The Anonymous Widower

Orders For Alstom Breeze Trains Still Expected

It is almost a year since I wrote Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon, but no order has so far been placed.

But some things have happened or are happening.

At present, Greater Anglia appear to have 102 Class 321 trains in service, all of which could be converted to Alstom Breeze trains.

Although it should be noted that thirty trains have been upgraded to a Renatus specification, as cover, if there are any problems during Greater Anglia’s fleet changeover.

The Conversion Process

The 102 Class 321 trains will release the same number of each of the following coaches.

  • DTCO – Driving Trailer Composite Open
  • TSO – Trailer Standard Open
  • PMSO – Pantograph Motor Standard Open
  • DTSO – Driving Trailer Standard Open

Each three-car Breeze will need two Driver Trailer cars and a Pantograph Motor car to be converted.

Driver Trailer Cars

Consider.

  • Most two- and three-car diesel multiple units in the UK, don’t have First Class seats.
  • Many new trains like those of Greater Anglia and South West Trains don’t have First Class seats.
  • Seating in these cars will be very much reduced by the fitting of a large hydrogen tank.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see both types of Driver Trailer cars converted into identical cars.

Pantograph Motor Car

The Pantograph Motor car will be seriously modified, with these systems and components installed.

  • A new AC traction system.
  • Batteries fed by the fuel cells,
  • Regenerative braking

All will be controlled by a sophisticated energy management system.

  • Will regenerative braking be able to charge the batteries?
  • Will the pantograph be retained, so that on electrified lines, the trains can use the electrification?
  • Will the fitting of third-rail shoes be considered?
  • Will the train retain the 100 mph capability of the Class 321 train?

The train could be a real 100 mph efficient go-anywhere train.

New Interiors

New Class 321 Renatus-style interiors will be fitted.

The Class 321 Renatus is a high-class interior for a suburban train.

  • There are both fully-accessible and standard toilets.
  • There are power sockets and wi-fi.
  • Passenger information displays are fitted.

I suspect tables could be fitted, if the operator required them.

Northern Trains And The Alstom Breeze

The three-car Alstom Breeze is expected to have a similar capacity to a two-car diesel multiple unit.

Northern Trains Current And Future Trains

At present Northern have the following two-car diesel multiple units in service, according to Wikipedia.

In addition, there are eight three-car Class 158 trains, which gives a total of 107 trains, that could be suitable for replacement by Alstom Breeze trains.

If these were the only trains available, Northern would have to keep some old diesel multiple units in service for longer.

But there are other trains expected to enter service, in the coming months.

Northern should just about scrape through, especially as COVID-19 has reduced services.

I would think, that Northern could absorb quite a lot of Alstom Breeze trains.

Deployment On Teesside

In Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, I talked about using the trains on Teesside.

  • Services would be centred on Darlington and Middlesbrough.
  • There is a supply of hydrogen nearby.
  • Bishop Auckland, Newcastle, Nunthorpe, Redcar and Whitby could be served.
  • The 1000 km range could be useful.
  • The trains could even be a tourist attraction for the area.

In Northern’s Hydrogen Plans, I wrote about progress on these plans, which included applying for planning permission for the depot at Lackenby.

Deployment Around Widnes

In A Hydrogen Mobility Roadmap For North-West England, I wrote using the trains around Widnes.

  • Services could be centred around Alstom’s Widnes factory.
  • Hydrogen could be supplied by pipeline from Runcorn.
  • Chester, Liverpool and Manchester could be served.
  • Some routes might need more capacity.

Could Alstom introduce a couple of pre-production trains on a route past Widnes, in a similar way, that they have introduced the Coradia iLint train in Germany?

This approach seems to have helped a successful introduction into service of the trains.

Increasing Capacity

I do think that these trains will need extra capacity on some routes, like perhaps Liverpool and Manchester via Widnes and Warrington.

The solution would surely be to add one of the spare Trailer cars to bring the trains up to four cars and increase the passenger capacity by perhaps fifty percent.

Northern Routes Currently Run By Two-Car Diesels

Wikipedia lists these services as run by two-car-diesels in Classes 150, 155, 156 and 158.

  • Barrow-in-Furness and Carlisle
  • Barrow-in-Furness and Lancaster
  • Blackburn and Rochdale
  • Blackburn and Wigan Wallgate
  • Blackpool North and York
  • Clitheroe and Rochdale
  • Hexham and Nunthorpe *
  • Hull and Scarborough
  • Hull and York
  • Huddersfield and Castleford
  • Huddersfield and Leeds
  • Huddersfield and Sheffield
  • Lancaster and Morecambe/Heysham Port
  • Leeds and Carlisle
  • Leeds and Chester
  • Leeds and Goole
  • Leeds and Knottingley
  • Leeds and Lincoln
  • Leeds and Manchester Victoria
  • Leeds and Morecambe
  • Leeds and Nottingham
  • Leeds and Selby
  • Leeds and Sheffield
  • Leeds and Wigan Wallgate
  • Leeds and York
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road *
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Buxton
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Chester
  • Manchester Piccadilly and New Mills Central
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Rose Hill Marple
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield
  • Manchester Victoria and Kirkby
  • Manchester Victoria and Southport
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge
  • Middlesbrough and Whitby *
  • Newcastle and Carlisle
  • Newcastle and Chathill
  • Newcastle and Morpeth
  • Oxenholme Lake District and Windermere
  • Preston and Blackpool South
  • Preston and Colne
  • Preston and Ormskirk
  • Saltburn and Bishop Auckland/Darlington *
  • Sheffield and Adwick
  • Sheffield and Bridlington
  • Sheffield and Gainsborough Central
  • Sheffield and Hull
  • Southport and Alderley Edge

Those marked with an * could be served by hydrogen trains from Laverton and Widnes.

Positioning Hydrogen Trains

Trains often have to be positioned from and to the depot at the beginning and end of a day’s work.

On my list of services, there is an hourly shuttle service between Oxenholme Lake District and Windermere stations.

Suppose this service was to be run by an Alstom Breeze based at Widnes.

  • The train could be fuelled with hydrogen at Widnes, early in the day.
  • The train could position to Oxenholme Lake District along the West Coast Main Line, using the electrification, after joining it a few miles from the depot.
  • Each round trip to Windermere is 20 miles or 32 kilometres.
  • An Alstom Breeze train has a range of 1000 kilometres on hydrogen, so it could do thirty round trips without refuelling.
  • At the end of the day, the train would return to the depot using the electrification.

I would expect, that the long range of hydrogen trains could make them easier to diagram or schedule, than battery ones.

They might also be able to work some distance away from the depot, if they could use an electrified route for positioning.

So if we look at Widnes, these are approximate distances to stations where hydrogen services might run.

  • Liverpool Lime Street – 12 miles
  • Manchester Airport – 33 miles
  • Manchester Oxford Road – 22 miles
  • Preston – 33 miles
  • Warrington Central – 6 miles
  • Wigan North Western – 18 miles

Some of the routes to these stations are partially electrified, so the trains could position using the electrification.

Consider these routes.

  • Preston and Blackpool South – 20 miles
  • Preston and Colne – 19 miles
  • Preston and Ormskirk – 20 miles

A hydrogen train could position from Widnes and perhaps do fifteen trips before needing a refuel.

I will also look at distances from Lackenby, where the Teesside Depot will be built, as I wrote in Northern’s Hydrogen Plans.

  • Darlington – 23 miles
  • Newcastle via East Coast Main Line – 59 miles
  • Newcastle via Durham Coast Line – 54 miles
  • York via Northallerton and East Coast Main Line – 56 miles

I suspect quite a few services could be run from Lackenby depot, if the electrified East Coast Main Line was used to position the trains.

Possible Future Stages

If the trains are successful, I can see that Northern Trains will want to introduce more hydrogen trains.

As the Government controls this franchise, does this make more zero-carbon trains more or less likely?

More Trains

There are only so many Class 321 trains to convert, but after Alstom complete their takeover of Bombardier, I believe that a hydrogen-powered Aventra could become a reality.

I wrote about my ideas for this in I Design A Hydrogen Aventra.

So in the long term, if more hydrogen trains are needed, it shouldn’t be a problem.

More Depots

More depots will be needed and I would expect others like Lackenby will be added in strategic locations.

  • Given the service pattern, Blackburn, Leeds and Sheffield must be possibilities.
  • Hydrogen will probably be generated in the depots using electrolysers.

In the future could we see depots for hydrogen trains shared between bordering franchises?

  • A depot at Carlisle could be shared between Northern and Scotrail
  • A depot at Chester could be shared between Northern and Trains for Wales
  • A depot at Exeter could be shared between Great Western and South West Railways

ITM Power in Rotherham have the technology to generate the hydrogen, which could also be used to fuel the local buses and other vehicles.

Conclusion

From pubished reports, it looks to me, that Northern have been thinking hard how they can deploy a substantial fleet of Alstom Breeze trains, by using depots at Widnes and Lackenby, where the trains can be refuelled overnight.

I am also fairly sure that Alstom will design the Breeze, so that trains can position themselves along the West and East Coast Main Lines, using the 25 KVAC electrification.

 

 

 

 

May 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

Northern’s Hydrogen Plans

The title of this post, is half of the title of an article in the March 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

I discussed Northern’s possible hydrogen trains in Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails.

This new article gives a lot more detail in this paragraph.

Northern has submitted planning documents, with the preferred site for a maintenance and fuelling facility understood to be at Lackenby. As hydrogen units would have a more limited operating range than DMUs (around 600 miles), they would likely need to return to the depot every night. Northern believes the routes radiating from Middlesbrough to Nunthorpe, Bishop Auckland and Saltburn are ideal candidates for the operation, as they are unlikely to be electrified and can be operated as a self contained network using hydrogen trains. A fleet of around a dozen Breeze units is planned, with the possibility they could also operate services to Whitby and on the Durham Coast Line to Newcastle. Planning documentation suggested the first hydrogen train would be ready for testing in June 2021, but this was based on construction of the depot facility beginning in January this year.

It all sounds very comprehensive.

Capacity Comparison With The iLint

The Modern Railways article says this about the capacity of the Breeze.

A three-car Breeze is expected to have a similar passenger capacity to a two-car DMU.

A two-car Class 156 train, which currently work the lines around Middlesbrough, was built with 163 seats and the Lint 54, on which the iLint is based, has between 150 and 180 seats.

It will be interesting to see how actual seat numbers compare between the Breeze and iLint.

February 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

First Hydrogen Train Arrives In The Netherlands

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

On 26 February the first hydrogen train arrived in the Netherlands. The Dutch rail infrastructure manager ProRail led the train into the country from Germany via Oldenzaal and then ran it on track to its provisional parking facility in Leeuwarden.

The article also says this.

The public will also have the chance to view the hydrogen train on 7 March, when it will be at Groningen Station between noon and 4pm.

I won’t be going, as I’ve ridden the train in Germany as I reported in My First Ride In An Alstom Coradia iLint.

These trains are technology demonstrators at best and greenwash at worst.

Hydrogen power needs a radical new design of  train and not a quick rehash of an existing design.

The problem is that the Coradia iLint is based on a diesel mechanical train and it has a lot of transmission noise.

You get less noise and vibration in the average British-Rail era diesel multiple unit like a Class 156 train. But then these are diesel hydraulic, have steel-bodies and built thirty years ago.

When I first saw the iLint, I looked for the pantograph, as these trains run on partially-electrified lines and hydrogen-powered trains are effectively electric trains with a different source of electricity.

To be fair to Alstom, their development of the hydrogen-powered Class 321 Breeze, will also be able to use a pantograph, but as this visualisation shows, the hydrogen tanks take up a lot of space.

Hydrogen might find itself a place on the railways, but I suspect that battery-electric will always be better for passenger trains.

  • Battery technology will improve faster than hydrogen technology.
  • Innovators will find better ways of fast-charging trains.
  • A battery-electric train will match the daily range of a hydrogen-powered train, using innovative dynamic charging.
  • Many modern electric trains can be converted into battery-electric ones.

I suspect though, the mathematics will be different for freight locomotives.

February 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mule Trains Between Liverpool And Norwich

I have done two trips to Liverpool in the last week.

On Saturday, I saw this collection of one-car Class 153 trains with a two-car Class 156 train thrown in.

They were forming one of East Midlands Railway‘s Liverpool and Norwich services.

And then yesterday, I had to travel between Liverpool and Sheffield and this was the collection of trains that took me.

So what was it like?

It started badly, with the driver announcing that because of the late arrival due to an undisclosed problem with the incoming train, that we would be leaving ten minutes after the planned departure time of 1551. He also indicated that our late departure meant that we would be stuck behind one of Northern’s services.

In the end, despite the gloomy faces of passengers we left twelve minutes late at 1603.

It was a bit like one of those classic films, where an ancient train escapes in the nick of time, with a lot of important and assorted passengers.

The asthmatic Cummins diesels under the train could be heard straining.

  • But the driver was at the top of his game and the train was running smoothly towards Manchester at close to 75 mph, which is the maximum speed of a Class 153 train.
  • At Manchester Piccadilly, the driver had pulled back two minutes.
  • There were obviously, no problems on the Dove Valley Line and the driver pulled back another minute before Sheffield, to arrive nine minutes late.

Looking at Real Time Trains, the train ran well until March (The place, not the month!), but there was some form of delay there and sadly it was thirty-four minutes late into Norwich.

The Train Was Clean

I should say there was nothing wrong with the train except for its design and age. It was also as clean as you can get one of these trains. The toilet, that I used was better than many I’ve used on trains and worked as it should.

Customer Service

East Midlands Railway had loaded a trolley and a steward and in the two hours I was on the train, he came through twice. The only problem for me, that he had no card machine, but I did find a fiver in my briefcase.

At least it was very drinkable. Even, if I hate those plastic tubs of milk, as they are difficult to open with one good hand.

Where Did Two Cars Go?

I had been fairly certain, that we had started with six cars, but we only arrived in Sheffield with four Class 153 trains.

I suspect that the trouble that delayed the train, concerned two cars and these were left on the naughty step or the end of Platform 6 in Liverpool Lime Street station.

Being Fair To East Midlands Railway

This service used to be run by a four-car formation of two-car Class 158 trains, but these have been causing trouble lately and they will be replaced by Class 170 trains cascaded from other operators.

But because of late arrivals of new trains the much better Class 170 trains haven’t arrived yet.

The driver, steward and other staff did a good job and I feel that the steward enjoyed it. No-one was abusive and stories were just exchanged, as we climbed across the Pennines in what by Sheffield was a very crowded train.

Class 153 trains may have been built as a stop-gap for short branch lines, but you couldn’t fault their performance.

Unless of course, one caused the delay at March, by expiring in a cloud of blue smoke.

Other Observations

These are other observations.

Scheduled Journey Times

On my journey the scheduled times were

  • Liverpool and Manchester Oxford Road – forty-seven minutes.
  • Liverpool and Sheffield – one hour and forty-eight minutes.
  • Liverpool and Nottingham – two hour and forty minutes.
  • Liverpool and Norwich – Five hours and twenty-seven minutes

The train considering the configuration, nearly achieved them.

It’s probably the motoring equivalent of doing the journey in a Morris Minor!

The Nine Stops Were Executed Perfectly

There were nine stops on my journey and eight took less than a minute, with Sheffield taking four, as the driver and crew changed.

A modern train like a Class 755 train, with fast acceleration and level boarding could probably save up to three minutes a time on each stop.

The Route Is A Genuine 75 mph Railway In Good Condition

I was checking the speed of the train on parts of the route and the driver had his motley crew at a steady 75 mph for long periods.

  • The train was riding well, indicating to me, that both trains and track were in reasonably good condition.
  • Note that 75 mph is the maximum speed of a Class 153 train.
  • The train recovered three minutes on the late departure from Liverpool.

I can see a faster train and improvements to the route, some of which are underway, could reduce the journey time by a few minutes.

Could Merseyrail’s New Class 777 Trains Work To The Bay Platform At Oxford Road?

Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains will have the following performance.

  • A possible range of perhaps 40-50 miles on battery power.
  • An operating speed of 75 mph.
  • An acceleration rate of 1.1 m/sec², which is faster than a Class 153 or Class 170 train.
  • Fast stops due to regenerative braking, fast acceleration and level boarding.

As Liverpool Lime Street to Oxford Road is thirty four miles of which nine is electrified, I suspect that these new trains could extend Merseyrail’s Northern Line service from Hunts Cross to Manchester Oxford Road.

  • Two trains per hour (tph), but I’m sure four tph would transform the area.
  • I doubt any track modifications would be needed.

But would Liverpool and Manchester be able to sort out the local politics?

The Future Of The Liverpool And Norwich Service

This service will probably be spilt into two services.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Derby, which could be run by TransPennine Express or Northern Trains.
  • Derby and Norwich, which would be run by East Midlands Railway.

As to the trains to be used, consider the following.

The Liverpool and Derby leg would probably need six trains, with the same number needed for Derby and Norwich, or twelve in total.

Currently, eleven or twelve is needed for the longer service.

Sections of the route like through Manchester and between Grantham and Peterborough are electrified.

There are even sections of route, where 125 mph running is possible.

Run reliably to an hourly frequency, I think that this service could attract passengers, especially, as it would serve Derby and extra stops like Ilkeston and Warrington West could be added.

This leads to the following trains being possibilities.

Class 802 trains – 125 mph bi-mode train of which TransPennine Express have 19 trains.

Class 185 trains – 100 mph diesel train of which TransPennine Express have 51 trains.

Class 804 trains – 125 mph bi-mode train of which East Midlands Railway have ordered 33 trains.

Class 755 trains – 100 mph diesel train of which Greater Anglia have 38 trains, which are based at Norwich.

Alstom Breeze hydrogen trains could be ideal for Liverpool and Derby.

Note.

  1. Greater Anglia and East Midlands Railway are both subsidiaries of Abellio.
  2. Developments of Class 755 trains could include battery and hydrogen versions.
  3. I suspect that 125 mph trains may be required for both legs, to maximise capacity on the East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line.

January 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Would It Have Been Better To Scrap HSTs, Abandon Class 769 Trains And Use Stadler Bi-Mode Flirts Instead?

I have ridden for several hours in Greater Anglia'[s new Class 755 trains and they seem to make good trains for scenic rural lines.

From December 16th, we’ll be seeing them work between Stansted and Norwich, which will show their mettle as true bi-modes working a partially-electrified route.

By mid-next year they will be working the following partially-electrified routes.

  • Liverpool Street and Lowestoft
  • Colchester and Peterborough
  • Norwich and Stansted
  • Ipswich and Cambridge
  • Sudbury and Colchester Town

I think that about forty percent of these routes are electrified and they also include a lot of 100 mph lines.

ScotRail

These Greater Anglia routes are not unlike some of the ScotRail Inter7City routes, which are to be run by shorterned four- and five-car HSTs.

Both trains have been late because of training and other issues, but delivery of the HSTs seems to have got stuck round various remanufacturing problems at Wabtec.

Would ScotRail have done better to follow their sister company Greater Anglia and buy some Class 755 trains to their specification?

Consider the advantages of the Inter7City over the Class 755 train.

  • Nostalgia
  • Well-known engineering
  • Comfortable

They could have been obtained at an affordable price.

But they do come with disadvantages.

  • Forty years old
  • Two big diesel engines
  • They are rather dark and dingy inside.

The Class 755 trains also have the following advantages.

  • They would help to remove diesel power from Edinburgh, Glasgow Queen Street and Stirling stations.
  • They have large picture windows ideal for looking at lakes and mountains.
  • Some seats are raised for a better view.
  • They are genuine 100 mph trains, which could be uprated to 125 mph, so would be ideal for incursions on the fast routes to England.
  • They’re probably ready to fit ERTMS.
  • They come in various lengths.
  • They are able to be modified for battery-electric operation.
  • I suspect hydrogen operation will be possible in the future.

But the biggest advantage is that they could extend Scotland’s electric network by using the bi-mode capability.

Think.

  • Fife Circle
  • Borders Railway
  • West Kilbride
  • Perth
  • West Highland Line

I think Scotland could really get to love these trains.

Great Western Railway

I could see a case for running shortened HSTs in the far South West, where GWR call them Castles, mainly on nostalgia and tourism grounds, but Class 755 trains would surely be better running the following partially-electrified services.

  • Henley and Paddington
  • Oxford and Gatwick via Reading
  • Oxford and Paddington
  • Cardiff and Taunton
  • Cardiff and Portsmouth Harbour

Often, they would be replacing Class 156 or Class 769 trains.

  • Some would need to be fitted with third-rail equipment.
  • The Gatwick services could be given an airport interior.
  • I suspect a 125 mph capability is available.
  • The Class 769 trains seem to be late in arriving.

I have no doubt in my mind, that the new Stadler trains are much better than the refurbished British Rail trains.

Transport For Wales

Transport for Wales have ordered a selection of bi-mode and tri-mode Flirts.

They must have good reasons for buying a selection of trains, rather than buying more Flirts.

Probably cost!

All these routes could be run using bi-mode Flirts

  • Cardiff and Holyhead
  • Birmingham International and Holyhead
  • Manchester Airport and Llandudno
  • Crewe and Chester
  • Chester and Liverpool Lime Street
  • Milford Haven and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Birmingham International and Aberystwyth via Shrewsbury
  • Birmingham International and Pwllheli via Shrewsbury
  • Heart of Wales Line
  • Conwy Valley Line

Some of these routes are partially electrified and use lines with a 125 mph operating speed.

Answering The Question In The Title

I very much feel that bi-mode Flirts would be better trains than shortened HSTs and Class 769 trains.

  • They are new trains.
  • They can use electrification, where it is present.
  • The appear to be capable of uprating to 125 mph.
  • They have good viewing for scenic routes because of large windows and some raised seats.
  • They are comfortable with a good ride.
  • They are able to be modified for battery-electric operation.
  • I suspect hydrogen operation will be possible in the future.

I  suspect their one downside is cost.

Conclusion

Bi-mode and tri-mode Flirts and other similar trains will proliferate and within ten years we’ll have seen the last of pure diesel trains in the UK.

I suspect that most of the shortened HSTs will have gone by 2030.

 

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Did Someone Try To Steal The Electrification?

I arrived at Ipswich station to come back to London at 09:30 this morning and finally arrived home at 15:00. The journey had taken at least four times longer than it should.

This article on Railnews, which has a subtitle of Overhead Line Damage Disrupts Great Eastern, explains the problem.

The wires between Colchester and Marks Tey stations were damaged at around four in the morning and trains didn’t run again until about 1700.

This is a paragraph that adds more details.

overhead line damage was discovered between Colchester and Marks Tey. Network Rail workers reported shortly before 04.45 that overhead line equipment was tripping, and a train driver reported ‘visible damage’ to the power lines.

I eventually came home by this route.

  • I took a train to Class 153 train to Cambridge.
  • Another electric train took me to to Tottenham Hale,.
  • It was then two buses home.

It was a completely wasted day.

What puzzles me is that the damage to the wires appears to have happened, when no trains were running. So that seems to indicate they either just fell down for no apparent reason or someone was up to no good.

Years ago, I did some work for British Rail and they talked about all sorts of groups getting up to all sorts f tricks to steal copper. signalling cable.

The crooks would even repeatedly cut fibre optic signalling cables, in the hope it would be replaced by copper, so they could nick that!

I shall await the report of what happened yesterday with interest!

Greater Anglia Were Short Of Trains

I took this picture, when I arrived at Ipswich.

It shows the Ipswich to Cambridge service that gives a good connection to the train from London. For several years, it has been a smart three-car Class 170 train. This is a rwo-car Class 156 train.

  • Greater Anglia were also apologising for the connecting Lowestoft service being just a one car; Class 153 train.
  • It appeared to me, that Greater Anglia has sent nearly all of their Class 170 trains to Wales.
  • And yet again, Greater Anglia are looking after their Norwich customers and heaping all the inadequate rolling stock on Ipswich.
  • Are the new Class 755 trains and their drivers ready?

It looks to me, to be a management cock-up.

Train For Cambridge Anybody?

This was my train to Cambridge.

As I said, it was normally a three-car Class 170 train, but this is an inadequate Class 153 train, which went they ran between Ipswich and Cambridge generally ran in pairs.

Gerald Fiennes and Delia Smith at Dullingham

At least I only had to wait ten minutes at Cambridge for my Tottenham Hale train.

Greater Anglia’s Response

The staff at Ipswich did their best, but there did seem to be a biit of bad leadership from somewhere as at one point, it was announced that a London train would be running and I don’t think it did.

To make matters worse, as we ran into Cambridge, we passed two brand new Class 755 trains in the sidings. Are they parked their ready to start the service?

This article on the East Anglian Daily Times is entitled We’re Completely Stuck – it’s A Joke’ – Rail Passengers’ Anger At Train Chaos.

It shows a large degree of management failure.

Planning For The Future

The electrification on the Great Eastern Main Line appears to be notoriously unreliable.

Network Rail must get it better! But they don’t seem to be doing a good job, as I have had pain getting to Ipswich for six years, whilst they are updating the wires!

I believe that the best insurance for the train services would be to do the following, as soon as possible.

  • Increase services on the Ipswich and Cambridge route to two trains per hour (tph) using four-car Class 755 trains. One would be direct and the other would have a change at Ely.
  • Increase services on the Norwich and Cambridge route to two tph using four-car Class 755 trains. One would be direct and the other would have a change at Ely.
  • Start running the London and Lowestoft service using four-car Class 755 trains.
  • Make sure that, it is possible to run routes with pairs of Class 755 trains.
  • Ensure, that Class 755 trains can run London and Norwich via Cambridge.

As an example yesterday, a six-car Class 755 formation formed of two three-car trains shuttling between Ipswich and Cambridge, would probably have solved the problem.

But I do think that East Anglia’s rail problems might be best served by running a new direct service between London Kings Cross and Norwich.

As I have said several times, the Kings Cross and Cambridge and/or Kings Lynn service needs to be upgraded to 140 mph trains to make the most of the 140 mph running on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

So why not run the following services?

  • Hourly between Kings Cross and Kings Lynn via Cambridge.
  • Hourly between Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge.

The trains could be Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery capability sufficient to take the train North of Ely.

Conclusion

Did someone try to steal the electrification?

I will await the answer as to what happened with interest.

October 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will Abellio East Midlands Railway Go Flirting?

Abellio take over the East Midlands franchise in a few days and it will be renamed to East Midlands Railway.

It has already disclosed that it will have three divisions.

  • EMR Intercity for long distance services from London St Pancras
  • EMR Regional for local services
  • EMR Electrics for the London St Pancras to Corby service

It has also confirmed it has ordered thirty-three AT-300 trains for EMR Intercity.

Wikipedia also shows, that the following trains will be transferred to East Midlands Railway.

The first three fleets will come from Abellio-run franchises and the last will be released fairly soon, as Hull Trains new fleet is arriving.

Looking at the EMR Regional fleet it will comprise.

Consider.

  • Many probably feel that the Class 153 trains are inadequate.
  • Except for the Class 170 trains, these trains are around thirty years old.
  • Some of the Class 156 trains, which will be transferred from Greater Anglia, are currently being replaced with brand-new Class 755 trains.
  • Abellio are going through extensive fleet replacement exercises in ScotRail, Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains.

The EMR Regional routes, that they will run are a mixed bunch.

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

Digging out the blurb for each route shows the following.

Norwich – Nottingham – Derby

Crewe – Derby – Nottingham

Matlock – Derby – Nottingham

Nottingham – Lincoln – Grimsby

Nottingham – Worksop

Nottingham – Skegness

Leicester – Nottingham

Peterborough – Lincoln – Doncaster

Barton-On-Humber – Cleethorpes

Lincoln – London

London – Oakham – Melton Mowbray

London- Leeds – York

 

Newark North Gate – Lincoln

I have come to a few conclusions.

The Fleet Is Not Being Expanded Enough To Retire The Class 153 Trains

Consider.

  • There are twenty-one Class 153 trains.
  • Five Class 170 trains and nine Class 156 trains are being added to the fleet.

Surely, this means that some Class 153 trains will be retained.

Perhaps, the remaining Class 153  trains, will be reorganised into two-car trains to increase capacity.

Extended Services Will Be Run Using New Bi-Mode AT-300 Trains

Services to Leeds and York, Oakham and Melton Mowbray and Lincoln would appear to be run by the new AT-300 trains that have been ordeed from Hitachi.

I’ve no problem with that,but there are three developments that may effect passenger numbers.

  • There is a lot of housing development in the Corby, Oakham and Melton Mowbray area.
  • There is a very large renewable energy sector developing in North Lincolnshire.
  • Sheffield are proposing to add new stations between Sheffield and Leeds, at Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley.

Does the proposed service pattern take this fully into account?

In a way it doesn’t matter, as the worst that could happen, is that East Midlands Railway will need to increase the fleet size by a small number of trains.

Hopefully, they’ll just need to get Hitachi to build the trains!

Most Regional Services Will Be Run By Refurbished Modern Trains

Most services will be run by refurbished modern trains with the following features.

  • More reliable service
  • Improved comfort
  • Passenger information system
  • Free on-board wi-fi
  • At-seat power sockets
  • USB points
  • Air-conditioning
  • Tables at all seats
  • Increased luggage space

Can East Midlands Railway Refurbish Their Augmented Fleet To Meet Their Required Standards?

Consider.

  • The Class 170 trains are relatively recent and were built to a high standard, so can probably meet EMR’s standard.
  • The Class 158 trains are thirty years old and were built to a high standard, so they might be able to be upgraded to EMR’s standard.
  • The Class 156 trains are thirty years old and noisy and old-fashioned, so will need a lot of work to bring them up to EMR’s standard.
  • The Class 153 trains are thirty years old and only one car, so would probably be best retired or reduced to an auxiliary role like a bicycle car.
  • Only the Class 170 and Class 158 trains can be high standard trains.
  • All trains are diesel and only the Class 170 trains are possibly planned to be upgraded to more economical diesel hybrid trains

One additional option might be to refurbish some of the Class 222 trains, when they are replaced by the new Hitachi AT-300 trains on main line services, so they were suitable for the longer regional routes.

Will East Midlands Railway Replace The Fleet?

In their three other franchises in the UK; Greater Anglia, ScotRail and West Midlands Trains, Abellio have opted for replacement of all or a substantial part of the fleet.

So will the same action be taken at East Midlands Railway?

The company could do a lot worse, than invest in a fleet of Class 755 trains like Greater Anglia.

  • They could be a mix of lengths, so each route could have a train with capacity for the traffic.
  • The trains may be capable of 125 mph running on the Midland Main Line and the East Coast Main Line.
  • The interiors meet the company’s requirements.
  • The trains could use electrification , where it exists.
  • The trains could be fast enough to cover for the AT-300 trains.
  • Abellio Greater Anglia will soon have a large knowledge base for the trains.

The clincher could be, that as electrification increases, the trains could fit batteries and generate less carbon.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abellio East Midlands Railway buy a fleet of Class 755 trains for their EMR Regional services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Industry Urged To Decide On Alternative Technology

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

This is the first paragraph.

The rail industry needs to decide on the right approach to alternative technology as soon as possible, to ensure the industry can continue to reduce emissions.

Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Rail Group, Anthony Perratt of the RSSB, outlined how there was a huge opportunity to replace ageing Sprinter trains with new units powered by alternative energy sources like batteries and hydrogen.

The Size Of The Opportunity

Sprinter trains in service of stored in the UK include.

These add up to 516 trains, with a total of 1035 cars.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 710 train, this is said.

TfL announced that it had placed a £260m order for 45 four-car Bombardier Aventra EMUs.

This works out at nearly £1,500,000 for each car of a modern train.

This means that replacement of the Sprinters, with new independently-powered trains, would be project of the order of £1.5billion.

That is a market, that would be very much desired by a train builder.

Battery, Diesel Or Hydrogen Power?

Diesel power is probably not a good idea, if it can be avoided.

The following points about hydrogen- and battery-powered trains should be noted.

  • Most hydrogen-powered trains are battery-powered trains, with a hydrogen fuel-cell to recharge the batteries.
  • Battery technology is improving fast.
  • Systems to rapidly charge batteries will be available in a couple of years.
  • Battery-powered trains can use existing electrification to charge the batteries.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains may need a large tank for the hydrogen, which limits passenger capacity.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains need a refuelling structure, which may be more difficult to install, than a charging system for battery trains.

I feel that innovative engineers will be able to find ways to enable battery-powered trains on routes that need independently powered trains.

Conclusion

I don’t think, that we’ll see many long-term applications of hydrogen-powered trains in the UK.

 

 

 

July 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments