The Anonymous Widower

Grand Central Opts For Split And Join

An article in the April 2018 Edition of Modern Railways is entitled Grand Central Appies For Extra Services.

Grand Central wants to run the following services.

  • An extra daily round trip between Sunderland and Kings Cross.
  • An extra service from Bradford to Kings Cross.
  • An early morning service from Wakefield Kirkgate to Kings Cross.
  • A late evening service of two trains; one for Wakefield and one for York, whicj would split at Doncaster.

Cleethorpes would also be served by running West Riding services as two trains, which would split and join at Dncaster.

All this can be done with the current fleet of ten Class 180 trains, supplemented by four extra released by Hull Trains, on delivery of new Class 802 trains.

By running as pairs between Kings Cross and Doncaster, the operator cuts the number of paths needed, on a crowded East Coast Main Line.

Joining and splitting is not without problems.

  • Train timings need to be accurate.
  • Joining and splitting hasn’t been done on the East Coast Main Line before, so would need permission.
  • I suspect that, the process won’t be automatic, as on Hitachi’s trains.

But get it right and this would surely open up the possibility of extra destinations in the North, provided like Bradford, Cleethorpes, Sunderland, Wakefield and York, they are on railway routes North of Doncaster.

The Class 180 trains are 125 mph diesel trains, that are about fifteen years old.

All other operators on the East Coast Main Line in a few years will be running variants of Class 800 trains, which will be capable of running at 140 mph on large parts of the route, when in-cab signalling is up and running.

As these trains can split and join with ease, surely Grand Central will be looking for some suitable new trains.

Currently, the fastest trains take about around a hundred minutes between London and Doncaster.

A rough estimate says that savings of around ten minutes could result from all trains being 140 mph capable, which would benefit all services.

But all operators on the line would have joining and splitting, so expect some new destinations from Kings Cross.

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March 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Automatic Splitting And Joining Of Trains

Hitachi And Automatic Splitting And Joining Of Trains

The Hitachi Class 395 train was the first train in the UK  to be able to automatically split and join in service.

In The Impressive Coupling And Uncoupling Of Class 395 Trains, I linked to this video.

Impressive isn’t it?

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I quoted this comment from a public on-line Hitachi document.

Because the coupling or uncoupling of cars in a trainset occurs during commercial service at an intermediate station, the automatic coupling device is able to perform this operation in less than 2 minutes.

This is definitely in line with Class 395 train performance.

This document from the Hitachi web site talks about the design of Hitachi’s Class 385 trains for Scotland. This is said.

The lead and rear railcars have an automatic coupler at the front and walk-through gangway hoods. When train sets are coupled together, the hoods fit together as part of the automatic coupling operation to provide access between train sets, meaning that passengers and staff are able to move freely from one train set to another.

Obviously, Hitachi have got automatic splitting and joining of trains spot on!

Current Split/Join Services

There are several places in the UK network, where splitting and joining of trains is used.

  •  Southeastern Highspeed do it at Ashford.
  • Great Northern Kings Lynn do it at Cambridge.
  • Southern do it at Haywards Heath.
  • Virgin Trains do it at Crewe.
  • South West Trains do it at Southampton.

But currently only the Class 395 trains can do it automatically.

The in-service entry of the Class 800 trains will change everything, as it will make a lot more new routes possible.

Virgin Trains East Coast

Currently, Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) run two trains per hour (tph) between Kings Cross and Leeds. In the Peak, some services are extended to Bradford Forster Square, Skipton and Harrogate, where the last route is not electrified.

Will some services to Leeds be run by two five-car Class 800/801 trains working together as a ten-car train?

  • Class 800 trains are electro-diesel which could work to Harrogate under diesel power.
  • Class 801 trains are all-electric, which could work all electrified routes from Leeds.

At Leeds the two trains could separate, with each train going to a different destination. Reading Hitachi’s published documents, the split would take under two minutes at Leeds and I don’t think there would be a restriction of a Class 800 and a Class 801 working together between Kings Cross and Leeds using the overhead electrification.

VTEC gets advantages by using this split and join approach.

  • Frequencies and train length to the eventual destinations can be adjusted to what the market will sustain.
  • Extra expensive train paths between the split/join station and London are not needed.
  • Between the split/join station and London, the train can usually run using electrification.
  • Costs are probably saved, if only a half-train is run to some destinations, as track access charges are based on weight.
  • A five-car electro-diesel could probably access more routes than a nine-car train.

This is the fleet that VTEC have ordered.

  • Class 800 – 10 x five-car
  • Class 800 – 13 x nine-car
  • Class 801 – 12 x five-car
  • Class 801 – 30 x nine-car

These Class 800 and Class 801 trains give VTEC all sorts of of possibilities.

The backbone of the service which is a half-hourly service to Edinburgh probably needs about 35 nine-car trains, some of which would be electro-diesels to work North of the electrification to Aberdeen and Inverness.

But that still leaves quite a few five-car trains available for other services.

Great Western Railway

Great Western Railway (GWR) will probably use their Class 800/801802 trains in a similar manner.

This is the fleet that GWR have ordered.

  • Class 800 – 36 x five-car
  • Class 800 – 21 x nine-car
  • Class 802 – 22 x five-car
  • Class 802 – 14 x nine-car

Note that the electro-diesel Class 802 train is similar to the Class 800, but with the engines tuned for more power and larger fuel tanks, so it can handle Devon and Cornwall routes easier.

I think that given the number of five-car trains on order and the lack of promised electrification, I think that GWR will be using splitting and joining  in some surprising places, to make sure that as many routes as possible get the new trains.

The Stadler Flirt

This article on Railway Technology describes the Stadler Flirts built for Swiss Federal Railways. This is said.

The train consists of articulated train sets, which contains light rail cars attached semi-permanently sharing a common bogie. The trains are available in two to six car combinations with two to six motorised axles. The automatic couplers, installed at both the ends of the trains, permit connection and disconnection of up to four train cars easily and quickly.

Does this mean that two trains can split and join like the Hitachi trains?

The Bombardier Aventra

The Aventra is a train that has been designed to have everything that customers might need. This is the description of the train in Wikipedia.

The train has been designed to be lighter and more efficient, with increased reliability. It will have lightweight all-welded bodies, wide gangways and doors to shorten boarding times in stations, and ERTMS. The design incorporates FlexxEco bogies which have been used in service on Voyagers and newer Turbostars. The gangway is designed to allow maximum use of the interior space and ease of movement throughout the train.

As Hitachi have published a lot of their thinking on Class 800/801 trains on the Internet, I would find it astounding that Bombardier and the other train building companies haven’t read it.

There have been four orders for the Aventras so far, which total over two thousand carriages.

Two of these orders are for mixed fleets of five-car and ten-car trains.

Are these trains and half-trains just like with the Hitachi trains?

If the answer is in the affirmative, I think it is very likely that Aventras will have the capability of splitting and joining automatically.

Greater Anglia

Greater Anglia has a complex route structure that fans out from a very busy electrified core into Liverpool Street on both their main lines.

They have ordered 89 x five-car and 22 x ten-car of Class 720 trains.

Many of their outer-suburban routes currently run twelve-car services and as their two main lines are only double-track, I can see a lot of five car trains working in pairs.

In Harlow Council Leader Jon Clempner Hopes Crossrail 2 Will Extend To Town, I suggested that Greater Anglia might use splitting and joining on the West Anglia Main Line to get four tph on the Hertford East Branch.

It may not be practical in that case, but Greater Anglia have several electrified branches.

South Western Railway

South Western Railway have a similar route structure to Greater Anglia, with a very busy electrified core into Waterloo.

They have ordered 30 x five-car and 60 x ten-car of Aventra trains.

In Waterloo Upgrade August 2017 – Virginia Water Station, I talked about used splitting and joining to provide a better service on the Waterloo to Reading Line and the Chertsey Branch.

However, I think that most services will be run by ten-car trains given the make-up of the fleet.

The five-cars could generally run on routes where the capacity only needs five-car trains or the infrastructure wouldn’t allow anything longer.

They could then split and join to maximise the capacity and use only one path from the split/join station to Waterloo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Waterloo Upgrade August 2017 – Virginia Water Station

I took these pictures at Virginia Water station.

The station was updated a few years ago, but the platforms have been lengthened to twelve-car platforms, as part of the August 2017 upgrade.

If the station has a problem, it is that the Waterloo to Reading Line and the Chertsey Branch, split on the Waterloo side of the station, so it would be impossible to have a ten-car train formed of two five-car units arrive in the station, with one departing on each line.

I suppose they could always split at Egham station, which has recently been updated with twelve-car platforms.

These two half-hourly services.

  • Waterloo to Guildford via Aldershot
  • Waterloo to Chertsey

Could be run by five-car trains, which ran as a ten-car train to Egham.

  • Both services would move from two to four trains per hour.
  • No extra train paths would be needed.

If the Class 707 trains can’t run a service like this, they’re history.

This Google Map shows Virginia Water station

Note that the scar of a chord that used to connect the Reading and Cherstey Lines can be seen South of the station.

Would it have any possibilities?

 

 

August 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Harlow Council Leader Jon Clempner Hopes Crossrail 2 Will Extend To Town

The title of this post is the same as this article in Essex Live.

You might feel that Jon Clempner has a point, if you look at this diagram of the West Anglia Main Line between the M25 and Stansted Airport.

Note that Harlow Town station is only five and a half miles North of Crossrail 2’s proposed terminal of Broxbourne.

Greater Anglia’s New Trains

Greater Anglia are replacing ten twelve-car Class 379 trains on Cambridge and Stansted Airport services with ten twelve-car Class 745 trains.

You might ask why bother with this replacement, if the number of trains and carriages are the same, which initially will result in the same number of services.

I answer that question in  Why Are Greater Anglia Replacing Class 379 Trains With New Stadler Class 745 Trains?

But this doesn’t mean the current frequency is cast in stone, as the other fleet of Class 720 trains have a similar performance to the Class 745 and 755 trains, so they can mix it on the West Anglia Main Line.

I feel that all the trains would have these features.

  • Trains would be fitted with the latest signalling, so they could work with headways between trains as low as two or three minutes.
  • Trains will all be 100 mph trains or faster.
  • Trains would be designed to stop and restart at a station very quickly.
  • Trains could couple and decouple to make a longer train in a couple of minutes.

They will offer lots of opportunities to improve services.

The Current Service North Of Broxbourne

These current services stop at Broxbourne station in both directions..

  • One train per hour (tph) between Cambridge and London Liverpool Street – fast – stopping at Bishops Stortford and Hsrlow Town
  • One tph between Cambridge and London Liverpool Street – semi-fast – stopping at Stansted Mountfichet, Bishops Stortford, Sawbridgeworth, Harlow Mill, Harlow Town and Roydon
  • One tph between Stratford and Bishops Stortford – local stopping at Roydon, Harlow Town, Harlow Mill and Sawbridgeworth
  • One tph between Stratford and Bishops Stortford – local stopping at Harlow Town and Sawbridgeworth
  • Two tph between Hertford East and London Liverpool Street

In addition, there are four tph between Stansted Airport and London Liverpool Street (Stansted Express).

This means that the frequency of trains through various stations are as follows.

  • Broxbourne – 10 tph – Six stop (not Stansted Express)
  • Harlow Town – 8 tph – Four stop and some Stansted Express stop
  • Bishops Stortford – 8 tph – Two stop, two terminate and some Stansted Express stop.

So there is a maximum of ten tph or just one train every six minutes at Brombourne.

Given that Crossrail and Thameslink handle twenty-four tph through their central tunnels, eight tph is not very high!

Crossrail 2 At Broxbourne

Crossrail 2 will have its own dedicated tracks between London and Broxbourne and could be running twelve tph.

So if there were to be cross-platform interchange between the North of Broxbourne services and Crossrail 2, passengers could change between services as they needed.

The trains going North of Broxborne would be as follows.

  • 2 tph to Cambridge or Cambridge North
  • 2 tph to Bishops Stortford
  • 2 tph to Hertford East.
  • 4 tph to Stansted Airport

There would be a lot of scope to create an efficient service between all stations on the West Anglia Main Line and the two london termini of Liverpool Street and Stratford.

The Hertford East Branch

The Hertford East Branch isn’t a problem now, but the two tph between Liverpool Street and Hertford East station take up valuable paths on the lines to London.

The branch also has the following characteristics.

  • The platforms may not be long enough for ten-car Class 720 trains.
  • It is mainly double-track with a short length of single-track through Ware station.
  • It is fully electrified.
  • It is just seven miles long.
  • It might be possible to add a chord so that trains can access the branch from the Harlow direction from the West Anglian Main Line.

I suspect Network Rail and Greater Anglia have a plan with at least the following objectives.

  1. Keep a direct service between London Liverpool Street and Hertford East.
  2. Increase the frequency of trains to and from Hertford East to four tph.
  3. Avoid as much infrastructure work as possible.

Because of the new trains ability to couple and uncouple, I wonder if we could see two five-car Class 720 trains arrive at Broxbourne as a ten-car unit, with one train going to Hertford East and the other going to Bishops Stortford.

This would have the following advantages.

  • Hertford East gets four tph, including two new tph from Stratford.
  • Bishops Stortford get four tph, including two new tph from Liverpool Street,
  • Two tph could serve each of the London termini of Liverpool Street and Stratford.
  • The number of trains along the West Anglia Main Line between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne is unchanged.
  • Hsrlow Town and Sawbridgworth  get another two tph to Liverpool Street.

I’m probably wrong, but there will be a better idea somewhere.

Conclusion

Crossrail 2 doesn’t need to go to Harlow Town, but Greater Anglia’s new trains should give a better service.

 

August 3, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment