The Anonymous Widower

CrossCountry’s Bournemouth And Manchester Piccadilly Service

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

It was a long formation of Class 220 trains.

Could This Service Be Replaced By Hitachi Regional Battery Trains?

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

Bridging The Gap

These methods could possibly  be used to bridge the gap.

A Larger Battery On The Train

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

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

This modular approach must offer advantages.

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

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

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

Battery And Train Development

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

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

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

A Charging Station At Banbury Station

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

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

Electrification Of A Section Of The Chiltern Main Line

This could be an elegant solution.

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

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

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

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

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

Distances of relevance from the ends of the electrification include.

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

 

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

Birmingham Airport Connectivity

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Birmingham Airport Connectivity.

This is the introductory paragraph.

By using capacity released by HS2 and investing in new track south of Birmingham Airport, we can improve connections from the south of England, East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East.

The page contains this helpful map.

It looks like Midlands Connect are thinking about improving the Reading and Newcastle service.

Points made on the page and related articles, like this one on Rail News  include.

  • Birmingham Airport has plans to increase passenger numbers to 18 million by 2033.
  • Coventry and Leamington Spa via Kenilworth will be double-tracked.
  • High Speed Two will release capacity in the area.
  • It will open up rail capacity between Birmingham and Solihull.
  • There will be a new service between Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford via Solihull and Warwick Parkway.
  • It will improve local connections to Birmingham Airport.
  • Birmingham and Reading services will be increased to two trains per hour (tph)
  • The Government is being asked to chip in £20 million.

These are my thoughts.

Birmingham Airport

Birmingham Airport can become a true Heart of England Airport.

I feel that the future of aviation will be very different to the past.

  • COVID-19 and the future pandemics, that we will endure from the East and the Americas, will mean that flying will be a very different experience with hygiene and social distancing to the fore.
  • Smaller aircraft, for flights up to 500 miles, will be odd-looking zero-carbon machines with exotic power systems.
  • Larger aircraft will be energy efficient planes powered by aviation biofuels produced from household and industrial waste, and biomass.
  • Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s will only be talked about in tales from older people to the young.
  • Airports will be important rail hubs to more than just the local area.

Wikipedia also says this about expansion of Birmingham Airport.

Plans for a second runway (a third when demand requires) on the other side of the M42 and a new terminal complex and business park have been published, and they could help to create around 250,000 jobs. It has been estimated that if these plans went ahead, the airport could handle around 70,000,000 passengers annually, and around 500,000 aircraft movements.

This Google Map shows the Airport.

Note the M42 motorway passing North-South to the East of the Airport.

Could Birmingham Airport develop towards Birmingham Interchange and High Speed Two?

It is worth looking at the distance to other airports.

  • Aberdeen – 328 miles
  • Amsterdam – 280 miles
  • Dublin – 199 miles
  • Frankfurt – 478 miles
  • Geneva – 558 miles
  • Paris – 304 miles

All could be within range of an electric aircraft like the under-development Eviation Alice.

I believe that large airports will develop low-noise zero-carbon secondary runways.

Birmingham Airport is well-situated to take advantage.

Adding A Second Track Between Leamington Spa And Coventry

This section of track is about ten miles long, with probably under half only single-track.

This Google Map shows the single-track through the new Kenilworth station.

And these are pictures I took soon after the station opened.

It is certainly one of the best of the current crop of new small stations.

I don’t think that adding a second track will be the most challenging of projects.

It should be noted that the Leamington Spa and Nuneaton service could be a candidate for a battery electric train.

  • The route is twenty miles long
  • Nuneaton and Coventry stations are fully electrified.
  • There might be possibilities to extend this service at either or both ends.
  • Nuneaton and Leicester are nineteen miles apart and a new Nuneaton Parkway station is proposed for the route. I wrote about this station in New Railway Station Between Hinckley And Nuneaton Receives Backing.
  • Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon are fifteen miles apart and would need a reverse at Leamington Spa.

A battery electric train might give a faster and more passenger-friendly service, if the passenger numbers and forecasts would support an extended service.

A Birmingham Moor Street And Oxford Service

This Google Map shows Birmingham Moor Street station.

Note.

  1. The two Northern through platforms on the Snow Hill Lines, that continue under Birmingham to Birmingham Snow Hill station.
  2. At least two, but possibly three bay platforms, that can take Chiltern Railway’s longest trains.
  3. There is more space for possibly another two bay platforms to be reinstated or built.

Birmingham Moor Street station will also be a short walk from High Speed Two’s Birmingham Curzon Street station.

This Google Map shows Oxford station.

Note.

  1. Birmingham Moor Street station is to the North via Banbury and Warwick Parkway stations.
  2. The two long through platforms capable of taking a nine-car train.
  3. There are two bay platforms to the East of the two through platforms, at the Northern end of the station.
  4. The bay platforms handle Chiltern’s services from London Marylebone and could also handle the proposed service to Birmingham Moor Street.

Consider this about the proposed Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford service.

  • The service could stop at Solihull, Warwick Parkway, Warwick, Leamington Spar and Banbury, as was thought necessary.
  • I estimate that Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford are 66 miles apart and that a 100 mph train would take around 66 minutes.
  • Birmingham Moor Street and Banbury are 43 miles apart.
  • Oxford and Banbury are 23 miles apart.

With these timings and a few minutes to reverse at each end of the route, I would estimate that a 2.5 hour round trip would be possible.

But, I also think, that with charging facilities or short lengths of electrification at Birmingham Moor Street, Banbury and Oxford stations, this service could be run by battery electric trains.

  • A three hour round trip should be possible.
  • Three trains would be needed to provide an hourly service.
  • Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa and Warwick would have a direct connection to High Speed Two.

It should also be noted

  • Birmingham Moor Street and Stratford-upon-Avon stations are only 25 miles apart and the journey rakes 46 minutes
  • Banbury and Stratford-upon-Avon are 35 miles apart. and the journey takes 57 minutes.
  • Leamington Spa and Nuneaton are 20 miles apart and the journey takes 36 minutes.

There would appear to be tremendous potential for battery electric services between Birmingham and Oxford.

How many tourists would a Birmingham and Oxford service via Stratford-upon-Avon attract?

Improving The Reading And Newcastle Service

Currently, this is a one tph service between Reading and Newcastle stations.

  • It is run by CrossCountry.
  • Intermediate stops include Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington and Durham.
  • It appears that the full journey takes four-and-a-half hours.

It looks like to run a two tph service would need as many as twenty trains.

There is an alternative route after High Speed Two opens.

  • High Speed Two – Newcastle and Birmingham Curzon Street – 118 minutes
  • Walk – Curzon Street and New Street – 10 minutes
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham New Street and Reading – 90 minutes

This saves about forty-five minutes.

You could even do a double change.

  • High Speed Two – Newcastle and East Midlands Hub – 96 minutes
  • High Speed Two – East Midlands Hub and Birmingham Interchange – 17 minutes
  • Walk – Birmingham Interchange and Birmingham International – 10 minutes
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham International and Reading – 78 minutes

This gives a time of around three hours and twenty minutes.

High Speed Two certainly saves time.

But look at this map clipped from the High Speed Two web site.

Note.

  1. The blue dot shows the location of Curzon Street station.
    The West Coast Main Line running into New Street station, is just to the South of Curzon Street station.
    New Street station can be picked out to the West of Curzon Street station.

This Google Map shows a close-up of the current Curzon Street station site.

The same pattern of rail lines going past the Curzon Street site into New Street station can be picked out.

Surely, a connection could be made to allow trains from a couple of platforms in Curzon Street station to terminate trains from the West Coast Main Line.

To improve services between Newcastle and Reading, trains would do the following.

  • Run on the current East Coast Main Line infrastructure between Newcastle and York. Station stops could be Durham, Darlington and York.
  • Switch to new High Speed Two infrastructure South of York.
  • Run on High Speed Two infrastructure to Birmingham Curzon Street station. Station stops could be Sheffield, Chesterfield and East Midlands Hub.
  • The train would reverse at Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • Switch to the West Coast Main Line outside Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • Run on the West Coast Main Line to Birmingham International station.
  • Take the route currently used by CrossCountry between Birmingham International and Reading. Station stops could be Leamington Spa, Warwick Parkway, Banbury and Oxford stations.

Timings would be as follows.

  • Newcastle and Birmingham Curzon Street – 118 minutes – From High Speed Two web site.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Reading – 90 minutes – Current CrossCountry timing.

Note.

  1. This saves about an hour over the current CrossCountry timings.
  2. It could use classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  3. Between Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle, it follows the same route as one of the current proposed High Speed Two services.
  4. The service could be extended to Edinburgh from Newcastle.
  5. The service could be extended to Southampton from Reading
  6. As there are only twelve tph planned to be running on the Eastern leg of High Speed Two, against a total capacity of eighteen tph, it should be possible to accommodate the extra service or services.

This would surely be a very useful High Speed Two service.

Conclusion

It is a comprehensive package of measures, some of which could have a high cost benefit ratio.

 

 

 

 

July 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work Chiltern Railways’s Services?

Before I answer this question, I will lay out a few specifications and the current status.

Hitachi’s Proposed Battery Electric Train

Based on information in an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is entitled Sparking A Revolution, the specification of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train is given as follows.

  • Based on Class 800-802/804 trains or Class 385 trains.
  • Range of 55-65 miles.
  • Operating speed of 90-100 mph
  • Recharge in ten minutes when static.
  • A battery life of 8-10 years.
  • Battery-only power for stations and urban areas.

For this post, I will assume that the train is four or five cars long.

Chiltern Railways’ Main Line Services

These are Chiltern Railways services that run on the Chiltern Main Line.

London Marylebone And Gerrards Cross

  • The service runs at a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • Intermediate stations are Wembley Stadium, Sudbury & Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park, West Ruislip, Denham and Denham Golf Club

The service is nineteen miles long and takes thirty minutes.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at one end of the route.

London Marylebone And High Wycombe

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Wembley Stadium,  South Ruislip, Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield
  • Some services terminate in a bay platform 1 at High Wycombe station.

The service is twenty-eight miles long and takes forty-two minutes.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at one end of the route.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Via High Wycombe

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Gerrards Cross, Seer Green and Jordans, Beaconsfield, High Wycombe, Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Monks Risborough and Little Kimble
  • This service usually terminates in Platform 1 at Aylesbury station.

The service is 43.5 miles long and takes sixty-six minutes.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at both ends of the route.

London Marylebone And Banbury (And Stratford-upon-Avon)

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations for the Banbury service are Denham Golf Club, Gerrards Cross, Beaconsfield, High Wycombe, Princes Risborough, Haddenham & Thame Parkway, Bicester North and Kings Sutton.
  • Intermediate stations for the Stratford-upon-Avon service are Denham Golf Club, Gerrards Cross, Beaconsfield, High Wycombe, Princes Risborough, Haddenham & Thame Parkway, Bicester North and Kings Sutton, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Hatton, Claverdon, Bearley, Wilmcote and Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway.

The Banbury service is 69 miles long and takes one hour and forty-five minutes.

The Stratford-upon-Avon service is 104 miles long and takes two hours and twenty-two minutes.

Running these two services will need a bit of ingenuity.

Leamington Spa And Birmingham Moor Street

  • The service runs at a frequency of one train per two hours (tp2h)
  • Intermediate stations for the service are Warwick, Hatton, Lapworth, Dorridge and Solihull.

The service is 23 miles long and takes forty-one minutes.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at one end of the route.

London Marylebone And Birmingham Moor Street

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations for the service are High Wycombe, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick Parkway and Solihull.

The service is 112 miles long and takes one hour and forty-four minutes.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at both ends of the route and also fully charged somewhere in the middle.

Distances from London Marylebone of the various stations are.

  • High Wycombe – 28 miles
  • Bicester North – 55 miles
  • Banbury – 69 miles
  • Leamington Spa – 89 miles
  • Warwick – 91 miles
  • Warwick Parkway – 92 miles
  • Solihull – 105 miles

Consider.

  • It looks like a fully-charged train from London Marylebone could reach Bicester North, but not Banbury, with a 55-65 mile battery range.
  • Travelling South, Bicester North could be reached with a fully-charged train from Birmingham Moor Street.

But it would appear to be too marginal to run a reliable service.

London Marylebone And Birmingham Snow Hill

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations for the service are Bicester North, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Warwick Parkway, Dorridge, Solihull and Birmingham Moor Street

The service is 112 miles long and takes two hours and a minute.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at both ends of the route and also fully charged somewhere in the middle.

London Marylebone And Kidderminster

Some services between London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill are extended to Kidderminster.

The distance between Kidderminster and Birmingham Snow Hill is twenty miles and the service takes forty-two minutes.

London Marylebone And Oxford

  • The service runs at a frequency of two tph
  • Intermediate stations for the service are High Wycombe, Haddenham & Thame Parkway, Bicester Village, Islip and, Oxford Parkway.
  • The service runs into dedicated platforms at Oxford station.

The service is 67 miles long and takes one hour and nine minutes.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at both ends of the route and some supplementary charging somewhere in the middle.

Chiltern’s Aylesbury Line Services

These are Chiltern Railway‘s services that run on the London And Aylesbury Line (Amersham Line).

London Marylebone And Aylesbury (And Aylesbury Vale Parkway) via Amersham

  • The service runs at a frequency of two tph
  • Intermediate stations are Harrow-on-the-Hill, Rickmansworth, Chorleywood, Chalfont & Latimer, Amersham, Great Missenden, Wendover and Stoke Mandeville.
  • It appears that there is sufficient time at Aylesbury Vale Parkway in the turnround to charge the train using a Fast Charge system.

The Aylesbury service is 39 miles long and takes one hour.

The Aylesbury Vale Parkway service is 41 miles long and takes one hour and twelve minutes.

It should be possible to run both services with trains charged at both ends of the route.

 

Chiltern Railways’ Future Train Needs

Chiltern Railways will need to add to or replace some or all of their fleet in the near future for various reasons.

Decarbonisation

Chiltern are probably the passenger train operating company, with the lowest proportion of zero-carbon trains. It scores zero for zero-carbon!

Government policy of an extinction date of 2040 was first mentioned by Jo Johnson, when he was Rail Minister in February 2018.

As new trains generally last between thirty and forty years and take about five years to design and deliver, trains ordered tomorrow, will probably still be running in 2055, which is fifteen years after Jo Johnson’s diesel extinction date.

I feel that, all trains we order now, should be one of the following.

  • All-electric
  • Battery-electric
  • Hydrogen-electric
  • Diesel electric trains, that can be converted to zero-carbon, by the replacement of the diesel power, with an appropriate zero-carbon source.

Hitachi seem to be designing an AT-300 diesel-electric train for Avanti West Coast, where the diesel engines can be replaced with batteries, according to an article in the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

Pollution And Noise In And Around Marylebone Station

This Google Map shows the area around Marylebone station.

Cinsider.

  • Marylebone station is in the South-East corner of the map.
  • The station is surrounded by some of the most expensive real estate in London.
  • A lot of Chiltern’s trains do not meet the latest regulations for diesel trains.
  • Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Euston, Fenchurch Street, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Paddington, St. Pancras, Victoria and Waterloo stations are diesel-free or have plans to do so.

Will the residents, the Greater London Council and the Government do something about improving Chiltern’s pollution and noise?

New trains would be a necessary part of the solution.

New And Extended Services

Consider.

  • Chiltern plan to extend the Aylesbury Parkway service to Milton Keynes in connection with East West Rail. This service would appear to be planned to run via High Wycombe and Princes Risborough.
  • There has also been proposals for a new Chiltern terminus at Old Oak Common in West London to connect to Crossrail, High Speed Two and the London Overground.
  • Chiltern could run a service between Oxford and Birmingham Moor Street.
  • With the demise of the Croxley Rail Link around Watford, Chiltern could be part of a revived solution.
  • In Issue 899 of Rail Magazine in an article entitled Calls For Major Enhancement To Oxford And Didcot Route, it states that there will be three tph between Oxford and Marylebone, two of which will start from a new station at Cowley.

Chiltern certainly have been an expansionist railway in the past.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chiltern ordering new trains.

As I said earlier, I suspect they wouldn’t want to order some new short-life diesel trains.

125 mph Running

Consider.

  • The West Coast Main Line has an operating speed of 125 mph.
  • East West Rail is being built for an operating speed of 125 mph.
  • Some parts of the Chiltern Main Line could be electrified and upgraded to 125 mph operation.

For these reasons, some of Chiltern’s new fleet must be capable of modification, so it can run at 125 mph, where it is possible.

100 mph Trains

Around half of Chiltern’s fleet are 100 mph trains, but the other half, made up of Class 165 trains only have a 75 mph operating speed.

Running a fleet, where all trains have a similar performance, must give operational and capacity improvements.

Increasing Capacity

Chiltern’s Main Line service to Birmingham is run using six Mark 3 carriages between a Class 68 locomotive and a driving van trailer.

These trains are 177.3 metres long and hold 444 passengers.

These trains are equivalent in length to a seven-car Hitachi Class AT-300 train, which I estimate would hold just over 500 passengers.

Changing some trains for a more modern design, could increase the passenger capacity, but without increasing the train length.

Aventi West Coast And High Speed Two

Chiltern’s services to Birmingham will come under increasing pressure from Avanti West Coast‘s revamped all-electric fleet, which within ten years should be augmented by High Speed Two.

It will be difficult selling the joys of comfortable diesel trains against the environmental benefits of all-electric zero-carbon faster trains.

Great Western Railway And Possible Electrification To Oxford

Chiltern’s services to Oxford will also come under increasing pressure from Great Western Railway’s services to Oxford.

  • When Crossrail opens, Paddington will be a much better terminal than Marylebone.
  • Crossrail will offer lots of new connections from Reading.
  • Great Western Railway could run their own battery-electric trains to Oxford.
  • Great Western Railway will be faster between London and Oxford at 38 minutes to Chiltern’s 65 minutes.

Will new trains be needed on the route to retain passengers?

Will Chiltern Have Two Separate Fleets?

Currently, Chiltern Railways have what is effectively  two separate fleets.

  • A Chiltern Main Line fleet comprised of five sets of six Mark 3 coaches, a Class 68 locomotive and a driving van trailer.
  • A secondary fleet of thirty-four assorted diesel multiple units of various ages and lengths, which do everything else.

But would this be their fleet, if they went for a full renewal to fully-decarbonise?

Would they acquire more Main Line sets to work the services to Birmingham, Kidderminster and perhaps some other Midlands destinations?

Do the Oxford services require more capacity for both Oxford and Bicester Village and would more Main Line sets be a solution?

What destinations will be served and what trains will be needed to work services from new destinations like Milton Keynes and Old Oak Common?

I can see Chiltern acquiring two fleets of battery-electric trains.

  • Chiltern Main Line trains based on Hitachi AT-300 trains with between five and seven cars.
  • Suburban trains for shorter journeys, based on Hitachi Class 385 trains with perhaps four cars.

Both would be fairly similar under the skin.

Conclusion On Chiltern Railways’ Future Trains

I am very much drawn to the conclusion, that Chiltern will have to introduce a new fleet of zero-carbon trains.

Electrification would be a possibility, but have we got enough resources to carry out the work, at the same time as High Speed Two is being built?

Hydrogen might be a possibility, but it would probably lead to a loss of capacity on the trains.

Battery-electric trains might not be a solution, but I suspect they could be the best way to increase Chiltern’s fleet and decarbonise at the same time.

  • Hitachi’s basic train design is used by several train operating companies and appears to be well received, by Train operating companies, staff and passengers.
  • Hitachi appear to be well-advanced with a battery-electric version.
  • Hitachi seem to have sold the concept of battery-electric AT-300 trains to Avanti West Coast to replace their diesel-electric Class 221 trains.

The sale of trains to Avanti West Coast appears to be very significant, in that Hitachi will be delivering a diesel-electric fleet, that will then be converted to battery-electric.

I like this approach.

  • Routes can be converted gradually and the trains fully tested as diesel-electric.
  • Electrification and/or charging stations can be added, to the rail network.
  • As routes are ready, the trains can be converted to battery-electric.

It would appear to be a low-risk approach, that could ensure conversion of the fleet does not involve too much disruption to passengers.

Possible Electrification That Might Help Chiltern Railways

These lines are or could be electrified in the near future.

Amersham Line Between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham Stations

The only electrified line on the Chiltern Railways network is the section of the Amersham Line between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham stations.

  • It is electrified using London Underground’s system.
  • It is fourteen miles long and trains take twenty-two minutes.
  • London Marylebone and Harrow-on-the-Hill is a distance of only nine miles
  • Aylesbury and Amersham is a distance of only fifteen miles.

Could this be of use in powering Children Railways’ trains?

The maths certainly look promising, as if nothing else it means the maximum range of one of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains is fourteen miles further, which may enable Chiltern’s proposed service between London Marylebone and Milton Keynes to reach the 25 KVAC electrification at Bletchley.

But if the new trains were to use the London Underground electrification, they would have to be dual-voltage units.

As Hitachi have already built dual-voltage Class 395 trains for the UK, I don’t think, that this will be a problem.

Dorridge/Whitlock’s End And Worcestershire via Birmingham Snow Hill

In the February 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a feature, which is entitled West Midlands Builds For The Future.

This is said about electrification on the Snow Hill Lines.

Remodelling Leamington is just one of the aspirations WMRE has for upgrading the Great Western’s Southern approach to Birmingham, which serves a number of affluent suburbs, with growing passenger numbers. “Electrification of the Snow Hill Lines commuter network is something which we are keen to explore.’ says Mr. Rackliff.

As well as reducing global carbon emissions, yhis would also help reduce air pollution in central Birmingham and local population centres. ‘From a local perspective, we’d initially want to see electrification of the core network between Dorridge/Whitlock’s End and Worcestershire via Birmingham Snow Hill as a minimum, but from a national perspective it would make sense to electrify the Chiltern Main Line all the way to Marylebone.’

Note the following distances from Dorridge.

  • Leamington Spa – 13 miles
  • Banbury – 33 miles
  • Bicester North – 47 miles
  • High Wycombe – 74 miles

It looks as if, electrification of the Snow Hill Lines would allow trains to travel from Bicester or Banbury to Birmingham Moor Street, Birmingham Snow Hill or Kidderminster.

Reading And Nuneaton via Didcot, Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa And Coventry

This route, which is used by CrossCountry services and freight trains, has been mentioned in the past, as a route that may be electrified.

Note the following distances from Didcot.

  • Oxford – 10 miles
  • Ayhno Junction – 27 miles
  • Banbury 32 miles
  • Leamington Spa – 52 miles
  • Coventry – 62 miles
  • Nuneaton – 72 miles

Electrifying this route would link together the following lines.

Note that Aynho Junction is only 36 miles from High Wycombe and 64 miles from London Marylebone.

Fast Charging At Terminal Stations

Chiltern Railways use the following terminal stations.

  • Aylesbury station, where a bay platform is used.
  • Aylesbury Parkway station
  • Banbury station, where a bay platform is used.
  • Birmingham Moor Street station, where all bay platforms are used.
  • Birmingham Show Hill station
  • High Wycombe station, where a bay platform is used.
  • Kidderminster station
  • London Marylebone station, where all platforms are used.
  • Oxford station, where two North-facing bay platforms are used.
  • Stratford-upon-Avon station

I suspect that something like Viviarail’s Fast-Charge system, based on well-proven third-rail technology could be used.

  • This system uses a bank of batteries to transfer power to the train’s batteries.
  • The transfer is performed using modified high-quality third-rail electrification technology.
  • Battery-to-battery transfer is fast, due to the low-impedance of batteries.
  • The system will be able to connect automatically, without driver action.
  • The third-rail is only switched on, when a train is present.
  • The battery bank will be trickle-charged from any convenient power source.

Could the battery bank be installed under the track in the platform to save space?

If Network Rail and Chiltern Railways would prefer a solution based on 25 KVAC technology, I’m sure that Furrer and Frey or another electrification company have a solution.

Installing charging in a platform at a station, would obviously close the platform for a couple of months, but even converting all six platforms at Marylebone station wouldn’t be an impossible task.

Possible Electrification Between London Marylebone And Harrow-on-the-Hill

Consider.

  • All trains to Aylesbury have to travel between London Marylebone and Harrow-on-the-Hill stations, which is nine miles of track without electrification. It takes about twelve minutes.
  • Trains via High Wycombe use this section of track as far as Neasden South Junction, which is give miles and typically takes seven minutes.
  • Leaving Marylebone, these trains are accelerating, so will need more power.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Neasden.

Note.

  1. The Chiltern Railways tracks are shown in black.
  2. Two tracks continue to the North-West to Harrow-on-the-Hill and Aylesbury.
  3. Two tracks continue to the West to Wembley Stdium station and High Wycombe.
  4. Two tracks continue South-East into Marylebone station, running non-stop.
  5. The Jubilee Line tracks in the middle are shown in silver,
  6. The Metropolitan Line tracks are shown in mauve.

These pictures were taken of the two Chiltern tracks from a Jubilee Line train running between West Hampstead and Wembley Park stations.

Note, that the tracks have no electrification and there is plenty of space.

I feel that to accelerate the trains out of Marylebone and make sure that the batteries are fully charged, that these tracks should be electrified.

There is space on this section for 25 KVAC overhead, but would it be better to use an electrified rail system?

  • As you approach Marylebone there are several tunnels, which might make installation of overhead wires difficult and disruptive.
  • There are London Underground tracks and their third and fourth rail electrification everywhere.
  • Between Harrow-on-the Hill and Amersham stations, Chiltern and Metropolitan Line trains share the same track, which is electrified to London Underground standards and used for traction power by the Metropolitan Line trains.
  • Trains connect and disconnect to third-rail electrification, without any complication and have been doing it for over a hundred years.

On the other hand, there are arguments against third-rail systems like safety and electrical inefficiency.

Running Chiltern’s Routes Using A Battery-Electric Train

I will now take each route in order and look at how battery-electric trains could run the route.

London Marylebone And Oxford

Consider.

  • This route is 67 miles.
  • An out and back trip is 134 miles.
  • The route is probably too long for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, without some intermediate charging.
  • Trains currently wait in the bay platforms at Oxford for up to thirty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.

When I outlined this route, I said this.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at both ends of the route and some supplementary charging somewhere in the middle.

I’m discussing this route first, as it has the complication of needing some form of intermediate charging.

The obvious place for some intermediate charging would be High Wycombe station.

  • It is 28 miles from Marylebone
  • It is 38 miles from Oxford
  • Trains seem to stop for a couple of minutes at High Wycombe.

As trains would only need to pick up a half-charge at the station, would it be possible for a train passing through High Wycombe to be able to use a Fast-Charge system, to give the battery a boost?

As a Control and Electrical Engineer by training, I think that this is more than possible.

It leads me to believe that with Fast Charging systems at Marylebone, Oxford and High Wycombe, Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains can run a reliable service between Marylebone and Oxford.

London Marylebone And Gerrards Cross

Consider.

  • This route is just nineteen miles.
  • An out and back trip is thirty-eight miles.
  • Trains appear to use a reversing siding to change tracks to return to London. They wait in the siding for up to thirty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.

I am fairly sure, that this route could be run by trains charged at Marylebone station only.

However, if charging is needed at Gerrards Cross, there is plenty of time, for this to be performed in the reversing siding.

It might even be reversed with all charging taking place at Gerrards Cross, so that fast turnrounds can be performed in Marylebone station.

London Marylebone And High Wycombe

Consider.

  • This route is just twenty-eight miles.
  • An out and back trip is fifty-six miles.
  • Trains wait in the bay platform for up to thirty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.

Everything said for the Gerrards Cross service would apply to the High Wycombe service.

London Marylebone And Banbury

Consider.

  • This route is 69 miles.
  • An out and back trip is 138 miles.
  • The route is probably too long for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, without some intermediate charging.
  • Trains wait in platform 4 at Banbury for around thirty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • Trains call at High Wycombe station.

As with the Marylebone and Oxford route, this route will need some intermediate charging and as with the Oxford service, High Wycombe is the obvious choice,

High Wycombe is only 41 miles from Banbury, which is well within range of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train.

London Marylebone And Stratford-upon-Avon

Consider.

  • This route is 104 miles.
  • An out and back trip is 208 miles.
  • The distance between Stratford-upon-Avon and Banbury is 35 miles.
  • The route is probably too long for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, without some intermediate charging.
  • Trains wait in Platform 1 at Stratford-upon-Avon for over thirty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • Trains call at Banbury station, where they wait for several minutes.
  • Trains call at High Wycombe station.

As with the Marylebone and Oxford and Marylebone and Banbury routes, this route will need some intermediate charging and as with the Oxford and Banbury services, High Wycombe is the obvious choice,

But this route could also use the Fast Charging system at Banbury.

London Marylebone And Birmingham Moor Street

Consider.

  • This route is 112 miles.
  • An out and back trip is 224 miles.
  • The distance between Birmingham Moor Street and Banbury is 43 miles.
  • The route is probably too long for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, without some intermediate charging.
  • Trains wait in the bay platform at Birmingham Moor Street for thirteen minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • Trains call at Banbury and High Wycombe stations.

As with the Marylebone and Stratford-upon-Avon route, this route will need some intermediate charging and as with the Stratford-upon-Avon service, High Wycombe and Banbury are the obvious choice,

London Marylebone And Birmingham Snow Hill

Consider.

  • This route is 112 miles.
  • An out and back trip is 224 miles.
  • The distance between Birmingham Snow Hill and Banbury is 43 miles.
  • The route is probably too long for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, without some intermediate charging.
  • Trains wait in the bay platform at Birmingham Snow Hill for ten minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • Trains call at Banbury and High Wycombe stations.

As with the Marylebone and Stratford-upon-Avon route, this route will need some intermediate charging and as with the Stratford-upon-Avon service, High Wycombe and Banbury are the obvious choice,

London Marylebone And Kidderminster

Consider.

  • This route is 132 miles.
  • An out and back trip is 264 miles.
  • The distance between Kidderminster and Banbury is 63 miles.
  • The route is probably too long for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, without some intermediate charging.
  • Trains call at Banbury and High Wycombe stations.

As with the Marylebone and Stratford-upon-Avon and Birmingham routes, this route will need some intermediate charging and as with the Stratford-upon-Avon and Birmingham services, High Wycombe and Banbury are the obvious choice,

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Via High Wycombe

Consider.

  • The route is 43.5 miles
  • An out and back trip is 87 miles.
  • The route is probably short enough for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, to run the route without intermediate charging.
  • This service usually terminates in Platform 1 at Aylesbury station, where trains wait for up to thirteen minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • The train will also be fully-charged at Marylebone.

It looks that this route could be easily handled with charging at both ends of the route, but if there has been a charging error, the train can obviously make a pit-stop at High Wycombe to give the battery a top-up.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Via Amersham

Consider.

  • The route is 39 miles
  • An out and back trip is 78 miles.
  • The route is probably short enough for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, to run the route without intermediate charging.
  • This service usually terminates in Platform 3 at Aylesbury station, where trains wait for up to twenty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • The train will also be fully-charged at Marylebone.

It looks that this route could be easily handled with charging at both ends of the route, but if there has been a charging error, the train can obviously make a pit-stop at High Wycombe to give the battery a top-up.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Vale Parkway Via Amersham

Consider.

  • The route is 41 miles
  • An out and back trip is 82 miles.
  • The route is probably short enough for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, to run the route without intermediate charging.
  • This service usually terminates in Platform 1 at Aylesbury Vale Parkway station, where trains wait for up to nine minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • The train will also be fully-charged at Marylebone.

It looks that this route could be easily handled with charging at both ends of the route, but if there has been a charging error, the train can obviously make a pit-stop at Aylesbury to give the battery a top-up.

Leamington Spa And Birmingham Moor Street

Consider.

  • The route is 23 miles
  • An out and back trip is 46 miles.
  • This service usually terminates in a bay platform at Birmingham Moor Street station, where trains wait for up to twenty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Leamington Spa.

I am fairly sure, that this route could be run by trains charged at Bitmingham Moor Street station only.

New And Extended Services

These services are planned or have been mentioned as possibilities.

London Marylebone And Milton Keynes Via High Wycombe, Princes Risborough, Aylesbury And Aylesbury Vale Parkway

This is the new service that Chiltern will start running in the next few years.

Consider.

  • I estimate the distance between Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Bletchley, where 25 KVAC overhead electrification starts is 18 miles, with Milton Keynes a further three miles.
  • The distance between Marylebone and Bletchley via High Wycombe would be 63.5 miles.
  • The route is probably short enough for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, to run the route without intermediate charging.
  • Charging would normally be in Milton Keynes and Marylebone, with a certain amount of charging from the 25 KVAC between Bletchley and Milton Keynes.

It looks that this route could be handled with charging at both ends of the route, but if there has been a charging error, the train can obviously make a pit-stop at High Wycombe or Aylesbury to give the battery a top-up.

Birmingham Moor Street And Oxford

Consider.

  • Birmingham Moor Street station could have more South-facing bay platforms.
  • Birmingham Moor Street station is only a short walk from the new High Speed Two station at Birmingham Curzon Street.
  • Oxford station has two North-facing bay platforms.
  • Oxford station and Aynho Junction is only twenty miles and well within battery range, if High Wycombe and Banbury is electrified.
  • Banbury and Oxford currently takes 23 minutes.
  • Banbury and Birmingham Moor Street currently takes 44 minutes

It looks like a Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford service would take one hour and seven minutes.

London Marylebone And The Cowley Branch

This proposed service is probably about four to five miles further on from Oxford station.

There may be problems with how the track is laid out, but with a charging station at the end of the branch, I doubt that distance would be a problem.

Croxley Rail Link Proposal

I said this earlier.

With the demise of the Croxley Rail Link around Watford, Chiltern could be part of a revived solution.

The original plan died a long time ago, but could there be a simpler Chiltern-based solution?

  • Rebuild the railway between Croxley and Watford High Street stations.
  • Build new stations at Watford Vicarage Road and Cassiobridge.
  • A single track link would be more affordable could certainly handle two tph and possibly four.
  • Chiltern would run a two tph service between Watford Junction and Aylesbury stations.
  • The service would call at Watford High Street, Watford Vicarage Road, Cassiobridge, Croxley, Rickmansworth, Chorleywood, Chalfont & Latimer, Amersham, Great Missenden, Wendover and Stoke Mandeville.

I’m sure a more comprehensive scheme than the original one can be devised.

Important Stations

These are some of the more important stations and a few notes.

Aylesbury

As Chiltern develops the network in the next few years, these services could run to and/or through Aylesbury station.

  • One tph – London Marylebone and Aylesbury via High Wycombe
  • One tph – London Marylebone and Aylesbury via Amersham
  • One tph – London Marylebone and Aylesbury Vale Parkway via Amersham
  • One tph – London Marylebone and Milton Keynes via High Wycombe and Aylesbury Vale Parkway (new service)

I could also see a two tph service between Watford Junction and Aylesbury via Amersham.

Summing all this up means that two tph go via High Wycombe and four tph go via Amersham.

This Google Map shows Aylesbury station.

Note.

  1. Platforms are numbered 1 to 3 from South to North.
  2. Trains going South via High Wycombe call in Platforms 1 or 2.
  3. Trains going South via Amersham call in Platforms 2 and 3
  4. Trains going North call in Platforms 2 and 3.

These pictures show the station.

It is a spacious station, with step-free access and I feel that it could handle more services.

Banbury

I am sure that Banbury station, will be an important charging point for Chiltern’s battery-electric trains going North of Banbury.

This Google Map shows the layout of the recently-refurbished Banbury station.

Note.

  1. Platforms are numbered 1 to 4 from West to East.
  2. Trains going North call in Platforms 1 or 2.
  3. Trains going South call in Platforms 3 or 4.
  4. The Marylebone and London service usually turns back in Platform 4 after waiting there for over half-an-hour.
  5. Northbound Stratford-upon-Avon services generally use Platform 1, but most others generally use Playform 2.
  6. Southbound Stratford-upon-Avon services generally use Platform 4, but most others generally use Playform 3.

It looks to me, that Banbury station could handle the charging of trains as they pass through, as all of Chiltern’s services that serve destinations to the North of Banbury, stop at the station.

Hitachi are saying, that one of their proposed battery-electric trains needs ten minutes to be fully-charged.

So there may need to be some adjustment to the time-table to lengthen the stops at Banbury, to give ten minutes of charging time.

Alternatively, a few miles of electrification could be centred on Banbury, perhaps between Aynho Junction and Leamington Spa, which is a distance of twenty-six miles, which takes one of Chiltern’s trains around twenty-three minutes.

This would surely give enough time to fully-charge the batteries, but would also benefit CrossCountry, if they should go the battery-electric route.

I have followed the route between Aynho Junction and Leamington Spa in my helicopter and it would appear to be a fairly straight and uncomplicated route. I would say, it is about as difficult to electrify, as the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Kettering/Corby, which appears to have been one of Hetwork Rail’s better electrification projects, which should be delivered on time and has been installed without too much disruption to trains and passengers.

High Wycombe

It looks to me, that High Wycombe station will be an important charging point for Chiltern’s battery-electric trains going North to Oxford and Banbury.

Unlike Banbury, High Wycombe has not seen many changes over the years.

This Google Map shows High Wycombe station.

Note.

  1. Platforms are numbered 1 to 3 from South to North.
  2. Platform 1 is a bay platform that faces London.
  3. Platform 2 is the Westbound platform.
  4. Platform 3 is the Eastbound platform.
  5. High Wycombe has five tph in both directions, with an upgrade to six tph possible, after two tph run to the Cowley Branch.

The frequency of the trains through High Wycombe station could probably be handled by a Fast Charging system, but it would be tight to fit all current five services into an hour. It would appear to preclude any extra services going through High Wycombe, as there just isn’t enough time in an hour.

For this reason, I think that High Wycombe station needs full electrification, so that all passing trains can top up their batteries.

This gives the interesting possibility, that a train leaving High Wycombe for London with a full battery, would probably have enough charge in the battery to travel the 28 miles to London Marylebone and return. The train could always have a top-up at Marylebone.

So how far would the electrfication, through High Wycombe run?

Given that for operational reasons, it is probably best that pantographs are raised and lowered in stations, it is probably best if the various routes were electrified to the next station.

  • The Chiltern Main Line route would be electrified as far as Banbury station, where all trains stop. The distance would be 41 miles.
  • The Oxford route would be electrified as far as Bicester Village station, where all trains stop. The distance would be less than two miles from the Chiltern Main Line
  • The Aylesbury route would be electrified as far as Princes Risborough station, where all trains stop. This would be included in the Chiltern Main Line electrification.

It looks to me, that just 43 miles of double-track electrification would enable Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains to reach all parts of the Chiltern network.

Distances of the various destinations from the electrification are as follows.

  • Birmingham Moor Street – 43 miles
  • Birmingham Snow Hill – 43 miles
  • Kidderminster – 63 miles
  • Marylebone – 28 miles
  • Milton Keynes – 27 miles
  • Oxford – 38 miles
  • Oxford – Cowley – 43 miles
  • Stratford-upon-Avon  35 miles

Only Kidderminster could be tricky, but not if the Snow Hill Lines are electrified through Birmingham.

Electrification of the Chiltern Main Line between High Wycombe and Banbury with a number of Fast Charging systems in selected stations, would be my preferred option of enabling Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains to work the Chiltern network.

These pictures show High Wycombe station.

It does appear that the bridge at the Western end of the station my need to be modified, so that overhead wires can be threaded underneath.

Conclusion

Quite unexpectedly, I am pleasantly surprised.

Chiltern Railways’ current network can be run by Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric AT-300 trains.

  • Fast charging systems will be needed at Aylesbury, Aylesbury Vale Parkway, Banbury, Birmingham Moor Street, Birmingham Snow Hill, Gerrards Cross, High Wycombe, Kidderminster, Marylebone, Milton Keynes and Oxford.
  • Banbury and High Wycombe will need to be able to top-up trains as they pass through.
  • No large scale electrification will be needed. Although any new electrification will be greatly accepted!

As I indicated earlier, I would electrify the core part of the Chiltern Main Line route between High Wycombe and Banbury.

It would probably be a good idea to electrify a few miles at the Southern end of the line, where it runs into Marylebone station.

  • Marylebone and Harrow-on-the-Hill.
  • Marylebone and West Ruislip
  • Old Oak Common and West Ruislip.

I would use third-rail electrification to be compatible with London Underground and because of the automatic connection and disconnection.

But most surprisingly, there are already generous turnround times at most terminal stations, which give enough time to charge the trains.

It’s almost, as if Chiltern are preparing for battery-electric trains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Railway Station Between Hinckley And Nuneaton Receives Backing

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

This is the first paragraph of the article.

Plans for a new railway station between Hinckley and Nuneaton looks set to go ahead following backing from councillors.

The station will be called Nuneaton Parkway.

This page on Coventry Live gives some more information.

There is also a proposed station, to be called Nuneaton Parkway, situated off the A5 between Hinckley and Nuneaton.

This Google Map shows the area where the A5 crosses the Birmingham-Peterborough Line, that runs between Hinckley and Nuneaton..

This must surely be one of the best sites to build a new Parkway station in the UK.

  • The triangular site is a waste transfer station operated by Veolia Environmental Services UK.
  • It has a direct connection to the A5, which could be easily improved, with perhaps a roundabout.
  • Doing a crude estimate from the Google Map, I calculate that the site is about sixteen hactares, which is surely a good size for a Parkway station.
  • There’s even quite a lot of new housing within walking and cycling distance.

It would also appear that the station could be built on this site without major disruption to either road or rail traffic.

Train Services

Currently the train service passing the proposed site of Nuneaton Parkway, which stops at both Hinckley and Nuneaton stations is as follows.

  • An hourly CrossCountry service between Birmingham New Street and Leicester.
  • In addition there are four trains per day between Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport and/or Cambridge.
  • All trains take seven minutes between Nuneaton and Hinckley.

But just under forty trains per day is not enough.

In my view, there should be a train at least every half-hour and preferably four trains per hour (tph) between Birmingham New Street and Leicester.

What About Coventry and Birmingham International?

Services between Nuneaton and Birmingham go via Coleshill Parkway and don’t call at Coventry and Birmingham International for the Airport, High Speed Two and the National Exhibition Centre.

So could there be a Birmingham New Street and Leicester service via Birmingham International, Coventry, Coventry Arena, Nuneaton, Nuneaton Parkway and Hinckley?

London, Liverpool and Manchester Via Nuneaton

Currently, the Nuneaton and London service is hourly and timed badly for connections at Nuneaton.

If it is intended that passengers will park at Nuneaton Parkway station and go to and from London, Liverpool or Manchester, the following must be arranged.

  • At least four tph calling at Nuneaton, Nuneaton Parkway and Hinckley.
  • At least two tph from West Midland Trains going between London Euston and Crewe calling at Nuneaton.
  • Perhaps one tph from Virgin Trains calling at Nuneaton.
  • A big improvement in cafes and waiting rooms at Nuneaton.

Note that times between Nuneaton and London Euston are as follows.

  • West Midlands Trains – 78 minutes
  • Virgin Trains – 69 minutes

Perhaps West Midlands Trains should be running trains with the same performance as Virgin?

Could Battery-Electric Trains Be Used Between Birmingham New Street And Leicester?

The route between Birmingham New Street and Leicester is not electrified, but two important stations; Birmingham New Street and Nuneaton are both wired, as is the route between Coventry and Birmingham New Street via Birmingham International.

Distances between Nuneaton and other stations, where independent power would be needed are.

  • Birmingham New Street via Coleshill Parkway – 21 miles.
  • Leicester – 19 miles or 38 miles return.
  • Coventry – 10 miles

These distances are all feasible for battery operation.

In Porterbrook Makes Case For Battery/Electric Bi-Mode Conversion, I talked about Porterbrook’s plan to convert redundant Class 350 trains into battery-electric trains.

  • They are four-car electric trains.
  • They were built within the last ten years.
  • They are currently used by West Midlands Trains.

In the related post, I estimated that these converted trains would have the following battery ranges for the power usages shown, if they were to be fitted with 400 kWh of batteries. I chose 400 kWh as this is the battery capacity of a Three-car Class 230 train.

  • 5 kWh per vehicle mile – 20 miles
  • 4 kWh per vehicle mile – 25 miles
  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 33.3 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 50 miles

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that.

  • A Class 801 train needs 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • An IOnterCity125 train needs 2.83 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • A Class 222 train needs 4.83 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • A Class 170 train needs 3.15 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 100 mph.

Looking at the last figure for the Class 170 train, I feel that a modern electric train must surely be as or more efficient and I’m justified to assume that a well-designed battery-electric train based on a Class 350 train, should be capable of a power usage of 3 k|Wh per vehicle mile, which would give a 33.3 mile range.

If more range was needed to handle Nuneaton and Leicester, the following could be done.

  • Install a bigger battery in the trains.
  • Install a charging station at Leicester.
  • Extend the electrificationfrom Nuneaton for a few miles.

I very much believe that within a few years, the technology exists to have 100 mph battery electric trains running between Birmingham and Leicester, getting a quick charge en route at Nuneaton.

Conclusion

My logical thinking leads me to the conclusion, that a high-frequency service between Birmingham New Street and Leicester could grow into a Crossrail-style service.

  • Six tph between Birmingham New Street and :Leicester.
  • Services split between Birmingham New Street and Nuneaton, with some trains going via Coleshill and others via Coventry and Birmingham International.
  • There could be extensions from Coventry to Leamington and Birmingham to Wolverhampton and Bromsgrove.
  • Centred on Nuneaton Parkway.
  • Possibly run by battery-electric trains.

Although the Crossrail branding is possibly overused these days.

 

September 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Detailed Look At A Three-Car Aventra

In Bombardier and CAF To Make 413 Carriages For New West Midlands Franchise, I wondered if the three-car Aventras ordered by West Midlands Trains had a battery capability.

The Train Weight

I need a good estimate of the weight of a typical Aventra carriage.

Wikipedia gives the following values.

  • Bombardier Aventra – A nine-car Class 345  train weighs less than 350 tonnes, which gives a figure of 39 tonnes per car.
  • Siemens Desiro City – A twelve-car Class 700 train weighs 410 tonnes, which gives a figure of 34 tonnes per car.
  • Bombardier Electrostar – A five-car Class 378 train weighs 159.5 tonnes, which gives a figure of 32 tonnes per car.

Bombardier seem to play their weight figures close to their chest, so I’ll just use a figure of 35 tonnes per car. But it does appear that Aventras, could be heavier than Electrostars.

The Battery Weight

I tend to think in terms of New Routemaster hybrid bus batteries, which have a capacity of 75 kWh.  Surely hybrid bus batteries are fairly common and if you were needing a battery for a new application, it might be where you will start.

The best estimate I can make is that a 75 kWh battery weighs about 600 Kg. I will use this until I find a better figure.

Could the weight of the battery explain the increase in weight between an Electrostar and an Aventra?

The Gangway Weight

One thing that could add to the weight of the Aventras of West Midlands Trains, is the fact that they will be built with a gangway.

Will they be able to split and join automatically in a couple of minutes?

Aventras Have A Lot Of Traction Motors

From what I’ve seen on the Internet, it appears that Aventras have a lot of powered bogies.

A Three-Car Aventra

I think that a three-car Aventra would have a formation something like.

  • DMSLW – Driver Motor Standard – Wheelchair and Universal Access Toilet
  • PMS – Pantograph Motor Standard
  • DMS – Driver Motor Standard

Note.

  1. I estimate it would have about 230 Standard Class seats in a traditional layout. or perhaps 150 in a Metro layout.
  2. There would be a couple of wheelchair spaces.
  3. Would a toilet be provided on the train? Crossrail puts them in the stations! Does Birmingham?
  4. Each car would be fully motored.
  5. Could each car have its own battery, so they handled their own regenerative braking efficiently?
  6. All the cars would be connected together by an electrical bus fed from the pantograph car.
  7. West Midlands Trains have said the new trains will be 90 mph units.

The capabilities are not unlike the current Class 323 trains.

The Aventras have advantages over the older trains.

  • They are articulated, which gives more space.
  • They are wider inside due to thin, strong car sides and underfloor heating.
  • Design of lobbies has improved.
  • A mixed traditional/metro interior can be used as in Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.

They could also be designed to a slightly longer length if required. But this might have operational and depot issues.

I expect Bombardier will have used every trick and dodge to get this order.

What Size Of Battery Is Needed To Handle Regenerative Braking?

I’ll do the calculation for one car with perhaps a hundred passengers running at 90 mph or 145 kph.

I’ll assume each passenger weighs 80 Kg with all their baggage, which gives a one-car mass of 43 tonnes.

The amount of energy in that one car is a very surprising figure of just 10 kWh.

How Far Could A Three-Car Aventra Go On Battery Power?

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.

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

The three-car Aventra will be an efficient train, but it will have features like air-conditioning, so I suspect that a figure of 4 kWh per car-mile will be achievable, if the following is done.

  • Air-conditioning is very intelligent and efficient.
  • The train is very well insulated.
  • All electrical equipment on the train like lights, toilets and doors are efficient.
  • Operation ensures batteries are fully charged before entering battery sections.
  • Pantograph operation will be intelligent to snatch a sneaky charge on a short length of electrification.
  • Regenerative braking energy is stored on the train.

3 kWh per car-mile may even be possible.

Suppose the battery in each car had a capacity of 75 kWh. This would give the following ranges with various energy consumption rates.

  • 3 kWh – 25 miles
  • 4 kWh – 19 miles
  • 5 kWh – 15 miles

It certainly is important to get the train as energy efficient as possible.

Increasing the battery capacity will increase the range proportionally.

This would mean that a very efficient train with a double-size battery could go fifty miles without wires.

Where Practically Could These Trains Run?

There are several possibilities.

Camp Hill Line

The Camp Hill Line is an obvious possibility.

A lot is said about the reopening in Future Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the line.

This is the latest part of the section.

In August 2017, West Midlands Trains announced plans as part of their franchise deal that the line would reopen by December 2019 as part of a £1 billion investment in the West Midlands. This included a new station at Moseley.

There has also been speculation in the railway press, that chords will be created to allow trains on the line to run directly into Birmingham Moor Street station.

Moor Street Station

If these trains were to run into Birmingham Moor Street station would the bay platforms at the station be electrified?

This would allow the trains batteries to be charged before returning along the Camp Hill Line.

But it would open up interesting possibilities.

With electrification at stations like Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington to charge the batteries, could services South of Birmingham be run by three-car Aventras running on batteries?

Both |Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington Spa are under forty miles by road from Birmingham,

I think it could be theoretcally possible, but West Midlands Trains are acquiring a lot of diesel trains.

Extending Existing Electric Services

From May 2018, the electric services on the Cross City Line will run between Bromsgrove and Lichfield Trent Valley stations.

Could trains running on batteries extend services?

Conclusion

Three-car Aventras are an interesting possibility.

I think we’ll be seeing a lot of them around the UK.

October 19, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Midland Metro’s £149m Extension To Open In 2021

The title of this post is the same as an article on Global Rail News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A 2km extension of Transport for West Midlands’ Midland Metro has been given the go ahead in the UK.

The £149 million extension will link Grand Central, in Birmingham’s city centre, with the southern suburb of Edgbaston with five new stops served by up to 10 trams an hour at peak times.

This article in the Birmingham Mail, gives more details.

The locations of five new stops to be built in the next phase of the Midland Metro extension have been confirmed.

The line is being taken an additional 1.2 miles from outside New Street station to Hagley Road.

As previously mooted, there will be stops outside Town Hall Birmingham and at Centenary Square, in Broad Street, where passengers can access the ICC, Library of Birmingham and new HSBC UK head office.

The other stops will be opposite Brindleyplace at the corner of Granville Street, outside the Cineworld cinema in Broad Street and in front of office block 54 Hagley Road, close to the Morrisons supermarket.

I think that the design of the route has been kept fairly simple and also involves some pedestrianisation.

From New Street To Broad Street

This Google Map shows the first section of the route from the current terminus of the Midland Metro at Grand Central outside New Street station to the start of Broad Street.

The blue dot outside New Street station shows the Grand Central tram stop.

The route goes up the hill, to the stop at Birmingham Town Hall before twisting to go down Broad Street to stop in Centenary Square.

Along Broad Street

This Google Map shows Broad Street from the Symphony Hall to the Cineworld Cinema.

Three stops are on this section.

  • Brindleyplace
  • Granville Street
  • Cineworld Cinema

This visualisation shows the route at the cinema.

Note.

  • The view is looking towards Five Ways.
  • Overhead electrification is used on this section.

Will the route be pedestrian only?

Through Five Ways Roundabout And On To 54 Hagley Road

This Google Map shows the last section of the route.

The roundabout looks to have plenty of space to thread the tram lines through.

54 Hagley Road is the office tower in the South West corner of the map, on the South side of Hagley Road. Again there seems plenty of space.

Sections Without Wires

The route bwtween Grand Central and Hagley Road will use a mixture of overhead wiring and onboard energy storage to power the trams.

It has been stated that in the historic centre, the trams will not use wires, as in this visualisation.

It appears that there will be wired sections either side of this section without wires in the centre.

This will ensure, that the onboard energy storage is well-charged before entering the section.

Cost And Timescale

Comments on the Birmingham Mail article, think the line is expensive and it will take a long time to build.

Looking at the route the two tricky sections are around Paradise Street and Five Ways, as there will need to be a lot of reconstruction of the road network.

But the sections running on onboard energy storage should be a lot easier to build.

At £149 million for 3.38 kilometres, the extension will cost £44 million a kilometre.

Manchester Metrolink’s Trafford Park Line will cost £350 million for 5.5 kilometres or £64 million a kilometre.

Is the lower cost/km. of the Birmingham Extension due to the sections without wires?

I suspect, it’s probably more complicated than that!

Conclusion

It looks a good scheme.

My only reservation is what will drivers think about a pedestrianised Broad Street, if that is part of the design.

 

 

 

September 1, 2017 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Where Next For Chiltern?

Chiltern Railways have now got their Marylebone to Oxford service up and running.

Wikipedia gives a list of their future plans. Included are the following.

  • Platform lengthening.
  • Restoration of former tracks.
  • Remodelling Banbury, which has already been done.
  • Building of the West Hampstead Interchange.
  • Development of services between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.
  • Creation of a Chiltern Metro.
  • Reopening various branch lies.

In addition there has been talk of electrification and opening a route along the New North Line to Old Oak Common.

Building On Oxford

As of yesterday, as I wrote in Oxford To Marylebone Opens For Business, they now have a two-platform terminus at Oxford station.

I can’t believe they have made this investment there, without other plans to use it. Wikipedia says this about the platforms at Oxford station.

The scheme also includes two new platforms at Oxford station, to be built on the site of the disused parcels depot. The new platforms will initially be five carriages in length, but provision will be made for them to be extended southwards to eight carriages.

A two platform terminus like this, will have a large capacity, when fully developed.

  • Two of Chiltern’s Class 68 locomotive hauled sets of Mark 3 coaches could be accommodated at the same time.
  • Two shorter trains could be handled in one platform at the same time.
  • Rebuilding plans for Oxford station would improve passenger handling.
  • The two-platform underround terminus at Moorgate handles 12 tph.

It could probable handle the proposed two trains per hour (tph) for the East West Rail Link with ease.

I can’t believe that these two platforms, won’t become a vibrant mini-station within Oxford station.

But where will trains and passengers go?

Expansion At Birmingham Moor Street

Birmingham Moor Street station is one of those stations, that spent decades in the wildeness and has now become an important alternative station.

Wikipedia says this about Proposed Future Developments concerning expansion of the station.

The currently disused third bay platform would be reopened, and an additional new fourth bay platform would be opened to accommodate the new services.

This is also said about HS2.

The High Speed 2 terminus in Birmingham is planned to be built on an adjacent site and will likely be linked to Moor Street, though have a separate name (either Fazeley Street or Curzon Street). The station and high-speed line is proposed to be completed by the mid-2020s.

So it looks as if Moor Street will become a more important Birmingham station for commuters and a gateway to high speed vservices from the city.

Services Between Oxford And Birmingham

Currently around two tph run between Oxford and Birmingham.

  • Typically, they call at places like Banbury, Leamington Spa, Coventry and Birmingham International.
  • Services are run by Cross-Country.
  • Services take between sixty and seventy minutes.
  • Services continue to places like Bournemouth, Manchester Piccadilly and Newcastle.

I’ve travelled on the route several times.

  • It tends to be overcrowded.
  • Service quality is not of the quality, you get with Chiltern, London Midland or TransPennine Express.

I think there could be a niche for an extra service between Oxford and Birmingham,, just as Chiltern hope and probably know, there’s room for one between London and Oxford.

  • Services would go between the bay platforms at Oxford and Birmingham Moor Street.
  • The Banbury remodelling must have helped the timetabling of the service.
  • A Chiltern quality service would be provided.
  • Two tph would leave at the same minutes past the half-hour.
  • Services could call at Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Warwick Parkway and Solihull, or whatever was appropriate.
  • Journey time could be sixty minutes or just under.
  • 2 tph on an hourly service would need four trains to run a service all day.
  • The Oxford Birmingham route would get four tph.

The only loser would be Cross-Country, who might lose passengers to the new service.

But then like Chiltern, they are ultimately owned by Deutche Bahn.

But, you can’t run a service without trains.

From 2019, Greater Anglia will start to receive new twelve-car Flirts for Liverpool Street to Norwich services. Currently, to run this service Greater Anglia uses 15 sets of eight Mark 3 carriages, with Class 90 locomotives and driving van trailers. In the last couple of years, all have been superbly refurbished with the addition of wi-fi and retention toilets. All the trains need is to fit sliding doors, as Chiltern have done for their Mark 3 coaches and replace the Class 90 with a Class 68 locomotive.

This would enable, Chiltern to offer a Mark 3 -only service between Marylebone and Birmingham and Oxford and the release of other trains for the Oxford to Birmingham service.

As every operator is short of trains and delivery timescales slip, it might be worth looking at the availability of suitable trains.

  • According to Wikipedia, as many as twelve driving van trailers could be in store at Long Marston. How many could be brought back into service?
  • Greater Anglia are replacing fifteen sets of Mark 3 carriages and a DVT, with ten electric Flirts, that will increase the frequency from 2 tph to 3 tph. Could this mean that one or two sets could be released before the Flirts enter service?
  • Hopefully, InterCity 125s will start to be available, as they are replaced with Class 800 trains from Summer 2017.

There are also other possibilities if events go to plan.

This is certainly a development to file under Watch This Space.

 

 

 

December 12, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

After The Northern Hub, Is Network Rail Planning A Midland Rail Hub?

The study on Network Rail’s web site is entitled West Midlands and Chilterns Route Study, proposes a concept of a Midland Rail Hub.

By adding the following infrastructure.

  • Bordesley Chords and new platforms at Moor Street
  • More tracks through Water Orton
  • Kings Norton upgrade
  • Snow Hill Platform 4
  • Begin rollout of Digital Railway

Network Rail feel, it will bring the following benefits.

  • Up to 10 extra trains every hour
  • More freight trains
  • New journey opportunities between East and West Midlands
  • Unlocking new jobs
  • Maximising benefits of HS2.

It doesn’t appear to be as radical as the Northern Hub.

These are my notes and thoughts on the various proposals.

Bordesley Chords

This Google Map shows the Bordesley area of Birmingham.

Bordesley Chords

Bordesley Chords

In the top-right or north-eastern corner of the map is Birmingham City Football Ground.

In the middle of the map is Bordesley Circus, which is a roundabout, that is one of the most dangerous for pedestrians in the country. When I was last there, it was being improved and I wrote  My Least Favourite Roundabout Gets Pedestrian Lights. I hope they’re working on Tuesday, 13th December, when I’ll be going to see Ipswich play.

Bordesley station, which is one of the worst stations in the UK, lies to the South-West of this roundabout and is on the Chiltern Main Line into Birmingham Moor Street station, although services don’t stop.

Running almost North-South across the map is the Camp Hill Line, which incidentally passes behind the stands at the football ground.

Where it crosses the Chiltern Main Line, there is a chord allowing limited connection between North and East.

I would assume that as the report says Bordesley Chords, that there will be some extra connectivity between these two lines.

Under the future of the Camp Hill Line on Wikipedia, this is said.

The reinstatement of local rail services to the former Camp Hill Line has been a long term aspiration of the City, and during 2007, Birmingham City Council announced that they were looking into the possibility of reopening the line between Kings Norton and Birmingham Moor Street via the construction of a railway viaduct from Sparkbrook to Bordesley, where trains would be taken into the “old” Birmingham Moor Street station. In October 2007, a 1500-name petition was handed in to the council asking for the line to be re-opened. In 2013 the proposal was shelved indefinitely.

As Kings Norton is to the South, this would need a West to South connection at Bordesley.

These pictures show the area from a Chiltern Train going into Moor Street.

Salubrious it is not! There is certainly a lot of space on the North side, but there might be less on the South. This Google Map shows the area between the station and where the two lines cross.

Bordesley Station And Chords

Bordesley Station And Chords

Note the double-track chord between the Camp Hill Line to the North and the Chiltern Main Line to the East. This chord gives services from the Chiltern Main Line to access Birmingham New Street station. If you take a train from Oxford to Birmingham New Street, it will take this chord, if it doesn’t go via Coventry.

From what I have seen in Manchester and some parts of London, the area could surely be put to a better purpose, perhaps driven by a rebuilt Bordesley station, with regular services to Moor Street, Kings Noton and Solihull. The area does have the added factor of water in the shape of one of Birmingham’s numerous canals.

Hopefully, the first piece of development in a very run-down area, the sorting of a decent walking route between Bordesley station and Birmingham City Football Ground has been completed.

New Platforms At Birmingham Moor Street Station

This Google Map shows Birmingham Moor Street station.

Birmingham Moor Street Station

Birmingham Moor Street Station

The most northerly pair of platforms in the station are numbered 1 and 2 and are for the through lines to Birmingham Snow Hill station.

Over the last few years, work has opened the next pair of bay platforms 3 and 4. On my last trip to Birmingham in June, I arrived in Platform 4.

A Chiltern Main Line Train In Platform 4 At Birmingham Moor Street Station

A Chiltern Main Line Train In Platform 4 At Birmingham Moor Street Station

Platform 5 on the other side of Platform 4 may have been reinstated, but there doesn’t seem to be any trains using it, as yet!

The map shows that there would appear to be space to open Platforms 3, 4 and 5, but could a clever architect squeeze in a Platform 6?

These pictures show the space for a possible Platform 5 and 6.

There would certainly appear to be space to shoe-horn two tracks and a new Platform 6 between the current Platform 5 and the retaining wall.

As the pictures show, Platform 5 is a platform that is long enough for any train currently envisaged that might call at Moor Street station.

Looking at the map of the station, it might even be possible to make Platform 6 even longer, if this were thought to be needed.

More Tracks Through Water Orton

This Google Map shows Water Orton station and the lines through it.

Lines Through Water Orton Station

Lines Through Water Orton Station

If you look up services from Water Orton and Coleshill Parkway stations, they are certainly of the turn-up-and-wait-forever variety.

Water Orton has one train every two hours to Birmingham, but at least Coleshill Parkway has a train every half-hour.

Perhaps more lines through Water Orton will enable more trains through the area.

Looking at the rail map of Birmingham, it would be possible to go from Water Orton via the Camp Hill Line to Kings Norton and if the North to West chord was built at Bordesley to Moor Street.

It would certainly be the view of many, including myself, that a Parkway station needs a train or tram every fifteen minutes.

Kings Norton Upgrade

If the Camp Hill Line is reopened to passenger trains, then Kings North station will be the terminus.

This Google Map shows the station.

Kings Norton Station

Kings Norton Station

It is a large station with an unused island platform in the middle.

These pictures show Kings Norton station.

There is certainly work to be done.

But the station also has a lot of potential and space that can be utilised. It might even be possible to fit in a bay platform to turn trains back to Moor Street and New Street.

Birmingham Snow Hill Platform 4

Wikipedia says this about platforms at Birmingham Snow Hill station,

The present Snow Hill station has three platforms for National Rail trains. When it was originally reopened in 1987 it had four, but one was later converted in 1999 for use as a terminus by Midland Metro trams. The original tram terminus closed in November 2015, in order for the extension of the Midland Metro through Birmingham city centre to be connected. This includes a dedicated embankment for trams alongside the station, and will also include a new through stop serving Snow Hill. This will eventually allow the fourth platform to be returned to main-line use.

As the Midland Metro now has its own new platform outside the station, the fourth platform can soon be converted back to heavy rail use.

These pictures show the current state of the closed tram platform.

I don’t think that converting it back to heavy rail will be the most difficult of jobs.

Birmingham Station Connectivity

Although, not on the Network Rail infrastructure list, I feel that to gain the full benefits of HS2, then the line must be properly connected to Moor Street and New Street stations.

I can easily walk between Moor Street and New Street stations, but I do feel that Birmingham’s solution of using the Midland Metro as a link and to the Curzon Street HS2 station, is not the way to do it.

It needs some form of people mover. Perhaps a travelator would be better.

City Centre Ticketing

In Liverpool, a ticket to Liverpool stations, allows you to use the Underground to any of the other stations in the City Centre.

In London, many visitors by rail, add a Travelcard to their rail ticket.

Perhaps, in Birmingham, a ticket to Birmingham stations, should include the Midland Metro in the City Centre? Or a simple add-on for the Metro between Jewellery Quarter and Five Ways could be added for a few pounds.

At present, you have to buy a separate ticket. How visitor-friendly is that? At least a short journey is only a pound

If Birmingham is to make the most out of the opportunity of HS2, then they must use easy and understandable ticketing.

Chiltern’s Superb Trains

My trip down to Birmingham was in a Class 168 train, which although was a good experience for a diesel multiple unit, was spoilt as one engine went AWOL and we were late in to Moor Street.

But going home to London, I rode in what I think are one of the best long distance trains anywhere in Europe; Chiltern’s rakes of Mark 3 coaches pulled and pushed by a modern Class 68 locomotive.

  • Nearly every seat gets a table and a window aligned to it.
  • The seats are spcious and comfortable.
  • The ride is the superb one, you always get from a Mark 3 coach.
  • Trolley-service of drinks and a buffet on most services.
  • Free wi-fi.
  • London to Birmingham return for £19.20 with a Railcard.
  • I’ve never travelled on Chiltern’s Mark 3 coaches and been unable to read my paper flat in front of me on the table.

The experience may be slower than Virgin’s, but give me Standard Class on Chiltern against First on Virgin every time between London and Birmingham.

The only problem, is that Marylebone station, isn’t as accessible as Euston from where I live. However, when Crossrail opens, times will be within a few minutes.

I can’t help feeling that Transpennine’s decision to use Class 68 locomotives and rakes of new CAF Mark 5 coaches across the Pennines, was influenced by the success of Chiltern’s flagship service and its superb rolling stock.

I’m looking forward to riding the CAF coaches in a few years, to see how they stand up to an almost forty year old British Rail coach.

I wonder how many Spanish engineers have ridden Chiltern’s trains?

I also feel that the Class 68 locomotive is an asset to a passenger service, in that so many diesel locomotives look dirty and smelly, but Class 68s seemed to have been designed to keep clean and also look how a locomotive should; powerful, purposeful and sleek.

For those, who don’t like that the trains are still diesel-hauled, there is even a Spanish solution for that, if the lines ever get electrified, in the shape of the new Class 88 electro-diesel locomotive, which is a sister of the Class 68 locomotive.

And of course, if Chiltern need some more trains and can’t find the Mark 3 coaches, they can always buy some new coaches from CAF.

 

Conclusions

It’s a very sensible plan and it will open up all sorts of possibilities for Birmingham.

The chords at Bordesley and the extra tracks through Water Orton would seem to open up a new route for trains across the city from Moor Street band Kings Norton to Water Orton and Nuneaton.

  • New subsurban services could link Nuneaton and Kings Norton to Moor Street.
  • Cross-country services might use Moor Street with a reverse, rather than New Street.
  • Extra services from Moor Street to Nuneaton might take pressure off the heavily-loaded New Street to Birmingham route.
  • How would the new station at Kenilworth station fit in?

But there are railways all over this area and I’m sure that the Bordesley and Water Orton improvements, will not be the last.

Already there is talk of reopening, the Sutton Park Line and the Stonebridge Railway.

I asked about Kenilworth station. I don’t know, but after Bordesley and Water vOrton are upgraded, there would be the possibility of a Warwickshire Circle, starting and finishing at Moor Street.

  • Moor Street
  • Solihull
  • Warwick Parkway
  • Warwick
  • Leamington Spa with a reverse.
  • Kenilworth
  • Coventry
  • Coventry Arena
  • Bedworth
  • Bermuda Park
  • Nuneaton
  • Coleshill Parkway
  • Water Orton
  • Moor Street

It would be a route, where several stations could be reopened or built from scratch. Leamington Spar incidentally already has a bay platform for the reverse.

I also think, that one of the biggest beneficiaries of all this will be Chiltern Railways.

Consider.

  • Their two Birmingham termini of Show Hill and Moor Street are getting extra capacity.
  • Moor Street will become a big terminal with two through and four bay platforms, all of which will be able to handle the longest Chiltern trains.
  • Birmingham New Street station lacks capacity.
  • The Birmingham New Street to Coventry route is seriously crowded.
  • In Will Chiltern Railways Get A Second London Terminal At Old Oak Common?, I talked about Network Rail’s ideas to link the Chiltern route to the new station.
  • Banbury station has been upgraded for more traffic.
  • Chiltern will be running to Oxford station by the end of this year.
  • Chiltern have plans in hand to run to Milton Keynes station.

We’ll certainly see extra services from London to Birmingham and possibly beyond, but will we see a triangular route going between London – Oxford – Birmingham – London?

It will depend on whether the passengers want it, but from Chiltern’s point of view, it might mean that their platforms in London, Oxford and Birmingham, and their trains, saw higher utilisation.

I suspect too, that the Oxford -Birmingham leg has more paths available and that Chiltern’s capacity problems are mainly at the London end of the Chiltern Main Line, especially now, that Banbury has been remodelled.

Chiltern Railways are an ambitious company and if they get a second terminal in London at Old Oak Common, they will certainly use it profitably.

I think that the Network Rail report shows that a few simple improvements, when thought through and executed with care can produce improvements not suspected in the original plans.

But all rail planning has to discount the London Overground Syndrome, where new stations, routes and trains, attract more passengers than originally expected.

 

July 8, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on After The Northern Hub, Is Network Rail Planning A Midland Rail Hub?

The View From Platform 1 At Birmingham Moor Street Station

Birmingham Moor Street station is one of my favourite stations, as it is rather a unique restoration and enlargement of an old Great Western Railway station.

I hope the restoration for Crossrail of Hanwell and West Drayton station please me as much.

My train was leaving from Platform 1, so I took these pictures whilst I waited.

Platform 1 and 2 are either side of the lines to Birmingham Snow Hill station and were opened in the 1980s and when the station was enlarged later the buildings were matched to the original terminus, which is Grade 2 Listed

The low-flying barrage balloon in most of these pictures is Birmingham’s Selfridge store.

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

St. Martin’s Queensway Tunnel

In looking on the Internet to see if anybody had ever proposed adding low-level platforms at Birmingham Moor Street station to access the local services out of Birmingham New Street station, I found this article in the Birmingham Post entitled Tunnel link between New Street and Moor Street stations set for facelift.

Now I’ve been to Birmingham many times and often I’ve walked between the two stations and I’ve never seen or heard anything about this tunnel.

Does it actually exist?

The article says this.

A city centre tunnel is set to get a £5.5 million facelift to improve the route between two of Birmingham’s busiest railway stations.

The St Martin’s Queensway Tunnel, which runs under the Bullring shopping centre, will be transformed into a well-lit attractive route for rail commuters.

Road crossings and the public areas outside the revamped New Street Station will also be improved to encourage people to walk between there and Moor Street station.

Currently about 1.4 million people a year walk through the dingy tunnel between the stations, but some have complained of feeling unsafe and it is also poorly signed for visitors to the city.

Some councils may spend £5.5million on imaginary projects, but I don’t think Birmingham would.

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment