The Anonymous Widower

The Shape Of Things To Come

Yesterday, I needed to go between Moorgate and Tottenham Hale stations.

It was just before the evening Peak and I took the escalators down to the Northern City Line platforms, where a new Class 717 train was waiting.

The increased capacity meant I got a seat and I took the train three stops to Highbury & Islington station.

It was then just a walk through a very short tunnel to the Victoria Line and a train to Tottenham Hale.

It was so much more relaxed than squeezing into a crowded and very elderly Class 313 train.

After the timetable change in May, there will be eight trains per hour (tph), as there is now, but given the number of trains in the new fleet and signalling improvements in the pipeline, I feel that this frequency will be increased.

It should also be noted that in the Peak there are twelve tph, which in the future could be used all day.

But in the interim, trains with extra capacity will be very welcome.

From An Ugly Ducking To A Swan

These developments are either underway or planned for the next few years.

  • Improved signalling on the Northern City Line.
  • Full step-free interchange at Finsbury Park between Moorgate services and Thameslink, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.
  • Higher frequencies on Thameslink and the Piccadilly Line through Finsbury Park
  • Full step-free access to the Northern City and Victoria Lines at Highbury & Islington station.
  • Full step-free access at Old Street station.
  • Hopefully, Essex Road station will be cleaned.
  • Crossrail will finally arrive at Moorgate station.

North London’s ugly ducking, which has caused passengers, British Rail and London Underground, so much trouble, will finally have turned into a swan.

I always wonder if the City of London;’s transport planners, wish that the Victorians had built the planned extension to a new Lothbury station, close to Bank.

What Will Be The Ultimate Frequency?

Currently the frequency between Alexandra Palace and Moorgate stations in the Peak is twelve tph.

Compare this with the following frequencies.

  • Crossrail will be initially 24 tph.
  • The East London Line is planned to go to 20 tph
  • The Piccadilly Line is currently at 24 tph between Arnos Grove and Acton Town stations in the Peak.
  • Thameslink will soon be at 24 tph
  • The Victoria Line is currently at 36 tph.

I don’t think it unreasonable that a frequency of at least twenty tph between Alexandra Palace and Moorgate stations is possible.

  • Digital signalling and Automatic Train Control will be possible.
  • If Dear Old Vicky can turn 36 tph at Brixton and Walthamstow Central stations, with two platforms, then surely 20 tph at Moorgate is possible.
  • Alexandra Palace to Moorgate is a double-track railway, that is almost exclusively used by Moorgate services.
  • Twenty tph would make the cross-platform interchange with the Victoria Line at Highbury & Islington station very efficient.
  • There are two branches North of Alexandra Palace station.
  • The Hertford Loop Branch has three terminal stations; Gordon Hill, Hertford North and Stevenage stations.
  • The East Coast Main Line has a single terminal at Welwyn Garden City station.

I could see the following frequencies.

  • Moorgate and Gordon Hill – four tph
  • Moorgate and Hertford North – four tph
  • Moorgate and Stevenage – four tph
  • Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City – eight tph

It will be a very high-capacity Metro into Moorgate. There will be a need for a few more trains.

Should The Northern City Line Be Shown On The Tube Map?

Increasingly, passengers will use the high-frequency Southern section of the Northern City Line between Alexandra Palace and Moorgate stations, as a new tube line.

So like Thameslink, the arguments will start as to whether this line should be on the Tube Map.

If Crossrail is to be shown, it is my view that nThameslink and the Northern City Line should be shown too!

April 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Great Northern Class 717s Finally Enter Passenger Service

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

I arrived at Finsbury Park station and found one there.

So I took a ride to Moorgate and back to Essex Road station

March 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Latest On The Class 717 Trains For The Great Northern

This is another tweet from the South East Rail Group.

Because of centre door of the cab some start signals can’t be sighted by the driver. Thus SDO will be used and trains stopped short. Once ERTMS is installed (the trains already have the in-cab signalling displays to go with it) then fixed signals and triphandles will be removed.

They also say that squiadron service is could be on March 11th.

Effect Of ERTMS

The tweet also confirms that ERTMS will be available on this line, after the first stage of installation of ERTMS on the East Coast Main Line.

Currently, the service to Moorgate station is twelve trains per hour (tph) in the Off Peak, with extra services in the Peak.

As Thameslink and Crossrail will be running twenty-four tph in a couple of years, so when ERTMS is working on the Southern part of the East Coast Main Line and on the Northern City Line into Moorgate station, how many trains per hour will be possible to Moorgate?

The current twelve tph means that turning the trains at Moorgate must be done in five minutes, which having watched the process is fairly relaxed.

Fifteen tph and a four minute turnround is certainly possible, as that is sometimes achieved in the Peak with the ancient Class 313 trains.

With a fleet of twenty-five trains, and a frequency of twenty-four tph possible under ERTMS, I suspect that twenty tph and a three minute turnround at Moorgate could be achieved all day.

Highbury & Islington Interchange With The Victoria Line

With Dear Old Vicky gamely plugging on at thirty-six tph, the typical maximum wait in a cross-platform interchange will be as follows.

  • Victoria to Northern City – three minutes
  • Northern City to Victoria – one minute and forty seconds.

How many passengers will use this route to the City rather than use the London Overground?

Interchange With Crossrail At Moorgate

The Northern City will be my link to Crossrail, as I can walk or get a bus to Essex Road station.

The interchange between Crossrail and the Northern City Lines will be high capacity, feature a lot of escalators and be fully step-free.

Conclusion

London’s forgotten underground line with its tragic history of the Moorgate Tube Crash, will become a new star in the broad firmament of London’s railways.

It just needs some improvements to some of the stations.

March 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

Would Batteries Help Voltage Change-over In A Dual Voltage Train Or Tram-Train?

Battery Power And Tram-Trains

Consider.

  • The Class 399 tram-trains in Sheffield can work on both 25 KVAC and 750 VDC overhead electrification.
  • Their German cousins in Karlsruhe can work on both 15 KVAC and 750 VDC overhead electrification.

In Karlsruhe, there is a ceramic rod between the two overhead cables with different voltages and the pantograph rides across. I suspect that clever power  electronics on the tram-train measures the voltage and converts it automatically to that needed to power the tram-train.

I haven’t been able to see how Sheffield connects the two different voltages, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a similar system with a ceramic rod is used.

Look at this picture, I took of a Class 399 tram-train in Sheffield.

 

Note the BATTERY CHARGE socket to the left of the car number.

Why would an electrically-powered vehicle need a battery?

I suppose it could be to start up the tram-train in the morning and raise the pantograph.

But could it also be for emergency power, to move the tram-train short distances, such as in depots or to assist the vehicle through the dead sections, where the power supply changes from one voltage to another?

The Class 399 tram-trains ordered for the South Wales Metro will also have to cope with discontinuous electrification. So is the technology needed for this already installed in the tram-trains in Sheffield?

Battery Power And Dual Voltage Trains

Suppose you have a train like a Class 378 or Class 700 train, that can run on both 25 KVAC overhead  and 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

Third-rail trains with contact shoes deal with discontinuous electrification all the time.

If a dual-voltage train had a battery that could take it say two hundred metres, then I believe that voltage changeover could be simplified and speeded up.

I have watched Class 717 trains change voltage at Drayton Park station and what changes would a limited battery capability make.

The third-rail electrification would stop several metres short of the station and would be removed in the station itself.

Going towards Moorgate, this would be the procedure.

  • The train would stop in the station as it does now.
  • The driver would drop the pantograph, whilst passengers unloaded and loaded.
  • The driver would close the doors.
  • The train would accelerate away on battery power.
  • After a few metres the train would contact the third-rail and the train’s computer would change from battery to third-rail power.

Going away from Moorgate, this would be the procedure.

  • The train would automatically disconnect from third-rail power, where that stopped to the South of the station.
  • The train would automatically switch to battery power.
  • The train  would stop in the station as it does now.
  • The driver would raise the pantograph, whilst passengers unloaded and loaded.
  • The driver would close the doors.
  • The train would accelerate away on overhead power.

The stops should be no longer, than a normal station stop without power changeover.

Conclusion

Batteries may well reduce the time taken to change voltage

 

February 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Class 313 Train In Not Bad Condition

On Friday, I took a train between Moorgate and Essex Road stations.

It was not in bad condition.

These trains are three-car trains and run in pairs as six-cars.

These trains used to run on the Watford DC Line, so I wonder if when they get to be released by the new Class 717 trains, some could be put back on that line to release some more Class 378 trains for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Anybody like a game of Musical Trains?

February 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pan Up And Pan Down At Drayton Park Station

The years and decades go by and the new Class 717 trains, just like their predecessors; the Class 313 trains, continue to change between 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail electrification at Drayton Park station.

There appears to have been little noticeable development in the forty years since the Class 313 reains were introduced. But the operation of the Class 717 trains appears smoother and quieter.

I would have thought, that for safety reasons, the new trains would have used battery power between Drayton Park and Moorgate stations.

After all it’s only two and a half miles, that is run using third-rail electrification.

I’d be very interested to see how much power is used by the new Class 717 trains South of Drayton Park.

In Weight And Configuration Of A Class 717 Train, I showed that the kinetic energy of a jam-packed Class 717 train at 85 mph is 56.15 kWh.

  • I doubt that this sort of speed is achieved in the tunnels.
  • At 60 mph, the energy would be 28 kWh
  • At 40 mph, the energy would be just 12 kWh.

Obviously, hotel power for air-conditioning and lights will be needed for the train, but even at 5 kWh per car per mile, that would only be 150 kWh.

To carry 200 kWh of batteries on a six-car train is a very practical proposition.

  • Vivarail have done it in a three-car train.
  • There could be a short length of third-rail electrification to top up the batteries at Moorgate station, if required.
  • Battery power could be used in depots to move trains, which would mean depots could have less electrification.
  • Trains could be moved to the next station, if the electrification should fail.

The route between Moorgate and Drayton Park stations, is probably one of the best and easiest in the UK for battery operation.

January 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Wi-Fi And Power Sockets On A Class 717 Train

In A First Ride In A Class 717 Train, I didn’t take any pictures of the power sockets, as I didn’t see them.

This picture from a second trip, rectified the error.

There is one 13 amp socket  under a pair of seats and you will need a plug.

It is my belief that a USB socket is better, as this armrest installation on a Class 230 train shows.

It is certainly a better place, as the wires can be short and can be kept out of the way.

The wi-fi performed well, but Great Northern seemed to want me to register. I never do, as it just gives them an excuse to send you junk mail.

Conclusion

The wi-fi installation can be improved.

It has to, as according to this article on Rail Magazine, Class 710 trains have USB sockets.

My ideal train would have.

  • Free wi-fi with no registration.
  • USB sockets in the armrests.
  • 4G booster, so if the train has a signal, you do.

The current systems can be greatly improved.

 

January 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Weight And Configuration Of A Class 717 Train

I walked the length of a Class 717 train and noted the various plates.

The formation was as follows.

  • DMOSB – Weight – 38.8 tonnes – Seats – 52
  • TOS – Weight – 28.8 tonnes – Seats – 68
  • TOS(L)W – Weight – 28.7 tonnes – Seats – 61
  • MOS – Weight – 35.5 tonnes – Seats – 68
  • PTOSB – Weight – 33.9 tonnes – Seats – 61
  • DMOSB – Weight – 38.8 tonnes – Seats – 52

Totalling these up and adding other details gives.

  • Length – 121.674 metres
  • Width 2.80 metres
  • Speed – 85 mph
  • Seats – 362
  • Weight – 204.5 tonnes

This article on Rail Magazine has this paragraph.

Each ‘717’ has capacity for 943 passengers, for which there are 362 seats (including 64 priority seats and 15 tip-ups).

Assuming  that each passenger weight 80 Kg with bags and buggies, this gives the following.

  • A passenger weight of 75.4 tonnes.
  • A train weight of 280 tonnes.
  • At a speed of 85 mph the kinetic energy of the train will be 56.15 kWh

This figure would probably mean that batteries could be fitted to these trains to handle regenerative braking.

 

January 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | | 1 Comment

A First Ride In A Class 717 Train

I took my first ride in a Class 717 train today, between Moorgate and Finsbury Park stations.

The interior of the train is very like the Class 700 train.

  • Seating is 2 + 2, as opposed to 2 + 3 in the current Class 313 trains.
  • A walkthrough interior with a wide aisle
  • There is wi-fi and power sockets.
  • The colour scheme is rather grey.

They are a functional train, rather than a design classic.

I think that some will not like the seats.

  • One Class 717 train has 362 seats, whereas two current Class 313 trains will have 462 seats.
  • The seats are hard and not particularly comfortable.
  • There are no seat-back tables or cup holders.

On the other hand, there is a lot of standing space, so those with sensitive bottoms can easily stand.

Competition From Greater Anglia And The London Overground

Some of Great Northern’s passengers have a choice of route to the centre of London.

Greater Anglia also has a service to the other side of Hertford and this year, the company will be introducing new Class 720 trains.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled No ‘Ironing Board’ Seats, Greater Anglia Promises.

If they keep their promises, will those that can, change their route to London?

London Overground is also running new Class 710 trains, through Enfield. These trains use longitudinal seating, so won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it will be interesting to see if they increase ridership when they replace the elderly Class 315 trains.

The Class 710 trains will be Transport for London’s fourth train with longitudinal seating, following the S Stock for the Sub-Surface Lines, the Class 345 train for Crossrail and the Class 378 trains for the Overground, so hopefully the new trains will be well-designed.

I travel regularly in S Stock, Class 345 and Class 378 trains and find them preferable to both the Class 700 and Class 717 trains.

Could it be because?

  • You can stretch your legs into the aisle.
  • You have arm-rests.
  • The seat backs have a better profile.
  • TfL use jollier colours.
  • TfL always uses quality seat covers and has done for decades. I’ve never seen plastic seats on a tube train or bus in London.,
  • Passengers opposite are some distance away, so you have your own space.
  • London’s deep Underground lines have persuaded passengers that longitudinal seating is OK

To try to solve the problem, I went for a ride in a Class 378 train between  Harringay Green Lanes and Barking stations. Passengers were observed to do the following, when sitting in the longitudinal seats..

  • Put their bags on the floor between their legs or on their laps.
  • Slump back in the seats , often with their head resting on the window or the frame of the train.
  • Put their legs out in front, although several  had their legs crossed.

All looked to be comfortable.

One thing that is missing is a USB charging point in the armrest.

Shown is the seat on a Class 230 train.

Uncomfortable seats are to my mind, a good way to upset customers.

These are longitudinal seats on a Class 378 train on the Overground.

The Class 230 train charging points could surely be added.

How would London’s bottoms respond to these seats on a similar route in Valencia?

They make the seats on Class 700 and 717 trains appear soft!

Conclusion

I used to commute from Kings Cross to Welwyn Garden City. I wouldn’t want to do it every day in these trains.

January 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | | Leave a comment

No Progress On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

I was talking to a station guy on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line yesterday and he told me, it will be two weeks before the new Class 710 trains start running.

He indicated that the Class 378 trains don’t fit the route, which I do find strange, as the Class 710 and Class 378 trains should eventually be sharing the North London Line.

According to Wikipedia widths of the trains are as follows.

  • Class 172 – 2.69 m.
  • Class 378 – 2.80 m.
  • Class 315 – 2.82 m.

By comparison a Class 345 Aventra is 2.78 m.

Perhaps that twenty millimetres is critical!.

But the guy had a point, when he suggested the line should have had a slightly larger gauge,, as it might have been possible to run a few redundant Class 315 trains on the route.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a rumour that the Class 717 trains didn’t fit the tunnels into Moorgate.

It sounds like there has been a lack of people, who can read a tape measure.

 

 

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments