The Anonymous Widower

More Innovation From CAF

CAF are noted for innovation in the design of their trains and particularly trams. I have read somewhere, that they spend a lot of money on Research and Development and it seems to show in their products.

  • In Seville’s Elegant Trams, I wrote about the MetroCentro in Seville, which is catenary-free and charges the batteries of the trams at stops, through an overhead rail.
  • Zaragoza trams use a similar system.
  • The Midland Metro is fitting batteries to its CAF Urbos 3 trams, to extend the system in Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
  • A second line for the Midland Metro could use tram-trains, so it can share the South Staffordshire Line with freight trains.
  • My engineering instinct tells me that the Midland Metro system is more advanced, than that installed in Spain.

This article on Global Rail News is entitled CAF Secures New Orders In Luxembourg, Germany and Sweden.

This is an extract from the article.

Luxtram has selected CAF to supply 12 trams for the second phase of Luxembourg City’s tram network, a catenary-free line which is currently under construction.

These Urbos 3 trams will cost €40 million and be powered through a ground-level charging system at stops.

So it looks like CAF have now added a new way of charging battery trams.

Will we be seeing this technology in the extension to the Edinburgh Tram and later extensions to the Midland Metro?

 

 

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

More Information From The International Railway Journal About The New Wales And Borders Franchise

In Every Pair Of Pictures Tell A Story, I said I needed more information on what was happening with the new Wales and Borders franchise.

This article on the International Railway Journal is entitled £800m fleet renewal plan for new Welsh franchise, gives a lot more serious information.

These two paragraphs outline the plans.

According to the Welsh government, around £800m will be invested in rolling stock to ensure that by 2023, 95% of journeys will be made on a new fleet of 148 trains. The average age of the fleet will drop from 25 years to seven years by 2024.

More than half of the new trains will be assembled in Wales, indicating a major order will be placed with CAF, which is currently building a new assembly plant near Newport.

The article then goes on to make specific points.

Class 769 Trains

Class 769 trains will be used as a stop-gap measure until the arrival of new bi-mode trains.

Five of these trains are on order for delivery in the next eighteen months.

Class 230 Trains

Class 230 trains will join the fleet.

Perhaps they will be used on the Conwy Valley Line.

The line is rather isolated from depots at Cardiff, Chester and Machynlleth, which would find the Class 230 trains remote servicing capabilities useful.

The Wikipedia entry for KeolisAmey Wales states that the Class 230 trains will work the Borderlands Line, which will have a two trains per hour (tph) frequency.

As the journey takes an hour each way with a round trip possible in two hours, I suspect that a two tph frequency will need four trains, with perhaps a fifth one ready to step into service.

Again the remote servicing capability of the Class 230 train will come into play, as will the train’s affordability.

Class 170 Trains

Several Class 170 trains will join the fleet.

These could be coming from Greater Anglia, who currently have twelve of the trains, that will be replaced by Class 755 trains.

This page on the Welsh Government web site, contains this sentence.

On the Heart of Wales line, introduce refurbished Class 170 two-car units by 2022.

If you want to find out more about train services in Mid and South-West Wales, the page is well-worth a read.

Mark 4 Carriages

Mark 4 Carriages released from the East Coast Main Line will replace the current Mark 3 Carriages.

Phasing Out Of Diesel Multiple Units

The article makes these two points.

The only ones worth keeping could be the Class 158 trains, most of which if fitted with wi-fi would be acceptable on many routes.

New Diesel Multiple Units For Long Distance Services

The article says that new diesel multiple units will be introduced on these routes.

  • North Wales Coast and Cambrian lines in 2022
  • Milford Haven – Manchester route by 2023

This page on the Welsh Government web site, also says a new Swansea to Manchester service will be introduced from 2024.

In Every Pair Of Pictures Tell A Story, I suggested that Class 755 trains could be used on these routes.

  • They have similar performance to the Class 175 trains.
  • Length and power can be tailored for each route. Greater Anglia have ordered two sizes.
  • As they are bi-modes, they could take advantage of the electrification East of Cardiff and around Birmingham and Manchester.

But the biggest thing in favour of Class 755 trains, is that the thirty-eight units for Greater Anglia are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019. So if the Welsh trains are virtually identical to those for Greater Anglia, there would not be any serious certification problems.

The Wikipedia entry for KeolisAmey Wales indicates that these trains could be diesel versions of the CAF Civity.

The South Wales Metro

The IRJ article says that £738 million will be invested in this project.

The Wikipedia entry for KeolisAmey Wales gives a few more details of train frequencies.

This is an increase in frequency.

It appears there will be two distinct sections of this network, which I’ll discuss in the next two sub-sections.

An Electric Network On The Cardiff Valley Lines

The IRJ article says this.

A new fleet of low-floor vehicles offering level boarding will be introduced on the network by December 2022.

I think we can assume this about the vehicles.

  • They will be tram-trains.
  • They will have batteries.
  • They will be able to use 750 VDC and 25 KVAC electrification.
  • There will be a proportion of street running in Cardiff.

It would also be highly likely, that these vehicles will be built by CAF, in their new Newport factory. Wikipedia mentions a tram-train version of their Urbos trams, which are used in Edinburgh and the Midlands, which is called an Urbos TT.

A Complimentary Tri-Mode Network

The article says this.

A new fleet of Stadler “tri-mode” (electric/diesel/battery) multiple units will maintain links from Penarth, Barry and Bridgend to stations north of Cardiff Central. These trains will enter service from December 2023.

It looks from the pictures that these will be a version of the Class 755 trains.

In From Novara To Aosta, I described the route, where similar Stadler trains will be used on the Chivasso-Ivrea-Aosta railway to reach the town of Aosta. I would suspect that the Italian route could be more challenging, than anything South Wales has to offer.

The Heads Of The Valleys Stations Will Be Served By CAF’s Tram-Trains And Stadler Tri-Modes

It would appear from Wikipedia, that the stations at the heads of the valleys will have the following frequencies.

These frequencies and some single-platform terminal stations, will mean that careful design must be applied, so that all vehicles have level access from platform to vehicle.

This picture shows the access to a Stadler Flirt in Italy.

Note the gap filler, which automatically moves into place.

I’m sure engineers and designers working for KeolisAmey, CAF and Stadler can come up with a very good solution.

Will The Valley Lines Be Electrified With 25 KVAC?

I think it is highly likely that CAF’s vehicles for the tram section of the South Wales Metro will be tram-trains with a dual 750 VDC/25 KVAC capability and batteries.

Imagine one of these vehicles climbing to say Aberdare using the Merthyr Line, which is a mixture of single and double-track to Cardiff.

Going up to Aberdare, due to the gradients, the vehicles will need access to electrical power, so electrification is necessary, unless each vehicle has a massive diesel generator or ultra-large battery, which are respectively not very environmentally friendly or practical.

But I doubt it will matter if the electrification is 750 VDC or 25 KVAC.

Going down the valley to Cardiff, I believe that CAF’s vehicles will use Newtons friend; gravity and regenerative braking to control the speed. The energy generated by the braking would be stored in an onboard battery.

CAF have all the technology and it would be extremely energy efficient.

The Stadler tri-modes would have to use diesel on the way up, but given they have batteries, I suspect they’d come down in a similar way to the CAF tram-trains.

So what voltage should be used?

  • The CAF tram-trains will probably be able to use either voltage.
  • If batteries are used to handle regenerative braking, this works with all voltages.
  • The Stadler tri-modes will probably need 25 KVAC.
  • Electrifying with 25 KVAC would allow the Stadler tri-modes to avoid a lot of running on diesel.
  • Any electric locomotives hauling freight would need 25 KVAC.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the valley lines electrified with 25 KVAC.

Will Only The Uphill Tracks Be Electrified?

I believe that if trains coming down the valleys use batteries for regenerative braking and restarting at stations, it may be possible to only electrify a single-track, that is always used for uphill trains.

But only the tracks for uphill trains were electrified, this would make the works easier and reduce costs and disruption to passengers.

Conclusion

It looks like KeolisAmey have got a well thought-out plan!

 

June 5, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Discontinuous Electrification For Valley Lines?

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the May 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

The Valley Lines in question are the Cardiff Valley Lines, that fan out from Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street stations in various directions.

  • Some of the lines into the valleys are quite steep.
  • The lines in the Cardiff area seem to be typical coastal lines and fairly flat.
  • The lines are a mixture of single and double track.
  • There are various plans to extend some of the branches.

According to the article, it would appear that the current diesel system would be replaced with a system, with these characteristics.

  • Light rail vehicles
  • Discontinuous electrification
  • Use of stored energy.
  • Street running is expected to be in the specification for the vehicles to be used, to allow extension in the Cardiff Bay area and perhaps other places.

The proposal would save costs against full electrification and heavy rail.

My observations follow.

Batteries

Batteries will be an integral part of the design of the new rail vehicles.

Powering The Trains

The article states that battery power will be used to power the trains on sections that are difficult to electrify, like the mile-long Caerphilly Tunnel.

Battery power could also be used on level and downhill sections of track up to a few miles, but I suspect on steep uphill sections, electrification will be needed.

Handling Regenerative Braking

I believe that regenerative braking will be employed on the rail vehicles and the energy generated will be stored in the batteries.

The main advantage of this is that it simplifies the power supply to the electrification, as it only has to handle power going to the train.

This less complex electrical system, saves construction costs.

Recovering The Train’s Potential Energy

A train travelling from Cardiff to one of the terminal stations at the heads of the valleys, will need to acquire an amount of potential energy, based on the train’s mass and the height involved. This will be provided by the train’s traction system powered by the electrification and the energy in the batteries.

Coming down the hill, the regenerative braking will control the speed of the train and store any energy generated in the batteries.

This will save on the cost of energy to operate the system.

Charging The Batteries

The batteries will be charged from both the overhead electrification and the regenerative braking.

Extensive simulations of the route on computers would be able to calculate the following, for a wide range of scenarios.

  • The size of the batteries.
  • The power of the traction motors.
  • Where the electrification needs to be installed.
  • The maximum power output of the electrification system.

These calculations could also lead to an energy-saving operating philosophy, that could be programmed into the train’s computer system.

I suspect the worst case scenario, would be a train full of the heaviest Welshmen after an important rugby match at the Millennium Stadium.

Electrification

My thoughts on how various sections of track would be electrified follow.

Tracks With A Significant Uphill Gradient

These would need to be electrified, as I doubt battery power on the steepest gradients, would be enough to take a fully-loaded train to the top of the hill.

Electrification would be lighter-weight 750 VDC overhead wires.

The picture shows some of the overhead wires in Birmingham, that are used by the Midland Metro’s Urbos 3 trams.

Tracks With A Downhill Gradient

These would not need to be electrified, as Newton’s friend gravity would do most of the work.

However, as batteries will be fitted, these can have three important functions on downhill stretches of track.

  • Give the tram a nudge if needed.
  • Restart the train after a stop at a station.
  • Store any energy created by regenerative braking.

Note that we could have the unusual situation on a double-track section of line, where the uphill track was electrified and the downhill track was left without electrification.

Level Tracks

These would not need to be electrified, as battery power would be used to propel the train.

Selected Stations

Some stations could need to be electrified to ensure that the service was reliable. These might include terminal stations or those with tricky gradients on either side.

Tracks With 25 KVAC Electrification

Some of the tracks used by the trains on the Cardiff Valley Lines should be electrified with 25 KVAC, by the end of December 2018.

Class 399 tram-trains, that are used in Sheffield can use either 750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

it would probably be a good idea, if the new vehicles on the Cardiff Valley  Lines could also use both voltages.

Automatic Pantographs

The pantographs on the vehicles would be raised and lowered automatically to access the electrification. This could even be GPS-controlled and able to be carried out at line speed.

Tram-Trains?

I very much feel, that tram-trains could be used to advantage.

  • Some of the Valley Lines are also used by freight trains, so couldn’t be converted to trams-only.
  • Tram-trains like the Class 399 tram-train, under test in Sheffield can work on both  750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Tram-trains can use conventional railway signalling.
  • Tram-trains could work on the South Wales Main Line to Newport.
  • Modern tram-trains like the Class 399 tram-train have performance, that is about the same as a Class 142 train, which is a Pacer, that works the Cardiff Valley Lines, in large numbers.
  • Tram-trains could run on the streets as trams, as they do in Sheffield.

Several manufacturers make tram-trains, which I believe could be suitablefor the Cardiff Valley Lines.

Stadler’s Class 399 Tram-Trains

Nothing is said about the vehicles, that would be used, but I think they need the following characteristics.

  • Ability to climb the steepest section of the routes using 750 VDC overhead electrification.
  • Ability to store energy.
  • Regenerative braking to charge the batteries coming down the hills into Cardiff.
  • A similar capacity to a Class 150 train, which is around 150 seats.
  • It would be a bonus if they could use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, which will be available on part of some of the routes.
  • Ability to raise and lower the pantograph quickly and automatically.
  • Ability to run on the National Rail network.
  • Ability to run on the street.

This specification is virtually the same as a Class 399 tram-train with the following additions.

  • More seats and possibly an extra car.
  • Batteries.

Class 399 tram-trains are a UK version of the Stadler Citylink tram-train. The German version is used in Karlsruhe to climb into the hills surrounding the city, on routes that are as challenging as the Cardiff Valley Lines.

So I have no worries about a version of the Class 399 train handling the Cardiff Valley Lines.

I certainly believe after my experience in Karlsruhe, and looking at other Citylink variants, that Stadler can come up with a tram-train for Cardiff based on the Class 399 tram-train.

And Then There’s CAF!

CAF have provided the Urbos 3 trams for Edinburgh Trams and the Midland Metro.

These are modern trams, that will be doing  the following in a few years in the Midlands.

This sounds like a tram-train with stored energy.

Wikipedia also lists a version of the Urbos family, called an Urbos TT, which is described like this.

The Urbos TT series is built with tram-train technology, connecting existing heavy rail infrastructure directly to urban tramway systems.

This document on the CAF web site, gives more details of Urbos variants, including the Urbos TT.

Looking at the modular nature of the design, you could have a custom-built tram-train tailored to the rail network.

But surely, the major factor with CAF, is that they have recently opened a factory at Newport.

If CAF get the order for the Cardiff Valley Lines, they could do a substantial part of the train building in a factory connected directly to the lines.

Converting The Valley Lines

I think that there are advantages and cost savings to be had, by good design in this area.

Could The Rail Vehicles Be Designed To Fit The Existing Platforms?

The first thing to do would be to design, build and fully test the rail vehicles.

Could the tram-trains be built, so that they fitted all the existing platforms?

  • Class 150 trains are 2.82 metres wide.
  • Urbos 3 trams on the Midland Metro are 2.65 wide.

If the tram-trains could run without platform modifications, this would be a big cost saving and still allow diesel units to use the lines, at the same time.

Testing The Trains

If the tram-trains were being given a 25 KVAC  capability, they could even be tested on the quadruple-track the South Wales Main Line after the line is electrified through Newport.

Electrifying The Lines

It could be that the only sections of the valley lines that will need electrification, are the steep lines  into the hills, as all other sections could use stored power or the 25 KVAC, where it exists.

  • It would probably be possible to put up the simpler 750 VDC overhead lines during weekend and perhaps longer possessions.
  • The electrification could be designed so that it doesn’t interfere with existing services.
  • The lines would be converted one at a time.
  • ,Note that  tram-trains  could share track and platform with the current diesel trains working the lines.

If CAF were to get the order surely the Ebbw Valley Line, which could be connected easily to the factory would be the first to be converted.

Conclusion

Obviously, the devil will be in the detail, but it does look like a viable plan will emerge.

I think that if CAF get the order, that they could be big winners.

The Cardiff Valley Lines could demonstrate the following.

  • Running on main lines with 25 KVAC electrification.
  • Running on 750 VDC electrification.
  • Running on batteries.
  • Running on lines with steep hills.
  • Street running.
  • Sharing tracks with freight trains and other passenger services.
  • The tram-trains could also connect to Cardiff Airport.

It is a world-class demonstration and test track for innovative tram-trains, designed to cope with challenging rail networks.

With a factory close by at Newport, the selling of the tram-trains to other operators would be a salesman’s dream.

I think there’s more to CAF coming to Newport, than was apparent, when the deal for the factory was signed.

 

 

 

 

 

May 5, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hitachi Ships TransPennine Express’s First Class 802 From Japan

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

To my mind, the Japanese do some inefficient things when building trains.

  • It could be sensible to build the first of each different sub-fleet in Japan and ship it to the UK by sea, but what puzzles me is that the body shells are all built and painted in Japan and then shipped half-way round the world.
  • The shipping delay must make production difficult to plan and inefficient.
  • I would have thought they would have built a body plant somewhere in Europe.

CAF may send their trains by ship, but that is only a short sea crossing and because the Spanish rail gauge they can’t tow them through the Channel Tunnel, as the other European manufacturers do.

April 24, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Auckland Rows Back On battery Train Plan

The title of this post is the same as this article on the International ailway Journal.

This is said.

Following approval by Auckland Council, the proposal went to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) for final sign-off. However, in the run-up to New Zealand’s general election on September 23, a political consensus emerged in favour of bringing forward electrification of the Papakura – Pukekohe line, prompting the NZTA to reject the case for battery trains.

Can we assume the reason for the change of order is political?

Certainly, CAF, who are building the trains seem to have the required battery technology. This is also said.

CAF says the contract will include an option to equip the trains with battery packs at a later date if required.

I just wonder if battery trains are just too risky for politicians, who tend to be rather conservative and badly-informed about anything technological.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

CAF Secures Tram Contracts In The United States

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

The sale of two batches of trams is not that remarkable, but this is an extract from the article, about the vorder for Seattle.

The trams will have a 100 per cent low floor and come with onboard energy storage to run on catenary-free sections of the network.

Trams with these characteristics are becoming increasingly common.

October 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

We Should All Think Radically!

In the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Ian Walmsley, who is a writer, that I respect, thinks radically about how to upgrade or replace the High Speed Trains  on the Midland Main Line.

He has a lot of experience in the rail industry and his views in this issue, are probably worth the price of the magazine alone.

He feels the InterCity 125s should be replaced as you can only make-do-and-mend for so long and he proposes replacing them with a modern equivalent, which would initially be two diesel locomotives topping and tailing a rake of new coaches, and then if electrification happens, the diesels are replaced with electric units.

Ian’s article comes a few days after this article in Rail Technology Magazine, entitled New bi-mode fleet a requirement for East Midlands as consultation opens, was published.

This is the first paragraph.

The DfT has this week launched its public consultation on the new East Midlands franchise, including specifications for a new bi-mode fleet of intercity trains, whilst at the same time revealing that plans to electrify the Midland Main Line north of Kettering have been abandoned.

There is going to have to be a lot of radical thinking to get a solution for that.

To make the replacement harder, Ian indicates various problems, which I won’t disclose here.

But I do think Ian’s idea is sound and it could be the solution to the problem of running modern 125 mph trains from St. Pancras to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

So How Feasible Is Ian’s Plan?

Maths and physics don’t change. so I suspect that the calculations done by Terry Miller and his team in the 19670s, which led to the iconic InterCity 125 are still valid.

Locomotive Haulage

The power output of each Class 43 power car is 2,250 hp, so to propel an appropriate number of new carriages, you still need a locomotive at each end of the train.

The most modern diesel locomotive in the UK is the Stadler-built Class 68 locomotive, which has a power voutput of 3,800 hp, but a top speed of only 100 mph. The only 125 mph diesel locomotive in the UK is the Class 67 locomotive. To complicate matters, there is also the Stadler-built Class 88 locomotive, which is a 100 mph electro-diesel locomotive, but this locomotive is more a powerful electric locomotive with a sensible-sized last-mile diesel engine.

Ian suggests, that as the Class 68 is a few tonnes lighter than the Class 67, that a 125 mph Class 68/2 locomotive would be possible.

I don’t disagree, but given the quality of railway engineering coming out of companies like Bombardier, CAF and Stadler, that someone will do better.

We should also consider that the UK will need more than a few new freight locomotives in the next few years, as they do seem to be scratching around for motive power, as this picture shows.

These two Class 86 locomotives date from the mid-1960s. But they do have around 3,600 hp each and a top speed of around 100-110 mph.

I even saw this interesting combination at Shenfield.

The Class 90 and Class 66 locomotives appear to be double-heading the heavy freight train. The Class 90, of which several will become available soon from Greater Anglia are 5,000 hp units with a top speed of 110 mph, whereas the ubiquitous Class 66 has only 3,300 hp and 75 mph.

With more and more long freight trains appearing on increasingly busy main lines, these freight trains must be becoming unwelcome to the companies running passenger trains and also to those, who live alongside the lines.

So is there another desperate need for a powerful locomotive to pull express freight trains at maximum length and weight around the country?

Some main freight routes like these are electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires or will be soon.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line
  • Greast Eastern Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • North London Line
  • Gospel Oak to Barking Line

But others are not.

  • London to Southampton
  • Felixstowe to Peterborough and The Midlands
  • Peterborough to Doncaster via Lincoln
  • Trans-Pennine Routes

And that’s just for starters.

I think it becomes obvious, why Direct Rail Services and Stadler came up with the Class 88 locomotive. The 5,300 hp available under the wires is more than adequate for the heaviest express intermodel freight train and the 1,000 hp under diesel can probably move the train into and out of the docks.

But this amount of diesel power is probably inadequate for hauling a heavy  freight train at 100 mph.

A New Electro-Diesel Locomotive

So could we see a new electro-diesel locomotive with the following characteristics?

  • The ability of a pair to top-and-tail an express passenger train on both diesel and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The ability to haul the heaviest intermodal freight trains at up to 100 mph  on both diesel and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The ability to switch between modes at line speed.
  • Regenerative braking underboth elkectricity and diesel.

In a few years time the diesel might be replaced by hydrogen or some other exotic fuel.

Electrification South Of Bedford

It might appear that these locomotives if working the Midland Main Line could switch to electric power South of Bedford or in the near future; Kettering, but the electrification is limited to 100 mph and there is no planned upgrade. This is a familiar story for anybody like me who uses the Great Eastern Main Line, where the inadequate electrification has had to be upgraded over the last couple of years to allow faster services.

The Coaches

The coaches are the least of the problems for Ian’s proposals.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled First bodyshell completed by CAF for new TPE fleet.

This is the first paragraph.

Pictures of the first bodyshell for new rolling stock to be used by TransPennine Express (TPE) have been unveiled as the operator looks to introduce 13 five-car Mark 5A Coaches – being built by Spanish company CAF – as part of its brand-new fleet.

The Mark 5A coaches, being built by CAF are designed for 125 mph!  So all that is needed is to specify the interior!

As the Spanish train manufacturer has just announced the building of a factory at Llanwern in South Wales, that might be an ideal place to build the coaches needed.

Beating The PRM Deadline In 2020

The Mark 5A coaches for TransPennine Express are scheduled for delivery in 2018-2019, so I suspect the coaches for the Midland Main Line could start to be delivered after the TransPennine Express and Caledonian Sleeper orders are complete.

The locomotives might be move problematical, but if they are a derivative of an existing type, then surely this wouldn’t delay fleet introduction.

I suspect that a certain amount of testing can be done in parallel too!

So having some trains in service by the PRM eadline of 2020 could certainly be possible.

Conclusion

Ian Walmsley’s proposal for the next Midland Main Line franchise is possible.

July 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

Does Northern See Wigan As A Class 769 Train Hub?

The Wikipedia entry for Northern, shows under their entry for eight Class 769 trains, that the routes they will cover include.

  • Liverpool to Wigan
  • Manchester to Wigan North Western via Bolton.

Wigan is a proud and friendly town and I wrote about it in Wigan On The Up.

The West Coast Main Line through Wigan North Western station is electrified and Northern run half-hourly electric services to Liverpool using Class 319 trains.

But the other station; Wigan Wallgate is not wired and is definitely Pacer territory.

Liverpool to Wigan

As Liverpool Lime Street to Wigan North Western is fully electrified, I would be very surprised if Northern would run a bi-mode Class 769 train on this route, except as a stand-in for a failed Class 319 train.

Routes to places North of Wigan North Western, like Blackpool, Lancaster and Preston will be fully-electrified, so these routes can be served by the Class 319 trains.

Northern could be thinking of running a service between Liverpool Lime Street and Blackburn/Burnley for which a Class 769 train would be ideal.

But I think more likely, is that they are thinking of using Class 769 trains on the Kirkby Branch Line, which currently links Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate stations.

Consider.

  • There is talk of running this branch as a shuttle.
  • Wigan Wallgate station already has a suitable bay platform for a shuttle.
  • The route is double-track except between Kirkby and Rainford stations.
  • Kirkby to Wigan Wallgate takes a convenient twenty-four minutes.
  • Merseyrail have a long term ambition to built a new Headbolt Lane station, as an interchange between their Northern Line and services to Wigan and Manchester.
  • Merseyrail want to serve Skelmersdale.

Could this route be the reason for the reported Battery EMUs For Merseyrail?

  1. The Class 769 trains are used between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate stations as a shuttle.
  2. Two trains would be able to provide a two trains per hour (tph) service, without any new infrastructure.
  3. Merseyrail ascertain that their new Stadler trains can travel between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate and back on battery power.
  4. Merseyrail determine if a fast charging station is needed in the bay platform at Wigan Wallgate for their Stadler trains.

If the Class 769 trains show the passenger traffic is there and the Stadler trains can handle the route on batteries, could we see some or all of the Merseyrail Northern Line services extended to Wigan Wallgate?

Because the Stadler trains will be fast modern trains designed to execute stops quickly, I suspect that even on the single track section of line between Kirkby and Rainford stations, they could run at the frequency of four tph, that is currently run all day between Kirkby and Liverpool Central stations.

  • This would mean that the the current four tph to Kirkby would become four tph to Wigan Wallgate.
  • The service would be run by brand-new Stadler trains.
  • The track at Kirkby would have to be relaid to allow trains to run straight through.
  • The signalling would probably need updating.
  • Means to charge the trains at Wigan Wallgate might need to be provided.
  • A new single-platform station could be built at Headbolt Lane.
  • The four stations between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate would get four tph in both directions.

It would give The Train To Wigan Pier a whole new meaning.

Once they had done their good works in proving the route, the Class 769 trains would be posted elsewhere to do more missionary work.

Manchester to Wigan North Western via Bolton

This is the other route mentioned in Wikipedia.

Consider.

  • Bolton to Manchester will be electrified, by the end of the year.
  • The route passes through Ince, Hindley, Westhoughton and Lostock.

Class 769 trains travelling this route,  would open a second electrified route between Manchester and Preston via Wigan.

Manchester to Southport

Why was this route not mentioned?

  • Manchester to Southport is a route run mainly by Pacers to a frequency of two tph.
  • Some trains go via Bolton and some via Atherton.
  • The route via Bolton will be partly electrified by the end of the year.
  • The route via Atherton is not electrified.

I suspect that under current plans of just eight Class 769 trains, there aren’t enough to use them on this busy route.

Ideally, this route should be run with two tph going on each of the routes to Manchester from Wigan Wallgate.

The Future

Northern have ordered both diesel and electric Civity multiple units from CAF.

In Auckland Mulls Battery-Electric Train Order, I looked at how CAF had proposed battery-electric Civity trains for Auckland.

I’m sure CAF wouldn’t mind varying the order.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Auckland Mulls Battery-Electric Train Order

The title of this post is the title of this article on the International Railway Journal.

This is the first paragraph.

Auckland Council is expected to decide next week whether to proceed with an order for 17 battery-electric multiple units, which would replace DMUs on services on suburban services to Pukekohe.

The trains are being offered by CAF and are designed to work the Southern Line between Britomart Transport Centre in Auckland and Pukekohe.

The route is in two sections.

  • From Britomart to Papakura is electrified at 25 KVAC.
  • From Papakura to Pukekohe is run by a diesel shuttle.

The diesel shuttle runs over a distance of 18.38 km.

The plan would appear to be for the new trains to run as follows.

  • To Papakura using the current electrification, charging the battery as they travelled.
  • At Papakura they would switch to battery power for the shuttle to Pukekohe.
  • On return to Papakura, they would switch back  to the electrification and return to Auckland.

This would be a distance of 36.76 km. or just under twenty-three miles.

Conclusion

I think that this proposal is very significant.

CAF have put their money where their mouth is in this proposal, as if the trains couldn’t fulfil the requirements, it would be Spanish omelettes all over the place.

From the picture in the article on the International Railway Journal, it would appear that the offered trains are a version of the Civity train, which is being supplied to Northern as Class 331 trains.

A 23 mile battery range would be handy, as it could probably handle the Windermere Branch from Oxenholme.

 

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

CAF Rarely Do The Obvious, But It’s Generally Sound

This article on the BBC is entitled 300 Train Building jobs Created At £30m Newport Centre.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Three hundred “highly-skilled and well paid” engineering jobs will be created when a Spanish train manufacturer opens a production factory in Newport.
Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) is expected to open its £30m centre where Llanwern Steelworks once stood in autumn 2018.

Currently CAF are supplying the following trains and trams for the UK.

The trains alone add up to nearly five hundred vehicles.

If you look at the geography of the sea routes between the Basque Country and the United Kingdom, taking a cargo ship with a few trains to South Wales  is probably not the most difficult or indirect of voyages.

Newport too, is on the South Wales Main Line, which is well connected all over England, by lines that should be electrified and will hopefully be by 2019.

This Google Map shows the Celtic Business Park in relation to Newport and its docks.

The Celtic Business Park is part of the massive rectangular site to the North East of Newport, that is the Llanwern steelworks, which is being downsized. The South Wales Main Line passes along the North side of the site and the map clearly shows access to Newport Docks.

It raises the question that CAF may bring the trains in on their wheels in a specialist train ferry.

I know nothing about how much preparation needs to be performed on a foreign-built train, before it can run on the UK rail network, but it would be expected that just checking the five hundred vehicles must keep quite a few employees busy. I suppose too, that if certain parts of the train were sourced from the UK, that instead of sending them to Spain, they could be fitted in Newport.

It should also be remembered, that Hitachi build their body-shells in Japan and then ship them to Newton Aycliffe for fitting out.

Although, the Welsh and the Basques are two nations with strong cultural ties; rugby included, I think that Newport was chosen with another very practical reason in mind.

In the May 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, Ian Walmsley, wrote an article called Metroland Of My Fathers, which included these  paragraphs.

Back in the November 2013 issue of Modern Railways I raised the possibility of converting the Cardiff network to light rail. I was still working for Porterbrook at the time, which, like other rolling stock companies (ROSCOs), saw the Valleys as a retirement home for its old London commuter trains, so when the proposal met with the response it’s heavy rail and that’s that, I was quite happy.

The local press and BBC Wales showed more interest and now I am delighted to say that Network Rail has the Valley Lines electrification ‘on hold’ pending re-evaluation.

Consider the following.

  • Urbos trams come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
  • Trams are getting better every year at climbing hills.
  • The Urbos family includes the Urbos TT, which is a tram-train.
  • Midland Metro’s trams are being fitted with energy storage using supercapacitors
  • How much marketing advantage for other places, is gained from having Edinburgh and Cardiff on the customer list?
  • Conversion could probably be done on a line-by-line basis.
  • Provision must be made for freight trains on some lines.
  • Cardiff and the Valley Lines were resignalled in the last few years and everything is controlled from Cardiff ROC

But remember that CAF are a very research and design-oriented company.

So what is the likelihood that the Cardiff Valley Lines will be converted to light rail using a CAF product?

I would say pretty high, especially after reading this article in Global Rail News, which is entitled Engineering Firm BWB Consulting Bought By Spanish Giant CAF.

I could see a design of rail vehicle with these features.

  • The ability to work on standard rail track.
  • The ability to give level step-free access to standard height rail station platforms.
  • The ability to use modern railway signalling.
  • The ability to climb steep gradients.
  • The ability to work on both 25 KVAC and 750 VDC overhead.
  • Automatic pantograph raising and lowering.
  • Supercapacitor energy storage.
  • Regenerative braking.

I could see an energy-saving vehicle being designed, that made clever use of the gradients.

Would it be a train or a tram-train?

Increasingly, the difference is getting blurred!

 

 

 

July 13, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment