The Anonymous Widower

Bi-Mode Good, Tri-Mode Better

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

It is an informative article about the creation of the Class 769 trains.

These are some points.

Class 150 Performance

Class 769 performance on diesel is likely to be as good as that of a Class 150 train, if not better.

When running on electric power, they will still be capable of 100 mph.

Extensive Route And Performance Modelling

Extensive computer modelling has been carried out to make sure the train performs.

Access To The Original Designers

It appears that they were able to call in some of the original designers and that at least some of the iriginal drawings were available.

An Extensive Project

The article quotes these figures on the resources used to design the conversion.

  • 60 engineers
  • 45,000 engineering hours
  • 2,500 drawings
  • 3,500 detailed components

I suspect that this could account for the late running of the project.

Approvals

There is a large section on approvals, which is well worth a read. It looks to me, that they are making sure, that these trains fit all regulations and not those that apply to upgrades and improvements.

Noise

They are also going for better noise than a Class 15x train, which must be a good thing.

Raiding The Class 150 Parts Bin

They obviously needed exhausts for the two diesel engines, so in true Colin Chapman fashion, they looked round for something that was readily available and would do the job.

As Class 319 and 150 trains share a lot of components like bogies, the exhausts for the converted trains are from a Class 150 train.

Maintenance Costs

The new trains will obviously cost more to maintain than a Class 319 train, but will probably be cheaper to run than a Class 150 train.

The Ultimate Class 769 train.

The article indicates what could be possible.

  • Air cooling
  • CCTV – both saloon and forward facing
  • At seat USB and power sockets
  • Ethernet backbone to support engine control and Wi-Fi
  • Interior and exterior rebranding
  • Guard’s door control panels.

Not a bad specification for a thirty-year-old train.

Orders

There may be more orders in the pipeline.

Conclusion

I think that these trains will do what they are intended to do in a reliable and quality manner.

Tailpiece – Class 455 Flex

The article finishes with a disclosure about what might happen to the Class 455 trains.

These have been extensively refurbished and have been retrofitted with three-phase AC traction systems incorporating regenerative braking. There would be space on the intermediate trailer coach for batteries that could be charged by the regenerated energy and by the diesel engines. Such a feature could have several benefits such as being able to stop the diesel engines in terminal stations and to supplement diesel engine power when accelerating.

Could this be a four-car efficient runabout for branch lines, as they are only 75 mph trains?

 

 

 

September 28, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

£18.75m Halton Curve Project Delayed A Further Six Months

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

I could just blame politicians for the latest project to be delayed, but it is not wholly their fault.

Train companies all over the UK, Europe and the Rest of the World have been ordering new trains at an unprecedented rate for the following reasons.

  • The replacement of clapped-out trains like Pacers.
  • Extra trains to provide extra services.
  • Faster trains to provide faster services.
  • Bigger or longer trains to provide more capacity.
  • New electric trains for newly electrified routes.
  • New trains often cost less to service and maintain.
  • Affordable finance for quality new trains is available in billions of pounds, euros and dollars of all kinds.

In addition a lot of trains are being updated with new technology like signalling, autonomic systems and high-technology interiors.

All of these factors mean that there is a high level of train testing that needs to be done.

These test tracks are in Europe and listed in Wikipedia.

Note that Italy and Soain, who build substantial numbers of trains, don’t have a specialist testing centre.

I have read somewhere that each individual train has to be run for so many hours before it can be certified for service.

Consider

  • Bombardier is building 412 Aventras with lengths between three and ten cars.
  • CAF is building trains for Calodonian Sleeper, Keolis Amey Wales, Northern, TranPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.
  • Hitachi is building 182 Class 800/801/802 trains with length of five or nine cars.
  • Hitachi is building 80 Class 385 trains with lengths of 3/4 cars.
  • Siemens are building trains for Govia Thameslink Railway.
  • Stadler is building trains for Greater Anglia, Keolis Amay Wales and MerseyRail.

I haven’t done a detailed calculation must it must be at least 700 trains.

In addition there are various rebuilt and existing trains that will need to be tested.

  • ScotRail’s shorterned InterCity 125s
  • Porterbrook’s Class 769 trains.
  • Vivarail’s Class 230 trains.
  • Alstom’s Class 321 Hydrogen trains.
  • Crossrail Class 345 trains need further testing.

And there will be new orders for the following franchises and lines.

  • East Midlands.
  • London Underground Piccadilly Line.
  • South Eastern
  • West Coast Alliance

I haven’t done a detailed calculation but we must be talking of nearly a thousand new trains of which probably six hundred will be delivered in the next five years.

I’m no expert, but I feel that two short test tracks and short lengths of improvised test tracks in factories, isn’t enough to test all these trains and certify them for service.

I should also blow my own trumpet and I know that when I wrote project management software, I was probably the best programmer in the World, at automatically scheduling resources.

So I tend to know, an impossible scheduling problem, when I see one!

Conclusion

We do send trains to Europe to specialist centres like the one at Velim in the Czech Republic. But these centres are also used by other European manufacturers.

I am led to the inevitable conclusion, that we need more train testing facilities, in both the UK and mainland Europe.

The Welsh Government has come to the same conclusion and are planning a test track at Neath, which I wrote about in £100m Rail Test Complex Plans For Neath Valley.

What would help, would be if Chris Grayling oiled a few wheels with some money. It might even result in some Continental trains coming to Wales for specialist testing like curing them of dracophobia.

I would also have felt that CAF would be happy with a test track fifty miles away from their new factory in Newport.

Come on, Wales! Fire up the dragons and get started!

 

 

September 25, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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!

 

 

 

 

I

 

 

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