The Anonymous Widower

Disabled Access On South Western Railway’s Class 707 Trains

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled RMT Backs Disabled Passengers Protest In London.

I will not comment directly on the article, but relate an incident, that I observed on Saturday, as I was travelling to Brentford station, to see Ipswich Town at nearby Brentford.

  • I was travelling in the fourth car of a ten-car formation of two five-car Class 707 trains, when we stopped at a station and seemed to be waiting a long time to depart.
  • I then noticed a guy in a motorised wheel-chair moving along the platform, who stopped at the door at the front of my car.
  • The guard then appeared on the platform, said something to the guy in the wheelchair and entered the train.
  • He returned a couple of minutes later holding the folding ramp, which he used professionally to load the guy and his wheelchair into the train.
  • A couple of minutes later after stowing the ramp, the guard closed the doors and gave the signal to start.

This picture shows the height difference at Brentford station.

This is not as bad as some train-plarform gaps, but why isn’t it flat?

A station-man on the London Overground once told me, that loading disabled passengers on to trains using a ramp,  is a major source of delay.

Saturday’s incident illustrated the problem beautifully.

It also showed the professionalism of one of their staff

South Western Railways use a very inefficient system.

  • The guard had to walk some way to load the passenger, as he happened to be at the back of the train.
  • He was actually in the second train, so had to walk on the platform.
  • The ramp had to be removed from and replaced in its cupboard.
  • How many times, do guards and station staff catch their fingers in the ramp?

If level access were to be provided between train and platform, the guard would just have acted as a guide to get the guy in the wheelchair on the train.

South Western Railways are getting a new fleet of Class 701 trains.

  • These trains will be walk-through, meaning the guard can get to where assistance is needed easily. And in the dry, if it’s raining hard.
  • Will the trains floors, be level with those of the platforms?
  • If not, will a Harrington Hump be provided?

Surely, this will mean many disabled in a wheelchair, like an acquaintance of mine, will be able to push or drive themselves into and out of the train.

It will of course help others like those with an infant in a buggy or dragging a heavy case.

Let’s hope the new fleet of trains, will be designed to access the trains in a much better way than the current Class 707 trains, and the older Class 455 trains.

Conclusion

Could this incident illustrate the problems, that prompted South Western Railway to decide to return the Class 707 trains to the leasing company?

Does what I saw , have any relevance to the role of guards on trains?

The incident I saw, would have required assistance from a second person, even if the access had been totally level.

Note.

  • London Underground and Overground try to always have somebody on the platform, when a train is in the station.
  • The Docklands Light Railway always have someone on the train.

South Western Railway could use either method.

 

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Could The Unwanted Class 707 Trains Be Converted To Hydrogen-Power?

South West Trains ordered a fleet of thirty Class 707 trains from Siemens for the route between Waterloo and Windsor and to increase services generally.

However, the new franchise holder; South Western Railway has decided to replace these new trains with new Class 701 trains from Bombardier.

Various reasons have been  put forward for the very early replacement.

  • Lower leasing costs.
  • Lack of toilets on the new trains.
  • The bad reputation with customers of the closely-related Class 700 trains on Thameslink.
  • SWR want a unified fleet.

My observations include.

  •  MTR, who are a partner in SWR and the Crossrail operator, have got good reports of the Crossrail Aventras.
  • SWR have ordered sixty ten-car trains and thirty five-car trains. So perhaps, SWT ordered the wrong mix of trains.

Crossrail 2 will probably use Aventras and it will take over some of SWR’s routes, So is there a degree of future-proofing for Crossrail 2 in the decision to abandon the Class 707 trains.

The Search For A New Operator For The Class 707 Trains

Wikipedia sums up the current situation.

Consequently, Angel Trains is looking for a future operator to lease these trains from 2019.

Will they find one?

The new franchise holder on Southeastern could be a possibility, if they decide to replace all their older units.

This totals to 1,300 carriages. So they would have to buy a lot more trains of the same type to have an easy-to-manage unified fleet.

Buying that number of carriages, you will have to be very sure, that you had the design and the price right!

Northern and Scotrail could have been possible homes, but they have bought substantial numbers of other train manufacturers products.

\st.Pancras to Corby could be a possibility, but I think that route needs a faster train.

So is there a fleet of thirty five-car trains, that just don’t fit what train operating companies want?

The Need For A 100 mph Diesel Multiple Unit Replacement

Currently, there are the following larger DMUs on the UK network with speeds in the range of 90-100 mph.

This totals about 1200 carriages.

Note.

  1. Most are in good condition.
  2. Some are being replaced.
  3. They are run by most train operating companies.
  4. Some run on routes that are partially electrified.
  5. Trains sometimes run in longer formations to increase capacity

This story in City AM is entitled Transport Minister Jo Johnson Calls For Diesel-Only Trains To Be Ditched By 2040 And Fast Rollout Of Hydrogen Train Trials.

So is what Jo Johnson said feasble?

On a rough estimate there must be somewhere between two and four thousand carriages to replace before 2040, with some form of zero-carbon trains powered by batteries, hydrogen or Aunt Jemina’s extra strong knicker elastic.

Replacing four thousand carriages in twenty years is just two hundred a year or just four per week . Given that Bombardier have been quoted as saying that production rates as high as twenty-five carriages a week is possible in a single production line, I don’t think building the trains will be a problem.

|When you develop new or adapt technology in a disruptive way, you must be thorough in your development and testing.

So I think that Jo Johnson has come up with a feasible plan to decarbonise a lot of UK trains.

Lessons From The Alstom Coradia iLint

The world’s first hydrogen-powered train is a version of the Alstom Coradia Lint.

Alstom and Siemens have now merged their transportation interests, so could we be seeing a hydrogen-powered version of the Desiro City, which is the train family to which the Class 707 train belongs?

A hydrogen-powered Class 707 train, would probably be a useful train for a train operating company to have in its fleet.

Perhaps, the current unwanted thirty trains could be converted to dual-voltage hydrogen-powered trains?

Wikipedia gives details on the hydrogen-powered Alstom Coradia iLint.

  • It is two-cars
  • It is based on a successful train.
  • It has a 140 kph operating speed.
  • It has a range of 600-800 kilometres on a tank-full of hydrogen.
  • It also uses a battery to store energy from traditional electrification, generated by hydrogen or from the regenerative braking system.

One of the keys to making it all work, is an intelligent computer system, that optimises energy generation and use according to the route.

A Hydrogen-Powered Class 707 Train

Could a conversion of a Class 707 train be tweaked to have the following performance and features?

  • A 160 kph (100 mph) operating speed on hydrogen.
  • The train already has this speed on electrification.
  • Dual-voltage of 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail.
  • A range on hydrogen in the region of four hundred miles.
  • An interior designed for hundred mile trips, with toilets, wi-fi and power sockets.

The trains would need a substantial rebuild, but probably nothing too radical provided the hydrogen-powered generator, Hydrogen tank and the battery could be fitted in.

In The Formation Of A Class 707 Train, I describe hoe the Class 707 train, is two motored-cars, with three trailer-cars in between. I suspect, that the train can be lengthened or shortened by adding or removing trailer cars.

So could appropriate trailer cars be placed in the middle to create Battery, electric or hydrogen trains?

It very much looks like it!

Possible Routes

This train would be very useful for 100 mph partially-electrified routes.

  • Basimgstoke to Exeter.
  • Brighton to Ashford.
  • London Bridge to Uckfield.
  • Liverpool to Holyhead via the Halton Curve.
  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle.
  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Carlisle to Preston via Barrow and the Cumbrian Coast Line.
  • Blackpool to Leeds via the Calder Valley.
  • Blackburn to Manchester Airport via Todmorden

There are other routes, but most train operating companies have gone for a diesel or bi-mode solution.

Conclusion

I think that a hydrogen-powered Class 707 train is possible.

March 4, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

The Formation Of A Class 707 Train

South Western Railway are starting to use more Class 707 trains.

Wikipedia does not give any details on the formation of the trains.

This morning, I rode an example out of Waterloo to Clapham Junction. So I decided to ascertain the formation, by reading the designations on the ends of the carriage.

  • DMSO – Driving Motor Standard Open
  • TSO  – Trailer Standard Open
  • TSO(L)W  – Trailer Standard Open with provision for a lavatory and a wheelchair space.
  • (P)TSO  – Trailer Standard Open with provision for a pantograph.
  • DMSO – Driving Motor Standard Open

Wikipedia has a list of British Rail coach designations.

Note.

  1. The Class 707 train has two motor cars and three trailer cars in the middle.
  2. The train is wired for a pantograph and has already been tested with one.
  3. I suspect because of the designation, that a lavatory can be added.

I have been told that the Class 720 trains for Greater Anglia, which like the Class 707 trains are 100 mph five-car trains, have traction motors on every car.

I suspect that this gives faster acceleration and smooth regenerative braking.

But because there are more traction motors, the trains must be more expensive.

So have the Class 707 trains been designed down to a price?

 

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | 2 Comments

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, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Are The Class 707 Trains?

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Class 707s Enter Service On Windsor Routes.

This is the first paragraph.

The first two Class 707 EMUs have entered passenger service on the Windsor routes – a few days before the franchise is handed over to First/MTR.

I have been to Waterloo several times this week and the Class 707 trains are conspicuous by their absence.

So where are the trains?

Perhaps, South Western Railway have dragged them off to be repainted or vinyled and have appropriate signs and information fitted?

When, these trains enter service, they will allow another batch of trains to be reliveried.

August 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Risky Business: Train Fleets In A State Of Flux

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

The article is certainly in the must-read category and it illustrates the perils of not getting your investments right.

You could argue that rolling stock leasing companies (ROSCOs) are sucking money out of the UKs railways.

I would argue differently.

The cause of the troubles for the ROSCOs is threefold.

  1. Train operating companies would prefer to have lots of similar trains, as this makes, maintenance, training and timetabling easier and more affordable. Some successful companies like c2c, London Overground, Virgin Trains and Merseyrail are one- or two-class companies and others like TransPennine Express and Great Western Railway are moving that way.
  2. New leasing companies have seen the returns, that the three original ROSCOs have made and have entered the market. As they are leasing new trains, they make it more difficult to find homes for existing rolling stock, many of of which have perhaps twenty years of life left and are priced accordingly.
  3. The  ROSCOs have also badly misjudged the technology. Bombardier, CAF and Stadler have come up with innovative solutions to the problems of our unique Victorian-designed railway and the train operating companies have liked what they have seen and ordered them.

It is interesting to note, that few of the large orders for rolling stock have not been financed by the three original ROSCOs; Angel Trains, Eversholt and Porterbrook.

Greater Anglia

As I know Greater Anglia well, I’ll look at their current fleet, which is being replaced train-for-train by new rolling stock.

  • Class 90 locomotives – These are thirty years old and will probably end up pulling freight or be cannibalised for spares.
  • Mark 3 coaches – These do not meet the latest regulations for passengers of reduced mobility and most will probably be scrapped, although one rake has been sold to be used by 60163 Tornado.
  • Driving Van Trailers – I doubt these will find a use and will join the many others in store or they will be scrapped.
  • Class 153 trains – At twenty-five years old, I doubt these single-carriage trains will see serious passenger use again.
  • Class 156 trains – At nearly thirty years old, these two-car DMUs may have use on rural lines, but they will need refurbishment.
  • Class 170 trains – These two- and three-car 100 mph DMUs  will certainly find another operator.
  • Class 317 trains – At thirty-five years old, but in good condition, these 100 mph EMUs will be difficult to place, as newly-electrified lines will inevitably deserve new trains.
  • Class 321 trains – These 100 mph EMUs will be difficult to place, despite some having been recently upgraded.
  • Class 360 trains – These 100 mph EMUs are only fifteen years old and will probably find a new operator.
  • Class 379 trains – These modern 100 mph EMUs are only a few years old and will will certainly find a new operator.

Quite frankly most of this rolling stock is not worth much!

The Class 360 and Class 379 trains will be the easiest to release.

The sheer numbers of Class 317 and 321 trains, with little new electrification planned, mean that something innovative will, have to be done to find them a home. I speculated aboutwhat will happen to all these Mark 3-based multiple units in What Will Happen To The Class 319, Class 455, Class 321 And Cl;ass 317 Trains? I certainly suspect that some will find uses, with the upgraded Class 321 trains probably the first in the queue.

As I said in the article, I feel that some Class 321 trains could become small parcel and pallet carriers.

The Class 707 Trains

The Rail Magazine article talks about the problem of the Class 707 trains, that were ordered by South West Trains and will be returned by South Western Railway.

It suggests they could be converted to run on 25 KVAC overhead working, but that will be expensive and in my view a new Desiro City is far inferior to a new Aventra.

So would a quality Class 317 or 321 be a good alternative for an operator, that needed some new trains to perhaps open a new electrified route?

It looks even more of a bad decision of Angel Trains to fund the Class 707 trains.

Is It Innovate Or Die?

Porterbrook saw problems coming with the Class 319 trains, they were leasing to Thameslink.

But they got together with Northern and designed an affordable bi-mode, which is now the Class 769 train.

Thirteen have been ordered!

In anotherf project, InterCity 125 trains are being shortened and updated to last another decade.

Will we be seeing more developments like this, where redundant trains are turned into useful ones for a different purpose?

We could even be seeing some innovative export deals!

Conclusion

It’s a tough world out there!

But those that innovate will survive and make money!

 

August 24, 2017 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Waterloo Upgrade August 2017 – Virginia Water Station

I took these pictures at Virginia Water station.

The station was updated a few years ago, but the platforms have been lengthened to twelve-car platforms, as part of the August 2017 upgrade.

If the station has a problem, it is that the Waterloo to Reading Line and the Chertsey Branch, split on the Waterloo side of the station, so it would be impossible to have a ten-car train formed of two five-car units arrive in the station, with one departing on each line.

I suppose they could always split at Egham station, which has recently been updated with twelve-car platforms.

These two half-hourly services.

  • Waterloo to Guildford via Aldershot
  • Waterloo to Chertsey

Could be run by five-car trains, which ran as a ten-car train to Egham.

  • Both services would move from two to four trains per hour.
  • No extra train paths would be needed.

If the Class 707 trains can’t run a service like this, they’re history.

This Google Map shows Virginia Water station

Note that the scar of a chord that used to connect the Reading and Cherstey Lines can be seen South of the station.

Would it have any possibilities?

 

 

August 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Trains Along The South Coast

I had lunch today with an old friend who lives near Bosham station in West Sussex.

They indicated that the train service along the South Coast to Brighton wasn’t the best.

So I thought, I’d have a bit of an explore on Wikipedia.

The route between Ashford International and Weymouth stations can be divided into four sections.

Weymouth To Southampton – The South Western Main Line

The South Western Main Line runs between Weymouth and Southampton Central stations.

  • There are twenty stations.
  • The operating speed is 100 mph.
  • The line is fully electrified.
  • The line is double-track, except for between Dorchester South and Moreton stations.
  • There would only appear to be one level crossing at Brockenhurst station.

it is a high quality electrified line, where a well-driven train can keep up a good time.

The fastest trains take an hour and twenty minutes between Weymouth and Southampton with nine stops.

Southampton To Brighton – The West Coastway Line

The West Coastway Line runs between Southampton Central and Brighton stations.

Following the line on Google Maps, the line could probably have an increased speed limit, but the problem is obvious in the number of level crossings.

Timings on the line are as follows.

  • Southampton Central to Brighton takes one hour forty-five minutes.
  • Portsmouth to Brighton takes one hour twenty minutes.
  • Portsmouth to Southampton takes forty minutes.

These times are for faster journeys without changes.

Brighton To Hastings – The East Coastway Line

The East Coastway Line runs between Brighton and Hastings stations

Fastest journeys between Brighton and Hastings take an hour.

Hastings To Ashford International – The Marshlink Line

The Marshlink Line runs between Hastings and Ashford International stations.

  • There are nine stations.
  • The operating speed is 60 mph.
  • The line is double-track with sections of single-track.
  • The line is not electrified.
  • There are several level crossings.

Fastest journeys between Ashford Internsational and Hastings take forty minutes.

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

One sub-section is entitled High Speed To Hastings and it lists options as to how high-speed services could be run to Hastings via Ashford International station and the Marshlink Line.

  1. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC
  2. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC
  3. Use Class 802 Electro-Diesel Trains
  4. Use Class 395 Or Class 801 Trains With Batteries

I examined the options in full detail in Options For High Speed To Hastings.

Class 313 Trains

When I travel to the area I inevitably find that I’m travelling in a Class 313 train.

  • The trains entered service in 1976.
  • The trains are the oldest electric multiple units in service on the British mainland.
  • The trains are only three cars.
  • The trains have no toilets.
  • The trains have a maximum speed of 75 mph.

Their biggest problem, is that because the trains have such a poor performance, all routes on which they are likely to run have to be geared to a train running at 75 mph, that is not the quickest at executing a stop at a station.

It should be remembered that the time a train takes to stop at a station, unload and load passengers and then restart and accelerate to linespeed, is a major factor in determining the schedule on a route with a lot of stations.

Train manufacturers and operators have been doing a lot of work to reduce this time and a modern train could be almost a minute or even more quicker than a Class 313 train, at each stop.

Wikipedia says this about the introduction of the Class 313 trains, which replaced more modern and faster Class 377 trains.

The 313s commenced operations with Southern on 23 May 2010, providing a two-trains-per-hour service between Brighton and Seaford, and some trains between Brighton and Lewes, Hove, West Worthing and Littlehampton.[12] From 13 December 2010, their operation expanded to stopping services from Brighton to Portsmouth Harbour and the Littlehampton to Bognor Regis shuttle.

The decision to use 313s on the Coastway lines has been controversial, as they are much older than the 377s and have fewer on-board passenger facilities.

The rail union RMT criticised the move and many publications including the BBC have questioned the introduction of 35-year-old trains with no lavatories in place of much newer units. These trains are deployed on services that operate predominantly over short distances, such as Brighton to Hove and Brighton to Seaford, and some longer (but stopping) services that provide predominantly local links that run alongside 377s on faster services.

The introduction of 313s on the Coastway routes facilitated the delivery of additional capacity on high-demand suburban routes in South London, where 10-car trains services are to be introduced combined with platform lengthening.

This report on the BBC gives more details.

The Major Problems Along The South Coast

Summarising the previous sections, the major problems on the route can be summarised.

  • The Class 313 trains with their poor performance are not fit for purpose.
  • The numerous level crossings significantly reduce the operating speed of the route.
  • The lack of electrification on the Marshlink Line is a serious obstacle to better London-Hsstings services via HS1.

I would also question, if there is sufficient capacity along the line, especially as there are now three Premier League clubs along its route.

In the following section, I shall detail what is proposed and a few extra actions, that I feel should be taken.

Improve The Marshlink Line

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

One sub-section is entitled High Speed To Hastings and it lists options as to how Southeastern  High-Speed services could be run to Hastings via Ashford International station and the Marshlink Line.

  1. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC
  2. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC
  3. Use Class 802 electro-diesel trains
  4. Use Class 395 Or Class 801 trains With Batteries.

As to which option is chosen, Modern Railways says this.

The option to use a ‘hybrid’ electric/self-powered (diesel or battery) train is suggested as being a ‘more cost-effective way forward’, with linespeed improvements then delivered in an incremental way.

I examined the options in full detail in Options For High Speed To Hastings.

If the improvement was comprehensive, it would give the following advantages.

  • High-Speed services from St. Pancras to Hastings.
  • Journeys from Ashford International to Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth would be all electric and if desired could be without a change of train.
  • Better connectivity along the South Coast to Continental services at Ashford International station.
  • A secondary route from London to Brighton in case of closure of the Brighton Main Line.

If an off-the-shelf solution like Class 802 trains were to be used, the improvements could be delivered in a timely manner.

Remove As Many Level Crossings As Possible

Removal of level crossings is a sensitive issue, but from Southampton to Ashford International, they are a serious limit on the operating speed of the trains.

But it is not just the trains that suffer, but road traffic as well.

Consider Hampden Park station, where Wikipedia says this about the level crossing.

The level crossing at Hampden Park is thought to be one of the busiest in the country, with an average fourteen train movements an hour off-peak, and this can lead to significant traffic congestion on adjacent roads.

As some services actually cross it twice to call at Eastbourne station, this level crossing certainly needs to be eliminated.

Improved Stations

Several of the stations have been upgraded, but I believe that step-free access and longer platforms are needed at quite a few stations.

Brighton and Hove Albion are now one of three Premier League football teams along the South Coast and Falmer station needs to be improved, so that higher-capacity trains can serve the ground on match days.

The Plans Of South Western Railway

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways also gives details of the plans of the new South Western Railway franchise from December 2018.

This is said.

A direct service will link Portsmouth, Southampton and Weymouth, while there will be a second hourly semi-fast service between Portsmouth and Southampton offering a total of 29 additional services between the cities on Mondays to Saturdays.

Wikipedia also says that there will be another thirty five Monday to Saturday services between London and Portsmouth, with more on Sundays.

Services Between London And Portsmouth

Currently, on a typical day there are sixty-nine down services and seventy-one up services. So as thirty-five extra services are going to be provided, then that means there will be a twenty-five percent increase in services between London and Portsmouth.

So would this mean that London to Portsmouth has a frequency of five trains per hour (tph), as against three tph for Southampton?

As South Western Railway will be introducing additional Portsmouth to Weymouth services, will this mean that there will be two fast routes to London from Weymouth?

  • A direct train.
  • One with a change at Havant on to Portsmouth Direct Line services.

South Western Railway have certainly thought long and hard.

The Class 313 Trains Will Go To The Scrapyard

With all the fast 100 mph trains rushing between Ashford International and Brighton and Portsmouth and Weymouth, the Class 313 trains will be worse than inadequate and the best place for them will be the scrapyard.

I just wonder though if South Western Railway’s unwanted but new Class 707 trains could replace the Class 313 trains along parts of the South Coast.

  • They are 100 mph trains, probably with a good stopping performance, which could save a minute at every stop.
  • They are five-car units.
  • They have toilets.

As an illustration of the difference the new trains could make, the current Portsmouth to Brighton service takes around one hour twenty minutes with twenty stops.

A rough estimate indicates that Portsmouth to Brighton could be under an hour with new 100 mph trains.

The only problems would be that they couldn’t work a Marshlink Line without electrification and services along the South Coast are provided by three different companies.

Conclusion

A lot of improvement is possible in services along the South Coast.

Adjusting current timings for new trains with a better stopping performance could give the following sectional timings.

  • Ashford International to Hastings – 35 minutes
  • Hastings to Brighton – 60 minutes
  • Brighton to Portsmouth – 60 minutes
  • Portsmouth to Southampton – 35 minutes

I believe that an Ashford International to Southampton time of three hours is possible.

This is a similar time as going via London and using HS1.

 

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Will First MTR Drop The Class 707 Trains?

To avoid confusion, before starting the post, I will say these two sentences about the train operating companies that operate from London to the South West, out of Waterloo station.

The current train operating company is South West Trains, which is owned by the Stagecoach Group.

From the 20th of August, 2017, the train operating company will be South Western Trains, which is a joint venture of First Group and MTR Corporation. Some articles refer to the joint venture as First MTR, which I will use as appropriate.

There are reports, that the new franchise, wants to drop the new fleet of Class 707 trains, which are just being delivered.

This article in Rail Technology Magazine is entitled RMT slams ‘crazy’ First MTR decision to drop new £200m SWT trains.

This is said.

The company, which is a partnership between FirstGroup and Hong Kong firm MTR, was awarded the South Western franchise on Monday, but now has allegedly dropped plans for 150 carriages that were ordered in 2014 from Siemens and is instead commissioning new trains on a cheaper annual lease.

First MTR hopes that the new carriages will be rolled out onto the network from 2019.

The operator must deliver 90 new trains and 750 new carriages for the franchise – which it takes over from Stagecoach on 20 August – by the end of 2020.

Note that the article uses First MTR.

Whether it is a crazy decision, I will not speculate about, but when First MTR bid for this franchise, they knew that the Class 707 trains were on order,

So they must have had a plan about how they would be running or not running these trains for some time.

In Increasing Capacity On Waterloo Suburban Services, I looked at what I stated in the title.

This was one of my conclusions.

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.

It sounds like a case of getting something for nothing, but it’s all about the mathematics.

Newton would have come to the same conclusion,  if he’d worked out how many horses were needed to get passengers from London to Cambridge.

Services to Windsor and Eton Riverside

To illustrate this saving of trains, I’ll look at the services between Waterloo and Windsor and Eton Riverside stations.

Services currently take 54 minutes. This would be a typical round trip.

  • Leave Waterloo at 08:58
  • Arrive Windsor at 09:52
  • Leave Windsor at 10:23
  • Arrive Waterloo at 11:19
  • Leave Waterloo at 11:28

As trains leave Waterloo at XX:28 and XX:58, this means that trains must start their diagrams at 08:58, 09:28, 09:58, 10:28 and 10:58 to provide two tph.

So five ten-car trains will be needed to provide the service, or as the 75 mph Class 458/5 trains, typically used on the line are five-cars, ten five-car trains will be needed.

South West Trains have talked about introducing the new Class 707 trains on Windsor services.

Consider

  • Class 458/5 trains take two hours thirty minutes for the round trip.
  • The trains make twelves stops in each direction.
  • Class 707 trains are 100 mph trains, probably with better acceleration and braking.
  • Class 707 trains can probably reduce station dwell time by a minute or so.
  • Waterloo is getting five new long platforms, that are probably signalled to turn a train fast.

With the reduced station dwell time, the faster train speed and quicker turn rounds at both ends of the route, I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect that a Class 707 train could do the round trip in under two hours.

If trains were to leave Waterloo and Windsor at XX:28 and XX:58, this means that trains must start their diagrams at 08:58, 09:28, 09:58 and 10:28 to provide two tph.

So four ten-car or eight five-car Class 707 trains will be needed to provide the service..

The Waterloo to Windsor service could become.

  • 2 tph starting at say XX:28 and XX:58 at both Waterloo and Windsor.
  • A faster service.
  • There might be space in the schedule to add some extra stops or open a new station.

It would be realised with two trains fewer.

How Many Other Trains Could Be Saved On The Network?

These suburban termini have out and back services from Waterloo.

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

I feel that a modern 100 mph train like a Class 707 train could go out and back from Waterloo to Chessington South, Epsom and Hampton Court comfortably within an hour. Thus only two trains would be needed for a 2 tph service.

It’s The Slow Trains That Are The Problem

In the simple Windsor example, the replacement of 75 mph trains with modern 100 mph trains gives positive benefits for passengers, train operating companies and Network Rail.

But the train operator has the downside, that the schedules for 100 mph trains can’t be worked by 75 mph trains.

So for optimal operation, the 75 mph trains must only be used on routes, where they are as efficient as a 100 mph train.

Currently South West Trains have the following 75 mph trains.

This is a total of 592 vehicles and which could be sorted into about sixty ten-car trains.

So possibly the best solution is to go for a fleet, where all trains are modern 100 mph five-car trains.

The quoted 750 new vehicles works out as 75 new ten-car trains.

As they will be introducing ninety new trains, it looks like they need another fifteen trains.

Uprating The Class 458/5 Trains

As First MTR will be introducing ninety new trains, it looks like they need another fifteen trains.

These are some facts about the Class 458/5 trains.

  • They were manufactured as four-car Class 458/0 and eight-car Class 460  trains.
  • Both trains had a 100 mph capability.
  • They were rebuilt as five-car trains.
  • The rebuilt trains were geared to 75 mph to avoid overheating.
  • They are owned by Porterbrook, who have form in innovative train deals involving a certain amount of rebuilding.

So could engineers have found a way to remanufacture these trains as 100 mph units, so they can do a useful job for the new franchise?

The original order for Class 458 trains was for thirty trains, which as they are now five-car units, gives the required 150 coaches.

I suspect that First MTR have found a way to gear these formerly Class 458/0 trains back to 100 mph units and avoid the overheating.

Perhaps though those with cabs donated from Class 460 trains will go into store.

 

 

Replacing The Class 455 And Class 456 Trains

This would mean that First MTR just need a replacement for the Class 455 and Class 456 trains, that meets the requirements of their franchise commitments.

  • 150 Five-car or seventy-five ten-car trains.
  • 100 mph capability.
  • Short dwell-times at stations.
  • Wi-fi and power points.
  • Toilets.

So why drop the Class 707 trains?

The Specification Is Not Good Enough

The trains don’t have the following.

  • Wi-fi and power points.
  • Toilets.

As these requirements are in the franchise specification, perhaps First MTR feel that it might be less hassle and more profitable to let the trains go after a couple of years.

They would be an adequate stop-gap, but new trains designed specifically for the franchise would be better.

The Class 700 Trains Have A Bad Reputation

You rarely read any good passenger reports of the Class 700 trains running on Thameslink.

But you do get reports about, hard seats, no tables etc.

I was in a Class 700 train yesterday and compared to the Class 158 train, I rode on Sunday to and from Ilkeston, they were inferior in ride and seat quality.

So perhaps First MTR feel that the Class 707 trains are best avoided.

Is There A Better Train?

MTR are going to be the operator of Crossrail, with its Class 345 trains, which are Aventras built by Bombardier in Derby.

I can’t believe that MTR are not privy to all the performance and customer feedback data from Class 345 testing and as there is nothing in the media, we’ll have to wait until the first Aventras enter service on Crossrail in May.

So have MTR decided that the Aventra is a much better train than the Class 707 train?

I’ll look at how a fleet of Aventras might fit First MTR’s needs.

  • If you look at Greater Anglia’s order for Aventras it is for 22 ten-car and 89 five-car trains, which is the same as First MTR appear to need.
  • Greater Anglia’s Aventras are at least 100 mph trains geared to short dwell-times at stations.
  • With new trains, First MTR can specify any interior they want, so toilets, wi-fi, 4G and power points are no problem.
  • Aventras are designed around a power system, that easily allows dual-voltage trains, as on the London Overground.

But I believe Aventras have another big advantage.

I have been told by Bombardier, that all Aventras will be wired ready for onboard energy storage and I believe that energy storage will have major uses on the trains, if it is installed.

  • Handling regenerative braking energy on the train in an efficient way.
  • Ability to move trains short distances without electrification.
  • Allowing remote warming up of trains.
  • Next station recovery, when the power fails.
  • Safer depots without electrification.
  • Longer electrically dead sections at level crossings.
  • Stations without electrification.
  • New short branch lines could be developed without electrification.
  • Ability to divert over lines without electrification.

Onboard energy storage may not give spectacular advantages like running from Basingstoke to Exeter without electrification, but it gives all manner of small advantages, that cut the cost of operating the trains.

Consider the line between Windsor and Staines, which is about ten miles long and has three intermediate stations and two level crossings. If the trains to Windsor have the capability to run from Staines to Windsor and back using onboard energy, then the electrification could be removed, thus increasing safety and reducing maintenance costs and track charges to the operator. If a train was made up of two five-car units working as a ten-car train, then all electrical systems are duplicated for reliability.

Third-rail electrification, which is often perceived as dangerous by Health and Safety bodies.

But once all electric trains on a route, use onboard energy storage for efficiency and operational reasons, will we see innovative track and station design, that is more affordable to build and maintain, and a whole lot safer?

It should also be noted that First Group have stakes in both First MTR and GWR.

So they could have a common sub-fleet with the following characteristics.

  • Dual-voltage.
  • Onboard energy storage for sections without electrification.

These could run routes like.

  • Reading to Gatwick Airport.
  • Westbury to Swindon.
  • Southampton to Salisbury

At about £7.5million a five-car train, this order for 150 five-car trains would be in the order of a billion pounds.

In this section, I’ve used the Aventra as an example, but what’s to stop another manufacturer coming up with a better train than the Class 707 train?

Nothing!

In The Interim

It will be unlikely, that replacement trains for the Class 455 and Class 456 trains will arrive before 2019-2020.

Before the end of 2020, when First MTR are mandated to introduce the new trains, the following will happen.

  • They will receive thirty 100 mph Class 707 trains.
  • They could reorganise the Class 458 trains into another thirty 100 mph trains.
  • The remodelling of Waterloo will be complete and this will decrease train turnround times.
  • Some level crossings will have been removed.
  • Other bottlenecks could have been eased.

This might enable services to be improved on selective routes, where congestion is worst.

 

Conclusion

As soon as First MTR can pass the Class 707 trains to another operator they will.

I also think, that as First MTR’s need for new trains is very similar to that of Greater Anglia, that Aventras are in the front of the race to supply the company with new trains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 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 | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments