The Anonymous Widower

Will High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible Trains Have Battery Operation?

I think it is very likely, that High Speed Two’s new classic-compatible trains will have battery capabilities.

  • Batteries would handle energy generated by regenerative braking.
  • Batteries would give a train recovery capability in case of overhead catenary failure.
  • Batteries would be used for depot movements.
  • Batteries would probably improve the energy efficiency of the trains.

But would they be able to give the trains a route extension capability on lines without electrification?

Consider.

  • Battery technology is getting better with energy capacity per kilogram increasing.
  • Batteries will be full, when the train leaves the electrification.
  • These trains will be as light as possible.
  • Trains will not be running at speeds in excess of perhaps 100 mph.
  • Fast charging can be provided at station stops.

I think, that trains will be able to do at least 50 to 60 miles on a full charge.

Fast Charging Technology

The most promising fast-charging technology is Vivarail’s system of using a length of conventional third-rail connected to a bank of batteries. When the train connects with the third-rail, electricity flows to the batteries on the train.

There are also working systems using short lengths of overhead electrification.

Both systems can be totally automatic and safe.

Example Routes

These are three possible example routes.

Aberdeen And Edinburgh

These are the distances between stops on the route between Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

  • Aberdeen and Stonehaven – 12 miles
  • Stonehaven and Montrose – 24 miles
  • Montrose and Arbroath – 14 miles
  • Arbroath and Dundee – 17 miles
  • Dundee and Leuchars – 8 miles
  • Leuchars and Kirkaldy – 25 miles
  • Kirkcaldy and Inverkeithing – 13 miles
  • Inverkeithing and Edinburgh – 13 miles

It is a total of 130 miles without electrification.

The route is also generally flat and mainly along the coast.

Inverness And Edinburgh

These are the distances between stops on the route between Inverness and Strirling.

  • Inverness and Aciemore- 35 miles
  • Aviemore and Kingussie – 12 miles
  • Kingussie and Pitlochry – 43 miles
  • Pitlochry and Perth – 30 miles
  • Perth and Gleneagles – 15 miles
  • Gleneagles and Stirling – 17 miles

It is a total of 152 miles without electrification.

As there are some steep gradients, there may be a need for some electrification in certain sections of the route.

Holyhead And Crewe

These are the distances between stops on the route between Holyhead and Crewe

  • Holyhead and Bangor – 25 miles.
  • Bangor and Llandudno Junction – 16 miles
  • Llandudno Junction and Colwyn Bay – 4 miles
  • Colwyn Bay and Rhyl – 10 miles
  • Rhyl and Prestatyn – 4 miles
  • Prestatyn and Flint – 14 miles
  • Flint and Chester – 13 miles
  • Chester and Crewe – 21 miles

It is a total of 105 miles without electrification.

The route is also generally flat and mainly along the coast.

A Stepping-Stone Approach

I believe there is a design of fast charger, that in say a three minute stop can charge the battery sufficient to get to the next station. The electrification might continue for perhaps a couple of hundred metres from the station on the tracks where the trains are accelerating.

A train making a stop at a station would do the following.

  • As it approaches the stop, the train’s kinetic energy is turned into electricity by the regenerative braking.
  • This energy is stored in the batteries.
  • In the station, the batteries are charged from the fast charger or electrification.
  • Whilst stopped, the batteries provide the power for the train’s systems.
  • Accelerating away would use the batteries or electrification if it is installed.

The train’s computer would monitor the batteries and control the various power systems and sources to run the train in the most efficient manner.

This sequence would be repeated at each stop as the train progressed to its destination.

Extra Electrification

In the section on the challenging Edinburgh and Inverness route, I said that some gradients would probably need to be electrified to maintain progress.

But there are other sections, where electrification has been suggested.

  • Stirling and Perth
  • Crewe and Chester

So could we be seeing a mixture of electrification and charging stations on routes to allow electric trains to serve routes, where full electrification is impossible for practical, scenic, heritage or cost reasons?

The South Wales Metro is to use discontinuous electrification to save the cost of rebuilding innumerable bridges.

Conclusion

I believe that engineers can design high speed trains, that will be able to run on existing lines to serve the remoter parts of Great Britain.

February 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

House Sparrows In Aberdeen Bus Station

I took this picture of a few house sparrows in Aberdeen bus station.

You rarely see them in London these days.

August 14, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Did The Queen Ever Ride In This Train?

These pictures show the British Rail BEMU, which was an experimental two-car battery electric multiple unit, that ran on the Deeside Railway between Aberdeen and Ballater stations, in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

It is now parked at the Royal Deeside Railway awaiting restoration.

As the bodywork is aluminium, it struck me that it wouldn’t be an impossible restoration project.

Someone, I spoke to, said the biggest problem and probably expense were the batteries.

Perhaps, they could use some recycled batteries from electric buses or other vehicles, which some companies are going to use as house storage batteries.

A Memory From A Lady

I travelled to the Royal Deeside Railway on a bus and sat up front on the top deck. Next to me was a lady, who was perhaps in her seventies like me, who remembered using the train several times.

From what she said, it appeared to work reliably for a number of years.

Did Her Majesty Ever Use The Train?

No-one at the Royal Deeside Railway has any proof, that the Queen ever rode in the train.

But they are pretty sure, that the Queen Mother used the train. Apparently, she liked the steady speed as it proceeded through the countryside.

Conclusion

With the current developments in battery transport, I feel that this prototype might well be worth restoring to operation condition.

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

How Will Virgin Trains East Coast Use Class 800/801 Trains?

The following two sections give Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) current and future fleets.

Current Fleet

VTEC have a current fleet comprising the following locomotives and coaches.

The Class 43 locomotives and the Mark 3 coaches are formed into InterCity 125 trains.

  • Two locomotives and nine coaches per set.
  • 125 mph capability
  • Diesel-powered

Which gives thirteen diesel trains.

The Class 91 locomotives and Mark 4 coaches are formed into InterCity 225 trains.

  • One locomotive, one driving van trailer and nine coaches per set.
  • 140 mph capability
  • Electric-powered.
  • Ability to run London to Edinburgh in under four hours.

Which gives thirty-one electric trains.

Adding the two figures together gives a total of forty-four nine-car trains.

Future Fleet

VTEC’s  future fleet will include.

Adding these together counting the five-car trains as half gives fifty-four nine-car trains.

Or ten more nine-car trains!

In addition six to eight InterCity225 trains could be retained in service to run limited stop trains between London and Edinburgh.

This increase in capacity can only me good for passengers, with more services and destinations.

Questions About Class 800/801 Trains

What is the capacity of a nine-car Class 800/801 train?

I can’t find this on the Internet and I suspect it hasn’t been decided.

Wikipedia gives the capacity of an InterCity 225 train as 406 Standard and 129 First Class seats.

It should also be noted that the car length in a Class 800/801 is twenty-six metres, as opposed to the twenty-three metres of the InterCity 225.

I would hope good design can make excellent use of this space.

Will two Class 800/801 trains be able to work as a pair?

I suspect the answer to this is yes, as the closely-related Class 395 trains regularly do this.

The most common use would be to run two five-car trains as a ten-car set.

This would be a 260 metre long train, which is perhaps fifteen metres longer than an InterCity 225 train.

Some lengthening of platforms may be necessary, but it probably isn’t a major problem.

Will coupling and uncoupling of a pair of Class 800/801 trains be automatic?

In The Impressive Coupling And Uncoupling Of Class 395 Trains, I linked to videos of the closely-related Class 395 trains, doing just this in under a minute.

I would be very surprised if two Class 800/801 trains couldn’t do the same.

Will a Class 800 train and a Class 801 train be able to work as a pair?

There may be circumstances, where this is needed on electrified lines, so I would be very surprised if this is not possible.

At what station will a Class 800/801 train be able to call?

The nine-car trains are 234 metres long and a pair of five car trains will be 260 metres long, so platform length will mean they can’t call at a lot of smaller stations.

But a five-car train will be only 130 metres long, which will be shorter than a pair of four-car multiple-units working together, which are regularly seen on the UK’s rail network.

So the five-car trains will probably be able to serve a surprising number of stations.

Will Class 800/801 trains have a faster turn-round time?

If you look at the times of trains between London and Leeds, this things happen.

  • A few minutes after a train leaves the platform at Leeds and Kings Cross, the next incoming service arrives.
  • It then waits in the station for nearly half-an-hour before going back.

Effectively, an hour must be added to each Out and Back journey between London and Leeds.

This time will enable.

  • Passengers to unload and load.
  • Train to be prepared.
  • Crew to be changed if required.

Any delay of a few minutes can hopefully be recovered.

Train preparation time will probably be better with the Class 800/801 trains, as hopefully automation and better design will speed the process.

But cutting this thirty minutes  substantially would probably require passengers to be marched around like the Brigade of Guards, which is of course not possible.

Hopefully, the new trains will be designed, so that ingress and egress for all passengers will be easier and faster but at some stations like Leeds, the station layout is more of a bottleneck than the train.

A few minutes reduction in turn-round time might be possible, but nothing that would mean a train doesn’t occupy a platform for half-an-hour.

How long will A Class 801 train take between London and Edinburgh?

Currently the fastest journey time using an InterCity 225 is around four hours and twenty minutes, but they have done it in under four hours in test runs.

For marketing reasons, I suspect that VTEC would like to dip under four hours with the fastest trains.

As the Class 800/801 trains have a similar 140 mph performance to the InterCity 225, I suspect that four hours will also be possible.

But the big difference will be that the Class 800/801 trains will probably have faster stop times at any intermediate stations.

So I suspect that the average journey time between London and Edinburgh will drop.

How Will VTEC Use Class 800/801 Trains?

Returning to my original question, I’ll now attempt to answer it in the next few sections.

London-Edinburgh Services

I think we can assume the following.

  • There will be at least two trains per hour (tph)
  • Trains will usually be nine-car trains.
  • Class 800 trains will not normally use diesel power on the route.
  • Some trains could be  two five-car trains running as a pair.
  • A proportion of trains will do the trip in under four hours.
  • Intermediate stops as now will be optimised to the passenger traffic.
  • Intermediate stops will be faster.

I also think, that the InterCity 225 sets will be improved, so they can match the times of the Class 800/801 trains.

I think that once improved signalling on the East Coast Main Line is working and allowing running faster than 125 mph, we could be seeing trains being able to go from London to Edinburgh and back in under nine hours, assuming a thirty minute turn-round at both ends of the route.

This would mean that a dedicated London to Edinburgh fleet of just eighteen trains would be required to run a two tph service. Three tph would need another nine trains.

Speed up the trains so, that a round trip can be done in eight hours and sixteen trains are needed for the two tph service, with eight more trains needed to up the service to three tph.

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for Virgin Trains East Coast, this is said.

If VTEC’s application to operate extra limited stops services to Edinburgh is successful, it is proposing to operate these by retaining six to eight InterCity 225 sets.

Interesting! So will some or all hours see a third train between London and Edinburgh.

Are the thirty-year-old InterCity 225 trains, showing the same survival instincts of their ten-year-older predecessors; the InterCity 125s?

London-Aberdeen And London-Inverness Services

Currently times on these routes from London are as follows.

  • London-Aberdeen – seven hours and four minutes – three trains per day
  • London-Inverness- eight hours and four minutes – one train per day

So what times could a Class 800 achieve on these routes?

Times North of Edinburgh with an InterCity 125 are as follows.

  • Edinburgh to Aberdeen takes two hours and thirty-six minutes – Fastest ScotRail takes two hours sixteen minutes.
  • Edinburgh to Inverness takes three hours and thirty-one minutes – Fastest ScotRail takes three hours nineteen minutes.

I suspect that a Class 800 train running on diesel power could match the InterCity 125 times and approach the ScotRail times.

But as they would be running on electric power to and from London in four hours, times could be as follows.

  • London-Aberdeen – six hours and sixteen minutes
  • London-Inverness – seven hours and nineteen minutes

So over half-an-hour could be saved on both routes.

Currently trains leave London at these times.

  • 10:00 – Aberdeen
  • 12:00 – Inverness
  • 14:00 – Aberdeen
  • 16:00 – Aberdeen

Note that there is probably no 18:00 train, as that would arrive in Aberdeen at 0110.

That is probably too late, but a well-driven Class 800 train, might get to Aberdeen around 00:30, which could be acceptable.

There is also the possibility of running a pair of five-car Class 800 trains to |Edinburgh, where they split with one train going to Aberdeen and the other to Inverness.

If the 16:00 train were to split, the Inverness portion would finish its journey before midnight.

A schedule like this from London could be possible.

  • 10:00 – Aberdeen and Inverness
  • 12:00 – Inverness
  • 14:00 – Aberdeen and Inverness
  • 16:00 – Aberdeen and Inverness
  • 18:00 – Aberdeen

Both Northern cities would get four trains per day from London, because of two factors.

  • The ability to run on electric power between London and Edinburgh, which knocks time off that section of the route.
  • The ability to split and join trains at Edinburgh, which saves paths on the East Coast Main Line.

It should be noted that any electrification North from Edinburgh will help.

Stirling to Edinburgh and Glasgow could be electrified by 2019 or 2020.

  • Trains would run to the South of Stirling on electric power.
  • Any splitting going North and joining going South would take place at Stirling.
  • Trains would still stop at Edinburgh to load and unload passengers.
  • Crew change currently takes place at Edinburgh, but that could happen at Stirling.

With a well-executed stop at Stirling, electric power between Stirling and Edinburgh and a few other improvements could we see the following?

  • London-Aberdeen – six hours
  • London-Inverness – seven hours

It would certainly please VTEC’s Marketing Department.

Services To St. Andrews

The Open Championship was last held at St. Andrews in 2015, so by the next time it is held at the Home of Golf, it is likely that a station will have been built for the town.

This new station must be able to accept Class 800/801 trains, which during a major event might need to run to the area.

This reasoning must apply to lots of places either on or within fifty miles of the East Coast Main Line.

London-Leeds Services

Leeds is generally served by 2 tph from London in around two hours ten minutes.

These are usually nine-car InterCity 225 trains, with a couple of InterCity 125 trains, that go to places like Harrogate, which are not electrified.

As the speed limits on the East Coast Main Line are increased as trains are fitted with in-can signalling, I suspect that VTEC’s Marketing Department will be pushing for times between London and Leeds to be under two hours.

I can’t believe that VTEC will not extend services from Leeds by making use of five-car trains running to Leeds as a pair, where they would divide and join.

I am assuming that Class 800/801 trains can join as well as the closely-related Class 395 trains, which do so it in under a minute.

Places that could be served include.

  • Bradford
  • Harrogate
  • Horsforth
  • Huddersfield
  • Ilkley
  • Keighley
  • Shipley
  • Skipton

Note.

  1. Some stations like Harrogate and Horsforth are not electrified, so would need Class 800 electro-diesel trains.
  2. Five-car trains could serve a lot of stations on the Leeds-Bradford Metro network, thus opening up the possibility of services to places like Headingley for the cricket and rugby and Saltaire for the culture.
  3. Could a five-car Class 800 electro-diesel train run over the Settle and Carlisle Line to Carlisle and Scotland?
  4. Extending some services from Leeds may mean that platform space is released at the station.

I think that the possibilities to extend services from Leeds using the five-car Class 800/801 trains are large.

London-Edinburgh Via Leeds

On the West Coast Main Line, some Scottish services from London, go via Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

So if there was a fully electrified route from Leeds to York, then some Scottish trains could go via Leeds.

At present, I don’t think this is possible with an electric train, as part of the route from Leeds to York is not electrified.

The electrification should be well underway by now, but there is no sign of it.

Other Extended Services

What can be done at Leeds can surely be done at other places.

If the two trains can couple and uncouple within a minute, that means that a pair of trains can arrive in a station and go through the following sequence.

  • 00:00 -A joined pair of Class 800/801 trains arrive in the station and load and unload passengers.
  • 00:03 – Close the train doors
  • 00:04 – Start the automatic decoupling process.
  • 00:05 – The first train leaves the platform.
  • 00:08 – After three minutes the second train leaves the platform.

I believe that the stop could be under ten minutes and the trains would be a safe three minutes apart, as they left the station.

So where could trains be split?

  • Newark or Peterborough for Lincoln and Nottingham
  • Doncaster for Hull and Sheffield
  • York for Scarborough and Harrogate
  • York for Middlesbrough and Sunderland
  • Newcastle for Ashington and Sunderland

Note.

  1. Trains could go in a loop to serve several stations.
  2. Sunderland could be on such a loop.
  3. As trains would only be five cars, they could stop at most stations in need of a service.
  4. Stations like Peterborough, Doncaster, York and Newcastle with more than one through platform in each direction would probably be preferred stations for split and join.
  5. No electrification is needed away from the East Coast Main Line.

Obviously, passenger needs and traffic patterns will decide, where the trains split and join.

Conclusions

The big conclusion will be that more places will receive long distance services to London and the places in between.

But these trains will really put the squeeze on smaller operators like Hull Trains and Grand Central Trains, as VTEC will be serving their station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Crossrail For Aberdeen

Cross-city lines are all the vogue.

  • London has Thameslink, several Underground and Overground Lines and will shortly have Crossrail.
  • Edinburgh has Crossrail.
  • Liverpool has the Northern Line.
  • Paris has the RER.
  • Leipzig has a cross-city tunnel.
  • Birmingham has the Cross-city Line.

So why shouldn’t Aberdeen propose Aberdeen Crossrail?

Aberdeen Crossrail

This Google Map shows Aberdeen.

aberdeencrossrail

Note.

The Aberdeen Crossrail plan is to link the Aberdeen to Inverness Line to the shared line to the South and create a frequent service along the route.

That is a standard philosophy for a cross-city line.

This diagram from Wikipedia, shows the proposed line and the stations.

aberdeencrossrail2

It is a simple plan and a simple route with one big difference to most of the other proposed or built Cross-city lines – There is no expensive central tunnel. It is almost solely a marketing concept, based around existing services.

Implementation

Wikipedia says this about Implementation.

Transport Scotland announced in March 2016 that the scheme will go ahead as part of a wider timetable recast in 2018. The new service will run between Inverurie & Montrose, serving all existing intermediate stations and one at Kintore from 2019. The Aberdeen to Inverurie section will then have a 30-minute interval service in operation. Infrastructure enhancements on the Aberdeen to Inverness line (including the redoubling of track from Aberdeen to Inverurie) are also scheduled to be completed by this time, as part of a £170 million route upgrade project.

All it needs is to add lots of stations.

It is a project manager’s dream to build, as once trains are running and the pattern of passenger use develops, the authorities can add trains and stations, as needs and the budget dictate.

Similarity To The London Overground

The nearest cross-city lines in concept to Aberdeen Crossrail are probably the North London and East London Lines of the London Overground, where two cross-city lines were created from some very tired track, stations and trains, by refurbishing the first two and replacing the trains.

Like the London Overground, Aberdeen Crossrail is updating the route. Aberdeen’s current trains are probably better now than the travelling urinals, that the Overground inherited from Silverlink.

One thing that I think Aberdeen Crossrail will need is a Turn-Up-And-Go frequency of four trains per hour (tph), that has been used so successfully on the Overground and Merseyrail.

Frequency Issues

The route of Inverrurie to Montrose has been deliberately chosen.

  • Inverurie to Aberdeen takes around 23 minutes.
  • Montrose to Aberdeen takes around 35 minutes.

So with slightly faster trains and line speed, than currently used, it should be possible for a train to go from Inverurie to Montrose and back in two hours to include a few minutes to turn the train round.

A two hour round trip means that a train leaving Inverurie at say 06:00 in the morning, will if all goes well, be back in Inverurie to form the 08:00 train.

How convenient is that?

This means that one tph will need two trains, two trph will need four trains and four tph will need eight trains.

Possible Stations

In A Look At New Station Projects, I’ve found several.

I am sure there are others.

Girdle Ness

Girdle Ness could be a station in a spectacular location on the coast.

This Google Map shows Aberdeen.

girdleness

Aberdeen station in the top left corner and Girdle Ness is the lower of the two promontories on the right.

What looks like a wall curving behind the promontory is in fact the railway crossing across the city and the turning South to Montrose, Dundee and Edinburgh.

If an average architect couldn’t make good use of this location, then they’re not even average.

Conclusion

This proposal is very likely to be a success, but I feel that it needs to offer a frequency of four trph.

February 19, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Aberdeen Gets A City Deal

Yesterday as reported in this article on the BBC, Aberdeen got a City Deal.

Acording to the BBC, the funding will be used as follows.

  • An initial £200m to improve journey times and increase capacity on key rail links between Aberdeen and the central belt, upgrading the rail line in the Montrose basin
  • £24m for the trunk roads programme to support improvements to the key A90/A937 south junction at Laurencekirk
  • £10m for extension of digital infrastructure in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire area above and beyond the commitment through the City Deal
  • £20m in infrastructure funding to unlock housing sites that are of strategic importance to the local authorities as well as five-year certainty on £130m of affordable housing grant.

It all seems good to me, given the problems of the oil industry.

I gained a unique perspective to the North of Scotland, when I travelled from Edinburgh to Inverness, a few years ago. I wrote about the trip in Edinburgh to Invernesss In The Cab Of An HST.

InterCity 125s may be iconic transport, but Scotland’s two Northern cities and the surrounding areas need many more quality services to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The rail part of the City Deal talks about dualling the railway line from Aberdeen to the South.

I would go further. Consider.

The Aberdeen to Edinburgh Line is a 100 mph railway.

The Aberdeen to Glasgow Line branches off at Dundee and goes to Glasgow via Perth and Stirling.

Important communities are served all along the railways.

Services are every hour, but some are slow, as there are a lot of stops.

In my view Scotland North of the Tay, is ideal IPEMU country. I would run services between Edinburgh and Glasgow and Aberdeen using 125 mph electric trains with an IPEMU capability. These would shorten journey times, not just because of their speed, but because electric trains, stop at stations and then accelerate away in a reduced time.

Obviously, there would need to be some electrification.

  • Across Aberdeen, Aberdeen Crossrail could be built between Dyce and Stonehaven, so that Aberdeen could have an electrified cross-city service.
  • Around Dundee and Perth. This would come with the aspiration of connecting these two cities to the much-delayed Edinburgh to Glasgow electrification with electric trains. These trains could have an IPEMU capability.

It would give the Eastern side of the North of Scotland the railway links it needs.

To provide electric services to Inverness would be trickier, but as support for IPEMUs gets even more innovative, I suspect that Perth and Aberdeen to Inverness could be bridged.

I think IPEMUs are one area, where engineers will be able to marry all sorts of disparate technology together to give improvements, others would think impossible or even downright silly.

The main northern routes and their approximate distances are.

  • Dundee to Aberdeen – 70 miles
  • Aberdeen to Inverness – 100 miles
  • Perth to Inverness – 110 miles

The only route that could be served by an IPEMU at the present time is Dundee to Aberdeen. But this would mean that creating an electric service from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Aberdeen is not the major engineering project that many believe it to be.

It would need.

  • Creation of an electrified Aberdeen Crossrail from Dyce to Inverurie.
  • Electrification from Stirling to Dundee via Perth.
  • The purchase of some suitable trains with an IPEMU capability.

Get the railways to the North of Perth and Dundee right and the benefits to the North of Scotland could be immense.

  • An improved rail service would increase tourism, with all the benefits that brings.
  • Aberdeen Airport would get a proper rail service.
  • Edinburgh to Aberdeen by train is now well over two hours. Steam trains in the 1895 Race To The North did it in only an hour longer.
  • 125 mph trains with an IPEMU capability could break the two-hour barrier.
  • Ferries for the Orkneys and Shetlands leave from a port near to Aberdeen station. so those islands could benefit.

I also believe that if the lines are improved in the North, then connectivity in the South of Scotland should also be improved.

Scotland needs to get its railway improvement plans into shape.

January 29, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment