The Anonymous Widower

I Don’t Think Bombardier And Transport for London Will Be Disappointed

I’ve just been through this week’s performance of the service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, using the Real Time Trains web site.

  • This week was the first with a full four trains per hour service with four-car trains.
  • There were a couple of cancellations on Monday and Tuesday.
  • On Monday, a station guy, said there were problems earlier, but I found the service, as it should be.
  • On one day this week BBC London said there was a shortage of drivers around 07:30, but two bulletins later, they stated service was normal.

Not bad for the first week of a full service!

Train Testing And Driver Training?

It should also be noted that most nights, there are a few movements out of Willesden TMD. Are these test runs and/or driver training?

Ridership

I haven’t ridden the trains this week in the Peak, but in the Off Peak, the number of passengers does appear to be down on a few weeks ago.

It could of course be the increase in frequency!

Next week, I’ll have a ride in the Peak!

Conclusion

I suspect that Bombardier and Transport for London are not disappointed.

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

When Crossrail Opens To Reading, Will Great Western Railway Have Too Many Class 387 Trains?

Currently, Great Western Railway has a fleet of 45 Class 387 trains

Twelve trains are currently being converted to Heathrow Express duties.

But if Crossrail takes over services between London and Reading, then their main use wuill have disappeared.

As Reading to Oxford is not fully-electrified, they can’t be used on this route, but both Class 802 and Class 769 trains can.

There may be used for trains on routes like.

  • Reading and Didcot Parkway
  • Reading and Newbury

But there won’t be opportunities to use thirty-three trains.

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Abellio East Midlands Railway’s Plans For London And Corby

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These are mentioned for Midland Main Line services to Corby.

Dedicated Corby – St Pancras Express Service Will Be Introduced From December 2020 With 12-car Trains In The Peaks

In 2020, the route between London and Corby will have been improved.

  • It will be fully electrified.
  • There will be double-track between Kettering and Corby.
  • Corby station will have a second platform.
  • 125 mph running will be possible in sections of the route between London and Corby.
  • Twelve-car trains indicate, that the rolling stock would be modern electric multiple units.

Possible trains include.

There must also be the possibility, for a train manufacturer to deliver enough new trains to run the London and Corby service.

To run the current hourly service, three trains are needed, so if each train was three four-car electric multiple units, nine trains would be needed.

As these electric trains will need to mix it with the 125 mph trains on the fast lines between St. Pancras and Kettering, 110 mph trains would probably be preferable.

Class 387 trains were originally mooted for this route, but they all seem to have been snapped up by other operators, who may be reluctant to let them go.

On the other hand, as I wrote in When Crossrail Opens To Reading, Will Great Western Railway Have Too Many Class 387 Trains?, Great Western Railway may have a few trains going spare.

The three other possible trains are both used in Abellio-run franchises.

  • ,Abellio Greater Anglia are replacing their thirty Class 379 trains with new Stadler Class 745/1 trains in 2019.
  • Abellio Greater Anglia are replacing their twenty-one Class 360 trains with new Bombardier Class 720 trains in 2020.
  • West Midlands Trains have a large fleet of Class 350 trains.

Greater Anglia’s plans currently give the order of the new Stadler fleet introduction as.

  • Four-car Class 755/4 trains
  • Twelve-car Class 745/0 trains for London and Norwich services
  • Three-car Class 755/3 trains
  • Twelve-car Class 745/1 trains for London and Stansted services

All trains are to be introduced by the end of 2020.

The Bombardier Class 720 trains are also planned to be introduced by the same date, starting this Autumn.

Could this mean that it is likely that nine Class 379 or Class 360 trains could be available before the end of 2019?

If Class 379 or Class 360 trains are used to Corby, it would allow a very relaxed train introduction.

There could be at least a year, to turn the trains into perfect trains for a high-capacity London and Corby service.

I think using Class 387 and Class 350 trains wouldn’t be so simple.

As the Class 745/1 trains for London and Stansted could be the last to be delivered, which might delay the release of the Class 379 trains, could this explain the rumours for using the Class 360 trains, between London and Corby.

There is also an interesting possibility.

Suppose, Abellio decided to order 125 mph trains from Stadler identical to the Class 745/0 trains between London and Norwich on the route between London and Corby.

  • Stadler probably knows how to upgrade the trains to 125 mph, as there are electric Flirts in Norway with this performance.
  • Greater Anglia have invested heavily in driver simulators and training aids for their Stadler trains.
  • By the end of 2019, they will be running Class 745/0 trains between London and Norwich.

With different colours and a few route-specific details, the London and Norwich Class 745/0 trains, would surely be more than acceptable for London and Corby.

Stadler would surely be able to build the extra trains before the Stansted trains. This would mean that the unwanted Class 379 trains would have to soldier on to Stansted for a few more months.

125 mph Class 745 trains would be a magnificent upgrade to the London and Corby service.

Corby – London Service Doubled To Two Trains Per Hour All Day

This would mean the need would be eighteen four-car trains. or six twelve-car trains.

There are enough Class 379 and Class 360 trains, but obtaining the originally-planned Class 387 trains could be problematic.

Building the three extra new trains would not be a problem.

Kettering, Luton And Luton Airport Parkway Services Provided With 2 Trains Per Hour for Most Of The Day

Note.

  1. Luton station is on the latest list of stations to be made step-free by 2024.
  2. Luton Airport has been agitating for more fast trains to and from London and now gets a half-hourly express.
  3. Luton Airport Parkway station will have the Luton DART connection to the Airport in 2021.
  4. Class 379 trains are designed for airport services.

It appears to be a better service for passengers.

Enhanced Sunday Service Throughout The Route With Regular Direct Sunday Services Between London And Corby

No passenger complaints here.

Refurbished Modern Express Trains From December 2020

Features include.

  • Increased capacity
  • More reliable service
  • Improved comfort
  • Passenger information system
  • Free on-board Wi-Fi
  • At-seat power sockets
  • USB points
  • Air conditioning
  • Tables at all seats
  • Increased luggage space
  • On-board cycle storage

What more could passengers want?

Many of these features are already installed in the Class 379 trains and would be no problem.

  • When I rode the BEMU Trial train between Maningtree and Harwich, the information on the Class 379 train was word perfect.
  • The trains are reliable and comfortable.
  • Wi-fii, power sockets, air-conditioning and increased luggage space are already fitted.
  • The trains have lots of tables, but not at every seat.

These are a selection of pictures of the interior of a Class 379 train.

Updating the interior of the trains would not be a major problem.

Class 360 Trains Would Need A Substantial Refurbish

If Class 360 trains were to be used to Corby, they would need a substantial refurbish, but the general feeling is that this would be possible and there is a year to do it.

iNew-Build Class 745 Trains

With a small fleet of new-build Class 745 trains, the customer would get what they want! – Tables, 2+2 seating, wi-fi sockets etc.

The Greater Anglia London and Norwich specification would be a good starting point.

Will The Class 379 Trains Be Fitted With Batteries?

The BEMU Trial in 2015, showed that this was feasible. Abellio was involved in this trial and must have their own views on the technology.

  • Depots are safer places.
  • Electrification can be simpler.
  • Regenerative braking can be handled on the train without using the overhead wires for return currents.
  • Batteries increase train efficiencies.

This picture shows, the wires are going up at Corby.

So it doesn’t look like battery power will be used to Corby.

But batteries could still be fitted for efficiency and safety reasons or possibly to power the trains to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

What About The Rumour Suggesting Class 360 Trains Will Be Used?

These are some pictures of a Class 360 train.

Consider.

  • The Class 360 trains have a 2+3 interior with few if any tables.
  • If Bombardier deliver the Class 720 trains, later than planned, availability of the Class 360 trains for Corby could be tight.
  • Could they be prated to 110 mph trains, if that was felt necessary?

I feel that there would be a lot more work to prepare the trains for Corby and a higher chance, they would be late!

I think except as a stop-gap, it is unliklely that Class 360 trains will be used between London and Corby.

Will The Trains Be Replaced In A Few Years?

Consider.

  • The London and Corby route is 79.5 miles long and takes 75 minutes with four stops, which is an average speed of 64 mph.
  • At present, services between London and Corby are run using 125 mph Class 222 trains.
  • The Class 222 trains have better acceleration than an InterCity 125 and much better acceleration than a Class 360 train.
  • The London to Corby route is a less-than-125 mph route.
  • Network Rail ia currently improving the electrification between London and Bedford, so that the route between London and Corby will be an electrified 125 mph route.
  • None of the trains being considered for the service between London and Corby is faster than 110 mph.

Does all this mean that Corby services might be slower after electrification?

  • Will the 125 mph upgrade to the track and electrification ensure the electric trains are faster, even if they are 100 mph trains.
  • Well-driven 100-110 mph trains might be as fast.

However, the Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield expresses might be slowed, just as they are by the 100 mph Thameslink trains.

In the article in Issue 877 of Rail Magazine, four manufacturers are suggested for the bi-mode trains that will be used between London and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield from 2022.

  • Bombardier
  • Hitachi
  • Stadler
  • Talgo

Hitachi are the only manufacturer with 125 mph bi-mode trains on the UK Network.

They have a near-identical bi-mode Class 802 train and an all-electric Class 801 train.

  • Both are capable of 125 mph running.
  • Conversion between the two trains involves changing the number of engines.
  • Drivers are probably trained to drive both types of train.

Ideally, on the Midland Main Line, electric trains could run to Corby, with bi-mode trains running to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

So when the 125 mph bi-mode trains are delivered in 2022, would it be sensible to run their 125 mph electric cousins to Corby?

  • South of Market Harborough, all East Midlands Railway trains would be 125 mph electric trains, running on 125 mph tracks.
  • One tph between London and Corby would need three twelve-car trains.
  • Two tph between London and Corby would need six twelve-car trains.

If that is the case, then whatever train is run to Corby from December 2020, is only a stop-gap for a couple of years, where only nine four-car trains would be needed.

Would it be more economic in the long term to place the order for the bi-mode trains, with a manufacturer, who can deliver three all-electric trains by December 2020?

I believe Stadler could do that!

Conclusion

I’m fairly certain, that services between London and Corby could be run by refurbished Class 379 trains.

As there is plenty of time before service introduction, this could be a very relaxed and painless introduction of new trains. Unlike some others recently.

There may even be time to upgrade the top speed of the trains, so they fit in better with East Midlands Railway’s 125 mph expresses.

I wouldn’t be surprised, if East Midlands Railway brought in Class 379 or Class 360 trains as a stop-gap and replaced them with electric versions of the bi-modes in 2022.

But the best solution would be to obtain three twelve-car all-electric versions of the bi-modes by December 2020, to run the initial service.

  • Hitachi has a 125 mph electric Class 801 train and a 125 mph bi-mode Class 802 train.
  • Stadler has a 125 mph electric version of Greater Anglia’s Class 745 train and I suspect a compatible 125 mph bi-mode train.
  • Bombardier are working on a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra and have been quoted as saying Aventras can be stretched to 125 mph.

It will be interesting to see what trains East Midlands Railway chooses.

But I think Stadler Class 745 trains are a distinct possibility.

  • Abellio will have experience of running these trains and training drivers and other staff.
  • 125 mph trains could be almost identical to those on London and Norwich services.
  • Stadler have built 125 mph electric Flirts for Norway.

By juggling production a bit, they could be delivered on time for a December 2020 start of services.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Integration Of High-Speed And Commuter Services Out Of Paddington Station

The following appears to be happening to the Great Western Main Line (GWML)

  • All srvices to Oxford and Bedwyn, which have been run by slow diesels for years, will soon be run by 125 mph Class 800 trains, so they can join the herds of high-speed services on the dash using the fast lines between Reading and Paddington stations.
  • All slower passenger trains between Paddington and Reading, will use the slow lines. Most will be Crossrail services and freight trains.
  • ,Heathrow Express services, which will be four tph and run by upgraded 110 mph Class 387 trains, will use the fast lines between Paddington and Stockley Junction.

Some Class 800 trains achieve the thirty-six miles between Paddinghton and Reading in twenty-five minutes. This is a start-stop average speed of nearly ninety mph.

Frequency Between Reading And Paddington

I wonder what frequency of Class 800 trains can be achieved between Paddington and Reading.,

  • Most will run non-stop.
  • Up to 125 mph running could be possible between Stockley Junction (for Heathrow) and Reading, as all trains will be 125 mph Class 800 trains.
  • Up to 110 mph running xould be possible between Paddington and Stockley Junction, as some trains will be 100 mph Class 387 trains.
  • Digital signalling and possible automatic train control, could run the all trains to a precise timetable.
  • Class 800 trains that stop at Slough, could do this in a very fast time.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least sixteen tph. Currently, the frequency is under ten tph.

If this frequency is achievable or even bettered, then this would be an impressive high-capacity service.

Class 387 Trains

Currently,, Great Western Railway has forty-five Class 387 trains.

Twelve are being modified, so they can run the Heathrow Express services.

But what happens to the other thirty-three trains?

Currently, some run a stopping service between Paddington and Didcot Parkway station, which stops West of Reading at Tilehurst, Pangbourne, Goring & Streatley and Cholsey stations, to give these stations a two tph service to Paddington.

The service between Reading and Paddington may be replaced by Crossrail in the near future offering four tph in the Peak and two tph in the Off Peak.

It strikes me that the following ways could be

Appleford, Culham and Radley.

 

 

Conclusion

It looks like the dropping of electrification to Oxford and Bedwyn, which resulted in Great Western Railway ordering more Class 802 trains to replace the slower Class 387 trains has resulted in a simpler and faster operating philosophy for the trains between Reading and Paddington.

  • All GWR services will be Class 800/801/802 trains, using the fast lines.
  • All Crossrail services will be Class 345 trains, using the slow lines.
  • All freight services will use the slow lines.
  • Heathrow Express services will use the fast lines, which they will leave ande join at Stockley Junction.
  • All fast line services will be non-stop.
  • All passenger trains will be using the electrification on the route.

It appears to be an efficient system, that keeps high-speed and stopping commuter services separate, whilst allowing 125 mph commuter services to be handled as high-speed services.

If I’m right, that there may be extra capacity for more high-speed services into Paddington, it will allow GWR to run extra services.

I like what’s happening.

March 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Could Class 387 Trains Help Out On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line?

This tweet was on the Goblin Users Twitter Account this morning.

We are trying to persuade @TfL to approach @c2c_Rail to hire in some Class 387s for weekend services, even just on Saturdays would help. @c2c_Rail have 6xClass 387s and they are not used at weekends.

It’s an interesting thought.

  • They are very good trains.
  • Class 387 trains are four-car Electrostars and many are dual-voltage, if that is needed.
  • The Gospel Oak to Barking Line needs three more trains for a full service, after the departure of the Class 172 trains.
  • In addition to c2c, they are used by Great Northern and Great Western.

But at 110 mph, are they over-powered for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line?

But what would happen if TfL Rail were to take over services between Paddington and Reading?

  • Would this release some of Great Western’s Class 387 trains?
  • Great Western are updating twelve trains for Heathrow Express.

I do think that there could be three trains with no place to go because of the late-running electrification of the Great Western Main Line.

January 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments

Porterbrook Awards £11m Contract To Modify New Digital Heathrow Express Fleet

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Porterbrook has unveiled a £11m contract with Bombardier to modify 12 Class 387 trains in preparation for their use on the Heathrow Express rail link.

The 12 specially converted ‘Electrostar’ trains currently operate on London commuter services for GWR but will now form a dedicated Heathrow Express fleet of electric multiple-units.

As other Class 387 trains are used on Gatwick Express, I’m sure that the trains will end up as some of the best airport expresses in the world.

But I feel that this is the most significant paragraph in the article.

The deal will also see the company fit digital signalling equipment, called ETCS, to the Class 387s – the first-time digital signalling will have been fitted on an existing fleet of electric passenger trains and will result in ‘type approval’ from the ORR which will enable ETCS to be fitted on all Electrostar fleets.

Fitting ETCS to the Heathrow Express trains will have several benefits.

More Trains Between Paddington And Reading

With the refurbishment of the Class 387 trains for the Heathrow Express, there will only be three types of trains between Paddington and Reading stations.

  • Class 387 trains
  • Class 800/801/802 trains
  • Class 345 trains

Within a few years, all of these trains will be able to use ETCS and the benefits will be more trains between Paddington and Reading stations.

The trains would probably be a few minutes faster too!

All Electrostars Will Be Able To Be Updated With Digital Signalling

If the digital signalling works for the Class 387 trains, it would appear that it could be fitted to all the other Electrostars.

This could be very significant, as several busy lines have a high proportion of Electrostars.

These are my thoughts on some lines.

Brighton Main Line

The trains working the Brighton Main Line include.

  • Gatwick Express’s Class 387 trains.
  • Thameslink’s Class 700 trains, which are already using ETCS.
  • Southern’s Electrostars.

Could we see digital signalling increase the capacity of this line.

East London Line

The East London Line is an all-Electrostar line and in the next few years, with the coming of Crossrail, it will probably need more services.

I suspect it will be using digital signalling and ETCS in a few years time.

North And West London Lines

If the East London Line were to be successfully signalled to bring capacity benefits, I could see the North London and West London Lines following suit.

The Class 710 trains, that will be boosting passenger capacity are Aventras and will be compatible with digital signalling. The freight locomotives are also being upgraded to digital signalling.

c2c

In a few years time, c2c will be using only Electrostars and Aventras! So why not use digital signalling?

As more new trains arrive with digital signalling, more lines will be converted to digital signalling and ETCS.

Conclusion

The updating of twelve Class 387 trains for Heathrow Express is a big step in the creation of a digital railway.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Will Crossrail Open To Reading in 2019?

The latest rather dodgy date for the opening of Crossrail’s Core Tunnel is Autumn 2019.

In the January 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Crossrail Can’t Commit To Autumn Opening.

This a paragraph from the article.

TfL also says that it is exploring with DfT the possibility of beginning to operate Reading to Paddington services ahead of the completion of the Elizabeth Line to help provide a boost in revenue.

This is a very interesting possibility.

How Much Work Is Still To Be Done To The West of Hayes & Harlington?

This is the key factor as to whether Western Branch of Crossrail can be opened.

  • The biggest problem is that Class 345 trains can’t run to Heathrow as there are signalling issues to eradicate.
  • There are also several stations, that need to be completed.

There is no work-round to the first problem, but trains seem to be able to call at the unfinished stations.

It would appear, that for TfL’s proposal to be taken fully forward, the signalling issues to and from Heathrow, must be dealt with.

The stations can be finished later.

The Current Proposed Crossrail Service To Reading And Maidenhead

These are the proposed services shown on Wikipedia, so they could have been updated.

Reading To Paddington – Limited Stop

This service will be run at two trains per hour (tph) in the Peak with no trains in the Off-Peak.

Stops are Twyford, Maidenhead, Slough, West Drayton and Ealing Broadway.

Reading To Paddington – All Stations

This service will be run at two tph all day.

The service will call at all stations except Hanwell and Acton Main Line.

Maidenhead To Paddington

This service will be run at two tph all day.

The service will call at all stations except Hanwell and Acton Main Line.

A Summary Of Peak/Off Peak Calls

Adding these service up, gives the following numbers for Peak and Off Peak calls in trains per hour (tph)

  • Reading – 4,2
  • Twyford – 4,2
  • Maidenhead – 6,4
  • Taplow – 4.4
  • Burnham 4,4
  • Slough – 6,4
  • Langley – 4,4
  • Iver – 4,4
  • West Drayton – 6,4
  • Hayes & Harlington – 4.4
  • Southall – 4,4
  • Hanwell – None to Reading/Maidenhead
  • West Ealing – 4.4
  • Ealing Broadway – 6,4
  • Acton Main Line – None to Reading/Maidenhead
  • Paddington – 6,4

Note.

  1. 4,2 means 4 tph in the Peak and 2 tph in the Off Peak.
  2. It would appear that all stations except Reading and Twyford have at least four tph all day.
  3. Stations between Hayes & Harlington and Ealing Broadway will get another six tph all day going to Heathrow.
  4. Acton Main Line station will get another four tph all day going to Heathrow.

This gives the following frequencies.

  • Reading – 4,2
  • Twyford – 4,2
  • Maidenhead – 6,4
  • Taplow – 4.4
  • Burnham 4,4
  • Slough – 6,4
  • Langley – 4,4
  • Iver – 4,4
  • West Drayton – 6,4
  • Hayes & Harlington – 10,10
  • Southall – 10,10
  • Hanwell – 6,6
  • West Ealing – 10,10
  • Ealing Broadway – 12,10
  • Acton Main Line – 4,4
  • Paddington – 12,10

I can draw these conclusions from the figures.

  • Every station has a good service from Crossrail.
  • But could Reading and Twyford have another two tph in the Off-Peak to make the services four tph all day?
  • Paddington station would need perhaps two or three platforms dedicated to Crossrail to handle twelve tph.
  • The maximum frequency of 12 tph should be easily handled with conventional signalling and could be increased with modern digital signalling.

It looks like running the Western services of Crossrail from Paddington could be a possibility.

Consider.

  • The Reading and Maidenhead services will be run on routes with mainly conventional signalling.
  • The Class 345 trains, which each can hold 1,500 passengers would give a massive capacity boost to the outer Crossrail stations.
  • Heathrow services can be run with Class 345 trains, when the signalling problems are solved.
  • Higher frequencies to and from Paddington may enable trains to provide a better interchange with branch line services, at West Ealing, Slough, Maidenhead and Twyford.

But I think that separating these services initially from Crossrail will have substantial operational and development  benefits.

  • Paddington to Reading is essentially a self-contained railway, with a major branch to Heathrow and four small branch lines worked by diesel shuttle trains.
  • The route, with the exception of the Heathrow branch, has conventional signalling.
  • The signalling problems of the Heathrow branch can be solved independently.
  • The Western branches of Crossrail could be fully debugged before trains start running through the Core Tunnel.

I also wonder, if the route could be useful for mileage accumulation, driver training  and certification of newly-delivered trains.

Is It Just About The Money?

The original Modern Railways extract said that the proposal was to help provide TfL with extra revenue.

It must bring in revenue and especially when the Heathrow Branch is working reliably to plan.

Faster Journeys

Modern Class 345 trains have the following advantages over the current British Rail-era Class 156 trains.

  • They are slightly faster.
  • They have better acceleration.
  • They are modern trains designed for short dwell times at stations.

It would be very likely, that journey times between Paddington and Reading, will improve..

Passenger Behaviour

But passengers may change their behaviour .

  • Will passengers use Crossrail as a lower-cost alternative to Heathrow Express?
  • Will passengers use Crossrail as a faster alternative to the Piccadilly Line?
  • Will passengers,  going between Heathrow and the West and Wales, use Crossrail to and from Reading, with a change at Hayes & Harlingon?
  • Will passengers on branch lines find the extra capacity helpful, when travelling to London or Reading?

In addition, as I said earlier, I think opening Paddington to Reading early,, could make finishing the Crossrail project easier.

If nothing else, it shortens the to-do list!

GWR Might Object

Will GWR object to losing their local services between Reading and London to Crossrail?

Consider the following issues.

Heathrow Express

GWR have taken over the lucrative Heathrow Express.

  • Heathrow Express will be run using 110 mph Class 387 trains in an Airport Express configuration.
  • Will these trains be less of a block on the line, than the 100 mph Class 332 trains currently running the service?
  • Currently both Class 332 and Class 800 trains take nine 9½ minutes to go between Paddington and Heathrow Airport Junction.

Perhaps GWR could squeeze in extra trains, by replacing the Class 332 trains with faster Class 387 trains?

The more trains they could squeeze into Paddington, the larger their revenue.

Reading, Bedwyn and Oxford Services

I am not sure, but it does appear that GWR services to places like Bedwyn and Oxford will in future be run using the new five-car Class 802 trains.

  • The trains will surely use electric traction on the fast lines to Paddington.
  • Will passengers going between Bedwyn/Oxford and stations between Reading and Paddington, be happy to change at Reading?

As it appears that Bedwyn/Oxford services might not need to use the slow lines, these will be used  exclusively by  Crossrail and the occasional freight.

Could Bedwyn And Oxford Services Be Combined?

There is also the possibility that to save paths on the fast lines between Reading and Paddington, that hourly Bedwyn and Oxford services could be combined and split at Reading.

  • GWR already splits and joins Class 387 trains at Reading.
  • Class 800/802 trains are designed to be split and joined quickly.
  • Timings to the two destinations are about the same, being around 75 minutes.

Two five-car Class 802 trains with one running to Bedwyn and one to Oxford might be a good idea. Especially, as it saves one high-speed path between Paddington and Reading  and possibly a few trains.

It does look, that Oxford and Bedwyn services could be moved out of the way of Crossrail services.

Will There Be Enough Class 800/802 Trains?

In Huge Increase In Capacity On GWR As Final Class 800 Enters Traffic, I wrote that there are now only fifteen trains of a total fleet of 93 trains to be delivered.

I suspect that GWR can find enough trains to run Bedwyn/Oxford services to London.

Too Many Class 387 Trains!

But it does strike me that GWR will have too many Class 387 trains, if Crossrail takes over local services to Reading and Class 802 trains take over services to Bedwyn and Oxford.

Twelve Class 387 trains are being converted to take over Heathrow Express services, but that still leaves GWR with 33 trains to find a use for.

It seems like Greater Anglia’s twenty Class 379 trains, they could become homeless orphans.

Will The Class 769 Trains Get In The Way?

Original plans talked about using 100 mph Class 769 trains to back up the Class 387 trains, whilst twelve of these were updated to Heathrow Express standard.

But it appears now from Wikipedia and other sources on the Internet, that these trains will concentrate on the following services.

  • Reading To Gatwick Airport
  • Reading to Oxford

I can’t find any reference of them continuing to serve Paddington, so it looks like they should keep out of the way.

Serving The Henley And Marlow Branches

Henley-on-THames station on the Henley Branch Line and Bourne End station on the Marlow Branch Line are having their Peak services to London gradually withdrawn.

If Crossrail took over services between Reading and Paddington, the frequencies in the Peak at the interchange stations would be.

  • Maindenhead for the Marlow Branch Line – 6 tph,
  • Twyford for the Henley Branch Line – 4 tph

Two tph at each interchange station run limited stop to and from Paddington.

The trains will each hold 1,500 passengers.

Could it be that GWR feel that the increased frequencies and reduced journey times to and from Paddington mean that there is a lesser need to run a direct diesel service.

But I could see the following.

  • A four-car shuttle train, which could be a Class 769 bi-mode, at two tph on the Henley Branch Line.
  • Two tph on the Marlow Branch Line.

At least GWR have the trains to provide a service to match customer demand.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a radical plan for these branches.

No Diesel Running Into Paddington

Every train run by GWR and Crossrail, between Paddington and Reading, would use electric traction.

  • Now that large numbers of Class 800/802 trains have been delivered, it can’t be long before the last InterCity 125 runs into Paddington on a regular service.
  • Class 165 and Class 166 diesel trains will be refurbished and sent to the West Country.
  • Bedwyn and Oxford services will be run by Class 800/802 trains.

In addition all GWR trains running into Paddington will be 125 mph units running on electricity.

What is that worth as a marketing hook?

Conclusion

It looks to me, that running a full Western Branch service for Crossrail could be a good move.

So will it happen in 2019?

I think it all depends on solving the signalling issues on the Heathrow Branch!

But I feel, it should be possible, otherwise TfL wouldn’t have suggested it!

December 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

To Ely In A Class 387 Train

I’ve not used one of the Class 387 trains on this route before.

It was nice to get a table to be able to lay my paper flat.

I was going via Ely to Ipswich for two reasons.

  • Yet again, there was no direct service between Liverpool Street and Ipswich.
  • Ely makes a change from Cambridge and I wanted to photograph the level crossing.

These are some of the pictures I took.

Note.

  • With a bit of smartening up, the Class 387 train makes the newer Class 700 train, look very ordinary.
  • The Ely by-pass is coming on.
  • The level crossing by the station is one of the UK’s worst.

Ely is becoming a much more important interchange, with five train operating companies using the station.

 

 

April 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

GWR Announces Plans To Replace Class 332s As It Takes Over Heathrow Express Service

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Global Rail News.

In some ways, I was surprised that Heathrow Airport are handing over the running of Heathrow Express to Great Western Railway (GWR).

But.

  • It seems, that the main problem, in that HS2 want their depot for construction of their new line.
  • GWR will use twelve Class 387 trains to run the service as opposed to the the current fourteen Class 332 trains.
  • The new trains will be updated with First Class, high speed wi-fi and more luggage space.
  • The deal seems to run to 2028.

I do think, that the main reason could be, that this gives FirstGroup or MTR Corporation a say in all the railways, serving or going near Heathrow Airport.

  • GWR is owned by FirstGroup.
  • Crossrail is operated by MTR on begalf of Transport for London.
  • South Western Railway is a joint venture between FirstGroup and MTR.

The operation of Heathrow Express by GWR completes the set.

My post; MTR Vying To Join Heathrow Southern Rail Bid, could link MTR to the proposed Heathrow Southern Railway, who are hoping to create a link into Heathrow Airport from the South.

One of the plans of Heathrow Southern Railway is to create a new Basingstoke/Guildford – Woking – Heathrow – Paddington service.

  • This would have a frequency of two trains per hour (tph) between Paddington and  both Basingstoke and Guildford.
  • This would mean there would be a four tph Frequency between Paddington and Woking via Heathrow Terminal 5, Heathrow Terminal 2/3 and Old Oak Common.
  • Creating the new service by extending Heathrow Express, means that the new service can take-over the paths used  by  Heathrow Express, to and from Paddington.
  • It is also worth noting that the Class 387 trains, that GWR are proposing to use on Heathrow Express are dual-voltage and can run on tracks with third-rail electrification.

Heathrow Express will become a double-ended service,  in much the same way that Gatwick Express takes passengers from both London and Brighton to the airport.

GWR taking over Heathrow Express must make the operation of trains to and from Heathrow Airport easier.

Why Change The Trains?

I think there are various reasons.

Operation And Maintenance

Obviously, if GWR uses only Class 387 trains on their shorter electrified routes from Paddington, this gives advantages in terms of operation, maintenance and staff utilisation and training.

I suspect too, that GWR have the depot space and sidings, to accommodate all the Class 387 trains they need.

Increasing Fleet Size

There are two published plans y to increase rail services to Heathrow.

  • Heathrow Southern Railway would like to extend Heathrow Express to Woking and ultimately to Basingstoke and Guildford.
  • Western access to Heathrow could also be a route for Heathrow Express to perhaps Reading and Oxford.

In the future there could be other services.

  • Developments could mean that a Heathrow-Gatwick service could be possible and worthwhile.
  • There is speculation in the media, about a direct service between Heathrow and Southampton.

Any expansion of services would probably need more trains.

If they need more Class 387 trains in the future, there are two operators, who have small fleets of Class 387 trains.

Some of these might become available, as the operators consolidate and update their fleets.

Acquiring more Class 332 trains could be problematical.

The Class 387 trains route, means that Heathrow Express will remain a  fleet of identical trains.

Operation On Routes With Third Rail Electrification

Any expansion of Heathrow Express to the Western side of Terminal 5 could connect to the extensive network of third-rail electrification.

For this reason, a Heathrow Express fleet without the capability to use third-rail electrification, would be limited in its market.

The Class 387 trains have been designed as dual voltage units and could work on third-rail networks by adding third-rail shoes.

Can Class 332 trains work on third-rail routes?

Operating Speed

The Class 387 trains are also 110 mph trains, whereas the operating speed of the Class 332 trains is 100 mph.

The faster operating speed must help operation on the busy fast lines to and from Paddington, where the Class 800 trains are 125 mph capable.

Train Length Issues

Consider.

  • The current Class 332 trains, run as nine-car trains, consisting of one four-car and one five-car trainset.
  • Class 387 trains are basically a four-car trainset, which can run as four, eight or twelve-car trains.
  • To complicate matters, Crossrail, which will use the same platforms at Heathrow are planning to nine-car Class 345 trains, but these could be lengthened to ten or even eleven cars.

These probably cause no problems with the current service, as running eight-car Class 387 trains would probably provide enough capacity.

Would a twelve-car Class 387 train need some platforms to be lengthened?

A four-car Class 387 unit is 80.77 metres long, so a twelve-car train would be 243 metres long.

This compares with the following.

  • Heathrow Express Class 332 – Nine cars – 206 metres.
  • Crossrail Class 345 – Nine cars – 205 metres
  • High Speed Train running with eight carriages – 220 metres
  • Inter-City 225 running with nine carriages – 246 metres
  • Two five-car Class 444 trains running togeyther – 230 metres
  • Two five-car Class 800 trains running together – 260 metres

A twelve-car Class 387 train is long, but not wildly out of line.

As the pairs of Class 800 trains work into Paddington,, I suspect twelve-car Class 387 trains can do the same.

If there is a problem, it will be in the Hathrow stations.

Alternatively, could some extra cars be built by Bombardier to create five-car trains, that would work as ten-car units, which would be around two hundred metres long?

Joining And Splitting Of Trains

Could Heathrow Express benefit from trains with the ability to split and join?

When there are more than one route to the West from Terminal 5, there may be advantages for trains to split and join in Terminal 5 station, to serve more than one destination to the West of the airport.

This picture was taken, as I watched two Class 387 trains joining together.

Note the driver in the cab on the right, controlling the process.

There is also a gangway between the two Class 387 trains, which the Class 332 trains don’t have.

Updating The Trains

The production of Class 387 trains has only just finished at Derby, but the Class 332 trains were built twenty years ago.

So could it be, that creating a modern fleet with all the features needed is easier with the later trains?

Suitability For Use With Heathrow Southern Railway Proposal

There are various issues here.

These concern fleet size and capacity

  • Any extensions to the South and West will need more trains.
  • If express services between Basingstoke, Guildford and Woking, and Paddington via Heathrow are successful, this could lead to calls for more services and other destinations, which could need more trains.
  • If five-car units were needed, then Bombardier could probably oblige.
  • There may be a need to lengthen platforms at the Heathrow stations.

Expanding a Class 387 train fleet would be easier.

There are also line speed issues.

  • What would be the design operating speed of Heathrow Southern Railway’s tracks alongside the M25? – 90, 100 or even 125 mph!
  • Could the operating speed of the Chertsey Branch Line be increased to the same speed, as there are only two stations; Chertsey and Addlestone?

The 110 mph maximum speed of a Class 387 could be a serious advantage, as speed sells!

How Many Trains Would Need To Be Converted?

Currently, there are fourteen Class 332 trains working Heathrow Express services.

They usually work in pairs, so there are seven trains.

If these are replaced by twelve-car Class 387 formations, that means up to twenty-one trains will be needed for the airport services from their current fleet of forty-five trains.

Eight-car formations would need fourteen trains.

Conclusion

It appears to me, that it is good decision to change the fleet for Class 387 trains.

Overall Conclusion

It’s all coming together for Heathrow Southern Railway.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Regenerative Braking On A Dual-Voltage Train

Yesterday, I found this document on the Railway People website, which is entitled Regenerative Braking On The Third Rail DC Network.

Although, the document dates from 2008, it is very informative.

Regenerative Braking On 25 KVAC Trains

The document says this.

For AC stock, incoming power from the National Grid at high voltage is stepped down by a transformer. The AC power is transmitted via OHL to the trains. When the train uses regenerative braking, the motor is used as a generator, so braking the axle and producing electrical energy. The generated power is then smoothed and conditioned by the train control system, stepped up by a transformer and returned to the outside world. Just about 100% of regenerated power is put back into the UK power system.

But I have read somewhere, that you need a 25 KVAC overhead electrification system with more expensive transformers to handle the returned electricity.

Regenerative Braking On 750 VDC Trains

The document says this.

After being imported from the National Grid, the power is stepped down and then AC power is rectified to DC before being transmitted via the 3rd rail. Regenerated Power can not be inverted, so a local load is required. The power has to be used within the railway network. It cannot be exported.

So the electricity, is usually turned into heat, i there is no train nearby.

The Solution That Was Applied

The document then explains what happened.

So, until such time as ATOC started to lobby for a change, regenerative DC braking was going nowhere. But when they did start, they soon got the backing of the DfT and Network Rail. It takes a real combined effort of all organisations to challenge the limiting assumptions.

In parallel, there were rolling stock developments. The point at which all the issues started to drop away was when the Infrastructure Engineers and Bombardier, helped out by some translating consultants (Booz & Company), started to understand that new trains are really quite clever beasts. These trains do understand what voltage the 3rd rail is at, and are able, without the need to use any complicated switch gear – just using software, to decide when to regenerate into the 3rd rail or alternatively, use the rheostatic resistors that are on the train.

Effectively, the trains can sense from the voltage if the extensive third-rail network can accept any more electricity and the train behaves accordingly.

As most of the electric units with regenerative braking at the time were Bombardier Electrostars, it probably wasn’t the most difficult of tasks to update most of the trains.

Some of the Class 455 trains have recently been updated. So these are now probably compatible with the power network. Do the new traction motors and associated systems use regenerative braking?

This document on the Vossloh-Kiepe web site is entitled Vossloh Kiepe enters Production Phase for SWTs Class 455 EMU Re-Tractioning at Eastleigh Depot and describes the updating of the trains. This is said.

The new IGBT Traction System provides a regenerative braking facility that uses the traction motors as generators when the train is braking. The electrical energy generated is fed back into the 750 V third rail DC supply and offsets the electrical demands of other trains on the same network. Tests have shown that the energy consumption can be reduced by between 10 per cent and 30 per cent, depending on conditions. With the increasing cost of energy, regenerative braking will have a massive positive cost impact on the long-term viability of these trains. If the supply is non-receptive to the regenerated power, the generated power is dissipated by the rheostatic brake.

So thirty-five year old British Rail trains now have a modern energy-saving traction system.

Has The Solution Worked On The Third-Rail Network?

The Railway People document goes on to outline how they solved various issues and judging by how little there is about regenerative braking on the third-rail network, I think we can assume it works well.

One Train, Two Systems

If you have a train that has to work on both the 25 KVAC and 750 VDC networks, as Thameslink and Southeastern Highspeed trains do, the trains must be able to handle regenerative braking on both networks.

So is there a better way, than having a separate system for each voltage?

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I investigated how Hitachi’s new Class 800 trains handle regenerative braking.

A document on Hitachi’s web site provides this schematic of the traction system.

Note BC which is described as battery charger.

The regenerative braking energy from the traction motors could be distributed as follows.

  • To provide power for the train’s  services through the auxiliary power supply.
  • To charge a battery.
  • It could be returned to the overhead wires.

Hitachi’s system illustrates how using a battery to handle regenerative braking could be a very efficient way of running a train.

Hitachi’s diagram also includes a generator unit or diesel power-pack, so it could obviously fit a 750 VDC supply in addition to the 25 KVAC system on the Class 800 train.

So we have now have one train, with three power sources all handled by one system.

What Has Happened Since?

As the Hitachi document dates from 2014, I suspect Hitachi have moved on.

Siemens have produced the Class 700 train for Thameslink, which is described in this Siemens data sheet.

Regenerative braking is only mentioned in this sentence.

These new trains raise energy efficiency to new levels. But energy efficiency does not stop at regenerative braking.

This is just a bland marketing statement.

Bombardier are building the first batches of their new Aventra train, with some Class 345 trains in service and Class 710 trains about to enter testing.

Nothing has been said about how the trains handle regenerative braking.

But given that Bombardier have been experimenting with battery power for some time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see batteries involved.

They call their battery technology Primove and it has its own web site.

There is also this data sheet on the Bombardier web site.

Class 387 Trains

There is another train built by Bombardier, that is worth investigating.

The Class 387 train was the last and probably most advanced Electrostar.

  • The trains have been built as dual-voltage trains.
  • The trains have regenerative braking that works on both electrification types.
  • They were built at around the time Bombardier were creating the Class 379 BEMU demonstrator.
  • The trains use a sophisticated propulsion converter system called MITRAC, which is also used in their battery trams.

On my visit to Abbey Wood station, that I wrote about in Abbey Wood Station Opens, I got talking to a Gatwick Express driver about trains, planes and stations, as one does.

From what he said, I got the impression that the Class 387/2 trains, as used on Gatwick Express, have batteries and use them to keep the train and passengers comfortable, in case of an electrification failure.

So do these trains use a battery to handle the regenerative braking?

How Big Would Batteries Need To Be On A Train For Regenerative Braking?

I asked this question in a post with the same name in November 2016 and came to this conclusion.

I have a feeling that using batteries to handle regenerative braking on a train could be a very affordable proposition.

As time goes on, with the development of energy storage technology, the concept can only get more affordable.

Bombardier make a Primove battery with a capacity of 50 kWh, which is 180 mega-Joules.

So the braking energy of what mass of train could be stored in one of these batteries?

I got these figures.

  • 100 mph – 180.14 tonnes.
  • 110 mph – 148.88 tonnes.

What is the mass of a Class 387 train?

This is not available on the Internet but the mass of each car of a similar Class 378 train averages out at 32 tonnes.

Consider these points.

  • A Class 387/2 train, has 219 seats, so if we assume each passenger and baggage weighs eighty kilograms, that adds up to 17.5 tonnes.
  • As the Class 387 trains have a maximum speed of 100  mph on third-rail electrification, it would appear that a Primove 50 kWh battery could handle the braking energy.
  • A Primove 50 battery with its controller weighs 827 Kg. according to the data sheet.

It all looks like using one of Bombardier’s Primove 50 batteries on a Class 387 train to handle the regenerative braking should be possible.

But would Bombardier’s MITRAC be able to use that battery power to drive the train in the most efficient manner? I suspect so!

If the traction layout is as I have outlined, it is not very different to the one published by Hitachi in 2014 on their web site for the Class 800 train.

Conclusion

Hitachi have got their traction layout right, as it can handle any number of power sources.

 

 

October 26, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments