The Anonymous Widower

Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?

Currently, Avanti West Coast‘s trains between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations are timetabled as follows.

  • The journey takes two hours and thirteen or fourteen minutes.
  • There are three stops at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • The stops with the current Class 390 trains seem to take around a minute.
  • There is one train per hour (tph)
  • A second hourly service with a stop at Liverpool South Parkway is planned to be introduced in December 2022.

In 2022, a new fleet of Hitachi AT-300 trains will be introduced on the route. I believe, it would be reasonable to assume, that these trains will have similar or better performance, than the current Class 390 trains.

  • Acceleration and braking are likely to be better.
  • Regenerative braking energy may well be handled more efficiently.
  • The trains may well be equipped with in-cab digital signalling and be able to travel in excess of 125 mph in places.

I would expect, that these trains could be running near to or at 125 mph on most of the journey.

London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street are 193.5 miles apart, so if a train could be running at 125 mph all the way, a train would take 93 minutes.

Extra time must be added for the following.

  • Acceleration from a standing start to 125 mph at London Euston, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • Deceleration from 125 mph to a stop at Stafford, Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street.
  • Dwell time in the platforms at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.

This page on the Eversholt Rail web site, has a data sheet for a Class 802 train, which is a bi-mode AT-300 train with three diesel engines.

The data sheet shows that a five-car train can accelerate to 125 mph and then decelerate to a stop in six minutes in electric mode. As Avanti West Coast’s trains will be all-electric seven-car trains with perhaps only one diesel engine, I doubt they will be slower than a Class 802 train in electric mode. So four accelerations/deceleration cycles  to 125 mph should take no more than twenty-four minutes.

I will assume two minutes for each of the three stops.

I can now give an estimate for the journey.

  • Base journey time – 93 minutes
  • Acceleration from and deceleration to stops – 24 minutes
  • Station dwell time – 6 minutes

This gives a journey time between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street of two hours and three minutes.

The journey time can probably be improved in the following ways.

  • Take full advantage of the track improvements on the approach to Liverpool Lime Street station and at Norton Bridge Junction.
  • Better train pathing, as has been done on London Liverpool Street and Norwich services to create the fast Norwich-in-Ninety services.
  • Track and signal improvements to pinch a minute here and a minute there.
  • As Runcorn now has an hourly Liverpool Lime Street and Chester service, will the Runcorn stop be dropped to save time?
  • Reduction in station dwell time.
  • Better driver aids.

It should be born in mind, that a two hour journey between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street would be a start-stop average speed of 97 mph on a 125 mph route. Intriguingly, this means the trains would run at 77 % of the maximum operating speed of the route, which is the same figure for Norwich-in-Ninety services.

Some of these improvements may enable the Class 390 trains to go a bit faster.

Thoughts On The Current Class 390 Timings

As the Class 390 trains are a 125 mph train, their base timing of 93 minutes, between London and Liverpool should still be the same.

As their doors and lobbies are similar in design to those of the Hitachi AT-300 trains, I would allow the same two minutes of dwell time at each station.

Current timings of services on the route vary between 132 and 134 minutes. I’ll take the average of 133 minutes.

So the current services take thirty-four minutes to perform the four accelerate and decelerate sequences on the route.

It would appear that this sequence would take eight-and-a-half minutes in comparison with the six minutes of the new Hitachi AT-300 trains.

An Improved London Euston and Blackpool North Service

The new AT-300 trains will also be running to Blackpool.

  • London Euston and Blackpool North takes between two hours and forty-four minutes and two hours and fifty-nine minutes.
  • Journey times are not very consistent, probably due to timetabling difficulties.
  • Trains stop between four and five times on the West Coast Main Line.

Would the faster stops of the new AT-300 trains mean that Avanti West Coast could run a more regular timetable, with all services under three hours?

It should also be noted, that Grand Central will start a London Euston and Blackpool North service in Spring 2020.

As the rolling stock for this new service will be Class 90 locomotives hauling rakes of Mark 4 coaches, that will be limited to 110 mph, are Avanti West Coast making sure, that they have the fastest trains on the route?

Would AT-300 trains Save Time To Other Avanti West Coast Destinations?

If we assume that AT-300 trains can save two-and-a-half minutes per accelerate and decelerate sequence times could change as follow.

  • Birmingham New Street – One hour and twenty-two minutes – Three stops – One hour and twelve minutes
  • Coventry – One hour – Two stops – Fifty-five minutes
  • Crewe – One hour and thirty-four minutes – One stop – One hour and thirty minutes
  • Glasgow – As services stop six or thirteen times, there may be substantial savings to be achieved.
  • Manchester – Between two hours and seven minutes and two hours and thirteen minutes – Three stops – Between one hour and fifty-seven minutes and two hours and three minutes.

Note.

  1. The number of accelerate and decelerate sequences is one more than the number of stops.
  2. Coventry services would be under an hour.
  3. Two out of three Manchester services would be under two hours.

This analysis illustrates how fast train performance is important in more customer-friendly services.

Conclusion

I believe that a two hour service between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street will be possible with Avanti West Coast’s new AT-300 trains.

I also believe, that the current Class 390 trains could go a bit faster.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hitachi Trains For Avanti

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

The Bi-Mode Trains

Some more details of the thirteen bi-mode and ten electric Hitachi AT 300 trains are given.

Engine Size and Batteries

This is an extract from the article.

Hitachi told Modern Railways it was unable to confirm the rating of the diesel engines on the bi-modes, but said these would be replaceable by batteries in future if specified.

I do wonder if my speculation in Will Future Hitachi AT-300 Trains Have MTU Hybrid PowerPacks? is possible.

After all, why do all the hard work to develop a hybrid drive system, when your engine supplier has done it for you?

Would Avanti West Coast need a train that will do 125 mph on diesel?

The only place, they will be able to run at 125 mph or even higher will be on the West Coast Main Line, where they will be running under electric power from the pantograph.

If I were designing a bi-mode for 90 mph on diesel and 125 mph on electric, I would have batteries on the train for the following purposes.

  • Handle regenerative braking.
  • Provide hotel power in stations or when stationery.
  • Provide an acceleration boost, if required, when running on diesel.
  • Provide emergency power, if the wires go down in electric mode.

I’m sure MTU could work out a suitable size of diesel engine and batteries in an MTU PowerPack, that would meet the required performance.

Or maybe a smaller diesel could be used. An LNER Class 800 train has 1680 kW of installed power to maintain 125 mph. But the Great Western Railway versions have 2100 kW or twenty-five percent more, as their routes are more challenging with steeper gradients.

For the less challenging routes at a maximum of 90 mph between Crewe, Chester, Shrewsbury and North Wales, I wonder what level of power is needed.

A very rough estimate based on the speed required could put the power requirement as low as 1200-1500 kW.

As the diesel engines are only electrical generators, it would not effect the ability of the train to do 125 mph between Crewe and London.

There looks to be a virtuous circle at work here.

  • Lower maximum speed on diesel means smaller diesel engines.
  • Smaller diesel engines means lighter diesel engines and less fuel to carry.
  • Less weight to accelerate needs less installed power.
  • Less power probably means a more affordable train, that uses less diesel.

It looks to me, that Hitachi have designed a train, that will work Avanti West Coast’s routes efficiently.

The Asymmetric Bi-Mode Train

It looks to me that the bi-mode train  that Avanti West Coast are buying has very different performance depending on the power source and signalling

  • 90 mph or perhaps up to 100 mph on diesel.
  • 125 mph on electric power.with current signalling.
  • Up to 140 mph on electric power with in-cab digital signalling.

This compares with the current Class 221 trains, which can do 125 mph on all tracks, with a high enough operating speed.

The new trains’ different performance on diesel and electric power means they could be called asymmetric bi-modes.

Surely, creating an asymmetric bi-mode train, with on-board power; battery, diesel or hydrogen, sized to the route, means less weight, greater efficiency, less cost and in the case of diesel, higher carbon efficiency.

Carbon Emissions

Does the improvement in powertrain efficiency with smaller engines running the train at slower speeds help to explain this statement from the Modern Railways article?

Significant emissions reduction are promised from the elimination of diesel operation on electrified sections as currently seen with the Voyagers, with an expected reduction in CO2 emissions across the franchise of around two-thirds.

That is a large reduction, which is why I feel, that efficiency and batteries must play a part.

Battery-Electric Conversion

In my quote earlier from the Modern Railways article, I said this.

These (the diesel engines) would be replaceable by batteries in future if specified.

In Thoughts On The Next Generation Of Hitachi High Speed Trains, I looked at routes that could be run by a battery-electric version of Hitachi AT-300 trains.

I first estimated how far an AT-300 train could go on batteries.

How far will an AT-300 train go on battery power?

  • I don’t think it is unreasonable to be able to have 150 kWh of batteries per car, especially if the train only has one diesel engine, rather than the current three in a five-car train.
  • I feel with better aerodynamics and other improvements based on experience with the current trains, that an energy consumption of 2.5 kWh per vehicle mile is possible, as compared to the 3.5 kWh per vehicle mile of the current trains.

Doing the calculation gives a range of sixty miles for an AT-300 train with batteries.

As train efficiency improves and batteries are able to store more energy for a given volume, this range can only get better.

I then said this about routes that will be part of Avanti West Coast’s network.

With a range of sixty miles on batteries, the following is possible.

  • Chester, Gobowen, Shrewsbury And Wrexham Central stations could be reached on battery power from the nearest electrification.
  • Charging would only be needed at Shrewsbury to ensure a return to Crewe.

Gobowen is probably at the limit of battery range, so was it chosen as a destination for this reason.

The original post was based on trains running faster than the 90 mph that is the maximum possible on the lines without electrification, so my sixty mile battery range could be an underestimate.

These distances should be noted.

  • Crewe and Chester – 21 miles
  • Chester and Shrewsbury – 42 miles
  • Chester and Llandudno – 47 miles
  • Chester and Holyhead – 84 miles

Could electrification between Crewe and Chester make it possible for Avanti West Coast’s new trains to go all the way between Chester and Holyhead on battery power in a few years?

I feel that trains with a sixty mile battery range would make operations easier for Avanti West Coast.

Eighty miles would almost get them all the way to Holyhead, where they could recharge!

Rlectrification Between Chester And Crewe

I feel that this twenty-odd miles of electrification could be key to enabling battery-electric trains for the routes to the West of Chester to Shrewsbury, Llandudno and Holyhead.

How difficult would it be to electrify between Chester and Crewe?

  • It is not a long distance to electrify.
  • There doesn’t appear to be difficult viaducts or cuttings.
  • It is electrified at Crewe, so power is not a problem.
  • There are no intermediate stations.

But there does seem to be a very large number of bridges. I counted forty-four overbridges and six underbridges. At least some of the bridges are new and appear to have been built with the correct clearance.

Perhaps it would be simpler to develop fast charging for the trains and install it at Chester station.

Conclusion On The Bi-Mode Trains

It appears to me that Avanti West Coast, Hitachi and Rock Rail, who are financing the trains have done a very good job in devising the specification for a fleet of trains that will offer a good service and gradually move towards being able to deliver that service in a carbon-free manner.

  • The initial bi-mode trains will give a big improvement in performance and reduction in emission on the current Voyagers, as they will be able to make use of the existing electrification between Crewe and London.
  • The trains could be designed for 125 mph on electric power and only 90-100 mph on diesel, as no route requires over 100 mph on diesel. This must save operating costs and reduce carbon emissions.
  • They could use MTU Hybrid PowerPacks instead of conventional diesel engines to further reduce emissions and save energy
  • It also appears that Hitachi might be able to convert the trains to battery operation in a few years.
  • The only new infrastructure would be a few charging stations for the batteries and possible electrification between Chester and Crewe.

I don’t think Avanti West Coast’s ambition of a two-thirds reduction in CO2 is unreasonable and feel it could even be exceeded.

Other Routes For Asymetric Bi-Mode Trains

I like the concept of an asymetric bi-mode train, where the train has the following performance.

  • Up to 100 mph on battery, diesel or hydrogen.
  • Up to 100 mph on electrified slower-speed lines.
  • 125 mph on electrified high-speed lines, with current signalling.
  • Up to 140 mph on electrified high-speed lines, with in-cab digital signalling.

I am very sure that Hitachi can now tailor an AT-300 train to a particular company’s needs. Certainly, in the case of Avanti West Coast, this seems to have happened, when Avanti West Coast, Hitachi, Network Rail and Rock Rail had some serious negotiation.

LNER At Leeds

As an example consider the rumoured splitting and joining of trains at Leeds to provide direct services between London and Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Ilkley, Skipton and other places, that I wrote about in Dancing Azumas At Leeds.

In the related post, I gave some possible destinations.

  • Bradford – 13 miles – 25 minutes – Electrified
  • Harrogate – 18 miles – 30 minutes
  • Huddersfield – 17 miles – 35 minutes
  • Hull – 20 miles – 60 minutes
  • Ilkley – 16 miles – 26 minutes – Electrified
  • Skipton – 26 miles – 43 minutes – Electrified
  • York – 25 miles – 30 minutes

Note, that the extended services would have the following characteristics.

They would be run by one five-car train.

  1. Services to Bradford, Ilkley and Skipton would be electric
  2. Electrification is planned from Leeds to Huddersfield and York, so these services could be electric in a few years.
  3. All other services would need independent power; battery, diesel or hydrogen to and from Leeds.
  4. Two trains would join at Leeds and run fast to London on the electrified line.
  5. Services would probably have a frequency of six trains per day, which works out at a around a train every two hours and makes London and back very possible in a day.
  6. They would stop at most intermediate stations to boost services to and from Leeds and give a direct service to and from London.

As there are thirty trains per day between London and Leeds in each direction, there are a lot of possible services that could be provided.

Currently, LNER are only serving Harrogate via Leeds.

  • LNER are using either a nine-car train or a pair of five-car trains.
  • The trains reverse in Platforms 6 or 8 at Leeds, both of which can handle full-length trains.
  • LNER allow for a generous time for the reverse, which would allow the required splitting and joining.
  • All trains going to Harrogate are Class 800 bi-mode trains.

Note that the Class 800 trains are capable of 125 mph on diesel, whereas the average speed between Harrogate and Leeds is just 35 mph. Obviously, some of this slow speed is due to the route, but surely a train with a maximum speed of 90-100 mph, with an appropriate total amount of diesel power, would be the following.

  • Lighter in weight.
  • More efficient.
  • Emit less pollution.
  • Still capable of high speed on electrified lines.
  • Bi-mode and electric versions could run in pairs between Leeds and London.

LNER would probably save on track access charges and diesel fuel.

LNER To Other Places

Could LNER split and join in a similar way to other places?

  • Doncaster for Hull and Sheffield
  • Edinburgh for Aberdeen and Inverness
  • Newark for Lincoln and Nottingham
  • York for Middlesbrough and Scarborough.

It should be noted that many of the extended routes are quite short, so I suspect some train diagrams will be arranged, so that trains are only filled up with diesel overnight,

GWR

Great Western Railway are another First Group company and I’m sure some of their routes could benefit, from similar planning to that of Avanti West Coast.

Splitting and joining might take place at Reading, Swindon, Bristol and Swansea.

South Western Railway

South Western Railway will need to replace the three-car Class 159 trains to Exeter, that generally work in pairs with a total number of around 400 seats, in the next few years.

These could be replaced with a fleet of third-rail Hitachi trains of appropriate length.

  • Seven cars sating 420 passengers?
  • They would remove diesel trains from Waterloo station.
  • All South Western Railway Trains running between Waterloo and Basingstoke would be 100 mph trains.

I wonder, if in-cab digital signalling on the route, would increase the capacity? It is sorely needed!

Southeastern

Southeastern need bi-mode trains to run the promised service to Hastings.

  • Trains would need a third-rail capability.
  • Trains need to be capable of 140 mph for High Speed One.
  • Trains need to be able to travel the 25 miles between Ashford International and Ore stations.
  • Trains would preferably be battery-electric for working into St. Pancras International station.

Would the trains be made up from six twenty-metre cars, like the Class 395 trains?

The Simple All-Electric Train

The Modern Railways article, also says this about the ten all-electric AT-300 trains for Birmingham, Blackpool and Liverpool services.

The electric trains will be fully reliant on the overhead wire, with no diesel auxiliary engines or batteries.

It strikes me as strange, that Hitachi are throwing out one of their design criteria, which is the ability of the train to rescue itself, when the overhead wires fail.

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I published this extract from this document on the Hitachi Rail web site.

The system can select the appropriate power source from either the main transformer or the GUs. Also, the size and weight of the system were minimized by designing the power supply converter to be able to work with both power sources. To ensure that the Class 800 and 801 are able to adapt to future changes in operating practices, they both have the same traction system and the rolling stock can be operated as either class by simply adding or removing GUs. On the Class 800, which is intended to run on both electrified and non-electrified track, each traction system has its own GU. On the other hand, the Class 801 is designed only for electrified lines and has one or two GUs depending on the length of the trainset (one GU for trainsets of five to nine cars, two GUs for trainsets of 10 to 12 cars). These GUs supply emergency traction power and auxiliary power in the event of a power outage on the catenary, and as an auxiliary power supply on non-electrified lines where the Class 801 is in service and pulled by a locomotive. This allows the Class 801 to operate on lines it would otherwise not be able to use and provides a backup in the event of a catenary power outage or other problem on the ground systems as well as non-electrified routes in loco-hauled mode.

This is a very comprehensive power system, with a backup in case of power or catenary failure.

So why does it look like Hitachi are throwing that capability out on the trains for Avanti West Coast.

There are several possibilities.

  • The reliability of the trains and the overhead wire is such, that the ability of a train to rescue itself is not needed.
  • The auxiliary generator has never been used for rescuing the train.
  • The West Coast Main Line is well-provided with Thunderbird locomotives for rescuing Pendelinos, as these trains have no auxiliary generator or batteries.
  • Removal of the excess weight of the auxiliary engine and batteries, enables the Hitachi AT-300 trains to match the performance of the Pendelinos, when they are using tilt.

Obviously, Hitachi have a lot of train performance statistics, from the what must be around a hundred trains in service.

It looks like Hitachi are creating a lightweight all-electric train, that has the performance or better of a Pendelino, that it achieves without using tilt.

  • No tilt means less weight and more interior space.
  • No auxiliary generator or batteries means less weight.
  • Wikipedia indicates, that Hitachi coaches are around 41 tonnes and Pendelino coaches are perhaps up to ten tonnes heavier.
  • Less weight means fast acceleration and deceleration.
  • Less weight means less electricity generated under regenerative braking.
  • Pendelinos use regenerative braking, through the catenary.
  • Will the new Hitachi trains do the same instead of the complex system they now use?

If the train fails and needs to be rescued, it uses the same Thunderbird system, that the Pendelinos use when they fail.

Will The New Hitachi Trains Be Less Costly To Run?

These trains will be lighter in weight than the Pendelinos and will not require the track to allow tilting.

Does this mean, that Avanti West Coast will pay lower track access charges for their new trains?

They should also pay less on a particular trip for the electricity, as the lighter trains will need less electricity to accelerate them to line speed.

Are Avanti West Coast Going To Keep The Fleets Apart?

Under a heading of Only South Of Preston, the Modern Railways article says this.

Unlike the current West Coast fleet, the Hitachi trains will not be able to tilt. Bid Director Caroline Donaldson told Modern Railways this will be compensated for by their improved acceleration and deceleration characteristics and that the operator is also working with Network Rail to look at opportunities to improve the linespeed for non-tilting trains.

The routes on which the Hitachi trains will operate have been chosen with the lack of tilt capability in mind, with this having the greatest impact north of Preston, where only Class 390 Pendelinos, which continue to make use of their tilting capability will be used.

Avanti West Coast have said that the Hitachi trains will run from London to Birmingham, Blackpool and Liverpool.

All of these places are on fully-electrified branches running West from the West Coast Main Line, so it looks like there will be separation.

Will The New Hitachi Trains Be Faster To Birmingham, Blackpool And Liverpool?

Using data from Real Time Trains, I find the following data about the current services.

  • Birmingham and Coventry is 19 miles and takes 20 minutes at an average speed of 57 mph
  • Blackpool and Preston is 16.5 miles and takes 21 minutes at an average speed of 47 mph
  • Liverpool and Runcorn is 3.15 miles and takes 15 minutes at an average speed of 52 mph

All the final legs when approaching the terminus seem to be at similar speeds, so I doubt there are much savings to be made away from the West Coast Main Line.

Most savings will be on the West Coast Main Line, where hopefully modern in-cab digital signalling will allow faster running at up to the design speed of both the Hitachi and Pendelino trains of 140 mph.

As an illustration of what might be possible, London to Liverpool takes two hours and thirteen minutes.

The distance is 203 miles, which means that including stops the average speed is 91.6 mph.

If the average speed could be raised to 100 mph, this would mean a journey time of two hours and two minutes.

As much of the journey between London and Liverpool is spent at 125 mph, which is the limit set by the signalling, raising that to 135 mph could bring substantial benefits.

To achieve the journey in two hours would require an overall average speed of 101.5 mph.

As the proportion of track on which faster speeds, than the current 125 mph increase over the next few years, I can see Hitachi’s lightweight all-electric expresses breaking the two hour barrier between London and Liverpool.

What About The Pendelinos And Digital Signalling?

The January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways also has an article entitled Pendolino Refurb Planned.

These improvements are mentioned.

  • Better standard class seats! (Hallelujah!)
  • Refreshed First Class.
  • Revamped shop.

Nothing is mentioned about any preparation for the installation of the equipment to enable faster running using digital in-cab signalling, when it is installed on the West Coast Main Line.

Surely, the trains will be updated to be ready to use digital signalling, as soon as they can.

Just as the new Hitachi trains will be able to take advantage of the digital signalling, when it is installed, the Pendellinos will be able to as well.

Looking at London and Glasgow, the distance is 400 miles and it takes four hours and thirty minutes.

This is an average speed of 89 mph, which compares well with the 91.6 mph between London and Liverpool.

Raise the average speed to 100 mph with the installation of digital in-cab signalling on the route, that will allow running at over 125 mph for long sections and the journey time will be around four hours.

This is a table of average speeds and journey times.

  • 100 mph – four hours
  • 105 mph – three hours and forty-eight minutes
  • 110 mph – three hours and thirty-eight minutes
  • 115 mph – three hours and twenty-eight minutes
  • 120 mph – three hours and twenty minutes
  • 125 mph – three hours and twelve minutes
  • 130 mph – three hours and four minutes

I think that I’m still young enough at 72 to be able to see Pendelinos running regularly between London and Glasgow in three hours twenty minutes.

The paragraph is from the Wikipedia entry for the Advanced Passenger Train.

The APT is acknowledged as a milestone in the development of the current generation of tilting high speed trains. 25 years later on an upgraded infrastructure the Class 390 Pendolinos now match the APT’s scheduled timings. The London to Glasgow route by APT (1980/81 timetable) was 4hrs 10min, the same time as the fastest Pendolino timing (December 2008 timetable). In 2006, on a one off non-stop run for charity, a Pendolino completed the Glasgow to London journey in 3hrs 55min, whereas the APT completed the opposite London to Glasgow journey in 3hrs 52min in 1984.

I think it’s a case of give the Pendelinos the modern digital in-cab signalling they need and let them see what they can do.

It is also possible to give an estimate for a possible time to and from Manchester.

An average speed of 120 mph on the route would deliver a time of under one hour and forty minutes.

Is it possible? I suspect someone is working on it!

Conclusion

I certainly think, that Avanti West Coast, Hitachi and Network Rail, have been seriously thinking how to maximise capacity and speed on the West Coast Main Line.

I also think, that they have an ultimate objective to make Avanti West Coast an operator, that only uses diesel fuel in an emergency.

 

 

January 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Does One Of Baldrick’s Descendents Work For Avanti West Coast?

I have been looking at the problems of maximising traffic and reducing journey times on the West Coast Main Line to the North of Crewe.

I think that what Avanti West Coast intend to do has a touch of the Baldricks about it.

Trains that go North from Crewe include the following Avanti West Coast services.

  • Blackpool, which branches off at Preston.
  • Glasgow, which goes up the West Coast Main Line via Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme and Carlisle.
  • Liverpool, which branches off at Weaver Junction, between Crewe and Warrington.
  • Manchester, which branches off at Crewe.

I find it interesting that according to Wikipedia, Avanti West Coast will be running their new Hitachi electric trains to Blackpool and Liverpool, but not Manchester.

Could it be that as these trains will be sharing tracks to the North of Crewe in the future with High Speed Two services to Preston, Carlisle and Scotland, that these trains will be built to have the same operating speed on the West Coast Main Line, as the classic-compatible High Speed Two trains, that will serve the route?

The Manchester Branch is slower, so will remain 125 mph Pendelino territory.

The Number Of Electric Trains Ordered

Doing a rough estimate< I reckon the following.

  • One train per hour (tph) to Liverpool needs five 125 mph Pendelinos.
  • One tph to Blackpool needs six 125 mph Pendelinos.
  • .Two tph to Liverpool needs ten 125 mph Pendelinos.
  • If the new Hitachi trains, are capable of 140 mph, I reckon two tph to Liverpool might need eight 140 mph trains.

The order of new Hitachi trains is not large enough to run both Blackpool and Liverpool services.

Will The New Hitachi Trains Be Used On London and Liverpool?

Consider.

  • It would probably the best policy to run each route with one class of train.
  • A two tph London and Liverpool service is much needed.
  • Running the new Hitachi trains on London and Liverpool, would release extra trains for London and Blackpool and London and Birmingham.
  • Two tph to Liverpool needs eight 125 mph Pendelinos or eight 140 mph Hitachi trains.

But it would also mean installing ERTMS signalling on the London and Liverpool route to enable 140 mph running.

It does appear that ten new Hitachi trains, able to run at 140 mph could service the London and Liverpool route and release five Pendelinos for other routes.

Could The Pendelinos Run At 140 mph?

They were designed for this speed, as were the InterCity 225 trains and only don’t run at this speed because of the lack of digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line.

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 390 Pendelino train says this about the speed of the train.

The Class 390 Pendolino is one of the fastest domestic electric multiple units operating in Britain, with a design speed of 140 mph (225 km/h); however, limitations to track signalling systems restrict the trains to a maximum speed of 125 mph (200 km/h) in service. In September 2006, the Pendolino set a new speed record, completing the 401 mi (645 km) length of the West Coast Main Line from Glasgow Central to London Euston in 3 hours, 55 minutes.

Perhaps it is time to unleash the Pendelinos?

Could the planned refurbishment of the Pendelinos install the required equipment, allow the trains to run using digital signalling at 140 mph?

What Is The Cunning Plan?

These are the possible objectives of adding the extra ten trains.

  • One tph between London and Glasgow in around four hours.
  • Two tph between London and Liverpool in around two hours.

Would this be one possible way to achieve these objectives?

  • Install digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line to allow 140 mph in places, where the track allows.
  • Improve the track of the West Coast Main Line, where necessary.
  • Run new Hitachi trains between London and Liverpool.
  • Release the current Pendelinos to other routes.
  • Upgrade the Pendelinos with digital signalling to allow 140 mph running, where possible.
  • Run 140 mph Pendelinos between London and Blackpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The real plan will probably be a lot better and more comprehensive, but it does show how the two objectives can be met.

Conclusion

To improve services between London and Birmingham, Blackpool, Liverpool and Scotland, appears to need the following.

  • Ten new Hitachi trains.
  • Full digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Track improvements on the West Coast Main Line
  • Upgrading of the Pendelinos to allow 140 mph running.

This should reduce London and Glasgow to around four hours and London and Liverpool to around two hours.

 

 

 

December 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

New Trains For West Coast Will Be Built By Hitachi

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

With the new Franchise; Avanti West Coast, starting services in a few days, more detail is starting to be added to their plans.

New Trains

This is said about the new trains to be added to the fleet.

Hitachi is to build 23 new trains for the West Coast Partnership, with the aim of having them in service by 2022.

The fleet will consist of 10 seven-car electric units and 13 five-car bi-mode units, and will be based on Hitachi’s existing Intercity Express models.

These are my thoughts about the trains.

Routes

According to Wikipedia, the bi-mode trains will be used from Euston to Chester, Gobowen, Holyhead, Llandudno and Shrewsbury and the electric trains will be used from Euston to Birmingham New Street, Blackpool North and Liverpool.

In Service Date

The Railnews article and a very similar one in Rail Magazine say that the trains will enter service by or around 2022.

This probably means that they will be built after the Class 804 trains for East Midlands Railway.

Comparison With Class 804 Trains

It has been stated that the Class 804 trains will have the following. characteristics.

  • Twenty-four metre long cars, as opposed to twenty-six metres of a Class 802 train.
  • Four diesel engines in a five-car train, instead of three in a Class 802 train.
  • They will have a reprofiled nose.

They can be considered to be the Mark 2 version of Hitachi’s Intercity Express.

The car length for the Avanti West Coast trains has been specified at twenty-six metres, which is two metres longer than that of the current Class 390 trains on the West Coast Main Line,

So will Avanti West Coast’s trains be based on the Mark 2 version?. It’s logical, that they will.

Performance

The trains for Avanti West Coast will need to keep up with the Class 390 trains, which have the advantage of tilt.

The Railnews article says this about performance.

Although the new trains will not have tilt equipment, their superior acceleration should compensate for slightly slower speeds on some sections of line.

I think that the removal of tilt equipment could be a good thing.

  • Removal could reduce the weight of the train, which would result in increased acceleration.
  • Does tilting reduce the ride quality?
  • Of all the express trains on the UK network, the Class 390 trains, are the ones I avoid because the trains are cramped and so many seats have a bad view.. Is this caused by incorporating tilting or by crap design?

I also wonder if the reprofiled nose will improve the aerodynamics of the new trains for both the East Midlands Railway and Avanti West Coast.

Better aerodynamics would help during a high-speed cruise.

Train Length

Class 390 trains have two car lengths.

  • An intermediate car is 23.9 metres
  • A driving car is 25.1 metres

This means the following.

  • A nine-car Class 390/0 train is 217.5 metres long.
  • An eleven-car Class 390/1 train is 265.3 metres long.

If the Hitachi trains have seven twenty-six metre cars, then they are 182 metres long or 35.5 metres shorter.

I find that surprising, but it does mean they fit shorter platforms. Is this needed for new destinations like Walsall?

Seating Capacity

The Railnews says this about seating.

There will more seats, because a seven-car train will have 453 and five-car sets will have 301. First said the seven-car version will have about the same number of seats as a nine-car Pendolino, because each IET vehicle is longer, at 26m

Seating on current trains is as follows.

  • A nine-car Class 390 train seats 463 passengers.
  • A five-car Class 221 train seats 250 passengers.

It would appear that the bi-mode trains seat another fifty-one passengers, than the trains they are replacing, which must be good for the routes to Chester, Shrewsbury and North Wales.

As the seven car trains are not replacing any other trains, Aventi West Coast will have n increase in capacity.

Adding up the numbers, it appears that the Avanti West Coast fleet will have three more trains and 3443 more seats.

If they should need more cars or trains, Avanti West Coast should be able to buy them easily.

Out of curiosity, how many passengers could be seated in an Hitachi train, that is the same length as an eleven-car Class 390/1 train.

As this train is 265 metres, a ten-car Hitachi train would be almost the same length.

Assuming the same passenger density as the seven-car trains, a ten-car train would have 647 seats. The current Class 390/1 train has 589 seats, so there would be an increase of sixty seats.

Train Finance

The trains are financed by Rock Rail West Coast; a joint venture between Rock Rail and Aberdeen Standard Investments.

If your pension is with Aberdeen Standard, you may ultimately own a seat or a door handle on these trains, as pension funds find trains a good way of turning pension contributions into the long-term pension, we’ll hopefully all need.

Nationalisation of the trains themselves would probably blow a hole in a lot of pension pots.

Food Offering

The Railnews article says this about food.

The details of catering on board have yet to be finalised, but Railnews has learned that there will be a buffet counter as well as trolley services, and that one of the main food suppliers will be Marks and Spencer.

Over the last couple of years, a food war seems to have developed between Virgin and LNER and as a coeliac, I’ve noticed an improvement in gluten-free food.

Marks and Spencer have done a deal with British Airways, so surely a deal with a train company must fit that model.

  • M & S already deliver to shops in most of Avanti West Coast’s destinations.
  • M & S are one of the best on getting allergies correct.
  • M & S are one of the UK’s most trusted brands.

FirstGroup, who are a seventy percent sharewholder in Avanti West Coast, might like to roll this food model out in their other rail franchises; Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and the future East Coast Trains.

Hull

Hull station is an interesting case, although it has nothing to do with Avanti West Coast.

  • It is a major terminus for Hull Trains and TransPennine Express.
  • Hull Trains market themselves as a quality local train service to and from London.
  • Hull station does not have a M & S Simply Food.
  • M & S are closing their main store in Hull.
  • There are reportedly spare units in the large Hull station.

A well-designed M & S food hub in Hull station could be of great benefit to both FirstGroup and M & S.

Conclusion

Hitachi seem to be able to manipulate the train length to give customers the capacity they want.

But that is good design.

 

 

 

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

First Trenitalia Awarded West Coast Partnership

The title of this post is the same as this article on Railway Gazette.

There is all the usual good things about more seats and services, but little of the plans for the trains except these two paragraphs.

A new fleet of 13 electro-diesel and 10 electric trainsets will be introduced from 2022. These would replace the Bombardier-built Class 221 Super Voyager tilting DEMUs used by Virgin Trains, which will get an intermediate ‘refresh’ by the end of 2020. The new bimode units would be used on services between London and North Wales, while the electric sets would provide capacity for the additional services to Liverpool. Eliminating diesel operation on the electrified sections of the route is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 61%

First Trenitalia will invest £117m to refurbish the current fleet of 56 Alstom Class 390 Pendolino trainsets, providing ‘more comfortable’ standard class seats and additional luggage space, along with improved passenger information systems and enhanced toilets. More than £70m has been committed to providing free on train wi-fi and 5G capability.

This is all to be expected, as the replacement of the Class 221 trains has been indicated and the Pendelinos or Class 390 trains are now 

I will look at what this train order means.

West Coast Rail

There is now a Wikipedia entry for West Coast Rail, which will be the operating name of the new company.

The New Fleet

West Coast Rail are introducing a new fleet of thirteen electro-diesel and ten electric trains will be introduced from 2022.

I would suspect the following.

  • Both types of trains will be the same length and will appear identical.
  • Performance of both types of train will be identical.
  • Electro-diesel trains can probably stand in for the electric versions.
  • The trains could be faster, have better acceleration and braking and be able to make faster station stops, than the current Class 390 trains.
  • The trains will be ready for digital signalling.

Hitachi must be the front-runner to supply the trains, as they have sold lots of trains to First Group and some of the trains are built in Italy.

The lengths and seating capacity of the various trains are as follows.

  • Nine-car Pendelino – 217.5 metres  with 469 seats.
  • Elrven-car Pendelino – 265.3 metres  with 589 seats.
  • LNER Nine-car Class 801 – 234 metres with 637 seats

Note

  1. The Hitachi Class 801 train is only seventeen metres longer than a nine-car Pendelino, but has 36% more seats.
  2. The Class 801 train is also shorter than an eleven-car Pendelino, but has 8% more seats.

From personal experience, the LNER Class 801 trains appear less cramped than a Pendelino.

London and Liverpool Services

I will look at the direct Virgin services between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations

  • Northbound trains leave at XX:07 and take two hours and 12-14 minutes for the journey.
  • Trains wait for 26-28 minutes in the platform at Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • Sorthbound trains leave at XX:47 and take two hours and 12-16 minutes for the journey.
  • Trains wait for 4-8 minutes in the platform at Euston station.

It looks to me, that Virgin are using the platform at Lime Street station to balance the service. It does mean that trains probably keep more reliably to the timetable, but it hogs the platform at Liverpool Lime Street

The round trip time is five hours, so for an hourly service five trains are needed.

This frequency could need a second platform at Liverpool Lime Street station, but the station has now been remodelled and at least one extra platform has been added.

A second train to Liverpool in an hour, will need another five trains or a total of ten trains.

So does this mean that Euston and Liverpool service gets a dedicated fleet of new trains?

  • Liverpool Lime Street station used to have length issues, so are the trains the maximum length for the station.
  • Will the trains have better performance that the Pendelinos?
  • Will the trains be able to run at 140 mph on in-cab signalling?
  • The current journey times, probably date from before Norton Bridge Junction was improved.
  • The current journey time is two hours and twelve minutes.

A new timetable is coming in December 2022! Will this timetable and the new trains and improvements enable a Euston and Liverpool round trip of four hours?

This would mean.

  • A time between London and Liverpool of around one hour and fifty minutes, with a ten minute turnround time.
  • Two tph would need just eight trains, or only three more trains than the present.hourly service.
  • A clockface timetable.
  • A more than doubling of capacity between London and Liverpool.
  • It might also be possible to run all services into the same platforms at both ends of the route!

If the last point is is correct, West Coast Rail will need one less platform at both Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations. It should be noted that platform space at Euston is at a premium.

It would also mean that passengers will always go to the same platform at Euston and Lime Street, so this should reduce the scrum at Euston.

Will All The New Electric Trains Be Assigned To London And Liverpool Services?

The new electric trains will probably be faster, have better acceleration and shorter station dwell times than the Pendelinos, so will be able to go between London and Liverpool in a shorter time.

  • In a mixed fleet of new trains and Pendelinos, some trains would be slower.
  • The new trains have more capacity than the Pendelinos.
  • If a Pendelino had to replace a new electric train, it would most likely be late and would cause problems for the booking system.
  • A mixed fleet on a route, would probably increase the cost of staff and their training.
  • If eight trains are needed for the two tph service, a fleet of ten new trains would allow for one in maintenance and a spare.

For these reasons, I feel that the London and Liverpool services will get the whole fleet of new electric trains, thus releasing the five current bog-standard Pendelinos  on the route, to strength other services.

London and Manchester Services

If the London and Liverpool services could be speeded up, I suspect that the same could happen to London and Manchester services.

  • At the present time trains can do the round trip in four hours and forty minutes, so fourteen trains are needed for the current three tph.
  • The current Class 390 trains are probably capable of doing a round trip in four hours and thirty minutes, but this doesn’t fit a three tph timetable very well.
  • But it does fit a four tph service and it would need eighteen trains to run the service.
  • Manchester would get a thirty-three percent increase in capacity to and from London.

So if the five Class 390 trains released by the new trains on London and Liverpool services are moved to London and Manchester services, these services can be increased to four tph.

There is nothing to say it will happen, but it is pathetically possible and West Coast Rail will have enough Class 390 trains.

The addition of a fourth service will be driven by passenger numbers and perhaps a need to introduce a better service to and from the intermediate stops of Milton Keynes Central, Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe, Macclesfield, Wilmslow and Stockport

London And Blackpool Services

Currently, Virgin Trains run four trains per day between Euston and Blackpool North stations, with  two Class 390 trains used for the service.

The Wikipedia entry for West Coast Rail, says that some of the new trains will be used on the Blackpool service.

This may happen, but the new trains will certainly release some Class 390 trains from the London and Liverpool service to reinforce the Blackpool service.

Alternatively, better performance of the new trains, may enable two trains on the Blackpool route to run to a much more passenger-friendly timetable.

London And Birmingham Services

The Wikipedia entry for West Coast Rail, says that some of the new trains will be used on the Birmingham service.

I can’t see this happening, although all current diesel services, through Birmingham will be replaced by Class 390 trains or the new bi-mode trains.

Class 221 Train Replacement

The Railway Gazette article says this about the replacement of theClass 221 trains.

These would replace the Bombardier-built Class 221 Super Voyager tilting DEMUs used by Virgin Trains, which will get an intermediate ‘refresh’ by the end of 2020. The new bimode units would be used on services between London and North Wales. Eliminating diesel operation on the electrified sections of the route is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 61%.

Currently, there are twenty Class 221 trains.

  • They are five-car trains
  • They are 116 metres long
  • They can operate at 125 mph
  • They have a tilting capability.

These paragraphs from Wikipedia describe their Operation.

Virgin Trains (West Coast) uses the Class 221 units primarily from London Euston to Scotland via Birmingham New Street (despite the route being electrified throughout) and, from London Euston to Shrewsbury and, London Euston to Chester and North Wales. They are also used by a few London Euston to West Midland services.

The trains to and from Scotland often operate as double units and alternate between Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley (in turn alternating with TransPennine Express trains to and from Manchester Airport). When longer trains are needed for some of the busier services, a Pendolino will run through from and to London Euston, and the Super Voyager then fills in for it on the London to West Midlands route.

The trains on the North Wales route sometimes operate as double units. They run from London Euston and Chester and terminate at any of Chester, Holyhead, Bangor or Wrexham.

Note that they normally run as double units, which are 232 metres long.

As a nine-car Hitachi Class 800/801/802 train is 234 metres long, they would probably be able to call at any station, where a pair of Class 221 trains can operate.

If the trains are always assumed to run in pairs, then this means that there are ten operational ten-car trains.

So it looks like West Coast Rail will be ordering three additional bi-mode trains, as cover or to develop new routes.

London And Chester Services

I doubt there will be a major improvement in train timings between Euston and Chester, unless the new trains will be able to run at 140 mph using in-cab signalling between Euston and Crewe on the West Coast Main Line.

I also think, that as the new trains will be bi-modes and will run between Euston and Crewe using the electrification, that the chances of electrifying between Crewe and Chester will have decreased.

Extra Services

The Wikipedia entry for West Coast Rail does give some details on extra services under Services.

Conclusion

With some rigorous mathematics and the addition of ten new electric trains, I believe West Coast Rail will be able to offer the following improved services.

  • London and Liverpool – two tph in perhaps one hour and fifty minutes.
  • London and Manchester – four tph in under two hours.

Will there be any other service improvements on this scale?

 

August 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 7 Comments

Is Wigan North Western Station Ready For High Speed Two?

Wigan North Western station will be a stop used by High Speed Two and according to the Proposed Service Pattern in the Wikipedia entry, it will have at least one train per hour (tph).

I took these pictures at the station during my overnight stay.

A few thoughts about the station.

Platform Lengths

According to a stationman, they can handle eleven-car Class 390 trains in the following platforms.

  • The Northbound platforms 5 and 6.
  • The South bound platform 4.

As I arrived from Euston in an eleven-car train in Platform 5, I feel that he was correct. These eleven-car trains are over two hundred and fifty metres long.

Wikipedia says this about trains for High Speed Two.

Both types of train would have a maximum speed of at least 350 km/h (220 mph) and length of 200 metres (660 ft). Two units could be joined together for a 400-metre (1,300 ft) train.

Wigan North Western station would accept a single-train now, but the platforms would need lengthening to handle a double-train.

February 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment