The Anonymous Widower

Bluebell Heritage Railway Planning Western Extension

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Ian Visits.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Bluebell Railway, a heritage railway that runs through Sussex has filed a pre-planning application as it seeks to extend the railway westwards along a partially disused railway alignment.

It seems to be a well-thought out plan.

  • Part of the route is a freight line to bring aggregates out of the area.
  • The Bluebell Railway appear to have been talking to Hanson Aggregates and the plan would not appear to affect Hanson’s business.
  • The eventual destination is Haywards Heath station, where from maps and Wikipedia, it appears that not too much work would need to be done.

A Hayward’s Heath connection would surely be good for the finances of the Bluebell Railway.

I also suspect that Hanson Aggregates would come out of this with a certain amount of good publicity.

Do Network Rail Have A Plan To Increase Capacity South Of Oxted?

In Kent Railway Viaduct Set For £3.5m Makeover, I wrote about Network Rail giving a viaduct a makeover, that will last for the next fifty years.

Could a reason for the makeover, be that once the trains to Uckfield are zero-carbon, there is a possibility that the frequency of trains on the route could be doubled to two trains per hour (tph)? This would surely increase the stresses and strains on the viaduct. Especially, if two trains were timetabled to pass in Ashurst station, where the line is double-track.

This would increase the trains North of Oxted station in the Off Peak from one train to Victoria and one to London Bridge to one to Victoria and two to London Bridge. Once capacity at East Croydon has been increased, this would provide a fifty percent increase in trains between London and Oxted.

If the capacity is increased through East Croydon and into London, I can see more people using the trains into London from Oxted and the South.

But there are some missing links.

  • Both London Bridge and Victoria don’t have easy connections to the Elizabeth Line.
  • Getting between Heathrow and Oxted is a double-change.
  • There doesn’t appear to be large amounts of parking, on the Oxted Line.
  • It also doesn’t look like there are obvious places to add stations.

I also suspect that faster electric or battery-electric trains working the Uckfield branch will attract more passengers.

Various solutions must be possible after an increase in capacity at East Croydon station.

  • As someone, who lives at the Northern end of the East London Line, we only have a connection to West Croydon station, rather than the much more useful East Croydon station. Will this change, after a remodelled East Croydon station?
  • In Major Upgrade Planned For Norwood Junction Railway Station, I wrote about possible improvements at Norwood Junction station. This upgrade would surely allow better connection between Southern, Overground and Thameslink, with the latter two lines giving access to the Elizabeth Line.
  • I also think that there could be more scope for trains to and from the South to stop at New Cross Gate station for interchange with the Overground.

It should also be noted that the Uckfield branch could become a twelve-car electrified branch.

Thameslink To Uckfield?

There has been talk of increasing the frequency of Thameslink through London from its current 20 tph. As Thameslink, already runs to Oxted and East Grinstead in the Peak, perhaps Thameslink could take over the Uckfield Branch?

  • This would give direct access to the Elizabeth Line at Farringdon station.
  • Services would still serve East Croydon and London Bridge.
  • There would also be direct access to Eurostar services at St. Pancras.

Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Euston, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Paddington, St. Pancras, Victoria and Waterloo would all be easy journeys, with no more than a single step-free change.

The service could even use the existing trains, if Hurst Green to Uckfield were to be upgraded with 25 KVAC overhead electrification. I would use lightweight catenary like this.

Trains would change over in Hurst Green station.

An East Grinstead And Oxted Shuttle

Could East Grinstead services be improved by adding a shuttle between East Grinstead and Oxted?

  • It would use the bay platform at Oxted station.
  • The timings would be arranged so there was an easy interchange.
  • East Grinstead and Oxted is electrified.
  • Oxted station is a step-free station.
  • The current service takes seventeen minutes between East Grinstead and Oxted, so an hourly service would be possible, which would mean both Uckfield and East Grinstead branches had a two tph service.

Such a service could certainly have possibilities.

How Does This Help The Bluebell Railway?

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the proposed extension.

Note.

  1. Horsted Keynes station is in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. The Bluebell Railway runs North-South through this station.
  3. Haywards Heath station  is in the South-West corner of the map.
  4. The Brighton Main Line runs North-South through this station.
  5. Copyhold junction, which is to the North of Haywards Heath station, is where a short branch line serves Hanson Aggregates.

The proposed extension will run between the Hanson Aggregates site and Horsted Keynes station.

In my view, the obvious service would be to run between Haywards Heath and Oxted.

  • Haywards Heath station has been designed to turn trains.
  • Oxted station has a bay platform.
  • The route is electrified between Oxted and East Grinstead.
  • Copyhold Junction and Haywards Heath is electrified.
  • Only about thirteen miles of the route are not electrified.
  • The route services Lingfield racecourse and of course the Bluebell Railway.

Passenger numbers are incredibly hard to predict, but I believe that an hourly service could be very useful to some.

What Trains Could Be Used Between Oxted And Haywards Heath?

I wrote The Future Of The Class 387 And Class 379 Trains in February 2022 and in that post, I mused about the future of two fleets of excellent Electrostars.

  • In total, there are thirty Class 387 trains and a hundred and seven Class 387 trains.
  • Some of these trains are just sitting in sidings, which isn’t very productive for their owners.
  • One of the owners of some of the Class 387 trains, is Porterbrook, who are not afraid to innovate.

In the July 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an interview with Southeastern Managing Director; Steve White, under a title of Southeastern Under The State.

This is said on page 75.

More positive is the outlook for restoration of passenger services on the Hoo branch, where 12,000 new houses are proposed and Medway Council is looking to build a new station halfway down the branch to serve them. As the branch is unelectrified, one idea that has been looked at is a shuttle with a Vivarail battery train or similar, turning round at Gravesend or another station on the main line.

Steve White worries that this could mean spending a lot of money on infrastructure work and ending up with what would be a sub-optimal solution. ‘Do people really want to sit on a train for 10 minutes before having to get out and change onto another train? I don’t think so. Ideally what you want is through trains to London, by extending the Gravesend terminators to Hoo.’

That would require a battery/third rail hybrid unit, but Mr. White thinks that is far from an outlandish proposal; with Networker replacement on the horizon, a small bi-mode sub-fleet could dovetail neatly with a stock renewal programme. Medway Council and rail industry representatives are working on coming up with a solution for Hoo that could do what it does best; facilitating economic regeneration in a local area.

One solution for the battery/third rail hybrid unit to Hoo, would be a battery/electric four-car Class 387 or Class 379 train, which could run in formations of four, eight or twelve cars.

These trains would also be ideal for the Marshlink Line and would surely be able to handle the thirteen miles without electrification on the route between Oxted and Haywards Heath.

The sooner, someone makes a decision about some four-car battery-electric trains, the sooner we can see if they are a useful solution.

July 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Using The Elizabeth Line Between London City And Heathrow Airports

Today, I went from London City Airport to Heathrow using the Docklands Light Railway, the underground section of the Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express.

London City Airport And Poplar Stations

I took these pictures on this section of the route using the Docklands Light Railway.

Note.

  1. I started my journey at 13:15.
  2. I arrived at Poplar at 13:27.
  3. The journey took twelve minutes, which agrees with the timetable.

This is a route, that gives a view of London’s rebuilding in the East.

Poplar And Canary Wharf Stations

I walked this section.

Note.

  1. I started my walk from Poplar station at 13:27.
  2. I was on the platform at Canary Wharf station at 13:39.
  3. I used a lift at Poplar station and the escalators at Canary Wharf station.
  4. The walk took twelve minutes, but it was a roundabout route.
  5. It looks like a level walkway is to be built between the two stations.

This Google Map shows the are between the two stations.

Note.

  1. Poplar station in the North-East of the map.
  2. The bridge at Poplar station, that provides the route I took over Aspen Way.
  3. After crossing the bridge and using the lift, I walked along the South side of Aspen Way.
  4. I then walked South down the path at the East side of the site, where it appears from the hoardings, flats will be built.
  5. Finally, I turned left to walk along the dock and then right to cross into Canary Wharf station.

Work appears to have started at Canary Wharf on the Southern end of an extended walkway, that will link to the bridge over Aspen Way.

This direct route could be nearly two hundred metres shorter and would shorten the connection by several minutes.

Canary Wharf And Paddington Stations

This section of the journey took nineteen minutes and I arrived at Paddington at 13:58, as this picture shows.

It had taken forty-three minutes between London City Airport and Paddington stations.

Paddington And Heathrow Airport By Heathrow Express

I took the 14:10 Heathrow Express to the Airport and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. It took about six minutes to walk between the Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express.
  2. This was my first ride on Heathrow Express, since the service has started using Class 387 trains.
  3. The trains are fine, but where are the tables, that I like so much in the other Class 387 trains?
  4. The train arrived at Heathrow Central at 14:29.

This meant my journey between the two airports had taken an hour and fourteen minutes.

Canary Wharf to Heathrow using Heathrow Express and the Elizabeth Line had taken thirty-four minutes.

Return To Paddington On The Elizabeth Line

I came back from Heathrow on an Elizabeth Line train, which took 29 minutes.

That would mean that today using the Elizabeth Line to Heathrow.

  • Heathrow and Canary Wharf will take 48 minutes.
  • Heathrow and London City Airport will take one hour and twenty-nine minutes.

The difference in time between the two trains is solely down to the times of the Heathrow Express and the Elizabeth Line trains between Paddington and Heathrow.

What Difference Will A Direct Elizabeth Line Connection Make?

Canary Wharf are giving a figure of thirty-nine minutes between Canary Wharf and Heathrow, when the Elizabeth Line fully opens.

This would appear to indicate that fully opening the Elizabeth Line connection at Paddington will save nine minutes and the Elizabeth Line will only be a few minutes slower than Heathrow Express, if you can cut out the change at Paddington.

This table compares times between Canary Wharf and Heathrow.

  • Elizabeth Line with a change at Paddington – 48 minutes
  • Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express with a change at Paddington – 34 minutes
  • Elizabeth Line direct – 39 minutes

How many passengers will swap from Heathrow Express to a complete Elizabeth Line?

Is There Going To Be A Pedestrian Bridge Between Poplar And Canary Wharf Stations?

This Google Map shows the bridge that leads South from Canary Wharf station.

Note how the bridge could have been designed to go through the station to the housing to the North and perhaps ultimately to Poplar DLR station.

These pictures show the complete bridge on the South side and what could be the start of construction on the North side.

Note.

  1. This pictures were taken on two dates.
  2. A full bridge would connect the new housing to the shopping centre and the Jubilee Line station.
  3. Between Poplar and Canary Wharf stations would be around 120 metres.
  4. There would be a straight and level walking route between Poplar DLR station and the two Canary Wharf Jubilee and Elizabeth Line stations.
  5. A short branch would lead to Canary Wharf DLR station.
  6. Stairs would lead to the buses that run through Canary Wharf.

It does appear that the North and South bridges will form a continuous straight route.

The bridge would create a comprehensive transport interchange for East London.

 

 

 

 

June 16, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Future Of The Class 387 And Class 379 Trains

This post is to try to get some logic into everybody’s comments on UK’s First 100mph Battery-Diesel Hybrid Train Enters Passenger Service, which are about the Class 379 trains.

Here are my thoughts about the current situation.

Class 379 Trains

I regularly use Hackney Downs and Liverpool Street stations.

A few months ago, you would see Class 379 trains on services to Cambridge and Hertford North.

At the present time, you rarely see them, as these services now seem to be run by new Class 720 trains, with the Stansted services being run by Class 745 trains.

There are also articles like this one on Rail Technology Magazine, which is entitled Greater Anglia’s New Rolling Stock Helps To Drive Record Autumn Results.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Greater Anglia’s new rolling stock has helped drive the operators record-beating autumn performance results over the challenging autumn months.

During autumn 2021 Greater Anglia recorded an overall punctuality score of 94.48% from 19th September 2021 – 8th January 2022.

This was the best autumn performance ever recorded by the train company.

It would appear that Greater Anglia are pleased with their new stock, which surely means that the thirty Class 379 trains can be moved on, stored or converted to battery-electric operation.

c2c’s Class 387 Trains

c2c has six Class 387 trains, which are similar to the Class 379 trains.

Currently, because of cracks in Class 800 trains, three of them are on loan to GWR.

But in the next year or so, these six trains will be moved on or stored as c2c have ordered twelve Class 720 trains to replace the Class 387 trains.

Southern’s Class 387 Trains

Southern has twenty-seven Class 387 trains for the Gatwick Express, of which three are used by Great Northern, who are a sister company of Southern, and six are on loan to GWR

Great Northern’s Class 387 Trains

Great Northern has twenty-nine Class 387 trains of its own and three on loan from Southern.

These trains are used mainly on Cambridge, Ely and Kings Lynn services out of King’s Cross.

Great Western Railway (GWR)’s Class 387 Trains

Great Western Railway has forty-five Class 387 trains of its own, three on loan from c2c and six on loan from Southern.

The Battery-Electric Class 379 Train

I rode this prototype train in 2015.

An Outwardly Normal Class 379 Train

I think it is reasonable to assume, that as battery technology has improved in the seven years since I rode this train, that converting Class 379 trains to battery-electric operation would not be a challenging project.

Creating A Battery-Electric Class 387 Train

If the Class 387 train is as internally similar to the Class 379 train as it outwardly looks, I couldn’t believe that converting them to battery-electric operation would be that difficult.

Conclusion

I feel the way to proceed is to create a small fleet of both battery-electric Class 379 and Class 387 trains and assess their performance, reliability and customer acceptance.

 

 

February 11, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Would A Lumo-Style Service Work Between King’s Cross And Norfolk?

This is a bit of a fantasy and you’ll never know the real reason why I have written it!

With the upgrade of the East Coast Main Line to full digital signalling, there will be a problem South of Hitchin with 140 mph Azumas and Hitachi Class 802 trains and similar from Grand Central , Hull Trains and Lumo hogging the fast lines to and from King’s Cross. I first wrote about it in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

One solution would be to replace the current Class 387 trains with a 140 mph train , such as a Hitachi Class 802 variant. This would enable these fast King’s Lynn and Cambridge trains to join the 140 mph trains on a fast run to and from King’s Cross.

The Future Of Cambridge

Cambridge is one of the UK’s four world cities, with its heritage and lately its high position in any technology league table.

The Current Rail Service Between London And Cambridge

Currently, it has a good service into King’s Cross, Liverpool Street and St. Pancras.

  • Great Northern – two tph to King’s Cross – A stopping train using Class 700 or Class 387 trains.
  • Great Northern – one tph between Ely and King’s Cross – A fast train using Class 387 trains.
  • Great Northern – one tph between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross – A fast train using Class 387 trains.
  • Thameslink  – two tph to Brighton – A semi-fast train using Class 700 trains.
  • Greater Anglia – two tph to Liverpool Street – A semi-fast train using Class 720 or Class 379 trains.

Note.

  1. tph means trains per hour.
  2. The similar Class 387 and Class 379 trains are both late-model Bombardier Electrostars with sensible seats and a large number of tables. Both train types can or could be modified to run at 110 mph.
  3. The Class 700 trains are unsuitable for the route, as they have ironing-board seats and no tables. These are only 100 mph trains.
  4. The Queen’s bottom doesn’t like the Class 700 trains.

A large proportion of the passengers and commuters between to and from Cambridge work in high-tech or information-rich businesses and I believe if the trains were more geared to this market they would attract passengers away from the roads.

The Cambridge Employment Problem

Fast-growing Cambridge is taking over the region and it is always looking for towns and villages to develop as places for dormitories and to build premises for the hundreds of high-tech businesses.

This is one of the reasons why Greater Anglia acquired new Stadler Class 755 trains to run services from Cambridge to Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough and Stansted Airport.

If you’re going to lure Cambridge’s well-paid high-tech commuters out of their cars, you must give them an equivalent seat to their car. The Class 379, 387 and 755 trains do this.

Living In Norfolk And Suffolk And Working In Cambridge

This has always been the choice of many who work in Cambridge, but using rail into Cambridge didn’t really take-off seriously until modern three-car Class 170 trains replaced the single-car Class 153 trains.

Greater Anglia have followed the upward trend in passenger numbers, by running hourly  four-car Class 755 trains from Cambridge to both Ipswich and Norwich.

Before the pandemic, it was starting to look like Norwich and Cambridge would soon need a second service, especially with the planned opening of the new Cambridge South station in 2025.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital And The Cambridge Biomedical Campus

Cambridge South station is being built to serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which intend to be create the foremost medical research cluster in the world.

Staycations And Holiday Homes In East Anglia

Life is changing because of the covids and more people are taking staycations or buying holiday homes.

And many are following the example of the Queen and going to Norfolk for their relaxation.

The Undoubted Need To Improve Rail Services Between London King’s Cross And Norfolk Via Cambridge

These factors convince me that there is a need for a new or repurposed rail service  between London King’s Cross and Norfolk via Cambridge.

  • The need to provide a high-class commuter service between London and Cambridge.
  • The need to bring workers into Cambridge from Norfolk.
  • The need to provide a fast high-class rail link to Cambridge South station with all its medical research.
  • The need to provide a comprehensive working environment on the trains.
  • The need to cater for all those people relaxing in Norfolk after a hard week in London.

It is my view, that a radical design of train is needed for this route.

  • It would need to have a high-class interior.
  • It would need at least a 125 mph capability, so that it can use the fast lines between Hitchin and King’s Cross.
  • The train may need the ability to split and join.
  • It would need an independent power capability for running on the Breckland Line between Ely and Norwich.
  • Because of Cambridge and because East Anglia is easy country for cycling, it would need a sensible capacity for cycles.

I also believe that because of the need to decarbonise, the train should be zero-carbon.

These are my thoughts.

Operating Speed

Because of running on the fast lines between Hitchin and King’s Cross with the 140 mph trains from the North, I suspect that an operating speed of at least 125 mph is needed. But if the Hitachi trains of LNER, Hull Trains, Lumo and in the future possibly other operators like Grand Central, will be capable of 140 mph, this speed could be desirable.

Speed limits once the trains have left the East Coast Main Line at Hitchin North junction are as follows.

  • Hitchin and Cambridge – 90 mph
  • Cambridge and King’s Lynn – 90 mph
  • Ely and Norwich – 75-90 mph

I can see Network Rail using their expertise to raise the speed limit on sections of these lines.

Flighting Of Trains On The East Coast Main Line

To increase capacity on the East Coast Main Line, I believe that at some point in the not too distant future that trains will be flighted. This will involve two or more trains leaving King’s Cross in a sequence and proceeding with all trains at a safe distance from each other.

I can envisage a flight like this from King’s Cross.

  • An Edinburgh train with York as the first stop – Leaves at XX.00
  • A Leeds train with Doncaster as the first stop – Leaves at XX.03
  • A Lincoln train with Peterborough as the first stop – Leaves at XX.06
  • A Cambridge train with Stevenage as the first stop – Leaves at XX.09

Note.

  1. The Edinburgh train would set the speed.
  2. Trains would maintain their time behind the lead train.
  3. Everything could be controlled by the digital signalling.
  4. Gaps between the trains would be sufficient for a safe stop.
  5. No train in the flight would make a station stop unless it was the last train in the flight.
  6. The last train in the flight would drop off and go to their destination.

As there are at least two tph to Edinburgh, Leeds and Cambridge, there would be two main flights per hour leaving King’s Cross, with the second flight perhaps incorporating a service to Hull.

Digital signalling and precise driving would enable the flights to be built in the opposite direction into King’s Cross.

The big advantage would be that instead of needing eight paths per hour on the East Coast Main Line, only two would be needed.

All trains would need to have similar performance, so this is another reason why the Cambridge trains need to be at least 125 mph trains.

Train Interiors

Lumo has broken new ground in train interiors.

  • It is one class.
  • Everybody gets a decent seat.
  • Everybody gets good legroom.
  • Everybody gets some form of table.
  • There are decent-sized overhead racks for hand-baggage and coats.
  • There is space for bicycles and heavy luggage appropriate to the route.

This can be built on to provide a good working and playing environment suited to the passengers who would use a fast King’s Cross and Norfolk service via Cambridge.

  • Lots of tables for four, as in the high-class Electrostars.
  • Better bicycle storage.
  • Better alignment of seats with windows.

Hitachi could obviously produce a train to this specification.

But what about other manufacturers.

Stadler’s Class 755 trains are surely a possibility.

  • A senior driver from Greater Anglia told me that the design speed for a Class 755 train is 200 kph or 125 mph.
  • They have good seats.
  • They have flat floors.
  • They have large windows.
  • They have step-free access between train and platform.
  • Like the Hitachi trains, they are in service.

I believe the closely-related Class 745 trains are probably the best commuter trains in the UK and are the only alternative to the Hitachi trains on a125 mph fully-electrified route.

Bridging The Electrification Gap Between Ely And Norwich

Between Norwich and Ely stations is 53.8 miles and this section is not electrified, although both stations have full electrification.

The line is not heavily used with typically only two passenger trains and the occasional freight trains in each direction in an hour.

This Hitachi infographic describes the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

A 90 km. range could be sufficient to cover the gap between Norwich and Ely.

Could Hitachi build a Class 802 train or similar with a battery range of 90 km or 56 miles?

Certainly, a speed of 100 mph would probably be sufficient to bridge the gap in a decent time.

Improving The Breckland Line

The Breckland Line is the route between Cambridge and Norwich.

  • Cambridge and Norwich is 68.5 miles
  • Only the sixteen miles between Cambridge and Ely North junction is electrified.
  • There are thirteen stops between the two cities.
  • A typical time is 79 minutes
  • This is an average speed of just 52 mph.
  • The operating speed is 75-90 mph.

I am sure that Network Rail can squeeze a few minutes here and there to get the operating speed up to the 100 mph of the Great Eastern Main Line.

But the big problem at Norwich is the Trowse swing bridge.

It is only single track and it is likely that this bridge will be replaced soon.

This Google Map shows Trowse junction, a short distance South of the swing bridge.

Note.

  1. The electrified double-track of the Great Eastern Main Line goes across the map from North East to South West.
  2. The double-track railway to the East of the main line is the unelectrified Breckland Line to Cambridge, which turns West and goes under the main line.
  3. On the West of the main lines are the Victoria sidings that I wrote about in Greater Anglia Completes Directly-Managed Norwich Victoria Sidings Project.

As the replacement of the swing bridge will require some work to be done to the electrification, I wonder if at the same time Network Rail would electrify the Norwich end of the Breckland Line.

There must be a balance point adding electrification or batteries to the trains.

As the Breckland Line has few freight trains, electrification is not needed for freight.

Ticketing

A high-speed high-capacity service as I’m proposing must be easy to use.

It is a classic route, where nothing short of London-style contactless ticketing will do, as I’m certain this encourages people to use the trains.

As East Anglia is self-contained and has few services that don’t terminate in the area or in London, I am certain that this could be achieved.

If you remove First Class as Greater Anglia has done on many services, you actually simplify the ticketing, so a Lumo-style mid-class is ideal.

High Speed Train Services

Currently Great Northern run two tph from King’s Cross to Ely via Cambridge.

  • One service is extended to King’s Lynn.
  • I could see the second service extended to Norwich.

Both services would need to be run by 125 mph trains because of the speed of other trains on the East Coast Main Line.

Conclusion

I think duch a system would be possible.

November 21, 2021 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bolton-Wigan £78m Rail Electrification Project Announced

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

This is a small electrification project compared to many, but it still includes.

  • 13 miles of electrification.
  • 450 new overhead line equipment stanchions.
  • Modifications to 17 bridges and two level crossings.
  • Platform extensions at Westhoughton, Hindley and Ince stations, so that they can handle six-car trains.

Completion is expected to be 2025.

The numbers indicate it could be be a small project with quite a bit of work.

I have a few specific thoughts.

How Far Will The Electrification Go?

This document on the Government web site is entitled Green Light Given For Wigan To Bolton Electrification.

These are two paragraphs.

The track between Wigan North Western station and Lostock Junction near Bolton will receive a £78 million upgrade, targeted to complete in 2024/2025.

Through electrifying almost 13 miles of infrastructure and lengthening platforms, this investment will ensure that CO2 emitting diesel trains are replaced by electric rolling stock. As longer trains with additional capacity, these will provide passengers with greener, more comfortable and more reliable journeys.

Note.

  1. Lostock junction is on the Manchester and Preston Line which was electrified in 2019.
  2. As is typical, the electrification continues for a short distance from Lostock junction towards the Wigan stations.
  3. Wigan North Western station is a fully-electrified station on the West Coast Main Line.
  4. Wigan Wallgate station is not electrified.
  5. The distance between Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station is 6.9 miles.
  6. Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station is double-track all the way.
  7. My Track Atlas shows crossovers that allow trains to and from Lostock junction to access some platforms at Wigan North Western.

These facts lead me to these conclusions.

  • As thirteen files of electrification would be 6.5 miles of double-track electrification, the new electrification would create a fully-electrified line between Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station.
  • By electrifying the crossovers at Wigan Station junction, electric trains would to able to access both Wigan stations.

But this does mean, that electric trains can’t run past Wigan Wallgate station, as the wires seem to stop there.

Electrification At Wigan Wallgate Station

Mark Clayton has made this comment to this post.

Yes there is a single track connecting from the track through Hindley to the WCML and vice versa, however at Wallgate there are buildings straddling the line and the station itself. Maybe the track could be lowered, but it could well be a major engineering project to get the wires under Wallgate.

The best picture, that I can get of the tracks under Wallgate is this 3D image from Google Maps.

It does seem a bit tight in terms of height.

I have also looked at several videos of trains going trough the station and I suspect that the tracks may need lowering to get the wires through.

Or they could use some of the discontinuous tricks being used on the South Wales Metro.

It could be difficult, but I don’t think it will be impossible.

I do suspect though for operational reasons, Network Rail and the train operators would want the wires to extend to the station.

  • Train operators probably prefer to raise and lower the pantograph in a station, in case anything goes wrong.
  • If battery-electric trains should be used on the line, then if necessary, they could wait in the station to charge the batteries.
  • If the station is wired, then the West-facing bay-platform can also be wired, so that it could be used for a battery-electric shuttle train to Kirkby or Southport.

It looks to me, that for lots of reasons, the engineers will have to find a way of getting the wires under the low bridge under Wallgate.

Services That Use All Or Part Of The Route Between Lostock Junction And Wigan

These services use all or part of the route.

  • 1 tph – Southport and Alderley Edge via Ince (irregular), Hindley, Westhoughton and Bolton
  • 1 tph – Southport and Stalybridge via Hindley, Westhoughton and Bolton
  • 1 tph – Kirkby and Manchester Victoria via Ince (irregular), Hindley, Daisy Hill, Hag Fold, Atherton, Walkden, Moorside, Swinton and Salford Crescent.
  • 1 tph – Wigan Wallgate and Blackburn via Hindley, Daisy Hill, Atherton, Walkden, Swinton and Salford Crescent.
  • 1 tph – Wigan Wallgate and Leeds via Daisy Hill, Atherton, Walkden and Salford Crescent.

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. The two services that terminate at Wigan Wallgate sometimes terminate in Wigan North Western station.
  3. Wigan Wallgate station would appear to get up to five tph to Manchester, via a variety of routes.

I wonder how many of these services could be run by a battery-electric train, with a performance like the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note 90 kilometres is 56 miles.

I will look at each route in detail.

Southport And Alderley Edge

The only section without electrification will be between Wigan Wallgate and Southport stations, which is a distance of 17.4 miles.

With a battery range of 56 miles, a battery-electric train should be able to run a return trip between Wigan Wallgate and Southport stations on battery power and have time for a leisurely turnround in Southport.

The batteries would be charged on the fully electrified section of the line between Wigan Wallgate and Alderley Edge stations.

Southport And Stalybridge

There are two sections without electrification.

  • Wigan Wallgate and Southport stations – 17.4 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge stations – 7.6 miles

With a battery range of 56 miles, a battery-electric train should be able to run a return trip on both sections without electrification.

The batteries would be charged on the fully electrified section of the line between Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Victoria stations.

Kirkby And Manchester Victoria

There are two sections without electrification.

  • Wigan Wallgate and Kirkby stations – 12.1 miles
  • Hindley and Salford Crescent stations – 13.4 miles

With a battery range of 56 miles, a battery-electric train should be able to run services on both sections without electrification.

The batteries would be charged on the two fully electrified sections of the line between Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Victoria stations.

Wigan Wallgate And Blackburn

There are two sections without electrification.

  • Hindley and Salford Crescent stations – 13.4 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Blackburn stations – 39.4 miles

The first section could be easily run by a battery electric train, but the second section would need a charger at Blackburn station to return to Manchester Victoria station.

The batteries would be charged on the two fully electrified sections of the line between Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Victoria stations.

Wigan Wallgate And Leeds

There are two sections without electrification.

  • Hindley and Salford Crescent stations – 13.4 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations – 50.2 miles

The first section could be easily run by a battery electric train.

But the second section would be very much touch-and-go with a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, despite the fact that both Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations are electrified.

It should also be noted that Network Rail has plans in the TransPennine Upgrade to electrify the route between Leeds and Heaton Lodge junction between Mirfield and Brighouse stations. This would reduce the second section without electrification to a more manageable 37.1 miles.

I suspect that by the time the TransPennine Upgrade is complete, battery range would have improved to allow Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations to handle the route.

Battery-Electric Trains That Could Run The Services Through Wigan Wallgate Station

I have used the Hitachi Regional Battery Train as an example of a train that might run the services through Wigan Wallgate station.

  • It has an operating speed of 100 mph.
  • It could be based on a Class 385 train, which have three or four cars.
  • It would have a battery range of 56 miles.

I suspect a demonstration train will run by 2025, which is the expected date of completion of the Lostock and Wigan electrification project.

But other manufacturers and rolling stock companies could also supply trains, with this specification.

  • Alstom could create a battery-electric train based on an Electrostar, like a Class 379 or Class 387 train.
  • CAF are developing a battery-electric train based on a Class 331 train.
  • Porterbrook are developing a battery-electric train, based on a Class 350 train.
  • Stadler could probably deliver a battery-electric Flirt based on a Class 755 train.

Competition would hopefully result in an excellent train, that would be suitable for many routes in the UK.

Northern’s Battery Plans And CAF

I suspect though that CAF could be the front runner as Northern already have forty-three Class 331 trains in service.

In Northern’s Battery Plans, I describe how CAF and Northern are planning to convert a number of three-car Class 331 trains into four-car battery-electric trains.

  • The fourth car would contain batteries.
  • Batteries would also be added to the PTS (pantograph) car.

I suspect that the battery range could be arranged so that all routes suitable for battery-electric operation could be handled.

In this article on Rail Magazine, which is entitled Northern Plans More New Trains After CAF Milestone, this is a paragraph.

A CAF source confirmed that a lot of work was ongoing with Northern, including the continued development of a battery EMU that is planned to be tested on the Oxenholme-Windermere route.

As the article dates from January 2021, things should be progressing.

Possible routes for battery-electric operation could be.

  • Northumberland Line – Under construction
  • Csrlisle and Newcastle – 61.5 miles between electrification at both ends
  • Wigan Wallgate and Leeds via Dewsbury – 50.2 miles between electrification at both ends
  • Manchester Victoria and Leeds via Hebden Bridge – 49.8 miles between electrification at both ends
  • Leeds And Carlisle via Settle – 86.8 miles between electrification at both ends.
  • Leeds and Morecambe – 37.8 miles between electrification.
  • Manchester Airport and Barrow-in-Furness – 28.7 miles from electrification
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere – 10.9 miles from electrification

Note.

  1. The distance is the longest section without electrification.
  2. Some routes have electrification at both ends.
  3. Some need an out-and-back journey at one end of the route.

I was surprised that the Settle and Carlisle Line could be included and as battery technology improves it certainly will be possible.

What a tourist attraction that line would be if worked by battery-electric trains.

Conclusion

This electrification of just 6.5 miles of double-track between Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station seems to be one of the smaller electrification projects.

But on closer examination, when linked to a fleet of battery-electric trains with a range of perhaps forty miles, the electrification enables battery-electric trains to run these services.

  • Southport And Alderley Edge
  • Southport And Stalybridge
  • Kirkby And Manchester Victoria

With a charging station in Blackburn station, then the Wigan Wallgate And Blackburn service can be added.

It also looks that with the completion of the TransPennine Upgrade between Huddersfield and Leeds, that it might even be possible to run Wigan Wallgate and Leeds using battery-electric trains.

There will be a long list of stations, previously served by diesel trains, that will now only be served by electric or battery-electric trains.

  • Appley Bridge
  • Atherton
  • Bescar Lane
  • Burscough Bridge
  • Daisy Hill
  • Gathurst
  • Hag Fold
  • Hindley
  • Hoscar
  • Ince
  • Kirkby
  • Meols Cop
  • Moorside
  • New Lane
  • Orrell
  • Parbold
  • Pemberton
  • Rainford
  • Southport
  • Swinton
  • Upholland
  • Walkden
  • Wigan Wallgate
  • Westhoughton

That is a total of twenty-four stations.

Never in the field of railway engineering, has one small section of electrification delivered electric trains to so many stations.

 

September 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Where Are All The Battery-Electric Trains?

Consider these dates and notes

February 10th, 2015

, I wrote Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?, after an excellent first ride in Bombadier’s experimental battery-electric multiple unit or BEMU based on a Class 379 train.

October 10th, 2018

I wrote Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway, after a ride on Vivarail’s Class 230 train in Scotland.

October 15th, 2018

This article on Railway Gazette, which was entitled BatteryFLEX Desiro EMU Conversion Proposed, announced Porterbrook’s plan to convert their Class 350/2 trains to battery-electric operation.

September 30th, 2019

I wrote Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch.

I indicated that according to Modern Railways, battery Electrostars were on their way to replace Class 171 trains, that need to be cascaded to East Midlands Railway by September 2021.

February 28th, 2020

I wrote Northern’s Battery Plans.

This described a plan by Northern Trains and CAF to convert three-car Class 331 trains into four-car battery electric trains, by adding a battery car.

July 6th, 2020

I wrote Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains, which announced Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

Hitachi are now testing Class 803 trains, which have batteries, but only for hotel purposes and not traction.

Although, I do suspect that the batteries in Class 803 trains will be very similar to those in other Hitachi trains.

It’s just not good engineering to do the same job twice and all Hitachi trains are members of the same A-train family.

August 12, 2020

In Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains, I mused on some remarks made by Mark Hopwood, who then was the interim Managing Director of South Western Railway.

December 15th, 2020

Hitachi released a press release which was entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

This is the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Details given in the press release include.

  • A five-car train will be used as the prototype.
  • The objective is fuel savings of 20 %.
  • Battery power will be used in stations.

I have read elsewhere that testing will start in 2022, with trains entering service a year later.

In addition, I have written many posts on this blog about the possible deployment of battery-electric trains.

There are certainly a lot of ideas and aspirations for the development and use of battery trains, but except for the Class 803 trains, which only use batteries for emergency hotel power and are now under test, no battery-electric trains have been seen on the UK rail network.

I have a few thoughts.

Existing Trains That Could Be Converted To Battery-Electric Trains

The following trains would appear to be candidates for conversion to battery-electric operation for passenger operations.

  • Class 350 trains – 87 trains of four cars – 110 mph – Will be replaced by Class 730 trains.
  • Class 360 trains – 21 trains of four cars – 110 mph – In service with East Midlands Railway between St. Pancras and Corby, but with batteries could extend the route to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.
  • Class 379 trains – 30 trains of four cars – 100 mph – Have been replaced by Class 745 trains and now filling in for late delivery of new Class 720 trains.
  • Class 385 trains – 24 trains of four cars – 100 mph – In service with Scotrail and could be upgraded to Regional Battery Trains.
  • Class 385 trains – 46 trains of three cars – 100 mph – In service with Scotrail and could be upgraded to Regional Battery Trains.
  • Class 387 trains – 107 trains of four cars – 110 mph – Some are being replaced with new trains and it appears that some may be available for conversion. There must also be question marks over Heathrow and Gatwick Express services.

Note.

  1. All trains have an operating speed of 100 or 110 mph.
  2. I suspect most of the 100 mph trains could be upgraded to 110 mph trains.
  3. There is a total of nearly three hundred four-car trains.

In addition, there are other trains like Class 377 trains, Class 444 trains, Class 450 trains and Class 707 trains. that could be converted to battery-electric operation should it be necessary or the trains were withdrawn from service due to being replaced with new trains.

We could have access to over five hundred battery-electric trains, if all were to be converted.

Does that mean that until fleets start to wear out, we will not need to buy any new electric multiple units for the standard gauge UK rail network?

A Comparison Between A Hitachi Regional Battery Train And An Existing Electric Multiple Unit With Added Batteries

If you compare an Hitachi Regional Battery train based on a four-car Class 385 train with a four-car Class 350 train you get the following with Hitachi figures first.

  • Cars – 4 – 4
  • Operating Speed – 100 mph – 110 mph
  • Seats – 273 – 270
  • Length – 92 metres – 82 metres
  • Dual-voltage – Probably possible – Yes

The two trains could share a route and few passengers would complain or even notice the difference.

Will Battery-Electric Trains Have Collateral Benefits?

All these trains, that are available to conversion to battery-electric trains are modern 100 mph four-car units that meet all the regulations.

They will offer a better standard of service than say a Class 156 diesel train, but most importantly, their size will mean that most services in the UK would be run by a four-car train, which would help to ease overcrowding in a lot of places.

Where Are The Battery Electric Trains?

Could it be that someone has added up the number of trains we already have and has decided that with decarbonisation to the fore, that by using a mix of battery-electric trains and discontinuous electrification, we can create a unified electric train network in England, Scotland and Wales, without ordering large fleets of new trains.

The specification for the UK’s standard battery-electric local train may need to emerge first, but I suspect that train manufacturers and upgraders like Wabtec, want to make sure they create a battery-electric train to these standards.

  • Very reliable.
  • A range as long as feasibly possible.
  • Long-lasting

So with this technology change from pure-electric, bi-mode and diesel trains to pure-electric and battery-electric, is everybody making sure, that it ends up as a success, rather than a disaster?

Over the last few years, there have been a lot of late train deliveries for various reasons and releasing battery-electric trains too early might not be prudent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 18, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Northern Rail Apologises Over Disruption On Durham Coast Line

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Northern Echo.

These is the first two  paragraphs.

Easington MP Grahame Morris has invited Northern Rail executives and the Rail Minister to travel on the Durham Coast Line following “another weekend of rail chaos”.

As the football season kicked off and Seaham Food Festival attracted thousands of people, travellers were left angry and disappointed as they were unable to board overcrowded rail services at Horden and Seaham train stations.

The article then goes on to say that this has been an ongoing problem for several years.

I would have thought that to maximise revenue on any transport service, it is best to provide enough stagecoaches, charabancs, buses, trams or trains.

Could this business naivety be why the original Northern went bust?

What Should The Government Do?

As Northern is now run by the Government’s Operator Of Last Resort, it is up to the Government.

In Boris Johnson Backs Station Opening Which Could See Metro Link To County Durham, I report on an exchange between Boris Johnson and an MP in Prime Minister’s Questions.

These are my two main improvements.

Reopen Ferryhill Station And The Leamside and Stillington Lines To Create A New Route

Boris Johnson talked about reopening Ferryhill station, which could be key to opening up a second route between Teesside and Newcastle and Sunderland.

  • Ferryhill station would be on the East Coast Main Line and electrified to handle battery-electric trains.
  • Ferryhill terminal would be an ideal Southern terminal for a reopened Leamside Line, which most stakeholders seem in favour of, as it would take the pressure off the East Coast Main Line to the South of Newcastle and connect large areas to the rail network and in particular, the Tyne and Wear Metro.
  • Ferryhill station would be at the Northern end of the freight-only  Stillington Line, which runs South-Eastwards from the East Coast Main Line at Ferryhill to Stockton and Hartlepool or Middlesbrough.
  • A combination of the Leamside and Stillington Lines would open up a second route between the two conurbations.

It might also be possible to run a semi-fast York and Newcastle service via Northallerton, Yarm, Thornaby, Stockton, Ferryhill and the Leamside Line.

  • This service would only run on the East Coast Main Line, where there were four tracks to the South of Northallerton.
  • It could be run by a battery-electric train.
  • A battery-electric train could be charged at York, Ferryhill and Newcastle.

This article on the Northern Echo is entitled ‘Rapid’ Progress On Reopening Leamside Line, Connecting County Durham And Washington.

Things don’t seem to be standing still.

There would appear to be lots of scope for rail development between the Tyne and Wear in the North and the Tees in the South.

If the go-ahead is given by Government to develop the Leamside and Stillington Lines, the great thing is that construction of the new route will not affect anything on the important East Coast Main Line, as Network Rail would just be creating a railway by-pass around one of busiest sections of main line, that will be used by local and freight trains.

Two routes through the area, would certainly double the capacity, if both had an hourly train.

Battery-Electric Trains

I mentioned battery-electric trains as the rolling stock for a possible semi-fast service between York and Newcastle.

We are accumulating a large pile of surplus Class 350, 387 and 379 trains.

  • They are being replaced by modern units.
  • They were built within the last twenty years.
  • They are all high-quality four car trains.
  • They can all be modified for a 110 mph operating speed, so could venture on the East Coast Main Line if needed.

These trains have been mentioned several times as possibilities for conversion to battery-electric trains.

With a few strategically-placed charging systems, these would be ideal trains for services in the area.

Conclusion

It would be a great improvement for train services in the North-East.

My first step would be to convert the Hexham and Nunthorpe service via Newcastle, Sunderland, Seaham, Horden and Middlesbrough to battery-electric operation, by adding charging at Hexham and Nunthorpe stations.

Some are keen on hydrogen trains for this route, but these will have a longer gestation period.

I would also suspect that travellers in the North-East would prefer jam today, rather than possibly inferior jam sometime in the future.

Battery-electric trains based on the train classes I named would also be ideal for the Northumberland Line and the Salburn and Bishop Auckland service.

 

August 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Comings And Goings At Ely Station

On my meander around the Fens yesterday, I spent twenty minutes or so at Ely station, as the variety of trains came through the station, whilst I waited for a train to March.

Ely and the surrounding lines are to be remodelled, so that more trains can pass through the complicated junctions.

I had hoped to see a freight train pass through, which would have used the avoiding lines to pass the station.

In some ways, Ely sums up the problems of some of our major railway junctions.

  • Several important passenger services needing to pass through.
  • Several long freight trains a day.
  • Level crossings everywhere.
  • More passenger services are needed.

And on top of it all, there is a need to decarbonise.

British Rail and Network Rail have been trying to sort Ely for decades and it should be noted that the Fen Line to King’s Lynn station was electrified in 1992, which was probably an early phase of their master-plan.

Ely And Battery-Electric Trains

These are the distances without electrification on the various routes from Ely.

  • Ipswich – 39 miles
  • Norwich – 52 miles
  • Peterborough – 30.5 miles
  • Wisbech – 25 miles

Routes to King’s Cross, King’s Lynn, Liverpool Street, Stansted Airport and Stevenage are all fully electrified.

It does appear to me, that the new generation of battery-electric should be able to handle services from Ely on battery power.

For many of these services, which are or will be run by Greater Anglia, the required battery range can be achieved by swapping some of the diesel engines in the Class 755 trains for batteries.

Freight And Hydrogen Power

In Was This The Most Significant Statement On Freight Locomotives Last Week?, I referred to this press release from Freightliner, which is entitled Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project.

This sixth paragraph from the press release is very significant.

This sustainable solution will support a programme to decarbonise freight operating companies’ diesel fleets in a cost-efficient manner that does not require significant short-term investment and facilitates operational learning in support of a longer-term fleet replacement programme, potentially using 100% hydrogen fuel.

I believe the paragraph indicates, that Freightliner and possibly the other companies involved in the building and operation of heavy freight locomotives have concluded, that the technology is now such, that a zero-carbon rail locomotive powered by 100 % hydrogen is now possible.

Hydrogen offers several advantages.

  • Large amounts of power.
  • Range comparable with diesel locomotives.
  • Depots and freight terminals can be without electrification.
  • As hydrogen-powered locomotive will most likely have an electric transmission, this opens the possibilities of using electrification where it exists and regenerative braking to an onboard battery.

My unreliable crystal ball says that we’ll see hydrogen-powered locomotives by 2026.

 

August 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Thoughts On Train Times Between London Paddington And Cardiff Central

I went to Cardiff from Paddington on Tuesday.

These were the journey details.

  • Distance – Paddington and Cardiff – 145.1 miles
  • Time – Paddington and Cardiff – 110 minutes – 79.1 mph
  • Time – Cardiff and Paddington- 114 minutes – 76.4 mph

There were four stops. Each seemed to take between two and three minutes.

I do feel though, that the trains are still running to a timetable, that could be run by an InterCity 125.

I watched the Speedview app on my phone for a lot of both journeys.

  • There was quite an amount of 125 mph running on the route.
  • Some stretches of the route seemed to be run at a line speed of around 90 mph.
  • The Severn Tunnel appears to have a 90 mph speed.
  • Coming back to London the train ran at 125 mph until the Wharncliffe Viaduct.

These are my thoughts.

Under Two Hour Service

The current service is under two hours, which is probably a good start.

Improving The Current Service

It does strike me that the current timetable doesn’t take full advantage of the performance of the new Hitachi Class 80x trains.

  • Could a minute be saved at each of the four stops?
  • Could more 125 mph running be introduced?
  • Could the trains go faster through the Severn Tunnel?
  • If two trains per hour (tph) were to be restored, would that allow a more efficient stopping pattern?
  • The route has at least four tracks between Paddington and Didcot Parkway and the Severn Tunnel and Cardiff.

I would reckon that times of between one hour and forty minutes and one hour and forty-five minutes are possible.

These times correspond to average speeds of between 87 and 83 mph.

Application of In-Cab Digital Signalling

Currently, a typical train leaving Paddington completes the 45.7 miles between Hanwell and Didcot Parkway with a stop at Reading in 28 minutes, which is an average speed of 97.9 mph.

This busy section of the route is surely an obvious one for In-cab digital signalling., which would allow speeds of up to 140 mph.

  • Services join and leave the route on branches to Bedwyn, Heathrow, Oxford and Taunton.
  • The Heathrow services are run by 110 mph Class 387 trains.
  • There are slow lines for local services and freight trains.

If an average speed of 125 mph could be attained between Hanwell and Didcot Parkway, this would save six minutes on the time.

Would any extra savings be possible on other sections of the route, by using in-cab digital signalling?

I suspect on the busy section between Bristol Parkway and Cardiff Central stations several minutes could be saved.

Would A Ninety Minute Time Between Paddington And Cardiff Be Possible?

To handle the 145.1 miles between Paddington and Cardiff Central would require an average speed including four stops of 96.7 mph.

This average speed is in line with the current time between Hanwell and Didcot Parkway with a stop at Reading, so I suspect that with improvements to the timetable, that a ninety minute service between Paddington and Cardiff Central is possible.

It may or may not need in-cab digital signalling.

My Control Engineer’s nose says that this signalling upgrade will be needed.

Would A Sixty Minute Time Between Paddington And Cardiff Be Possible?

A journey time of an hour between Paddington and Cardiff Central would surely be the dream of all politicians the Great Western Railway and many of those involved with trains.

To handle the 145.1 miles between Paddington and Cardiff Central would require an average speed including four stops of 145.1 mph.

It would probably be difficult to maintain a speed a few mph above the trains current maximum speed for an hour.

  • How many minutes would be saved with perhaps a single intermediate stop at Bristol Parkway station?
  • Perhaps the Cardiff service could be two tph in ninety minutes and one tph in sixty minutes.
  • Full in-cab digital signalling would certainly be needed.
  • Faster trains with a maximum speed of up to 155-160 mph would certainly be needed.
  • There may be a need for some extra tracks in some places on the route.

A journey time of an hour will be a few years coming, but I feel it is an achievable objective.

The Extended Route To Swansea

Cardiff Central and Swansea is a distance of 45.7 miles

A typical service takes 55 minutes with three stops, at an average speed of 49.8 mph.

This would be an ideal route for a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

It would probably be needed to be charged at Swansea station, to both enable return to Cardiff Central or extend the service to the West of Swansea.

Conclusion

Big improvements in journey times between Paddington and Cardiff Central are possible.

 

June 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Thoughts On Faster Trains On Thameslink

The Class 700 trains used by Thameslink only have an operating speed of 100 mph.

I do wonder, if that is a fast enough operating speed for all Thameslink routes.

Sharing The Midland Main Line With 125 mph Trains

A couple of years ago, I travelled back into St. Pancras with a group of East Midlands drivers in a Class 222 train.

They told me several things about the route including that the bridge at the South of Leicester station would be difficult to electrify, as it was low and the track couldn’t be lowered as one of Leicester’s main sewers was under the tracks at the bridge. Perhaps, this is one place, where discontinuous electrification could be used on the Midland Main Line.

They also told me, that sometimes the Thameslink trains were a nuisance, as because of their 100 mph operating speed, the 125 mph Class 222 trains had to slow to 100 mph.

Upgrading Of The Midland Main Line South Of Bedford

The electrification of the Midland Main Line South of Bedford is being updated, so that it is suitable for 125 mph running.

An Analysis Of Services On The Midland Main Line South Of Bedford

The current Class 222 trains are capable of 125 mph and will be replaced by Class 810 trains capable of the same speed on both diesel and electricity.

Currently, a Class 222 train is capable of doing the following on a typical non-stop run between St. Pancras and Leicester.

  • Covering the 30 miles between St. Albans and Bedford in 17 minutes at an average speed of 106 mph.
  • Covering the 50.3 miles between Bedford and Leicester in 30 minutes at an average speed of 100.6 mph.
  • Maintaining 125 mph for long stretches of the route, once the trains is North of London commuter traffic at St. Albans

I can estimate the timings on the 79.2 miles between Leicester and St. Albans, by assuming the train runs at a constant speed.

  • 100 mph – 47.5 minutes
  • 110 mph – 43.2 minutes
  • 125 mph – 38 minutes
  • 140 mph – 34 minutes

Note.

  1. I have done the calculation for 140 mph, as that is the maximum operating speed of the Class 810 train with full in-cab digital signalling.
  2. Trains have been running at 125 mph for a couple of decades on the Midland Main Line.
  3. To get a St. Pancras and Leicester time add another 14 minutes, which is the current time between St. Pancras and St. Albans of a Class 222 train.
  4. Some Off Peak trains are timed at 62-63 minutes between St. Pancras and Leicester.
  5. A time of under an hour between St. Pancras and Leicester might be possible and the Marketing Department would like it.
  6. As Thameslink trains between Bedford and St. Albans stop regularly, they are on the slow lines of the four-track railway, to the North of St. Albans.
  7. South of St. Albans, Thameslink trains often run on the fast lines.

I can expect that East Midlands Railway will want to be running their new Class 810 trains as far as far South as they can at 125 mph, to speed up their services. When the signalling allows it, they’ll want to run at 140 mph.

So they won’t want to see Thameslink’s slow trains on the fast lines.

  • But if you look at the Thameslink trains that do run on the fast lines between St. Albans and St. Pancras, they appear to be the four trains per hour (tph) that run to and from Bedford.
  • Of these trains, two tph terminate at Brighton and two tph terminate at Gatwick Airport.
  • The average speed of a Class 222 train between St. Albans and St. Pancras assuming 14 minutes for the 19.7 miles is 84.4 mph.

So it looks to me that a 100 mph Thameslink train could be able to get away without slowing the East Midland Railway expresses.

But then that is not surprising, as for many years, the Class 222 trains worked happily with 100 mph Class 319 trains.

Is There Scope For Extra And Faster Services Into St. Pancras?

I have only done a simple calculation, but I do wonder if there is scope for the following.

  • Increasing the frequency of trains for both Thameslink and East Midlands Railway.
  • Saving a few minutes on East Midlands Railway services.

Consider.

  • The new Class 810 electric trains will probably have better acceleration and deceleration than the current Class 222 diesel trains, when working using electric power.
  • East Midlands Railway is introducing Class 360 trains that were built as 100 mph trains by Siemens, who are now upgrading them to 110 mph trains.
  • Can Siemens do the same for the Class 700 trains and create a sub-fleet capable of 110 mph running?
  • All trains will be running under full in-cab digital signalling with a large degree of automatic train control.

I feel that if the Class 700 trains had the extra speed, they would make the planning of services South of St. Albans easier and allow the Class 810 trains to both run faster and provide more services.

Sharing The East Coast Main Line With 125 mph Trains

The following Thameslink services run up the East Coast Main Line past Stevenage.

  • Cambridge And Brighton – Two tph – Stops at Royston, Ashwell and Morden (1 tph), Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage, Finsbury Park, London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Balcombe, Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill
  • Cambridge and Kings Cross – Two tph – Stops at Foxton, Shepreth, Meldreth, Royston, Ashwell and Morden, Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • Peterborough and Horsham – Two tph – Stops at Huntingdon, St Neots, Sandy, Biggleswade, Arlesey, Hitchin, Stevenage, Finsbury Park, London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Horley, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Crawley, Ifield, Faygate (limited) and Littlehaven

Note.

  1. Services are generally run by Class 700 trains, although lately the Kings Cross service seems to use Class 387 trains, which have a maximum speed of 110 mph and a more comfortable interior with tables.
  2. It is intended that the Cambridge and Kings Cross service will be extended to Maidstone East by 2021.

In addition there are two Cambridge Express and Fen Line services.

  • Kings Cross and Ely – One tph – Stops at Cambridge and Cambridge North.
  • Kings Cross and King’s Lynn – One tph – Stops at Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely, Littleport, Downham Market and Watlington

Note.

  1. These services are generally run by Class 387 trains.
  2. Cambridge and King’s Cross is timetabled at around fifty minutes.

Adding all of this together means that slower services on the East Coast Main Line are comprised of the following in both directions.

  • Three tph – 110 mph – Class 387 trains
  • Four tph – 100 mph – Class 700 trains

These seven trains will have to be fitted in with the 125 mph trains running services on the East Coast Main Line, for LNER, Grand Central, Hull Trains and East Coast Trains.

There are also the following problems.

  • All trains must navigate the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station.
  • The King’s Cross and Cambridge service stops in Welwyn North station.
  • Full in-cab digital signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line, which could increase the speed of the expresses through the double-track section.

Could the introduction of the Class 387 trains on the Cambridge and King’s Cross service have been made, as it easier to fit in all the services if this one is run by a 110 mph train?

However, the full in-cab digital signalling with a degree of automatic train control could be the solution to this bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line.

  • Trains could be controlled automatically and with great precision between perhaps Hatfield and Stevenage.
  • Some expresses might be slowed to create gaps for the Cambridge and Peterborough services.
  • The Hertford Loop Line is also getting full in-cab digital signalling, so will some services be sent that way?

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked about a proposal to improve services on the Fen Line. This was my first three paragraphs.

The title of this post, is the same as that on an article in Edition 849 of Rail Magazine.

The article is based on this document on the Fen Line Users Aoociation web site, which is entitled Joint Response To Draft East Coast Main Line Route Study.

In addition to ETCS, which could improve capacity on the East Coast Main Line, they would also like to see journey time reductions using trains capable of running at 125 mph or faster on the King’s Lynn to Kings Cross route.

My scheduling experience tells me that a better solution will be found, if all resources are similar.

Hence the proposal to run 125 mph trains between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn and probably Ely as well, could be a very good and logical idea.

If the Class 700 trains were increased in speed to 110 mph, the trains through the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line would be.

  • One tph – 110 mph – Class 387 trains
  • Four tph – 110 mph – Class 700 trains
  • Two tph – 125 mph – New trains

Note.

  1. This would probably be an easier mix of trains to digest with the high speed services, through the double-track section.
  2. I like the idea of extending the Ely service to Norwich to give Thetford, Attleborough and Wymondham an improved service to London, Cambridge and Norwich.

The new trains would probably be a version of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.

  • It would need to be capable of 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line.
  • If the Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, this section would be on battery power.

There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

But as with on the Midland Main Line, it looks like for efficient operation, the operating speed of the Class 700 trains on the route needs to be increased to at least 110 mph.

Could Faster Class 700 trains Improve Services To Brighton?

These are the Thameslink services that serve Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough, that I believe could be run more efficiently with trains capable of at running at speeds of at least 110 mph.

  • Bedford and Brighton – Two tph
  • Bedford and Gatwick Airport – Two tph
  • Cambridge and Brighton – Two tph
  • Cambridge and Maidstone East – Two tph
  • Peterborough and Horsham – Two tph

Note.

  1. I have assumed that the Cambridge and King’s Cross service has been extended to Maidstone East as planned.
  2. Eight tph serve Gatwick Airport.
  3. Four tph serve Brighton.

The Gatwick Express services have a frequency of two tph between London Victoria and Brighton calling at Gatwick Airport is already run by 110 mph Class 387 trains.

It would appear that if the Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough were run by uprated 110 mph Class 700 trains, then this would mean that more 110 mph trains would be running to Gatwick and Brighton and this must surely improve the service to the South Coast.

But it’s not quite as simple as that, as the Cambridge and Maidstone East services will be run by eight-car trains and all the other services by twelve-car trains.

Conclusion

There would appear to be advantages in uprating some or possibly all of the Class 700 trains, so that they can run at 110 mph, as it will increase capacity on the Brighton Main Line, East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line.

 

 

April 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment