The Anonymous Widower

A First Ride In Avanti West Coast’s Refurbished Class 390 Train – 23rd May 2022

I took these pictures on a very fraught trip back from Liverpool, that was caused by someone being hit by a train.

Note.

  1. It was much more comfortable, than the standard Class 390 train seats.
  2. The setup for charging phones was comprehensive and included induction charging.
  3. I do wonder, if there was more space in the seat.

It’s a great improvement on the original interior.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

First ‘As New’ Refurbished Avanti West Coast Pendolino Takes To The Tracks

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

The article gives these improvements to the Class 390 trains.

  • 25,000 new Standard Class seats
  • Conversion of one First Class carriage to provide 2,000 extra standard class seats.
  • New onboard shop
  • New lighting and carpets
  • Passenger information screens (PIS)
  • Additional luggage space in standard class
  • Power points at every seat
  • Refurbished toilets
  • New First and Standard Premium seats

The only refurbished train in service is 390125, which operated the following services on the 25th April 2022.

  • 0505 Manchester to Euston – Stops at Stockport, Crewe and Stafford
  • 0807 Euston to Liverpool – Stops at Milton Keynes Central, Stafford and Runcorn
  • 1047 Liverpool to Euston – Stops at Runcorn, Crewe and Stafford
  • 1857 Euston to Manchester – Stops at Rugby, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield and Stockport

It will be joined by a second refurbished train early next month.

April 27, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

My Unusual Feet

My feet are often a red colour, as is shown in these pictures.

Note.

  1. It’s always the left that’s the reddest.
  2. They often itch, which I usually can cure with lots of Body Shop Hemp Foot Cream.
  3. I have no hard skin on my feet.
  4. I used to suffer badly from plantar fasciitis, but the foot cream seems to have stopped it.

Yesterday, I went to Liverpool on the train.

No problems, but this morning when I got out of bed and pulled my right calf muscle. Not badly as I was able to cure it with a bit of light massage and a hot bath.

I also found that in twenty-four hours, I’d lost nearly a kilo and my left foot was very red.

This is not the first time, I’ve had troubles after travelling on Class 390 trains. In another incident my left hand stopped working. That ended up with an overnight stay in hospital.

I’m no medic, but I do wonder, if I have a very leaky skin. I’ve mused on this before in My Unusual Body.

But does it let water molecules through, but the larger red corpuscles in my blood can’t get out, so my skin looks red?

Could it also explain, why I never need a plaster for an injection or when a blood sample is taken? Perhaps, the skin just parts for the needle and then closes after it’s taken out, so that the blood doesn’t leak.

To return to the Class 390 trains, I just wonder if their air-conditioning is set, so that the temperature and humidity is just right to suck the water out of my body. I certainly don’t get any problems on InterCity 225s, Hitachi AT-300 trains or Stadler Class 745 trains.

 

February 12, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Could We See Between London And Much Of The North By Train In Under Two Hours?

I shall write about each route in order starting from Euston and working East.

Avanti West Coast And Euston

These are services from Euston, that I feel could be under two hours.

London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street

On Thursday, I went to Liverpool by train.

  • My train took two hours and thirteen minutes between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations.
  • There were stops at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • The Class 390 train was travelling at 125 mph for a lot of the way.
  • The distance between the two terminals is 193.6 miles.
  • The start to stop average including the stops was 87.3 mph.

So could London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street be achieved in the magic two hours?

A few thoughts.

Average Speed

To do the journey in this time  would need an average speed of 96.8 mph.

Accelerating And Stopping

Ideally, the train will run as fast as it can only changing speed for the station stops.

  • The train will accelerate from stop to cruising speed at Euston, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn or four times.
  • The train will decelerate from cruising speed to stop at Stafford, Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street or four times.

Effectively, the train goes through four complete station stops, although one will be split between the two ends of the journey.

These figures are from Wikipedia and the Internet

  • The acceleration of the Class 390 train is 1.0 mph/sec which means that it takes 125 seconds to get to 125 mph.
  • The deceleration of a Class 390 train is 2.0 mph/sec, which means that it takes 63 seconds to stop from 125 mph.
  • The acceleration of a Class 801 train is 1.6 mph/sec which means that it takes 78 seconds to get to 125 mph.
  • The deceleration of a Class 801 train is 2.2 mph/sec, which means that it takes 57 seconds to stop from 125 mph.

These figures would appear to show, that a Class 801 train can decelerate and accelerate at a stop in nearly a minute faster than a Class 390 train.

So how can we increase the acceleration and deceleration? The two obvious ways are more power and less weight.

Form the Internet, I estimate that the average car in a Class 390 train is around 52 tonnes, as opposed to 41 tonnes for the Hitachi trains.

So does this weight difference explain some of the difference in acceleration and deceleration times?

Consider.

  • The Class 390 trains have all the extra weight of the tilt mechanism. More weight means slower acceleration.
  • Avanti West Coast’s new Class 807 trains have no diesel engines or batteries. Have the trains been put on a diet?
  • They also have a reprofiled nose. Is it more aerodynamic?

So if these trains can save time on the four accelerate/decelerate cycles compared to the Class 390 trains, they must be getting nearer to the magic two hours.

If two minutes a stop can be saved that would save eight minutes on the journey between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.

140 Mph Running

The time to do a mile at various speeds are as follows.

  • 100 mph – 36 seconds
  • 125 mph – 29 seconds
  • 140 mph – 26 seconds

So running at 140 mph, as opposed to the current 125 mph would save three seconds for every mile.

To save five minutes would mean the train would have to run for a hundred miles at 140 mph instead of 125 mph.

As Stafford is 133.5 miles from London, it could be that full digital signalling should be installed on the West Coast Main Line all the way to Stafford or even Crewe, which is 158 miles from London.

This schematic map of the West Coast Main Line was clipped from Wikipedia.

Note.

  1. Trains between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street take the Trent Valley Line through Nuneaton and Lichfield Trent Valley and stop at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  2. Trains between London Euston and Manchester take a variety of routes and all go via Stockport.
  3. One train per hour (tph) between London Euston and Glasgow Central takes the Trent Valley Line and goes non-stop between London Euston and Warrington Central.
  4. Norton Bridge Junction just to the North of Stafford has recently been remodelled.

I believe there is potential to enable up to at least a hundred miles of 140 mph running to the South of Crewe. Especially as most of the track South of Crewe is quadruple track.

This should enable the shaving of five or more minutes off the time of any train capable of 140 mph running that uses the Trent Valley Line through Nuneaton, Lichfield Trent Valley and Stafford.

Norton Bridge Junction

Norton Bridge junction, which is five miles North  used to be a bottleneck, but it has now been remodelled.

I wrote about it in The New Norton Bridge Junction In Action.

The new junction has probably been designed so that it can save a few seconds for trains going between Stafford and Crewe, whether or not they stop at either or both stations.

Non-Stop Between London Euston and Runcorn

If you look at the times of a London Euston and Glasgow Central train via the Trent Valley Line , it travels the 174.7 miles between London Euston and Weaver Junction non-stop in one hour and forty minutes. This is an average speed of 104.8 mph.

By comparison, my train on Thursday took one hour and forty-seven minutes with the two stops at Stafford and Crewe.

So there is at least six minutes to be saved by going non-stop.

 

Two Trains Per Hour Between London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street

Wikipedia says this about an additional service.

Subject to approval by the Office of Rail and Road, an additional hourly service will be introduced between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street with a stop at Liverpool South Parkway from December 2022.

I have a few thoughts and questions on extra services between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street,

  • In my view the second service is much needed.
  • I also think, that a later train back to London is needed.
  • Does the Wikipedia statement mean that only one train will stop at Liverpool South Parkway?
  • Does Runcorn need two tph to and from London?
  • Would the platforms at Liverpool South Parkway be lengthened to accept eleven-car Class 390 trains?

I feel that if a train stopped at both Liverpool South Parkway and Runcorn, this would make a two-hour journey more difficult to achieve.

London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours

The new Class 807 trains will be delivered by 2022. Because of the pandemic, I’ll assume that of the ten trains on order, some, but not all, will be available by the December 2022 timetable change.

The time savings needed for a two-hour journey will come from four improvements.

  1. The increased performance of the Class 807 trains.
  2. Full digital signalling South of Crewe.
  3. The track improvements already completed like Norton Bridge Junction.
  4. Cutting out stop on the second service.

There may also be time savings to be obtained at the intermediate stops, by better working practices.

I doubt that the full digital signalling will have been installed, but all trains will be capable of 125 mph running.

Avanti West Coast probably have a good idea of the time they could achieve without digital signalling and I feel that they could be about five minutes over two hours with the Class 807 trains.

As the eleven-car Class 390 trains are too long for Liverpool South Parkway station, could we see the following service?

  • 1 tph – Class 390 train – London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street via Runcorn, Crewe and Stafford.
  • 1 tph – Class 807 train – London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street via Liverpool South Parkway.

Note.

  1. The Class 390 train would run the existing timetable in two hours and thirteen minutes.
  2. The Class 807 train would be a two-hour express service if possible.
  3. Going from three stops to one could save the express at least seven minutes, as I showed earlier by looking at train timings South of Weaver Junction.
  4. There would be time savings of at least two minutes on the express service due to the better performance of the Class 807 train.

To save the final four minutes, there would need to be at least eighty miles of 140 mph running, as each mile saves three seconds.

I am fairly certain, that London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street can be regularly achieved in two hours.

London Euston And Warrington Bank Quay

The hourly London Euston and Glasgow Central expresses seem to take one hour and forty-five minutes for the non-stop trip of 182.1 miles, which is an average speed of 104 mph.

As this service is non-stop, I believe that this service would get the maximum benefit from digital signalling and this service will only get faster, as more and more of the route allowed 140 mph-running.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see almost ten minutes lopped off this service by signalling and other improvements.

I am fairly certain, that London Euston and Warrington Bank Quay can be regularly achieved in well under two hours, by a Class 390 train.

London Euston And Wigan North Western

The hourly London Euston and Glasgow Central expresses seem to take one hour and fifty-six minutes for the single-stop trip of 193.9 miles, which is an average speed of 100.3 mph.

As this service just a single stop at Warrington Bank Quay, I believe that this service would get the maximum benefit from digital signalling and this service will only get faster, as more and more of the route allowed 140 mph-running.

As with Warrington Bank Quay, I wouldn’t be surprised to see almost ten minutes lopped off this service by signalling and other improvements.

I am fairly certain, that London Euston and Wigan North Western can be regularly achieved in comfortably under two hours, by a Class 390 train.

London Euston And Preston

The hourly London Euston and Glasgow Central expresses seem to take two hours and eleven minutes for the two -stop trip of 209 miles, which is an average speed of 95.7 mph.

As this service just stops at Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western, I believe that this service would get the maximum benefit from digital signalling and this service will only get faster, as more and more of the route allowed 140 mph-running.

As with Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western, I wouldn’t be surprised to see almost ten minutes lopped off this service by signalling and other improvements.

I am fairly certain, that London Euston and Preston can be regularly achieved in just under two hours, by a Class 390 train.

London Euston And Blackpool North

Avanti West Coast have indicated that their new Class 807 trains will run between London Euston and Blackpool North.

Consider.

  • I am fairly certain that a Class 390 train will be able to run between London Euston and Preston in under two hours, once digital signalling is installed South of Crewe.
  • Currently, Class 390 trains take twenty minutes between Preston and Blackpool North stations.
  • The Class 807 trains have better acceleration and deceleration and should be able to execute faster stops than the Class 390 trains.

I wonder if Avanti West Coast, Hitachi, Network Rail and Rock Rail have thought up a cunning plan to run Class 807  trains between  London Euston And Blackpool North, in under two hours.

Trains would go via the Trent Valley.

Trains might only stop at perhaps Milton Keynes Central, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Preston.

Trains would run at up to 140 mph using digital signalling, in as many places as possible.

Is the performance of the Class 807 trains sufficient to achieve London Euston and Blackpool North in under two hours via the Trent Valley?

London Euston And Manchester Piccadilly via Wilmslow

Consider.

  • Most trains between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Wilmslow seem to take around six or seven minutes over two hours.
  • I believe that if the 158 miles between London Euston and Crewe were to be digitally signalled, then this could save up to eight minutes by allowing trains to run at 140 mph rather than the current 125 mph.

This could be enough to bring the London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Wilmslow below two hours.

I am not surprised at this, as the trains were built for 140 mph and because there is no digital signalling, they are limited to 125 mph, which slows the trains by six or seven minutes.

London Euston And Manchester Piccadilly via Stoke-on-Trent

Everything I said about trains between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Wilmslow probably apply, except that the services via Stoke-on-Trent are a few minutes slower.

But I do feel, that this could be enough to bring the London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Stoke-on-Trent below two hours.

East Midlands Railway And St. Pancras

These is only one service from St. Pancras, that is not comfortably under two hours.

London St. Pancras And Sheffield

A typical service between London St. Pancras And Sheffield takes a few minutes over two hours..

  • There are two tph
  • There are stops at Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby or Chesterfield depending on the service.
  • The Class 222 trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two terminals is 164.7 miles.
  • The start to stop average including the stops is 81 mph.

I would suspect that East Midlands Railway’s new bi-mode Class 810 trains will be able to easily break the two-hour barrier.

  • They have four diesel engines so they can cruise at 125 mph on diesel.
  • They have electric power for South of Market Harborough.
  • Some diesel engines will be changed for batteries.

As electrification increases on the Midland Main Line, these trains will use less and less diesel.

I also suspect that digital signalling will start to creep into the route, starting from Bedford, where it is used on Thameslink.

LNER And King’s Cross

These are services from King’s Cross, that are or I feel will be under two hours.

London King’s Cross And Doncaster

A typical service between London King’s Cross And Doncaster takes around one hour and thirty-seven minutes.

  • There are four tph
  • There are stops at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark and Retford depending on the service.
  • The Class 80x trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two stations is 156 miles.
  • The start to stop average including the stops is 96.5 mph.

Digital signaling is being installed on this section of the East Coast Main Line and I suspect that this will reduce timings between London King’s Cross And Doncaster.

A simple estimate based on the maximum operating speed, indicates a time of one hour and twenty-six minutes should be possible.

But as a Control Engineer, I believe that digital signalling will lead to faster running over the Digswell Viaduct and through the flat crossing at Newark.

The timing will certainly be under one hour and thirty minutes between London King’s Cross And Doncaster.

London King’s Cross And York

A typical service between London King’s Cross And York takes around one hour and forty-eight minutes.

  • There are two tph
  • There are stops at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, Retford and Doncaster depending on the service.
  • The Class 80x trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two stations is 188.5 miles.
  • A non-stop service takes one hour and fifty-two minutes, which is a start to stop average including the stops is 101 mph.

If my crude estimate of time savings because of digital signalling South of Doncaster can be applied, this would imply a reduction in journey time of at least eleven minutes.

London King’s Cross And Leeds

A typical service between London King’s Cross And Leeds takes around two hours and thirteen minutes.

  • There are three tph
  • There are stops at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate depending on the service.
  • The Class 80x trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two terminals is 185.9 miles.
  • This is a start to stop average including the stops is 83.9 mph.

If my crude estimate of time savings because of digital signalling South of Doncaster can be applied, this would imply a reduction in journey time of at least eleven minutes, which would put a time between London King’s Cross and Leeds of around two hours.

London King’s Cross And Bradford Forster Square

LNER run some services on this route

  • The services take thirty minutes between Leeds and Bradford Forster Square stations.
  • The services do not reverse at Leeds.

Given that two hours should be possible between London Kings Cross and Leeds, it would appear that two hours and thirty minutes should be possible between Leeds and Bradford Forster Square stations.

London King’s Cross And Bradford Interchange

Grand Central run some services on this route

  • The services call at Doncaster, Wakefield Kirkgate, Mirfield, Brighouse and Low Moor
  • The services take two hours and fifty-four minutes between London King’s Cross and Bradford Interchange stations.
  • The services take one hour and seventeen minutes between Doncaster and Bradford Interchange stations.

The services are run by Class 180 diesel trains, which will have to be replaced to decarbonise the route.

I suspect that Hitachi will have a train for this route, that could use diesel or batteries to the North of Doncaster.

  • My estimate for the best time between King’s Cross and Doncaster is one hour and twenty-six minutes.
  • The current time between Doncaster and Bradford Interchange stations is one hour and seventeen minutes.

This gives a best time of perhaps two hours and forty-three minutes between Doncaster and Bradford Interchange stations.

The route to Bradford via Leeds is perhaps fifteen minutes faster, but it serves different stations.

London King’s Cross And Harrogate

LNER has been running to Harrogate for some time.

  • There is one train per two hours (tp2h)
  • The service calls at Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate and Leeds.
  • some services reverse at Leeds.
  • The service takes two hours and fifty-five minutes between London King’s Cross and Harrogate stations.
  • The service takes thirty minutes between Leeds and Harrogate stations.

Given that two hours should be possible between London Kings Cross and Leeds, it would appear that two hours and thirty minutes could be possible between London King’s Cross and Harrogate stations.

London King’s Cross And Huddersfield

In LNER Expands To Huddersfield, I described LNER’s new service to Huddersfield.

  • There will be one train per day (tpd)
  • The service will call at Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds and Dewsbury.
  • The service will split and join with the London King’s Cross and Skipton service at Leeds.
  • The service will reverse at Leeds.
  • The service take two hours and fifty-five minutes between London King’s Cross and Huddersfield stations.
  • The service will take twenty-five minutes between Leeds and Huddersfield stations.
  • Improvements are planned, which include electrification, between Dewsbury and Huddersfield

Given that two hours should be possible between London Kings Cross and Leeds, it would appear that two hours and thirty minutes could be possible between London King’s Cross and Huddersfield stations.

London King’s Cross And Hull

The fastest Hull Trains service between London King’s Cross And Hull takes around two hours and thirty minutes.

  • There are seven tpd
  • There are stops at Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden and Brough depending on the service.
  • The Class 80x trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two terminals is 205.3 miles.
  • This is a start to stop average including the stops is 82.1 mph.

If my crude estimate of time savings because of digital signalling South of Doncaster can be applied, this would imply a reduction in journey time of at least eleven minutes, which would put a time between London King’s Cross and Hull of around two hours and twenty minutes.

London King’s Cross And Middlesbrough

LNER have announced a Middlesbrough service, which I wrote about in LNER’s Middlesbrough And London Service. Starts On December 13th.

  • There will be one tpd in both directions
  • Intermediate stops will be at Thornaby and York.
  • The Middlesbrough and London service will leave Middlesbrough from Platform 1 at 07:08 and arrive in King’s Cross at 10:22.
  • The London and Middlesbrough service will leave King’s Cross at 15:25 and arrive in Middlesbrough in Platform 2 at 18:18.

There appear to be some curiosities in the timetabling of these trains, which I may explore later.

I would assume that is because LNER want a competitive time of three hours between King’s Cross and Middlesbrough.

These are Southbound times between Eaglescliffe and King’s Cross in the morning.

  • Grand Central –  Two hours and thirty-nine minutes
  • LNER – Three hours and two minutes

Is this because the Class 180 train is a genuine 125 mph train on diesel and the Class 800 train is not?

If my crude estimate of time savings because of digital signalling South of Doncaster can be applied, this would imply a reduction in journey time of at least eleven minutes, which would put a time between London King’s Cross and Middlesbrough of around three hours.

Conclusion

Of the cities and towns in the North, that I have discussed only Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull and Middlesbrough, are ones that will be difficult to be provided with a two-hour journey time to and from London. But all should be possible in close to or under two hours and thirty minutes.

 

 

October 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Alstom’s Widnes Factory

I took these pictures as the train to Liverpool passed Alstom’s Widnes factory, soon after crossing the River Mersey.

There has still been few announcements lately on the progress of the Class 321 trains being converted to hydrogen-powered Class 600 trains.

Perhaps, they are too busy updating Avanti West Coast’s Class 390 trains.

October 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Arriving In Liverpool Lime Street Station – 14th October 2021

I took these pictures as I arrived into Liverpool Lime Street station today.

Note.

  • The train arrived in Platform 9.
  • I arrived in the last coach and took the pictures walking to the front of the train.
  • The platform is just long enough for an eleven-car Class 390 train, which is 265.3 metres long. These are the longest trains in Avanti West Coast’s fleet.
  • The train was numbered 390130 and named City of Edinburgh.

Network Rail’s platform designers seem to have pulled out all the tricks to fit an eleven-car Class 390 train in Platform 9 at Liverpool Lime Street station.

The new seven-car Class 807 trains will only be 182 metres long, so would appear to fit Platform 9 easily.

In Could Avanti West Coast Run A Lumo-Style Service Between London And Liverpool?, I looked at the various options to run a two trains per hour (tph) service between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.

I came to these conclusions.

  • The shorter Class 807 trains would be needed to run services that stop at Liverpool South Parkway station, which has shorter platforms.
  • If both hourly services were run by new Class 807 trains, there would be a 54 % increase in hourly capacity.
  • If one service was run by a Class 390 train and the Liverpool South Parkway service was run by a Class 807 train, this would give a 77 % increase in hourly capacity.
  • The Liverpool South Parkway service or both services would be very close to two hours.

Whatever is done, it would be a flagship service between London and Liverpool.

October 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Should Improvement Needed For High Speed Two On The East And West Coast Main Lines Be Given High Priority?

High Speed Two will bring major improvements in times between London and the North of England and Scotland, with these figures claimed by this page on the High Speed Two web site.

  • London Euston and Carlisle – 2 hours and 23 minutes saving 54 minutes
  • London Euston and Darlington – 1 hours and 50 minutes saving 32 minutes
  • London Euston and Durham – 2 hours and 16 minutes saving 37 minutes
  • London Euston and Edinburgh – 3 hours and 48 minutes saving 31 minutes
  • London Euston and Glasgow – 3 hours and 40 minutes saving 49 minutes
  • London Euston and Lockerbie – 2 hours and 55 minutes saving 43 minutes
  • London Euston and Newcastle – 2 hours and 17 minutes saving 32 minutes

Substantial savings would seem to be possible.

The Recent Record Run On The West Coast Main Line

A few weeks ago, Avanti West Coast ran a Class 390 train between London Euston and Glasgow in three hours and 53 minutes and 1 second. They were trying to beat the record set by the \APT-P in 1984 of three hours and 52 minutes and 40 seconds.

In Lessons From The Record Run in the August 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, Roger Ford makes a big hint in a section called Hint.

Roger starts with this paragraph.

In the virtual race with APT-P, the Pendolino was seven minutes ahead approaching the border, but this was not sufficient to overcome APT-P’s advantage of being able to run faster over lines which, unlike the southern end of the WCML, have not enjoyed the increased speeds further south, such as at Stafford and Crewe.

He then talks of a levelling-up of the infrastructure being needed on the Northern section of the West Coast Main Line.

Roger finishes the section with this paragraph.

Thus, the final message of the run is that if HS2 is to realise its full potential, planning for the West Coast Route Modernisation (North) needs to start now, both for journey time reductions and reliability.

The High Speed Two time between Preston and Glasgow of two hours and 26 minutes, given by their journey time calculator  is in line with current timings.

I am drawn to the following conclusions about services between Preston and Glasgow.

  • I suspect the similar times  could be expected, as the trains will have to cope with other trains on the route.
  • Most of High Speed Two’s savings must be on the new track to the South of Wigan.

It would appear that any savings made between Preston and Scotland will benefit both classic and high speed services.

I certainly agree with Roger’s hint to start planning the upgrade of the Northern section of the West Coast Main Line.

This would surely enable upgrade of the route to start sooner and places at the North of the route would benefit from faster journey times to the South before High Speed Two is complete.

Reducing The Journey Times On The West Coast Main Line

If you look at the average speed between Preston and Glasgow of a typical train, it is just 84.3 mph.

Various average speeds give the following times between Preston and Glasgow.

  • 90 mph – two hours and 8 minutes
  • 100 mph – one hour and 55 minutes
  • 110 mph – one hour and 45 minutes

It would appear there is scope for reductions in journey times to be made.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the Scottish part of the route and it doesn’t look to be too terrifying.

  • There are tight speed limits at Preston and Carlisle
  • The railway is not hemmed in by development until close to Glasgow.
  • Most of the modern bridges, where the M74 crosses the railway appear to have space for an extra track.
  • Connection of the Borders Railway to the West Coast Main Line could give scope for improvement between Gretna junction and Carlisle.
  • The depot at Annandale, that I wrote about in High Speed Two To Build Stabling Facility In Scotland, may give scope for a shorter, straighter and faster route between Grena Green and Kirkpatrick-Fleming, that could run closer to the M74.
  • North of Lockerbie, there may be scope to put extra tracks between the railway and the M74.
  • The Carstairs area could be ripe for improvement.

I would feel that digital signalling and some well-applied engineering could cut a sensible amount of time from Preston and Glasgow timings.

  • I can certainly say, that the route is not a desert, where possible improvements will be difficult to find.
  • I also don’t feel there are any obvious improvements, that will be controversial.

There is also the M74, which could be invaluable for camouflaging the railway.

Reducing The Journey Times On The East Coast Main Line

Much of the work to speed up the Northern section of the East Coast Main Line is laid out in Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line, a post I wrote to explain what Northern Powerhouse Rail feel is urgently needed.

Mentioned in the other post are following projects.

  • Full Digital Signalling
  • Phase 2 Of The East Coast Main Line Power Supply Upgrade
  • York to Church Fenton Improvement Scheme
  • Darlington Station Remodelling
  • The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction
  • Use Of The Leamside Line

As with the West Coast Main Line, the improvements would benefit both classic and High Speed services.

Conclusion

Improvements to both the East and West Coast Main Lines will help both classic and High Speed services between London and the North of England and Scotland.

I think that planning and design should be started as soon as possible.

Construction should start as early as possible, so that the benefits of faster trains are felt at the earliest date possible.

 

 

August 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 11 Comments

London To Glasgow Train Journey Record Bid Fails By Just 21 Seconds

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

An attempt to break the 36-year-old record for the fastest train journey between London and Glasgow has failed.

Avanti West Coast’s Royal Scot train arrived at Glasgow Central 21 seconds behind the record of three hours, 52 minutes and 40 seconds set by British Rail in December 1984, according to rail expert Mark Smith, who was onboard.

Mr Smith, founder of Seat61.com, wrote on Twitter that a temporary speed limit on the track in Carstairs, South Lanarkshire, “cost us 90 seconds”.

It appears to be a valiant attempt that failed by a small margin.

I have a few thoughts.

The Trains

The British Rail 1984 record was set by an Advanced Passenger Train (APT) and today’s run was by a nine-car Class 390 train.

  • The design speed of the APT was 155 mph and that of a Class 390 train is 140 mph.
  • Service speed of both trains was and is 125 mph.
  • Record speed of the APT was 162 mph and that of a Class 390 train is 145 mph.
  • Both trains employ similar tilt technology to go faster.

At a brief look the performance of these two trains is very similar.

The InterCity 225

The InterCity 225 train is the ringer in this race to the North.

  • The design speed is 140 mph.
  • The service speed is 125 mph
  • The record speed of an InterCity 225 is 161.7 mph.
  • The train doesn’t use tilting technology.
  • The train was built after the APT around 1990.
  • The train holds the record between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh at thirty seconds under three-and-a-half hours.
  • To rub things in, one of these trains, even holds the London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly record.

But there can’t be much wrong with the InterCity 225 trains as a few are being brought back into service, whilst LNER are waiting for ten new bi-mode trains to be delivered.

Hitachi Class 80x Trains

The various variants of Class 800 trains run to Edinburgh and I’m sure they will run to Glasgow.

  • The design speed is 140 mph.
  • The service speed is 125 mph

If an InterCity 225 can go between Edinburgh and London in around three-and-a-half hours, I can’t see why these trains can’t.

Especially, as Hitachi seem to be able to produce versions like the Class 803 and Class 807 trains, which appear to be lighter and more efficient, as they don’t have any diesel engines.

A Small Margin

I said earlier that it was only a small margin between the times of the APT and the Class 390 train. But why was the InterCity 225 able to run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh at thirty seconds under three-and-a-half hours?

This section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive is entitled Speed Record. This is the first paragraph.

A Class 91, 91010 (now 91110), holds the British locomotive speed record at 161.7 mph (260.2 km/h), set on 17 September 1989, just south of Little Bytham on a test run down Stoke Bank with the DVT leading. Although Class 370s, Class 373s and Class 374s have run faster, all are EMUs which means that the Electra is officially the fastest locomotive in Britain. Another loco (91031, now 91131), hauling five Mk4s and a DVT on a test run, ran between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley in 3 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds on 26 September 1991. This is still the current record. The set covered the route in an average speed of 112.5 mph (181.1 km/h) and reached the full 140 mph (225 km/h) several times during the run.

It looks from the last sentence of this extract, that the record run of the InterCity 225 train ran up to 140 mph in places, whereas the record run of the APT and today’s run by a Class 390 train were limited to 125 mph.

The Signalling

In the Wikipedia entry for the InterCity 225 train, the following is said.

Thus, except on High Speed 1, which is equipped with cab signalling, British signalling does not allow any train, including the InterCity 225, to exceed 125 mph (201 km/h) in regular service, due to the impracticality of correctly observing lineside signals at high speed.

Note.

  1. I have regularly flown my Cessna 340 safely at altitude, with a ground speed of around two hundred miles per hour.
  2. High Speed One has an operating speed of 186 mph.
  3. Grant Schapps, who is Secretary of State for Transport has a pilot’s licence. So he would understand flight instruments and avionics.

So why hasn’t a system been developed in the thirty years since trains capable of running at 140 mph started running in the UK, to allow them to do it?

It is a ridiculous situation.

We are installing full digital ERTMS in-cab signalling on the East Coast Main Line, but surely a system based on aviation technology could be developed until ERTMS  is ready. Or we could install the same system as on High Speed One.

After all, all we need is a system, to make sure the drivers don’t misread the signals.

But then the EU says that all member nations must use ERTMS signalling.

Didn’t we just leave the EU?

Conclusion

By developing our own in-cab digital signalling we could run trains between London and Scotland in around three-and-a-half hours.

The Japanese could even have an off-the-shelf system!

ERTMS sounds like a closed shop to give work to big European companies, who have lobbied the European Commission.

June 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hitachi Class 800 Train Or Pendelino?

I have had several day trips on hot days on Hitachi Class 800 trains or similar since the pandemic started to places like Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster, Grantham, Hull and Westbury.

I’ve done a couple of trips in Pendelinos or Class 390 trains to Birmingham and Liverpool.

In addition, I’ve taken a couple of trips on other trains to Corby, Ipswich, Sheffield and Southampton.

It must have been sometime in 2018, when I took one of the first Pendelinos to Blackpool after that station was first electrified.

It was a journey on which I first noticed being unwell on a Pendelino. I travelled in First and remember complaining to the steward and said that some taff didn’t like the trains after their recent air-conditioning upgrade.

Perhaps, Virgin Trains chose a system that would be cheaper to run and it is not on a par with the quality systems used by Bombardier and Hitachi?

I have been testing the atmosphere in trains like a Class 345, 378 or 800 and the temperature is usually 25-26 °C and a humidity around 40-60 %. I haven’t tested a Pendolino yet!

I must say, I’ve never ended up in hospital after a trip out of London, except after a recent trip on a Pendelino to Birmingham, that I wrote about in A Mysterious Attack On My Body.

In that post, I also said this about the Pendelinos.

I had travelled between Euston  and Wolverhampton on my least favourite trains – Alstom’s Class 390 trains.

    • The seats don’t align well with the windows.
    • The trains are cramped because of all the tilting mechanism.

These trains must a nightmare for anybody taller than my 1.70 metres or heavier than my sixty-two kilos.

But the biggest problem of these Pendolino trains is that Alstom updated the air-conditioning a few years ago for Virgin a few years ago and I find the air inside too dry.

So in future, I won’t be travelling on a Pendelino, unless I travel in First!

I also can’t wait until Avanti West Coast get new Hitachi Class 807 trains on the Euston and Liverpool route!

June 11, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

A Mysterious Attack On My Body

Last Friday, I went to Birmingham and looked at the extension of the West Midlands Metro to Fiveways and Perry Barr station before it is updated for the Commonwealth Games.

I also took a detour to Wolverhampton station to see how the new transport interchange is progressing.

I had travelled between Euston  and Wolverhampton on my least favourite trains – Alstom’s Class 390 trains.

  • The seats don’t align well with the windows.
  • The trains are cramped because of all the tilting mechanism.

These trains must a nightmare for anybody taller than my 1.70 metres or heavier than my sixty-two kilos.

But the biggest problem of these Pendolino trains is that Alstom updated the air-conditioning a few years ago for Virgin a few years ago and I find the air inside too dry.

I am glad to see that Avanti West Coast have ordered new Hitachi Class 807 trains for running to and from Liverpool.

In my few hours in Birmingham, I didn’t have much to eat or drink.

  • I had a hot chocolate from a stall outside Wolverhampton station.
  • I also took a box of Leon’s gluten-free chicken and a lemonade onto the train home.

I was fine until I got to about Watford, but about I felt a need for the toilet. I waited until Euston and then it seemed everything in my body went down the toilet in the station.

Saturday

I had slept well on Friday night going to bed after the ten o’clock news as I usually do.

I spent a very quiet Saturday mainly watching sport on the television and not leaving my house.

Sunday

After a good night’s sleep, I noticed things seemed to have gone a bit wrong with my left hand.

  • I couldn’t get my left arm to co-operate with putting on a shirt.
  • I had trouble opening a yoghurt pot, by gripping it in my left hand and ripping the top off with my right.
  • I couldn’t tie my shoe-laces and had to use a pair of slip on shoes.

But

  • At no time was I having any balance problems and bathed successfully,
  • I did manage to get to the shops at the Angel to get a few bits and pieces I needed.

In the end I phoned 111 and they decided, I should be looked at professionally in hospital.

Royal London Hospital

Once in A & E at the Royal London things started to get better.

  • A CT-Scan had shown no problems.
  • I had a negative Covid test.
  • They did a few blood tests.
  • They told me that I had an infection.

But remarkably after an hour or so, my hand had started working normally.

The only reason, I could think, was that the air in the hospital was fully climate-controlled, whereas at home, it was just hot and dry.

They kept me in overnight and after a couple of human-based checks in the morning sent me home in a taxi.

Conclusion

The whole episode does seem so like an incident I described in A Couple of Days in Hospital.

May 12, 2021 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments