The Anonymous Widower

Crossrail’s New Opening Plan

This article on the excellent and well-informed IanVisits is entitled Crossrail Changes Its Staged Opening Plans.

Ian states that Crossrail will be split into two routes.

  • Shenfield and Paddington
  • Abbey Wood and Heathrow/Reading

Frequencies will be reduced, but Ian states there could be two positive benefits.

  • Abbey Wood and Paddington could open earlier in 2022.
  • The full integrated service could be brought forward six months.

Why is this possible?

These are my thoughts.

The Covid-19 Pandemic

The current TfL Rail service between Shenfield and Liverpool Street stations coped well before the pandemic  and now with reduced passenger numbers it is able to handle current passenger loads without a problem.

I have used Crossrail from Paddington to Heathrow and Reading during the pandemic and Crossrail’s nine-car trains are handling passenger numbers with ease.

It would appear to me, that by using two platforms at Liverpool Street and Paddington stations, the benefits of Crossrail have been delivered to the East and West of the massive Greater London conurbation.

Stratford Station

Stratford station is more or less complete with respect to Crossrail.

  • It can handle ten-car trains, if they run in the future.
  • The two dedicated platforms for Crossrail, can probably handle the maximum frequency of trains, the line will ever carry.

But Stratford’s biggest advantage is the connections to the Central and Jubilee Lines, and the North London Line of the London Overground, which between them give access to most of Central and North London.

Ealing Broadway Station

A few weeks ago, a fully step-free Ealing Broadway station opened, as I wrote about in Ealing Broadway Station – 31st May 2021.

As with Stratford station, Ealing Broadway station is ready for any future Crossrail service.

It also has connections to the Central and District Lines to give access to most of Central London.

Can The Underground Cope In Central London?

All Lines except the Northern and Piccadilly Lines have seen improvement to signalling and/or trains in recent years and in my meandering around London, they seem to be coping well with the current passenger levels.

Liverpool Street Station

I use Liverpool Street station regularly and changes are happening at the station.

  • Platforms have been lengthened so that ten-car Crossrail trains can be handled.
  • The main entrance to the Underground was updated a few years ago and has a very wide gateline.
  • A wider gateline is being installed for Crossrail and other suburban services on the East side of Liverpool Street station.
  • A new entrance to Crossrail has been completed in front of Broadgate and appears ready to open, as I observed in Crossrail’s First Inclined Lift Is Now Available To View!.

A second high capacity step-free entrance has opened on Moorgate. When Crossrail opens through Liverpool Street station opens it will enable the following.

Passengers will be able to walk underground between Liverpool Street and Moorgate, with a substantial section of the route up and down escalators. I described the route in detail in London’s First Underground Roller Coaster.

The Crossrail entrance inside the Underground station at Liverpool Street station is now visible.

Note.

  1. Crossrail is behind the two pairs of massive stainless-steel doors.
  2. Peeping through the window, construction appeared to be almost at completion.
  3. If you turn right here, you take the escalator down to the Central Line.

Eventually, Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations could even be considered a single station with a massive escalator connection between the two original stations.

Liverpool Street And Stratford Stations Together Give Crossrail A Comprehensive Under/Overground Connection

These Under/Overground lines connect to either or both stations.

  • Central Line – Connects to both stations, but at Stratford it’s a cross-platform interchange with Crossrail. Ideal for Oxford Street, the City of London and St. Paul’s.
  • Circle Line – Connects to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Euston, Kings Cross, Paddington, St. Pancras, Victoria and large parts of South Central and West London.
  • Hammersmith And City Line – Connects to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Euston, Kings Cross, Paddington, St. Pancras and large parts of West London.
  • Jubilee Line – Connects to Stratford. Ideal for Bond Street, Canary Wharf, London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster.
  • Lea Valley Lines – These Overground Lines connect to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Waltham Forest and North East London and South East Hertfordshire.
  • Metropolitan Line – Connects to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Euston, Kings Cross, Paddington and St. Pancras, Wembley Stadium and North-West London.
  • North London Line – This Overground Line connects to Stratford. Ideal for Acton, Brent, Dalston, Hackney, Hampstead and a large proportion of North and West London.

Liverpool Street and Stratford certainly have comprehensive connections to the Underground and Overground.

Liverpool Street And Shenfield Is Signalled With TPWS

TPWS is the only signalling system used on the section of Crossrail between Liverpool Street And Shenfield stations.

It offers these benefits, as opposed to the ETCS used in Crossrail’s core tunnel.

  • It eased the replacement of the original Class 315 trains with new Class 345 trains.
  • It allows Crossrail’s trains to share tracks with other trains not fitted with ETCS.
  • Drivers only have to handle one signalling system on the route.

The single signalling system must make commissioning and operating the service between Liverpool Street And Shenfield stations easier.

Liverpool Street Station Gives Crossrail Flexibility In The East

The distance between the two current Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street station and the steel doors will probably be no more than a couple of minutes walk with just a couple of steps down into the Underground station, which can be by-passed by a lift.

Currently, the service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield station has a frequency of eight trains per hour (tph)

  • These trains are currently nine-cars long.
  • The two Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street have been lengthened to handle ten-car trains.
  • The gateline for the Crossrail platforms is being improved to handle a higher volume of passengers.

If overcrowding should become a problem between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, then there is a quick fix of adding a tenth car to the trains, which would increase capacity by eleven percent.

The extra cars would be borrowed from Crossrail trains sitting in sidings, that are not needed because of the reduced train frequencies.

When Crossrail opens between Abbey Wood and Paddington stations, passengers needing to go between say Ilford and Paddington will be able to take the short walk between both pairs of Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street station.

But the big advantage comes, when Crossrail starts running between Shenfield and Paddington.

Trains can be gradually swapped between Liverpool Street and Paddington as a terminus.

If there is a problem in Crossrail’s central tunnel, then services can be swapped back to Crossrail’s two current platforms in the National Rail station.

It looks to be a well-designed system.

Could The Pedestrian Route Between Liverpool Street And Moorgate Stations Be Opened Early?

This article on IanVisits is entitled Northern Line Bank Branch To Close For 4 Months Next Year.

The Northern Line will be closed between Moorgate and Kennington stations from the 15th January to mid-May.

Extra buses will obviously be run between Moorgate and Kennington to help during the closure.

  • Finsbury Square is already used to turn buses and could be used as a Northern terminal.
  • London Bridge has a bus station and could be used to turn buses.
  • In his article Ian talks of buses between Oval and the City.
  • The 21 and 141 bus routes run between Moorgate and London Bridge.

Would opening the pedestrian link help a lot of people by providing an easier route between Bank and Moorgate stations, by using the Central Line to Liverpool Street and then the tunnel?

  • It would be fully step-free.
  • Passengers from say St. Paul’s or Chancery Lane stations on the Central Line needing to get to say Angel station might find it an easier route.
  • The weather isn’t always good enough for a walk.

It would be an escalator connection par excellence.

I suspect that this pedestrian route could open before January 15th.

  • It will obviously need to be open when Crossrail opens between Abbey Wood and Paddington.
  • As a pedestrian route, it will improve connectivity at both Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations.
  • The Crossrail station at Liverpool Street, has been handed over to Transport for London.
  • It could allow the opening up of the step-free tunnel from the Northern and Northern City Lines to the new entrance at Moorgate station.

Could the last point be the most significant, as it would make the Northern Line platforms at Moorgate station fully step-free in time for the blockade between Moorgate and Kennington stations?

As Transport for London have accepted Liverpool Street station, opening of the pedestrian route is surely their sole decision.

Could The Pedestrian Route Between The Bakerloo Line And Crossrail Be Opened Early?

Access to the Bakerloo Line at Paddington is being transformed by two projects.

  • The addition of a step-free pedestrian tunnel, which will be around eighty metres long, that will link the Bakerloo Line and Crossrail.
  • A new step-free entrance and booking hall for the Bakerloo Line,that will replace the current Praed Street entrance.

This page on the Transport for London web site, which is entitled Paddington Bakerloo Ticket Hall, gives more details of the new entrance.

Transport for London indicate that the second project will be completed by mid-2022.

But I do wonder, if after Paddington station is handed over to Transport for London, if this tunnel could be opened to give interim step-free access to the Bakerloo Line, until either Crossrail or the new entrance opens.

When Crossrail and these two projects are completed, will this mean that the Bakerloo Line will see a lot more passengers?

Abbey Wood And Paddington

Crossrail between Abbey Wood And Paddington has the following characteristics.

  • It is a new twin-track railway, that it doesn’t share with other trains.
  • Most of the route is in tunnel, with just three sections on the surface.
  • The route is signalled with ETCS.
  • All new underground stations will have platform-edge doors.

It is very much a railway designed to the highest modern standards.

The Surface Section At Abbey Wood

The surface section at Abbey Wood has these purposes.

  • To provide an interchange station with the North Kent Line.
  • To turn back trains towards the West.
  • To provide stabling for trains and service trains to enable a smooth operation of the Abbey Wood and Paddington section of Crossrail.

This map from cartometro shows the track layout to the East of Plumstead station.

Note.

  1. Crossrail is shown in purple.
  2. Abbey Wood station has two platforms for Crossrail and two for the North Kent Line.
  3. The platforms appear to be numbered one to four from the South.
  4. There appears to be a turnback for Crossrail trains in Platform 3, which also appears to have crossovers to connect to the North Kent Line.
  5. Crossovers to the West of Abbey Wood station allow trains to use either Crossrail platform.
  6. These crossovers also allow access to the sidings at Plumstead.
  7. The Plumstead tunnel portal can be seen below Plumstead Depot.

If Abbey Wood station follows the two National Rail platforms at Liverpool Street in handling a total of 8 tph, then initially Abbey Wood could handle this frequency of trains.

Ian says this in the first article about the frequencies of Crossrail during testing.

Before the blockade, Crossrail was testing the line with an 8 trains per hour (8tph) service, but this week they are going to be ramping that up to 12tph, which will mirror the timetabled service that the line will offer when it opens early next year.

Note that 12 tph will require Abbey Wood station to handle 6 tph on each platform.

Transport for London also intend to simulate 24 tph through the central section, which will be the Peak frequency when the line fully opens.

The Surface Section At Custom House

This map from cartometro shows the track layout around Custom House station.

Note.

  1. Crossrail is shown in purple.
  2. The DLR is shown in light green.
  3. The tunnel portal for the central Crossrail tunnel is to the West of Custom House station.
  4. The tunnel portal for the Connaught tunnel is in the area of the former Connaught Road station.
  5. Between the other end of the Connaught tunnel and Woolwich station, some of the route is in a cutting.
  6. There are crossovers either side of Custom House station.

I suspect a lot of the complications are because an old route was reused.

The Surface Section At Paddington

This map from cartometro shows the track layout around Paddington station.

Note.

  1. The Crossrail station at Paddington is a straight-through two platform station.
  2. The Royal Oak portal, where Crossrail comes to the surface is just to the West of Royal Oak Underground station.
  3. Two lines are labelled CRL Eastbound and CRL Westbound are connected to the Crossrail lines.
  4. Between and around these lines is Paddington New Yard
  5. There are two full crossovers between Paddington New Yard and the Royal Oak portal.

To reverse at Paddington, trains proceed to Paddington New Yard, where the driver changes ends and then returns to Paddington, when needed.

Trains for Reading and Heathrow use the CRL Eastbound and CRL Westbound lines to connect to Crossrail’s Western surface tracks and the Central core tunnel.

It all looks well-designed to my untrained eye.

Platform Edge Doors

This page on the Crossrail web describes the platform edge doors.

This is the first paragraph.

Crossrail has installed floor-to-ceiling platforms screen doors at each of the eight new underground stations on the Elizabeth line – that’s roughly 4 kilometers of platform edge screens in total.

The new stations between Abbey Wood and Paddington are,

  • Paddington
  • Bond Street
  • Tottenham Court Road
  • Farringdon
  • Liverpool Street
  • Whitechapel
  • Canary Wharf
  • Custom House
  • Woolwich

This is eight underground stations and one surface station; Custom House.

So does it mean that Custom House station doesn’t have platform edge doors?

 

I took these pictures of Custom House station today.

Note.

  1. The Crossrail trains were running at a frequency of 8 tph.
  2. , The pictures don’t show any platform edge doors or structures capable of supporting platform edge doors.

Could the regulations allow a surface station like Custom House to be built without doors, or were they left out to save money?

Safety is assured by being able to shut off all entrances to the platforms.

But it does appear that between Custom House and Paddington stations, passengers and trains are separated by platform edge doors.

  • Platform edge doors are controlled by the signalling, so with the correct interlocking a lot of things are possible.
  • Suppose, a station is not ready for passengers, then by locking the doors closed, trains can still pass through.
  • Does this mean that at stations like Liverpool Street, where passengers might need to walk between the Moorgate and Liverpool Street ends of the station to change trains, that these pedestrian routes could be opened? I think it does?

It does appear to me, that platform edge doors are the key to opening a partially-completed railway.

When Could Abbey Wood And Paddington Open?

It strikes me that the following conditions must be met.

  • Paddington station must be handed over to Transport for London.
  • Platform edge doors at all stations must work reliably.
  • The trains must work reliably with the signalling.

It looks like Bond Street, Paddington and Whitechapel stations, are the only stations that have not been handed over to Transport for London.

  • I suspect, as Paddington is a terminal station, it must be handed over.
  • Crossrail have said they could live with Bond Street opening later.
  • Whitechapel appears to have been a difficult station to build, so perhaps it could open later.

Could Crossrail open partially, earlier than anyone thinks?

Perhaps this post called Your First Crossrail Service May Arrive In Time For Christmas, was based on fact and not rumour in the Sunday Times.

 

 

 

 

 

July 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?

This article on Rail Advent is entitled Eversholt Rail Unveils First Swift Express Freight Train In Doncaster.

It is a full report on the first of a new breed of freight trains based on redundant 100 mph electric multiple units.

Three Rail Problems

The rail industry, its financiers and customers have a lot of problems, they’d like to solve, but these three seem to be coming together to create a whole new industry.

Rolling Stock Leasing Companies Have A Surplus Of Redundant Rolling Stock

 

Most of the released rolling stock has been made redundant because of the arrival of new trains.

What will be left will be a an assortment, which will contain a lot of trains with these characteristics.

  • Four cars
  • Can run in formations of 4, 8 and 12 cars
  • Electrically-powered.
  • Some trains are even dual voltage.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Good reliability.
  • Easy maintenance and modification if needed.

Many were even built over thirty years ago by British Rail Engineering Ltd.

As someone, who used to part-own a company that leased trucks to operators, I know that to maximise cash-flow and ultimately profits, you don’t want them sitting in a yard or a siding.

Conversion to zero carbon is one option.

  • Porterbrook have said they will convert the Class 350 trains, that they own to battery-electric operation.
  • Porterbrook have also converted some Class 319 trains to electro-diesel Class 769 trains.
  • Porterbrook have also converted a Class 319 train to hydrogen operation.
  • Eversholt Rail Group and Alstom are converting Class 321 trains to hydrogen operation.

I also believe that the redundant Class 379 trains will also be converted to battery-electric operation.

But there will still be a substantial number of quality trains, that need a second life.

The Growth Of Parcel Freight

Parcel freight traffic driven by on-line shopping, has boomed in the pandemic.

This type of traffic often originates from outside of the UK and enters the country at places like London Gateway or East Midlands Airport.

Much of it is currently distributed to large cities by truck, which in this day and age is not a green option, or even an option at all.

Rail Operations Group have leased ten Class 769 trains and 9 Class 319 trains with the intention of running parcel services under the Orion brand. I wrote about this proposal in A Freight Shuttle For Liverpool Street Station Planned.

Road Congestion

Road congestion is getting worse and there is bir much point in having product stuck on the motorway, when it can be running along at a 100 mph on an electrified rail line.

The Need For Just-In-Time Deliveries

Many factories these days work on the Just-In-Time principle, with product delivered just as its needed.

As an example Toyota build their cars at Burnaston near Derby, but the engines are built in North Wales. I suspect that they go across the country by truck.

Looking at maps, the engine plant could be rail connected and I feel one could be arranged at Burnaston.

Do they keep a good stock of engines at Burnaston?

I can see several situations like this needing a regular company train.

Fast Food

Because of Brexit we will need to be growing more of our own food.

Traditionally, the Class 43 power cars of InterCity 125 trains carried flowers and fish up from Cornwall.

So will we see rail provide an alternative.

Conclusion

Put these problems together and you can see a fair number of four-car electric multiple units being converted to short 100 mph electric freight trains.

Eversholt Rail Group‘s Swift Express Freight Train is very much a demonstrator for their ideas and it has some expected and unexpected features.

Based On A Class 321 train

The train is based on a four-car Class 321 train.

I rode one recently and I timed it at over 90 mph on the way to Southend.

Trolley Cages

Pictures in the Rail Advent article show a stripped-bare interior with a steel floor, with another picture showing three supermarket trolley cages arranged across the train.

One estimate in the article says that each coach can handle over fifty of these cages and up to nine-and-a-half tonnes of cargo.

Four Seats And A Toilet

Eversholt feel that some of the trains could be used in a Travelling Post Office mode and there may be a need for sorting en route, so two first-class seats, two second-class seats and a toilet are provided.

This train would enable an Anglo-Scottish parcel service.

  • It might stop several times en route.
  • At each stop parcels would be rolled out and in, perhaps with the help of a Harrington Hump.
  • The on-train staff would sort the incoming parcels and put them in the required trolley for offloading.

I don’t think though, they’ll be delivering postal orders.

A Last Mile Capability

The article also disclosed that Eversholt were thinking of fitting a Last-Mile capability to the Swift Express Freight Train.

Batteries were mentioned and they would obviously work.

But one development recently is Porterbrook’s HydroFlex train, which has converted a Class 319 train to hydrogen power.

  • The conversion was done by Birmingham University.
  • It appears that all the hydrogen gubbins is underneath the floor, so cargo capacity would not be reduced.

I suspect underfloor hydrogen power could be very viable in an express freight train.

Fleet Size

The article talks of a fleet size of twenty and also says that the first train has been leased to an unnamed parcel distributor in the UK.

July 3, 2021 Posted by | Design, Finance, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A First Ride On A Class 710 Train Between Upminster And Romford

This morning I went to Upminster and took the Class 710 train to Romford and back.

All went well and what a difference from yesterday, which I wrote about in A Last Ride On A Class 315 Train Between Upminster And Romford?

These are my thoughts.

Capacity Improvement

These pictures show the interiors of the Class 710 train and the Class 315 train.

It looks like many more passengers can be squeezed into the Class 710 train, than the Class 315 train.

According to Wikipedia the Class 710 train can hold 189 seated and 489 standing passengers, whilst the Class 315 train has 318 seats.

Ride Improvement

I travelled along the route with a Transport for London engineer, who worked on the Crossrail trains.

We both felt the ride was a large improvement and we both felt that it Network Rail worked a bit of magic on the track, it would be a very good train service.

Could Four Trains Per Hour Be Possible?

My travelling companion had worked on the Docklands Light Railway, and we both felt that with a degree of automation, an increased frequency would be possible.

Consider.

  • There is only one train on the line at any one time.
  • No other trains use the line.
  • The route is under 3.5 miles long.
  • The acceleration and deceleration of the new trains is superior to those of the Class 315 trains.
  • Do the Class 710 trains employ regenerative braking to battery technology?
  • The current operating speed is just 30 mph.
  • I’m sure Network Rail could improve the operating speed.
  • My travelling companion told me, that Crossrail had successfully tested the automated auto-reverse feature on the Class 345 trains

All these points convince me, that, track improvements and simple automation, much less sophisticated, than that of the Victoria Line or the Docklands Light Railway, could run the service at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).

There is one problem though.

This article on Time 107.5, is entitled New Train To Begin Running Between Romford And Upminster.

This is an extract.

From today, the new Overground train which has changes to certain features, will be implemented.

The key changes include a different colour at the front which has changed from yellow to orange.

Different LED lights have also been fitted to the train.

The new trains are also quieter so may sound different to the older trains.

As a result, Network Rail and Transport for London are reminding pedestrians using level crossings along the route to stay safe.

Network Rail and Transport for London seem to be worried about pedestrians on the level crossings.

I would think, it prudent, that before line speeds and the frequency of the service are increased, there should be a thorough period of testing to see how pedestrians cope with the new trains, at the level crossings.

What methods of automation could be used?

Borrow From Dear Old Vicky

The Victoria Line (aka Dear Old Vicky!) opened in 1968 and runs using a fully-automated system, at frequencies of up to 36 tph.

Under Service And Rolling Stock, in the Wikipedia entry for the Victoria Line, there is this description of the original automation system.

On opening, the line was equipped with a fixed-block Automatic Train Operation system (ATO). The train operator closed the train doors and pressed a pair of “start” buttons and, if the way ahead was clear, the ATO drives the train at a safe speed to the next station. At any point, the driver could switch to manual control if the ATO failed. The system, which operated until 2012, made the Victoria line the world’s first full-scale automatic railway.

The Victoria line runs faster trains than other Underground lines because it has fewer stops, ATO running and modern design. Train speeds can reach up to 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).

Note.

  1. The original ATO system worked for over forty years.
  2. The method of operation seemed to be very safe,
  3. But most remarkably, the electronics that controlled the trains, were 1960s technology and contained a lot of thermionic valves and relays

What would 50 mph running do for timings between Romford and Upminster?

By training I am a Control Engineer, and although, I’ve never worked on large-scale automation systems, I have worked with lots of people who have and firmly believe that a simple system based on Dear Old Vicky’s original design would work.

What sort of times could be achieved between Romford and Upminster?

  • The route can be considered to be two legs; Romford and Emerson Park and Emerson Park and Upminster, both of which are about 1.75 miles long.
  • The fastest way in a train between too stations, is to accelerate to cruising speed, cruise at that speed and then time the deceleration, so you stop neatly in the station.
  • The Class 710 trains probably accelerate and decelerate at around 1 m/sec/sec.
  • The acceleration and deceleration section of each leg will take 22.2 seconds and during that time the train will travel 0.15 miles.
  • So that means the train will cruise at 50 mph for 1.45 miles, which will take 104 seconds.
  • The two legs of the journey will take around 150 second or 2.5 minutes.

The time for a round trip from Romford to Upminster can now be calculated,

  • Four legs between station 4 x 2.5 = 10 mins
  • Two stops Emerson Park 2 x 1 mins = 2 mins
  • One stop at Romford 2 mins = 2 mins
  • One stop at Upminster 2 mins = 2 mins

Note.

  1. This is a total of 16 minutes
  2. The longer stops at Romford and Upminster are needed for the driver to change ends.
  3. I have repeated the calculations for a 60 mph cruise and it saves just 40 seconds.

But I do feel that improving the method of operation could allow four tph.

The Driver Could Control The Train From One End

Consider.

  • Each cab could have a video screen showing the view from the other cab.
  • There could also be video screens on the platforms giving detailed views of the train in a station, as there are on many platforms now!

Would these and perhaps extra automation allow the driver to control the train from one cab, as it shuttled back and forth?

I suspect it would be cab at the Upminster end, as the platform is longer at Romford.

I believe that it would be possible and should allow stops of a minute at the two termini, as the driver wouldn’t be changing ends.

One minute stops would reduce the round-trip time to fourteen minutes and allow four tph.

Full Automation With The Driver In Control

The Docklands Light Railway is fully automated, so why not use a similar system on the Romford and Upminster Line?

But instead of having the system controlled by an operator in a remote signalling centre, the driver on the single train on the route is in control of it all.

The automation would enable fast stops and the driver would not have to change ends.

This would mean that four tph would be able to run at all times.

The System Would Self-Regulate

With public transport, things do go wrong.

Supposing someone turned up in a wheel-chair and it took five minutes to load them onto the train, so it left late.

This would mean that the train would be running late for the rest of the day, unless it was decided to wait for a few minutes, so it had the time of the following service.

After the wait, all trains would be on time.

Put Two Drivers On The Train

This would also be possible.

The train would have a driver in each cab.

  • The driver in the cab at the Romford end of the train would drive the train to Romford.
  • The driver in the cab at the Upminster end of the train would drive the train to Upminster.
  • At each terminus, they would swap over control, just as the two pilots do in an airliner.

There would probably need to be a simple interlock, so that only one driver could drive the train at the same time.

This should give the required four tph, as fast stops could be performed at all stations.

Using two drivers could be the ideal way to test out four tph and see whether it attracted more passengers.

Conclusion

The Romford and Upminster route has been markedly improved with the new Class 710 train.

I believe, that it is now possible to run four tph on this route, with some moderate extra expenditure or using two drivers.

 

 

October 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Last Ride On A Class 315 Train Between Upminster And Romford?

This morning I went to Upminster and took the Class 315 train to Romford.

I added the question mark, as when I passed East Ham depot, there were two new Class 710 trains sitting there, covered in graffiti.

Could The Romford And Upminster Line Be Improved?

I see two possible simple improvements

Four Trains Per Hour

London Overground likes to run four trains per hour (tph).

Could this frequency be run on the Romford and Upminster Line?

Three years ago I wrote Could The Romford To Upminster Line Handle Four Trains Per Hour?, and came to this conclusion.

A seven minute trip would mean the train could perform the required four trips per hour.

It would still be tight.

I also investigated an automated shuttle train on the route in An Automated Shuttle Train Between Romford And Upminster, which I felt would be possible, to run a four tph service.

Extension Of The Service

There are various reasons, why the service could be extended from Upminster station, in the Grays direction.

  • It would give travellers from South Essex much better access to Crossrail.
  • It could give a shuttle between Romford and Grays via the Lakeside Shopping Centre
  • Tilbury Riverside station could be a possibility.
  • It could open up possibilities for more housing in the area.
  • If the route were to be extended to a new station at London Gateway, it could make it easier for people to travel to work at the large port.

Obviously, it would have to be viable for the operator, but the big beasts of Crossrail, Lakeside Shopping Centre and London Gateway might make it possible.

Planning the route wouldn’t be that easy.

Consider.

  • The connections to Romford and Grays are on different sides of the District Line, so a flyover or dive-under might be needed.
  • Upminster and Grays is a single-track line with a passing loop at the two-platform Ockenden station.
  • Upminster and Grays used to be worked by a shuttle service.
  • The signalling appears to be able to handle four tph in both directions.
  • The current service between Grays and Upminster is two tph in both directions.
  • There is a bay platform 1A, at Upminster, which faces towards Grays.

It can certainly be said, that the extension of the service can’t be run at four tph.

I also think, that the current track layout at Upminster looks like one of British Rail efforts to stop any expansion of the railway.

This Google Map shows the layout of Upminster station.

Note.

  1. The  platforms are numbered 1 to 6 from South to North.
  2. Platform 1A is the Southernmost platform, which is slightly at an angle.
  3. The main station footbridge is at the Western ends of the platforms.
  4. The station isn’t fully step-free.

Is an alternative approach possible?

Suppose the following were to be arranged.

  • A four tph endless shuttle between Romford and Upminster stations.
  • Full step-free access at Romford station is currently being installed.
  • Full step-free access at Upminster station.
  • A two tph shuttle between Platform 1a and Grays, London Gateway or wherever most passengers want. This service would be arranged to give four tph between Upminster and Grays, when combined with the current services.
  • The two four tph services would be timed to give a convenient interchange at Upminster.

Could it be made to work?

It would only need improvements to Upminster station.

These pictures show Upminster station.

Note.

  1. Platform 1a is fully-electrified and long enough for a Class 710 train.
  2. The bridge at the Eastern end of the station is not step-free but could be updated.
  3. It might be possible to extend this bridge to Platform 6.

Platform 1a could certainly be used to operate a shuttle service to Grays to create a new service across South Essex.

 

 

October 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Latest On The New London Overground Class 710 Trains

The August 2018 Edition of Modern Railways has a two-page article on the latest on the new Class 710 trains for the London Overground.

Seating Arrangement

Wikipedia says this about the seating.under Background And Specifications.

The units will be delivered in two sub-classes; an AC-only version with longitudinal and transverse seating (very similar to the S8 units on the Metropolitan line of the London Underground) for use on the West Anglia and Romford-Upminster services, and a dual-voltage version with longitudinal seating for the Watford DC and GOBLIN services.

But it now appears that all the seats on the trains will be longitudinal ones.

I use the current trains a lot to go to Walthamstow and I also use the Class 378 trains, which have longitudinal seats, frequently on the North and East London Lines of the Overground.

I probably aren’t bothered too much about longitudinal seats, but I suspect there will be others who will complain.

This discussion of RailForums is entitled Annoying Things About The Class 378. Search for “seat” and you don’t find many complaints about the longitudinal seating, which is also used on much of the Underground.

On the other hand, if all the trains have identical interiors, this must save on construction and maintenance costs.

If the interiors are basically similar to the Class 378 trains, it must also save on staff training costs.

I actually think, that the biggest complaint will not be about the new trains, but why don’t the older Class 378 trains have wi-fi and USB charging points!

Eight-Car Trains On West Anglia Routes

The article also states that services on West Anglia routes to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town stations will work as eight-car trains or a pair of four-car trains.

If they are always working in pairs, why not build them as eight-car trains in the first place?

In A Detailed Layout Drawing For A Class 345 Train, I said that the formation of a Class 345 train for Crossrail is as follows.

DMS+PMS+MS1+MS3+TS(W)+MS3+MS2+PMS+DMS

Note.that the train is composed of two identical half-trains, which are separated by the TS(W) car.

As the Modern Railways article says that these trains are to be the last to be delivered, would it not be sensible to fully understand the four-car units and then decide if instead of pairs of four-car units, they were built as eight-cars.

Consider.

  • Trains would be formed of identical four-car half-trains.
  • An eight-car Class 710 train would be nearly fifty metres shorter than a nine-car Class 345 train.
  • Passengers would be able to walk through the whole train.
  • Passengers can position themselves for their best exit at their destination station.
  • Would passenger security be better on a train, where passengers could walk all the way through?
  • I have seen drivers on Class 345 trains change ends inside the train
  • Aventras and other modern trains are fitted with intelligent control systems, that determine the number and type of the intermediate cars in the train.
  •  Two Driving Motor Standard Cars (DMS) would be replaced with simpler Trailer Standard (TS) or Motor Standard (MS) cars.
  • The choice of a TS or MS car would depend partly on performance issues, which could be tested with the earlier four-car trains.
  • Building and maintenance cost savings by reducing the number of driving cars, must be possible.
  • Capacity could be increased by adding cars in the middle, if platforms were long enough!
  • Would providing overnight stabling for fifteen eight-car trains be easier than for thirty four-car trains?

It should also be noted, Cheshunt station has a very long platform without a roof. Passengers could walk to the front of the train inside a warm dry train. This already happens with the Class 378 trains at Highbury & Islington station.

Romford-Upminster Shuttle

The Modern Railways article says this about the service on the Romford-Upminster Line.

TfL is still considering whether to utilise a ‘710’ on the Romford to Upminster shuttle or to retain an older unit for the line.

I wrote about this in A Heritage Class 315 Train For The Romford-Upminster Line, after this article in London Reconnections, which is entitled More Trains for London Overground: A Bargain Never to be Repeated,   said that it is possible that this line could be served by a Class 315 train, held back from the scrapyard.

I came to this conclusion.

If it is decided that a Class 315 train is to be used on the Romford to Upminster Line, I believe that the service could be marketed as a quirky heritage unit, that in conjunction with its main purpose of providing a public service, could also be used for other education, training, marketing, innovation and research purposes.

Eversholt Rail Group might even shift a few redundant Class 315 trains!

Why not?

Chingford Upgrades

The Modern Railways article says this.

A £7million investment has seen the stabling facility at Chingford upgraded, including the addition of an AVIS-scanner here as well.

These pictures show the investment.

With the Automatic Vehicle Inspection System (AVIS), Chingford is becoming more than a stabling facility.

Note the large maintenance structure, so that trains can be worked on in the dry.

A Few Questions Of My Own

I have a few of my own questions.

If The Thirty Four-Car Trains For West Anglia Routes Are Converted To Eight-Cars, What Happens To The Spare Driving Motor Cars?

If the thirty four-car trains are converted to fifteen eight-car trains, it appears to me that Bombardier could  have at best many of the long-lead components for thirty Driving Motor Standard (DMS) cars. At worst, they would have thirty DMS cars for Class 710 trains.

But London Overground will have need for a few more trains in a few years.

In Increased Frequencies On The East London Line, I showed this London Overground table of improvements.

LO Improvements

Note that two extra tph are proposed on the Liverpool Street to Enfield Town service. I calculate, that this would need another two Class 710 Trains.

Similarly, to add two tph to the Liverpool Street to Cheshunt service, would appear to need another three trains.

The Mayor is also looking favourably at creating the West London Orbital Railway.

I estimate that the two proposed routes would need around four trains each to provide a four tph service, if they could be run using dual-voltage Class 710 trains with a range of perhaps ten miles on battery power.

What Is Happening About The Hall Farm Curve?

I heard from someone, who should know, that the Hall Farm Curve and the Coppermill Curve will be reinstated.

These curves would allow the following.

  •  A direct service between Chingford/Walthamstow and Stratford.
  • Better access to the upgraded stabling at Chingford.

But I think these curves would be invaluable in maintaining services, during the construction of Crossrail 2.

Will A Bay Platform Be Developed At Lea Bridge Station?

I also wonder if a bay platform will be developed at Lea Bridge station, which would enable a four tph service to be run between Lea Bridge and Chingford stations, if Chingford Branch trains couldn’t get into Liverpool Street station, because of construction works.

I certainly feel that the curves connecting the lines at Coppermill Junction will have a major part to play in the development of East London’s railways.

 

 

 

July 29, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Heritage Class 315 Train For The Romford-Upminster Line

The Romford To Upminster Line is slated to get a brand-new Class 710 train to work the two trains per hour shuttle.

This article in London Reconnections, which is entitled More Trains for London Overground: A Bargain Never to be Repeated,   says that it is possible that this line could be served by a Class 315 train, held back from the scrapyard.

This would mean a new Class 710 train could be deployed elsewhere, where its performance and comfort levels would be more needed.

Surely, a single Class 315 train, would be enough capacity for the line and a lot cheaper than a new Class 710 train! Provided of course, that it was reliable, comfortable and could maintain the current service.

A Heritage Unit

Why not market the train, as an updated heritage unit?

  • It could be painted in British Rail livery from the 1980s.
  • It would have wi-fi!
  • It might have an information car, describing the history of the line and the area.
  • It might even have a coffee kiosk!

It would be very much a quirky train to asttract regular passengers and even tourists.

But of course, it would be run as professionally as any other train on the network.

An Educational Purpose

I feel strongly, as do many in education, that not enough people are choosing subjects like engineering as a career.

Could it be used to show that engineering and particularly rail engineering could be a worthwhile career move?

Surely, it could also be used for training staff!

A Technology Or Capability Demonstrator

Eversholt Rail Group own sixty-one of these Class 315 trains, which although they are nearly forty-years old, don’t seem to feature much on BBC London’s travel reports.

They are reportedly destined for the scrapyard, but if they were to show they could still perform after a refurbishment, they might find a paying application somewhere.

Research

Regularly, innovations are suggested for the railway, but often finding somewhere to test them can be difficult.

However, as the Romford to Upminster Line is an electrified single-track line without signalling, the line is about as simple as you can get.

So supposing a company wanted to test how a sensitive electronic instrument behaved on a moving vehicle, this could be done without any difficulty.

Conclusion

If it is decided that a Class 315 train is to be used on the Romford to Upminster Line, I believe that the service could be marketed as a quirky heritage unit, that in conjunction with its main purpose of providing a public service, could also be used for other education, training, marketing, innovation and research purposes.

Eversholt Rail Group might even shift a few redundant Class 315 trains!

November 2, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Are Crossrail And Bombardier Having Us On?

A rail journalist sent me this sentence in an e-mail.

Everyone who’s been on a 345 tells me it takes half its time at stations waiting for the timetable to catch up.

So it would appear that they are saving time at each stop.

Liverpool Street To Shenfield

Currently, this twelve stop journey takes 43 minutes in a 75 mph Class 315 train.

It is also scheduled at 45 minutes in the 10:35 service, which is run by a Class 345 train.

The journey time calculator for Crossrail gives 41 minutes.

This works out at a saving of just  ten seconds a stop.

Paddington To Reading

Currently, this nine stop journey takes 60 minutes in a 90 mph Class 165 train.

Crossrail will call at five more stations

The journey time calculator for Crossrail gives 49 minutes.

This works out at a saving of forty-seven seconds a stop.

Reading To Shenfield

Currently, the fastest this journey can be done is 103 minutes with two changes and the Underground between Paddington and Liverpool Street.

The journey time calculator on Crossrail gives 102 minutes.

Liverpool Street To Paddington

Currently, this journey rakes 21 minutes on the Circle Line,

The journey time calculator on Crossrail gives 10 minutes.

Conclusion

These figures don’t make sense.

  1. More time is predicted to be saved on the Reading branch.
  2. The current trains are faster on the Reading branch.
  3. I would assume that the current Class 345 train to Shenfield is timed at 45 minutes for scheduling reasons or in case something goes wrong.
  4. The Shenfield to Liverpool Street times seem to be based on the current timetable with a minute taken off.
  5. The Reading to Shenfield times can’t be right.

I do wonder if the figures in the journey time calculator on the Crossrail web site are the best estimate that could be made, when the web site was created.

Now, that an Aventra is running, they are not very good estimates.

 

 

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

How’s The Overground To Enfield Town Doing?

In Transport for London Do The Sensible Thing, I said this.

Various news items on the Overground like this story in the Enfield Independent, have been reporting that the Class 315 and Class 317 Trains on the Lea Valley Lines are not very reliable.  I’ve read somewhere that they are spending up to two million pounds to get them running better.

So I thought I had better go and check to see how the lines to Enfield were doing, by taking the train to Enfield Town from Hackney Downs and then walking to Enfield Chase to get a Class 313 train back home.

The pictures show the following.

1. An eight-car Class 315 train was working one of the last of the rush-hour services into Liverpool Street. So hopefully, London Overground have now got all services back up to their correct length.

2. Most trains I saw seemed to have a London Overground roundel on the side, even if they weren’t repainted.

3. I travelled out to Enfield Town in a very clean eight-car Class 317 train, that had been upgraded for the Stansted Express with tables, luggage racks and First Class. When was Enfield Town last served by a train so luxurious? In some ways it’s a waste, as surely there are other places, where as soon as the replacement Class 378 trains arrive, these old Stansted Expresses could be more gainfully employed.

Perhaps, they could serve Glasgow Airport? But then the Scots would complain, that they were getting London’s clapped-out second-hand trains. I noticed as I left that the train had had a full service in September last year. Old they may be, but they are far from scrapyard-ready! I suppose an old Mark 3-based train, is still a Mark 3-based train, with all the strength and ride quality that means.

4. In the meantime, this Class 317 train, is probably doing a good job in pacifying the natives of Enfield.

5. After my walk through Enfield Town centre, I got on a Class 313 train to get back to London. Now that is a clapped-out train and I wonder how many passengers for London from Enfield are thinking about changing their point of departure for London. If you commute and have a Freedom Pass, this is now unrestricted from Enfield Town, so this must have an effect on commuting pstterns.

6. I took the picture of the pantograph on the Class 313 train, as this is a special job, so that the trains can run in the restricted tunnels to Moorgate. It only needs to fold away very snuggly, as that section of line uses third rail for its electricity.

I will ask this question, about what I saw.

London Overground have put an option for 249 extra vehicles in the order for the Class 378 trains, as I reported in Have Transport for London Other Plans For The Overground?

So will some of these optional vehicles in the Class 378 order end up working the Great Northern lines into Moorgate and Kings Cross?

They have a lot going for them.

1. They are certified for working in tunnels, as on the East London Line, they run sixteen times each hour both ways through the Thames Tunnel.

2. There is a dual-voltage variant of the Class 378 train.

3. There would be the problem of designing a new pantograph well and certifying them for the Great Northern tunnel, but that is not as great a task as designing a whole new class of train.

It would probably be a special variant of the Class 378 train, but it hopefully, it would not be a difficult design to create.

We can do a little calculation on where the 249 extra vehicles might go.

Various documents show that by 2030, London Overground wants to be running six-car trains on the North and East London Lines. So if the existing fleet was all made six car, that would probably need 63 vehicles, as there are 57 trains on the system currently and another six are on order.

If we assume that Transport for London’s other target, the Dartford Lines, comes with some fairly new trains, this may or may not use up some of those options.

Taking the 63 off the 249 gives us 186 vehicles, which leaves 186, which can be 62 three-car trains or 46 four-car ones, with a few vehicles left over. Intriguingly, they could also be configured as 31 six-car trains.

So how many trains would be needed? At present the line is worked by 44 3-car trains. So if it was deemed that under London Overground, the service would be as now, there would be plenty of vehicles.

But as I pointed out, 186 vehicles gives us 31 six-car trains. Wikipedia states that the tunnels to Moorgate will accept trains of this length, so would it be a simple decision to make all the Great Northern trains six-car to turn the service into a higher-capacity, seven days a week, Metro service? As this would be a distinct variant, they might even be given a bit more performance to ease them along the East Coast Main Line to Hitchin. After all other members of the family to which a Class 378 belongs are 100 mph as opposed to 75 mph trains.

Running six-car walk-through trains into Morgate, rather than two three-car ones coupled together, gets rid of one of the restrictions of running in tunnels, which insists that passengers can walk through the train to get out in case of trouble.

So the more I look at this, the more I think, that Transport for London has an option on trains to work the Great Northern services.

As Transport for London have said, they might like to take over some of the inner Thameslink services, I suspect that the flies on the wall in meetings between Govia Thameslink Railway and Transport for London will have interesting tales to tell.

 

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Looks Like 315817 Is The Prototype Overground Class 315 Train

Since Sunday, I’ve ridden on quite a few Class 315 trains, both of the Overground and TfL Rail. Although, I saw 315817 on Monday at Enfield Town station, I hadn’t got a chance to ride in one that as one the Overground’s managers had told me, had spent ten days in the maintenance shop being cleaned, painted and dressed. Today, there had been overhead line problems, so what should turn up at Hackney Downs station after a longer than usual wait, but 315817.

In my view, the design of the new livery is good and the ten days in the shop were well spent.

Good points include.

1. Getting rid of the awful pink!

2. Cleverly adapting the Class 378 colours and fabric, so that costs of the refurbishment are minimised.

3. The new Tube-style route map and the cut down central Tube map. Harry Beck, Frank Pick et. al., set down a good set of rules.

4. Affordable seat refurbishment on the original frames.

When the train arrived at Liverpool Street, I noted it was an eight-car train, with an unrefurbished unit in tandem with 315817. But then eight-car trains are used quite regularly on Lea Valley Lines services in the peak periods.

So it would appear that if business becomes too much for four-car trains, London Overground will just couple them together and make them 8-car trains, thus avoiding the problems of success on the North and East London Lines.

And there is probably no shortage of Class 315 trains, with London Overground having seventeen of them and TfL Rail forty-four.

I do suspect though, that 315817 is probably the only train that has so far been refurbished. I look forward to see the rest as they trickle through.

June 2, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

TfL Rail’s Newly-Repainted Class 315 Trains

Until the delivery of Crossrail’s new Class 345 trains in a few years, TfL Rail will have to make do with the current Class 315 trains.

In the interim, they have given them a repaint.

As you can see, they are also removing the dreaded pink plastic, that I so dislike.

June 1, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment