The Anonymous Widower

A Trip To Skegness

Last Thursday, I took a trip to Skegness to get out of the heat.

I took these pictures on the way.

These are my observations and thoughts.

Changing At Grantham

A few minutes after getting off the LNER Azuma, the East Midlands Railway Class 156 train arrived at the opposite face of the wide platform.

Unlike some changes you get on trains in the UK, it was all rather painless and unhurried.

The change coming home was a bit slower, but there is a bar on the London platform, that serves a good selection of good beers.

Grantham To Skegness

The journey to Skegness took around an hour and a half and I arrived at 13:51.

Skegness Station

Skegness station is not the grandest, but it does have six platforms, which is probably a lot for just an hourly service from Nottingham and Grantham.

Skegness

I didn’t stay long, as it was surprisingly too cold and I hadn’t brought a coat.

Skegness To Grantham

The return trip was better, as the train was a more modern Class 170 train.

Surely, when East Midland Railways get their full quota of Class 170 trains, then the Poacher Line between Nottingham and Skegness will be one of the routes, where they will be used.

I also suspect that with 100 mph trains always running the service, as opposed to the Class 156 trains, which are only 75 mph units, there could be speed improvements on the line.

  • Grantham and Skegness is 58 miles.
  • There are a large number of level crossings.

An hour service between Grantham and Skegness could be possible and might generate more passengers.

Rolls-Royce MTU Hybrid PowerPacks

I wonder if this route could be improved by fitting the Class 170 trains with Rolls-Royce MTU Hybrid PowerPacks?

  • The hybrid technology would have a lower fuel consumption and allow electric operation in stations.
  • The prototype hybrid is already working on Chiltern Railways in a Class 168 train.
  • The Class 168 train is an earlier version of the Class 170 train and they are members of the Turbostar family.
  • Rolls-Royce are developing versions of these hybrid transmissions, that will work with sustainable fuels.
  • As we have a total of 207 Turbostar trainsets, these could be a convenient way of cutting carbon emissions on long rural lines.
  • As Rolls-Royce MTU are also developing the technology, so their diesel engines can run on hydrogen, it is not outrageous to believe that they could be on a route to complete decarbonisation of this type of train.

I believe that we could see hydrogen-hybrid Class 170 trains, with a Rolls-Royce badge on the side.

The Massive Greenhouse

I found that this was owned by Fountain Plants.

Is Lincolnshire going to grow the UK’s greens? Or at least give them a good start in life?

More greenhouses like this will enable the UK to create our carbon dioxide and eat it!

 

 

July 17, 2022 Posted by | Food, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK’s First 100mph Battery-Diesel Hybrid Train Enters Passenger Service

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

The UK’s first 100mph battery-diesel hybrid train is entering passenger service to cut carbon emissions and boost air quality.

It was developed by adding a powerful battery to a 20-year-old diesel train to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 25%, according to owner Porterbrook.

The firm added that the two-carriage train, named HybridFLEX, also provides a 75% decrease in noise and a 70% decrease in nitrogen oxide.

The battery-diesel hybrid transmission is from MTU, who are a Rolls-Royce company and they go further with this press release which is entitled World Premiere: MTU Hybrid PowerPack From Rolls-Royce Enters Passenger Service.

This is the first paragraph.

Rolls-Royce, Porterbrook and Chiltern Railways are making rail history together with a climate-friendly world premiere: A hybrid diesel-battery-electric train that reduces CO2 emissions by up to 25% entered passenger service in the UK today for the first time. The so-called HybridFLEX train is powered by two mtu Hybrid PowerPacks and is operated by Chiltern Railways on the route between London Marylebone and Aylesbury. Together with the leasing company Porterbrook and Chiltern Railways, Rolls-Royce has converted a Class 168 DMU into the HybridFLEX train. The partners are proving that existing rail vehicles can be used in a climate-friendly way without the need to install complex and expensive new infrastructure. It is the world’s first regular passenger operation with mtu Hybrid PowerPacks, of which 13 have already been ordered.

This is significant for the railways of the UK.

The train that has been converted is a Class 168 train, which itself had been converted from a Class 170 train, when it transferred to Chiltern Railways in 2016.

I think this means that all Bombardier Turbostars in Classes 168, 170, 171 and 172 can probably be fitted with MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

That is the following numbers of trains and cars.

  • Class 168 – 28 trains – 86 cars
  • Class 170 – 139 trains – 372 cars
  • Class 171 – 20 trains – 56 cars
  • Class 172 – 39 trains – 93 cars

Note.

  1. This totals to 226 trains and 607 cars.
  2. As each car has an engine, this will be an order of 607 PowerPacks, if all trains were to be converted.

This could certainly help to meet the Government’s aim of getting rid of all diesel only trains by 2040.

Can The CAF Civities Be Converted?

There are three Classes of CAF Civity diesel multiple units; 195, 196 and 197, all of which have Rolls-Royce MTU engines.

Could these be converted to hybrid operation by the swapping of the current diesel engines for MTU Hybrid PowerPacks?

I would suspect they could, as the CAF Civity trains might have been designed after MTU disclosed plans of the MTU Hybrid PowerPack to train builders prior to its announcement in September 2018.

Conclusion

MTU Hybrid PowerPacks could go a long way to eliminating diesel-only trains on UK railways. They could even run the diesels on Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) to lower their carbon-footprint further.

 

February 10, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Storm Arwen: Image Shows Severe Damage To Train Following Red Weather Warning

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

It shows a dramatic picture of a Class 170 train, that was hit by a tree, that was blown onto the line.

The incident happened on the Borders Railway and luckily no-one was hurt.

December 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Feasible Is A High Speed Line Between Birmingham And Nottingham?

In Red Wall Commuters To Get Rail Revolution, I indicated that the Department of Transport is considering creating three new high speed lines in the Midlands and the North of England.

One is proposed between Birmingham and East Midlands Parkway, which is described in the original article in The Sunday Times like this.

A 42-mile line from Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway, just south of Nottingham. This is expected to cut journey times between the two cities from 72 minutes to 27 minutes.

There is a currently, a CrossCountry service between Nottingham and Birmingham New Street stations.

  • The frequency is two trains per hour (tph)
  • Trains are generally three- or four-car formations of Class 170 diesel trains.
  • All trains stop at Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent and Derby.
  • Some trains stop at Wilnecote, Willington, Spondon, Long Eaton and Beeston
  • The services take upwards of seventy-one minutes.

Note.

  1. The frequency between Birmingham New Street and Derby is four tph.
  2. Trains reverse at Derby which takes seven minutes.
  3. Three tph stop at Burton-on-Trent.

I feel that the current service is very much a compromise, which is trying to handle three services.

  • A fast train between Birmingham and Nottingham.
  • A fast train between Birmingham and Derby.
  • A local service between Nottingham and Derby.

High Speed Two will be providing a non-stop service between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub stations.

  • The frequency will be three tph.
  • There will also be an hourly train between Birmingham Interchange and East Midlands Hub station.
  • The services will take twenty minutes or slightly less from Interchange.

The services will only get you to East Midlands Hub station.

In addition after High Speed Two opens Midlands Connect are planning to run a direct service between Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street stations.

  • The frequency will be one tph.
  • The service will use High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains.
  • The only stop will be East Midlands Hub station.
  • The service will take thirty-three minutes.

So how does a new high speed line connect Birmingham and Nottingham in twenty-seven minutes?

Consider.

  • The route between Birmingham New Street and North Stafford Junction is 35.9 miles
  • At North Stafford junction a double-track freight line leads to the East.
  • The freight line passes to the North of East Midlands Airport and South of Long Eaton station before joining the Midland Main Line at Trent junction to the North of East Midlands Parkway station.
  • Trains can pass straight into Nottingham via Beeston.
  • Nottingham is just 6.7 miles to the East of Trent junction and East Midlands Parkway is just a mile South of Trent junction.
  • South Stafford junction to Trent junction is probably about seven miles.

I believe that this is the route that will be upgraded to create a high speed line between Birmingham and Nottingham.

  • Part of the route between Tamworth and Burton-on-Trent was upgraded to 125 mph running by British Rail.
  • Between Birmingham New Street and North Stafford Junction is used by CrossCountry services between Birmingham and Derby and Nottingham.
  • I believe that the route can be fully electrified and upgraded, so that most of the route could be suitable for 125 mph running.
  • The Midland Main Line is already capable of handling trains at 125 mph.

This should make it possible for services to run between Birmingham New Street and Nottingham in the required twenty-seven minutes.

I will answer a few questions.

Could The Trains Serve Birmingham Curzon Street In Birmingham?

In Birmingham Airport Connectivity, I said this

But look at this map clipped from the High Speed Two web site.

Note.

  1. The blue dot shows the location of Curzon Street station.
    The West Coast Main Line running into New Street station, is just to the South of Curzon Street station.
    New Street station can be picked out to the West of Curzon Street station.

This Google Map shows a close-up of the current Curzon Street station site.

The same pattern of rail lines going past the Curzon Street site into New Street station can be picked out.

Surely, a connection could be made to allow trains from a couple of platforms in Curzon Street station to terminate trains from the West Coast Main Line.

Possible services could include.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street via Watford Junction, Milton Keynes, Rugby and Coventry
  • Cardiff and Birmingham Curzon Street via Bristol Parkway, Swindon, Oxford and Milton Keynes.
  • Cambridge and Birmingham Curzon Street via Bristol Parkway, Bedford and Milton Keynes.

There are a lot of possibilities to give High Speed Two much bigger coverage.

I also suspect that the proposed Nottingham and Birmingham service could terminate in Birmingham Curzon Street.

Could High Speed Two Classic Compatible Trains Run Between Birmingham And Nottingham?

As High Speed Two Classic Compatible Trains would have the same loading gauge as current trains, I don’t see why not.

Could A London Euston And Nottingham Service Be Run With A Reverse At Birmingham Curzon Street?

These are prospective times for High Speed Two.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 45 minutes
  • London Euston and East Midlands Hub – 52 minutes

Note that East Midlands Hub and Nottingham could take at least twenty minutes.

And this is a current timing.

  • London St. Pancras And Nottingham – 95 minutes

It is possible calculate the time for London Euston to Nottingham with a reverse at Birmingham.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 45 minutes
  • Reverse at Birmingham Curzon Street – 3 minutes
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham – 27 minutes

This would give a time of 75 minutes between London Euston and Nottingham.

It does look to me, that the fastest route between London and Nottingham, will be to to go via Birmingham and the proposed new high speed route.

So the answer to the question in the title of this section is a Yes!

Could A London Euston And Sheffield Service Be Run With A Reverse At Birmingham Curzon Street?

These are prospective times for High Speed Two.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 45 minutes
  • London Euston and East Midlands Hub – 52 minutes
  • London Euston and Sheffield – 87 minutes

And these are current timings.

  • London St. Pancras And Derby- 85 minutes
  • London St. Pancras And Sheffield- 118 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street And Derby- 33 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street And Sheffield- 75 minutes

It is possible calculate the time for London Euston to Sheffield with a reverse at Birmingham.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 45 minutes
  • Reverse at Birmingham Curzon Street – 3 minutes
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Sheffield – 75 minutes

This would give a time of 123 minutes between London Euston and Sheffield.

I wonder what time could be achieved between London Euston and Sheffield could be achieved with improvements to the following lines.

  • The CrossCountry Route between North Stafford junction and Derby station.
  • The Midland Main Line between Derby and Sheffield.

I would expect that the improvement to these routes would include.

  • At least almost full electrification.
  • Removal of level crossings.
  • Full digital signalling.
  • Upgrading to 140 mph running.

I could see the following service improvements.

  • A substantial reduction of the times between Birmingham and Sheffield.
  • Derby and Burton-on-Trent would get a fast service to London Euston via High Speed Two.
  • Derby and Burton-on-Trent would get a fast service to Birmingham probably with a frequency of 4 tph.
  • CrossCountry services between Birmingham and Sheffield would be faster.

Derby and Burton-on-Trent would get a much better train service.

Could Burton-on-Trent, Derby, Nottingham And Sheffield Be served By Trains Splitting And Reversing At Birmingham Curzon Street?

These are prospective frequencies for High Speed Two.

  • Burton-on-Trent – No trains
  • Chesterfield  1 tph
  • Derby – No trains
  • East Midland Hub – 7 tph
  • Nottingham – 0 tph
  • Sheffield – 2 tph

Suppose there were two tph between London and Birmingham Curzon Street, that split into two trains in Birmingham.

  • One train could go to Nottingham and call at Tamworth and Burton-on-Trent.
  • The other train could go to Sheffield and call at Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent, Derby and Chesterfield.

This would give the following frequencies from London on High Speed Two.

  • Burton-on-Trent – 2 tph
  • Chesterfield  – 2  tph
  • Derby – 2 tph
  • Nottingham – 2 tph
  • Sheffield – 2 tph

Note that I am ignoring the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two in this analysis.

Could We Go For The Full Burton?

In the previous sections, I suggested serving Nottingham and Sheffield from Euston using High Speed Two with a reverse at Birmingham Curzon Street, where the train would split into two trains, with one train going to Sheffield and the other going to Nottingham.

But could the split be at a rebuilt Burton station?

Consider.

  • Burton station could become an Eastern terminus of Birmingham’s Cross-City Line.
  • Burton station could become the Western terminus of the Ivanhoe Line to Leicester.
  • If the Cross Country Route is upgraded, Burton station would have fast connections to Birmingham, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield and Leeds,
  • If the new Birmingham and Nottingham route is created, this would mean fast connections to Nottingham and possibly Lincoln.

Burton-on-Trent could become the passenger rail hub for the Mid Midlands.

I

November 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Eastern Leg Of High Speed Two

These are a few thoughts on the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

Serving The North-East Quarter Of England From London

In Anxiety Over HS2 Eastern Leg Future, I gave a table of timings from London to towns and cities in the North-East quarter of England from Lincoln and Nottingham Northwards.

I’ll repeat it here.

  • Bradford – Will not be served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty-four minutes
  • Cleethorpes – Will not be served by High Speed Two – Two hours and fifty-one minutes
  • Darlington – One hour and forty-nine minutes – One hour and forty-nine minutes
  • Doncaster – Will not be served by High Speed Two – One hour
  • Edinburgh – Three hours and forty minutes via Western Leg – Three hours and thirty minutes.
  • Grimsby – Will not be served by High Speed Two – Two hours and thirty-six minutes
  • Harrogate – Will not be served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty-two minutes
  • Huddersfield – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and eight minutes
  • Hull – Will not be served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty minutes
  • Leeds – One hour and twenty-one minutes – One hour and thirty minutes
  • Lincoln – Will not be served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty-one minutes
  • Middlesbrough – Will not be served by High Speed Two – Two hours and twenty minutes
  • Newcastle – Two hours and seventeen minutes – Two hours and sixteen minutes
  • Nottingham – One hour and seven minutes – One hour and fifty minutes
  • Scarborough – Will not be served by High Speed Two – Two hours and fifty-seven minutes
  • Sheffield – One hour and twenty-seven minutes – One hour and twenty-seven minutes
  • Skipton – Will not be served by High Speed Two – Two hours and seven minutes
  • Sunderland – Will not be served by High Speed Two – Two hours and thirty minutes
  • York – One hour and twenty-four minutes – One hour and twenty-four minutes

Note.

  1. I have included all destinations served by Grand Central, Hull Trains and LNER.
  2. I have included Nottingham and Sheffield for completeness and in case whilst electrification is installed on the Midland Main Line, LNER run services to the two cities.
  3. I suspect LNER services to Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton will split and join at Leeds.

There are a total of nineteen destination in this table.

  • Twelve are not served by High Speed Two.
  • Six are not more than fifteen minutes slower by the East Coast Main Line.

Only Nottingham is substantially quicker by High Speed Two.

Serving The North-East Quarter Of England From Birmingham

Fenland Scouser felt the above table might be interesting to and from Birmingham with or without the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

I think, I can give more information than that and it should be possible to give for each destination the following.

  • Whether of not the route exists on High Speed Two.
  • Time on High Speed Two from Birmingham.
  • Time on High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail from Birmingham via Manchester
  • Time by current trains from Birmingham

In the following table, the fields are in the order of the previous table.

  • Bradford – No direct route – No time – One hour and three minutes – Two hours and twenty-seven minutes
  • Cleethorpes – No direct route – No time – Three hours and eight minutes – Three hours and eighteen minutes
  • Darlington – Route Exists – One hour and twenty-three minutes – One hour and forty minutes – Two hours and fifty-five minutes
  • Doncaster – No direct route – No time – One hour and thirty-six minutes – Two hours and nineteen minutes
  • Edinburgh- Route Exists – Three hours and fourteen minutes – Four hours – Four hours and thirteen minutes
  • Grimsby – No direct route – No time – Two hours and fifty-three minutes – Three hours and three minutes
  • Harrogate – No direct route – No time – One hour and twenty-eight minutes – Three hours
  • Huddersfield – No direct route – No time – Fifty-six minutes – Two hours and eleven minutes
  • Hull – No direct route – No time – One hour and forty-four minutes – Three hours and two minutes
  • Leeds – Route Exists – Forty-nine minutes – One hour and six minutes – One hour and fifty-nine minutes
  • Lincoln – No direct route – No time – Two hours and fifty-three minutes – Two hours and thirteen minutes
  • Middlesbrough – No direct route – No time – Two hours and twenty-nine minutes – Three hours and thirty-two minutes
  • Newcastle – No direct route – No time – Two hours and four minutes – Three hours and twenty-six minutes
  • Nottingham – Route Exists – Fifty-seven minutes – Two hours and fifty-five minutes – One hour and ten minutes
  • Sheffield – Route Exists – Thirty-five minutes – One hour and thirty-four minutes – One hour and fifteen minutes
  • Skipton – No direct route – No time – One hour and forty-three minutes – Two hours and fifty-two minutes
  • Sunderland – No direct route – No time – Two hours and fifty-nine minutes – Three hours and fifty-eight minutes
  • York – Route Exists – Fifty-seven minutes – One hour and twenty-eight minutes – Two hours and twenty-seven minutes

Note.

  1. No time means just that!
  2. One of the crucial times is that Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds is just an hour and six minutes via High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail. This time gives good times to all destinations served from Leeds.
  3. Nottingham and Sheffield are both around an hour and fifteen minutes from Birmingham New Street, by the current trains.

I’ll now look at some routes in detail.

Birmingham And Leeds

The time of one hour and six minutes is derived from the following.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Piccadilly by High Speed Two – Forty-one minutes
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds by Northern Powerhouse Rail – Twenty-five minutes

It would be seventeen minutes slower than the direct time of forty-nine minutes.

But it is quicker than the current time of one hour and fifty-nine minutes

Note.

  1. As Manchester Piccadilly will have a time to and from London of one hour and eleven minutes, Leeds will have a time of one hour and twenty-six minutes to London via Northern Powerhouse Rail and Manchester.
  2. If the Eastern Leg is built, The London and Leeds time will be one hour and twenty-one minutes.
  3. The Eastern Leg would therefore save just five minutes.

The Northern Powerhouse route could probably mean that Huddersfield, Bradford and Hull would be served by High Speed Two from London.

Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds would be connected by a tunnel deep under the Pennines.

  • Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield and Bradford could be underground platforms added to existing stations.
  • Piccadilly and Leeds would have a journey time of under 25 minutes and six trains per hour (tph).
  • The tunnel would also carry freight.
  • It would be modelled on the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland.

I wrote full details in Will HS2 And Northern Powerhouse Rail Go For The Big Bore?

Birmingham And Nottingham

The time of two hours and fifty-five minutes is derived from the following.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Piccadilly by High Speed Two – Forty-one minutes
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds by Northern Powerhouse Rail – Twenty-five minutes
  • Leeds and Nottingham – One hour and forty-nine minutes

It would be one hour and fifty-eight minutes slower than the direct time of fifty-nine minutes.

The current time of one hour and ten minutes is much quicker.

Birmingham And Sheffield

The time of two hours and thirty-four minutes is derived from the following.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Piccadilly by High Speed Two – Forty-one minutes
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds by Northern Powerhouse Rail – Twenty-five minutes
  • Leeds and Sheffield – One hour and twenty-eight minutes

It would be one hour and fifty-nine minutes slower than the direct time of thirty-five minutes.

The current time of one hour and fifteen minutes is much quicker.

Conclusions On The Timings

I am led to the following conclusions on the timings.

The building of the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two gives the fastest times between Birmingham and Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield.

But if the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two is not built, then the following is true, if Northern Powerhouse Rail is created between Manchester and Leeds.

The time of an hour and six minutes between Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds is probably an acceptable time.

This time probably enables  acceptable times between Birmingham Curzon Street and destinations North of Leeds.

But with Nottingham and Sheffield the current CrossCountry service is faster than the route via Manchester.

The speed of the CrossCountry services surprised me, but then there is a section of 125 mph running between Derby and Birmingham, which is used by CrossCountry services between Birmingham New Street and Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield.

This table gives details of these services.

  • Birmingham New Street and Leeds – 116,4 miles – One hour and 58 minutes – 59.3 mph
  • Birmingham New Street and Nottingham – 57.2 miles – One hour and 14 minutes – 46.4 mph
  • Birmingham New Street and Sheffield – 77.6 miles – One hour and 18 minutes – 59.7 mph

Note.

  1. The Leeds and Sheffield services are run by 125 mph Class 220 trains.
  2. The Notting service is run by 100 mph Class 170 trains.
  3. All trains are diesel-powered.

As there is 125 mph running between Derby and Birmingham, the train performance probably accounts for the slower average speed of the Nottingham service.

CrossCountry And Decarbonisation

Consider.

  • CrossCountry has an all-diesel fleet.
  • All train companies in the UK are planning on decarbonising.
  • Some of CrossCountry’s routes are partially electrified and have sections where 125 mph running is possible.

The only standard train that is built in the UK that would fit CrossCountry’s requirements, would appear to be one of Hitachi’s 125 mph trains like a bi-mode Class 802 train.

  • These trains are available in various lengths
  • Hitachi will be testing battery packs in the trains in the next year, with the aim of entering service in 2023.
  • Hitachi have formed a company with ABB, which is called Hitachi ABB Power Grids to develop and install discontinuous electrification.

When CrossCountry do replace their fleet and run 125 mph trains on these services several stations will be connected to Birmingham for High Speed Two.

The route between Leeds and Birmingham via Sheffield is part of the Cross Country Route, for which electrification appears to have planned in the 1960s according to a section in Wikipedia called Abortive British Rail Proposals For Complete Electrification,

I suspect that the following times could be achieved with a frequency of two tph

  • Birmingham New Street and Leeds – 90 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street and Nottingham – 60 minutes
  • Birmingham New Street and Sheffield – 60 minutes

It is not the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two, but it could do in the interim.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

I don’t believe that the Midland Main Line needs full electrification to speed up services to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, but I believe that by fitting batteries to Hitachi’s Class 810 trains, that will soon be running on the line and using the Hitachi ABB Power Grids system of discontinuous electrification, that the route can be decarbonised.

I would also apply full digital in-cab signalling to the Midland Main Line.

Conclusion

We will need the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two at some time in the future, but if we do the following we can do more than cope.

  • Create Northern Powerhouse Rail between Manchester and Leeds, so that High Speed Two can serve Leeds and Hull via Manchester.
  • Decarbonise CrossCountry with some 125 mph battery-electric trains.
  • Electrify the Midland Main Line.

I would also deliver as much as possible before Phase 1 and 2a of High Speed Two opens.

 

August 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Service Provision On The Levenmouth Rail Link

The reinstated Levenmouth Rail Link, will have two stations; Leven and Cameron Bridge.

According to this section in Wikipedia, which is entitled Service Provision, this will be the service.

The expected level of services is two trains per hour between Leven railway station and Edinburgh Waverley. Both will call at Cameron Bridge. One train will travel via Kirkcaldy and along the coast, while the other train will travel via Dunfermline along the inner Fife Circle Line.

In the Wikipedia entry for Leven station, it says that the service will take just over an hour.

Consider.

  • Services between Edinburgh and Glenrothes with Thornton take about an hour whether the go via Kirkcaldy or Dunfermline.
  • The current timings are based on Class 158 or Class 170 diesel trains.
  • If as I surmise in Trains On The Levenmouth Rail Link, the trains are battery-electric Class 385 trains, these trains with their electric power will at least match the schedules of the diesel trains.
  • Network Rail will design the track layout at Thornton junction, so that trains will clear the junction efficiently.
  • Glenrothes with Thornton station is only half a mile from Thornton Junction.
  • Leven station is only 5.9 miles from Thornton Junction.

I can see battery-electric trains moving smoothly and quietly up and down the Levenmouth Rail Line and around Thornton junction to provide a very efficient service to Edinburgh.

Could we even see trains from Edinburgh take this route?

Edinburgh, Haymarket, Edinburgh Gateway, Dalmeny, North Queensferry, Inverkeithing, Dalgety Bay, Aberdour, Burntisland, Kinghorn, Kirkaldy, Cameron Bridge, Leven, Cameron Bridge, Glenrothes with Thornton, Cardenden, Lochgelly, Cowdenbeath, Queen Margaret, Dunfermline,  Dunfermline Town, Rosyth, Inverkeithing, North Queensferry, Dalmeny, Edinburgh Gateway and Haymarket.

Note.

  1. A second service would run in the opposite direction.
  2. Trains would reverse and the drivers would change cabs at Leven station.
  3. Trains would charge batteries on the Levenmouth Rail Link and at Edinburgh.
  4. Every station on the route would get two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.

The hourly service between Edinburgh and Cowdenbeath could continue.

The Bridges Across The Firth Of Forth

There would be a battery-electric train every thirty minutes in both directions  across the Forth Bridge.

This Google Map shows the three bridges across the Firth of Forth.

Note.

  1. The most Westerly bridge is the  Queensferry Crossing, which carries the M90 and was opened in 2017.
  2. The bridge in the middle is Forth Road Bridge, which opened in 1964.
  3. The Forth Bridge is the most Easterly bridge and it opened in 1890.
  4. North Queensberry station is to the North of the bridge and Dalmeny is to the South.

After opening of the Levenmouth Rail Link, there could be a battery-electric train every thirty minutes in both directions  across the Forth Bridge.

This sounds like an opportunity to develop the bridge with its battery trains as a tourist attraction.

Battery-electric trains could run from Edinburgh to the following places.

  • Dundee
  • Perth
  • St. Andrews

And that’s just for starters.

Conclusion

There is a lot more to the Levenmouth Rail Link, than just a double-track railway to Leven, as it enables so much.

Related Posts

The New Leven Station On The Levenmouth Rail Link

The New Cameronbridge Station On The Levenmouth Rail Link

North From Thornton Junction

Trains On The Levenmouth Rail Link

Whisky Galore!

 

 

 

 

 

July 28, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 11 Comments

East West Railway Company To Start Second Phase Of Rolling Stock Procurement

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from East West Rail.

These are the three introductory paragraphs.

East West Railway Company (EWR Co) is to restart market engagement with potential train suppliers, as its rolling stock procurement process enters a new phase.

The move follows an initial phase of procurement activity, which EWR Co concluded earlier in the year. A new PIN Notice has been published today to restart engagement with potential suppliers, which includes a set of technical specifications taking account of feedback from the market gained during the initial procurement phase.

This procurement aims to secure a short-term, interim solution to leasing a small fleet of self-powered trains for the Western Section of East West Rail.

The press release has a link to the Prior Information Notice or PIN Notice on the EU database.

along with all the usual contact and other details, this is said about the specification.

The East West Railway Company (EWR Co.) is looking to leasing a fleet of 12 or 14 x 3 car self-powered units with modifications including European Train Control System (‘ETCS’) Level 2 and Driver Controlled Operation (‘DCO’) capability, supported by a full maintenance package (under a ‘wet’ lease). These units will ensure timely operation of EWR’s Western Section Phase 2 between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Aylesbury. The lease duration would be 4 years, with an option to extend for 2 years.

The date of the notice is the 10th of November 2020, so it has been recently updated.

I commented on these trains in March 2020, when I wrote EWR Targets Short-Term Fleet Ahead Of Possible Electrification.

In the intervening eight months, a lot have things have happened.

Awareness Of Green Issues

The Covid-19 pandemic has arrived, with all its ferocity and seems to be moving people in the direction of thinking about green issues and zero-carbon transport.

Type “build back greener UK” into Google and you get lots of articles. Some feature Boris Johnson, like this article on Business Green, which is entitled Boris Johnson To Pledge To ‘Build Back Greener’.

I don’t think the public, myriad engineers and scientists and a good selection of politicians will find it appropriate for the East West Railway to use any rolling stock, that is not zero-carbon and powered by renewable energy.

Hitachi Have Launched The Regional Battery Train In Conjunction With Hyperdrive Innovation

In July 2020, I wrote Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

Hitachi had been talking for some time, that they were developing battery electric trains for the UK, but this was the first news of a route to their design, manufacture and into service.

Hitachi also published this YouTube video and this infographic of the train’s specification.

They have also called the train, the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

My estimate is that Oxford and Bedford are under fifty miles apart, so if Hitachi’s train could be charged at both ends of the route, one of their trains could provide a self-powered service between Oxford and Bedford.

It seems that Hitachi have an off-the-shelf train, that fits the specification for the trains required by East West Railway.

Vivarail Have Launched A Fast Charge System

Battery electric trains, like electric vehicles are not much use, if you can’t charge them when it is needed.

The initial Service Pattern of the East West Railway is given in the Wikipedia entry of the East West Railway.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) – Oxford and Milton Keynes Central via Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village, Winslow and Bletchley.
  • One tph – Oxford and Milton Keynes via Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgemont.
  • One tph – Aylesbury and Milton Keynes Central via Aylesbury Vale Parkway, Winslow and Bletchley.

There are four terminal stations.

  • Aylesbury – No electrification
  • Bedford – Full Electrification
  • Milton Keynes Central – Full Electrification
  • Oxford – No electrification

The existing electrification could be used at Bedford and Milton Keynes Central, whereas some type of charging system, would be needed at Aylesbury and Oxford.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

Vivarail’s Fast Charge system would surely be a front-runner for installation at Aylesbury and Oxford, if battery electric trains were to be run on the East West Railway.

Choosing A Train

East West Rail have said the following about the train specification.

  • Three cars
  • Self-powered
  • European Train Control System (‘ETCS’) Level 2 and Driver Controlled Operation (‘DCO’) capability
  • Available on a wet lease, that includes a full maintenance package

The press release from East West Rail and other documents mentions between twelve and fourteen trains will be leased.

In Trains Needed For The East West Railway, I calculated that the proposed services could need around eight or nine trains.

This must mean one of three things.

  • There are plans for extra services.
  • There are plans for the proposed services to be extended.
  • Trains will run some services in pairs.

Because, of the last reason, the trains must have the ability to run in pairs.

As sections of the East West Railway are being built for 100 mph operation, the trains must also have a 100 mph capability.

When I talked briefly about green issues earlier, I said that I felt the trains should be zero-carbon, which would rule out diesel.

That leaves two options for self-powered operation; battery electric or hydrogen.

So what trains fit the specification?

British Rail Era Trains

A large number of British Rail era trains could be suitable for updating for interim use on the East West Railway.

I even suspect, some fantasist will suggest using shortened versions of InterCity 125 trains, as are used in South-West England and Scotland.

But let’s be serious and not insult the intelligence of the three world-leading universities on the final route of the East West Railway.

A lot of money is also being spent on this railway and tarted-up forty-year-old trains would not encourage people to use the new railway.

Class 170 Trains

There are eighty-seven three-car Class 170 trains with various operators, some of which will be surplus to requirements, as they are being replaced with new trains.

But they are diesel, so surely they don’t fit my perceived need for zero-carbon trains.

That would have been true until a couple of weeks ago, when as I wrote in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, Adrian Shooter of Vivarail disclosed an audacious plan to convert, diesel trains into zero-carbon battery electric trains.

Class 170 trains like this were on the list of possible conversions.

  • They 100 mph trains.
  • Some are three-cars.
  • They meet all the disability regulations.
  • They have been used for services much longer than Oxford and Bedford.

They could also start the service as diesel trains and gradually converted to battery electric, if this would be better for operation.

Class 175 Trains

The three-car 100 mph Class 175 trains could be a possibility as there are fifteen trains, but they have two problems.

  • They are powered by diesel.
  • They probably won’t be available until 2023.

So I think they can be ruled out.

Class 185 Trains

All the fifty-one Class 185 trains are currently in service with TransPennine Express. They are due to release fifteen trains in 2021 and it was thought that these trains were in prime position for becoming the interim trains for East West Railway.

  • They 100 mph trains.
  • Some are three-cars.
  • They meet all the disability regulations.
  • They have been used for services much longer than Oxford and Bedford.
  • The fleet is the right size.

But then the Department of Transport decided to change their plans for the Liverpool and Norwich service.

I wrote about one journey on the overcrowded section of this service in Mule Trains Between Liverpool And Norwich.

The picture shows the inadequate train formed of an assorted collection of Class 153 trains, I took from Liverpool to Sheffield.

The service is now being split at Nottingham and East Midlands Railway will receive the released Class 185 trains for the Liverpool and Nottingham portion of the service.

A fleet of these Class 185 trains will surely offer more comfort on a very busy service.

So it is looking unlikely that Class 185 trains will be used on the East West Railway.

Class 220, 221 and 222 Trains

These three fleets of Voyager trains could be a possibility, as they can be shortened to three-car trains.

But they have disadvantages.

I think it is unlikely, that these trains will be used on the East West Railway.

Class 350 Trains

There are thirty-seven Class 350 trains, that were built only twelve years ago, that have been retired. The owner; Porterbrook are planning to convert them into battery electric versions, which they have called BatteryFLEX trains.

Unfortunately, they are four-cars and unlike other trains, it doesn’t appear that they can be shortened to three cars.

Class 375, 377, 379 and 387 Trains

These four fleets of Electrostar trains could be a possibility for running as battery electric trains.

  • Some are three-car trains and four-car trains can be converted to three-car trains, by simply removing a car.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • Bombardier converted a Class 379 train for battery operation and I have heard or seen no adverse reports from either passengers, rail staff or journalists.
  • They can work in multiple formations.
  • They are all wired for dual-voltage operation.
  • Pantographs wells have already been fitted to trains that normally work using 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

The picture shows the Class 379 train, that was converted to battery electric operation.

The Class 379 trains, also have the advantage, that there is a fleet of thirty trains, that are being replaced by Greater Anglia, who are homeless.

If I were the owner of the Class 379 trains, I’d do the following.

  • Convert them all into battery electric trains.
  • Shuffle cars around to get a mix of three-, four- and five-car trains to match market opportunities.
  • Make them compatible with Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.
  • Do a licensing deal with Vivarail, so I could supply the chargers.

This plan has some big advantages.

  • Battery electric operation of the Class 379 trains has been successfully proven.
  • Some Class 379 trains are already available for conversion, as they have been replaced by Greater Anglia.
  • The trains could easily be delivered in time for the opening of the East West Railway.
  • The trains would not need to be replaced, if the East West Railway was to be fully electrified in the future.
  • If I leased out all the Class 379 trains, I’m fairly sure that I could acquire some other Electrostars to convert.

The trains would surely be ideal for the Uckfield Branch and Ashford and Hastings, which are to be run by battery electric trains.

  • The order for these services is still to be announced.
  • This use would be a trial application of the highest quality.
  • I suspect that five-car trains would be ideal for these Southern routes.
  • In Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch, I estimated that Southern would need twelve five-car trains for the Uckfield Branch and four trains for the Ashford and Hastings service.

It looks to me, the thirty four-car Class 379 trains could be converted into the following battery electric trains.

  • Twelve five-car trains for the Uckfield Branch.
  • Four four-car trains for Ashford and Hastings.
  • Fourteen three-car trains for the East West Railway.

Using battery electric Class 379 trains for the East West Railway, the Uckfield Branch and Ashford and Hastings. looks from the engineering, numbers and financial points of view to be a very efficient proposition.

Class 385 Trains

As I indicated earlier, Hitachi have the technology to create a Class 385 train with a battery capability.

  • They appear to be talking to ScotRail.
  • Are they talking to Vivarail about using their Fast Charge system?
  • As the trains would be new, East West Railway would get trains to their specification.

Battery electric Class 385 trains must be a serious proposition.

Class 600 Trains

The Class 600 train could be an interesting possibility.

The trains can be powered by both hydrogen and overhead or third-rail electrification.

  • The trains are three-cars long.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • First in-service dates are scheduled for 2024, which could be convenient.
  • The trains will have a state-of-the-art Renatus interior.
  • They will not need charging and could probably be refuelled as infrequently as only once per day.

I am not worried, by the train being powered by hydrogen, but because of the large tanks in the train, the passenger capacity will be lower, than a diesel, electric or battery electric train of a similar length.

I suspect though, that Alstom will be pitching for the order.

Aventras

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over nine years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

Bombardier have not announced that any of their trains have energy storage, but I have my suspicions, that both the Class 345 and Class 710 trains use super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries, as part of their traction system design.

I believe that Bombardier, have the ability to build an Aventra to this specification.

  • Three-cars
  • 100 mph running
  • Sixty mile range on battery power.
  • Dual voltage.
  • Ability to work in pairs.

Like the Hitachi trains, they would be new build.

CAF

CAF have proposed a battery electric train based on the Class 331 train, which I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans.

It is a four-car development of the three-car Class 331 trains.

Can it be built as a three-car train to fit the specification?

Conclusion

There are some good candidates sir supplying an interim fleet of trains for the East West Railway.

My money’s on one of the following.

  • New Hitachi Class 385 trains
  • Converted Class 379 trains.
  • New Aventras

All would be battery electric trains.

But there is a change that Alstom’s Class 600 hydrogen trains could be used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Beeching Reversal – More Stopping Services At Radcliffe-on-Trent And Bottesford Stations On The Poacher Line Between Grantham And Nottingham

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

It is one of a pair of submissions from the local MP; Alicia Kearns. The other is Increased Services To Nottingham And Leicester, via Syston And Loughborough From Melton Mowbray.

When I heard of the MP’s submissions, I wrote MP Campaigns To Extend Train Services For Melton Borough and the following uses that post as a starting point.

Wikipedia says this about services at Bottesford station on the Poacher Line.

  • The service is generally every two hours to Nottingham in the West and Skegness in the East.
  • Some trains call at Grantham and have a connection to the East Coast Main Line.
  • LNER services at Grantham connect to Doncaster, King’s Cross, Leeds, Lincoln, Peterborough, Stevenage, Wakefield and York.
  • Bottesford is in the Borough of Melton and their is no direct rail service between Bottesford and Melton. A typical journey takes over two-and-a-half hours with two changes, that can include a wait of an hour at Leicester station.
  • Bottesford is in the County of Leicester. There is no direct rail service between Bottesford and Leicester.

I think the MP has a point and an improved and more frequent service at Bottesford could be very beneficial.

  • Many routes like this in the UK have a regular hourly service. Coastal stations with a regular hourly or better service include Blackpool South, Cleethorpes, Cromer, Exmouth, Felixstowe, Kings Lynn, Paignton, Scarborough and Sheringham
  • I suspect many communities along the Poacher Line would benefit from a regular hourly service.
  • All services calling at Grantham for East Coast Main Line services would be useful.
  • Do services have a good interchange at Nottingham for Midland Main Line services?

Replacing 75 mph Class 153 and Class 156 trains with 100 mph Class 170 trains would probably be a big help.

Conclusion

It looks like improvements at Bottesford would not require any new expensive infrastructure.

But East Midlands Railway would need more trains and they would probably need to be faster too!

 

August 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

East Midlands Railway Class 170 Trains To Get New Emissions Technology

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

These two paragraphs introduce the article.

Porterbrook has announced that it has received funding for the trial fitment of technology to reduce emissions on its fleet of Class 170 DMU trains.

The £400,000 funding will see the Class 170 ‘Turbostar’ trains, which are in operation with East Midlands Railway, fitted with Eminox SCRT technology.

The trial will be for three months, after which a decision will be made, as whether Porterbrook’s share of the over 120 Class 170 trains will be upgraded.

June 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

First Passenger Train In 80 Years Runs On Camp Hill Line

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

These two paragraphs described the route, that the train took on the Camp Hill Line.

On Monday morning a train carrying the Mayor, West Midlands Railway’s customer experience director Jonny Wiseman and other representatives from across the rail industry, travelled along the line.

The train followed the route of what would be the re-opened line, stopping at the Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell sites before arriving into Kings Norton, and later returning to Birmingham New Street.

The article has a picture showing the VIPs showing boards indicating the stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell, that will be reopened.

Wikipedia says this under Future for all three stations.

In 2019, the project to re-open the stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell received £15 million in Government funding, with construction due to start in 2020 and aimed for completion in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

£15million seems good value to reopen three stations.

Let’s hope the world has solved the COVID-19 crisis before the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Trains For The Service

The picture in the article, shows the test service was run by a two-car Class 170 train. This is an ideal train to do the testing, but as the Camp Hill Line is not electrified, self-powered trains will be needed for the passenger service.

West Midlands Trains will have a good selection of self-powered trains with which to run the service.

  • They already have a selection of Class 170 and Class 172 Turbostar diesel multiple units in very good condition, which total thirty-seven two-cars and twenty-one three-cars.
  • I’m sure Vivarail will pitch diesel-electric or battery-electric versions of their Class 230 trains.
  • Alstom will probably pitch the Breeze hydrogen-powered train.
  • Porterbrook will probably pitch their proposed Battery/FLEX conversion of Class 350 trains.

I don’t think there will be a problem finding a suitable fleet for this route.

I suspect some form of battery-electric train will be used, as there is lots of 25 KVAC overhead electrification in the Birmingham area, that can be used to charge the batteries.

Battery-electric trains with a range of perhaps forty miles would also open up the possibilities for other electric services for West Midlands Trains.

A Thought On Construction

Because of COVID-19, there will probably be numbers of unemployed in this part of Birmingham, who have skills that could be useful to do the building work.

So should the non-railway related parts of the reopening be accelerated to put money in the pockets of the local unemployed.

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Health, Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments