The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – South Fylde Line Passing Loop

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

The Project

This project is described on this page on the web site of the Fylde MP; Mark Menzies, which is entitled Improving The South Fylde Rail Line.

The page lists that these improvements are needed.

Track And Stations

These improvements are listed for track and stations.

The bid involves laying around three miles of track between Lytham and St Annes stations, the creation of a new rail platform at Ansdell and Fairhaven Station, the installation of signalling along the line, and potential platform changes at Preston Station. There is scope for improvements to St Annes and Lytham Stations, should Network Rail decide it would rather include those stations within the passing loop – but that would be decided further along the process.

Services

The objective is to be able to run two trains per hour (tph) between Preston and Blackpool South stations.

Trains

Better trains are needed.

It certainly looks like the Pacers have already gone.

The Route

I shall describe the current route in this section.

Blackpool South Station

The Google Map shows Blackpool South station.

Note.

  1. Entrance to the station is from Waterloo Road, which runs East-West across the map.
  2. There are a pair of bus stops by the station entrance.
  3. There is a lot of car parking close to the station.
  4. I suspect that the single platform can hold a modern eighty-metre four-car train.
  5. This seventy-year-old has no difficulty waking to the football ground or the Blackpool trams from the station.

With two tph and some updated facilities, this would be a very useful station.

I suspect there is even space to add a second platform in the future, if that were felt to be necessary.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Station

This Google Map shows Blackpool Please Beach station and the nearby Pleasure Beach.

We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of this station. One beautiful late summer Saturday, I was going to see Ipswich play at Blackpool and out of curiosity I had explored the train to Colne station. In those days a decade ago, Colne and Blackpool South was one service and the train from Colne was full of families, by the time it got to Preston. A large proportion, left the train at the Pleasure Beach.

The conductor told me, that the crowds, I had witnessed weren’t untypical.

Squires Gate Station and Blackpool Airport

This Google Map shows Squires Gate station and the nearby Blackpool Airport.

Blackpool Airport after a troubled few years seems to be finding a niche market, with a few business, commercial, offshore and training flights.

But I believe that airports like Blackpool in the future can develop another large niche – electric aviation.

Getting to places like Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and Wales by a nineteen-seat electric airliner will need the following.

  • As short a flight as possible.
  • Close to the coast would help.
  • Good public transport links. Blackpool Airport has both tram and train.
  • Space for aircraft to be parked, whilst charging.
  • Plentiful supplies of renewable electricity. The over-300 MW Burbo Bank Wind Farm is not far away in Liverpool Bay and it will only be joined by more and larger wind farms.
  • Frequent public transport.

Blackpool Airport could tick all these boxes, with a thick green marker.

Some example direct distances from Blackpool include

  • Aberdeen – 238 miles
  • Amsterdam Schipol – 340 miles
  • Belfast City – 128 miles
  • Cardiff – 165 miles
  • Dublin – 134 miles
  • Edinburgh – 150 miles
  • Exeter – 211 miles
  • Geneva – 661 miles
  • Glasgow – 155 miles
  • London Gatwick – 220 miles
  • London Heathrow – 192 miles
  • London Southend – 219 miles
  • Newcastle – 89 miles
  • Paris Orly – 422 miles
  • Isle of Man Ronaldsway – 68 miles
  • Southampton – 208 miles

These distances fit nicely with the range of the nine-seater Eviation Alice electric aircraft, which is predicted to be 620 miles.

St. Annes-on-the-Sea Station

This Google Map shows St. Annes-on-the-Sea station.

Note.

  1. Blackpool is to the North-West and Preston is to the South-East
  2. St. Annes-on-the-Sea is one of those convenient single-platform stations, where you just walk in-and-out on the level.
  3. The passing loop would start on the Preston side of the bridge.

There would need to be no major infrastructure work at the station, although I would expect the facilities could do with a makeover.

Ansdell And Fairhaven Station

In Should The Blackpool South Branch Be Electrified?, I said this about improvements to Ansdell and Fairhaven station.

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.
    • Longer 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.

It could be the best Championship Golf Course railway station in the world.

Lytham Station

This Google Map shows Lytham station.

Lytham station will be the Eastern end of the loop and it is likely, that the single-track will change to double at the Western end of the station.

As with St. Annes-on-the-Sea station, I suspect that a good makeover, will be all that will be needed.

Moss Side Station

This Google Map shows Moss Side station.

The only problem here is the level crossing, so do Network Rail want to remove it?

Kirkham And Wesham Station

This Google Map shows Kirkham and Wesham station.

There are three platforms, which from bottom to top on the map are.

  • Platform 1 – Trains to Blackpool South
  • Platform 2 – Trains to Blackpool North
  • Platform 3 – Trains to Preston

All platforms seem to be being electrified in these  pictures. that I took during construction.

Note.

  1. It can’t be described as a station, built down to a small budget.
  2. In the captions to the pictures, I’ve numbered the platforms from left to right.
  3. The last picture looks down Platform 1 and there is an electrification gantry at the Preston end.

Could this comprehensive electrification be so that trains to Blackpool North can use both Platforms 1 and 2?

  • This would allow overtaking of say a local train by a London express.
  • Trains could also be turned back in Platform 1, before the end of its journey, if there was a problem.
  • The electrification is also substantial enough for the longest Class 390 trains.
  • It could even accommodate a classic compatible High Speed Two train.

So does the last point, mean that Blackpool North station is a possible High Speed Two destination? Provided, the platforms at Blackpool North station are long enough, I think it does!

This Google Map shows Kirkham West Junction, where trains to Blackpool North and Blackpool South stations diverge.

Note.

  1. The electrification gantries and their shadows can be seen.
  2. Preston is to the South-East and the route is fully-electrified.
  3. Blackpool North is to the North-West and the route is fully-electrified.
  4. Blackpool South is to the West. The double-track becomes single before Moss Side station.

This picture shows the route going off to Blackpool South.

I took the picture from a train going to Blackpool North station.

So why are wires being run along the first few hundred metres of the Blackpool South Branch?

The Timetable

Currently, trains take the following times to do these journey legs.

  • Run between Ansdell and Fairhaven and Blackpool South stations – 12 minutes
  • Turnback at Blackpool South station – 3 minutes
  • Run between Blackpool South and Ansdell and Fairhaven stations – 11 minutes

As the trains will be running every thirty minutes and the three legs total twenty-six minutes, that means there’s four minutes float.

So hopefully, it should be easily stainable, by an experienced rail timetable creator.

The Trains

I have remarked that I find the electrification at Kirkham & Wesham station, both comprehensive and slightly unusual.

Could The Electrification Have Been Designed For Battery Electric Trains To Blackpool South Station?

But there is one very plausible reason for the electrification layout – The Blackpool South Branch has been designed, so that services on the branch can be rum using battery trains.

  • The distance between Kirkham & Wesham and Blackpool South stations is just over eleven miles.
  • So for a round trip a range of perhaps twenty-five miles on battery power would suffice.
  • There would also be a need for a few minutes of hotel power, whilst waiting at Blackpool South station.

These power needs are well within the capabilities of the average battery train.

  • Trains could be charged on the nine minute run  between Preston and Kirkham & Wesham stations.
  • Changeover between electrification and battery power would take place in Kirkham & Wesham station.

An ideal train would surely be CAF’s four-car battery electric version of the Class 331 train, which I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans.

  • According to an article in the March 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, with the same name, these trains will be working between Manchester Airport and Windermere.
  • Class 331 trains without batteries will be running to and from Blackpool North station.
  • Four-car trains are probably the right size for the route.

There would also probably be no need for a charging station at Blackpool South station, if trains could leave Kirkham & Wesham station with a full battery.

Where Would The Trains Terminate In The East?

These would be the obvious choices.

  • Blackburn – Where there is a convenient bay platform.
  • Colne – Where they used to terminate!
  • Liverpool – Merseyrail has the trains and Liverpool has lots of punters and the imagination.
  • Preston – Where they do now!
  • Skipton – If the Skipton-Colne Link is built!

My money would be on Skipton, using a new Skipton-Colne Link, for the following reasons.

  • Politicians of all colours and roses are in favour.
  • Skipton has an electrified route to Leeds.
  • Skipton-Colne would be a valuable by-pass route during the building of Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Battery-powered trains would be ideal for Skipton-Colne.

Would A Battery Electric Train Be Feasible Between Blackpool South And Liverpool?

Consider.

  • An all-stations service would complement the fast service between Liverpool Lime Street and Blackpool North stations via St. Helens, Wigan North Western and Preston.
  • The service could either go between Liverpool and Preston via Ormskirk or Southport and a reinstated Burscough Chord.
  • The Ormskirk route is 15 miles of unelectrified line and the Southport route is just four miles further.
  • A service via Southport would need to reverse at Southport station.
  • The service would be run using dual-voltage Class 777 trains fitted with batteries.
  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification, is already  installed between Preston and Kirkham & Wesham stations,
  • Using existing electrification, trains would leave Kirkham & Wesham, Ormskirk, Preston and Southport stations with full batteries.
  • A coastal service between Blackpool and Liverpool would surely attract visitors.
  • Liverpool and Blackpool are the two biggest urban areas on the coast.
  • There are several golf courses on the route, including three courses that have held the Open; Royal Birkdale, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

It may be a bit fanciful. But.

  • Merseyrail will have the trains.
  • Liverpool has the potential passengers.
  • I believe the route could handle a two tph service.
  • In Reopen Midge Hall Station, I showed that it was possible to run a two tph service between Liverpool and Preston, with one tph via each of Ormskirk and Southport.

Liverpool also has bags of ambition and imagination.

Would A Battery Electric Train Handle Preston And Skipton?

I estimate that this route is forty-one miles, with a stiff rise from Rose Grove to Colne station.

So would a battery electric train be able to handle this distance?

Hitachi are talking 56 miles for their Regional Battery Train, so I suspect CAF would want and need to be competitive with a similar specification.

Perhaps the logical service would be to run between Leeds and Blackpool South.

  • The service would go via Preston, Blackburn, Burnley Central, Colne and Skipton.
  • Leeds and Skipton is electrified.
  • Preston and Kirkham & Wesham is electrified.
  • No extra chargers for trains would be needed.

The only new infrastructure needed would be the Skipton and Colne Link.

Electrification Between Preston And Blackburn

Consider.

  • In Colne – Skipton Reopening Moves Closer, I talked about the proposed Huncoat Rail Fright Terminal, that could be built North of Blackburn on the East Lancashire Line.
  • Blackburn is a major hub for passenger services.
  • An electrified Blackburn would allow Manchester and Clitheroe to be run by battery electric trains. Clitheroe is ten miles and Bolton is thirteen.
  • An electrified Blackburn would allow Blackburn and Manchester Victoria via the Todmorden Curve to be run by battery electric trains. The whole route is 39.5 miles.
  • It may be possible for battery electric trains to reach Leeds via Hebden Bridge, as it is only fifty miles away, which is within Hitachi’s range.
  • As the Blackburn area grows, there will be more pressure for a daily London service.
  • Some think, the Calderdale route should be electrified.
  • Preston and Blackburn stations are just twelves miles apart.
  • There is a multiple unit depot at Blackburn.
  • I also feel that battery electric trains fanning out from Blackburn, wouldn’t do the town’s image any harm.

For all these reasons, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a short stretch of electrification added between Preston and Blackburn.

Conclusion

I like this proposal and it could be a big asset to trains across the Pennines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 27, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Reinstatement Of The Bury-Heywood-Rochdale Lines

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

This article on Rochdale OnLine is entitled Successful First Step To Restore Rochdale-Heywood-Bury Railway Line.

The work can now begin to fill out what is possible, with the award of funding from the Government to go towards a full study.

The funding was welcomed by Tony Lloyd, the MP for Rochdale, who is quoted as saying this.

Metrolink services and the rail service from Rochdale to Manchester provide transport to the city centre, but it does not provide the kind of connections we need to get around the city region, in particular, from Rochdale and Heywood to Bury.

“The current public transport offering between Heywood and Manchester city centre is provided by bus services but during the busiest times of the day this journey can take more than one hour, limiting the borough’s residents’ access to the many jobs located there.

What will the new rail link look like?

In Rossendale Reopening Prospect, I gave my views, based on an article in the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which had the same title.

Summarising the other article, I can say the following.

The Track

I described the track like this.

The plan envisages reinstating the route between Rawtenstall and Castleton Junction on the Calder Valley Line.

The section between Rawtenstall and Heywood stations, via Bury Bolton Street station is the heritage line of the East Lancashire Railway (ELR). It is best described as predominately single-track with passing loops.

The route is about twelve miles long.

The Services

These are given as follows.

  1. Manchester Victoria and Bury Bolton Street
  2. Bury Bolton Street and Rochdale
  3. Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall – Peak Hour shuttle.

It is suggested that the third route would be run by the ELR.

The Stations

The following stations will be on the route.

Most will need updating, but Heywood would probably be a new station.

The Trains

The original article suggests Class230 trains, but several others are possible. The proposed battery-electric Class 331 train is surely a possibility.

Conclusion

This could be a very sensible scheme.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Northern’s Battery Plans

The title of this post, is half of the title of an article in the March 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

It appears that CAF will convert some three-car Class 331 trains into four-car battery-electric trains.

  • A three-car Class 331 train has a formation of DMSOL+PTS+DMSO.
  • A fourth car with batteries will be inserted into the train.
  • Batteries will also be added to the PTS car.
  • The battery-electric trains would be used between Manchester and Windermere.

It looks like a round trip would take three hours including turnarounds, thus meaning three trains would be needed to run the service.

The article says this.

The branch was due to be electrified, but this was cancelled in 2017, and as a result 3×3-car Class 195 trains were ordered. As well as the environmental benefits, introduction of the battery ‘331s’ on Windermere services would free-up ‘195s’ for cascade elsewhere on the Northern network.

Note that the total length or the route is 98 miles of which only the ten miles of the Windermere Branch Line are not electrified.

What Battery Capacity Would Be Needed?

I reckon it will be fine to use a figure of 3 kWh per vehicle-mile to give a rough estimate of the power needed for a return trip from Oxenholme to indermere.

  • Two x Ten Miles x Four Cars x 3 kWh would give 240 kWh.
  • There would also be losses due to the seven stops, although the trains have regenerative braking, to limit losses.

Remember though that CAF have been running battery trams for several years, so I suspect that they have the experience to size the batteries appropriately.

In Thoughts On The Actual Battery Size In Class 756 Trains And Class 398 Tram-Trains, I say that four-car Class 756 trains will have 600 kWh of batteries and a range of 40 miles. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that a four-car Class 331 train had similar battery size and range on batteries, as the two trains are competing in the same market, with similar weights and passenger capacities.

Charging The Batteries

The Modern Railways article says this about charging the train’s batteries.

Northern believes battery power would be sufficient for one return trip along the branch without recharging, but as most diagrams currently involve two trips, provision of a recharge facility is likely, with the possibility that this could be located at Windermere or that recharging could take place while the units are in the platform at Oxenholme.

The bay platform 3 at Oxenholme station is already electrified, as this picture shows.

I particularly like Vivarail’s Fast Charge system based on third-rail technology.

A battery bank is connected to the third-rail and switched on, when the train is in contact, so that battery-to-battery transfer can take place.

It’s just like jump-starting a car, but with more power.

This form of charging would be ideal in a terminal station like Windermere.

  • The driver would stop the train in Windermere station in the correct place, for passengers to exit and enter the train.
  • In this position, the contact shoe on the train makes contact with the third-rail, which is not energised..
  • The Fast Charge system detects a train is connected and connects the battery bank to the third-rail.
  • Energy flows between the Fast Charge system’s battery bank and the train’s batteries.
  • When the train’s batteries are full, the Fast Charge system switches itself off and disconnects the third-rail.
  • The third-rail is made electrically dead, when the train has left, so that there is no electrical risk, if someone should fall from the platform.

Note that the only time, the third-rail used to transfer energy is live, there is a four-car train parked on top of it.

When I was eighteen, I was designing and building electronic systems using similar principles to control heavy rolling mills, used to process non-ferrous metals.

Changing Between Overhead Electrification And Battery Power

All trains running between Manchester Airport and Windermere, stop in Platform 3 at Oxenholme station to pick up and put down passengers.

  • Trains going towards Windermere would lower the pantograph and switch to battery power.
  • Trains going towards Mabchester Airport would raise the pantograph and switch to overhead electrification power.

Both changes would take place, whilst the train is stopped in Platform 3 at Oxenholme station.

February 28, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , | 9 Comments

The New Warrington West Station

These pictures show the new Warrington West station.

The station looks to have a similar layout to Maghull North station, which I described in Maghull North Station – 29th June 2018.

The two stations have a lot in common.

  • The cutting and the contours of the land are used to create a simpler station.
  • Provision for car-parking.
  • Links to the bus network.
  • Enough car-parking. Warrington West has 387 spaces, with 156 spaces at Maghull North.
  • Fully step-free.
  • A separate amenity building, with a booking office, waiting area and toilets.

Surprisingly, the two stations were designed by different architectural practices.

The Major Problem

The major problem is that Warrington West station only has two trains per hour (tph), in the Off Peak.

  • The route connects Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Airport and Manchester Oxford Road stations alternately.
  • Manchester Airport services also call at Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • All services call at Deansgate station for the Manchester Metrolink.
  • There are links to Merseyrail’s Wirral Line at Liverpool Lime Street.
  • There are links to Merseyrail’s Northern Line at Liverpool South Parkway and Hunts Cross.
  • Liverpool South Parkway, Warrington West and Birchwood stations are already step-free.
  • Hunts Cross, Irlam, and Manchester Oxford Road stations are in the queue for step-free access.
  • Most of the services on Liverpool’s Merseyrail network have four tph.
  • There is a lot of housing and other development on this route,

I’m sure that four tph and full step-free access will be needed on this route before too long.

Possible Electrification

It could be argued that this route between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road stations, should be fully-electrified.

Currently, just over twenty-eight miles of the route between Manchester Oxford Road and Liverpool South Parkway stations is not electrified.

  • Between Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street stations has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Between Hunt’s Cross and Liverpool Central station is part of Merseyrail’s Northern Line and has 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Manchester Oxford Road station has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The bay platform at Manchester Oxford Road station could be electrified or fitted with a fast charging station for battery trains.
  • Battery trains can easily do forty miles after a charge of perhaps ten minutes, as I wrote in Retired London Underground Train Travels Forty Miles Solely On Battery Power.

I think, that the route between Manchester and Liverpool via Warrington is a very suitable route for running using battery-electric trains.

  • It is electrified at both ends.
  • The section without electrification is less than thirty miles.
  • Charging can be performed using the existing electrification or with a charging station at Manchester Oxford Road station.
  • Northern’s Class 331 trains, which are being built by CAF. I suspect that battery-electric versions are possible as CAF have successfully built battery-electric Urbos trams for Luxembourg, Seville and the West Midlands.
  • Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains, can be converted to battery-electric operation.
  • The route is not busy.
  • There aren’t many freight trains on the route.

Using battery-electric trains would probably cause a lot less disruption, than full electrification of the route.

Possible ways to increase trains on the route include.

  • Merseyrail could extend Northern Line trains from Hunt’s Cross to Manchester Oxford Road.
  • The Manchester Metrolink could even be connected to the route at somewhere near Pomona and run tram-trains to Liverpool.
  • Northern could run battery-electric trains on the route.

There must also be the possibility of running hydrogen-powered trains on the route.

Negotiations between Liverpool and Manchester over who provides the extra services will be tough.

Conclusion

It is a neat new station, that will attract passengers.

The station could be an important link in improved rail services between Liverpool and Manchester via Warrington.

  • This route could probably handle at least six tph in both directions.
  • Would turning back four tph in the bay platform at Manchester Oxford Road station, ease the pressure on the Castlefield corridor.
  • It serves the important stations of Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.
  • It connects Merseyrail’s to Northern and Wirral Lines and the Manchester Metrolink.
  • An increasing number of stations on the route are step-free.

I suspect too, that it could be an important feeder line for High Speed Two.

 

January 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

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