The Anonymous Widower

Rolls-Royce And Porterbrook Launch First Hybrid Rail Project In The UK With MTU Hybrid PowerPacks

The title of this post is the same as that on this Press Release from Porterbrook.

Porterbrook, Eversholt and the other train leasing companies have a problem, that can be turned into an opportunity to make money in a way, few will find unacceptable.

There are several fleets of trains in the UK, that are reasonably new and have plenty of life left in their basic structure, running gear and traction equipment.

But compared to modern rolling stock, they are like a twenty-year-old BMW, Jaguar or Mercedes. Good runners and comfortable, but not up to the standards, passengers, rail operators, rail staff and environmentalists expect.

So the train leasing companies are looking for ways to update their fleets, so that they can continue to earn money and satisfy everybody’s needs and aspirations.

Class 769 Train

Porterbrook started this innovation by taking redundant Class 319 trains and converting them into Class 769 trains, so they could be used on lines without electrification.

The picture shows one of Northern’s Class 319 trains.

Thirty-five of these trains have been ordered. So far, due to design and testing issues none have been delivered. Hopefully, as testing has now started, some will be in traffic before the end of the year.

This project could create upwards of fifty much-needed four-car bi-mode trains for running on partially-electrified routes.

Class 321 Hydrogen Train

Eversholt have also teamed up with Alstom to create a hydrogen-powered version of their Class 321 train.

This project could create around a hundred four-car 100 mph, zero-emission electric trains, for running on routes with no or only partial electrification.electrification.

The Four-Car High Speed Train

Everybody loves High Speed Trains and Scotrail and Great Western Railway  are taking a number of them and creating four-car quality trains to increase their rolling stock.

The picture shows a High Speed Train under test in Glasgow Queen Street station.

They are already running in Cornwall and they should be running in Scotland before the end of the year.

Updating The Class 170 Trains

The Press Release announces Porterbrook’s latest project and gives this picture.

There are 122 Class 170 trains on the UK rail network, which were built around twenty years ago. There are also nearly a hundred other Class 168, 171 and 172 trains with a similar design.

They are 100 mph trains, that are diesel-powered and some are used on long distances.

As a passenger, they are not a bad train, but being diesel, they are not that environmentally friendly.

The Class 172 trains, which are currently running on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, would surely be a much better train with a smoother electric transmission, that had regenerative braking. Although, as they have a mechanical transmission, rather than the hydraulic of the other Turbostars, this might not be possible.

On the other hand, West Midlands Trains will soon have a fleet of thirty-five Class 172 trains of various sub-types, so fuel savings could be significant.

This is from the Press Release.

Rolls-Royce and Porterbrook, the UK’s largest owner of passenger rolling stock, have agreed the delivery of MTU Hybrid PowerPacks that can convert Class 168 and Class 170 ‘Turbostar’ DMUs from diesel-only to hybrid-electric operation. Hybrid technology allows for the cleaner and quieter operation of trains in stations and through urban areas.

As I understand it, the current hydraulic traction system will be replaced by an electric one with a battery, that will enable.

  • Regenerative braking using a battery.
  • Battery electric power in urban areas, stations and depots.
  • Lower noise levels
  • Lower maintenance costs.

This should also reduce diesel fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Conclusion

The good Class 170 trains, are being improved and should give another twenty years of service.

How many other projects like these will surface in the next few years?

 

September 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Brush Traction Signs Contract With Skeleton Technologies For Modules For Class 769 Trains

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

This is the first two paragraphs

Skeleton Technologies has announced that they have signed a contract with Brush Traction to supply SkelStart Engine Start Modules for all Porterbrook Bi Mode Class 769 trains.

The high-power density, safe and tiny size of the 24V SkelStart module were decided over other solutions during the feasibility stage to start the Auxiliary Power Supply (APS) units. Simply put, there was not enough room available for another solution.

The article then gives a few brief details on the SkelStart

Who are Skeleton Technologies?

They have a web site at www.skeletontech.com and there is a brief description on the home page.

Under a title of.

Powering Energy Savings With Ultracapacitors

There is this description.

Skeleton Technologies’ patented curved graphene is changing the world of energy storage. 

Our superior technology enables us to deliver ground-breaking energy storage solutions with market leading power and energy density. Our products are used across industries from automotive to aerospace and everything in between.

Curved graphene? I know about graphene, but I’d never heard of it being curved.

There is a Press Release on the Skeleton Technologies web site, which is entitled Skeleton Technologies Signs Contract with Brush Traction to Supply Ultracapacitors for All BMU Class 769 Prime Movers.

This gives a lot more details, including this brief description of size and weight.

The 24V SkelStart has the size of a regular car battery and with its 8kg weight, it solved the space restriction we had.

It looks to be a very simple application of a capacitor with the ability to hold a lot of charge.

One of their products is called a SkelMod 170V 53F Ultracapacitor Module.

The datasheet gives these details.

  • Voltage – 170 Volts
  • Capacitance – 53 Farads
  • Maximum Stored Energy – 0.2127 kWh
  • Weight – 77 Kg.

That is a lot of energy for a capacitor.

A 50 kWh capacitor suitable for a bus or train, with this energy density would weigh eighteen tonnes, so it’s a bit impractical for this type of application at present.

But who knows what will be possible in the near future?

Skeleton Technologies would already appear to have pushed capacitor design a long way.

Skeleton Technologies Are An Estonian Company

This surprised me at first! But why not?

An Aside

Somewhere in my past about the 1960s, I remember an electronic news item, where someone like AERE Harwell, had built a one Farad capacitor, that was house-sized. Noe we get 53 Farad in a suitcase.

Conclusion

I think we’ll eventually see supercapacitors big enough to replace lithium-ion batteries in a lot of applications.

September 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , | 2 Comments

Northern’s Latest Class 319 Trains

I took these pictures of the interior of a couple of Northern’s latest Class 319 trains.

The train companies certainly seem to be improving their refurbishments, as these posts show.

Personally, I hope I stick around long enough to get a ride in the following trains, that are in the line for substantial rebuilding.

And of course, I want a ride in one of Great Western Railway or ScotRail’s short-formation InterCity 125.

Will We See Any Other Substantial Rebuilds?

It would be unfair not to ask this question.

I think it would be reasonable to say that if refurbishment of the quality that has been applied to Class 319 and Class 321 trains, then train owners and their engineers could probably bring the Networkers and Voyagers, up to scratch.

If nothing else, batteries could be fitted to harness the braking energy and use if for hotel power on the train.

Bombardier have hinted, they will be doing this to Voyagers and I wrote about it in Have Bombardier Got A Cunning Plan For Voyagers?

August 2, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Surprising Electrification At Oxenholme

I took these pictures of the Windermere platform, which is numbered 3, at Oxenholme station on the 7th May 2018.

Note the overhead wires for electric trains.

This picture is from an earlier post dated the 1st May 2015.

There are no overhead wires in the picture.

In the Electrification Proposal section of the Wikipedia entry for the Windermere Branch Line, this is said.

On 20 July 2017, it was announced that electrification of the Windermere branch was cancelled. As an alternative, Northern plan to utilise Class 769 multiple units on the route; these are Class 319 electric multiple units converted to function as bi-mode units, capable of operating under electric power between Manchester and Oxenholme, and under diesel power on the Windermere branch.

Did Grayling’s announcement come too late to stop these wires being erected?

This Google Map shows the station.

Note how Platform 3 is accessible from the South. North of the station, Platform 3 only leads to the Windermere Branch Line.

Bi-Mode Trains

The short length of additional electrification would be ideal for a bi-mode train, like the Class 769 train, which will be working the line in the near future.

Going towards Windermere, the train would arrive in Platform 3 having used electrical power at speeds of up to 100 mph from Manchester Airport. The pantograph would be lowered and the train would move on to Windermere using diesel power.

Coming from Windermere, the train would change from diesel to electric power in Platform 3.

It is a very conservative method of changing power source, to do it in a station, as if anything goes wrong, the passengers are only stranded in a station, rather than in the middle of nowhere.

In their previous incarnation as dual-voltage Class 319 trains, the voltage changeover was always done in Farringdon station.

Battery Trains

The Windermere Branch Line is ten miles long, so out and back from Oxhenholme should be well within range of a battery electric multiple unit, if not now, in a couple of years time.

A battery electric multiple unit, perhaps developed from Bombardier’s Class 379-based BEMU demonstrator, would be ideal for the Windermere to Manchester Airport service.

  • The Class 379 trains were built in 2010-2011, for the Stansted Airport service.
  • They will be released by Greater Anglia in 2019.
  • They are 100 mph trains.

And then there’s the Class 230 train!

These trains would do a good job running an hourly shuttle between Oxenholme and Windermere, but they could be unsuitable for long-term use.

  • The capacity would be too low.
  • They are too slow to run on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Running a service between Windermere and Manchester Airport might be too far.

But undoubtedly, a well-designed battery train would be able to work the Windermere Branch Line.

  • Services between Windermere and Manchester Airport would charge batteries on the electrified lines.
  • Batteries could be topped up as required in Oxenholm station.
  • There would be no need to electrify the Windermere Branch Line.

Wordsworth would have written a poem about battery trains gliding quietly through the Lake District.

Conclusion

Network Rail have future-proofed the electrification at Oxenholm station in a very professional way.

 

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Minister Claims Hydrogen Train On Trial In UK

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

This is the first paragraph.

Rail Minister Jo Johnson told the Transport Select Committee on April 30 that a hydrogen train was on trial in the Lake District.

After the end of Amber Rudd’s political career yesterday, for not telling the truth to another Select Committee, I would be very surprised if Jo Johnson’s statement is not substantially correct.

Something strange is happening on the Windermere Branch Line.

  • Most of the day, there is an hourly shuttle train between Windermere and Oxenholme Lake District stations.
  • But the 10:56, 18:03 and 22:45 services from Windermerre, continue to Preston.
  • The 06:23 from Oxenholm Lake District to Windermere starts from Lancaster.
  • The 11:20 from Oxen Lake District to Windermere starts from Preston.
  • The 18:30 from Oxen Lake District to Windermere starts from Barrow-in-Furness.

It doesn’t seem to be the sort of diagram for a regular scheduled service.

Could it be that Class 769 trains are being tested?

  • Running on the West Coast Main Line between Preston and Oxenholme stations would be at up to 100 mph using the 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Running  to Windermere and Barrow-in-Furness stations would be under diesel power.
  • Note that the service goes to Preston in the middle of the day. Could this mean , that they are thoroughly testing more than one train?
  • From Preston the trains can go to turnback platforms at Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool North, Blackpool South, Colne, Ormskirk and Windermere stations. So, Preston would be an ideal base from where to test the trains.

Could one of the trains under test be hydrogen  powered?

If what Jo Johnson said is to believed, at least one of the test trains must be!

Who’d have thought, that an old British Rail-designed Class 319 train, that entered service thirty-years ago, could be the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train.

A Hydrogen-Powered Class 769 Train

Of course, the engineering must be possible .

  • The train would need a hydrogen tank, a hydrogen fuel cell and a battery.
  • They would probably be fitted under the train, where there wuld appear to be plenty of space.

But companies like Ballard have a lot of experience with building hydrogen-powered buses.

Don’t Rule Out Bombardier!

I believe that most train manufacturers are looking seriously at hydrogen power, as a greener alternative to diesel.

Two years ago, Bombardier showed their expertise with batteries, by developing the Class 379 BEMU demonstrator in just a few months.

Could Bombardier have taken an Electrostar or Aventra and fitted it with batteries and a hydrogen tank and a hydrogen fuel cell?

Conclusion

I think that Jo Johnson was telling the truth or at least enough of the truth, not to be caught misleading a Select Committee of the House of Commons.

 

 

May 1, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Twyford Station – 26th April 2018

I went to Twyford station to get the train to Henley-on-Thames.

The station seems more of less ready for Crossrail.

What isn’t ready is the rail service to Henley-on-Thames station.

There are two trains per hour (tph) on the branch line and the trains take twelve minutes with two single-platform intermediate stations.

This is one of those branch lines, that need four tph to prise people out of their cars it is this one.

The two terminal platforms at each end can each handle four tph, it’s just that there is no passing loop on the line in between.

These are some pictures I took on the branch line.

Note.

  1. It is a tidy branch line.
  2. There is only one level crossing.
  3. Henley-on-Thames station has a reasonably long platform.
  4. There appears to be more space for a second track, South of the Thames, rather than at the North.

With their purchase of Class 769 trains, GWR could be using some to provide direct services to London from this branch.

April 26, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Could A Three-Car Class 769 Train Be Created?

Some of the applications for bi-mode Class 769 trains on the UK rail network are on routes, where there is a short limit to train length.

Three cars might be a maximum on some routes, so a three-car Class 769 train might be a product with a future.

The formation of a Class 769 train, based on a Class 319/4 train would appear to be.

  • DTOC – Driver Trailer Car with Diesel Generator
  • PMOS – Pantograph Motor Car
  • TOSL – Trailer Car With Universal Access Toilet
  • DTOS – Driver Trailer Car with Diesel Generator

Note the train has only one powered-car and three trailer cars.

Could the TOSL car be removed to create a three-car Class 769 train?

In the Wikipedia entry for Class 319 trains, this is said.

Class 321 passenger units and Class 325 postal units were developed from the Class 319 design, using similar traction equipment and the same steel body design, with revised cab designs.

Four-car Class 321 trains have been turned into three-car Class 320 trains, in the past. The Wikipedia entry for the Class 320 train, says this.

The Class 320 is effectively a three-car derivative of the Class 321 units found in and around London and Yorkshire.

Scotrail‘s seven Class 320/4 trains were converted from ex-London Midland Class 321/4 trains in 2015/16. The conversion was done at Wabtec, who are doing work on the creation of the Class 769 trains.

Conclusion

I’m pretty certain, the TOSL car can be removed from a Class 769 train, to create a three-car version, just as it has been in a vaguely-similar four-car Class 321 train to create a three-car Class 320 train.

There are other conclusions.

  • Four-car Class 321 Flex bi-mode trains must be possible.
  • Three-car Class 320 Flex bi-mode trains must be possible.

As there will be a large number of Class 321 trains from Greater Anglia, going off lease in the next few years, the UK could be overflowing with quality bi-mode trains, based on the Class 769 train design.

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 5 Comments

Should The Blackpool South Branch Be Electrified?

I can find nothing on the Internet, which states whether the branch line between Kirkham and Wesham and Blackpool South stations will or won’t be electrified.

However, I did get create this Google Map of Kirkham West Junction, where the lines to the two Blackpool stations divide.

Note.

  1. Kirkham and Wesham station is to the East.
  2. Blackpool North station is to the North-West.
  3. Blackpool South station is to the South-West.

This image was captured during the recent construction phase on the Blackpool Branch Lines.

As my train to Blackpool North on Monday afternoon passed the junction I took these pictures.

It looks to me, that the contractors are doing the following.

  • Improving the junction.
  • Laying some new track at the start of the branch line.
  • I also think, that the junction is being electrified.

The electrification could be for the following reasons.

  • It is the start of electrification of the branch.
  • Network Rail are providing an electrified turn-back facility at Krkham and Wesham station.
  • It could also be sensible future-proofing to make sure the branch can be electrified easily in the future.

If the branch is going to be worked by Class 769 trains or other bi-mode or battery powered trains, then I believe the work becomes clearer.

  • Trains from Blackpool South would have an electrified place, where they can change to electrical power and wait until the main lines are clear before crossing over to the Preston-bound track.
  • Trains to Blackpool South would be able to wait in Kirkham and Wesham station, until the line to Blackpool South was clear.
  • Trains to Blackpool South  could of course start their journey, as soon as the train from Blackpool South is waiting to cross over, using the new track, that is visible in my pictures.

The works will also create a very safe junction at Kirkham West.

The Blackpool South Branch 

The branch line has the following characteristics.

But there are other issues that should be considered.

Football At Bloomfield Road

If you are going to football at Bloomfield Road, as I have several times, Blackpool South is the closest station.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Blackpool Pleasure Beach has its own station, but there are reports on the Internet, that the walk between the station and the theme park needs to be improved.

An Increase In Capacty And Frequency

I once travelled between Colne and Blackpool South stations on a beautiful sunny day in early September.

  • Northern had laid on a pair of Pacers, working as a four-car train.
  • They were packed with families going for a day on the coast.

The conductor told me this often happens, when the weather is good.

When I passed through Preston station earlier in the week, I might have seen a notice, saying that the service between Colne and Blackpool South will run all week.

Passing Loops

There is no passing loop on the branch, so it makes it very difficult to run a more passenger-friendly two tph.

Until, the works at Kirkham West Junction are complete we probably won’t know if the junction is being designed, so that a train entering the branch could wait safely for a train to emerge from the branch.

But this would be more for reliable operations, than increasing frequency of trains.

The Open Championship At Royal Lytham And St. Annes

Ansdell and Fairhaven station is nearest to the course at Royal Lytham.

  • The Open Championship is a very important event on the golfing calendar.
  • Other important golfing events are also held on the course
  • Royal Lytham and St.Annes, last held the Open in 2012 and 2001. So it might come back to Royal Lytham in the mid-2020s.

Ansdell and Fairhaven station used to have two platforms, as described in Wikipedia.

The station was set out as an island platform with tracks on both faces until the singling of the line in the 1980s. Trains now only use the southern face. A disabled access ramp now covers the northern part of the station.

So could a rebuild of the station do the following?

  • Restore two platforms on an island at the station.
  • Put in full disabled access.
  • Create a passing loop.
  • Lomger platforms might be a good idea.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The disabled ramp winding away.
  2. The platform is probably about a hundred metres long.
  3. It would appear that there is space at the far end to extend the platform.

I suspect that an ambitious architect with vision, could design a station that met all objectives.

Rebuildng Of The Railway Between Skipton And Colne

The link between Skipton and Colne stations is promoted by SELRAP and has now been backed by the Government and large businesses like Drax, who say it would improve efficiency of biomass deliveries.

This map from Wikipedia shows the route.

Note that if the missing link is built, it does the following

  • Creates another much-needed route across the Pennines
  • Creates a second route between Leeds and Blackpool
  • Encourages visitors to the area.
  • Creates an easy link between Lancashire and the Settle and Carlisle Line.
  • Creates an alternative and faster freight route across the Pennines.

It could even become an iconic route famed for the scenery.

I feel that if this missing link were to be reinstated, it would be very well-used by passengers.

This increase in passengers would surely increase traffic between Colne and Blackpool South stations, means more pressure for two tph.

How Fast Could A Train Go Between Kirkham & Wesham and Blackpool South Stations?

Currently, the Class 142 trains take around 27-29 minutes to do the journey six intermediate stops.

Trains like a Class 769 train have improved performance.

  • They are being converted from Class 319 trains, that were built for high frequency commuter services.
  • The trains have two double-doors on each side of each of the four carriages.
  • Seat layout diagrams show the possibility of wide aisles and a lot of 2+2 seating.
  • They are faster, as the Class 142 trains have an operating speed of 75 mph and this article on Rail Magazine, says that the Class 769 trains can do 91-92 mph on diesel.
  • They have better acceleration and braking.
  • They can probably carry out stops much faster.

Newer trains built in the last couple of years will be even better.

Other factors will also speed up the service.

  • Level access between train and platform at all stations.
  • Relaying the track to allow higher operational speeds.
  • Modern signalling.
  • High-quality train driving and operation.

I am sure that the the time for a train to go from Kirkham and Wesham to Blackpool South and back will be substantially reduced.

But is it possible to do the trip in under thirty minutes, so that two tph will be possible?

Could Two Tph Be Run Between Preston and Blackpool South Without Electrification?

I believe that the Class 769 trains could be fast enough to run a two tph service on the Blackpool South branch, when passenger numbers say it is needed and track and station improvements have been completed.

An express shuttle could be provided for big events at Royal Lytham.

  • It would run between Preston and Blackpool South stations.
  • It would stop at Kirkham and Wesham and Ansdell and Fairhaven
  • The platforms at Ansdell and Fairhaven  and Blackpool South stations were to be lengthened to accept two Class 769 trains working as an eight-car train.

Network Rail would only need to lengthen two platforms and increase the operating speed of the line.

Effectively, by replacing a 1980s scrapyard special with a refurbished train of the same vintage and improving the track, the capacity of the Blackpool South Branch can be increased.

If some platforms were to be lengthened, it should be possible to run eight-car trains for events like the Open Championship at Royal Lytham.

Who needs electrification?

The Blackpool South Branch certainly doesn’t!

 

 

 

 

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April 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Nineteen Tri-Mode Flex Class 769s For GWR

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

This brings the number of  Class 319 trains to be converted to Class 769 trains, to thirty five.

  • These trains for Great Western Railway (GWR) will be tri-mode trains and able to operate on 25 KVAC  overhead and 750 VDC third rail electrification and diesel power.
  • The Rail Magazine article, says they will support the introduction of refurbished Class 387 trains on Heathrow Express and on services from Reading to Gatwick and Oxford.
  • The trains would release diesel Class 165 trains and Class 166 trains to be refurbished and improve services in the Bristol area.

Although, there appears to have been so sighting of a Class 769 train on the UK network, the trains must have shown up well in testing, as no-one would order nineteen trains, that didn’t meet the specification.

According to the Future section in the Wikipedia entry  for the Class 319 trains, there are forty-five of the trains sitting in sidings off lease.

So there won’t be a shortage of trains to modify.

Good Design Always Wins!

I do find this story rather heartwarming.

When the Advanced Passenger Train project fell well behind schedule, Terry Miller and his team at Derby, came up with a short-term proposal for a High Speed Diesel Train, which when launched in 1975 was known as the InterCity 125.

Forty years later most of these iconic trains are still in service

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

The design of the Mark 3 carriages of the InterCity 125, was used by British Rail to build large numbers of less iconic electric and diesel multiple units, of which the Class 319 train was just one of seventeen classes of train based on the Mark 3.

The legacy of Terry Miller and his team is echoing down the years.

The Class 769 train is one of the ultimate echos.

How Will GWR Deploy The Class 769 Trains?

Nineteen trains is a substantial order and train companies don’t buy trains to stick them in sidings, so how will they be used?

Before answering the question, I’ll put in a few facts.

  • According to Porterbrook’s brochure, Class 387 trains are four twenty metre coaches.
  • According to Wikipedia, Class 319 trains are four twenty metre coaches.
  • Both trains can be configured to work on 25 KVAC overhead of 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Porterbrook’s brochure says that Class 387 trains have a lot of modern features like, information systems for driver and passengers, air conditioning and passenger counting. The brochure also says that Class 387 trains will be ERTMS-ready.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Class 769 trains given a quality refurbishment, very much in excess of that Northern have given to their Class 319 trains.

Remember, that GWR must have massive experience about improving Mark 3 carriages from forty years of work with InterCity 125 trains.

GWR were also behind the superb refurbishment of a Class 150 train, that I wrote about in What Train Is This?. So they have form!

The quality must be in excess of that of the Class 165 and Class 166 trains, that they will often replace. And those two classes are not crap, just diesel, too slow for some routes and often lacking in capacity.

In Could A Three-Car Class 769 Train Be Created?, I showed that if a three-car Class 769 train is needed, that this is possible. But it would lose about sixty seats and the universal access toilet, if it follows a similar route as converting a four-car Class 321 train to a three-car Class 320 train.

Covering For Class 387 Trains Going To Heathrow Express

This page on the First Group web site, is the original press release about the procurement.

This is said.

Initially, the fleet will support the introduction of refreshed trains on Heathrow Express services, but will be predominantly be used on routes between Reading and Gatwick, and Reading and Oxford, where the train’s tri-mode can be used to its fullest. However, the tri-mode nature of the train will give GWR maximum flexibility to use them in other areas of the network should they be required.

The purchase of nineteen trains will surely be enough to cater for the loss of Class 387 units to Heathrow Express duties to replace the Class 332 trains.

I wrote about this in GWR Announces Plans To Replace Class 332s As It Takes Over Heathrow Express Service.

I estimated that if each Heathrow Express train eventually becomes two Class 387 trains working together as opposed to the current pair of Class 332 trains, that fourteen Class 387 trains will be needed for Heathrow Express.

Consider.

  • GWR have forty-five Class 387 trains in their fleet.
  • If Heathrow Express needed to be be worked by twelve-car trains, this would increase the number needed to twenty-one. That would still leave GWR with twenty-four trains for other services.
  • There are plans for Southern and Western access to Heathrow, which could mean a need for more Class 387 trains for Heathrow Express .
  • c2c could release their six Class 387 trains in the early 2020s, when their new Aventras arrive.
  • Great Northern might be persuaded to release some of their twenty-five Class 387 trains.

It certainly looks, that all possibilities are covered for Heathrow, who are probably paying a substantial fee to GWR to run the service.

Reading And Oxford

The First Group press release mentions that Class 769 trains could be running between Reading and Oxford stations.

So does this mean that the current two trains per hour (tph) service between Paddington and Didcot Parkway station will be extended to Oxford and run by Class 769 trains?

Consider.

  • A new South-facing bay platform is planned at Oxford station, that could be sized for a trio of Class 769 trains.
  • All services between Paddington and Oxford will become electric or bi-mode.
  • Class 387 and Class 769 trains are based on twenty metres carriages, so there should be no platform issues.
  • A number of Class 387 trains would be released for modification.
  • Several Class 165 and Class 166 trains will be released on other parts of the GWR network.

The only problem I see is that some passengers may complain about losing the Class 387 trains, with their comfortable seats and tables..

GWR must get the interior of the Class 769 trains spot-on!

 

Reading And Bedwyn

This is another route, where Class 769 trains could be used to advantage.

The turnback siding at Bedwyn station would need modification to incoporate a bi-mode Class 800 train, but a Class 769 train would fit the existing infrastructure.

Reading And Gatwick

If ever the Victorians designed a route that would be ideal for a tri-mode train it is GWR’s service between Reading and Gatwick Airport.

  • It has sections with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • At Reading, it could be extended using the 25 KVAC electrification along the Great Western Main Line to perhaps Oxford.
  • Currently, the service is run by Class 165 trains.

Could a way be found to take the trains into Heathrow as an alternative Western terminal, when the Southern and Western rail routes to the Airport are built?

This route has needed a bi-mode train for decades.

Cardiff to The South Coast via Bristol, Bath, Salisburu and Southampton

This over three hour route is currently run by Class 156 trains.

Consider.

  • This route has significant overcrowding according to Wikipedia and my personal experience
  • Cardiff to Bath should eventually be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Brighton to Southampton is electrified with 750 VDC third rail.
  • GWR run this route and have Class 800 trains.
  • Running at over 100 mph is only possible in a few places.
  • Dual voltage Class 800 trains must be possible, but at five-cars, they may be too long for some stations.

To run this route efficiently, GWR would need an appropriate number of  dual voltage bi-mode trains.

GWR will soon have two trains that could handle the route; Class 800 trains or Class 769 trains.

I suspect that the Class 769 train would be most suitable, especially as at busy times like the summer, they could run eight-car trains.

Transwilts

Transwilts is a Community-run rail service in Wiltshire. This page on the Transwilts web site, shows the rail routes in their area.

Currently, most local services seem to be run by two-car Class 150 and one-car Class 153 trains, so when passenger numbers increase, larger trains including Class 679 trains may be used.

I was in this area once a few days before the Glastonbury Festival. You couldn’t have squeezed ia chihuahua onto the train!

Slough And Windsor And Eton Central

Class 769 trains could work this short branch line. But they might be need to use a three-car version.

Henlry Branch Line

The Henley Branch Line has the following characteristics.

  • The branch is not electrified.
  • The branch is only single track.
  • There is a single-track bridge over the Thames.
  • Most services are shuttles between Henley-on-Thames and Twyford stations.
  • In the Peak and during the Henley Regatta direct trains operate to and from Paddington.
  • Crossrail will call at Twyford with a frequency of four tph between London and Reading.

I have just flown my virtual helicopter along the line and it looks like there is insufficient space to create a complete double track railway, that could work at a very high frequency.

But there is space to add a passing loop or loops, that would allow a four tph frequency on the branch to match Crossrail.

Class 769 trains would be able to work the updated branch using their onboard diesel generators.

  • Modern signalling would probably be needed to be installed on the branch, as it will certainly be on the trains, as they work between Paddington and Reading.
  • Selective door opening or platform extensions will be needed at intermediate stations, so that two Class 769 trains working as an eight-car train could use the branch.
  • Trains could either run as shuttles or direct to Paddington.

In my view, there is a simple solution in there, which is much better than mine.

But the residents of and visitors to Henley will get the quality service they desire.

  • Comfortable, air-cooled trains with wi-fi.
  • Four tph with a change at Twyford to Crossrail.
  • Direct electric trains in the Peak and during the Henley Regatta.

Maidenhead And Marlow

The Marlow Branch Line must be a particular problem for GWR.

  • The line is single track.
  • There is no electrification.
  • The one tph shuttle trains between Marlow and Maidenhead take around 20-25 minutes, with a reverse at Bourne End station.

This extract from the Wikipedia entry for Bourne End station described the Services.

Bourne End is a terminus but effectively acts as a through station, with the driver having to change ends to continue to the next station. During peak hours service frequency is increased by having two trains work the line, each using Bourne End as the terminus: one runs Marlow – Bourne End and one Maidenhead – Bourne End, with passengers changing trains at Bourne End. Four trains per weekday operate between Bourne End and Paddington in the morning peak and coming back in the evening peak.

This Google Map illustrates the problem at Bourne End station.

 

Note.

  1. The line to Marlow curves out of the Western side of the map.
  2. The double-track to Maidenhead goes in a South-Westerly direction out of the Southern side of the map.
  3. The Class 165 or Class 166 train in Platform 1 of the station is formed of two twenty-three metre carriages, so it’s forty-six metres long.
  4. Platform 1, is connected to both Marlow and Maidenhead, whereas  Platform 2, is only connected to Maidenhead.
  5. A four-car Class 769 train is eighty metres long, with a three-car Class 769 at just sixty metres.

Just looking at the geography, I have my doubts that the existing track and platform layout at Bourne End could handle the reversing of a four-car Class 769 train. It’s might be too long to clear the junction, so would be unable to reverse and take the other route.

But I suspect with a bit of innovation, this might be possible.

Track realignment is the obvious possibility.

The other possibility would be to use a three-car Class 769 train, which is just fourteen metres longer than the current trains.

Four-car Class 769 trains could also be used for a direct service between Bourne End and Paddington in the Peak.

Greenford Branch Line

In Could Three-Car Aventras Run Services On The Greenford Branch?, I tried to answer the question in the title.

This was my conclusion.

Three-car Aventras could provide a good service on the Greenford Branch Line, but there are issues and it may be more complicated than anyone thinks to run a service, that is acceptable to passengers.

I was assuming three-car Aventras with batteries, but three-car Class 769 trains, which carry much more energy in their diesel tanks, might do it.

Conclusion

Nineteen Class 769 trains will find a lot of work to do.

I also feel that three-car trains will also be needed for routes like the Green and Marlow branches.

 

 

 

 

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

No Wires At Salford Crescent Station – 17th April 2018

These pictures show the state of the electrification at Salford Crescent station.

Note that there were no overhead wires through the station and also on the line to Salford Central and Manchester Victoria station. There still appears to be a lot of work to do.

Under Improvements the Wikipedia entry for the station says this.

In 2007, Network Rail recognised that Salford Crescent could not cope with existing passenger levels, leading to platform overcrowding. It suggested expansion of the station with extra platforms, greater use of it as an interchange and use as a terminus for services from east of Manchester. It also raised the possibility of moving the station.

In 2012, improvement work started at the station, including platform extensions, a new rain canopy and the relocation of the ticket office to street level. The works were completed in October 2013 and officially opened by Mayor of Salford, Ian Stewart.

This Google Map shows the station.

I think, it will be a tight fit for extra platforms, as the station is surrounded on all sides by Salford University.

The solution would probably be to build on top of a new station, that was in a strong concrete box.

Changing Trains At Salford Crescent Station

Today, I arrived at Salford Crescent on a train running between Bolton and Manchester Victoria stations.

As I needed to go to Manchester Piccadilly station, I left on a train running between Blackpool North and Manchester Airport stations.

Consider.

  • In the few minutes, I was on the station, I must have heard staff asked, which train do I get to Piccadilly or Victoria, several times.
  • Surrey Quays station handles three routes at the South end of the Thames Tunnel and currently  handles sixteen trains per hour (tph)
  • With high-quality signalling and a measure of automatic train control, I could expect Salford Crescent station to handle at least 12 tph, in both directions.
  • Is the island platform wide enough?
  • Is loading slowed as a lot of trains calling at the station are just two cars, with four doors?
  • Is loading slowed as many of the trains, aren’t step-free from the platform to the train?
  • Are there always staff on the platform.

I believe that operation of the station could be improved.

Reversing Direction At Salford Crescent Station

The current island layout allows passengers to change direction by walking across the platform.

As an example, if you go between Farnworth and Swinton stations, one of the recommended routes is via Salford Cresent.

An Improved Design For Salford Crescent Station

Perhaps before deciding to rebuild the station, serious work should be done to see if the station throughput in terms of trains and passengers can be improved.

My ideas would include.

A Wider Platform

This picture shows the island platform at Canonbury station.

It could handle a whole company of Grenadier Guards and all their kit, whereas Salford Crescent would struggle with a platoon.

Canonbury’s wide platform also has the following in the centre.

  • A large covered shelter.
  • A large number of seats.
  • A coffee stall

It also allows passengers to stand well-back when a train goes through the station, without stopping.

Note that Canonbury is a station, where the platforms are uncovered. Would this be a wise idea in Manchester, even with a large central shelter?

Lomger Trains

a lot of trains going through Salford Crescent station are just two cars.

Northern‘s new trains will include, the following electric trains and bi-mode trains.

32 – four-car Class 319 trains

12 – four-car Class 331 trains

31 – three-car Class 331 trains, which will replace the Class 323 trains.

11 – four-car Class 769 bi-mode trsins.

If all trains calling at Salford Crescent were four-cars or more, this would probably mean at least eight doors, which would would speed up loading and unloading.

This would reduce dwell times at the station and increase capacity in terms of the number of trains per hour.

Level Access Between Platform And Trains

If the platforms are widened, I susopect with Harrington Humps, that this could be achieved.

This picture shows two Hsrrington Hump is at Canonbury.

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If passengers in wheelchairs, buggy-pushers and those  pulling heavy cases could just walk or push the,selves across.

Again, this would reduce dwell times and increase capacity.

Better Information

Given that I heard passengers asking the same question, I suspect that better informayion, could make the station easier fot  interchang passengers.

Using the displays on Thameslink and at London Bridge station would be a good start.

An Up Escalator

Sal;ford Central station has a long set of stairs and a lift.

Many passengers with movement difficulties would welcome an up escalator.

Conclusion

I believe that a much improved station can be creased , without the expence of adding a new platform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment