The Anonymous Widower

An Analysis Of Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2

I wrote this post in January 2017, when I decided to cut this out of my original post of A Hard Look At Crossrail 2.

Nearly two years later, I decided to update the post after the new platforms have reopened at Waterloo station.

I wrote Is This One Of The Best Platform Access Routes In Europe?, after the access to the new platforms was substantially completed in May 2019.

This has meant a further upgrade has been incorporated.

The Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2

These suburban termini and their routes into Waterloo station are proposed  to be connected to Crossrail 2.

  1. Chessington South – 34 minutes – 9 stops
  2. Epsom – 37 minutes – 9 stops
  3. Hampton Court – 36 minutes – 9 stops
  4. Shepperton – 51 minutes – 14 stops

The times are for a typical one-way journey from Waterloo, which usually has a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

I suspect that the timings are designed, so that they can be achieved by a 75 mph Class 455 train.

An Upgraded Waterloo Station

Waterloo station is getting a massive upgrade in August 2017, which I describe in detail in What Is Happening At Waterloo In August?.

That upgrade has now opened and is now substantiallycomplete in May 2019.

After the upgrade, Waterloo station will handle the suburban services better than it does today.

  • There will be five extra platforms, with the reopening of the platforms 20 to 24 in Waterloo International.
  • Together these platforms should be able to handle another twenty tph.
  • There will be longer platforms, which will all be able to take twelve-car trains.
  • There will be an improved track layout, both in Waterloo and on the approach.
  • There will be related improvements to improve access to the Underground and the Waterloo and City Line at Waterloo station.

All this should mean Waterloo station, will be capable of handling a substantial increase in trains and passengers, with an improvement in efficiency and comfort.

As I said in Rail Engineer On New Platforms At London Waterloo, the number of passengers handled in a year will increase by twenty-five percent.

Improvements On The Branches

Each branch has its own problems, but the following would help in various places.

  • More step-free access.
  • Some level crossings on the branches can probably be removed..
  • Improved access to onward services like buses, cycling and walking at some stations.
  • Some trackwork to allow Crossrail 2’s proposed frequency of 4 tph.

These improvements will generally be needed, whether the services terminate in Waterloo or are a part of Crossrail 2.

New Trains

Currently, suburban services out of Waterloo are run by a large mixed fleet of generally excellent trains.

This gives 264 four-car trains and 60 five-car trains with a total of 1137 carriages.

South Western Railway are purchasing 30 five-car and sixty ten-car new Aventras with a total of 750 carriages.

The Class 707 trains and the Aventras could offer serious performance improvements, as they are probably designed to be able to have a short as possible time, for a stop at a station.

In an ideal world, all trains running these branches would be identical and all platforms would be designed to fit them perfectly, just as many Overground platforms, fit the Class 378 trains.

Crossrail 2 would do this, with possibly the same Class 345 trains, that have been developed for Crossrail.

But why shouldn’t the routes be worked by a homogeneous fleet, serving platforms and stations designed for the trains?

I believe that Crossrail 2 could make no extra difference to the passenger going between these branches and Central London, except for the route from Wimbledon, which will be in tunnel.

But the new Aventra trains will have three very big effects.

  • They will be walk-through ten-car trains.
  • They will have much better capacity for bags, cases and all the other paraphernalia passengers bring.

But most importantly, if they live up to the claims of train manufacturers, the high performance, well-designed trains with a consistent train-platform interface will save as much as three minutes a station.

  • Trains will stop from line speed faster.
  • Trains will accelerate back to line speed faster.
  • Bigger lobbies, will enable passengers to load and unload faster.
  • Wheelchair passengers and buggy pushers would roll across on the flat.
  • Regenerative braking and light weight will save the train operating company in electricity and train access costs.

Until we get actual figures, even one minute a stop, would reduce times on the branches as follows. Figures in brackets are for two minutes a station.

  1. Chessington South – 25 minutes (16)
  2. Epsom -28 minutes (19)
  3. Hampton Court – 27 minutes (18)
  4. Shepperton -37 minutes (23)

Note that the first three services are now under half-an-hour, without making any allowance that the timings will be for a 100 mph train with better performance, than the 75 mph Class 455 trains.

Is Four Trains Per Hour Possible?

If the round trip from Waterloo can be done in an hour, that means that just two ten-car trains can provide a 2 tph service, as opposed to the four trains now needed.

I suspect that South Western Railway will be experimenting to see if they can get a Shepperton round trip in under the hour.

It may seem difficult, but there are certain factors in their favour.

  • The Shepperton Branch Line is self-contained after it leaves the Kingston Loop Line.
  • It is double-track, so there is no passing loop problems.
  • There are no level crossings.
  • The stations on the branch are fairly evenly-spaced at just over a mile apart.

If a total out-and-back time from Waterloo could be under an hour for each branch, this would mean that a 4 tph service on a branch, would need just four trains.

So for each branch to have 4 tph would need just 16 ten-car trains, with similar performance and characteristics to Class 707 trains or the Aventras.

Currently, to provide a 2 tph service, needs sixteen trains, because it takes over an hour to do a complete round trip.

Would it be possible for trains to shuttle up and down these branches?

Look at the example of the East London Line, where four tph shuttle between dedicated platforms at Highbury and Islington and Dalston Junction stations in the North of London to various destinations in the South.

In Increased Frequencies On The East London Line, I reported on Transport for London’s plans to up the frequency on this line to 20 tph.

So could we be seeing something similar at Waterloo, where trains to Chessington South, Epsom, Hampton Court and Shepperton stations, each have their own dedicated platforms?

The four platforms could even be adjacent, so if you want Wimbledon or a station common to more than one branch, displays would lead you to the first train.

Put simply to provide 4 tph for all branches would need 16 modern ten-car trains and four dedicated platforms at Waterloo. How efficient is that for passengers and train operating companies?

Crossrail 2’s Proposals For Services On The Branches

Wikipedia says this about Crossrail 2 services to these suburban branches, after surfacing from the tunnel South of Wimbledon station.

I think that Wimbledon will have to handle perhaps another 8 tph from other places on the fast lines. But they do that now!

Between Wimbledon And Waterloo

South Western Railway have not disclosed their hand yet, but I suspect that they are doing the maths.

I think that it will be possible for a 4 tph Crossrail 2 service and all the other slow services between Wimbledon and Waterloo to use a single pair of tracks carrying 20 tph.

Surely, if 20 tph can be handled on the East London Line with ten year old signalling technology and Class 378 trains, then this frequency can be handled with modern signalling and new Aventras.

It should be noted that Crossrail and Thameslink can both handle 24 tph under Automatic Train Operation (ATO) in a tunnel, so surely the slow lines can handle 20 tph on the surface under ATO or just using plain good driving.

There could even be capacity for some extra services.

Wimbledon Station

Wimbledon station would only need two platforms for these services, but I do feel that work would need to be done to accommodate the passengers.

But the station would probably not need the massive modifications until it was decided to build the Crossrail 2 tunnel.

Clapham Junction Station

If all these trains can be accommodated on just two tracks between Waterloo and Wimbledon, then these services could call at two dedicated platforms at Clapham Junction station.

  • All trains would stop.
  • Staff and passengers would see a succession of identical trains stopping every three minutes.
  • Passengers would have a maximum wait for fifteen minutes for a direct train, to their specific destination.
  • All trains to stations on the branches would use the same platform, making it easy for passengers.
  • As on the East London Line, trains for any station on the branches would be to a clock-face pattern.

The two platforms could be opposite faces of an island platform, with a waiting room, cafe and toilets in the middle.

Vauxhall Station

If it can be done at Clapham Junction station, why not have a dedicated pair of platforms at Vauxhall station, giving access to the Victoria Line?

I use the link at Vauxhall, between the Victoria Line and Waterloo suburban services occasionally and every time I do, it seems to have been improved.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Vauxhall station.

Lines At Vauxhall

Lines At Vauxhall

I think it is true to say, that if the Victoria Line had been built in the last decade or so, the Victoria Line station could have been placed underneath the main line station.

But even so, I suspect Network Rail and Transport for London have ideas to improve the interchange.

Only Sixteen Ten-Car Aventras Will Be Needed

My calculations show that modern 100 mph trains, like the Aventras that South Western Railway have ordered could provide 4 tph on the Crossrail 2 routes with just sixteen ten-car trains.

All the calculations I’ve done show that replacing trains with faster modern ones, increases the frequency and results in more efficient use of trains.

South Western Railway have bought sixty of these trains.

So they must have some impressive plans!

Conclusion

Crossrail 2’s proposals for the suburban branch lines from Waterloo to the four destinations of Chessington South, Epsom, Hampton Court and Shepperton stations, can be fulfilled using the following.

  • More platform capacity in Waterloo.
  • Modern high-performance 100 mph trains like Class 707 trains or Aventras.
  • Some improvements to track and signals between Waterloo and Wimbledon stations.
  • Wimbledon station would only need minor modifications.
  • A measure of ATO between Waterloo and Wimbledon stations.

What effect will this have on the design of Crossrail 2?

 

December 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Bi-Mode Good, Tri-Mode Better

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

It is an informative article about the creation of the Class 769 trains.

These are some points.

Class 150 Performance

Class 769 performance on diesel is likely to be as good as that of a Class 150 train, if not better.

When running on electric power, they will still be capable of 100 mph.

Extensive Route And Performance Modelling

Extensive computer modelling has been carried out to make sure the train performs.

Access To The Original Designers

It appears that they were able to call in some of the original designers and that at least some of the iriginal drawings were available.

An Extensive Project

The article quotes these figures on the resources used to design the conversion.

  • 60 engineers
  • 45,000 engineering hours
  • 2,500 drawings
  • 3,500 detailed components

I suspect that this could account for the late running of the project.

Approvals

There is a large section on approvals, which is well worth a read. It looks to me, that they are making sure, that these trains fit all regulations and not those that apply to upgrades and improvements.

Noise

They are also going for better noise than a Class 15x train, which must be a good thing.

Raiding The Class 150 Parts Bin

They obviously needed exhausts for the two diesel engines, so in true Colin Chapman fashion, they looked round for something that was readily available and would do the job.

As Class 319 and 150 trains share a lot of components like bogies, the exhausts for the converted trains are from a Class 150 train.

Maintenance Costs

The new trains will obviously cost more to maintain than a Class 319 train, but will probably be cheaper to run than a Class 150 train.

The Ultimate Class 769 train.

The article indicates what could be possible.

  • Air cooling
  • CCTV – both saloon and forward facing
  • At seat USB and power sockets
  • Ethernet backbone to support engine control and Wi-Fi
  • Interior and exterior rebranding
  • Guard’s door control panels.

Not a bad specification for a thirty-year-old train.

Orders

There may be more orders in the pipeline.

Conclusion

I think that these trains will do what they are intended to do in a reliable and quality manner.

Tailpiece – Class 455 Flex

The article finishes with a disclosure about what might happen to the Class 455 trains.

These have been extensively refurbished and have been retrofitted with three-phase AC traction systems incorporating regenerative braking. There would be space on the intermediate trailer coach for batteries that could be charged by the regenerated energy and by the diesel engines. Such a feature could have several benefits such as being able to stop the diesel engines in terminal stations and to supplement diesel engine power when accelerating.

Could this be a four-car efficient runabout for branch lines, as they are only 75 mph trains?

 

 

 

September 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

A First Ride In A Class 707 Train

I had my first ride in a Class 707 train today, from Clapham Junction station to Waterloo station.

I had expected a few glaring faults, as South Western Railway is dropping the trains.

But there are some good features.

  • Wide doors and spacious lobbies.
  • Free wi-fi, unlike the closely-related Class 700 trains.
  • Power scokets, unlike the Class 700 trains
  • Large litter bins.
  • Reasonably comfortable and spacious seats.
  • Walk-through.

And a few bad ones.

  • No 4G signal booster.
  • No full-length walk-through as two five-car trains, rather than one ten-car train.
  • A high step into and out of the train.

But they are certainly better than Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

The current schedule between Waterloo and Windsor and Eton Riverside stations appears to be something like this.

  • Waterloo to Windsor and Eton – 54 minutes
  • Turnback at Windsor and Eton – 31 minutes
  • Windsor and |Eton to Waterloo – 56 minutes
  • Turnback at Waterloo – 9 minutes

Which works out at a very neat two and a half hours for the round trip.

So for a two trains per hour (tph) service you need five trains.

The timetable is written around 75 mph Class 455 trains, but the Class 707 trains are 100 mph units with a shorter dwell time at stations.

In each direction, there are twelve stops, which will give savings of at least a minute at each stop, due to the faster acceleration and smoother regenerative braking.

So assuming a minute is saved at each stop, that brings the round trip time to 126 minutes. Reduce the turnback time at Windsor and Eton Riverside and I feel it would be possible to do the round trip in under two hours.

Which would mean that the current two tph service would need four trains.

From Twickenham station, the route is fairly straight and this may enable more speed improvements on the route.

The Waterloo to Windsor and Eton Riverside service is a classic example of how running faster trains often needs less trains to provide the same or even a better service.

Conclusion

I could see trains taking forty minutes on this route.

With the possible savings on the Waterloo to Windsor and Eton Riverside service, you can understaqnd, why this is the first route to receive the new trains.

 

September 28, 2017 Posted by | News, Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Exploring The Derwent Valley Line

The Derwent Valley Line links Derby with Matlock and because it forms the Southern part of Peak Main Line discussed in Connecting The Powerhouses and it was a fine day, I had to go and take a look.

I actually did three trips along sections of the line.

The middle trip was in a totally acceptable two-car Class 158 train, but the other journeys were in jam-packed single-car Class 153 trains.

In the time I was in Derbyshire, I saw three different types of trains working the line and I get the impression, that East Midlands Trains have difficulty putting together a service to both the passengers and their own satisfaction.

Their Regional Routes, which are worked by Sprinters, look to be a collection, that need to be reorganised and probably be worked by more, better and more suitable trains.

Looking at the Derwent Valley Route, which runs trains from Matlock to Newark Castle via Derby and Nottingham, you get the following typical timings.

  • Matlock to Derby – 34 minutes
  • Derby to Nottingham – 30 minutes
  • Nottingham to Newark – 37 minutes

Which makes a total  of one hour 41 minutes or a round trip of three and a half hours.

In this schedule these things should be noted.

  1. There are several mines of running on the Midland Main Line, where my Class 153 attained a respectable 70 mph.
  2. The train takes a 2 minute break at |Derby and an eight minutes one at Nottingham.
  3. The other stops are scheduled for a minute or less.
  4. I saw lots of buggies, children and a couple of wheelchairs, which delayed train boarding.

This all adds up to a round trip of three and a half hours, which is exceeding inconvenient for running an hourly service.

I suspect that any train operator prefers a dedicated number of identical trains to run a service, as East Midlands Trains have on their London services.

But this Derby-Nottingham version of Crossrail has all the structure and organisation of a relegated football teams back four.

Looking at the hour starting at nine o’clock this morning there are just three services between Derby and Nottingham.

  • 09:08 – Birmingham New Street to Nottingham
  • 09:13 – Matlock to Newark Castle
  • 09:40 – Cardiff Central to Nottingham

If this is typical, it is pitiful for a thirty minute journey between two large, important cities. Especially, in the rush-hour.

Suppose the service was doubled between Matlock and Newark Castle.

  • This would give four trains per hour between Derby and Nottingham.
  • It would give a two trains per hour service to all those stations along the route.
  • It would attract many more passengers to that poor Class 153 train.

In my view, there is only one solution to this problem and that is a high-class stopping service between Matlock and Newark Castle.

  • Two trains per hour.
  • At least two cars in every train.
  • Speeding up of the service so trains can do the round trip in three hours.
  • Step-free access between train and platform at all stations to speed station stops.

This service would require six trains, which is a problem as East Midlands Trains haven’t got the rolling stock.

It would also mean that a train would have go from Ambergate Junction, where the Derwent Valley Line leaves the Midland Main Line to Matlock and back in under thirty minutes.

As a typical train takes fourteen minutes between Ambergate and Matlock stations, with a bit of judicious sorting of the train-platform interface to speed stops, I’m certain that this would be possible.

So where do East Midlands Trains get six suitable trains of at least two carriages?

  • The route could be electrified. Impossible!
  • They acquire some cascaded diesel unit like London Overground’s Class 172 trains.
  • They acquire six Class 319 Flex trains.

The last one is probably the most realistic, as they are four-car trains with an operating speed of over 90 mph on diesel.

But why would it need the capability to run on 25 KVAC overhead electrification, as there is none near Derby or Nottingham, except on Bombardier’s test track?

So is this one of the reasons, why as  I wrote in The Class 319 Flex Units To Be Class 769, Porterbrook are seriously looking at converting Class 455 trains into Flex trains?

After all both Porterbrook and East Midlands Trains are based in Derby.

The Matlock to Newark Castle route would be transformed.

  • Two trains per hour.
  • Four cars with quality interiors.
  • Easier access for all passengers, through wide double doors.
  • There could even be modified to give more space for bikes, buggies and wheelchairs.

It would be a real case of Back To The Future, as the Class 455 trains are nearly ten years older than the Class 153 trains.

 

 

 

 

May 31, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

What Will Happen To The Class 319, Class 455, Class 321 And Cl;ass 317 Trains?

When I go to Walthamstow to have supper with my son, I regularly travel from Hackney Downs station in one of London Overground’s Class 317 trains.

For a metro train, some are unusual in that they still have the First Class compartment and spacious 2 + 2 seating in the rest of the train. Also, as some at one time used to work the Stansted Express service, they have multi-lingual safety instructions and luggage racks.

Like the Class 319, Class 321 and Class 455 trains, they are going to be replaced by new trains by their current operators.

So what will happen to the various trains.

The Class 319 Flex Train

Porterbrook, the ROSCO, who own the Class 319 and Class 455 trains have developed the Flex concept that can transform these classes into much-needed four-car bi-mode trains. We should be seeing Class 319 Flex trains under test by the end of the year.

As the Class 319 Flex train has now been given its own TOPS-number of 769, the powers-that-be must think it is a viable concept.

In Metro Development With Flex Trains, I describe how I believe Northern are going to use the Class 319 Flex trains in the North West in the Liverpool, Manchester and Preston triangle, to develop a world-class Metro network.

The Class 455 Flex Train

The applications of a Class 455 Flex train would probably be less than that of a Class 319 Flex train, as the trains are 75 mph third rail trains, as opposed to 100 mph dual-voltage units.

The Class 319 and its Flex version will travel on say the West Coast Main Line with ease, but the slower Class 455 train would be a rolling roadblock.

But because they have a high-quality 2 + 2 interior, they could find applications as much-needed four-car diesel multiple units.

The interiors are certainly some of the best on short distance suburban trains and I would rate them better than some stock delivered in the lst couple of years.

The Class 455 Flex Train And Pacer Replacement

Class 455 Flex trains would make a superb replacement for the dreaded Pacers.

  • Class 455 trains were built to withstand the impact of a 24-tonne cement mixer truck falling from the sky. Try repeating the Oxshott accident with a Pacer.
  • The Class 455 interior is comfortable and South Western Railway‘s fleet was fully refurbished around 2003.
  • The Class 455 Flex train will have at least the performance of a Pacer.
  • The Class 455 trains meet all the latest Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations.
  • Could the Class 455 Flex train be given the same hill-climbing capability of a Class 319 Flex train?
  • The Class 455 train is four-cars as opposed to the two-cars of a Pacer.

Ironically, the Pacers are a few years younger than the Class 455 trains. But then class is permanent! Or should that be Mark 3 coaches are permanent?

I think that Porterbrook are looking at converting the Class 455 trains for several reasons.

  • They own ninety-one Class 455 trains, that will be released by South Western Railway.
  • The quality interiors probably just need good cleaning and cosmetic repairs.
  • The costs and rate of conversion are now well-known.
  • The Pacers need to be replaced quickly.

It should be noted that the number of Pacers in service are as follows.

  • Class 142 – Arriva Trains Wales – 15
  • Class 142 – Northern – 79
  • Class 143 – Arriva Trains Wales – 15
  • Cl;ass 143 – Great Western Railway – 8
  • Class 144 – Northern – 23

The only replacements on order are Northern’s 25 x two-car and 30 x three-car Class 195 trains.

That means that 140 two-car Pacers are being replaced by the same number of vehicles.

So there is a short term need for some quality trains. If all the Cl;ass 455 trains were converted that would add another ninety-one quality trains that could be used to replace Pacers.

The Welsh and Great Western Pacers are used far from any 25 KVAC electrification, so the inability to use electrification on a Class 455 Flex will be irrelevant. But both Wales and the West Country have lines with challenging gradients.

So if the Class 455 Flex train was designed to be able to handle the Manchester to Buxton test route, the trains could handle the Cardiff Valley Lines and the challenging lines in Devon.

Currently, the Class 455 trains have a very red interior, which would surely go down well in the Principality.

The 100 mph Bi-Mode Train

The rumoured large response to Porterbrook’s proposal for the 100 mph four-car bi-mode Class 319 Flex train, says to me, that there is a market for a train, with the following characteristics.

  • 100 mph operating speed on electricity.
  • Over 90 mph operating speed on diesel power.
  • Four-car

Both the Class 321 and Class 317 trains could be modified to fit this specification.

Class 321 Flex Trains

Greater Anglia have around a hundred of these trains, which will be replaced by brand-new Aventras in the next couple of years.

  • They were built in the late 1980s.
  • They have a 2 + 3 interior.
  • Class 321 trains can be modified for dual voltage.
  • Thirty are being upgraded under the Renatus project, which involves new air conditioning and heating, seating and Wi-Fi.
  • A new traction package with new AC traction motors and regenerative braking has been designed.
  • They are owned by Eversholt Rail Group.
  • The trains are probably very similar electrically to the Class 319 trains,

If needed, there must be scope to convert some of these trains to bi-mode using similar engineering to the Class 319 Flex trains.

I haven’t ridden in a Class 321 Renatus, but pictures on the web, indicate the train could have a high-class interior.

It would appear that with the Renatus treatment, the Class 321 trains could be transformed into a high class train.

The market would decide, if some were converted into bi-mode Flex variants.

Class 317 Flex Trains

Greater Anglia and London Overground have around seventy of these trains, which will be replaced by brand-new Aventras in the next couple of years.

  • They were built in the early 1980s.
  • They have a 2 + 2 interior, to a variety of standards, but mostly in generally good condition.
  • Some have First Class compartments.
  • Some were built for the Stansted Express and have luggage racks.
  • All are 25 KVAC units.
  • They are owned by Angel Trains.
  • Plans exist for the fitting of a new traction package if required.

As with the Class 321 trains, there must be scope to convert some of these trains to bi-mode using similar engineering to the Class 319 Flex trains.

The Future

The four main train types , that I have have listed are all slightly different.

  • Class 317 is a 100 mph, 25 KVAC overhead only, good 2 + 2 interior
  • Class 319 is a 100 mph, dual-voltage train, average 2 + 3 interior
  • Class 321 is a 100 mph, dual-voltage train, average 2 + 3 interior
  • Class 455 is a 75 mph, 750 VDC third-rail only, good 2 + 2 interior

There are also smaller numbers of other types that could also be converted.

Different train types will be better suited to different markets.

I’ll list some of the markets in the next few sections.

Route Extensions

This is probably the simplest application of a Flex train.

Consider the new Bromsgrove station at the Western end of the Cross-City Line in Birmingham.

From May 2018, the station will have been electrified and new electrified services will start across Birmingham from Bromsgrove.

West from Bromsgrove it is under twenty miles to Worcester, which is getting a new station at Worcestershire Parkway.

Bromsgrove to Worcestershire Parkway would be well within range of a Flex train.

How many simple extensions to electric services could be created with a few Flex trains?

There could be quite a few and some might even be extensions to third-rail networks using Class 455 Flex trains.

Metro Development

In Metro Development With Flex Trains, I discuss how Northern are developing the Northern Electric network in the Liverpool, Manchester and Preston triangle, using a mixed fleet of electric and bi-mode Flex version of the Class 319 trains.

Various places in the UK have plans for Metros and where there is some electrification a mixed fleet of electric and bi-mode trains could be used to develop the metro.

The mixed fleet of electric and bi-mode Flex trains gives the train operator advantages.

  • Passengers have a similar customer experience across the fleet.
  • The Flex trains can go anywhere on the network.
  • The electric trains can only work electrified lines, but as more electrification is added, they can take advantage.
  • Flex trains can deputise for electric ones.
  • If there is a problem with the electrification, the Flex trains can still get through.
  • Drivers and other staff don’t have two very dissimilar train types to deal with.
  • Maintenance must be simplified.

I feel that Class 319, Class 321 and Class 317 trains could all be offered in both electric and bi-mode Flex versions.

Several of the possible places where a Metro needs to be developed like Hull, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Sheffield and Stoke-on-Trent are in Northern territory, so for preference, Northern would probably use Class 319 trains, especially as they have the ability to cruise safely at near 100 mph on the West and East Coast Main Lines.

But there is only so many Class 319 trains, so I suspect Northern will have to look at other types.

A city that could benefit from the Flex approach is Leeds.

  • There is a mix of electrified and non-electrified local lines from Leeds station.
  • Some important local routes like Leeds to York and Sheffield are not fully electrified, but could be worked by a Flex train.
  • Northern use five Class 322 trains in the Leeds area. These are very similar to Class 321 trains.
  • Northern need some more stock for the electrified lines from the City and have brought in some Class 321 trains.
  • Leeds station seems to me to have a platform capacity problem.

I feel that a few Class 321 Flex trains and some reorganisation of services so some ran back-to-back through Leeds station could be beneficial.

One point about a mixed fleet of electric and bi-mode Flex trains must be raised.

Suppose an operator is thinking of using a mixed fleet to create a local Metro around a City and that calculations say that to work the required service would need six electric and four bi-mode trains.

Would the operator perhaps buy five trains of each type and use one bi-mode as an electric train most of the time?

But surely, this would be inefficient as the bi-mode would be dragging its diesel power packs around all day.

But the bi-mode trains have an advantage, in that they can still operate if the electrification has failed.

They might also be able to rescue a stalled train and drag it back to the depot.

Diesel Multiple Unit And Pacer Replacement

The Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations are going to kill off a lot of diesel multiple units and especially the Pacers.

Operators with Pacers are going to need to act quickly and as I showed earlier in The Class 455 Flex Train And Pacer Replacement, a  Class 455 Flex train would be a very able replacement.

  • Similar performance.
  • Four cars instead of two.
  • The unmatched ride of the Mark 3 coach.
  • Modern, comfortable high-quality interior.
  • Full compliance with the accessibility regulations.

For operators with lots of Class 150 and Class 156 trains, which need to be refurbished, a Class 455 Flex train would be a very able deputy.

In some places, where two Class 150 trains work as a pair, replacing them with a single Class 455 Flex train, may give operational and capacity advantages.

The High Speed Parcel or Pallet Train

In The Go-Anywhere Express Parcel And Pallet Carrier, I proposed using Class 321 trains as HSPTs of High Speed Parcel or Pallet Trains. In the manner of all Mark 3-based trains, they would undoubtedly make an excellent fist of this job.

Both electric and bi-mode Flex versions could be used to give a go-anywhere fleet.

I suggested using Class 321 trains, as some of them have very basic interiors, so conversion would be less costly to parcel carriers than acceptable passenger trains.

Conclusion

The train refurbishing companies are going to be busy.

The real beauty of this approach, is that what trains get created will depend on what is needed and how much train operators are prepared to pay.

But there are also plenty of trains for most applications.

Cats are supposed to have nine lives, but that is nothing compared to a Mark 3 coach.

 

 

May 30, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Class 319 Flex Units To Be Class 769

This is the title of a short article in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

Giving the Class 319 Flex train, its own unique class number of 769, must say that Porterbrook, Northern, Network Rail and the Department of Transport, think that the bi-mode conversion of a Class 319 train is a viable project.

The article gives some new details about the trains.

  • Northern have ordered eight units, which will be delivered before the end of May 2018.
  • The first unit is at Wabtec’s Brush Traction facility in Louthborough.
  • Completion of the design and the first load testing is plasnned before the end of May.
  • The first unit is due to be completed with driver training underway, by the end of the year.
  • Northern will get a total of thirty-two Class 319 trains, which probably include the eight Class 769 trains.
  • Tri-mode functionality and dynamic mode changeover on the move are being considered.
  • Full production rate is a Class 769 train every two weeks.

The Class 319 Flex train has definitely moved from concept to a real train.

The article finishes by saying that Porterbrook expects further orders soon, while  it is also considering transferring the concept to other roiling stock, such as the Class 455 train.

Why Convert Class 455 Trains?

The Class 319 and Class 455 trains are very similar electrical multiple units based on Mark 3 coaches.

But there are a few differences.

  • The Class 455 is third-rail only, whereas the Class 319 is dual-voltage.
  • The Class 455 is a 75 mph train, whereas the Class 319  is a 100 mph train.
  • South West Trains’ Class 455 trains have had an extensive refurbishment and are fitted with 2+2 seating.
  • South West Trains planned to upgrade the traction package of the Class 455 trains, which would include new AC traction motors and regenerative braking. This article in Rail Magazine has full details.

A Class 455 Flex train could have the following specification.

  • The updated 2 x 2 seating.
  • The new traction package with AC traction motors and regenerative braking.
  • 75 mph operating speed on both electric and diesel.

It could be a better financial proposition for both the leasing company and the train operator.

In The Class 319 Flex Train And Third Rail Routes, I looked at various third-rail routes that could be served with a Class 319 Flex train.

Some of these routes could be served by a Class 455 Flex train, instead of the Class 319 Flex train.

The article states that Porterbrook are expecting further orders and could it be, that the company have assessed the number of bi-mode trains required and found that a large proportion of the available Class 319 trains might need to be converted.

So creating a Class 455 Flex train for use in areas with third rail electrification, might be a prudent action.

South Western Railway, will have around ninety well-maintained Class 455 trains with the refurbished interiors going spare, so there is certainly no shortage of trains to convert.

South Western Railway And Class 455 Flex Trains

South Western Railway, themselves could have some uses for the trains.

I doubt that the trains would be acceptable running long distance services from say Waterloo to Salisbury, due to being designed as short distance commuter trains and the lack of a toilet and tables.

They would be ideal for the following local services.

In some places like the Lymington Branch, they would release Class 158/159 trains to boost services on the West of England Main Line.

Merseyrail And The Class 455 Flex Trains

In the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Chris Stokes talks about the problems of running services between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations on the Borderlands Line. He concludes with the following.

So the operation of the route is very tight, but it appears to work quite well.

There has been talk of using battery trains on this route in place of an expensive full electrification, which would allow Merseyrail’s new Stadler trains to run the route in the following manner.

  • At least two trains per hour (tph).
  • Longer trains.
  • Calls at proposed new stations on the route.

In an ideal world, the service would terminate at the Northern end of the line by going round the third-rail electrified Loop Line under Liverpool City Centre.

The Class 455 train appears on a brief look to be the same size as Merseyrail’s current Class 508 trains, so it should be possible to use the Liverpool Loop.

Chris Stokes has told me two things.

  • The Class 455 trains, used redundant trailer cars from Class 508 trains, that were shortened for Merseyrail, so there can’t be much difference in the size of the Class 455 and Class 507/508 trains.
  • The Wrexham service used to terminate at Birkenhead North station.

So it seems a better Northern terminus could be possible.

Ideally, the Loop Line would be used, but look at this Google Map of Birkenhead North station.

The Wikipedia entry for the station, has a section entitled Wrexham Diesel Service. This is said.

From 4 January 1971 until 2 October 1978, the diesel service on the Bidston to Wrexham line, which had previously operated from New Brighton, was diverted to Birkenhead North. These trains terminated on the centre platform which had previously been used for Liverpool-bound services, and when one of the diesel trains was present (which in that timetable was much of the time), Liverpool-bound electric services used the outer north side of the island platform instead. The diesel service was cut back to Bidston from 2 October 1978. Regular use of the outer platform at Birkenhead North thereafter ceased.

Note that the service used to be Wrexham to New Brighton, which with the replacement of a short chord and some work at New Brighton station might be another alternative, although the service wasn’t very busy.

So could a Class 455 Flex train work the route in the following manner?

  • Use diesel power between Wrexham Central and Bidston stations.
  • Use electric power from Bidston to Liverpool.
  • Join the other Wirral Line trains and terminate in the Liverpool Loop, stopping at the four stations in Central Liverpool.

As to frequency, you could run as many trains as you want, as the Borderlands Line is double-track, with the exception of a short single track section between the two Wrexham stations.

A round trip would take nearly three hours based on current timings, which would mean the following numbers of trains would be needed.

  • One tph – three trains.
  • Two tph – six trains.
  • Four tph – twelve trains.

As Merseyrail like to run four tph on the various branches, why not use this frequency on the Borderlands Line?

It would be a Turn-Up-And-Go service, that would benefit a large number of people.

Does the service have to terminate at Wrexham?

It certainly wouldn’t require any electrification or challenging engineering to open up these and other possible routes.

The Class 455 Flex train may have other uses in Liverpool.

Northern’s services in the area will probably use a few Class 319 Flex trains alongside their Class 319 trains, that already serve Liverpool Lime Street.

So where services are being extended from Merseyrail’s third-rail network, why not use some Class 319 Flex trains, as these trains have a third-rail capability from their days South of the Thames?

  • There may be an engineering or operational problem with a dual-voltage Class 319 Flex train.
  • The pantograph of a Class 319 Flex train might make the train too large for parts of Merseyrail’s third-rail network.
  • A third-rail only Class 455 Flex train may be a better financial proposition for leasing companies and train operators.

Or it could be that Porterbrook’s response to the Class 319 Flex train has been so positive, that the alternative offered by the Class 455 Flex train is welcomed.

Merseyrail’s prime route for a bi-mode Flex train would be the Canada Dock branch.

  •  There is a long term aspiration to run a passenger service.
  • The branch is not electrified but it could connect to Liverpool’s third-rail network at both ends and also to 25 KVAC at the Southern end.
  • Numerous freight trains use the route.
  • Perhaps four stations at about ten million pounds a time would need to be rebuilt.
  • Liverpool Football Ground would get a station.

Class 455 Flex trains could run a Southport, Ormskirk or Kirkby to Liverpool South Parkway service tomorrow.

A Four-Car Diesel Multiple Unit

In Who Would Want An Electric Train Powered Only By Diesel?, I discussed the fact that according to the Porterbrook brochure,

A diesel-only version of Class 319 Flex is now being delivered for one operator.

Could it be, that the updated interior of the Class 455 train, is exactly what the operator wants in a diesel train?

A Class 455 Flex train would have the following characteristics, if the third-rail equipment was removed.

  • Four cars.
  • Diesel power only.
  • 75 mph operating speed.
  • A quality 2 x 2 interior.
  • A train that meets all the present and future access and disabled regulations.

That sounds to me like a high-quality replacement train for which Direct Rail Services will provide you with two Class 68 locomotives and some elderly coaches, which probably don’t meet the latest regulations.

But also, the UK suburban diesel multiple unit fleet has quite a lot of two and three car trains, but very few four-car ones and you see lots of four-car trains made by coupling two two-car units together. So perhaps, some train operators, see these trains as an easy and affordable way to increase the number of four-car trains on their routes without any form of electrification.

As South Western Railway take over the South West Trains franchise on the 20th August 2017, perhaps some Class 455 trains would be available soon after, as they could replace them with new Class 707 trains.

I suspect that a Class 455 Flex train could be available early in 2018.

Conclusions

The Class 319 Flex train or more properly the Class 769 train looks to be a successful concept.

I’m also convinced that Porterbrook have decided the market is larger than they originally thought, so they are seriously looking at converting Class 455 trains, to make sure they have enough trains.

 

May 25, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

When Do Mark 3 Coaches Accept The Inevitable?

What Is A Mark 3 Coach?

This is a preamble to the main post, but if it is not included, you won’t understand a remarkable engineering story about how a nearly fifty-year-old British Rail design lies at the heart of the plans for an upgraded train service on one of the UK’s most important rail lines.

The Wikipedia entry for the British Rail Mark 3 Coach , starts with these two paragraphs.

The British Rail Mark 3 is a type of passenger carriage developed in response to growing competition from airlines and the car in the 1960s. A variant of the Mark 3 became the rolling stock for the High Speed Train (HST).

Originally conceived as locomotive-hauled coaching stock, the first coaches built were for the prototype HST in 1972. Production coaches entered service between 1975 and 1988, and multiple-unit designs based on the Mark 3 bodyshell continued to be built until the early 1990s. The Mark 3 and its derivatives are widely recognised as a safe and reliable design, and most of the surviving fleet is still in revenue service on the British railway network in 2016.

The Mark 3 coach is of an older age.

  • The structure was reputedly designed by traditional methods without computer.
  • Salford University Engineering Department did a finite-element structural analysis on the structure a few years ago and gave it a very good rating.
  • The coaches have a full monocoque construction with an all-welded mild steel stressed skin rather than aluminium.
  • Many engineers and passengers feel that it is one of the best-riding coaches in the world.
  • The coaches have a reputation for exceptional strength and crash-worthiness, which was proven in the Oxshott A244 Bridge Incident, where a 24 tonne cement mixer lorry, fell fifty metres directly onto a Mark 3-based Class 455 train, without any fatalities.

But in some ways though the trains most worthy characteristic, is that train refurbishment companies and their engineers can convert them to any passenger or traction specification, that an operator wants.

The Mark 3 may only be a humble railway coach, but it is one of the world’s great engineering designs.

First and MTR Take South Western

The front cover of the May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has the usual variety of headlines to grab the atrtention of passing browsers in station newagents.

The main headline is First and MTR Take South Western with underneath it two sub-headlines of Plastic Pigs For Portsmouth and Brand New 707s Swept Out.

Further down, there  is another headline of New Stock Bonanza.

Bringing Back The Class 442 Trains

Between the various headlines, is a picture, not of one of the new trains, but of one of the plastic pigs. It should be said, that this is the nickname for the Class 442 trains, built by British Rail way back in the late 1980s.

The Class 442 trains were originally built to serve the routes to Weymouth and in some ways they are the ultimate Mark 3-based design. They have proper sliding external doors, that meet all the regulations. This is an extract from Description in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 442 train.

As was common on the British Rail Southern Region, many electrical components – including traction motors and electrical control gear – were salvaged from the Class 432 units they replaced. For this reason the older 4REP and 4TC units had to be withdrawn before their replacements were built.

The Class 442 was one of the first types to make extensive use of plastics in construction, and earned the nickname among staff and rail enthusiasts of “Pigs” or “Piggies”. When they were first introduced the units were plagued by minor technical failures, but they have subsequently become among the most reliable EMUs operating in the UK

With this attitude to saving money, how did anything good ever get built?

I’ve only ever ridden in a Class 442 train once and that was to Gatwick Airport a few years ago. Using the trains on the Gatwick Express was a mistake, as the trains were not friendly to airport passengers, as the luggage space was totally inadequate.

London To Portsmouth In Class 442 Trains

But now South Western Railway are bringing the Class 442 trains back into service between London and Portsmouth.

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways says this about the reintroduction of the trains, under a sub-heading of Plastic Pigs’ Revenge.

The Class 442 EMUs built by British Rail for the Bournemouth-Poole-Weymouth electrification in 1988, are to be upgraded, including replacement traction equipment.

The article also mentions that on a demonstration run in April 1988, a Class 442 train claimed a world record of 108 mph for a third-rail train.

Currently, services between London and Portsmouth take the following times.

  • London to Portsmouth – Fast – one hour thirty-three minutes with seven stops
  • London to Portsmouth – Slow – two hours nine minutes with fourteen stops
  • Portsmouth to London – Fast – one hour forty-two minutes with seven stops
  • Portsmouth to London – Slow – two hours eight minutes with fourteen stops

With those journey times, I shouldn’t think that it is the easiest route to schedule given the amount of traffic at the London end of the route.

According to Modern Railways, there is an aim to save five minutes on fast services and seven minutes on slower ones.

Could this actually make the scheduling problem easier?

A fast return journey currently takes three hours fifteen minutes plus, whatever it takes to turn the train at both ends of the route. I think that this is a variable amount and is adjusted according to time of day. So knocking ten minutes off the return journey might well enable the turn-round times to be more even and create a more passenger-friendly timetable.

So how will these time savings be achieved?

Upgrading The Class 442 Trains

As I said earlier, Modern Railways are saying that the traction equipment is being replaced.

Seeing that the current traction equipment for a Class 442 train,came from a Class 432 train, which were built in the mid-1960s, I suspect the current design may be reliable, but could be improved upon, with respect to power and electrical efficiency.

The very least we will see will be new traction motors and control systems, with the probable addition of regenerative braking, where the traction motors generate electricity to slow the train.

Note.

  1. The current Class 442 trains do not have regenerative braking, so a lot of energy is wasted.
  2. The Class 444 trains which work from London to Portsmouth have regenerative braking, so obviously the track can handle the reverse currents.

So if nothing else, a new traction package which included regenerative braking, would make a sensible saving in electricity.

I suspect, there are engineers in one of the companies that specialise in upgrading traction packages, working to create the ultimate traction package for the Class 442 train. It would deliver.

  • Fast acceleration and braking consistent with what is acceptable to passengers.
  • Regenerative braking.
  • Minimum energy usage.

Some might think a pantograph for 25 KVAC should be fitted, but I think the train is being modified to be a pure and simple; Pompey Rocket. The transformer to allow dual-voltage working would add weight and would rarely be needed.

A Train With An Engine In The Middle

The Class 442 train is unusual in that it only has one powered car and that is the piggie in the middle of each five-car train.

In A Train With The Engine In The Middle, I described the Stadler GTW, which is a three-car train, with one passenger car either side of a power module.

Wikipedia says this under Description for the Stadler GTW.

Although the traction is good for the powered bogies the concept has the same problem as other light railcars with the brakes on the non-powered axles having lower grip than traditional railcars. This has led to actual restrictions when leafs are on the rails as the wheel slide protection can not fully compensate the effect. The central power module has limits with heat dissipation as well which can lead into situations where the power output needs to be limited which is automatically done in this construction concept.

Perhaps because it is a heavier train, the Class 442 trains doesn’t have these problems!

I also have personal memory from about 1970.

At the time, I worked in simulation at ICI Plastics in Welwyn Garden City. I remember reading how British Rail Research at Derby had applied their analogue computer and dynamic modelling skills to the problems of why so many four-wheel freight wagons were derailing. They solved that problem and I have a feeling the work influenced the design of the running gear of the Mark 3 coach.

Could the unusual concept of the powered middle car of five have been influenced by all the research?

Incidentally, five-car Electrostars like Class 377 and Class 378 have unpowered middle cars, with most of the others powered.

Comparing power of a five-car 100 mph Class 442 train with a five-car 100 mph Class 377 train and they both have traction motors rated at a total of 1200 kW. The 442 weighs in at 199.54 long tons, as opposed to the 170.9 long tons of the Class 377 train, so it could appear that the modern train has faster acceleration.

The Class 442 Train And The High Speed Train Compared

By comparison, Wikipedia quotes the at rail power of a Class 43 locomotive as 1,320 kW.

Obviously, it was a deliberate design to put the motored car of the Class 442 train in the middle. But was it also, so that when working as a pair, you had two powerful power cars at 54 long tons separated by four lighter, but very stiff Mark 3 cars at between 35-39 long tons?

After all by the mid-1980s, British Rail had a lot of experience of running Mark 3 coaches between two powerful Class 43 locomotives, in the High Speed Train.

Surprisingly, the Class 43 locomotive is only 15 long tons heavier than the Class 442 motored car.

So could the Class 442 train be considered an electric HST, with a couple of extra cars at each end?

The dynamics could be similar and I suspect British Rail knew the dynamics of Mark 3 coaches and locomotives well.

After all, a few years later High Speed Trains on the East Coast were lengthened from 2+8 to 2+9, with it appears few problems.

The Ease Of A Power Upgrade

Upgrading the power on a Class 442 train could be easier than some.

  • All the power systems, except for the current collection, are in piggie numbered three in the middle.
  • Changes will be needed in the driver’s cabs, but I suspect that most changes in the rest of the train will be purely cosmetic and for the ease of passengers and crew.
  • The interior layout of the powered car has been chopped and changed many times, so it could be rebuilt to see the trains to their final retirement.
  • Engineers have plenty of space in which to work.
  • The upgrade would be more like updating a locomotive than an electric multiple unit.

I doubt it would be a very high cost upgrade, but the budget won’t need to be small, as an alternative fleet of eighteen 100 mph trains wouldn’t come cheap.

I suspect too, that in the rebuilt power car, no technology that helps the train meet the required performance, will be ruled out on grounds of cost.

Will The Upgrade Include A Battery?

I just wonder, whether onboard energy storage features in the engineers’ thinking?

This page on the Southern Electric Group website, shows a series of side views of the motored car. It would be interesting to see if a battery about the size of the 75 KwH unit in a Routemaster bus could be squeezed underneath.

Suppose the energy generated by the regenerative braking whilst stopping, were to be stored in such a battery.

This would mean.

  • Braking energy could be used to accelerate the train after the stop.
  • Less energy would need to be transferred from the train using the third-rail.
  • Electricity would be saved.
  • The train would have a short range on battery power.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Portsmouth Direct Line, there is a section called Topography Of The Line. This is said.

The central part of the route, from Guildford to Havant, runs through relatively thinly populated country. The line was designed on the “undulating principle”; that is, successive relatively steep gradients were accepted to reduce construction cost. In the days of steam operation this made the route difficult for enginemen.

Leaving the Southampton main line at Woking, the line diverges southwards falling to Worplesden and then climbing to Guildford, using the River Wey valley. After gentle gradients, the line then climbs from Godalming for eight miles (13 km) at 1:80/1:82 to a summit near Haslemere; it then falls at 1 in 100, climbing briefly at Liphook and then falling at 1 in 80 to Liss. A second climb of three miles (5 km) follows to a summit at Buriton Tunnel, then falling at 1 in 80 and then more gently for 8 miles (13 km) to Havant.

I’m sure that extensive modelling of the Portsmouth Direct Line has been done and it has been investigated whether a small amount of energy storage would be useful in assisting performance and saving electricity.

Will These Modifications Produce The Proposed Timings?

The upgraded Class 442 trains will probably be able to execute a stop at a station in a shorter time than the current Class 444 trains.

On the slow services, South Western Railway is aiming for a saving of seven minutes on a journey with fourteen stops, or a saving of just thirty seconds a stop.

I also suspect that services on the challenging Portsmouth Direct Line would be helped with a modern traction package and South Western Railway’s goal of a five minute saving is possible, especially as the seven stops might give three and a half minutes.

Conclusion

I suspect that someone will come up with a very innovative traction package.

The inevitable retirement could be a lot of years away yet!

 

 

April 30, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

Increasing Capacity On Waterloo Suburban Services

A new franchise is taking over the services out of Waterloo station to the South West.

There is an informative article in Rail Technology Magazine, which is entitled First MTR joint venture awarded South Western franchise.

I wrote about the suburban services in An Analysis Of Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2.

The Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2

These suburban termini and their routes are proposed  to be connected to Crossrail 2.

The times are for a typical one-way journey from Waterloo, which usually has a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

But consider.

I would think it is highly likely that a Class 707 train could do a round trip to Chessington South, Epsom and Hampton Court stations, within an hour. For the purpose of this calculation, I’ll assume that trains to Shepperton take two hours for the round trip.

So this would mean that to execute the current 2 tph, would need the following number of five-car trains, which would work as a ten-car unit.

  • Chessington South –  2×2 = 4 trains
  • Epsom – 2×2 = 4 trains
  • Hampton Court – 2×2 =  4 trains
  • Shepperton – 4×2 = 8 trains

So a total of 20 new five-car Class 707 trains would be needed to run these four services at a frequency of 2 tph, stopping as they do now!

As they can’t do the round trip in an hour with the current stock, they need to use more trains. And drivers and depot space!

Services to Windsor and Eton Riverside

Services between Waterloo and Windsor and Eton Riverside stations currently take 54 minutes.

I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect that a Class 707 train could do the round trip in two hours.

So that means that just eight trains are needed to run the ten-car 2 tph service to Windsor.

Services On The Hounslow And Kingston Loop Lines

These seem to be timed as follows.

  • Hounslow Loop – 85 minutes – 20 stops.
  • Kingston Loop – 79 minutes – 22 stops

Consider.

  • The services are probably timed for 75 mph trains.
  • 100 mph Class 707 trains with a faster station-stop performance could save a minute at each stop.
  • All the platforms on the loop have only recently been updated for ten-car trains.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Class 707 trains, run round the Hounslow and Kingston Loop Lines in under an hour.

This would enable clockface services, simplify train scheduling and please passengers, signallers and the train operating company.

Other Services

There are other services that would benefit from Class 707 trains.

These are two examples of services out of Waterloo

  •  Weybridge via Hounslow and Virginia – 75 minutes – 20 stops.
  • Guildford via Epsom – 71 minutes – 17 stops

Would a Class 707 train, bring these journeys under the magic hour including a turnback?

Waterloo Station

When the former International platforms at Waterloo station has been upgraded in the Summer, it will have five new Platforms 20-24.

To gain efficient access to the new Platforms, Network Rail are replacing the Eurostar tracks, with lines that enable trains to take a sneaky quick route in and out of Platforms 20-24.

These pictures show the lines going from Platforms 1 and 2 at Vauxhall station to the former Eurostar Platforms.

It looks like when it’s finished Platform 1 at Vauxhall will be the up platform towards Waterloo and Platform 2 will be the down platform.

Currently Platform 2 at Vauchall seems to handle services that come through Putney and Clapham Junction stations, with services going the other way using Platform 3.

According to Services in the Wikipedia entry for Putney station, typical off-peak service at  the station is.

This means that there are 12 tph in both directions from Putney to Waterloo via Clapham Junction and Vauxhall.

It does look that after all the work is finished, these services will go into the rebuilt Platforms 20-24.

Will the various services be given their own platforms in Waterloo?

It would be a  way of increasing passenger throughput in the station at busy times, as commuters would know that their trains always used the same platform. Simple and efficient!

It could be done with all services and I think this is done to a certain extent now.

Conclusion

South West Trains new fleet of thirty Class 707 trains is sized to run the services to Chessington South, Epsom, Hampton Court, Shepperton and Windsor and still leave a couple of spares for breakdowns and maintenance.

This calculation shows that you can sometimes replace a large number of 75 mph trains with a significantly smaller number of 100 mph units and still attain the same service frequency.

As they have just lost the franchise, I feel a little bit sorry for Stagecoach. But not that sorry!

 

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Four-Car Bi-Mode Train

The Class 319 Flex train is an affordable four-car bi-mode or electro-diesel train, promoted by Porterbrook and to be used by Northern.

  • The train is affordable, as it is based on a refurbished Class 319 train, which was built thirty years ago.
  • The train is a dual-voltage unit and can be powered by either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Each unit also has two rail-proven MAN diesel engines, for powering the train on lines without electrification.

If there is a drawback, it is that with their interiors so far, Northern have opted for a no-frills interior with no wi-fi.

Compare this with the interior of a Class 455 train.

The trains were originally built within a couple of years, but the updated interior specified by South West Trains is much more impressive and passenger-friendly than that used by Northern.

Both trains are four-car units and are based on the Mark  3 coach, so underneath the skin, they probably have a lot in common.

There are a large number of four-car trains on UK railways so it must be a train length that is convenient for operators.

But strangely until now there has not been a four-car bi-mode train.

But then bi-mode trains are not that common, with the only UK train of that type; the Class 800 train, yet to enter service.

But the Class 800 train is for the long distance market and is a five-car or nine-car 125 mph train.

I do wonder, if the reason we have no four-car bi-mode trains, is that no-one has bothered to design one so no-one has wanted one.

But Porterbrook own 86 of these Class 319 trains, which are reliable 100 mph trains, that drivers tell me they like, because of their performance and excellent brakes.

Because of their age, they’re probably not worth a great deal more than scrap value, but because of the depth of knowledge of what can be done with Mark 3 coaches, they can be turned into a useful train by quality engineering.

Porterbrook have seen a gap in the market with Northern for a train specifically designed to be able to handle their toughest route, which is Manchester Piccadilly to Buxtonup the very steep Buxton Line. But the train is no one-trick pony and can run on virtually any of Northern’s routes, whether they are electrified or not.

So Northern can use the train for a variety of purposes.

  • Running services on routes, that are not fully electrified.
  • New route development.
  • Extension of existing electrified routes.
  • Replacement of a failed unit, which could be electric or diesel

Northern will have two versions of the Class 319 train; electric and bi-mode, just like other train operating companies will have electric and bi-mode versions of the Class 800 train.

I suspect that to passengers and all train staff except the driver, there will not be many obvious differences between the two versions.

Some routes will probably be able to be served by both versions.

The Bombardier Aventra

I feel very much that the Aventra will have one or more independently-powered versions.

The Aventra has a slightly unusual and innovative electrical layout.

This article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-Iron batteries if required.

This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have improved the concept.

Perhaps instead of a power storage device, they could squeeze in a small diesel engine and an alternator.

I’ve believed for a long time, that the Class 710 train being built by Bombardier for the London Overground, has onboard energy storage and that I wouldn’t be surprised if it used the storage to capture energy from regenerative braking, just as a lot of hybrid vehicles, like a London Routemaster and a Toyota Prius.

It won’t be a high-power bi-mode like the Class 319 Flex train, but it could have a useful range on the stored energy.

But it will be an all-electric train and probably more energy-efficient.

Other Four-Car Bi-Modes

I can’t believe that other train manufacturers are not looking at various forms of bi-mode trains.

Hitachi make the Class 800 trains at Newton Aycliffe, where they also make the four-car Class 385 train for ScotRail.

And what about Alstom, CAF, Siemens and Stadler?

What About Five Cars?

Four-car trains mean that operators can run eight and twelve car trains, when they are convenient. But other companies prefer five-car and ten-car trains.

We have the Class 800 trains, which are a 125 mph bi-mode, but we don’t have a five-car bi-mode suburban trundler. A few would surely be useful for Southern to handle Uckfield and the Marshlink Line.

I also believe that Greater Anglia’s five-car Aventras could have the limited independent capacity given by onboard energy storage.

I suspect that what the train operators need, the train operators will get!

Conclusion

We will see a complete spectrum of bi-mode four-car trains. And a few fuve-cars too!

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March 13, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

The South London Workhorse

The 137 sets of Class 455 trains are the workhorses of the electric routes South of the Thames. These are some pictures of those run by South West Trains.

They may have been built in the 1980s, but they scrub up well. They are also built to withstand the heaviest accidents. Is there any other train in the world that can protect the occupants, if an idiot drops a twenty-four tonne cement mixer on top? The Class 455 and their sisters the Class 317 can, as this actually happened at Oxshott to a Class 455. No-one was killed and the train later returned to service a couple of years later.

Perhaps the greatest complement to these trains, is that South West Tains are fitting them with new traction motors, as is detailed in Wikipedia. Would you put a new engine in your 1980s-built car?

There’s an old phrase about horses – Handsome Is As Handsome Does

These Class 455 trains may not look the most beautiful and sexy trains from the outside, but they are the living proof of the phrase.

It is interesting to note, that South West Trains converted their Class 455 trains from 2+3 to 2+2 seating, as happened to many of the Class 317s in North London. However, Southern have kept the cramped 3+2 seating, as have Northern with their Class 319 trains.

Although, I’m only slim and don’t occupy much seat space, I do feel we should endeavour to make 2+2 seating the rule for Standard Class.

July 23, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment