The Anonymous Widower

Midlands Rail Hub

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Midlands Rail Hub.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Midlands Rail Hub – our flagship project – is the biggest upgrade of our rail network for a generation.

The page contains this helpful map.

There is also a table of journeys and the improvements to be made.

  • Birmingham – Nottingham – +1 tph – 72 minutes – 59 minutes
  • Birmingham – Leicester – +2 tph – 66 minutes – 42 minutes
  • Birmingham – Hereford – +1 tph – 85 minutes – 65 minutes
  • Bitmingham – Worcester – +1 tph – 40 minutes – 35 minutes
  • Birmingham – Derby – +2 tph – 38 minutes – 38 minutes
  • Coventry – Leicester – +2 tph – 57 minutes – 38 minutes
  • Coventry – Nottingham -+2 tph – 99 minutes – 63 minutes
  • Birmingham – Bristol – +1 tph – 85 minutes – 80 minutes
  • Birmingham – Cardiff – +1 tph – 117 minutes – 112 minutes
  • Birmingham – Kings Norton – +2 tph – 18 minutes – 14 minutes

Note that the data by each route is the increase in frequency in trains per hour (tph), the current journey time and the future journey time.

I’ll now look at each route in more detail.

Birmingham And Bristol

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Bristol Temple Meads stations are 90 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Worcestershire Parkway, Cheltenham Spa and Bristol Parkway.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 85 minutes
  • Future journey time is 80 minutes

As CrossCrountry’s Birmingham and Bristol service goes through to Edinburgh, Glasgow or Manchester Piccadilly, would it not be convenient, if the service could use High Speed Two to the North of Birmingham?

Birmingham And Cardiff

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Cardiff Central stations are 108 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Worcestershire Parkway, Cheltenham Spa. Gloucester and Newport.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 85 minutes
  • Future journey time is 80 minutes

As CrossCrountry’s Birmingham and Cardiff service goes through to Nottingham, would it not be convenient, if the service could use High Speed Two between Birmingham and Nottingham?

It would appear that both Bristol and Cardiff services could benefit from a High Speed Two connection.

This map from High Speed Two shows the line’s route through the Water Orton area.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is shown in various colours.
  2. High Speed Two splits at the Eastern edge of the map, with the Northern link going to Northern destinations and the Southern link going to Birmingham Interchange and London.
  3. Curving across the map beneath it, is the M6 motorway, with Spaghetti Junction off the map to the West.
  4. Water Orton station is in the North East corner of the map.
  5. The Birmingham and Peterborough Line, which connects Leicester and Birmingham New Street stations via Water Orton runs just tom the North of the route of High Speed Two shown on the map.

This Google Map shows the area.

I wonder if it would be possible to provide links so that the following would be possible.

  • Trains running East from New Street station could join High Speed Two to run to East Midlands Hub, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.
  • Trains from the North could run into New Street station and then continue to Bristol, Cardiff and Cheltenham.

The trains would have to be classic-compatible High Speed Two trains. These would fit into New Street station, as they are shorter than Class 390 trains and will have a aimilar height and width.

Time savings could be as follows.

  • Bristol/Cardiff and Edinburgh – 110 minutes
  • Bristol/Cardiff and Manchester Piccadilly- 50 minutes
  • Bristol/Cardiff and Newcastle – 80 minutes
  • Bristol/Cardiff and Nottingham – 45 minutes

All trains would be direct.

Birmingham And Derby

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Derby stations are 41 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Wilnecote, Tamworth and Burton-on-Trent
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 38 minutes
  • Future journey time is 38 minutes
  • High Speed Two will run three tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub station in 20 minutes.
  • Midlands Connect will run one tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham Station in 30 minutes. See Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station

Will passengers between Birmingham and Derby use High Speed Two services, which will be four tph or the current ones?

Birmingham And Hereford Via Worcester

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Hereford stations are 55 miles apart.
  • Current service is one tph, which is provided by West Midlands Trains, and goes via Bromsgrove, Malvern Link and Great Malvern.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 85 minutes
  • Future journey time is 65 minutes
  • The track between Bromsgrove and Birmingham is electrified.
  • Hereford and Bromsgrove are 41 miles apart.
  • Worcester and Bromsgrove are 13 miles apart.

With charging facilities at Worcester, this route would be an ideal one for battery electric trains.

Birmingham And Leicester

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Leicester stations are 40 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Water Orton, Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Hinckley and Narborough.
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 66 minutes
  • Future journey time is 42 minutes

Birmingham – Nottingham

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Nottingham stations are 57 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent and Derby.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 72 minutes
  • Future journey time is 59 minutes
  • High Speed Two will run three tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub station in 20 minutes.
  • Midlands Connect will run one tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham Station in 30 minutes. See Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station

Will passengers between Birmingham and Nottingham use High Speed Two services, which will be four tph or the current ones?

Coventry And Leicester

Consider.

  • Coventry and Leicester are 28 miles apart.
  • There is currently no direct train and a change is needed at Nuneaton
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 57 minutes
  • Future journey time is 38 minutes

I suspect that a direct Coventry and Leicester service is being provided that does one of the following.

  • Reverses in Nuneaton station.
  • Takes a new flyover to cross the West Coast Main Line.

Would the Southern terminus of the route be Coventry, Leamington Spa or Stratford-on-Avon?

Coventry And Nottingham

Consider.

  • Coventry and Nottingham are 55 miles apart.
  • There is currently no direct train and a change is needed at Birmingham New Street or at both Nuneaton and Leicester.
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 99 minutes
  • Future journey time is 63 minutes

Would this service be an extension of the Coventry and Leicester service?

As Leicester and Nottingham takes around thirty minutes, this could be the case.

Birmingham And Kings Norton Via The Camp Hill Line

The Midlands Rail Hub page, says this about the Bordesley Chords, which will connect Birmingham Moor Street station to the Camp Hill Line.

Construction of the Bordesley Chords, two viaducts creating new paths to the East Midlands and South West from Birmingham Moor Street Station.

This Google Map shows where they will be built.

Note.

  1. The Football ground in the North-East corner of the map is St. Andrew’s, which is Birmingham City’s home ground.
  2. The rail line going North South across the map and passing to the West side of the ground is the Camp Hill Line, which leads to Water Orton station in the North and Kings Norton station in the South.
  3. The station in the middle of the map is Bordesley station.
  4. The rail line going NW-SE across the map through the station is the Chiltern Main Line into Birmingham Moor Street station, which is a couple of miles to the North-West.

The two Bordesley chords will be double-track chords linking the following routes.

  • Moor Street station to the Camp Hill Line going South to Kings Norton via new stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell.
  • Moor Street station to the Camp Hill Line going North to Water Orton station.

The initial service would appear to be two tph between Moor Street and Kings Norton stations.

CrossCountry Trains and Moor Street Station

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street station is very busy.
  • Some CrossCountry trains take a Water Orton-Birmingham New Street-Kings Norton route across the city.

Could these trains go between Water Orton and Kings Norton, with a reverse in Moor Street station?

  • Plymouth and Edinburgh Waverley
  • Cardiff Central and Nottingham

And could these services terminate at Moor Street station?

  • Birmingham New Street and Nottingham
  • Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport via Leicester
  • Birmingham New Street and Leicester

It would seem there must be scope improve the operation of New Street station, by using Moor Street station and the Bordesley chords.

If all these trains used Moor Street station it would be a very busy station.

In an hour it would handle these trains via the Bordesley chords.

  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Cardiff Central
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Edinburgh Waverley
  • West Midlands Railway – 2 tph – Kings Norton
  • CrossCountry – 2 tph – Leicester
  • CrossCountry – 2 tph – Nottingham
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Plymouth
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Stansted Airport

That is a balanced five tph to the North and five tph to the South.

There would also be the existing services.

  • Chiltern Trains – 2 tph – London Marylebone and Birmingham
  • West Midlands Railway – 6 tph – Dorridge/Stratford-upon-Avon/Whittocks End and Stourbridge Junction

There would also be the proposed Moor Street and Oxford service.

Battery Electric Trains

If we assume that a battery electric train has a battery range equal to or longer than Hitachi’s quoted figure of 56 miles, these routes are possibilities for battery electric trains.

  • Birmingham and Leicester with either electrification or charging at Leicester.
  • Birmingham and Hereford with charging at Hereford
  • Birmingham and Kings Norton
  • Birmingham and Oxford with charging at Oxford and Banbury
  • Coventry and Leicester

If the Midland Main Line is electrified in the Nottingham Area, then all services to Nottingham could be added.

CrossCountry And High Speed Two

Consider.

  • There are up to half-a-dozen spare hourly paths on both the Northern legs of High Speed Two.
  • Using High Speed Two tracks to the North of Birmingham can speed up services considerably.
  • CrossCountry needs a new fleet of trains.
  • Services could be run using classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  • The trains might be shorter and would certainly have independent power sources.

It could be a large improvement in quality and journey times, with all current destinations served.

The only extra infrastructure needed would be a connecting junction near Water Orton station. A junction there would work, whether services used Moor Street or New Street station in Birmingham.

Cnnclusion

The concept of a Midlands Rail Hub is very sound.

July 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury.

This is the introductory paragraph.

We’re examining the case to increase services from three to four per hour, made possible by capacity released post-HS2.

They then give the outline of their plans, which can be summed up as follows.

  • Services on the corridor are slow and unreliable.
  • Network Rail say the service is in danger of acute overcrowding.
  • Services will be increased from three trains per hour (tph) to four.
  • A direct hourly service from Shrewsbury, Wellington and Telford to London will be introduced.
  • Services to Birmingham International will be doubled.
  • The economic case will be examined for speeding up services between Shrewsbury and Birmingham from 56 to 45 minutes, via track upgrades and possible electrification.

It seems a safe, and not overly ambitious plan.

These are my thoughts.

Shrewsbury’s Unique Position

These are distances and times from important stations.

  • Birmingham International – 51 miles and 83 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street – 42.5 miles and 71 minutes
  • Chester – 42.5 miles and 53 minutes
  • Crewe – 33 miles and 53 minutes
  • Hereford – 51 miles and 59 minutes
  • Telford – 14 miles and 21 minutes
  • Wellington – 10 miles and 13 minutes
  • Welshpool – 20 miles and 25 minutes
  • Wolverhampton – 30 miles and 50 minutes

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

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

I can’t see any problem, for a train with this specification being able to reach Shrewsbury from Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street and Crewe on battery power.

In Hitachi Trains For Avanti, I quote an article with the same title in the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways as saying this.

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

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shrewsbury served from Birmingham and Crewe by fast electric trains, that used battery power. Avanti West Coast certainly seem to have that thought in mind.

Zero Carbon Trains Between Shrewsbury And Wales

It will be a formidable challenge to run battery trains from Shrewsbury to the Welsh destinations.

  • Aberystwyth – 81.5 miles
  • Cardiff – 107 miles
  • Carmarthen – 185 miles
  • Holyhead – 133 miles
  • Milford Haven – 225 miles
  • Swansea – 121.5 miles

Note.

  1. These are challenging distances for battery-electric trains.
  2. South Wales destinations served via Newport and Cardiff could use the electrification on the South Wales Main Line.
  3. Many of these services start from East of Shrewsbury and can use the electrified lines that connects to Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly.

Unless someone like Riding Sunbeams, makes a breakthrough, I can’t see battery-electric trains running to Welsh destinations from Shrewsbury.

Transport for Wales New Trains

Transport for Wales have ordered seventy-seven new Class 197 trains, and these diesel trains will be used for services through Shrewsbury, mainly on services to Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International stations.

  • If these trains are similar to Northern’s Class 195 trains, they will be diesel multiple units with a noisy mechanical transmission.
  • I was surprised in these days of global warming that Transport for Wales didn’t buy something more eco-friendly, as they have for South Wales and the services around Chester.
  • The transmission of the Class 197 trains has not been disclosed.

Perhaps, CAF are going to do something innovative.

  • The CAF Civity is a modular train, with either electric or diesel power options.
  • The diesel-powered options use MTU engines.
  • A logical development would be to use an MTU Hybrid PowerPack to reduce diesel consumption and emissions.
  • This PowerPack would also reduce noise, as it has an electric transmission.
  • I wonder, if CAF can raid their parts bin and fit a pantograph, so where 25 KVAC overhead electrification is available, it can be used.
  • If CAF can convert a bog standard diesel multiple unit into a hybrid diesel-electric-battery multiple unit, by performing a heart transplant, it is a neat way of keeping new diesel Civities running until a later date.
  • Remember that Northern and West Modlands Trains have another seventy-four similar new diesel Civities in operation or on order. With trains having a forty year life, they don’t fit with an early phasing out of diesel.

I have no idea, what is actually happening, but my engineer’s nose tells me to expect a surprise from CAF.

Increasing Birmingham And Shrewsbury Services From Three Trains Per Hour To Four

Four trains per hour or one train every fifteen minutes seems to be a preferred frequency on several UK suburban lines.

These services seem to provide four tph or better on most, if not all of their routes.

  • Birmingham Cross-City Line
  • London Overground
  • Merseyrail
  • Tyne and Wear Metro

Four tph seems to be a very handy Turn-Up-And-Go frequency that encourages people to use rail services.

So I am not surprised to see Midlands Connect wanting four tph between Birmingham and Shrewsbury.

Currently, the following services seem to operate between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

  • Avanti West Coast – 2 trains per day (tpd) – Shrewsbury and London Euston via Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International.
  • Trains for Wales – 1 train per two hours (tp2h) – Holyhead and Birmingham International via Birmingham New Street.
  • Trains for Wales 1 tph – Aberystwyth/Pwllheli and Birmingham International via Birmingham New Street
  • West Midlands Trains – 2 tph – Shrewsbury and Birmingham New Street – One semi-fast and one stopper.

Note.

  1. All services call at Wolverhampton, Telford and Wellington.
  2. Shrewsbury and Birmingham New Street is a 3.5 tph service.
  3. Shrewsbury and Birmingham International is a 1.5 tph service.

It relies heavily on services from Trains for Wales, who probably don’t put Shrewsbury and Birmingham services at the top of their priorities.

I remember, when local services in the North-East of London were run by Greater Anglia from Norwich. Moving some services to Transport for London, brought about a large improvement

Quite frankly, the current service is best described as pathetic.

Should Trains for Wales Services Terminate As Shrewsbury?

I suspect some local politicians in Shrewsbury and Birmingham, think it would be best to adopt this sort of strategy.

  • All Welsh services terminate at Shrewsbury.
  • Birmingham and Shrewsbury mandate West Midlands Trains and Avanti West Coast to provide a frequent service between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

It might be the way to go, but many travellers from the Marches, would probably want direct connections to Birmingham, Birmingham Airport and in the future High Speed Two.

Introducing A Direct Hourly Service From Shrewsbury, Wellington And Telford To London

On the face of it, it looks like a much needed service to and from Shrewsbury.

  • It will be hourly.
  • Initially it will use Class 221 diesel multiple units, but these will be replaced with bi-mode Class 805 trains.
  • The current infrequent service calls at Watford Junction, Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Sandwell and Dudley, Wolverhampton, Telford Central and Wellington.
  • There are also six other stations between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, which might like an improved service.
  • The service will be run by Avanti West Coast.

There might also be the possibility of using battery power between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury, which is only thirty miles each way.

But there are other collateral benefits.

  • The service increases the frequency between Shrewsbury and Birmingham New Street stations by one tph to 4.5 tph
  • The service increases the frequency between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International by one tph to 2.5 tph.
  • The service increases the frequency between Wolverhampton and London Euston by one tph.
  • The service increases the frequency between Sandwell and Dudley and London Euston by one tph
  • The service increases the frequency between Birmingham New Street and London Euston by one tph.
  • The service increases the frequency between Birmingham International and London Euston by one tph.
  • The new service will provide an hourly quality connection to High Speed Two at Birmingham International for stations between Shrewsbury and Coventry.
  • It appears that the Class 390 trains to Birmingham New Street and being replaced by new Class 807 trains, so Birmingham will have three out of four tph, run by new trains.
  • The new Shrewsbury service , has a similar calling pattern to that of the current Scottish service through Birmingham. Will it replace that service, when High Speed Two opens?

Note.

  1. Midlands Connect’s objective of four tph between Shrewsbury and Birmingham has been met.
  2. Several stations get a better direct service to London.
  3. Connectivity to High Speed Two is improved.
  4. Birmingham New Street and London is now a Turn-Up-And-Go frequency of four tph.
  5. The Class 805 train will also mean that Avanti West Coast could be zero-carbon in Birmingham. Especially, if it used battery power between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury stations.

The hourly direct service between Shrewsbury and London will make a lot of difference to train services between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

Avanti’s London Euston and Birmingham New Street Service

Consider.

  • There are two tph that terminate in Birmingham New Street station, that take 88-89 minutes, from London Euston
  • There is one tph that goes through Birmingham New Street station to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Preston, or Shrewsbury, that takes 82-84 minutes, from London Euston.
  • Currently, the two terminating trains are Class 390 trains, whereas the through train can be a Class 221 train as well.
  • Through trains are allowed  5-10 minutes to pass through Birmingham New Street.
  • Trains that terminate at Birmingham New Street station are allowed 20-30 minutes to arrive and leave.
  • Avanti West Coast have said, that they will be running Class 807 trains between London and Birmingham New Street.

It doesn’t seem to be the best use of scarce platform resources in a busy station to park a train there for half-an-hour.

In Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?, I came to the conclusion that the Class 807 trains have been designed as simple, fast, lightweight all-electric trains with no heavy batteries, diesel engines on tilt mechanism.

  • I think they’ll be able to shave a few minutes on the timings between London Euston and Birmingham New Street station.
  • I would suspect that they will match the 82-84 minutes of the through trains
  • The ultimate would be if they could do a round trip between London Euston and Birmingham New Street in three hours.
  • Two tph run by what would effectively be a London-Birmingham shuttle would need just six trains.

It might mean new methods of manning the trains, to reduce turnround times.

Doubling Of Services Between Shrewsbury And Birmingham International

The hourly direct London and Shrewsbury Avanti West Coast service will raise the current 1.5 tph service between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International to 2.5 tph, so will be a good start.

  • Perhaps Trains for Wales could find the missing 0.5 tph.
  • West Midlands Trains might be able to squeeze in another train.

But I suspect that the crowded line between Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International is the problem.

Shrewsbury And Birmingham In Forty-Five Minutes

This is the last objective and saving eleven minutes on this route would suggest that the best way would surely be to fully electrify the route.

  • Between Wolverhampton and Birmingham International stations is fully electrified.
  • Electric trains have faster acceleration and deceleration, so would probably achieve the required savings if they stopped more than five times.
  • From my virtual helicopter it doesn’t appear to be the most challenging of routes to electrify.
  • Only about thirty miles of double track would need to be electrified between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury stations.
  • Both Trains for Wales and West Midlands Trains would have to obtain new electric trains.
  • Avanti West Coast have already got bi-mode Class 805 trains, that could use the electrification.

But will Trains for Wales go along with Midlands Connect, when they tell them to get electric or bi-mode trains to work between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International stations?

It is because of dilemmas like this, that I feel that electric trains using battery or hydrogen power, when away from electrification can be a very good alternative.

  • There is no major disruption raising bridges for the electrification.
  • Stations don’t need to be closed for electrification.
  • The trains have all the comfort and performance of electric trains.
  • Costs and timescales can be reduced.
  • When running on battery or hydrogen power, these trains are very quiet, as there is no pantograph noise.

To run battery-electric trains between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, the only infrastructure needed would be a method of charging the train at Shrewsbury station.

This Google Map shows the Southern end of Shrewsbury station.

Note.

  1. The platforms are built over the River Severn.
  2. The five-car Class 221 train in Virgin livery sitting in Platform 5.
  3. When this train leaves it will turn left or to the East for Wolverhampton and Birmingham.
  4. Trains can turn right for Wales.

It is a very unusual station layout.

  • Platform 5 is one of a pair of bay platforms; 5 & 6, that can access either Wales or Birmingham.
  • Outside of the bay platforms are a pair of through platforms; 4 & 7, that can also access Wales or Birmingham, but they can also access Chester by going through the station.
  • The 115 metre long Class 221 train fits easily in the bay platform 5.
  • The 130 metre long Class 805 train would probably need to use Platform 4 or 7.

But with well-planned electrification, it would be ideal for charging electric trains as they pass through or turned back!

Once the train reaches Wolverhampton, it will connect to electrification again.

Shrewsbury And High Speed Two

Currently, Shrewsbury has three connections to stations, where it would be convenient to take a High Speed Two train.

  • Birmingham International, which is 51 miles and 83 minutes away. Plus a ride on a people mover for High Speed Two.
  • Birmingham New Street, which is 42.5 miles and 71 minutes away. Plus a walk to Birmingham Curzon Street for High Speed Two.
  • Crewe, which is 33 miles and 55 minutes away.

Passengers will make their own choice.

Could Shrewsbury Have A Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Service To Manchester Piccadilly?

London To Shrewsbury, Now And Post-High Speed Two

Travel On Monday

If I want to go to Shrewsbury next Monday, one fast journey is taking the 09:10 from Euston and changing at Crewe, which gives a journey time of two hours and thirty-two minutes.

I can also get a train with a change at Birmingham International that takes seven minutes longer.

Travel On High Speed Two

After High Speed Two opens to Birmingham Curzon Street and Interchange in Phase 1 what sort of times to Shrewsbury can be expected?

I estimate the following.

  • Travelling via Birmingham Curzon Street could produce a time of around one hour and fifty minutes, if you’re lucky with the trains.
  • Travelling via Crewe could produce a time of one hour and thirty minutes, if you’re lucky with the trains.
  • Travelling via Interchange could produce a time of around one hour and fifty-five minutes. or forty-four minutes faster.

If I was going to Shrewsbury after High Speed Two has opened, I would probably change at Birmingham Curzon Street, if the walk to New Street station was still within my capabilities, as there will be a Turn-Up-And-Go frequency of four tph between Birmingham New Street and Shrewsbury stations.

Looking at the Midlands Connect objectives, these help with linking Shrewsbury with London.

  • Increasing services between Birmingham and Shrewsbury to four tph, as it’s Turn-Up-And-Go!
  • The direct hourly service to London from Shrewsbury, Wellington and Telford might be the quickest way to London by changing at Birmingham New Street/Curzon Street or Interchange.
  • Doubling the service between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International, may be a good move, as Interchange, which will be connected to Birmingham International by a high capacity people mover, will have five tph between London Euston and Old Oak Common stations.
  • Saving eleven minutes between Shrewsbury and Birmingham will certainly help.

Travelling between London and Telford, Wellington and Shrewsbury will be much improved.

 

June 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Hitachi Trains For Avanti

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

The Bi-Mode Trains

Some more details of the thirteen bi-mode and ten electric Hitachi AT 300 trains are given.

Engine Size and Batteries

This is an extract from the article.

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

I do wonder if my speculation in Will Future Hitachi AT-300 Trains Have MTU Hybrid PowerPacks? is possible.

After all, why do all the hard work to develop a hybrid drive system, when your engine supplier has done it for you?

Would Avanti West Coast need a train that will do 125 mph on diesel?

The only place, they will be able to run at 125 mph or even higher will be on the West Coast Main Line, where they will be running under electric power from the pantograph.

If I were designing a bi-mode for 90 mph on diesel and 125 mph on electric, I would have batteries on the train for the following purposes.

  • Handle regenerative braking.
  • Provide hotel power in stations or when stationery.
  • Provide an acceleration boost, if required, when running on diesel.
  • Provide emergency power, if the wires go down in electric mode.

I’m sure MTU could work out a suitable size of diesel engine and batteries in an MTU PowerPack, that would meet the required performance.

Or maybe a smaller diesel could be used. An LNER Class 800 train has 1680 kW of installed power to maintain 125 mph. But the Great Western Railway versions have 2100 kW or twenty-five percent more, as their routes are more challenging with steeper gradients.

For the less challenging routes at a maximum of 90 mph between Crewe, Chester, Shrewsbury and North Wales, I wonder what level of power is needed.

A very rough estimate based on the speed required could put the power requirement as low as 1200-1500 kW.

As the diesel engines are only electrical generators, it would not effect the ability of the train to do 125 mph between Crewe and London.

There looks to be a virtuous circle at work here.

  • Lower maximum speed on diesel means smaller diesel engines.
  • Smaller diesel engines means lighter diesel engines and less fuel to carry.
  • Less weight to accelerate needs less installed power.
  • Less power probably means a more affordable train, that uses less diesel.

It looks to me, that Hitachi have designed a train, that will work Avanti West Coast’s routes efficiently.

The Asymmetric Bi-Mode Train

It looks to me that the bi-mode train  that Avanti West Coast are buying has very different performance depending on the power source and signalling

  • 90 mph or perhaps up to 100 mph on diesel.
  • 125 mph on electric power.with current signalling.
  • Up to 140 mph on electric power with in-cab digital signalling.

This compares with the current Class 221 trains, which can do 125 mph on all tracks, with a high enough operating speed.

The new trains’ different performance on diesel and electric power means they could be called asymmetric bi-modes.

Surely, creating an asymmetric bi-mode train, with on-board power; battery, diesel or hydrogen, sized to the route, means less weight, greater efficiency, less cost and in the case of diesel, higher carbon efficiency.

Carbon Emissions

Does the improvement in powertrain efficiency with smaller engines running the train at slower speeds help to explain this statement from the Modern Railways article?

Significant emissions reduction are promised from the elimination of diesel operation on electrified sections as currently seen with the Voyagers, with an expected reduction in CO2 emissions across the franchise of around two-thirds.

That is a large reduction, which is why I feel, that efficiency and batteries must play a part.

Battery-Electric Conversion

In my quote earlier from the Modern Railways article, I said this.

These (the diesel engines) would be replaceable by batteries in future if specified.

In Thoughts On The Next Generation Of Hitachi High Speed Trains, I looked at routes that could be run by a battery-electric version of Hitachi AT-300 trains.

I first estimated how far an AT-300 train could go on batteries.

How far will an AT-300 train go on battery power?

  • I don’t think it is unreasonable to be able to have 150 kWh of batteries per car, especially if the train only has one diesel engine, rather than the current three in a five-car train.
  • I feel with better aerodynamics and other improvements based on experience with the current trains, that an energy consumption of 2.5 kWh per vehicle mile is possible, as compared to the 3.5 kWh per vehicle mile of the current trains.

Doing the calculation gives a range of sixty miles for an AT-300 train with batteries.

As train efficiency improves and batteries are able to store more energy for a given volume, this range can only get better.

I then said this about routes that will be part of Avanti West Coast’s network.

With a range of sixty miles on batteries, the following is possible.

  • Chester, Gobowen, Shrewsbury And Wrexham Central stations could be reached on battery power from the nearest electrification.
  • Charging would only be needed at Shrewsbury to ensure a return to Crewe.

Gobowen is probably at the limit of battery range, so was it chosen as a destination for this reason.

The original post was based on trains running faster than the 90 mph that is the maximum possible on the lines without electrification, so my sixty mile battery range could be an underestimate.

These distances should be noted.

  • Crewe and Chester – 21 miles
  • Chester and Shrewsbury – 42 miles
  • Chester and Llandudno – 47 miles
  • Chester and Holyhead – 84 miles

Could electrification between Crewe and Chester make it possible for Avanti West Coast’s new trains to go all the way between Chester and Holyhead on battery power in a few years?

I feel that trains with a sixty mile battery range would make operations easier for Avanti West Coast.

Eighty miles would almost get them all the way to Holyhead, where they could recharge!

Rlectrification Between Chester And Crewe

I feel that this twenty-odd miles of electrification could be key to enabling battery-electric trains for the routes to the West of Chester to Shrewsbury, Llandudno and Holyhead.

How difficult would it be to electrify between Chester and Crewe?

  • It is not a long distance to electrify.
  • There doesn’t appear to be difficult viaducts or cuttings.
  • It is electrified at Crewe, so power is not a problem.
  • There are no intermediate stations.

But there does seem to be a very large number of bridges. I counted forty-four overbridges and six underbridges. At least some of the bridges are new and appear to have been built with the correct clearance.

Perhaps it would be simpler to develop fast charging for the trains and install it at Chester station.

Conclusion On The Bi-Mode Trains

It appears to me that Avanti West Coast, Hitachi and Rock Rail, who are financing the trains have done a very good job in devising the specification for a fleet of trains that will offer a good service and gradually move towards being able to deliver that service in a carbon-free manner.

  • The initial bi-mode trains will give a big improvement in performance and reduction in emission on the current Voyagers, as they will be able to make use of the existing electrification between Crewe and London.
  • The trains could be designed for 125 mph on electric power and only 90-100 mph on diesel, as no route requires over 100 mph on diesel. This must save operating costs and reduce carbon emissions.
  • They could use MTU Hybrid PowerPacks instead of conventional diesel engines to further reduce emissions and save energy
  • It also appears that Hitachi might be able to convert the trains to battery operation in a few years.
  • The only new infrastructure would be a few charging stations for the batteries and possible electrification between Chester and Crewe.

I don’t think Avanti West Coast’s ambition of a two-thirds reduction in CO2 is unreasonable and feel it could even be exceeded.

Other Routes For Asymetric Bi-Mode Trains

I like the concept of an asymetric bi-mode train, where the train has the following performance.

  • Up to 100 mph on battery, diesel or hydrogen.
  • Up to 100 mph on electrified slower-speed lines.
  • 125 mph on electrified high-speed lines, with current signalling.
  • Up to 140 mph on electrified high-speed lines, with in-cab digital signalling.

I am very sure that Hitachi can now tailor an AT-300 train to a particular company’s needs. Certainly, in the case of Avanti West Coast, this seems to have happened, when Avanti West Coast, Hitachi, Network Rail and Rock Rail had some serious negotiation.

LNER At Leeds

As an example consider the rumoured splitting and joining of trains at Leeds to provide direct services between London and Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Ilkley, Skipton and other places, that I wrote about in Dancing Azumas At Leeds.

In the related post, I gave some possible destinations.

  • Bradford – 13 miles – 25 minutes – Electrified
  • Harrogate – 18 miles – 30 minutes
  • Huddersfield – 17 miles – 35 minutes
  • Hull – 20 miles – 60 minutes
  • Ilkley – 16 miles – 26 minutes – Electrified
  • Skipton – 26 miles – 43 minutes – Electrified
  • York – 25 miles – 30 minutes

Note, that the extended services would have the following characteristics.

They would be run by one five-car train.

  1. Services to Bradford, Ilkley and Skipton would be electric
  2. Electrification is planned from Leeds to Huddersfield and York, so these services could be electric in a few years.
  3. All other services would need independent power; battery, diesel or hydrogen to and from Leeds.
  4. Two trains would join at Leeds and run fast to London on the electrified line.
  5. Services would probably have a frequency of six trains per day, which works out at a around a train every two hours and makes London and back very possible in a day.
  6. They would stop at most intermediate stations to boost services to and from Leeds and give a direct service to and from London.

As there are thirty trains per day between London and Leeds in each direction, there are a lot of possible services that could be provided.

Currently, LNER are only serving Harrogate via Leeds.

  • LNER are using either a nine-car train or a pair of five-car trains.
  • The trains reverse in Platforms 6 or 8 at Leeds, both of which can handle full-length trains.
  • LNER allow for a generous time for the reverse, which would allow the required splitting and joining.
  • All trains going to Harrogate are Class 800 bi-mode trains.

Note that the Class 800 trains are capable of 125 mph on diesel, whereas the average speed between Harrogate and Leeds is just 35 mph. Obviously, some of this slow speed is due to the route, but surely a train with a maximum speed of 90-100 mph, with an appropriate total amount of diesel power, would be the following.

  • Lighter in weight.
  • More efficient.
  • Emit less pollution.
  • Still capable of high speed on electrified lines.
  • Bi-mode and electric versions could run in pairs between Leeds and London.

LNER would probably save on track access charges and diesel fuel.

LNER To Other Places

Could LNER split and join in a similar way to other places?

  • Doncaster for Hull and Sheffield
  • Edinburgh for Aberdeen and Inverness
  • Newark for Lincoln and Nottingham
  • York for Middlesbrough and Scarborough.

It should be noted that many of the extended routes are quite short, so I suspect some train diagrams will be arranged, so that trains are only filled up with diesel overnight,

GWR

Great Western Railway are another First Group company and I’m sure some of their routes could benefit, from similar planning to that of Avanti West Coast.

Splitting and joining might take place at Reading, Swindon, Bristol and Swansea.

South Western Railway

South Western Railway will need to replace the three-car Class 159 trains to Exeter, that generally work in pairs with a total number of around 400 seats, in the next few years.

These could be replaced with a fleet of third-rail Hitachi trains of appropriate length.

  • Seven cars sating 420 passengers?
  • They would remove diesel trains from Waterloo station.
  • All South Western Railway Trains running between Waterloo and Basingstoke would be 100 mph trains.

I wonder, if in-cab digital signalling on the route, would increase the capacity? It is sorely needed!

Southeastern

Southeastern need bi-mode trains to run the promised service to Hastings.

  • Trains would need a third-rail capability.
  • Trains need to be capable of 140 mph for High Speed One.
  • Trains need to be able to travel the 25 miles between Ashford International and Ore stations.
  • Trains would preferably be battery-electric for working into St. Pancras International station.

Would the trains be made up from six twenty-metre cars, like the Class 395 trains?

The Simple All-Electric Train

The Modern Railways article, also says this about the ten all-electric AT-300 trains for Birmingham, Blackpool and Liverpool services.

The electric trains will be fully reliant on the overhead wire, with no diesel auxiliary engines or batteries.

It strikes me as strange, that Hitachi are throwing out one of their design criteria, which is the ability of the train to rescue itself, when the overhead wires fail.

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I published this extract from this document on the Hitachi Rail web site.

The system can select the appropriate power source from either the main transformer or the GUs. Also, the size and weight of the system were minimized by designing the power supply converter to be able to work with both power sources. To ensure that the Class 800 and 801 are able to adapt to future changes in operating practices, they both have the same traction system and the rolling stock can be operated as either class by simply adding or removing GUs. On the Class 800, which is intended to run on both electrified and non-electrified track, each traction system has its own GU. On the other hand, the Class 801 is designed only for electrified lines and has one or two GUs depending on the length of the trainset (one GU for trainsets of five to nine cars, two GUs for trainsets of 10 to 12 cars). These GUs supply emergency traction power and auxiliary power in the event of a power outage on the catenary, and as an auxiliary power supply on non-electrified lines where the Class 801 is in service and pulled by a locomotive. This allows the Class 801 to operate on lines it would otherwise not be able to use and provides a backup in the event of a catenary power outage or other problem on the ground systems as well as non-electrified routes in loco-hauled mode.

This is a very comprehensive power system, with a backup in case of power or catenary failure.

So why does it look like Hitachi are throwing that capability out on the trains for Avanti West Coast.

There are several possibilities.

  • The reliability of the trains and the overhead wire is such, that the ability of a train to rescue itself is not needed.
  • The auxiliary generator has never been used for rescuing the train.
  • The West Coast Main Line is well-provided with Thunderbird locomotives for rescuing Pendelinos, as these trains have no auxiliary generator or batteries.
  • Removal of the excess weight of the auxiliary engine and batteries, enables the Hitachi AT-300 trains to match the performance of the Pendelinos, when they are using tilt.

Obviously, Hitachi have a lot of train performance statistics, from the what must be around a hundred trains in service.

It looks like Hitachi are creating a lightweight all-electric train, that has the performance or better of a Pendelino, that it achieves without using tilt.

  • No tilt means less weight and more interior space.
  • No auxiliary generator or batteries means less weight.
  • Wikipedia indicates, that Hitachi coaches are around 41 tonnes and Pendelino coaches are perhaps up to ten tonnes heavier.
  • Less weight means fast acceleration and deceleration.
  • Less weight means less electricity generated under regenerative braking.
  • Pendelinos use regenerative braking, through the catenary.
  • Will the new Hitachi trains do the same instead of the complex system they now use?

If the train fails and needs to be rescued, it uses the same Thunderbird system, that the Pendelinos use when they fail.

Will The New Hitachi Trains Be Less Costly To Run?

These trains will be lighter in weight than the Pendelinos and will not require the track to allow tilting.

Does this mean, that Avanti West Coast will pay lower track access charges for their new trains?

They should also pay less on a particular trip for the electricity, as the lighter trains will need less electricity to accelerate them to line speed.

Are Avanti West Coast Going To Keep The Fleets Apart?

Under a heading of Only South Of Preston, the Modern Railways article says this.

Unlike the current West Coast fleet, the Hitachi trains will not be able to tilt. Bid Director Caroline Donaldson told Modern Railways this will be compensated for by their improved acceleration and deceleration characteristics and that the operator is also working with Network Rail to look at opportunities to improve the linespeed for non-tilting trains.

The routes on which the Hitachi trains will operate have been chosen with the lack of tilt capability in mind, with this having the greatest impact north of Preston, where only Class 390 Pendelinos, which continue to make use of their tilting capability will be used.

Avanti West Coast have said that the Hitachi trains will run from London to Birmingham, Blackpool and Liverpool.

All of these places are on fully-electrified branches running West from the West Coast Main Line, so it looks like there will be separation.

Will The New Hitachi Trains Be Faster To Birmingham, Blackpool And Liverpool?

Using data from Real Time Trains, I find the following data about the current services.

  • Birmingham and Coventry is 19 miles and takes 20 minutes at an average speed of 57 mph
  • Blackpool and Preston is 16.5 miles and takes 21 minutes at an average speed of 47 mph
  • Liverpool and Runcorn is 3.15 miles and takes 15 minutes at an average speed of 52 mph

All the final legs when approaching the terminus seem to be at similar speeds, so I doubt there are much savings to be made away from the West Coast Main Line.

Most savings will be on the West Coast Main Line, where hopefully modern in-cab digital signalling will allow faster running at up to the design speed of both the Hitachi and Pendelino trains of 140 mph.

As an illustration of what might be possible, London to Liverpool takes two hours and thirteen minutes.

The distance is 203 miles, which means that including stops the average speed is 91.6 mph.

If the average speed could be raised to 100 mph, this would mean a journey time of two hours and two minutes.

As much of the journey between London and Liverpool is spent at 125 mph, which is the limit set by the signalling, raising that to 135 mph could bring substantial benefits.

To achieve the journey in two hours would require an overall average speed of 101.5 mph.

As the proportion of track on which faster speeds, than the current 125 mph increase over the next few years, I can see Hitachi’s lightweight all-electric expresses breaking the two hour barrier between London and Liverpool.

What About The Pendelinos And Digital Signalling?

The January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways also has an article entitled Pendolino Refurb Planned.

These improvements are mentioned.

  • Better standard class seats! (Hallelujah!)
  • Refreshed First Class.
  • Revamped shop.

Nothing is mentioned about any preparation for the installation of the equipment to enable faster running using digital in-cab signalling, when it is installed on the West Coast Main Line.

Surely, the trains will be updated to be ready to use digital signalling, as soon as they can.

Just as the new Hitachi trains will be able to take advantage of the digital signalling, when it is installed, the Pendellinos will be able to as well.

Looking at London and Glasgow, the distance is 400 miles and it takes four hours and thirty minutes.

This is an average speed of 89 mph, which compares well with the 91.6 mph between London and Liverpool.

Raise the average speed to 100 mph with the installation of digital in-cab signalling on the route, that will allow running at over 125 mph for long sections and the journey time will be around four hours.

This is a table of average speeds and journey times.

  • 100 mph – four hours
  • 105 mph – three hours and forty-eight minutes
  • 110 mph – three hours and thirty-eight minutes
  • 115 mph – three hours and twenty-eight minutes
  • 120 mph – three hours and twenty minutes
  • 125 mph – three hours and twelve minutes
  • 130 mph – three hours and four minutes

I think that I’m still young enough at 72 to be able to see Pendelinos running regularly between London and Glasgow in three hours twenty minutes.

The paragraph is from the Wikipedia entry for the Advanced Passenger Train.

The APT is acknowledged as a milestone in the development of the current generation of tilting high speed trains. 25 years later on an upgraded infrastructure the Class 390 Pendolinos now match the APT’s scheduled timings. The London to Glasgow route by APT (1980/81 timetable) was 4hrs 10min, the same time as the fastest Pendolino timing (December 2008 timetable). In 2006, on a one off non-stop run for charity, a Pendolino completed the Glasgow to London journey in 3hrs 55min, whereas the APT completed the opposite London to Glasgow journey in 3hrs 52min in 1984.

I think it’s a case of give the Pendelinos the modern digital in-cab signalling they need and let them see what they can do.

It is also possible to give an estimate for a possible time to and from Manchester.

An average speed of 120 mph on the route would deliver a time of under one hour and forty minutes.

Is it possible? I suspect someone is working on it!

Conclusion

I certainly think, that Avanti West Coast, Hitachi and Network Rail, have been seriously thinking how to maximise capacity and speed on the West Coast Main Line.

I also think, that they have an ultimate objective to make Avanti West Coast an operator, that only uses diesel fuel in an emergency.

 

 

January 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Transport for Wales Is Invading England

There is an article in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled TfW Targets Swansea To Bristol Services.

This is the first paragraph.

Transport for Wales Rail Services is aiming to start an open access service between Swansea and Bristol Temple Meads, commencing in December 2020.

These are characteristics of the proposed service.

  • Hourly service
  • Calls at Neath, Port Talbot Parkway, Bridgend, Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Filton Abbey Wood stations.
  • Sixteen services per day will run Monday to Saturday in both directions, with twelve services on Sundays.
  • Trains will be Class 170 or Class 175 diesel trains.

Looking at current times of sections of the route, I suspect that services could take a few minutes under two hours and would need four trains.

Reasons given for planning the service include.

  • Long-term political pressure.
  • Welsh ministers abandoning plans for the £1.6 billion M4 Relief Road around Newport.
  • Cross-Severn road traffic has increased after abolition of tolls.
  • Main roads on either side of the Severn are congested.
  • Increased house sales in South Wales to people who work in the Bristol area.

Incidentally, before I read the article, if you asked me, I’d have thought there would be a direct service.

My only thought about the service, is that as there will be electrification between Bristol and Cardiff, why not run a proper fast bi-mode train like a Hitachi Class 800 train or a Stadler Class 755 train. The latter of which Transport for Wales have on order, for delivery in 2023.

The Class 755 train or its Welsh cousin, could be an interesting option.

  • The distance without electrification between Cardiff and Swansea is 46 miles.
  • Transport for Wales tri-mode version of the Class 755 train could have three batteries and a diesel engine in the four slots in the powrpack car.

Could it have the capability of jumping the gap.

Birmingham Services

The article also says that, Transport for Wales are also planning to extend their services that terminate at Birmingham to Coventry.

  • Holyhead and Birmingham New Street takes three hours.
  • Aberystwyth and Birmingham New Street takes three hours
  • Pwllheli and Birmingham New Street takes five hours

As Birmingham and Coventry takes twenty minutes or perhaps a convenient hour to go to Coventry and return with a relaxed turnround, does the extension make these three long services simpler to operate?

Extra positioning services from Crewe to Coventry in the morning and return in the evening are also proposed.

These would  also suggest that improving the ease of operation of these services is the reason for the extension to Coventry.

Liverpool Services

The article also says that these services to Liverpool will be added in 2022.

  • An hourly service to Llandudno.
  • A two-hourly service to Cardiff.

It isn’t said, if one of these services is an extension to the recently launched Liverpool and Chester service.

Conclusion

The Welsh are getting ambitious.

 

 

June 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Midland Metro Arrives In New Street

These pictures show the Midland Metro and its new extension to Birmingham 
New Street station.

I’d taken a train to Birmingham Snow Hill station and my only criticism, is that the signage at Snow Hill didn’t indicate how to get to the new tram stop.

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Midland Metro Stop At New Street Station

The picture shows the Birmingham New Street tram stop on the Midland Metro.

The Midland Metro Stop At New Street Station

The Midland Metro Stop At New Street Station

Note the cross-over to reverse the trams, when they start running in a few weeks.

April 2, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Looking For Taxis At Birmingham New Street Station

Because of the fasciitis in my right foot, I decided to take a taxi from Birmingham New Street station to St. Andrews.

But where were the taxis?

Eventually an immaculate Metrocab did turn up and the driver explained. Apparently, there’s a row between the taxi drivers and NCP, who organise the taxi rank.

So Birmingham New Street station, may have a doggie toilet, but it doesn’t have many taxis or any trams.

It has also abandoned the traditional paper posters, with their lists of trains.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

How Long Will We Wait For A Tram At Birmingham New Street Station?

The Midland Metro extension to Birmingham City Centre and New Street station was supposed to be completed by March 2015.

It is still not connected at Birmingham Snow Hill station to allow access across the city to Birmingham New Street station.

It had been previously announced that trams would reach New Street station, this year, so I was surprised to red this article on Global Rail News entitled Birmingham New Street tram extension delayed until 2016. The article says this.

Trams won’t reach Birmingham New Street until the New Year after Centro announced that work would be scaled back to support traders ahead of the Christmas period.

It’s probably the most valid reason, I’ve heard for a delay, but it does strike me that if the trams had reached New Street in March, they would have brought more visitors to Birmingham City Centre for Christmas.

If I was the Mayor of Birmingham, I’d be kicking a few backsides.

November 10, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

A John Lewis With Its Own Station

John Lewis didn’t have a store in Birmingham, but they opened one in the Grand Central Shopping Centre on Thursday above the reopened New Street station.

It is pretty spectacular to say the least.

The comedians will start to be calling the West Midlands, the White Country, if stations of this style appear all over the area.

I wonder when you last saw the sun in the main Birmingham station!

September 24, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment