The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – South Yorkshire Joint Railway

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This railway seems to have been forgotten, as even Wikipedia only has a rather thin entry for the South Yorkshire Joint Railway.

The best description of the railway, that I’ve found is from this article in the Doncaster Free Press, which is entitled South Yorkshire Railway Line, Which Last Carried Passengers 100 Years Ago Could Be Reopened.

This is said.

The line remains intact, and recently maintained, runs from Worksop through to Doncaster, via North and South Anston, Laughton Common/Dinnington and Maltby.

I jave got my helicopter out and navigating with the help of Wikipedia, I have traced the route of the South Yorkshire Joint Railway (SYJR) between Worksop and Doncaster.

Shireoaks Station

This Google Map shows the Southern end of the SYJR on the Sheffield and Gainsborough Central Line between Shireoaks and Kiveton Park stations.

Note.

  1. Shireoaks station is in the East.
  2. Kiveton Park station is in the West.
  3. The SYJR starts at the triangular junction in the middle of the map.
  4. Lindrick Golf Club, where GB & NI, won the Ryder Cup in 1957 is shown by a green arrow to the North of Shireoaks station.
  5. The original passenger service on the SYJR, which closed in the 1920s, appears to have terminated at Shireoaks station.

The line immediately turns West and then appears to run between the villages of North and South Anston.

Anston Station

This Google Map shows the location of Anston station.

Note that the SYJR goes between the two villages and runs along the North side of the wood, that is to the North of Worksop Road.

Dinnington & Laughton Station

This Google Map shows the lacation of the former Dinnington & Laughton station.

Note that the SYJR goes to the west side of both villages, so it would have been quite a walk to the train.

Maltby Station

This Google Map shows the location of the former Maltby station.

Note.

  1. The SYJR goes around the South side of the village.
  2. The remains of the massive Maltby Main Colliery, which closed several years ago.

I wonder if they fill the shafts of old mines like this. if they don’t and just cap them, they could be used by Gravitricity to store energy. In Explaining Gravitricity, I do a rough calculation of the energy storage with a practical thousand tonne weight. Maltby Main’s two shafts were 984 and 991 metres deep. They would store 2.68 and 2.70 MWh respectively.

It should be noted that Gravitricity are serious about 5.000 tonnes weights.

Tickhill & Wadworth Station

This Google Map shows the location of the former Tickhill & Wadworth station.

Note.

  1. Tickhill is in the South and Wadworth is in the North.
  2. Both villages are to the West of the A1 (M)
  3. The SYJR runs in a North-Easterly direction between the villages.

The station appears to have been, where the minor road and the railway cross.

Doncaster iPort

The SYJR then passes through Doncaster iPort.

Note.

  1. The iPort seems to be doing a lot of work for Amazon.
  2. The motorway junction is Junction 3 on the M18.
  3. The SYJR runs North-South on the Western side of the centre block of warehouses.

This is Wikipedia’s introductory description of the iPort.

Doncaster iPort or Doncaster Inland Port is an intermodal rail terminal; a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange, under construction in Rossington, Doncaster at junction 3 of the M18 motorway in England. It is to be connected to the rail network via the line of the former South Yorkshire Joint Railway, and from an extension of the former Rossington Colliery branch from the East Coast Main Line.

The development includes a 171-hectare (420-acre) intermodal rail terminal to be built on green belt land, of which over 50 hectares (120 acres) was to be developed into warehousing, making it the largest rail terminal in Yorkshire; the development also included over 150 hectares (370 acres) of countryside, the majority of which was to remain in agricultural use, with other parts used for landscaping, and habitat creation as part of environment mitigation measures.

It ;looks like the SYJR will be integrated with the warehouses, so goods can be handled by rail.

Onward To Doncaster

After the iPort, the trains can take a variety of routes, some of which go through Doncaster station.

I have some thoughts on the South Yorkshire Joint Railway (SYJR).

Should The Line Be Electrified?

This is always a tricky one, but as there could be a string of freight trains running between Doncaster iPort and Felixstowe, something should be done to cut the carbon emissions and pollution of large diesel locomotives.

Obviously, one way to sort out Felixstowe’s problem, would be to fill in the gaps of East Anglian electrification and to electrify the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line between Peterborough and Doncaster via Lincoln. But I suspect Lincolnshire might object to up to fifteen freight trains per hour rushing through. Even, if they were electric!

I am coming round to the believe that Steamology Motion may have a technology, that could haul a freight  train for a couple of hours.

These proposed locomotives, which are fuelled by hydrogen and oxygen, will have an electric transmission and could benefit from sections of electrification, which could power the locomotives directly.

So sections of electrification along the route, might enable the freight trains to go between Felixstowe and Doncaster iPort without using diesel.

It should be said, that Steamology Motion is the only technology, that I’ve seen, that has a chance of converting a 3-4 MW diesel locomotive to zero carbon emissions.

Many think it is so far-fetched, that they’ll never make it work!

Electrification of the line would also enable the service between Doncaster and Worksop to be run by Class 399 tram-trains, which are pencilled in to be used to the nearby Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

What Rolling Stock Should Be Used?

As I said in the previous section, I feel that Class 399 tram-trains would be ideal, if the line were to be electrified.

Also, if the line between Shireoaks and Kiveton Park stations were to be electrified to Sheffield, this would connect the South Yorkshire Joint Line to Sheffield’s Supertram network.

Surely, one compatible tram-train type across South Yorkshire, would speed up development of a quality public transport system.

Conclusion

This seems to be a worthwhile scheme, but I would like to see more thought on electrification of the important routes from Felixstowe and a unified and very extensive tram-train network around Sheffield.

 

July 5, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

The Route

This Google Map shows where the Barrow Hill Line starts at Tapton Junction near Chesterfield station.

Note.

  1. Chesterfield station is less than a mile to the South.
  2. The left railway going North is the Midland Main Line to Sheffield
  3. The right railway going North is the Barrow Hill Line.

The Barrow Hill Line turns slightly to the East and this Google Map shows it passing through Barrow Hill, which gives the route its name.

Note.

The historic Barrow Hill Roundhouse and some rail-related businesses to the North of the line.

There used to be a station here called Barrow Hill! What a surprise!

The Wikipedia entry for Barrow Hill station has a section called Modern Traffic, where this is said.

At 22 June 2013 the line is part of the Midland Main Line. It is used predominantly for freight, with a handful of passenger trains going the “long way round” from Chesterfield to Sheffield via the Old Road and Darnall largely to retain staff route knowledge in case of diversions.

The Wikipedia entry for the station also has a section called Possible Future, which is worth a read, as it lists other mothballed rail lines in the area, that could be developed.

Follow the Barrow Hill Line to the North-East and it goes through a mix of agricultural land, industrial dereliction, modern factories and nature reserves before it splits near Beighton.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The rail lines splitting by the Rother Valley Country Park at Beighton Junction.
  2. Barrow Hill is to the South.
  3. There used to be a station at Beighton.
  4. Woodhouse station is in the North West corner of the map.
  5. Woodhouse station is on the Sheffield-Lincoln Line, which can be seen crossing the area.
  6. Trains taking the left fork at Beighton Junction can go to Sheffield via Woodhouse and Darnall stations.
  7. Trains taking the right fork go under the Sheffield-Lincoln line and have connections to a large number of destinations for both freight and passengers.

It looks to me, that it is proposed to convert this long-way round route, into a second route between Sheffield and Chesterfield.

  • Stations exist at Woodhouse and Darnall.
  • Stations used to exist at Barrow Hill, Eckington & Renishaw, Killamarsh West  and Beighton.
  • The route would surely be very useful, when the Midland Main Line route between Sheffield and Chesterfield is updated for High Speed Two.
  • The route might also be very useful for East Midlands Railway to develop services to Rotherham and other places to the East of Sheffield.
  • I’ve found a train that takes this route between Chesterfield and Sheffield and with no stops it took twenty-five minutes.
  • Typically, the direct route takes about eleven minutes.

I can see several possibilities for local, regional and national services using the Barrow Hill Line.

I have a few questions.

Would The Barrow Hill Line Be Electrified?

It has been stated that High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line will share an electrified corridor from Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield via Chesterfield.

  • So as both stations will be electrified, it would not be any problem to rustle up a good electricity supply to power an electrified Barrow Hill Route.
  • Electrification might narrow the fourteen minute difference between the routes.
  • Electrification would allow East Midlands Railway‘s new Class 810 trains to have a second electrified route into Sheffield.
  • Is there a case for a service between London and the South of England and the South and East of Sheffield?

I think electrification of the Barrow Hill Line is more than a possibility.

Would Gauge-Clearance For Electrification Be Difficult?

As the route is already cleared for freight trains with the largest containers, it won’t be as difficult as some routes.

Could Tram-Trains Be Used Between Sheffield And Chesterfield On The Barrow Hill Line?

In Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Tram-Train Route To A New Station At Waverley, I talked about a plan by the Sheffield Region for a new tram-train route between Sheffield station and a new housing district of Waverley on the Sheffield-Lincoln Line.

  • Waverley is between Darnall and Woodhouse stations.
  • The new Advanced Manufacturing Park would also be served.
  • Tram-trains could venture further down the Sheffield-Lincoln Line, if that was so desired.

If tram-trains were used on the Barrow Hill Line, between Sheffield and Chesterfield, both routes would share the track between Sheffield and Darnall stations.

Note that tram-trains would be able to share tracks with all electric trains used around Sheffield, including freight trains and the Class 810 trains.

Note that the stations for tram-trains can be much simpler and even share platforms with full-size trains.

The pictures show Class 399 tram-trains at Rotherham Parkgate and Rotherham Central stations.

  • I feel with innovative design, the whole route between Sheffield and Chesterfield could be run using tram-trains.
  • The route could be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Instead of taking the Sheffield fork at Beighton Junction, the tram-trains could also take the right fork and link Chesterfield with Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Swinton.
  • These tram-trains also come with batteries, if that is needed.

Barnsley, Chesterfield, Rotherham and Sheffield could be getting a lot of better connectivity and the Barrow Hill Line is key.

Conclusion

This looks to be a very sensible project.

  • It could be run with either trains or tram-trams.
  • It should be electrified, so could be zero-carbon.
  • Tram-trains could be used to make stations simpler.
  • It could give an alternative route for electric trains to Sheffield station.
  • The track is already there and regularly used.

But surely the biggest reason to built it, is that it appears to open up a lot of South and South-East Sheffield and North-East Chesterfield for development.

 

May 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Tyne And Wear Metro: Swiss Firm Stadler To Build New Fleet

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Swiss firm Stadler has won a £362m contract to build a new fleet of trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

And this is one of Stadler’s visualisations of the trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro (T & W).

Compare this with a Stadler picture of a Class 777 train, that will soon be appearing on Merseyrail in Liverpool.

They would appear to be two very similar trains.

  • The same headlights and stylised M on the front.
  • One pair of double passenger doors in the first car.
  • Both new trains are articulated with four sections.
  • Train widths are Merseyrail Old – 2.82 metres, T & W Old – 2.65 metres and Merseyrail New – 2.82 metres.
  • The Merseyrail trains have a 75 mph operating speed and the T & W trains have one of only 50 mph.

The T & W trains have a pantograph and overhead electrification and the Merseyrail trains use third-rail electrification.

More Details On The Tyne And Wear Trains

This page on the NEXUS web site is entitled Nexus Unveils £362m New Tyne And Wear Metro Trains.

This is two paragraphs.

The new trains will cut Metro’s high voltage power consumption by 30% while providing 15 times better reliability than the current fleet. Metro’s 36 million passengers will benefit from modern features including wifi, charging points, air conditioning and a step-change in accessibility.

Among new features will be an automatic sliding step at every door of the new trains, making travel easier for Metro’s 50,000 wheelchair passengers as well as people with children’s buggies, luggage or bicycles.

The size of the energy saving, indicates that the trains will probably be using regenerative braking.

As it has been disclosed that the new Merseyrail trains will have a small battery for depot movements, will this also be used to handle the regenerative braking.

More details of the trains will be disclosed in the coming months.

Merseyrail And The Tyne And Wear Metro Are Similar

I have ridden Merseyrail many times and the Tyne and Wear Metro perhaps five times and it is surprising how similar the two systems are.

  • They are partly in tunnel.
  • There are a range of stations, including both ancient and modern, simple and complex.
  • Merseyrail is powered by 750 VDC third rail electrification and T & W by 1500 VDC overhead electrification. The power electronics on the two fleets, won’t be that different.
  • Both operators have ambitions to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification to extend services.
  • Both operators have ambitions to extend services on lines, that currently have no electrification. Merseyrail want to go to Preston, Skelmersdale, Warrington and Wrexham and T & W want to go to Blyth and Ashington.

It is no surprise to me, that Merseyrail and T & W have chosen to use two versions of the same Stadler train.

Expansion Of The Networks

Both networks are ambitious  and it appears to me, that they have ordered a train, that could be used to expand their networks.

Merseyrail

Merseyrail have proposed these expansions at various times.

  • Extension of the Northern Line from Ormskirk to Preston
  • Extension of the Northern Line from Hunts Cross to Warrington
  • Incorporation of the Borderlands Line from Bidston to Wrexham into the Wirral Line as a new branch.
  • A new branch of the Northern Line to Skelmersdale via the new station at Headbolt Lane.
  • Passenger services on the Canada Dock Branch.

Merseyrail now have the trains to handle this expansion.

  • They may need to purchase a few extra trains.
  • Some charging points or electrification may be needed.

Note that Bidston and Wrexham is less than thirty miles of unelectrified line, so I suspect that the new trains can handle this range.

Other places within a similar range include.

  • Preston from Ormskirk
  • Wigan Wallgate from Kirkby
  • Manchester Oxford Road from Hunts Cross, via Warrington Central.
  • Chester from Liverpool Lime Street via Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby.

The four terminal stations all have existing bay platforms.

Tyne And Wear Metro

The Tyne And Wear Metro have proposed these expansions at various times.

  • Sunderland city centre to Doxford Park
  • South Shields to Sunderland
  • Washington, either via the disused Leamside line or a new route

But as the Government is funding a study into linking Blyth and Ashington to Newcastle, which I wrote about in £500m Fund To Restore Beeching Rail Cuts Goes Ahead Amid Criticism, I wouldn’t be surprised that this route is developed.

A lot of my comments about expanding the Merseyrail network, can be applied to the T & W.

  • They may need to purchase a few extra trains.
  • Some charging points or electrification may be needed.

None of the proposed extensions seem particularly long and places like Blyth, Ashington and Washington should be able to be reached on battery power.

Tram-Train Operation

The Wikipedia entry for Merseyrail has a section called tram-trains.

Two possible routes are indicated.

  • Liverpool Lime Street to John Lennon Airport, using street-running from Liverpool South Parkway.
  • Kings Dock to Edge Hill

I have heard others mentioned.

The Wikipedia entry for the Tyne and Wear Metro also mentions street-running.

Stadler have extensive experience of trams and tram-trains and built the Class 399 tram-trains for the Sheffield Supertram.

Stadler also provided the trains for the unique tram-train system in the German town of Zwickau, where diesel multiples units share the tram tracks to access the town centre.

The picture shows the train at its stop in the centre.

I’m sure Stadler know how to enable street-running with the UK’s smaller trains.

Stadler’s trains, trams and tram trains also seem to have a high degree of articulation and seem to be able to take tight corners with ease.

The picture was taken inside a Class 399 tram-train, as it traversed the tight curve under the M1 motorway, where the tram and the train sections of the route to Rotherham join.

Looking at the pictures of the Class 777 trains, I feel they could be able to take tighter curves than most trains.

The Dead Elephant In The Room

Several local services on Merseyside and in the North East are run by Northern, which is now being taken over the Government.

The Department for Transport, hasn’t disclosed any plans yet, but it is likely that some routes could be handed to Merseyrail and the T & W.

There is a loose precedent for this happening. In North-East London the poorly performing Lea Valley Lines from Liverpool Street to Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town were moved from Greater Anglia to London Overground in 2015. No-one feels they should be returned and there are rumours that more services in the area will move to the London Overground.

So what services could be moved?

Merseyrail

These diesel services could surely be moved to Merseyrail.

  • Omrskirk and Preston – 16 miles
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road via Warrington Central – 27 miles

The distances are the length of track without electrification.

It could also be argued that Greater Manchester would get its share of the Northern routes, but I can envisage Class 777 trains or similar running the following routes.

  • Southport and Manchester Victoria – 27 miles
  • Kirkby and Manchester Victoria – 28 miles

As before, the distances are the length of track without electrification, but these could be reduced considerably with electrification from Salford Crescent to Wigan Wallgate.

It should be noted that Greater Manchester has ambitions to run tram-trains to Wigan Wallgate via various routes.

The demise of Northern probably allows these routes to be taken over by Greater Manchester.

  • Manchester Piccadilly and Buxton – 16 miles
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Hadfield/Glossop – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Blackburn – 14 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Clitheroe – 24 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Rochdale – 11 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 8 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Wigan Wallgate – 10 miles

Again, the distances are the length of track without electrification.

Buxton and Clitheroe could be difficult because of the gradients involved, but as in South Wales, bi-modes might be the solution if the routes were run back-to-back.

This simple analysis shows how Northern’s demise will ask questions all over the North.

Tyne And Wear Metro

These diesel services could surely be moved to the T & W.

  • Newcastle and Morpeth – Electrified
  • Newcastle and Chathill- Electrified

I also think, that these services could be restructured, if the Blyth and Ashington routes are developed for the T & W.

The trains could also reach to Hexham, which is just 22 miles from electrification.

Middlesbrough is probably too far, as the station is thirty five miles from the electrification at Sunderland.

But electrification of the Durham Coast Line would allow the T & W Metro to serve the new station at Howden and reach Middlesbrough and possibly Nunthorpe.

Conclusion

I can see both Merseyrail and the Tyne and Wear Metro significantly extending their networks in the next few years.

The new trains, with their batteries and dual-voltage capability are built for expansion.

Tram-train or street running will help.

Several important new areas are within battery range.

I can also see other cities using similar Stadler technology to create local Metros.

Manchester, Middlesbrough, Preston and Sheffield come to mind.

Using similar technology would surely allow joint services and sharing of knowledge and designs to enable cost savings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Protests After Claim That Hitachi Has Lost T&W Contract

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

This is the introductory paragraphs.

There have been protests in north east England after a report claimed that Hitachi has been ruled out of the three-way contest to build a £500 million fleet for Tyne & Wear Metro.

The other contenders are CAF and Stadler, and the source of the claims says ‘insiders’ at Nexus have been told that Hitachi will be ‘overlooked’.

It should be noted that the two other bidders have orders for similar trains in the pipeline.

CAF

In TfL Awards Contract For New DLR Fleet To Replace 30-year-old Trains , I wrote about how CAF had been awarded the contract for new trains for the Docklands Light Railway.

I also said this about the possibility of CAF being awarded the contract for the new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

In Bombardier Transportation Consortium Preferred Bidder In $4.5B Cairo Monorail, I indicated that as the trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro and the trains on the Docklands Light Railway, are of a similar height and width, it might be possible to use the same same car bodies on both trains.

So now that CAF have got the first order for the Docklands Light Railway, they must be in prime position to obtain the Tyne and Wear Metro order!

A second order would fit well with the first and could probably be built substantially in their South Wales factory.

Stadler

Stadler seem to be targeting the North, with new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail and Class 399 tram-trains for Sheffield and bids in for tram-trains and and new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Their trains are both quirky, accessible and quality and built to fit niche markets like a glove.

Only Stadler would produce a replacement for a diesel multiple unit fleet with a bi-mode Class 755 train, with the engine in the middle, that is rumoured to be capable of running at 125 mph.

Note the full step-free access between train and platform, which is also a feature of the Merseyrail trains.

Does the Tyre and Wear Metro want to have access like this? It’s already got it with the existing trains, as this picture at South Shields station shows.

Stadler’s engineering in this area, would fit their philosophy

I first thought that Stadler would propose a version of their Class 399 tram-trains. for the Tyne and Wear Metro and wrote Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With Tyne And Wear Metro’s Class 994 Trains.

This was my conclusion.

I am led to the conclusion, that a version of the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle similar to those of the South Waes Metro, could be developed for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

My specification would include.

  • Length of two current Class 994 trains, which would be around 111 metres.
  • Walk through design with longitudinal seating.
  • Level access between platform and train at all stations.
  • A well-designed cab with large windows at each end.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at any voltage between 750 and 1500 VDC.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at 25 KVAC.
  • Pantographs would handle all voltages.
  • A second pantograph might be provided for reasons of reliable operation.
  • Ability to use onboard battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would use the batteries on the vehicle.

Note.

  1. Many of these features are already in service in Germany, Spain or Sheffield.
  2. The train would be designed, so that no unnecessary platform lengthening is required.
  3. As in Cardiff, the specification would allow street-running in the future.
  4. Could battery range be sufficient to allow new routes to be developed without electrification?

I also feel that the specification should allow the new trains to work on the current network, whilst the current trains are still running.

But since I wrote that comparison in June 2018, Merseyrail’s new trains have started to be delivered and Liverpudlians have started to do what they do best; imagine!

The Tyne and Wear Metro has similar ambitions to expand the network and would a version of the Class 777 train fit those ambitions better?

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised if Hitachi misses out, as the experience of the Docklands Light Railway or Merseyrail fed into the expansion of the Tyne and Wear Metro could be the clincher of the deal.

They would also be the first UK customer for the Hitachi trains.

 

September 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Plans To Reopen The Brentford To Southall Railway

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

I have posted on the Brentford Branch Line several times previously and Ian says this about Hounslow Council’s thinking.

The council has been working on a scheme for some years to resurrect the line, with a new station built in Brentford and passenger services restored to Southall. A key factor for the plans is that Southall will then be on the Elizabeth line, which they hope will drive a lot more traffic on the spur down to Brentford.

In order to part-fund the 4-mile railway, Hounslow Council has now agreed to undertake a full business case to look at introducing a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) within the Great West Corridor (GWC).

In my trips to document the updating of Syon Lane station with a new step-free footbridge, I have talked to several people, who would find a rail link to Southall useful.

Ian also says this about the latest situation.

As part of the proposal, the council has also commissioned Network Rail to begin a detailed study (known as ‘GRIP 4’) on building the new train link from Brentford to Southall, following encouraging early studies into the feasibility of such a link.

At least, this will give the Hounslow a list of all the problems and a cost estimate.

A few of my thoughts.

What Should Be The Frequency Of The Service?

The current truncated Brentford Branch Line is mainly single track, but from my helicopter, it appears that there would be space to add an additional track for as much of the route as required.

Preferably, there should be a service on the branch of at least two trains per hour (tph). Although, ideally four tph is much better, as it attracts passengers in large numbers.

It should be noted that from December 2019, there will be four tph on Crossrail calling at at Southall station all day. Connections should surely be well-arranged.

Four tph would be possible between two single platforms at Southall and Brentford, but would require selective doubling or passing loops to accommodate the service and the freight trains going to Brentford.

This Google Map shows the various sites clustered around the branch.

The branch runs from the North-West to the South-East across the map.

  • The Great West Road is a couple of hundred metres to the South.
  • To the East of the branch, there are a collection of waste and scrap metal transfer sites, aggregate and concrete sites and others that hide away in big cities.
  • To the West is the massive Sky Studios complex.

I do wonder, if Sky would like a station? If they did, this would surely mean that a four tph service would be required.

What Is The Future Of The Industrial Site?

Because of London’s thirst for land for housing and office developments, sites like this inevitably get developed.

With its position between the River Brent and parkland, and the Brentford Branch Line, I believe that if new sites can be found for the various tenants, that this site could be a high quality housing development.

An intermediate station would surely be required.

Could An Intermediate Station Serve Both The Brentford Branch Line And The Piccadilly Line?

This Google Map shows where the two lines cross.

 

Note.

  1. The Northern tip of the industrial site is just visible.
  2. The Brentford Branch Line has three tracks under the Piccadilly Line,
  3. There is no pedestrian bridge over the River Brent.

I think it would be possible, if the industrial site were to be developed for housing or perhaps a hotel, for a simple interchange station to be built here.

  • There would be an island platform on the Brentford Branch Line.
  • There would be two side platforms on the Piccadilly Line,
  • There would be lifts and stairs between the three platforms.
  • There could be a second entrance on the Eastern bank of the River Brent.

I feel that a decent architect could make this a very nice place to live. After all, it’s only six intermediate stops between Boston Manor and Heathrow.

What Should Be The Terminus Of The Branch?

I believe that the branch should terminate as close to the River as is possible.

  • There is a lot of new housing being constructed in Brentford.
  • I believe that Thames Clippers will eventually extend their river-boat services to Brentford and Kew.

But the problem would be that this would need an expensive bridge over the Great West Road.

These pictures show the Great West Road, where the current Brentford Branch Line finishes.

The tracks finish about a hundred metres North of the road, as shown on this Google Map.

The rusty footbridge over the busy road can be clearly seen.

Initially, I believe that the passenger service should terminate at the Great West Road.

If I was designing the station, I would build it much like the Deptford Bridge DLR station.

  • It would be on a bridge above the Great West Road.
  • It would be suspended from step-free towers on either side of the road.
  • Would it only need to be a single platform station?
  • The pavements on either side of the Great West Road would be improved to create a better walking environment.
  • If possible a walking and cycling route to Brentford and the River would be provided.
  • The design would leave provision to extend the railway South.

I also think, that it could be designed to enhance the collection of Art Deco and modern buildings in the area.

Could The Service Go Further Than The Great West Road?

This Google Map shows the former route of Brentford Branch Line, from just North of the Great West Road to the centre of Brentford.

Note.

  1. The former route is very green on the map.
  2. The Hounslow Loop Line crossing parallel and a few hundred metres South of the Great West Road.
  3. The only building on the route is some retail sheds between the Great West Road and the Hounslow Loop Line.
  4. To the \east of the Brentford Branch Line is a large and semi-derilict bus garage.

I’m sure that the railway could be extended through this area, as it is developed with housing and offices or parkland.

Could The Service Go Further Than Southall?

There is a section in the Wikipedia entry for the Brentford Branch Line, which is entitled Proposed Reopening, where this is said.

In April 2017, it was proposed that the line could reopen to allow a new link between Southall to Hounslow and possibly down to the planned Old Oak Common station with a new station in Brentford called Brentford Golden Mile.  The proposals suggest the service could be operated by Great Western Railway and could be open by 2020 with a new service from Southall to Hounslow and possible later to Old Oak Common

It sounds a good idea, but it would mean trains would surely have to reverse direction and cross over to the North side.

It must be better to provide full step-free access at Southall station, which should be finished fairly soon.

Crossrail will also be providing at least four tph to and from Old Oak Common.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed?

I am pretty sure, that several train types could do a Southall and Brentford round trip in under thirty minutes.

This would mean the following.

  • For a two tph service, one train would be needed.
  • For a four tph service, two trains would be needed.

I suspect too, that a spare train would be added to the fleet.

Would The Branch Be Electrified?

I doubt it!

  • The branch is only four miles long.
  • A 100 kWh battery would probably provide enough power for a four-car train.
  • It is unlikely electric haulage will be needed for the freight trains o the branch.
  • There is 25 KVAC electrification at the Southall end of the branch to charge trains with batteries.
  • The branch is probably short enough to not need a charging point at Brentford.

In my mind, it is a classic route to run using battery power.

What Trains Could Be Used?

I feel the trains need to have the following specification.

  • Abiility to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • A out and back battery range of at least eight miles.
  • Three or four cars.
  • 60 mph operating speed.

There are several proposed trains that meet this specification.

Class 710 Train

The Class 710 train would be an obvious choice, if London Overground were to run the service.

But it would need the 25 KVAC electrification be added to Platform 5 at Southall station.

Class 230 Train

The Class 230 train could be a lower cost option and would only require one of Vivarail’s clever charging systems at Southall.

Class 387 Train

A modified Class 387 train would surely be a choice, If Great Western Railway were to run the service.

But as with the Class 710 train, it would need Platform 5 at Southall station to be electrified.

Class 399 Tram-Train

A Class 399 tram-train to the South Wales Metro specification is also a possibility.

But as with the Class 710 train, it would need Platform 5 at Southall station to be electrified.

However, the lighter weight vehicle with a tight turning circle might allow the route to be extended further South.

Conclusion

I am led to these conclusions.

  • Battery power is capable of working the Brentford Branch Line.
  • At least two tph is needed between Southall and Brentford.
  • The operator will choose the trains.

IBut as they are a lower-cost and simpler option, this route could be run by Class 230 trains.

 

 

September 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Tram-Trains To Hale Station

In Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence, I quoted this sentence from the Manchester Evening News.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

How would tram-trains from Hale join the current Metrolink network?

Hale Station

Hale station, is located in a busy and important village, in the middle of Cheshire’s footballer suburb, if you believe the tabloids.

The station has some problems.

  • The station needs a refurbishment.
  • The station needs step-free access.
  • The level crossing needs removing.

But the biggest problem is that there is only an hourly service serving the station, that runs between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester stations. To make matters worse the train is only two cars. My train was a Pacer, as the pictures show.

Onward To Knutsford, Northwich, Middlewich and Sandbach

In Business Case Requested For Middlewich Reopening, I looked at the opening of Middlewich station on the Northwich to Sandbach Line, which is just a dozen miles to the West of Hale station.

I’m certain in other parts of the UK, like East London, Nottingham and East Lancashire, that the provision of a train service between Middlewich and Manchester would be heavily patronised.

Or is it that the people in Cheshire too posh to use trains?

The Wikipedia entry for Middlewich station, says this about the initial service, when the station opened. in 1868.

The basic train service for passengers was from Crewe via Sandbach to Middlewich and Northwich. Some trains reversed at Northwich and then continued to Hartford and Greenbank and then along a short stretch of the West Coast Main Line (WCML) to Acton Bridge.

If the Northwich and Sandbach Line is ever reopened, surely one possibility for a train service is between Crewe and Manchester via Sandbach, Middlewich, Northwich, Hale and Altrincham.

  • Such a service would allow passengers between Althincham and Sandbach to have a handy connection to Crewe with its famed connectivity.
  • It would be a very useful commuter service to and from Manchester.
  • If it had a frequency of two trains per hour (tph) it would give a substantial increase to train services between Northwich and Altrincham.
  • It could possibly ease the overcrowding on the Styal Line.

By 2030, it would even provide a link to High Speed Two at Crewe, in addition to the connection in Manchester.

The Class 399 Train-Train

The Class 399 tram-train is a cross between a tram and a train.

  • They are members of the Stadler Citylink family of tram-trains.
  • In the UK, they are already running successfully between the centre of Sheffield and Rotherham Parkgate Shopping Centre.
  • In Sheffield, they work as trams and drivers have told me, they are powerful trams, that cope with Sheffield’s hills extremely well.
  • The tram-trains have step-free access between tram-train and platform.
  • On the National Rail lines to Rotherham, they cruise happily at 100 kph, which is almost as fast as a Class 156 train.
  • They can run on both 25 KVAC and 750 VDC overhead electrification.
  • Trains for Wales have ordered thirty six similar Class 398 tram-trains, that can run on battery power, where electrification has not been erected.

This is one of Sheffield’s Class 399 tram-trains at Rotherham Parkgate.

Note the step-free access.

They are a very versatile tram or train, depending on where they are running.

I would suspect the following will happen in the next few years.

  • Sheffield are planning to replace their ageing tram fleet and they will look seriously at more Class 399 tram-trains, as they perform well as trams and the region needs more tram-trains.
  • Manchester have stated that they are looking seriously at tram-trains and Class 399 tram-trains will surely be considered.
  • Other tram networks are looking at tram-trains and they won’t ignore the Class 399 tram-train.

I feel we can expect to see more of these tram-trains in the UK.

Manchester Metrolink Needs More Trams

Manchester Metrolink will need more trams in the next few years and I wouldn’t be surprised that the new ones have a tram-train capability.

Testing Tram-Trains On The Manchester Metrolink

On the Sheffield Supertram, the new tram-trains were first tested as trams on the existing network.

This approach could be taken on the Manchester Metrolink, to both full test the tram-trains and train the staff.

Improving Navigation Road

Navigation Road station has two platforms, one of which is used for the Metrolink and the other for National Rail.

The station could be configured, so that the Western platform would be for Northbound services and the Eastern platform would be for all Southbound services.

There would be two pairs of tracks leading away from the Northern end of the station; one pair for Metrolink services and the other for National Rail services.

The current two pairs of tracks South of Navigation Road station would be used as follows.

  • The Western pair would be for any Metrolink tram services terminating in Altrincham station.
  • The Eastern pair would be for National Rail services and Metrolink tram-train services going beyond Altrincham station.

Tram-trains running past Altrincham station, would either need the tracks to be electrified or the tram-trains to be fitted with batteries.

Possible Tram-Train Routes To Hale

These are possible routes.

A Metrolink Extension From Altrincham

This is the simplest option, where tram-trains would replace some or all of the service on the Atrincham and Bury and Altrincham and Piccadilly Metrolink services.

The tram-trains would use new electrification or onboard batteries South of Navigation Road.

A Northward Extension From Manchester Victoria Station

In Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?, I looked at the possibilities of a Northward extension of the Metrolink,  using tram-trains, that had been suggested by an article in the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

I have included it here, as it would be a good destination for a cross-city tram-train service, that started at Hale.

A Southward Extension From Altrincham To Middlewich

If the Sandbach and Northwich Line were to be reopened to traffic with a station at Middlewich, this would be a possible Southern terminus for the route.

The distance would probably be too far for battery operation, so there would be a need to electrify the extension using either 25 KVAC main line or 750 VDC tramway electrification.

As the route has been used by Virgin’s Euston and Chester services as a diversion route, and the Crewe and Chester Line has a high priority for electrification, there is a chance that lines in the area will be electrified.

This could mean the tram-trains could easily run from Altrincham as far as Crewe, as the route could be fully electrified.

Tram-Train Between Manchester Piccadilly and Hale Via Stockport

On the route between Manchester Piccadilly and Hale station via Stockport, there are only two stations between Stockport and Hale station; Navigation Road and Altrincham.

Would it be feasible or worthwhile to convert this route into tram-train operation by perhaps adding 750 VDC overhead electrification?

  • There is typically one or two freight trains and one Chester and Manchester Piccadilly service in each direction in every hour, so two tram-trains per hour in each direction should be possible.
  • Stops could be added at convenient places.
  • Between Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly stations, the existing 25 KVAC electrification would be used.

It would not be the largest project.

The Refurbishment Of Hale Station

Hale station needs a refurbishment and a step-free bridge.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Hale station?

This Google Map shows Hale station.

I think a new bridge could be installed at the Northern end of the station, if it were to be decided that the current one couldn’t be fitted with lifts.

The Electrification And Bi-Mode Alternative

As I said earlier the Crewe and Chester Line could be electrified, which would enable electric trains to run between London and Chester.

However, since the award of the West Coast Partnership to First Trenitalia, I now think it is unlikely the Crewe and Chester Line will be electrified in the near future, as new bi-mode trains will be ordered for North Wales services.

But I don’t reject the notion, that Northern will run bi-mode Class 769 trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester.

These trains could use the electrification between Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly stations.

Conclusion

These are my conclusions.

  • Tram-trains can deliver a capacity improvement through Navigation Road station.
  • Tram-trains could be extensively tested on the existing Manchester Metrolink network.
  • Tram-trains could be used to build a simple extension to Hale station from Altrincham.
  • The Manchester and Chester service via Stockport, Navigation Road and Altrincham stations could be run by tram-trains.

A comprehensive network of tram-trains could be developed between, through and beyond Altrincham, Crewe and Chester.

 

 

 

August 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Manchester Metrolink To Gorton And Glossop

The Wikipedia entry for the Manchester Metrolink doesn’t say much about  Glossop, except that one of the original lines would have taken over the Glossop Line to Gorton, Glossop and Hadfield stations.

In Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence, I quoted this sentence from the Manchester Evening News.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

How would tram-trains from Gorton and Glossop join the current Metrolink network at Piccadilly station?

Consider.

  • Glossop Line trains use the low-numbered platforms on the Northern side of Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • Some plans have shown High Speed Two platforms on the save side of Piccadilly station.

Look at this Google Map of the Northern side of the station.

Note.

  1. Two trams crossing the green space to the North of the station.
  2. The area between the tram lines and the tracks going into Piccadilly station, appears to be mainly car parking and low-grade buildings.
  3. The tracks leading to Gorton and Glossop are on the Northern side of Piccadilly station.

These are a few pictures of the area.to the North of the station.

I feel it would be very feasible for tram-trains to connect the Glossop Line and the tram station underneath the main station.

In fact there would be no reason, why tram-trains shouldn’t continue to serve Manchester Piccadilly train station.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two’s terminals in Manchester is in a state of foux at the moment, so it might be preferable to just replace all Glossop Line services with tram-trains and use Manchester Piccadilly tram station.

Updating The Glossop Line

The Glossop Line is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires, which looks to be one of the systems in worst condition in the UK along with the Crouch Valley Line in Essex.

It would probably need replacing, as the rust weevils holding it up, must be getting very tired.

To say that some stations look like they’ve seen better times, is an understatement.

Class 399 Tram-Trains For Manchester

Transport for Greater Manchester are serious about tram-trains and I believe that their usefullness to the City could be explored by running the existing service between Manchester Piccadilly and Glossop using a small fleet.

Conclusion

Extending the Manchester Metrolink to Gorton and Glossop using tram-trains appears to be very feasible.

In my view, it would have made a good trial route to prove the concept of tram-trains in the UK.

 

July 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 11 Comments

Steaming Up To Treforest In A Class 143 Train

On my trip to Treforest, I was in a Class 143 train or one of the dreaded Pacers.

It was performing well on the challenging route and I wondered how the power compared with that of the proposed tram-trains, that will be used in a couple of years.

Class 143 Train

  • Speed – 75 mph
  • Sections – 2
  • Weight – 48.5 tonnes
  • Length 31 metres
  • Power – 336 kW
  • Capacity – 122 seats
  • Gross Weight (90 Kg per passenger) – 49.6 tonnes
  • Kinetic Energy At Operating Speed – 7.7 kWh
  • Time to Operating Speed At Full Power – 1.5 minutes

The train I was on was pretty smooth! Or for a Pacer anyway!

Class 399 Tram-Train

  • Speed – 62 mph
  • Sections – 3
  • Weight -66.15 tonnes
  • Length – 37.2 metres
  • Power – 870 kW
  • Capacity – 88 seats and 150 standing.
  • Gross Weight (90 Kg per passenger) – 87.6 tonnes
  • Kinetic Energy At Operating Speed – 9.3 kWh
  • Time to Operating Speed At Full Power – 6 minutes

These figures are taken from details of the tram-trains in Sheffield.

The two trains are very similar in some respects, but the tram-train is heavier with a full load of passengers.

I certainly can see no reason, why the Class 399 tram-train won’t perform as well as the lass 143 train, but with a bigger and heavier load of passengers.

But one important factor should be born in mind.

The German cousins of the Class 399 tram-trains are used in Karlsruhe, where they easily climb out of the city into the surrounding hills.

A trip up the valleys to Aberdate, Merthyr Tydfil or Treherbert could be no more difficult, once the electrification is in place.

Conclusion

I can see other cities and tram networks around the UK, Europe and the wider world developing urban transport networks around these Stadler tram-trains.

UK cities for their deployment must include Manchester and Sheffield.

July 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments

Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Tram-Trains Between Sheffield And Doncaster-Sheffield Airport

The Sheffield plans, state this as a medium to long-term priority.

Regional tram-train services to be maximised through Rotherham Central, with direct fast services to Doncaster, DSA and Sheffield.

The tram-train route between Sheffield and Doncaster, would probably be as follows.

  • Tinsley Meadowhall South
  • Magna
  • Rortherham Central
  • Rotherham Parkgate
  • Swinton
  • Mexborough
  • Conisbrough
  • Doncaster

The distance between Rotherham Parkgate and Doncaster is under twelve miles and has full electrification at both ends.

The Class 399 tram-trains being built with a battery capability for the South Wales Metro to be delivered in 2023, should be able to reach Doncaster.

But there are probably other good reasons to fully electrify between Doncaster and Sheffield, via Meadowhall, Rotherham Central and Rotherham Parkgate.

The major work would probably be to update Rotherham Parkgate to a through station with two platforms and a step-free footbridge.

Currently, trains take twenty-three minutes between Rotherham Central and Doncaster. This is a time, that the tram-trains would probably match.

Onward To Doncaster Sheffield Airport

I have clipped this map of services from the report on Sheffield’s plans.

The tram-train route to the Airport is clearly marked in a broken orange line.

  • The tram-train uses a loop from the East Coast Main Line.
  • It shares the loop with expresses between London and Doncaster, that call at the Airport.
  • The tram-train extension from Doncaster to Doncaster Sheffield Airport has new stations at Lakeside, Bessacarr and terminates at a new station at Bawtry.

It looks a well-thought out plan.

 

 

 

July 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 8 Comments

Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Renewal Of Supertram Network

Sheffield’s plan has renewal of the Supertram network as a short term priority.

The Sheffield Supertram is twenty-five years old and when you consider, many UK urban railway and tram systems of the same vintage have been substantially updated with new rolling stock and new routes.

The plan lists three things that must be done.

Network Rerailing

This has already been done over part of the network to allow the Class 399 tram-trains to operate on the Supertram network.

So I suspect that the rest of the network needs to be re-railed.

Certainly, the Class 399 tram-trains, which are cousins of the tram-trains working in Karlsruhe don’t seem to have had any serious problems, that have surfaced in the media.

New Vehicles

New trams are needed, mainly because the original trains are twenty-five years old.

But will these new trams, be trams or tram-trains?

That question has already been answered, as Sheffield uses some Class 399 tram-trains as capacity enhancers on some normal tram routes.

The Class 399 tram-trains that have been ordered for the South Wales Metro are being delivered with a battery capability.

So if Class 399 tram-trains or something similar, should they have a battery capability?

Undoubtedly, as Birmingham are showing, the ability to extend a route without wires is extremely useful amd cost-saving.

I also suspect that Cardiff, Karlsruhe and Sheffield will share similar vehicles, as the latter two cities do now.

The only differences are the German version runs on 15 KVAC as opposed to the UK’s 25 KVAC, some changed body panels, boarding heights, door number and position, colour schemes and couplers.

Sheffield and Cardiff will be using a standard European tram-train, adapted to our working practices and track standards.

Extending The Network

Suppose Sheffield choose as the tram replacement, a vehicle with the following characteristics.

  • Tram-train.
  • Able to use 25 VAC and 750 VDC overhead wires.
  • Able to use battery power.
  • Regeerative braking to battery.
  • Enhanced performance, as the original vehicles struggle on the hills, according to drivers to whom I’ve spoken. But the 399s are much better!
  • Extra capacity.
  • 75 mph operating speed

Sheffield would be able to develop several new routes.

I am particularly curious, as to whether a tram-train with a battery capability delivered in say 2025, will have the capability of handling a route like the Penistone Line.

It should be noted, that if Sheffield were Karlsruhe, there would be tram-trains to Doncaster, Doncaster-Sheffield Airport, Huddersfield, Retford and Worksop.

But the German city is at the centre of a network of electrified lines.

Conclusion

Sheffield will be the next city in the UK, after Cardiff, that will have a wide-spresad battery-electric tram-train network.

July 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments