The Anonymous Widower

New Station Proposed For National Arboretum

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

It has been revealed that a new station is being proposed at Alrewas between Lichfield Trent Valley high level and Wichnor Junction, which is on the line linking Tamworth and Burton-on-Trent. The original station serving the village of Alrewas was closed in 1965, although the line remained open.

A new Alrewas station would serve the National Memorial Arboretum, which is visited by more than 300,000 people a year and stages 250 events, including services of remembrance. It includes a Railway Industry Memorial, which was unveiled in May 2012, and also a memorial commemorating the thousands of prisoners of war who were forced to work on the infamous Burma Railway in the Second World War.

I first wrote about this proposed station in Everybody Could Do Better For Rail In South Staffordshire.

Two totally unrelated events had happened.

  • I heard the exchange during Prime Minister’s Questions and Michael Fabricant was passionate about creating the rail service on the freight-only line to give passenger train access to the National Memorial Arboretum and Alrewas.
  • Burton were playing Manchester City in the League Cup, so the Police thought it would be a good idea to shut the M6. Nothing moved for hours and many Burton supporters missed the match.

Note.

  1. Quite frankly, it is a disgrace, that the National Memorial Arboretum, has been designed for most visitors to come by car.
  2. The M6 incident was caused by illegal immigrants stuffed into the back of a truck, but surely the Police reaction to shut the motorway for so long was over the top?
  3. I have been to Burton by train a couple of times and it is one of those places, you wouldn’t go to by train, unless it was absolutely essential.

It would appear that after a quick glance, Michael Fabricant’s proposal could be one of those ideas, that would benefit a lot of travellers.

These are a few thoughts on the new service.

Services To And From Burton-on-Trent Station

I said this about services to and from Burton-on-Trent in Everybody Could Do Better For Rail In South Staffordshire.

If you look at the train services from the town, you can go to faraway places like Glasgow and Plymouth, but services to practical local places like Lichfield, Stoke and Derby are rare. There used to be a service to London, but that was discontinued in 2008.

A regular service between Burton and Lichfield, running at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph) could connect at Lichfield to the following services.

  • Hourly services on the West Coast Main Line
  • Half-hourly services across Birmingham on the Cross-City Line.

If a decent service via Lichfield had existed, how many fans on that League Cup night, would have used the trains to get to Manchester?

Not many probably, as there would not have been a late train home, as is particularly common in The Midlands. Try getting back to London from Derby, Nottingham or Sheffield, after 21:30 for example!

I am certain, that with a station at Alrewas and a well-designed train service between Burton-on-Trent and Birmingham stations via Alrewas for the National Memorial Arboretum and Lichfield would be a positive addition to the transport system of the area.

Electrification Between Litchfield Tent Valley And Burton-on-Trent Stations

This map from Open Railway Map shows the track between Litchfield Tent Valley and Burton-on-Trent stations.

Note.

  1. Burton-on-Trent station is in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Lichfield Trent Valley station is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. Burton-on-Trent and Lichfield Trent Valley stations are probably less than fifteen miles apart.
  4. The orange line is the Burton-upon-Trent and Birmingham line via Tamworth.
  5. The yellow line is the Burton-upon-Trent and Birmingham line via Lichfield.

The National Memorial Arboretum is just South of the junction between the orange and yellow lines.

This second map from Open Railway Map shows this junction to a larger scale.

Note.

  1. The National Memorial Arboretum can be seen between the two tracks.
  2. The village of Alrewas and the site of the proposed Alrewas station are to the West of the arboretum.
  3. Central Rivers depot, where CrossCountry trains are serviced, is in the North-East corner of the map.
  4. I have found a twelve car formation of Class 220 trains running between Birmingham New Street station and Central Rivers depot.

There is electrification at Lichfield Trent Valley station as this picture shows.

This electrification could be extended as far as required.

I would extend the electrification all the way to Burton-on-Trent.

  • This would mean that the Class 730 trains used on the Cross-City Line could terminate at Burton-on-Trent station, rather than Lichfield Trent Valley station, after extra stops at Alrewas for the National Memorial Arboretum and possibly another new station at Barton-under-Needwood.
  • Excursion trains for the National Memorial Arboretum could be electric-hauled.
  • It would also mean that electric trains could reach Central Rivers depot under their own power.
  • It would probably require less than fifteen miles of double-track electrification.
  • I suspect that the West Coast Main Line electrification could provide enough power for the branch electrification to Burton-upon-Trent.

I doubt that this would be considered a major electrification scheme.

Electric Services Between Birmingham New Street And Leicester Stations Via Burton-on-Trent

Consider.

  • Leicester and Burton-on-Trent stations are under thirty miles apart on the Ivanhoe Line.
  • The Ivanhoe Line is an existing freight line, that could be opened to passenger trains.
  • Leicester is to be electrified in the Midland Main Line electrification.

A battery-electric service could be run between Birmingham New Street and Leicester stations via Burton-on-Trent, Alrewas and Lichfield Trent Valley stations.

It should also be noted that East Midlands Railway run a service between Lincoln and Leicester.

  • Nottingham and Leicester will probably electrified with the rest of the Midland Main Line.
  • Only thirty-four miles of the route between Leicester and Lincoln is not electrified.

If it were felt to be needed, a battery-electric service could be run between Birmingham New Street and Lincoln stations.

Heritage Rail Excursions To The National Memorial Arboretum

Type “Coach Trips To The National Memorial Arboretum” and you get a good selection of trips from all over the UK.

I believe that the National Memorial Arboretum, would make the ideal destination for steam- or diesel-hauled heritage rail excursions with all the trimmings.

  • They could even be hauled by a Class 90 electric locomotive, dating from the late 1980s, if the route between Alrewas and Lichfield were to be electrified.
  • Rakes of comfortable Mark III coaches could be used.
  • A long platform at Alrewas station would be needed, so that the maximum size of heritage train could be handled.
  • For steam locomotives, there may need to be a runround loop.

Track improvements at Lichfield Trent Valley station, may allow direct services from London.

This page on the West Midlands Rail Executive web site is entitled Steam Engine Rolls Into Moor Street Station To Launch New Vintage Trains Partnership.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Historic steam engines are set to play a greater role in the region’s rail network following the signing of a ground-breaking new partnership.

The West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) has teamed up with Tyseley-based Vintage Trains in a bid to establish the Shakespeare Line as Britain’s premier mainline heritage railway.

Perhaps, it would be possible to run a heritage train like a short-formation InterCity 125 between Stratford-om-Avon and the National Memorial Arboretum.

Conclusion

Opening up of the Lichfield Trent Valley and Burton route to passenger trains opens up a lot of possibilities.

 

 

 

January 21, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And Extension Of The Birmingham Cross-City Line

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I give my thoughts on Alstom’s new hydrogen train, which I have called the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

In that post, decide that the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventras are based on the three-car Class 730/0 trains that have been ordered by West Midlands Trains for Birmingham’s electrified Cross-City Line.

I then go on to say.

There are plans to expand the line in the future and I do wonder if the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could be the ideal trains for extending the network.

Expansion plans are detailed a section called Future, in the Wikipedia entry for the Cross-City Line, where these plans are indicated.

In addition, the Walsall and Wolverhampton Line is being reopened to passenger trains.

These new and possibly other services will need no new tracks, but more electrification and extra new trains.

In 2015, I wrote Electrification May Be In Trouble Elsewhere, But The Brummies Keep Marching On, which looked at electrification progress in the UK and the Birmingham in particular, where the electrification of the Chase Line seemed to be going well. So unlike in some places, where electrification seems to be accident-prone, Birmingham seems to avoid the sort of problems, that happened in the Preston and Blackpool and GOBlin electrifications.

But the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra gives Birmingham and the West Midlands a unique advantage compared to say Leeds or Manchester.

Birmingham can obtain a unified fleet, which to the passengers and the drivers looks the same, but in fact are two separate classes of three-car trains;  the Class 730/0 electric train and the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

  • Where electrification exists, the Class 730/0 trains will be used and where there is no electrification, the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra will work the route on hydrogen.
  • All that is needed is to provide good tracks and signalling and the Alstom Hydrogen Aventras will take you where you want to go.
  • Through the centre of Birmingham, these trains will use the existing electrification.
  • It would be a network, that would be simple to expand.

The only other English city to use a similar technique will be Liverpool, where Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains will use battery power outside of the electrified core.

Conclusion

If Birmingham uses their disused but still existing railway lines and adds new trains as required, they can create a world-class suburban network, with the Cross-City Line at its centre

 

November 13, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Alstom.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Alstom, Britain’s leading train manufacturer and maintenance provider, and Eversholt Rail, leading British train owner and financier, have today announced a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at delivering the UK’s first ever brand-new hydrogen train fleet.

The two companies have agreed to work together, sharing technical and commercial information necessary for Alstom to design, build, commission and support a fleet of ten three-car hydrogen multiple units (HMUs). These will be built by Alstom in Britain. The new HMU fleet will be based on the latest evolution of the Alstom Aventra platform and the intention is that final contracts for the fleet will be signed in early 2022.

This is an Alstom visualisation of the train.

The first thing I notice is that the train doesn’t have the same aerodynamic nose as this current Class 710 train, which is one of the London Overground’s Aventras.

 

Note how the lights, coupler position and the front-end structure are all different.

These are my further thoughts on the design.

The Aventra’s Traction System

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 ten years ago, so I suspect Bombardier (or now Alstom) have refined the concept.

Bombardier have not announced that any of their trains have energy storage, but I have my suspicions, that both the Class 345 and Class 710 Aventra trains use super-capacitors or lithium-ion batteries, as part of their traction system design.

  • I was told by a Bombardier driver-trainer that the Class 345 trains have an emergency power supply. When I said “Batteries?”, He gave a knowing smile.
  • From the feel of riding on Class 710 trains, as a Control Engineer, I suspect there is a battery or supercapacitor in the drive system to give a smoother ride.

I also feel that the Aventra has been designed, so that it can accept power from a large variety of sources, which charge the battery, that ultimately drives the train.

The Formation Of A Three-Car Aventra

The only three-car Aventra is the Class 730/0 train.

I have not seen one of one of these trains in the metal and the formation can’t be found on the Internet. But Wikipedia does show the pantograph on the middle car.

In The Formation Of A Class 710 Train, I said this.

Here is the formation of the train.

DMS+PMS(W)+MS1+DMS

The plates on the individual cars are as follows.

DMS – Driving Motored Standard

    • Weight – 43.5 tonnes
    • Length – 21.45 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 43

The two DMS cars would appear to be identical.

PMS (W) -Pantograph Motored Standard

    • Weight – 38.5 tonnes
    • Length – 19.99 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 51

The (W) signifies a wheelchair space.

MS1 – Motored Standard

    • Weight – 32.3 tonnes
    • Length – 19.99 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 52

It is similar in size to the PMS car, but has an extra seat.

So could the formation of a three-car Aventra be?

DMS+PMS(W)+DMS

I have just removed the MS1 car.

This would mean that a three-car Aventra has the following dimensions and capacity.

  • Weight – 125.5 tonnes
  • Length – 62.89 metres
  • Seats – 137

There will probably be a difference between these figures and those of a three-car Class 730 train, as those trains have end-gangways.

Could All The Hydrogen Gubbins Fit Underneath The Train?

These pictures show the space underneath a Class 710 train.

If you also look at Alstom’s visualisation of their Hydrogen Aventra on this post, there would appear to be lots of space under the train.

It should also be noted  that Birmingham University’s engineers have managed to put all of the hydrogen gubbins underneath the floor of Porterbrook’s Class 799 train.

Looking at my pictures, you can see the following.

  • The two DMS (Driving Motored Standard) cars have large boxes underneath
  • The MS1(Motored Standard) car is fairly clear underneath. But this will probably not be there in a three-car train.
  • The PMS (Pantograph Motored Standard) car has some space underneath.

If more space needs to be created, I suspect that the cars can be lengthened, between the bogies. The Class 710 trains have twenty metre intermediate cars, whereas some versions have twenty-four metre cars.

I believe that Aventras have been designed, so that various power sources could be installed under the floor.

When the Aventra was designed, over ten years ago, these could have included.

  • A diesel generator and all the fuel tanks and cooling systems.
  • A battery or other energy storage system.

Since then two other suitable power sources have been developed.

  • Rolls-Royce, Honeywell and others have developed small and powerful gas-turbine generators.
  • Ballard Power Systems and others have developed hydrogen fuel cell generators.

If you look at the proportions of the Alstom hydrogen train and the pictures of Class 710 trains, I feel that the Alstom train could have the longer twenty-four metre cars.

It may be a tight fit compared to creating the Alstom Coradia iLint hydrogen train, but I would feel it is possible to install a fuel cell or cells, the required cooling and the hydrogen tanks, having seen cutaway drawings of hydrogen-powered double-deck buses on the Wrightbus web site.

Interestingly, the Alstom press release doesn’t mention fuel cells, so could the train be powered by a small gas turbine?

I think it is unlikely, but it is technically feasible.

Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Have Longer Cars?

I have been looking at pictures of Aventras on Wikipedia and in my own archive.

It appears that only Aventras with twenty-four metre carriages have five windows between the pair of double-doors in the intermediate carriages.

This picture shows the PMS car from a Class 710 train.

The PMS car is to the right and has four windows between the doors.

This is the side view of one of Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains.

It has twenty-four metre intermediate cars and five windows.

It looks to me that the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra will have twenty-four metre cars.

This will give an extra four x 2.78 metres space under the train compared to a Class 710 train.

It would also appear that the Aventras with twenty-four metre cars also have an extra window in the driving cars, between the doors.

Does the four metre stretch make it possible to position tubular hydrogen tanks across the train to store a practical amount of hydrogen?

Is The Alstom Hydrogen Train Based On A Three-Car Class 730/0 Train?

I have just found this video of a three-car Class 730/0 under test.

And guess what! It has five windows between the doors.

But then it is a train with twenty-four metre cars.

It looks to me, that Alstom have looked at the current Aventra range and decided that the three-car Class 730/0 could be the one to convert into a useful train powered by hydrogen.

So if it is a Class 730/0 train with hydrogen gubbins under the floor, what other characteristics would carry over.

  • I suspect Aventras are agnostic about power and so long as they get the right quantity of volts, amps and watts, the train will roll along happily.
  • But it means that the train can probably use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, 750 VDC third-rail electrification, hydrogen or battery power.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if if could use 15 KVAC and 3KVDC overhead electrification for operation in other countries, with perhaps a change of power electronics or transformer.
  • The interior layout of the trains can probably be the same as that of the Class 730/0 trains.
  • The Class 730/0 trains have an operating speed of 90 mph and this could be good enough for hydrogen.

This could be a very capable train, that could find a lot of applications.

Could The Proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Be Considered To Be A Class 730/0 Train With A Hydrogen Extender?

It appears that the only difference between the two trains is that the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra has a hydrogen propulsion system, that can be used when the electrification runs out.

The hydrogen fuel cell will convert hydrogen into electricity, which will either be used immediately or stored in a battery on the train.

The Class 730/0 trains have already been ordered to run services on Birmingham’s electrified Cross-City Line.

There are plans to expand the line in the future and I do wonder if the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could be the ideal trains for extending the network.

How Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Compare With The Class 600 Breeze Train?

The Class 600 train, which is based on the British Rail-era Class 321 train seems to have gone cold.

If it was a boxing match, it would have been stopped after the fourth round, if not before.

This Alstom visualisation shows the Class 600 train, which is also known as the Breeze.

I have a feeling that Alstom have done their marketing and everybody has said that the Class 600 train wouldn’t stand up to a modern train.

  • When you consider that each end of the train is a hydrogen tank, I wonder if possible passenger and driver reaction has not been overwhelmingly positive.
  • The project was announced in January 2021 and in the intervening time, hydrogen technology has improved at a fast pace.
  • There could even be a battery-electric version of the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.
  • The modern train could possibly be lengthened to a four or five car train.

It does strike me, that if Alstom are going to succeed with hydrogen trains, that to carry on with the Class 600 train without an order into the future is not a good idea.

How Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Compare With The Alstom Coradia iLint?

The Alstom Coradia iLint is the world’s first hydrogen train.

It is successfully in service in Germany.

These are some characteristics of the Coradia iLint from the Internet.

  • Seats – 180
  • Length – 54.27 metres
  • Width – 2.75 metres
  • Height – 4.31 metres
  • Operating Speed – 87 mph
  • Range – 370-500 miles
  • Electrification Use – No

The same figures for the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra are as follows.

  • Seats – 164
  • Length – 72 metres
  • Width – 2.78 metres
  • Height – 3.76 metres
  • Operating Speed – 90 mph
  • Range – Unknown
  • Electrification Use – Unknown, but I would expect it is possible.

Note.

  1. I have taken figures for the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra from the Class 730/0 train and other Aventras.
  2. The number of seats is my best estimate from using the seat density of a Class 710 train in a 24 metre long car.
  3. The width and height seem to be standard for most Aventras.
  4. Alstom have said nothing about the range on hydrogen.
  5. I am surprised that the Aventra is the wider train.

But what surprises me most, is how similar the two specifications are. Had the designer of the original Lint hoped to sell some in the UK?

What Is The Range Of The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra?

When they launched the Breeze, Alstom were talking about a range of a thousand kilometres or just over 620 miles.

I have talked to someone, who manages a large bus fleet and they feel with a hydrogen bus, you need a long range, as you might have to position the bus before it does a full day’s work.

Would similar positioning mean a hydrogen train needs a long range?

I suspect it would in some applications, but if the train could use electrification, as I suspect the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra can, this must help with positioning and reduce the range needed and the amount of hydrogen used.

Would Alstom aim to make the range similar to the Coradia iLint? It’s probably a fair assumption.

Could the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Be Extended To Four Or Five Cars?

I don’t see why not, as Aventras are designed to be lengthened or shortened, by just adding or removing cars, just like their predecessors the Electrostars were.

I can certainly see routes, where a longer Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could be needed and if Alstom have also decided that such a train could be needed, they will surely have investigated how to lengthen the train.

Applications In The UK

These are links to a few thoughts on applications of the trains in the UK.

There are probably a lot more and I will add to this list.

Applications Elsewhere

If the Coradia iLint has problems, they are these.

  • It can’t use overhead electrification, where it exists
  • It has a noisy mechanical transmission, as it is a converted diesel multiple unit design.

The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra can probably be modified to use electrification of any flavour and I can’t see why the train would be more noisy that say a Class 710 train.

I suspect Alstom will be putting the train forward for partially-electrified networks in countries other than the UK.

Conclusion

This modern hydrogen train from Alstom is what is needed.

It might also gain an initial order for Birmingham’s Cross-City Line, as it is a hydrogen version of the line’s Class 730/0 trains.

But having a hydrogen and an electric version, that are identical except for the hydrogen extender, could mean that the trains would be ideal for a partially-electrified network.

There could even be a compatible battery-electric version.

All trains would be identical to the passenger and probably the driver too. This would mean that mixed fleets could be run by an operator, with hydrogen or battery versions used on lines without electrification as appropriate.

 

 

 

 

November 11, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Talks Take Place Over Plans To Reopen Railway Line Between Lichfield And The National Memorial Arboretum

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Lichfield Live.

The title is a good summary of what happened between the local MP, the Chief Executive of the West Midlands Rail Executive and the Chief Executive of the National Memorial Arboretum.

This map shows the National Memorial Arboretum.

Note.

  1. The village of Alrewas is to the North West of the arboretum.
  2. The Burton and Lichfield line lies between the village and the arboretum.
  3. The station will go on this line.

The article also gives details of the station.

  • It would initially be a simple single-platform station.
  • Trains would not be electric.
  • if successful, a two-platform station would be built.
  • This station would be connected to the village by a footbridge over the A38.
  • Many visitors would be able to walk to the arboretum, but an environmentally-friendly shuttle would be provided.

One of those at the talks is quoted as calling the station; National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas.

A Train Service To National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas

Currently, there is an electric train service to the high-level platform at Lichfield Trent Valley station, which is shown in this picture.

Note.

  1. The service runs with a frequency of two trains per hour (tph) across the City of Birmingham to either Redditch or Bromsgrove.
  2. The trains are being replaced with new Class 730 trains.
  3. Lichfield Trent Valley and Alrewas are about six miles apart.
  4. Lichfield Trent Valley and Burton-on-Trent are less than fifteen miles apart.

As the new Class 730 trains are Aventras, there is the possibility, that battery electric versions could be created.

Because of the distances involved, extending this route to the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas or even Burton-on-Trent, using battery electric trains is a very feasible proposition.

No new infrastructure, except for the new station at National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas would be needed.

Conclusion

This is a very sensible proposal and I can’t understand, why when the National Memorial Arboretum was first proposed, that this rail service wasn’t built at the same time.

November 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Automated Shuttle Trains With A Train Captain

There are various short routes on the UK rail network, where shuttle trains work a frequency of perhaps two or three trains per hour (tph), that is generally felt by passengers and train operators to be inadequate.

Examples include the following.

Could the frequency on these lines be increased using automation?

The Automated Docklands Light Railway

The Docklands Light Railway is not a simple railway, but it is fully automated.

  • Trains are driverless
  • A Train Captain is responsible for patrolling the train, checking tickets, making announcements and controlling the doors.
  • The Train Captain can take control of the train if required.

It is a system that seems to have worked well for many years.

An Automated Shuttle With A Train Captain

Could a similar principle be applied to a shuttle train?

As an example, I’ll use the Bromley North Line.

Consider.

  • The line is two miles long and trains take five minutes each way.
  • The current frequency is three tph.
  • There are problems at Grove Park station with connections in the Peak.
  • The route is double-track.
  • The current service is operated by a single train, manned only by a driver.

It would appear if the Bromley North Line could be run at four tph, this would be a welcome improvement.

One of the problems of driver-operated shuttle services like this, is that at each end of the route, the driver must change ends, which takes a couple of valuable minutes.

To operate a frequency of four tph, the round-trip must be performed in fifteen minutes.

  • Each leg takes five minutes.
  • There are four stops in a round trip; one at Grove Park, one at Bromley North and two at Sundridge Park.

I believe that a single automated train, with a Train Captain on board to look after safety, open and close the doors and start the train after each stop, should be able to handle the much-needed four tph on the Bromley North Line.

How Would The Automation Work?

Many years ago, a Central Line driver explained to me how the original automation of the Victoria Line worked.

  • A train would arrive in the station and stop in the correct place automatically with high precision.
  • The doors would be opened.
  • After passengers had unloaded and loaded, the doors would be closed.

When the doors were closed and everything was safe, the driver would push a button to ask the automation to take the train to the next station.

Automation has moved on since the 1960s, and I believe that some form of on-train automation would be able to handle a simple shuttle.

  • Only one track would probably be need to used to remove the complication of points.
  • Only one train would be used for the shuttle, as this increases safety.
  • Sensors would determine the exact position of the train.
  • CCTV cameras, including ones looking forwards and backwards,  would be relayed to the Train Captain and their Control Station in the middle of the train.
  • The Train Captain would have an Emergency Stop Button.

If something goes wrong or the train is  being taken to and from the depot, the Train Captain would go to the forward cab, switch off the automation and drive the train in the normal manner.

I am sure, that it would not only be a very safe system, but if it made full use of the capabilities of modern trains, it would speed up services sufficiently, so that frequencies could be increased.

What Trains Would Be Suitable?

I think that the choice of trains would be wide, but I think they must have the following characteristics.

  • An ability to perform a station stop and restart quickly.
  • Fast acceleration and deceleration.
  • Level access between platform and train.
  • Walk-through interior, to help the Train Captain perform their duties.
  • Lots of wide double doors and large lobbies.

All these characteristics would enable the train to save time on the route.

Power would be anything that could be used on the route. For the Bromley North Line, that would be either third-rail electrification or battery power.

Battery power, though on this route, would have a problem.

If the train is running an intense shuttle service, with stops taking a minute or even less, the train never stops long enough to charge the batteries. As the route is electrified with 750 VDC using third-rail, this would need to be used on the Bromley North Line.

Although, I have used the word train in this section, I suspect trams, tram-trains or light rail vehicles could be used.

All vehicles would retain their driving cabs for the following reasons.

  • If there is a problem, the Train Captain can drive the train, as happens on the Docklands Light Railway.
  • If the train needs to be positioned to and from a depot, the train could be driven manually.

I also feel that for these reasons, the Train Captain would be a fully qualified driver.

Examples of vehicles that could be used, if appropriate automation were to be fitted include.

Class 399 Tram-Train

Class399 tram-trains are working successfully in Sheffield and they have been ordered for the South Wales Metro, where they will run under both overhead and battery power.

As an Electrical Engineer, I believe that it would not be the most difficult piece of engineering to fit these tram-trains with the ability to run under third-rail power.

The tram-trains would have similar capacities, cross-section and performance to the current Class 466 trains.

The only modifications that would be needed to the route, would be to adjust the platforms used by the tram-train to give level access between tram-train and platform.

A Three-Car Aventra Or Similar

Three-car Class 730 Aventra trains,  have been ordered by West Midlands Railway and Aventras have also been ordered to run using third-rail power.

As with the Class 399 tram-train, these trains could probably work the route successfully, subject to suitable platform modification.

How Fast Could Stops Be Performed?

I have timed stops on the London Overground and the London Tramlink rarely do you find a time from brakes on to brakes off in excess of a minute, without a red signal being involved.

I have measured some London Overground stops are at  thirty seconds some  London Tramlink stops at twenty seconds.

If a shuttle had the track to itself and the train was a modern design, I could see maximum timings on the Bromley North Line as follows.

  • Bromley North – One minute
  • Sundridge Park – Thirty seconds
  • Grove Park – One minute

Surely, with station stop times like these and perhaps faster running than the current 30 mph, the goal of four tph could be comfortably achieved.

What Happens With Delays?

Suppose, an incident occurs, and the train is delayed.

After the incident is successfully sorted, the train could just carry on or wait until it was on schedule for the next train.

Within a few minutes, the train would be running to time.

Some Other Selected Routes

Over the next few days, I will be adding calculations for other routes.

Brentford Branch Line

Greenford Branch Line

Marlow Branch Line

Romford And Upminster

Slough And Windsor & Eton Central

Extra routes will be added here.

Conclusion

On the Bromley North Line, selective automation should be able to enable a four tph service using one train or tramtrain.

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

A Very Smart Class 319 Train

On my trip to Bricket Wood station yesterday, I travelled from Watford Junction station in a very smart Class 319 train.

These pictures show the train.

It certainly shows how Mark 3-based stock has the ability to scrub up well!

West Midlands Trains have nine of these Class 319 trains, which are mainly used for peak hour services on the West Coast Main Line.

One gets used on the Abbey Line.

The current arrangement probably works reasonably well from the train operators point of view.

However, passengers probably need a regular half-hourly service, which would need two trains and a passing loop at Bricket Wood station.

These trains are going to be replaced with new five-car Class 730 trains in 2020-21.

Will these new trains be used on the Abbey Line?

If the passing loop is installed at Bricket Wood, then two trains might be able to provide a half-hourly service. Although, having seen Bricket Wood station yesterday, a passing loop with electrification and a second platform would be a more expensive .option.

I discuss the various options in Could Modern Technology And Developments Improve the Abbey Line?.

June 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 3 Comments