The Anonymous Widower

The London Overground Is Still Running Four-Car Class 378 Trains

This picture shows the three spare cars, that were taken from three five-car Class 378 trains to make them short enough to work the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

I would have thought that the trains would have returned to their full length, but they have been put into service on the Watford DC Line.

Perhaps, London Overground want to keep them at four-cars, as a precaution against a serious bug in the Class 710 train’s computer system.

Only when the Class 710 trains are behaving impeccably will the full length be restored.

Trains On The Watford DC Line

As it is, the services on the Watford DC Line are being changed from three x five-car trains per hour to four x four-car trains per hour.

This is roughly the same number of cars per hour, but at a higher frequency.

According to Wikipedia seven Class 710 trains are needed for the full service.

July 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Coolest Trains In London

It was hot in London today, so I thought I’d investigate how well the New Class 710 trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

I did the following journeys.

  • A 141 bus from my house to Harringay Green Lanes station.
  • A Class 710 train between Harringay Green Lanes and Gospel Oak stations.
  • A Class 710 train between Gospel Oak and Blackhorse Road stations.
  • A Victoria Line train between Blackhorse Road and Highbury & Islington stations.
  • A Class 707 train between Highbury & Islington and Moorgate stations.
  • After doing some shopping, I took a 141 bus to my home.

I took these pictures on the route.

Some observations.

Passengers Towards Gospel Oak Weren’t Numerous

The train going to Gospel Oak station wasn’t very full, wil only about half the seats taken.

The Train From Gospel Oak Was Packed

It was rather different going back, as every seat on the train was taken and there were passengers standing.

The Seats And Air In The Train Were Comfortable

I would certainly recommend a trip in a Class 710 train on a hot day, as a means to cool off.

Let’s hope that all the other classes of Aventras have the same quality of air-conditioning.

The Victoria Line Wasn’t Busy

The air and temperature ion the Victoria Line wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t of the same quality as the Class 710 train.

But the trip made me think that passengers avoid the deep tube in hot weather.

Class 707 Train To Moorgate

I used the cross-platform interchange at Highbury & Islington station to switch to a Class 707 train, running a Great Northern service to Moorgate station.

The air-conditioning was working well and the two other passengers remarked that it was good in this hot weather.

It’s a pity that these trains have ironing-board seats.

Will These Trains Cut Crime?

When I moved to Dalston in 2010, the service along the North London Line was just being launched and wasn’t fully running until May 2011.

Dalston was the haunt of aimless youth and it wasn’t the best place to live.

Nine years on and it has all changed.

The youths have disappeared and the perceived threat of crime seems down. So where have they all gone?

From stories I have heard, public transport has improved so much, that a large proportion of the youths, have discovered something better to do! It’s called work.

  • New Class 378 trains
  • North London Line trains have gone from four trains per hour (tph) to eight.
  • East London Line trains didn’t exist in 2010 and are now sixteen tph.
  • There are several fleets of new buses.
  • Increases in train frequencies are planned.

Dalston is now a much better place to live.

The new Class 710 trains will soon be running on the following routes.

  • Gospel Oak to Barking Line
  • Liverpool Street to Cheshunt
  • Liverpool Street to Chingford
  • Liverpool Street to Enfield Town

And the new Class 707 trains will soon be running on the following routes.

  • Moorgate to Hertford East
  • Moorgate to Stevenage
  • Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City

Most new trains will be in service by the end of this year.

The following will be delivered.

  • More capacity
  • Increased frequencies
  • Better comfort
  • Wi-fi and power sockets
  • On-train CCTV

A lot of the previous ancient trains will be scrapped.

Will the new trains cut crime and the perception of crime in the areas of North-East London, that they serve.

It is too early to tell, but good public transport has had a remarkable affect on Dalston.

So will the same thing happen in Enfield, Hasringey and Wathamstow?

 

Conclusion

I wonder how many people with a Freedom Pass like me are cooling off in this weather by using these and other trains.

July 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Boeing Says It Could Halt Production Of 737 Max After Grounding

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

This is the first paragraph.

Boeing said it could halt production of the 737 Max jet on Wednesday as it reported the company’s largest ever quarterly loss following two fatal accidents involving the plane.

To my mind, this is a self-inflicted problem caused by trying to stretch a 1960s design too far past the end of its design life.

Boeing realised that they needed a new larger plane and developed the fuel-efficient Class 787 Dreamliner to replace 747s, 767s and 777s.

It was total management failure to not planning to replace the 737 with a smaller plane based on Dreamliner technology.

Will Boeing Solve The 737 MAX Problem?

Compare it with the Class 710 train, that also had software problems that delayed the launch.

  • The Class 710 train is a totally new train, with masses of new features, liked by operators, staff and passengers.
  • The Train Management and Control System of the Class 710 train was very challenging to design and program.
  • If a train fails, it only comes to an embarrassing stop.

On the other hand, the following can be said about the 737 MAX..

  • The 737 MAX is an update of a 1960s design.
  • The mathematics of the 737 MAX must be challenging.
  • The computer system hasn’t been properly designed, programmed and tested.
  • If a plane fails, it’s a lot more than an embarrassing stop.

Boeing seem to have made a tragic mistake for airlines, passengers and them,selves.

Engineers will probably solve the software problem,but will that be enough to save the plane?

July 25, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Now We Are Six!

I just had a ride on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

I think I saw six different Class 710 trains and I certainly didn’t see a Class 378 rains.

I’m fairly sure there is now enough of the new trains to provide the full four trains per hour service.

At last!!

A Note On Longitudinal Seating

Longitudinal seating, which is fitted to the Class 710 train, is not to everyone’s taste and in the UK, it is only used at present on the following services.

  • London Underground
  • London Overground
  • Docklands Light Railway
  • Glasgow Subway
  • Island Line, Isle of Wight
  • Marston Vale Line, partially on the Class 230 train.

With some services, it is the only one that will fit!

Longitudinal seating is also proposed for the Tyne and Wear Metro’s new rolling stock.

As a regular traveller on the only full-size service, with longitudinal seating; the London Overground, I find the following.

  • In the Peak, those who need a seat get one and there is masses of standing space.
  • In less busy times, they are spacious and good for baggage, buggies and dogs.

Go through Dalston Kingsland station in the Peak and see how East Enders play sardines!

A Footnote On The Class 710 Train

In my view, these are the best urban electric multiple units in the UK.

  • Ride is smooth and Class 378 and Class 331 trains don’t come close.
  • They are very quiet.
  • The trains are light and airy.
  • The longitudinal layout  with comfortable seats works.

And on a sunny day like today, the colours were absolutely right!

July 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Class 710 Train Rooves At Blackhorse Road Station

I took these pictures at Blackhorse Road station.

I couldn’t spot any resistor banks on the rooves, that could be used to burn off excess energy, that is generated by regenerative braking.

Consider.

  • The rooves do have a rather clean aerodynamic look.
  • I’ve never seen resistor banks placed anywhere other than on the roof of a train.
  • Regenerative braking must either return the energy through the electrification or store in in some form of onboard energy storage.

It looks to me, that Bombardier have designed a very efficient train.

July 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Ride Quality In Class 345 And Class 710 Trains Compared

Yesterday, I had rides in two different Bombadier Aventras.

Both have a smooth ride, that we come to expect from modern trains.

But my bottom was telling me, that the ride on the Class 710 train was smoother.

I have read somewhere, that the train control system on the Class 345 train is a version of the MITRAC system used on many of Bombardier’s earlier trains and trams, which was certainly used on Class 379 trains.

As has been widely reported, Bombardier are introducing a new Train Management and Control System on the Class 710 trains.

They have also had a lot of trouble getting it to work properly.

If I am right about the ride being smoother, could it be that the new TMCS, has much better control of the traction motors and their power supply?

In The Formation Of A Class 710 Train, I stated that the formation of a Class 710 train is as follows.

DMS+PMS(W)+MS1+DMS

Note that all cars have motors, which must increase the smoothness of acceleration and braking.

But then Class 345 trains have lots of motors too!

In 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-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over eight years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

Note this phrase.

The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required.

Could the Class 710 train be the first Aventra to take advantage of energy storage devices to provide a smoother power supply to traction motors?

The trains could be serial hybrids, like London’s Routemaster buses.

In a serial hybrid vehicle, the following happens.

  • The power supply charges the energy storage device.
  • The energy storage device provides power to the traction motors
  • On braking, the traction motors use regenerative braking and the electricity generated is stored in the energy storage device.
  • Power to provide services for the train comes from the energy storage device.

It is a very efficient system, which also has other advantages.

  • The train can move for a short distance without external power.
  • When the power supply is diesel, it doesn’t need to be run in sensitive areas, like stations.
  • Depots and sidings don’t need to be electrified, which increases safety.
  • As the extract said earlier, trains can have a remote wake-up capability.

The energy storage device between the power source and the traction system would have the effect of smoothing power fluctuations in the supply.

Energy storage devices also have a very low impedance.

  • When the driver asks for maximum power, the energy storage devices can give all they’ve got immediately.
  • When the driver applies the brakes, if they’ve got space, the energy storage devices, will lap it up the energy like a pack of thirsty hounds.

I have no proof, that Class 710 trains are serial hybrid trains, but I think there’s more than a good chance they are.

The trains run very smoothly, with good acceleration and smooth braking.

Perhaps, because the Class 345 trains were designed and built earlier, they had to use the less sophisticated MITRAC control system.

What Size Is The Energy Storage Device On A Class 710 Train?

In What Is The Kinetic Energy Of A Class 710 Train?, I calculated the energy of a Class 710 train.

I calculated the figures for a train with 700 passengers, each weighing 90 Kg for different speeds.

  • 90 mph – 49.4 kWh – Operating speed of a Crossrail Class 345 train.
  • 100 mph – 61.3 kWh – Operating speed of many electric multiple units.

Note that the amount of energy is proportional to the square of the speed.

As the energy storage device must be able to capture all of the braking energy if a train is trundling around North London, I would suspect that two fifty kWh batteries would be more than enough!

But a good control algorithm might cut this considerably!

A total of 100 kWh, would certainly be possible to put under a train, and could be a mix of the following.

  • Fast response supercapacitors.
  • High capacity lithium ion batteries or similar.

This is not an unknown combination on a battery-electric train or tram.

Conclusion

Supercapacitors could be the reason for the perceived smoother ride.

But don’t trust my nearly seventy-two year-old bottom!

Go and experience the trains for yourself and then post your thoughts here!

 

 

 

 

 

July 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

A London Overground Replacement For Southern’s East Croydon And Milton Keynes Service

In July 2017, I discussed this suggestion by Chris Gibb in Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground.

In an article, in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, , which was entitled ‘710s’ Debut On Goblin, this was this last paragraph.

On the West London Line, TfL is curremtly working with the Department for Transport on options for the devolution of services originally suggested in Chris Gibb’s report on the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise, which could lead to ‘710s’ being deployed here.

It made me think, that further investigation was called for.

An Apology

I apologise, if you think I’m repeating myself.

What The Gibb Report Says

The Gibb Report, says this about the current service between East Croydon and Milton Keynes Central stations.

I believe there is an option to transfer the East Croydon – Milton Keynes operation to TfL and it’s London Overground concession in 2018.

TfL may decide to change the service, for example by not running it north of Watford Junction, or running it to an alternative southern destination other than East Croydon. They could also develop the combined West London line service to better match available capacity to demand.

They would have a number of crewing and rolling stock options, but should be able to operate the service more efficiently than GTR in the longer term, without the involvement of Selhurst.

Selhurst TMD is the depot in South London, where the current Class 377 trains are based.

A few of my thoughts.

The Trains

Using Class 710 trains  as suggested in the Modern Railways article, would surely offer a suitable  crewing and rolling stock option for the route, if they were based at the convenient Willesden TMD, where the fleet of up to twenty-five dual-voltage Class 710/2 trains are stabled.

The Northern Terminus

Chris Gibb suggested the service might not go past Watford Junction.

I think that could be difficult.

  • The longitudinal seating of the Class 710 train, is probably not suitable for outer suburban services North of Watford.
  • East Croydon to Watford Junction takes 69 minutes, which is not a good journey time to create an efficient service.

It would also appear to be tricky for a train to transfer between the West London Line and the Watford DC Line.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the complicated track layout in the Willesden Junction area.

Note.

  1. The two Willesden Junction stations, labelled High Level and Low Level.
  2. The Watford DC Line, which is shown in black and orange, passing to the North of Willesden TMD. and through the Low Level station.
  3. The four tracks shown in black are the West Coast Main Line, with Watford to the West and Euston to the East.
  4. The North London Line to Richmond and the West London Line to Clapham Junction splitting at Wilesden High Level Junction.

The current service between East Croydon and Milton Keynes, is only one train per hour (tph) and uses a succession of flat junctions to take the slow lines to and from Watford.

This is not a good operational procedure and I suspect Network Rail and various train operators, would like to see it discontinued.

So if trains in a new London Overground version of the service, don’t go up the Watford DC Line or the West Coast Main Line, where do they turn back?

Note the siding to the East of the High Level platforms, which is labelled Willesden Junction Turnout.

This is regularly used to turnback London Overground services on the West London Line.

I feel that London Overground will be turning their replacement service in Willesden Junction High Level station.

Current train services at the station include.

  • For passengers, who want to go further North, there is a good connection to the Watford DC Line for Wembley Central, Harrow & Wealdstone and Watford Junction stations.
  • The Watford DC Line can also take you to Euston.
  • The Bakerloo Line between Stonebridge Park and Elephant & Castle via Central London.
  • Frequent North London Line services between Stratford and Richmond.

The station has kiosks, coffee stalls, toilets and waiting rooms.

There are certainly worse places to change trains.

The Southern Terminus

Obviously, existing travellers on the route would like to see as few changes as possible.

East Croydon station must be a possibility for the Southern terminus, as it is the currently used.

But East Croydon is a busy station and perhaps it is not a convenient station for trains to wait in the platform.

On the other hand, West Croydon station offers some advantages.

  • The station has a long bay platform, which might be long enough for nine or ten cars.
  • There is a separate turnback siding.
  • It has space to add another bay platform, but this may have been sold to a developer.
  • It already has a four tph London Overground service to Highbury & Islington station.
  • Using West Croydon avoids the crowded lines to the North of East Croydon station.

It is also managed by London Overground, so the landlord would be co-operative.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed For A West Croydon And Willesden Junction Service?

West Croydon station has two possible routes, that trains could take to Willesden Junction.

  • Via Norwood Junction and Clapham Junction in 55 minutes.
  • Via Selhust and Clapham Junction in 45 minutes.

These times mean that a two-hour round trip between West Croydon and Willesden Junction should be possible.

Trains required for various frequencies would be as follows.

  • One tph – Two trains.
  • Two tph = Four trains.
  • Four tph – Eight trains.

They would need to be dual voltage Class 710/2 trains, as are now running on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Compare the figures with those for the current East Croydon and Milton Keynes service, which needs four pairs of four-car trains for an hourly service.

What Would Be The Frequency?

I think one, two and four tph are all possibilities!

One tph

One tph would be a direct replacement for the current service. But is it enough?

Services at West Croydon could probably share the bay platform with the existing Highbury & Islington station service.

Two tph

Two tph could be a compromise frequency.

Two tph could probably still share the current bay platform with the Highbury & Islington service.

Four tph

Four tph would be a full Turn-Up-And-Go service,

  • It would probably be London Overground’s preference.
  • It would give a very passenger-friendly eight tph between Willesden Junction and Clapham Junction stations.
  • The two services would call at opposite sides of Clapham Junction station.
  • It would give a four tph link between Croydon and High Speed Two.
  • Westfield wouldn’t mind all the extra shoppers at Shepherds Bush!

But there could be downsides.

  • The service could need an extra bay platform at West Croydon.
  • Would it be possible to turn four tph at Willesden Junction?
  • Will the train paths be available through South London.

But four tph would probably would be London Overground’s preference.

It will be interesting to see the reasons, why Transport for London choose a particular frequency.

A Trip Between Imperial Wharf And East Croydon Stations

Today, I took a trip between Imperial Wharf and East Croydon stations at around 11:30.

  • The train was  two four-car Class 377 trains working as an eight-car train.
  • After Clapham Junction it wasn’t very busy.
  • I was in the last car, which was empty, except for myself.

I came to the conclusion, that an eight-car train was too much capacity for the Southern section of the journey.

I suspect that Transport for London have detailed passenger estimates for this route, so they should be able to determine the frequency and length of replacement trains required.

The Upgraded Norwood Junction Station

In Major Upgrade Planned For Norwood Junction Railway Station, I talked about a plan to upgrade Norwood Junction station.

The idea behind the upgrade is to improve connectivity and capacity in the crowded Croydon area.

If the West Croydon and Willesden Junction service, was routed via Norwood Junction station, the upgraded station would give easy access to both East and West Croydon stations.

Conclusion

I’ve always liked Chris Gibb’s suggestion of the transfer of the service between East Croydon and Milton Keynes stations to the London Overground and I can now start to see flesh on the bones!

At the present time and until better data is available, I think the replacement service should be as follows.

  • The Northern terminus should be Willesden Junction.
  • The Southern terminus should be West Croydon station, where there are good tram and train connections.
  • The route would be via Shepherds Bush, Kensington Olympia, West Brompton, Imperial Wharf, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Hill, West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace and Norwood Junction.
  • Going via Gipsy Hill, rather than the current route via Selhurst, would give access to the connectivity at Norwood Junction.
  • The frequency should be four tph.
  • Trains will be four- or five-car Class 710 trains.

The benefits would be as follows.

  • The rail hubs of Clapham Junction, Norwood Junction, West Croydon and Willesden Junction would be connected together by a Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • The proposed four tph service would need eight Class 710 trains, whereas the current one tph service needs eight Class 377 trains. Would this be better value?

In the future with a connection to High Speed Two in the Old Oak Common area, the benefits would increase.

  • There would be a simple interchange with High Speed Two.
  • South London from Clapham to Croydon, would get a direct service to High Speed Two.
  • There would also be a better connection to Heathrow Airport and other rail services through Old Oak Common.

I think that the connection to High Speed Two trumps everything else.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘710s’ Debut On Goblin

The title of this post is the same as an article in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

The article is mainly about the introduction of the Class 710 trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

But the last sentence of the article is worth more investigation.

On the West London Line, TfL is curremtly working with the Department for Transport on options for the devolution of services originally suggested in Chris Gibb’s report on the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise, which could lead to ‘710s’ being deployed here.

I investigate it fully in A London Overground Replacement For Southern’s East Croydon And Milton Keynes Service.

This was my conclusion.

At the present time and until better data is available, I think the replacement service should be as follows.

  • The Northern terminus should be Willesden Junction.
  • The Southern terminus should be West Croydon station, where there are good tram and train connections.
  • The route would be via Shepherds Bush, Kensington Olympia, West Brompton, Imperial Wharf, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Hill, West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace and Norwood Junction.
  • Going via Gipsy Hill, rather than the current route via Selhurst, would give access to the connectivity at Norwood Junction.
  • The frequency should be four tph.
  • Trains will be four- or five-car Class 710 trains.

The benefits would be as follows.

  • The rail hubs of Clapham Junction, Norwood Junction, West Croydon and Willesden Junction would be connected together by a Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • The proposed four tph service would need eight Class 710 trains, whereas the current one tph service needs eight Class 377 trains. Would this be better value?

In the future with a connection to High Speed Two in the Old Oak Common area, the benefits would increase.

  • There would be a simple interchange with High Speed Two.
  • South London from Clapham to Croydon, would get a direct service to High Speed Two.
  • There would also be a better connection to Heathrow Airport and other rail services through Old Oak Common.

I think that the connection to High Speed Two trumps everything else.

I will keep returning to this vital link down thw West London Line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Don’t Think Bombardier And Transport for London Will Be Disappointed

I’ve just been through this week’s performance of the service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, using the Real Time Trains web site.

  • This week was the first with a full four trains per hour service with four-car trains.
  • There were a couple of cancellations on Monday and Tuesday.
  • On Monday, a station guy, said there were problems earlier, but I found the service, as it should be.
  • On one day this week BBC London said there was a shortage of drivers around 07:30, but two bulletins later, they stated service was normal.

Not bad for the first week of a full service!

Train Testing And Driver Training?

It should also be noted that most nights, there are a few movements out of Willesden TMD. Are these test runs and/or driver training?

Ridership

I haven’t ridden the trains this week in the Peak, but in the Off Peak, the number of passengers does appear to be down on a few weeks ago.

It could of course be the increase in frequency!

Next week, I’ll have a ride in the Peak!

Conclusion

I suspect that Bombardier and Transport for London are not disappointed.

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Three-Year Nightmare Is Over! Full Service Resumes On Gospel Oak To Barking Overground Line

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Barking and Dagenham Post.

There is little more to say!

I went to Barking today and every time, I used a train, the displays were showing the next train was fifteen minutes behind.

I also rode both types of trains, so the Class 378 trains are still being used.

June 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments