The Anonymous Widower

Effort To Contain Costs For Hoo Reopening

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Medway Council is working with Network Rail and other industry players in an effort to make restoration of a passenger service to Hoo on the Isle of Grain branch feasible. The Council was awarded £170 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund in 2020 to support schemes to facilitate building of 12,000 new houses in the area, with £63 million of the HIF money for reinstatement of services on the Hoo Branch.

The article mentions, this new infrastructure.

  • A new station South of the former Sharnal Street station.
  • Works to level crossings, of which there are six between Gravesend station and proposed site of the new Hoo station.
  • A passing place at Hoo Junction, where the branch joins the North Kent Line.
  • A passing place at Cooling Street.

Note.

  1. The single-platform Bow Street station cost £8 million.
  2. The single-platform Soham station cost nearly £22 million, but it has a bridge.
  3. Reopening the Okehampton branch and refurbishing Okehampton station cost £40 million.

I think costs will be very tight.

Possible Train Services

This is said in the article about the train service on the branch.

While third rail electrification was originally proposed, this idea has been discarded in favour of self-powered trains on the branch, such as battery-operated trains. Possible destinations include Gravesend, Northfleet or Ebbsfleet for interchange with trains going to London, or extension of London to Dartford or Gravesend services over the branch, using hybrid third-rail/battery trains.

Consider.

  • Merseyrail will be using battery-electric trains to provide services to the new Headbolt Lane station, as permission was not available for extending the existing third-rail track.
  • Electrification would probably cost more than providing a charging system at Hoo station.
  • Turning the trains at Gravesend, Northfleet or Ebbsfleet could be difficult and a new bay platform would probably break the budget.
  • Both Dartford and Gravesend have two trains per hour (tph), that could be extended to the new Hoo station.
  • Hoo junction to Hoo station is no more than five or six miles.
  • The Dartford services have a possible advantage in that they stop at Abbey Wood station for Crossrail.
  • It may be easier to run services through Gravesend station, if the terminating service from Charing Cross were to be extended to Hoo station.
  • A two tph service between London Charing Cross and Hoo stations, with intermediate stops at at least London Bridge, Lewisham, Abbey Wood and Dartford would probably be desirable.

I feel that the most affordable way to run trains to Hoo station will probably be to use battery-electric trains, which are extended from Gravesend.

It may even be possible to run trains to Hoo station without the need of a charging system at the station, which would further reduce the cost of infrastructure.

Possible Trains

Consider.

  • According to Wikipedia, stopping Gravesend services are now run by Class 376, Class 465, Class 466 and Class 707 trains.
  • Real Time Trains indicate that Gravesend services are run by pathed for 90 mph trains.
  • Class 376, Class 465 and Class 466 trains are only 75 mph trains.
  • Class 707 trains are 100 mph trains and only entered service in 2017.

I wonder, if Siemens designed these trains to be able to run on battery power, as several of their other trains can use batteries, as can their New Tube for London.

In Thoughts On The Power System For The New Tube for London, I said this.

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled London Underground Deep Tube Upgrade.

This is an extract.

More speculatively, there might be a means to independently power a train to the next station, possibly using the auxiliary battery, in the event of traction power loss.

Batteries in the New Tube for London would have other applications.

  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Moving trains in sidings and depots with no electrification.

It should be born in mind, that battery capacity for a given weight of battery will increase before the first New Tube for London runs on the Piccadilly line around 2023.

A battery-electric train with a range of fifteen miles and regenerative braking to battery would probably be able to handle a return trip to Hoo station.

An Update In The July 2022 Edition Of Modern Railways

This is said on page 75.

More positive is the outlook for restoration of passenger services on the Hoo branch, where 12,000 new houses are proposed and Medway Council is looking to build a new station halfway down the branch to serve them. As the branch is unelectrified, one idea that has been looked at is a shuttle with a Vivarail battery train or similar, turning round at Gravesend or another station on the main line.

Steve White worries that this could mean spending a lot of money on infrastructure work and ending up with what would be a sub-optimal solution. ‘Do people really want to sit on a train for 10 minutes before having to get out and change onto another train? I don’t think so. Ideally what you want is through trains to London, by extending the Gravesend terminators to Hoo.’

That would require a battery/third rail hybrid unit, but Mr. White thinks that is far from an outlandish proposal; with Networker replacement on the horizon, a small bi-mode sub-fleet could dovetail neatly with a stock renewal programme. Medway Council and rail industry representatives are working on coming up with a solution for Hoo that could do what it does best; facilitating economic regeneration in a local area.

Note that Steve White is Managing Director of Southeastern.

I’ll go along with what he says!

Conclusion

I believe that a well-designed simple station and branch line could be possible within the budget.

A battery-electric upgrade to Class 707 trains could be a solution.

But the trains could be very similar to those needed for Uckfield and to extend electric services in Scotland.

 

 

 

 

May 2, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shuffling The Class 165 Trains

The May 2020 Edition of Modern Railways has an article, which is entitled West Of England Improvements In GWR Deal.

The sub-title is the following.

EMU Trailers Could Be Inserted Into Turbo DMUs

GWR‘s Turbo DMUs are.

The article says, they will be internally-refreshed with interiors better suited for long-distance services.

It also looks that they might get hybrid transmissions, if a trial with a Chiltern Class 165 train is successful. In Class 165 Trains To Go Hybrid, I wrote about this trial.

The article says this about the retractioned units.

The additional power available from the new hybrid units would allow the sets to be lengthened with trailers released from withdrawn Class 365 or 465 EMUs, lengtheing two-car Turbos by one vehicle and the three-car sets to five carriages. The EMU vehicles are 20 metres long, rather than the 23 metres of the DMU design, but it is thought integration into the diesel sets would be relatively simple.

This sounds like a cunning plan, from BREL’s book of Cut-And-Paste With Trains.

At the time of writing there are nineteen Class 365 trains in storage, which could release 38 trailer cars. However, Varamis Rail may need some of these trains for their proposed parcel business, that I wrote about in Varamis Plans Electric Freight To Carry Light Goods.

If all the fifty-six trains were to be lengthened, this would need ninety-two trailer cars. So I suspect, that GWR will be awaiting the retirement of some of the 147 Class 465 trains, which are currently in service with Southeastern.

A sister company to GWR, South Western Railway is transferring thirty Class 707 trains to Southeastern. I wrote about the transfer in Southeastern Signs Deal To Lease Unwanted Class 707s. As each pair of Class 707 trains, could release two Class 465 trains containing four trailer cars, this could be the source of sufficient trailer cars to lengthen the Turbos.

This would mean that the following suitable trailer cars would be available.

  • Thirty-eight from stored Class 365 trains.
  • Sixty from Class 465 trains displaced by Class 707 trains at Southeastern.

It’s a close-run thing.

But there may be trouble ahead, as Chiltern have twenty-eight two-car and eleven three-car Class 165 trains, which would need another fifty trailer cars, if Chiltern decided to lengthen their trains in the same way as GWR.

  • There appear to be twenty-one trains or forty-two trailer cars in service with Great Northern.
  • Six trailer cars should be available from the previous swaps.

So it looks like they are one train or two trailer cars short, if they want to do a full conversion.

Unless the thirty Class 707 trains going to Southeastern, with their faster operating speed can scoot route the network faster and do the work of more than thirty Class 465 trains.

 

April 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Southeastern Signs Deal To Lease Unwanted Class 707s

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

New trains made redundant before they even entered traffic are set for a new home, with Southeastern signing a deal to lease the 30 five-car Class 707s.

These pictures show Class 707 trains.

Having ridden in the trains many times, the trains don’t seem to have a major problem, except for the high step, which isn’t very wheel-chair friendly.

I can summarise the Class 707 fleet as follows.

  • Thirty trains of five cars.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Metro interior with lots of space, as I wrote about in The Space In A Class 707 Train.
  • Air-conditioing
  • 275 seats
  • Built in 2014.
  • Wi-fi

Looking at Southeastern fleet, they have a fleet of Class 376 trains.

  • Thirty-six trains of five cars.
  • 75 mph operating speed.
  • Metro interior.
  • 228 seats
  • Built in 2004

Could it be that the Class 707 trains will replace these?

  • They are ten years younger
  • They have more seats.
  • They are 25 mph faster and probably have better acceleration.

The Class 707 have better passenger features like air-conditioning, power sockets and wi-fi. They may also have shorter dwell times in stations, just because they are newer trains.

On the other hand, the fleet is six trains smaller.

I do wonder though, if the Class 707 trains are faster over a metro route, than the Class 376 trains, because of better performance, does this mean that fewer trains can work Southeastern’s metro routes?

Kent On The Cusp Of Change

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways discusses the improvements that may be made by the new franchisee of the Southeastern franchise.

In Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Elimination Of Slow Trains, I outlined the reasons for replacing the 75 mph trains in Southeastern’s fleet.

There are three sub-fleets of 75 mph trains.

Note.

  1. The Class 465 and 466 trains generally work in ten-car formations of 2 x Class 465 and 1 x Class 466 trains.
  2. The Class 465 and 466 trains have toilets, but the Class 376 trains don’t.
  3. The Class 465 and 466 trains work both Main Line and Metro services.
  4. Surely, 75 mph trains will slow up Main Line services.
  5. I doubt that Class 707 trains can run Main Line services, unless they were updated with toilets.

It should also be noted that the trailer cars of Class 465 trains may be needed to lengthen Class 165 and 166 trains, as I wrote about in Shuffling The Class 165 Trains, where I estimated that sixty trailer cars would be needed from the Class 465 fleet.

I can see an intricate strategy being developed with the following objectives.

  • Introduce the Class 707 trains on Southeastern’s Metro services.
  • Withdraw sixty Class 465 trains so they can donate trailer cars to lengthen Class 165/166 trains.
  • Reorganise some services, so Main Line services can be all 100 mph trains.

Southeastern may need to acquire some additional rolling stock.

The first two fleets are 75 mph trains, but the Class 379 trains are 100 mph units, that could be ideal to support Southeastern’s Main Line services.

Conclusion

The Class 707 trains look like a good replacement for the Class 376 trains.

But because there appears to be a need for trailer cars to strengthen GWR’s Class 165 and Cass 166 trains, there also appears to be a need to withdraw some Class 465 trains, which creates the need for some detailed planning.

April 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments