The Anonymous Widower

Bi-Modes Offered To Solve Waterloo-Exeter Constraints

The title of this post is the same as an article by Richard Clinnick in Issue 912 of Rail Magazine.

The article is in turn based on this Continuous Modular Strategic Planning document from Network Rail, which is entitled West of England Line Study 2020.

The document is probably best described, as a document, that will need a lot of digestion for a full reading, but it does provide the reasons for what is said by Richard Clinnick.

The Need For Bi-Mode Trains

This is the a slightly edited version of the start of the Rail Magazine article.

Bi-mode trains should be ordered as part of a scheme to improve the service offered on the West of England route between London Waterloo and Exeter St, Davids, according to Network Rail.

In their extensive study, NR explains that additional capacity could be achieved on the route not only through infrastructure improvements, but also through lengthening some services.

The Network Rail report says.

This cannot be achieved using the current rolling stock fleet currently in operation; which are coming to end of life. Therefore, in the medium term, the opportunity to introduce new,
potentially bi-mode, rolling stock capable of achieving faster journey times and providing more capacity should be considered.

The report also suggests that electric, battery and hydrogen are mentioned as possible power.

South Western Railway’s Short Term Solution

In the short term, South Western Railway (SWR) have reorganised the service to meet short term objectives, which are described fully in the Network Rail report, but can be summed up as follows.

  • There is a need for a capacity increase between London Waterloo and Basingstoke and Salisbury.
  • There is a need for a capacity increase between Axminster and Exeter St. Davids.

SWR’s solution has probably been strongly driven by the needs of COVID-19, which means that a greater amount of space must be provided for each occupied seat. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve made six journeys in SWR’s Class 159 trains and like most other travellers, I’ve had four seats to myself. The trains may be thirty years old, but like most British Rail trains of that era, they keep giving valuable service.

For most of the day, SWR seem to offer the following solution.

  • Nine-car formations of Class 159 trains work between London Waterloo and Salisbury stations at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph)
  • Six-car formations of Class 159 trains work between Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids stations, at a frequency of one train per two hours (tp2h)
  • Passengers use a one-way system at Salisbury to walk between the two trains.

Yesterday, I took SWR’s trains between Clapham Junction and Yeovil Junction stations to observe the working of the route and take a few pictures.

My Observations

These are my observations.

Salisbury Station

This Google Map shows Salisbury station and the nearby Salisbury Depot.

These are some pictures I took at the station.

Note that the train in the platform is a nine-car formation which is 207 metres long. I would estimate that the platforms are around 220-240 metres long.

Yeovil Junction Station

This Google Map shows Yeovil Junction station.

These are some pictures I took at the station.

Note that the two trains in the platforms are six-car formations which are 138 metres long. I would estimate that the platforms are around 140-50 metres long.

Replacement Of The Current Class 159 Trains With Bi-Mode Trains

Consider the following train lengths and capacities.

  • A nine-car formation of Class 159 trains – 207 metres – 588 seats
  • A six-car formation of Class 159 trains – 138 metres – 392 seats
  • A nine-car Class 802 train – 234 metres – 647 seats
  • A five-car Class 802 train – 130 metres – 326 seats
  • A pair of five-car Class 802 trains – 260 metres – 652 seats

The figures for Class 802 trains are taken from the trains that are in service for Great Western Railway (GWR).

The following timings should also be noted.

  • London Waterloo and Salisbury – One hour and thirty minutes
  • Turnback time at Salisbury – Up to thirty minutes
  • Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids – Two hours and six minutes
  • Turnback time at Exeter St. Davids – Trains appear to go to Exeter New Yard for refuelling.
  • Wait at Yeovil Junction – Fourteen minutes

Note.

  1. The wait at Yeovil Junction station is so that trains can fit in with the large lengths of single-track on the West of England Main Line.
  2. The need to refuel the diesel trains would appear to be a major constraint on running more services on the route.
  3. Both legs of the journey have convenient times of one-and-a-half and two hours respectively.

Overall, I think the timings are helpful.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

Hitachi have recently released details of their new Battery Regional train, which are summarised in this Hitachi infographic.

They have also signed an agreement with Hyperdrive Innovation to develop battery packs for their Class 80x trains, as I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

Looking at the length and capacity table, I displayed earlier, it would appear there are several ways to run the service between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids using Regional Battery Trains.

  • Run nine-car trains between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids
  • Run five-car trains between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids
  • Run nine-car trains between London Waterloo and Salisbury and five-car trains between Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids
  • Run a pair of five-car trains between London Waterloo and Salisbury and a single five-car train between Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids, with selective splitting and joining at Salisbury.

Alternatively, the route could be electrified. But that has a few obstacles and disadvantages.

  • Would the various jobsworths allow this substantial length of third-rail electrification?
  • Would there be serious objections to using overhead electrification?
  • Would the travellers on the route, be prepared for all the disruption?
  • There is also the excessive cost of electrification.

I also believe, that only limited small infrastructure improvements would be needed to replace the current diesel trains with battery electric bi-mode trains like the Regional Battery Trains.

Regional Battery Trains Between London Waterloo And Salisbury

Consider.

  • London Waterloo and Salisbury stations are 83.5 miles apart.
  • The fifty miles between London Waterloo and  Worting Junction is fully electrified.
  • Only the 33.5 miles between Salisbury and Worting Junction are not electrified.
  • In the infographic, Hitachi are claiming a 90 kilometre or 56 mile battery range and a static charging time of between 10-15 minutes.

It would certainly appear, that if a train from London passed Worting Junction with full batteries, it would reach Salisbury. Also a train leaving Salisbury with full batteries would certainly reach Worting Junction and the electrification.

There would be three ways of charging the Regional Battery Trains at Salisbury.

  1. Fit a number of charging stations on the platforms.
  2. Install 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  3. Install 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

I prefer Option 3 in a station like Salisbury.

  • It would be easy to install and British Rail probably drew up detailed plans several times, when full third-rail electrification was under consideration.
  • The trains will be fitted with third-rail shoes to access the third-rail electrification on the way to London.
  • Because of the depot, there’s probably a good power supply.
  • For increased safety, modern electrical design, could mean that power was only switched on when a train is connected.

As trains currently wait for some time in Salisbury, it would be likely, that trains would leave the station with a full battery.

Regional Battery Trains Between London Salisbury And Exeter St Davids

Consider.

  • Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids stations are 88.5 miles apart.
  • There is no electrification.
  • Yeovil Junction station is approximately half way and is 49.5 miles from Exeter St. Davids and 39 miles from Salisbury.
  • Typically, trains wait at Yeovil Junction station for up to fourteen minutes, to get through the single-track sections.

I believe that a similar method of charging to that at Salisbury could be used at Yeovil Junction.

There would also need to be charging at Exeter St. Davids station.

This Google Map shows Exeter St. Davids station.

Services from London Waterloo and Salisbury currently turnback at Exeter St. Davids station in the following manner.

  • They arrive from the track running to the station from the South East.
  • They unload passengers in Platform 1 which is the long platform on the East side of the station.
  • It seems that they then continue through the station to New Yard, where they refuel and do other things, that Class 159 trains do after a long journey.
  • At the appropriate time, they return to Platform 1, where they load up with passengers and leave by the way they arrived.

If a charging system or electrification, were to be added to Platform 1, the trains would be able to fill up in the station.

  • Currently, it appears that the Class 159 trains take over an our to do this complicated manoeuvre.
  • Hitachi are quoting a charging time of 10-15 minutes for their Regional Battery Train.

Could valuable minutes be saved, that would enable a more passenger-friendly timetable?

Charging Regional Battery Trains At Yeovil Junction Station

Currently, the timetable is arranged like this.

  • The Salisbury to Exeter St. Davids train and the Exeter St. Davids to Salisbury trains pass at Yeovil Junction station.
  • Both trains wait in the station for nearly fifteen minutes, which is an adequate time to fully-charge the batteries.

The picture shows the two trains in the platform together.

Currently, the timetable would seem to be ideal for battery electric train operation between Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids stations.

A Possible Timetable Between London Waterloo And Exeter St. Davids 

It did occur to me, that South Western Railway might be running a timetable, that could possibly be designed for Regional Battery Trains.

  1. A nine-car formation between London Waterloo and Salisbury could be replaced with a nine-car or a pair of five-car Regional Battery Trains.
  2. A six-car Salisbury and Exeter St. Davids could be replaced by a five-car Regional Battery Train.
  3. Trains could pass at Gillingham station between Salisbury and Yeovil Junction, as it is a two-platform station about half-way.
  4. Trains could pass at Honiton station between Yeovil Junction and Exeter St. Davids, as it is a two-platform station about half-way.

I think if it was needed, that two tph would be possible not only between London Waterloo and Salisbury, but also between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids.

I also think that the following detailed service pattern would be possible.

  • A pair of five-car Regional Battery Trains would leave London Waterloo at a frequency of two tph.
  • The front train would be for passengers for all stations between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids.
  • The rear train would only be for passengers for all stations between London Waterloo and Salisbury.
  • On arrival at Salisbury, both trains would charge their batteries.
  • When the batteries were fully-charged, the two trains would split.
  • The front train would continue on its journey to Exeter St. Davids, leaving the rear train in the platform.
  • The Exeter St. Davids to London Waterloo service would arrive at Salisbury and join to the train in the platform.
  • The pair of trains would then run to London Waterloo.

This service pattern has the big advantage that passengers travelling between a station East of Salisbury and one to the West of Salisbury, will not have to change trains

  • All stations on the line also get a two tph service.
  • Services would be the same or better on the whole route, to the pre-COVID-19 timetable.
  • There would be extra capacity between London and Basingstoke.

 

 

 

 

 

August 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CrossCountry’s Bournemouth And Manchester Piccadilly Service

Whilst I was at Basingstoke station yesterday one of CrossCountry‘s services between Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly came through, so I took these pictures.

It was a long formation of Class 220 trains.

Could This Service Be Replaced By Hitachi Regional Battery Trains?

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification of the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

I feel that in most condition, the range on battery power can be up to 56 miles.

I can break the Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly route into a series of legs.

  • Bournemouth and Basingstoke – 60 miles – 750 VDC third-rail electrification
  • Basingstoke and Reading – 15.5 miles – No electrification
  • Reading and Didcot North Junction – 18 miles – 25 KVAC overhead electrification
  • Didcot North Junction and Oxford – 10 miles – No electrification
  • Oxford and Banbury – 22 miles – No electrification
  • Banbury and Leamington Spa – 20 miles – No electrification
  • Leamington Spa and Coventry – 10 miles – No electrification
  • Coventry and Manchester Piccadilly – 101 miles – 25 KVAC overhead electrification

Note.

  1. 63 % of the route is electrified.
  2. The short 15.5 mile gap in the electrification between Basingstoke and Reading should be an easy route for running on battery power.
  3. But the 62 mile gap between Didcot North Junction and Coventry might well be too far.

The train would also need to be able to work with both types of UK electrification.

If some way could be found to bridge the 62 mile gap reliably, Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains could work CrossCountry’s service between Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly.

Bridging The Gap

These methods could possibly  be used to bridge the gap.

A Larger Battery On The Train

If you look at images of MTU’s Hybrid PowerPack, they appear to show a basic engine module with extra battery modules connected to it.

Will Hitachi and their battery-partner; Hyperdrive Innovation use a similar approach, where extra batteries  can be plugged in as required?

This modular approach must offer advantages.

  • Battery size can be tailored to routes.
  • Batteries can be changed quickly.

The train’s software would know what batteries were fitted and could manage them efficiently.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train able to handle a gap only six miles longer than the specification.

Battery And Train Development

As Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train develops, the following should happen.

  • Useable battery capacity will increase.
  • The train will use less electricity.
  • Actions like regenerative braking will improve and recover more electricity.
  • Driving and train operating strategies will improve.

These and other factors will improve the range of the train on batteries.

A Charging Station At Banbury Station

If some form of Fast Charge system were to be installed at Banbury station, this would enable a train stopping at Banbury to take on enough power to reliably reach Oxford or Coventry depending, on their final destination.

This method may add a few minutes to the trip, but it should work well.

Electrification Of A Section Of The Chiltern Main Line

This could be an elegant solution.

I have just flown my helicopter between Bicester North and Warwick Parkway stations and these are my observations.

  • The Chiltern Main Line appears to be fairly straight and has received a top class Network Rail makeover in the last couple of decades.
  • There are a couple of tunnels, but most of the bridges are new.
  • Network Rail have done a lot of work on this route to create a hundred mph main line.
  • It might be possible to increase the operating speed, by a few mph.
  • The signalling also appears modern.

My untrained eye, says that it won’t be too challenging to electrify between say Bicester North station or Aynho Junction in the South and Leamington Spa or Warwick Parkway stations in the North. I would think, that the degree of difficulty would be about the same, as the recently electrified section of the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Corby stations.

The thirty-eight miles of electrification between Bicester North and Warwick Parkway stations would mean.

  • The electrification is only eight-and-a-half miles longer than Bedford and Corby.
  • There could be journey time savings.
  • As all trains stop at two stations out of Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick and Warwick Parkway, all pantograph actions could be performed in stations, if that was thought to be preferable.
  • Trains would be able to leave the electrification with full batteries.
  • The electrification may enable some freight trains to be hauled between Didcot and Coventry or Birmingham using battery electric locomotives.

Distances of relevance from the ends of the electrification include.

  • London Marylebone and Bicester North stations – 55 miles
  • London Marylebone and Aynho junction – 64 miles
  • Didcot North and Aynho junctions – 28 miles
  • Leamington Spa and Coventry stations – 10 miles
  • Leamington Spa and Birmingham Snow Hill stations – 23 miles
  • Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon stations – 15 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Birmingham New Street stations – 20 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Birmingham Snow Hill stations – 20 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Kidderminster – 40 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Stratford-upon-Avon stations – 12 miles

These figures mean that the following services would be possible using Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.

  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street
  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill
  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Kidderminster
  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Stratford-upon-Avon
  • CrossCountry – Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly
  • CrossCountry – Southampton Central and Newcastle
  • Midlands Connect – Oxford and Birmingham More Street – See Birmingham Airport Connectivity.

Other services like Leicester and Oxford via Coventry may also be possible.

As I see it, the great advantage of this electrification on the Chiltern Main Line is that is decarbonises two routes with the same thirty-eight miles of electrification.

Conclusion

CrossCountry’s Bournemouth And Manchester Piccadilly service could be run very efficiently with Hitachi’s proposed Regional Battery Train.

My preferred method to cross the electrification gap between Didcot North junction and Coventry station would be to electrify a section of the Chiltern Main Line.

  • The electrification would be less than forty miles.
  • I doubt it would be a challenging project.
  • It would also allow Hitachi’s proposed trains to work Chiltern Main Line routes between London Marylebone and Birmingham.

I am fairly certain, that all passenger services through Banbury would be fully electric.

 

August 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – Unlocking Capacity And Services Through Bramley (Hants)

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Bramley Station

Bramley (Hants) station is on the  Reading-Basingstoke Line, which is 15.5 miles long.

  • The line is double-track.
  • Bramley station is the nearest one to Basingstoke station.
  • The two stations are about five miles apart.
  • The basic local service is two trains per hour (tph), with trains taking a few minutes under half-an-hour.
  • The speed limit is listed in Wikipedia at 75 mph and my Class 165 train was travelling at about 60 mph on both journeys between Basingstoke and Bramley stations.

This Google Map shows Bramley station.

Note the level crossing, just to the North of the station.

These are some pictures, that I took, whilst I spent about thirty minutes at Bramley station.

Note

  1. In the thirty minutes, I was at the station, two long freight trains and three passenger trains came through.
  2. The level crossing barriers were going up and down like a whore’s drawers.
  3. Each level crossing closure resulted in long queues at the barriers.

It reminded me how bad the level crossing at Brimsdown station used to be in the Peak in 1966, when I crossed it twice every day to go to and from work at Enfield Rolling Mills. At least I was on two wheels and it gave me a break from pedalling!

There is more on the problems of the level crossing on this article on the Bramley Parish Council web site, which is entitled Living With Our Level Crossing.

Current Future Plans For the Reading-Basingstoke Line

The Wikipedia entry for the Reading-Basingstoke Line has a Future section, where this is said.

The railway is listed with Network Rail as part of route 13, the Great Western main line, and was due to be electrified with 25 kV overhead wiring by 2017 as part of the modernisation of the main line.[8] In July 2007, plans were agreed to build a station in Reading south of Southcote Junction in the Green Park business park, serving the southern suburbs of Reading and also the Madejski Stadium. Construction of Reading Green Park railway station was expected to be completed in 2010; the plans were suspended in 2011, but were reinstated in 2013. It is now set to open by the end of 2020[9], with electrification along the line at a later date.

It is my view, that the new Reading Green Park station will probably mean that four tph between Reading and Basingstoke stations will be needed. especially if a second new station were to be built at Chineham.

But four tph would probably be impossible, without improving the traffic of both rail and road through Bramley.

Solving The Level Crossing Problem

Ideally, the level crossing should be closed and the road diverted or put on a bridge,

If you look at a wider map of the area, building a by-pass to enable road traffic to avoid the crossing will be difficult if not impossible.

But this is not an untypical problem on rail networks and not just in the UK.

I suspect that with precise train control using digital ERTMS  signalling, trains and level crossing closures can be timed to improve traffic on both road and rail.

Consider.

  • If trains crossed on the level crossing and they were under precise control, this would reduce the number of level crossing closures per hour.
  • If the line speed was higher and the trains ran faster, this should ease timetabling, as there could be more train paths per hour.
  • Faster accelerating electric trains would save time too, by shortening station dwell times.
  • A third track might be laid in places.
  • The signalling could possibly drive the train or tell the driver exactly what speed to travel, so trains passed on the crossing or in the station.

As Network Rail and their contractors roll-out ERTMS, they’ll discover better and more intelligent ways to deploy the system.

Electric Trains Would Help

Electric trains accelerate faster and if they use regenerative braking to batteries, this cuts station dwell times.

But powering them by electrification would mean the connecting lines between the Reading and Basingstoke Lines and the nearest electrified lines would also have to be electrified.  This would make the scheme excessively expensive.

But Battery Electric Trains Could Be Better!

I believe that battery electric trains, would be a more-than-viable alternative.

  • You still get the performance advantages of electric trains.
  • With charging at just one end of the route, a battery electric train could run a round trip on battery power.

The big advantage, would be that the only new electrification infrastructure needed would be to charge the trains.

Charging Battery Electric Trains At Reading Station

Reading is a fully electrified station and the shuttle trains to and from Basingstoke station, appear to use Platform 2.

This Google Map shows electrification gantries over Platforms 1, 2 and 3 at Reading station.

Note.

  1. The route between Reading station and Southcote junction, where the Basingstoke and Newbury routes divide, may be under two miles, but it is fully electrified.
  2. Trains take three minutes to travel between Reading station and Southcote junction.
  3. Trains wait for up to twenty minutes in the platform at Reading station.

It would appear that trains get enough time at Reading to fully charge the batteries.

Charging Battery Electric Trains At Basingstoke Station

The shuttle trains between Reading and Basingstoke stations, appear to use Platform 5 in Basingstoke station.

This Google Map shows Platform 5 at Basingstoke station.

Platform 5 is towards the top of the map and contains a two-car train.

These pictures show the platform.

Note.

  1. There would appear to be space on the North side of Platform 5 to install another platform, if one should be needed.
  2. It appears from the Google Map, that Platform 5 could take a four-car train.
  3. The platform is wide and spacious for passengers.
  4. I suspect a Fast Charge system of some sort could be installed in this platform.

As at Reading, trains can take around twenty minutes to turn back at Basingstoke, which would be ideal for a battery charge.

What Trains Could Work The Shuttle?

After South Western Railway‘s interim Managing Director; Mark Hopwood’s comments, that led me to write Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains, these trains must be a possibility.

I also think, that as both South Western Railway and Great Western Railway are both First Group companies, there won’t be too much argument about who supplies the trains for the shuttle.

CrossCountry Trains Between Reading And Basingstoke

CrossCountry will need to replace their Class 220 trains with electric or bi-mode trains soon, to meet the dates for decarbonisation.

The prime candidate must be a dual-voltage version of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, which could easily work the 15.5 miles between Reading and Basingstoke on battery power, after charging up on the electrification at both ends.

The trains could also be easily fitted with the ERTMS signalling equipment that will be required to go smoothly along the line.

Freight Trains Between Reading And Basingstoke

We might see this section of the UK rail network, electrified for freight, but as it would require lots of connecting electrification, I think it is more likely that freight locomotives will be powered by an alternative fuel like hydrogen or bio-diesel. This would cut electrification needs, but still reduce carbon emissions.

Freight locomotives are already being fitted with the required ERTMS signalling equipment.

 

Conclusion

I am absolutely sure, that there’s a technological solution in there, that can increase the number of trains through Bramley.

But diverting the road traffic and clossing the level crossing would appear to be difficult.

 

 

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment