The Anonymous Widower

Did Adrian Shooter Let The Cat Out Of The Bag?

This article with a video in the Scotsman is entitled Video: Battery Trains On Track To Cut Emissions and gives a lot of information about the Class 230 train. This is a paragraph.

The train is restricted to a 25mph speed on this week’s test trips, but Vivarail Chief Executive Adrian Shooter says it can sustain speeds of “60 mph for 40 miles” when new batteries become available next year.

Moreover, the batteries need just four minutes to recharge.

So what does this mean for the various routes?

Borderlands Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Borderlands Line.

The line runs between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations is around twenty-seven miles and takes an hour. There is a generous turnround time at both ends in the current schedule.

This Google Map shows the layout of the two-platform station at Bidston.

This picture shows the red-roofed shed in the middle of the island platform, with the tracks on either side.

Would it be sensible to add a dedicated bay platform at Bidston for charging the battery trains?

The train will certainly be able to start with a full battery after a long charge at Wrexham Central and then do the following.

  • Run to Bidston on battery power.
  • Turnround at Bidston, where four minutes could be used to charge the batteries.
  • Run back to Wrexham Central on battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would be used at the thirteen intermediate stations.

If necessary during the long runs the diesel engines could be used to provide more power or top up the batteries.

Chester To Crewe Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Chester to Crewe Line.

It runs between Chester and Crewe stations, is around twenty miles long and services take about twenty minutes.

As there are no stations between Chester and Crewe and the maximum speed of the Class 230 train is sixty mph, it looks like the train will be almost at maximum speed  along this route.

So will the four diesel engines be working hard?

When these trains were built in the 1980s, I doubt that anybody thought they’d be running services on a section of the North Wales Coast Line.

Conwy Valley Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Conwy Valley Line.

It runs between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations, is around thirty miles long and services take eighty minutes to ascend and seventy to come down.

The train will certainly be able to start with a full battery after a long charge at Llandudno and then do the following.

  • Ascend to Blaenau Ffestiniog on battery power, with help from the diesel engines.
  • Turnround at Blaenau Ffestiniog, where four minutes could be used to charge the batteries.
  • Descend to Llandudno on battery power, with help from gravity.
  • The descent would be controlled by regenerative braking.
  • Regenerative braking would be used at the eleven intermediate stations.

If necessary during the long ascent the diesel engines could be used to provide more power or top up the batteries.

Greenford Branch

What do you do with a problem like the Greenford Branch?

In Could Class 165 HyDrive Trains Be The Solution To The Greenford Branch?, I looked at the possibility of using the proposed Class 165 Hydrive trains to provide a four trains per hour (tph) service on the Greenford Branch.

This was my conclusion.

Four tph is possible on the Greenford Branch, but it will need an extra crossover just outside West Ealing station.

Class 165 HyDrive trains with their extra performance would make the four tph timetable more reliable.

The lower noise and emissions of the trains would also please the local residents.

I also feel that a well-designed battery-powered two-car train, with perhaps a charging station at either end could also provide the improved service.

That well-designed battery-train has arrived in the shape of the Class 230 train.

Island Line

It appears likely, that Class 230 trains will be ordered for the Island Line.

It runs between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin stations, is under nine miles long and a typical round trip is as follows.

  • Shanklin to Ryde Pier Head – 24 minutes
  • Turnround at Ryde Pier Head – 20 minutes
  • Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin – 24 minutes
  • Turnround at Shanklin – 5 minutes

The Island Line has an operating speed of just 45 mph.

Adding all that up, I would estimate that a train doing a round trip would do under twenty miles at a maximum speed of 45 mph.

Adrian Shooter said that the trains will be able to store 2,400 miles² /hour, whereas the Island Line would use only 900 miles² /hour in a round trip. They may be weird units, you won’t find in any text book, but I want to prove if something is possible or not.

It looks like it most definitely is possible for a battery-powered Class 230 train to perform a round trip on one charge of of the batteries.

Suppose though, the line was reinstated to Ventnor station, as a  line without electrification. A quick estimate gives the round-trip as thirty miles, which would need  1350 miles² /hour.

There could even be a second charging station at Ventnor.

Could we see a future Island Line like this?

  • No electrification.
  • Extension to a new Ventnor station.
  • A passing loop at Brading station.
  • Battery trains.
  • Relaid track for very gentle curves and high efficiency.
  • Charging stations at Ryde Pier Head and Ventnor stations.

I suspect with some faster running, where it is possible and perhaps one diesel power pack per train, three-car Class 230 trains could run a two tph service.

This type of service would not be unique for long, as other places would quickly copy.

Marston Vale Line

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

It runs between Bedford and Bletchley stations, is around twenty-four miles long and services appear to take about forty-five minutes, with a turn-round time of well over four minutes.

So it would seem that each leg of a return journey would be less than forty miles and there would be sufficient time for a full four-minute charge at either end.

The regenerative braking would be useful in handling the eleven stops.

Conclusion

It isn’t one cat!

It’s a whole destruction, glorying or nuisance of felines!

 

 

 

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Between Liverpool Lime Street And Chester Stations

Currently, using Merseyrail‘s Wirral Line, a journey between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester stations takes around forty-five minutes.

This time will improve by several minutes, when the new Class 777 trains come into service in a couple of years.

In Slow Trains Outside The South-East, I calculated that this time could be as low as 35 minutes.

Using The Halton Curve

But how fast could a train go between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester stations, using the Halton Curve, when that comes into use in December 2018?

Consider.

  • West Midlands Trains take nineteen minutes to go between Liverpool Lime Street and Runcorn stations with a stop at Liverpool South Parkway station.
  • The current parliamentary train takes twenty-one minutes between Chester and Runcorn stations using the Halton Curve.
  • Transport for Wales will run the route with their new 100 mph CAF trains.

It should be possible for the direct trains to do the trip between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester in under forty minutes, with stops at Liverpool South Parkway, Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby stations.

As to the frequency of the service between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester stations via the Halton Curve, under Improvements in the Wikipedia entry for KeolisAmey Wales, these services are listed.

  • Introduction of a new hourly Liverpool to Chester service from December 2018
  • Introduction of a new hourly Liverpool to Llandudno and Shrewsbury service from December 2022
  • Introduction of a new two-hourly Liverpool to Cardiff service from December 2022

So it looks like there will be at least a train every half-hour between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester.

Liverpool Airport

One advantage of using the Halton Curve, is that as trains can call at Liverpool South Parkway station, it would be possible to provide a direct link to Liverpool Airport.

Merseyrail are looking into the possibility of using tram-trains on this route.

Direct Services Between Liverpool Lime Street And North Wales

Consider.

  • Virgin Trains take forty-eight minutes between Chester and Llandudno Junction stations.
  • Virgin Trains take ninety-nine minutes between Chester and Holyhead stations.
  • Currently, Liverpool to Llandudno takes between 110-120 minutes with a change at Chester station.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see timings of direct trains between Llandudno and Liverpool Lime Street stations in the order of an hour-and-a half.

Electrification

Electrification is the big question, hanging over railways in this area.

Merseyrail already runs electrified services to Chester on the Wirral Line and the following routes have been earmarked for electrification.

  • Chester to Crewe
  • Chester to Manchester

If the latter were to be electrified, then only the relatively short Halton Curve would need to be electrified to create another all-electric route between Liverpool and Chester.

Bi-Mode Trains For KeolisAmey Wales

If Chester station, were to be electrified, this will have possible consequences for KeolisAmey Wales, as all their services Eastwards from Chester to Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester would be running on fully-electrified routes.

So will KeolisAmey Wales order some  of new CAF trains with a bi-mode capability.

This capability could also be useful in South Wales.

 

 

July 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

A Day Out From Liverpool

I was staying at the Premier Inn close to Moorfields station in Liverpool and decided to go to Blaenau Ffestiniog for the day, with hopefully, a ride from there on the Ffestiniog Railway to Porthmadog on the coast.

The following sections describe the route I took.

Moorfields To Chester

After buying a Day Return from Liverpool Stations to Blaunau Ffestiniog with my Senior Railcard for £20.40, I took one of Merseyrail‘s four trains per hour (tph) from Moorfields station, that goes direct to Chester station.

The train was one of Merseyrail’s Class 508 trains, which are nearly forty years old. Although, they were refurbished a few years ago and get much better TLC. I’ve yet to see a Merseyrail train, that has suffered from spray painters!

It always surprises me, how many people I’ve met, who’ve been for a weekend to Liverpool and haven’t used the Merseyrail system, that has four stations in the City Centre and connects to attractions in the North, South and on the Wirral.

Over the next few years, it will be getting larger and better.

  • New Class 777 trains will replace the current ones.
  • The new trains will have a battery capability to extend routes.
  • The network will be expanded to Skelmerdale and possibly Preston and Wrexham.
  • A connection to Liverpool Airport is a possibility.
  • New stations will be added.

It should also be noted, that after the extensive works at the main Liverpool Lime Street station, that extra direct main line services will be introduced.

  • Chester, Lladudno and Shrewsbury via the Halton Curve.
  • Edinburgh and Glasgow via the West Coast Main Line.

If I was going between Liverpool and Llandudno from next year, I will have two routes.

Chester Station

I think it is truthful to say that Chester station needs improvement.

According to Transport for Wales, improvement is coming by 2028.

It certainly needs it!

  • Chester is one of England’s historic cities.
  • Many residents of Chester commute to Liverpool and Manchester.
  • Chester station is a main railway interchange between North Wales and Birmingham, Liverpool, London and Manchester.
  • The station doesn’t have enough staff or a decent passenger information system.

As the station is managed from Cardiff, does it suffer from being out of sight and out of mind?

Chester To Llandudno Junction

From Chester to Llandudno Junction station took about an hour in a Class 175 train, along the North Wales Coast Line.

The scenery is mixed as these pictures show.

The line has an operating speed of ninety mph, but the train didn’t seem to travel at much over seventy.

The signalling is being improved and it strikes me, that the section of the line to the East of Llandudno could become a route, where Virgin’s Class 221 trains and the new Welsh diesel multiple units to be built in Newport, could really crack on and improve timings.

Up The Conwy Valley Line

Blaenau Ffestiniog has an altitude of 215 metres, and Llandudno Junction has an altitude of perhaps less than ten metres.

The Class 150 train was fairly well loaded, but it managed the climb on the Conwy Valley Line easily.

.As you can see the single-track route starts alongside the estuary of the River Conwy, then continues up to the summit in the 3.5 km long Ffestiniog Tunnel. The summit is 240 metres, so the line descends into Blaenau Ffestiniog station.

Transport for Wales intend to run Class 230 trains on this line.

I wrote about this in Class 230 Trains On The Conwy Valley Line.

Conclusion

The trip with its three changes took around three hours, but this time will get a bit shorter, once direct trains between Liverpool and Llandudno Junction stations via the Halton Curve will be faster and there will be no need to change trains at Chester station.

I looked at the effects of the Halton Curve in Between Liverpool Lime Street And Chester Stations.

I came to this conclusion on timings.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see timings of direct trains between Llandudno and Liverpool Lime Street stations in the order of an hour-and-a half.

I suspect the direct train and the improved journey time will attract more passengers to the route.

 

 

 

I

 

 

July 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Borderlands Line

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talked about the Borderlands Line.

The article says this about the line and the passenger service.

The line is currently worked by two ATW Class 150/2 Sprinter units, which do their best to maintain the clockface hourly frequency. The Wrexham-Bidston Rail Users Association told the Wales & Borders franchise inquiry performance is far from ideal, highlighting late running frequently leads to trains being turned back at Shotton, meaning they do not reach Bidston to connect with Merseyrail services to Liverpool and leaving lengthy gaps at intermediate stations in England.

The article then talks about electrifying the line, but Network Rail have indicated that this would cost £207million. Apparently, third-rail electriication now needs palisade fencing along the track.

Enter The Class 455 Flex Train

In The Class 319 Flex Units To Be Class 769, I commented on the report, that Porterbrook were also looking at converting Class 455 trains to bi-modes.

Consider.

  • These trains could probably work Merseyrail’s tunnels, as they are closely related to the current trains.
  • They have quality 2 x 2 interiors.
  • They meet all regulations.
  • Performance is similar to the current trains.
  • They are four-cars.
  • Porterbrook will have ninety-one trains to place, when South Western Railway replaces them with Aventras.

The only problem is that the interiors are very red, which might upset half of Merseyside.

But I think it is possible that we could see Class 455 Flex trains working the Borderlands Line.

  • From Wrexham to Bidston, they would use their on-board diesel engines.
  • At Bidston, they would change from diesel to third-rail electric power.
  • From Bidston to Liverpool, they would join the queue of trains from the Wirral and go round the newly-rebuilt Loop Line.

I’m pretty sure, that if Merseyrail have signalled the Loop appropriately, that there would be enough capacity in the Loop to run two trains per hour (tph) between Wrexham and Liverpool.

Based on the following current timings.

  • Liverpool Lime Street -to Bidston – 17 minutes
  • Bidston to Wrexham – 1 hour

With a few performance tweaks, I suspect that a Class 455 Flex train could do the round trip in well under three hours.

So three trains could easily handle the current hourly service, but would give the following advantages.

  • Direct access to Liverpool City Centre.
  • Four-cars instead of two.
  • A much better interior.

The only problem would be checking that the Class 455 trains would fit the tunnels in the Loop Line. But seeing, that  the Class 455 trains, were built as a successor to the Class 508 trains used by Merseyrail, I suspect they fit.

Could Class 319 Flex Trains Be Used?

The reason I looked at Class 455 Flex trains first is that in a article in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled ‘319 Flex’ Units To Be Class 769, this is said.

The company reports considerable interest in the concept and expects further orders soon, while it is also considering transferring the concept to other rolling stock, such as Class 455 EMUs.

As Porterbrook will soon receiving around ninety of these trains from South Western Railway, these struck me as possibilities for the Borderlands Line.

If you look at Merseyrail’s current Class 507 and Class 508 trains, Class 455 trains and Class 319 trains, they all appear to have a similar 2.82 metre width and a 3.58 metre height.

So if Class 319 Flex trains could work the tunnels under Liverpool, what would this do to service on the Borderlands Line.

  • Their 90 mph as opposed to 75 mph operating speed could bring the round trip under two and a half hours.
  • Five trains would be needed for a 2 tph service.
  • Wrexham to Liverpool times of under an hour and fifteen minutes should be possible.
  • The better performance of the trains would allow extra stops to be made with ease.
  • The trains can have First Class seats and fully-accessible toilets.

In Wales Orders Some Golden Oldies, I noted how Arriva Trains Wales are acquiring five Class 319 Flex trains as cover for the refurbishment of Class 150 and Class 158 trains on the Cardiff Valley Lines.

So once all of these diesel trains have been refurbished, will we be seeing the Class 319 Flex trains moved to the Borderlands Line?

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Capacity Crunch At Chester – HS2

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways didn’t say much about HS2.

This is said about HS2 services and North Wales.

There are aspirations in North Wales for additional services to Crewe by 2027, when HS2 is due to begin operating between London and Crewe.

This is said about Liverpool and Chester and HS2.

Liverpool City Region’s rail strategy envisages Chester-Crewe electrification enabling Merseyrail services to Crewe, connecting East Wirral and Ellesmere Port to HS2.

And then there is The Constellation Partnership.

This is a massive project to take advantage of the opportunities of Crewe being just 55 minutes away from London.

This is their mission statement.

This is a boundary breaking partnership between two Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) and seven Local Authorities, with strong Ministerial backing from Government, and a unified fast-track approach to plan-led economic development, making it all the more powerful an investment proposition.

These partners share a single vision – a single economic footprint creating a coherent investment market boosted by the international investment magnet of High Speed Rail connectivity. This is an unbeatable growth opportunity for investors.

With powerful Government backing, the partnership’s ambition is to deliver 100,000 new homes and 120,000 new jobs by 2040.

The partners range from Stafford in the South to Warrington in the North and from Stoke-on-Trent in the East to Chester in the West.

Liverpool To Crewe Via Chester

Merseyrail’s new Stadler FLIRTs are being designed, so that they can eventually run on both 750 VDC third-rail and 25 KVAC overhead electrification, so if Crewe to Chester is electrified, Liverpool will get its wish of direct services from East Wirral and Ellesmere Port to Crewe.

Chester To Crewe

If the line is electrified, which I feel will happen, Chester to Crewe probably needs a service of four trains per hour (tph), to take passengers to HS2.

Two of these services will probably go to Liverpool and the other two to North Wales.

But because of the connectivity at Chester, services could also come from Shrewsbury or Wrexham.

Conclusion

Don’t underestimate the effects HS2 will have on trains in the Mersey Dee area.

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Capacity Crunch At Chester

This is the title of an article by Rhodri Clark in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which discusses the various rail issues that will be tackled around the City of Chester.

This is the sub-title to the article.

Pressure is mounting for rail infrastructure and service enhancements to alleviate road congestion in the thriving Mersey Dee region.

The Modern Railways article discusses the following.

Halton Curve

HS2

Mid-Cheshire Line

Sandbach To Northwich

Each is discussed in separate posts.

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Mid-Cheshire Line

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has a section about the Mid-Cheshire Line.

The section opens with this paragraph.

Trains on the Mid-Cheshire Line, from Chester to Manchester via Stockport and Altrincham, provide interchange with Manchester Metrolink at Altrincham, but the average speed from Chester to Altrincham is 30 mph, which again is uncompetitive with car journey times.

Despite this and only an hourly service, Knutford station has in a footfall in excess of 500,000.

There are other problems.

  • The train timetable is not commuter-friendly to Chester.
  • Connections to and from London are bad at Chester.
  • Sunday services are two-hourly.

But Network Rail are on the case and are lengthening platforms, so frequencies can be increased.

Manchester Airport Western Link

The Wikipedia entry for the Mid-Cheshire Line talks about a western link to Manchjester Airport, which would start from near Mobberley.

Conclusion

Upgrading the Mid-Cheshire Line and Sandbach To Northwich must have possibilities.

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Sandbach To Northwich

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about reopening passenger services between Sandbach and Northwich stations on an existing freight-only line to serve Middlewich.

This is said.

The principal demand would be for travel to Manchester, but campaigners say an additional service from Middlewich to Chester would relieve the A556 of peak traffic congestion and serve tourists, including people who hire canal boats in Middlewich.

The proposal would also involve a new station at Gadbrook Park, a Business Improvement District near Northwich, where increasing numbers of people are employed.

In Looking For Holmes Chapel Road Station, I talked about a proposed Middlewich station.

Three factors will increase the chances of this route being reopened.

  • Class 769 trains (formerly Class 319 Flex trains) would be ideal for this route.
  • Track and signalling appear to be ready.
  • If the Mid-Cheshire Line is improved, this route could join it to Crewe.
  • The arrival of HS2 at Crewe in 2027.

This short route has a lot going for it.

Conclusion

I think this will be opened before 2027.

 

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

A Little Chord Goes A Long Way

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled Halton Curve Gets The Green Light.

I wrote about the Halton Curve in Could Tram-Trains Be Used To Advantage In Liverpool?  I said this in a section entitled Upgrading The Halton Curve

Funds have been made available to upgrade the Halton Curve, so that trains can reach Chester from Liverpool South Parkway via Runcorn.

The Halton Curve

The two blue squares indicate the two ends of the current single-track curve. The top one is where the curve leaves the Liverpool branch of the West Coast Main Line south of Runcorn station and the bottom one is where it joins the Chester to Manchester Line east of Frodsham.

The main reason for doing this would be to allow trains from Chester and North Wales better access to Liverpool Lime Street and South Parkway stations, and the John Lennon Airport.

As the Tier Two and Three electrification plans for the North as they effect Merseyside, includes full electrification of the lines around Chester, this would mean that an upgraded curve would be electrified.

There are probably good reasons to add an extra track to the curve, which would make it possible for Chester to be a new southern destination of the Northern Line.

The Rail Magazine article says this.

The Liverpool City Combined Authority has approved a range of projects aimed at improving travel across Merseyside, including reinstatement of the Halton Curve.

Also endorsed by the Welsh Government and by Cheshire West and Chester Council, bringing the line back into full use will entail an hourly direct service between Liverpool and Chester, and the extension of some services into Wales.

So just as the Todmorden Curve helped with the rail system around Burnley and the Ipswich Chord helped in Suffolk, will the Halton Curve help to develop the railways on Merseyside?

What is interesting about this decision, is that this appears to be a Liverpool decision, not one from Central Government.

Should more infrastructure decisions be devolved?

I think it’s very much a big yes!

April 27, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Good Trip to Crewe and Chester

It was a good trip, not only because Ipswich won and I was able to renew old memories in Chester, but also because of the little things that happened and that I discovered.

  • Virgin’s First Class lounges made travel in my condition a bit easier.
  • The Crewe Arms offered a comfortable bed and good coffee in the morning close to the station and the football.
  • I had a very good curry in Passage to India in Crewe.
  • The staff and stewards at Crewe Alexandra were pleasant and welcoming.
  • Real pubs still exist in the most unlikely places.
  • I got a nice complimentary gluten-free salad on the way back.  So Virgin can do gluten-free, despite what I said earlier

I shall definitely go to Crewe again, if Ipswich play there!

August 26, 2010 Posted by | Food, Sport, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment