I like walking in City Centres and Bradford didn’t disappoint.
Little Germany with its collection of Listed buildings was certainly a surprise.
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.
I do hope they leave the approach to the station clear, as in the visualisation.
Various factors come into this anaysis and I’ll detail them first.
Merseyrail’s New Trains
- The trains will have regenerative braking.
- The trains will weight in at 99 tonnes.
- The trains will have a capacity of 486 passengers.
- The trains are four cars and 64 metres long.
It should also be noted that the current trains have a maximum speed of 121 kph, although the Northern Line has a maximum speed of 97 kph and the Wirral Line one of 110 kph.
I also suspect that the trains will be pretty good aerodynamically, as most modern trains are. My linked article quotes an energy saving of twenty per cent.
Merseyrail’s tunnels date from the Loop and Link Project of the 1970s, where the three electrified lines coming into Liverpool, were connected together.
- The Loop Line allows trains from the other side of the Mersey to access four stations in Central Liverpool and gave a substantial capacity increase.
- The Link Line joined the Northern suburban lines to Kirkby, Ormskirk and Southport to the Southern suburban line to Hunts Cross.
Currently, the Loop Line is having a major upgrade with slab track and other goodies and if it is not to the same standard, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Link Line improved as well.
I suspect that when the work is finished, Merseyrail’s tunnels will not offer much resistance to the trains passing through.
If the new trains use regenerative braking with batteries, there is one big advantage in the tunnels.
Some braking energy is stored on the train and used to accelerate the train when needed. So hopefully, the flow of electricity between track and train is reduced, which means less heat generation in the tunnel as the currents flow through to and from the train.
Let’s assume that a train running at line speed in a tunnel has X KwH of kinetic energy. For a stop, this energy must be absorbed by the regenerative brakes and turned into electrical energy. It won’t be 100 % of the energy but I suspect that with modern systems it could be as high as 80%. Batteries are an efficient way to store this energy and I suspect, with the best systems, virtually every KwH you put in the battery can be retrieved later, if the battery is large enough.
Unlike Manchester, Liverpool is not surrounded by hills, so I would expect that most of the lines have fairly gentle gradients.
These are a few altitudes.
- Aintree – 13 m.
- Chester – 32 m.
- Garston – 23 m.
- Hunts Cross – 40 m.
- John Lennon Airport – 24 m.
- Kirkby – 26 m.
- New Brighton – 43 m.
- Ormskirk – 52 m.
- Southport – 6 m.
- West Kirby – 9 m.
These examples, show that the network is not an arduous one. I suspect that the lowest part of the network is in the tunnels under Liverpool. Judging by the escalator lengths, I suspect it could be around thirty metres below ground.
Kinetic Energy Of A Full Train
The mass of a train is 99 tonnes plus say 70 kg for each of 486 passengers.
This gives a mass of 133 tonnes for the fully-loaded train.
Suppose it is travelling at 100 kph.
This gives a kinetic energy of 51.3 MJ.
Or converting that to everyday units we get 14.25 KwH.
As a typical transport battery for somethig like a hybrid bus is around 75 KwH, I would think that such a battery could handle regenerative braking on the trains with ease.
How Far Could A Train Run On Batteries Away From Electrification?
This is a bit like asking the old question about how long is a piece of string.
Merseyrail’s lines are generally fairly flat and if the trains have regenerative braking with batteries, I suspect the range could be longer than expected.
Other factors will also affect the range.
- Driving aids.
- Wheel-slip protection.
- Good driving.
- The weather.
- Accurately-positin slab track.
I also think the range on batteries will be deliberately restricted to a conservative distance, as running out of energy, would not be tolerated.
I would also expect the achievable range to get longer, as the operator and its drivers, learn how to conserve energy.
According to Al Gore, drought in Syria was one of the causes of refugees flooding to the EU.
It’s an interrsting thought!
I was drawn to write this post, by this article in Construction News, which is entitled Network Rail and Moorside nuclear power plant developer Nugen are putting together a business case for rail investment in Cumbria that could be worth as much as £400m.
four hundred million pounds could buy a lot of rail infrastructure.
But where exactly is Moorside?
This map was taken from the Our Site page on the NuGen web site, showsthe Moorside site outlined in red.
Note the development with the yellow-shaded areas to the South-East of the red-lined area. This is Sellafield.
And this is a Google Map of the coast around the nuclear reprocessing complex.
All three stations are on the Cumbrian Coast Line, which in addition to the passenger service, is used to transport freight, including nuclear waste to and from Sellafield.
Overlaying the NuGen map on the Coogle Map shows that Moorside will be to the North-West of Sellafield.
The Cumbrian Coast Line and the related Furness Line curve around Cumbria from Carlisle to Carnforth via Workington, Whitehaven, Sellafield and Barrow-in-Furness.
- The line is mainly double track, but with sections of single-track.
- The line is not electrified.
- Most of the trains are elderly diesels.
- The train service is vaguely hourly, but patchy in places.
The nuclear power complex is a ten billion pound project and will require large amounts of heavy equipment and construction materials to be transported the site. Also on a daily basis, large numbers of engineers and construction workers wilol need to get to one of the largest construction sites in the North of England.
Is Network Rail’s £400 million proposed vdevelopment, a reconstruction of the Cumbrian Coast and Furness Lines to the following standard.
- Double track.
- 100 mph line speed where possible.
- Build a new station at Moorside and any other places, where they are needed.
- Step-free stations
- At least two trains per hour in both directions.
- Full wi-fi and 4G on all trains and in stations.
Upgraded to a high standard, it might do more than help construction at Moorside and Sellafield and those that work in the two complexes.
- It might increase quality tourism.
- It could be a diversion route for the West Coast Main Line.
- It might make a London service to Barrow-in-Firness via HS2 a possibility.
Network Rail’s project could do a lot more than service the twin nuclear sites.
I explored the Cumbrian Coast Line in April 2015.
Marlborough once had a pair of stations, as this map of the railways in the town shows.
Note the various stations in an area, where Marlborough the largest town has a population of 8,395.
This railway map shows the important Reading to Taunton Line that passes to the South of Marlborough. This Google Map shows that line as it crosses the A346 road.
- The Reading to Taunton Line crossing the map in an East-West direction, generally following the Kennett and Avon Canal.
- Marlborough is to the North
- Pewsey station is to the West.
- Bedwyn station is to the East.
- Savenake Low Level station used to be somewhere to the South of what look like yellow field of Rape.
- The small town of Biurbage is to the South.
There would also appear to be tracks of disused railways leading North-Westerly from Bedwyn towards Marlborough.
If Marlborough and the surrounding area were to be given a better rail connection, I would think that a possible solution would be a parkway station, perhaps where the A346 crosses the railway and the canal.
It should be born in mind, that modern trains are designed to perform fast stops at stations, so the extra station at Marlborough would not be the time penalty, it was a few years ago.
Transition Marlborough’s Proposal
But a local action group called Transition Marlborough have their own plans for a Marlborough Rail Link, which as this graphic shows are more ambitious.
Their plans would involve restoring and electrifying the line to Marlborough, where a well-positioned station will be built.
These are my initial thoughts.
- The route of the line appears feasible.
- Electrification may be a problem given Network Rail’s expertise in this area.
- Bedwyn would not appear to be the best terminus for a line to London.
- I’ve not been to Bedwyn station, but I suspect it could be a bleak place in some kinds of weather.
After I wrote this list, a kind soul in the area sent me this message.
You’ll find that Bedwyn station is a pretty bleak place, especially in Winter. To reach it by road from Marlborough involves a 7.5 mile road trip, at least 3 miles of which is on an unmarked road through a forest. Bedwyn station is almost inaccessible for people without cars, as the connecting bus service is poor and unreliable.
My Version Of The Proposal
I think the best solution could be to create a single-track railway without electrification to a simple station with adequate parking at the proposed Salisbury Road Business Park location.
The distance between Reading and Marlborough by train would be about 37 miles. Network Rail’s plans to electrify the line between Reading and Bedwyn are probably best described as fluid, but I suspect that electrification to Newbury could be possible, which would mean that only twenty miles between Paddington and Marlborough would be unwired.
So this would mean that when inevitably an electric train with onboard energy storage has a range of forty miles, Marlborough could get a modern electric service to and from Paddington.
The advantages of this strategy are as follows.
- No ugly overhead catenary marching across the country.
- Work would only include restoring a single track railway and building a simple no-frills station at Marlborough.
- Marlborough station would not have any electrification and could be designed like a tram stop.
- Fast Environmentally-friendly electric trains to and from Reading and Paddington.
- The route would be designed for six-car trains in case Marlborough College put on a free concert featuring the Rolling Stones.
- The route could be designed to allow two trains per hour (tph), as opposed to the current one tph service to and from Bedwyn.
- Marlborough to Paddington would have a maximum time of around 80 minutes.
But the biggest advantage is that the scheme is that it could be affordable.
This article on the BBC is entitled Marlborough £30m railway line restoration plan.
If this branch line is developed as I believe Network Rail are now thinking, there could be money left over for a good launch party!
With the next generation of electric train with onboard energy storage or IPEMUs, a Marlborough station on a new Marlborough Branch Line can be used to create a two tph service to and from Paddington to replace the current one tph service from Bedwyn.
So a new Marlborough station would be a win for all those using stations on the Reading to Taunton Line to the East of Pewsey.
I also wonder how many other similar services can be developed by extending a service past a main line terminal to a new or reopened branch line, which is built without electrification and run using trains with onboard energy storage.
This article in Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail awards Carillion £49m Shotts electrification contract.
This is the first two paragraphs.
Network Rail has agreed a contract with Carillion Powerlines Ltd to deliver the electrification of the Shotts Line between Holytown Junction and Midcalder Junction.
The £49m contract will see the delivery of 74km of electrified railway as part of the Scottish government’s wider £169m investment in the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Electrification of The Schotts Line will provide a fourth electrified line between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
From hundreds of miles to the South, it looks a good choice.
- The route is effectively in three sections, with only the central section between Holytown Junction and Midcalder Junction, needing to be wired.
- The bridges that need to be raised are already being worked on.
- The route goes to Glasgow Central rather than Glasgow Queen Street.
- The Class 385 trains needed are already being built in Newtown Aycliffe.
It certainly seems that the planning of electrification in the Scottish Lowlands is being better managed that that on the Great Western Railway.
I took these pictures of the station and the nearby bridge, this morning.
- The station is a tidy station, with shelters and information.
- There are gentle steps up and down from the nearby road bridge to access the two platforms.
- The station fits the current two-car Class 156 train, that works the branch.
I’ve seen far worse stations on my travels around the UK.
The Current Service
Two trains could provide a four tph service.
In an ideal world, the branch would be electrified.
- There is occasional freight traffic.
- It might serve as a diversion route.
- It might be a way of serving Old Oak Common station and the nearby depots.
- Crossrail will increase the number of passengers on the branch.
But to electrify the area around Drayton Green station could be expensive.
I’m no expert, but it does strike me, that not only is the bridge rather low, but also the parapets of the bridge certainly are.
So I suspect that electrification of the branch meeting all the regulations, would need an expensive new bridge, which would need several months of closure, with the resulting inconvenience to passengers.
But there is an alternative for passengers and that is to use electric trains with onboard energy storage to work the line.
- Greenford station is electrified with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
- West Ealing station is electrified with 25 KVAC electrification.
- Out and back is only 5.4 miles.
Or the current Class 156 train could continue until it fell to pieces.
As the branch is not busy, two two-car trains delivering a 4 tph service could be sufficient for some years.
But I very much feel that the operator and the passengers would prefer an modern electric train.
I took this picture from a passing train, of the prototype Class 345 train at Ilford today.
I have a feeling it was only sticking out, as the train is too long to get inside the existing depot!
This Google Map shows the location of the station.
Some things surprised me at Bidston station.
- The station had the feeling of a rural junction in deepest Lincolnshire or Devon, rather than one a few miles from the centre of one of the UK’s biggest cities.
- When the train arrived from Wrexham it was much busier than I expected.
- The junction between the two lines was laid out in lots of space.
- The state of the station, which considering its location was very good with a large waiting room.
I could also understand, why various bodies say that the Borderlans Line could be run by trains with an IPEMU capability or to put it simply – on-board energy storage or batteries. Wikipedia says this under Proposed Battery Trains for the line.
A trial of a converted Electrostar train using energy from overhead wires and batteries when on non-electrified sections of track was undertaken in January and February 2015 on the Mayflower line. The train can travel up to 60 miles on energy stored in the batteries also recharging the batteries via the overhead-wires when on electrified track, at stations and via brake regeneration. A month later in March 2015, the introduction of battery powered trains was proposed for the Borderlands line by Network Rail.
The document suggested that consideration had been given to electrification and to running services further into Birkenhead ceasing termination at Bidston for greater connectivity. However these options were expressed as offering low value for money. They proposed that using battery powered rolling stock precluding full electrification of the line, providing a cheaper method of increasing connectivity into the electrified Birkenhead and Liverpool sections of the Wirral line. From the document:
“In the longer term, potential deployment of rolling stock with the ability to operate on battery power for part of their journey may provide the ability in an affordable manner to improve the service offering between the Wrexham – Bidston route and Liverpool.
Trains could operate on batteries on unelectrified sections of the track and take power from an electric pick-up on the electrified sections. Adoption of these types of trains would preclude full line electrification.
My thoughts on this are as follows.
Obviously, I only looked at Bidston station, but it would appear that except for perhaps signalling and electrificastion changes, that the station could accept trains with an IPEMU-capability tomorrow.
For instance, there would need to be electrification for some distance down the Borderlands Line, so that a train arriving from that direction with low batteries, wou;dn’t get stalled, if another train had failed in the station.
I don’t know the answer, but as Merseyrail is an island of third-rail electrification, Merseyrail are probably capable of calling on competent third-rail experts, either in-house or from a regional contractor.
Plans exist for new stations on the line.
Whether the line is fully-electrified or served by trains with an IPEMU-capability is irrelevant, with stations probably being designed to be suitable for either.
One suggestion is for a new station at Woodchurch close to Junction 3 of the M53.
This Google Map shows the motorway junction.
Note how, the Motorway and the Borderlands Line go either side of the North Cheshire Trading Estate.
There is also plans for a station at Deeside Industrial Park, which looks like it could have a railway line already.
This Google Map shows the area.
Note Hawarden Bridge station on the other side of the River Dee, which is also on the Borderlands Line.
Capacity In Liverpool On The Wirral Line
The single-track loop of the Wirral Line under Liverpool, that serves James Street, Moorfields, Lime Street, Central and James Street agin, is soon to be relaid with new track to go along with its recently-refurbished station, that can handle two three-car Class 508 trains, running as a six-car unit.
With modern signalling, it would probably have a limit of upwards of twenty trains per hour (tph), giving a train under the Mersey in both directions at least every three minutes.
Currently, the service on the Wirral Line includes.
- 4 tph to Chester
- 2 tph to Ellesmere Port
- 4 tph to New Brighton
- 4 tph to West Kirby
Capacity seems to be adjusted to that needed by running a mixture of three and six-car trains.
But there is undoubtedly spare capacity in Liverpool’s loop of stations.
And if more capacity is needed between Birkenhead and Liverpool, then running extra trains to new destinations on the West side of the Mersey is a simple way to increase it.
Wrexham would be an ideal destination, especially if at least two tph were provided on the route.
There would appear to be a few freight trains, but none of a high frequency.
Wrexham to Liverpool Timings
Currently Wrexham Central to Bidston takes a couple of minutes over the hour. West Kirby trains, also take 34 minutes to go from Bidston round the loop under Liverpool
So this would probably mean that if you got the timings right, you could get from Wrexham Central to Liverpool Lime Street in about eighty minutes.
As Chester to Liverpool Central takes forty-one minutes, eighty minutes is rather slow between Wrexham and Liverpool.
So could electric trains do the route in under the hour?
If the line was fully electrified, judging on the Chester timings, that this is certainly the case.
Trains Needed Between Liverpool And Wrexham
As the round trip to and from Liverpool would probably take two hours, it would appear that two trains would be needed to provide an hourly service, with four trains nbeeded for 2 tph.
As there is a short platform at Wrexham Central station, trains would probably have a maximum length of three-cars.
Wrexham Central to Bidston stations, is about thirty miles, so based on Bombardier’s rumoured figures of sixty kilometres a charge, going out and back to Wrexham might be a bit on the long side.
So I wouldn’t be surprised to see the single-track line between Wrexham General and Wrexham Central stations given third-rail electrification, to make sure that trains with an IPEMU-capability can work the line.
If extra stations are added to the Borderlands Line and Shotton station is rebuilt as an interchange with North Wales, I could see that the extra cost of third-rail electrification to Shotton would have a high value.
As Shotton is only about twenty miles from Wrexham, it might be possible to bridge the gap between Shotton and Wrexham using onboard power.
This is said about electrification costs of the Borderlands Line in Wikipedia.
Network Rail’s conclusion was that full line electrification is only feasible if it could be delivered for less than £100,000 for each km per single track. The twin track line would be £200,000 per line km, giving a total figure of £8.7 million, which is far below the estimate of full line electrification of £66 million. Another consideration is whether a new pattern of service delivers significant net benefits.
The new Stadler trains being purchased for MerseyRail are costing £460 million for 52 trains, according to this article in the Railway Gazette, which works out at about nine million pounds a train.
So if two trains are needed to provide an hourly service to Wrexham, the cost of the extra trains will be significant.
The Railway Gazette article also says this about the trains.
At 99 tonnes, the EMUs will be lighter than the current 105 tonne trains, and energy consumption is expected to be 20% lower, including regenerative braking; options for energy storage are to be studied.
The 750 V DC third-rail EMUs will be capable of conversion to dual-voltage operation for use on 25 kV 50 Hz lines with a view to serving Skelmersdale, Warrington and Wrexham in the longer term.
So I suspect, it’s put up the money and take your choice.
It would certainly be possible to electrify the Borderlands Line either using third-rail or overhead and I’m certain that any prudent transport authority would go for an optimal solution, especially as extending to Wrexhan will need extra trains.
I could see an holistic solution being applied to the Boasderlands Line.
- At least two tph to Wrexham Central station.
- New stations at Beechwood, Deeside Industrial Park and Woodchurch.
- A rebuilt Shotton station.
- Partial third-rail electrification.
- Use of onboard energy storage to power trains on lines without electrification.
As it would be a project, where benefits were to both Merseyside and North Wales, funding would probably have several options.