The Anonymous Widower

Bombardier And Hitachi Come Up With Similar Car Lengths

In an article in the October 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled EMR Kicks Off New Era, more details of the new Hitachi bi-mode trains for East Midlands Railway are given.

This is said.

The first train is required to be available for testing in December 2021 with service entry between April and December 2022.

The EMR bi-modes will be able to run at 125 mph in diesel mode, matching Meridian performance in a step-up from the capabilities of the existing Class 80x units in service with other franchises. They will have 24 metre vehicles (rather than 26 metres), a slightly different nose to the ‘800s’ and ‘802s’, and will have four diesel engines rather than three.

I will examine this extract further.

Car Length

If you look at Bombardier’s Class 720 train, the five-car trains are 122 metres long, giving a 24 metre car length.

The ten car Class 720 train is 243 metres long, which is a similar length to three Class 360 trains running as a twelve-car train and only a few metres longer than three Class 321 trains running together.

This must be good for Greater Anglia’s train renewal, as it will minimise expensive platform lengthening.

It looks to me, that two of the new EMR InterCity trains running as a pair will be of a similar length to a twelve-car formation of Class 360 trains.

Consider.

  • As trains for EMR InterCity and EMR Electrics will share platforms at some stations, platform lengthening will again be minimised.
  • If you divide 240 by 10, you usually get the same answer of 24.
  • But if 26 metre cars were to be used, a nine-car EMR bi-mode would be 234 meres long. and two five-car trains working together would be 260 metres long.
  • Twelve-car Class 700 trains are 242.6 metres long.

These points lead me to believe that 24 metre cars are a better length for the Hitachi trains as ten-car formations are the same length as twelve-car formations of many of the UK’s older multiple units.

Maximum Speed On Diesel

Consider.

  • Various places on the Internet say that the maximum speed on diesel of a Class 800 train is 118 mph.
  • Maximum speed of a train is probably more determined by the aerodynamic drag of the train, which is proportional to the square of the speed.
  • So if a Class 800 train needs 3 * 560 kW to maintain 118 mph, it will need 1885 kW or 12.2 percent more power to maintain 125 mph
  • A fourth 560 kW diesel engine will add 33.3 percent more power.

This rough calculation shows that a fourth engine will allow the train to more than  attain and hold 125 mph on the same track where a Class 800 train can hold 118 mph.

But adding a fourth engine is a bit of a crude solution.

  • It will add more dead weight to the train.
  • It will be useful when accelerating the train, but probably not necessary.
  • It will add more noise under the train. Especially, if four cars had engines underneath.
  • It could cause overheating problems, which have been reported on the current trains.

I’ll return to this later.

Aerodynamics

Power required to maintain 125 mph can be reduced in another much more subtle way; by improving the aerodynamics.

  • I have stood on a platform, as an Aventra has silently passed at speed. It is very quiet, indicating that the aerodynamics are good.
  • But then Bombardier are an aerospace company as well as a train builder.

I’ve no idea if a Bombardier Class 720 train has less aerodynamic drag, than a Hitachi Class 800 train, but I’m sure that aerodynamic wizards from Formula One could improve the aerodynamics of the average modern train.

Could better aerodynamics explain why the EMR InterCity bi-modes are stated to have a different nose?

Look at the noses on these Spanish High Speed trains, which were built by Talgo!

Are they more aerodynamic? Do they exert a higher down-force making the train more stable?

They certainly are different and they obviously work., as these are very fast trains.

Incidentally, these trains, are nicknamed pato in Spanish, which means duck in English.

Aerodynamic drag is proportional to a drag coefficient for the object and the square of the speed.

Let’s assume the following.

  • The drag coefficient for the current train is d.
  • The drag coefficient for the train with the aerodynamic nose is a.
  • The terminal velocity of the train with the aerodynamic nose is v.

If the current Class 800 train travels at 118 mph on full power of 1680 kW, what speed would the train with an improved aerodynamic nose do on the same power, for various values of a?

If the new nose gives a five percent reduction in aerodynamic drag, then a = 0.95 * d, then the maximum speed of the train will be given by this formula

d * 118 * 118 = .0.95 * d * v* v

Solving this gives a speed of 121 mph.

Completing the table, I get the following.

  • A one percent reduction in drag gives 119 mph
  • A two percent reduction in drag gives 119 mph
  • A three percent reduction in drag gives 120 mph
  • A four percent reduction in drag gives 120 mph
  • A five percent reduction in drag gives 121 mph
  • A six percent reduction in drag gives 122 mph
  • A seven percent reduction in drag gives 122 mph
  • An eight percent reduction in drag gives 123 mph
  • A nine percent reduction in drag gives 124 mph
  • A ten percent reduction in drag gives 124 mph
  • An eleven percent reduction in drag gives 125 mph

I can certainly understand why Talgo have developed the duck-like nose.

The conclusion is that if you can achieve an eleven percent reduction in drag over the current train, then with the same installed power can raise the speed from 118 mph to 125 mph.

Why Have A Fourth Engine?

If aerodynamics can make a major contribution to the increase in speed under diesel, why add a fourth engine?

  • It might be better to fit four slightly smaller engines to obtain the same power.
  • It might be better to put a pair of engines under two cars, rather than a single engine under four cars, as pairs of engines might share ancillaries like cooling systems.
  • Extra power might be needed for acceleration.
  • Four engines gives a level of redundancy, if only three are needed to power the train.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out, that Hitachi are having a major rethink in the traction department.

Will The Trains Have Regenerative Braking To Batteries?

I would be very surprised if they don’t, as it’s the only sensible way to do regenerative braking on diesel power.

Will The Trains Be Built Around An MTU Hybrid PowerPack?

This or something like it from Hitachi’s diesel engine supplier; MTU, is certainly a possibility and it would surely mean someone else is responsible for all the tricky software development.

It would give the following.

  • Regenersative braking to batteries.
  • Appropriate power.
  • Easier design and manufacture.
  • MTU would probably produce the sophisticated power control system for the train.
  • MTU could probably produce a twin-engined PowerPack

Rolls Royce MTU and Hitachi would all add to the perception of the train.

I would rate Hitachi using MTU Hybrid PowerPacks quite likely!

Would Two Pairs Of Engines Be Better?

The current formation of a five-car Class 800 train is as follows.

DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF

Note.

  1. Both driver cars are trailers.
  2. The middle three cars all have generators, that are rated at 560 kW for a Class 800 train and 700 kW for a Class 802 train.
  3. Take a trip between Paddington and Oxford and you can feel the engines underneath the floor.
  4. The engines seem to be reasonably well insulated from the passenger cabin.

The system works, but could it be improved.

If I’m right about the aerodynamic gains that could be possible, then it may be possible to cruise at 125 mph using a power of somewhere around 1,800 kW or four diesel generators of 450 kW each.

Putting a diesel generator in four cars, would mean one of the driver cars would receive an engine, which might upset the balance of the train.

But putting say two diesel generators in car 2 and car 4 could have advantages.

  • A Class 800 train has a fuel capacity of 1,300 litres, which weighs 11.06 tonnes. and is held in three tanks. Would train dynamics be better with two larger tanks in car 2 and 4?
  • Could other ancillaries like cooling systems be shared between the two engines?
  • Could a substantial battery pack be placed underneath car 3, which now has no engine and no fuel tank?
  • As the engines are smaller will they be easier to isolate from the cabin?

The only problem would be fitting two generators underneath the shorter 24 metre car.

What size of battery could be fitted in car 3?

  • According to this datasheet on the MTU web site, the engine weighs between five and six tonnes.
  • I think this weight doesn’t  include the generator and the cooling systems.
  • Removing the fuel tank would save 3.7 tonnes

I suspect that a ten tonne battery could replace the diesel engine and its support systems in car 3..

On current battery energy densities that would be a battery of around 1000 kWh.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I estimates that an electric  Class 801 train needs 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph.

This would give a range of almost sixty miles on battery power.

The battery would also enable.

  • Regenerative braking to batteries, which saves energy at station stops.
  • Diesel engines would not need to be run in stations or sensitive areas.
  • Battery power could be used to boost acceleration and save diesel fuel.

You can almost think of the battery as an auxiliary engine powered by electrification and regenerative braking, that can also be topped up from the diesel generators.

It should also be noted, that by the time these trains enter service, the Midland Main Line will be electrified as far as Kettering and possibly Market Harborough.

This will enable the following.

  • Trains will leave the electrification going North with a full battery.
  • As Nottingham is less than sixty miles from Kettering and the trains will certainly have regeneratinve braking, I would not be surprised to see Northbound services to Nottingham being almost zero-carbon.
  • A charging station at Nottingham would enable Southbound services to reach the electrification, thus making these services almost zero-carbon.
  • Trains would be able to travel between Derby and Chesterfield, which is only 23 miles, through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills, on battery power.
  • Corby and Melton Mowbray are just 26 miles apart, so the bi-mode trains could run a zero-carbon service to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.
  • Trains could also run between Corby and Leicester on battery power.
  • If and when the Northern end of the route is electrified between Sheffield and Clay Cross Junction ion conjunction with High Speed Two, the electrification gap between Clay Cross Junction and Market Harborough will be under seventy miles, so the trains should be able to be almost zero carbon between London and Sheffield.

It does appear that if a battery the same weight as a diesel generator, fuel tank and ancillaries is placed in the middle car, the services on the Midland Main Line will be substantially zero-carbon.

What Would Be The Size Of |The Diesel Engines?

If the battery can be considered like a fifth auxiliary engine, I would suspect that the engines could be much smaller than the 560 kWh units in a Class 800 train.

Improved aerodynamics would also reduce the power needed to maintain 125 mph.

There would also be other advantages to having smaller engines.

  • There would be less weight to accelerate and lug around.
  • The noise from smaller engines would be easier to insulate from passengers.
  • Engines could be used selectively according to the train load.
  • Engines might be less prone to overheating.

The mathematics and economics will decide the actual size of the four engines.

Earlier, I estimated that a 10-11 % decrease in the trains aerodynamic drag could enable 124-5 mph with 1680 kW.

So if this power was provided by four engines instead of three, they would be 420 kW engines.

Conclusion

The Hitachi bi-modes for East Midlands Railway will be very different trains, to their current Class 80x trains.

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

Tottenham Hale Station Is Beginning To Make Sense

These are pictures, I took of Tottenham Hale station, this morning.

A few of my observations.

The Cladding Is Going On

The cladding is going on the building above the Victoria Line ticket hall.

It appears to be fireproof glass on a concrete and steel frame.

A Wide Island Platform

Platforms 2 and 3 form a wide island platform.

  • Only Platform 3 appears to be in use for London-bound services to both Liverpool Street and Stratford.
  • Both faces appear long enough for a 240 metre long Stansted Express train.
  • There is a step-free bridge at the half-way point of the platform.
  • The original bridge with its escalator is still in place.

It is a design with good potential for handling more services.

  • Platform 3 could handle all services to Liverpool Street station.
  • Platform 2 could handle all services to Stratford station.

Travellers would just walk across the island platform.

The Step-Free Bridge Appears Almost Complete

The bridge appears to be almost complete.

  • The bridge has lifts and stairs with double handrails on both sides.
  • The lift and stairs on the London-bound side are in the middle of the island platform 2 & 3.
  • There is an escalator for London-bound travellers to access the bridge, to give an easy route to the Victoria Line.

There appears to be just a bit of testing before full commissioning.

The Old Bridge Is Still In Place

It still has its up escalator from Platform 2 & 3 and there have been statements that this bridge will be modified to create a link between the Underground station and the developments on the other side of the tracks.

Most Of The Bus And Taxi Interchange Is Complete

With buses and black taxis, the interchange seems finished.

  • Much of North and East London can get a bus to and from the station.
  • Today, I got a 76 bus to Dalston for a two hundred metre walk.
  • But with a heavy case, I’d get a black cab,

Transport planners usual only plan for travellers to and from the City centre.

The Future

The Stratford And Meridian Water Shuttle

This is rumoured to start in September and will probably be the following.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) between Stratford and Meridian Water stations.
  • Stops will be at Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale and Northumberland Park stations.
  • Trains could be any length up to probably 240 metres, as all platforms are long.
  • Current trains take sixteen minutes between Stratford and Meridian Water stations.

In addition services between Stratford and Hertford East and Bishops Stortford stations would stop at Meridian Water, to give the station a four tph service to and from Stratford.

The new Meridian Water station has been built with a dedicated bay platform for the shuttle service.

The bay Platform 2 is on the right and the through Platform 3 is on the left in this picture taken looking North at Meridian Water station.

Two tph to Stratford would leave from each side of this platform.

The new track between Meridian Water and Lea Bridge stations has been built without a passing loop, so the two tph shuttle must probably be run by a single train.

The shuttle would.

  • Have exclusive use of the new track between Lea Bridge and Meridian Water stations.
  • Have shared use of the existing track between Lea  Bridge and Stratford stations.
  • Call at Platform 2 at Tottenhale and Northumberlan Park station in both directions.

A two tph shuttle would consist of the following.

  • Four journeys between Stratford and Meridian Water stations.
  • Twenty-four intermediate station stops.
  • Two turnrounds each at Meridian Water and Stratford stations.
  • Current turnrounds at Stratford have in excess of twenty minutes to unload and load passengers and for the driver to change ends.
  • Greater Anglia will be running the shuttle in September with nearly nearly forty-year-old British Rail-built Class 317 trains.

As there is not enough time to fit the trains with wings and jet engines, what the hell will be happening?

Go to Stratford station and there is an out-of-date sign at the end of Platform 1 and 2, where the Overground trains terminate.

It directs passengers to Platform 12 for Stansted Airport.

It dates from the time, when Stansted Express trains used to go to Stratford station.

They didn’t turnround in Platform 12, but used the High Meads Loop underneath the Eastfield Shopping Centre to reverse direction.

  • The train stopped in Platform 12 long enough for passenger to leave and join the train.
  • The driver stayed in the same cab and carried on driving.

I suspect that a Class 317 train could go from Platform 1 at Lea Bridge station, round the High Meads Loop and back to Platform 2 at Lea Bridge station, in these split times.

  • Lea Bridge to Stratford – 6 minutes.
  • Stop in Platform 12 at Stratford – 1 minute
  • Straford to Lea Bridge – 6 minutes.

I believe all these times can be achieved by well-driven Class 317 trains, which gives a timing of thirteen minutes.

Currently, Lea Bridge to Meridian Water takes nine minutes in the elderly Class 317 trains, sharing the track with other trains.

But the shuttle trains will have a clear track, once they are on the new track North of Lea Bridge station.

I believe they could do this in perhaps seven minutes.

Applying, the sort of maths a bright nine-year-old should be able to master.

60 – 2*13 – 4*7 = 6

So could you turn a train round at Meridian Water station in three minutes?

  • London Overground regularly do this at Dalston Junction station.
  • Stepping-up might be needed, where a second driver immediately gets into the rear cab and takes over the train.

But it all leads me to the conclusion, that a single Class 317 train can run a two tph shuttle between Meridian Water and Stratford stations.

The following conditions would apply.

  • The trains must use the High Meads Loop.
  • There would be a fast stop in Stratford, taking less than a minute.
  • Stratford to Lea Bridge times should be six minutes or less.
  • Meridian Water to Lea Bridge times should be seven minutes or less.
  • Stepping-up might need to be employed at Meridian Water.
  • Trains could be up to 240 metres long.
  • The trains would have to be well-driven.

There is also the fall-back position, that the new Class 720 trains to be delivered later in the year will have increased performance.

Development Of The High Meads Loop

The High Meads Loop is an almost unique piece of railway infrastructure on the UK rail network.

  • The simpler Wirral Line Loop under Liverpool turns upwards of twelve tph back for the Wirral Line.
  • The Wirral Line also has four stations on the loop.
  • I believe the High Meads Loop could easily handle a similar frequency to the Wirral Line Loop.
  • The High Meads Loop is also double-track.

I believe, that currently, the High Meads Loop is only planned to only handle the following services.

  • Two tph – Meridian Water Shuttle
  • Two tph – West Anglia Main Line services.

There is a lot more capacity to handle services from the West Anglia Main Line or its branches.

Liverpool Street And Meridian Water Services

When the Field Day Festival took place a couple of weeks ago, Greater Anglia stopped several services, including some Stansted Express services at Meridian Water station to bring festival-goers back to Central London.

Currently, the following Liverpool Street services pass through Meridian Water station.

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street and Hertford East
  • Two tph – Liverpool Street and Cambridge
  • Four tph – Stansted Express

As Greater Anglia’s new fleet of trains, will all be optimised for fast stops, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Greater Anglia services to and from Liverpool Street station doing the following.

  • Northbound services would stop in Platform 4 at Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park and Meridian Water stations.
  • Southbound services would stop in Platform 3 at Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park and Meridian Water stations.

If Northumberland Park and Median Water stations deserve four tph to and from Stratford, surely they deserve the same frequency to and from Liverpool Street. Could both Cambridge and Hertford East services stop at Northumberland Park and Meridian Water station?

  • Both Northumberland Park and Meridian Water stations could get direct services to and from Liverpool Street station.
  • The island platforms at all three stations  could give some useful cross-platform interchanges.

Stations North of Tottenham Hale would get these frequencies to and from the station and the Victoria Line.

  • Eight tph – Northumberland Park
  • Eight tph – Meridian Water
  • Two tph – Ponders End
  • Two tph – Brimsdown
  • Four tph – Enfield Lock
  • Three tph – Waltham Cross
  • Six tph – Cheshunt
  • Six tph – Broxbourne

Note.

  1. With a few extra stops by Stratford services, all stations between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne could get at least a very customer-friendly four tph.
  2. If your station didn’t have a Stratford service, there would be a cross- or same-platform interchange going at Tottenham Hale station.
  3. Using Stratford and Crossrail may be preferable on some journeys than Tottenham Hale sand the Victoria Line.
  4. In this hot weather give me an air-conditioned Aventra over a furnace on the Victoria Line any time.

A Lea Valley Metro could be emerging.

Stansted Express And Meridian Water

Consider.

  • Various arguments and statistics could be used to decide whether Stansted Express trains stopped at Meridian Water station.
  • I suspect too, that if Spurs continue to play in Europe, that a strong case can be made for stopping Stansted Expresses at Northumberland Park station.
  • But the performance of the trains on the West Anglia Main Line will enable Greater Anglia to do what’s best for passengers and profits.

As Greater Anglia did a couple of weeks ago with the Field Day Festival, they can even be selective.

Stansted Express And Stratford

The Stansted Express is currently a four tph service between Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport.

Consider.

  • In the past, Stansted Expresses ran to and from Stratford.
  • As they did in the past, they could terminate in the High Meads Loop at Stratford.
  • Big International events are held at Stratford.
  • The Central Line links Stratford and Liverpool Street.
  • Crossrail will link Stratford and Liverpool Street at a frequency of twelve tph.
  • Stratford and Tottenham Hale will soon be linked at a frequency of four tph.
  • Extra trains could be needed to run Stansted Expresses to and from Stratford.

I think that running a Stansted |Express to and from Stratford that will remain under review and could be implemented at some date in the future.

In Future Stansted Airport Train Services, I outline how trains might serve Stansted Airport from Norwich and Stratford stations.

Any trains between Stratford and Stanstead Airport, would probably terminate in the High Meads Loop, as they did in the past.

Should High Meads Loop Services Use Platform 11 Or Platform 12?

When Stansted Express services used the High Meads Loop a few years ago, they used to use Platform 12, as the sign still shows.

It could obviously handle the planned four tph, but suppose the High Meads Loop was handling twelve or sixteen tph, as a high-frequency route to Crossrail would Platform 11 be a better option?

Certainly, if the High Meads Loop was handling a lot of services including Stansted Express, Cambridge and local services, there would need to be a lot of thought about how to organise passengers.

There would need to be a fast pedestrian route between Platform 11 or 12 and the two Crossrail/Central Line platforms.

Extra Services That Could Use The High Meads Loop

As I said earlier, I think that if a Stratford and Stansted Airport service is revived, it will use the High Meads Loop.

My preference would be to run a Stratford and Norwich service, that would call at Stansted Airport.

  • It would serve greatly increase capacity all along the West Anglia Main Line, through Cambridge.
  • It could give intermediate stations a direct service to Stansted Airport.
  • Two tph would be a sensible frequency.
  • Calls could include Tottenham Hale, Broxbourne, Harlow, Bishops Stortford, Whittlesford Parkway, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and all stations to Norwich.

A two tph service would need twelve Class 755 trains.

The High Meads Loop would also be available to turn extra local services.

One possibility is to reinstate the Hall Farm Curve and run services between Chingford and Stratford.

The level crossing at Highams Park station is a problem, but in Improving The Chingford Branch Line, I outlined how it could be possible to run four tph between Chingford and Stratford stations, using clever timetabling, digital signalling and good driver aids.

Another possibility is to terminate some London Overground services from Cheshunt and Enfield Town at Stratford, instead of Liverpool Street.

Services could be .

  • Two tph between Enfield Town and Liverpool Street
  • Two tph between Cheshunt and Liverpool Street
  • Two tph between Enfield Town and Stratford.
  • Two tph between Cheshunt and Stratford.

This would mean.

  • London Overground’s preferred frequency of four tph to Enfield Town and Cheshunt.
  • All stations between Edmonton Green and Seven Sisters, including White Hart Lane, would get an eight tph service to London and Crossrail.
  • Four tph in both directions would call at South Tottenham station to give a same platform interchange with the Gospel Oak to Barking Line..

Most of the infrastructure is already in place, although improvements might be needed to the Seven Sisters Chord, that links Seven Sisters station to the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Summing up, I believe we could see the following services using the High Meads Loop.

  • Two tph to and from Meridian Water
  • Two tph to and from Bishops Stortford via Meridian Water
  • Two tph to and from Norwich via Stansted
  • Four tph to and from Chingford via the Hall Farm Curve.
  • Two tph to and from Enfield Town via South Tottenham and Seven Sisters
  • Two tph to and from Cheshunt via South Tottenham and Seven Sisters

That is an easy-to-handle fourteen tph.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the lines connecting the North London Line and the High Meads Loop to platforms 1m 2, 11 and 12 at Stratford station.

Given that freight trains pass through the area to get between the North London Line and the Great Eastern Main Line, there may need to be some track reorganisation to make full use of the High Meads Loop.

Digital signalling would also help, as it would all over the London Overground network.

I think it would not be unreasonable to expect that in some point in the future twenty tph could be running around the High Meads Loop.

A new rail terminus for London would have been created with the ability to handle more trains than either Cannon Street, Fenchurch Street or Marylebone. stations.

Could we see all West Anglia Main Line services terminate in the High Meads Loop?

Probably not, as the platform wouldn’t be able to cope with all the passengers.

Crossrail 2

If Crossrail 2 is ever built, it will terminate at Broxbourne on the West Anglia Main Line.

It will need four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line between  Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne stations, which will create massive disruption for passengers and residents.

Conclusion

There is a lot of development, that is possible on the West Anglia Main Line to make it into a world-class commuter route and a main line route with good services to Stansted Airport, Cambridge and Norwich.

Cambridge is a big growth point in the UK economy and dveloping the West Anglia Main Line will only improve the economy of the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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 | , , , , , , , , , , | 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 | , , , , , , , | 1 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