The Anonymous Widower

3,000 Homes To Be Built Next To Dagenham Dock Railway Station

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Ian Visits.

These are the first two paragraphs.

A sleepy railway station in East London is due to get a lot busier as a large housing development is to be built next to it.

The former Dagenham Stamping Plant car works site has been cleared, and has now been bought by Peabody housing association for development. The initial phase will see 1,550 affordable homes built, supported by an £80 million grant from the Mayor’s Affordable Housing Programme.

There is a lot of housing under construction the area and the c2c lines and the London Overground are being expanded to cope.

But there is still only two trains per hour (tph) through Dagenham Dock and Beam Park, as opposed to the four tph, that will run to Barking Riverside.

The simple solution would be to improve the Fenchurch Street and Grays service.

  • Currently it is two tph.
  • The service calls at Limehouse, West Ham, Barking, Dagenham Dock, Rainham and Purfleet.
  • Renwick Road and Beam Park will be added to this service, when and if, they are built.

It needs to have the same frequency as Gospel Oak to Barking which is four tph.

So how could this frequency increase be provided?

For a start, the bay platform at Grays could probably handle four tph with improvement and the route possibly with some signalling improvements could probably cope.

The bay platform at Grays station would probably need lengthening.

It’s just where do you terminate the trains at the Western end?

Fenchurch Street is probably at capacity, as it handles 8 tph in the Off Peak.

  • 4 tph – Shoeburyness
  • 2 tph – Southend Central
  • 2 tph – Grays

But the station handles up to 20 tph in the Peak.

Could it be that with the installation of full digital ERTMS signalling on this route, that four tph between Fenchurch Street and Grays could run all day?

A Possible Crossrail Branch

Crossrail is a herd of testosterone-loaded elephants in the room, that have been locked up by some very poor decision making from the Mayor and Transport for London.

  • If ERTMS signalling is one of the keys to unlocking capacity on the tunnels for Crossrail and Thameslink, could its application to c2c services open up possibilities for serious new services in East London.
  • As I said, ERTMS signaling could open up the capacity into Fenchurch Street, but would it also allow Grays to be a terminal for Crossrail?

This map from cartometro.com shows Forest Gate Junction, where the Gospel Oak to Barking Line connects to the lines into Stratford and Liverpool Street.

Note.

  1. The orange tracks are the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBLin).
  2. Gospel Oak is to the North West and Barking is to the South East.
  3. The mauve-blue tracks are Crossrail, through Manor Park and Forest Gate stations.
  4. The black track are the fast lines into Liverpool Street station.
  5. Forest Gate Junction in the middle is regularly used by c2c trains accessing Liverpool Street, when there are engineering works.

I believe that with ERTMS signalling four or possibly six Crossrail tph could travel between Stratford and Barking stations via Maryland, Forest Gate and Woodgrange Park stations.

This second map from cartometro.com shows the lines through Barking station.

Note.

  1. Barking station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The orange platform on the North side of Barking station is Platform 1, which is the current terminal of the GOBLin.
  3. After the Goblin is extended to Barking Riverside, the GOBLin services will share Platforms 7 and 8 with the Fenchurch Street to Grays services.
  4. Platforms 7 and 8 are on the South side of the station and they are connect to the GOBLin lines by a flyover.
  5. To the East of the station, the GOBLin route is shown in orange.
  6. The GOBLin turns South to Barking Riverside station, which is by the Thames.

I suspect that there is capacity for more trains.

  • There will only be six tph through Platforms 7 and 8 at Barking station.
  • There will be four tph over the flyover and through Woodgrange Park station.

I believe that terminating four Crossrail tph at Grays could be an interesting possibility.

 

March 18, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gatwick Rail Service Could Link Far Reaches Of The South East

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Surrey Live.

Despite being reported on Surrey Live and the fact that Gatwick is in Sussex, the plan has been proposed by Kent County Council’s Rail Project Manager.

The plan would extend the existing Great Western railway line – which runs from Reading to Gatwick via Redhill – to mid and east Kent.

The article suggests the service could go between Reading and Canterbury West stations.

This table sums up the connectivity.

I have a few thoughts.

The Terminal Stations

The suitability of the two proposed terminals can be summed up.

  • Reading has been designed as a terminal station, with five bay platforms, three of which can be used by Gatwick services.
  • Canterbury West has not been designed as a terminal station and has no bay platforms.

Perhaps Ashford International station would be a better Eastern terminal?

  • It has Eurostar services.
  • Trains can terminate in Platform 1 and go to Tonbridge.
  • It has lots of car parking.

Dover Priority and Ramsgate could also be possibilities as they have terminal platforms.

Connecting At Gatwick Airport

It looks like a combined service might get complicated in the Redhill/Gatwick area.

  • Trains between Reading and Gatwick go via Redhill station, where they reverse.
  • There is no direct route between Tonbridge and Gatwick, so trains will probably have to reverse at Redhill, to go between Tonbridge and Gatwick.

Would a service between Reading and Ashford, that reversed twice at Redhill and once at Gatwick, be rather tricky to operate? Or even unpopular with passengers?

This Google Map shows Redhill station and the lines leading South from the station.

Note.

  • Redhill station at the top of the map.
  • The Brighton Main Line running North-South in the middle of the map.
  • The North Downs Line to Guildford and Reading curving West from the station.
  • The Redhill and Tonbridge Line to Tonbridge and Ashford leaving the map in the South-East corner.

I suspect that adding extra tracks in a very crowded area will be very difficult.

What Do The Timings Show?

A quick calculation, which is based on current timings, can give a journey time for between Ashford and Gatwick Airport.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Southeastern timing – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Southern timing – 35 minutes
  • Reverse at Redhill – GWR timing – 4 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – GWR timing – 8 minutes

This gives a total of eighty-five minutes.

  • Google says that you can drive it in sixty-three minutes.
  • If you took the train today, between Ashford International and Gatwick Airport stations, the fastest rail journey is around 110 minutes with a change at St. Pancras International.

It does look though that a faster train between Kent and Gatwick Airport could be competitive, as going via London certainly isn’t!

Could Simplification And Automation Provide A Solution?

Consider.

  • The Ashford International and Tonbridge timing, that I have used includes five stops.
  • The Tonbridge and Redhill timing, that I have used includes five stops.
  • How much time would be saved by only stopping at Tonbridge between Ashford International and Gatwick?
  • Could automation handle a fast reverse at Redhill, where passengers couldn’t board or leave the train?
  • Would a driver in each cab, allow the reverses to be done faster?

Trains going between Reading and Ashford International, would call at the following stations between Guildford and Tonbridge.

  • Dorking Deepdene
  • Reigate
  • Redhill
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Redhill – A quick Touch-And-Go.
  • Tonbridge
  • Paddock Wood

If two minutes a stop could be saved at each of the nine omitted stops and at each reverse, this would save twenty minutes East of Gatwick, which would give the following timings.

  • Gatwick and Tonbridge – 27 minutes
  • Gatwick and Ashford International – 65 minutes

Timings would be compatible with driving.

West of Gatwick, the service would be as the current GWR service.

  • After arriving at Gatwick from Ashford, the train would reverse.
  • En route it would reverse at Redhill, to continue to Reading.

Passengers wanting to go between say Tonbridge and Redhill, would use this reverse at Redhill to join and leave the train.

It would be an unusual way to operate a train service, but I feel it could be made to work, especially with the right automation and/or a second driver.

Trains For The Service

The service can be split into various legs between Ashford and Reading.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Electrified – 26.5 miles – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Electrified – 20 miles – 35 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Gatwick and Redhill – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Redhill and Reigate – Electrified – 2 miles – 4 minutes
  • Reigate and Shalford Junction – Not Electrified – 17 miles – 20 minutes
  • Shalford Junction and North Camp – Electrified – 9 miles – 11 minutes
  • North Camp and Wokingham – Not Electrified – 11 miles – 14 minutes
  • Wokingham and Reading – Electrified – 7 miles and 9 minutes

Note.

  1. Ashford, Tonbridge, Redhill, Gatwick, Guildford, Wokingham and Reading are all fully-electrified main line stations.
  2. Most of the route and the two ends are electrified.
  3. All electrification is 750 VDC third rail.
  4. All sections without electrification are less than twenty miles.

This route would surely be ideal for a battery electric train.

As both the Heathrow and Gatwick Express services are run using Class 387 trains and the Stansted Express has used Class 379 trains for the last few years, similar trains to these might be an ideal choice, if they could be fitted with battery power and the ability to use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

The facts seem to be on the side of this service.

  • There are spare Class 387 trains and some more will be released by c2c in the next few years.
  • Greater Anglia will be replacing their Class 379 trains with new Class 745 trains.
  • A Class 379 train was used to test the concept of battery electric trains.
  • Both class of trains could be fitted with third-rail gear.

Either of these trains could be used for the service.

As they are 100 or 110 mph trains with good acceleration, they might even save a few minutes on the journey.

Infrastructure Changes

I suspect they could be minimal, once it was worked out how to handle the three reverses in the Gatwick and Redhill area.

Conclusion

I think it would be a feasible plan to run an Ashford and Reading service via Gatwick.

I would also decarbonise the route at the same time, as it must be one of the easiest routes in the country to run using battery electric trains.

  • There is electrification at both ends and in the middle.
  • The longest stretch of track without electrification is just seventeen miles.
  • All charging could be done using existing electrification.
  • There are platforms at both ends, where trains can get a full charge.
  • There are trains available, that are suitable for conversion to battery trains for the route.
  • No extra infrastructure would be needed.
  • Battery electric trains would allow extension of the route to Oxford in the West.

How many extra passengers would be persuaded to take the train to Gatwick, by the novelty of a battery electric Aurport Express?

Marketing men and women would love the last point!

 

 

September 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will A Rail Link Be Built Between Pitsea And Ingatestone?

In Issue 903 of Rail Magazine, there is a long article, which is entitled Felixstowe: Is 47 Trains A Day Achievable?.

The article details a large number of improvements that could be carried out to attain this frequency.

This is an interesting paragraph.

If anything. long-term plans could entail the building of a new rail link between Pitsea and Ingatestone, so that London Gateway traffic can run via Ipswich instead of Stratford.

So could a rail link between Pitsea and Ingatestone stations be built and how would it be used?

The Route

If you look at a map, that shows Pitsea and Chelmsford, you’ll notice that the dual-carriageway A130 links the two places.

  • At the Chelmsford end it joins the A12 at junction 17.
  • At the Pitsea end it joins the A13 to the East of the town.
  • Sections of the road appear to have three-lane carriageways.
  • Much of the road has been improved in recent years.

I feel a lot of the route of the rail link could follow the A130, with the rail link running down the Western side of the road.

Use Of The Shenfield-Southend Line

The Shenfield-Southend Line could be used for part of the route.

  • It already connects to the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) at Shenfield, though a flying junction.
  • There is no connection between the Shenfield-Southend Line and the GEML to Chelmsford and Ipswich.
  • The Shenfield-Southend Line crosses the A130 in an area of farmland.

Between Shenfield and the A130 are two important stations Billericay and Wickford.

The Connection At Shenfield

This Google Map shows the junction between the GEML and the Shenfield-Southend Line.

Note.

  1. Shenfield station is in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The GEML goes straight in a North-Easterly direction to Ingatestone and Chelmsford.
  3. Ingatestone and Shenfield stations are about 3.5 miles apart.
  4. The Shenfield-Southend Line goes off to the East and connects to the GEML with a flying junction.

There would appear to be space to convert the flying junction into a full triangular junction by building chords, that allow access between the Shenfield-Southend Line and the GEML to Chelmsford.

Turning South At The A130

This Google Map shows where the Shenfield-Southend Line crosses the A130.

Note.

  1. The two major roads; the A130 and the A127 are clearly labelled.
  2. The Shenfield-Southend Line crosses the A130 from North-West to East.
  3. Billericay and Shenfield are to the North-West.
  4. Southend is to the East.

It looks like there is sufficient space to create a junction, which would allow trains to take a new rail line to and from the South, built alongside the A130.

The Connection At Pitsea Station

This Google Map shows the Southern section of the A130 that connects to the A13.

Note.

  1. Pitsea station is at the Southern side of the map.
  2. The A130 weaves its way North-South down the Eastern side of the map.
  3. The rail link could follow the A130.

The Google Map shows Pitsea station, the A13 and its junction with the A130.

Note.

  1. The A13 going across the Northern side of the map.
  2. The A130 going down the Eastern side of the map.
  3. Pitsea station in the middle of the Western side of the map.
  4. The c2c railway between Pitsea and Southend Central stations going East from Pitsea station and passing to the South of St. Margaret’s Church.

It appears to me, that there would be enough space to build a full triangular junction between the rail link and the c2c railway.

A full triangular junction would enable trains to go between Chelmsford and all stations as far as Shoeburyness.

A Few Questions

These are a few questions.

Will Passenger Trains Use The Rail Link?

Consider.

  • It would make it possible to create a direct train service that connected all the major towns in Essex; Colchester, Chelmsford and Southend.
  • Chelmsford is the county town of Essex.
  • Southend Central station has two West-facing bay platforms.
  • Colchester station has a South-facing bay platform.

I think that the route must be built to perhaps allow an hourly CrossEssex service in both directions, at some date in the future.

Would There Be Any Stations On The Rail Link?

The route goes through Billericay and Wickford stations and also has a connection to the Crouch Valley Line.

How Long Is The Rail Link?

I estimate, it’s just under seventeen miles.

How Long Will Freight Trains Take Between Pitsea And Ingatestone?

The Felixstowe Branch is about twenty miles long and trains take a few minutes over the hour.

Will The Rail Link Be Single Or Double Track?

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, there are still about a dozen trains going in and out of London Gateway on a typical day.

  • This would be a train every ninety minutes in both directions on the rail link if they were all using it.
  • London Gateway will expand.
  • A passenger service on the rail link in the future, is a possibility.
  • The Shenfield-Southend Line is double-track.

I feel that a single track railway would be short on capacity, so for preference, I’d build a double-track railway.

Will The Rail Link Be Electrified?

Consider.

  • All passenger trains run by Greater Anglia and c2c to and from Southend are electric.
  • Essex is a county where all rail lines are electrified, except for the spur that leads into London Gateway.
  • The GEML and the lines to Southend have recently updated electrification.
  • Freight trains can be hauled on the GEML by electric or bi-mode locomotives.
  • Te section between the GEML and the A130 is already electrified.

It would be logical that the rail link should be electrified.

Thoughts About Capacity

Although a rai link between Pitsea and Ingatestone may be feasible, it doesn’t mean that it will be built.

  • Will there be enough capacity across the Midlands or on the various routes to the North?
  • Greater Anglia have ambitions and the trains to run more services.
  • Would digital signalling on the GEML create extra capacity?

Extra Infrastructure

 

 

 

April 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thoughts On Barking To Grays And Barking To Barking Riverside Train Services

c2c’s Fenchurch Street And Grays Service

This service runs at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

  • Each journey takes about 34-36 minutes each way.
  • If ten minutes is allowed at each end, that gives a ninety minute round trip.
  • The service will need three trains.

A four tph service would need.

  • Six trains.
  • The ability to handle  extra two tph at Fenchurch Street station and in the bay platform at Grays station.

Grays station can probably handle the extra trains, but Fenchurch Street station may need extra capacity.

London Overground’s Gospel Oak And Barking Riverside Service

This service runs at a frequency of four tph.

Changing At Barking Station

Both service will use.

  • Platform 7 At Barking Station When Running Eastbound
  • Platform 8 At Barking Station When Running Westbound

Both platforms will have to handle six tph.

Would It Be Better For Changing If Both Services Were Four tph?

This would mean.

  • Passengers would never wait more than fifteen minutes to their desired destination.
  • The combined frequency would be eight tph or a train every seven-and-a half minute.
  • There would be a lot of scope for optimising the timetable for the convenience of passengers.

As an example, consider a passenger going from Barking Riverside to Fenchurch Street.

If trains were equally-spaced at Barking station, passengers would wait a maximum of seven-and-a-half minutes, if trains were on time.

On balance, if both services were four tph would be better.

Conclusion

If c2c and London Overground co-operate, customers will benefit.

April 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Royal Mint Gardens

Royal Mint Gardens is a housing development to the East of Fenchurch Street and Tower Gateway stations.

These are a few pictures of the development.

But this doesn’t tell the full story.

This Google Map shows the position of the development.

Note.

  1. Fenchurch Street station is towards the top-left corner of the map.
  2. The c2c tracks running to the East from Fencurch Street station.
  3. Tower Gateway DLR station is just to the right of the centre, just above the green space.
  4. The tracks of the Docklands Light Railway running to the East from Tower Gateway DLR station.

The three concrete towers at the right of the map, lying to the South of the railway tracks, are the three structural towers of Royal Mint Gardens.

This Google Map shows a close up of Royal Mint Gardens.

Note how the Docklands Light Railway splits into two to the East of the development.

  • The Northern pair of tracks skirt the development to the North to go to Tower Gatewat DLR station.
  • The Southern pair of tracks go underneath the development to go to Bank DLR station.

The new development has put the Bank branch in a concrete tunnel.

So in an area of the world, where land is a very expensive commodity, this area is being used twice at the same time.

Royal Mint Gardens On The BBC

BBC London television has been covering various aspects of the building of Royal Mint Gadens in local news for most of the day.

The developer, the architect, Network Rail and the reporter, all seemed very positive about what is being created.

The architect felt up to 250,000 houses could be created on similar sites across London.

How many houses could be built over rail lines in the rest of the UK?

Conclusion

Building over rail lines like this, will increasingly be seen as a way of adding new housing in densely populated cities.

 

 

 

 

 

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Escalators At Limehouse Station

Limehouse station now has a smart pair of escalators on the Westbound platform.

Are escalators going to be added to the Eastbound platform and the c2c platforms?

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

The Junction Between The Barking Riverside Extension And The Tilbury Line

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the route of the Barking Riverside Extension of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and how it connects to the c2c lines between Barking and Tilbury.

 

 

One big advantage is that the two c2c lines between Barking and Tilbury, go either side of the Barking Freightliner Terminal.

  • The Down Tilbury Line between Platform 7 at Barking station and Dagenham Dock station goes around the Northern side.
  • The Up Tilbury Line to Platform 8 at Barking station goes around the Southern side.

This is extremely convenient, as there is plenty of space between c2c’s busy tracks to build the flyover.

If you want to get a better look, click on the map and this will give you a larger image on which you can follow the two tracks from Dagenham Dock station.

This second map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the complicated tracks to the West of the Freightliner Terminal.

The Renwick Road bridge goes North-South over the tracks. I appears to cross, at the point, where the Stora sidings join the East-West track.

Note how the two new tracks connect the flyover to tracks that connect to Platforms 7 and 8 at Barking station.

This is a Google Map which shows where the Renwick Road bridge crosses the tracks.

The two new tracks will need to be squeezed under Renwick Road.

I took these pictures on a walk down Renwick Road, just to the South of the bridge, that takes the road over the railway lines.

Unfortunately, most of Renwick Road is surrounded by high concrete walls.

But as these pictures show, there is quite a large amount of land crossed by a few sparse railway lines.

I then took a train between Barking and Rainham stations and was able to take a few pictures of work in the area of the proposed viaduct, which will go over the freight terminal.

The red train was parked on theStora  sidings at the top of the second map.

The top four pictures were taken going to Rainham station and the bottom four were taken coming back.

Tilbury Down Line Train-By

These pictures were taken from a train going to Grays station on the Tilbury Down Line.

The last two picture show the Renwick Road bridge and the vehicle ramp leading to the freight terminal.

The Design Of The Viaduct

It looks to me, that two new tracks will do the following.

  • Start to the West of Renwick Road bridge, with connections that take them to Platforms 7 (Down) and 8 (Up) at Barking station..
  • Go through the safeguarded site of the future Renwick Road station and under Renwick Road.
  • Climb on a viaduct, that will lift them over the freight terminal and the lines to Tilbury and continue to Barking Riverside.

It could be a spectacular ride.

Renwick Road Station

I walked to the Renwick Road bridge from the Renwick Road bus stop on the 173 bus from Dagenham Heathway station.

It was about four hundred metres along broken pavements and in freezing cold, but dry weather.

So a Renwick Road station will be appreciated by those, who live and/or work in the area.

Wikipedia says this about Renwick Road station.

The station would lie east of the proposed merge / diverge points with the Essex Thameside (Tilbury Loop Line) line along which c2c services operate, so whilst the station would not provide an interchange with the aforementioned c2c services, nor would the station’s construction disrupt those services. The new station could generate 5,000 homes.

This Google Map shows the land to the West of Renwick Road bridge.

Note.

  1. The Stora siding at the top, where the red train was parked.
  2. The Down Tilbury Line going West-East towards the top of the map and connected to the sidings.
  3. The three lines towards the bottom of the map are currently the Down Goods, Up Goods and Up Tilbury

It could be that Network Rail could have decided  to put the new Renwick Road station in the ample space between the lines.

The station could be very simple.

  • A single island platform between the two tracks.
  • The tracks could be generously spaced to allow a wide platform.
  • The platform would have shelters and perhaps a coffee stall.
  • The platform would be linked by stairs and a lift to Renwick Road.

It could certainly be built without disrupting c2c services.

Travelling Between Fenchurch Street And Renwick Road Stations

According to the Wikipedia extract, I included earlier, Renwick Road station, will not have a direct service to Fenchurch Street station.

Renwick Road station will be served by at least four London Overground trains per hour (tph) all day between Gospel Oak and Barking Riverside stations.

Currently, c2c provide the following services between Fenchurch Street and Grays station.

  • Four tph in the Peak
  • Two tph in the Off Peak

It is also planned that both services will share Platforms 7 and 8 at Barking station.

So passengers from Renwick Road and Barking Riverside stations wanting to go to London will get off a train on Platform 8 at Barking station and wait for the first c2c service to Fenchurch Street station.

I would also suspect that c2c will increase the Off Peak service to match the frequency of the Gospel Oak to Barking Riverside service.

Beam Park Station

Beam Park station is another new station planned for the area.

  • It will be between Dagenham Dock and Rainham stations.
  • It will be built to serve three thousand new houses.

This station will make it more likely that c2c will run four tph between Fenchurch Street and Grays stations.

Travelling Between Grays And Barking Riverside Stations

This will require a change at Barking station.

This change would be a walk across the island platform 7/8, which would be step-free.

Conclusion

Train services along the Thames from Barking to Grays are going to get a lot better.

 

February 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

How Long Will It Take Bombardier To Fulfil Their Aventra Orders?

I was reading this article in The Guardian, which is entitled Full speed ahead for train builders as minister pulls plug on electrification, when I found this useful nugget of information, from the General Manager of Bombardier’s Derby plant.

Building trains in an “ergonomically correct” fashion, he says, means completing and testing the carriage’s constituent parts, then assembling them, rather than wiring them up afterwards – and also takes the risk away from a production line which boasts a rate of 25 carriages per week.

It sounds like Bombardier’s engineers have been drinking and swapping ideas, with Toyota’s production engineers a few miles down the road at Burnaston.

But even so 25 carriages a week is an impressive  figure, as that is almost three Class 345 trains for Crossrail in a week.

Bombardier have not been producing at that rate until now, as if they had, there would be Aventras in sidings all over the place. In The Class 345 Trains Are More Numerous, I described how I saw four yesterday and Transport for London have said they will have they will have eleven in service by September.

But this is all consistent with not going into full production, until you are sure, that you’ve got everything right, as any prudent company would do!

The Trains On Order

Bombardier have the following orders for Aventras.

  1. Crossrail – Class 345 – 70 x nine-car – 630 cars – To be delivered in 2015-2018
  2. London Overground – Class 710 – 45 x four-car – 180 cars – To be delivered in 2017-2018
  3. Greater Anglia – Class 720 – 89 x five-car – 445 cars – To be delivered in 2018-2020
  4. Greater Anglia – Class 720 – 22 x ten-car – 220 cars – To be delivered in 2018-2020
  5. South Western Railways – Class xxx – 30 x five-car – 150 cars – To be delivered in 2019-2020
  6. South Western Railways – Class xxx – 60 x ten-car – 600 cars – – To be delivered in 2019-2020
  7. West Midlands Trains – Class xxx – 36 x three-car – 108 cars – To be delivered from 2020
  8. West Midlands Trains – Class xxx – 45 x five-car – 225 cars – To be delivered from 2021
  9. c2c – Class xxx – 10 x six-car – 60 cars – To be delivered from 2021

This gives a total of 2,618 cars to be built.

The Building Schedule

Orders 1 and 2 are both directly or indirectly for Transport for London, with Wikipedia stating that the Class 710 trains for the Lea Valley  Lines are being stabled at Ilford TMD, where the current Class 345 trains are also stabled, whilst they are being tested between Liverpool Street and |Shenfield stations.

I suspect that this close relationship between the orders means that Bombardier and Transport for London have agreed a delivery schedule, that brings in trains as they are needed. There’s not much point in building Class 345 trains for Crossrail, when some won’t be needed until 2019, if there is a more urgent need for Class 710 trains for the Overground.

To improve matters for Bombardier, Orders 3 and 4 for Greater Anglia, will probably be stabled in part at Ilford TMD.

Bombardier have not only got four substantial initial orders, but because they can all be introduced into service from Ilford TMD, they must have a tremendous advantage in terms of testing, introduction into service, manpower and costs.

So it looks to me that the two London orders will be built first, followed by the Greater Anglia and then the South Western Railways.

The London orders total 810 cars, which would take 32 weeks using Bombardier’s figure of 25 cars per week in The Guardian.

But assuming they started full production on the 1st of August, that gives them seventy-two weeks until the end of 2018, which gives a equired production rate of under twelve cars a week.

Surely, given their past history of building around a couple of thousand Electrostar cars, that must be achievable. Especially, as the modular structure of the Aventra, which has been developed with suppliers, must make building quicker.

The Greater Anglia and South Western Railways orders, which total 1,415 cars, would need to be built in 2019-2020 or lets say a hundred weeks.

So the build rate would be 14 cars a week, which is well below Bombardier’s figure.

The Body Shells

It should also be stated that Bombardier make their body shells at Derby, whereas Hitachi make their’s in Japan and ship them to Newton Aycliffe. This must ease having a high production rate for Bombardier, as for this you must have timely and reliable deliveries.

The Class 345 and 710 trains seem to have different car lengths, so it would appear that their production of body shells is flexible.

Little can be discerned about the production process from the Internet, as articles like this one on Global Rail News, which is entitled Bombardier completes first Crossrail body shell, are short on production details.

If they have a capacity to produce twenty-five body shells a week, I don’t believe that this can be done without the use of sophisticated designs assisted by large amounts of automation, as used in most car and van body production.

I have found this picture of a number of Aventra car body sides on the Internet.

Note the double-skinned nature of the body sides, with reinforcing ribs inside, which must have great strength, light weight and a minimum number of components. I have read somewhere, that Bombardier are extruding aluminium for body components.

All of the holes could then be automatically cut by robots.

The joys of modern manufacturing!

Final Assembley

Modern manufacturing methods, as employed by car companies for years doesn’t mean you have to produce a sequence of identical vehicles on the line. Computer systems make sure all the components to build each car arrive at the right time.

A Class 345 train might have four or five different types of car, so similar methods would be used to speed production of the individual cars.

West Midlands Trains

Abellio, who own Greater Anglia, have decided they want to use Aventras on their new West Midlands Trains franchise.

According to Wikipedia, the new franchise is proposing to introduce the following trains

  • 333 new Aventra carriages in three and five-car trains.
  • 80 new CAF Civity carriages in two and four-car trains.

Some of the trains are direct replacements for other trains.

  • The 36 x three-car Aventras will replace the 26 x three-car Class 323 trains.
  • The CAF Civity trains will replace various diesel multiple units around Birmingham.

In some ways the puzzle is that there are 29 x five-car Aventras on order for electrified suburban lines.

Adding up the current and future number of electrified carriages on Birmingham suburban routes, shows that the number of carriages to be used will increase by three times.

New electrification is on the way.

  • Chase Line to Rugeley Trent Valley.
  • Cross-City Line to Bromsgrove.

But these short schemes won’t need all those trains, unless West Midlands Trains are going to run ten-car trains across Birmingham.

But possibilities exist.

  • Electrification further towards places like Nuneaton and Worcester.
  • Electrification of the Camp Hill Line across the City Centre.
  • Aventras will be using batteries to reach places without electrification.
  • Some Aventras could be bi-mode. I discuss the concept of a bi-mode Aventra in Is A Bi-Mode Aventra A Silly Idea?.

All will become clear in the next couple of years.

The West Midlands Trains orders for Aventras  total 333 new carriages, which will all be pretty similar to previous orders, except in details like car length, number of cars, top speed and the interiors.

At Bombardier’s quoted production rate of 25 cars per week,l that means they would take jus fourteen weeks to build them, after the design was finalised.

That sounds unbelievable!

c2c

This order is for just sixty carriages, which will be delivered as six x ten-car trains.

This is an extract from c2c’s Press Release.

The Aventra is one of the fastest-selling trains in the UK rail industry, and these new trains will be manufactured at Bombardier’s factory in Derby. Each new train, which will operate in a fixed set of 10-carriages, will include over 900 seats, plus air-conditioning, wifi, plug sockets and three toilets onboard. Each new carriage is larger and contains more seats than on c2c’s current trains, so each 10-carriage new train provides capacity for 15% more passengers onboard compared to a current 12-carriage c2c train.

So three x four-car trains working as a twelve-car train are replaced by one ten-car train, which results in.

  • A modern instead of a twenty-year-old train.
  • 15% more capacity.
  • Wi-fi and plug sockets.
  • Better passenger experience.
  • Two cabs instead of six.
  • Fixed-formation trains don’t have end gangways.
  • Twenty bogies instead of twenty-four.

Revenue per train will surely increase, but electricity and maintenance costs will also decrease.

So the accountants get a double dose of pleasure!

c2c also hint that more new trains are on thew way.

But as they are also reported to have extended the lease on their Class 387 trains, they have excellent cover whilst waiting for delivery of new Aventras.

Currently, they have the equivalent of 25 x twelve-car trains with a few spares.

So a complete train replacement if they like the Aventras, will probably be something like another twenty to thirty trains.

This would seem to be a very low-risk plan!

The New South Eastern Franchise

The needs of the current South Eastern and West Midlands franchises are surprisingly similar.

  • High speed running on HS1 and the West Coast Main Line.
  • Suburban services in city networks; London and Birmingham.
  • A few short branch lines.
  • Some lines without electrification.
  • An ageing fleet without wi-fi.

So could we be seeing a mass fleet replacement with Aventras, as in West Midlands Trains.

Note that one of the bidders for this franchise is the same consortium of Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui, who successfully bid for West Midlands Trains.

Abellio bought a large number of Aventras for Greater Anglia and helped develop battery power for the trains.

So could we be seeing a large number of Aventras added to the fleet for the South Eastern franchise?

Currently, the franchise runs 824 Electrostar and 674 Networker carriages.

To replace the Networkers would be 27 weeks of production at Bombardier’s rate of 25 carriages a day.

The South Eastern franchise also needs more high speed trains for HS1. I can’t believe that Bombardier couldn’t achieve a top speed of 140 mph with an Aventra. They probably will have a solution for covering the line between Ashford and Hastings. My money’s is on some form of energy storage.

Conclusion

Bombardier would not quote the capability of being able to make 25 trains per week to a newspaper like the Guardian, if they didn’t know it was possible.

But to meet the deliveries needed by the four initial customers, probably needs about half the quoted production rate, which is the sort of conservative thinking I like.

This gives Bombardier the float to sort out production problems or non-delivery of sub-assemblies outside of their control.

But it would also give them the capacity to fit in other orders. Suppose Crossrail decided to extend to Gravesend or Southend and needed another five Class 345 trains, then in theory, that is only two days production, provided the suppliers can deliver.

The UK’s railways are going to be full of Aventras.

 

 

 

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Trenitalia To Buy c2c

There are several several articles like this one in Railway Gazette, which is entitled Trenitalia buys c2c to enter UK rail market.

So what will it mean?

Ultimate Ownership

The ultimate ownership of a train operating company seems to have very little difference to the  quality of trains and customer service.

I will look at  a recent journey I made from Leipzig to Brussels on Deutche Bahn, that I wrote about in Deutsche Bahn’s Idea Of Customer Service.

It was not a good journey and in the post, I say that eutche Bahn is nowhere as good as Chiltern.

And who owns Chiltern? – Deutsche Bahn.

So I suspect we’ll see very few changes on c2c because of the change of ownership, with perhaps the following provisos.

When successful companies are taken over, the Senior Management Team often depart to pastures or in this case railways, new.

The article also says this.

Mick Cash, General Secretary of pro-nationalisation trade union RMT, was less enthusiastic about the announcement. ‘This is yet another part of Britain’s rail operations being sold off to a European state-owned outfit’, he said. ‘This time it is Trenitalia, an Italian operator, that is being given an open door to plunder passengers and the public purse to subsidise rail services in their own country.’

Looking at the mess, that the RMT and its fellow travellers have got Southern into, this could be omnious.

The Future For c2c’s Services

Look at the route map of most rail franchises and a twelve-year-old with a pencil could suggest obvious places where the network could be expanded.

But there are few places , where c2c could expand.

  • Reinstate the Tilbury Riverside Branch.
  • Direct access to Crossrail at Stratford.
  • A Canvey Island Branch

So much of the growth will come from more frequent and faster services to existing destinations, more and better trains and improvements to stations.

There must be scope for Automatic Train Operation (ATO) at the London end of the route to improve capacity and reduce journey times.

Conclusion

I had to scrape together a scenario for the future and it leads me to the conclusion that c2c is virtually fully developed. So have National Express decided to sell c2c, as it is a mature asset, that is worth more to xomebody else. Especially, a new entrant to the UK rail market, who wants to know how to run a UK train franchise.

In some ways it’s a bit like a bank selling on a long-term loan to a blue-chip company, to another back.

 

January 12, 2017 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Anybody Want To Buy A Fleet Of Electric Trains Going Purr?

When I wrote Southend In The Sun, I went to the Essex town in one of c2c‘s Class 357 trains.

These trains were the first of Derby’s Electrostars to hit the tracks in 1999.

Consider.

 

The last Electrostars are currently being built at Derby.

The 357s don’t seem much different to the latest Class 387 trains.

The 357s have air-conditioning, regenerative braking and lots of modern features.

There are 74 of the trains and to a passenger they look and feel pretty good.

 

c2c has a few problems.

  • It needs more capacity.
  • Competition on the Southend Route will be fierce, when Greater Anglia start running faster Aventra trains into Liverpool Street.
  • c2c has no direct link to Crossrail.
  • The Class 357 trains lack certain features that passengers demand like wi-fi.

To ease the capacity problem, they are adding six Class 387 trains to the fleet.

Wikipedia also says this about new trains.

As part of its new franchise, c2c has committed to leasing new trains to cope with rising passenger numbers, which were boosted especially by the opening of the DLR station at West Ham in 2011 and the rise of Canary Wharf as a financial centre. 9 new four-car trains will be introduced by 2019, followed by 4 more by 2022 and 4 more by 2024.

But could c2c do something more radical, to combat the lure of the new Aventras running between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria stations?

Gradually, over the next few years, there one class fleet of Class 357 trains will become mixed with the new trains.

So could c2c, start a roiling replacement program, so they migrate to a brand new and much better homogeneous fleet?

If it happens, a large fleet of 74 Class 357 trains will be released at a rate of perhaps one or two a month.

They will be very desirable trains to provide services in Birmingham, Lancashire, Leeds or Scotland to replace older fleets.

But they would be even more desirable if Bombardier’s parts bin could be raided to create a bi-mode Electrostar on the lines of the Class 319 Flex!

The specification could be as follows.

  • Modern interior with everything passengers demand.
  • 100 mph capability.
  • Regenerative braking handled by onboard energy storage.
  • Diesel or even hydrogen power-pack.
  • Independent operation on lines without electrification.

The size of the onboard energy storage would be determined by the nature of the routes to be operated and the extra costs of the required storage.

 

 

December 30, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment