The Anonymous Widower

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