The Anonymous Widower

Fuel Cell Train To Be Tested In The Netherlands

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A Coradia iLint hydrogen fuel-cell multiple-unit is to be tested on the Groningen – Leeuwarden line after an agreement was signed at the Klimaattop Noord NL climate summit by manufacturer Alstom, the province of Groningen, local operator Arriva, infrastructure manager ProRail and energy company Engie.

You can get a flavour of some of the Dutch railways in the area from The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands.

Hydrogen powered trains are also part of the future plans for the use of hydrogen, which I wrote about in The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen.

The Railway Gazette article gives more details on how they will be introducing low carbon trains in the network around Groningen and the wider Netherlands.

These general points are made.

  • The Netherlands has nearly a thousand kilometres of lines without electrification.
  • Alstom has forty-one orders for their hydrogen-powered Coradia iLints.

They will also be refurbishing the 51 Stadler GTW trains in the area.

The main improvement, is that they will be fitted with batteries to handle regenerative braking and cut their carbon footprint.

The Railway Gazette article also says this.

A further 18 new Stadler Wink trainsets have been ordered which will be able use overhead electrification or hydrotreated vegetable oil fuel, with batteries for regenerated braking energy. These will be designed so that their engines can be replaced with larger batteries when the planned 1·5 kV DC discontinuous electrification of the routes is completed.

The Stadler Wink appears to be the another train from the Flirt family, which is the successor to the GTW.

The Dutch seem to be moving very firmly towards a zero-carbon railway in the North.

Collateral Benefits For The UK

What areas of the UK would be ideal places to adopt a similar philosophy to that which the Dutch are using in the North of the Netherlands?

I think they will be areas, where there are lots of zero carbon electricity, railways without electrification and terrain that’s not to challenging.

These areas come to mind.

  • East Anglia
  • Lincolnshire
  • East Yorkshire
  • Far North and North East Scotland.

Note.

    1. The only electrification in these areas is the main lines to Norwich and Cambridge in East Anglia.
    2. All areas have Gigawatts of offshore wind farms either operating or under development.
    3. Vivarail are proposing to run battery-electric trains between Wick and Turso, as I wrote about in Is This The Most Unusual Idea For A New Railway Service in The UK?
    4. With the exception of East Yorkshire, the train operating company is Abellio, who are Dutch railways, by another name.
    5. East Anglia is already using Stadler Flirt Class 755 trains, that can be fitted with batteries.

I also believe that Hitachi will soon be providing battery-electric versions of their AT300 trains. I wrote about this in Thoughts On The Next Generation Of Hitachi High Speed Trains.

Battery electric AT300 trains could provide long distance services to the areas I listed.

Conclusion

What is happening in the North of the Netherlands, will be watched with interest in the UK.

 

November 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leicester Station – 11th July 2019

I took these pictures at Leicester station today.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Long Straight Platforms

The two main platforms for trains to and from London are long and straight and can easily accommodate the longest trains that do or will use the station.

Wide Spacious Platforms

The two island platforms are wide and spacious.

In my time at the station, I didn’t see any trains use the outer platforms and I do wonder if the station is used to the maximum capacity allowed by the layout.

The Station Could Have More Trains And Be A Better Interchange

When you arrive at Ipswich station on a fast train from London, one of the half-hourly services has an easy connection to either Bury St. Edmunds and Cambridge, Felixstowe, Lowestoft and/or Peterborough. and staff and information screens are there to speed you on your way.

Leicester station doesn’t seem to welcome you to continue your journey elsewhere

Abellio And Ipswich Station

Abellio with their new trains and timetable, will be increasing frequencies, so that Suffolk’s County Town with a population of 133,000, will have the following services.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) to Bury St. Edmunds. – Doubled from current.
  • One tph to Cambridge – A second hourly service will be available with a change at Ely.
  • One tph to Felixstowe – Might be doubled, now thst the Felixstowe branch has more capacity.
  • Three-four tph to London – Faster and up from two expresses and a stopping train per hour.
  • One tph to Lowestoft – Better timetable and faster.
  • Three tph to Norwich – Up from two tph
  • One tph to Peterborough – Doubled from current one train per two hours.

The creation of the East-West Rail Link will see a doubling of the service to Cambridge and one train per two hours to Oxford.

Applying Abellio’s East Anglian Rules To Leicester

Leicester is a city and County Town, with a population of 330,000.

These appear to be the current services.

  • Two tph to Birmingham
  • One tph to Cambridge, Peterborough and Stansted Airport
  • Two tph to Derby
  • One tph to Lincoln – Stopping train via Loughborough and East Midlands Parkway.
  • Four tph to London
  • Two tph to Nottingham
  • Two tph to Sheffield

Leicester doesn’t seem to have the sort of train service the City deserves.

This is the London, Ipswich and Norwich philosophy as proposed by Abellio and in the process of being delivered.

  • New maximum-length and maximum-speed high-capacity Class 745 trains will provide more seats on the route.
  • A fifty per-cent increase in train frequency from two tph to three tph.
  • Four express services per day, only stopping at Ipswich, have been introduced, giving a ninety minute service between London and Norwich.
  • Four trains per day between Lowestoft and London.

What would a similar philosophy for London Midland Main Line, look like at Leicester?

  • Three tph to Derby, Chesterfield and Sheffield.
  • Six tph to London
  • Three tph to Nottingham
  • All trains would be maximum-length with a capacity at least similar to a 2+8 HST.
  • Greater Anglia’s Class 745 trains will have 757 seats in two classes and a buffet. Expect a similar specification on the Midland Main Line.
  • Services will be faster, with I suspect no trains taking longer than an hour from Leicester to London or Sheffield.
  • Could there be a couple of non-stop trains every hour between London and Leicester?

This service would be a lot better and it only needs.

  • An extra tph between London and Sheffield via Derby and Chesterfield
  • An extra tph between London and Nottingham.
  • Enough new maximum-length trains, which will probably be bi-mode trains, that are scheduled to arrive in 2022.

Four tph between London and Sheffield and London and Nottingham would surely be the ideal, but there just isn’t the capacity to the South of Kettering and in St. Pancras station.

So will we see extra services on the Midland Main Line to boost services North of Leicester?

  • One tph between Leicester and Sheffield via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby and Chesterfield.
  • One tph between Leicester and Sheffield via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway, Ilkeston, Langley Mill, Alfreton and Chesterfield.
  • One tph between Leicester and Nottingham via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway and Beeston.
  • The one tph Leicester to Lincoln service could also be included.

The services would be as follows.

  • Trains would probably be shorter versions of the maximum-length bi-mode Midland Main Line trains.
  • They would use the outer platforms at Leicester station to give cross-platform interchange with the frequent London trains.
  • Services could possibly be extended past Sheffield to Leeds and past Nottinghm to Newark or Lincoln.

Leicester’s excellent platform design would see an increase in the number of trains and hopefully passengers.

Leicester And East-West Services

I also think, that there is sufficient capacity in Leicester station to add the following East-West services.

  • Four tph to Birmingham
  • Four tph to Cambridge
  • Four tph to Peterborough

The following should be noted.

  • Abellio has a substantial interest in all three stations and Leicester.
  • The routes are often run by two-car Class 170 trains.
  • The trains are often full.
  • There is only short sections of lines that are electrified.

I believe that there should be the  following service between Birmingham and Cambridge.

  • Four tph
  • At least four-car bi-mode trains.
  • At least a 100 mph capability.
  • Stops would include Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March and Ely.
  • At the Birmingham end, services could go via Birmingham International and Coventry.
  • At the Cambridge end. perhaps two tph could be extended to Audley End and Stansted Airport.
  • At Leicester there would be an easy interchange to London, the East Midlands and Sheffield.
  • At Peterborough, there would be an easy interchange to London, Leeds, Newcastle and Scotland

It could be argued that if there is a need for a Cambridge and Oxford rail link, then Britain’s fastest growing high-technology hub, needs to have a high quality rail link to Birmingham via Leicester, Coventry and Birmingham International.

One overcrowded hourly two-car diesel train is not suitable for this important rail route.

Currently, trains take two hours forty-five minutes between Birmingham and Cambridge, which means with a fifteen minute turnround at either end, twenty-four trains would be needed for the service.

So it is probably not feasible, but I suspect it could be an aspiration for Abellio.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abellio try to take over the Birmingham and Stansted Airport service from CrossCountry.
  • Greater Anglia’s four-car Class 755 trains would double the capacity and be able to use electrification at both ends of the route.
  • Greater Anglia have a few spare Class 755 trains, so is this takeover in their ambitions.
  • Would the service be easier for Abellio to run, than CrossCountry?

This is a service to watch over the next couple of years.

Class 755 Trains In The East Midlands

I also suspect that Class 755 trains could be in Abellio’s plans for the East Midlands. Lincolnshire’s railways are little different to those of East Anglia.

The Bridges At The Southern End Of The Station

An East Midlands Trains driver told me, that one of the problems of electrifying through Leicester station with 25 KVAC overhead wires, is that the bridges at the Southern end of the station are a problem.

The general impression, I got was that the structure under the bridges is so complicated, that there would need to be a massive reconstruction of the railway.

So if this meant that the railway had to be closed for a number of months, is this the reason for only electrifying as far as Market Harborough?

Surely, if the Midland Main Line is only to be partly-electrified, then Leicester would surely be a better changeover point.

Charging Battery Electric Trains

In The Mathematics Of Fast-Charging Battery Trains Using Third-Rail Electrification, I showed how a third-rail-based fast charging sstem, like that proposed by Vivarail could transfer several hundred kWh to the batteries of a train stopped in the station, for a few minutes.

Leicester station with the two tracks between widely-spaced platforms with a gap between the tracks, would be an ideal location for such a charging system.

  • The two third-rail would be laid together between the two tracks.
  • The third-rails could be shielded, but as they would only be live with a train on the top, would it be necessary?
  • The driver would only need to stop the train in the correct position, but they do that anyway.

In a three minute contact between the train and the third-rail, I believe it would be possible to transfer up to 200 kWh to the batteries of the train.

Conclusion

Leicester station is a station, that suits the ambitions of the City.

But the unimaginative train service as provided by Stagecoach, is very fourth-rate and has left Abellio with a lot of scope to improve the train service throughout the East Midlands.

Stagecoach have only themselves to blame for losing the franchise.

 

 

 

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

East Midlands Railway’s New Look

The title of this post, is the same as a short article in Issue 882 of Rail Magazine.

What is interesting, is that it shows a visualisation of a Class 360 train in the new livery.

In Abellio East Midlands Railway’s Plans For London And Corby, I came to this conclusion.

I wouldn’t be surprised, if East Midlands Railway brought in Class 379 or Class 360 trains as a stop-gap and replaced them with electric versions of the bi-modes in 2022.

The best solution would be to obtain three twelve-car all-electric versions of the bi-modes by December 2020, to run the initial service.

Hitachi has a 125 mph electric Class 801 train and a 125 mph bi-mode Class 802 train.
Stadler has a 125 mph electric version of Greater Anglia’s Class 745 train and I suspect a compatible 125 mph bi-mode train.
Bombardier are working on a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra and have been quoted as saying Aventras can be stretched to 125 mph.

It will be interesting to see what trains East Midlands Railway chooses.

By showing, a Class 360 train in their new livery, are they attempting to do one or all of the following.

  • Get better terms for the nine interim trains they may need.
  • Get better terms and earlier delivery for enough new twelve-car electric trains to run a 125 mph service between London and Corby.
  • Trying to get better terms with the leasing companies to take back Class 379 and Class 360 trains, currently at Greater Anglia.

The Dutch can be tough negotiators.

July 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

First Stadler FLIRT Train Receives Approval To Enter UK Service

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Global Railway Review.

This is the first paragraph.

The British railway regulatory authority, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), has granted Stadler approval for the 24 four-car bimodal FLIRT (BMU) for Greater Anglia. For Stadler, this is an important milestone in the project. It is the first FLIRT in the UK to receive an authorisation for placing the train into service (APIS). The test runs with the train for use in the UK only began at the beginning of 2019. Thanks to the excellent cooperation between Greater Anglia, Abellio, Rock Rail, Stadler and the authorities, the approval was obtained in record time.

It does make a change for a train to be able to enter service without too much trouble.

I do think that Stadler, Abellio and Greater Anglia have had a few advantages.

  • These are the second fleet of Stadler bi-more FLIRTs, but could be the first to enter service.
  • The electrified route between Norwich and Diss has been able to be used as a dedicated 100 mph test rtrack during the night, when no scheduled services are running.
  • The trains are based at Crown Point depot, close to the Northern end of the test route.
  • Abellio run fleets of FLIRTs in The Netherlands.

There also doesn’t appear to have been any major problems to delay the testing.

From reports in the local daily newspapers, it also appears that staff are fully behind these new trains and enthusiastic about their arrival.

 

June 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Why Are Abellio Starting Norwich-in-Ninety With Class 755 Trains?

At the May timetable change Abellio Greater Anglia will be running four trains per day between London and Norwich in ninety minutes.

I have read that this is possible with the current Class 90 locomotive /Mark 3 coach train sets and that is a fall-back position.

I was also told by a former employee of Greater Anglia, that one night, he was a passenger between Norwich station and Illford depot in an empty Class 321 train, that achieved an incredible time.

So why take the risk with untried Class 755 trains on the first day of the new timetable?

  • Abellio must be very sure that the trains will perform, as they say in the brochure.
  • They also know all the publicity that running new trains will bring.

But could Abellio just want to check the public’s reaction to these trains with effectively a locomotive in the middle, before they decide on the 125 mph bi-mode trains for the Midland Main Line?

I don’t believe that building a 125 mph version of Class 755 train would be beyond the bounds of possibility.

The Weight Of A Class 755 Train

I haven’t been able to do my energy calculation for a Class 755 train, as I can’t find the weight of a Class 755 train on the Internet.

However, I can estimate the weight of a four-car Class 755/4 train from the Stadler data sheet for the train.

This gives the following.

  • Mean Acceleration Electric (0-40 mph) – 1.1 metres/second squared
  • Maximum traction – 200 kN
  • 202 seats and 27 tip-up seats

I think it is reasonable to assume that the acceleration rate is for a train with a typical load of passengers.

Using Omni’s Acceleration Calculator, this gives a time of 16.256 seconds to accelerate from 0-40 mph.

Then putting this time into Omni’s Newton’s Second Law Calculator, gives a train mass of 181.8 tonnes.

As passengers can weigh around twenty tonnes, if they weigh 90 Kg each, with baggage, bikes and buggies, I would estimate that an empty Class 755/4 train weighs around 160-170 tonnes.

By comparison.

I don’t think a figure of 160-170 tonnes is out of line, with a figure of 180 tonnes for a typical loaded train.

Remember too, that these trains are Stadler FLIRTs, where FLIRT is Fast Light Intercity and Regional Train.

Applying Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, gives these figures for the kinetic energy of a train.

  • 90 mph – 40 kWh
  • 100 mph – 50 kWh
  • 125 mph – 78 kWh

As some electric FLIRTs can nun at 125 mph, I believe that a bi-mode FLIRT, based on the Class 755 train could be designed with these characteristics.

  • 125 mph on electric power
  • 125 mph on diesel power

Acceleration on diesel to 125 mph would probably be the biggest problem and it is likely that more power than for a Class 755 train will be needed.

Do Abellio Greater Anglia’s initial Norwich-in-Ninety trains give a clue in that they will be two four-car Class 755 trains working as an eight-car train?

  • It will be eight passenger cars and two power cars at the 25% and 75% positions in the formation.
  • Stadler have built the similar Stadler GTW with two power cars in a single train.

So I suspect that Stadler know the dynamics of these trains very well.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me, that Stadler had offered a bi-mode Stadler FLIRT with two power cars, for the Midland Main Line.

  • The power car concept has been sold to operators with diesel, electric and battery power options.
  • Stadler are proposing to use battery power in the Class 93 locomotive to boost performance.
  • Many would believe, as I do, that hydrogen power could be added to a Stadler power car.

So are these runs at 100 mph with two four-car Class 755 trains, a final trial of the technology to prove that similar higher-powered trains could run at 125 mph on the Midland Main Line, before Abellio sign a contract?

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brand-New Bi-Mode Trains For Long Term Use By Abellio East Midlands Railway

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These trains are proposed for working on several routes and some of their features are given.

In this section, I will try to ascertain, what they will be like.

These trains will replace the interim Mark 4 Coach/Class 43 locomotive sets on the Midland Main Line from April 2022.

They will also be used on the following services.

  • London – Lincoln.
  • London – Oakham – Melton Mowbray
  • London – Leeds – York

Features include.

  • More reliable service
  • Improved comfort
  • Passenger information system
  • Free on-board Wi-Fi
  • At-seat power sockets
  • USB points
  • Air conditioning
  • Tables at all seats
  • increased luggage space
  • On-board cycle storage

I think it wouldn’t be speculating too much, to expect that shorter versions of these trains would also be used on other routes of the franchise.

I also think, that these trains will have other properties.

Ability To Run At 125 mph On Both Electric And Diesel Power

Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler are proposing or have built fast bi-mode trains, which run at the same speed on both diesel and electric power.

  • Bombardier are proposing a 125 mph Aventra with batteries.
  • Hitachi’s 125 mph Class 800 trains are running at 125 mph on electric power, but can they achieve the 125 mph on diesel needed for the Midland Main Line?
  • Stadler’s 100 mph Class 755 trains, will be running between London and Norwich at this speed from next month.

As parts of the Midland Main Line, that will not be electrified by 2022, to have a 125 mph operating speed, it is essential that the trains can do this speed on either power source.

Ability To Switch Power Source At Line Speed

Some trains do this, but others don’t!

To run as fast a timetable as possible, it is essential. Hitachi’s Class 800 trains can do it!

240 Metre Long Trains

Consider.

  • The notes on the interactive map, says that Corby services will be this length in the Peak.
  • 240 metre long platforms will be needed at St. Pancras for Corby services.
  • Thameslink services are already this length.

These points lead me to the conclusion, that the new bi-mode trains can be up to 240 metres long.

Passenger Capacity

A seven-car Class 222 train has the following properties.

  • 236 Standard Class seats.
  • 106 First Class seats.
  • 161.8 metres long

As the interiors of the existing and proposed trains seem similar with lots of tables and comfort, adjusting for the longer bi-mode train gives the following numbers of seats.

  • 349 Standard Class seats.
  • 157 First Class seats

There will be a large increase in the number of seats.

Step-Free Access Between Train And Platform

Stadler are the masters of this and are providing it on Merseyrail and on the Great Eastern Main Line.

Other companies will have to follow suit!

Hitachi in particular and surprisingly seem to design their trains with a big step.

This picture shows the step up into a Class 395 train at St. Pancras station. It is unacceptable!

Step-free access improves the dwell time of trains at stations and is essential on any high-frequency service.

Digital Signalling

This will be essential to run the trains faster and closer together, so that more services can be run between London and the Midlands,

140 mph Running

IDigital signalling could even enable 140 mph running on sections of the route.

Improved Dwell Times

The performance of these trains and easy access, will mean that every station stop will be faster and will enable two pssenger benefits.

  • Journeys will be faster by a few minutes.
  • It will be possible to add extra station stops, with only a small penalty of overall journey times.

I doubt passengers will be unhappy.

High Speed Two Compatibility

High Speed Two should reach the East Midlands Hub station in 2032 and Sheffield station in 2034.

Between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield, High Speed Two and Midland Main Line services will use the same sixteen mile electrified railway.

Good project management probably says that this joint electrified line is created early, by say 2025. This would obtain maximum benefit to the City of Sheffield and the surrounding area.

As it is likely, that the new bi-mode trains will still be in service to past 2034, whatever is decided, these bi-modes must be able to run on High Speed Two infrastructure.

Conclusion

Even if, the current  service pattern of two trains per hour to Derby, Chesterfield, Nottingham and Sheffield is maintained, there will be a large increase in capacity.

But if a fully-digital railway is created with 125 mph trains, I can see the Midland Main Line becoming one of the finest high speed railways in the world, that has been created by updating a classic rail line built in the Nineteenth Century.

Operating speed and capacity will be up there with the East Coast and West Coast Main Lines.

I can see Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield having a four trains per hour service from London in times of 75, 90 and 120 minutes respectively.

By comparison, High Speed Two is looking at a sub-ninrty ,minute time between London and Sheffield.

April 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Abellio’s Plans For Nottingham And Crewe Via Derby

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These are mentioned for services between Nottingham and Crewe via Derby.. This is an extension of the current service which is two separate services, that need a change at Derby.

Crewe-Derby Services Will Operate With Increased Capacity Compared To Today

Consider.

  • Currently, the service between Derby and Crewe takes 43 minutes with another 30 minutes for Derby And Nottingham.
  • It is run by a Sprinter with one or two cars.
  • The service is hourly.
  • I suspect that a well-driven train will be able to do a round trip from Nottingham to Crewe and back in under three hours.

This would mean that three trains are needed to provide the hourly service.

But put four- or five-car Class 222 trains on the route and this would mean.

  • Much greater capacity.
  • Faster journeys.
  • More comfort and facilities.

If a train could do the round trip in under two hours, then just two trains would be needed for the hourly service.

Most Services Will Be Extended To And From Nottingham

I assumed this in the previous section and it appears sensible.

, Later Evening Service Is To Be Provided In Both Directions

Trains can never be too late.

Enhanced Sunday Service With A Regular Hourly service Starting Early In The Morning

You can’t fault that!

Increased Community Rail Partnership Funding

Or that one!

Refurbished Modern Trains

As with their plans for Nottingham to Norwich, they use the same words about the trains.

Read Abellio’s Plans For Norwich And Liverpool, to see what I said.

Wikipedia’s View

The Wikipedia entry for the Crewe-Derby Line says this about services on the route.

The line sees a basic hourly service in each direction with trains calling at all stations on the route however Peartree which is served by 2 Derby bound trains and 3 Crewe bound trains per weekday.

The majority of services on the route since December 2008 have been provided by Class 153 “Super Sprinter” Diesel Multiple Units however Class 158 “Express Sprinter” and Class 156 “Super Sprinter” units are occasionally used. Overcrowding remains a major issue on the route, particularly in the morning and evening peak and a weekends. Passengers are occasionally left behind.

A Class 222 train on this line with a 70 mph operating speed, must provide a better service.

Collateral Benefits

I see these as collateral benefits.

Extra Services Between Derby and Nottingham

If you take this plan with Abellio’s Plans For Norwich And Liverpool, they both have added an hourly service between Derby and Nottingham.

Better Connections To High Speed Two

\Will these extra services connect to High Speed Two at the East Midlands Hub station?

Remember that Abellio’s is an eight year franchise and High Speed Two will arrive in the area, at the time of the end of the franchise.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abellio’s Plans For Norwich And Liverpool

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These are mentioned for services between Norwich and Liverpool.

Splitting Of The Service

Early in the new franchise the Liverpool – Nottingham section will transfer to another operator, which will enable the two halves of the service to better meet the needs of customers.

This has been said for some time by the Department of Transport.

It is also said that limited services will continue to operate via Stamford and Loughborough.

Looking at trains between Nottingham and Norwich., they take these routes.

  • Grantham, Peterborough, Ely, Thetford
  • East Midlands Parkway, Loughborough, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Peterborough, Ely, Thetford

The service will be extended from Nottingham to Long Eaton and Derby.

Refurbished Modern Trains

It is proposed that the service will be run by refurbished modern trains.

Features include.

  • More reliable service
  • Improved comfort
  • Passenger information system displays
  • free on-board Wi-Fi
  • at-seat power sockets
  • USB points
  • Air conditioning
  • Tables at all seats
  • Increased luggage space.
  • No date for introduction is given.

This all sounds fine to me.

The Current Trains On The Route

Before discussing the possible new trains, I will look at the current service, that I have used many times.

Class 158 trains are used,

Normally, a pair of two-car trains run together to make a four-car formation.

  • At times, these trains are very overcrowded.
  • I don’t think, the trains have a universal access toilet.
  • The trains are thirty years old and some detailing is not very good or very last century.
  • The air-conditioning may be a bit dodgy.
  • Nottingham and Norwich is probably about the maximum comfortable range for passenger on these trainss.

I suspect too, that they have operational problems.

  • They are only 90 mph trains and they will share tracks with faster trains.
  • As part of this route could be on the East Coast Main Line, scheduling trains would be easier, if the trains were capable of 125 mph.
  • On board catering is provided by a trolley. Can it be pushed between the two trains?

Abellio are obviously quite right to promise a better train for both passengers, staff and their bottom line.

An Ideal Train For The Route

An ideal train would have a specification something like this.

  • Modern train, built since 2000.
  • Five or six cars
  • 125 mph operating speed.
  • An onboard cafe-bar.
  • Universal-access toilet.

It sounds to me, like a Class 222 train with a high-class refurbishment.

Currently, there are these  Class 222 trains available to the franchise.

  • Four by four-car
  • Seventeen by five-cars
  • Six by seven-cars.

Many of the Class 222 trains, will be replaced in 2022, when the new bi-mode trains are delivered.

The New Trains For The Route

It does look to me, that East Midlands Trains could do a lot worse, than use refurbished Class 222 trains between Norwich and Derby.

  • Their engineers and drivers know the trains well.
  • They could be arranged as four or five coaches for the route.
  • Tory are 125 mph trains, which must bring journey time savings, especially on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Bombardier have proposed, that they could be fitted with batteries to reduce the need to run the engines in stations.

Refurbishing something you know, is probably one of the cheaper options.

How Many Trains Are Needed For An Hourly Service Between Nowich And Derby?

I suspect that running to a well defined timetable that times of around three hours could be achieved between Norwich and Derby.

This would probably mean that a train could go from Norwich to Derby and back in under seven hours.

This would mean that seven trains would be needed for an hourly service running all day.

If the 125 mph trains could use their speed on the East Coast Main Line and perhaps on the Breckland Line, it might be possible to do the round trip in six hours and therefor need a train less.

Would Finding Seven Class 222 Trains Be Possible?

Obviously, once the Midland Main Line routes have been replaced by new bi-mode trains in 2022, there will be a lot of Class 222 trains available and seven trains to run  the Norwich and Derby service will not be a problem.

Some other factors will help.

Trains Will Be Released By The London And Corby Electric Service

In December 2020, when the London and Corby service receives electric trains, the current Class 222 trains on this route will become available.

I think that this service currently needs three trains.

More Mark 4 Coach/Class 43 locomotive Sets Could Be Created

In Abellio’s Plans For The Midland Main Line, I described how interim sets could be built by replacing the non-compliant Mark 3 coaches in an InterCity 125, with the compliant Mark 4 coaches from an InterCity 225.

These trains would be used to release some of the Class 222 trains on the Midland Main Line.

Another five Mark 4 Coach/Class 43 Locomotive sets would probably release the same number of Class 222 trains.

Trains Could Be Reorganised With A Better Plan

I have a feeling that by reorganising the Class 222 trains and bringing in more more Mark 4 Coach/Class 43 Locomotive sets, could mean that a better plan on the Midland Main Line could be developed.

As an example, when boarding a train at St. Pancrass, I often notice two trains are in the platform and you have to walk to the far train. This is not efficient and surely slows down the turnround of trains.

Platforms 1 to 4 are reserved for East Midlands services at St. Pancras station.

  • Two trains per hour to Derby, Chesterfield and Sheffield
  • Two trains per hour to Nottingham
  • One train per hour to Corby, which goes to two trains per hour in December 2020.

Surely, it would be easier, if the station was organised as follows.

  • Sheffield, Nottingham and Corby trains all have their own platform, with one spare for luck!
  • All trains are full length, with First Class at the London end
  • One train per platform.

This would make things easier for passengers and reduce turnround times.

No More Two Trains Running Together

I think that the practice of train companies running two or more trains together to increase capacity is a bad idea, unless you have no other way.

Consider two four-car trains running together as an eight-car train.

  • You have two driving cabs in the middle, which serve no purpose and just take up space. and add useless weight.
  • A buffet car in the train can be available to all passengers.
  • The First Class seats could be in two separate places on the train.
  • With trains like the Hitachi Class 800 trains, onboard staff can only move between trains in a station.
  • Walk-through trains allow passengers to position themselves for a convenient and quick exit.

Anybody who procures trains to run in multiple formations all the time, instead of buying longer trains, is generally incompetent.

A Rough Estimate

I have done a very rough estimate and feel that the Midland Main Line services can be run with the following numbers of trains.

  • Sheffield services – Ten trains
  • Nottingham services – Eight trains
  • Corby services – Six trains

As the Corby services will be run by refurbished twelve-car trains, it looks to me that there is a need for eighteen diesel trains for Sheffield and Nottingham services.

I would go for eighteen Mark 4 Coach/Class 43 locomotive sets, with perhaps a couple of spare sets..

Conclusion

The following services should be run with Mark 4 Coach/Class 43 locomotive sets of an appropriate length.

  • London and Nottingham
  • London and Sheffield

This would release the Class 222 trains for other services like those between Norwich and Derby.

 

 

 

 

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Abellio’s Plans For London And Melton Mowbray Via Corby And Oakham

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These are mentioned for services to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

  • After electrification of the Corby route there will continue to be direct service each way between London and Oakham and Melton Mowbray once each weekday, via Corby.
  • This will be operated with brand new 125mph trains when these are introduced from April 2022.

This seems to be a very acceptable minimum position.

In Abellio’s Plans For London And Corby, I suggested that Class 379 trains could be used on the route and that the trains might be fitted with batteries.

  • Corby and Melton Mowbray are about twenty-fives apart.
  • Batteries and their fast-charging technology has come on at a fast pace since Abellio participated in the Class 379 BEMU Trial in 2015.

Are Abellio thinking about extending some Croby services using battery technology?

The technology is certainly capable, but is there a proven passenger need?

Turning Trains At Melton Mowbray stations

This Google Map shows Melton Mowbray station.

It looks to be a station on a large site with more than adequate car parking and I suspect building a bay platform with charging facilities would not be the most difficult of projects.

Conclusion

As current trains take about thirty minutes between Corby and Melton Mowbray, with a bay platform at the latter station, I think it would be possible to run hourly Class 379 trains with batteries to and from St. Pancras.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Abellio East Midlands Railway’s Plans For London And Corby

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These are mentioned for Midland Main Line services to Corby.

Dedicated Corby – St Pancras Express Service Will Be Introduced From December 2020 With 12-car Trains In The Peaks

In 2020, the route between London and Corby will have been improved.

  • It will be fully electrified.
  • There will be double-track between Kettering and Corby.
  • Corby station will have a second platform.
  • 125 mph running will be possible in sections of the route between London and Corby.
  • Twelve-car trains indicate, that the rolling stock would be modern electric multiple units.

Possible trains include.

There must also be the possibility, for a train manufacturer to deliver enough new trains to run the London and Corby service.

To run the current hourly service, three trains are needed, so if each train was three four-car electric multiple units, nine trains would be needed.

As these electric trains will need to mix it with the 125 mph trains on the fast lines between St. Pancras and Kettering, 110 mph trains would probably be preferable.

Class 387 trains were originally mooted for this route, but they all seem to have been snapped up by other operators, who may be reluctant to let them go.

On the other hand, as I wrote in When Crossrail Opens To Reading, Will Great Western Railway Have Too Many Class 387 Trains?, Great Western Railway may have a few trains going spare.

The three other possible trains are both used in Abellio-run franchises.

  • ,Abellio Greater Anglia are replacing their thirty Class 379 trains with new Stadler Class 745/1 trains in 2019.
  • Abellio Greater Anglia are replacing their twenty-one Class 360 trains with new Bombardier Class 720 trains in 2020.
  • West Midlands Trains have a large fleet of Class 350 trains.

Greater Anglia’s plans currently give the order of the new Stadler fleet introduction as.

  • Four-car Class 755/4 trains
  • Twelve-car Class 745/0 trains for London and Norwich services
  • Three-car Class 755/3 trains
  • Twelve-car Class 745/1 trains for London and Stansted services

All trains are to be introduced by the end of 2020.

The Bombardier Class 720 trains are also planned to be introduced by the same date, starting this Autumn.

Could this mean that it is likely that nine Class 379 or Class 360 trains could be available before the end of 2019?

If Class 379 or Class 360 trains are used to Corby, it would allow a very relaxed train introduction.

There could be at least a year, to turn the trains into perfect trains for a high-capacity London and Corby service.

I think using Class 387 and Class 350 trains wouldn’t be so simple.

As the Class 745/1 trains for London and Stansted could be the last to be delivered, which might delay the release of the Class 379 trains, could this explain the rumours for using the Class 360 trains, between London and Corby.

There is also an interesting possibility.

Suppose, Abellio decided to order 125 mph trains from Stadler identical to the Class 745/0 trains between London and Norwich on the route between London and Corby.

  • Stadler probably knows how to upgrade the trains to 125 mph, as there are electric Flirts in Norway with this performance.
  • Greater Anglia have invested heavily in driver simulators and training aids for their Stadler trains.
  • By the end of 2019, they will be running Class 745/0 trains between London and Norwich.

With different colours and a few route-specific details, the London and Norwich Class 745/0 trains, would surely be more than acceptable for London and Corby.

Stadler would surely be able to build the extra trains before the Stansted trains. This would mean that the unwanted Class 379 trains would have to soldier on to Stansted for a few more months.

125 mph Class 745 trains would be a magnificent upgrade to the London and Corby service.

Corby – London Service Doubled To Two Trains Per Hour All Day

This would mean the need would be eighteen four-car trains. or six twelve-car trains.

There are enough Class 379 and Class 360 trains, but obtaining the originally-planned Class 387 trains could be problematic.

Building the three extra new trains would not be a problem.

Kettering, Luton And Luton Airport Parkway Services Provided With 2 Trains Per Hour for Most Of The Day

Note.

  1. Luton station is on the latest list of stations to be made step-free by 2024.
  2. Luton Airport has been agitating for more fast trains to and from London and now gets a half-hourly express.
  3. Luton Airport Parkway station will have the Luton DART connection to the Airport in 2021.
  4. Class 379 trains are designed for airport services.

It appears to be a better service for passengers.

Enhanced Sunday Service Throughout The Route With Regular Direct Sunday Services Between London And Corby

No passenger complaints here.

Refurbished Modern Express Trains From December 2020

Features include.

  • Increased capacity
  • More reliable service
  • Improved comfort
  • Passenger information system
  • Free on-board Wi-Fi
  • At-seat power sockets
  • USB points
  • Air conditioning
  • Tables at all seats
  • Increased luggage space
  • On-board cycle storage

What more could passengers want?

Many of these features are already installed in the Class 379 trains and would be no problem.

  • When I rode the BEMU Trial train between Maningtree and Harwich, the information on the Class 379 train was word perfect.
  • The trains are reliable and comfortable.
  • Wi-fii, power sockets, air-conditioning and increased luggage space are already fitted.
  • The trains have lots of tables, but not at every seat.

These are a selection of pictures of the interior of a Class 379 train.

Updating the interior of the trains would not be a major problem.

Class 360 Trains Would Need A Substantial Refurbish

If Class 360 trains were to be used to Corby, they would need a substantial refurbish, but the general feeling is that this would be possible and there is a year to do it.

iNew-Build Class 745 Trains

With a small fleet of new-build Class 745 trains, the customer would get what they want! – Tables, 2+2 seating, wi-fi sockets etc.

The Greater Anglia London and Norwich specification would be a good starting point.

Will The Class 379 Trains Be Fitted With Batteries?

The BEMU Trial in 2015, showed that this was feasible. Abellio was involved in this trial and must have their own views on the technology.

  • Depots are safer places.
  • Electrification can be simpler.
  • Regenerative braking can be handled on the train without using the overhead wires for return currents.
  • Batteries increase train efficiencies.

This picture shows, the wires are going up at Corby.

So it doesn’t look like battery power will be used to Corby.

But batteries could still be fitted for efficiency and safety reasons or possibly to power the trains to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

What About The Rumour Suggesting Class 360 Trains Will Be Used?

These are some pictures of a Class 360 train.

Consider.

  • The Class 360 trains have a 2+3 interior with few if any tables.
  • If Bombardier deliver the Class 720 trains, later than planned, availability of the Class 360 trains for Corby could be tight.
  • Could they be prated to 110 mph trains, if that was felt necessary?

I feel that there would be a lot more work to prepare the trains for Corby and a higher chance, they would be late!

I think except as a stop-gap, it is unliklely that Class 360 trains will be used between London and Corby.

Will The Trains Be Replaced In A Few Years?

Consider.

  • The London and Corby route is 79.5 miles long and takes 75 minutes with four stops, which is an average speed of 64 mph.
  • At present, services between London and Corby are run using 125 mph Class 222 trains.
  • The Class 222 trains have better acceleration than an InterCity 125 and much better acceleration than a Class 360 train.
  • The London to Corby route is a less-than-125 mph route.
  • Network Rail ia currently improving the electrification between London and Bedford, so that the route between London and Corby will be an electrified 125 mph route.
  • None of the trains being considered for the service between London and Corby is faster than 110 mph.

Does all this mean that Corby services might be slower after electrification?

  • Will the 125 mph upgrade to the track and electrification ensure the electric trains are faster, even if they are 100 mph trains.
  • Well-driven 100-110 mph trains might be as fast.

However, the Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield expresses might be slowed, just as they are by the 100 mph Thameslink trains.

In the article in Issue 877 of Rail Magazine, four manufacturers are suggested for the bi-mode trains that will be used between London and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield from 2022.

  • Bombardier
  • Hitachi
  • Stadler
  • Talgo

Hitachi are the only manufacturer with 125 mph bi-mode trains on the UK Network.

They have a near-identical bi-mode Class 802 train and an all-electric Class 801 train.

  • Both are capable of 125 mph running.
  • Conversion between the two trains involves changing the number of engines.
  • Drivers are probably trained to drive both types of train.

Ideally, on the Midland Main Line, electric trains could run to Corby, with bi-mode trains running to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

So when the 125 mph bi-mode trains are delivered in 2022, would it be sensible to run their 125 mph electric cousins to Corby?

  • South of Market Harborough, all East Midlands Railway trains would be 125 mph electric trains, running on 125 mph tracks.
  • One tph between London and Corby would need three twelve-car trains.
  • Two tph between London and Corby would need six twelve-car trains.

If that is the case, then whatever train is run to Corby from December 2020, is only a stop-gap for a couple of years, where only nine four-car trains would be needed.

Would it be more economic in the long term to place the order for the bi-mode trains, with a manufacturer, who can deliver three all-electric trains by December 2020?

I believe Stadler could do that!

Conclusion

I’m fairly certain, that services between London and Corby could be run by refurbished Class 379 trains.

As there is plenty of time before service introduction, this could be a very relaxed and painless introduction of new trains. Unlike some others recently.

There may even be time to upgrade the top speed of the trains, so they fit in better with East Midlands Railway’s 125 mph expresses.

I wouldn’t be surprised, if East Midlands Railway brought in Class 379 or Class 360 trains as a stop-gap and replaced them with electric versions of the bi-modes in 2022.

But the best solution would be to obtain three twelve-car all-electric versions of the bi-modes by December 2020, to run the initial service.

  • Hitachi has a 125 mph electric Class 801 train and a 125 mph bi-mode Class 802 train.
  • Stadler has a 125 mph electric version of Greater Anglia’s Class 745 train and I suspect a compatible 125 mph bi-mode train.
  • Bombardier are working on a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra and have been quoted as saying Aventras can be stretched to 125 mph.

It will be interesting to see what trains East Midlands Railway chooses.

But I think Stadler Class 745 trains are a distinct possibility.

  • Abellio will have experience of running these trains and training drivers and other staff.
  • 125 mph trains could be almost identical to those on London and Norwich services.
  • Stadler have built 125 mph electric Flirts for Norway.

By juggling production a bit, they could be delivered on time for a December 2020 start of services.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments