The Anonymous Widower

Is There Nothing A Class 319 Train Can’t Do?

If a train every goes into orbit round the world, it will be highly-likely that it will be a Class 319 train!

Electric Trains In North-West England

The fleet of eighty-six trains entered service in 1987 on Thameslink  and now twenty-seven are plying their trade on the electrified routes around the North-West of England.

  • You don’t hear many complaints about them being called London’s cast-offs.
  • Passengers fill them up in Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston.
  • They still do 100 mph where possible.
  • They seem to be reliable.
  • They are not the most attractive of trains.

But handsome is as handsome does!

Drivers have told me, that although the suspension may be a bit soft for the bumpy route across Chat Moss, the trains do have superb brakes.

Bi-Mode Class 769 Trains

Nearly thirty of the trains are being converted into bi-mode Class 769 trains for working partially-electrifired routes and although these are running late, they should be in service this year.

Rail Operations Group

Two Class 769 trains have been ordered to be fast logistics trains by Rail Operations Group.

Wikipedia says the trains will be used to transport mail.

But if you read the history of the Rail Operations Group, they make the assets sweat and I’ve read the trains will still have seats, so they might do some other rail operations.

The Hydrogen-Powered Class 799 Train 

And now comes the Class 799 train!

This is a demonstrator to prove the concept of conversion to hydrogen power.

The fact that the train now has it’s own number must be of some significance.

Alstom are converting Class 321 trains into Class 321 Breeze trains.

  • The conversion will reduce passenger capacity, due to the large hydrogen tank
  • It will have a 1,000 km range.
  • It will have regenerative breaking.
  • It will have a new AC traction package
  • It will probably have the interior of a Class 321 Renatus train.

The conversion will obviously build on Alstom’s experience with the Alstom Coradia iLint train and Eversholt’s experience with the Renatus.

When it comes to the Class 799 train, the following will apply.

  • Porterbrook have all the experience of creating the bi-mode and dual-voltage Class 769 train.
  • Birmingham University’s Birmingham Centre For Railway Research And Education (BCRRE) are providing the expertise to design and convert the Class 319 train to hydrogen power.
  • I also wouldn’t be surprised to find out, that the BCRRE has applied some very extensive mathematical modelling to find out the performance of a hydrogen-powered Class 319 train.
  • The conversion could be based closely on Class 769 experience and sub-systems,

Could the main purpose be to demonstrate the technology and ascertain the views of train operators and passengers on hydrogen power?

The most important question, is whether the Class 799 train, will have the same passenger capacity as the original Class 319 train?

If it does, then BCRRE must have found a way to store the hydrogen in the roof or under the floor.

It should be noted, that it was only in September 2018, that the contract to develop the Class 799 train was signed and yet less than a year later BCRRE and Porterbrook will be demonstrating the train at a trade show.

This short development time, must mean that there is not enough time to modify the structure of the train to fit a large hydrphen tank inside, as Alstom are proposing.

A smaller hydrogen tank could be placed in one of three places.

  • Underneath the train.
  • On the roof.
  • Inside the train, if it is small enough to fit through the train’s doors.

Note.

  1. I doubt that anybody would put the tank inside the train for perceived safety reasons from passengers.
  2. On the roof, would require substantial structural modifications. Is there enough time?

So how do you reduce the size of the hydrogen tank and still store enough hydrogen in it to give the train a useful range?

In Better Storage Might Give Hydrogen The Edge As Renewable Car Fuel, I indicated technology from Lancaster University, that could store four times as much hydrogen in a given size of tank.

This reduced tank size would make the following possible.

  • The hydrogen tank, the fuel cell and the batteries could be located underneath the four-cars of the Class 319 train.
  • The seating capacity of the Class 799 train could be the same as that of a Class 319 train.

Clever electronics would link everything together.

If BCRRE succeed in their development and produce a working hydrogen-powered Class 799 train, how would the technology be used?

Personally, I don’t think we’ll see too many hydrogen-powered Class 799 trains, running passengers on the UK network.

  • The trains are based on a thirty-year-old train.
  • The interiors are rather utilitarian and would need a lot of improvement, to satisfy what passengers expect.
  • Their market can probably be filled in the short-term by more Class 769 trains.

But I do believe that the technology could be applied to more modern trains.

A Hydrogen-Powered Electrostar

Porterbrook own at least twenty four-car Electrostar trains, which have been built in recent years.

Six Class 387 trains, currently used by c2c, may come off lease in the next few years.

Could these trains be converted into a train with the following specification?

  • Modern train interior, with lots of tables and everything passengers want.
  • No reduction in passenger capacity.
  • 110 mph operating speed using electrification.
  • Useful speed and range on hydrogen power.
  • ERTMS capability, which Porterbrook are fitting to the Class 387 trains to be used by Heathrow Express.

It should be born in mind, that a closely-related Class 379 train proved the concept of a UK battery train.

  • The train was converted by Bombardier.
  • It ran successfully for three months between Manningtree and Harwich.
  • The interior of the train was untouched.

But what was impressive was that the train was converted to battery operation and back to normal operation in a very short time.

This leads me to think, that adding new power sources to an Electrostar, is not a complicated rebuild of the train’s electrical system.

If the smaller hydrogen tank, fuel cell and batteries can be fitted under a Class 319 train, I suspect that fitting them under an Electrostar will be no more difficult.

I believe that once the technology is proven with the Class 799 train, then there is no reason, why later Electrostars couldn’t be converted to hydrogen power.

  • Class 387 trains from c2c, Great Northern and Great Western Railway.
  • Class 379 trains, that will be released from Greater Anglia by new Class 745 trains.
  • Class 377 trains from Southeastern could be released by the new franchise holder.

In addition, some Class 378 trains on the London Overground could be converted for service on the proposed West London Orbital Railway.

A Hydrogen-Powered Aventra

If the Electrostar can be converted, I don’t see why an Aventra couldn’t be fitted with a similar system.

Conclusion

A smaller hydrogen tank, holding hydrogen at a high-density would enable trains to be converted without major structural modifications or reducing the passenger capacity.

The development of a more efficient method of hydrogen storage, would open up the possibilities for the conversion of trains to electric-hydrogen hybrid trains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

42 Technology To Showcase Adaptable Carriage On Innovation Hub Train

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Cambridge Network,

This page on the 42 Technology web site, is the original press release.

These are the first two paragraphs.

42 Technology has installed its innovative Adaptable Carriage seating system into a real train carriage for the first time as part of its Innovate UK ‘First of a Kind’ project.

The system has been installed on Porterbrook’s Innovation Hub which will be launched next week at Rail Live 2019 (19-20 June) at Quinton Rail Technology Centre, the dedicated rail testing and trialling site near Stratford-upon-Avon.

Porterbrook’s Innovation Hub is a Class 319 train, that is made available for innovators.

Like 42 Technology, an innovator might have ideas for how to design the inside of a train, or someone might want to run an innovative freight service and wants to design the containers.

At the lowest level, the Innovation Hub, gives innovators, the chance to see inside a real train.

This article on the BBC is entitled Pacer trains ‘could be used as village halls’.

Surely, the leasing companies, who own these trains should park one at a convenient site and allow interested parties and the wider public to look at it.

Who knows what will happen? There are some crazy people with even crazier ideas out there! But successful innovation is liberally sprinkled with people, who were three-quarters of the way to the funny farm.

 

June 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Infrastructure Delays Force Northern To Soldier On With Pacers

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

This is the first paragraph.

Forty-six Pacers remained in traffic with Northern at the start of January, after they were supposed to have been sent off-lease.

Northern are saying they are still in service because of delays in the delivery of the electrification through Bolton, which would have allowed the replacement of Pacers with electric trains.

The situation has not been helped by the late delivery of eight Class 769 trains, which could be running partially-electrified routes.

The Class 331 trains should also be arriving this year.

As there are also some more Class 319 trains in store, it does look like Northern’s blaming of the late electrification is on the mark.

 

 

 

 

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Class 769 Flex In Action

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

The article describes a ride in a Class 769 train, which is under test on the Grand Central Railway.

The article is very comprehensive, so if you want information on the progress of these trains, you ought to read the article.

One overall impression, I received, was that the train is a lot quieter, than the author expected.

This was the last sentence.

That said, based on the Flex experience, this writer would rather travel on a Class 769 than on a Class 150.

I can’t wait to have a ride, when they enter service in the New Year.

The article also gives a summary of Porterbrook’s various FLEX projects, which are taking redundant, but very serviceable electric-trains and converting them into self-powered trains needed on the UK rail network.

The article also says this about the future of the Class 319 trains.

There are 86 Class 319 four-car units, all of which were made redundant from the Thameslink route. Porterbrook has been successful in placing approximately 45 units for further use – 32 for Northern (eight of which will be converted to Flex specification) and 13 units with West Midlands Trains. In addition, there are Flex orders for five units for Wales, 19 units for Great Western Railway and one for the University of Birmingham (the HydroFlex). This makes a grand total of 71 of the 86 units, leaving 15 still to find new homes.

I believe that Porterbrook’s reaction to finding that they had a fleet of trains for some of which, there were no obvious uses has been admirable. But also very pragmatic and hopefully financially rewarding in the long-term.

Looking back to the days of British Rail, these trains would probably have been sent to the scrapyard.

 

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Ballard Receives Order From Porterbrook for Fuel Cell Module to Power UK HydroFLEX Train

The title of this post is the same as this article on Cision.

The article says that the copy has been provided by Ballard.

This is the first paragraph.

VANCOUVER and DERBY, U.K., Dec. 13, 2018 /CNW/ – Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ: BLDP; TSX: BLDP) today announced that it has received a purchase order from Porterbrook Leasing Company Limited (“Porterbrook”; http://www.porterbrook.co.uk), a leading participant in the rail leasing market, for an FCveloCity®-HD fuel cell module and related support to power a HydroFLEX train in the U.K.

The article says this about the HydroFLEX train.

The HydroFLEX will be the U.K.’s first fully sized hydrogen demonstrator train. It will showcase how hydrogen can be used to power a train that retains the ability to operate across existing electric routes, on either 3rd rail or 25kV overhead power. Testing and demonstration runs are planned for the summer of 2019 at RailLive, which will take place at Long Marston in Warwickshire.

That sounds like it could be a date for my diary.

Strictly A Demonstrator

In this article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled Hydroflex – The Next Iteration Of The Flex Concept,there is a section entitled Strictly A Demonstrator, from which this was taken.

In response to Rail Engineer’s questions, BCRRE said that the demonstrator version focuses on delivering an electric/hydrogen bi-mode to UK gauge.

So the HydroFLEX is more about research., which I believe is a good route.

  • My feelings on seeing the Alstom Coradia iLint in Germany, was that they had launched too early!
  • Getting a University to run a demonstrator might show up the smaller problems associated with a complex project.
  • Birmingham University may also have access to better mathematics and computing.
  • The interior of the train can be used for test equipment and hydrogen tanks.

I also suspect that a well-designed demonstrator could help with the repurposing of Porterbrook’s extensive fleet, by doing appropriate research.

The Fuel Cell

The Ballard fuel cell is a HD variant of their  FCveloCity family.

This page on the Ballard web site is the data sheet.

  • The fuel cells come in three sizes 60, 85 and 100 kW
  • The largest fuel cell would appear to be around 1.2 m x 1 m x 0.5 m and weigh around 400 Kg.
  • The fuel cell has an associated cooling subsystem, that can provide heat for the train.

It would appear that mounting the fuel cell under the train floor would be a feasible proposition. I would assume that the cell would be placed under one of the driver cars.

If you search the Internet, you’ll find there is a lot of fuel cell companies out there innovating like crazy and fighting for market share.

I don’t think there will be any problem with the fuel cell in the HydroFLEX train.

The Electrical System

The electrical system of the Class 319 train is simple.

  • There is a 750 VDC busbar, which connects to all four cars.
  • The busbar is fed by the 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • One of the middle cars has the pantograph and the other has four 247.5 kW traction motors, which power the whole train.
  • There is no regenerative braking capability.
  • The two driver cars are only differentiated, by the seats installe by the operator.

It looks to me that this was a sensible piece of 1980s engineering by British Rail to create a low-cost dual-voltage train.

I do wonder, if the originator of this system is still hale and hearty. I suspect they are, as they certainly know how to design for a long life.

When Porterbrook commissioned the Class 769 train, the two diesel generators under the driver cars were connected into this busbar.

They didn’t add any energy storage to the train, although as I said in Brush Traction Signs Contract With Skeleton Technologies For Modules For Class 769 Trains, they have added SkelStart capacitors to start the diesel generators.

Effectively, the Class 769 train is an electric or diesel train, just like the Class 319 train is an overhead or third-rail electrificsation train.

Will the fuel cell of the HydroFLEX train be connected to the electrical system of the train in the same way?

Or will energy storage, we added to the drive train?

In a more advanced design, batteries or capacitors could be in the motored car.

  • They would be charged from the busbar.
  • They would power the traction motors.

If the traction motors, were to be changed to modern ones, that could perform regenerative braking, then this energy could be used to recharge the battery.

The Fuel Tank

I suspect as the train is for research, that a standard off-the-shelf hydrogen tank will be used.

This page on the Fuel Cells And Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, is entitled Improved Hydrogen Tanks For Fuel Cell Cars Of The Future.

This is the first paragraph.

The EU funded COPERNIC project, supported by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), succeeded in improving the quality of materials and design of hydrogen storage tanks for cars. It also made the manufacturing of these tanks more cost efficient, helping to make hydrogen cars a more viable and competitive option.

I think it is highly likely, that s well-designed hydrogen tank, could probably share the space under the driver car with the fuel cell.

If it can’t then as it’s a research project a few seats can be taken out.

 

 

 

December 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

UK Hydrogen Train Demonstrator To Be Tested In 2019

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

A memorandum of understanding for the development of a hydrogen fuel cell demonstrator train was signed by leasing company Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research & Education at InnoTrans on September 19.

Porterbrook is to provide an ex-Thameslink Class 319 25 kV 50 Hz/750 V DC third rail electric multiple-unit for the Hydro Flex project. The partners expect it to be equipped with a fuel cell system and ready for demonstration runs in mid-2019. It would retain the ability to use electrical power.

Action is certainly happening in the development of low-emission trains and it appears, that the train leasing companies are taking an active lead.

 

 

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

A Very Smart Class 319 Train

On my trip to Bricket Wood station yesterday, I travelled from Watford Junction station in a very smart Class 319 train.

These pictures show the train.

It certainly shows how Mark 3-based stock has the ability to scrub up well!

West Midlands Trains have nine of these Class 319 trains, which are mainly used for peak hour services on the West Coast Main Line.

One gets used on the Abbey Line.

The current arrangement probably works reasonably well from the train operators point of view.

However, passengers probably need a regular half-hourly service, which would need two trains and a passing loop at Bricket Wood station.

These trains are going to be replaced with new five-car Class 730 trains in 2020-21.

Will these new trains be used on the Abbey Line?

If the passing loop is installed at Bricket Wood, then two trains might be able to provide a half-hourly service. Although, having seen Bricket Wood station yesterday, a passing loop with electrification and a second platform would be a more expensive .option.

I discuss the various options in Could Modern Technology And Developments Improve the Abbey Line?.

June 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Bricket Wood Station – 25th June 2018

These pictures show Bricket Wood station on the Abbey Line.

It was a tidy clean station served by a very smart Class 319 train.

Wikipedia says the following about the future of the station.

Installation of Oyster card readers on the stations along the branch is a possibility, although there are other ticketing options too.

Restoration of the crossing loop is being considered by the local authorities and Network Rail, which would facilitate trains running every 30 minutes.

Both actions would appear to be sensible. In Could Modern Technology And Developments Improve the Abbey Line?, I discuss how by using trains with batteries and a loop without electrification, may be an alternative way to install a passing loop.

I suspect that the station is long enough for a six-car train.

June 25, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

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 | Transport | , , , | 1 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 | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment