The Anonymous Widower

CAF Rarely Do The Obvious, But It’s Generally Sound

This article on the BBC is entitled 300 Train Building jobs Created At £30m Newport Centre.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Three hundred “highly-skilled and well paid” engineering jobs will be created when a Spanish train manufacturer opens a production factory in Newport.
Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) is expected to open its £30m centre where Llanwern Steelworks once stood in autumn 2018.

Currently CAF are supplying the following trains and trams for the UK.

The trains alone add up to nearly five hundred vehicles.

If you look at the geography of the sea routes between the Basque Country and the United Kingdom, taking a cargo ship with a few trains to South Wales  is probably not the most difficult or indirect of voyages.

Newport too, is on the South Wales Main Line, which is well connected all over England, by lines that should be electrified and will hopefully be by 2019.

This Google Map shows the Celtic Business Park in relation to Newport and its docks.

The Celtic Business Park is part of the massive rectangular site to the North East of Newport, that is the Llanwern steelworks, which is being downsized. The South Wales Main Line passes along the North side of the site and the map clearly shows access to Newport Docks.

It raises the question that CAF may bring the trains in on their wheels in a specialist train ferry.

I know nothing about how much preparation needs to be performed on a foreign-built train, before it can run on the UK rail network, but it would be expected that just checking the five hundred vehicles must keep quite a few employees busy. I suppose too, that if certain parts of the train were sourced from the UK, that instead of sending them to Spain, they could be fitted in Newport.

It should also be remembered, that Hitachi build their body-shells in Japan and then ship them to Newton Aycliffe for fitting out.

Although, the Welsh and the Basques are two nations with strong cultural ties; rugby included, I think that Newport was chosen with another very practical reason in mind.

In the May 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, Ian Walmsley, wrote an article called Metroland Of My Fathers, which included these  paragraphs.

Back in the November 2013 issue of Modern Railways I raised the possibility of converting the Cardiff network to light rail. I was still working for Porterbrook at the time, which, like other rolling stock companies (ROSCOs), saw the Valleys as a retirement home for its old London commuter trains, so when the proposal met with the response it’s heavy rail and that’s that, I was quite happy.

The local press and BBC Wales showed more interest and now I am delighted to say that Network Rail has the Valley Lines electrification ‘on hold’ pending re-evaluation.

Consider the following.

  • Urbos trams come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
  • Trams are getting better every year at climbing hills.
  • The Urbos family includes the Urbos TT, which is a tram-train.
  • Midland Metro’s trams are being fitted with energy storage using supercapacitors
  • How much marketing advantage for other places, is gained from having Edinburgh and Cardiff on the customer list?
  • Conversion could probably be done on a line-by-line basis.
  • Provision must be made for freight trains on some lines.
  • Cardiff and the Valley Lines were resignalled in the last few years and everything is controlled from Cardiff ROC

But remember that CAF are a very research and design-oriented company.

So what is the likelihood that the Cardiff Valley Lines will be converted to light rail using a CAF product?

I would say pretty high, especially after reading this article in Global Rail News, which is entitled Engineering Firm BWB Consulting Bought By Spanish Giant CAF.

I could see a design of rail vehicle with these features.

  • The ability to work on standard rail track.
  • The ability to give level step-free access to standard height rail station platforms.
  • The ability to use modern railway signalling.
  • The ability to climb steep gradients.
  • The ability to work on both 25 KVAC and 750 VDC overhead.
  • Automatic pantograph raising and lowering.
  • Supercapacitor energy storage.
  • Regenerative braking.

I could see an energy-saving vehicle being designed, that made clever use of the gradients.

Would it be a train or a tram-train?

Increasingly, the difference is getting blurred!

 

 

 

July 13, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Small Electrification Projects

My visit to Abbey Wood station yestetday proved to me that some small electrification projects don’t actually need wires or third rails.

The reversing siding for Crossrail, which is also a link to the North Kent Line, consists of the following new tracks.

  1. A set of points at the Eastern end of Abbey Wood Station to connect the two Crossrail platforms 3 and 4 and allow trains to reverse.
  2. A track to serve as the reversing siding and the link between the two lines. It is probably about 700 metres long.
  3. A set of points to connect the libk to the Down North Kent Line.
  4. A cross-over between the two North Kent Lines.

Only about a fifty metres of the reversing siding around the first setb2qhof points is electrified.

I have been onvinced for some time, that the Barking Riversude Extension will be built without wires, as the project details mention electric trains, but don’t mention electrification.

Aventras also have a remote wake-up caoability, which would allow trains to be parked overnight in sidings without electrication 

July 11, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bimodal Flirting

This sounds like something that goes on in bars, which are friendly to both LGBT and straight people.

But it isn’t.

The innovative Swiss train manufacturer has just unveiled their first bimodal Flirt train in the Aosta area of Italy, where it will enter service.

One of the other places where bomodal flirting will happen is East Anglia, as the trains will serve routes between and from Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich and Nowich.

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Architecture Firm Wants To Turn The London Underground’s Entire Circle Line Into A Three-Lane Travelator

The title of this post is the headline on an article in the Independent.

It is rather an old chestnut and I think it’s been suggested before and even tried out in at Montparnasse station in Paris in 2002.

One of the railway web sites pointed out that the Circle Line in London is also used by District, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Line trains, so it would be rather difficult to design.

But I do think we could do with a few more travelators, escalators and lifts in London.

And in some stations Crossrail and other projects will bring these sorts of improvements sooner rather than later.

The Massive Liverpool Street/Moorgate station for Crossrail

Crossrail will combine the two Underground stations of Liverpool Street and Moorgate.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the two stations.

Note how Crossrail, which is shown in a purpley blue, lies between the two stations, with the Northern Line at the West and the Central Line at the East.

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

Note how escalators lead down at both ends and you can effectively walk between the two stations with assistance from escalators at both ends..

Passengers arriving on Crossrail will be able to get out of the Eastern end of the platforms and access the following lines.

  • Central Line
  • Circle Line
  • Hammersmith and City Line
  • Liverpool Street National Rail services.
  • Metropolitan Line

At the Western end of the platforms, there is access to the following lines.

  • Circle Line
  • Hammersmith and City Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Moorgate National Rail services.
  • Northern Line

Both entrances will be very much within walking distance to a lot of the Northern parts of the City of London.

And all routes inside the complex will be step-free with lots of escalators and lifts.

Regularly, I travel on trains into and out of Liverpool Street station and I often get to and from the station  by walking between the two stations, as I get a bus to and from Moorgate,

When it is raining heavily as it used to in the past, I will be able to use the Crossrail platforms and two long escalators.

When Crossrail is open through this massive station, thousands or even millions  of passengers will change their journeys because of the numerous new routes that will be available.

Paddington

Paddington station will be very much improved interchange.

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

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

In the building of the Crossrail station, a tunnel with full step-free access is being dug under the concourse of the main line station to connect the Bakerloo Line to the Crossrail station. This article in Rail Technology Magazine which is entitled Contract awarded for £40m Bakerloo Line link, gives a lot more details on the tunnel and its building.

I do think that, the techniques used in the building of this tunnel will find applications in other places.

Tottenham Court Road

Tottenham Court Road station will become a double-ended station.

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

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

Note Centre Point at the Eastern end of the complex.

The Eastern end of the platforms will have access to the Central and Northern Lines and numerous entrances in front of Centre Point. Much of this work is now substantially complete.

The Western end of the platforms will have access to  a new entrance on Oxford Street, just North of Soho Square.

As Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road will have a lot more pedestrian access, travelling to the area will be transformed.

Bond Street

Bond Street station will become an enormous double-ended station.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the station and the nearby Oxford Circus station.

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

Note the football pitches, which give an idea of size.

Bond Street station will have an interchange at the Western end with the Central and Jubilee Lines, but it will mainly be a station with entrances all over the place.

I have a feeling that Bond Street will the station of choice for most shoppers going to and from the area in the future.

If you’re using Crossrail, just make sure that you get in the right end of the two hundred metre long trains.

Oxford Circus

No work is planned here at present, although I think the station will suffer collateral benefits from the following projects.

  • The new Eastern entrance to Bond Street station, which will be ideal for John Lewis.
  • The pedestrianisation in the area.
  • Works to improve the Bakerloo Line, prior to its extension to Lewisham.

Oxford Street station needs more passenger capacity and is scheduled to be rebuilt in the next ten years or so.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see that if a block anywhere close to Oxford Circus gets redeveloped, Transport for London will be investigating how to get much-needed lifts to the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines.

I have a feeling that we could see something special at Oxford Circus station.

I wouldn’t discount a travelator connection between Oxford Circus station and the Eastern entrance to Bond Street station.

Bank

After Crossrail, the biggest station project in London is Bank station.

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

This visualisation, shows what the new Bank station will look like.

Bank Tube Station Layout

The development is comprehensive.

  • Two new entrances at Walbrook and Cannon Street.
  • Full step-free access with lots of new lifts and escalators.
  • Two travelators running North-South through the station.
  • A new tunnel for the the Northern Line, with wider platforms.
  • Escalator connection between Central and Northern Lines.
  • Better connection to the Waterloo and City Line and the Docklands Light Railway.

Completion dates look like 2017 for the Walbrook entrance and 2021 for the completed Bank station.

In some ways Bank station can be considered a Crossrail station, that isn’t on Crossrail.

But it is on the route of one of Crossrail’s little helpers; the Central Line.

Travellers will do one of the following.

  • From the Eastern branch of Crossrail,, they will walk across the platform at Stratford station and get the Central Line for a few stops to Bank.
  • From the Western branch of Crossrail, they will change at Tottenham Court Road station and get the Central Line for a few stops to Bank.
  • From any of the three Crossrail branches, they could use the Central or Northern Lines from Liverpool Street/Moorgate for one stop.

I would walk!

I think that this development will have one of the largest effects of any non-Crossrail  transport-related project in London.

I also think that the expansion of Bank station sets a very good precedent.

Both the new Walbrook and Cannon Street entrances are being incorporated into new commercial developments in the area. I know land in the City of London is probably some of the most expensive in the World, but how many improved stations could incorporate housing, retail or commercial development, or perhaps even a hospital.

Victoria

Victoria station is undergoing a major upgrade.

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

Progress has been made with a new entrance on Victoria Street and better connections between the three Underground Lines.

In some ways the biggest triumph at Victoria has been the ability to keep the station working fully, whilst the work is continuing.

A Philosophy For Better Underground Stations

 Common threads goes through all of the Underground stations I’ve detailed.
  • A large number of passengers.
  • More than one line.
  • Development above the station.
  • Innovative tunnelling.
  • Keeping the stations open if possible.

It would also appear that generally the construction companies do a good job and must be accumulating a large amount of knowledge and experience.

So where will they be using their skills next?

A Few Suggestions follow.

One Line Step-Free Stations

This group aren’t Underground stations, in the true sense of the word, but are a collection of Overground, Crossrail and National Rail stations in London that are being updated to full step-free access.

Included are.

Note that Crossrail will mean that twenty-four suburban stations will receive full step-free access.

Network Rail publishes this page on their web site, which is entitled Access For All – A-Z of station improvements.

It gives at least a clue to Network ail’s plans for particular stations.

 

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Scenic Rail In Britain

The Association Of Community Rail Partnerships have put all the scenic rail lines on one web site called Scenic Rail In Britain.

Links to  Heritage Line websites are also included.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

An Appropriate Story For Today

On Page 58, The Times has an article entitled Frictionless Flywheels Hold Balance Of Power.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Flywheels will be used to balance supply and demand on Britain’s electricity grid in a £3.5million project that could help the country to cope with more wind and solar power.

Sophisticated flywheels that can store electricity for long periods of time are to be installed next to the University of Sheffield’s battery storage facility at Willenhall near Wolverhampton, in the first project of its kind in the UK.

By using batteries and flywheels together, this makes a responsive battery that can fill in demand and overcome the degradation problems of lithium-ion batteries.

It looks a promising way of creating an affordable and reliable energy storage system.

Who needs coal? Trumkopf obviously does to buy votes!

In the United States, with its massive mountain ranges, it would be better to create construction jobs by creating hydro-based energy storage systems, as we did in the 1970s at Dinorwig and the Americans, themselves did at Bath County Pumped Storage Station a few years later.

To gauge the size of these plants, Bath County has about the same generating capacity as the UK’s largest power station at Drax, with Dinorwig being about 55% of the size.

Bath County and Dinorwig are big bastards, but their main feature, is the ability to pump water to store the energy.

Energy is like money, the best thing to do with excess is to put it in a secure storage facility.

 

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Metro Development With Flex Trains

The June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways gave a few more details of the Class 319 Flex trains, that are being created for Northern.

  • The trains now have their own TOPS-number of 769, which must be a seal of approval.
  • Northern have ordered eight Class 319 Flex trains as part of or in addition to a fleet of thirty-two Class 319 trains.
  • These eight trains will be delivered by the end of May 2018.
  • A Class 319 Flex train can be produced every two weeks.

It is also likely, that by the end of this year, Network Rail will have completed the following.

  • The Ordsall Chord connecting Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly stations.
  • Electrification between Manchester and Preston.
  • Electrification from Preston to Blackpool North station.
  • Electrification from Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge.

This will mean electric trains like the Class 319 train and bi-mode trains like the Class 319 Flex train, can go between Hazel Grove, Manchester Airport and Stockport to Blackpool North, Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Victoria, Preston and Wigan North Western.

The Class 319 Flex trains using their diesel power will also be able to extend the electric network to Blackburn, Blackpool South, Burnley Manchester Road, Clitheroe, Southport, Stalybridge, Wigan Wallgate and Windermere, without any additional electrification.

There will be benefits for passengers.

  • The Class 319 trains and Class 319 Flex trains will be faster and journey times will be shorter.
  • Services run by elderly two-car trains will now be run by refurbished four-car trains.
  • Most journeys across Manchester will be continuous or with a single same-platform change at a convenient station.

How will various routes be affected?

Cross-Manchester Travel

Cross-City lines revolutionise city travel and the Ordsall Chord will do the same for Manchester.

This map from Wikipedia shows the location of the Ordsall Chord and how it is connected to exotic places like  Bolton, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester Airport, Stockport and Warrington.

Mancunians will have to learn how to use the link, but they won’t take long to do that!

You may be lucky and your journey will be available from your local station.

But if it requires a change, you will probably take a train to the central core stations of Victoria, Deansgate, Oxford Road or Piccadilly and change for your ultimate destination.

  • For many changes, you will just get off one train, wait on the platform for a few minutes and then board another train.
  • Some stations will be better interchanges than others.
  • Platforms 13 and 14 at Piccadilly may be crowded, but they are at least an island platform allowing a change of direction.
  • Platforms at Deansgate and Oxford Road may need widening.
  • Other stations like Salford Crescent and Salford Central will also get used as interchanges.

If there is one problem with the Ordsall Chord, it is the name.

Perhaps it should be called the Mancunian Chord?

Collateral Benefits Of The Ordsall Chord

The nearest railway line in concept to the Ordsall Chord is probably Thameslink in London.

  • As Thameslink has developed, it has not only provided a high-capacity North-South route across London, but it has also taken the pressure from main line stations like London Bridge, St. Pancras and Victoria, by allowing travellers to change to their long distance trains further out.
  • Thmeslink has also been a major factor in improving services to Gatwick Airport.
  • Gatwick Airport is building on its position to be a major rail hub South of London.

Over the years Thameslink has developed and some think in a few years time, Thameslink will be at least, if not more important than Crossrail.

Two things will definitely happen, when the Ordsall Chord opens.

As with Thameslink in London, Northern and Southern routes into the Manchester, will be linked back-to-back, to free up platforms in terminal stations.

Frequencies and capacity on many routes will increase. Stations, that have had a two-car diesel train twice an hour since the days of steam ended, will find they get a four-car electric or bi-mode train at a doubled frequency.

But long-term the Ordsall Chord will have major effects.

  • Towns and areas like Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Chester, Hudderfield, Kirkby, Southport, Warrington and Wigan will have frequent train services to and from the whole of Manchester City Centre and will benefit accordingly.
  • Increased frequencies to Leeds and Liverpool will be easier to arrange.
  • Many travellers going to and from Birmingham, London and the South will change at Stockport rather than Piccadilly.
  • Few trains will reverse direction in Piccadilly.
  • Just as Gatwick Airport has been envigorated by Thameslink, Manchester Airport will become a major rail hub.
  • Will Preston develop into Manchester’s hub station for travellers going North or to Scotland.
  • Access to the tourist areas of North Lancashire, the Peak District and Yorkshire will be improved.

The Ordsall Chord will have such major effects on Manchester, that I could see HS2 plans being changed.

Buxton To Manchester And Clitheroe To Manchester

I will treat these routes together, as I believe they are a natural fit, where back-to-back operation will be beeficial.

  • Both routes are uphill away from Manchester.
  • Both routes need better and faster trains.
  • Both routes need more capacity.
  • Class 319 Flex trains could work both routes without any infrastructure work.

Could Buxton to Clitheroe, with perhaps a two-hourly extension to Hellifield for the Settle and Carlisle Railway create a very valuable tourism asset for the North-West?

In Why Not Buxton To Hellifield?, I looked at the possibilities about running  a direct back-to-back service across Manchester.

I said this.

In some ways the interesting one is the round trip from Buxton to Clitheroe, which allowing ten minutes for each turnround at Clitheroe and Buxton means that the round trip is under four hours.

This means that an hourly Buxton to Clitheroe service would need four trains and two trains per hour would need eight trains.

As the routes to Blackburn and Clitheroe in the North and Hazel Grove and Buxton in the South are very busy, four-car Class 319 Flex trains will be very welcome.

Windermere

Improving the service to Windermere station on the Windermere Branch is a complex problem.

I have been doing some analysis in Is Electrification Of The Windermere Branch Line Really Necessary?

I came to this conclusion.

I think that updating Oxenholme station with a fourth platform and using more powerful trains, would allow the frequency of trains on the Windermere Branch to be increased to one train every thirty minutes.

No electrification of the branchwould be needed.

We will know the answer, when Northern run a Class 319 Flex train in trials to Windermere.

I will not speculate on the timetable, but I’m sure Northern know about how the ideal timetable should look.

Manchester Airport to Huddersfield Via Stalybridge

Electrification to Stalybridge station is running late.

But no matter, as Class 319 Flex trains could fill in for their electric sisters.

Further Routes To The Core

Because they are bi-mode trains, the limitations of which routes can be served using Class 319 Flex trains, will be limited more by the availability of trains than anything else.

Signalling and operational procedures through the core will need to be improved, but a twin-track railway like that can take a frequency of sixteen to twenty tph over the Irwell.

After all, the East London Line has handled those frequencies in a tunnel built by Brunel’s father in the mid-1800s since 2010.

Adding New Routes

I don’t know the rail lines in Manchester at all, but so long as the track and need is there, Class 319 Fle trains can serve any route.

In the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, they are reporting on a plan to reopen six miles of disused railway between Irlam in Salford and Timperley in Trafford.

From the visualisation in the magazine, it looks a spectacular railway, that could provide a direct route between the West of the City and Althincham, Stockport and Manchester Airport.

Adding More Trains

I feel that Manchester will need more trains in a couple of years.

But just as Liverpool found no trouble with funding new custom-built trains for their network, when the time comes for Manchester to increase the fleet size, the city shouldn’t have a problem! Brexit permitting!

At least, if the Ordsall Chord routes are successful, they will define the specification of the new trains.

The simplest plan would see some new four-car electric units added to the fleet to release Class 319 trains for conversion to more Class 319 Flex trains.

Some of these trains could be specially designed airport trains for connecting Manchester Airport to Blackpool, Huddersfield, Liverpool and other places.

At some time in the future, all of the Class 319 trains and Class 319 Flex trains will be replaced, but will they finally see the scrapyard or will they be sent to do missionary work in places like Aberdeen, Bristol, Derby, Exeter, Lincoln, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle and other places.

Conclusion

The Class 319 Flex train may have been designed by Porterbrook and Northern to fill an enormous hole left by Network Rail’s non-performance on electrification, but like its famous predecessor, the InterCity 125 which filled the gap left by the non-performance of the Advanced Passenger Train, I feel it will set new standards in train travel. But this time on predominately urban rather than InterCity routes.

I also feel strongly, that te flexible methods being used in Manchester to develop the rail services could be used elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Cross City Rail Lines

This list of cross-city rail lines is for my own information.

The line must go from one side of the city to another, with at least one stop in the City or Town Centre.

United Kingdom

Birmingham

Brighton

  • East Coastway and West Coastway – West-East through City Centre

Liverpool

London

Northern City Line and Waterloo and City Line go partly under the City Centre, but not across it.

 

May 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | | 5 Comments

A Walk In Bradford City Centre

I like walking in City Centres and Bradford didn’t disappoint.

Little Germany with its collection of Listed buildings was certainly a surprise.

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

The Subway Is Finally Exposed

These pictures show the subway and a few other things at Hackney Wick station.

It looks to my untrained eye, that now, the builders can get on with putting in the stairs and lifts and then fit out the station ready for opening.

This visualisation shows how the station will look on completion.

Hackney Wick Station South Elevstion

I do hope they leave the approach to the station clear, as in the visualisation.

April 20, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment