight with flowing curves.
  • There are only eleven stations to pass through.
  • Looking at the current timetables, it would appear that the fastest trains take about 51-53 minutes to go between Cardiff and Swansea.
  • Wkikpedia says this about the South Wales Main Line, “resignalling and line speed improvements in South Wales, most of which would be delivered in 2010–2014”.

So have Network Rail found a way to increase the operating speed nearer to the 100 mph of the Class 800 trains, when running on diesel?

I obviously don’t know for sure, but given the improvements to the South Wales Main Line and the performance of the new trains, I wonder if Network Rail’s calculations have shown that there is very little to be gained by full electrification.

As I indicated earlier, by joining and splitting services, the number of trains and the total number of seats can be increased to West Wales without needing more train paths between London and Cardiff.

Midland Main Line

There has been discussions in Modern Railways recently about the problems of devising a timetable for the Midland Main Line.

The article in the Railway Gazette says this.

Hitachi is supplying bi-mode trainsets for Great Western services under the Department for Transport’s Intercity Express Programme, while the operator of the next East Midlands franchise will be required to introduce bi-mode trainsets from 2022. DfT said the use of electro-diesel trainsets instead of electrification would mean passengers would ‘benefit sooner’, because ‘disruptive’ work to install ‘intrusive wires and masts’ would ‘no longer be needed’.

It looks to me that simulation has shown, as in South Wales, there is little to be gained from full electrification.

But there could be a lot to gain from creative joining and splitting of trains.

Conclusion

I think that someone asked the heretical question.

What would happen if instead of electrification, we used bi-mode trains?

Both the South Wales Main Line and the Midland Main Line have similar characteristics.

  • Operating speed upwards of 90 mph.
  • Sections where the operating speed can be higher.
  • Partial electrification at the London end.
  • All London suburban trains sharing the routes are 100 mph trains.
  • Modern signalling

Couple this with the Class 800 trains and a very good simulation, and I suspect that Network Rail have found ways to improve the service.

I very much feel that similar techniques are being used to increase the capacity of the electrified Great Eastern Main Line to achieve Norwich-in-Ninety.

I can’t of course prove my feelings, but then I started writing computer simulations in the mid-1960s and like to think,  I know when I see some good numerical analysis.

Where Else Could Bi-Mode Trains Be Used In This Way?

This is very much speculation on my part.

Basingstoke To Exeter Via Salisbury

Consider.

  • There have been ambitions to electrify this route for decades.
  • South Western Railway and Great Western Railway are partially in the same ownership.
  • Third rail or dual voltage Class 800 trains are possible.
  • The trains are 100 mph units on diesel against the current 90 mph Class 158 trains.
  • The trains would save four minutes between London Waterloo and Basingstoke.
  • The trains could take advantage of speed improvement South of Basingstoke.
  • If Basingstoke to Exeter was a 100 mph line, then up to fifteen minutes could be saved.
  • The trains could join and split to serve multiple destinations.

But perhaps the biggest advantage would be that all trains between London Waterloo and Basingstoke would be 100 mph trains, which must mean that more trains could use the line.

Cardiff to Brighton via Southampton, Portsmouth Harbour and Bristol

Consider.

  • This route has significant overcrowding according to Wikipedia.
  • Cardiff to Bristol should eventually be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Brighton to Southampton is electrified with 750 VDC third rail.
  • Great Western Railway run this route and have Class 800 trains.
  • Dual voltage Class 800 trains are possible.

To run this route efficiently, Great Western Railway would need an appropriate number of five-car dual voltage Class 800 trains.

Norwich To Stansted Airport via Ely and Cambridge

The Breckland Line between Norwich and Cambridge has the following characteristics.

  • Double-track throughout its just over fofty miles.
  • Sections of electrification at Norwich and South of Ely.
  • A variable operating speed of up to 90 mph.

The line has recently been upgraded with improved track, removal of level crossings and modern signalling.

As part of their new franchise proposal, Greater Anglia decided to run services from Norwich to Stansred Airport using new Stadler Class 755 trains, with the following characteristics.

  • Three- or four-car
  • Bi-mode power.
  • 100 mph capability.
  • Running on 25 KVAC, where available.

I think this is a good plan and is an example of the sort of use of bi-mode trains that will be seen increasingly.

Consider.

  • Norwich gets a much better connection to Cambriodge and Stansted Airport.
  • Some services on the route are still run by 90 mph Class 158 trains.
  • Speed improvements will come because of the nearly fifty miles of electrification between Ely and Stansted Airoport.
  • There may be further track improvements possible.

There is also the big possibility of being able to run a direct service between Norwich and London via Cambridge.

Leeds To Glasgow Via Settle

Why not?

If you look at timings for Leeds to Glasgow, they are typically as follows.

  • 3 hours 58 minutes with an 11 minute change at Haymarket.
  • 4 hours 12 minutes with a 30 minute change at Carlisle
  • 4 hours 4 minutes on a direct train via Edinburgh.

The Settle-Carlisle Line has been stoutly repaired after the 2015-2016 Temporary Closures and is probably in its best state for years, if not ever.

  • Leeds to Skipton is electrified.
  • Carlisle to Glasgow is electrified.
  • Virgin Trains East Coast run to Skipton, using InterCity 225s.

I estimate that a Class 800 train could reduce the journey time to around three-and-a-half hours.

Would that be a successful service considering  driving between Leeds and Glasgow probably takes almost four hours?

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

17 Tube Stations That Face Chronic Overcrowding If Crossrail 2 Is Stopped

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in today’s Standard.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Hundreds of thousands more Londoners will suffer chronic overcrowding on the Tube if Crossrail 2 does not go ahead, it was claimed today.

Transport for London released a list of 17 Underground stations that could buckle under the strain of too many commuters within a few years.

It then lists the stations.

  • Euston
  • King’s Cross St. Pancras
  • Liverpool Street
  • London Bridge
  • Victoria
  • Waterloo
  • Finsbury Park
  • Stockwell
  • Stratford
  • Oxford Circus
  • Highbury & Islington
  • Clapham Common
  • Clapham North
  • Clapham South
  • Holborn
  • Warren Street
  • Leicester Square

It then quotes Caroline Pidgeon, who obtained the list, as follows.

Overcrowding on the Underground is already a daily battle, with many passengers facing regular delays to simply get through barriers at stations.

Unless Crossrail 2 is built these delays will increasingly build up until drastic measures are necessary at 17 key Tube stations, not to mention Clapham Junction railway station.

“Planning ahead for Crossrail 2 is not an optional extra for London’s transport network but of vital importance to keep London moving.

She has certainly highlighted a serious problem.

Call For Crossrail 2

Two years ago to the day, I wrote a post called Call For Crossrail 2 in response to a letter in The Times, from a wide cross section of business leaders calling for a start to be made on the line.

In the post, I talked about improving various stations, just by building Crossrail 2, so in the following notes on the list of crowded stations, I will refer to this post several times in the following.

Euston

Euston tube station is a particular problem in that in the next decade or so, the following will or could happen.

Hopefully, the rebuilding for whichever comes first of  HS2 or Crossrail 2, will make provision for even the most fanciful of expansions.

One Transport for London engineer told me that one of the main reasons for building HS2 and terminating it at Euston, is to be able to sort out the dreadful Euston tube station.

Kings Cross St. Pancras

Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station had a pretty good makeover around the time of the 2012 London Olympics, but it does suffer congestion and travellers have to walk long distances.

The Wikipedia entry for Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station has a section for Crossrail 2. This is said.

Since 1991, a route for a potential Crossrail 2 has been safeguarded, including a connection at King’s Cross St Pancras and Euston, forming the station Euston King’s Cross St Pancras. The proposed scheme would offer a second rail link between King’s Cross and Victoria in addition to the Victoria line. The locations for any new stations on the route will depend on the loading gauge of the final scheme. In the 2007 safeguarded route, the next stations would be Tottenham Court Road and Angel.

There is also a proposal to reopen the closed York Road tube station. In the Wikipedia entry for York Road station under Proposed Reopening, this is said.

One of London’s largest redevelopment projects, King’s Cross Central, began construction in 2008 across the road from the station. Islington council and Transport for London commissioned a study in 2005 to consider the possible reopening of the station. At the same time, however, it was recognised that other transport priorities reduced the likelihood of such a project moving forward in the near future. The site would need extensive overhauls to bring the station up to modern day standards, at a cost estimated at £21 million in 2005. Local political groups have been keen to see the station reopened in order to reduce passenger congestion at King’s Cross St. Pancras and to encourage development in the surrounding community. The Islington Liberal Democrats advocated the reopening of the station in their 2006 local election manifesto, and at least one candidate for the Islington Conservative Party similarly campaigned for the station to be reopened. However, to date, the reopening proposal has not been taken forward.

I wonder if York Road tube station will ever be reopened.

Liverpool Street

The Liverpool Street station complex will be even bigger and busier after Crossrail opens.

The main difference will be that the current Shenfield Metro will now disappear into the ground at Stratford and go under Central London to Heathrow and Reading.

Crossrail 2 will effectively channel the Lea Valley services, that current go into Liverpool Street station under London to emerge in the Wimbledon area.

Effectively, Crossrail and Crossrail 2 major effect on Liverpool Street station are to free up capacity in both tracks and platforms, thuis allowing more longer distance services to use the station.

London Bridge

London Bridge station is being rebuilt and expanded, but little seems to be planned for London Bridge tube station to cope with more passengers.

In Call For Crossrail 2, I said this about Crossrail 2 and the Northern Line.

Crossrail 2 will have interchanges with the Northern Line at Angel, Kings Cross St. Pancras, Euston, Tottenham Court Road, Tooting Broadway and possibly Clapham Junction. So it looks like that Crossrail 2 will certainly make journeys easier for users of the Northern Line.

This should mean that travellers on the Northern Line will be able to avoid a congested London Bridge tube station.

Victoria

Victoria tube station is being extended and rebuilt, which should result in sufficient capacity for more than a few years.

In Call For Crossrail 2, I said this about Crossrail 2 and the Victoria Line.

Crossrail 2 will effectively by-pass the central part of the Victoria Line as the two lines connect at Tottenham Hale, Seven Sisters, Kings Cross, Euston and Victoria.

This should take some of the pressure from Victoria tube station.

Waterloo

Waterloo tube station is a very busy tube station, as it has to cope with all the passengers using Waterloo station.

Crossrail 2 will allow passengers to bypass Waterloo, when travelling to and from Central London.

However, three major improvements will be delivered this year.

  • The old Eurostar platforms are being brought back into use.
  • Extra capacity is being added to the Underground station.
  • I also think that when they have completed the improvements at the Bank end of the Waterloo and City Line. 
  • Will improvements follow at the Waterloo end?

I think Waterloo shouldn’t be judged until the current round of work is completed.

Finsbury Park

Finsbury Park station is a station that suffered badly when the Victoria Line was tunnelled through in the 1960s.

Lifts are being installed, but extra services will be added.

  • Thameslink will call regularly at the station.
  • The services on the Northern City Line will become the Great Northern Metro with an increased frequency.

Crossrail 2 will provide relief for Finsbury Park, as it provides a by-pass for the Victoria Line.

But the station needs to have quite a bit of rebuilding.

Stockwell

Stockwell tube station is where the Victoria and Northern Lines meet South of Victoria.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Stockwell station.

I’m not sure how Crossrail 2 helps here, but I suspect Transport for London hope that the new line will divert passengers away from Stockwell.

Stratford

Stratford station is another station that will be partially bypassed by Crossrail 2.

I do think that after Crossrail opens, that changes will be made at Stratford station to perhaps move some Liverpool Street services to Stansted and Cambridge.

This would bring more services to some not very busy platforms.

In West Anglia Route Improvement – The High Meads Loop, I described how it might all work.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines in this area.

Trains from Cambridge and Stansted would arrive at Temple Mills East Junction and would go round the High Meads Loop dropping and picking up passengers in Platforms 11 and 12 bwfore returning North.

An extra platform could even be added to serve services in Stratford International station.

The tunnels under the platforms at Stratford station would probably need improvement, but who knows how Eastenders will duck and dive after Crossrail opens.

As an example, passengers from Shenfield to Canary Wharf will probably use the cross-platform change at Whitechapel station, rather than pick up the Jubilee Line or the DLR at Stratford.

Oxford Circus

Oxford Circus tube station has needed improvement for years.

Crossrail will give some relief, as there will be new additional entrances to Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street stations closer to Oxford Circus.

I did look at what might happen in What Will The Elizabeth Line Do For Oxford Street?.

I came to this conclusion about Crossrail 2 and Oxford Street.

Crossrail 2 has just one interchange in the Oxford Street area at Tottenham Court Road station.

I would be very surprised in that in the massive rebuilding of the current station for Crossrail, that provision hasn’t been made to connect to Crossrail 2.

There have been surface issues around the station concerned with Crossrail 2, but given good planning of the project, I feel that the building of Crossrail 2 would only effect the area in a similar way to the replacement of a major block on Oxford Street.

Crossrail 2 will have two major effects.

  • It will bring large numbers of visitors to the Oxford Street area.
  • Just as Crossrail and the Central Line will work as a high-capacity pair, it will work closely with the Victoria Line to relieve that line.

This leads me to the conclusion, that the wider Oxford Street area needs to be and will be pedestrianised.

In some ways preparation for the pedestrianisation has already started by reorganising the buses.

Oxford Circus tube station is also high on Transport for London’s improvement list.

This map from carto.metro,free.fr shows the lines through the station.

I suspect that if developers were interested in rebuilding any of the buildings on the South side of Oxford Street or perhaps even around the BBC to the North, that there could be arm-twisting and deal-making to sneak new entrances into Oxford Circus tube station.

Highbury & Islington

Highbury & Islington station, is one of my local ones and it is getting some much-needed improvement.

  • The Northern City Line will be getting frequent new Class 717 trains to create the Great Northern Metro.
  • Highbury Corner will be remodelled to improve pedestrian access to the station.
  • Bus and taxi access is being improved..

But nothing has been announced about improving the chronic access to the two deep-level lines at the station.

Speaking to staff at the station, they feel that a solution is possible, using the second entrance on the other side of the road.

In some ways the Great Northern Metro with its cross-platform interchange with the Victoria Line could be the saviour of this station, as it gives direct access to the City and to Crossrail at Moorgate station.

One of London’s forgotten lines could be riding to the rescue.

Clapham Common

Clapham Common tube station is one of my least favourite. This picture shows why.

It’s downright dangerous now, so when the Northern Line frequency is increased will the station cope?

Clapham North

Clapham North tube station is another dangerous island platform.

But at least the station has escalators.

In A Journey Round The Clapham Stations, a post I wrote in December 2015, I said this.

Having seen Clapham North and Clapham Common stations today, I do wonder if a diversion could be dug as at Angel, Bank and London Bridge, to create safe new stations. This new tunnel could surely be part of the works to add step-free access to one or both stations and connect the tunnels to Clapham High Street station.

What with the Northern Line Extension to Battersea, the rebuilding of Bank and Camden Town stations and all the resignalling of the past few years, the Northern Line could at last be fulfilling its potential.

This could go a long way to  sorting the problem of the Clapham stations.

Clapham South

Clapham South tube station is not as bad as the other two Clapham stations discussed earlier.

Crossrail 2 may reduce the level of overcrowding on the Northern Line trains through the three Clapham stations, as passengers could change at Balham or Tooting Broadway stations to and from the new high-capacity line.

However, nothing short of some serious building work will solve the island platform problems at Clapham Common and Clapham North stations.

Holborn

Holborn tube station is very busy, but is one that could benefit from Crossrail, due to that line’s relationship with the Cerntral Line.

Crossrail 2 will certainly benefit the station, as it will relieve the pressure on the Piccadilly Line.

But Transport for London have published plans to add a second entrance and full step-free access. This is a 3-Dview of the plans.

Note the second entrance will be in Procter Street.

The only problem is that it could be 2021 before a decision is made.

However as a Piccadilly Line station, Holborn will benefit from the New Tube For London, before the upgrade.

Warren Street

Warren Street tube station is another Central London station on the Victoria Line, that could benefit from Crossrail 2’s duplication of the Victoria Line.

Leicester Square

Leicester Square tube station is just one stop on the Northern Line from the major new interchange of Tottenham Court Road station, which will be served by both Crossrail and Crossrail 2.

The station has needed more capacity since I first used it in the 1950s.

It needs step-free access.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Leicester Square station.

There is quite a tight knot of stations, of which only Tottenham Court Road has both escalators and lifts, although Goodge Street and Covent Garden have lifts only.

Leicester Square is an unusual station in that both the Northern and Piccadilly Lines are accessed by short passages and a short staircase from a fair-sized lobby at the bottom of a long set of escalators.

Clapham Junction

Clapham Junction station is the only non-Underground station in the seventeen stations named, where overcrowding could become chronic if Crossrail 2 is not built.

It is the busiest station by number of trains in Europe, so it must be difficult to keep on top of increasing numbers of passengers.

In the Wikipedia entry for the station under Future Proposals, this is said.

In 2007 the alignment of one of the two variants of Crossrail 2, that via the station rather than Putney and Wimbledon, was safeguarded. The Department for Transport and Transport for London continue to discuss proposal for a Clapham Junction Northern Line extension and its London Underground alignment has been legally reserved through Battersea Park, and would connect Clapham Junction to the London Underground for the first time.

Government and Network Rail funding for in the early 2010s of £50 million of improvements was granted. This comprised an upgrade to the main interchange: new entrances and more retail.

Surely something needs to be done, if Crossrail 2 is not built.

My proposals would include.

  • Developing the West London Line services.
  • Extending the Northern Line from Battersea Power Station station.
  • Improving the frequency of trains into Waterloo.
  • Make the station subway step-free.

There may be a need for more platforms, but the London Overground found this difficult.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the platforms in the station.

Simple it isn’t!

Conclusions

It surprised me how many of these stations will need substantial building work to cure the overcrowding.

Note.

  1. Every Victoria Line station between Oxford Circus and Finsbury Park is on the list.
  2. Four Northern Line stations between Stockwell to Clapham South is on the list.
  3. I think this shows how the designers of the Northern and Victoria Lines didn’t expect the traffic the lines now handle.

But overall, I think it shows how when you design a station, you don’t cut corners.

I also think to blame all these problems on the uncertainty about Crossrail 2, is probably a bit strong.

Consider.

  • Liverpool Street will probably have enough capacity when Crossrail opens, especially as the station will incorporate Moorgate and be substantially step-free.
  • The new London Bridge effectively adds high-frequency rail lines to Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Charing Cross and St. Pancras and when Thameslink and Southeastern are fully developed, the station will cope.
  • Victoria shouldn’t be judged until the current upgrade is complete.
  • Waterloo shouldn’t be judged until the current upgrade is complete.
  • Finsbury Park shouldn’t be judged until the current upgrade is complete.
  • Stratford will probably have enough capacity when Crossrail  opens, especially as the station is substantially step-free.
  • Oxford Circus should see improvement when Crossrail opens, especially as there’ll be new step-free entrances to Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street, that will be closer to Oxford Circus, than the current stations.
  • Highbury & Islington should see marginal improvement, when the Northern City Line is updated.

However, nothing short of substantial construction will sort Euston, Clapham Common, Clapham North, Holborn, Leicester Square and Clapham Junction.

 

 

 

 

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Simon Jenkins Questions Southern HS2 Terminal

Simon Jenkins in the Standard has a piece today entitled It’s Not Too Late To Make HS2 Somehow Work For London, by proposing even at this late stage the Southern terminal of HS2 be moved from Euston station to Old Oak Common station.

He makes these points against choosing Euston.

  • HS2 has never had many friends among politicians, railway buffs or think-tanks.
  • Serious questions must be asked about HS2’s most costly and controversial feature, the line’s route into Euston from its last stop at Old Oak Common in west London.
  • Euston is London’s worst station, with the worst connections.
  • The new Euston will need a costly new tunnel under Primrose Hill, incidentally wiping out hundreds of houses.
  • It will claim seven of Virgin’s platforms at Euston, thus reducing station capacity.
  • For some time, smart money in HS2 circles has been on the line stopping at Old Oak Common, at least “temporarily”
  • Successive plans for a new station have been submitted to Camden council and then withdrawn.
  • Either way, choosing Euston will mean a decade of chaos.

Against these points he says this in favour of Old Oak Common station.

Meanwhile, a terminus at Old Oak Common is plausible. The old Great Western Railway depot and marshalling yard has become London’s largest regeneration area since Canary Wharf. Its acres of tracks include lines to Paddington, Euston and Heathrow, as well as stations on Crossrail and the Central and Bakerloo lines. The site is near the North Circular and the M40, and is within spitting distance of the M1 and M4. Passengers on HS2 heading for the City would find it more convenient to join Crossrail at Old Oak Common, rather than trundle their bags down crammed access tunnels at Euston.

He makes strong arguments and personally, I would not be against what he says, as getting to Old Oak Common station will be easy for me on the North London Line.

But once Crossrail 2 is built, then Euston will be just two stops away from an enlarged Dalston station at the end of my road.

Conclusion

I can’t lose on house prices!

 

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wales Orders Some Golden Oldies

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Arriva Trains Wales Invests In Bi-mode Class 319s.

These four paragraphs define the deal and why.

The Welsh Government and Arriva Trains Wales are investing in five Class 319 Flex bi-mode trains.

Due to arrive next year, the four-car trains will be leased from Porterbrook thanks to £1.9 million from the Welsh Government and £1 million from Arriva Trains Wales.

Arriva Trains Wales said the trains would likely be deployed on commuter services into Cardiff.

Introducing the 319s will allow Arriva Trains Wales to carry out work needed on its Class 150 and 158 vehicles to ensure they meet new accessibility standards.

This looks to me to be a sensible way to provide cover and also increase the size of the fleet.

Consider.

  • The Class 769 train, to give the Class 319 Flex train it, its new official TOPS name, has been designed around the Manchester to Buxton route.
  • Manchester to Buxton is as stiff as any route in the Cardiff Valley Lines.
  • The trains can do 100 mph on 25 KVAC overhead electrification, so would be ideal for any partially-electrified routes.
  • According to this article on the BBC, electrification reaches Cardiff in December 2018.
  • The trains can do around 90 mph on diesel.
  • Range is ten Manchester-Buxton round trips on a full tankfull.
  • Modern Railways has reported the trains can change between diesel and electric modes on the move.
  • Drivers have told me, that the brakes on Class 319 trains are superb. Will that be needed on descents into Cardiff?

In Riding In A Clean Class 319/4 Train, I describe a recent ride in one of the better examples, that could be converted for Wales.

The trains may be thirty-years-old, but they are based on Mark 3 coaches, as are the InterCity 125, so like certain actors and singers, they seem to keep on performing.

How Would The Bi-Mode Trains Be Used?

Arriva Trains Wales has the following trains currently working the Cardiff Valley Lines or that need to be converted to meet the latest regulations..

The Pacers can in part be ignored, as I suspect they’ll be going to the scrapyard, when the next franchise starts. But Arriva Trains Wales will need fifteen four-car trains to replace them, if they hit the cut-off date in the regulations.

The Class 158 trains were given a full refurbishment in 2010-2, as described like this in Wikipedia.

A complete refurbishment programme to provide the Class 158s with full ‘as new’ interiors took place between December 2010 and October 2012. Funded by the Welsh Assembly Government at a cost of £7.5m, work completed includes interior and exterior repainting, along with replacement of seating, wall coverings, carpets, lighting, luggage racks and toilet fittings. A passenger information system has been fitted, while selected seats have gained at-seat power sockets for mobile phones and laptops. Until this refurbishment, the fleet had seen only minor attention to its interior since a refit by Wales & West in the late 1990s, as well as having been only partially repainted into Arriva colours externally

So will these Class 158 trains need much more than attention to detail and a very good clean? As most seem to be based away from Cardiff, I don’t think we’ll see many Class 769 trains standing in for Class 158 trains. Unless of course Arriva Trains Wales wanted to see how a Class 769 train performs on a longer route.

The Class 150 trains are a totally different matter. In What Train Is This?, I rode in a superbly refurbished Class 150 train, that if standing in for a Class 172 train wouldn’t bring many complaints.

Much of the time on the Cardiff Valleys Lines, the Pacers and the Class 150 trains seem to be running as pairs to make four-car trains.

So five Class 769 trains mean that ten Class 150 trains can be released for updating.

It is worth comparing a Class 769 train with two Class 150 trains working as a pair.

  • A Class 769 train, based on a Class 319/4 has a capacity of 50 First Class and 255 Standard Class seats.
  • A Class 150 train has a capacity of 147 seats or 294 for a pair.
  • The Class 769 train has a top speed of 100 mph on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 769 train has a top speed of just over 90 mph on diesel.
  • The Class 150 train has a top speed of 75 mph.
  • The Class 769 train has a higher power/weight ratio than the Class 150 train.

It would appear that a pair of Class 150 trains and a Class 769 train can be considered equivalent and with the right number of trains, the two types of train could work the Cardiff Valley Lines.

But the bi-mode Class 769 train has the advantage that it is faster and can run on 25 KVAC overhead wires.

On some routes the Class 769 train may actually reduce the number of trains needed.

Cardiff Central To Ebbw Vale Town

This route between Cardiff Central and Ebbw Vale Town stations uses the South Wales Main Line and the Ebbw Valley Railway.

If you look at the timetable, the trains take up to a few minutes over the hour, which must be an inconvenient time to use trains efficiently.

But eighteen minutes of the route are between Cardiff Central and Pye Corner stations, has perhaps fifteen minutes or so on the South Wales Main Line, with four tracks and an operating speed of 90 mph.

Given the superior power and speed, I suspect that the Class 769 trains can do a round trip in under two hours, even if they had to run on diesel on the South Wales Main Line.

This would mean only two trains would be needed to work an hourly service. Class 769  trains would be four coaches, as one size fits all!

Penarth To Rhymney

This route between Penarth and Rhymney stations uses the Rhymney Line.

If you look at the timetable, journeys both ways take around an hour and 16-20 minutes.

I think that three trains would be needed to work an hourly service.

Two factors slow the trains.

  • There are eighteen stops along the route.
  • From Bargoed to Rhymney, the line is only single track.

This extract is from the Wikipedia entry for the Rhymney Line.

In March 2007 the latest in a series of infrastructure improvements on the Valley Lines was announced, included lengthening of platforms between Rhymney and Penarth to allow Class 150 units to operate in multiples of 3 (6 cars). However, this is postponed indefinitely due to the sub-lease by the Department for Transport, to First Great Western, of the units that would have allowed this extra capacity.

Would four-car Class 769 trains be an adequate substitute for the planned three Class 150 trains working in multiple as a six-car?

If they were, this would mean that three trains would certainly work an hourly service with a substantial increase in capacity.

I wonder what times, well-driven Class 769 trains, with their hill-climbing abilities could do for the service on this line.

Bridgend/Barry Island/Cardiff Central To Merthyr Tydfil/Aberdate

These services are run in what appears to be an intricate diagram.

But as the Class 769 trains are faster and more capable than anything else running the routes, they should be able to deputise.

Could This Interim Pattern Emerge?

These routes could be run by Class 769 trains.

  • Cardiff Central to Ebbw Vale Town
  • Penarth to Rhymney

Conveniently, the two routes would need five trains.

By the end of 2018, it is predicted that the South Wales Main Line will be electrified, which would mean they could use electric power for some of the routes.

There might be small amounts of add-on electrification to ease changeover of mode.

  • South Wales Main Line to Pye Corner
  • Cardiff Central to Penarth

It might even be sensible to electrify the Vale of Glamorgan Line to give a second electrified route from Cardiff Central to Bridgend and serve Cardiff Airport.

Electrification of the lines in Cardiff would probably be much simpler than on some of the steep valley lines, but it would allow more Class 769 trains or similar to work the Cardiff Valley Lines efficiently.

But I did say this would only be an interim plan until perhaps 2020.

So Where Do CAF Come In?

CAF bring several things to this party.

  • By 2020, CAF will have a fully functioning factory a few miles down the line at Llanwern, just to the East of Newport.
  • CAF build trams, trains and tram-trains of all sizes and speeds.
  • CAF are one of the world leaders in the application of energy storage to rail vehicles.
  • CAF are not afraid to experiment or do Research and Development.
  • CAF have a modular train concept called Civity, which in their data sheet claim is all things to everybody.

I believe that CAF can come up with a train with the following characteristics.

  • Electric or diesel power.
  • On-board energy storage.
  • Regenerative braking.
  • Lots of powered-axles.
  • Four-cars
  • 100 mph on electric power
  • 90 mph on diesel power.

It looks very much like a modern Class 769 train with added battery power.

In fact the Class 769 trains will do all the specification development and route proving for CAF’s engineers.

So Where Do Porterbrook Come In?

Someone will have to finance the new trains for South Wales and they must be in prime position.

Similar systems can also be developed in other UK cities using Class 769 trains.

Conclusion

I have a feeling, that Network Rail have looked at electrifying the Cardiff Valley Lines and decided that it will be very difficult. Various commentators have suggested using trams.

What I have proposed is using bi-mode trains designed specifically for the Cardiff Valley Lines, that use electric power on and around the South Wales Main Line, diesel power to climb the hills and gravity and a bit of storage or diesel to come down.

I think that the purchase of five Class 769 trains will lead to an innovative solution from CAF to creating a world-class rail system in South Wales.

 

 

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Capacity Crunch At Chester – HS2

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways didn’t say much about HS2.

This is said about HS2 services and North Wales.

There are aspirations in North Wales for additional services to Crewe by 2027, when HS2 is due to begin operating between London and Crewe.

This is said about Liverpool and Chester and HS2.

Liverpool City Region’s rail strategy envisages Chester-Crewe electrification enabling Merseyrail services to Crewe, connecting East Wirral and Ellesmere Port to HS2.

And then there is The Constellation Partnership.

This is a massive project to take advantage of the opportunities of Crewe being just 55 minutes away from London.

This is their mission statement.

This is a boundary breaking partnership between two Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) and seven Local Authorities, with strong Ministerial backing from Government, and a unified fast-track approach to plan-led economic development, making it all the more powerful an investment proposition.

These partners share a single vision – a single economic footprint creating a coherent investment market boosted by the international investment magnet of High Speed Rail connectivity. This is an unbeatable growth opportunity for investors.

With powerful Government backing, the partnership’s ambition is to deliver 100,000 new homes and 120,000 new jobs by 2040.

The partners range from Stafford in the South to Warrington in the North and from Stoke-on-Trent in the East to Chester in the West.

Liverpool To Crewe Via Chester

Merseyrail’s new Stadler FLIRTs are being designed, so that they can eventually run on both 750 VDC third-rail and 25 KVAC overhead electrification, so if Crewe to Chester is electrified, Liverpool will get its wish of direct services from East Wirral and Ellesmere Port to Crewe.

Chester To Crewe

If the line is electrified, which I feel will happen, Chester to Crewe probably needs a service of four trains per hour (tph), to take passengers to HS2.

Two of these services will probably go to Liverpool and the other two to North Wales.

But because of the connectivity at Chester, services could also come from Shrewsbury or Wrexham.

Conclusion

Don’t underestimate the effects HS2 will have on trains in the Mersey Dee area.

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Halton Curve

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about the Halton Curve.

The curve will allow services between Liverpool Lime Street, South Liverpool and Liverpool Airport to Chester and North Wales.

The article says this.

Initially, Merseytravel will subsidise an hourly Chester-Liverpool service via the Halton Curve, as a first step in the development of enhanced services using the curve.

It then goes on to quote Huw Jenkins if Merseytravel as saying.

It would be a priority for the new Wales and Borders franchise to introduce regular services via the curve to Liverpool from significant stations in North Wales, including Bangor, Llandudno and Wrexham.

The business case for the Halton Curve is also stated to include.

  • Bangor to Liverpool in 140 minutes.
  • Llandudno to Liverpool in 130 minutes.
  • Create an alternative route between Liverpool and Cardiff via Chester and Shrewsbury.

I would suspect that the direct service between Cardiff and Liverpool will take about three and a half hours in something like a Class 802 train.

These trains could also probably travel between Liverpool and Shrewsbury in around ninety minutes, giving access to all the West Wales services at Shrewsbury station.

Conclusion

I have a feeling that when we look back on the reinstatement of the Halton Curve in a couple of decades, it could be a raging success and a very bad case of what I call London Overground Syndrome.

This is my definition of the disease.

This disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital and across the UK, despite various eradication programs.

It is usually solved by adding more capacity.

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Capacity Crunch At Chester

This is the title of an article by Rhodri Clark in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which discusses the various rail issues that will be tackled around the City of Chester.

This is the sub-title to the article.

Pressure is mounting for rail infrastructure and service enhancements to alleviate road congestion in the thriving Mersey Dee region.

The Modern Railways article discusses the following.

Halton Curve

HS2

Mid-Cheshire Line

Sandbach To Northwich

Each is discussed in separate posts.

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Mid-Cheshire Line

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has a section about the Mid-Cheshire Line.

The section opens with this paragraph.

Trains on the Mid-Cheshire Line, from Chester to Manchester via Stockport and Altrincham, provide interchange with Manchester Metrolink at Altrincham, but the average speed from Chester to Altrincham is 30 mph, which again is uncompetitive with car journey times.

Despite this and only an hourly service, Knutford station has in a footfall in excess of 500,000.

There are other problems.

  • The train timetable is not commuter-friendly to Chester.
  • Connections to and from London are bad at Chester.
  • Sunday services are two-hourly.

But Network Rail are on the case and are lengthening platforms, so frequencies can be increased.

Manchester Airport Western Link

The Wikipedia entry for the Mid-Cheshire Line talks about a western link to Manchjester Airport, which would start from near Mobberley.

Conclusion

Upgrading the Mid-Cheshire Line and Sandbach To Northwich must have possibilities.

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments