The Anonymous Widower

Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!

But, I very much expect that Greater Anglia know what they are doing.

I came up to Norwich on the 1100 train, which was timed to get in at 1230. According to the driver, there were signalling problems at Manningtree, which meant we arrived in Norwich twenty-one minutes late.

I was going on to Cromer or Lowestoft. So by the time I’d had a cider and bought a ticket, I didn’t leave Norwich until 1345 for Cromer. But I did have time by the sea to take a few pictures and have a coffee and a gluten-free scone, before getting the return train to Norwich.

Back at Norwich, I had a choice of two trains.

  • The 1700 stopping at just Ipswich and Norwich
  • The 1703 stopping at Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich and a few other places.

I was booked on the 1700, from where I’m writing this note on my phone.

These are some of my observations.

Operating Speed

I have just travelled between Norwich and Ipswich in thirty minutes, with Speedview on my phone reading within a couple of mph of 100 mph all the way from where we got to operating speed South of Norwich to where we slowed for Ipswich station.

Diss, Stowmarket and Nedham Market stations were passed at almost 100 mph

Ipswich to Colchester was at a slower 90 mph, but then from Marks Tey to just before Chelmsford, the train was back to around 100 mph.

Speeds between 70 and 90 mph were held from Chelmsford to Liverpool Street, which was reached at 1830 as scheduled.

Acceleration

I got the impression, that the acceleration of the train wasn’t up to the operating speed. Certainly, it didn’t seem to accelerate as fast as an InterCity 125,

But then we’re talking about a rather puny Class 90 locomotive with just 930 kW pulling eight Mark 3 coaches.

In an InterCity 125, there is nearly 1,400 kW to accelerate the same number of similar coaches to 125 mph.

But these are small numbers compared to a four-car Class 755 train running on electrical power, which according to Stadler’s data sheet is 2,600 kW, which is 86% more power than an InterCity 125.

As there are two power-bogies each must be good for 1,300 kW.

Typical four-car electric Flirts seem to have around 2-3,000 kW, according to various Stadler data sheets.

Flirts seem to be seriously powerful trains and I can understand why some Norwegian Flirts are capable of 125 mph running. This is said in Wikipedia about the Norwegian Flirts.

All trains have five cars. However, in contrast to previous five-car FLIRTs they will have a third powered bogie giving them a maximum power output of 4,500 kW (6,000 hp) and a top speed of 200 km/h (120 mph).

If that extract is saying that each bogie can provide up to 1,500 kW, then Class 745 trains with four bogies have 6,000 kW.

If they were Class 755 train-sized bogies, then Class 745 trains, then the trains have 5,200 kW.

For comparison, an eleven-car Class 390/1 train has 5,950 kW.

With these figures, I feel it is reasonable to assume, that Class 745 trains, will accelerate to operating speed faster than the current forty-year-old BR stock.

  • They appear to have a lot more power, than the current trains.
  • Their aluminium bodies probably mean they weigh less, than the steel-bodies of the current trains.
  • Their aerodynamics are probably more advanced.
  • They probably have sophisticated technology that stops wheel slip, controls the train in a smooth manner and assists the driver.
  • The rolling dynamics will be no worse than that of the current trains.

Some conclusions can be drawn about the current trains and their operation.

  • A Class 90 locomotive with only 930 kW has sufficient power to keep an eight-car train running at 100 mph. It looks like the figure  is around 1.2 kWh per car per mile.
  • They must be in top condition.
  • The drivers probably know the route like the back of their hand and can coax the required performance from their ageing charges.

BR’s forty-year-old design must still be seriously good and the trains get the TLC they need.

Passing Stations At 100 mph

Diss, Stowmarket, Needham Market, Marks Tey, Kelvedon, Hatfield Peverel and Ingatestone stations were all passed within a few mph of 100 mph, with Maningtree and Colchester stations passed at around 85-90 mph.

Obviously, this must be allowed and not having to slow means that the speed is not degraded.

The only station where there was a substantial slowing was Chelmsford, where the train slowed to about 60 mph.

The Current Norwich-in-Ninety Services

These are the current ninety minutes services between Liverpool Street and Norwich.

  • 0900 – Norwich to Liverpool Street
  • 1100 – Liverpool Street to Norwich
  • 1700 – Norwich to Liverpool Street
  • 1900 – Liverpool Street to Norwich

Only one train is needed that starts and finishes in Norwich, where it is stabled overnight.

Serving The Intermediate Stations

Both the 1100 train to Norwich and the 1700 to Liverpool Street only stop at Ipswich.

But leaving a couple of minutes behind was another Class 90 locomotive/Mark 3 coach set stopping at more stations.

  • Going North, the train takes nineteen minutes longer, with stops at Colchester, Manningtree, Ipswich and Diss.
  • Going South, this train takes ten minutes longer, with stops at Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Colchester and Stratford.

I suspect that when the Bombardier Class 720 trains have been delivered, these might be used for the stopping trains.

How Many Trains Will Be Needed?

It appears that the slower trains are currently timetabled to take between 111 and 115 minutes.

If a round trip can be done in four hours, then two trains per hour (tph), will require eight Class 745 trains.

As there are ten trains on order, this means the following.

  • Eight trains will be used to run the two tph stopping service.
  • One train will be needed for the Norwich-in-Ninety service.

This leaves one train as a spare or in maintenance.

Cromer And Back In A Day

In the four-and-a-half hours, I was in Norwich, I was able to take a train to Cromer, take a few pictures, have a quick lunch and then return to Norwich.

This is possible using the slower trains, but the fast trains can give you another hour in Norwich.

Obviously, this hour will be available for many journeys and must surely open up many possibilities for frequent travellers on the route.

How Reliable Is The Norwich-in-Ninety Service?

There have been twenty services in the first week of the service..

  • Fourteen have been on-time or a couple of minutes early.
  • Five have been under ten minutes late.
  • One was late by more than ten minutes.

That last train was twenty-two minutes late and I was on it, on the first Wednesday of the service.

I shall update this table, until I get bored with it!

Can The Timetable Be Changed?

The way the timetable is set out is an interesting solution to trying to be all things to all passengers.

  • There is a basic two tph service, which stops between London and Norwich according to a simple pattern.
  • Four services per day, with two in each direction, are delayed by two or three minutes.
  • The original departure times are taken by a fast train, that only stops at Ipswich.
  • These four departure times, are arranged, so that the services can be handled by a single fast train shuttling between Liverpool Street and Norwich
  • The fast train starts in Norwich at 0900 in the morning and returns to Norwich and its depot at 2030. The train can then have a good service after a hard day’s work!

Obviously, Greater Anglia have all the passenger data, so they have probably laid out a fast timetable, that will reflect current passenger numbers.

But as time goes on, this timetable can be augmented.

At present, they are using their express trains for both the two tph and the fast services.

These will be changed to Class 745 trains during the remainder of this year.

The venerable Class 90 locomotives and their Mark 3 coaches have blazed the trail and made everybody’s dream of Norwich-in-Ninety a reality, but now it is up to Greater Anglia’s new trains to fully develop the timetable.

  • If they are successful in attracting passengers more services will do Norwich in ninety and Ipswich in sixty.
  • The back-up stopping service running behind the fast train could be run by a new Class 720 train, which have a similar 100 mph operating speed.
  • Several services per day, using Class 755 trains, will be running between Lowestoft and London and augmenting the fast service between London and Ipswich.

Interestingly, as I left Norwich for Cromer, there was a Class 321 Renatus at Norwich station in Platform 2 Checking with Real Time Trains, this other relic from British Rail, but refurbished to a modern standard for passengers and performance, formed the 1400 express to London and arrived on time after seven stops.

It looks to me that Greater Anglia have a creditable back-stop, if there should be any unforeseen problems with the new trains.

But it also shows that the stopping service that follows the Norwich-in-Ninety service can be run by a 100 mph electric multiple unit.

This would surely release Class 745 trains to run more fast services.

An Improved Ipswich And Norwich Service

Greater Anglia have said that there will be three tph between London and Norwich and that one may or will be run the new Class 720 trains.

The only section of the Great Eastern Main Line, that won’t have four tph will be between Ipswich and Norwich. So could we see a 100 mph local service between two rivals.

Yesterday’s Class 321 Renatus did Norwich to Ipswich in forty-one minutes.

  • The route is fully-electrified.
  • Class 720 or Class 321 Renatus trains could be used.
  • Trains would stop at Diss, Stowmarket and Needham Market stations.
  • The rail line is not busy North of Stowmarket.
  • The bottleneck of Trowse bridge South of Norwich is to be replaced.

Running four tph between Ipswich and Norwich would be a lot more affordable, than improving the capacity on the mainly single-carriageway A140.

Would Faster Running Be Possible North Of Ipswich?

There are two major problems on the Great Eastern Main Line to the North of Ipswich.

  • Trowse Bridge to the South of Norwich.
  • Haughley Junction, where the Cambridge and Norwich routes divide to the North of Stowmarket.

Both projects have been kicked into the long grass more times than most, but it does look, that these two bottlenecks could be fixed in the next few years.

I also observed the following between Ipswich and Norwich.

  • The line wasn’t busy North of Stowmarket.
  • The train had no difficulty maintaining 100 mph.
  • The quality of the overhead electrification gantries might suggest a need for replacement.
  • There are some level crossings, that have no place on a 100 mph main line.

Would it be advantageous to update the line, so that higher speeds were possible?

I suspect that both the Class 745 and Class 720 trains could handle perhaps 110 mph with modifications, that are proven or planned with similar trains.

Conclusion

I had an exhilarating ride yesterday and it is a foretaste for the greatest improvement in transport for East Anglia in my lifetime.

 

 

May 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Greater Anglia’s Class 720 Trains

Greater Anglia have ordered a new fleet of Class 720 trains for their suburban routes.

  • 22 x 10-car trains.
  • 89 x 5-car trains.

What do we know about the formation of Aventra trains?

The Formation Of Class 345 Trains

In A Detailed Layout Drawing For A Class 345 Train, I detailed the formation of a Class 345 train as follows.

DMS+PMS+MS1+MS3+TS(W)+MS3+MS2+PMS+DMS

Several things can be said about the formation.

Lots Of Cars With Motors

The Class 345 train has a high-proportion of cars with motors.

This may seem to be the wrong way to go, as motors cost money and lots of them, may make a more complicated and unreliable train.

But think of a tug-of-war team, which applies the force over a large patch of ground!

Having lots of motors may have advantages.

  • Force to move and accelerate the train is applied along the train.
  • It may make regenerative braking smoother and more controlled.
  • There is a greater contact area with the rail, so it may make train performance better with leaves on the line and other poor rail conditions.
  • The redundancy may mean greater reliability.

A clever control system on the train, may be able to distribute power to extract the best performance from a train, for various rail conditions, passenger loading and perhaps with one motor out of action.

Two-Half Trains

The Class 345 train formation clearly shows two half-trains with this formation.

DMS+PMS

Are these like mini-locomotives with seats for passengers at each end of the train?

With respect to a Class 345 train, I have observed the following.

  • The trains have two pantographs.
  • In a seven-car train, there is just a TS(|W) car in the middle. This is a trailer car with four wheelchair spaces.
  • A nine-car train has two extra motor cars inserted.

So are all seven-car and more trains, built as two half-trains with an appropriate number of cars in the middle to get the required length?

The concept surely means that in many scenarios of partial train failure, the remaining half-train can take passengers to a safe evacuation point, dragging the other half-train with it. This is obviously important in Crossrail’s long tunnel.

A Pair Of Power-Cars

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.

But the concept of splitting the power components between two cars must be a good one, as there is twice the space underneath the cars, compared to a traditional single car with all the power components.

In the Class 345 train, it looks like the pair of cars are the DMS and PMS cars.

  • So a nine-car Class 345 train has five cars between the two pairs of power-cars.
  • Motored or trailer cars can be added to lengthen the train.

Shorter trains would only have one pair of power-cars and could be as short as three cars.

Greater Anglia’s Train Needs

Ten- and five-car trains may be OK for many of Greater Anglia’s routes, but there could be a few problems.

Hertford East Branch

These pictures show an eight-car Class 317 train at Hertford East station.

Note how both platforms are not much longer than the 160 metres of a pair of four-car Class 317 trains. Would the capacity of a five-car train be enough for the route?

Braintree Freeport Station

The pictures show Braintree Feeport station, which also seems to be sized to fit an pair of four-car Class 317 or Class 321 trains..

The same questions as with Hertford East station arise!

Wickford Station Bay Platform

This picture shows a Class 321 train parked in the bay platform at Wickford station, that is used for the Crouch Valley Line.

I would estimate that there is perhaps another twenty metres of space in the platform.

As a five-car Class 720 train is 122 metres long, as opposed to the eighty metres of the four-car Class 321 train in the picture, it will be a tight squeeze to get the new train in the platform.

But a four-car Class 720 train would probably fit.

Manningtree Station Bay Platform

Are there similar problems at Manningtree station, that a four-car Class 720 train would solve?

The Length And Capacity Of Different Trains

This table shows the length and capacity of different trains.

  • Four-car Class 317 train – 80 metres – Standard – 267/234 – First – 22/24 – Total 289/258
  • Eight-car Class 317 train – 160 metres – Standard 534/468 – First -44/48 – Total 578/516
  • Four-car Class 321 train – 80 metres – Total 309
  • Eight-car Class 321 train -160 metres – Total 618
  • Twelve-car Class 321 train -240 metres – Total 927
  • Four-car Class 360 train – 80 metres – Total 280
  • Eight-car Class 360 train – 160 metres – Total 560
  • Twelve-car Class 360 train – 240 metres – Total 840
  • Five-car Class 720 train – 122 metres – Total 540 – Standing – 145
  • Ten-car Class 720 train – 243 metres – Total 1100 – Standing – 290

Note that two five-car Class 720 trains, working as a ten-car formation have virtually identical length and capacity to a ten-car Class 720 train.

Ten-Car Services

We already know, that the ten-car Class 720 trains have been designed to replace twelve-car formations of Class 321 and Class 360 trains to places like Clacton, Ipswich and Southend.

  • They are similar lengths within a few metres.
  • The ten-car Class 720 trains give an 19% increase in seats over twelve-car Class 321 trains.
  • The ten-car Class 720 trains give an 31% increase in seats over twelve-car Class 360 trains.

An advantage must surely be that with two fewer cars, the trains will need less maintenance.

Five-Car Services

But how does a five-car Class 720 train compare with an eight-car formation of Class 317 or Class 321 trains?

  • Seat numbers are similar depending on the layout of the older train.
  • Standees will probably have more handholds.
  • The walk-through trains allow passengers to circulate around the train to find spare seats.
  • The new trains will fit any platform that can be served by an existing eight-car service.
  • With their better performance will the Class 720 trains be running faster services?
  • There are three cars less to maintain.

I feel that Greater Anglia have done their sums and feel that more train capacity and extra services might be a better way to increase total capacity than run longer trains, which will need expensive platform lengthening.

I’ll take the Braintree Branch services as an example, where extra services could be better than longer trains.

Currently, service is hourly, but a combination of some of the following might allow a doubling of frequency.

  • A passing loop.
  • Faster modern trains with shorter dwell times.
  • An improved timetable.

Two five-car Class 720 trains per hour as opposed to an hourly eight-car Class 321 train, would be around a doubling of capacity.

Four-Car Services

A four-car class 720 train would be ninety-six metres long and probably around 450 seats.

Bombardier and London Overground have shown recently, shortening a Class 378 train is a simple operation.

I think it is reasonable to expect that creating a four-car Class 720 train will be just as easy.

So if Greater Anglia need to run four-car Class 720 trains on certain routes, they can just take a car out of the required number of trains.

First Class

It should be noted that none of the services operated using Class 720 trains will have First Class after this year.

This article on the BBC, which is entitled Greater Anglia: First Class seats scrapped on most trains, gives details and an explanation of Greater Anglia’s thinking.

I have searched the Internet and can’t find any complaints.

But Greater Anglia are only putting themselves in line with c2c, who offer no First Class seats on any service.

Conclusion

I can’t wait to ride these trains, later in the year.

 

 

 

 

May 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Do Some Train Operators Still Buy Half-Trains?

This picture shows the unloved-by-SWR Class 707 trains.

South Western Railway‘s predecessor; South West Trains bought thirty of these trains and SWR is replacing them with Class 701 trains.

Sixty of these new trains will be ten-cars in length and thirty will be five-car.

Why?

Consider.

  • Most Class 707 trains, always seem to run as ten-car units, formed of two trains.
  • There are four cabs, rather than two.
  • A ten-car Class 701 train has twenty more seats than two five-car trains.
  • Including standing passengers, a ten-car Class 701 train has eight percent more capacity, than two five-car units.
  • Staff have to get out of the train and back in, to go between the front and back of the train.
  • I’ve even seen trains delayed because the conductor was helping a disabled passenger in the other train.

Running two half-trains as a full-size train must surely be more stressful for the staff and more uneconomic for train operators.

The only place for five-car trains, is surely on routes with short platforms.

The Cut-And-Paste Aventra

It should also be noted that Bombardier’s new Aventras and other recently-designed trains, can be cut and pasted to adjust the trains that an operator needs.

At the present time, services on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, which can only accept four-car trains are being run by four-car Class 378 trains, which have been shortened from their normal five-car length by removing a car.

So for instance if on a route, South Western Railway needed to run eight-car trains due to a temporary length restriction, they could shuffle a ten-car and a five-car train to get an eight-car and a seven-car,

In a list of Aventra variants, the following are detailed.

Tfl Rail

Class 345 trains will be nine-car, but currently they are running as seven-cars.

London Overground

Class 710 trains will be used in three ways.

It has puzzled me, why the Lea Valley sets are not to be built as eight-car trains and I discuss this in Latest On The New London Overground Class 710 Trains.

Greater Anglia

Class 720 trains will be `22 ten-car and 89 five-car trains.

I think that Greater Anglia have some routes, that cannot accept ten-car trains.

As I showed for Hertford East station in Could London Overground Extend To Hertford East Station?

So will we be seeing some creative shuffling to get a tailored fleet, with perhaps some eight-car trains for routes like those to Hertford East?

I think that six ten-car trains and four five-car trains can be converted into ten eight-car trains.

South Western Railway

Class 701 trains will be 60 ten-car trains and 30 five-car trains.

Do South Western Railway need a sub-fleet of eight-car trains?

They can easily create one, by shuffling the trains.

West Midlands Trains

Class 730 trains will be 36 three-car trains and 45 five-car trains.

These are like-for-like replacements of the current fleet.

c2c

Class 711 trains will be six ten-car trains.

They will be replacing Class 387 trains on a short-term lease.

Conclusion

It appears to me, that for the train operator to have maximum flexibility, that you need to start with a long train and a short train and be able to shuffle cars around to get the train fleet you need.

Certainly a fleet of both ten-car and five-car Aventras gives you the possibility of creating a sub-fleet of eight-car trains.

Interestingly, the Hitachi Class 800 trains appear to have a similar ability.

 

 

 

May 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Greater Anglia Train Drivers Taking Leap Into New Technology

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

This is the first paragraph.

New state-of-the-art train simulators are being used to train 768 Greater Anglia drivers that will be driving the new trains due to replace all of the company’s existing fleet from later this year, when it starts to receive 38 bi-mode and 20 all-electric trains from Stadler followed by 111 more electric commuter trains from Bombardier.

The article is a must-read, as it gives a good insight into part of the process of getting mew trains into service.

 

April 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Introduction Of New Trains To East Anglia Will Be Like Moving ‘From Mid-Table To Champions League’ Says Greater Anglia Boss

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the East Anglian Daily Times.

It is a rare detailed article on how new trains are introduced to a network.

This is a quote from Jamie Burles of Greater Anglia in the article.

On some lines there will be a huge quality uplift – going from a 40-year old single carriage diesel train to a minimum three-carriage state-of-the-art bi-mode train with air conditioning, plug sockets and broadband wi-fi.

East Anglia is being subjected to one of most radical rail upgrades in the history of railways in the UK.

January 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Greater Anglia Shows Off First Aventra Carriages

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

This is said.

Greater Anglia said the trains’ underfloor heating and air conditioning units will do away with the need for heating vents and create more legroom for passengers.

It does appear that Bombardier are trying very hard to create a more efficient and extremely passenger-friendly train.

September 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

What Are Greater Anglia Going To Do With A Problem Like The Crouch Valley Line?

This post is effectively a series of sub-posts describing the problems of the Crouch Valley Line.

Platform 1 At Wickford Station

These pictures show Platform  1 at Wickford station, where services on the Crouch Valley Line terminate.

The train in the platform is a four-car Class 321 train, which is almost exactly eighty metres long.

After Greater Anglia has renewed the fleet, the shortest electric train they will have will be a five-car Class 720 train, which is over one hundred and twenty metres long.

I don’t think one of these shiny new trains will fit into the current platform.

Electrification

These pictures show the electrification at Burnham-on-Crouch station.

And these show Southminster station.

The overhead electrification on the Shenfield to Southend Line is being renewed and this section is supposedly finished. But it does look very similar to pictures I took in 2016, that are posted in Wickford Station. As the 25 KVAC overhead electrification was installed in 1979, when the line was converted from 6.25 KVAC, I do wonder about the age of some of the gantries.

On the trip, where I took these pictures staff were still complaining about the unreliability of the wires, as they have done before.

There doesn’t appear to have been any work done on the Crouch Valley Line, although the conductor did say that the route was being closed at times for work in the near future.

I do question, whether the overhead wires on the Crouch Valley Line are of a sufficient high and modern standard to be both reliable and easy and affordable to maintain.

Can the electrification handle regenerative braking?

The Timetable

The timetable East of Shenfield is as follows.

  • Three trains per hour (tph) between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria stations.
  • A train every forty minutes between Wickford and Southminster stations.
  • There are also some direct services between Southminster and Liverpool Street in the Peak.

Every time, I go use the line it seems, I always have a long wait at Wickford station.

Current services take thirty minutes between the two end stations with generous turnround times of about ten minutes at each end of the route.

Two trains are needed for the service, which are single-manned with a conductor checking and selling tickets appearing to float between the trains.

A New Nuclear Power Station At Bradwell

There is a possibility of building.of a new nuclear power station at Bradwell.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Burnham-on-Crouch is the large village on the North Bank of the River Crouch.
  2. Southminster is a couple of miles to the North of Burnham on Crouch.
  3. Bradwell is in the North-East corner of the map alongside the River Blackwater.
  4. You can just see the World War 2 airfield, which was the site of the original Bradwell nuclear power station.

If a new power station is built at Bradwell, I doubt that it will require rail freight access at Southminster, as did the original station.

Transport technology has moved on and heavy goods will surely be taken in and out by barge from the River Blackwater.

But a new station or more likely ; a cluster of small modular reactors will require transport for staff, contractors and visitors.

Although, on balance, with the growth of renewable energy, I don’t think that many more nuclear power stations will be built.

A Battery Storage Power Station At Bradwell

I also wouldn’t rule out the use of Bradwell for a battery storage power station for the electricity generated by wind farms like Gunfleet in the Northern section of the Thames Estuary.

The number and size of these wind farms will certainly increase in the coming years.

Battery storage power stations are ideal partners for wind farms, as they help turn the intermittent wind power into a constant flow of electricity.

Currently, the largest battery storage power station is a 300 MWh facility that was built in 2016,  at Buzen in Japan.

Energy storage technology is moving on fast and I would not be surprised to see 2000 MWh units by the mid-2020s.

Bradwell could be an ideal place to put a battery storage power station.

Passenger Numbers

Passenger numbers on the line over the last few years seem to have been fairly level although there appears to have been a drop in the last year or so. But this drop has happened in lots of places!

Various factors will effect the passenger numbers on the Crouch Valley Line in the future.

  • New housing along the route.
  • A large energy-based development at Bradwell will atract passengers.
  • New trains will attract passengers.
  • Will the Internet and new working practices affect passenger numbers?
  • A two tph clock-face service will attract passengers.
  • Faster and more frequent services between Liverpool Street and Wickford will make the line easier to access.

There is also the possibility of more visitors and tourists to the area. The RSPB have spent a lot of money developing Wallasea Wetlands, which is opposite Burnham-on-Crouch.

In future years, how many people will reach Wallasea, by ferry from Burnham-on-Crouch?

Adding up all these factors, I come to two conclusions.

Predicting the number of passengers will be difficult..

There will always be passengers who need this rail service.

It looks to me that Greater Anglia will have to plan for all eventualities from very low numbers of passengers to a substantial increase.

New Trains

Shenfield-Southend services and those on the Crouch Valley Line will be run using new Class 720 trains.

Bettween Liverpool Street And Southend Victoria

Currently, this service on the route is as follows.

Trains have a frequency of three tph.

  • Each train takes an hour for the journey.
  • All trains stop at the seven stations between Shenfield and Southend Victotria, Shenfield and Stratford.
  • One train in three has an extra stop at Romford.

The new trains have a faster acceleration of 1 metre per second², as opposed to the current trains which can only manage 0.55 metre per second².

This property and their modern design, probably means that the new trains, can do a complete round trip between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria stations in under two hours.

  • The journey time between the two stations will be around fifty minutes.
  • A three tph frequency will need a fleet of six trains.
  • A four tph frequency will need a fleet of eight trains.

This service will be faster than the fastest services between Fenchurch Street and Southend Central stations.

I can certainly see a time, when the frequency between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria stations is increased to four tph.

Passenger numbers are rising strongly at Southend Victoria station.

Southend Airport have big expansion plans and would welcome a better rail service, to and from their very convenient station.

At present times to their London termini from various airports are as follows.

  • Gatwick Airport – 31 minutes (Express)
  • Luton Airport – 28 minutes
  • Southend Airport – 53 minutes
  • Stansted Airport – 46 minutes

I think that Southend Airport times with the new trains could be about 43 minutes or less, which because of the closeness of the station to the terminal building could allow Southend Airport to claim faster times to Liverpool Street than Stansted Airport.

If the service does go to four tph, there will be a massive increase in capacity.

There will be 1145 seats in the new trains, as opposed to 927 in the current Class 321 trains.

With four tph. this would mean an increase in capacity of 40%.

I don’t think anybody in Southend will be complaining.

Between Wickford And Southminster

As I said earlier, the new longer Class 720 trains will have difficulty running the current service, as they don’t fit into Platform 1 at Wickford station.

Working the same timetable the new trains with their 544 seats will offer a 76% increase in train capacity.

Trains take thirty minutes with five intermediate stations.

Given the better acceleration and modern nature of the new trains, I wonder, if they will be able to do a round trip in an hour.

If they can do this, then it would be possible to run a two tph service on the route.

But it will be a tough ask!

That still leaves the problem of turning back the trains at Wickford.

Currently, trains between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria going in opposite directions, pass at Wickford station.

If this could be arranged with four tph, then there would be up to fifteen minute windows, where no train was passing through Wickford station.

Suppose the Liverpool Street and Southend services passes through at XX:00, XX:15. XX:30 and XX:45.

Would it be possible for the Southminster trains to leave Wickford at XX:10 and XX:40 and arrive back at XX:05 and XX:35, thus giving five minutes for the driver to get to the other end.

As I said, it would be a tough ask!

But I suspect there is a plan to get two tph between Wickford and Southminster.

  • The track could be improved.
  • Some level crossings could be closed.
  • Operating speed could be faster.
  • Better step-free access could probably be arranged at the intermediate stations.
  • A step-free bridge could be built at Wickford.

If two tph can be achieved, then this would increase capacity on the route by 134 %.

The Passing Loop At North Fambridge Station

This Google Map shows the station and passing loop at North Fambridge station.

Measuring from the map, I estimate the following.

  • The length of the platforms are 160 metres.
  • The length of the passing loop is in around 400 metres.

I also suspect that to save money was the line was singled in the 1960s, British Rail made the passing loop as short as possible to cut costs.

The current loop can handle eight-car Class 321 trains, so it can certainly handle a five-car Class 720 trains.

I do wonder if the passing loop were to be lengthened, this would ease operation on the line.

There might even be a length, that enable a two tph service with the current four-car Class 321 trains.

Thoughts On Speed Limits

The speed limit on the line is 60 mph between Battlesbridge and North Fambridge stations and 50 mph at both ends of the line.

Summarising sections of the line, their length and speed limits give.

  • Wickford and Battlesbridge – 2 miles 38 chains = 4356 yards = 3983 metres – 50 mph
  • Battlesbridge and North Fambridge – – 5 miles 67 chains = 10274 yards = 9395 metres – 60 mph
  • North Fambridge and Southminster – 8 miles 15 chains = 14410 yards = 13177 metres – 50 mph

This gives totals of 17160 metres with a 50 mph limit and 9395 metres with a 60 mph limit.

  • At 50 mph, the train would cover the 17160 metres in 12.8 minutes
  • At 60 mph, the train would cover the 17160 metres in 10.7 minutes
  • At 75 mph, the train would cover the 17160 metres in 8.5 minutes

Increasing the speed limit to 60 mph would save two minutes.

Network Rail must have all the figures and costs, but this could be a cost-effective way to save a couple of minutes.

But it does seem if the operating speed of the line were to be increased, time saving could be achieved, that would make a two tph timetable a reality.,

Could Electrification Be Removed From The Crouch Valley Line?

If the track is going to be improved with respect to line speed, level crossings and passing loops, then there will have to be changes to the layout of the overhead electrification.

Most of the serious changes that could be carried out, would be to the East of North Fambridge station.

Would it be sensible if the Class 720 trains have a battery capability, to remove the electrification to the East of North Fambridge station?

  • 13.2 km. of single-track would have the electrification removed.
  • Some of this electrification will need replacing soon.
  • Trains could swap between power sources in North Fambridge station.
  • The batteries would be charged between Wickford and North Fambridge stations.
  • Only 16 miles in each round trip would be on batteries.

Removing some electrification would cut the cost of any works.

Conclusion

I’m sure Greater Anglia have a solution and it’s probably better than my rambling.

 

 

 

 

 

August 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Braintree Freeport Station

These pictures show Braintree Freeport station on the Braintree Branch.

Note.

  1. There is one platform that can accommodate an eight-car formation of two Class 321 trains, so it must be at least 160 metres long.
  2. The platform is used in both directions.
  3. Like much of the electrification on the Great Eastern Main Line and its branches, it is not in the first flush of youth and some parts had evidence of repair.
  4. The station information could be better, but that is a problem on a lot of Greater Anglia’s smaller stations.
  5. The route to the Braintree Freeport Shopping Centre is about four hundred metres and not too taxing.

I suspect that a bit more TLC would improve this station.

But will the electrification on the Braintree Branch be replaced in the near future?

The New Class 720 Trains

I went to Braintree Freeport station in an eight-car formation of two Class 321 trains, which weren’t by any means full.

In Comparing Greater Anglia’s Old And New Electric Multiple Units, I said this.

Given that the Class 720 is a modern train, designed with passengers, staff and operators in mind, I can’t see any problems with replacing the current eight-car trains with a five-car Class 720 train

I also suspect that if required, an extra car could be added to make six-car trains with a length of 146 metres, that would be shorter than an eight-car Class 321 train. .

If a single Class 720 train isn’t enough capacity for the Braintree Branch, then by adding a passing loop at Cressing station, the frequency of trains on the branch can be doubled, which could attract more passengers to the route.

Could the Braintree Branch Have The Electrification Removed?

This may seem like a retrograde step, but consider the following.

  • I’m fairly certain, that the Class 720 trains, which are Aventras have been designed to use batteries to handle regenerative braking and the trains have a useful range on battery power.
  • The Braintree Branch is only six miles long.
  • The electrification will have to be replaced or upgraded in the next few years.
  • Building the loop at Cressing station without electrification would be a cost saving.
  • There are no other services on the branch, except the occasional diesel-hauled engineering train.
  • The batteries would be charged between Liverpool Street and Witham stations.

I would be very surprised, if removing the electrification and using battery power is not being considered.

Conclusion

New Class 720 trains with a battery capability and the addition of a passing loop at Cressing station would improve the Braintree Branch line.

 

 

 

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

Comparing Greater Anglia’s Old And New Electric Multiple Units

Currently, Greater Anglia has the following electric multiple units, which will be replaces by new Class 720 trains.

Class 317 Train

  • 68 x 4 car trains
  • Length 79.32 metres.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Acceleration of 0.55 metre per second²
  • No regenerative braking
  • Capacity – 260/290 seats.
  • First Class section

Note the acceleration seems to be standard for all BR EMUs

Class 321 Train

  • 104 x 4 car trains
  • Length 79.8 metres.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Acceleration of 0.55 metre per second²
  • Regenerative braking can be fitted.
  • Capacity – 309 seats.
  • First Class section

Thirty trains are being upgraded to the Class 321 Renatus

Class 360 Train

  • 21 x 4 car trains
  • Length 81.36 metres.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Acceleration of 0.98 metre per second²
  • Regenerative braking.
  • Capacity – 280 seats.
  • First Class section

These are the specifications of the two lengths of new Class 720 trains.

Class 720 Train – Five Car

89 x 5-car trains

Length 122 metres

Capacity – 544 seats and 145 standing.

Class 720 Train – Ten Car

22 x 10-car trains

Length 243 metres

Capacity – 1145 seats and 290 standing.

All trains will have the following.

  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Acceleration of 1 metre per second²
  • Regenerative Braking (Using batteries?)
  • No First Class section.

Also, these trains are modern trains will all the features passengers, staff and train operators need and desire.

How Do Old And New Trains Compare?

Ten-Car Class 720 Trains

Note that these trains are just over 240 metres long, which is conveniently the length of three Class 321 or Class 360 trains.

When the order for the Class 720 trains was announced, this was said to have been a design criteria.

So will the twenty-one Class 360 trains, which regularly run as twelve-car trains be replaced by seven Class 720 trains?

  • There will be 1145 seats in the new trains, as opposed to 840 in the old.
  • There will be a Universal Access Toilet and three other toilets in the new trains, as opposed to a Universal Access Toilet in each train.
  • The new trains won’t have any First Class.
  • The new trains will be walk-through, with no intermediate cabs.
  • Operating speed and acceleration appears to be almost the same.
  • The new trains will have a lot more of the things passengers need.

It appears, that everybody could be a winner.

  • Passengers have 36 % more seats and better facilities.
  • On-board staff can handle the whole train without needing to get off to reach the other trains.
  • Network Rail won’t need to do much work to prepare for the new trains, as they fit the current platforms.
  • Maintenance of one train instead of three must be easier and less costly.

Most of these arguments also apply to replacing a three-train formation of Class 321 trains, which would give a capacity increase of 24 % more seats.

But there is one big difference.

The acceleration of Class 720 trains is nearly twice that of a Class 321 train, so there could be time savings on routes like Southend and ones with a higher number of stopss.

Destinations which the new ten-car trains from Liverpool Street station could serve include, with current frequencies in train per hour (tph)

  • Bishop’s Stortford
  • Cambridge – One tph
  • Cambridge North – One tph
  • Clacton – One tph
  • Colchester
  • Ipswich – One tph
  • Norwich
  • Southend – Three tph

With the current services and the timetable improvements, the new trains would bring could mean the following trains would be needed for

  • Cambridge – 2 trains for 1 tph
  • Cambridge North – 3 trains for 1 tph
  • Clacton – 3 trains for 1 tph
  • Ipswich – 2 trains for 1 tph
  • Southend – 8 trains for 4 tph

This is a total of eighteen trains, which would mean ideas like extending some of the Ipswich services to Norwich are possible.

One of the beauties of modern train design, is that lengthening and shortening trains is a relatively easy process, that was invented by Lego and refined by Microsoft with Plug-and-Play!

Five-Car Class 720 Trains Replacing The Current Eight-Car Services

Some destinations like Braintree, Colchester Town, Harwich, Kings Lynn and Walton-on-the-Naze can’t accommodate the current twelve car trains, so they can’t be served by new ten-car Class 720 trains.

So how does a five-car Class 720 train compare with two Class 321 or 360 trains working as an eight-car train.

  • There will be 544 seats and 146 standees in a five-car Class 720 train.
  • There will be 560 seats in an eight-car formation of Class 360 trains.
  • There will be 618 seats in an eight-car formation of Class 321 trains.
  • There will be about 440 seats in an eight-car formation of Class 317 trains
  • The new trains are 122 metres long, whereas the current eight-car trains are 160 metres long.
  • All trains have a 100 mph operating speed.
  • The Class 720 and 360 trains have an acceleration of around 1 metre per second², whereas the acceleration of a Class 321 train is only 0.55 metre per second².

Given that the Class 720 is a modern train, designed with passengers, staff and operators in mind, I can’t see any problems with replacing the current eight-car trains with a five-car Class 720 train.

I also suspect that if required, an extra car could be added to make six-car trains with a length of 146 metres, that would be shorter than an eight-car Class 321 train.

Five-Car Class 720 Trains Replacing The Current Four-Car Services

There is only one electric service on Greater Anglia, that needs to be run using a four-car train and that is the service between Wickford to Southminster stations on the Crouch Valley Line.

Under Infrastructure in the |Wikipedia entry for the Crouch Valley Line, this is said.

Only Wickford and South Woodham Ferrers have platforms long enough to accommodate 12-coach trains, while each of the other stations on the line can accommodate eight coaches, though services on the line are typically only formed of four carriages due to the short terminus platforms at Wickford being able to only accommodate one four car unit.

So it would appear that the platform at Wickford station needs to be lengthened!

Or does it?

I’ve read that Greater Anglia plan to run four tph between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria stations, so trains will pass through Wickford station in both directions every fifteen minutes.

Helpfully, both services seem curently to be in the station at the same time.

So if this happens after the fourth train is added to the schedule, there will be a fifteen minute window, where there is no train movements at Wickford station.

So instead of using the current platform, a five-car Class 720 train could stop in one of the main platforms to discharge and pick-up passengers.

Hopefully, the better acceleration of the Class 720 trains could be able to run along the branch in well under thirty minutes to allow a genuine two tph service, as opposed to the current difficult timetable of a train every forty minutes.

Greater Anglia does run other four-car trains at times, but surely running a five-car train wouldn’t really matter and it may attract more passengers.

Conclusion

Greater Anglia seem to have made a good choice of train size.

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

How Will Greater Anglia/London Overground Use The Third Track On The West Anglia Main Line?

This morning as I often do, I took the 11:00 train between Stratford and Enfield Lock stations.

I like to have a look at progress on STAR, which involves the following.

  • A five and a half kilometre third track to the East of the current two tracks of the West Anglia Main Line between Lea Bridge and Angel Road stations.
  • A third platform and station improvements at Tottenham Hale station.
  • A third platform, removal of a level crossing and complete rebuilding of Northumberland Park station.
  • Building of a completely new three-platform station at Meridian Water to replace the current inadequate Angel Road station.

This Google Map shows the location of Meridian Water station with respect to Tesco Extra and IKEA in Glover Drive.

You can just see the concrete foundations of the station and its platforms alongside the West Anglia Main Line to the West of the Tesco Extra.

In Meridian Water Station – 14th June 2018, I show pictures of the station just over two months ago.

There has been steady and worthwhile progess since.

  • Meridian Water station now has platforms under construction.
  • Northumberland Park station looks like it could be ready before Spurs’ new stadium.
  • The lift towers for the footbridge at Tottenham Hale station are being erected.
  • I estimate about seventy percent of the third track has been laid.
  • All the electrification gantries seem to have been erected and there are even some overhead wires.

The target for finishing the works is said to be May 2019 and I suspect that is achievable.

Use Of The Third Track

It certainly looks like the third track will be ready, so how will it be used?

The Northern End

At the Northern end, the third track appears to finish in a bay platform at Meridian Water station.

Once Angel Road station is closed and reduced to rubble, there would be plenty of space to add a junction, so that trains going South towards Stratford, could use the third track.

This would surely ease operation of the West Anglia Main Line.

Meridian Water Station

Meridian Water station appears to be being built as a three-platform station with provision for a fourth.

From various drawings and notes on the Internet it looks like there will be two platforms on the West Anglia Main Line and a separate bay or through platform to the East.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the relationship of Angel oad and Meridian Water station.

The dotted line on the map is the third track.

I took these pictures from a slow train through the station.

It looks very much like a through platform is being created.

I feel that access to this platform will be in two ways.

  • From the North via a junction with the Southbound track of the West Anglia Main Line. This junction could be to the North the current Angel Road station.
  • From the South using the new third track.

This would mean that no trains will have to cross the West Anglia Main Line using a flat junction.

I don’t believe that trains can run bi-directionally on the third track, as there is not enough time in an hour for four trains to shuttle between Lea Bridge and Meridian Water.

So that means all services calling at Meridian Water will go further up the Lea Valley to turn back.

Using The Third Platform At Tottenham Hale Station

I think it is likely that the current two platforms will be used as follows.

  • Platform 2 – Northbound trains
  • Platform 1 – Southbound trains to Liverpool Street

It would be logical that the new third platform would handle Southbound trains to Stratford.

As Platform 1 and the new platform share an island, passengers will have a step-free cross-platform  interchange, if they need to go to the alternative destination.

The following journey times should be noted.

  • Tottenham Hale to Stratford currently takes 14 minutes
  • Tottenham Hale to Liverpool Street currently takes between 14 and 17 minutes
  • Liverpool Street to Stratford will take eight minutes on Crossrail

I suspect a lot of passengers will change to a direct train.

It could also mean that an ideal service would see the same frequency of trains at both platforms.

The Southern End

At the Southern end, the third track joins the West Anglia Main Line going towards Stratford, but there is also a crossover to allow trains coming from Stratford to use the third track.

Is The Third Track Going To Be Bi-Directional?

Loops like this third track are often signalled to be bi-directional, to ease operation. But as I said earlier, I think the third track is too long to operate in that way all the time with passenger services.

What Will Be The Operating Speed Of The Third Track?

I have watched the third track being constructed and it is totally new.

  • All bridges have been replaced with new structures.
  • The track is fully electrified.
  • There appear to be no junctions, except at the two ends.

Everything certainly looks professional to my untrained eye.

The operating speed will probably be determined by the time set for the driver to take the train between stations on the line.

But the track has surely been designed to minimise the time between Meridian Water and Stratford.

Could The Third Track Be Extended Northwards?

The length of the third track is 5.5 km.

Could the third track be extended to the North?

If Crossrail 2 is built, there will be a need to make the route four tracks.

  • Two fast tracks for the expresses between London, Stansted and Cambridge.
  • Two slow tracks for Crossrail 2 as far as the terninus at Broxbourne.

These are my observations

  • Looking from both a train and on Google Map, it appears that it will be a tight fit to squeeze in two tracks.
  • There is the serious problems of the two level crossings at Brimsdown and Enfield Lock stations.
  • Waltham Cross station seems very tight too.

But I do think, that with a clever redesign at the three troublesome stations, that a third track, but not necessarily a fourth can be squeezed in  as far as North as Broxbourne, which would be another 11.2 miles.

Although in places, like these pictures taken just South of Tottenham Hale station show, there may be plenty of space for two tracks.

I suspect that to put in the fourth track will mean that the bridge at Ferry Lane will need to be rebuilt.

But it does appear that in building the third track, the builders are making sue there is space for a fourth track to be added in a few years.

Currently, How Many Calls Are There At Each Station?

These figures are calculated from the current timetable.

Lea Bridge

  • Two trains per hour (tph) – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Two tph stop in both platforms.

Tottenham Hale

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge North
  • Four tph – Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport
  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Ten tph stop in both platforms.

Northumberland Park

  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Two tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, eight tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Meridian Water

  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Two tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, eight tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Ponders End

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East

Two tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, eight tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Brimsdown

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East

Two tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, eight tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Enfield Lock

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • One tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Three tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, seven tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Waltham Cross

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Four tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, six tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Cheshunt

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge North
  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Six tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, four tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Broxbourne

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge North
  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Six tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, four tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Harlow Town

  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge North
  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Stansted
  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Six tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, two tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Bishop’s Stortford

  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge North
  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Stansted
  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Four tph stop in both platforms.

Two tph would terminate at the station.

In addition, two tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

A Summary Of Current Services

This is summary of stops at the selected stations.

  • Lea Bridge – 2 tph
  • Tottenham Hale – 10 tph
  • Northumberland Park – 2 tph
  • Meridian Water – 2 tph
  • Ponders End – 2 tph
  • Brimsdown – 2 tph
  • Enfield Lock – 3 tph
  • Waltham Cross – 4 tph
  • Cheshunt – 6 tph
  • Broxbourne – 6 tph
  • Harlow Town – 6 tph
  • Bishop’s Stortford – 6 tph

Note.

  1. To say the least service is a bit patchy, with some stations getting a much better service than others.
  2. London Overround, Merseyrail and others feel that a service of four tph is highly desirable and attracts passengers.

The service definitely needs improvement.

STAR Services

It is certainly intended that four tph, will be run between Stratford and Meridian Water stations calling at Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale and Northumberland Park stations.

Current Services

Currently, this service is provided at a frequency of two tph by Greater Anglia, who extend the service to Bishop’s Strortford station.

There are various ways that this could be increased to four tph

Possible Northern Terminals

As I said earlier to avoid train-slowing flat junctions, STAR services must terminate North of Meridian Water station.

I think there are these possibilities.

  • Bishop’s Stortford, which currently handles two tph in the bay platform 3.
  • Broxbourne which is a large station with 8 platforms and has been earmarked as the terminal for Crossrail 2.
  • Hertford East has platform space, but there may not be the capacity for the trains on the Hertford East Branch.

Passenger numbers will drive the choice, but I suspect all three terminals have their merits.

In the following sub-sections I’ll look at each terminus.

Two Extra Trains To Bishop’s Stortford

I will assume these services will call at the same stations as the current two trains.

This is summary of stops at the selected stations.

  • Lea Bridge – 4 tph
  • Tottenham Hale – 12 tph
  • Northumberland Park – 4 tph
  • Meridian Water – 4 tph
  • Ponders End – 2 tph
  • Brimsdown – 2 tph
  • Enfield Lock – 4 tph
  • Waltham Cross – 8 tph
  • Cheshunt – 8 tph
  • Broxbourne – 8 tph
  • Harlow Town – 8 tph
  • Bishop’s Stortford – 8 tph

Note.

  1. Enfield Lock now has the preferred four tph.
  2. Ponders End and Brimsdown probably need more services.
  3. Are there too many services at Harlow Town and Bishop’s Stortford?

But generally, it is a better distribution than now!

Two Extra Trains To Broxbourne Or Hertford East

I will assume these services will call at the same stations as the current two trains, that run between Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford.

This is summary of stops at the selected stations, which will be the same for both destinations.

  • Lea Bridge – 4 tph
  • Tottenham Hale – 12 tph
  • Northumberland Park – 4 tph
  • Meridian Water – 4 tph
  • Ponders End – 2 tph
  • Brimsdown – 2 tph
  • Enfield Lock – 4 tph
  • Waltham Cross – 8 tph
  • Cheshunt – 8 tph
  • Broxbourne – 8 tph

Note.

  1. Enfield Lock now has the preferred four tph.
  2. Ponders End and Brimsdown probably need more services.
  3. There will be no increase in frequencies North of Broxbourne.

Operational needs and passenger numbers will decide if these are better destinations.

Use Of The High Meads Loop At Stratford

The High Meads loop under the Eastfield Shopping Centre was designed to turn trains.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the loop.

On the map it is the horeshoe-shaped double track shown in black.

  • , It goes through Platforms 11 and 12 in Stratford station.
  • Currently, Platform 11 is used exclusively as a terminal for the two tph between Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford.
  • Currently, Platform 12 is not used and the track is used to take trains to and from the Orient Way sidings
  • Both ends of the loop join together just to the South of the Orient Way sidings and Lea Bridge station.
  • In the past it has been used to turn Stansted Expresses, which used Platform 12 according to the signs still in place.
  • I believe it would be possible to build a platform on the loop to serve Stratford International station and the Northern part of the Olympic Park.

In my view it is wasted fully-working infrastructure.

The Wirral Line Loop Under Liverpool

The most important rail loop in the UK is the loop of the Wirral Line under Central Liverpool.

  • The loop is single-track with three single-platform stations
  • This loop handles fourteen tph.
  • The loop is built for full-size trains.
  • Trains take eight minutes to go round the loop from Liverpool James Street station and fourteen minutes from Birkenhead Hamilton Square station on the other side of the Mersey.

It was built in the early 1970s and I’m sure the designers of the High Meads Loop were influenced strongly by the track layout in Liverpool.

The Wirral Line Loop showcases the major examples of this type of track layout.

  • The driver just keeps driving and doesn’t have to change ends.
  • A single terminal platform can handle a maximum of perhaps 4-6 tph, whereas a single platform on a loop can handle at least 14 tph.
  • Stations can be provided at several places on the loop, where they are needed.

A loop is a very fast and simple way to turn trains.

Time Saving At Stratford Using The High Meads Loop

The 06:34 from Bishop’s Stortford stops at Tottenham Hale at 07:29, Lea Bridge at 07:33 and Stratford at 07:43.

The train then forms the 08:04 from Stratford, which stops at Lea Bridge at 08:10, Tottenham Hale at 08:18 and terminates at Bishop’s Stortford at 09:02.

So the train has taken thirty-seven minutes between the two calls at Lea Bridge station on a modern double track railway.

If the train loaded and unloaded passengers at Platform 11 at Stratford, I suspect that this time could be reduced to under twenty minutes, if the train continued round the High Meads Loop.

Even if there was an extra station on the loop to serve Stratford International station and the Northern part of the Olympic Park, I suspect that a saving on twenty minutes could be made.

Greater Anglia would be a big beneficiary. Currently the train leaves Bishop’s Stortford at 06:34 and arrives back at 09:02, which means a total trip time of 148 minutes for an out-and-back journey with ten intermediate stops both ways.

With a bit of time saving and the new Class 720 trains, I suspect that with the turnround time at Bishop’s Stortford added in, that a train could do the full trip within two and a half hours.

This would mean that ten trains would be needed for a four tph service between Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford.

Take off the twenty minutes saved by the High Meads Loop and the minutes saved by the new trains and I believe that well-driven trains could do the full trip in two hours

This would mean that eight trains would be needed for a four tph service between Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford.

Stansted Airport To Stratford

How much time would be saved if Stansted Airport trains went to Stratford and used the High Meads Loop?

The fastest trains take forty-seven minutes between Liverpool Street and Stansted, with about fourteen minutes needed for the short stretch between Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale.

Using the High Meads Loop at Stratford would probably mean a similar journey time, as from Liverpool Street, but there would be other advantages, disadvantages and score draws.

  • Both platforms used by Stansted Expresses would be step-free.
  • Train tracks to Stratford are probably less likely to delay.
  • Walking routes at Stratford might be shorter.
  • Both Liverpool Street and Stratford will be served by Crossrail.
  • Stratford could have links to Highspeed services to Kent.

Greater Anglia would be a big winner, as they would have a better train utilisation.

What Length Of Trains Could Use The High Meads Loop?

The only restriction will be the length of platforms at Stratford, Lea Bridge and Tottenham Hale.

Without getting my tape measure out, I suspect they are all capable of taking a twelve-car Class 317 train, which is around 240 metres long.

Ten-car versions of Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains are 243 metres long.

I would be very surprised if the platforms couldn’t accept these long trains.

What Would Be The Ultimate Capacity Of The High Meads Loop?

Consider.

  • The Wirral Line Loop under Liverpool handles fourteen tph.
  • More complicated tunnels under London like Crossrail, the East London Line and Thameslink are planned to handle 24 tph.
  • Modern digital signalling will be applied in the next couple of decades to the West Anglia Main Line.

Consider.

  • The Southbound third track and the route to Stratford from Lea Bridge can probably easily handle fifteen tph or a train every four minutes.
  • Platform 11 at Stratford with perhaps some escalators, could probably handle fifteen or even twenty tph, as do stations like Canada Water and several stations on Thameslink and the Wirral Line.
  • Northwards from Stratford, there is probably a total limit of twelve tph along the Lea Valley, that could be increased by removing level crossing and modern signalling.

I suspect that the ultimate capacity is way in excess of the number of services that need to be run from Stratford up the West Anglia Main Line.

Using The High Meads Loop To Take Pressure From Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street is crowded.

  • Some platforms can’t accept full length trains.
  • West Anglia services crawk between Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale at a speed of not much more than 40 mph at times.
  • The two operators; London Overground and Greater Anglia want to add additional services to the station.
  • c2c also want to serve the station, as they have capacity problems at Fenchurch Street.

However, future developments will make Stratford a viable alternative to Liverpool Street.

  • Crossrail will provide a high-capacity service linking both stations to the Canary Wharf, Heathrow and the West End.
  • Better access to the Central Line will happen.
  • Stratford has access to the important Jubilee Line.
  • Stratford will be able to take advantage of Docklands Light Railway developments.
  • Tottenham Hale station will have better interchange to the Victoria Line.

So why not move some services from the West Anglia Main Line to the High Meads Loop?

What Services Could Be Transferred From Liverpool Street To The High Meads Loop?

At present, all stopping trains between London and Bishop’s Stortford, start from Stratford and I can see this continuing after the third track opens.

I could also see extra services on this route to deliver the promised four tph to Meridian Water and Nothumberland Park.

Four tph can probably use Platform 11 st Stratford, but looking at the smooth unhurried operation of the Wirral Line Loop at Liverpool, I suspect that the High Meads Loop will be used.

Looking at all the other services between Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale, only the two tph between Liverpool Street and Hertford East, stop at another station, which is South of Tottenham Hale.

So it would probably not be sensible to transfer theseHertford East services to the High Meads Loop, but it might be a good idea to add two tph all day between Stratford and Hertford East, to create a four tph service to Hertford East with two tph from both Southern terminals.

Some services between Liverpool Street and Cambridge and between Liverpool Street and Stansted might be augmented with more services or moving the services to the High Meads Loop at Stratford.

I would suggest that about half the services went to Liverpool Street and terminated as they do now and the rest used the High Meads Loop.

This would mean that those, who’d caught the wrong train or changed their destination, could just change at Tottenham Hale by walking across the island platform.

I was on a train going South to Liverpool Street recently, when I changed my mind and transferred to a Stratford train. As I inew a Stratford train was close behind, I only had to wait a few minutes.

Note that, if there are six trains on both branches, then the maximum wait would be ten minutes.

Examining A Possible Timetable

This is definitely my speculation, but I am trying to show what is possible!

I also very much believe that Network Rail, Greater Anglia and London Overground will come up with something much better.

A Few Rules

I am using these rules to guide me in my thinking.

  1. All trains going to Stratford use the High Meads Loop and Platform 11 at Stratford.
  2. No station gets an inferior service to that it gets at the present time.
  3. All Southbound trains for Stratford use the new third track between Meridian Water and Lea Bridge Junction.

I think that this could be a good mix of services.

  • One tph Liverpool Street to Cambridge
  • One tph Liverpool Street to Cambridge North
  • Two tph Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • Four tph Liverpool Street to Stansted
  • Four tph Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford
  • Two tph Stratford to Hertford East
  • Two tph Stratford to Stansted

Note.

  1. Greater Anglia have said they will run a Stratford to Stansted service from 2019.
  2. The two extra Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford and Hertford East services will have similar calling patterns to the existing services.
  3. Eight tph goes to and from both Liverpool Street and Stratford.
  4. Currently, eight tph run between Tottenham Hale and Liverpool Street.
  5. Based on the my observations of the relaxed operation of the Wirral Line Loop under Liverpool, I feel the capacity of the High Meads Loop could be as high as sixteen tph.
  6. Calling patterns will be adjusted to improve frequencies at Ponders End and Brimsdown stations
  7. The only other passenger trains on the route are two tph between Stansted Airport and Cambridge.

The number of trains running on each section of track would be as follows.

  • Eight tph – Liverpool Street to Tottenham Hale
  • Eight tph – Stratford to Tottenham Hale – Southbound trains use the third track where is has been added.
  • Sixteen tph – Tottenham Hale to Broxbourne – Southbound trains use the third track where is has been added.
  • Twelve tph – Broxbourne to Bishop’s Stortford
  • Eight tph – Bishop’s Stortford to Stansted Airport
  • Six tph – Stansted Airport to Cambridge

I’m not sure if this would be achievable, but there are several double-track main lines in the country, that handle at least sixteen tph.

Extra Services On The Lea Valley Routes Of The London Overground

The London Overground services from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt and Enfield Town have the following characteristics.

  • A frequency of two tph.
  • Extra peak hour services.
  • Both services pass through Hackney Downs and Seven Sisters stations.

London Overgriound probably want to add two extra tph to both routes to increase the frequency to four tph. Unfortunately, the crowded lines South of Seven Sisters and a full Liverpool Street station, probably make this difficult.

Look at this map from carto.metro.free.fr, which shows the lines South of Tottenham Hale and Seven Sisters stations.

South Tottenham station is on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, with the following connections.

  • At the Western end of the station, the Seven Sisters Chord connects the station to the Lea Valley Line to Cheshunt and Enfield Town.
  • At the Eastern end of the Tottenham South Curve connects the station to the line to the High Meads Loop at Stratford.

Would it be possible to run the extra two tph from both Cheshunt and Enfield Town to the High Meads Loop?

If it is possible, then the following frequencies will be achieved.

  • Four tph between Cheshunt and Edmonton Green
  • Four tph between Enfield Town and Edmonton Green
  • Eight tph between Edmonton Green and Seven Sisters.
  • Four tph between Seven Sisters and Stratford.

But more importantly, it will create more routes for East London’s Duckers-and-Divers to challenge the clock.

  • Large parts of Enfield and Haringey now get a direct connection to Stratford.
  • The new White Hart Lane station will have a direct connection to Stratford.
  • Stratford to stations on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is now just a step-free change at South Tottenham station.

I also wonder how many new sites for housing will become viable because of all the new transport links.

Future Developments

There are several developments planned or proposed, that will affect traffic on the West Anglia Main Line.

Track Improvements

The mainly two-track West Anglia Main Line has a maximum operating speed of 100 mph, but travelling the line over the last few days, at times we were only travelling at about 50 mph for long periods.

So I suspect that the average operating speed could be increased.

There are also several level crossings, including those at Brimsdown, Enfield Lock and Cheshunt on the busiest Southern section of the route..

Digital Signalling

Modern digital signalling on the West Anglia Main Line must allow more trains to be squeezed into the timetable.

New Trains

The current trains that work the West Anglia Main Line are Class 379 and Class 317 trains.

Both trains are 100 mph trains although the Class 317 trains are now nearly forty years old.

They are being replaced with Class 720 and Class 745 trains, which although they are also 100 mph trains, may offer advantages, because they are newer designs.

  • Better acceleration and smoother regenerative braking.
  • Easier passenger entry and exit.
  • Shorter dwell times at stations.
  • Better passenger comfort and facilities.

But crucially, they will be able to take advantage of the modern digital signalling.

I think it is very likely that the new trains will speed up services on the West Anglia Main Line.

I also think that the combination of digital signalling and new trains, that are capable of using it, will allow higher frequencies of trains to be run on the West Anglia Main Line.

A Possible Pattern Of West Anglia Line Services

Could we see the following in the future?

  • London Overground services on the Lea Valley Lines use Liverpool Street, as they do now.
  • Greater Anglia services on the West Anglia Main Line to Bishop’s Stortford, Cambridge, Hertford East and Stansted Airport are split between Liverpool Street and Stratford.
  • Stratford services use the High Meads Loop and stop at either Platform 11 or 12 at Stratford.

It would certainly increase terminal capacity at the Southern end of the West Anglia Main Line and free up platform space in Liverpool Street.2 ru

.Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the following.

  • Twenty tph up and down the West Anglia Main Line.
  • Direct services up the West Anglia Main Line to Norwich via Cambridge using bi-mode Class 755 trains.
  • Extra services between Stratford and Cambridge, Hertford East and Stansted.
  • Services are adjusted so that each station South of Broxbourne gets four tph or more.

Note that I haven’t mentioned adding a fourth track.

I believe that my calculations show it might not be needed to achieve the required intensive service on the West Anglia Main Line.

 

August 20, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments