The Anonymous Widower

Manchester Victoria To Chester

On Saturday, I went between Manchester Victoria and Chester on the new hourly Northern Connect service between Chester and Leeds.

Note.

  1. The train was a Class 158 train, with a Class 153 train acting as a capacity enhancer.
  2. The train was only doing 60 mph on the West Coast Main Line.
  3. The service was fairly busy.
  4. The route is electrified between Manchester Victoria and Warrington Bank Quay stations.

On this Saturday morning, it appeared to me that a better train is needed.

In Northern Connect Between Chester And Leeds To Start In May, I did report a rumour that Class 769 trains might be running between Chester and Leeds.

In my view Class 769 trains are ideal for the route between Chester and Leeds.

  • They are four-car trains.
  • They can do 100 mph, where electrification is available.
  • They are 90 mph trains on diesel.

There main problem, is not their age, but since they were proposed, train interiors have moved on. Passengers and train operating companies want more tables and comfortable seats. Even some refurbishments of forty-year-old trains have tables. In What Train Is This?, I described a high class refurbishment of a Class 150 train. Here’s a picture.

The Chester and Leeds route and probably many other routes in the UK need a train with the following characteristics.

  • 100 mph using either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • 100 mph on secondary power like diesel, battery or hydrogen.
  • two hundred mile range without refuelling.
  • Four or five cars.
  • Comfortable interior with tables, wi-fi, power points and everything else passengers want.

Train operating companies would probably like a 125 mph version.

Hitachi already have a train with this specification in the Class 800 train. In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I detail, Hitachi’s plans for Class 385 trains. Could these be stretched to perhaps do 100 miles on batteries.

Bombardier are offering a High Speed Bi-Mode Aventra with batteries and Stadler are introducing the Class 755 train for Greater Anglia.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that Northern need to get themselves some new 100 mph hybrid trains. The diesels they have on order are so Twentieth Century and late!

June 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires

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

This is the first paragraph.

Hitachi are in discussions with the Scottish Government to run a Class 385 variant with underfloor batteries that could either be charged whilst under the wires or whilst stationary at the end of the route.

The article makes these points, about adding batteries to Class 385 trains.

  • It would be straightforward to add batteries to give a range of twenty miles on batteries.
  • Sixty miles would be possible but more difficult.
  • Experience gained with the DENCHA trains in Japan would be used.

The article concludes with this paragraph.

Hitachi’s proposal to operate battery trains in Scotland is at an early stage. However, with their use being recommended by the rail decarbonisation task force and the Scottish Government about to pass new climate change legislation, it may not be long before battery trains are operating in Scotland.

I think it should be noted that Hitachi’s order book is rather thin these days and it appears that innovative technology will sell new trains.

Alstom, Bombardier, CAF, Siemens, Stadler and Vivarail have all designed, demonstrated or sold trains, where batteries are used improve efficiency or extend range.

As Scotland has several routes, where battery trains could provide a service, perhaps Hitachi thought it was time to do some marketing, to make sure that they got any orders for battery trains.

Scotrail would probably prefer to have a battery train similar to their largest fleet of electric trains.

Electric Trains On The West Highland Line Between Glasgow And Mallaig/Oban

This might be considered as difficult as putting a London bus on the Moon.

But consider.

  • The West Highland Line is electrified as far as Helenburgh Central station.
  • Electrification to Helensburgh Upper station would probably not be a difficult project for Network Rail in Scotland.
  • Heleburgh Upper to Mallaig is just under 140 miles.
  • Hellensuburgh Upper to Oban is around 80 miles.
  • Crianlarich station, where the two routes divide is forty miles from Helesburgh Upper.
  • Fort William station is around halfway between Mallaig and Crianlarich.
  • Trains take several minutes to reverse at Fort William.

Vivarail have developed fast charging for battery trains, that I wrote about in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

If Hitachi can develop a Class 385 train with batteries, that has a range of perhaps sixty miles on a full battery, then I believe it would be possible to run an electric train service between Glasgow and Oban and Mallaig.

  • Charging stations would need to be able to fully charge the batteries in perhaps six minutes.
  • Trains would leave Hellensburgh Upper with a full battery and charging stations at Crianlarich and Fort William would top up the batteries.
  • The longest stretch is between Crianlarich and Fort William and it would probably need an additional charging station at perhaps Tulluch.

What would battery-electric trains to Oban and Mallaig do for tourism in the area?

Hitachi would have one of the most scenic and iconic test tracks in the world!

 

 

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

A First Ride In A Class 385 Train

Yesterday, I finally got a ride in a Class 385 train between Linlithgow and Glasgow Queen Street stations.

These are my observations.

Ride, Seats And Tables

I have written in many commuter trains all over Europe and these trains are very much towards the top in these important three areas.

Ride seemed to my innocent and not-so-well-padded posterior to be fine and very similar to the closely-related Class 800 trains.

It certainly didn’t pose any problems to this well-balanced stroke survivor, when I walked around.

Seats were certainly better than some other trains.

It was also pleasing to see lots of tables, which is very much a British tradition, that seems to have really kicked-off in the InterCity 125s.

In some ways sitting there, it reminded me of Great Western Railway’s Class 387 trains.

Both are certainly a very good standard for a commuter train with a journey up to perhaps ninety minutes.

Large Windows

The trains seem to follow Bombardier’s Aventras, Stadler’s Flirts and some other new trains in having large windows.

It would be very difficult to prove, but I wonder, when trains have big windows aligned with the seats, it increases ridership amongst occasional travellers. Anything that improves the experience must increase the change of repeat journeys.

Quirky But Good Interior Design

Some of the design details are quite quirky.

  • The priority seat covers are different and make a bold statement.
  • There are labels everywhere, advertising the features.

And there are good features too.

  • Plenty of bins for the rubbish, that commuters discard.
  • Sensible sized luggage racks.
  • Wide lobbies and doors.
  • There might be space between and under the seats for medium-sized cases.

The design is not bland and boring like a Class 700 train.

Spacious Trains

Someone described the trains, as having more space. I think that’s down to generous lobbies and large windows.

I also don’t think, the trains have not been designed for a maximum number of people, but for a maximum return on investment.

These are different things.

I suspect that a maximum return on investment is obtained, with a comfortably-full train, operating like that all day.

Overcrowded trains do the following.

  • Encourage passenger to use other modes of transport.
  • Lengthen station dwell times, which make trains late.
  • Make it difficult for less able passengers to use the trains.

But getting the balance right between train capacity and route is a complex problem.

Step-Free Access

Hitachi don’t seem to do good step-free access, where wheel-chairs, buggies and wheeled-cases can just roll in and out.

These trains are no exception Although, it could be that ScotRail has so many different types of trains, that the standard platform height hasn’t been defined yet!

Stadler have said, that all their trains used by Greater Anglia and Merseyrail will have this property, so I would have thought that other manufacturers would follow.

Passengers will demand it!

Train Formations

There is a document on the Hitachi web site, which is entitled Development of Class 385 Semi-customised/Standard Commuter Rolling Stock for Global Markets, which gives insights into Hitachi’s thinking.

This is the introduction.

The Class 385 is based on the AT-200, which was developed for global markets with the aim of providing flexibility of configuration while making maximum use of standardisation. It is a semi-customised model of a type common in global markets, with fewer components and greater standardisation of components achieved by adopting the “mother design” developed for the AT-300 (a typical example of which is the Class 800) and competitive lead times achieved by shortening the specification-setting process.

Note the close relationship between the Class 385 and Class 800 trains.

The document gives a detailed graphic and states that the four-car units have the following formation.

  • DMCLw – Driver Motor Composite Lavatory with 20 First Class seats, 15 Standard Class seats, a Universal Access Toilet and Wheelchair Space
  • TPS – Trailer Pantograoh Standard with 80 Standard Class seats
  • TS – Trailer Standard with 80 Standard Class seats
  • DMSL – Driver Motor Standard Lavatory with 62 Standard Class seats and a space-saving toilet.

Note.

  1. The coach designations on the delivered trains has been taken from this page on scot-rail.co.uk.
  2. This gives a total of 257 seats as against 273 seats in Wikipedia.
  3. The difference of 16 seats is twice the number of doors, so it could be that Hitachi have squeezed in a few more seats, between the provisional and final design.

The three-car trains would appear to have the following formation.

  • DMSLw – Driver Motor Standard Lavatory with about 50 Standard Class seats, a Universal Access Toilet and Wheelchair Space
  • TPS – Trailer Pantograoh Standard with 80 Standard Class seats
  • DMSL – Driver Motor Standard Lavatory with 62 Standard Class seats and a space-saving toilet.

Note.

  1. This article in Rail Magazine, says that all trains have Universal Access Toilets and two wheelchair spaces.
  2. This gives a total of 192 seats as against 206 seats in Wikipedia.
  3. Add in two seats for each of the six doors and the difference is two seats.

I should have read the numbers from the side of the train on my visit to Scotland.

If you type “Class 800 regenerative braking” into Google, you will find this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

This is a paragraph.

Trains have a unit configuration of up to 12 cars,
including the ability to add or remove standardized
intermediate cars and the generator units (GUs)
(generators with diesel engines) needed to operate
commercial services on non-electrified lines. Along
with the A-train concept, developed in Japan, the
new rolling stock is also based on technology from the
Class 395 rolling stock developed by Hitachi for the
UK High Speed 1 that entered commercial operation
in 2009, providing compatibility with UK railway
systems together with high reliability.

This is also said about the Automatic Train Identification Function.

To simplify the rearrangement and management
of train configurations, functions are provided for
identifying the train (Class 800/801), for automatically
determining the cars in the trainset and its total length,
and for coupling and uncoupling up to 12 cars in
normal and 24 cars in rescue or emergency mode.

It’s all very Plug-and-Play.

Although, these two extracts come from a document describing the Class 800 trains, both these trains and the Class 385 trains are members of the Hitachi A-Train family.

If you look at the train formations of Class 800 trains, Wikipedia gives them as.

5-car: DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF
9-car: DPTS-MS-MS-TS-MS-TS-MC-MF-DPTF

Note.

  1. DPTS and DPTF are Driver Pantograph Trailer cars, with Standard and First Class seats respectively
  2. MS, MF and MC are Motored cars with Standard, First and Composite(mixed Standard and First Class), seats respectively.
  3. TS is a Trailer car with Standard Class seats.

Trains use two standard Driver cars and then add a number number of Motored and Trailer cars in between, to get the required train length and capacity.

I would be very surprised, if the formations of the Class 385 train were to be very different.

There appear to be the following Driver cars.

  • DMCLw – Driver Motor Composite Lavatory with 20 First Class seats, 15 Standard Class seats, a Universal Access Toilet and Wheelchair Space – Used in four-car trains
  • DMSLw – Driver Motor Standard Lavatory with about 50 Standard Class seats, a Universal Access Toilet and Wheelchair Space – Used in three-car trains
  • DMSL – Driver Motor Standard Lavatory with 62 Standard Class seats and a space-saving toilet – Used in both three- and four-car trains.

As with the Class 800 trains, I suspect you can create a train of the required length and capacity by adding the appropriate number of trailer cars between the two driver cars.

According to this page on the Hitachi web site, the AT200 trains have an operating speed of up to 125 mph. So perhaps for the greaster power, that might be needed for higher speeds, motored cars can be added as well.

I am puzzled about the length of the current trains.

At the present time, the Glasgow Queen Street to Edinburgh Waverley route can accept seven-car trains, which are formed from a three-car and a four-car working together.

But when platform extensions are complete at Glasgow, eight-car trains will be possible, which will be formed of two-four-car trains.

So why didn’t Abellio ScotRail use a Crossrail-like solution, where seven-car trains were ordered and these were then lengthened by an extra car, after the extension of the platforms?

  • The current train formations waste space with two unused drivers cabs in every train.
  • Do trains running on the half-hour journey across Scotland need two Universal Access and two space-saving toilets?

By comparison Abellio Greater Anglia‘s ten-car Class 720 trains have one Universal Access and two space-saving toilets for 1,145 seats. The seats/toilet for the three trains are as follows.

  • 10-car Class 720 train – 382
  • 3-car Class 385 train – 103
  • 4-car Class 385 train – 137

ScotRail obviously need both three- and four-car Class 385 trains to replace some of the older trains on other routes.

I do find it strange, that two divisions of Abellio have gone for such different solutions.

Gangways

The pictures show that the train has end gangways.

I intended to walk through between the two trains, but the train was full and I couldn’t get near the door.

If the trains were the correct length for the route, then you have to wonder, if the complication of gangways between trains is worth the extra weight, expense and driver’s visibility problems.

But the gangway does aid staff access between different trains.

But I do wonder, if the ability to add and remove cars that seems to be a feature of Class 385 trains, means that gangways between trains may be an unnecessary feature.

Consider these other train orders.

Gangways seem to be going out of fashion, unless they are needed fpr emergency use.

If some of ScotRail’s services need trains with gangways, these could always be run by the current Class 380 trains.

Conclusions

The Class 385 trains appear to be a well-designed train, that should do an excellent job.

But I do question the need for the gangways between trains.

It should also be born in mind, that Scotland is planning more electrification, which will need more trains.

By perhaps converting pairs of four-car sets into eight-car trains, by replacing two Driver cars with appropriate Trailer or Motored cars, two more complicated Driver cars would be liberated, which could form the basis of the extra trains.

There are probably endless combinations, one of which will give ScotRail, the optimal fleet, that will deliver the required services for the best price.

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 7, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Class 365 Trains To The Rescue

I had intended to get a ride on a new Class 385 train, but I only caught a glimpse of one going the other way, from a Class 365 train, that I used both ways between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Passengers seemed to be quite happy with the Class 365 trains cascaded from the Cambridge Cruiser.

I really think that Hitachi have got their production of the Class 385 trains, seriously wrong here.

The body shells are made in Japan and then sent to Newton Aycliffe by sea. This must be an easy way to ensure a slow production of trains.

Bombardier make the body shells in the same factory as they design and assemble the trains.

Even if CAF make their body shells in Spain, that is a much shorter and probably more reliable journey.

I must admit if I was the CEO of a train operating company, I wouldn’t buy a Hitachi train.

But then Tony Blair only wanted a new factory, close to his constituency!

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow Queen Street Station – August 10th 2018

I took these pictures as I passed through Glasgow Queen Street station.

Note the four-car InterCity 125 in the station, testing and training staff for new services to Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Perth and Stirling.

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Scotland’s New Railway Race

There have been  five railway races involving Scotland over the years.

This article in Rail Engineer is entitled Full Glasgow To Edinburgh Electric Service In July.

The article suggests this could be another railway race with Scotland involved.

In the red corner are the devious English, who are entering a series of redundant Class 365 trains, that nobody else wants.

  • They are thirty-year-old trains
  • They were built by British Rail.
  • To improve their relationship with drivers, WAGN fitted them with cab air-conditioning. Marketing then named them Happy-Train, as the air-conditioning inlet, had given them a smile.
  • It has also been rumoured that their class number was chosen to give the air of year-round reliability.

To gain an advantage, the first train was actually sneaked into Glasgow by road, as no-one was sure that they could fit the routes to Scotland.

To get the trains ready for Scotland, work is being done by the German company; Knorr-Bremse Rail Services at Springburn in Glasgow.

The Scottish entry in the blue corner, is the Hitachi Class 385 train, which is manufactured mainly in Japan and screwed together at Newton-Aycliffe.

Unfortunately, the train was designed for drivers with Asian eyesight and the curved windows in the cabs, give unreliable images at night, with the average Scottish driver, even if they’ve been training hard on Irn-Bru!

It is hoped that new windscreens will be approved for use soon!

So the race is on to see who can get their train into service first.

As to the verdict on which train is better, I think we could be seeing a split decision.

Glasgow will prefer one train and Edinburgh will prefer the other!

 

 

 

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

ScotRail Hires In Class 365s For Glasgow-Edinburgh Route

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

This is the first paragraph.

Three Class 365s have been leased by ScotRail, with more to follow. They will be used on an interim basis on the Edinburgh-Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High route while windscreen modifications are made to Class 385s

The Class 365 trains may have been delivered in 1995, but they are no scrapyard specials.

I recently rode one to Cambridge and although some things are dated, the ride is good and they are 100 mph trains, just like the Class 385 trains.

Wikipedia and others reckon that as many as ten trains will go to Crossrail.

How Do The Trains Compare?

The trains are of different generations but how do they compare?

Train Length

On the major route, between Edinburgh and Glasgow, it is intended to run Class 385 trains as seven-car trains formed by a three-car Class 385/0 train

and a four-car Class 385/1 train. As the cars are twenty-three metres long, that gives a train length of 161 metres.

Each four-car Class 365 train is 81.9 metres long, so an eight-car unit would be  just under 164 metres.

I doubt that three metres would cause too many platform-length problems.

Capacity

The capacity of a three-car Class 385/0 is 206 seats, so I suspect a four-car Class 385/1 would seat around 275. This would give a total capacity for the seven-car train of 481 seats.

I can’t find the capacity of a Class 365 train, but it has 2 +2 seating and a fair sprinkling of tables, so I suspect the capacity of the two different formations is not that different.

Operating Speed

Both trains have a 100 mph operating speed.

Passenger Comfort

I suspect that the Class 385 trains will be more to the standard ciustomers expect, wth wi-fi and power sockets and probably more tables.

But the Class 365 trains are one of the better 100 mph long-distance commuter trains, rating above Thameslink’s new Class 700 trains and below the Class 387 train.

Conclusion

The Class 365 trains will make quality substitutes.

May 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

ScotRail’s ‘385s’ Face Further Delay As New Windscreens To Be Fitted

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

This is the opening paragraph.

Hitachi has confirmed to RAIL that new windscreens are to be fitted to ScotRail’s new Class 385s, which are already late entering traffic because of infrastructure problems.

It’s all a bit of a mess.

Hopefully, we’ll see the trains in service soon.

I do wonder, if the communication lines and manufacturing process are a bit long, between Japan and Newton Aycliffe

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Running Electric Trains Across The Forth Bridge

Search for something like Electrification of the Forth Bridge and you find a lot of speculation and no one who.believes it can be done easily.

A ScotRail conductor said very firmly that it wouldn’t be done.

I think that in addition to the engineering problems of electrifying the Forth railway bridge, there will probably be a lot of opposition from the heritage lobby!

I also think, that if you could solve the engineering oroblems, they will.cost a lot and mean closing the bridge for at least several.months.

Bi-Mode Trains

Virgin are proposing to use Class 800 trains, which are bi-mode and will use diesel power on the bridge. These trains will have no problems crossing the bridge.

They will probably even be quieter than the current InterCity 125s, that will be continued to be used by ScotRail.

Trains With Energy Storage

The bridge is not very long at 2.5 km. and an electric train with onboard energy storage could prossibly cross the bridge, if the tracks were electrified as far as the approaches.

So do I think it is possible that a train with onboard energy storage could cross the Forth Bridge?

The Energy Storage Could Be Full Before Crossing

If the overhead electrification reached to perhaps five hundred metres from the bridge, then the onboard storage would be full.

The train would lower the pantograph and then raise it again, when under the wires on the other side.

The Maximum Speed On The Bridge Is 50 mph

This must help.

The Bridge Deck Appears Level

This must help.

Any Train Manufacturer Who Creates A Train With Onboard Energy Storage Will Gain A Worldwide Reputation

There is a lot of scepticism about trains with onboard energy storage or batteries and this would dismiss it for ever, once the crossing was shown on world-wide television with headlines like.

Battery Train Crosses Forth Rail Bridge Carrying Three Hundred Passengers

I believe that any train manufacturer, who felt they could achieve this feat would be willing to have a go, as the rewards would be immense!

Scotland Would Have A Unique Tourist Attraction

Although, I wouldn’t think it would be unique for long, as other countries would do the same to solve transport problems.

But nothing would ever be as iconic as the Forth Bridge!

I also doubt Scotland and ScoRail would say No!

Could A Class 385 Train Cross The Bridge On Stored Power?

In Hitachi Class 385 Trains, Batteries And Charging Stations, I discussed whether batteries or energy storage could be put into a Class 385 train.

I said this after giving details of Hitachi’s battery trains in Japan.

So will Scotrail’s new Class 385 trains have a battery capability?

Probably not initially!

But Hitachi have obviously been doing a lot of research into battery trains and the JR Kyushu is the first practical application.

Scotland’s rail system outside Edinburgh and Glasgow is not electrified, but it is well-known that Scotland’s Government would like more electrified services and also links to places like Leven and St. Andrews.

Both of these places, and there are probably others as well, are a few miles from a main line, that is very likely to be electrified.

So could we see a battery train charged as the JR Kyushu train on a main line, serving these branch lines on battery power?

I feel that the chance of this happening is very high.

So I feel it is highly likely, that if some form of stored power was fitted to Class 385 trains, that they would be able to bridge the gap between electrification systems North and South of the Forth Bridge.

Electrification Of The Fife Circle Line

Electrification of the Fife Circle Line would be the simplest way to improve the local rail service from North of the Forth Bridge to Edinburgh.

This shows a map of the line North from Edinburgh Gateway station.

It would need the electrification from Haymarket station through Edinburgh Gateway station to be completed South of the Bridge to an appropriate point on the bridge approach.

North of the Bridge, the circle could be electrified from an appropriate point on the bridge approach, all round the circle to Markinch station.

Running The Fife Circle Service With Class 385 Trains With Onboard Energy Storage

A belt and braces approach might see North Queensferry and Dalmeny stations being the changeover point from overhead to onboard power, so that with any problems, the train is safely in a station, rather than stuck on the bridge.

Currently, the two routes between Glenrothes With Thornton and Edinburgh stations take the following times.

  • Via Kirkaldy – 59 minutes with ten stops.
  • Via Dunfermline – 62 minutes with eleven stops.

This means a train doing a round trip from Edinburgh takes just over two hours with twenty-one stops.

The Class 385 trains will have the following characteristics compared to the current diesel trains on the route.

  • They will be faster.
  • They will accelerate better and have smoother regenerative braking.
  • They  will  have a much shorter dwell time at stations.

It would not be unreasonable to assume that the new electric trains could be several minutes under two hours for the round trip.

Trains that didn’t reverse could also go straight round the circle with the driver only changing ends at Edinburgh.

Currently, the route has three trains per hour (tph), so to run this level of service would require six trains.

Running four tph would need an extra two trains and if two tph used each direction, all stations would have a two tph service.

The trains would only need the ability to run between Dalmeny and North Queensferry stations on onboard storage.

Bi-Mode Trains Between Edinburgh And Aberdeen

Virgin Trains East Coast and possibly other operators wlll  be running bi-mode Class 800 trains between Edinburgh and Markinch stations.

They will have to use diesel power where there is no electrification, but if the Fife Circle Line were to be electrified, they could use it, to run the trains more efficiently.

Onward From The Fife Circle

The Fife Circle Line could be a bridgehead to extend electrified services to the North.

Consider these distances.

  • Markinch to St. Andrews  – 20.7 miles
  • Markinch to Dundee – 25.1 miles
  • Markinch to Perth – 22.7 miles
  • Glenrothes to Leven – 7.1 miles

All of these destinations could be reached by a combination of short lengths of electrification and trains with onboard energy storage.

Scotrail’s Extra Ten Class 385 Trains

Scotrail have an extra ten Class 385 trains on option, if the franchise is extended by 7 to 10 years and the trains would enter service in 2023.

Could these trains be to run an electrified Fife Circle Line service and perhaps running to Leven?

Conclusion

Scotrail have some ambitious plans for Scotland’s railways and I wonder, if they include using Class 385 trains with onboard energy storage to get electric trains across the Forth Bridge.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Exploring The North Berwick Line

The service between Edinburgh and North Berwick stations is going to be one of the first to get the new Class 385 trains.

So I took a quick trip.

The North Berwick Line appears to be a well-maintained line with tidy, simple stations and copious car-parking.

North Berwick station shows how you can have a single-platform station handling two trains per hour (tph), where both are six cars.

The North Berwick Line is becoming increasingly busy and the six-car train I rode out of Edinburgh at ten in the morning was surprisingly busy.

New Class 385 Trains To North Berwick

The current Class 380 trains were built in 2009-2011, so why are the trains being replaced with Class 385 trains on this route?

Both trains have the following shared characteristics.

  • 100 mph running.
  • Three- or four-cars.
  • Modern interiors.
  • Ability to run in pairs with through gangways.

I think that the big difference is that the newer Hitachi trains will have wi-fi and possibly a 4G connection.

But other than that, the two trains would be interchangeable.

Glasgow To Edinburgh Services

There is also the fact that Abellio seem to be very expansive with the plans for their franchises in the UK.

As some of the North Berwick services start at Glasgow Central station, could it be that Scotrail are planning to use North Berwick as the terminal for a two tph Glasgow Central to Edinburgh via Motherwell service, in addition to all the other services going to Glasgow Queen Street station.

Effectively, by using North Berwick, they gain a much needed extra platform at Edinburgh.

ScotRail might have also decided that all Glasgow to Edinburgh services should be equipped with wi-fi and run by the new Hitachi trains.

Expansion Of Suburban Services East Of Edinburgh

Passenger numbers are rising at North Berwick station and last year there were over half a million passengers.

The single platform handling six-car Class 380 trains can probably handle several hundred passengers an hour.

But look at this Google Map of the station.

Is there enough car parking for this number of passengers?

When it is considered that with modern signalling, it might even be possible to inrease the frquency to North Berwick to three or even four tph, the platform would cope, but routes to the station probsbly wouldn’t.

There have been proposals to reopen a station at East Linton, a few miles away on the East Coast Main Line. In the Wikipedia entry for the station, this is said under The Future.

Proposals to reopen the station, along with the former station at Reston, have received the backing of John Lamont MSP, who has taken the case to the Scottish Parliament. A study published in 2013 proposed that East Linton and Reston stations be reopened. Since Abellio ScotRail took over the franchise in April 2015, they have now committed to reopening East Linton and Reston Stations as part of the local Berwick service by December 2016 but due to the shortage of rolling stock this will now commence in December 2018.

As now the extra trains are being delivered, a station at East Linton must be increasingly possible.

Would a rebuilt Reston station be used as a terminus?

This Google Map shows the village of Reston with the A1 and the East Coast Main Line.

Could Reston station be rebuilt as a Park-and-Ride station with perhaps a bay platform for suburban services from Edinburgh?

Consider.

  • Space doesn’t seem to be a problem.
  • Drivers from the South and West might be tempted to abandon their cars and use the train.
  • Reston could be a terminus for Glasgow to Edinburgh services.

Scotrail certainly have possibilities to develop an electric service between Edinburgh and Glasgow, that is a lot more than just a simple link between the two major cities.

Conclusion

The electrified Edinburgh to Glasgow service could develop into a fast and frequent Crossrail For Scotland.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment