The Anonymous Widower

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 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 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

Will Hitachi Announce A High Speed Metro Train?

As the UK high speed rail network increases, we are seeing more services and proposed services, where local services are sharing tracks, where trains will be running at 125 mph or even more.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Kings Lynn

This Great Northern service is run by Class 387 trains.

  • Services run between London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn or Cambridge
  • The Class 387 trains have a maximum operating speed of 110 mph.
  • The route is fully electrified.
  • The trains generally use the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line, South of Hitchin.
  • Most trains on the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line are travelling at 125 mph.

When in the future full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented on the East Coast Main Line, speeds of up to 140 mph should be possible in some sections between London Kings Cross and Hitchin.

The Digswell Viaduct Problem

I also believe that digital signalling may be able to provide a solution to the twin-track bottleneck over the Digswell Viaduct.

Consider.

  • Airliners have been flown automatically and safely from airport to airport for perhaps four decades.
  • The Victoria Line in London, has been running automatically and safely at over twenty trains per hour (tph) for five decades. It is now running at over 30 tph.
  • I worked with engineers developing a high-frequency sequence control system for a complicated chemical plant in 1970.

We also can’t deny that computers are getting better and more capable.

For these reasons, I believe there could be an ERTMS-based solution to the problem of the Digswell Viaduct, which could be something like this.

  • All trains running on the two track section over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station would be under computer control between Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations.
  • Fast trains would be slowed as appropriate to create spaces to allow the slow trains to pass through the section.
  • The train drivers would be monitoring the computer control, just as they do on the Victoria Line.

Much more complicated automated systems have been created in various applications.

The nearest rail application in the UK, is probably the application of digital signalling to London Underground’s Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines.

This is known at the Four Lines Modernisation and it will be completed by 2023 and increase capacity by up to twenty-seven percent.

I don’t think it unreasonable to see the following maximum numbers of services running over the Digswell Viaduct by 2030 in both directions in every hour.

  • Sixteen fast trains
  • Four slow trains

That is one train every three minutes.

Currently, it appears to be about ten fast and two slow.

As someone, who doesn’t like to be on a platform, when a fast train goes through, I believe that some form of advanced safety measures should be installed at Welwyn North station.

It would appear that trains between London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn need to have this specification.

  • Ability to run at 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line
  • Ability to run at 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under control of full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

This speed increase could reduce the journey time between London Kings Cross and Cambridge to just over half-an-hour with London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn under ninety minutes.

The only new infrastructure needed would be improvements to the Fen Line to King’s Lynn to allow two tph, which I think is needed.

Speed improvements between Hitchin and Cambridge could also benefit timings.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Norwich

I believe there is a need for a high speed service between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge.

  • The Class 755 trains, that are capable of 100 mph take 82 minutes, between Cambridge and Norwich.
  • The electrification gap between Ely and Norwich is 54 miles.
  • Norwich station and South of Ely is fully electrified.
  • Greater Anglia’s Norwich and Cambridge service has been very successful.

With the growth of Cambridge and its incessant need for more space, housing and workers, a high speed train  between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge could tick a lot of boxes.

  • If hourly, it would double the frequency between Cambridge and Norwich until East-West Rail is completed.
  • All stations between Ely and Norwich get a direct London service.
  • Cambridge would have better links for commuting to the city.
  • Norwich would provide the quality premises, that Cambridge is finding hard to develop.
  • London Kings Cross and Cambridge would be just over half an hour apart.
  • If the current London Kings Cross and Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, no extra paths on the East Coast Main Line would be needed.
  • Trains could even split and join at Cambridge or Ely to give all stations a two tph service to London Kings Cross.
  • No new infrastructure would be required.

The Cambridge Cruiser would become the Cambridge High Speed Cruiser.

London Paddington And Bedwyn

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Bedwyn.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Reading.
  • The 13.3 miles between Newbury and Bedwyn is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

London Paddington And Oxford

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Oxford.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Didcot Parkway.
  • The 10.3 miles between Didcot Parkway and Oxford is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Didcot Parkway and Oxford, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

Local And Regional Trains On Existing 125 mph Lines

In The UK, in addition to High Speed One and High Speed Two, we have the following lines, where speeds of 125 mph are possible.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line

Note.

  1. Long stretches of these routes allow speeds of up to 125 mph.
  2. Full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line to allow running up to 140 mph.
  3. Some of these routes have four tracks, with pairs of slow and fast lines, but there are sections with only two tracks.

It is likely, that by the end of the decade large sections of these four 125 mph lines will have been upgraded, to allow faster running.

If you have Hitachi and other trains thundering along at 140 mph, you don’t want dawdlers, at 100 mph or less, on the same tracks.

These are a few examples of slow trains, that use two-track sections of 125 nph lines.

  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Leicester and Lincoln – Uses Midland Main Line
  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Liverpool and Norwich – Uses Midland Main Line
  • East Midlands Railway – 2 tph – St. Pancras and Corby – Uses Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Portsmouth Harbour – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Taunton – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Cumbria – Uses West Coast Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Newcastle and Morpeth – Uses East Coast Main Line
  • West Midlands Trains – Some services use West Coast Main Line.

Conflicts can probably be avoided by judicious train planning in some cases, but in some cases trains capable of 125 mph will be needed.

Southeastern Highspeed Services

Class 395 trains have been running Southeastern Highspeed local services since 2009.

  • Services run between London St. Pancras and Kent.
  • Services use Speed One at speeds of up to 140 mph.
  • These services are planned to be extended to Hastings and possibly Eastbourne.

The extension would need the ability to run on the Marshlink Line, which is an electrification gap of 25.4 miles, between Ashford and Ore.

Thameslink

Thameslink is a tricky problem.

These services run on the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct.

  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Kings Cross – Slow train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • 2 tph – Peterborough and Horsham – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.

Note.

  1. These services are run by Class 700 trains, that are only capable of 100 mph.
  2. The fast services take the fast lines South of the Digswell Viaduct.
  3. South of Finsbury Park, both fast services cross over to access the Canal Tunnel for St, Pancras station.
  4. I am fairly certain, that I have been on InterCity 125 trains running in excess of 100 mph in places between Finsbury Park and Stevenage.

It would appear that the slow Thameslink trains are slowing express services South of Stevenage.

As I indicated earlier, I think it is likely that the Kings Cross and King’s Lynn services will use 125 mph trains for various reasons, like London and Cambridge in under half an hour.

But if 125 mph trains are better for King’s Lynn services, then they would surely improve Thameslink and increase capacity between London and Stevenage.

Looking at average speeds and timings on the 25 miles between Stevenage and Finsbury Park gives the following.

  • 100 mph – 15 minutes
  • 110 mph – 14 minutes
  • 125 mph – 12 minutes
  • 140 mph – 11 minutes

The figures don’t appear to indicate large savings, but when you take into account that the four tph running the Thameslink services to Peterborough and Cambridge stop at Finsbury Park and Stevenage and have to get up to speed, I feel that the 100 mph Class 700 trains are a hindrance to more and faster trains on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

It should be noted, that faster trains on these Thameslink services would probably have better acceleration and and would be able to execute faster stops at stations.

There is a similar less serious problem on the Midland Main Line branch of Thameslink, in that some Thameslink services use the fast lines.

A couple of years ago, I had a very interesting chat with a group of East Midlands Railway drivers. They felt that the 100 mph Thameslink and the 125 mph Class 222 trains were not a good mix.

The Midland Main Line services are also becoming more complicated, with the new EMR Electric services between St. Pancras and Corby, which will be run by 110 mph Class 360 trains.

Hitachi’s Three Trains With Batteries

Hitachi have so far announced three battery-electric trains. Two are based on battery packs being developed and built by Hyperdrive Innovation.

Hyperdrive Innovation

Looking at the Hyperdrive Innovation web site, I like what I see.

Hyperdrive Innovation provided the battery packs for JCB’s first electric excavator.

Note that JCB give a five-year warranty on the Hyperdrive batteries.

Hyperdrive have also been involved in the design of battery packs for aircraft push-back tractors.

The battery capacity for one of these is given as 172 kWh and it is able to supply 34 kW.

I was very surprised that Hitachi didn’t go back to Japan for their batteries, but after reading Hyperdrive’s web site about the JCB and Textron applications, there would appear to be good reasons to use Hyperdrive.

  • Hyperdrive have experience of large lithium ion batteries.
  • Hyperdrive have a design, develop and manufacture model.
  • They seem to able to develop solutions quickly and successfully.
  • Battery packs for the UK and Europe are made in Sunderland.
  • Hyperdrive are co-operating with Nissan, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Newcastle University.
  • They appear from the web site to be experts in the field of battery management, which is important in prolonging battery life.
  • Hyperdrive have a Taiwanese partner, who manufactures their battery packs for Taiwan and China.
  • I have done calculations based on the datasheet for their batteries and Hyperdrive’s energy density is up with the best

I suspect, that Hitachi also like the idea of a local supplier, as it could be helpful in the negotiation of innovative applications. Face-to-face discussions are easier, when you’re only thirty miles apart.

Hitachi Regional Battery Train

The first train to be announced was the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. It is only a 100 mph train.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. It has a range of 56 miles on battery power.
  4. Any of Hitachi’s A Train family like Class 800, 802 or 385 train can be converted to a Regional Battery Train.

No orders have been announced yet.

But it would surely be very suitable for routes like.

  • London Paddington And Bedwyn
  • London Paddington And Oxford

It would also be very suitable for extensions to electrified suburban routes like.

  • London Bridge and Uckfield
  • London Waterloo and Salisbury
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere.
  • Newcastle and Carlisle

It would also be a very sound choice to extend electrified routes in Scotland, which are currently run by Class 385 trains.

Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train

The second train to be announced was the Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. Only one engine is replaced by a battery.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. Typically a five-car Class 800 or 802 train has three diesel engines and a nine-car train has five.
  4. These trains would obviously be capable of 125 mph on electrified main lines and 140 mph on lines fully equipped with digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

Nothing is said about battery range away from electrification.

Routes currently run from London with a section without electrification at the other end include.

  • London Kings Cross And Harrogate – 18.3 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Hull – 36 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • London Paddington And Bedwyn – 13.3 miles
  • London Paddington And Oxford – 10.3 miles

In the March 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, LNER are quoted as having aspirations to extend the Lincoln service to Cleethorpes.

  • With all energy developments in North Lincolnshire, this is probably a good idea.
  • Services could also call at Market Rasen and Grimsby.
  • Two trains per day, would probably be a minimum frequency.

But the trains would need to be able to run around 64 miles each way without electrification. Very large batteries and/or charging at Cleethorpes will be needed.

Class 803 Trains For East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains have ordered a fleet of five Class 803 trains.

  • These trains appear to be built for speed and fast acceleration.
  • They have no diesel engines, which must save weight and servicing costs.
  • But they will be fitted with batteries for emergency power to maintain onboard  train services in the event of overhead line failure.
  • They are planned to enter service in October 2021.

Given that Hyperdrive Innovation are developing traction batteries for the other two Hitachi battery trains, I would not be the least bit surprised if Hyperdrive were designing and building the batteries for the Class 803 trains.

  • Hyperdrive batteries are modular, so for a smaller battery you would use less modules.
  • If all coaches are wired for a diesel engine, then they can accept any power module like a battery or hydrogen pack, without expensive redesign.
  • I suspect too, that the battery packs for the Class 803 trains could be tested on an LNER Class 801 train.

LNER might also decide to replace the diesel engines on their Class 801 trains with an emergency battery pack, if it were more energy efficient and had a lighter weight.

Thoughts On The Design Of The Hyperdrive innovation Battery Packs

Consider.

  • Hitachi trains have a sophisticated computer system, which on start-up can determine the configuration of the train or whether it is more than one train running as a longer formation or even being hauled by a locomotive.
  • To convert a bi-mode Class 800 train to an all-electric Class 801 the diesel engines are removed. I suspect that the computer is also adjusted, but train formation may well be totally automatic and independent of the driver.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery seem to be based on a modular system, where typical modules have a capacity of 5 kWh, weighs 32 Kg and has a volume of 0.022 cu metres.
  • The wet mass of an MTU 16V 1600 R80L diesel engine commonly fitted to AT-300 trains of different types is 6750 Kg or nearly seven tonnes.
  • The diesel engine has a physical size of 1.5 x 1.25 x 0.845 metres, which is a volume of 1.6 cubic metres.
  • In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a five-car Class 801 electric train, needed 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • It is likely, than any design of battery pack, will handle the regenerative braking.

To my mind, the ideal solution would be a plug compatible battery pack, that the train’s computer thought was a diesel engine.

But then I have form in the area of plug-compatible electronics.

At the age of sixteen, for a vacation job, I worked in the Electronics Laboratory at Enfield Rolling Mills.

It was the early sixties and one of their tasks was at the time replacing electronic valve-based automation systems with new transistor-based systems.

The new equipment had to be compatible to that which it replaced, but as some were installed in dozens of places around the works, they had to be able to be plug-compatible, so that they could be quickly changed. Occasionally, the new ones suffered infant-mortality and the old equipment could just be plugged back in, if there wasn’t a spare of the new equipment.

So will Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery-packs have the same characteristics as the diesel engines that they replace?

  • Same instantaneous and continuous power output.
  • Both would fit the same mountings under the train.
  • Same control and electrical power connections.
  • Compatibility with the trains control computer.

I think they will as it will give several advantages.

  • The changeover between diesel engine and battery pack could be designed as a simple overnight operation.
  • Operators can mix-and-match the number of diesel engines and battery-packs to a given route.
  • As the lithium-ion cells making up the battery pack improve, battery capacity and performance can be increased.
  • If the computer, is well-programmed, it could reduce diesel usage and carbon-emissions.
  • Driver conversion from a standard train to one equipped with batteries, would surely be simplified.

As with the diesel engines, all battery packs could be substantially the same across all of Hitachi’s Class 80x trains.

What Size Of Battery Would Be Possible?

If Hyperdrive are producing a battery pack with the same volume as the diesel engine it replaced, I estimate that the battery would have a capacity defined by.

5 * 1.6 / 0.022 = 364 kWh

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

As a figure of 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph, applies to a Class 801 train, I suspect that a figure of 3 kWh or less could apply to a five-car Class 800 train trundling at around 80-100 mph to Bedwyn, Cleethorpes or Oxford.

  • A one-battery five-car train would have a range of 24.3 miles
  • A two-battery five-car train would have a range of 48.6 miles
  • A three-battery five-car train would have a range of 72.9 miles

Note.

  1. Reducing the consumption to 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 87.3 miles.
  2. Reducing the consumption to 2 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 109.2 miles.
  3. Hitachi will be working to reduce the electricity consumption of the trains.
  4. There will also be losses at each station stop, as regenerative braking is not 100 % efficient.

But it does appear to me, that distances of the order of 60-70 miles would be possible on a lot of routes.

Bedwyn, Harrogate, Lincoln and Oxford may be possible without charging before the return trip.

Cleethorpes and Hull would need a battery charge before return.

A Specification For A High Speed Metro Train

I have called the proposed train a High Speed Metro Train, as it would run at up to 140 mph on an existing high speed line and then run a full or limited stopping service to the final destination.

These are a few thoughts.

Electrification

In some cases like London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn, the route is already electrified and batteries would only be needed for the following.

  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Emergency  power in case of overhead line failure.
  • Train movements in depots.

But if the overhead wires on a branch line. are in need of replacement, why not remove them and use battery power? It might be the most affordable and least disruptive option to update the power supply on a route.

The trains would have to be able to run on both types of electrification in the UK.

  • 25 KVAC overhead.
  • 750 VDC third rail.

This dual-voltage capability would enable the extension of Southeastern Highspeed services.

Operating Speed

The trains must obviously be capable of running at the maximum operating speed on the routes they travel.

  • 125 mph on high speed lines, where this speed is possible.
  • 140 mph on high speed lines equipped with full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling, where this speed is possible.

The performance on battery power must be matched with the routes.

Hitachi have said, that their Regional Battery trains can run at up to 100 mph, which would probably be sufficient for most secondary routes in the UK and in line with modern diesel and electric multiple units.

Full Digital In-cab ERTMS Signalling

This will be essential and is already fitted to some of Hitachi’s trains.

Regenerative Braking To Batteries

Hitachi’s battery electric  trains will probably use regenerative braking to the batteries, as it is much more energy efficient.

It also means that when stopping at a station perhaps as much as 70-80% of the train’s kinetic energy can be captured in the batteries and used to accelerate the train.

In Kinetic Energy Of A Five-Car Class 801 Train, I showed that at 125 mph the energy of a full five-car train is just over 100 kWh, so batteries would not need to be unduly large.

Acceleration

This graph from Eversholt Rail, shows the acceleration and deceleration of a five-car Class 802 electric train.

As batteries are just a different source of electric power, I would think, that with respect to acceleration and deceleration, that the performance of a battery-electric version will be similar.

Although, it will only achieve 160 kph instead of the 200 kph of the electric train.

I estimate from this graph, that a battery-electric train would take around 220 seconds from starting to decelerate for a station to being back at 160 kph. If the train was stopped for around eighty seconds, a station stop would add five minutes to the journey time.

London Kings Cross And Cleethorpes

As an example consider a service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • The section without electrification between Newark and Cleethorpes is 64 miles.
  • There appear to be ambitions to increase the operating speed to 90 mph.
  • Local trains seem to travel at around 45 mph including stops.
  • A fast service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes would probably stop at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town.
  • In addition, local services stop at Collingham, Hykeham, Barnetby and Habrough.
  • London Kings Cross and Newark takes one hour and twenty minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes takes three hours and fifteen minutes with a change at Doncaster.

I can now calculate a time between Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • If a battery-electric train can average 70 mph between Newark and Cleethorpes, it would take 55 minutes.
  • Add five minutes for each of the three stops at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town
  • Add in the eighty minutes between London Kings Cross and Newark and that would be  two-and-a-half hours.

That would be very marketing friendly and a very good start.

Note.

  1. An average speed of 80 mph would save seven minutes.
  2. An average speed of 90 mph would save twelve minutes.
  3. I suspect that the current bi-modes would be slower by a few minutes as their acceleration is not as potent of that of an electric train.

I have a feeling London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town, could be a very important service for LNER.

Interiors

I can see a new lightweight and more energy efficient interior being developed for these trains.

In addition some of the routes, where they could be used are popular with cyclists and the current Hitachi trains are not the best for bicycles.

Battery Charging

Range On Batteries

I have left this to last, as it depends on so many factors, including the route and the quality of the driving or the Automatic Train Control

Earlier, I estimated that a five-car train with all three diesel engines replaced by batteries, when trundling around Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire or Wiltshire could have range of up to 100 miles.

That sort of distance would be very useful and would include.

  • Ely and Norwich
  • Newark and Cleethorpes
  • Salisbury and Exeter

It might even allow a round trip between the East Coast Main Line and Hull.

The Ultimate Battery Train

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

This is a paragraph.

The projected improvements in battery technology – particularly in power output and charge – create opportunities to replace incrementally more diesel engines on long distance trains. With the ambition to create a fully electric-battery intercity train – that can travel the full journey between London and Penzance – by the late 2040s, in line with the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions target.

Consider.

  • Three batteries would on my calculations give a hundred mile range.
  • Would a train with no diesel engines mean that fuel tanks, radiators and other gubbins could be removed and more or large batteries could be added.
  • Could smaller batteries be added to the two driving cars?
  • By 2030, let alone 2040, battery energy density will have increased.

I suspect that one way or another these trains could have a range on battery power of between 130 and 140 miles.

This would certainly be handy in Scotland for the two routes to the North.

  • Haymarket and Aberdeen, which is 130 miles without electrification.
  • Stirling and Inverness, which is 111 miles without electrification, if the current wires are extended from Stirling to Perth, which is being considered by the Scottish Government.

The various sections of the London Paddington to Penzance route are as follows.

  • Paddington and Newbury – 53 miles – electrified
  • Newbury and Taunton – 90 miles – not electrified
  • Taunton and Exeter – 31 miles – not electrified
  • Exeter and Plymouth – 52 miles – not electrified
  • Plymouth and Penzance – 79 miles – not electrified

The total length of the section without electrification between Penzance and Newbury  is a distance of 252 miles.

This means that the train will need a battery charge en route.

I think there are three possibilities.

  • Trains can take up to seven minutes for a stop at Plymouth. As London and Plymouth trains will need to recharge at Plymouth before returning to London, Plymouth station could be fitted with comprehensive recharge facilities for all trains passing through. Perhaps the ideal solution would be to electrify all lines and platforms at Plymouth.
  • Between Taunton and Exeter, the rail line runs alongside the M5 motorway. This would surely be an ideal section to electrify, as it would enable battery electric trains to run between Exeter and both Newbury and Bristol.
  • As some trains terminate at Exeter, there would probably need to be charging facilities there.

I believe that the date of the late 2040s is being overly pessimistic.

I suspect that by 2040 we’ll be seeing trains between London and Aberdeen, Inverness and Penzance doing the trips without a drop of diesel.

But Hitachi are making a promise of London and Penzance by zero-carbon trains, by the late-2040s, because they know they can keep it.

And Passengers and the Government won’t mind the trains being early!

Conclusion

This could be a very useful train to add to Hitachi’s product line.

 

 

 

March 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gatwick Rail Service Could Link Far Reaches Of The South East

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

Despite being reported on Surrey Live and the fact that Gatwick is in Sussex, the plan has been proposed by Kent County Council’s Rail Project Manager.

The plan would extend the existing Great Western railway line – which runs from Reading to Gatwick via Redhill – to mid and east Kent.

The article suggests the service could go between Reading and Canterbury West stations.

This table sums up the connectivity.

I have a few thoughts.

The Terminal Stations

The suitability of the two proposed terminals can be summed up.

  • Reading has been designed as a terminal station, with five bay platforms, three of which can be used by Gatwick services.
  • Canterbury West has not been designed as a terminal station and has no bay platforms.

Perhaps Ashford International station would be a better Eastern terminal?

  • It has Eurostar services.
  • Trains can terminate in Platform 1 and go to Tonbridge.
  • It has lots of car parking.

Dover Priority and Ramsgate could also be possibilities as they have terminal platforms.

Connecting At Gatwick Airport

It looks like a combined service might get complicated in the Redhill/Gatwick area.

  • Trains between Reading and Gatwick go via Redhill station, where they reverse.
  • There is no direct route between Tonbridge and Gatwick, so trains will probably have to reverse at Redhill, to go between Tonbridge and Gatwick.

Would a service between Reading and Ashford, that reversed twice at Redhill and once at Gatwick, be rather tricky to operate? Or even unpopular with passengers?

This Google Map shows Redhill station and the lines leading South from the station.

Note.

  • Redhill station at the top of the map.
  • The Brighton Main Line running North-South in the middle of the map.
  • The North Downs Line to Guildford and Reading curving West from the station.
  • The Redhill and Tonbridge Line to Tonbridge and Ashford leaving the map in the South-East corner.

I suspect that adding extra tracks in a very crowded area will be very difficult.

What Do The Timings Show?

A quick calculation, which is based on current timings, can give a journey time for between Ashford and Gatwick Airport.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Southeastern timing – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Southern timing – 35 minutes
  • Reverse at Redhill – GWR timing – 4 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – GWR timing – 8 minutes

This gives a total of eighty-five minutes.

  • Google says that you can drive it in sixty-three minutes.
  • If you took the train today, between Ashford International and Gatwick Airport stations, the fastest rail journey is around 110 minutes with a change at St. Pancras International.

It does look though that a faster train between Kent and Gatwick Airport could be competitive, as going via London certainly isn’t!

Could Simplification And Automation Provide A Solution?

Consider.

  • The Ashford International and Tonbridge timing, that I have used includes five stops.
  • The Tonbridge and Redhill timing, that I have used includes five stops.
  • How much time would be saved by only stopping at Tonbridge between Ashford International and Gatwick?
  • Could automation handle a fast reverse at Redhill, where passengers couldn’t board or leave the train?
  • Would a driver in each cab, allow the reverses to be done faster?

Trains going between Reading and Ashford International, would call at the following stations between Guildford and Tonbridge.

  • Dorking Deepdene
  • Reigate
  • Redhill
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Redhill – A quick Touch-And-Go.
  • Tonbridge
  • Paddock Wood

If two minutes a stop could be saved at each of the nine omitted stops and at each reverse, this would save twenty minutes East of Gatwick, which would give the following timings.

  • Gatwick and Tonbridge – 27 minutes
  • Gatwick and Ashford International – 65 minutes

Timings would be compatible with driving.

West of Gatwick, the service would be as the current GWR service.

  • After arriving at Gatwick from Ashford, the train would reverse.
  • En route it would reverse at Redhill, to continue to Reading.

Passengers wanting to go between say Tonbridge and Redhill, would use this reverse at Redhill to join and leave the train.

It would be an unusual way to operate a train service, but I feel it could be made to work, especially with the right automation and/or a second driver.

Trains For The Service

The service can be split into various legs between Ashford and Reading.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Electrified – 26.5 miles – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Electrified – 20 miles – 35 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Gatwick and Redhill – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Redhill and Reigate – Electrified – 2 miles – 4 minutes
  • Reigate and Shalford Junction – Not Electrified – 17 miles – 20 minutes
  • Shalford Junction and North Camp – Electrified – 9 miles – 11 minutes
  • North Camp and Wokingham – Not Electrified – 11 miles – 14 minutes
  • Wokingham and Reading – Electrified – 7 miles and 9 minutes

Note.

  1. Ashford, Tonbridge, Redhill, Gatwick, Guildford, Wokingham and Reading are all fully-electrified main line stations.
  2. Most of the route and the two ends are electrified.
  3. All electrification is 750 VDC third rail.
  4. All sections without electrification are less than twenty miles.

This route would surely be ideal for a battery electric train.

As both the Heathrow and Gatwick Express services are run using Class 387 trains and the Stansted Express has used Class 379 trains for the last few years, similar trains to these might be an ideal choice, if they could be fitted with battery power and the ability to use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

The facts seem to be on the side of this service.

  • There are spare Class 387 trains and some more will be released by c2c in the next few years.
  • Greater Anglia will be replacing their Class 379 trains with new Class 745 trains.
  • A Class 379 train was used to test the concept of battery electric trains.
  • Both class of trains could be fitted with third-rail gear.

Either of these trains could be used for the service.

As they are 100 or 110 mph trains with good acceleration, they might even save a few minutes on the journey.

Infrastructure Changes

I suspect they could be minimal, once it was worked out how to handle the three reverses in the Gatwick and Redhill area.

Conclusion

I think it would be a feasible plan to run an Ashford and Reading service via Gatwick.

I would also decarbonise the route at the same time, as it must be one of the easiest routes in the country to run using battery electric trains.

  • There is electrification at both ends and in the middle.
  • The longest stretch of track without electrification is just seventeen miles.
  • All charging could be done using existing electrification.
  • There are platforms at both ends, where trains can get a full charge.
  • There are trains available, that are suitable for conversion to battery trains for the route.
  • No extra infrastructure would be needed.
  • Battery electric trains would allow extension of the route to Oxford in the West.

How many extra passengers would be persuaded to take the train to Gatwick, by the novelty of a battery electric Aurport Express?

Marketing men and women would love the last point!

 

 

September 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

GTR And Porterbrook Unveil £55 million Fleet Modernisation

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Trains built just five years ago are among those set to be upgraded at Selhurst Depot as part of a £55 million fleet modernisation programme announced by Govia Thameslink Railway and leasing company Porterbrook.

The updates to Class 377 and Class 387 trains, include.

  • On-board performance monitoring and  fault diagnosis
  • Passenger information screens
  • USB/power points
  • LED lighting
  • Passenger-counting technology
  • Forward-facing CCTV cameras

I wonder, if the forward-facing cameras will be setup, so that passengers can log in to the video. It would surely, be a way of keeping kids of all ages amused.

Trains are getting more and more like computers on wheels.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 5 Comments

Are The Class 387 Trains For Heathrow Express Ready To Roll?

These pictures show the refurbished Class 387 trains, that will be used by Heathrow Express.

They will replace Class 332 trains.

Are they ready to roll? I hope they are not going to cover. what I think is an attractive livery, with hideous advertising!

 

June 13, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment