The Anonymous Widower

Abellio’s Plans For Norwich And Liverpool

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

These are mentioned for services between Norwich and Liverpool.

Splitting Of The Service

Early in the new franchise the Liverpool – Nottingham section will transfer to another operator, which will enable the two halves of the service to better meet the needs of customers.

This has been said for some time by the Department of Transport.

It is also said that limited services will continue to operate via Stamford and Loughborough.

Looking at trains between Nottingham and Norwich., they take these routes.

  • Grantham, Peterborough, Ely, Thetford
  • East Midlands Parkway, Loughborough, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Peterborough, Ely, Thetford

The service will be extended from Nottingham to Long Eaton and Derby.

Refurbished Modern Trains

It is proposed that the service will be run by refurbished modern trains.

Features include.

  • More reliable service
  • Improved comfort
  • Passenger information system displays
  • free on-board Wi-Fi
  • at-seat power sockets
  • USB points
  • Air conditioning
  • Tables at all seats
  • Increased luggage space.
  • No date for introduction is given.

This all sounds fine to me.

The Current Trains On The Route

Before discussing the possible new trains, I will look at the current service, that I have used many times.

Class 158 trains are used,

Normally, a pair of two-car trains run together to make a four-car formation.

  • At times, these trains are very overcrowded.
  • I don’t think, the trains have a universal access toilet.
  • The trains are thirty years old and some detailing is not very good or very last century.
  • The air-conditioning may be a bit dodgy.
  • Nottingham and Norwich is probably about the maximum comfortable range for passenger on these trainss.

I suspect too, that they have operational problems.

  • They are only 90 mph trains and they will share tracks with faster trains.
  • As part of this route could be on the East Coast Main Line, scheduling trains would be easier, if the trains were capable of 125 mph.
  • On board catering is provided by a trolley. Can it be pushed between the two trains?

Abellio are obviously quite right to promise a better train for both passengers, staff and their bottom line.

An Ideal Train For The Route

An ideal train would have a specification something like this.

  • Modern train, built since 2000.
  • Five or six cars
  • 125 mph operating speed.
  • An onboard cafe-bar.
  • Universal-access toilet.

It sounds to me, like a Class 222 train with a high-class refurbishment.

Currently, there are these  Class 222 trains available to the franchise.

  • Four by four-car
  • Seventeen by five-cars
  • Six by seven-cars.

Many of the Class 222 trains, will be replaced in 2022, when the new bi-mode trains are delivered.

The New Trains For The Route

It does look to me, that East Midlands Trains could do a lot worse, than use refurbished Class 222 trains between Norwich and Derby.

  • Their engineers and drivers know the trains well.
  • They could be arranged as four or five coaches for the route.
  • Tory are 125 mph trains, which must bring journey time savings, especially on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Bombardier have proposed, that they could be fitted with batteries to reduce the need to run the engines in stations.

Refurbishing something you know, is probably one of the cheaper options.

How Many Trains Are Needed For An Hourly Service Between Nowich And Derby?

I suspect that running to a well defined timetable that times of around three hours could be achieved between Norwich and Derby.

This would probably mean that a train could go from Norwich to Derby and back in under seven hours.

This would mean that seven trains would be needed for an hourly service running all day.

If the 125 mph trains could use their speed on the East Coast Main Line and perhaps on the Breckland Line, it might be possible to do the round trip in six hours and therefor need a train less.

Would Finding Seven Class 222 Trains Be Possible?

Obviously, once the Midland Main Line routes have been replaced by new bi-mode trains in 2022, there will be a lot of Class 222 trains available and seven trains to run  the Norwich and Derby service will not be a problem.

Some other factors will help.

Trains Will Be Released By The London And Corby Electric Service

In December 2020, when the London and Corby service receives electric trains, the current Class 222 trains on this route will become available.

I think that this service currently needs three trains.

More Mark 4 Coach/Class 43 locomotive Sets Could Be Created

In Abellio’s Plans For The Midland Main Line, I described how interim sets could be built by replacing the non-compliant Mark 3 coaches in an InterCity 125, with the compliant Mark 4 coaches from an InterCity 225.

These trains would be used to release some of the Class 222 trains on the Midland Main Line.

Another five Mark 4 Coach/Class 43 Locomotive sets would probably release the same number of Class 222 trains.

Trains Could Be Reorganised With A Better Plan

I have a feeling that by reorganising the Class 222 trains and bringing in more more Mark 4 Coach/Class 43 Locomotive sets, could mean that a better plan on the Midland Main Line could be developed.

As an example, when boarding a train at St. Pancrass, I often notice two trains are in the platform and you have to walk to the far train. This is not efficient and surely slows down the turnround of trains.

Platforms 1 to 4 are reserved for East Midlands services at St. Pancras station.

  • Two trains per hour to Derby, Chesterfield and Sheffield
  • Two trains per hour to Nottingham
  • One train per hour to Corby, which goes to two trains per hour in December 2020.

Surely, it would be easier, if the station was organised as follows.

  • Sheffield, Nottingham and Corby trains all have their own platform, with one spare for luck!
  • All trains are full length, with First Class at the London end
  • One train per platform.

This would make things easier for passengers and reduce turnround times.

No More Two Trains Running Together

I think that the practice of train companies running two or more trains together to increase capacity is a bad idea, unless you have no other way.

Consider two four-car trains running together as an eight-car train.

  • You have two driving cabs in the middle, which serve no purpose and just take up space. and add useless weight.
  • A buffet car in the train can be available to all passengers.
  • The First Class seats could be in two separate places on the train.
  • With trains like the Hitachi Class 800 trains, onboard staff can only move between trains in a station.
  • Walk-through trains allow passengers to position themselves for a convenient and quick exit.

Anybody who procures trains to run in multiple formations all the time, instead of buying longer trains, is generally incompetent.

A Rough Estimate

I have done a very rough estimate and feel that the Midland Main Line services can be run with the following numbers of trains.

  • Sheffield services – Ten trains
  • Nottingham services – Eight trains
  • Corby services – Six trains

As the Corby services will be run by refurbished twelve-car trains, it looks to me that there is a need for eighteen diesel trains for Sheffield and Nottingham services.

I would go for eighteen Mark 4 Coach/Class 43 locomotive sets, with perhaps a couple of spare sets..

Conclusion

The following services should be run with Mark 4 Coach/Class 43 locomotive sets of an appropriate length.

  • London and Nottingham
  • London and Sheffield

This would release the Class 222 trains for other services like those between Norwich and Derby.

 

 

 

 

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

SWR And Porterbrook Trial New Emission-Slashing Rail Technology

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

This is the first three paragraphs of the article.

Groundbreaking emission-reducing technology is to be fitted to South Western Railway (SWR) train units as part of a new trial aiming to cut down harmful emissions from diesel trains by 80%.

Porterbrook is working in partnership with exhaust manufacturer Eminox to carry out the trial, with the DfT supporting the rolling stock company’s investment.

This will see South Western Railway’s Class 159 diesel units fitted with a first-of-its-kind emissions control device, with plans to roll out the technology to hundreds of diesel trains across the UK’s rail network.

I have looked up Eminox on their web site.

This is the mission statement on the front page.

Eminox designs and manufactures exhaust after-treatment systems, reducing emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and equipment.

Our products are supplied as original equipment to meet the latest emissions standards. We also produce complete emissions systems for retrofit to meet the ever-changing demands of local air quality programmes such as London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone and Clean Air Zones across the country.

Our Eminox Custom team specialises in exhaust conversions and bespoke systems.

While politicians dither and fiddle, engineers engineer, with a little bot of help from Porterbrook and the DfT.

If this technology proves to be successful, I can see its application to large numbers of diesel trains around the world.

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grants To Support Low-Carbon Technology Demonstrators

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

This is the two introductory paragraphs.

The Department for Transport has awarded grants of around £350 000 to each of five projects which aim to develop technology to reduce the rail network’s carbon footprint.

The projects were selected under the second round of the DfT’s First of a Kind competition, run by Innovate UK as part of the DfT’s wider Accelerating Innovation in Rail programme.

These are the winners.

Riding Sunbeams

I wrote about this technology in Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand.

Diesel Freight Carbon Reduction Technology

We all hate Class 66 locomotives, with their noise, vibration and pollution.

But an Essex company called Vortex Exhaust Technology has been awarded a grant to see if their free-flowing exhausts can tame, these most unfriendly of beasts.

They make this claim on their web site.

Vortex is the ONLY exhaust technology available that effectively eliminates back pressure, improving engine efficiency, boosting power and cutting emissions.

A Class 66 locomotive will be a tough challenge.

To see what the company can do for road vehicles, there is a case study at the bottom of this page.

But then they are Essex Boys! Performance is in the genes!

CODD-P Hydraulic Pump

This is said in the Railway Gazette article.

Unipart Rail will undertake in-service testing of a commercial version of a digital displacement pump and electronic controller in place of a traditional hydraulic pump with swashplate design. This is expected to provide a significant reduction in fuel consumption.

It sounds like an idea from Artemis Intelligent Power in Edinburgh.

Green Rail Exhaust After Treatment

This is said in the Railway Gazette article.

Leasing company Porterbrook will collaborate with Eminox to transfer an on-road exhaust after-treatment system widely fitted to heavy-duty vehicles to the railway environment, equipping a South Western Railway Class 158 DMU for in-service trials. This will enable the technical and commercial viability to be established, so it can be offered for widespread fitment.

There are currently 170 Class 158 trains and 30 of the closely-related Class 159 trains in service, so if this is successful, there won’t be a shortage of installations.

The picture shows one of East Midlands Trains, Class 158 trains.

 

It should also be said, that most Class 158 trains are in excellent condition, despite being nearly thirty years old.

Note that Porterbrook are involved. Train leasing companies seem to be getting increasingly involved with innovation.

W2W Zero Emissions Power System

This is said in the Railway Gazette article.

Steamology’s Water 2 Water concept will use compressed hydrogen and oxygen gas in a ‘compact energy-dense steam generator’ to produce high pressure superheated steam to drive a turbine, which will generate electricity to charge the batteries as a ‘range extender’ for a Vivarail Class 230 multiple-unit produced from former London Underground vehicles.

It sounds to me, that the tabloids will say that this is the return of the steam train.

Conclusion

They are a broad spread of technology and I have this feeling, that the Department for Transport will get a sensible return for an outlay of around two million pounds.

But I suspect that the best and most profitable idea, will come, after a meeting between two or more of the award winners and their backers.

 

 

February 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Midland Mark 4

The title of this post is the same as an article by Ian Walmsley in the March 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

Ian builds on what he said in an article in the August 2017 Edition of the same magazine. I wrote about that article in We Should All Think Radically!

He proposes using Mark 4 coaches with two Class 43 power cars to create trains that meet the PRM-TSI regulations deadline, which will mean the replacement of the East Midland Franchise’s twelve InterCity 125s.

He suspects various technical solutions can be borrowed to make it all possible and because of the extra weight of the Mark 4 coaches, the trains may become 2+7 sets instead of the current 2+8.

The trains could be rather nice.

  • The Mark 4 coaches have been extensively refurbished in the last two decades and have full wi-fi and power socket fitment.
  • The Mark 4 coaches meet all the PRM-TSI regulations.
  • 125 mph running would be possible, where the track allowed.
  • The East Midland Franchise already has the Class 43 power-cars.
  • If the electrification of the Midland Main Line is ever electrified, then the Class 43 power cars could be swapped for electric locomotives.

I would assume that three extra sets, that the franchise is acquiring from Grand Central could also be converted., giving the East Midlands Franchise, fifteen sets with a life of at least ten years.

A quick calculation would indicate that this reorganisation could see the current 132 Mark 3 coaches replaced by perhaps 120 Mark 4 coaches. I’ve just applied 7/8 to the Mark 3 coach total after the Grand Central trains have been added to the fleet.

What Will Happen To The Remaining Mark 4 Coaches?

Currently, there are 302 Mark 4 coaches in service on the East Coast Main Line with Virgin Trains East Coast.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Mark 4 coach, there is a section named Future.

This is said.

The Mark 4s are scheduled to be replaced on the East Coast Main Line by Class 801s in 2018. Some may be redeployed to Midland Main Line services.[19] Virgin Trains East Coast will retain seven or eight nine-carriage sets to operate extra services to Edinburgh.

In 2017, Alliance Rail Holdings announced that, owing to it being unable to source new build Class 390 EMUs for its intended service between London and Blackpool, it was revising its proposal to use the Class 91/Mark 4 combination instead

So it looks like seventy-two coaches will be retained for the East Coast Main Line.

As to how many trains will be needed between London and Blackpool, that’s the old question of how long is a piece of string.

Consider.

  • I don’t think that the platforms at Blackpool will accept full-length sets.
  • Class 180 trains used by various operators are five cars in length.
  • There are fourteen Class 180 trains, running to Bradford, Hull and Sunderland.
  • TransPennine Express has ordered several multiple units and rakes of coaches, that are five-cars long.

So perhaps three sets of five carriages, which seem adequate for Sunderland, would be a rough estimate.

This gives the following  totals.

  • East Midlands Franchise – 120
  • East Coast Main Line – 72
  • Euston-Blackpool – 15

Which gives a total of 207.

This leaves ninety-five coaches for other purposes. Or dare I say it, nineteen sets of five coaches?

Motive Power

The rakes of coaches will need to be powered.

These are a few possibilities.

Class 91 Locomotive And A Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer

Currently, Mark 4 coaches are powered and driven by a Class 91 locomotive with a Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer, at the other end of the train.

Total numbers available are

  • 31 – Class 91 Locomotive
  • 32 – Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer

If eight sets are retained for the East Coast Main Line, this means that a maximum of twenty-three trains could be created.

But except for limited use by Open Access Operators from London on fully-electrified lines, I can’t see all Class 91 locomotives being required.

Mark 4 Coaches Topped And Tailed With Class 43 Locomotives

This is Ian Walmsley’s plan for the Midland Main Line, as he outlined in the March 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

Consider.

  • There are quite a few Class 43 locomotives available. There are thirty-two on the East Coast Main line for a start.
  • Ian feels that creating 2+7 sets is possible, but many needed would be shorter.
  • According to the article, Mark 4 coaches would be more affordable than making Mark 3 coaches PRM-TSI compliant.

The trains would share the iconic appearance of the InterCity 125, which passengers seem to love so much!

Class 68 Locomotive And A Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer

Chiltern use Class 68 locomotives and Mark 3 Driving Van Trailers, with Mark 3 coaches, so it is likely perhaps after some modification, these locomotives could be used with Mark 4 coaches and an appropriate Driving Van Trailer.

If a Class 68 locomotive would work, surely the closely-related Class 88 locomotive could also be used.

Mark 4 Coaches Topped And Tailed With Class 68 Locomotives

This arrangement has been used between Norwich, Lowestoft and Yarmouth with an elderly rake of Mark 2 coaches for some time.

It is a method that could be surely be used with Mark 4 coaches after a few modifications.

A New Class Of Electro-Diesel Locomotive And A Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer

I very much feel we need a new electro-diesel locomotive for both freight and passenger purposes.

Mark 4 Coaches Topped And Tailed With A Class 68 And A Class 88 Locomotive

I have often wondered, if instead of using two Class 68 locomotives, whether a Class 68 and a Class 88 locomotive could be used at opposite ends, to create the ultimate hybrid train, with a powerful diesel locomotive on one end and a powerful electric locomotive on the other.

Summing Up Motive Power

With a bit of ingenuity, I’m sure that uses could be found for most of the Mark 4 coaches.

Possible Routes

These routes need good quality rolling stock and innovatively-hauled Mark 4 coaches could be a solution.

Wales

Scotland has decided that the best way of serving some of its long routes, is to use shortened InterCity 125s.

Surely, if the concept works in Scotland, it is likely to work in Wales.

These could use Mark 4 coaches or more likely updated Mark 3 coaches.

Liverpool and Manchester To Holyhead

Once the Halton Curve is open, the possibility of a Liverpool to Holyhead service must exist.

A quality service along the North Wales Coast, must surely be beneficial to residents, business and tourism.

London Waterloo To Exeter Via Basingstoke

This service is currently served by Class 158 or Class 159 trains.

  • Trains generally work as six-car units.
  • The route is electrified between London Waterloo and Basingstoke.
  • Time could be saved by partial electric haulage.

The problem of this route might be solved by converting the Class 158/159 trains in bi-modes, as I wrote about in Class 158/159 Bi-Modes?

Cross-Country Routes

Cross Country routes and I don’t just mean those run by the company of the same name are often very-well pastronised, as often these routes are the only way to get between two provincial cities.

Take Norwich to Liverpool, which has a route, that definitely needs more coaches than those offered by a two-car Class 158 train.

Scenic Routes

Scotland is to run short-formation InterCity 125s between major cities.

IMany of these routes also fall into the category of scenic routes.

If this Scottish innovation is successful, will we see pressure for similar trains to work routes like Settle-Carlisle in England?

Summing Up Possible Routes

I don’t think there will be a shortage of routes to run Mark 4 coach-based services.

Conclusion

Don’t underestimate how the retired Mark 4 coaches will be used.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Class 158/159 Bi-Modes?

In the March 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a short news item, which is entitled Bi-Mode Study For SWR DMUs.

The Class 158 and Class 159 diesel multiple units used by South Western Railway are diesel-hydraulic units.

Under their franchise aggreement, South Western Railway, agreed to perform a study, to see if the multiple units could be converted from diesel-hydraulic to diesel-electric transmission.

If this is successful, then the plan would be to fit a third-rail capability to the trains, so they could use the electrification between Basingstoke and Waterloo on services to Salisbury and Exeter.

Could the conversion also raise the operating speed of the trains from their current 90 mph to a more timetable-friendly 100 mph?

It looks like it could be a feasible , especially as the article states they might re-use redundant modern traction equipment from Class 455 trains, which are due for replacement.

Disruptive Innovation From Edinburgh

In The Future Of Diesel Trains, I talked about work being done in Edinburgh, by a company called Artemis Intelligent Power, to improve the efficiency of diesel-hydraulic trains.

This is an extract from the original post.

Artemis Intelligent Power has a page about Rail applications on their web-site.

This is the introductory paragraphs to their work.

Whilst electrification has enabled the de-carbonisation of much of the UK’s rail sector, the high capital costs in electrifying new lines means that much of Britain (and the world’s) railways will continue to rely on diesel.

In 2010, Artemis completed a study with First ScotRail which showed that between 64 and 73 percent of a train’s energy is lost through braking and transmission.

In response to this, Artemis began a number of initiatives to demonstrate the significant benefits which digital hydraulics can bring to diesel powered rail vehicles.

Two projects are detailed.

The first is the fitting of a more efficient hydraulic unit, that is described in the Rail Technology Magazine article.

Under a heading of Faster Acceleration, Reduced Consumption, there is a technical drawing with a caption of The Artemis Railcar.

This is said.

We are also working with JCB and Chiltern Railways on a project funded by the RSSB to reduce fuel consumption and improve engine performance by combining highly efficient hydraulic transmission with on board energy storage in the form of hydraulic accumulators, which store energy during braking for reuse during acceleration.

Note.

  1. The use of hydraulic accumulators to provide regenerative braking.
  2. The involvement of JCB, whose construction equipment features a lot of hydraulics.
  3. The involvement of Chiltern Railways, who like their parent company, Deutsche Bahn, have a lot of diesel-hydraulic multiple units and locomotives.

The article goes on to detail, how a test railcar will be running before the end of 2017.

I wonder if Artemis Intelligent Power have ideas for improving the efficiency and creating bi-modes of Class 158 and Class 159 trains?

Could they for instance produce a highly-efficient electrically-driven hydraulic pump, that could be powered by the third-rail electrification, where it is available?

If they can, the advantages of this approach include.

  • The ability to swap from diesel to electric power as required.
  • Regenerative braking could be made available.
  • The trains would still use diesel-hydraulic transmission.

It must surely, be at a lower cost.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment