The Anonymous Widower

A Walk Between Burnley Burnley Manchester Road And Burnley Central Stations

This is another walk in Burnley to go with A Walk Between Burnley Barracks And Burnley Manchester Road Stations.

Burnley Manchester Road and Burnley Central stations are not that far apart.

This Google Map shows Burnley’s three stations in relation to the Town Centre and Turf Moor.

The various locations are as follows.

  • Turf Moor is indicated by the red arrow in the East.
  • Burnley Barracks station is in the North-West corner.
  • Bunley Central is at the North.
  • Burnley Manchester Road is at the South.
  • The Leeds and Liverpool canal weaves its way through the town passing close to Burnley Barracks station.

What the map doesn’t show is the terrain. The main station at Manchester Road is on one stretch of high ground and Central station and Turf Moor are on another.

So I walked down the hill from Manchester Road station, through the Shopping Centre and up the hill the other side to Central stion.

It was an easy walk down the hill followed by a stiffer one up to Central station.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A Side-Effect Of Northern’s Plan To Use Class 769 Trains Across Manchester

It would appear that Northern will use some Class 769 trains on routes across Manchester’s electrified core to connect two lines without electrification.

I think that one route could be to connect Clitheroe on the Ribble Valley Line to Buxton on the Buxton Line.

These two branches could be connected by an electrified line between Hazel Grove and Bolton stations, outside of which they’d generate their own power using on-board diesel alternators.

Pacers, Class 150 trains or Class 156 trains currently work the two lines without electrification, but if it was designed to create a North-South cross-Manchester service, Class 769 trains could easily handle the extended route.

Northern have around a hundred Pacers and have pledged to remove all of them from service. Probably, most will go to the scrapyard, but some might end up with enthusiasts or masochists, or in strange export markets.

  • A 75 mph two-car train like a Class 150/156 train or a Pacer would be replaced with a 90 mph four-car train. Which must speed up and improve the service.
  • Capacity would be increased by at least one car in each replacement train.
  • If a Pacer is replaced on the route, it goes out of service.
  • If a Class 156 train is replaced it goes elsewhere to kick a Pacer out of service.
  • If a Class 150 train is replaced, it probably gets a good refurbishment to kick a Pacer out of service.

So as each new Class 769 train enters service, it can push a Pacer out of service and replace it with a better train.

The same probably occurs when a Class 319 train enters service on the Northern network, if it directly replaces another train.

Passengers on their local line, might not see a new electric train, but their Pacers will gradually be replaced with better stock.

Then as the brand-new trains from CAF get introduced in a couple of years, everybody will see better trains.

In some businesses, you might think it a way to con the customers. But here, they’ll just see a process of continuous improvement of the rolling stock on their regular journeys.

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Has 319448 Not Been Repainted?

In the November 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a picture of this Class 319 train passing behind the Ordsall Chord bridge on Page 49.

The train is on the right hand page and appears not to be in the usual Northern Electrics blue.

So why has it not been painted?

319448 Is A Class 319/4 Train

319448 is a Class 319/4 trains, which are probably the best variant of the Class 319 trains, as they have been refurbished a couple of times and have a First Class section, less 2+3 seating and a Universal Access Toilet.

These pictures which show a typical Class 319/4 train, were taken when the trains were being used on Thameslink.

So preparing 319448 for service in the North-West was probably a lot easier, than some of the other Class 319 trains.

Northern probably needed an extra Class 319 train urgently and bringing it into service in Thameslink condition was probably acceptable to customers and their cash-flow.

The exterior painting and the tidying up of the interiors can probably be done later, when there is less pressure on stock numbers.

319448 Is Going To Be Converted To A Class 769 Bi-Mode Train

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 769 train, the serial numbers of the Class 319 trains to be converted are given.

769424, 769431, 769434, 769442, 769448, 769450, 769456, 769458, 769???, 769???, 769???

Note.

  1. The first three digits identify the train class and the last three digits the train number in that class.
  2. After conversion 319424 will become 769424

According to Issue 834 of Rail Magazine, 319456 and 319434 are in Loughborough for the conversion.

So it looks like 319448 will be converted to 769448.

Northern’s Need For Class 769 Trains

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 769 train, says this about Northern’s initial use of the trains.

Northern have indicated that the use of these trains would be of most benefit on routes that are part electrified, whereby they would be able to use the pantograph for the main part, while being able to operate using diesel power away from the overhead lines. The first route to be confirmed by Northern for the running of Class 769 units was the Windermere branch line between Oxenholme and Windermere in North West England.

Once the current electrification program between Manchester and Blackpool, Preston and Stalybridge is complete, there are several partially-electrified routes, where Class 769 trains might be used in North West England.

  • Blackpool South to Colne
  • Liverpool Lime Street to Chester via Runcorn and the Halton Curve.
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Liverpool Lime Street via Warrington
  • Manchester Victoria to Blackburn via Todmodern and Burnley
  • Manchester Victoria to Clitheroe via Bolton and Blackburn
  • Manchester Victoria to Kirkby
  • Manchester Victoria to Southport
  • Preston to Barrow
  • Preston to Ormskirk

If the trains are a success, then surely more trains will be deployed around the electrical networks in Leeds and Newcastle.

A Possible Conversion Plan

Could the conversion of a Class 319 train to a Class 769 train be something like this multi-stage process.

1. Pre-Service Changes

The Class 319/4 trains have for several years been running without serious problems on the Thameslink route,

However, due to different operational rules, I suspect that there will be some changes that have to be carried out before the trains can run in the North. 319448 has obviously had these changes.

2, Pre-Conversion Test Running

If I’ was going to spend a lot of money converting a train, I’d give it a thorough testing with experienced drivers and engineers to make sure there wasn’t an expensive fault.

Northern have a team of drivers with lots of experience of their current fleet of thirty-two Class 319 trains.

The train could even be used in passenger service, as it is an unmodified Class 319/4 train little different to the others in Northern’s fleet.

3, Conversion To Class 769 Train

The train can then be removed from service and converted to a Class 769 train.

4, Testing And Entry Into Service

The trains can be appropriately tested.

5. Interior Refurbushment And External Painting

Doing this last is probably a lot easier, given that the Class 319/4 trains are generally in a good state cosmetically.

A Production Line Would Be Possible

I believe if you do the Project Management professionally for the conversion of the eleven trains need by Northern and the extra five for Wales, it will be possible to fit together a very orderly and efficient production line.

I can envisage that production of units getting quicker as experience is gained.

 

 

November 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Blackburn To Manchester Every Thirty Minutes

That’s what it says on this poster, I photographeds at Blackburn station on Saturday.

Full words on the poster are.

Blackburn To Manchester

Every  30 minutes

Starts December 10

Mon-Sat  9.30am – 17.30pm

Both Directions

Certainly one young guy I spoke to, said it would change his travelling for the better.

Looking at the online timetable gives a few clues.

  • The current Manchester Victoria to Clitheroe service continues.
  • The current Manchester Victoria to Blackburn service via Todmorden continues.
  • The second service in each hour uses the Bay Platform 3 at Blackburn.
  • Some services seem to be Stalybridge to Blackburn via Manchester Victoria.

As Stalybridge to Preston and Blackpool via Bolton will be electrified soon, could it be that Northern are gearing up to have an electrified core route with diesel branches, that would be ideal for Class 769 trains.

Consider.

  • Four-car Class 769 trains could replace pairs of Class 150 and Class 156 trains.
  • The trains have a respectable top speed in both electric and diesel mode.
  • The pantograph can be raised and lowered as appropriate.
  • The trains have a Universal Access Toilet and meet all the Persons of Restricted Mobility Access rules.
  • If more electrification is added, the trains will take advantage.

Could we see the upgrade between Manchester and Blackburn on December 10th, implemented using Class 769 trains?

News on the Class 769 trains has been very sparse lately.

According to a technical specification that I’ve seen, four of the Class 769 trains are planned to be in service by December 2017.

So is everything going to plan or has it all gone pear-shaped?

What trains turn up on December the 10th will be useful information!

 

 

 

November 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

A Walk Between Burnley Barracks And Burnley Manchester Road Stations

Burnley Barracks and Burnley Manchester Road stations are not that far apart.

This Google Map shows Burnley’s three stations in relation to the Town Centre and Turf Moor.

The various locations are as follows.

  • Turf Moor is indicated by the red arrow in the East.
  • Burnley Barracks station is in the North-West corner.
  • Bunley Central is at the North.
  • Burnley Manchester Road is at the South.
  • The Leeds and Liverpool canal weaves its way through the town passing close to Burnley Barracks station.

What the map doesn’t show is the terrain. The main station at Manchester Road is on one stretch of high ground and Central station and Turf Moor are on another.

So I walked between Barracks and Manchester Road  stations along the canal.

It was a pleasant walk, but I still had a stiff climb up to Manchester Road station.

The East Lancashire Line

The East Lancashire Line is the line that runs through Burnley Barracks station.

One train per hour in each direction runs between Blackpool South station on the coast and Colne station in the hills.

The line joins the cross-Pennine Calder Valley Line at Gannow Junction to the East of Rose Grove station.

In the Wikipedia entry for Colne station, this is said.

The remainder of the branch from Gannow Junction (near Rose Grove) to Nelson was also reduced to single track in December 1986 and so the entire line from there is now operated as a 6 1⁄2 miles (10.5 km) “long siding” with no intermediate passing loops (this restricts the service frequency that can operate along the branch, as only one train can be on the branch at a time).

It would thus appear that without major engineering works, the service along the line will be restricted to an hourly train.

To make improvement of the line ore difficult, the line crosses Burnley town centre on a high viaduct. This picture was taken from a train crossing the viaduct.

However, I have been in a four-car train on the line, so I feel it could be theoretically easy to double the capacity by running four-car trains instead of the current two-car Class 150 trains.

The November 2017 Edition of Modern Railways indicates that the Sunday service on this line will increase from two-hourly to hourly.

Burnley Barracks Station

There would appear to be a lot of development planned along the canal.

Surely, this development will generate passenger traffic, as many will prefer to walk along the level canal tow-path, rather than climb the hill to Burnley Manchester Road station.

Burnley Barracks station needs improvement.

  • Better shelter.
  • Ticket machine.
  • Better means of requesting the train to stop.
  • Ideally, there would be a lift to street level.

But at least Network Rail are replacing the bridge over the canal and the platform can already accommodate a four-car train.

Trains For Between Blackpool South And Colne

Four-car trains could be made by running Class 150, Class 156 or even new Class 195 trains as pairs.

Currently, the line uses three trains, so would the extra expense of six trains by justified.

But there is an alternative.

Current plans will see electrification of the route between Preston and Kirkham and Westham stations.

This would men that nearly ten miles of the Blackpool South to Colne route will be electrified.

So would it be more advisable to call for Bedpan Specials or Class 769 trains, which could make use of the electrification?

Consider.

  • According to a technical specification that I’ve seen, the trains have been designed to handle the Buxton Line, which is stiffer than the hill up to Colne.
  • The trains are four cars.
  • I believe, that three Class 769 trains would replace the current trains, which could then be appropriately scrapped or refurbished.
  • If more electrification is added between Blackburn and Blackpool South, the trains will take advantage.

I also believe that with perhaps a passing or two and modern signalling, that the extra performance of the Class 769 trains might make it possible to run two trains on the route with careful planning and precise driving.

But above all, the Class 769 trains are affordable and are probably available within a year.

An interesting observation, is that Northern have increased their order by three trains recently. So have they decided to use them on the Blackpool South to Colne service?

Conclusion

If new four-car Class 769 trains replace the current two-car scrapyard specials on the East Lancashire Line, the following will happen.

  • Capacity on the route will be doubled.
  • The service will be faster, due to the increased speed and power.
  • No expensive platform lengthening will be required.
  • An hourly service between Blackpool South and Colne will have no problems operating seven days a week.
  • Some stations, like Burnley Barracks, will need improvements to handle the extra passengers.

Two trains per hour will need track work to add passing loops and modern signalling, and a few more trains.

 

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Class 769 Trains Are Progressing

The August 30th Edition of Rail Magazine gives a few details about the creation and testing of the Class 769 trains at Brush Traction in Loughborough.

  • A test rig will be built to test the combination of MAN diesel engine and ABB alternator.
  • The first train will be fitted with a power unit in the next eight weeks.
  • After static tests it will move to the nearby Great Central Railway. for dynamic testing.
  • The first train will be joined by a second train to test compatibility and multiple working.
  • After returning to Brush for approval, they will move to Allerton Depot, where they will be based.
  • It is planned that all eight trains for Northern will be in the North West by April 2018.

I find it intriguing that the testing is done on the local heritage railway.

There are two parts of the Great Central Railway separated by the Loughborough Gap.

It is not said, whether the testing is North or South of Loughborough.

The two heritage railways are trying to bridge the gap at present and I can’t help feeling that once it is bridged, there will be winners all round.

 

September 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Risky Business: Train Fleets In A State Of Flux

The title of this post is the same as this article in Rail Magazine.

The article is certainly in the must-read category and it illustrates the perils of not getting your investments right.

You could argue that rolling stock leasing companies (ROSCOs) are sucking money out of the UKs railways.

I would argue differently.

The cause of the troubles for the ROSCOs is threefold.

  1. Train operating companies would prefer to have lots of similar trains, as this makes, maintenance, training and timetabling easier and more affordable. Some successful companies like c2c, London Overground, Virgin Trains and Merseyrail are one- or two-class companies and others like TransPennine Express and Great Western Railway are moving that way.
  2. New leasing companies have seen the returns, that the three original ROSCOs have made and have entered the market. As they are leasing new trains, they make it more difficult to find homes for existing rolling stock, many of of which have perhaps twenty years of life left and are priced accordingly.
  3. The  ROSCOs have also badly misjudged the technology. Bombardier, CAF and Stadler have come up with innovative solutions to the problems of our unique Victorian-designed railway and the train operating companies have liked what they have seen and ordered them.

It is interesting to note, that few of the large orders for rolling stock have not been financed by the three original ROSCOs; Angel Trains, Eversholt and Porterbrook.

Greater Anglia

As I know Greater Anglia well, I’ll look at their current fleet, which is being replaced train-for-train by new rolling stock.

  • Class 90 locomotives – These are thirty years old and will probably end up pulling freight or be cannibalised for spares.
  • Mark 3 coaches – These do not meet the latest regulations for passengers of reduced mobility and most will probably be scrapped, although one rake has been sold to be used by 60163 Tornado.
  • Driving Van Trailers – I doubt these will find a use and will join the many others in store or they will be scrapped.
  • Class 153 trains – At twenty-five years old, I doubt these single-carriage trains will see serious passenger use again.
  • Class 156 trains – At nearly thirty years old, these two-car DMUs may have use on rural lines, but they will need refurbishment.
  • Class 170 trains – These two- and three-car 100 mph DMUs  will certainly find another operator.
  • Class 317 trains – At thirty-five years old, but in good condition, these 100 mph EMUs will be difficult to place, as newly-electrified lines will inevitably deserve new trains.
  • Class 321 trains – These 100 mph EMUs will be difficult to place, despite some having been recently upgraded.
  • Class 360 trains – These 100 mph EMUs are only fifteen years old and will probably find a new operator.
  • Class 379 trains – These modern 100 mph EMUs are only a few years old and will will certainly find a new operator.

Quite frankly most of this rolling stock is not worth much!

The Class 360 and Class 379 trains will be the easiest to release.

The sheer numbers of Class 317 and 321 trains, with little new electrification planned, mean that something innovative will, have to be done to find them a home. I speculated aboutwhat will happen to all these Mark 3-based multiple units in What Will Happen To The Class 319, Class 455, Class 321 And Cl;ass 317 Trains? I certainly suspect that some will find uses, with the upgraded Class 321 trains probably the first in the queue.

As I said in the article, I feel that some Class 321 trains could become small parcel and pallet carriers.

The Class 707 Trains

The Rail Magazine article talks about the problem of the Class 707 trains, that were ordered by South West Trains and will be returned by South Western Railway.

It suggests they could be converted to run on 25 KVAC overhead working, but that will be expensive and in my view a new Desiro City is far inferior to a new Aventra.

So would a quality Class 317 or 321 be a good alternative for an operator, that needed some new trains to perhaps open a new electrified route?

It looks even more of a bad decision of Angel Trains to fund the Class 707 trains.

Is It Innovate Or Die?

Porterbrook saw problems coming with the Class 319 trains, they were leasing to Thameslink.

But they got together with Northern and designed an affordable bi-mode, which is now the Class 769 train.

Thirteen have been ordered!

In anotherf project, InterCity 125 trains are being shortened and updated to last another decade.

Will we be seeing more developments like this, where redundant trains are turned into useful ones for a different purpose?

We could even be seeing some innovative export deals!

Conclusion

It’s a tough world out there!

But those that innovate will survive and make money!

 

August 24, 2017 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is A Bi-Mode Aventra A Silly Idea?

In How Long Will It Take Bombardier To Fulfil Their Aventra Orders?, when discussing the new West Midlands Trains franchise, that has recently been awarded, I said this about the proposed eighty new carriages for the Snow Hill Lines.

As it is unlikely that the Snow Hill Lines will be electrified in the near future, could we be seeing an Aventra bi-mode for the Snow Hill Lines?

So is the bi-mode Aventra a silly idea?

The Five-Car Aventra

It looks like the formation of a five car Aventra like a Class 720 train is something like DMSLW+MS+MS1+PMS+DMSL

The codes are as follows.

  • D – Driving
  • L – Lavatory
  • M – Motor
  • S – Standard Class
  • W – Wheelchair

So this means the following.

  • All cars are motored for fast acceleration and smooth regenerative braking.
  • As all cars are motored, there must be a heavy-duty electrical power bus running the length of the train.
  • Both driving cars have a toilet.
  • The wheelchair area and the fully-accessible toilet are probably together in one driving car.
  • The pantograph is on one of the middle three cars.

It should also be noted that the Aventra has a slightly unusual and innovative electrical layout.

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.

This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept

It would appear that this could be the reason, why in the document I found MS1 was used for one of the intermediate cars, as this is the car with space for the energy storage.

Do Aventras Have Batteries For Regenerative Braking?

Until I get a definitive statement from Bombardier, that they don’t, I will believe that they do for the following reasons.

But the main reason, is that as an Electrical Engineer, I believe it to be stupid and seriously bad design to not use some form of energy storage to handle the energy produced by regenerative braking.

Energy Storage In A Bi-Mode Train

If you look at the five-car Class 720 train, all axles are motored. This will give fast acceleration and smooth regenerative braking, which is just what both train operators and passengers want.

If a bi-mode train had energy storage, if say its speed was checked by a yellow signal, it would be able to regain line speed using the energy stored when it slowed down. So passengers wouldn’t have to endure the vibration of the diesel engine and the jerks as it started.

No competent engineer would ever design a modern bi-mode train without energy storage.

Where Would You Put The Power Pack On An Aventra?

Although space has been left in one of the pair of power cars for energy storage, as was stated in the Global Rail News article, I will assume it is probably not large enough for both energy storage and a power pack.

So perhaps one solution would be to fit a well-designed power pack in the third of the middle cars, which would then be connected to the power bus to drive the train and charge the battery.

This is all rather similar to the Porterbrook-inspired and Derby-designed Class 769 train, where redundant Class 319 trains are being converted to bi-modes.

Diesel Or Hydrogen Power Pack

Diesel will certainly work well, but London and other cities have hydrogen-powered buses.

The picture is from 2013, so the technology has probably moved on. This Fuel Cell Bus section in Wikipedia gives the up-to-date picture.

Automatic Power Source Selection

Effectively, the ideal bi-mode train will be a tri-mode and will have the following power sources.

  • Traditional electrification.
  • On board diesel or hydrogen power.
  • Energy storage, charged from the electrification or from regenerative braking.

The power source would be chosen automatically to minimise the use of both diesel/hydrogen power and electric power from the electrification.

Modern trains like an Aventra can raise and lower the pantograph automatically, so they can do this to make best use of what electrification exists to both power the train and charge the energy storage.

Techniques like these will be used to minimise the use of the diesel or hydrogen power pack.

Intermittent And Selective Electrification

On lines like the Snow Hill Lines sections could be electrified, where the engineering is easy and affordable, to with time reduce the use of unfriendly diesel or expensive hydrogen.

Strangely, one of the first places to electrify, might be the tunnels, as after the electrification of the Severn Tunnel, our engineers can probably electrify any railway tunnel.

I also don’t see why third rail electrification can’t be used in places like on top of viaducts and in well-designed station installations.

The 125 mph Bi-Mode Aventra

This article on Christian Wolmar’s web site is entitled Bombardier’s Survival Was The Right Kind Of Politics. This is said.

Bombardier is not resting on its laurels. Interestingly, the company has been watching the problems over electrification and the fact that more of Hitachi’s new trains will now be bi-mode because the wires have not been put up in time. McKeon has a team looking at whether Bombardier will go into the bi-mode market: ‘The Hitachi bi-mode trains can only go 110 mph when using diesel. Based on Aventra designs, we could build one that went 125 mph. This would help Network Rail as it would not have to electrify everywhere.’ He cites East Midlands, CrossCountry and Wales as potential users of this technology.

So Bombardier don’t think it is silly. Especially, the statement that Bombardier could build an Aventra that could do 125 mph running on diesel.

Applying, what we know about the power in the bi-mode Class 800 and Class 769 trains, which have three and two diesel power-packs respectively, I suspect that to create a five-car Aventra, that is capable of 125 mph on diesel, would need the following.

  • At least three diesel power-packs.
  • Regenerative braking using onboard energy storage.
  • Automatic pantograph deployment.
  • Automatic power source selection.

The light weight of the Aventra would be a big help.

It is my belief that energy storage is key, for the following reasons.

  • Stored energy from braking at a station from 125 mph, would be used to get the train back to operating speed, without using a large amount of diesel power.
  • Braking and acceleration back to operating speed, perhaps after being slowed by another train, might not need the diesel engines to be started.
  • Starting a journey with an optimum amount of power in the battery might make getting to operating speed easier.

It would be a rough engineering challenge, but one I believe is possible.

Consider the routes mentioned.

East Midlands

Consider.

  • 125 mph running would certainly be needed on this route.
  • Battery power could be used to boost the trains to 125 mph.
  • Electrification will be available between St. Pancras and Kettering.
  • Electrification might be impossible between Derby and Sheffield because the Derwent Valley is a World Heritage Site.

Some form of charging might be needed at Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

A bi-mode train would be ideal for Norwich to Liverpool, although there’s not a great deal of electrification.

Cross Country

CrossCountry use several electrified lines on their various routes..

  • York to Edinburgh
  • Birmingham New Street to Manchester Piccadilly
  • Bournemouth to Basingstoke
  • Stansted Airport to Ely

Note that parts of some of these routes allow125 mph and Bournemouth to asingstoke is electrified using third-rail.

A dual voltage, 125 mph bi-mode train would probably fit CrossCountry’s routes well.

Wales

Except for the South Wales Main Line, there’s little electrification in Wales, but a 125 mph bi-mode train could be used on the following several partially-electrified routes.

  • Carmarthen to Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Holyhead to Manchester Piccadilly
  • Holyhead to Liverpool via the Halton Curve.
  • Birmingham to Shrewsbury.
  • Swansea to Newport

Currently most of these services are served by 100 mph  Class 175 trains.  If nothing else, they would probably be more spacious, faster and fuel-efficient.

Conclusion

A five-car Aventra bi-mode is definitely not a silly idea.

It would be a sophisticated train with the following characteristics.

  • Electric drive
  • Regenerative braking.
  • 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail capability.
  • Automatic pantograph deployment.
  • Onboard energy storage.
  • Automatic power source selection.
  • Diesel or hydrogen power-pack
  • 125 mph capability.

The first four are probably already in service in the Class 345 train.

.

August 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What Is Happening To The Greenford Branch?

It appears to me, that the Greenford Branch Line has been quietly shunted into a siding, as it has been some months since any statements of any worth have come from the Department of Transport, Transport for London, Great Western Raiiway or Network Rail.

The line now gets a two trains per hour  shuttle service between Greenford and West Ealing stations. Trains that use the branch line to don’t go to Paddington any more.

West Ealing station is being rebuilt and looks like it won’t be complete for a couple of years.

This article on City AM is entitled Ealing Council seeks ‘urgent clarity’ over five delayed Crossrail stations as Network Rail retenders contracts to save money, which says a lot and may even explain, why nothing has been decided about the future of this branch line.

Current Speculation And Rumours

Various reports and forums outline solutions that suggest or include the following.

  • It is probably not the easiest line operationally, as the train has to be stabled some distance away.
  • Four trains per hour.
  • Transfer of the line to the Overground.
  • Run a shuttle from High Wycombe to West Ealing.
  • Use London Overground’s Class 172 trains, when the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is electrified.

But there are a few problems.

  • The incomplete West Ealing station.
  • The platform at Greenford is rather short.
  • Electrification would be difficult.

I hope all the silence is because the DfT, TfL, GWR, Network Rail and perhaps a train manufacturer are working hard to create an innovative solution for short branch lines like the Greenford Branch.

London’s Other Branches

London has two other short branch lines, that currently carry passengers.

Both are electrified and are run by a four-car shuttle using a bog-standard electric multiple unit.

But I doubt, they are some of most profitable routes in London.

In one forum, it was suggested that London Overground might use the Romford to Upminster Line for driving training on the new Class 710 trains.

In addition, there is the Brentford Branch Line, which has been proposed for reopening.

The Marlow Branch Line

I’m including the Marlow Branch Line, as according to the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Network Rail have devised an innovative track layout for Bourne End station, that will allow trains to pass in the station and thus allow at least a two trains per hour service all day.

Modern Railways says  this about financing the new track layout at Bourne End.

The LEP has allocated £1.5million to the infrastructure change needed to accommodate this proposal and GWR is seeking to close the funding gap on it.

There is also an informative diagram.

This Google Map shows Bourne End station.

 

Note how a two-car Class 165 train is parked in the station with lots of space. These trains have two 23 metre long cars, so it would appear that a three-car train with possibly shorter length cars could be accommodated.

I wonder what is the maximum length train that the design team are working with.

Two three-car trains per hour would be a tripling of capacity over the current single two-car train per hour at present.

This innovative proposal certainly looks like one, that has a high chance of realisation.

Other Branch Lines

The UK probably has several short branch lines, with a similar profile to the Bromley North, Greenford and Marlow Lines, where often the service is inadequate or expensive and difficult to provide.

A Train For Branch Lines

Would it be possible to create a train using existing stock, that was ideal for these lines?

Vivarail with their Class 230 train have attempted to do this.

  • Two or three cars.
  • Diesel-electric or battery power.
  • Designed to be serviced remotely.

It may turn out to be a high-class and reliable train, but there may be operational and marketing disadvantages, due to the train’s London Underground history.

But it is certainly a possibility.

Otherwise it is probably necessary to carry on as before with a two-car diesel multiple unit.

But at least, London Overground will be releasing eight Class 172 trains in Spring 2018.

The Unconventional Solution

Although two or three-car diesel multiple units will serve these branches well, I just wonder whether applying the same thinking that led to the Class 319 Flex train could produce a much better solution.

In their brochure for the train, Porterbrook state that they are thinking of adding a battery option to the train. The electrical layout of the Class 319 train leads me to believe it is certainly possible.

These branch lines are not arduous, so why not do the following.

  • Replace one diesel power-pack of the Class 319 Flex train with a battery pack.
  • Remove the trailer car to create a three-car train.
  • Give the trains a good refurbished interior.

Note.

  1. A three-car train would probably not be a 100 mph train.
  2. A three-car Class 319 Flex train would only be fourteen metres longer than a two-car Class 165 train.
  3. Several similar four-car Class 321 trains have been converted to three-car Class 320 trains.
  4. Being able to run on electrified lines would ease operation, open up new services and charge the batteries.

I feel that having both diesel and battery power for working away from electrified lines would give the trains a high degree of reliability.

These trains could certainly work the Brentford, Greenford, Marlow and Windsor Branches.

The Bombardier Solution

In Will London Overground Fit On-board Energy Storage To Class 378 Trains?, I mused about this statement, after reading this article in Rail Technology Magazine entitled Bombardier enters key analysis phase of IPEMU. Marc Phillips of Bombardier is quoted as saying this in the article.

All Electrostars to some degree can be retrofitted with batteries. We are talking the newer generation EMU as well as the older generation. So, the 387s and 378s are the ones where we have re-gen braking where we can top-up the batteries and use the braking energy to charge the batteries. That gives us the best cost-benefit over operational life.

So it would seem that the Class 378 trains of the London Overground are candidates for fitting with batteries.

These trains started out with just three cars and have grown twice, by adding another motor car and a trailer car. So they are now five-car trains.

London Overground have said that they might lengthen the trains again to six cars.

I would suspect that Bombardier can play musical carriages and create, some six-car trains and a few three-car trains.

Fit batteries to the three-car trains and you have a battery-powered train for a short branch line, that starts in an electrified station.

Services on the Brentford, Greenford and Marlow branches could probably be run by these three-car battery-electric trains.

If the Class 378 train is too spartan, then there is always other Electrostars.

Just remember, that 4 + 4 = 5 + 3!

Conclusion

Don’t be surprised to see an innovative solution at Greenford.

August 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Does Northern See Wigan As A Class 769 Train Hub?

The Wikipedia entry for Northern, shows under their entry for eight Class 769 trains, that the routes they will cover include.

  • Liverpool to Wigan
  • Manchester to Wigan North Western via Bolton.

Wigan is a proud and friendly town and I wrote about it in Wigan On The Up.

The West Coast Main Line through Wigan North Western station is electrified and Northern run half-hourly electric services to Liverpool using Class 319 trains.

But the other station; Wigan Wallgate is not wired and is definitely Pacer territory.

Liverpool to Wigan

As Liverpool Lime Street to Wigan North Western is fully electrified, I would be very surprised if Northern would run a bi-mode Class 769 train on this route, except as a stand-in for a failed Class 319 train.

Routes to places North of Wigan North Western, like Blackpool, Lancaster and Preston will be fully-electrified, so these routes can be served by the Class 319 trains.

Northern could be thinking of running a service between Liverpool Lime Street and Blackburn/Burnley for which a Class 769 train would be ideal.

But I think more likely, is that they are thinking of using Class 769 trains on the Kirkby Branch Line, which currently links Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate stations.

Consider.

  • There is talk of running this branch as a shuttle.
  • Wigan Wallgate station already has a suitable bay platform for a shuttle.
  • The route is double-track except between Kirkby and Rainford stations.
  • Kirkby to Wigan Wallgate takes a convenient twenty-four minutes.
  • Merseyrail have a long term ambition to built a new Headbolt Lane station, as an interchange between their Northern Line and services to Wigan and Manchester.
  • Merseyrail want to serve Skelmersdale.

Could this route be the reason for the reported Battery EMUs For Merseyrail?

  1. The Class 769 trains are used between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate stations as a shuttle.
  2. Two trains would be able to provide a two trains per hour (tph) service, without any new infrastructure.
  3. Merseyrail ascertain that their new Stadler trains can travel between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate and back on battery power.
  4. Merseyrail determine if a fast charging station is needed in the bay platform at Wigan Wallgate for their Stadler trains.

If the Class 769 trains show the passenger traffic is there and the Stadler trains can handle the route on batteries, could we see some or all of the Merseyrail Northern Line services extended to Wigan Wallgate?

Because the Stadler trains will be fast modern trains designed to execute stops quickly, I suspect that even on the single track section of line between Kirkby and Rainford stations, they could run at the frequency of four tph, that is currently run all day between Kirkby and Liverpool Central stations.

  • This would mean that the the current four tph to Kirkby would become four tph to Wigan Wallgate.
  • The service would be run by brand-new Stadler trains.
  • The track at Kirkby would have to be relaid to allow trains to run straight through.
  • The signalling would probably need updating.
  • Means to charge the trains at Wigan Wallgate might need to be provided.
  • A new single-platform station could be built at Headbolt Lane.
  • The four stations between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate would get four tph in both directions.

It would give The Train To Wigan Pier a whole new meaning.

Once they had done their good works in proving the route, the Class 769 trains would be posted elsewhere to do more missionary work.

Manchester to Wigan North Western via Bolton

This is the other route mentioned in Wikipedia.

Consider.

  • Bolton to Manchester will be electrified, by the end of the year.
  • The route passes through Ince, Hindley, Westhoughton and Lostock.

Class 769 trains travelling this route,  would open a second electrified route between Manchester and Preston via Wigan.

Manchester to Southport

Why was this route not mentioned?

  • Manchester to Southport is a route run mainly by Pacers to a frequency of two tph.
  • Some trains go via Bolton and some via Atherton.
  • The route via Bolton will be partly electrified by the end of the year.
  • The route via Atherton is not electrified.

I suspect that under current plans of just eight Class 769 trains, there aren’t enough to use them on this busy route.

Ideally, this route should be run with two tph going on each of the routes to Manchester from Wigan Wallgate.

The Future

Northern have ordered both diesel and electric Civity multiple units from CAF.

In Auckland Mulls Battery-Electric Train Order, I looked at how CAF had proposed battery-electric Civity trains for Auckland.

I’m sure CAF wouldn’t mind varying the order.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment