The Anonymous Widower

Bombardier and CAF To Make 413 Carriages For New West Midlands Franchise

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

This is said.

Future operator West Midlands Trains has made a £680 million order with Bombardier and CAF for 413 carriages.

Bombardier will manufacture 36 three-car and 45 five-car Aventra trains at its Derby site, while CAF will produce 12 two-car and 14 four-car Civity trains. In total, 107 new trains will be delivered.

The electric three-car Aventras will operate on metro services, the electric five-car units for outer suburban and long distance, while CAF’s DMUs will run on dedicated services to the towns and cities around Birmingham.

These are my thoughts on the various parts of the order.

The Three-Car Aventras

The thirty-six three-car Aventras will probably replace the twenty-six Class 323 trains, which lack wi-fi and other passenger-friendly features.

It should also be noted that the Aventra has a slightly unusual and innovative electrical layout.

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

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

This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept, which is probably more to do with spreading weight around the train for better dynamics than anything else!

Obviously for West Midlands Trains, there is no need for 750 VDC, but will there still be a pair of power cars?

So it looks like there may be a reorganisation of the electrical system in the trains.

A few other points.

  • I am surprised that some of the trains aren’t six-cars, as every other set of new trains seem to be single and double lengths.
  • According to Wikipedia, the trains will have end gangways.
  • The trains are air-conditioned and have free wi-fi and power sockets.

Hopefully, the full specification and Tops-number will be disclosed soon.

Are Batteries An Inherent Part Of The Operation Of Three Car Aventras?

Suppose each car in the train was a self-contained power car.

  • Each car could also have  a 75 kWh battery, which is the size of one on a New Routemaster hybrid bus.
  • Regenerative braking would be efficient as it would use the battery in the same car.
  • Batteries can be topped up using the 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Passenger services like power-points would be powered from the battery.

If we assume that each car needs 5 kW to do a mile, this would give the train a range away from the wires of 15 miles.

Would it be possible for trains to run on the Camp Hill Line and the proposed Camp Hill Chords into Birmingham Moor Street station solely using battery power?

I think it is possible and after the battery-powered trams on the Midland Metro, it’s another case of emphasising the B in Birmingham.

The Five-Car Aventras

These will probably be vaguely similar to the other two five-car Aventras; Class 701 and Class 720.

Differences highlighted in the various articles and Wikipedia include.

  • According to Wikipedia, the trains will have end gangways.
  • The trains will be 110 mph units.

Both are firsts for Aventras.

I don’t think it will be long before a train operator buys an Aventra capable of 125 mph.

The CAF Civity Trains

The CAF Civity are a mixture of two-car and four-car units and will be used to replace some older diesel multiple units and augment some of the more modern Class 170 and Class 172 trains.

Class 230 Trains

West Midlands Trains have also ordered three Class 230 trains for the Marston Vale Line.

The route has the following characteristics.

  • It is roughly twenty-four miles long.
  • Trains take just over forty minutes for the journey between Bletchley and Bedford stations.
  • There are plans to extend the service to Milton Keynes Central station.
  • It is a diesel island in a sea of electrified lines.

 

Wikipedia says this about the Infrastructure.

Apart from a short length of single track at both ends, the line is double track, and is not electrified (barring short lengths at either end). It has a loading gauge of W8 and a line speed of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h). The line’s signalling centre is at Ridgmont.

I would suspect that two trains are needed to provide an hourly service, so buying three trains gives a spare, that might augment the services at busy times.

The flexibility of the Class 230 trains will give a choice of operating modes.

  • Using 25 KVAC overhead electrification at the ends.
  • Using onboard diesel power.
  • Using batteries charged at the ends of the route.

I suspect that the most efficient will be a mix of all three.

The trains are also designed for remote servicing, so they could be based in a siding at Bedford, Bletchley or Wolverton and supported by a well-designed service vehicle and a fuel bowser.

Conclusions

West Midlands Trains seem to have gone for a sensible Horses-for-Courses solution.

I have a feeling that their concept for the Marston Vale Line will be used elsewhere.

 

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 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 | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Govia Loses The West Midlands Rail Franchise

This article on the BBC is entitled London Midland loses West Midlands rail franchise.

The new lead partner in a company called West Midlands Trains is Abellio.

This page on the Government web site gives full details.

There is also this interactive map, which details changes by line.

The next few sections detail a few points.

Four Hundred New Carriages

West Midlands Trains are promising four hundred new carriages.

Currently, there are 476 carriages serving the routes they will be taking over. The trains that are modern include.

  • 77 x four-car Class 350 trains – 308 carriages – Built in 2004-2014
  • 17 x two-car Class 170 trains – 34 carriages – Built in 1999-2000
  • 6 x three-car Class 170 trains – 18 carriages – Built in 1999-2000

This is a total of 360 carriages.

This group probably lack wi-fi, which could be retrofitted.

It looks to me, that the West Midlands are going to be seeing a hell of a lot more trains.

Abellio should know what trains to buy, as they’ve just spent nearly a billion on new trains for Greater Anglia and are introducing a large fleet of Hitachi electric trains in Scotland.

Are we going to see a complete fleet change, as is happening with Greater Anglia and South Western Railway?

I think it will be very likely that the new train will be an Aventra or similar, with the following characteristics.

  • Based on four or five car units.
  • Ability to work in pairs.
  • Possibly some longer ones. of eight or ten cars for busy routes.
  • Walk-through design.
  • Large lobbies and wide doors.
  • Ability to stop at a station and get started quickly. Could save up to two minutes every stop.
  • 100 mph capability.
  • Some bi-mode or trains to work independently for perhaps thirty miles are needed.

They could be very similar to the Class 720 trains ordered by Greater Anglia or the Class 710 trains ordered by London Overground, if Aventras are chosen.

I will look at a simple example on the Cross-City Line  between Lichfield Trent Valley and Redditch stations.

This currently takes 83 minutes with twenty-two stops. This would probably give a three-hour round trip. So on a rough estimate, to provide this service on a two trains per hour (tph) basis, would require six trains or twelve, if each of the current Class 323 train is a pair of six-cars.

Running a five-car Aventra or similar, which would save over a minute a stop and would be faster, would probably bring the round trip time down to under two hours. So two tph, would need just four trains.

The capacity of the Aventra would be greater at over 800 passengers as opposed to 500 in the pair of Class 323 trains.

Birmingham To Rugeley Trent Valley

The electrification on the Chase Line is being extended to Rugeley Trent Valley and new electric services should start from May 2018.

Wolverhampton To Walsall Line

The Wolverhampton To Walsall Line is an oddity in that is electrified and doesn’t have a passenger service.

In the Wikipedia entry for the line under Future Plans, this is said.

The West Midlands Combined Authority have announced their intention to restore a passenger service to the line using either conventional trains or tram-trains. Along with new stations at Willenhall and Darlaston James Bridge.

So will these plans be implemented in the next few years?

Birmingham To Bromsgrove

The new electric trains would also be able to serve the newly electrified route to Bromsgrove station from May 2018.

Does The B In Birmingham Stand For Battery?

If Bombardier or Hitachi get their energy storage working, then the new trains would be able to continue to Worcester from Bromsgrove, as it’s only fourteen miles.

Birmingham is getting battery trams, so is it getting battery trains?

Battery trains would certainly be able to work the Camp Hill Line.

But it will be interesting to see if battery trains can sneak through on other routes in the centre of Birmingham.

The Snow Hill Lines

The Snow Hill Lines across Birmingham are the classic cross-city line that should be electrified, as you don’t want to have diesel trains in the centres of cities.

My thoughts.

  • In the current financial climate, large scale electrification is not going to happen.
  • Battery trains wouldn’t help, as there is no electrification with which to charge the batteries.
  • Traditional bi-modes aren’t much use either, as they’d run on diesel all the time.

The only alternative is probably more efficient diesel-electric hybrid trains that incorporate regenerative braking with batteries.

Could these trains be coupled with limited electrification in the centre around the Snow Hill Tunnel?

There’s a solution in there somewhere and I suspect that West Midlands Trains have used it.

Leamington To Nuneaton via Kenilworth And Coventry

This route via the new Kenilworth station will be getting an hourly service.

It’s only nineteen miles each way with scraps of electrification at Nuneaton and Coventry.

Could an Aventra or similar with batteries do this trip?

Conclusion

The West Midlands are getting a much better train service.

August 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Where Is London Midland Going?

This excellent article on Rail News is entitled Franchising timetable slips again.

This is the first two paragraphs.

THE Department for Transport’s franchising timetable is slipping again, possibly because of delays introduced by the snap General Election.

The winner of the West Midlands franchise should have been announced in June, ready for the new contract to start in October.

It is now getting very tight for a new West Midlands franchise, currently held by London Midland,  to start in October.

The Current Fleet

The current fleet is a mixture of diesel and electric multiple units, most of which are in reasonable condition, although it does need a certain amout of updating and the addition of some new or refurbished trains.

  • I don’t think any of the trains have wi-fi, whereas some of their competitors have it installed.
  • The several Class 153 trains probably need replacing or augmenting with larger units.
  • More 100 mph electric units are probably needed for the West Coast Main Line.
  • More Class 350 trains from TransPennine Express must be a possibility.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Class 769 trains going to the new franchise to work partially-electrified routes.

But the train fleet doesn’t look like it will need a massive number of replacement trains.

Planned And Proposed Lines Around Birmingham

The next few sections detail some of the developments either in progress or proposed.

The Chase Line

The Chase Line electrification should be complete by May 2018 and this will need more electric trains.

Although, I do wonder if the new franchise might use the new electrified route to introduce new services.

The Cross City Line

The Cross-City Line electrification to the newly-rebuilt Bromsgrove station should allow a new three trains per hour (tph) electric service to start across Birmingham in May 2018.

Unless of course, the electrification is late.

The Camp Hill Line

The Camp Hill Line is another cross-Birmingham route and effectively acts as a loop for the Cross-City Line.

It is a long term aim of Birmingham to reopen this line to passengers and the new franchise could include this line in their plans.

Wikipedia talks of a £170million pound scheme to reopen the line with the following features.

  • Three tph
  • Three new stations
  • A connection to Moor Street.

But as the line is open to freight and long distance passenger traffic, I do wonder if now that responsibility for this line has been devolved, that something simpler could be done in the short term to increase services across Birmingham.

Kenilworth Station

Kenilworth station should open this year on the Coventry to Leamington Line.

It will probably open with single-car Class 153 trains, which will probably be totally inadequate.

I wonder if the Coventry and Leamington Line could run back-to-back services with the Coventry to Nuneaton Line, thus creating a Leamington to Nuneaton service via Kenilworth, Coventry and Coventry Arena.

The North Warwickshire Line

The North Warwickshire Line links Birmingham with Stratford-on-Avon and has an alternative name of the Shakespeare Line.

Plans exist to extend this line South to Honeybourne station on the Cotswold Line.

Under Possible Future Development in the Wikipedia entry for the Warwickshire Line, this is said.

The Shakespeare Line Promotion Group is promoting a scheme to reopen the 9 miles (14 km) of line south of Stratford to Honeybourne where it would link to the Cotswold Line. Called the “Avon Rail Link”, the scheme (supported as a freight diversionary route by DB Schenker) would make Stratford-upon-Avon station a through station once again with improved connections to the South, and would open up the possibility of direct services to Oxford and Worcester via Evesham. The scheme faces local opposition. However, there is a good business case for Stratford-Cotswolds link.

I think we’ll see something in the new franchise about developing this line, as there is a lot of potential for a train operator.

  • Direct services between Stratford-on-Avon and Oxford, where there is a connection to Bicester Village. Tourists would love that!
  • Connection of the housing development at Long Marston to Birmingham.
  • Could Stratford-on-Avon or Honeybourne become the terminus of a service from Leamington, Coventry and Nuneaton.

It would also give DB Schenker, their freight diversion.

A Bi-Mode Train For The West Midlands

The lines around Birmingham are very much like those around Liverpool and Manchester, with a mix of electrified and non-electrified lines.

More trains are needed and needed very soon to make the most of the following.

  • New stations like Bromsgrove and Kenilworth.
  • New electrification like the Chase Line to Rugeley and the Cross-City Line to Bromsgrove.
  • Reopened lines like the Camp Hill Line.
  • Capacity on electrified lines through Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.

I suspect that an ideal train for the West Midlands would have the following characteristics.

  • 100 or even 110 mph on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Perhaps 90 mph on diesel power.
  • Possibly a range of perhaps a dozen miles on batteries.
  • Four coaches.
  • A modern interior.
  • Wi-fi

This specification could have been written for one of Porterbrook’s Class 769 trains. Batteries might need to be added, which is something Porterbrook may do if a customer needs the feature.

But it doesn’t have to be a rebuilt train from the 1980s, as I suspect Class 755 trains, which are bi-mode Stadler Flirts as ordered by Greater Anglia would do the job well.

And who’s in the mix to run the new West Midlands franchise? Abellio, who recently won the new Greater Anglia franchise.

So could we see some flirting around Birmingham?

Regional Services

The current franchise runs services to Liverpool, but not Manchester.

Applications in the past have been made to run to Preston and I suspect that the new franchise will seek to improve services to Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester, Manchester Airport and Preston, although some of these routes will be opposed by Virgin.

As Manchester Airport seems to be developing as a rail hub, perhaps we’ll see the new franchise serving the important airport!

Conclusion

It will be interesting to see the plans of the new franchise, when they are announced.

But as this brief analysis and speculation shows, I think that there will be an order for new or refurbished bi-mode trains.

 

July 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 5 Comments

Birmingham Airport Mulls Plan For Terminal Inside HS2 Station

This is the title of an article in Construction News.

This Google Map shows Birmingham Airport, the current Birmingham International station, the NEC, with the M42 Motorway going North-South down the Eastern side.

Currently, it is planned that the Birmingham Interchange station for HS2, would be on the other side of the M42 to the NEC.

Surely, the Construction News headline is indicating that something better can be done.

In an ideal world, Birmingham Airport would have one station for HS2, West Coast Main Line and local train and tram services, with a step-free lift/escalator connection between all platforms and both Departures and Arrivals at the Airport.

 

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tram 18, Where Are You?

This article in Rail echnology Magazine is entitled Midland Metro tram shipped to Spain for battery fit-out ahead of OLE-free operation.

It describe how Tram 18 is on its way to Zaragoza to be fitted with lithium-ion batteries, so that the UK’s first battery tram can start running in 2019, after the track is laid to Victoria Square in Birmingham and the railway station in Wolverhampton.

February 15, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring The Route Of The Midland Metro Extension To Victoria Square

The extensions at both ends of the Midland Metro in Birmingham and Wolverhampton City Centres will be a first for the UK, in that they will be catenary-free and the trams will run on battery power.

This Google Map shows the area, where the initial extension will go in Birmingham City Centre.

birminghammetroextension

Places of interest are.

  • The cathedral is in the North-East corner.
  • New Street station is in the South-East corner.
  • Victoria Square and the Town Hall are just to the East of the middle.
  • Centenary Square is towards the West side.

This description comes from this page on the Metro Alliance web site.

840m of twin track from Birmingham Grand Central at Stephenson Street, up Pinfold Street through Victoria Square, Paradise St, past Paradise Circus into Centenary Square at Broad St.There will be an intermediate stop outside the Town Hall in Victoria Square, and we will interface with the Navigation Street link.

One of the problems at the moment, is that the development of Paradise Birmingham, seems to sit in the middle of the route.

These pictures show the area of Victoria Square and the route up from New Street station.

Note.

  • The steep hill of Pinfold Street.
  • The route seemed to have been prepared ready for the track to be fitted into the road surface.
  • Utilities seemed to have been moved.
  • When I took the pictures, the Midland Metro had parked a tram at the limit of the current track at the bottom of Pinfold Street.

Climbing The Hill

You can’t accuse Birmingham of lacking ambition, as Pinfold Street is a proper hill.

But then!

  • It is the only steep hill on the route to Centenary Square.
  • The tram will start the ascent with full batteries.
  • There will be no problems coming down.
  • This extension is only 840 metres in length.
  • The MetroCentro in Seville has used similar technology on a 1.4 km. route since 2007.
  • CAF have technology that charges batteries fast.
  • Battery technology has moved on in the last ten years.

If in practice, it does prove a difficult climb, overhead wires could be put on sufficient of the lower part of the up-track on Pinfold Street.

These wires wouldn’t be visible from Victoria Square, so wouldn’t effect the architectural integrity pf the area.

Onward to Edgbaston

According to this article in Rail Technology Magazine, the further four kilometre extension to Egbaston, is also intended to be catenary-free.

As the trams could be charged at Edgbaston, I think this could be possible.

But I doubt CAF would propose the use of batteries, if they hadn’t already proven the range, which is not outrageous.

The Next Step

I looked at a lot of the route of the first section to Victoria Square today, and it would appear that the roadway has been prepared for fitting the track.

So could we see an accelerated development of the first part of the extension?

It would be a good test of the technology, with little risk to the Midland Metrolink!

If the trams can’t make the hill on baqtteries, it would need to be wired, but you could always blame Spanish engineering.

Conclusion

It is a very well-designed scheme.

I wonder, if we’ll see Edinburgh batteries on their CAF trams?

 

 

 

January 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cost Of Tram Batteries

This article in Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Midland Metro tram shipped to Spain for battery fit-out ahead of OLE-free operation.

One Midland Metro tram has been sent back to the factory in Zaragoza to be fitted with two roof-mounted lithium-ion cells and after testing it will be returned to the West Midlands in the Autumn, where more testing will be performed, prior to starting running on the catenary-free streets of Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

After a successful completion of testing on the first tram, the other twenty trams will be converted.

This is said in the article about costs.

The total cost to the WMCA of fitting out the fleet will be £15.5m, but the authority says that it will save £9.24m on infrastructure costs on the first four extensions to the Metro network alone, with further infrastructure savings planned as future extensions take place.

So the savings can go a long way to help pay for the trams to run on the four extensions.

The cost of the modifications to each tram is £738,000, but if the infrastructure savings are factored in, the modifications cost just £298,000 per tram.

I also wonder if the layout of the Midland Metro, with a fairly long wired central section and a catenary-free section at either end is ideal for battery operation, as the trams will have a long section to fully charge the batteries.

But it looks like trams will reach Victoria Square and Wolverhampton station in 2019, Edgbaston in 2021 and the Eastside extension to Curzon Street will be completed in 2023.

Perhaps, the most interesting section in the article is this paragraph.

The WMCA is also evaluating a proposed Wednesbury to Brierley Hill extension to identify the viability of catenary-free sections.

Could this mean that the South Staffordshire Line, which will be used for the extension will be without catenary? As the tram does small detours into Dudley and at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre, then these sections could be wired to charge the batteries, leaving the South Staffordshire Line without any wires. I estimate that the distance the tram would travel would be about seven miles each way.

As Network Rail want to run both trams and freight trains on the South Staffordshire Line, this might allow both to share an unelectrified line, if they have the right wheel and track profiles.

There certainly seems to be some very innovative ideas around, when it comes to using trains and trams in City Centres.

 

 

January 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Out Of The Mouths Of Brummies

The December 2016 Edition of Modern Railways has a special report on railways and trams in the West Midlands.

There are some choice quotes from those involved in planning the future of the rail network in the area.

On HS2

“It’ll be half an hour from Birmingham Interchange station to the Crossrail interchange at Old Oak Common. That means Birmingham Airport will be in London Zone 4, timewise.”

On Stations

“Nobody looks at their strategic value to the community”

On New Street Station

“The Birmingham New Street Gateway rebuilding has quadrupled the passenger circulation area in the station, but it hasn’t addressed the key issue of lack of track capacity”`

On Battery Power For Trams

“Since then there has been lots of work and we’re now comfortable that battery technology has advanced sufficiently for it to be viable.”

“Under test conditions with plain straight track a tram could travel 20 km catenary-free. In practice, this would be rather less for a fully laden tram ascending the 9% gradient on Penfold Street. The longest catenary-free run we’ve envisaged is around 2 km, and we’re comfortable we can achieve that”

On More Trams

“They will have to be bespoke to a degree in order to operate catenary-free, but the rail sector is embracing alternative technology and on-board energy store so we may be looking at something more advanced afain.”

Conclusion

It’s all upbeat and it looks like Birmingham is looking forward to the battery trams.

No-one mentioned the B-word!

 

November 24, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

The New Bromsgrove Station

This is the new Bromsgrove station, which opened this week.

It is not what you’d call a spectacular station, but it certainly fulfils the objectives of the design.

  • Act as a second Southern terminus for three trains per hour on Birmingham’s Cross-City Line.
  • Be able to accept trains up to nine cars on the Cross-Country route from Gloucester, Worcester and Hereford through Birmingham and onto the East Midlands and Yorkshire.
  • Provide a step-free interchange, between trains, buses, cars and cycles.
  • Provide a Park-and-Ride station for Birmingham.

But as it has four platforms, will soon be electrified and have connections across the City, will it after the timetable has settled, become an important interchange that takes the pressure from Birmingham New Street? I think it will, as Reading does for Paddington, Stratford does for Liverpool Street and Clapham Junction, does for ictoria and Waterloo, in London.

It is also not finished and needs a shop and coffee stalls. In some ways it has a similar aura to the new Lea Bridge station in East London. Both stations shout that they are open for business, so please send us some trains and we’ll make the passengers happy.

It could turn out to be a masterstroke.

The electric trains on the line that will work the electrified service are Class 323 trains. There are forty-three, three-car units of which London Midland have twenty-six units, or just thirteen six-car trains, which is the train-length, the line obviously needs.

Will they get the other seventeen units from Northern, as that company gets new rolling stock, to create a fleet that could serve the line adequately?

They could also be looking at new trains. Something like four-car Class 710 trains, which are being built for similar urban routes on the London Overground, would be ideal. And in these Brexit times, they are built in Derby.

If Class 710 trains were to be used, they open up the intriguing possibility of fitting some or all of them with on-board energy storage.

This would enable the following routes.

  • Bromsgrove to Worcester is only a dozen miles, and doesn’t include the notorious Lickey Incline, which will soon be electrified. So it would be possible to run a frequent Birmingham to Worcester service using onboard energy, which would also serve Droitwich Spa and the new Worcestershire Parkway station.
  • The Camp Hill Line provides an alternative route across Birmingham City Centre. It is not electrified, but as it is short, it would be well within onboard energy storage range.
  • On the other side of Birmingham, it is only about twenty-five miles or so from the electrified Cross-City Line to the electrified West Coast Main Line at Nuneaton.

So could we see a second Cross-City Line in Birmingham from Worcester to Nuneaton via Bromsgrove, Camp Hill, Water Orton and Coleshill Parkway?

It would need no new electrification and just appropriate track and station improvements.

 

July 14, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment