The Anonymous Widower

Rochdale Still Doesn’t Have A Direct Link To Manchester Airport

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Richdale Online.

I recently went to Rochdale to see Ipswich play and what surprised me about the town, was how far it was from my hotel close to Manchester Victoria station.

I went on a tram and it took over an hour and it was also very crowded.

I then walked about a mile to the football ground.  Luckily a friendly Rochdale supporter showed me the way.

But is Rochdale’s link to Manchester Airport, any worse than say Walthamstow’s link to Heathrow or Gatwick.

  • Rochdale Town Centre to Manchester Airport by train – 1:05
  • Rochdale Town Centre to Manchester Airport by tram – 2:02
  • Rochdale Station to Manchester Airport by train – 0,:55
  • Rochdale to Manchester Airport by taxi- 0:27
  • Walthamstow Central to Heathrow Airport by Underground and Heathrow Express – 1:05
  • Walthamstow Central to Heathrow Airport by Underground – 1:27
  • Walthamstow to Heathrow Airport by taxi – 1:27
  • Walthamstow Central to Gatwick Airport by train – 1:22

Note.

  1. All journeys, except the taxis, need at least one change.
  2. My lawyer son lives in Walthamstow and always flies from Heathrow.
  3. He gets there by Underground, with one cross-platform change at Finsbury Park.
  4. Crossrail won’t help the man on the Walthamstow Underground.
  5. In Manchester the taxi is quicker, but it isn’t in London.

These are my thoughts.

Mancunians Are More Impatient

Not my view, but the view of a Northern station guy, who has worked on Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly and busy stations on the London Overground.

He thought that they were sometimes in such a hurry to get on a train, that the train is delayed.

He also said, if you ask Londoners to stand behind the yellow line, they do. Mancunians don’t!

Access To Northern And TransPennine Trains Is Bad

Consider.

  • There is often a step up into the train in Manchester.
  • Manchester Metrolink is generally step-free into the tram.
  • Parts of London Underground/Overground are step-free.
  • The new TransPennine trains have pathetic and slow end-door access.

The two train companies have bought fleets of trains that are not fit for purpose.

The Manchester Airport Rail Link Is At Full Capacity

Manchester Airport station, does not have the best rail line from the City Centre.

Wikipedia says this.

Any future additional services to the Airport are in doubt without further infrastructure works; unresolved issues surround the lack of new ‘through’ platforms at Manchester Piccadilly which have been shelved by the government and the Styal Line to Manchester Airport operating at full capacity with little resilience to absorb delays.

The Rochdale Online article blames the stations in Manchester, but the Styal Line is equally to blame.

The Long Term Solution Is High Speed Two

In the 2030s, High Speed Two will solve the problem by using a tunnel between Manchester Airport and the City Centre.

It will also do the following.

  • Provide direct access between Manchester Airport and the Midlands, the South and London.
  • Provide direct access to Liverpool and Warrington in the West.
  • Provide direct access to Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, Hull and the North East, in the East.
  • All services will probably be at least five trains per hour (tph).

But High Speed Two won’t provide a direct link to Richdale.

Passengers between Rochdale and Manchester Airport will still have to change in the City Centre.

Unless of course, some TransPennine services to Manchester Airport are discontinued, as they can be done by High Speed Two.

This would free up paths to add extra services to Manchester Airport.

An Interim Solution

Not only Rochdale, but other towns and cities across the North like Bradford moan about lack of a direct service to and from Manchester Airport.

So what would I do?

Ban Freight Trains Through The Castlefield Corridor

This may not be possible, but it should be a long term objective.

It will cost money, but it would release capacity through the Castlefield Corridor.

Ban Trains Without Level Access At Stations In The Castlefield Corridor

I know that Northern and TransPennine have just bought a load of new trains, but they make matters worse in the stations through the Castlefield Corridor.

All Trains To The Airport Must Be Eight Cars

This makes sense as it increases the capacity, but use the same number of paths.

  • Eight-car Class 379 trains – Stansted Express – 160 metres and 418 passengers
  • Five-car Class 802 trains – TransPennine Express – 130 metres and 342 passengers
  • Eight-car Class 331 trains – Northern – 190 metres and 568 passengers

It does appear that the new trains are also setting new standards for train length.

ERTMS Signalling Should Be Installed Between Manchester Victoria And Manchester Airport

ERTMS signalling would give more flexibility on the route.

Create A Manchester Airport Express

This has been suggested and would have the following characteristics.

  • Running between Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria via Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Eight cars
  • Airport-style interiors
  • Step-free access at all stations.
  • Four tph
  • Running twenty-four hours a day.
  • It would have step-free access to the Metrolink at Manchester Victoria, Deansgate and Manchester Piccadilly.

Ideally it would use dedicated platforms at Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria. The platform at Victoria would hopefully have cross-platform interchange with services going through the station from East to West.

Reduce TransPennine Services To The Airport

TransPennine Express runs the following hourly services to the Airport

  • Cleethorpes via a reverse at Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Edinburgh or Glasgow via the Castlefield Corridor
  • Middlesborough via the Castlefield Corridor
  • Newcastle via the Castlefield Corridor

Why not cut-back either the Newcastle or Middlesborough service to Manchester Victoria and make sure it has good cross-platform access to the Manchester Airport Express?

These services are regularly cut-back anyway due to the congestion.

Demolish Manchester Oxford Road Station And Build A Station That’s Fit For Purpose

Manchester Oxford Road is one of ultimate design crimes on the UK Rail network.

  • The new or refurbished station would be step-free.
  • Platforms would be able to accept two hundred metre long trains.
  • A well-designed bay platform would be provided to turn trains from the North efficiently.
  • Up to four tph could probably be turned back.

Network Rail do station and track layout design generally very well and I’m sure that a redesigned Oxford Road station could improve capacity through the Castlefield Corridor.

Improve Deansgate And Manchester Piccadilly Stations

If longer trains are to be run through the Castlefield Corridor, then the platforms at these two stations will need lengthening and passenger access will need to be improved.

Is There A Place For Tram-Trains?

Manchester are keen on using tram-trains to improve the Metrolink network.

This map clipped from Wikipedia shows the layout of the Metrolink in the City Centre.

Note.

  1. Manchester Piccadilly, Deansgate and Manchester Victoria all have step-free connections to the trains to and from Manchester Airport.
  2. The new Trafford Line will branch off at Pomona.

I think it is likely, that any new lines run by tram-trains will pass through at least one of the connecting stations.

This will increase the list of places that will have good access with a single change to and from Manchester Airport.

Conclusion

There would appear to be a lot of scope to create a high-capacity link between Manchester and the Airport.

But it does appear that the current timetable leaves little or no room to expand the service.

That is why, I believe a simpler but higher capacity service, based on a Manchester Airport Express could be developed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Minister Quotes Definitive Dates For Final Northern Pacer Withdrawals

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Class 142 Pacers are expected to be withdrawn by Northern by February 17 2020, with all the ‘144s’ out of service by May 17 2020, according to Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris.

This is a mess and a mess, where the main culprits are not those usually blamed by the unfortunate travellers; Northern Rail  and the Government.

  • Network Rail made a terrible hash of installing electrification, mainly it appears to some bad surveying, some bad management decisions and their hiring of Carillion.
  • CAF for the late delivery of Class 195 and Class 331 trains.
  • Porterbrook and their contractor for the late delivery of Class 769 trains.

There was a similar problem on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line as Bombardier were having problems with the computer systems on the Class 710 trains, which came into service several months after the electrification was finally complete.

So Bombardier put their hands up and paid for a free month’s travel on the line.

Surely, those that are responsible for the Pacers still being in service, should follow Bombardier’s  lead.

 

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Pacers To Continue Into 2020, Operators Confirm

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Operators have confirmed that their Pacer diesel multiple-units will remain in service into early 2020, in spite of previous announcements that the unpopular four-wheeled vehicles dating from the 1980s would be withdrawn before enhanced PRM accessibility requirements come into force on January 1 2020.

The article then summarises the situation in the three operators running Pacers.

Northern

Some Pacers used by Northern will continue in service into 2020, because of late delivery of new Class 195 diesel trains and Class 331 electric trains.

They are also still awaiting delivery of eight Class 769 trains, which are very late into service.

Great Western

Great Western has said, that some Pacers will continue in service around Exeter.

No reason is given, but it does appear that because of non-delivery of electrification to Oxford and the late arrival of Crossrail, Great Western they still need Class 165 and Class 166 trains to work services for London commuters.

They are also still awaiting delivery of nineteen Class 769 trains.

Transport For Wales

Transport for Wales are in the same position as Great Western, in that the Class 769 trains, they ordered have still not been delivered.

The Operator Will Get The Blame!

Obviously, the operator will get the blame, but I would argue that all three have at least tried hard to avoid this crisis, as they knew the Pacers would have to be on their way to the scrapyard at the end of 2019.

  • If CAF had delivered their trains for Northern on time, things would be much better in the North.
  • If Porterbrook and their engineers had delivered the Class 769 trains on time, all three operators would be in a better position.

Hopefully, in a few months, the new trains will have been delivered and the Class 769 trains will have been created and in service.

 

October 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Selection Of Train Noses

I have put together a selection of pictures of train noses.

They are in order of introduction into service.

Class 43 Locomotive

The nose of a Class 43 locomotive was designed by Sir Kenneth Grange.

Various articles on the Internet, say that he thought British Rail’s original design was ugly and that he used the wind tunnel at Imperial College to produce one of the world’s most recognised train noses.

  • He tipped the lab technician a fiver for help in using the tunnel
  • Pilkington came had developed large armoured glass windows, which allowed the locomotives window for two crew.
  • He suggested that British Rail removed the buffers. Did that improve the aerodynamics, with the chisel nose shown in the pictures?

The fiver must be one of the best spent, in the history of train design.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I did a simple calculation using these assumptions.

  • To cruise at 125 mph needs both engines running flat out producing 3,400 kW.
  • Two locomotives and eight Mark 3 carriages are a ten-car InterCity 125 train.

This means that the train needs 2.83 kWh per vehicle mile.

Class 91 Locomotive

These pictures show the nose of a Class 91 locomotive.

Note, the Class 43 locomotive for comparison and that the Driving Van Trailers have an identical body shell.

It does seem to me, that looking closely at both locomotives and the driving van trailers, that the Class 43s  look to have a smoother and more aerodynamic shape.

Class 800/801/802 Train

These pictures show the nose of a Class 800 train.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I did a simple calculation to find out the energy consumption of a Class 801 train.

I have found this on this page on the RailUKForums web site.

A 130m Electric IEP Unit on a journey from Kings Cross to Newcastle under the conditions defined in Annex B shall consume no more than 4600kWh.

This is a Class 801 train.

  • It has five cars.
  • Kings Cross to Newcastle is 268.6 miles.
  • Most of this journey will be at 125 mph.
  • The trains have regenerative braking.
  • I don’t know how many stops are included

This gives a usage figure of 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile.

It is a surprising answer, as it could be a higher energy consumption, than that of the InterCity 125.

I should say that I don’t fully trust my calculations, but I’m fairly sure that the energy use of both an Intercity 125 and a Class 801 train are in the region of 3 kWh per vehicle mile.

Class 717 Train

Aerodynamically, the Class 700, 707 and 717 trains have the same front.

But they do seem to be rather upright!

Class 710 Train

This group of pictures show a Class 710 train.

Could these Aventra trains have been designed around improved aerodynamics?

  • They certainly have a more-raked windscreen than the Class 717 train.
  • The cab may be narrower than the major part of the train.
  • The headlights and windscreen seem to be fared into the cab, just as Colin Chapman and other car designers would have done.
  • There seems to be sculpting of the side of the nose, to promote better laminar flow around the cab. Does this cut turbulence and the energy needed to power the train?
  • Bombardier make aircraft and must have some good aerodynamicists and access to wind tunnels big enough for a large scale model of an Aventra cab.

If you get up close to the cab, as I did at Gospel Oak station, it seems to me that Bombardier have taken great care to create a cab, that is a compromise between efficient aerodynamics and good visibility for the driver.

Class 345 Train

These pictures shows the cab of a Class 345 train.

The two Aventras seem to be very similar.

Class 195 And Class 331 Trains

CAF’s Class 195 and Class 331 trains appear to have identical noses.

They seem to be more upright than the Aventras.

Class 755 Train

Class 755 trains are Stadler’s 100 mph bi-mode trains.

It is surprising how they seem to follow similar designs to Bombardier’s Aventras.

  • The recessed windscreen.
  • The large air intake at the front.

I can’t wait to get a picture of a Class 755 train alongside one of Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains, which are Aventras.

 

 

 

 

 

October 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dewsbury Station

I broke my journey between Leeds and Huddersfield at Dewsbury station, where I had a very acceptable gluten-free pizza and a glass of cider.

I took these pictures of the station.

Note.

  1. There appears to be an avoiding line, through the station, which means that faster trains can pass slower ones stopped in the station.
  2. The station has a step-free bridge, but no toilets.
  3. The square outside the station has been recently landscaped.
  4. The station is Grade II Listed.
  5. The station has four TransPennine Express trains per hour (tph) in both directions.

Overall it is an excellent station with a touch of class, that probably deserves a few more trains.

Electrification

I cover possible electrification between Leeds and Huddersfield in Is There Going To Be Full Electrification Between Leeds And Huddersfield?.

Electrification as far as Leeds, which would offer faster acceleration and shorter station dwell times could offer the following.

  • The solution to the problems at Morley station. using longer and faster trains.
  • A faster journey time between Leeds and Huddersfield for the stopping trains.

Northern’s new Class 331 trains would probably do just fine.

If the stopping trains could run between Leeds and Huddersfield in perhaps twenty-five minutes, which may or may not be possible after the upgrade, just two trains would be needed for a two tph service.

I could see electrification opening up the following services on the electrified route, through Dewsbury.

  • Two tph – Leeds and Huddersfield – Stopping at all stations
  • One tph – Leeds and Wigan North Western – Stopping at all stations
  • Four tph – Leeds and Huddersfield – Stopping only at Dewsbury and other selected stations.

All except the Wigan service would be electric trains.

Conclusion

Dewsbury station is going to get a much-improved train service.

 

August 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

My First Ride In A Class 331 Train

After yesterday’s post; My First Ride In A Class 195 Train, today, I took a ride in that train’s electric sister; the Class 331 train, between Leeds and Doncaster stations.

These are some pictures.

These are my views on various aspects of the train.

Noise, Vibration And Harshness

The electric trains, I travel in most are London Overground’s and TfL Rail’s various classes; 315, 317, 345, 378 and 710.

These Class 331 trains seemed to have a smooth ride, but a noisier transmission compared to say the Class 378 train or the Class 710 train.

To check, the day after I rode the Class 331 train, I rode the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, sampling both Class 378 and Class 710 trains.

It was no surprise that noise levels in the Class 710 train were lowest, but the Class 331 train was noisier than the Class 378 train.

Interior Design

The interior design is the same as that of the Class 195 train and my same comments apply.

  • It is inferior to that of a Class 385 train.
  • The seats are not aligned with the windows.
  • There are lots of tables, which I like.

I also noted that the information display wasn’t working. Was this just teething troubles?

Entrance And Exit

As expected, this was the same as the Class 195 train.

Conclusion

The Class 331 train like its sibling; the Class 195 train, has a few design faults, that hopefully will be rectified in the next few months.

July 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

My First Ride In A Class 195 Train

Today, I rode the ten o’clock Virgin to Manchester Piccadilly station.

I then waited for one of the new Class 195 trains going South to Manchester Aurport station.

These pictures show the Class 195 train.

These are my views on various aspects of the train.

Noise, Vibration And Harshness

The Class 195 train is a diesel multiple unit, with an MTU engine and a ZF Ecolife transmission.

Wikipedia describes the transmission as is a 6 speed transmission for city buses. It also lists these features.

  • Boosted operating economy, longer service life, and higher temperature resistance for operation with Euro 5 (1st generation) and Euro 6 (2nd generation) compatible engines.
  • An integral retarder,
  • Longer operational intervals between oil changes.
  • Higher torque capacity.

It looks like ZF have created a sophisticated and very efficient gearbox for diesel buses and trains.

During today, I rode also rode in Class 156 and Class 175 trains, that are also diesel powered.

I would put the noise, vibration and harshness of the diesel engine and the transmission of the Class 195 trains, as worse than that of the Class 175 train and better than than that of the Class 156 train.

I am surprised that the Class 195 train doesn’t use a hybrid electric transmission, which are starting to be developed by MTU and will be retrofitted into various diesel multiple units like Porterbrook’s Class 170 trains, as I talked about in Rolls-Royce And Porterbrook Launch First Hybrid Rail Project In The UK With MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

I said this in the linked post.

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.

As the Class 195 train has a similar electric cousin; the Class 331 train, I would have felt that it would be possible to fit the Class 195 trains with an MTU Hybrid PowerPack or similar.

This should reduce, what to me, are unacceptable noise levels.

As the MTU Hybrid PowerPack has been developed, at the same time as the Class 195 train, which uses a traditional MTU engine, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Class 195 train has been designed to be retrofitted with the more efficient MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

Interior Design

The designj of the interior is disappointing in some of the details and I would rate it inferior to the Class 385 trains, built for ScotRail by Hitachi.

The most annoying aspect is that the seats and windows are not aligned, as they are in Hitachi’s design.

This picture taken in a Chiltern Railways Mark 3 carriage, shows the alignment done in a better manner.

 

But I believe, that it can be done better still.

Entrance And Exit

As the pictures show, there is a big gap and a high step getting into the train. I know that the platform at Manchester Piccadilly is not easy, but the gap was still large on the straight platform at Manchester Airport.

With any new train, a passenger in a wheelchair, should be able to push themselves into and out of the train.

They certainly can’t in a Class 195 train.

Conclusion

I was rather disappointed with the Class 195 train.

Good points were the number of tables and build quality.

Bad points were the noise, vibration and harshness, execution of the interior design and entry and exit.

Compared to the Class 385 train, which I would score at 8/10, the Class 195 train, is no better than 6/10.

In some ways though, my biggest disappointment, is that they didn’t get the smaller points of the design right first time!

 

 

July 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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