The Anonymous Widower

Procrastination Over Airport Rail Links

This article in the Glasgow Evening Times is entitled Glasgow Airport Rail Link: Fresh Fears Over Plans As MSP Slams Delay.

The title says it all.

Of the airports in the UK, the following have or will have good rail or tram links.

  • Birmingham
  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Gatwick
  • Heathrow
  • London City
  • Luton – Building a people-mover between the airport and station.
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Southampton
  • Southend
  • Stansted

In addition, the following airports have been talking about rail links.

  • Belfast City
  • Bristol
  • East Midlands
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds/Bradford
  • Liverpool

In fact they’ve been talking about rail links for decades.

As I started with a report about Glasgow, if you want to see how they have taken two decades to get nowhere, read the Wikipedia entry for the Glasgow Airport Rail Link.

The latest £144million plan involves tram-trains running from Glasgow Central station.

Currently, of the airports, that have talked for years, I believe the following could use tram-train technology to provide the airport rail link.

  • Bristol
  • East Midlands
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds/Bradford
  • Liverpool

Now that tram-trains are working well in Sheffield and have been ordered for the South Wales Metro, surely this technology can be considered almost mainstream for the UK.

In the specific case of Glasgow the following would be needed.

  • Modification of platforms at Glasgow Central and Paisley Gilmour Street stations, so they would give level-access to the tram-trains.
  • Creation of a single-track spur to the airport without electrification, that ends in a single platform, close to or in the airport terminal.
  • A fleet of Class 399 tram-trains with a battery capability, as have been ordered for the South Wales Metro.
  • Improved signalling to handle the extra trains.

Note.

  1. Space should be left, so that in the future, the airport spur could be doubled.
  2. A flat junction would probably work initially, but provision for a flying junction for the spur should be made.
  3. Currently, four trains per hour (tph) run past the Airport.
  4. Could the tram-trains be built to give level access to standard height platforms, so that no substantial modification of existing platforms would be needed?

It also strikes me, that this could be a privately funded scheme.

  • Glasgow Airport is ultimately owned by Ferrovial and Macquarie Group, who will be the main beneficiary of the scheme.
  • Both Ferrovial and Macquarie Group are companies that invest in infrastructure.
  • The Class 399 tram-trains can obviously be leased.

So what’s the problem?

  • Network Rail are against the scheme, as it’s not one of theirs.
  • The Scottish government won’t sanction a privately-funded scheme.
  • Various interests want a different scheme.
  • The jury is still out on tram-trains.
  • It’s a scheme for Glasgow and the decision is taken in Edinburgh.
  • Glasgow would get a better airport link than Edinburgh.

Enlighten me!

Other Airport Links

Once Glasgow is completed, other airport links could be built using the same techniques.

I have a feeling, that another airport will get a tram-train link before Glasgow!

 

 

 

January 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

A Tailpiece On The Sheffield To Rotherham Parkgate Tram-Train

I took this picture at the Rotherham Parkgate tram stop.

Note.

  1. The level step-free access between the Class 399 tram-train and the platform.
  2. The platform laid-out to help passengers and meet all regulations.
  3. The 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  4. The track continuing into a siding, which could be turned into a loop to extend the service to Doncaster.
  5. The well-placed safety fences.

It certainly appears that Network Rail have produced a professional design that works well and makes things easy for passengers.

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

What Would Tram-Trains With A Battery Capability Do For The Sheffield Supertram?

I asked this question in a slightly different form in Is The Sheffield Rotherham Tram-Train Showing Signs Of London Overground Syndrome?, where I said this.

Sheffield could do a lot worse, than replace the Siemens-Duewag trams with Class 399 tram-trains. Especially, as the South Wales Metro, will be buying thirty-six similar vehicles with batteries.

What would tram-trains with a battery capability do for Sheffield, Rotherham and the neighbouring towns?

We don’t know much about Stadler’s proposed tram-trains for the South Wales Metro.

  • They look to be very similar externally to the Class 399 tram-trains.
  • They will be able to work using 25 KVAC electrification on the South Wales Main Line.
  • They will be able to work the two-mile long Butetown Branch Line on battery power.
  • Whether they will have a 750 VDC capability has not been said.

A tram-train with batteries would certainly offer other possibilities.

On my trip to Rotherham, I met a guy of about my age, who was a resident of Sheffield. He  was proud of the city’s trams and was trying out the tram-train for the first time.

He also suggested two possible extensions.

  • Royal Hallamshire Hospital
  • A tram-train to Doncaster.

There have also been plans at times to run tram-trains to Dore & Totley and Penistone stations.

So how would tram-trains with batteries help for these routes?

Royal Hallamshire Hospital

On this page of the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals web site, this is said about getting to the hospital by tram.

Supertram does not serve the Northern General Hospital. It can be used to reach the Royal Hallamshire, Jessop Wing, Charles Clifford and Weston Park Hospitals, although please be aware that there is still a 10-15 minute uphill walk from the nearest stop (University). We would recommend that anyone who experiences difficulty walking long distances choose some alternative means of travelling to hospital.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The University tram stop is in the North-East corner of the map and is marked by a blue dot, marked with University of Sheffield.
  2. The Royal Hallamshire Hospital is in the South-West corner of the map.

This Google Map shows the University of Sheffield tram stop and how the tram route turns East to go to and from the city centre.

If the terrain allows it, a short extension might be possible to be built to the West along Glossop Road.

  • As in Birmingham City Centre, the tram-trains could run on batteries, without any overhead wires.
  • Charging could be provided at the terminal station which could be a few minutes walk to the hospital.
  • The hospital and the university could be a good terminus for tram-trains from Rotherham and the East.

This is a typical extension, that is made easier and more affordable by the use of trams with a battery capability.

Connecting The Supertram To Heavy Rail

The Sheffield Supertram was designed before tram-trains existed, but even so there would seem to be several places, where the two systems could be connected.

The design of the Class 399 train-trams also makes the connections easier to design and build.

  • The tram-trains can take tight turns.
  • There are various innovative solutions, that allow the pantograph to ride from one electrification system to the other.
  • If the tram-trains have batteries, this helps the electrification system changeover.

As more tram-train systems are installed, the library of solutions will get larger.

Tram-Train To Doncaster

There is a two trains per hour (tph) Northern service that goes between Sheffield and Doncaster, stopping at Meadowhall, Rotherham Central, Swinton, Mexborough and Conisbrough.

  • One train continues to Hull and the other to Adwick.
  • The service takes forty minutes from Doncaster to Sheffield.
  • The service goes past the Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop.
  • The service takes about twenty minutes to go from Rotherham Parkgate to Doncaster, which is a distance of around 11.5 miles.

There is surely scope to extend the tram-train service to Doncaster to improve links between Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster.

This Google Map shows the Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop.

Note how the tram-train stop is effectively a siding alongside the double-track Dearne Valley Line, that links Rotherham Central with Leeds and York. It also has a link to Doncaster via the short Swinton-Doncaster Line.

Space would appear to have been left to convert the line through the tram-train stop to a loop. With an additional cross-over at the Eastern end of the stop, it would be possible to extend the tram-train service beyond its current terminal.

I have a map, which shows that the routes to Doncaster and along the Dearne Valley Line to where it crosses the Leeds-Doncaster Line could be electrified in the early 2020s.

If this electrification is carried out, then the tram-train service could easily be extended to Doncaster.

On the other hand, as Rochester Parkgate to Doncaster is around 11.5 miles and the route will have 25 KVAC overhead electrification at both ends, would it be possible for a tram-train with batteries to bridge the gap in the electrification?

Comparing a three-section Class 399 tram-train with a two-car battery/electric Class 230 train shows that the two vehicles have similar lengths, weight and passenger capacities.

As Vivarail have managed to fit 400 kWh of batteries under a Class 230 train, I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least 200 kWh of batteries squeezed under a Class 399 tram-train.

So would 200 kWh of battery power be sufficient to take a Class 399 tram-train between Rotherham Parkgate and Doncaster?

It should be noted that the total power of a Class 399 tram-train is 870 kW, so it wouldn’t be possible if the tram-train was on full power all the time.

But.

  • The route is along the River Don and appears to be not very challenging.
  • Regenerative braking can be used at the three stops and any other stops due to red signals.
  • The initial acceleration at both ends could be accomplished under a short length of electrification.
  • The tram-trains will probably have been designed to use the lowest level of energy possible.
  • The tram-train could run in a low energy mode, when under battery power.

Stadler also know that handling a route like this on battery power would be an important sales feature all round the world.

Tram-Train To Dore & Totley

Running a tram-train service to Dore & Totley station in the South West of Sheffield seems to keep being mentioned.

When it was planned that HS2 was going to Meadowhall, this document was published. This was said about connecting Dore & Totley station to HS2.

Improved rail access to Meadowhall from south-west Sheffield could also be considered – for
example, a frequent service between Dore & Totley and Meadowhall could be included.

Proposed future transport schemes include the tram-train project; if successful, this could be extended to allow further interchange possibilities at the HS2 station.

But HS2 is now going to the main Sheffield station.

This will probably mean.

  • The route between Sheffield and Chesterfield will be upgraded and electrified, with I suspect extra tracks.
  • The electrified lines will pass through Dore & Totley station.
  • HS2 will need frequent connecting services from all over South Yorkshire into Sheffield station.

Dore & Totley and the stations on the Hope Valley service have a truly inadequate erratic hourly service to both Sheffield and Manchester.

There are two compatible solutions.

  • A four tph regional solution of a train between perhaps Hull and Manchester stopping at Doncaster, Rotherham Central, Sheffield and a few stations on the Hope Valley Line.
  • A higher frequency Sheffield solution of a train between perhaps Doncaster and the stations near to Sheffield on the Hope Valley Line.

The first service would be an advanced bi-mode train, whilst a tram-train with batteries could be ideal for the second

.Consider using a tram-train with batteries  on the second service.

  • It could use batteries on the Hope Valley Line to avoid electrification.
  • It would serve Sheffield and Meadowhall stations.
  • It could use heavy rail or tram routes in between the two major stations.
  • It could provide a high frequency service between the two major stations.

There are a lot of possibilities and the transport planners will know the best things to do, with respect to traffic.

Tram-Train To Penistone

In Riding The Penistone Line, I described a trip on the Penistone Line.

This was my conclusion.

Tram-trains like the Class 399 tram-train could easily climb the hill to Penistone to provide a perhaps two trains per hour service to Sheffield.

But the line would need to be electrified or hybrid diesel tram-trains, as in Chemnitz will need to be used.

So perhaps Northern‘s plan for the Northern Connect service, which would use more powerful Class 195 diesel multiple units, might be better suited to the Penistone Line.

I think the heavy rail solution will be used.

Conclusion

I think that tram-trains with batteries will find a few worthwhile uses in the wider Sheffield area.

 

October 31, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With Tyne And Wear Metro’s Class 994 Trains

As the Class 994 trains of the Tyne and Wear Metro, are being replaced, it will be interesting to compare them with the proposed Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles for the South Wales Metro.

New Trains For The Tyne And Wear Metro

Under Proposed New Fleet in the Wikipedia entry for Tyne and Wear Metro Rolling Stock this is said.

In November 2017, the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the government would provide £337 million towards the new fleet. The proposed new fleet would consist of 84 trains to replace the existing 90 train fleet, as Nexus believe that the improved reliability of the newer trains would allow them to operate the same service levels with fewer trains. These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet, and a full width drivers cab instead of the small driving booth of the existing trains. The proposed new fleet is planned to have dual voltage capability, able to operate on the Metro’s existing 1.5 kV DC electrification system and also the 25 kV AC used on the national rail network, to allow greater flexibility. Battery technology is also being considered.

Note.

  1. A dual-voltage capability will be required.
  2. Battery capability would be ideal for short movements and regenerative braking.
  3. In my, view longitudinal seating needs a walk-though capability.
  4. Currently, trains are two-car units and generally work in pairs.
  5. Trains can work in formations of three and four units, but the ability is not used.

If trains generally work in pairs would it be more affordable to have four-car trains?

Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With The Current Tyne And Wear Class 994 Trains

In the following I will assume that the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles are similar to Class 399 tram-trains, as they are both members of the Stadler Citylink family.

Train Width And Height

The width and height of the two vehicles are as follow.

  • Class 994 train – 2.65 x 3.45 metres
  • Class 399 tram-train – 2.65 x 3.60 metres

There’s not much difference here.

Train Length And Sections

  • Class 994 train – 55.6 metres and two sections.
  • Class 399 tram-train – 37.2 metres and three sections.
  • South Wales Metro’s Metro Vehicle – 40 metres (?) and three sections.

It should be noted that Citylink tram-trains in Valencia have four and five sections.

Having used the Class 378 trains, with their walk-through capability and longitudinal seating, on the London Overground for at least seven years, I believe there is no other way to design a high-capacity metro train.

So the Tyne and Wear Metro’s new trains could be 110 metres long and four walk-through sections.

  • This train would be the same length as two current trains working as a pair, which they generally do!
  • The design reduces the number of cabs.
  • Passengers distribute themselves along the train better.
  • Passengers can move to the convenient point to disembark at their destination.
  • On train staff are more prominent.

If in the future, the trains need more capacity, extra cars can be added.

Train Capacity

  • Class 994 train – 64 seats and 188 standing.
  • Class 399 tram-train – 88 seats and 150 standing
  • South Wales Metro’s Metro Vehicle – 129 seats and 128 standing

This works out as.

  • Class 994 train – 9 passengers per metre.
  • Class 399 tram-train – 6.4 passengers per metre.
  • South Wales Metro’s Metro Vehicle – 6.4 passengers per metre.

Are we creating trains, that give passengers more space?

Doors

The Class 994 trains have two double-doors on each side of all cars.

But with Stadler Citylink vehicles, it appears the number is flexible.

  • Sheffield’s three-car Class 399 tram-trains have four double-doors on each side of the train.
  • Visualisations of the proposed Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles, show a double-door in each of three cars.
  • Karlsruhe’s version only appear to have a double-door on the two end cars on one side only.

It would appear that the customer gets what they want.

Maximum Speed

  • Class 994 train – 80 kph
  • Class 399 tram-train – 100 kph
  • Karlsruhe’s Citylink tram-trains – 80 kph

There is no speed given for South Wales Metro’s Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles, but they are replacing diesel trains with a 120 kph maximum speed.

As tram-trains share tracks with faster trains, I would expect that a maximum speed of at least 100 kph is needed.

Power Supply

  • Class 994 train – 1500 VDC
  • Class 399 tram-train – 750 VDC and 25 KVAC
  • South Wales Metro’s Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle – 25 KVAC and battery.

I also suspect thst the Class 399 tram-train and other members of the Citylink family, can run for a few metres on battery power in order to bridge the gap between different voltages.

It is worth noting that future vehicles for the Tyne and Wear Metro will need to access both 1500 VDC and 25 KVAC. A possible battery capability is also mentioned.

I suspect that Stadler could easily produce a Citylink to work on all these common European voltages.

  1. 750 VDC
  2. 3000 VDC
  3. 15 KVAC
  4. 25 KVAC

All except 3000 VDC are already in service in Gerrmany, Spain or the UK.

So the Tyne and Wear Metro’s unusual 1500 VDC shouldn’t be a problem.

Minimum Curve Radius

Wikipedia says this about the minimum curve radius for a Class 994 train.

The vehicles have a minimum curve radius of 50 m (55 yd), although there are no curves this tight except for the non-passenger chord between Manors and West Jesmond.

This page on Wikipedia, says that the Karlsruhe Citylink tram-trains can handle a minimum cure radius of twenty-two metres.

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.

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

This document on the KeolisAmey web site details their plans for the new Wales and Borders Franchise.

The Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles in the KeolisAmey document. look very similar to Sheffield Supertram‘s Class 399 tram-trains, that are providing a tram service in Sheffield and will soon be running on the heavy rail network to Rotherham.

  • The Citylink vehicles seat 88 with 150 standees.
  • They can run using 750 VDC or 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The tram-trains are built by Stadler in Spain.
  • According to a driver, that I spoke to in Sheffield, the tram-trains have a good hill climbing capability.

These pictures were taken of one of the Class 399 tram-trains operating in Sheffield.

The Keolis/Amey document gives more details on the tram-trains.

  • Main power source 25kV overhead line but also operates from battery.
  • Capacity of 257 with seats for 129.
  • Capable of on-street line-of-sight ‘tramway’ operation.
  • They can work in pairs.

I’ve known for some time, that Class 399 tram/trains had a battery.

The Battery Point On A Class 399 Tram-Train

but I thought it was probably for secondary purposes, like making sure the vehicle crossed the boundary, where the two voltages change.

So it looks like in Cardiff, battery power will be used for traction.

How Big Will The Batteries Need To Be?

Consider a Class 399 tram/train, working to and from Merthyr Tydfil.

  • Wikipedia gives the weight of the vehicle as 66 tonnes.
  • Rhymney has an altitude of 178 metres.
  • I will assume 200 passengers at 90 Kg. each, which gives a weight of 12 tonnes.

This means that the train has a potential energy of 41 kWh at Merthyr Tydfil station.

On the way down the hill from Merthyr Tydfil the regenerative braking will convert this potential energy into electricity, which will be stored in the battery.

I would reckon that a battery of about 50 kWh would be an ideal size, but would it be big enough to take the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles from Cardiff Queen Street station to The Flourish and back?

That journey is probably about 1.5 miles each way.

How Far Would A Full 50 kWh Battery Take A Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle?

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which probably has a terrain not much different to the lines to the South and West of Cardiff.

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

This would mean that a 50 kWh battery would take a three-car Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle up to five miles, if the usage of the lighter-weight tram-train was at the lower end of the quoted range.

The battery would certainly take a Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle from Cardiff Queen Street station to The Flourish and back.

Conclusion

As with the Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts, the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle with a battery, looks a very interesting concept.

  • Most of the energy is provided by the 25 KVAC electrification, which would power the tram-train up the hill.
  • Coming down the hill, the battery would be recharged using the regenerative braking.
  • Battery power would used to take the tram-train on routes without electrification to The Flourish station.

Energy efficiency would be high.

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 8 Comments

The Greening Of The Valleys

This document on the KeolisAmey web site details their plans for the new Wales and Borders Franchise.

The documents gives these two definitions.

  • South Wales Metro – Includes the full set of local services around South East Wales. This includes what is currently known as the ‘Valley Lines’, plus services between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and extending to Severn Tunnel Junction and beyond.
  • Central Metro -Refers to the sub-set of the South Wales Metro train services which run from Treherbert, Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil, Radyr, Rhymney and Coryton, through Queen Street to Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Central, Penarth, Barry Island and Bridgend.

For these services around Cardiff and on the Cardiff Valley Lines, KeolisAmey Wales intend to acquire the following fleet.

  • 11 x four-car Stadler Flirt DEMU
  • 7 x three-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 17 x four-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 36 x three-car Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

This diagram from the document shows the routes and the frequencies.

They also say the following surrounding the map in the document.

  • Maintains all existing connections to Cardiff Queen Street and Cardiff Central stations.
  • Service pattern easy to understand
  • Most frequencies even in the hour ‘clockface’ (e.g. 00-15-30-45 past)
  • Vale of Glamorgan, Barry, Penarth and City Lines integrated into Central Metro solution.
  • 2tph from Pontypridd station ‘divert’ via City Line but don’t terminate at Central i.e. Aberdare – City Line – Central – Merthyr

Note that Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhymney and Treherbert stations all get a total of four trains per hour (tph)

The Trains In More Detail

Stadler Rail are building the three fleets of rail vehicles.

Stadler Flirt DEMUs

Over a thousand Stadler Flirts have been sold to operators around the world. Most have been or will be built in Switzerland.

From the pictures, the trains, that will be delivered to Wales, look very much like the Class 755 trains, that have been ordered by Greater Anglia. These trains will enter service next year.

Stadler Flirt DEMUs gives more details of these trains and the closely-related fleets.

The trains will operate services between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and extending to Severn Tunnel Junction and beyond.

Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts

I would expect that these trains are very similar to the bi-mode Flirt DEMUs, but that the power-pack would also contain a battery.

Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts gives more details of these trains and how I think they will operate.

The Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts are intended for Rhymney/Coryton <> Penarth/Barry Island/Bridgend via the Vale of Glamorgan Line.

There will be a lot of commonality between the two types of Flirts and I suspect driver and other staff training for the two variants will be the same.

Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

The Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles in the KeolisAmey document. look very similar to Sheffield Supertram‘s Class 399 tram-trains, that are providing a tram service in Sheffield and will soon be running on the heavy rail network to Rotherham.

Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles gives more details of these trains and how I think they will operate.

From Cardiff Queen Street To The Flourish

It looks like the Metro vehicles will use the batteries for power on the extension to the new terminal station at The Flourish.

I describe the proposal for the extension to the Flourish in The Flourish Station Is The Focus Of The South Wales Metro.

Electrically-Efficient Operation Of The Metro

I have a feeling that Stadler are bringing some of their mountaineering experience from Switzerland to the valleys of South Wales.

It is interesting that both the Tri-mode Stadler Flirts and the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles will have batteries.

Climbing The Hills

The main purpose of the batteries is to make the climb and descent to the terminals at the heads of the valleys as energy efficient as possible.

Efficient climbing of the hills will need all uphill tracks to be electrified.

The KeolisAmey document states this about the electrification.

Discontinuous overhead line electrification to 25 KVAC with permanently earthed sections around restricted structures, saving 55 interventions e.g. rebuilding bridges/no need for wire in Caerphilly tunnel.

Battery power would be invaluable for jumping the gaps in the electrification.

Coming down, I believe that the trains and tram-trains will use the batteries to handle the energy generated by regenerative braking.

This means.

  • The electrification can be simpler.
  • There might be no need to electrify the downhill track in double-track sections.
  • Trains can use the battery power  to cross sections without wires or restarting from stations, when going downhill.
  • Tram-trains going to The Flourish will arrive at Cardiff Queen Street station with enough energy in the batteries for the return trip to The Flourish.
  • The Cardiff Bay Line doesn’t need to be electrified, which saves money and possibly increases safety and reduces visual intrusion.

It is not only energy efficient, but it saves construction costs and time.

Why Aren’t Citylink Metro Vehicles  Used On The Rhymney Line?

There are several possible reasons.

  • Calculations have shown, that the battery capacity of the smaller Citylink vehicle might not be enough to go uphill through the Caerrphilly tunnel.
  • The route may need more powerful vehicles.
  • More capacity may be needed on this line, so the larger Tri-mode Stadler Flirts will be used.
  • The Flirts could use their diesel engines to rescue a train stuck in the tunnel.

But whatever the reason, I’m sure it’s a good one!

Could Downhill Tracks Not Be Electrified?

I think this may be possible, as vehicles coming down the hills could use gravity and small amounts of battery power.

Regenerative braking would also be continuously charging the batteries.

It would certainly be simpler, than having to constantly swap between overhead and battery power on the descent, where the electrification was discontinuous.

As the lines are going to have a more intensive service, there will be additions of a second track in places to allow trains to pass.

Any electrification that could be removed from the project would be beneficial in terms of building and operational costs.

How Would Discountinuous Electrification Be Handled?

I discus this in How Can Discontinuous Electrification Be Handled?

The Lines In More Detail

Click these links to find out more about the individual lines.

Rhymney Line

Conclusion

The two types of compatible vehicles, allows the plans for the South Wales Metro to be a cost-effective and very green solution for Cardiff’s transport needs.

It is a model, that can be used elsewhere.

Will railway engineers in future talk of the Cardiff Model, just as they talk of the Karlsruhe Model?

June 6, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Reason Why The UK Is Fertile Territory For Tram Trains

The UK has several modern tram systems. If you look at the cross section of trams you get the following figures.

I wonder why Nottingham is twenty-five centimetres narrower!

If you look at the Class 399 tram-train, it has a width of 2.65 metres and a height of 3.67 metres.

So no wonder, there has been no problems with Class 399 tram-trains running on the Sheffield Supertram as trams!

Various trains that run local rail networks include.

  • Class 142 – Width 2..8 metres – Height 3.86 metres
  • Class 150 – Width 2.8 metres – Height 3.8 metres
  • Class 222 – Width 2.73 metres
  • Class 319 – Width 2.82 metres – Height – 3.58 metres
  • Class 345 – Width 2.78 metres – Height N/A
  • Class 378 – Width 2.80 metres – Height 3.78 metres
  • Class 700 – Width 2.80 metres – Height N/A
  • Class 769 – Width 2.82 metres – Height 3.58 metres
  • Mark 4 Coach – Width 2.73 metres – Height 2.79 metres

These are some figures from German trains.

  • DBAG 641 – Width 2.90 metres – Height 3.7 metres
  • BD Class 420 – With 3.08 metres
  • ICE 3 – Width 2.95 metres – Height 3.89 metres

I’ll look at various issues.

Tram And Train Height

I think this is not a big issue.

If a tram or electric train can run on a particular track, then there should be no height problems running a tram-train over the route, providing overhead wires can be erected.

UK Tram And Train Width

It would appear that the maximum width of UK trains is 2.82 metres. In some stations, where there is only one class of train, level access is possible.

The picture shows a Class 378 train on the London Overground.

This is not one of the best I’ve seen, but there is no reason, why someone in a wheelchair shouldn’t be able to wheel themselves into every train at every station.

This is in the train operating company’s interest, as one of the things that delays trains, is getting someone in a wheelchair on and off the train with a portable ramp.

If we take the UK train width of 2.82 metres and compare that to the width of a Class 399 tram-train, which is 2.65 metres, that means that there is seventeen  centimetres difference or eight and a half centimetres on each side of the train.

If the platform can be arranged to be level, that is not a large gap. It’s probably about the same size as this gap in this picture.

Shown is a Class 399 tram-train at a tram stop on the Sheffield Supertram.

Continental Tram And Train Width

But on the Continent, where the trains are wider and the loading gauge is bigger, the gap will be larger.

Trains on the Continent also often have a significant step up as this picture shows.

Shown is an Italian High Speed train.

If the EU wanted to improve train travel for the disabled, those in wheelchairs, those with buggies and the elderly, they should make it compulsory for all trains to have level access from the platform.

It’s very rare to find level access on the Continent and not that easy in parts of the UK.

Gap Fillers

But things are getting better, as this picture shows.

Shown is a Stadler Flirt with a rather nifty automatic gap filler.

Merseyrail’s New Class 777 Trains

Gap fillers will be fitted to Merseyrail‘s new Class 777 trains, which are being built by Stadler.

The Class 777 trains and the current Class 507 trains have the same width of 2.82 metres, but the new Stadler trains have an eighteen centimetre lower floor.

The picture shows a Class 507 train at one of Liverpool’s underground stations.

Eighteen centimetres wouldn’t be far away from the height of the step in the picture.

The design must also allow both classes of trains to be in service at the same time, to ease introduction of the new Class 777 trains.

Talk about Swiss precision!

South Wales Metro

This document on the KeolisAmey web site details their plans for the new Wales and Borders Franchise.

For services around Cardiff and on the Cardiff Valley Lines, KeolisAmey Wales intend to acquire the following fleet.

  • 11 – four-car Stadler Flirt DEMU
  • 7 – three-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 17 – four-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 36 – three-car Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

Note.

  1. The Stadler Flirts look very similar to Greater Anglia‘s Class 755 trains, that by the time of delivery of these trains for Wales, will have proven themselves on the mountains of East Anglia.
  2. The tri-mode multiple units will be able to run on electric, diesel or battery power.
  3. The Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles look very similar to Sheffield Supertram‘s Class 399 tram-trains, that are providing a tram service in Sheffield and will soon be running on the rail network to Rotherham.
  4. It is an all-Stadler fleet.

This is a clip from the KeolisAmey document.

This looks like a visualisation of one of the Flirts, as the Citylink tram-trains have flat sides.

I will be very surprised if Stadler don’t provide the Cardiff area, with one of the best step-free networks in the world.

Conclusion

The UK’s standard tram width of 2.65 metres and our small loading gauge must make it easier to design tram-train systems for the UK.

 

 

 

 

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June 6, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On Belgium’s Coastal Tram

I enjoyed riding Belgium’s Coastal Tram, which I wrote about in Riding The Coast Tram.

The Belgians appear to be upgrading it, with rebuilt stops, track replacement and new low-floor trams, so it must have a solid future.

The nearest we have in the UK to the Belgian tram is the Blackpool Tramway. But that is very different.

  • The Blackpool Tramway is just eleven miles long, as opposed to the Belgian Coast Tram’s forty-two miles.
  • Frequencies are roughly similar, but the Blackpool Tramway carries five million passenger per year, as opposed to about three million for the Belgian Coast Tram.
  • The Belgian tram uses metre gauge track, whereas Blackpool is standard gauge.
  • The Belgian Coast Tram connects to four railway stations, whereas the Blackpool Tramway is only getting a connection to Blackpool North station in 2019.

So could we see other coastal tramways developed around the world?

The Advance Of Technology

Both tramways are embracing modern low-floor trams, but also still run heritage tram services, so tram manufacturers seem to be able to update the ride experience to modern standards, without losing all the charm of heritage trams.

The next tramway technology will be the use of tram-train technology, which is currently being trialled between Sheffield and Rotherham on the Sheffield Supertram.

This can’t be used in Belgium, as the tram and railways have different gauges, but the technology could be used in Blackpool.

I have not seen the designs for the tramway stop at Blackpool North station, but with the right track layout, it would be possible for a tram-train like the Class 399 tram-train being trialled at Sheffield, to go between Preston and Blackpool North as a train and then take to the tramway to go North to Fleetwood or South to Starr Gate as a tram.

This technology is very applicable to extend railways through a terminal station, where there is convenient geography, as at Blackpool.

There must be many places around the world, where electric trains run to a coastal station, where an extension is possible with a tramway.

And then there is battery technology, which will be used in Birmingham with trams in a couple of years.

Extensions At Blackpool

Blackpool Tramway has various possibilities for extension.

  • Along the coast to Lytham St. Annes
  • Reinstating the Fleetwood Branch Line from Poulton-le-Fylde as a tramway.

Tram-trains and battery power could feature to save construction costs.

Along The North Norfolk Coast

This is a route, that could be developed, to ease the traffic problems in the area.

It could connect Kings Lynn and Sheringham stations.

Conclusion

There will be other coastal tram lines built.

 

May 18, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Sheffield Tram-Train Runs Onto Network Rail Infrastructure

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

This is the first paragraph.

One of Stagecoach Supertram’s Vossloh Class 399 Tramlink tram-train vehicles operated on the national railway network for the first time during the early hours of May 10.

It would appear that the tram-train is getting there.

 

 

May 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Is The West Midlands Going To Get A Tram-Train Line?

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Midland Metro Extension Receives £200m Boost From UK Government.

This is the first paragraph.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street has confirmed that £200 million from the UK government’s new ‘Transporting Cities Fund’ will be used to extend the Midland Metro to Brierley Hill.

The Brierley Hill Extension would use the currently disused South Staffordshire Line. It would link Wednesbury to Stourbridge, via Dudley, Brierley Hill and the Merry Hill |Shopping Centre.

Wikipedia says that ten trains per hour would run South of Wednesbury and five services would go to each of Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

The Need For Tram-Trains

The South Staffordshire Line is also wanted by Network Rail for use as a freight line.

Tram-trains would be the solution for a line-share.

  • The extension could be configured to suit Class 399 Tram-trains.
  • Class 399 tram-trains seem to be working well in Sheffield as trams.
  • In Rotherham the Class 399 tram-trains will co-exist with the heaviest of freight trains.
  • Dual-voltage tram-trains would allow electrification of the South Staffordshire Line with 25 KVAC at a later date if required.

The biggest advantage would be the cost savings, as both the tram-trains and the freight trains could use the same standard of track.

But I also feel that all the design problems for the extension will have been explored in a practical way in the Sheffield-Rotherham trial.

Should the Tram-Trains Terminate At Stourbridge?

The Global Rail News article doesn’t mention Stourbridge, but Wikipedia indicates it could be the terminus of the tram route.

If tram-trains are used on the route, then to run them as trains to Stourbridge Junction station may be a good idea.

Conclusion

This extension of the Midland Metro has a lot of possibilities.

I think that like the Midland Metro’s proposed use of battery trams, it shows that the West Midland Combined Authority is not afraid to be innovative.

 

 

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments