The Anonymous Widower

A Class 345 Train Passing Stratford Station

I took these pictures of a Class 345 train, as it passed through Stratford station.

The pictures were taken from the pedestrian bridge that connects Eastfield to the station.

Note.

  1. Pantographs on cars two and six.
  2. Both pantographs are up.
  3. The rounded ends of each car.
  4. The generally smooth roof.

Points 3. and 4. are probably there to improve the aerodynamics.

I found this snippet on the Internet which gives the formation of the new Class 345 trains.

When operating as nine-car trains, the Class 345 trains will have two Driving Motor Standard Opens (DMSO), two Pantograph Motor Standard Opens (PMSO), four Motor Standard Opens (MSO) and one Trailer Standard Open (TSO). They will be formed as DMSO+PMSO+MSO+MSO+TSO+MSO+MSO+PMSO+DMSO.

So as both PMSO cars are there, I would assume that the current seven-car trains are two MSO cars short of a full-train.

The power cars/total cars ratio will be as follow.

  • Seven-car train – 0.86
  • Nine-car train – 0.89

Could this mean that the full nine-car trains will accelerate faster?

I suspect Bombardier know a lot about passenger behaviour in walk-through trains running in the UK and London in particular, as London Underground’s S Stock and London Overground’s Class 378 trains have similar layouts, with all and eighty percent of the cars powered respectively.

If passengers even themselves out between the cars and most cars are powered, this must surely help the dynamics of the train.

Passengers too, probably have a better ride if they are spread out along the train.

It will be interesting to ride in a full train between Shenfield and London, to see how the Self Loading Cargo behaves.

 

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Close Up To A Class 345 Train At Liverpool Street Station

These pictures of a Class 345 train, were taken in Liverpool Street station.

I also had a chat with a group of drivers.

  • The drivers find the trains well-built, quiet and fast.
  • One driver said they were effectively two half trains.
  • Drivers seemed enthusiastic or jealous depending if they’ve driven one.
  • Greater Anglia’s drivers were crawling all over the cab!
  • There is masses of space under the trains.
  • They are virtually silent as they move off!

The services start on Tuesday, the 23rd of May.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Class 345 Trains Really Are Quiet!

This morning I was sitting waiting on Platform 8 at Stratford station.

Platform 8 is separated from Platform 9 by just two tracks, so you notice a train, when it goes through Platform 9 at speed.

Usually, the trains that go through Platform 9 at speed towards Liverpool Street station are Class 321 trains or rakes of Mark 3 coaches oulled by a Class 90 locomotives.

Today, a new Class 345 train went through and the level of noise was extremely low compared to other trains.

Bombardier have applied world class aviation aerodynamics to these trains. Particularly in the areas of body shape, door design, car-to-car interfaces, bogies and pantographs.

Remember too, that low noise means less wasted energy and greater energy efficiency.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Class 345 Trains At Stratford Station

I was waiting on Platform 8 at Stratford station and I was able to take these pictures of two Class 345 trains going through the station.

They were not in passenger service, but probably running up and down for purposes of driver training and showing off!

As you can see I was fairly close to the train that passed through Platform 8. The pass left me with the impression that these trains are rather quieter than the Class 315 trains currently working through Platform 8.

Quietness And Aerodynamics

I suspect that this quietness could be down to the better aerodynamics of the modern train and the fact that it was not carrying any passengers.

Remember too, that Bombardier build airliners, so have the various parts of the train, seen the inside of a wind tunnel?

Looking at other photos of the Class 345 on the web, it would appear that especial care has been taken around the join between the articulated carriages, but no-one has published a close-up yet.

One Or Two Pantographs?

I didn’t look and on a crowded platform, it would have been difficult to see, but was the train running on one or two paragraphs?

As pantographs are a source of noise, running on one would be quieter.

They Are Long Trains

As I left Stratford, on the North London Line, a Class 345 train was stationary to the West of Stratford. One impression it gave was that of length.

But then this seven-car train is about one hundred and sixty metres long or the same length as an eight-car Class 315 formation.

Some Videos

Video of the Class 345 trains are starting to appear.

Note.

  1. The first video shows some internal details through the windows.
  2. In the second video both pantographs are up.
  3. You can clearly see the articulated sections between cars.

The first video does raise the question that Crossrail might be extended to Southend Victoria station.

May 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Every Picture Tells A Story!

The April 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has a picture of a  Crossrail Class 345 train on the High Meads Loop.

The main purpose of the High Meads Loop would appear to be to allow trains to go from Lea Bridge station through Platform 11 or 12 at Stratford station and then back to Lea Bridge without the driver changing cabs.

So what was the train doing?

  • I doubt it would have been running up the busy West Anglia Main Line, as even in the maddest scenarios, Crossrail will not be running there.
  • Could it have just been route proving on a line that other Aventras will use from 2018 or 2019?
  • Perhaps it was running to Broxbourne to assess performance for Crossrail 2.

But if it is was running on the High Meads Loop, as the picture caption says, was it testing that Aventras can be turned using the loop?

So could this mean that services from the  West Anglia Main Line terminating at Stratford will use the High Meads Loop rather than the Platforms 11 and 12.

Each of Platforms 11 and 12 could probably handle four trains per hour (tph), as is regularly handled by terminal platform on the London Overground.

But terminating in the High Meads loop, which would mean that all services would call at perhaps Platform 11 could give a capacity of upwards of 14 tph, as is the frequency on the Wirral Line on Merseyrail. But the Wirral Line was designed in the 1970s , so surely we can do better than that, as Crossrail and Thameslink will handle 24 tph and even the conventionally signalled East London Line will be handling 20 tph in 2019.

If it was 20 tph, this would mean that Platform 11 at Stratford could see a train every three minutes, possibly going to the following.

  • 4 tph to Walthamstow Central and Chingford via the Hall Farm Curve.
  • 8 tph to Broxborne
  • 2 tph to Hertford East
  • 2 tph to Bishops Stortford
  • 2 tph to Stansted Airport
  • 2 tph to Cambridge

In addition the following services could run from Liverpool Street.

  • 2 tph to Hertford East
  • 2 tph to Bishops Stortford
  • 2 tph to Stansted Airport
  • 2 tph to Cambridge

This sort of schedule would be possible given the following improvements and developments.

Signalling

Modern signalling as fitted to Crossrail and Thameslink is installed.

Stadler Flirts

Stadler probably have a good knowledge of the performance of the Flirts.

Current fastest timings are as follows.

  • Liverpool Street to Broxbourne – 25 minutes
  • Broxbourne to Cambridge – 45 minutes.

The Flirts will be faster than the current trains and will be optimised for a very fast stop at a station. So I do wonder what sort of times could be achieved between Bishops Stortford and Cambridge stopping at all stations.

Fast Lines To Broxbourne

Two separate non-stop fast lines will be built between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne.

  • Cambridge and Stansted services take the fast line to Broxbourne.
  • All trains on the fast lines will be Stadler Flirts.
  • With fast line trains the first stop is Broxbourne.

The fast lines would also handle extra services from Liverpool Street, which might be 2 tph to each of Stansted Airport and Cambridge.

A summary of traffic on the fast lines between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne could be.

  • 2 tph – Liverpool Street and Cambridge
  • 2 tph – Stratford and Cambridge
  • 2 tph – Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport
  • 2 tph – Stratford and Stansted Airport

There is probably a few paths for other trains.

North Of Broxbourne

North of Broxbourne the service will be very much better than now.

  • What helps is that both the Flirts and the Aventras will be masters of the quick stop-start at a station.
  • Stansted services will probably go non-stop from Broxbourne..
  • Some Cambridge services will go non-stop and others will stop at all stations.

I think it can be arranged that all stations North of Broxbourne get 4 tph in both directions.

A summary of traffic on the lines between Broxbourne and Bishops Stortford could be.

  • 2 tph – Liverpool Street and Bishops Stortford
  • 2 tph – Stratford and Bishops Stortford
  • 2 tph – Liverpool Street and Cambridge
  • 2 tph – Stratford and Cambridge
  • 2 tph – Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport
  • 2 tph – Stratford and Stansted Airport

A summary of traffic on the lines between Bishops Stortford and Cambridge could be.

  • 2 tph – Liverpool Street and Cambridge
  • 2 tph – Stratford and Cambridge
  • 2 tph – Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport
  • 2 tph – Stratford and Stansted Airport

There would also be additional Stansted Airport to Cambridge services.

Slow Lines

The slow lines will be upgraded to be able to handle 16 tph stopping at all stations between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne, which they probably do now at times.

  • All trains on the slow lines are Aventras.
  • A second platform is built at Ware, as this would enable four tph to Hertford East.
  • Cross-platform interchange between slow and fast lines at Broxbourne.

A summary of traffic on the slow lines between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne could be.

  • 8 tph – Stratford to Broxborne
  • 2 tph – Straford to Hertford East
  • 2 tph – Stratford to Bishops Stortford
  • 2 tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • 2 tph – Liverpool Street to Bishops Stortford

Crossrail 2 is proposing a frequency of 12 tph North of Tottenham Hale, so my randomly-chosen frequency gives you that.

Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street station will become the terminus for the following.

  •  Great Eastern Main Line.
  • 2 tph to each of Bishops Stortford,, Cambridge, Hertford East and Stansted Airport.
  • London Overground setvices to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town.
  • Perhaps a few c2c services.

Given that Liverpool Street and Stratford are just eight minutes away on Crossrail, is there any reason to keep West Anglia Main Line services at Liverpool Street?

But then, there are others who know more about train scheduling than me and perhaps a good balance can be made between the two termini.

Stratford International Station

If Stratford services used the High Meads Loop, a connection could be built to Stratford International Station.

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2-like frequencies would have been created between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne.

All it would need to complete Crossrail 2 after the suburban services out of Waterloo have been upgraded this summer, is to build the Central Tunnel.

Conclusion

Using the High Meads Loop is a good plan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

, Does that mean that Stansted and Cambridge services will be using Stratford as a terminal when Greater Anglia gets Aventras and Flirts?

 

Were they just seeing if it fits?

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Are The New Class 345 Trains Too Big For The Depot?

I took this picture from a passing train, of the prototype Class 345 train at Ilford today.

The Prototype Class 345 Train At Ilford

The Prototype Class 345 Train At Ilford

I have a feeling it was only sticking out, as the train is too long to get inside the existing depot!

December 29, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Train Strikes

These strikes have all the qualities of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.

The latest headline on an article on the BBC is Southern rail strike enters second day as Acas talks start.

I doubt the talks will be very productive.

Here are my thoughts about various issues.

London

I have been running around in driver-only-operated (DOO) trains for quite a few decades now. Especially, as I have always travelled frequently on the London Underground.

Wikipedia has a comprehensive section on One Man Operation in London.

This is said about the Underground.

All trains on the London Underground are single-manned.Conversion to one-man operation began in 1984 and was completed in 2000.

In some ways though the Underground, is not full DOO, in that on nearly all stations, there are staff on the station, who assist the driver to safely dispatch the trains.

Assistance From Staff

The staff on the platform are also there to assist passengers, who need help. This page on the Transport for London web site describes the role of staff.

This is said under Assistance To And From Trains.

On the Tube, TfL Rail and Overground, station staff will also accompany you to the train and help you on board and, if needed, can arrange for you to be met at your destination. Anyone can use this service, but it is particularly used by blind and visually impaired passengers and people using boarding ramps onto trains.

If you would like to use this service, ask a member of staff when you arrive at the station.

That is very much turn-up-and-go for everybody!

So what happens on Southern?

This page on the Southern web site gives full details of what they offer.

This is said.

When should I ask for help?

If you want to book ‘help’ try to call us at least one day before you travel.

That is not acceptable.

So there’s one job for the redundant guards on Southern – They could help on the platform, as they do on the London Underground and Overground.

The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

London hasn’t been without trouble though, as this from Wikipedia shows.

TFL now operates 100% of its overground network as driver-only trains. The latest conversion was announced in July 2013 on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line. The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) challenged the move, claiming passenger safety would be compromised. Transport for London replied that at the time the East London Line, already one-man operated, has one door-related incident for every 7 million passengers, while the section of the network which currently uses conductors has one door-related incident for every 4 million passengers.[10] On 16 August 2013, the RMT called a 48-hour strike over the August Bank holiday weekend. According to the RMT, the proposal set forth by Transport for London would imply Driver Only Operations on the whole of the London Overground network and make 130 guards redundant London Overground Rail Operations stated in response that they had given “the RMT assurances on employing conductors in alternative customer service roles and offering a generous voluntary redundancy package to those who want it.” According to RMT, the proposals to implement driver only operations are in response to the 12.5% reduction in Transport for London’s funding announced in Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review

I certainly don’t remember that strike. So it must have been really significant!

Overground And Underground

You should always remember that when the Overground started, every train had a second man, but gradually they have been moved to the platforms.

The Overground works a different system to the Underground on doors in that the driver enables the doors for opening and they are actually opened by the passengers individually. On the Underground, the driver just opens and closes all doors.

Crossrail

It will be interesting to see, what system the new Class 345 trains for Crossrail use.

It’s an Overground train in the outer reaches and an Underground train in the centre.

The Class 345 trains also appear to be very hi-tech with various innovative features.

Automatic Train Operation

The Victoria Line in London has always run with automatic train operation (ATO). The Wikipedia entry has two entries about London.

On the London Underground, the Central, Northern, Jubilee, and Victoria lines run with ATO.

ATO was introduced on the London Underground’s Northern line in 2013 and will be introduced on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines by 2022. Although ATO will be used on Crossrail and Thameslink, it has not yet been implemented on UK mainline railways

Lines like the Victoria Line, Crossrail and Thameslink, will not be completely automatic, but the driver will be an intelligent monitor to what the train is doing. It could be compared to auto-land on an aircraft, where the plane is actually controlled, by the autopilot and the pilots monitor.

As a Control Engineer, I believe we’ll be seeing large increases in the use of ATO in the UK in the next few years. Many intensively used lines could probably handle more trains, with a controlling ATO system.

Will the Unions object to ATO?

They haven’t seemed to yet, as ATO generally seems to see an increase in the number of trains, which means more staff.

More Automation On Trains

This is happening, but then this is only following the lead of more automation in planes and road vehicles.

Crossrail trains will set a new standard in automation.

This is a snippet from the an article in the Derby Telegraph

Unlike today’s commuter trains, Aventra can shut down fully at night and can be “woken up” by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift.

I described this to a driver for Northern and a big smile came over his face.

Perhaps more contentious is the autoreverse system fitted to Crossrail trains, that I wrote about and explained fully in Crossrail Trains Will Have Auto-Reverse.

The system will work at a Crossrail terminal like Paddington or Abbey Wood.

  • The driver selects auto-reverse in the terminal platform.
  • The train then drives itself into the reversing siding.
  • The driver starts to walk back through the train towards the other cab.
  • When the train reaches the end of the reversing siding, it reverses back into the return platform.
  • By the time the driver has walked the length of the train and  installed himself in the cab, the train will have arrived in the platform and will be ready to depart.

I suspect that there will be a high-level of safety systems, with the driver probably carrying a dead man’s handle, that connects to the train by radio.

It will be interesting to see how the Unions react to such a system.

  • One of the reasons for the auto-reverse is that it is needed to get 30 trains per hour, through the tunnel.
  • Drivers will avoid a 200 metre walk.
  • No passengers will be on the train, when the driver is out of the cab.

But it will mean more staff being employed, to drive and service the extra trains and handle the extra passengers.

Conclusion

I am drawn to the conclusion, that lots of automation and driver aids are coming to the railways.

DOO is the first of many issues, where there will be a fight.

If the Unions don’t like it, they will reap the wrath of the passengers, train companies and most politicians.

 

December 15, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Where’s The Emergency Train Power For Crossrail?

Things that can go wrong in a deep rail line do happen and even in the Channel Tunnel, there have been incidents.

There have been two major fires in the Channel Tunnel in 1996 and 2008 and there have also been various train failures.

I am not being alarmist, but as each Class 345 train can carry 1,500 passengers and twenty-four trains per hour will be going through the line for much of the time, there will be an awful lot of people underground at times.

If you look at the specification of a Class 345 train, it has features surely will help recovery if a train breaks down.

I found this snippet on the Internet which gives the formation of the new Class 345 trains.

When operating as nine-car trains, the Class 345 trains will have two Driving Motor Standard Opens (DMSO), two Pantograph Motor Standard Opens (PMSO), four Motor Standard Opens (MSO) and one Trailer Standard Open (TSO). They will be formed as DMSO+PMSO+MSO+MSO+TSO+MSO+MSO+PMSO+DMSO.

This formation and the train design could have positive implications for safety.

  • It looks to me that the train will be two half-trains. Can they be driven independently, as Class 373 trains in the Channel Tunnel can?
  • Half-trains must get around some train failures. If say the pantograph fails on one half-train, the other half-train can take the train to a suitable place like the next station to evacuate the passengers.
  • The trains will also be walk through, so let’s assume that a passenger’s laptop or mobile catches fire, passengers can be moved to another safe part of the train.

I suspect that all the experience of running electric trains in long tunnels for several decades all over the World, will have been used in validating the design of Class 345 trains.

My biggest worry as an electrical engineer and a Londoner, is a complete electrical failure in the capital.

They don’t happen often, but this article on the BBC is entitled Blackout hits London’s Soho on Black Friday.

It describes London’s power failure of last week.

Power failures do happen, so what happens if a computer virus or extreme weather blacks out London?

I have just read this article in Rail Engineer, which is entitled Crossrail – approaching the final stages.

This is said about the power supply in the tunnels.

The Crossrail route will be powered by a 25kV overhead line system using a Cariboni 110mm deep rigid overhead conductor bar throughout the tunnels. Although from a different manufacturer, this design concept is similar to the one being installed in the Severn Tunnel that doesn’t require weights and pulleys.

In the central section, 25kV traction power for the Crossrail trains will be provided by two new bulk supply points from National Grid 400kV, at Pudding Mill Lane in the east and Kensal Green to the west. Super grid transformers have been installed and fitted with fans and additional coolants.

A 22kV high-voltage network will be installed in the central section from Royal Oak Portal in the west to Limmo Peninsula in the east with an 11kV high-voltage non-traction spur to be installed from Limmo through to Plumstead. This network will supply mains power to each Crossrail station, shaft and portal within the central section.

Note.

  • It is a very simple power layout, for the trains, with a continous overhead rail providing power.
  • There is only two feed points for the overhead power to the trains, but these feed points seem to be of a robust design.
  • Trains in the middle will be fed by power coming a long way in the conductor rail.
  • Conductor rail must be a more robust power supply to the trains, than the typical overhead wires.
  • All Crossrail stations and shafts will use Crossrail’s own dedicated power supply.

The article though doesn’t mention two things.

  • How is an emergency power failure handled?
  • How is the power from regenerative braking fed back into the power network?

I’ll deal with the power failure first.

It would appear that a Central London power failure such as last Friday should have little effect on an independently-powered Crossrail. I wouldn’t expect anything less.

But there are always unexpected reasons, why a train may be isolated without power. So how does a train get to the next station or evacuation shaft, with its valuable load of passengers?

With respect to the regenerative braking, the power is usually fed into the overhead wires and used by another train nearby.

But, I do wonder if Crossrail will be doing things differently, as I like to think of the line as the latest and most energy-efficient of train lines.

Both the braking and failure problems are made easier, if the train is fitted with an on-board energy storage system or batteries in everyday parlance.

A fully-loaded Crossrail train going at its maximum speed of 145 kph will have an energy of  105 KwH, so if it stored this energy on the train when it brakes and stops, it could use it when it accelerated away.

Using batteries for regenerative braking has other effects.

  • It relegates the overhead rail to providing top up power as the train proceeds through the tunnel.
  • The overhead rail and its power supply, only has to cater for energy going to and not coming from the train.
  • The engineering on the train is simpler, as braking energy doesn’t have to be raised to 25 KVAC to feed back into the overhead rail, using perhaps a heavy transformer.

But most importantly, it means that the train has stored energy to proceed to the next station or safe place, if the overhead power should fail.

I have no evidence that this is actually the case, but Bombardier have said that the train will have a remote wake-up facility, so that the driver will turn up and find a train ready for action. Try doing that without a substantial on-board power source, without leaving the train plugged in to electricity all night.

Bombardier are only stealing ideas, from some of the latest cars, if I’m right.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised if Crossrail’s Class 345 trains are fitted with on board energy storage. The storage would handle.

  • Regenerative Braking
  • Emergency get you to safety power.
  • Remote wake-up of trains.

The design would also mean that the Crossrail and its new trains would be more energy efficient.

 

 

November 30, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

West Ealing Station – 12th October 2016

I took these pictures at West Ealing station.

It looks like the new bay platform 5 is ready, but little progress seems to have made on the new station building.

There’s still no information, as to when the service on the Greenford Branch, becomes a four trains per hour (tph) shuttle.

What we do know is that this page on the Crossrail web site has some nice images of the station, that will rise behind the hoardings.

Wikpedia says that initial services on Crossrail will be.

  • 4tph Abbey Wood to Heathrow Terminal 4
  • 2tph Shenfield to Reading
  • 2tph Shenfield to Maidenhead

There will also be another 2 tph running between Abbey Wood and West Drayton in the Peak.

All this in addition to other Great Western Railway services running to and from Paddington.

Services On The Greenford Branch

Passengers on the Greenford Branch will have to change to get to and from Paddington and I suspect some will moan.

But for many passengers from Greenford to the West End, the City or Canary Wharf, they will have an easier journey with just one change at West Ealing.

Consider.

  • The Greenford Branch shuttle frequency of 4 tph fits well with the Crossrail and Paddington services.
  • I suspect that every shuttle arriving from Greenford will arrive so that passengers for London can just walk across the platform and get a train to Central London.
  • The maximum wait for a Crossrail train to Liverpool Street will be seven and a half minutes all day.
  • If passengers need to cross between the shuttle platform and the Westbound Crossrail platform there will be a bridge with stairs and a lift.

These are the timings before and after Crossrail opens between Greenford and Liverpool Street.

  • Currently,  using the Metropolitan Line across Central London – 66 minutes
  • Crossrail and the shuttle – 31 minutes plus how long it takes to change trains at West Ealing.

Greenford to Canary Wharf gives these timings.

  • Currently, changing to the Underground at Paddington – 75 minutes
  • Crossrail and the shuttle – 37 minutes plus how long it takes to change trains at West Ealing.

And these timings apply between Greenford and Heathrow Terminal 4.

  • Currently, changing at Ealing Broadway – 54 minutes
  • Crossrail and the shuttle – 28 minutes plus how long it takes to change trains at West Ealing.

I suspect that each 4 tph shuttle will be timed to arrive at West Ealing, so that someone with a child in a buggy and a heavy case has time to cross the line using the bridge and the lifts.

Trains On The Greenford Branch

The Greenford Branch is not electrified and there seem to be no plans to electify the whole line.

But if you look at the pictures, that I took yesterday, you’ll see the foundations for the gantries are there to electrify the bay platform 5 .

Initially, the shuttle will have to be run by something like the current Class 165 trains.

Simple mathematics says that to provide a four tph shuttle two trains will be needed.

There would be no major  infrastructure changes, as the line is mainly double-track, so the trains could probably pass easily. But there might need to be an additional crossover to allow trains to run on the correct line.

But these trains have their problems, which were illustrated yesterday, when a fit young lady with a toddler in a buggy didn’t board the train as fast as she would have done at a typical Overground station with a modern Class 378 train.

As Crossrail will be run to a tight schedule, I doubt that TfL want serious loading delays with wheelchairs, buggies and heavy luggage.

So this means that modern trains must be provided on the Greenford Branch.

There has been a lot of speculation on the Internet, that the Greenford Branch, like the Romford to Upminster Line in the East of the capital, should become part of the London Overground.

This might be a sensible idea, especially as London Overground from 2018 will have some spare modern weheelchair-friendly Class 172 trains,, once the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is fully electrified and running new electric Class 710 trains.

On the other hand, the fleet of eight Class 172 trains, will probably be very much in demand by other train operating companies, as with a change of seats, they’d be ideal for many routes outside of London.

As Baldrick would say, there is a cunning plan, that could be enabled.

The platforms at West Ealing station are all being made step-free for the two types of trains that will use them; Crossrail’s 345s and GWR’s 387s.

This applies to all of the Western Crossrail stations and looking at the bay platform 5 at West Ealing, that has been built to the standard height.

So this would mean that GWR’s 387s would be able to use the platform, once it is electrified, which looks like is happening.

But these trains wouldn’t be able to use the branch, unless it was electrified.

However, London Overground’s new Class 710 trains, would also fit the bay platform.

The Class 710 train, like Crossrail’s 345 are members of Bombardier’s new Aventra family of trains.

As Bombardier demonstrated battery trains in public service nearly two years ago, there has been speculation that Aventras will have a battery capability to do journeys away from the overhead wires.

This is the best information so far!

This article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-Iron batteries if required.

Bombardier have confirmed the wiring for onboard power storage to me.

Consider use of Class 710 .

  • The length of the Greenford Branch is just 4.3 km., so out and back from West Ealing should be within the typical 50 km. range quoted for battery trains.
  • The batteries could be used to handle regenerative braking at the various stops to save electricity.
  • There would be no need to put up any overhead wires on the branch.
  • The Class 710 trains are four-car trains, so would be sufficient capacity for the medium future.
  • The Class 710 trains are optimised to call at stations in the shortest time possible. So could we see a faster service on the branch?
  • The Class 710 trains are friendly to wheelchairs, buggies and heavy luggage.
  • The Class 710 train would just look like a mini-Crossrail train.
  • Bombardier would love to have a live demonstration of their battery technology on a line close to Heathrow Airport.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see London Overground taking over the Greenford Branch and using Class 710 trains running on batteries on the route.

 

October 12, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Will Crossrail And Its Class 345 Trains Set Mobile Connection Standards For The UK?

Search for “Class 345 trains 4G” or “Class 345 trains wi-fi” and you find reports like this on London Reconnections about the Class 345 train.

This or something like it, is said in several of these reports.

According to the accompanying press notes both free wifi and 4G services will be delivered on board, as will multiple wheelchair and luggage spaces.

It would be very embarrassing for London’s flagship multi-billion pound project, if it wasn’t correct.

So it would appear that I could board a Class 345 train at Shenfield and watch a video all the way to Heathrow or Reading.

But where does this leave Thameslink?

Their Class 700 trains have been designed without wi-fi, 4G and power-sockets as I said in By Class 700 Train To Brighton And Back.

But at least Siemens felt that the Department for Transport, who ordered the trains, were out of step with reality and  appear to have made provision to at least fit wi-fi.

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled Class 707 Breaks Cover and it describes the Class 707 train, which is a sister train to the Class 700. This is said about the two trains and wi-fi and toilets.

Thameslink (or the Department for Transport which ordered the trains) decided not to include Wi-Fi in the Class 700s, a questionable decision that has now apparently been reversed. Fortunately, Siemens had included the technology framework in the design so, hopefully, the upgrade will not require too much effort. Suffice it to say that South West Trains has included Wi-Fi in its specification for Class 707s.

Reversing the story, Thameslink Class 700s are all fitted with toilets. However, South West Trains has decided not to include toilets in its Class 707 specification given that the longest journey time is less than one hour and their inclusion would reduce the overall capacity of the trains.

So it appears that Siemens may have future-proofed the trains.

This article on the Railway Gazette describes the third fleet of the Siemens trains; the Class 717 trains for Moorgate services. This is said.

Plans for the installation of wi-fi are being discussed with the Department for Transport as part of a wider programme for the GTR fleet.

So at least something is happening.

But how close will mobile data services get to the ideal that customers want.

  • 4G everywhere from the moment you enter a station until you leave the railway at your destination station.
  • Seamless wi-fi, so you log in once and your login is valid until you leave the railway.

It will be tough ask to achieve, as it must be valid on the following services.

  • Crossrail
  • Thameslink
  • London Overground
  • London Underground
  • All train services terminating in London.

And why not all buses, trams and taxis?

On a related topic, I believe that for safety and information reasons, all bus and tram stops and railway stations must have a quality mobile signal and if it is possible wi-fi.

One life saved would make it all worthwhile.

 

October 11, 2016 Posted by | Computing, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment