The Anonymous Widower

Will The Chelmsford Avoiding Line Be Rebuilt?

I took this picture at Chelmsford station yesterday.

Chelmsford Station

Note the wide space between the two tracks. This was for an avoiding line as detailed in Wikipedia.

There were originally three lines through the station: two platform lines and an avoiding line between them. An unusual signal box (being some five storeys high at the rear) on the London-bound platform controlled the station including, at the eastern end, a set of sidings that served the goods yard and Hoffman ball bearing factory. The signal box ceased to be used in 1994 but the structure has remained in situ since. The avoiding line has been removed and the sidings were reduced to serve only a mail sorting office and building materials yard.

Given that more and faster trains will be running through the station, could the avoiding line be reinstated?

  • Faster trains could overtake trains, that were stopped in the station.
  • It would probably make it easier for trains to terminate at Chelmsford, as they would block a platform.
  • Modern slab track means that lines can be more precisely positioned.
  • It might be possible for freight trains to use the avoiding line.
  • Does Norwich-in-Ninety need the avoiding line?

I also suspect that it is probably about time, that the track was fully relaid.

Factors against reinstatement include.

  • The modern trains arriving in a few years all have a higher cruising speed, so the need to overtake may be needed less.
  • The modern trains will be able to perform a stop, reload and start at a station much quicker than the current stock.
  • It is probably reasonable to assume that both fleets of trains; Flirts and Aventras, will have a similar performance and stop profile.
  • A new station could be built at Beaulieu, which is a few miles North of Chelmsford and might be a better terminus in the area.
  • Trains could also overtake at Beaulieu.

In addition, does Chelmsford need all the disruption?

I think that for the near future, the modern trains and Beaulieu station may be sufficient to allow Norwich-in-Ninety and Ipswich-in-Sixty to be fully implimented.

But long term, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new Chelmsford station built at the site.


October 19, 2016 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

A Walk Around White Hart Lane Station

I took these pictures as I walked around the area between White Hart Lane station and Tottenham Hotspur‘s White Hart Lane stadium.

Looking at the station, I come to a few conclusions.

  • It certainly isn’t fit for serving a 61,000-seater football stadium.
  • The access to the platforms with staircases and no lifts or escalators is terrible and not much better than it was when I used it regularly in the early 1960s.
  • The platforms look like, they might be able to handle a twelve-car train.
  • The platforms are on top of what looks to be a solid well-built viaduct.
  • Walking away from White Hart Lane towards the South, there would appear to be few important buildings alongside the viaduct.

I think this all leads to a unique situation you don’t often find in the rebuilding of a station. It would appear that if you clear the land on both sides of the railway along Penshurst Road and Love Lane, you can create a station that encloses the railway and gives access underneath. A similar situation was exploited at Haggerston and Hoxton stations to create very passenger-friendly stations.

This visualisation from the Architects Journal shows the station from the East.


I’ll repeat my nearest picture.

White Hart Lane Station From Love Lane

I think that it looks good.

Note that the rightmost arch, which is partially hidden in the second picture, is the rightmost arch in the visualisation.

If you look at the other pictures in the Architects Journal, it would appear that the two staircases go up in two sections to the platforms, in a similar way to they do in several of the Overeground’s rebuilt stations.

At least in common with London’s two other big club grounds at Arsenal and West Ham, White Hart Lane is served by several Underground and rail stations.

This station certainly, looks like it will handle its share.

I think there could be controversy, as there have been reports that Tottenham Hotspur would like to sell naming rights to the stadium and possibly the station, as other clubs have.

Renaming the stadium would probably not be controversial, but renaming the station could well be. It will certainly be expensive, as Transport for London would have to change a large quantity of maps.

As someone, who supports Ipswich, I don’t care.



October 13, 2016 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

From The Greenway To Stratford International Station

These are pictures, I took whilst walking and riding from the ~Old Ford Recycling Centre on the Greenway to Stratford station.


September 18, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

How Big Would Batteries Need To Be On A Train For Regenerative Braking?

Let’s assume that we have a Class 710 train, trundling around North East London at up to 120 kph.

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.

To get a better handle on how much energy is involved let’s look at these specifications for a Nissan Leaf car.

Nissan talks about 24 and 30 kWH versions of the car, So if this is the battery size, then one of Nissan’s batteries could store all the braking energy of a four-car Class 710 train.

Even a fully-loaded Class 345 train would only need a 50kWH battery.

Assuming of course, I’ve got the maths correct.

I have a feeling that using batteries to handle regenerative braking on a train could be a very affordable proposition.

As time goes on, with the development of energy storage technology, the concept can only get more affordable.

September 5, 2016 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Bombardier’s Plug-and-Play Train


The heart of any electric train is the electrical system that takes the electricity from the overhead wires or third rail and distributes it to the traction motors that actually power the train. If regenerative braking is fitted, then the same system also handles any electricity generated by braking.

So that is where I’ll start.

This article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-Iron batteries if required.

Bombardier have confirmed the wiring for onboard power storage to me.

So this could mean, that if the overhead wire or third rail can’t accept electricity generated by regenerative braking, then if batteries are fitted, these can store the energy for reuse, and there will be an energy saving. With a commuter train doing frequent stops, the braking energy at a stop, copntributes to getting the train moving again.

If there is no way to recycle or store the braking energy, it is passed through resistors on the roof of the train, and used to heat the atmosphere.

If you look at just-released pictures of the Class 345 train, the trains appear to have the pantograph on one or more of the intermediate cars, unlike some electric multiple units which have them on the driving cars.

I did find this snippet on the Internet which gives the formation of the trains.

When operating as nine-car trains, the Class 345 trains will have two Driving Motor Standard Opens (DMSO), two Pantograph Motor Standard Opens (PMSO), four Motor Standard Opens (MSO) and one Trailer Standard Open (TSO). They will be formed as DMSO+PMSO+MSO+MSO+TSO+MSO+MSO+PMSO+DMSO.

The snippet has a date of August 13th, 2016, so it’s very much up-to-date. It tells us the following.

  • All cars except one, have traction motors, which are responsible for both driving the train and providing a lot of the braking effort.
  • The pantograph car is motored, whereas on a Class 378 train it isn’t.
  • The only trailer car is in the middle of the train.
  • The train has two pantograph cars.
  • Would a pantograph car and one or more motor cars work together as was described in the Global Rail News article?

One of the big differences between the Aventra and the previous generation of Electrostar trains, is that many more cars are powered.

  • Distributing force along the train could be a very good way of applying greater total force to the track, to accelerate and brake the train faster.
  • Distributed power might be better in slippery rail conditions.
  • Splitting the power system between cars and using lighter-weight and better-designed FLEXXeco bogies, may distribute the weight better along the train.
  • As there are more traction motors, does this mean they are smaller and possibly lighter and cost less.

I suspect that the distributed power approach has other advantages.

As the two pieces of information gleaned from the Internet are five years apart, I suspect that Bombardier have moved on from this concept of a pair of cars, one with the pantograph, third rail shoe and the converter and one with the energy storage.

I suspect that the electrical and motor systems of the Class 345 trains could be one of the following.

  • The whole train has a common power bus  and all motored axles are connected to it.
  • The train is effectively two half trains, each with their own power bus consisting of four cars in the following formation; DMSO+PMSO+MSO+MSO, with a trailer car without power in between.

These are my thoughts on the two approaches.

  • The second approach must have advantages in terms of reliability as there are two of everything.
  • The initial trains running from May 2017, will be seven cars, so will they be two three-car trains with a formation of DMSO+PMSO+MSO and a TSO in the middle? This would give a thorough test to all types of cars.
  • Going from seven to nine cars, just means adding an MSO to each half-train.
  • If necessary, Crossrail will lengthen trains to ten cars. Would they do this by adding another TSO?
  • The two pantographs must be at least a hundred metres apart, which could come in handy for jumping gaps in the overhead wires.
  • If the half-train approach is used, the two electrical buses would probably be connected together intelligently to share power.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to find, that the Class 345 trains are effectively two half trains working as one.

So how does a concept like this, fit with other train orders and lengths?

Class 710 Trains

The Class 710 trains for London Overground are four-car commuter trains, which will trundle around North-East London. I think they could have a formation of something like DMSO+PMSO+MSO+DMSO, which would fit the published information in the Global Rail News article of an electrical system based on at least two cars.

Incidentally, the five-car Class 378 trains with their three cars in the middle have two powered cars and a trailer car.

I said these trains will just trundle around London, but it would appear that all cars are powered, so I suspect they will accelerate away as fast as the track, passengers and the signals will allow.

As the braking is regenerative and either returns the braking energy to the overhead wires or stores it on the train, the trains will stop quickly and will be very efficient, with rapid stops at all stations.

Obviously, I can’t get any figure for how much time, the Class 710 trains will save say between Hackney Downs and Chingford, but I can show some figures on the eleven intermediate station Crossrail route between Stratford and Shenfield.

This currently takes 36 minutes in a Class 315 train and after Crossrail opens this will be 32 minutes in a Class 345 train.

So it looks like the new trains could save twenty seconds a stop. Not much, but the Shenfield Metro is probably running to a good speed.

Abellio’s Five Car Trains

These five-car trains could be two of the driving cars (DMSO) with a three-car set in the middle, so the formation could be DMSO+PMSO+MSO+MSO+DMSO or DMSO+PMSO+MSO+TSO+DMSO, depending on how much oomph was required.

Like the Class 710 trains, they would have a lot of powered axles and this helps create a specification including.

  • 100 mph capability.
  • Fast acceleration and braking.
  • An exceptional 100-0-100 mph time leading to extremely rapid stops.

They truly are pocket rockets.

Abellio’s Ten Car Trains

These ten-car trains will be similar to the five-car ones with a formation of something like.


where XXSO is anything that the operator wanted, but would normally be a MSO or a TSO.

Interim Conclusions On Aventras

I think I can draw some very important conclusions from what I have said already.

  • The Aventra is very different to an Electrostar.
  • The concept of having a sub-train of two or possibly three cars as outlined in the article in Global Rail News seems to work well with all of the trains ordered so far.
  • The sub-train probably wouldn’t include a driving car, as this would mean that in shorter trains, two types of driving can would be needed.
  • The driving cars could be identical except for the passenger compartment and the number of doors.
  • The overall design concept is very flexible.
  • All trains have a high proportion of motor cars and hence powered bogies, which probably means quick acceleration and good braking.
  • Train length can be filled out using additional motor or trailer cars.
  • Total train power can be adjusted by choosing the right mix of motor and trailer cars.

I shall now look at various topics in detail.

Train and Car Length

We know very little about the lengths of the cars in the various different Aventras, except these snippets from Modern Railways in September 2016 and some other sources.

  • Class 345 trains will have cars around 23 metres with three doors on either side.
  • Class 710 trains will have cars around 20 metres with two doors on either side.
  • The five-car Abellio East Anglia trains will be 110 metres long.
  • The ten-car Abellio East Anglia trains will be 240 metres long.

I suspect that  different car lengths and number of doors can be easily handled by a well-thought-out manufacturing process.

Much of the differences between the various fleets will come down to the interior design and equipment specified by the operator.

In The Aventra Car Length Puzzle, I came to the following conclusions.

  • The Aventra design is very flexible.
  • Driving cars generally seem to be around twenty metres.
  • There is an appropriate number of equal length intermediate cars between the two driving cars.

In some ways, it’s almost like a mini-HST.

And just like the HST and Bombardier’s successful Class 378 train for the London Overground, capacity and length is changed by just adding or removing intermediate cars.

I also stated in the related article, that Abellio’s five- and ten-car Aventras for East Anglia, could use these two basic car lengths.

  • A 20 metre driving car.
  • A 25 metre intermediate car.

My lengths might be wrong, but surely to have just two car types of the same size, gives a degree of design and operational flexibility , that must help the operator to a large degree.

In addition, if all driving cars are roughly the same size between the various Aventras, this must ease manufacture and support of the trains.

Different Driving Cars

First Class seats are expensive on space and fittings to provide and aren’t needed on all services.

If you take the selection of Abellio routes in East Anglia, that will be run exclusively by Aventras, how many destinations will actually need First Class seats?

  • Clacton, Frinton and Walton
  • Southend
  • Bishops Stortford and Hertford East

So as trains like the Class 360 trains have First Class at one end of the formation, will we see at least two types of driving car?

  • One with an appropriate number of First Class seats.
  • One which is all Standard Class.

I suspect that from the bulkhead behind the driver forward, all driving cars will be more or less identical with a few differences due to operator, route and signalling, but on the passenger side, the layout will be adjusted to the route.

We could even see quick change interiors in the small section of the driving car behind the driver.

After all airliners have been configured in this way for many years, with movable screens to separate Business seats from the riff-raff.

So could we see various configurations of the driving cars?

  • First Class
  • Standard Class
  • Mixed First and Standard Class
  • Bicycle Racks
  • Heavy Luggage and Parcel Space
  • Toilets
  • Buffets and shops.

Obviously, the train operator, would make sure that their driving cars were right for the routes they served.

Flexible Train Lengths

Bombardier seem to have possibly used the experience they gained with the Class 378 trains on the London Overground, which have progressively been lengthened from three to four and five-cars since delivery five years ago, just by adding extra intermediate cars.

I suspect that appropriate driving and intermediate cars can be shuffled together in order, to create any length of train from four-cars upwards.

I showed earlier, how the Cl;ass 345 trains could be adjusted as time progresses, so Abellio might benefit from a similar flexibility.

Abellio have ordered both five- and ten-car trains for their East Anglian routes, so could we see trains put into alternative formations, if that suits the route and passenger demand better?

Incidentally, I travel regularly on Virgin’s Pendolinos to the North West and these Class 390 trains have changed in length over the years.

They are a good example of future-proofing a train design, so that formations can change as the routes and requirements evolve.

Nothing would seem to prevent the length of an operator’s fleet of Aventra trains from being changed.

The Aventra Marketplace

I have just found this article in Rail Engineer from February 2014, which is entitled An Exciting New Aventra.

Jon Shaw from Bombardier is quoted as saying this about the market for the Aventra.

We looked ahead for ten years and spoke to potential stakeholders and customers, including the Department for Transport, as well as Transport for London, and all of the operators and train leasing companies and passenger focus groups, and they told us what they thought was going to happen over the ten years ahead. Essentially, four styles of train will be needed. One will be the dedicated metro trains, running all day at high capacity. Then there will be slow-speed and medium speed commuter trains, as we have today. Lastly, there is what we see as a new market, which is high speed commuters – they can serve a commuter market, but when they go onto that main line, they’re going to hit 125 mile an hour and so they don’t delay the main intercity trains.

So it looks like the four current orders fit these markets.

Aventras and Onboard Energy Storage

The article in Rail Engineer also quotes Jon Shaw on onboard energy storage.

As part of these discussions, another need was identified. Aventra will be an electric train, but how would it serve stations set off the electrified network? Would a diesel version be needed as well?

So plans were made for an Aventra that could run away from the wires, using batteries or other forms of energy storage. “We call it an independently powered EMU, but it’s effectively an EMU that you could put the pantograph down and it will run on the energy storage to a point say 50 miles away. There it can recharge by putting the pantograph back up briefly in a terminus before it comes back.

I believe that once the concept of onboard energy storage is accepted, that Bombarduier’s engineers have found other ways to use it to the benefit of passengers, operators and Network Rail.

Aventras and Regenerative Braking

All Aventras have regenerative braking and of the various lines on which they will run, some will be able to handle the reverse currents.

However, other lines may not be able to handle regenerative braking.

If that is the case, then Aventras can be fitted with batteries or other forms of onboard energy storage to handle the braking.

There will obviously be a point where it is more affordable to handle regenerative braking on the train, rather than at the trackside.

Note that the energy generated from braking is easily calculated from the fomula for the kinetic energy in a moving object.

0.5 * (mass) * (velocity) * (velocity)

So stopping a train from 100 mph would release four times as much energy as from 50 mph. On starting again, a similar amount of energy would be need to be given to the train to regain line speed. If this is stored in the onboard storage of the train, then this must be able to hold the energy generated by one stop from the typical line speed.

It is not as onerous an application as actually driving the train for a few miles, as if more energy is needed to accelerate the train, the train will obtain it from the overhead wires or third rail.

The Full Aventra IPEMU

In the Rail |Engineer article Jon Shaw of Bombardier talked about a train with a fifty mile range on the onboard storage. He called it an independently powered EMU or IPEMU.

So what would a full Aventra IPEMU look like?

With sufficient onboard storage the four-car Class 710 train could be used as an IPEMU.  The storage would probably give a range similar to that of the Class 379 BEMU demonstration. This would mean the range is at least a one-way trip on the Mayflower Line, which is 11.3 miles or just under dozen miles.

This may not seem to be a very large range, but there are quite a few branch lines, where the out-and-back trip is less than or not much more than a dozen miles.

All connect or will in a couple of years to electrified main lines. Some even use a dedicated bay platform, which could be wired for charging.

The Mayflower Line is also a line, where the electrification has been simplified to save money.

Only one track is fully electrified and this restricts the services that electric trains can provide. However, if an Aventra IPEMU had a range of just a dozen miles, then with just some new track, possibly a set of points and no new electrification, services could be improved.

Other lines in this sorry or a neglected state include.

How many other Hall Farm Curves are there, where a short chord or line connects or could connect two electrified lines?

But as I said earlier, a dozen miles is a bit limiting. In Abellio’s East Anglia routes, these are the out-and-back distances for some lines.

There might also to be less than 25 miles of line without electrification between Haughley Junction and Cambridge.

Looking at these distances, an Aventra IPEMU with a range of greater than 25 miles would be a lot more useful.

But Jon Shaw of Bombardier is quoted in the article in Rail Engineer  of saying this.

We call it an independently powered EMU, but it’s effectively an EMU that you could put the pantograph down and it will run on the energy storage to a point say 50 miles away. There it can recharge by putting the pantograph back up briefly in a terminus before it comes back.

So what is available to increase the range?

My original musings in this section started with a four-car Class 710 train. But supposing we started with a five-car Aventra similar than those that have been ordered by Abellio for East Anglia.

The train could have this formation.


If both MSO cars had onboard energy storage, it would be a pocket rocket with a minimum range of at least 24 (2×12) miles on batteries!


  1. Are two cars with onboard energy storage needed to get sufficient range from the Aventra IPEMU?
  2. Two cars with onboard energy storage are obviously better than one!
  3. It would appear that the definitive Aventra IPEMU is a five-car train.
  4. The 50 mile range quoted by Jon haw could be available through better and larger storage technology.

As a trained control engineer, I know that balancing and controlling all these energy sources and sophisticated traction motors in an efficient and reliable manner will be very much possible and very rewarding for the engineers.

Aventra Is A Smart Train

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled Rise Of The Smart Train

It describes how trains can report faults remotely and make them easier and quicker to service. There is particular mention of Bombardier and the Class 710 trains.

Who is generally responsible for the servicing of a new fleet of trains?

These days maintenance is usually bundled into the lease contract. So a good train manufacturer can make more profits by making maintenance of a train easier and faster.

The smartness is not just about maintaining tracks.

This is from another article in Rail Magazine.

The trains have overhead line monitoring as a standard feature, and track monitoring equipment is also standard. So the operators don’t need to come and ask us to include it – it’s part of the build now.” That can help Network Rail identify, and fix, any problems much quicker.

When will cars report potholes?

There is also this snippet from this article in the Derby Telegraph

The train is also fitted with a “driver assistance system”, which takes into account gradients and route conditions to minimise power consumption.
Trials of the system, using a Class 365, brought a 13% energy saving, Bombardier said.

That could mean a saving in energy costs for the operator or extra range if running on the onboard energy storage.

Aventras Can Be Woken Up By Remote Control

This is another snippet from the same article in the Derby Telegraph

Unlike today’s commuter trains, Aventra can shut down fully at night and can be “woken up” by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift.

So could we see a train parked up at night in the sidings at the end of the line, after forming the last train from London. The train would then call home and report any problems, which would be sorted if needed, by perhaps a local or mobile servicing team. In the morning, the driver would turn up and find that the train was ready to form the first train of the day up to London.

Automation is going to make train management a lot easier. The one thing that this scenario would need is some form of power, as on a cold winter’s day, the train would have to be warmed up for the passengers and crew.

So there might be a need for all trains to be fitted with a certain amount of energy storage. In addition to getting the train ready, onboard energy could even be used to move the train to the overhead wires and raise the pantograph.

I would suspect that if an operator needs and orders remote train wake-up, then they will need some form of onboard energy storage.

Regenerative Braking, Onboard Energy Storage And Current Orders

Nothing has been said about how any of the Aventra orders for London and East Anglia will use their regenerative braking, or whether the trains will be fitted with onboard energy storage.


I will consider Crossrail and the Class 345 trains first.

  • The contract for the trains was signed in February 2014 after the article in Global Rail News was published in March 2011.
  • This page on the Crossrail web site, says that trains will return braking energy to the grid.
  • Only Class 345 trains will use the Crossrail tunnels.
  • The Western surface section would be served by a variety of trains.
  • The Shenfield branch would probably only be served by Aventras.
  • The Abbey Wood branch would only be served by Class 345 trains.
  • Trains with onboard energy storage would have a limited recovery capability to travel to the next station, in case of an overhead line power failure.
  • If the trains  were fitted with onboard energy storage, the Old Oak Common depot could have less overhead wires, with positive cost and safely implications.

I think it is also true to say that other advantages apply, if the Crossrails tunnels and trains have been designed as an integrated system.

But I can’t find anything about how regenerative braking will be handled on London’s new line.

I wouldn’t rule out that all Class 345 trains were fitted with some form of onboard energy storage.


These statements will apply to the Class 710 trains, which will run on the London Overground.

  • Some of the electrification on the lines on which the Class 710 trains will run probably needs refurbishment and updating to accept the current flows from regenerative braking.
  • Will the Gospel Oak to Barking Line be electrified for regenerative braking? I suspect yes, as some electric locomotives will have regenerative braking in the future.
  • An IPEMU-capability that handled regenerative braking and gave a range of a dozen miles could be easily fitted to a Class 710 train.
  • Two Class 710 trains with an IPEMU-capability could  run a four trains per hour (tph) service on the  Greenford Branch, if this branch became part of London Overground.
  • Two Class 710 trains with an IPEMU-capability could  run a 4 tph service on the  Romford to  Upminster  Line with the reinstatement of a passing loop.
  • Class 710 trains with an IPEMU-capability could use a Hall Farm Curve without electrification to run between Chingford and Walthamstow to Lea Bridge and Stratford.
  • The Class 710 trains will use extended depots at Willesden and Ilford, so being able to be stored and run on lines without electrification could be an advantage.
  • Currently some trains are stabled overnight at Chingford. Would remote wake-up be used?
  • There may be places, where electrification can be simplified, if all trains had an IPEMU-capability.

A possible advantage is that the short extension to Barking Riverside could be built without electrification, as the length is well within the range of a Class 710 train with an IPEMU-capability.

Logic suggests that all Class 710 trains will have some onboard energy storage.


When considering the five- and ten-car trains for Abellio’s East Anglian routes, I think they can be thought of as several separate fleets for different routes.

  • ten-car trains without onboard energy storage.
  • ten-car trains  with enough onboard energy storage to handle regenerative braking, remote wake-up and limited movement without power.
  • five-car trains without onboard energy storage.
  • five-car trains with enough onboard energy storage to handle regenerative braking, remote wake-up and limited movement without power.
  • five-car trains with enough onboard energy storage to handle a 25 mile trip using the onboard energy storage.

I very much believe that because of the regenerative braking, overnight stabling and other issues, that all trains will have at least one MSO car equipped with onboard energy storage.

So we are left with the following train types.

  • ten-car trains  with enough onboard energy storage to handle regenerative braking, remote wake-up and limited movement without power.
  • five-car trains with enough onboard energy storage to handle regenerative braking, remote wake-up and limited movement without power.
  • five-car trains with enough onboard energy storage to handle a 25 mile trip using the onboard energy storage.

This effectively means there is an efficient ten-car train with some onboard energy storage for the following routes.

  • London to Southend
  • London to Clacton
  • London to Colchester
  • London to Ipswich – If still required.

Would the ten-car trains need one set of onboard energy storage or two?

An efficient five-car train with some onboard energy storage could be used on less busy routes.

  • London to Braintree
  • Witham to Braintree. – Shuttle using energy storage.
  • London to Harwich
  • Manningtree to Harwich. – Shuttle using energy storage.
  • London to Walton
  • Thorpe-le-Soken to Walton. – Shuttle using energy storage.
  • Stratford to Bishops Stortford
  • London to Bishops Stortford.
  • London to Hertford East.

What is interesting is that for the Braintree, Harwich and Walton route, the same trains can be used as direct trains to London or a shuttle to the main line station. All these branches probably need a bit of work to accommodate a second train.

Does this mean that all stations on the branch can have a 2 tph service to the main line and a 1 tph service to London?

The following routes will  need a five-car train with enough onboard energy storage for a 25 mile range.

  • Crouch Valley Line
  • Gainsborough Line
  • Felixstowe Branch
  • Cambridge to Ipswich

All services could go to 2 tph if required.

So it would appear that all trains will have at least one set of onboard energy storage and some five-car trains will have two sets to do the longer routes without elerctrification.


I’m fairly certain that all Aventras will use onboard energy storage for the following reasons.

  • If the train is fitted with remote control wake-up, some onboard power is needed to get the train ready.
  • Onboard energy storage allows depots and stabling sidings to be without overhead wires to save costs and increase safety.
  • Onboard energy storage handles the regenerative braking of the train.
  • Onboard energy storage can be used to move a train to safety after overhead line or third rail failure.

Even a small amount of onboard energy storage can move the train a few miles or so.

But if this analysis shows one thing, it is how a philosophy based on a series of standard coaches are just connected  together to create such a variety of trains, for such different purposes.

From the three train fleets ordered so far we have.

  • A  nine-car people carrier for 1,500, that can be any length from seven to ten-cars.
  • A four-car suburban runabout, in two variants with different power and seating.
  • A ten-car fast long distance train, that can take large numbers of commuters to and from work.
  • A five-car version of the ten-car long distance train, for thinner routes.
  • A five-car fast long-distance train, that can also travel independently for perhaps twenty-five milsl.

The Aventra really is true plug and play.








September 2, 2016 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Cambridge North Station

Cambridge North station is being built to serve the North of the city and especially, Cambridge Science Park and other developments in the area.

This Google Map shows the area.

Cambridge Science Park And Cambridge North Station

Cambridge Science Park And Cambridge North Station

Note the Breckland Line between Cambridge and Ely, which cuts across the Eastern side of the map, at a right-angle to the main A14 dual carriageway. The rail line appears to split with a loop on the North West side by a green space. The station will go in this area.

These are pictures, I took from passing trains going to and from Ely.

From the pictures, the following seems to be apparent.

A long island platform is being built to the North West side of the tracks.

There is a lift tower by the car and cycle parks outside of all tracks.

There is a double-track loop that by-passes the platforms.

This is the only plan I can find on the Internet.

Cambridge North Station Pan

Cambridge North Station Pan

I know this about the station.

  • It is proposed to have three platforms according to Wikipedia.
  •  Thameslink will terminate two trains per hour at the station.
  • Most other services will stop at the station as they pass through.

The plan shows the main line going between the platforms, so will the double-platform in the pictures be used as a through platform for Cambridge to Ely trains and the far side as a terminating platform?

Unfortunately, when I returned to Cambridge, there were no seats on the other side of the train.

This article in European Railway Review is entitled New Cambridge North railway station taking shape – set for 2017 launch, has two pictures, which clearly show the second through platform on the South-East side of the tracks.

A few observations.

  • It would appear that to go between the car or cycle park and the trains, you always need to use the bridge.
  • My pictures show that the platforms are very long and will certainly handle the twelve-car Class 700 trains.
  • Passengers from Thameslink needing to go to say Kings Lynn or Norwich, will just walk across the platform to get their onward train.
  • Passengers from Kings Lynn and Norwich wanting to go South on Thameslink would probably change at Cambridge to avoid using the bridge.
  • On the current service pattern the station would only have a one train per hour service to Peterborough.
  • The station has no direct connection to Ipswich or Bury St. Edmunds.

I wonder if there are plans to allow Cambridge North station to act as a terminus for trains from the Ely direction.

Under the new East Anglian Franchise, Abellio are extending their Peterborough to Ipswich service to Colchester and making it hourly.

It is a pity, that this service can’t easily serve Cambridge North station.

This Google Map shows Ely station and the lines going South towards Cambridge.

Ely Station And The Lines To Cambridge And Ipswich

Ely Station And The Lines To Cambridge And Ipswich

Note how the line to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich branches off to the South-East.

If a chord were to be built allowing trains to go between Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds, this would do the following.

  • Allow the Peterborough-Ipswich service to call at Cambridge North, with just a reverse at Cambridge North.
  • Give Cambridge North station a second train in an hour to and from Peterborough.
  • Create a direct hourly service between Cambridge North station and Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich and Colchester.
  • When the East-West Rail Link opens, it would allow freight trains to go between that line and Felixstowe without using the single-tack Ipswich-Cambridge route.

Strangely, it doesn’t appear that this chord has ever existed.

But, I do think it will be seriously considered in the future, with the main reason being the freight route from Felixstowe to the Great Western Railway at Reading.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Hopefully, The First Of The Many!

Transport for London have placed this ticket machine on the island platform 7 and 8 at Stratford station.

A Ticket Machine On Platform 7 And 8 At Stratford Station

A Ticket Machine On Platform 7 And 8 At Stratford Station

Hopefully, it is the First of the Many!

The Germans do it all the time, as this picture, taken at a station in Leipzig shows.

A Ticket Machine On The Platform At Leipzig Markt Station

It is just so convenient.

When I took the picture of the Stratford machine, I was going to Braintree, by using my |Freedom Pass to Shenfield and then buying a ticket to Braintree from Shenfield in the machine there.

But as I had my Shenfield to Braintree ticket before I left Stratford, it was just so much more quicker, not having to go through the barriers at Shenfield station to buy a ticket.

Knowing the way the self loading cargo ducks and dives its way around East London, I think it won’t be long before this machine at Stratford gets used in all sorts of legal ways.

  • Buying a ticket for a train later in the day, or even later in the week, month or year.
  • Buying an extension ticket to a Freedom Pass, Travel Card or even an ordinary ticket.
  • Topping up your  Oyster whilst waiting for a train.
  • Avoiding queues at machines in Booking Halls and busy stations.

I do wonder how many people on seeing the mchine, are reminded to buy a ticket for a future trip.

I don’t know whether the machine at Stratford is an experiment or permanent, but this user would like to see more machines on platforms.

Stratford, is one of the few stations, where you can catch both Underground and National Rail trains. So I suppose, there could be times where passengers get to the station on the Central or JubileeLines with Oyster and want to use main line services to perhaps Colchester, Chelmsford or Southend,  that stop at Stratford.

A ticket machine inside the barriers, avoids the need to go out to buy another.



August 20, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Lincoln’s Tower Bridge

I took these pictures of the new bridge over the railway by one of Lincoln’s notorious level crossings.


  • The bridge may mean that pedestrians can get across easily when the level crossing is closed, but it doesn’t do anything for the vehicles.
  • One of the reasons for the height, is to clear the wires, if the line should be electrified.
  • This article in Rail Engineer describes how it was built.
  • Reportedly, the bridge is the first part of a £12million scheme, which includes a second bridge over another nearby level crossing.

It’s certainly a striking footbridge.


August 3, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Deutsche Bahn’s Idea Of Customer Service

To get back from Leipzig, I had two choices.

  • I could go to Munich and spend the night in a hotel I know by the station and come home in the morning.
  • Or I could go back in one day.

As I had bought a flexible Eurostar ticket for Friday in the early evening, I was thinking about the direct option.

But on Thursday night, I decided to buy my tickets for Brussels with a change at Frankfurt Airport, as I was offered a good value ticket in First Class with reserved seats, for less than it would have cost in Second.

It was probably just as well I bougth the ticket, given what happened in Munich on Friday night.

I ended up with a bundle of tickets on three A4 sheets of paper.

Germany's Idea Of A Ticket To Ride

Germany’s Idea Of A Ticket To Ride

Compare that with my tickets to Liverpool tomorrow.

The UK's Idea Of A Ticket To Ride

The UK’s Idea Of A Ticket To Ride

Just two cards for my wallet with one up and one back.

I should also say, that to buy the German ticket, I had to queue up in a Ticket Office, as the ticket machine wasn’t allowed to sell me the ticket I wanted. Queuing included having to get a compulsory number from a machine, despite the fact there was only a few people waiting.

In the morning, the train left at 06:31, so as I was in First Class, I thought I’d go to the DB Lounge.


But as you can see it wasn’t open. Surely, if trains are running, the lounges should be open.

On the first train, I saw the steward once and didn’t get so much as a complimentary glass of water.

But judging by the emptiness of First Class, it doesn’t appeal to most passengers.

From Frankfurt Airport to Brussels, the second train had more passengers, but I did have to buy myself a Coke.

You get much better service on Chiltern Trains in Standard Class.

And who owns Chiltern?


July 24, 2016 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

My objections to nuclear power plants like Hinckley Point C, is very much like my objections to giant aircraft carriers like HMS Queen Elizabeth,enormous 4×4 Chelsea tractors and massive houses, where one billionaire lives with just his trophy wife.

It’s just that they satisfy the ego of a class of men (and it’s usually men!), who like to show off, that they have more money or power than others.

There are generally much more efficient and affordable ways of achieving the same aims.

As a small example, I remember having a chat with a General in the British Army, who had very low opinions of heavy tanks and felt that there were better ways of spending the money to achieve the same objectives.

I also remember some of the arguments about the aluminium frigates after the Falklands War. A lot of these were amplified, by a friend, who’d gone to the islands as an officer on a British Rail ferry.

This is said about Hinckley Point C in Wikipedia.

Hinkley Point C nuclear power station is a much-delayed proposal to construct a 3,200 MWe nuclear power station with two EPR reactors in Somerset, England. The proposed site is one of eight announced by the British government in 2010,[5] and on 26 November 2012 a nuclear site licence was granted. In October 2014, the European Commission adjusted the “gain-share mechanism” so that the project does not break state-aid rules.[7] Financing for the project will be provided “by the mainly [French] state-owned EDF [and Chinese] state-owned CGN will pay £6bn for one third of it”.[8] EDF may sell up to 15% of their stake. Financing of the project is still to be finalised.

I have a feeling that any sane woman, who’s lived with a man with bad shopping habits, would cancel it tomorrow.

After all, it’s supposed to cost £18billion and there is still no date yet for when it will produce a watt of electricity.

As a reaction to these enormous costs, the Small Modular Nuclear Reactor is being proposed. Wikipedia says this.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are a type of nuclear fission reactor which are smaller than conventional reactors, and manufactured at a plant and brought to a site to be fully constructed.

Small reactors are defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency as those with an electricity output of less than 300 MWe, although general opinion is that anything with an output of less than 500 MWe counts as a small reactor.

Modular reactors allow for less on-site construction, increased containment efficiency, and heightened nuclear materials security.

I recommend reading the full Wikipedia article.

I feel that SMRs have a lot of advantages.

  • Much more of the building can be in a factory, not on a bleak remote site.
  • They are particularly suited to remote locations, where there is a shortage of construction workers.
  • An SMR may be a much less risky project cost-wise than a conventional large plant.
  • Containment is more efficient.
  • Proliferation concerns are lessened.
  • Say you are building a plant that needs a lot of electricity, like say an aluminium smelter. The SMR could be built alongside, so there would be no need for massive transmission lines, between the smelter and its power source.
  • They could be built underground, lessening the visual impact.
  • High energy use industries like steel-making could be paired with an SMR.
  • Large office complexes like Canary Wharf could be linked to an SMR deep underneath for their massive energy use.
  • Build time is much less.

I like the concept and think that this type of reactor, perhaps arranged in groups around a country or region, will kill off the traditional large nuclear reactor.

This section on safety features illustrates the innovative thinking behind the reactors.

Since there are several different ideas for SMRs, there are many different safety features that can be involved. Coolant systems can use natural circulation – convection – so there are no pumps, no moving parts that could break down, and they keep removing decay heat after the reactor shuts down, so that the core doesn’t overheat and melt. Negative temperature coefficients in the moderators and the fuels keep the fission reactions under control, causing the fission reactions to slow down as temperature increases.

I suspect we can now design a reliable reactor, that say it received a direct hit from a tsunami or three simultaneous crashes from Jumbo jets, would fail-safe.

There are certainly a lot of groups and companies trying to design the ultimate SMR.

There is even a concept being developed at the Universities of Manchester and Delft in the Netherlands called a u-Battery. That concept may not work, but something like it will produce electricity for a lot of people and industry around the world.

The dinosaurs like Hinckley Point C are hopefully a mistake of the past.



July 12, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized, World | , | Leave a comment