The Anonymous Widower

East West Railway Company To Start Second Phase Of Rolling Stock Procurement

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from East West Rail.

These are the three introductory paragraphs.

East West Railway Company (EWR Co) is to restart market engagement with potential train suppliers, as its rolling stock procurement process enters a new phase.

The move follows an initial phase of procurement activity, which EWR Co concluded earlier in the year. A new PIN Notice has been published today to restart engagement with potential suppliers, which includes a set of technical specifications taking account of feedback from the market gained during the initial procurement phase.

This procurement aims to secure a short-term, interim solution to leasing a small fleet of self-powered trains for the Western Section of East West Rail.

The press release has a link to the Prior Information Notice or PIN Notice on the EU database.

along with all the usual contact and other details, this is said about the specification.

The East West Railway Company (EWR Co.) is looking to leasing a fleet of 12 or 14 x 3 car self-powered units with modifications including European Train Control System (‘ETCS’) Level 2 and Driver Controlled Operation (‘DCO’) capability, supported by a full maintenance package (under a ‘wet’ lease). These units will ensure timely operation of EWR’s Western Section Phase 2 between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Aylesbury. The lease duration would be 4 years, with an option to extend for 2 years.

The date of the notice is the 10th of November 2020, so it has been recently updated.

I commented on these trains in March 2020, when I wrote EWR Targets Short-Term Fleet Ahead Of Possible Electrification.

In the intervening eight months, a lot have things have happened.

Awareness Of Green Issues

The Covid-19 pandemic has arrived, with all its ferocity and seems to be moving people in the direction of thinking about green issues and zero-carbon transport.

Type “build back greener UK” into Google and you get lots of articles. Some feature Boris Johnson, like this article on Business Green, which is entitled Boris Johnson To Pledge To ‘Build Back Greener’.

I don’t think the public, myriad engineers and scientists and a good selection of politicians will find it appropriate for the East West Railway to use any rolling stock, that is not zero-carbon and powered by renewable energy.

Hitachi Have Launched The Regional Battery Train In Conjunction With Hyperdrive Innovation

In July 2020, I wrote Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

Hitachi had been talking for some time, that they were developing battery electric trains for the UK, but this was the first news of a route to their design, manufacture and into service.

Hitachi also published this YouTube video and this infographic of the train’s specification.

They have also called the train, the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

My estimate is that Oxford and Bedford are under fifty miles apart, so if Hitachi’s train could be charged at both ends of the route, one of their trains could provide a self-powered service between Oxford and Bedford.

It seems that Hitachi have an off-the-shelf train, that fits the specification for the trains required by East West Railway.

Vivarail Have Launched A Fast Charge System

Battery electric trains, like electric vehicles are not much use, if you can’t charge them when it is needed.

The initial Service Pattern of the East West Railway is given in the Wikipedia entry of the East West Railway.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) – Oxford and Milton Keynes Central via Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village, Winslow and Bletchley.
  • One tph – Oxford and Milton Keynes via Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgemont.
  • One tph – Aylesbury and Milton Keynes Central via Aylesbury Vale Parkway, Winslow and Bletchley.

There are four terminal stations.

  • Aylesbury – No electrification
  • Bedford – Full Electrification
  • Milton Keynes Central – Full Electrification
  • Oxford – No electrification

The existing electrification could be used at Bedford and Milton Keynes Central, whereas some type of charging system, would be needed at Aylesbury and Oxford.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

Vivarail’s Fast Charge system would surely be a front-runner for installation at Aylesbury and Oxford, if battery electric trains were to be run on the East West Railway.

Choosing A Train

East West Rail have said the following about the train specification.

  • Three cars
  • Self-powered
  • European Train Control System (‘ETCS’) Level 2 and Driver Controlled Operation (‘DCO’) capability
  • Available on a wet lease, that includes a full maintenance package

The press release from East West Rail and other documents mentions between twelve and fourteen trains will be leased.

In Trains Needed For The East West Railway, I calculated that the proposed services could need around eight or nine trains.

This must mean one of three things.

  • There are plans for extra services.
  • There are plans for the proposed services to be extended.
  • Trains will run some services in pairs.

Because, of the last reason, the trains must have the ability to run in pairs.

As sections of the East West Railway are being built for 100 mph operation, the trains must also have a 100 mph capability.

When I talked briefly about green issues earlier, I said that I felt the trains should be zero-carbon, which would rule out diesel.

That leaves two options for self-powered operation; battery electric or hydrogen.

So what trains fit the specification?

British Rail Era Trains

A large number of British Rail era trains could be suitable for updating for interim use on the East West Railway.

I even suspect, some fantasist will suggest using shortened versions of InterCity 125 trains, as are used in South-West England and Scotland.

But let’s be serious and not insult the intelligence of the three world-leading universities on the final route of the East West Railway.

A lot of money is also being spent on this railway and tarted-up forty-year-old trains would not encourage people to use the new railway.

Class 170 Trains

There are eighty-seven three-car Class 170 trains with various operators, some of which will be surplus to requirements, as they are being replaced with new trains.

But they are diesel, so surely they don’t fit my perceived need for zero-carbon trains.

That would have been true until a couple of weeks ago, when as I wrote in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, Adrian Shooter of Vivarail disclosed an audacious plan to convert, diesel trains into zero-carbon battery electric trains.

Class 170 trains like this were on the list of possible conversions.

  • They 100 mph trains.
  • Some are three-cars.
  • They meet all the disability regulations.
  • They have been used for services much longer than Oxford and Bedford.

They could also start the service as diesel trains and gradually converted to battery electric, if this would be better for operation.

Class 175 Trains

The three-car 100 mph Class 175 trains could be a possibility as there are fifteen trains, but they have two problems.

  • They are powered by diesel.
  • They probably won’t be available until 2023.

So I think they can be ruled out.

Class 185 Trains

All the fifty-one Class 185 trains are currently in service with TransPennine Express. They are due to release fifteen trains in 2021 and it was thought that these trains were in prime position for becoming the interim trains for East West Railway.

  • They 100 mph trains.
  • Some are three-cars.
  • They meet all the disability regulations.
  • They have been used for services much longer than Oxford and Bedford.
  • The fleet is the right size.

But then the Department of Transport decided to change their plans for the Liverpool and Norwich service.

I wrote about one journey on the overcrowded section of this service in Mule Trains Between Liverpool And Norwich.

The picture shows the inadequate train formed of an assorted collection of Class 153 trains, I took from Liverpool to Sheffield.

The service is now being split at Nottingham and East Midlands Railway will receive the released Class 185 trains for the Liverpool and Nottingham portion of the service.

A fleet of these Class 185 trains will surely offer more comfort on a very busy service.

So it is looking unlikely that Class 185 trains will be used on the East West Railway.

Class 220, 221 and 222 Trains

These three fleets of Voyager trains could be a possibility, as they can be shortened to three-car trains.

But they have disadvantages.

I think it is unlikely, that these trains will be used on the East West Railway.

Class 350 Trains

There are thirty-seven Class 350 trains, that were built only twelve years ago, that have been retired. The owner; Porterbrook are planning to convert them into battery electric versions, which they have called BatteryFLEX trains.

Unfortunately, they are four-cars and unlike other trains, it doesn’t appear that they can be shortened to three cars.

Class 375, 377, 379 and 387 Trains

These four fleets of Electrostar trains could be a possibility for running as battery electric trains.

  • Some are three-car trains and four-car trains can be converted to three-car trains, by simply removing a car.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • Bombardier converted a Class 379 train for battery operation and I have heard or seen no adverse reports from either passengers, rail staff or journalists.
  • They can work in multiple formations.
  • They are all wired for dual-voltage operation.
  • Pantographs wells have already been fitted to trains that normally work using 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

The picture shows the Class 379 train, that was converted to battery electric operation.

The Class 379 trains, also have the advantage, that there is a fleet of thirty trains, that are being replaced by Greater Anglia, who are homeless.

If I were the owner of the Class 379 trains, I’d do the following.

  • Convert them all into battery electric trains.
  • Shuffle cars around to get a mix of three-, four- and five-car trains to match market opportunities.
  • Make them compatible with Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.
  • Do a licensing deal with Vivarail, so I could supply the chargers.

This plan has some big advantages.

  • Battery electric operation of the Class 379 trains has been successfully proven.
  • Some Class 379 trains are already available for conversion, as they have been replaced by Greater Anglia.
  • The trains could easily be delivered in time for the opening of the East West Railway.
  • The trains would not need to be replaced, if the East West Railway was to be fully electrified in the future.
  • If I leased out all the Class 379 trains, I’m fairly sure that I could acquire some other Electrostars to convert.

The trains would surely be ideal for the Uckfield Branch and Ashford and Hastings, which are to be run by battery electric trains.

  • The order for these services is still to be announced.
  • This use would be a trial application of the highest quality.
  • I suspect that five-car trains would be ideal for these Southern routes.
  • In Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch, I estimated that Southern would need twelve five-car trains for the Uckfield Branch and four trains for the Ashford and Hastings service.

It looks to me, the thirty four-car Class 379 trains could be converted into the following battery electric trains.

  • Twelve five-car trains for the Uckfield Branch.
  • Four four-car trains for Ashford and Hastings.
  • Fourteen three-car trains for the East West Railway.

Using battery electric Class 379 trains for the East West Railway, the Uckfield Branch and Ashford and Hastings. looks from the engineering, numbers and financial points of view to be a very efficient proposition.

Class 385 Trains

As I indicated earlier, Hitachi have the technology to create a Class 385 train with a battery capability.

  • They appear to be talking to ScotRail.
  • Are they talking to Vivarail about using their Fast Charge system?
  • As the trains would be new, East West Railway would get trains to their specification.

Battery electric Class 385 trains must be a serious proposition.

Class 600 Trains

The Class 600 train could be an interesting possibility.

The trains can be powered by both hydrogen and overhead or third-rail electrification.

  • The trains are three-cars long.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • First in-service dates are scheduled for 2024, which could be convenient.
  • The trains will have a state-of-the-art Renatus interior.
  • They will not need charging and could probably be refuelled as infrequently as only once per day.

I am not worried, by the train being powered by hydrogen, but because of the large tanks in the train, the passenger capacity will be lower, than a diesel, electric or battery electric train of a similar length.

I suspect though, that Alstom will be pitching for the order.

Aventras

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over nine years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

Bombardier have not announced that any of their trains have energy storage, but I have my suspicions, that both the Class 345 and Class 710 trains use super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries, as part of their traction system design.

I believe that Bombardier, have the ability to build an Aventra to this specification.

  • Three-cars
  • 100 mph running
  • Sixty mile range on battery power.
  • Dual voltage.
  • Ability to work in pairs.

Like the Hitachi trains, they would be new build.

CAF

CAF have proposed a battery electric train based on the Class 331 train, which I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans.

It is a four-car development of the three-car Class 331 trains.

Can it be built as a three-car train to fit the specification?

Conclusion

There are some good candidates sir supplying an interim fleet of trains for the East West Railway.

My money’s on one of the following.

  • New Hitachi Class 385 trains
  • Converted Class 379 trains.
  • New Aventras

All would be battery electric trains.

But there is a change that Alstom’s Class 600 hydrogen trains could be used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Testing Begins On Midland Main Line Electrification

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

  • From the article, it looks like the first part of mechanical testing has been completed as planned and unpowered pantograph runs have been performed at up to 110 mph.
  • It does seem to me, that this thirty  miles of electrification has avoided the troubles that have plagued similar projects in recent years.

Perhaps the good progress on this electrification, is making the government think again about early electrification of all of the  Midland Main Line

In Hopes Rekindled Of Full Midland Main Line Electrification. I showed how battery electric Class 810 trains would be able to work the route.

This was my conclusion of that earlier post.

It appears that both the Nottingham and Sheffield services can be run using battery electric Class 810 trains.

  • All four diesel engines in the Class 810 trains would need to be replaced with batteries.
  • The route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, which will be shared with High Speed Two, will need to be electrified.
  • Charging facilities for the battery electric trains will need to be provided at Nottingham.

On the other hand using battery electric trains mean the two tricky sections of the Derwent Valley Mills and Leicester station and possibly others, won’t need to be electrified to enable electric trains to run on the East Midlands Railway network.

Will it be the first main line service in the world, run by battery electric trains?

There was one thing, that wasn’t available, a month ago, when I wrote that post – A charging system for battery electric trains, that could be installed at Nottingham.

In Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, I report on Adrian Shooter’s plans for Vivarail, which are outlined in a video by Modern Railways.

Ar one point he says this   see about Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.

The system has now been given preliminary approval to be installed as the UK’s standard charging system for any make of train.

I may have got the word’s slightly wrong, but I believe the overall message is correct.

So could we see a Hitachi Class 810 train using Vivarail’s patented Fast Charge system at Nottingham?

In Interview: Hitachi’s Nick Hughes On Driving Innovation In Rail Propulsion, Nick Hughes of Hitachi is quoted as saying.

Rail is going to become increasingly digitised and integrated into other sectors involved in smart cities, mobility-as-a-service and flexible green grid. Therefore, Hitachi Rail won’t be able to stay at the forefront of innovation by its self. This is why we are focused on building partnerships with other like-minded, innovative, clean tech companies like Hyperdrive Innovation, Perpetuum and Hitachi group companies such as Hitachi ABB.

Does Vivarail fit that philosophy? In my view, it does!

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

Note.

  1. The range on battery power is 90 km or 56 miles at up to 100 mph.
  2. Class 810 trains could be converted to battery electric trains by replacing the diesel engines with batteries.
  3. As the electrification has reached Kettering. there is only 55 miles between London St Pancras and Nottingham without electrification.

I could see Class 810 trains running between St. Pancras and Nottingham on delivery, provided the following projects have been completed.

  • Hitachi have been able to give the Class 810 trains a range of say 60 miles on batteries.
  • Hitachi have modified their trains, so they can be recharged by a Vivarail Fast Charge system in fifteen minutes.
  • Vivarail have installed a Fast Charge facility at Nottingham station.

Network Rail are planning to extend the electrification from Kettering to Market Harborough, which would reduce the distance without electrification to under 50 miles. This would make running battery electric trains between London St. Pancras and Nottingham even easier.

Expanding The Network

If I am putting two and two together correctly and Hitachi have turned to Vivarail to provide a charging system or a licence for the use of the technology, I am sure, it would be possible to create a comprehensive network of battery electric trains.

Consider.

  • Hitachi should be able to squeeze a sixty mile range at 90-100 mph from a battery-equipped Class 810 trains.
  • Market Harborough and Derby are about 47 miles apart.
  • Derby and Sheffield are about 36 miles apart
  • Sheffield and Leeds are about 48 miles apart
  • Corby and Leicester are about 41 miles apart.

Vivarail Fast Charge systems at Derby, Leicester and Sheffield would enable the following routes to be run using battery electric trains.

  • London St. Pancras and Sheffield via Derby – Fast Charging at Derby and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Leeds via Derby and Sheffield – Fast Charging at Derby and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Sheffield via the Erewash Valley Line – Fast Charging at Ilkeston (?) and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Leicester via Corby – Fast Charging at Leicester

Note.

  1. The only extra electrification needed for the initial network would be between Kettering and Market Harborough.
  2. The Class 810 trains would all be identical.
  3. The Class 810 trains might even be built and delivered as battery electric trains
  4. Trains would also charge the batteries between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough, between London St. Pancras and Corby. and between Leeds and Wakefield Westgate.

The network can be extended by adding more electrification and Fast Charge systems.

Conclusion

The technologies of Hitachi and Vivarail seem complimentary and could result in a fully electric main line train network for East Midlands Railway.

 

 

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station

This article on Rail News, is entitled £2.7bn East Midlands Plan Unveiled For HS2 Links.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A bold plan costed at £2.7 billion for the area around the HS2 hub in the East Midlands has been published by a group of councils, transport bodies and East Midlands Airport.

The core of the scheme is the future East Midlands Hub at Toton, and the plan proposes direct access to the Hub from more than 20 cities, towns and villages in the East Midlands.

If you want to read the original report by Midlands Connect, there’s a download link on this page of their web site.

The original report has a section entitled Midlands Engine Rail, where this is said.

This project is fully integrated with Midlands Engine Rail, a rail improvement plan developed by Midlands Connect to revolutionise connectivity, mobility and productivity across the region. Midlands Engine Rail includes plans for two new HS2 classic-compatible services on an electrified Midland Main Line that will run direct from:

  • Bedford and Leeds via Leicester and East Midlands Hub
  • Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street via East Midlands Hub

These services can run on both electrified and high speed tracks, and would join the HS2 network at Toton, the HS2 East Midlands Hub, meaning that Nottingham and Leicester city centres are directly linked to HS2 without the need to change trains.

These improved connections will more than halve current journey times, with Leicester to Leeds dropping from 120 minutes to 46 minutes and Nottingham to Birmingham falling from 72 minutes to 33 minutes.

Note.

  1. Between Bedford and East Midland Hub stations, the Midland Main Line is or soon will be an almost a complete 125 mph rail line.
  2. It is likely, that with digital in-cab signalling, that faster running up to 140 mph may be permitted in places.
  3. Between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub stations, trains will use High Speed Two at up to 205 mph.
  4. Between Leeds and East Midlands Hub stations, trains will use High Speed Two at up to 205 mph.
  5. Leeds and Birmingham Curzon Street station will be new stations for High Speed Two.

The Classic-Compatible Trains

These are described in this section in Wikipedia, by this sentence.

The classic-compatible trains, capable of high speed but built to a British loading gauge, permitting them to leave the high speed track to join conventional routes such as the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line. Such trains would allow running of HS2 services to the north of England and Scotland, although these non-tilting trains would run slower than existing tilting trains on conventional track. HS2 Ltd has stated that, because these trains must be specifically designed for the British network and cannot be bought “off-the-shelf”, these conventional trains were expected to be around 50% more expensive, costing around £40 million per train rather than £27 million for the captive stock.

The trains will have the same characteristics as the full-size trains.

  • Maximum speed of 225 mph.
  • Cruising speed of 205 mph on High Speed Two.
  • Length of 200 metres.
  • Ability to work in pairs.
  • A passenger capacity around 500-600 passengers.

It should be noted that one of these trains will be shorter than a pair of East Midlands Railway’s five-car Class 810 trains, which should avoid any serious platform lengthening on existing lines.

Bedford and Leeds via Leicester and East Midlands Hub

A few facts and thoughts.

  • The service is shown as stopping at Wellingborough, Kettering, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough and East Midlands Hub.
  • The service frequency could be hourly.
  • This service could be more important, than it appears, as by the time High Speed Two opens to Leeds, the East West Railway will be open through Bedford.
  • Would a terminal platform need to be added at Bedford station? As the station could be rebuilt for the East West Railway, this shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Leeds will have a new High Speed Two station or at least new platforms in the existing station.
  • The Bedford and Leeds service would join High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go North.
  • The Leeds and Bedford service would leave High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go South.

Leeds and Leicester will take 46 minutes, with High Speed Two’s journey time calculator, indicating twenty-seven minutes between East Midlands Hub and Leeds stations.

According to an article in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways High Speed Two is planning to run the following services on the Eastern leg of High Speed Two between East Midlands Hub and Leeds.

  • Two tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds
  • Three tph – London Euston and Leeds

There will be a Turn-Up-And-Go six tph service between East Midlands Hub and Leeds stations.

If the Bedford and Leeds service was an hourly service, when added to the current East Midlands Railway Inter-City services, it would give the following calling frequencies.

  • Wellingborough – 2 tph
  • Kettering – 2 tph
  • Market Harborough – 3 tph
  • Leicester – 5 tph
  • Loughborough – 3 tph
  • East Midlands Parkway – 2 tph

The calling pattern can be adjusted to the number of passengers.

Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street via East Midlands Hub

A few facts and thoughts.

  • The service is shown as only stopping at East Midlands Hub.
  • The service frequency could be hourly.
  • The service would go between East Midlands Hub and Nottingham using the Trowell Curve route, which I discussed in Access To Toton – Scheme 6 – Trowell Curve.
  • Nottingham station has long terminal platforms that take a full-length Inter-City 125.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street will be a new High Speed Two station.
  • The Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street service would join High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go South.
  • The Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham service would leave High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go North.

Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street will take 33 minutes, with High Speed Two’s journey time calculator, indicating twenty minutes, between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub stations.

According to an article in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways High Speed Two is planning to run the following services on the Eastern leg of High Speed Two from Birmingham Curzon Street.

  • Two tph – East Midlands Hub and Leeds
  • One tph – East Midlands Hub, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.

There will be a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph service between East Midlands Hub and Birmingham Curzon Street stations.

Midland Main Line Electrification

Midlands Connect is calling for full electrification of the Midland Main Line.

The problem is electrification through Leicester station, where there is a low bridge over the track.

In Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station, I showed how the problem might be solved by discontinuous electrification and battery-equipped trains.

The Shared High Speed Two Path

If you look at the two previous sections you’ll see the following.

  • The Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham service would leave High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go North.
  • The Bedford and Leeds service would join High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go North.
  • The Leeds and Bedford service would leave High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go South.
  • The Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street service would join High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub and go South.

 

The two services are using the same path on High Speed Two.

I would design the East Midlands Hub, so that High Speed Two and classic services going in the same direction shared an island platform.

Southbound services would behave like this.

  • The Nottingham to Birmingham Curzon Street train would arrive in the High Speed Two face of the platform.
  • The Leeds to Bedford train would arrive in the classic face of the platform.
  • Passengers who needed to change would walk across the platform.
  • When ready both trains would go on their way.

Northbound services would do something similar.

It would be an efficient way to organise interchange between services.

  • Train design would have to ensure, that all trains using the island platform had similar and preferably step-free access.
  • If Greater Anglia and Merseyrail, can do step-free access, then no train designer has an excuse not to.
  • Surely every High Speed Two train that arrives at East Midlands Hub, should be paired with a Midland Main Line service, if the timetable allows it.

The money being spent on High Speed Two means that the British public, won’t accept anything less than perfect.

Are There Any Other Possible Destinations For Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains From East Midlands Hub Station?

I will put these in alphabetical order.

Bedford

Consider.

  • Bedford is already planned to have one classic-compatible service to and from Leeds.
  • One of East Midlands Railway’s St. Pancras services calls at Bedford.
  • Bedford has a four tph Thameslink service to a large proportion of Central London and the South East of England.
  • Bedford has direct services to Gatwick Airport.
  • Bedford station will be expanded to accommodate the East West Railway.
  • In a few years, Bedford will be connected to Milton Keynes, Oxford and Reading by the East West Railway.
  • When the East Midlands Hub station opens, Bedford will be connected to Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich by the East West Railway.

I feel there is a need for a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph service between Bedford and East Midlands Hub stations.

I estimate that between Bedford and East Midlands Parkway stations  will have a journey time of around 60 minutes.

Cambridge

I believe that the East West Railway should be built to the same standard as the East Coast, Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines.

  • Digitally signalled
  • 125 mph-capable
  • Electrified

This would enable classic-compatible services to be extended from Bedford to the UK’s Technology Powerhouse; Cambridge.

As Bedford and East Midlands Parkway could be 60 minutes, timings depend on the times of the East West Railway, between Bedford and Cambridge.

Edinburgh

Consider.

  • Edinburgh is an important city; financially and politically.
  • Edinburgh is planned to have a classic-compatible service from London via the West Coast Main Line.
  • Newcastle is planned to have a classic-compatible service from East Midlands Hub

The city must be a possibility for a classic compatible service from East Midlands Hub.

I estimate that Edinburgh and East Midlands Parkway will have a journey time of a few minutes over two hours

Hull

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links in Yorkshire.

Hull is important for various reasons.

  • It is large city.
  • It is the Eastern terminus of an increasing number of routes.
  • It is becoming a manufacturing centre for North Sea wind.
  • The city will be the terminus of Northern Powerhouse Rail across the Pennines from Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds.
  • Some reports have shown the city as a terminus of the Western leg of High Speed Two.

For these reasons, I will add Hull to the list.

I estimate that Hull and East Midlands Parkway will have a journey time of under an hour.

Lincoln

Looking forward to 2040, I wouldn’t bet against Lincoln being a very important city in the UK.

  • It has history.
  • It is becoming an important higher education centre.
  • It has lots of space.
  • Train operating companies like LNER and East Midlands Railway are improving services to the city.

But most importantly, as Aberdeen became Scotland’s centre for North Sea Oil and Gas, I believe that Lincoln could become England’s centre for North Sea renewable electricity and hydrogen.

I estimate that Lincoln and East Midlands Parkway will have a journey time of around an hour.

Milton Keynes

As I said for Cambridge, I believe that the East West Railway should be built to the same standard as the East Coast, Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines.

This would enable classic-compatible services to be extended from Bedford to Milton Keynes.

As Bedford and East Midlands Parkway could be 60 minutes, timings depend on the times of the East West Railway, between Bedford and Milton Keynes.

Newcastle

As Newcastle already has a direct High Speed Two classic-compatible connection to and from East Midlands Hub station, this must be a possibility.

According to High Speed Two’s journey time calculator<, trains between Newcastle and East Midland Hub stations will take 96 minutes.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

The map I showed with Hull could indicate that a train could take High Speed Two to Leeds and then power its way across the Pennines calling at Leeds, Huddersfield, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Airport and Liverpool.

East Midlands Railway would have found a replacement for the Western part of their Liverpool and Norwich service, which is one of the worst railway services in the UK.

Oxford And Reading

As I said for Cambridge, I believe that the East West Railway should be built to the same standard as the East Coast, Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines.

This would enable classic-compatible services to be extended from Bedford to Oxford and Reading.

As Bedford and East Midlands Parkway could be 60 minutes, timings depend on the times of the East West Railway, between Bedford and Oxford and Reading.

Peterborough

I think Peterborough could be an interesting possibility.

  • It is the gateway to the East of England.
  • It is a fully-electrified station.
  • It has seven platforms with space for more.
  • Most platforms could take a two hundred metre long train.

East Midlands Railway’s Liverpool and Norwich service, links Peterborough with Nottingham.

  • That section of the route is 52 miles long.
  • 29 miles of the route on the East Coast Main Line are electrified.
  • The 100 mph Class 158 trains take 67 minutes and 30 minutes to travel between the two stops at Grantham and Peterborough.
  • Some of LNER’s 125 mph electric Class 800 trains are timetabled to travel between the two stops at Grantham and Peterborough as fast as 18 minutes.

What time will be achievable on this short length of electrified track, when digital signalling is fully-deployed and 140 mph running is possible?

I can certainly see a bi-mode Class 801 train going between Peterborough and Nottingham in under an hour.

I also think that they could equal East Midlands Railway’s times to Nottingham going from Kings Cross via Grantham.

In Access To Toton – Scheme 6 – Trowell Curve, I advocated the following electrification, to allow battery-electric trains to work the Nottingham and Skegness service.

  • The Allington Chord between Bottesford and Ancaster stations.
  • The line linking the chord to Grantham station.

As Nottingham station will surely be electrified to allow classic-compatible High Speed Two trains to run between the station and Birmingham using High Speed Two, there will only be sixteen miles of double-track between Bottesford and Nottingham station without electrification.

I have just flown my helicopter along the route and there are one or two bridges and Netherfield station, that will need a rebuild, but it wouldn’t be the most challenging of electrifications.

Especially, as there is High Speed Two and the East Coast Main Line to provide power at both ends of the route.

But as it is only sixteen miles would they use battery-electric high-speed trains.

Surely, that is a crazy idea?

In Will High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible Trains Have Battery Operation?, I explain why you would use such a concept to create an efficient train.

  • The batteries drive the train and they are charged from the electrification and regenerative braking.
  • Batteries would give a train recovery capability in case of overhead catenary failure.
  • Batteries would be used for depot movements.

In Will The Trains On High Speed Two Have Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I do a calculation for the battery size needed for a 250 mph Spanish high speed train and the batteries are surprisingly small, at 100 kWh per carriage.

I firmly believe, that the mathematics say it is possible for a high speed train to use on-board battery power to perhaps do thirty miles at say 90 mph on a line without electrification.

Sheffield

As Sheffield station will have a direct High Speed Two connection to and from East Midlands Hub station, this must be a possibility.

According to High Speed Two’s journey time calculator, trains between Sheffield and East Midland Hub stations will take 27 minutes.

Note.

  1. An article in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways shows that the Eastern leg of High Speed Two is planned to have nine tph, against a theoretical limit of 18 tph.
  2. The Leeds-Bedford and Nottingham-Birmingham Curzon Street will use another path.
  3. Not all services would need to be hourly.
  4. Could some CrossCountry services be replaced with classic-compatible services?

I feel there is plenty of scope to develop more classic-compatible services along the Eastern leg of High Speed Two.

 

 

 

 

 

May 31, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Concept Of Electrification Islands

Consider how Imperial Airways and BOAC used to fly long routes to places like Sydney, Hong Kong and Cape Town before the days of long distance jet airliners. They used to fly from airport to airport, picking up fuel and supplies on the way.

If you want to know more about the details, read what is my favourite travel book, Beyond The Blue Horizon by Alexander Frater.

He followed the Imperial Airways route to Sydney, on what was reputed to be the most complicated ticket, that British Airways ever issued.

But can the concept of flying a short range airliner over a long distance refuelling as necessary, be applied to running a battery electric train by charging the batteries on a series of electrification islands?

In Ipswich And Peterborough In A Battery Train, I described how an Ipswich and Peterborough service could be run by a battery-equipped Class 755 train.

The Ipswich and Peterborough route is 82.5 miles long and it can be split as follows.

  • Ipswich and Haughley Junction – 13.8 miles – Electrified
  • Haughley Junction and Ely – 38.2 miles – Not Electrified
  • Ely and Peterborough – 30.5 miles – Not Electrified

Legs two and three, should be within the capability of a battery-equipped Class 755 train. No definite figure has been given, but in the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, this was said about the similar Class 756 trains, ordered for the South Wales Metro.

The units will be able to run for 40 miles between charging, thanks to their three large batteries.

Perhaps, what is needed is to create an electrification island at Ely, that can be used to charge the batteries.

An Electrification Island At Ely

This map from Wikipedia shows the complicated railways at Ely,

Note.

  1. Ely station is fully electrified.
  2. The line to Cambridge,Kings Cross, Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport is fully electrified. Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains between Norwich and Stansted Airport, change between diesel and electrification at Ely.
  3. The line to Kings Lynn is fully electrified.
  4. The lines to Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich and Peterborough are not electrified.
  5. Ely is a city of 20,000 inhabitants, so I suspect it must have a robust electricity supply.
  6. Freight trains take about five minutes to pass between Ely West and Ely Dock Junctions.
  7. Ely West and Ely Dock Junctions are 2.5 miles apart.
  8. There appears to be an avoiding line South-East of Ely station, where I’ve seen trains from Felixstowe to Peterborough sometimes wait for a few minutes before proceeding.
  9. There is also a lot of space at March station, where a passing loop with a charging station could be built.

I believe it would be possibly to do the following at Ely.

  • Electrify the West Curve and the South-East avoiding line.
  • Electrify the Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich and Peterborough lines for perhaps five miles.
  • If required, put a high capacity charging station on the avoiding line.

There would be plenty of electrification to charge the trains.

An alternative plan might be to electrify between March station and the new Soham station, which has been planned to open in 2021.

  • This would be around eighteen miles of electrification.
  • This would certainly be enough electrification to fully-charge passing freight and passenger trains.
  • Soham to Ely could be doubled.
  • The extra electrification would mean the two unelectrified sections of the Ipswich and Peterborough route; Haughley Junction-Soham and March-Peterborough would be well within range of a battery-electric train.
  • The proposed service between Cambridge and Wisbech would only have the twelve miles of the Bramley Line between March and Wisbech to run on battery power.

It might also be possible to put in an extra curve to make Ely Dock Junction, a full triangular junction. This would allow the new Soham station to have direct services to both Cambridge and Cambridge North stations, without a reverse at Ely station.

Other Possible Electrification Islands

I’ll break these down by regions and train operators.

East Anglia (Greater Anglia)

Greater Anglia only runs trains on diesel to the North of Cambridge and Ipswich, which are both fully electrified, as is Norwich.

I would consider Cambridge, Ely, Ipswich and Norwich to be electrification islands.

  • All have a good connection to the electrification power supply, as they handle main line electric trains.
  • All or most platforms at the stations are electrified to charge trains.
  • There are electrified sidings at Cambridge and Norwich and possibly at Ipswich.

Lowestoft and Yarmouth might be fitted with charging systems to make sure a fault doesn’t strand a train.

In Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s’, I talked about a report in Rail Magazine, which said that the Class 755 trains will get a battery fitted at the first overhaul.

I wouldn’t be surprised, that in a couple of years, Greater Anglia announces the end of diesel power on some or all of their services.

East Coast Main Line (LNER and Others)

Hitachi AT-300 Trains On The East Coast Main Line

The East Coast Main Line (ECML), is increasingly becoming a railway where the vast majority of services are run by versions of Hitachi AT-300 trains.

Classes 800, 802 and 803 are bi-modes and can probably have some or all of their diesel engines replaced by batteries.

In Sparking A Revolution, I gave this specification for a Hitachi battery-electric train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

I will use these figures from Hitachi in this post.

Electrification Islands On The East Coast Main Line

There are several large and smaller stations along the ECML, that can act as electrification islands to support either local services or long-distance services from London.

Cleethorpes

Consider

  • Cleethorpes station would need a decent electricity supply. Offshore wind?
  • Doncaster is 52 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 37 miles away.
  • Newark is 63 miles away.
  • Scunthorpe is 29 miles away.

If you can get battery-electric trains to Cleethorpes, you also serve Grimsby Town station, which is three miles closer to the ECML.

With electrification islands at Lincoln and Scunthorpe and Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery range of at least sixty miles, electric trains could be run to Cleethorpes and Grimsby.

Would that improve the economy of the area?

Darlington

Darlington station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Bishop Auckland is 12 miles away.
  • Middlesbrough is 15 miles away.
  • Nunthorpe is 20 miles away.
  • Saltburn is 27 miles away.
  • Whitby is 47 miles away.

Darlington could support battery-electric operation of the Tees Valley Line, if the route doesn’t go for hydrogen. Note that hydrogen would probably also handle services from Middlesbrough to Newcastle, Nunthorpe and Whitby with ease.

Note my views on the definitive hydrogen train, which will be a battery-electric-hydrogen hybrid train, able to use power from a variety of sources.

Doncaster

Doncaster station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Cleethorpes is 52 miles away.
  • Hull is 40 miles away.
  • Scunthorpe is 25 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 19 miles away.

Doncaster could certainly support some battery-electric services.

Grantham

Grantham station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Nottingham is 22 miles away.
  • Sleaford is 18 miles away.
  • Nottingham and Skegness services seem to take about four minutes to reverse in the station.

The Nottingham and Skegness service could take advantage of the driver changing ends to top up the battery.

Hull

Consider.

  • Hull is a city of nearly 300,000 people, so it must have a decent electricity supply.
  • Hull station is under forty miles from the electrification of the ECML.
  • Doncaster is 40 miles away.
  • Scarborough is 54 miles away.
  • York is 52 miles away, with about 20 miles electrified.

I would certainly suspect that with an electrification island at Hull, the Hitachi AT-300 trains of Hull Trains and LNER could certainly run fully electric services to the city, if they were fitted with batteries.

With an electrification island at Scarborough, could Hull Trains and LNER services be extended to Scarborough?

Leeds

Leeds station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

  • It also has electrified services to Bradford, Ilkley and Skipton.
  • Leeds and Huddersfield will be electrified in the next few years.

Harrogate is 18 miles away, so a return journey is within range of a Hitachi AT-300 train with a battery, that is charged on the ECML.

Lincoln

Consider.

  • Lincoln station would need a decent electricity supply.
  • Cleethorpes is 37 miles away.
  • Doncaster is 40 miles away.
  • Newark is 16 miles away, so a return journey is within range of a Hitachi AT-300 train with a battery, that is charged on the ECML.
  • Nottingham is 34 miles away and Leicester is 61 miles away.
  • Peterborough is 57 miles away.
  • Sleaford is 21 miles away.

With an electrification island at Lincoln, the following should be possible.

  • Electric services between Cleethorpes and Lincoln using battery-electric trains.
  • Electric services between Doncaster and Lincoln using battery-electric trains.
  • Electric services between Nottingham/Leicester and Lincoln using battery-electric trains. Electrify the Midland Main Line (MML) and this is easy.
  • Electric services between Peterborough and Lincoln using battery-electric trains. It may need an electrification island at Sleaford.
  • Electric services between London Kings Cross and Grimsby/Cleethorpes using Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery, that is charged on the ECML and at Lincoln.

The London Kings Cross and Lincoln services could top up their batteries if required if they were run using Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery

Surely, if Class 755 trains are good enough for Norfolk and Suffolk and both franchises are run by Abellio, then battery versions of these trains would be ideal for running services from Lincoln to Cleethorpes/Grimsby, Doncaster, Newark, Nottingham, Peterborough and Skegness.

Middlesbrough

If required an electrification island could be placed at Middlesbrough station.

  • Darlington is 15 miles away.
  • Newcastle is 47 miles away.
  • Saltburn is 13 miles away.
  • Whitby is 35 miles away.

This area might opt for hydrogen, but I believe battery-electric trains could also work the routes through Middlesbrough and Darlington. Note my views on the definitive hydrogen train, which will be a battery-electric-hydrogen hybrid train, able to use power from a variety of sources.

Newark

Consider.

  • Newark North Gate station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.
  • Cleethorpes is 63 miles away.
  • Grimsby is 60 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 16 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 17 miles away.

With an electrification island at Cleethorpes/Grimsby, battery-electric services could be extended to either town. They would need to use the electrification island at Lincoln station to top-up the battery.

Newcastle

Newcastle station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Carlisle is 61 miles away.
  • Middlesbrough is 47 miles away.
  • Nunthorpe is 52 miles away.

Newcastle could surely support local services using battery-electric trains. They could be dual-voltage, so they can use Tyne and Wear Metro electrification.

Peterborough

Peterborough station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Ely is 31 miles away.
  • Leicester is 52 miles away, with Birmingham another 40 miles further.
  • Lincoln is 57 miles away.
  • Sleaford is 35 miles away.

It might even be possible for Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery to be able to run between Stansted Airport and Birmingham for CrossCountry.

  • Stansted and Ely – 38 miles – Electrified
  • Ely and Peterborough – 30.5 miles – Not Electrified
  • Through Peterborough – 6 miles – Electrified (ECML)
  • Peterborough and Leicester – 52 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leicester and Nuneaton – 19 miles – Not Electrified
  • Through Nuneaton – 3 miles – Electrified (WCML)
  • Nuneaton and Birmingham – 21 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. Trains would charge when running under electrification and also during station stops in Cambridge, Ely, Peterborough  Leicester and Nuneaton.
  2. Trains would automatically raise and lower their pantographs as required.
  3. There may be scope to add sections of extra electrification.
  4. For example, electrification of the MML could add as much as eight miles of electrification, through Leicester.

As much as forty percent of the route between Birmingham and Stansted could be electrified.

Sandy/St. Neots

It is planned that the East West Railway (EWR) and the ECML will cross at an interchange station somewhere in this area.

Consider.

Both stations are on the electrified ECML, so must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Bedford is 10 miles away.
  • The electrification South of Cambridge is about 20 miles away.

It would surely be possible to create an electrification island, where the two major routes cross at Sandy/St. Neots.

Scarborough

Consider.

  • Scarborough station would need a decent electricity supply.
  • Hull is 54 miles away.
  • York is 42 miles away.

With charging facilities at Scarborough battery-electric trains could be run to the seaside resort.

  • I also think it would be possible to run a direct service between London Kings Cross and Scarborough using Hitachi AT-300 trains with batteries, either via York or Hull.
  • TransPennine’s Hitachi trains could also read Scarborough from York, if fitted with batteries.

Would battery-electric trains between Hull, Scarborough and York attract more users of the services?

Sleaford

If required an electrified island could be placed at Sleaford station.

  • Sleaford would need a decent electricity supply.
  • The station is where the Nottingham and Skegness and Peterborough and Lincoln routes cross.
  • Grantham on the ECML is 18 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 21 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 40 miles away.
  • Peterborough is 35 miles away.
  • Skegness is 40 miles away.

Services through Sleaford would be run as follows.

As Lincoln and Peterborough are likely to both have the ability to charge trains, the Peterborough and Lincoln route can probably be run using a battery-electric train, that also charges during the stop at Sleaford.

To run the Nottingham and Skegness route, there will need to be a charging facility or an electrification island at Skegness, as forty miles is to far from an out and back from Sleaford on battery power. The section between Sleaford and Nottingham is easier, as there is a reverse at the fully-electrified Grantham station, where the trains could top-up their batteries.

York

York station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

  • Harrogate is 20 miles away, with Leeds another 18 miles further.
  • Hull is 52 miles away, with about 20 miles electrified.
  • Scarborough is 42 miles away.

It would appear that battery-electric trains could work the routes between Doncaster, Harrogate, Hull, Leeds, Scarborough and York.

Midland Main Line (East Midlands Railway)

Hitachi AT-300 Trains On The Midland Main Line

The Midland Main Line (MML) is a mixture of electrified and non-electrified sections. East Midlands Railway have chosen Hitachi Class 810 trains to cope with the mixed infrastructure.

  • There will be thirty-three five car trains.
  • They will have four diesel engines instead of three in the Class 800 trains.
  • They will have a redesigned nose.

Are East Midlands Railway ordering a dual-purpose design?

In the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, this is said about the bi-mode Hitachi Class AT-300 trains for Avanti West Coast.

Hitachi told Modern Railways it was unable to confirm the rating of the diesel engines on the bi-modes, but said these would be replaceable by batteries in future if specified.

Consider.

  • Both fleets of trains are for delivery in 2022.
  • Ease of manufacture would surely mean, that Hitachi would want the two fleets to be substantially the same.
  • A train with four engines could be needed to cruise at 125 mph on diesel.
  • Four engine slots would mean that, if you were replacing some engines with batteries, you’d have more flexibility.

Hitachi seem to be playing an inscrutable game.

This section entitled Powertrain in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train, says this about the powertrain for Class 800/801/802 trains.

Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a five to nine-car set. These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails. The Class 800 and Class 802 bi-mode has three GU per five-car set and five GU per nine-car set. A five-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 and a nine-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8.

Hitachi must have found a way to arrange four GUs under a Class 810 train.

  • They could be using slightly smaller engines. Smaller engines could be fitted to curb overheating.
  • The engines might be in pairs under vehicles 2 and 4, possibly sharing utilities like fuel tanks and cooling systems.

But as the vehicles are two metres shorter, it wouldn’t be a shoe-in.

When the trains are to be upgraded to battery electric trains, an appropriate number of GUs would be replaced by batteries.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that both Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway will have trains that can be converted from five-car bi-mode trains into battery-electric trains, with a range of between 55 and 65 miles.

  • As a control engineer, I believe that a battery could be made to be plug compatible with a GU.
  • An extra battery could be placed under vehicle 3, in the spare engine position.

I reckon that Hitachi’s quote of a sixty-five mile range would at 3 kWh per vehicle-mile need about one MWh of batteries.

That is 200 kWh per vehicle, so I feel it should be possible.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

Current plans for electrified sections of the MML are as follows.

  • London St. Pancras and Corby – 79.5 miles – Opening December 2020
  • London St. Pancras and Market Harborough – 83 miles – Opening December 2020
  • Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield – 15.5 miles – To be built in conjunction with High Speed Two

The gap between Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction is about 66 miles.

Electrification Islands On The Midland Main Line

As with the ECML, there are several large and smaller stations along the MML, that can act as electrification islands to support either local services or long-distance services from London.

I will deal with the electrification islands, starting in London.

Bedford

In Looking At The East West Railway Between Bedford And Cambridge, I came to the conclusion, that the East West Railway (EWR) and the MML, would share electrified tracks through Bedford station.

  • There are also rumours of electrification of the East West Railway, which I wrote about in EWR Targets Short-Term Fleet Ahead Of Possible Electrification, after an article in Rail Magazine with the same title.
  • But even so Bedford and Cambridge are only thirty miles apart, which is well within the capability of a battery-electric train.
  • Continuing to the West on the EWR, it is under twenty miles to the electrification at Bletchley on the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

It looks to be that battery-electric trains running on the EWR would be able to charge their batteries as they pass through Bedford.

  • It does appear to me, that the EWR chose a route through Bedford that would make this feasible.
  • It would also be relatively easy to electrify the EWR to the East and/or West of Bedford to increase the time using electrification, to fully charge the trains.
  • As Cambridge and Bletchley are around fifty miles apart, this journey between two fully-electrified stations, would be possible for a battery-electric train, especially, if it were able to take a sip of electricity in the possible stops at Bedford and Sandy or St. Neots.

If in the end, it is decided to electrify the EWR, Bedford would surely be a location, with enough power to feed the electrification.

Leicester

Leicester station is an important station on the MML.

But it would be a difficult station to electrify because of a bridge with limited clearance.

In Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station, I discussed how the following.

  • Discontinuous electrification through Leicester station.
  • Electrification between Leicester and Derby stations.
  • Electrifying the High Speed Two route between Clay Cross Junction and Sheffield.

Would allow Hitachi Class 810 trains, equipped with batteries to run between London and Sheffield on electric power alone.

 

East Midlands Parkway

East Midlands Parkway station is nineteen miles North of Leicester station.

This Google Map shows its unique position.

Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station is the eighteenth highest emitter of CO2 in Europe and will surely be closed soon.

But then, a power station, will have a good connection to the National Grid, ensuring there could be plenty of power for electrification, even after the current power station is long gone, as it will surely be replaced by another power station or energy storage.

East Midlands Parkway station is also well-connected.

  • Clay Cross North Junction is 31 miles away.
  • Derby is 10 miles away.
  • Leicester is 18 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 8 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 47 miles away.

It should be possible to reach all these places on battery-power from East Midlands Parkway.

Electrification Between Leicester And East Midlands Parkway

The more I look at this stretch of the MML, the more I feel that this eighteen mile stretch should be electrified to create what could become a linear electrification island.

Consider.

  • It is a 125 mph multi-track railway across fairly flat countryside.
  • Connecting electrification to the grid is often a problem, but Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station is adjacent to East Midlands Parkway station.
  • The section is only eighteen miles long, but this is surely long enough to fully-charge a battery train speeding to and from the capital.
  • There are only four intermediate stations; Syston, Sileby, Barrow-on-Soar and Loughborough.
  • The engineering for gauge clearance and electrification, looks to be no more difficult, than it will be between Kettering and Market Harborough.
  • Between Leicester and Market Harborough stations is only sixteen miles.
  • Between East Midlands Parkway and Nottingham is only eight miles, so it would be possible for Nottingham services to run without a charge at Nottingham station.
  • Between East Midlands Parkway and Derby is only ten miles, so it would be possible for Derby services to run without a charge at Derby station.
  • Between East Midlands Parkway and the shared electrified section with High Speed Two at Clay Cross North Junction is thirty-one miles, so it would be possible for Sheffield services to be run without using diesel, once the shared electrification is complete between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield.
  • Battery-electric trains between East Midlands Parkway and Clay Cross North Junction could also use the Erewash Valley Line through Ikeston, Langley Mill and Alfreton.
  • There would be no need to electrify through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills that lies between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction, as trains will be speeding through on battery power. Electrifying through this section, might be too much for some people.
  • If the trains can’t switch between battery and overhead electrification power, the changeover can be in Leicester and East Midlands Parkway stations. However, I believe that Hitachi’s AT-300 trains can do the changeover at line speed.

The electrification could also be used by other services.

  • Between Corby and Syston North Junction is only thirty-six miles, so it would be possible to run electric services between London St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield via Corby, if the main route were to be blocked by engineering work.
  • Between Peterborough and Syston East Junction is forty-seven miles, so it should be possible to run CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham service using battery-electric trains. If the train could leave Leicester with a full battery, both Birmingham New Street and Peterborough should be within range.
  • East Midlands Railway’s Lincoln and Leicester service run for a distance of sixty-one miles via East Midlands Parkway, Nottingham and Newark stations. Electrification between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway, would mean there was just forty-two miles to do on battery power. An electrification island at Lincoln would charge the train for return.

Battery-electric trains with a range of between 55 and 65 miles would really open up the East Midlands to electric services if between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway were to be electrified.

London And Sheffield In A Battery-Electric Class 810 Train

This is speculation on my part, but I think this could be how trains run London to Sheffield before 2030.

  • London to Market Harborough – 83 miles – Using electrification
  • Switch to battery power at line speed.
  • Market Harborough to Leicester – 16 miles – Using battery power
  • Switch to electrification in Leicester station
  • Leicester to East Midlands Parkway – 19 miles – Using electrification
  • Switch to battery power at line speed.
  • East Midlands Parkway to Clay Cross North Junction – 31 miles – Using battery power
  • Switch to electrification at line speed.
  • Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield – 15.5 miles – Using electrification

Note.

  1. 118 miles would be run using electrification and 47 miles using battery power.
  2. Battery power has been used to avoid the tricky electrification at Leicester station and along the Derwent Valley.

I don’t believe any of the engineering will be any more difficult, than what has been achieved on the MML in the last year or so.

Nottingham

Consider

  • Nottingham station would probably have access to a reliable electricity supply, as Nottingham is a large city of over 300,000 people.
  • Nottingham station has a comprehensive network of local services.
  • Nottingham station has an excellent connection to Nottingham Express Transit.
  • Birmingham New Street is 57 miles away, via Derby and Burton.
  • Burton-on-Trent is 27 miles away.
  • Derby is 16 miles away.
  • Grantham is 23 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 34 miles away.
  • Matlock is 33 miles away.
  • Newark is 17 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 40 miles away.
  • Worksop is 32 miles away.
  • Most of these local services are run by East Midlands Railway, with some services run by Northern and CrossCountry.
  • Some services run back-to-back through Nottingham.

I feel very strongly that if charging is provided in Nottingham, when trains turnback or pass through the station, that many of the local services can be run by battery-electric trains.

Previously, I have shown, that if between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway is electrified, then services between London and Nottingham, can be run by battery-electric trains.

There is also a fall-back position at Nottingham, as the local services could be run by hydrogen-powered trains.

Sheffield

Sheffield station would at first glance appear to be very similar to Nottingham.

  • Sheffield station would probably have access to a reliable electricity supply, as Sheffield is a large urban area of 700,000 people.
  • Sheffield station has a comprehensive network of local services.
  • Sheffield station has an excellent connection to the Sheffield Supertram.

But it looks like Sheffield station will see the benefits of electrification the Northern section of the MML from Clay Cross North Junction.

  • The 15.5 miles of electrification will be shared with the Sheffield spur of High Speed Two.
  • Currently, trains take sixteen minutes between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction.
  • Electrification and an improved high-speed track will allow faster running, better acceleration and a small saving of time.
  • A Sheffield train will be charged going to and from Sheffield, so will leave Clay Cross North Junction for Derby and the South with full batteries.
  • There must also be opportunities for local trains running between Sheffield and Class Cross Junction North to use the electrification and be run by battery-electric trains.

Current destinations include.

  • Derby is 36 miles away.
  • Doncaster is 19 miles away.
  • Huddersfield is 36 miles away.
  • Leeds is 45 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 49 miles away.
  • Manchester Piccadilly is 42 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 40.5 miles away.

Note.

  1. Doncaster, Leeds and Manchester Piccadilly stations are fully electrified.
  2. Work on electrifying Huddersfield and Leeds will start in a year or so, so Huddersfield will be electrified.
  3. I am firly sure that Lincoln and Nottingham will have enough electrification to recharge and turn trains.
  4. Some routes are partially electrified.

As with Nottingham, I am fairly sure, that local services at Sheffield could be run by battery-electric trains. And the same fall-back of hydrogen-powered trains, would also apply.

Sheffield And Manchester Piccadilly In A Battery-Electric Train

Consider.

  • Once Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction is electrified in conjunction with High Speed Two, at least five miles of the Hope Valley Line at the Sheffield end will be electrified.
  • It may be prudent to electrify through Totley Tunnel to increase the electrification at Sheffield to ten miles.
  • The route via Stockport is 43 miles long of which nine miles at the Manchester End is electrified.
  • The route via Marple is 42 miles long of which two miles at the Manchester End is electrified.

There would appear to be no problems with running the TransPennine Express service between Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes using battery-electric trains, as from Hazel Grove to Manchester Airport is fully electrified and in the East, they can charge the batteries at Sheffield, Doncaster and a future electrification island at Cleethorpes.

The Northern service between Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield could be run using battery-electric trains with some more electrification at the Manchester End or an extended turnback in Manchester Piccadilly.

Transport for Manchester has plans to run improve services at their end of the Hope Valley Line, with tram-trains possible to Glossop and Hadfield.

It would probably be worthwhile to look at the Hope Valley Line to make sure, it has enough future capacity. I would suspect the following could be likely.

  • More electrification.
  • More stations.
  • Battery-electric trains or tram-trains from Manchester to Glossop, Hadfield, New Mills Central, Rose Hill Marple and Sheffield.

I would suspect one solution would be to use more of Merseyrail’s new dual-voltage Class 777 trains, which have a battery capability.

Sheffield And Nottingham In A Battery-Electric Train

Consider.

  • Once Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction is electrified in conjunction with High Speed Two, 15.5 miles of the route will be electrified.
  • The total length of the route is 40.5 miles.
  • There are intermediate stops at Dronfield, Chesterfield, Alfreton, Langley Mill and Ilkeston.
  • Currently, journeys seem to take around 53 minutes.

I think it would be likely that the battery would need to be topped up at Nottingham, but I think a passenger-friendly timetable can be developed.

West Coast Main Line (Avanti West Coast)

Hitachi AT-300 Trains On The West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line (WCML) is a mainly electrified and with some non-electrified extended routes. Avanti West Coast have chosen Hitachi AT-300 trains to cope with infrastructure.

  • There will be ten seven-car electric trains.
  • There will be thirteen five-car bi-mode trains.

As these trains will be delivered after East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains and East Coast Trains’ Class 803 trains, the following questions must be asked.

  • Will the trains have the redesigned nose of the Class 810 trains?
  • Will the bi-mode trains have four diesel engines (Class 810 trains) or three ( Class 800 trains)?
  • Will the electric trains ordered by First Group companies; Avanti West Coast and East Coast Trains be similar, except for the length?

I would expect Hitachi will want the trains to be as similar as possible for ease of manufacture.

Electrification Islands On The West Coast Main Line

As with the ECML and the MML, there are a couple of large and smaller stations along the WCML, that can act as electrification islands to support either local services or long-distance services from London.

I will deal with the electrification islands, starting in London.

Watford Junction

Watford Junction station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

Services around Watford Junction have possibilities to be expanded and improved using battery-electric trains.

Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes Central station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

  • East West Railway services will call at Bletchley and not Milton Keynes.
  • There may be a connection between East West Rail and High Speed Two at Calvert station, which is 15 miles away.
  • Milton Keynes will get a service from Aylesbury, which is 22 miles away.

There may be possibilities to link Watford Junction and Milton Keynes via Aylesbury using battery-electric trains to give both places a connection to High Speed Two at a new Calvert station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Looking At The East West Railway Between Bedford And Cambridge

The route that has been chosen by East West Railway is Route E.

Route E is described in Wikipedia as follows.

Route E involves running from the existing Bedford station heading north then running to Tempsford where a new station would be built then (bypassing Sandy) the route heads east to Cambourne where a new station would be built. The route then joins an existing line northbound to Cambridge.

These maps show the route between Bedford and Cambridge stations in sections.

Bedford And Tempsford

This map shows the Western section between Bedford and Tempsford.

Note.

  1. Kempston Hardwick and Bedford St. Johns are existing stations on the existing Marston Vale Line, which could substantially be the route of the East West Railway between Bedford and stations to the West like Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Reading.
  2. Bedford station is on the Midland Main Line.
  3. Wixams station is a proposed station on the Midland Main Line, which also might be served by the East West Railway.
  4. Biggleswade, Sandy and St. Neots stations are on the East Coast Main Line (ECML).

I’ll now take a quick look at the route through Bedford and the proposed Wixams station.

Bedford station is also a served by the following train services.

  • It is a terminus for Marston Vale Line services to and from Bletchley station.
  • It is a terminus for Thameslink services to and from London St. Pancras International station and the South as far as Brighton.
  • East Midlands Railway services between London St. Pancras International station and the East Midlands and Sheffield call at the station.

There would certainly be massive advantages in developing Bedford as a major interchange between the East West Railway and the Midland Main Line.

This Google Map shows the Midland Main Line through Bedford.

Note.

  1. Bedford station is at the bottom of the map towards the East.
  2. The village of Clapham is towards the top of the map.

What I find interesting, is that, to the East of the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Clapham appears to be mainly open farmland.

Is there sufficient space to build a flying junction, so that trains could go between Bedford and Cambridge in a smooth manner? From a quick look at this map, it appears to me that this would be possible.

It might even be possible to build a full triangular junction, North of Bedford, so that trains could go between the East and the Northbound Midland Main Line.

It looks to me to be a very important junction, that gives lots of possibilities for new passenger and freight services.

  • Passenger trains between Cambridge and Sheffield via Leicester and Derby.
  • Freight trains between Felixstowe and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.
  • Could the route be used for stone trains between the Peak District and the massive building developments in the City of London?

This ideas would be for starters!

This Google Map shows the area South of Bedford towards the Wixams development.

Note.

  1. The large new village of Wixams is shown by the red arrow.
  2. Kempston Hardwick station can be picked out to the West of Wixams, close to the bottom of the map.
  3. The Midland Main Line can be picked out running South between Wixams and Kempston Hardwick.

The area looks like it is ripe for housing and commercial development between all the water.

I can envisage the East West Railway and the Midland Main Line doing the following.

  • Sharing tracks through Bedford and a new Wixams station, if that is desired.
  • A flying junction would then allow the two routes to split.
  • The East West Railway would go West to places like Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Reading.
  • The Midland Main Line would go South to Luton, London and beyond.

The East West Railway would open up a massive housing development at Wixams with connections to Cambridge, London, Milton Keynes, Oxford and beyond.

It strikes me, that one of the reasons for choosing Route E, is that this is the route, that opens up the Wixams development.

Through Tempsford

This map shows the Western section around Tempsford, where it crosses the ECML.

Note.

  1. Biggleswade, Sandy and St. Neots stations are on the ECML.
  2. There might be opportunities to improve the section of the ECML in this area.
  3. The light-coloured East-West band through the new station, is the proposed route of the East West Railway.

This Google Map shows the area North from Sandy.

Note.

  1. Sandy station can be seen at the bottom of the map.
  2. Tempsford can be seen about three-quarters of the way up the map.
  3. The ECML runs North-South up the middle of the map.
  4. The former RAF Tempsford can also be seen on the East side of the ECML.
  5. One interesting place on the map is the RSPB at Sandy.

Has the route been chosen to the North of Sandy to avoid the RSPB, who might not be in favour of a new railway?

  • I could envisage an impressive interchange station at Tempsford, if East West Railway decided to build it.
  • The East West Railway and the ECML could cross at right angles.
  • Platforms on both routes could be connected by lifts, escalators and stairs.
  • There looks like there could be space for lots of car parking.

Alternatively, a full junction could be built so that trains could swap between the two routes.

Tempsford And Cambourne

This map shows the central section between Tempsford and Cambourne.

Note.

  1. Sandy and St. Neots stations are on the ECML.
  2. The light-coloured East-West band through the new Tempsford and Cambourne stations, is the proposed route of the East West Railway.

This Google Map shows the area between Tempsford and Cambourne.

Note.

  1. Tempsford is in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. Cambourne is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. St. Neots station is in the North-West corner of the map.

It certainly isn’t an area of the country with many important buildings around.

Through Cambourne

This Google Map shows the central section through Cambourne.

Note.

  1. The new village of Cambourne by the A428.
  2. The A1198 road going North-South between Huntingdon and Royston.
  3. The village of Great Eversden in the South-East corner of the map.

From looking at the various maps and knowing the area well, I suspect the East West Railway will take the following route.

  • Approach from the West and cross the A1198 to the North of Caxton.
  • Pass South of Cambourne, where a station could be built. The station could be fairly simple, but there is plenty of space, especially if cycling to the train is encouraged.
  • Pass North of Bourn and Bourn Golf and Country Club.
  • Pass North of Great Eversden and leave the map in the South-East corner.

It looks to be a fairly simple section.

Great Eversden And Cambridge

This Google Map shows the area from Great Eversden to the Trumpington Park-and-Ride, which is served by the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.

Note.

  1. Great Eversden is in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The M11 runs diagonally across the Eastern end of the map.
  3. Trumpington is at the Eastern end of the map.
  4. The track bed of the old Varsity Line is clearly visible.

The question has to be asked, if it would be worthwhile rebuilding this section.

Consider.

  • Part of the trackbed is used for the Ryle Telescope.
  • Part of the trackbed is used for the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.
  • The route doesn’t serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
  • Cambridge also has ambitions to extend the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway to Hauxton and create the Cambridge Autonomous Metro, which I wrote about in Consultation On The Cambridge Autonomous Metro.

This map shows the proposed layout of the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro.

Note.

  1. The green section will be in tunnel.
  2. The Trumpington Branch is extended to Hauxton,

This Google Map shows the area to the South West of Cambridge between Hauxton and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Note.

  1. Addenbrooke’s Hospital is in the North-East corner of this map.
  2. The Trumpington Park-and-Ride is to the East of the M11.
  3. Shelford station is in the South-East corner of the map.
  4. The West Anglia Main Line running past the hospital, splits into two, with one branch going West to Royston and Hitchin and the other going South to Harlow and London.

The two maps taken together weave quite a complicated pattern.

The East West Railway and the Cambridge Autonomous Metro could probably be tweaked so that they could both be created.

  • The East West Railway could take a slightly more Southerly route and pass to the West of Hauxton to join the Royston and Cambridge Line to get to Cambridge South and Cambridge stations.
  • The Cambridge Autonomous Metro would pass over or under the M11 and terminate at a suitable place on the East of Hauxton.

There might even be a solution involving a joint station to the West of the M11

 

 

 

 

 

March 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

EWR Targets Short-Term Fleet Ahead Of Possible Electrification

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Electrification could yet be on the agenda for East West Rail, after Government ministers confirmed that the decision not to wire the reopened railway could be reversed.

East West Railway (EWR) also announced last week, that it was looking for second-hand diesel multiple units to start services.

  • The lease will be for four years, with a possible extension of two years.
  • The deal is worth £40million and will include maintenance.
  • The deal will end on May the 10th 2028.
  • 12 to 14 three-car trains are required.
  • Services will start at the end of 2024.

It looks to me, that this deal has interim written all over it.

Could Class 170 Trains Be Used For East West Railway?

Class 170 trains come in two- and three-cars and by 2024 many could be being replaced by trains with a smaller carbon-footprint.

If you look at the three-car Class 170 trains, they are the following numbers of trains with various companies.

  • Class 170/1 – CrossCountry – 10
  • Class 170/2 – Transport for Wales – 8
  • Class 170/3 – Abellio ScotRail – 26
  • Class 170/3 – CrossCountry – 2
  • Class 170/4 – Abellio ScotRail – 13
  • Class 170/4 – Northern Trains – 16

There are also some Class 170/5 and Class 170/6 trains, that it appears will be consolidated into ten three-car trains for CrossCountry.

Could CrossCountry Provide The Trains For East West Railway?

I think one likely scenario would be for the trains for East West Rail to come from CrossCountry‘s mixed fleet of Class 170 trains.

Consider.

  • CrossCountry need a bit of a fleet change as they still ten High Speed Trains, that will need to be replaced with more modern rolling stock.
  • CrossCountry have been criticised for a lack of capacity.
  • Several of CrossCountry’s services are run by diesel trains on electrified tracks.

Perhaps, if they replaced the fleet with a customised variant of Hitachi’s Class 800 trains, they might offer a better service to their customers.

  • Each train would be five cars long.
  • Trains would be able to work in pairs.
  • Trains might have electric, battery and diesel capabilities.
  • Some would be dual-voltage trains and able to work on both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail electrification.

I’m sure those clever people at Rock Rail are working on an appropriate specification, just as they did for Avanti West Coast with their customised variant of Hitachi’sClass 800 trains.

Looking at the delivery schedules for various fleets of Hitachi trains, we find.

  • East Midlands Railway will be receiving 33 x five-car Class 810 bi-mode  trains in 2020-2022.
  • Avanti West Coast will be receiving 13 x five-car AT-300 bi-mode  trains in 2020-2022.
  • Avanti West Coast will be receiving 10 x seven-car AT-300 electric  trains in 2020-2022.

Could the CrossCountry fleet be delivered in 2022-2024 to allow the Class 170 trains to be released?

Could Class 185 Trains Be Used For East West Railway?

TransPennine Express have a fleet of 51 three-car Class 185 trains.

The future of these trains is uncertain, as TransPennine Express is renewing their fleet.

  • They are all fully-compliant with the latest regulations.
  • They are 100 mph trains,
  • They are the right length.
  • They can work in pairs to increase capacity.

These trains would be easy to freshen up for East West Railway.

Could Bombardier Voyagers Provide The Trains For East West Railway?

There are four fleets of Bombardier Voyagers, that by the end of 2024 could be looking for a new home.

  • Thirty-four Class 220 trains could be released by 2024 by CrossCountry, if they replace their fleet with new trains.
  • Twenty-four Class 221 trains could be released by 2024 by CrossCountry, if they replace their fleet with new trains.
  • Twenty Class 221 trains will be released by 2022 by Avanti West Coast, when they replace their fleet with new AT-300 trains.
  • Twenty-seven Class 222 trains will be released by 2022 by East Midlands Railway, when they replace their fleet with new Class 810 trains.

These fleets could be updated for the East West Railway.

  • They are all fully-compliant with the latest regulations.
  • They are 125 mph trains.
  • Bombardier have been working on various schemes to fit batteries to these trains, to reduce running on diesel.

They could also be rebuilt to any required length.

Fast Forward To May 2028

By 2028, the following will have happened.

  • High Speed Two will have been substantially completed and electrified at Calvert, where it crosses the East West Railway.
  • East West Railway will be connected to the electrified West Coast Main Line at Bletchley.
  • East West Railway will be connected to the electrified Midland Main Line at Bedford.
  • New Hitachi Class 810 trains will be running through Bedford.
  • Future connections to the electrified East Coast Main Line at Sandy and the electrified West Anglia Main Line at Cambridge South will have been designed, if not well underway or even completed.

East of Calvert, there will be plenty of electricity to power any electrification.

The article also quotes a Government minister as saying there will be passive provision for electrification. This is sensible, as the clearances required for 25 KVAC overhead electrification are not that much higher, than those needed for the largest freight containers.

So the two major requirements for 25 KVAC overhead electrification; electricity supply and gauge-clearance, appear to be met in the basic design of the East West Railway.

The East West Railway will also have one characteristic, that has been lacked, by most of the railways we have electrified in the last few years.

It will be a substantially new railway, although quite a few miles will have been rebuilt on an existing track bed.

It is my view after looking at several electrification schemes in the last ten years, that when we have electrified a substantially new railway, we have made a much better fist of it, in terms of both cost and timescale.

Could this be, that if the track-bed has just been created or relaid, it is well surveyed and the engineers and workers, who laid it, can be asked their opinion, so fewer costly mistakes are made?

It should also be said, that the route of the East West Railway goes through fairly flat country, which probably doesn’t have the sewers and mine-shafts, that have plagued the erection of electrification in recent years.

I wonder, if having looked in detail at the costs, the builders of East West Railway have found that perhaps around 2023, after a detailed survey of the route, they can build the railway at a cost, which includes electrification, that still offers benefits.

What Would Be The Benefits Of Electrification Of The East West Railway?

The benefits of electrification are generally as follows.

  • Faster passenger and freight trains because of higher cruising speed and greater acceleration.
  • Lower carbon emissions.

Faster trains would lead to more trains running over the railway.

Will The Electrification Be Full Or Partial?

I believe that Hitachi and other ,manufacturers will produce passenger trains with the following abilities.

  • To use either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • To use onboard energy storage for running a number of miles.
  • To charge onboard energy storage, whilst dynamically connected to electrification.
  • To charge onboard energy storage, whilst stationary in a station or siding.
  • To swap between electrification and energy storage modes at operating speed.

These trains will be able to run on partially-electrified lines, by using energy storage to bridge gaps in the electrification.

In Sparking A Revolution, I gave this specification for a Hitachi battery-electric train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

It looks like a route run by Hitachi battery-electric trains could have approximately sixty mile gaps in the electrification.

The trouble with gaps, is that they would mean that electric freight locomotives could not be used on the route.

One possibility could be the new tri-mode Class 93 locomotive, which has the following power sources.

  • 1.3 MW on diesel
  • 4.055 MW on electric
  • A power boost on battery

Hopefully, it can switch seamlessly between the various modes at line speed.

Until we see these locomotives in operation, we will not know if they can haul a maximum weight freight train all the way from Felixstowe to Ipswich and on to London, Cambridge or Peterborough.

Freight Trains Through Cambridge And Onto The East West Railway

In Roaming Around East Anglia – Freight Trains Through Newmarket, I said this.

The East West Rail Consortium plan to change the route of freight trains to and from Haven Ports; Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich to the West of Kennett station.

In this document on the East-West Rail Consortium web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

How would these changes affect Newmarket and the horse-racing industry in the town?

I believe that many freight trains would go straight through Cambridge and Cambridge South stations and onto the East West Railway.

One point to note, is that all of the route between Felixstowe and Cambridge South station has been gauge-cleared for the largest container trains and electrification.

This would surely make it reasonably easy to electrify all the way between Felixstowe and Cambridge South station.

Conclusion

I am coming to the conclusion, that given the importance of the rail freight route between Felixstowe and the Midlands, that something like the following will happen.

  • 2024 – Diesel passenger trains start running between Reading and Bedford via Didcot, Oxford and Bletchley
  • 2026 – Opening of Cambridge South station.
  • 2028 – Partial or full electrification is erected between Reading and Bedford
  • 2028 – Battery-electric passenger trains replace the diesel passenger trains.
  • 2030 – Opening of the full route between Reading and Cambridge.
  • 2935 – Opening of a fully-developed route though Newmarket to allow freight trains to go between Felixstowe and the East West Railway.

It appears to me, that by using diesel trains for an interim period, they can open the Reading and Bedford service early, whilst they complete the East West Railway.

 

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

MK-Bedford New Line Mooted

The title of this post, is the same as the title of an article in the April 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

A new railway between Milton Keynes and Bedford for the East West Rail project has been suggested as a way of avoiding problems with the Marston Vale Line, where the hourly stopping service and numerous level crossings limit capacity for through regional trains.

Another aim is that the next phase of the project should be completed by the end 2022, which is between a one and two years earlier than the existing target.The Chairman of the East West Rail Company, then said he’d like the the railway to open in 2027.

The article says a new route will be expensive, but innovative ways of doing things could help.

Consider these points about the Marston Vale Line

  • The stations need development.
  • There are at least thirteen level crossings.
  • New houses are being built near some stations.
  • The operating speed  is just 50 mph.
  • Finding a new route at Fenny Stratford, Woburn Sands, Aspley Guise, Ridgmont and Lidlington could be difficult.
  • The railway passes under the M1 and the A421, so moving these crossing points could be difficult.

It’s all a complicated design problem.

East West Rail could borrow a trick from the Heathrow Southern Railway, which is planned to run alongside the M25 to get to Heathrow. The new railway could be routed alongside the A421 in the Bedford area.

This Google Map shows the A421 to the South of Bedford.

Note.

  • The Marston Vale Line goes across the North West corner of the map.
  • The Midland Main Line goes across the map in a North-South direction.
  • The roundabout at the North East connects the A421 to the A6.
  • The building by the roundabout is a hotel.

If the East West Rail Link was routed alongside the by-pass a station could be built where the two lines cross.

  • The Midland Main Line and Thameslink would be linked to the East West Rail Link.
  • Passengers for Bedford would be able to use the frequent Thameslink service to get to the town.
  • A big Park-and-Ride could be built.
  • Marston Vale Line services would take the same route as they do now, via Bedford St. Johns station.

If it was desired, chords could be built to enable services on the East West Rail Link to serve Bedford with a reverse in Bedford station.

Oxford has a Parkway station, Milton Keynes has a Milton Keynes South station at Bletchley, Cambridge will probably have a Cambridge South station, so why shouldn’t Bedford have a Bedford South station?

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

East West Rail To Be A ‘Diesel Commuter Railway’

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Rail News. The article talks about the design of the East West Railway.

The East West Railway is important for three reasons.

  • It creates a passenger rail link between the high-tech cities of Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge.
  • There are various sites on the route, where much-needed development of houses is proposed and these would benefit from the railway.
  • Likewise the developments would provide passengers for the railway.

Rob Brighouse is chairman of the company setup to build the rail link and he indicates more details of the proposal to reopen the railway.

Purpose Of The Railway

Rob Brighouse says this about the purpose of the railway.

The route has changed from being an electrified corridor for freight – part of the ‘electric spine’ envisaged in 2012 – to become a diesel operated commuter railway, at least for the foreseeable future.

So it looks like the railway will be built without provision for long and heavy freight trains.

But I wouldn’t rule out fast parcels and light freight traffic using diesel or bi-mode multiple units, capable of 100 mph. Would these trains be something like a modern version of a Class 325 train?

In practice, this probably means that no provision is made for long freight loops and some of the connections to other lines can be simpler.

Single Or Double Track

Nothing is said about whether the design is for a single or double track railway.

I doubt there is much money to be saved by adding sections of single-track.

The Wikipedia entry for the East West Railway indicates that the Oxford to Bletchley section is proposed to have a 100 mph operating speed.

For these and other reasons, I feel that the engineers designing the line, will ensure that it is a double track 100 mph line.

The section along the Marston Vale Line would need to be upgraded if 100 mph double-track is the standard.

I also think that almost uniquely for a railway in the UK, that the line could be built virtually level with very gentle turns, so that little energy is wasted fighting the terrain.

Level Crossings

West of Bletchley, there are few if any level crossings, but those between Bletchley and Bedford would need to be removed, if the railway was to be built as a fast and smooth line.

Electrification

Rob Brighouse said this about electrification of the route.

I am not planning on making specific provision for electrification. If there are locations where it can be accommodated at a sensible price and it’s much more effective today than tomorrow then we will certainly look at that, yes.

I will review the work that has already been done to adjust structures on the Bicester-Bletchley section. If it creates many abortive costs by cancelling that work then obviously that will inform the decision, but if the work can be done later then that’s what I’ll be looking at. At the moment we are looking at a non-electrified route.

That is a pragmatic approach.

As I said previously, I believe that a well-designed almost-level 100 mph double track could mean that the amount of carbon dioxide produced by an energy- efficient diesel or bi-mode train would not be excessive.

The approach would also have these advantages.

  • The route would be available to diesel or bi-mode trains immediately after it is built and certified.
  • Electrification of the new railway at a later date with 25 KVAC overhead electrification would be relatively easy, if the building of the initial line is properly documented.
  • Overbridges, station platforms and other structures could be built or rebuilt with the required clearance for electrification at a convenient time.
  • In the next few years, more efficient battery, hydrogen-powered or whatever trains might be built, which could take advantage of the line.

Electrifying the line, only when needed would delay the time, when a lot of money is spent!

Proposed Services Along The Route

This document on the East West Railway web site, shows the following services.

Bedford to Oxford and Reading

  • Due to open in 2022.
  • Calling at Ridgmont, Woburn Sands, Bletchley, Winslow, Bicester Village, and Oxford Parkway
  • 1 train per hour in each direction
  • Approximate journey time: Bedford to Oxford 61 minutes

The current Bletchley to Bedford service will continue.

Milton Keynes to Oxford and Reading

  • Due to open in 2022
  • Calling at Bletchley, Winslow, Bicester Village and Oxford Parkway
  • 1 train per hour in each direction
  • Approximate journey time: Milton Keynes to Oxford 41 minutes

Combined with the Bedford service, Bletchley, Winslow, Bicester Village and Oxford Parkway will get two trains per hour (tph) to and from Oxford and Reading.

Milton Keynes to Aylesbury and London Marylebone

  • Due to open in 2024
  • Bletchley, Winslow, Aylesbury Vale Parkway, Aylesbury, Princes Risborough and High Wycombe
  • 1 train per hour in each direction
  • Approximate journey time: Milton Keynes to Aylesbury 33 minutes

Winslow will be getting three tph in both directions.

Nothing has been said about services to the East of Bedford.

There must be endless possibilities, as Ipswich and Norwich are mentioned in East West Railway articles.

Train Length

As to train length, I suspect that this is much on the lines of how long is a piece of string.

So will they just start with a four- or five-car train and see how it goes?

This approach was tried on the London Overground and the Borders Railway and in both cases, train capacity had to be increased.

At least most modern trains like Aventras from Bombardier and those from Hitachi are cut-and-shut trains, that can be easily extended, by adding cars in the middle.

The platforms are a bigger problem, if they need to be lengthened.

So I would build them long enough to handle two five-car trains working as a pair.

The pair of trains could also join and split en-route if required.

  • Two trains start from Ipswich and Norwich.
  • They join at Cambridge and proceed along the East West Railway.
  • They split at Oxford, with one section going to Reading and the other going to Swindon or Bristol.

The trains would need end gangways, so passengers could get into the right part of the train.

Hitachi already have automatic joining and splitting with Class 385 trains, so that isn’t a problem.

Train Frequency

The line will be built with the following characteristics.

  • Double track
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Level with gentle curves.
  • No level crossings.
  • No slow freight trains.
  • 100 mph trains.
  • Modern signalling as on Crossrail and Thameslink

I don’t think that a headway as low as six or even four minutes between trains will be unreasonable.

Headway could also be variable along the route.

Bi-Mode Trains

Going from East to West along the route, the following stations are or will be on electrified lines.

  • Cambridge – Electrified
  • Cambridge South – New station at Addenbrooke’s Hospital – Electrified
  • Sandy – Crossing the electrified East Coast Main Line.
  • Bedford – Crossing the electrified Midland Main Line.
  • Bletchley – Crossing the electrified West Coast Main Line.
  • Didcot – Electrified
  • Reading – Electrified

So it would surely be prudent to run bi-mode trains on the line, so they may be able to take advantage of the electrification at the ends of the line.

Bi-mode trains will improve in the next few years with the following features.

  • The ability to change between electric and diesel at line speed.
  • Batteries could handle regenerative braking in both electric and diesel mode and help to asccelerate the train, when running on diesel.
  • The ability to raise and lower the pantograph quickly and without driver intervention.
  • Overhead or third-rail electrification could be used to fully charge the battery, if required.

I feel it would be very feasible to use bi-mode trains on the route and they would create less carbon-dioxide than a pure diesel.

I would also opt for bi-mode trains with a top speed of 125 mph on electrified lines, so extensions on the four connecting lines with this capability, would be possible and efficient.

Strategic short lengths of electrification would make the trains more energy-efficient.

Didcot

Didcot Parkway station sits on the junction where the East West Railway will join the Great Western Main Line.

This Google Map shows the junction.

Note the Great Western Main Line going across the map.

  • Reading is to the East.
  • Swindon is to the West.
  • Lines give connection to the East West Railway in both directions.

At some point in the future, services on the East West Railway could go to and from the West to perhaps serve Wales and the West.

If East West Railway adopt the same policy as they have with the Marston Vale Line, I will assume that other services between Reading and Oxford will remain unchanged.

Oxford

Oxford station will be a key interchange on the East West Railway.

I very much suspect though that services will be arranged at Oxford, so that change between local and East West Railway services is just a hop-off one train and hop-on another, or perhaps a walk across the platform.

Bletchley

A flyover at Bletchley station takes the East West Railway over the West Coast Main Line, which I discussed the in The Bletchley Flyover.

Connectivity

At present trains can also use the flyover to go in both directions between the Northbound West Coast Main Line and the Westbound East West Railway.

I also think trains can connect on the flat between the Southbound West Coast Main Line and the Eastbound East West Railway.

Will the building of the East West Railway increase connectivity at Bletchley?

The Bletchley Flyover And The New Platforms

This picture shows the Bletchley flyover.

Note.

  • It is a massive concrete structure.
  • It is almost a mile long.
  • It is not electrified.
  • West Coast Main Line is electrified using 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Two new platforms for the East West Railway will be built on the flyover to enable interchange with the West Coast Main Line.
  • Services will use the flyover to access Milton Keynes Central station.

This is a visualisation of how the proposed Bletchley station with the extra platforms could look.

I think the architects and engineers have created a good design.

  • A new entrance to the station on the other side of the West Coast Main Line has been created.
  • Interchange between the West Coast Main Line and the East West Railway will be step-free.
  • No electrification of the East West Railway is shown.

I also think it  could be built for an affordable cost.

Electrification At Bletchley

As substantial work will have to be done on the viaduct, would it be prudent to at least prepare the viaduct for electrification, when the new platforms for the East West Railway are created?

If a short section of electrification was added here will be beneficial for train operation.

  • Bi-mode trains could use it to reduce their diesel consumption and carbon footprint.
  • In future, battery trains could use it to charge their batteries.

Electrification of the flyover is a decision for the accountants.

But as the company building the line, will also operate some of the trains, they can offset construction against running costs.

Bedford

In the next phase of the building of the East West Railway, which is projected to be completed in 2022, Bedford station will be the Eastern terminus.

The service would probably use the existing platform 1A.

Under Future Developments in the Wikipedia entry for Bedford station, this is said.

Plans were being promoted by Network Rail and Bedford Borough Council for the redevelopment of the station quarter.

Platform 1A will be extended through the existing building to accommodate 12-car trains; presently it is only long enough to handle four-car trains and is a terminating bay.

Such a platform would be able to terminate trains arriving from.

  • Midland Main Line and Thameslink from the South.
  • Midland Main Line from the North.
  • The East West Railway.

The longer platform will need to be electrified to be able to handle Thameslink trains.

But it would enable services from the East West Railway to connect to the North at Bedford along the Midland Main Line.

Until more detail is published, I can’t say any more about Bedford.

Sandy

Sandy will be where the East West Railway crosses over the electrified East Coast Main Line.

I suspect that the design of this station will build on experience of Bletchley and hopefully it will be a convenient step-free interchange between services on both lines.

As with the new platforms at Bletchley, it could be relatively easy to provide a short length of electrification at the station.

Cambridge, Ipswich And Norwich

Only Cambridge on the West Anglia Main Line is electrified on the route of the East West Railway.

Wires reach to Ely in the North and Stansted Airport and London in the South.

Consider.

  • Greater Anglia are going to use Stadler Class 755 bi-mode trains on lines without electrification from Cambridge to Ipswich and Norwich.
  • The Breckland Line to Norwich could be turned into an almost-level 100 mph-plus line with very little infrastructure to slow trains.
  • The Breckland Line is lightly used, with a passenger service of two tph and very few freight trains.
  • Cambridge to Ipswich is partially electrified.
  • Cambridge and/or Peterborough to Ipswich has a passenger service of two tph and large numbers of heavy freight trains.

 

Bi-mode trains would probably be the preferred choice of train to the East of Cambridge.

Battery Trains

If you look at the lengths of the various sections of the East West Railway, they are as follows.

  • Cambridge South – Sandy – 22 miles
  • Sandy – Bedford – 9 miles
  • Bedford – Bletchley – 24 miles
  • Bletchley – Bicester – 20 miles
  • Bicester – Oxford – 14 miles
  • Oxford – Didcot – 14 miles

Consider.

  • No section is very long and all would be within the capability of battery trains in a few years.
  • Charging would be at both ends of the line in Cambridge and between Didcot and Reading.
  • But this might not be enough, especially if the trains used battery power at the Cambridge end to reach Ipswich and Norwich.
  • The solution would probably be to add enough electrification at Bletchley, Bedford and Sandy.

If battery trains do finally arrive, the East West Railway would be a very appropriate line to embrace the technology.

New Technology

If ever there was a railway, where new technology would be understood and welcomed by passengers, it must surely be the East West Railway between Cambridge in the East and Oxford and Reading in the West.

One big advantage this route has over others in the UK, is that I believe it could be built almost-level  with perhaps the biggest gradient being climbing over the Bletchley flyover. The energy needs of a modern train could be low.

Hydrogen-Powered Trains

Hydrogen-powered trains are effectively bi-mode trains with batteries, that use a hydrogen-powered power-pack instead of a diesel one to generate electricity when needed.

In this Press Release, Alsthom give a lot of details of their hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint.

  • Completely emission-free
  • 1000 km range on a tank-full of hydrogen.
  • 140 kph operating speed.

Alsthom have received their first order for fourteen trains from Germany.

I believe, that once they are fully developed, they could be ideal for the East West Railway.

Solar-Powered Trains

This may seem bizarre, but read Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand.

I believe that small solar-farms with batteries could be used to advantage on this line.

  • The line could be designed almost level and could have very low traction power consumption.
  • Much of the route goes through open countryside, where people don’t seem to object to solar farms.
  • Third-rail electrification could be installed at stations and for perhaps a kilometre on either side, to charge batteries on trains.
  • The electrification could also accelerate the trains on their way.
  • Power to the track would only be switched on when a train is present, thus reducing consumption and increasing safety.
  • The electricity generated could power the stations.

Why not?

Additional Services

The East West Railway  will have created extra capacity in a loop round London, that Rob Brighouse will be free of slow, heavy freight.

I believe that train operating companies will make use of the new route.

  • It will be a 100 mph double-track railway with plenty of capacity.
  • If built as an almost level track, it could offer substantial energy savings.
  • It will have connections to four electrified main lines radiating from London.
  • It will be free of slow, heavy freight trains.

However, it would need suitable diesel, bi-mode or hydrogen trains capable of 100 mph running.

But it could be a very efficient and lower-cost route across England!

Parcels And Light Freight

As I said earlier, I feel the route will also be used by fast parcels and light freight trains based on diesel or bi-mode multiple units.

As an example, plans exist to create a major freight airport at Doncaster-Sheffield Airport, which I wrote about in A Station At Doncaster Sheffield Airport. Part of the plan involves, diverting the East Coast Main Line to serve the Airport directly.

Amazon already flies parcels into the Airport and these could be loaded onto bi-mode express parcel trains, which could go down the electrified East Coast Main Line before taking the East West Railway to travel to Wales and the West of England.

Birmingham To Stansted Airport

Thjis one tph service is run by CrossCountry and goes via Cambridge, Ely, Peterborough, Leicester and Nuneaton. If CrossCountry were to switch to 125 mph bi-mode trains, might it be an alternative to use the East West Railway and perhaps the West Coast Main Line, where paths will be released once, HS2 is opened.

It would certainly be a faster and more economical journey

New Or Rerouted CrossCountry Services

Many of CrossCountry’s services take forever and visit some unsuspected stations. But obviously, it’s what their customers want.

I suspect though with 125 mph bi-mode trains, CrossCountry would look seriously about the possibility of using the East West Railway with its connections to four electrified main lines.

Marston Vale Services

This document on the East West Railway web site, says that current hourly services between Bletchley and Bedford  along the Marston Vale Line will continue.

  • On that section, the long distance trains are planned to stop at just Ridgmont and Woburn Sands stations.
  • Low-performance Class 230 trains planned for the line could slow fast traffic.
  • Especially if they stick to the current journey time of forty-three minutes.
  • Would an express want to get stuck behind a a slow local train?

I wonder how fast a 100 mph diesel multiple unit like a Class 172 train could go between Bedford and Bletchley?

I think it won’t be fast enough to avoid delaying East West Railway services.

So, something radical will need to be done.

It might be the solution would be to build that section of the route with three tracks; two for the East West Railway and a bi-directional one for the Marston Vale services.

  • This would separate the fast and local services.
  • There’s certainly plenty of space alongside the current tracks.

At least there don’t seem to have been many protests about building the East West Railway.

Conclusion

I think we could see the East West Rasilway built in a totally-different way.

  • Track designed for low energy use and fast, frequent trains.
  • Innovative trains.
  • Reduced carbon emissions, by the application of new technologies.

It could truly be a railway for the twenty-first century!

 

 

December 15, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 8 Comments

Thameslink Services Through Brockley

This post is a follow up to Thameslink’s 24tph Introduction Held Over To 2019, which I wrote yesterday, after doing a little bit of digging anf buying the printed copy of Rail Magazine.

When the full 24 trains per hour (tph) timetable is fully implemented the routing of Thameslink services through South London could be as in the provisional timetable in Wikipedia.

  • 1/2 – Bedford to Brighton – via London Bridge, East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • 3/4 – Bedford to Gatwick Airport – via London Bridge and East Croydon
  • 5/6 – Peterborough to Horsham – via London Bridge and East Croydon
  • 7/8 – Cambridge to Brighton – via London Bridge, East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • 9/10 – Cambridge to Maidstone East – via London Bridge, New Cross and Swanley
  • 11/12 – Bedford to East Grinstead – via London Bridge and East Croydon
  • 13/14 – Bedford to Littlehampton – via London Bridge, East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • 15/16 – Luton to Rainham – via London Bridge, New Cross and Greenwich
  • 17/20 – St. Albans to Sutton – Bia London Blackfriars and the Sutton Loop
  • 21/22 – Luton or Kentish Town to Orpington – via London Blackfriars and Catford
  • 23/24 – Welwyn Garden City to Sevenoaks – via London Blackfriars, Catford and Otford.

 

Looking at the routes of these trains shows.

  • Twelve tph will run between London Bridge and East Croydon along the Brighton Main Line through stations between Brockley Norwood Junction.
  • Ten tph serve Gatwick Airport.
  • Ten tph serve Luton Airport.

This morning I stood on Brockley stations and counted trains on the two fast lines of the Brighton Main Line.

In half an hour, I counted less than eight trains in each direction of which one was Network Rail’s leaf cleaning train and another was the Thameslink service between London Bridge and Brighton.

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled Thameslink’s 24tph Introduction Held Over To 2019.

This is a paragraph.

However, GTR will start running some trains on routes earlier than planned. Speaking exclusively to RAIL on November 15, Chris Gibb, chairman of the Thameslink Programme Industry Readiness Board, said that as soon as drivers were trained, GTR services would be diverted via London Bridge from January instead of May, and via the Canal Tunnels from April.

From my observations this morning and my scrutiny of the proposed timetable, it would appear that the twelve tph between London Bridge and East Croydon can be accommodated on the fast lines of the Brighton Main Line, given the following conditions.

  • The track and signalling between London Blackfriars and New Cross Gate via London Bridge is completed.
  • The London Bridge to Brighton service is discontinued, as Thameslink will replace it.

Thameslink running through London Bridge from January, will surely mean the following.

  • Faster and more reliable services between London and Gatwick Airport and the South Coast, using more direct route and the Brighton Main Line, North of East Croydon.
  • Less congestion on the Blackfriars route for Thameslink, as it winds through South London.

At present only four tph run on Thameslink, that could use the new direct route.

So if these transfer in January to their own platforms in London Bridge, there will be improvements.

In the Rail Magazine article, Chris Gibb also stated that the Canal Tunnels will be in use by April.

So will we see services gradually added to the Thameslink service, as the route proves it is capable of handling the trains?

This is no Big Bang change, but a simple step-by-step process.

More Details In The Print Copy Of Rail Magazine

The full Rail Magazine article has now been published in print and I have a copy.

Chris Gibb describes the May 2018 timetable change as a Big Bang.

  • Capacity increase of 35,000-40,000 into the core at Peak periods.
  • New service between Cambridge and Brighton.
  • New service between Horsham and Peterborough.
  • New service between Luton and the Medway Towns.
  • New service between Littlehampton and Bedford.
  • New service between East Grinstead and Bedford.

There will be 18 tph through the core.

The article say this frequency will rise to 20 tph in December 2018 and 22 tph in May 2019.

A Possible Thirty Tph Through The Core

The Rail Magazine article also says this.

He (Chris Gibb) explained that 30 tph could run through the core, but that infrastructure either side of it, would not support this.

This increase must open up the possibility of new destinations to the North and South.

Everybody would have their favourites.

Mine could be.

  • Ashford International for Eurostar.
  • Old Oak Common via the Dudding Hill Line.
  • Kettering and Corby
  • Milton Keynes

It will be interesting to see what is proposed, let alone implemented.

 

 

November 22, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Should Thameslink Be Extended To Corby?

I ask this question as someone who created his pension pot from writing the algorithms to allocate resources in the planning of projects and because I know that the number of train paths on the Midland Main Line is very tight for the number of services required.

This document on the Network Rail web site has this paragraph.

Electrification of the MML north of Bedford to Kettering and Corby is scheduled to be completed by December 2019.

The Wikipedia entry for Corby station has a section entitled Future, where this is said.

It is planned that a half-hourly London St Pancras to Corby service will operate from December 2019 using new Class 387 trains, once the Midland Main Line has been electrified beyond Bedford as part of the Electric Spine project. Network Rail has also announced that it plans to re-double the currently singled Glendon Junction to Corby section as part of this scheme.

So how will the second service in each hour be provided?

Bedford To St. Pancras

Looking at Bedford, it would appear the following trains run to London.

  • East Midlands Trains in 39-40 minutes
  • Thameslink in 57-59 minutes at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).
  • A Limited-Stop Thameslink in 52 minutes.

As Thameslink has now fully introduced an all-Class 700 train service, could we be seeing a faster service?

Bedford To Corby

The current hourly service between St. Pancras and Corby stops at Bedford and takes thirty-four minutes between Bedford and Corby with stops at Wellingborough and Kettering.

A modern electric train like a Class 700 train, might be able to do the return trip from Bedford to Corby in under an hour. If a Class 700 train can’t do it, then a Class 387 train certainly could.

This would mean that one way to provide the extra service between St. Pancras and Corby would be to extend one of the four tph Bedford to Brighton services to Corby.

This approach would give the following advantages

  • No extra train path is needed South of Bedford.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would get a choice of service.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would have a direct link to Crossrail.

But there would be disadvantages.

  • The Thameslink service would be a few minutes slower.
  • The Class 700 trains don’t have tables, cup-holders, wi-fi and power sockets.
  • The Class 700 trains are only 100 mph trains and probably not fast enough.

The obvious solution is to run the service with a faster electric train, which addresses the deficiencies of the Class 700 trains.

The Ultimate Solution

The Midland Main Line  between Bedford and Glendon Junction for Corby is at least three tracks, with in most places space for a fourth.

I believe the following improvements should be made to the route between Bedford and Glendon Junction.

  • All the tracks between Bedford and Corby should be upgraded to be as fast as possible, so that 110 or 125 mph trains to Corby could make full use of their speed, without using the two Fast Lines.
  • Wellingborough station should have the fourth platform restored.
  • Extra stations, including a Parkway station, could be added if required.

Thameslink would acquire a number of 110 or 125 trains and replace the four tph service between Brighton and Bedford, with a four tph service between Brighton and Corby.

Class 387 trains would probably be acceptable. Especially, as Govia Thameslink Railway uses these trains on Cambridge services.

The consequences of doing this would be.

  • The current one tph path between St. Pancras and Corby on the Fast Lines would be released.
  • Platform needs at St. Pancras would be reduced.
  • No extra Slow Line paths would be needed.
  • Bedford would get the same four tph service to London all day.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would get four tph to St. Pancras.

Twelve faster trains would be needed to provide a full four tph service between Corby and St. Pancras.

Alternatively, you could extend just two opf the four tph from Brighton tom Bedford to Corby!

This would mean.

  • Bedford would get the same four tph service to London all day.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would get two tph to St. Pancras.

Six faster trains would be needed.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion, that by providing some extra 110 or 125 mph trains for Thameslink, that the service on the Midland Main Line can be improved significantly.

It also leads me to believe that the specification of the Class 700 trains was created by someone with worse vision than George Shearing.

The trains lack a lot of features like wi-fi and power sockets.

But more importantly, they lack the 110 mph capability of trains like the |Class 350, Class 387 and Class 379 trains, which enables them to run efficiently with express services cruising at 125 mph.

 

 

 

 

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment