The Anonymous Widower

A Day Trip On East Coast Trains

Over the years, I’ve done plenty of day trips to Scotland.

In the days of Artemis, I would regularly go North to sort out a problem and since I’ve retired, I’ve gone North for various reasons.

Usually, now I take the sleeper and then come back on the last train. After all, if I fall asleep travelling to King’s Cross, I would hope I get chucked out by staff and can take a ten-minute taxi home.

But in a few weeks, there will be another practical way.

  • Take the 05:45 from King’s Cross and arrive in Edinburgh at 10:10.
  • The last train home leaves Edinburgh at 19:58 and arrives in London at 01:05 on the next day.

And all for a total fare of £50 courtesy of East Coast Trains.

There will also be corresponding trains that run in the opposite direction.

  • Take the 06:14 from Edinburgh and arrive in King’s Cross at 10:51.
  • The last train North leaves King’s Cross at 20:18 and arrives in Edinburgh at 00:46 on the next day.

Combining one of East Coast Train’s services with a sleeper must surely give some interesting possibilities.

August 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Approaching Kings Cross – 5th July 2021

I took these pictures approaching Kings Cross.

Reports say most of the work of the remodelling is now complete. Although, it did look to me that in places more tracks could be laid.

The Length Of The Long Platforms At Kings Cross

This repeat of the last picture in the gallery shows the length of the nine long platforms.

Note.

  1. The train is in Platform 3.
  2. The train is an eight-car Class 700 train.
  3. Eight-car units are 162 metres long.
  4. Twelve-car units are 242.6 metres long.

Platform 3 is obviously long enough to take the following trains.

This Google Map shows the ends of the platforms at Kings Cross.

Note.

  1. The long platforms at the right are 2 and 3.
  2. Platform 2 and 3 are wide.
  3. Two LNER Azumas are in Platforms 5 and 6.

It looks to me that whilst all platforms can probably handle the standard British Rail length of 240 metres, those on the right may be able to handle longer trains. But what trains? These are my thoughts.

Longer LNER Azumas

This document on the Hitachi Rail web site is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

The document says that Class 80x trains have a sophisticated Train Control and Management System (TCMS).

The document says that this is one of the functions of the TCMS.

To simplify the rearrangement and management of train configurations, functions are provided for
identifying the train (Class 800/801), for automatically determining the cars in the trainset and its total length,
and for coupling and uncoupling up to 12 cars in normal and 24 cars in rescue or emergency mode.

I would assume that with the purchase of extra cars, that it might be possible to lengthen trains to up to twelve cars.

Lengths would be as follows.

  • Ten-car Class 80x train – 260 metres.
  • Eleven-car Class 80x train – 276 metres.
  • Twelve-car Class 80x train – 312 metres.

To add extra capacity on the routes to Leeds and Edinburgh services, there must be a balance between these factors.

  • The cost of extra cars.
  • The cost of platform lengthening.

There must of course be space for any platform lengthening.

It would seem to me, that common sense should allow twelve-car trains to be handled at King’s Cross, as this must be one of the best ways of adding capacity to East Coast Main Line services.

Caledonian Sleeper

The Caledonian Sleeper doesn’t normally run into King’s Cross, but during the rebuilding Euston for High Speed Two, it may be necessary to provide an alternative platform.

Unfortunately, the sixteen-car Caledonian sleeper trains are 352 metres long. So it would appear that Kings Cross would not be a temporary alternative.

But given the amount of money being invested in sleeper trains in Europe by the likes of Midnight Trains and NightJet, I can see that the Caledonian Sleeper might have another problem – success and the need for more capacity.

So I wouldn’t rule out an East Coast Main Line sleeper train between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

It might call at Stevenage, Newcastle and Berwick to widen its passenger base, just as the current sleeper calls at Watford, Carlisle and Carstairs.

The train could be extended to Aberdeen, to simplify services in Scotland.

Obviously, traffic and finance would decide, but I wouldn’t rule out the Caledonian Sleeper running to and from King’s Cross for a few years yet.

A Night Light Freight Terminal

In Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?, I wrote about the new generation of fast electric freight trains, based on redundant electric multiple units.

  • If you look at Real Time Trains, you will find that few trains use King’s Cross station between two and five in the morning.
  • Platforms can take a twelve-car version of these electric freight trains.
  • The new platforms are wide and level.
  • Local delivery could use electric vehicles and bikes.

I think King’s Cross has possibilities for handling goods like food, parcels and shop supplies.

The Short Platforms At Kings Cross

When I was a child, King’s Cross had four short suburban platforms, where N2 steam tank engines hauled suburban services in and out of the station.

The suburban platforms have now been reduced to two platforms, that fit in with the current uses of the station.

  • The two platforms are numbered 9 and 10.
  • They can handle an eight-car Class 700 train, which is 162 metres long.
  • They can handle a five-car Class 800 train, which is 130 metres long.
  • Some five-car services run by the new Hitachi trains use these platforms.

These pictures show the platforms.

Note.

  1. The platforms are wide.
  2. The picture of the Azuma in Platform 9 was taken before the centre track was removed recently.
  3. Today, one LNER Azuma departed from Platform 9 to go to Lincoln, but both platforms were busy with Great Northern services to Cambridge, Ely and Kings Lynn.

I do wonder if the platforms could be used for light freight, during the night.

Conclusion

King’s Cross is not just one of the UK’s finest railway stations, which is recognised by its Grade I Listed status, but it is now moving towards an efficient, high-capacity station that works around the clock!

 

 

July 6, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

These New Sleeper Trains Are Basically Luxury Hotels On Wheels

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Time Out.

French startup; Midnight Trains, aims to update sleeper trains for the twenty-first century.

What Routes Are Being Offered?

The Time Out article says this.

Centred around Paris’s Gare du Nord train station, routes will stretch as far as 800km in a star shape across Europe, encompassing major destinations such as Madrid, Lisbon, Porto, Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Berlin, Hamburg, Copenhagen and even Edinburgh.

A map on the Midnight Trains web site, shows these individual routes.

  • Paris and Barcelona
  • Paris and Edinburgh
  • Paris and Madrid
  • Paris and Porto
  • Paris, Brussels, Hamburg and Copenhagen
  • Paris, Brussels, Hamburg and Berlin
  • Paris, Milan and Venice
  • Paris, Florence and Rome

I’m sure this list will grow.

Some Detailed Looks At Routes

I shall give a few notes about some of the proposed routes.

Paris And Barcelona

Crows would fly 831 kilometres or 516 miles.

I have gone by train between Barcelona and Paris twice. One trip is described in From Barcelona To Paris.

It looks like it takes 06:40 in a TGV without a change.

The service leaves from Barcelona Sants and arrives at Paris Lyon.

Time Out says journeys are centred on Gare Nord, so could the train access that terminal from the South?

An eight or nine hour sleeper journey would probably be convenient for train operators and passengers.

But I suspect that this route may need trains that can take advantage of the high speed nature of much of the route.

Paris And Edinburgh

Crows would fly 873 kilometres or 543 miles.

  • I have gone by train between London and Edinburgh many times and four-and-a half hours would not be an unreasonable time.
  • I have also used  Eurostar between London and Paris many times and two-and-a-quarter-hours would not be an unreasonable time.

An eight or nine hour sleeper journey would probably be convenient for train operators and passengers.

The most efficient way could be for the Paris and Edinburgh service to operate would be with a reverse at St. Pancras.

  • It could be at between one and three in the morning, as sleeper trains run slower than high speed services.
  • It would take about ten-fifteen minutes for the driver to change ends.

Would they be allowed to pick up passengers on the way through London?

  • I doubt they would be able to do this universally, but there must be a market for passengers needing to get to Edinburgh or Paris early in the morning from London.
  • During the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, on one day, I used the Caledonian Sleeper to return to London. It was packed and a sleeper train leaving for Paris and Edinburgh might pick up a substantial number of passengers after sporting or cultural events or business that finished late in the evening.
  • Timings could be arranged, so that both the Edinburgh and Paris legs were sufficient for say four or five hours sleep.

Caledonian Sleeper would probably object. But competition of this nature is often mutually beneficial.

There is also an alternative fully-electrified route that avoids the reverse at St. Pancras.

It winds its way through East London between Barking and Holloway using the North London Line.

It is feasible, but wouldn’t have the commercial advantages of a reverse in St. Pancras.

Would the Paris and Edinburgh services call at other stations?

The Lowland Caledonian Sleeper to Edinburgh and Glasgow calls at the following other stations.

  • Watford Junction – Pick up Northbound – Set down Southbound
  • Carlisle – Pick up Southbound – Set down Northbound
  • Carstairs – Pick up Southbound – Set down Northbound
  • Motherwell – Pick up Southbound – Set down Northbound

Would the Midnight Trains do something similar. Perhaps they would call at the following stations.

  • Stevenage – Pick up Northbound – Set down Southbound
  • York – Pick up Southbound – Set down Northbound
  • Newcastle – Pick up Southbound – Set down Northbound

This would create three extra sleeper services.

  • Paris and Newcastle
  • Paris and York
  • Stevenage and Edinburgh

Commercially this must be attractive, as it would require no extra rolling stock.

I also suspect providing Customs and Immigration for outgoing passengers at York and Newcastle would not be an expense, that made the stops unviable.

Paris And Madrid

Crows would fly 1057 kilometres or 657 miles.

In 2014, I used trains from Madrid to Paris and on to London, which I wrote about in From Madrid To London.

That was a trip that I planned on the move, so it could have been done faster.

Looking at the timetables, I find the following.

  • Paris and Barcelona – 6:41
  • Barcelona and Madrid – 2:45

Note

  1. All times are given in hours:minutes.
  2. A direct service without a change at Barcelona must be possible.
  3. Would this service pick up and set down at Girona, Barcelona, Camp de Tarragona and Zaragoza?

A ten or eleven hour sleeper journey would probably be feasible and convenient for train operators and passengers.

But when I look at the route map on the Midnight Trains web site, their route between Paris and Madrid appears to go further to the West.

I have a strong feeling that they are proposing to use the currently closed route via the iconic Canfranc station.

But then Wikipedia says this about plans for the future of the route and the station.

The government of Aragon has long held various ambitions for the rehabilitation of the station. Plans have been mooted to redevelop the main station building into a hotel, which would involve the construction of a new station beside it to replace it. There have been explorations of options to reopen the through line as the “western trans-Pyrenean line”; this initiative would reportedly involve the assistance of the government of Aquitaine, the adjacent French region. In February 2020, it was announced that funding from the European Union had been made available for the purpose of reopening the through line and relaunching international services.

Note.

  1. A regular rail service between Pau in France and Zaragoza in Spain would tick a lot of boxes.
  2. On the French side the Pau-Canfranc railway is a fifty-eight mile electrified single-track, standard-gauge railway.
  3. On the Spanish side, the railway is Iberian gauge.
  4. It would probably be a useful freight route.
  5. If it could take a TGV, it would enable faster TGV links between France and the Iberian nations.

It looks to me, that if it was properly rebuilt, it could be a useful standard gauge line between the high speed networks of France and Spain.

Looking at the timetables, I find the following.

  • Paris and Pau – 4:24
  • Zaragoza and Madrid – 1:35

If Pau and Zaragoza could be achieved in three hours, times would be as good or better, than the Barcelona route.

Paris And Porto

Crows would fly 1213 kilometres or 753 miles.

This is a challenging one to find the route, but I did find a current time of just over fourteen hours with lots of changes.

But from Zaragoza, there does appear to be a route via Burgos and Vigo.

It could be up to sixteen hours, so would probably be the better part of a day.

Could the Madrid and Porto services, provide a service to and from Canfranc?

Consider.

  • Canfranc station is a spectacular station in the Pyrenees.
  • It has been blessed by St. Michael.
  • I suspect many people would like to visit.
  • The station might be converted into a hotel.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see innovative arrangements in the Madrid and Porto services, so that passengers could have a visit to Canfranc.

Paris, Brussels, Hamburg And Copenhagen

Crows would fly 1027 kilometres or 638 miles.

Looking at the timetables, I find the following.

  • Paris and Brussels – 1:32
  • Brussels and Hamburg- 6:49
  • Hamburg and Copenhagen- 5:06

Note

  1. All times are given in hours:minutes.
  2. When I went between Hamburg and Copenhagen by train, I used the Bird Flight Line which involved a train ferry, where passengers had to get on the ship for the crossing. I described that trip in From Copenhagen To Hamburg By Train.
  3. The ferry is being replaced by a tunnel by 2028.
  4. It looks like it might be possible to go between Hamburg and Copenhagen by a longer route further to the North.

An eleven or twelve hour sleeper journey would probably be feasible and convenient for train operators and passengers.

I was initially surprised that the service didn’t call at Amsterdam.

  • But then there are a lot of big cities between Brussels and Amsterdam; Antwerp, Rotterdam, Schipol Airport and The Hague.
  • There is generally one train per hour (tph) between Brussels and Amsterdam.
  • Paris and Amsterdam are only 3:20 apart by Thalys, so perhaps there wouldn’t be many takers for a sleeper train.
  • It would appear that the best route between Paris and Hamburg is via Brussels and Cologne.

From friends in the area, I also get the impression, that it would take forever for the Belgians and the Dutch to decide on the calling pattern.

Paris, Brussels, Hamburg And Berlin

Crows would fly 876 kilometres or 545 miles.

Looking at the timetables, I find the following.

  • Paris and Brussels – 1:32
  • Brussels and Hamburg- 6:49
  • Hamburg and Berlin – 1:36

Note that all times are given in hours:minutes.

A ten or eleven hour sleeper journey would probably be feasible and convenient for train operators and passengers.

I was initially surprised that the service didn’t call at Cologne.

  • Thalys runs a high speed service between Paris and Cologne.
  • DB runs a high speed service between Cologne and Hamburg.
  • NightJet runs a sleeper service from Brussels and Cologne to Austria.

It could be that the demand isn’t thought to be there.

Paris, Milan And Venice

Crows would fly 845 kilometres or 525 miles.

I have done much of this route before and wrote about it in From Novara To Paris.

Looking at the timetables, I find the following.

  • Paris and Milan – 7:22
  • Milan and Venice – 2:29

Note

  1. All times are given in hours:minutes.
  2. Would this service pick up and set down at Turin and Verona?

A ten or eleven hour sleeper journey would probably be feasible and convenient for train operators and passengers.

Paris, Florence And Rome

Crows would fly 1106 kilometres or 687 miles.

Looking at the timetables, I find the following.

  • Paris and Turin – 5:42
  • Turin and Florence – 3:00
  • Florence and Rome – 1:36

Note

  1. All times are given in hours:minutes.
  2. Would this service pick up and set down at Turin and Verona?

A ten or eleven hour sleeper journey would probably be feasible and convenient for train operators and passengers.

What Rolling Stock Will Be Used?

In recent years sleeper train sets have been ordered as follows.

  • Austrian Railways from Siemens.
  • Caledonian Sleepers from CAF of Spain.

But as Midnight Trains is a French Company, I suspect the train order could go to Alstom.

On the other hand because of European procurement rules and quality, the order could go to CAF.

The CAF Mark 5 Coaches are capable of running at 100 mph and there are pictures in On The Caledonian Sleeper To Glasgow.

I do wonder, though if we’ll see a radical design, which is different to current locomotive-hauled sleeper trains.

  • Electrical multiple unit rather than locomotive hauled.
  • 125 mph capability, which could be useful on some routes.
  • A fleet of identical train sets.
  • Ability to use all the voltages on the routes.
  • Ability to work in pairs or singly dependent on the needs of the route.
  • Ability to split and join automatically in a station.
  • Ability to use the signalling on all routes, including high speed ones.
  • The trains would be built to be suitable for all loading gauges on the routes served.

Note.

  1. Given that French-designed Class 373 trains used by Eurostar, could trundle all over South London into Waterloo, I don’t think it will be difficult to design a train, that fitted the Edinburgh service.
  2. Get the design right and there could be other customers.

They would be true Pan-European trains.

When Will The Trains Start Running?

2024 is the date given by Time Out and the Midnight Trains web site.

Conclusion

I like the proposed service.

These are reasons why.

The Proposed Level Of Service

When travelling for between eight and twelve hours, you need a quality train.

Over the years, I must have used sleeper trains run by Caledonian Sleeper at least twenty times,

When they have been good, they have been very good.

The new trains from CAF don’t need for anything more.

If Midnight Trains can match Caledonian Sleeper for quality on trains, service and food, they’ll attract passengers.

The Service Is Easy To Expand And Extend

Consider, these extra services could surely be added to the  proposed network.

  • Paris and Munich
  • Paris and Switzerland.
  • Paris, Nice and Genoa

If some of the plans to connect the UK and Irish railways come to fruition, there could even be a Paris and Dublin service in the distant future.

Consider, these extensions to the proposed services.

  • Edinburgh and Glasgow 1:12
  • Rome and Naples – 1:10
  • Barcelona and Valencia – 2:40

Note that all times are given in hours:minutes.

The Service Is Very UK-Friendly

Because of Eurostar, with its two-and-a-quarter hour journey between two of Europe’s largest cities, London and Paris can almost be considered twin cities with respect to long-distance transport.

Suppose a resident of Paris wants to go for a weeks holiday birdwatching in the North of Scotland, a late afternoon Eurostar to London and the Caledonian sleeper to Inverness is a very-feasible way to travel.

Suppose, I wanted to go from London to Berlin, in the future, I will be able to get a Eurostar to Paris and a Midnight Train to Berlin.

A Good Food Offering

I would hope that the food is of a quality nature.

I am coeliac and must have gluten-free food, like probably up to one percent of people.

I have found that the higher the quality of the food, the more likely it is, that the chef knows their allergies.

Before the pandemic, the best train food in Europe on a regular service was Great Western Railway’s Pullman Dining. But because of the restrictions, I’ve not tried it lately.

 

 

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Councillors Approve Train Station For Inverness Airport

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Planning permission has finally been granted for a two-platform train station at Inverness Airport.

The plans were “reluctantly” granted by the Highland Council, as much debate over the Petty Level crossing which is to be removed as a consequence.

Ir certainly looks like there were strong arguments over the level crossing.

This Network Rail visualisation shows the station from a virtual helicopter hovering over the Airport.

And this Google Map shows the Airport from the South-West

Note.

  1. The link road to the A96 crossing the railway in both images. But from opposite directions.
  2. In the Network Rail visualisation you can see the roundabout, where the link road joins the A96 in the top left corner.
  3. The current railway is only single track, but Network Rail will be doubling it.
  4. From these images and this document on the Network Rail web site, I can deduce this about the station.
  5. The station will have two platforms that will be capable of handling six-car trains.
  6. The footbridge is shown with lifts.
  7. The station will be able to be used as a Park-and-Ride for Inverness.

I suspect there will be a shuttle bus to the Airport terminal.

Travel Between London And Inverness

I’ve been to Inverness twice and and in both cases, I’ve gone by train.

  • The first time, I went by a  day train from Edinburgh. And I was in the cab courtesy of East Coast. I wrote about it in Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST.
  • The other occasion, I took the Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness and that is a civilised way to go.

I feel that on this route very keen competition could develop.

Advantages Of Flying

Flying to Inverness Airport has these advantages.

  • A shorter journey time.
  • A greater choice of destinations.
  • Destinations in the sun.
  • After the new station is built it will be rail connected all the way to Aberdeen.

This Google map shows Inverness and Inverness Airport.

Note.

  1. The city of Inverness is at the Southern end of the Moray Firth.
  2. With all the water, I suspect the airport can be a good neighbour as far as noise and pollution are concerned.
  3. The Airport would have good access to green hydrogen and electricity from renewable sources.
  4. Even the Airport train and all the ground-handling equipment could run on hydrogen.

I feel that the Airport could sell itself as an environmentally-friendly way to the Highlands, when sufficient numbers of zero-carbon aircraft are available.

  • You should be able to fly in from Amsterdam, Birmingham, Brussels, Geneva, London, Manchester etc. and not feel any environmental guilt.
  • Airbus’s proposed hydrogen-powered ZEROe Turbofan is quoted as having a range of 2,000+ nautical miles,
  • That distance would put a lot of the sun in range of Inverness Airport.
  • Smaller feeder airliners could connect to other airports in the North of Scotland and the islands.

Inverness Airport will not be beaten without a fight.

Advantages Of Trains

Taking the train to Inverness has the following advantages.

  • Luxury
  • Zero Carbon-Footprint
  • The possibility of an overnight trip on a sleeper train.
  • The scenery through the Highlands.

I also believe that it would be possible  to design a hydrogen-powered luxury train. I laid out my ideas in LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes.

I believe a train could have this specification.

  • 140 mph operation on 25 KVAC overhead electrification. This was done by British Rail almost forty years ago.
  • Ability to use full digital in-cab signalling. This is on its way and already working in some applications.
  • 110 mph operation on hydrogen. Hitachi are planning 100 mph battery trains, so it should be possible.
  • 400 mile range on one filling of hydrogen. This is working in Germany.
  • Ability to be upgraded to higher speeds on electric power, should the East Coast Main Line be upgraded for higher speeds in the future. The train manufacturers are probably ahead of track designers with this one.

I believe a sub-seven hour time would be possible between London and Inverness.

Conclusion

This is the sort of route, where rail and air will have a hard fight for supremacy.

 

 

May 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will COVID-19 Create A Boom In Sleeper Train Services?

I have regularly used the Caledonian Sleeper to go to Scotland, as it gets you there at an early hour in the morning and if you book the train, at the right time, the cost of a single First Class cabin can be about the same cost as a day First Class ticket and a night in a Premier Inn.

Look at this picture, that taken a few months ago, as I was leaving Euston on a Caledonian Sleeper to Edinburgh. It would be very easy to board the train without breaking the two-metre rule.

I believe sleeper trains will see an increase in passengers.

We may also see in increase in services. These posts detail various planned or possible services.

Note that the Caledonian Sleeper, the Swedes and the Austrians are investing in new rolling stock, so that won’t be a problem.

But perhaps the most interesting story, is described in Nightjet Plans Mini-Capsules For Private Travellers.

I can see a series of sleeper trains criss-crossing Europe, where everybody has their own mini-capsule. Perhaps, it will be called Ryantrain or easyTrain.

 

April 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Caledonian Sleeper Considers Seven-Day Running

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

More routes and seven-day-a-week running could feature for Caledonian Sleeper in the future.

To my mind, it should always be a service that runs seven days a week, as the make-up of passengers seems to contain, a lot of those who want to travel on the day they want.

As to more routes, I wrote about possible services between the Far North and Edinburgh in Rail Sleeper Plan Between Caithness And Edinburgh

This was my conclusion.

I feel that not next year, but once Scotland’s rail system is fully developed, with the shortened Inter-City 125s serving the longer routes and electric trains all over the Central Belt, that a Sleeper Train between Edinburgh and Thurso will be viable.

I’d certainly give it a go!

Conclusion

I can’t see any reasons for investigating the roll out of extra Caledonian Sleeper services, once the company sorts out their current operational problems.

Hopefully, the Scottish Government and tourism industry will give the services their backing.

 

 

October 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 7 Comments

The Wrong Kind Of Bleach?

This article on Railnews is entitled 9 September: News In Brief.

It has the following sub-title.

Wrong Bleach Took Caledonian Sleepers Out Of Service

This is the first sentence.

Cleabers who used the wrong specification of bleach in the toilets and shower rooms on Caledonian Sleepers caused significant damage after the chemicals reacted with stainless steel pipes,

To my knowledge stainless steel, especially when it contains increased levels of chromium and some molybdenum, can be very proof to attack from most substances.

Look at this Butler Shba cutlery made in Sheffield from stainless steel with black Delrin plastic handles, which have seen continuous use in my household for fifty years.

Now that’s what I call stainless steel!

Perhaps, the Spanish used the wrong type of stainless steel?

Delrin is a form of polyoxymethylene, which is an engineering plastic.

This plastic has a wide spectrum of usage, including in zips, bagpipes and metered dose inhalers, to name just three of hundreds.

September 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On The Caledonian Sleeper To Glasgow

I started this post on the Caledonian Sleeper to Glasgow.

It’s one of the new Mark 5 trains and they are a great improvement, although one Scottish hard man, preferred the old Mark 3s.

Out of Euston we were doing 80 mph and the ride in the Lounge Car is good. At least up to the standard of a Greater Anglia Mark 3, which are some of the best!

These are some pictures of my train.

I don’t think I could fault the train.

But the service was rather sub-standard, due to a strike and I got a partial refund.

 

 

August 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Promoting The Highland Main Line

On Wednesday, the Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership were in Kings Cross station promoting the Highland Main Line as a tourism destination.

I very much agree with the Partnership’s objective of encouraging more visitorsto the Scottish Highlands.

The Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership Web Site

The Partnership were giving out an excellent brochure brochure which documents the wide range of attractions along the line between Perth and Inverness.

The Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership web site has an on-line copy of the brochure.

The web site is also a valuable resource about the line and the area.

An Improving Domestic Rail Service

There is an approximately two-hourly service between Perth and Inverness and it is planned that this will be improved in the next couple of years.

  • Reducing journey times is an objective.
  • An hourly service is also an objective.
  • Inter7City trains, which are shortened, refurbished and modernised InterCity 125 trains will be introduced.

This service will enable visitors to base themselves close to one of the stations along the line and use the trains to visit other places.

Azumas To Inverness

LNER currently run InterCity 125 trains between London and Inverness

  • There is a single service each day in both directions.
  • The Northbound train leaves London at midday.
  • The Southbound train leaves Inverness just before eight in the morning.
  • The journey currently takes around eight hours.
  • The trains stop at all stations between Perth and Inverness.

The service needs two trains to run one train per day in both directions.

LNER have just launched the new Class 800 trains, which they are marketing as Azumas.

My observations show that Azumas could save between thirty and sixty minutes on the trip.

The following improvements will all help.

  • Improvements to the Highland Main Line.
  • Steo-free access between train and platform at all stations.
  • Faster acceleration and deceleration at all stops.
  • Electrification to Stirling and possibly as far as Perth.
  • As digital signalling is introduced South of Edinburgh, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible.

Many of these improvements are currently planned and most will be completed by 2024.

This video was one I made travelling in the cab of an InterCity 125.

Will LNER invite to take one from an Azuma?

The Possibility Of Extra Services

The journey time between London and Inverness will surely get shorter in the next few years.

If say it was seven hours, then allowing an hour for cleaning, loading supplies and refuelling in Inverness would mean that a round trip from London would take fifteen hours.

  • A train leaving Kings Cross station at 07:00 would arrive in Inverness at 14:00.
  • The return journey would leave at 15:00 and be in London by 22:00.
  • A second service could start in Inverness and mirror the service starting in London.

The service would need two trains.

So it appears that by saving time on the journey, the possibility of extra services is opened up.

The Improved Sleeper Service

I have taken the current Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness and it is a spectacular ride through the Highlands in the early morning.

But the elderly trains are being replaced and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more passengers decide to  use the sleeper to the Highlands.

Over the last few years, the Austrians, the Swedes and the Scots have all ordered new rolling stock for their sleeper trains and I believe that we’ll see a revival in this form of transport, throughout Europe.

A Caithness To Edinburgh Sleeper

This has been proposed and I wrote about it in Rail Sleeper Plan Between Caithness And Edinburgh.

This was my conclusion.

I feel that not next year, but once Scotland’s rail system is fully developed, with the shortened Inter-City 125s serving the longer routes and electric trains all over the Central Belt, that a Sleeper Train between Edinburgh and Thurso will be viable.

The proposed increase in capacity between London and Edinburgh, probably adds to the viability.

Sleeper One Way And Azuma The Other

I can see this becoming a popular way to visit Scotland.

  • It will be new trains both ways.
  • Both trains stop at all stations between Perth and Inverness.
  • The price of a sleeper ticket compares well with the cost of a reasonable hotel.

The combinations are many and varied.

Cycling

Cycling holidays seem to be increasing everywhere and Scotland is no exception.

On the West Highland Line between Gl;asgow and Oban, passengers with cycles are increasing in number, so Scotrail are converting redundant Class 153 trains into multi-purpose carriages to add capacity to the trains.

On the Highland Main Line, for those, who want to explore the area on their bicycles, the Inter7City trains should be able to provide enough space for bicycles in the back of the two Class 43 locomotives.

Conclusion

The more I look at the Highland Main Line, the more I think it has a rosy future.

All it needs to seal its future is a visit from Michael Portillo and his camera crew.

 

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

SJ Invests In Thriving Sleeper Trains

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

This is said.

Over the last five years, passenger numbers on its Malmö to Stockholm services have increased by 100 per cent.

There has also been growth on the Gothenburg-Stockholm-Umeå-Luleå-Kiruna-Narvi route, where passenger numbers have risen by 25 per cent.

That sounds like thriving to me!

So why is it that sleeper trains are thriving in the UK and Sweden, but countries like Germany have given up?

Malmö to Stockholm

These factors probably help this service

  • Malmö is Sweden’s third-largest city.
  • The frequent trains between Malmö and Stockholm take four and a half hours.
  • Stockholm and Malmö are a very similar distance apart as London and Glasgow or Edinburgh.
  • Malmö is only thirty-five minutes from Copenhagen by train.

As the Caledonian Sleeper works between London and Edinburgh/Glasgow, why shouldn’t a quality service work on a similar distance in Sweden?

Gothenburg-Stockholm-Umeå-Luleå-Kiruna-Narvi

These factors probably help this service

  • The service effectively goes from the South-West of Sweden right up to the North.
  • The distance as 1,600 kilometres
  • I have been recommended to take this train to go to see the Northern Lights. So perhaps, it is useful for tourists.
  • The service probably appeals to train enthusiasts.
  • It is probably a reasonably civilised way to go to the North of Sweden.

I would certainly use it in winter to get to see the Northern Lights at Abrisko.

 

 

May 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment