The Anonymous Widower

Will Hitachi Announce A High Speed Metro Train?

As the UK high speed rail network increases, we are seeing more services and proposed services, where local services are sharing tracks, where trains will be running at 125 mph or even more.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Kings Lynn

This Great Northern service is run by Class 387 trains.

  • Services run between London Kings Cross and Kings Lynn or Cambridge
  • The Class 387 trains have a maximum operating speed of 110 mph.
  • The route is fully electrified.
  • The trains generally use the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line, South of Hitchin.
  • Most trains on the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line are travelling at 125 mph.
  • When in the future full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented on the East Coast Main Line, speeds of up to 140 mph should be possible in some sections between London Kings Cross and Hitchin.

I also believe that digital signalling may be able to provide a solution to the twin-track bottleneck over the Digswell Viaduct.

Consider.

  • Airliners have been flown automatically and safely from airport to airport for perhaps four decades.
  • The Victoria Line has been running automatically and safely at over twenty trains per hour (tph) for five decades. It is now running at over 30 tph.
  • I worked with engineers developing a high-frequency sequence control system for a complicated chemical plant in 1970.

We also can’t deny that computers are getting better and more capable.

For these reasons, I believe there could be an ERTMS-based solution to the problem of the Digswell Viaduct, which could be something like this.

  • All trains running on the two track section over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station would be under computer control between Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations.
  • Fast trains would be slowed as appropriate to create spaces to allow the slow trains to pass through the section.
  • The driver would be monitoring the computer control, just as they do on the Victoria Line.

Much more complicated automated systems have been created in various applications.

The nearest rail application in the UK, is probably the application of digital signalling to London Underground’s Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines.

This is known at the Four Lines Modernisation and it will be completed by 2023 and increase capacity by up to twenty-seven percent.

I don’t think it unreasonable to see the following maximum numbers of services running over the Digswell Viaduct by 2030 in both directions in every hour.

  • Sixteen fast trains
  • Four slow trains

That is one train every three minutes.

Currently, it appears to be about ten fast and two slow.

As someone, who doesn’t like to be on a platform, when a fast train goes through, I believe that some form of advanced safety measures should be installed at Welwyn North station.

It would appear that trains between London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn need to have this specification.

  • Ability to run at 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line
  • Ability to run at 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under control of full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

This speed increase could reduce the journey time between London Kings Cross and Cambridge to just over half-an-hour with London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn under ninety minutes.

The only new infrastructure needed would be improvements to the Fen Line to King’s Lynn to allow two tph, which I think is needed.

Speed improvements between Hitchin and Cambridge could also benefit timings.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Norwich

I believe there is a need for a high speed service between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge.

  • The Class 755 trains, that are capable of 100 mph take 82 minutes, between Cambridge and Norwich.
  • The electrification gap between Ely and Norwich is 54 miles.
  • Norwich station and South of Ely is fully electrified.
  • Greater Anglia’s Norwich and Cambridge service has been very successful.

With the growth of Cambridge and its incessant need for more space, housing and workers, a high speed train  between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge could tick a lot of boxes.

  • If hourly, it would double the frequency between Cambridge and Norwich until East-West Rail is completed.
  • All stations between Ely and Norwich get a direct London service.
  • Cambridge would have better links for commuting to the city.
  • London Kings Cross and Cambridge would be less than an hour apart.
  • If the current London Kings Cross and Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, no extra paths on the East Coast Main Line would be needed.
  • Trains could even split and join at Cambridge or Ely to give all stations a two tph service to London Kings Cross.
  • No new infrastructure would be required.

The Cambridge Cruiser would become the Cambridge High Speed Cruiser.

London Paddington And Bedwyn

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Bedwyn.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Reading.
  • The 13.3 miles between Newbury and Bedwyn is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

London Paddington And Oxford

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Oxford.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Didcot Parkway.
  • The 10.3 miles between Didcot Parkway and Oxford is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Didcot Parkway and Oxford, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

Local And Regional Trains On Existing 125 mph Lines

In The UK, in addition to High Speed One and High Speed Two, we have the following lines, where speeds of 125 mph are possible.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line

Note.

  1. Long stretches of these routes allow speeds of up to 125 mph.
  2. Full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line to allow running up to 140 mph.
  3. Some of these routes have four tracks, with pairs of slow and fast lines, but there are sections with only two tracks.

It is likely, that by the end of the decade large sections of these four 125 mph lines will have been upgraded, to allow faster running.

If you have Hitachi and other trains thundering along at 140 mph, you don’t want dawdlers, at 100 mph or less, on the same tracks.

These are a few examples of slow trains, that use two-track sections of 125 nph lines.

  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Leicester and Lincoln – Uses Midland Main Line
  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Liverpool and Norwich – Uses Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Portsmouth Harbour – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Taunton – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Cumbria – Uses West Coast Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Newcastle and Morpeth – Uses East Coast Main Line
  • West Midlands Trains – Some services use West Coast Main Line.

Conflicts can probably be avoided by judicious train planning in some cases, but in some cases trains capable of 125 mph will be needed.

Southeastern Highspeed Services

Class 395 trains have been running Southeastern Highspeed local services since 2009.

  • Services run between London St. Pancras and Kent.
  • Services use Speed One at speeds of up to 140 mph.
  • These services are planned to be extended to Hastings and possibly Eastbourne.

The extension would need the ability to run on the Marshlink Line, which is an electrification gap of 25.4 miles, between Ashford and Ore.

Thameslink

Thameslink is a tricky problem.

These services run on the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct.

  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Kings Cross – Slow train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • 2 tph – Peterborough and Horsham – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.

Note.

  1. These services are run by Class 700 trains, that are only capable of 100 mph.
  2. The fast services take the fast lines South of the Digswell Viaduct.
  3. South of Finsbury Park, both fast services cross over to access the Canal Tunnel for St, Pancras station.
  4. I am fairly certain, that I have been on InterCity 125 trains running in excess of 100 mph in places between Finsbury Park and Stevenage.

It would appear that the slow Thameslink trains are slowing express services South of Stevenage.

As I indicated earlier, I think it is likely that the Kings Cross and King’s Lynn services will use 125 mph trains for various reasons, like London and Cambridge in well under an hour.

But if 125 mph trains are better for King’s Lynn services, then they would surely improve Thameslink and increase capacity between London and Stevenage.

Looking at average speeds and timings on the 25 miles between Stevenage and Finsbury Park gives the following.

  • 100 mph – 15 minutes
  • 110 mph – 14 minutes
  • 125 mph – 12 minutes
  • 140 mph – 11 minutes

The figures don’t appear to indicate large savings, but when you take into account that the four tph running the Thameslink services to Peterborough and Cambridge stop at Finsbury Park and Stevenage and have to get up to speed, I feel that the 100 mph Class 700 trains are a hindrance to more and faster trains on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

It should be noted, that faster trains on these Thameslink services would probably have better acceleration and and would be able to execute faster stops at stations.

There is a similar less serious problem on the Midland Main Line branch of Thameslink, in that some Thameslink services use the fast lines.

A couple of years ago, I had a very interesting chat with a group of East Midlands Railway drivers. They felt that the 100 mph Thameslink and the 125 mph Class 222 trains were not a good mix.

The Midland Main Line services are also becoming more complicated, with the new EMR Electric services between St. Pancras and Corby, which will be run by 110 mph Class 360 trains.

Hitachi’s Three Trains With Batteries

Hitachi have so far announced three battery-electric trains. Two are based on battery packs being developed and built by Hyperdrive Innovation.

Hyperdrive Innovation

Looking at the Hyperdrive Innovation web site, I like what I see.

Hyperdrive Innovation provided the battery packs for JCB’s first electric excavator.

Note that JCB give a five-year warranty on the Hyperdrive batteries.

Hyperdrive have also been involved in the design of battery packs for aircraft push-back tractors.

The battery capacity for one of these is given as 172 kWh and it is able to supply 34 kW.

I was very surprised that Hitachi didn’t go back to Japan for their batteries, but after reading Hyperdrive’s web site about the JCB and Textron applications, there would appear to be good reasons to use Hyperdrive.

  • Hyperdrive have experience of large lithium ion batteries.
  • Hyperdrive have a design, develop and manufacture model.
  • They seem to able to develop solutions quickly and successfully.
  • Battery packs for the UK and Europe are made in Sunderland.
  • Hyperdrive are co-operating with Nissan, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Newcastle University.
  • They appear from the web site to be experts in the field of battery management, which is important in prolonging battery life.
  • Hyperdrive have a Taiwanese partner, who manufactures their battery packs for Taiwan and China.
  • I have done calculations based on the datasheet for their batteries and Hyperdrive’s energy density is up with the best

I suspect, that Hitachi also like the idea of a local supplier, as it could be helpful in the negotiation of innovative applications. Face-to-face discussions are easier, when you’re only thirty miles apart.

Hitachi Regional Battery Train

The first train to be announced was the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. It is only a 100 mph train.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. It has a range of 56 miles on battery power.
  4. Any of Hitachi’s A Train family like Class 800, 802 or 385 train can be converted to a Regional Battery Train.

No orders have been announced yet.

But it would surely be very suitable for routes like.

  • London Paddington And Bedwyn
  • London Paddington And Oxford

It would also be very suitable for extensions to electrified suburban routes like.

  • London Bridge and Uckfield
  • London Waterloo and Salisbury
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere.
  • Newcastle and Carlisle

It would also be a very sound choice to extend electrified routes in Scotland, which are currently run by Class 385 trains.

Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train

The second train to be announced was the Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. Only one engine is replaced by a battery.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. Typically a five-car Class 800 or 802 train has three diesel engines and a nine-car train has five.
  4. These trains would obviously be capable of 125 mph on electrified main lines and 140 mph on lines fully equipped with digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

Nothing is said about battery range away from electrification.

Routes currently run from London with a section without electrification at the other end include.

  • London Kings Cross And Harrogate – 18.3 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Hull – 36 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • London Paddington And Bedwyn – 13.3 miles
  • London Paddington And Oxford – 10.3 miles

In the March 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, LNER are quoted as having aspirations to extend the Lincoln service to Cleethorpes.

  • With all energy developments in North Lincolnshire, this is probably a good idea.
  • Services could also call at Market Rasen and Grimsby.
  • Two trains per day, would probably be a minimum frequency.

But the trains would need to be able to run around 64 miles each way without electrification. Very large batteries and/or charging at Cleethorpes will be needed.

Class 803 Trains For East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains have ordered a fleet of five Class 803 trains.

  • These trains appear to be built for speed and fast acceleration.
  • They have no diesel engines, which must save weight and servicing costs.
  • But they will be fitted with batteries for emergency power to maintain onboard  train services in the event of overhead line failure.
  • They are planned to enter service in October 2021.

Given that Hyperdrive Innovation are developing traction batteries for the other two Hitachi battery trains, I would not be the least bit surprised if Hyperdrive were designing and building the batteries for the Class 803 trains.

  • Hyperdrive batteries are modular, so for a smaller battery you would use less modules.
  • If all coaches are wired for a diesel engine, then they can accept any power module like a battery or hydrogen pack, without expensive redesign.
  • I suspect too, that the battery packs for the Class 803 trains could be tested on an LNER Class 801 train.

LNER might also decide to replace the diesel engines on their Class 801 trains with an emergency battery pack, if it were more energy efficient and had a lighter weight.

Thoughts On The Design Of The Hyperdrive innovation Battery Packs

Consider.

  • Hitachi trains have a sophisticated computer system, which on start-up can determine the configuration of the train or whether it is more than one train running as a longer formation or even being hauled by a locomotive.
  • To convert a bi-mode Class 800 train to an all-electric Class 801 the diesel engines are removed. I suspect that the computer is also adjusted, but train formation may well be totally automatic and independent of the driver.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery seem to be based on a modular system, where typical modules have a capacity of 5 kWh, weighs 32 Kg and has a volume of 0.022 cu metres.
  • The wet mass of an MTU 16V 1600 R80L diesel engine commonly fitted to AT-300 trains of different types is 6750 Kg or nearly seven tonnes.
  • The diesel engine has a physical size of 1.5 x 1.25 x 0.845 metres, which is a volume of 1.6 cubic metres.
  • In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a five-car Class 801 electric train, needed 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • It is likely, than any design of battery pack, will handle the regenerative braking.

To my mind, the ideal solution would be a plug compatible battery pack, that the train’s computer thought was a diesel engine.

But then I have form in the area of plug-compatible electronics.

At the age of sixteen, for a vacation job, I worked in the Electronics Laboratory at Enfield Rolling Mills.

It was the early sixties and one of their tasks was at the time replacing electronic valve-based automation systems with new transistor-based systems.

The new equipment had to be compatible to that which it replaced, but as some were installed in dozens of places around the works, they had to be able to be plug-compatible, so that they could be quickly changed. Occasionally, the new ones suffered infant-mortality and the old equipment could just be plugged back in, if there wasn’t a spare of the new equipment.

So will Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery-packs have the same characteristics as the diesel engines that they replace?

  • Same instantaneous and continuous power output.
  • Both would fit the same mountings under the train.
  • Same control and electrical power connections.
  • Compatibility with the trains control computer.

I think they will as it will give several advantages.

  • The changeover between diesel engine and battery pack could be designed as a simple overnight operation.
  • Operators can mix-and-match the number of diesel engines and battery-packs to a given route.
  • As the lithium-ion cells making up the battery pack improve, battery capacity and performance can be increased.
  • If the computer, is well-programmed, it could reduce diesel usage and carbon-emissions.
  • Driver conversion from a standard train to one equipped with batteries, would surely be simplified.

As with the diesel engines, all battery packs could be substantially the same across all of Hitachi’s Class 80x trains.

What Size Of Battery Would Be Possible?

If Hyperdrive are producing a battery pack with the same volume as the diesel engine it replaced, I estimate that the battery would have a capacity defined by.

5 * 1.6 / 0.022 = 364 kWh

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

As a figure of 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph, applies to a Class 801 train, I suspect that a figure of 3 kWh or less could apply to a five-car Class 800 train trundling at around 80-100 mph to Bedwyn, Cleethorpes or Oxford.

  • A one-battery five-car train would have a range of 24.3 miles
  • A two-battery five-car train would have a range of 48.6 miles
  • A three-battery five-car train would have a range of 72.9 miles

Note.

  1. Reducing the consumption to 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 87.3 miles.
  2. Reducing the consumption to 2 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 109.2 miles.
  3. Hitachi will be working to reduce the electricity consumption of the trains.
  4. There will also be losses at each station stop, as regenerative braking is not 100 % efficient.

But it does appear to me, that distances of the order of 60-70 miles would be possible on a lot of routes.

Bedwyn, Harrogate, Lincoln and Oxford may be possible without charging before the return trip.

Cleethorpes and Hull would need a battery charge before return.

A Specification For A High Speed Metro Train

I have called the proposed train a High Speed Metro Train, as it would run at up to 140 mph on an existing high speed line and then run a full or limited stopping service to the final destination.

These are a few thoughts.

Electrification

In some cases like London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn, the route is already electrified and batteries would only be needed for the following.

  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Emergency  power in case of overhead line failure.
  • Train movements in depots.

But if the overhead wires on a branch line. are in need of replacement, why not remove them and use battery power? It might be the most affordable and least disruptive option to update the power supply on a route.

The trains would have to be able to run on both types of electrification in the UK.

  • 25 KVAC overhead.
  • 750 VDC third rail.

This dual-voltage capability would enable the extension of Southeastern Highspeed services.

Operating Speed

The trains must obviously be capable of running at the maximum operating speed on the routes they travel.

  • 125 mph on high speed lines, where this speed is possible.
  • 140 mph on high speed lines equipped with full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling, where this speed is possible.

The performance on battery power must be matched with the routes.

Hitachi have said, that their Regional Battery trains can run at up to 100 mph, which would probably be sufficient for most secondary routes in the UK and in line with modern diesel and electric multiple units.

Full Digital In-cab ERTMS Signalling

This will be essential and is already fitted to some of Hitachi’s trains.

Regenerative Braking To Batteries

Hitachi’s battery electric  trains will probably use regenerative braking to the batteries, as it is much more energy efficient.

It also means that when stopping at a station perhaps as much as 70-80% of the train’s kinetic energy can be captured in the batteries and used to accelerate the train.

In Kinetic Energy Of A Five-Car Class 801 Train, I showed that at 125 mph the energy of a full five-car train is just over 100 kWh, so batteries would not need to be unduly large.

Acceleration

This graph from Eversholt Rail, shows the acceleration and deceleration of a five-car Class 802 electric train.

As batteries are just a different source of electric power, I would think, that with respect to acceleration and deceleration, that the performance of a battery-electric version will be similar.

Although, it will only achieve 160 kph instead of the 200 kph of the electric train.

I estimate from this graph, that a battery-electric train would take around 220 seconds from starting to decelerate for a station to being back at 160 kph. If the train was stopped for around eighty seconds, a station stop would add five minutes to the journey time.

London Kings Cross And Cleethorpes

As an example consider a service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • The section without electrification between Newark and Cleethorpes is 64 miles.
  • There appear to be ambitions to increase the operating speed to 90 mph.
  • Local trains seem to travel at around 45 mph including stops.
  • A fast service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes would probably stop at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town.
  • In addition, local services stop at Collingham, Hykeham, Barnetby and Habrough.
  • London Kings Cross and Newark takes one hour and twenty minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes takes three hours and fifteen minutes with a change at Doncaster.

I can now calculate a time between Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • If a battery-electric train can average 70 mph between Newark and Cleethorpes, it would take 55 minutes.
  • Add five minutes for each of the three stops at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town
  • Add in the eighty minutes between London Kings Cross and Newark and that would be  two-and-a-half hours.

That would be very marketing friendly and a very good start.

Note.

  1. An average speed of 80 mph would save seven minutes.
  2. An average speed of 90 mph would save twelve minutes.
  3. I suspect that the current bi-modes would be slower by a few minutes as their acceleration is not as potent of that of an electric train.

I have a feeling London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town, could be a very important service for LNER.

Interiors

I can see a new lightweight and more energy efficient interior being developed for these trains.

In addition some of the routes, where they could be used are popular with cyclists and the current Hitachi trains are not the best for bicycles.

Battery Charging

Range On Batteries

I have left this to last, as it depends on so many factors, including the route and the quality of the driving or the Automatic Train Control

Earlier, I estimated that a five-car train with all three diesel engines replaced by batteries, when trundling around Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire or Wiltshire could have range of up to 100 miles.

That sort of distance would be very useful and would include.

  • Ely and Norwich
  • Newark and Cleethorpes
  • Salisbury and Exeter

It might even allow a round trip between the East Coast Main Line and Hull.

The Ultimate Battery Train

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

This is a paragraph.

The projected improvements in battery technology – particularly in power output and charge – create opportunities to replace incrementally more diesel engines on long distance trains. With the ambition to create a fully electric-battery intercity train – that can travel the full journey between London and Penzance – by the late 2040s, in line with the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions target.

Consider.

  • Three batteries would on my calculations give a hundred mile range.
  • Would a train with no diesel engines mean that fuel tanks, radiators and other gubbins could be removed and more or large batteries could be added.
  • Could smaller batteries be added to the two driving cars?
  • By 2030, let alone 2040, battery energy density will have increased.

I suspect that one way or another these trains could have a range on battery power of between 130 and 140 miles.

This would certainly be handy in Scotland for the two routes to the North.

  • Haymarket and Aberdeen, which is 130 miles without electrification.
  • Stirling and Inverness, which is 111 miles without electrification, if the current wires are extended from Stirling to Perth, which is being considered by the Scottish Government.

The various sections of the London Paddington to Penzance route are as follows.

  • Paddington and Newbury – 53 miles – electrified
  • Newbury and Taunton – 90 miles – not electrified
  • Taunton and Exeter – 31 miles – not electrified
  • Exeter and Plymouth – 52 miles – not electrified
  • Plymouth and Penzance – 79 miles – not electrified

The total length of the section without electrification between Penzance and Newbury  is a distance of 252 miles.

This means that the train will need a battery charge en route.

I think there are three possibilities.

  • Trains can take up to seven minutes for a stop at Plymouth. As London and Plymouth trains will need to recharge at Plymouth before returning to London, Plymouth station could be fitted with comprehensive recharge facilities for all trains passing through. Perhaps the ideal solution would be to electrify all lines and platforms at Plymouth.
  • Between Taunton and Exeter, the rail line runs alongside the M5 motorway. This would surely be an ideal section to electrify, as it would enable battery electric trains to run between Exeter and both Newbury and Bristol.
  • As some trains terminate at Exeter, there would probably need to be charging facilities there.

I believe that the date of the late 2040s is being overly pessimistic.

I suspect that by 2040 we’ll be seeing trains between London and Aberdeen, Inverness and Penzance doing the trips without a drop of diesel.

But Hitachi are making a promise of London and Penzance by zero-carbon trains, by the late-2040s, because they know they can keep it.

And Passengers and the Government won’t mind the trains being early!

Conclusion

This could be a very useful train to add to Hitachi’s product line.

 

 

 

March 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train Between Paddington And Bedwyn

This is probably one of the easiest services for GWR to run using a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

This Hitachi infographic shows the specification.

Consider.

  • The route is fully electrified between London Paddington and Newbury.
  • It is 13.3 miles between Bedwyn and Newbury, with two intermediate stations.
  • There is under thirty miles without electrification in a round trip between Paddington and Bedwyn.
  • There is a turnback siding at Bedwyn, that could be fitted with a charger if required.
  • Current trains take 17 minutes for between Bedwyn and Newbury, which is an average speed of 47 mph.
  • The trains would run at up to 125 mph between Paddington and Reading.
  • If the Great Western Main Line gets full in-cab digital ERTMS digital signalling, they will be able to take advantage and run at up to 140 mph between Reading and Paddington.

If it could be shown to be able to run the route reliably, I feel that a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train with a mix of diesel engines and battery packs might be the ideal train.

  • Large amounts of power would not be needed to maintain an average speed of 47 mph between Newbury and Bedwyn, which from my helicopter appears to be a fairly level railway by the side of the Kennett and Avon Canal.
  • Except in emergencies, I doubt that diesel running would be needed.

On my list of possible services for these trains, they would also be able to work GWR services between Paddington and Oxford or any other station with a less than thirty mile round trip away from the electrification

December 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Reinstatement Of Rail Access To Devizes Via A New Station At Lydeway

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

Devizes is a growing town without a railway station.

The Wikipedia entry for the former Devizes station, says this about providing a new station.

Although Devizes was denied a railway station due to its stagnant population, as of 2017 the population had grown to 31,000, which could warrant its re-establishment. However, much of the vital land agreements and rights of way were sold off reducing the chances of reinstatement. An alternative plan has been proposed: to build Devizes Parkway Station at Clock Inn Park, three miles east of Devizes on the Reading–Taunton line, near to the site of the original junction for the branch at Etchilhampton.

It appears to have been taken from Baldrick’s book of cunning plans, where you create a virtual branch line using the A342, travellers’ personal transport and a shuttle bus service.

This Google Map shows the position of the station site at Clock Inn Park, with relation to Devizes.

Note.

  1. Devizes in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Clock Inn Park in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The A342 road connecting the town with the station site.

This more detailed Google Map shows the station site.

Note.

  1. The A342 going diagonally across the map.
  2. The Reading-Taunton Line going across the map.
  3. There’s even bus stops by the station site.

As the site could be fairly generous, I think a station with adequate parking could be created.

The Train Service

The train service is currently two hourly on this route between Paddington and Exeter St. David’s stations.

Perhaps, with an extra stop and more passengers, the service could be increased to hourly.

Another alternative would be to run battery-electric trains on the route between Paddington and Westbury, that called at all stations West of Newbury.

  • Trains would use the electrification between Paddington and Newbury and would leave Newbury with a full battery.
  • This service would be an extension of the current hourly service to Bedwyn station.
  • Between Newbury and Westbury stations is forty-two miles of unelectrified lines, which should be possible with a battery electric version of the Class 802 train.
  • Charging facilities would be needed at Westbury station.
  • Between Paddington and Westbury stations takes one hour and thirteen minutes.
  • Hitachi are quoting a ten minute charge time for one of their battery-electric trains.
  • The trains would turn at Westbury station, which has refreshments and toilets for the crew.
  • No extra electrification would be needed to run electric services to Westbury.

I think it could be feasible.

The Concept Of An Electrification Island

Westbury could be what I would call an electrification island.

Consider

  • The Reading-Taunton Line passes through the station.
  • The Wessex Main Line both passes through the station.
  • The town of Westbury has a population of around 17,000 and some substantial heavy industries, so I suspect that it has a robust electricity supply.
  • Taunton is 47 miles away.
  • Newbury is 42 miles away.
  • Weymouth is 59 miles away.
  • Bristol Temple Meads is 40 miles away.
  • Swindon is 32 miles away.
  • Hitachi are claiming a range of between 55 and 65 miles for a battery-electric train.

Suppose the two routes through the station  and perhaps for up to ten miles away from the town, were to be electrified.

  • A battery-electric train turning back at Westbury would pan-up in the station and charge the battery. Leaving the station, the driver would leave the pantograph up for acceleration and then make sure pan-down was performed before the end of the electrification.
  • A through battery-electric express between Paddington and Exeter would pan-up when under the electrification and pan down before it left the electrification.
  • It might be prudent that all passing expresses stopped in Westbury station, to make sure, trains didn’t stop with a flat battery in the middle of nowhere, until procedures were seen to be totally reliable.
  • A battery-electric train to and from Weymouth would probably need to run for about 45 miles between the electrification island at Westbury and the third-rail electrification at Dorchester Junction.

I believe that a well-designed electrification island at Westbury coupled with perhaps electrification between Exeter and Taunton, would enable battery-electric trains to work the following routes.

  • Paddington and Exeter
  • Westbury and Bristol
  • Westbury and Weymouth
  • Westbury and Swubdon

I suspect that Transwilts services could also be run by battery-electric trains, as they could charge at Westbury, Swindon and other electrified stations.

Conclusion

Devizes Parkway station would appear to be a simple way to provide a new station, at a town that has grown substantially since the days of Dr. Beeching.

Did Dr. Beeching and the Government of the day, have a view on population growth in the UK? They certainly didn’t take it into the account in their rail closure program. Or if they did, they got it spectacularly wrong!

 

May 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The High Speed Local Train

If Great Western Railway (GWR) are going to run a train service between Paddington and Bedwyn, they need an electric train which can power itself on the last thirteen miles between Newbury and Bedwyn, which is not electrified and is unlikely to be so in the next couple of decades.

The train must also be capable of cruising at 125 mph on the fast lines of the Great Western Main Line between Reading and Paddington.

GWR have no choice, but to run the service with a five-car Class 802 train.

When Hitachi were designing these 125 mph trains in Japan, I don’t suspect that running a service over a distance of 66.5 miles between London and a small village in Berkshire, was in the specification.

This morning, I took the 10:05 service from Paddington to Bedwyn, with the intention of returning on the 11:41 from Bedwyn to Paddington.

These are a few of the pictures that I took.

But things didn’t turn out as planned.

  • Nothing serious and some animals got on the tracks between Reading and Swindon, meaning that we were some minutes late into Bedwyn, due to platform congestion at Reading.
  • The return journey was consequently delayed.

These are a few observations.

Operating Speed

These were speeds on various parts of the journey.

  • I timed the train at 115 mph through Southall and at 123 mph through Hayes & Harlington as the train accelerated out of Paddington.
  • The train was doing just short of 125 mph for the major part of the route between London and Reading, until it had to stop because of the congestion.
  • The train was doing around 100 mph on the electrified line between Reading and Newbury.
  • Between Newbury and Bedwyn, speeds were between 80 and 90 mph.

Similar speeds were attained on the return journey.

Passenger Numbers

As the pictures show, there weren’t that many passengers who were travelling to Bedwyn, although there were more heading back to London.

Many more joined and left the service at the three larger stations of Reading, Newbury and Hungerford.

Now that the service is hourly between Reading and Bedwyn and half-hourly between Reading and Newbury in modern, comfortable trains, I can see passenger numbers growing.

Current Service

There are eleven trains per day, between Paddington and Bedwyn, at an hourly frequency, which take around three hours for a round trip.

So it would appear that three trains are needed for the service.

The service is also supplemented by an hourly stopping shuttle train between Reading and Newbury.

Two years ago, the service was just one three-car diesel train per hour between Paddington and Bedwyn with a few additional stops from long-distance trains.

Bedwyn Station Improvements

I got the impression, that Bedwyn station is probably at its limit for car parking with the current twenty-five spaces and cars all over the place.

This article on the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, is entitled It’s A Rail Problem At Great Bedwyn and indicates that commuters and residents don’t see eye-to-eye with the car parking.

If the car parking were to be increased and usage at the station increased then I feel that a step-free bridge could be needed.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Bedwyn station?

The installation wouldn’t be difficult, but the politics could be.

Other Station Improvements

A quick look at other stations suggest these improvements.

  • Hungerford station, which has a large car park, needs a step-free bridge.
  • Kinbury station doesn’t have a bridge.
  • Midgham station doesn’t have a bridge
  • Theale station has improvements planned.

There are level crossings at Hungerford, Kintbury, Thatcham and Midgham.

Future Trains To Bedwyn

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I discussed how Hitachi were proposing to add battery power to Class 385 trains, which are in the same family as GWR’s Class 802 trains.

So surely, what is a power source for the goose is also a power source for the gander.

As it would only be a journey of thirteen miles both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, this would surely be an ideal route for the use of battery power.

The other route, where battery power could be used would be between Didcot and Oxford, which is just over ten miles.

A Future Service To Marlborough

I covered this proposal in A Station For Marlborough.

Marlborough would be served by a single-track branch line on an old railway alignment, probably terminating near the large Tesco superstore in a single platform station.

The advantages of doing this would be.

  • Marlborough, which is an important market town of 8,500 people would be connected to the rail network.
  • Adequate car parking could be provided.
  • Creating a station at Marlborough could be an alternative to expanding Bedwyn station, which could be problematical.
  • It would improve the economics of the Paddington and Bedwyn service.

This is the sort of service, that should be developed.

Other Possible Services

The big advantage of this high speed local service for Great Western Railway, is that when it is on the Great Western Main Line, it becomes just another 125 mph service or once digital signalling is installed a possible 140 mph service.

These routes could have this type of high speed local services.

Great Western Main Line

Great Western Railway has several routes, where Class 800 and Class 802 trains break away from the Great Western Main Line to operate local services.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn
  • Paddington and Oxford

It could be argued that services to Cheltenham and Hereford are also high speed local services.

East Coast Main Line

In April 2018, I wrote Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

This post was based on an article in Rail Magazine, which talked about running 125 mph trains on the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route.

This would make operation of the East Coast Main Line easier with herds of 125 mph trains steaming into and out of London.

I think, improvement would also extend to the Cambridge Line, in addition to the Fen Line.

  • Operating speed up from 90 mph to 110 mph plus.
  • Full digital signalling.
  • Automatic Train Control.

Journey times and frequency to and from London Kings Cross would be improved significantly.

Siemens would probably need to uprate the Class 700 trains for faster running, as 100 mph trains are just too slow!

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Edinburgh, large sections of the line are only double track.

It is the ambition of train operating companies to run more high speed expresses between London and the North of England and Scotland.

I can see a time, when all trains using the East Coast Main Line will have to confirm with a high minimum speed, otherwise the future plans cannot be fulfiled.

Midland Main Line

By the end of 2020, the Midland Main Line South of Market Harborough, will be a 125 mph electrified railway with a high speed branch to Corby, which will be served by a half-hourly twelve-car electric service.

From 2022, 125 mph bi-mode trains will be running services on the Midland Main Line.

I can see services between St. Pancras and Corby becoming another high speed local service.

  • Half-hourly service.
  • 125 mph running.
  • Limited stop between Corby and London, with stops at Kettering, Luton And Luton Airport Parkway.
  • The journey time could even be under an hour.

Selected trains could even use battery power to extend the service to Melton Mowbray.

West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line will become increasingly crowded with fast 140 mph trains, especially after the opening of Phase 2a of High Speed Two to Crewe in 2027.

I believe that this will mean that all passenger services using the West Coast Main Line will need to be run using trains capable of at least 110 mph and possibly 125 mph.

The new operation of suburban services on the West Coast Main Line; West Midlands Trains are replacing their fleet with new Class 730 trains. Like the previous trains, they are 110 mph units, but are they capable of upgrading to 125 mph?

If they are upgradeable, they would ease timetabling problems between London and the West Midlands, as they could mix it with Virgin’s Class 390 trains.

Further North, Northern run services like these.

  • Barrow and Manchester Airport.
  • Blackpool and Manchester Airport
  • Windermere and Manchester Airport

Currently, the operator is introducing new Class 195 and Class 331 trains, alongside the Class 319 trains.All of these trains are 100 mph capable, which is probably not fast enough, if they have to use the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Lancaster, some of which is only double-track.

In Northern Considering Options For More New Trains, I wrote about Northern’s future rolling stock plans.

I suspect some 125 mph trains are in their plans for both the East and West Coast Main Lines.

Implications For Freight

There must surely be pressure for freight trains to go faster.

The 110 mph Class 93 locomotive is on its way, but with rail freight increasing we need to radically think how we run freight trains on a busy passenger line.

Conclusion

We will increasingly see upgrading of suburban services that use 125 mph line and not just around London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bedwyn, Didcot Parkway And Oxford Services After Crossrail Opens To Reading

When Crossrail opens to Reading as it is rumoured with happen in December 2019, what will happen to the Great Western Railway (GWR) services to Bedwyn, Dicot Parkway and Oxford?

The Current Services

These services currently run to these destinations from London Paddington station.

  • Bedwyn station has an hourly service, that goes non stop between London and Reading and then calls at all stations between Reading and Bedwyn.
  • Didcot Parkway station has a two trains per hour (tph) stopping service, that stops at most stations, including those between Reading and Didcot Parkway.
  • Oxford station has a two tph fast service.
  • Reading station has a two tph stopping service, that stops at most stations.
  • The Didcot Parkway and Reading services give London and Reading a four tph electric service.
  • Other trains stop at important stations and there are some shuttle trains serving Reading, Didcot Parkway and Oxford.

Recent developments have included

  • Oxford and Bedwyn services now generally seem to run from the main station.
  • The fast Oxford services now run by Class 802 trains.

GWR are also testing running Class 802 trains to Bedwyn.

Future Services To Bedwyn

The turnback facility at Bedwyn station has been upgraded, so that it can take a five-car Class 802 train.

When some sighting and safety issues are settled, it is likely that Class 802 trains will take over services to Bedwyn.

  • Five-car bi-mode Class 802 trains will be used.
  • Trains will not stop between London and Reading.
  • Trains will stop at all station between Reading and Bedwyn.
  • Trains will run on electric power between London and Newbury.
  • Trains will run on diesel power between Newbury and Bedwyn.

Will the current seventy minute time be reduced by the faster trains, running at higher speed between London and Reading?

Battery Trains To Bedwyn

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I wrote about how batteries could be added to Class 385 trains, so they could run services without electrification.

Consider.

  • Class 802 and Class 385 trains are both both members of Hitachi’s A-Train family, sharing many features and systems.
  • Newbury to Bedwyn and back is about thirty miles.
  • Batteries could be charged between London and Newbury.

I very much feel that if Hitachi apply battery technology to the Class 802 trains, that Bedwyn could be an ideal test destination.

Extension Of Bedwyn Services To Marlborough

In A Station For Marlborough, I wrote about a local plan to open a new station in the twon of Marlborough, which would be on a single track branch, that leaves the main line to the West of Bedwyn.

Class 802 trains with a battery capability, would be the ideal trains for this extension.

Future Services To Oxford

GWR have started running bi-mode Class 802 trains to Oxford at a frequency of two tph

  • Services stop at Slough and Reading.
  • I have seen nine-car trains on this route.
  • Trains run on electric power between London and Didcot Parkway
  • Trains run on diesel power between Dicot Parkway and Oxford.

The service is augmented with a diesel shuttle between Oxford and Didcot Parkway.

  • This service runs at a frequency of two tph
  • One train every two hours is extended to Banbury.
  • This service is the only way to get to the intermediate stations of Appleford, Culham and Radley.

I very much feel that services between London and Oxford can be improved.

Four tph To Oxford

If train companies feel that Reading is worth four tph on Crossrail between the city and London, surely Oxford needs a four tph GWR service to the capital.

  • Two would be fast trains stopping only at Reading and Slough.
  • Two would stop at Slough and all stations between Reading and Oxford.
  • Bi-mode Class 802 trains would be used.
  • Trains run on electric power between London and Didcot Parkway
  • Trains run on diesel power between Dicot Parkway and Oxford.

Note.

  1. All intermediate stations would have a direct two tph service to London, Reading and Oxford.
  2. Currently, many journeys involve a long wait or a change at Didcot Parkway.

In addition, no station between Reading and Didcot Parkway gets a worse service than they do now, with the Class 387 trains to Didcot Parkway.

Battery Trains To Oxford

If Hitachi develop them, why not?

A Reading And Oxford Shuttle

I very much believe that important commuter routes need a frequency of four tph, as this enables a Turn-Up-And-Go service and encourage passenger numbers. Especially on a route like Reading and Oxford, where there is a lot of new housing being built.

If two tph are run between London and Oxford, stopping at all staions between Reading and Oxford, perhaps the way to give this service would be to run a shuttle between Reading and Oxford using bi-mode Class 769 trains.

  • A two tph shuttle would give four tph at all intermediate stations.
  • Trains would run on electric power between Reading and Didcot Parkway.
  • Trains would run on diesel power between Didcot Parkway and Oxford.
  • Some or all trains could be extended to Banbury.
  • I estimate that four trains would,d be needed for two tph.

Oxford would only be getting the quality of railway system a city of its size and standing needs.

Conclusion

There is a lot of scope to improve the train services in the Thames Valley, whether or no Crossrail takes over the Reading services.

 

 

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

If Crossrail Opens To Reading In December 2019, How Will It Terminate In Paddington?

If you look at the Services in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, the services on the Western Branch are the following in trains per hour (tph).

  • Reading and Abbey Wood (5 stops) – Two tph in the Peak, None in the Off-Peak
  • Reading and Abbey Wood (12 stops) – Two tph all day
  • Maidenhead and Abbey Wood (10 stops) – Two tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Abbey Wood (6 stops) – Four tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 and Abbey Wood (6 stops) – Two tph all day

If these services terminate in Paddington station, then the station must be able to handle twelve tph in the Peak and ten tph at all other times.

Perhaps two platforms could be used as follows.

  • Reading and Maidenhead services handling six tph in the Peak and four in the Off Peak.
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Heathrow Terminal 5 services, handling six tph all day.

Or to give a bit of spare capacity and make it easier for passengers, three platforms could be used as follows.

  • Reading and Maidenhead services handling six tph in the Peak and four in the Off Peak.
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 services, handling four tph all day
  • Hesthrow Terminal 5 services, handling two tph all day

For convenience, services could terminate in the two Northernmost platforms 12,and 14. 13 hseems to have disappeared.

  • These platforms have their own short gate line.
  • They are on the same side of the station, as the slow lines that Crossrail will use to leave the station.
  • Platform 14 is 164 metres long, with platforms 11 and 12 longer.

Could these two platforms be turned into a self-contained Crossrail station?

  • Each platform could handle six tph.
  • I don’t think full-length nine-car Crossrail trains could be used, but seven-car trains could fit a 164 metre platform.
  • The lighting needs to be improved.
  • If these platforms could be used for exclusively for Crossrail, there would be no crossing of tracks outside the station involving Crossrail trains.
  • It would be convenient for passengers as they’d just go to the Crossrail station and through the gate.

But above all, there would not be a lot of work needed to create a Crossrail station.

Unless it was decided to make all platforms capable of handling full-length trains. But hopefully, it would only be needed for a couple of years.

Conclusion

Platform 12 and 14 at Paddington could be converted into a two-platform Crossrail station handling seven-car Class 345 trains, at a frequency of twelve tph, with its own gate line.

 

 

 

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bedwyn Station

I had to go to a meeting in Marlborough, so I took a train to Bedyn station for the first time in my life.

I took these pictures.

This Google Map shows the layout of the station.

bedwyn

I have commuted from a couple of stations like this in Suffolk over the years and Bedwyn doesn’t impress me.

It is not a question of what the station has, but what it hasn’t.

  • No local catchment area as Great Bedwyn only has a population of 1353 according to the 2011 Census.
  • No car parking.
  • No good road access.
  • No step-free access.
  • No welcoming facilities.
  • No pub within walking distance.
  • No mobile phone signal.
  • No possibility of electrifying past Bedwyn, because of the need to demolish the bridge at the station.

I am surprised that GWR have kept it going so long!

Near where I lived in Suffolk was a station called Dullingham, which is just as welcoming as Bedwyn, but at least it had enough car parking for someone, who wanted to pop up to London and not drive.

There are only a few  reasons, why GWR keep this station going.

  • Historically, as they’ve always done it this way.
  • Bedwyn is the best station to turn trains and has a convenient reversing siding.
  • The guy, who decides the route lives in Bedwyn.

But I think they use Bedwyn to turn trains for one of the best reasons; to cut costs.

If you look at train timings from London, they are as follows.

Newbury – 52 minutes

Hungerford – 63 minutes

Bedwyn – 73 minutes

As they want to run an hourly service, turning the train at Bedwyn might mean that they can use a train less than doing it at say Pewsey, as timings work out well.

I think that as they need time to turn a train and give the driver a rest, that a journey time of 73 minutes means that a round trip to Bedwyn takes three hours with an allowance for a small delay.

After all it can’t be unprofitable as this article in the Marlborough News is entitled Back on track: Bedwyn to keep direct London trains after 2018.

This is said.

Great Western Railway announced today (February 24) that investment has been agreed with the Department for Transport that will, from 2018, bring brand new hybrid trains  capable of switching between diesel and electric power to replace the diesel turbo fleet now serving Bedwyn travellers.

 

I think that the only reason they wouldn’t turn the trains at Bedwyn, is that there was a better alternative down the line., like perhaps at  Westbury.

Incidentally, as the new trains could be faster, it might be that the turnback point could be further out

But both these scenarios would mean that Bedwyn will still get at least the same service it does now.

A Station For Marlborough

I wrote a post called A Station For Marlborough, a couple of weeks ago and this might be a possibility for a new terminus.

  • It is a town of nearly 10,000 people.
  • A lot of people in the town commute to Reading or London.
  • The town has identified a place for a new station, which is on the old railway alignment from Bedwyn.
  • If the train terminated at Marlborough, the timetable from Bedwyn could be the same.
  • The train would need to be self-powered, as is Great Wstern Railway’s bi-mode trains.

It might even be better value-for-money to create the rail link to Marlborough, than rebuild Bedwyn station for electrification and with a car park and step-free access.

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 26, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment