The Anonymous Widower

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are some of my observations.

Operating Speed

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

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

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

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

Acceleration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Passing Stations At 100 mph

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

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

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

The Current Norwich-in-Ninety Services

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

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

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

Serving The Intermediate Stations

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

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

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

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

How Many Trains Will Be Needed?

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

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

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

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

This leaves one train as a spare or in maintenance.

Cromer And Back In A Day

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

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

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

How Reliable Is The Norwich-in-Ninety Service?

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

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

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

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

Can The Timetable Be Changed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Improved Ipswich And Norwich Service

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

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

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

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

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

Would Faster Running Be Possible North Of Ipswich?

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

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

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

I also observed the following between Ipswich and Norwich.

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

 

 

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

The Norwich-In-Ninety Timetable

The Norwich-In-Ninety trains are now visible on the National Rail timetable.

London To Norwich

Norwich-In-Ninety trains leave London at 11:00 and 19:00!

The current times of the 11:00 train are as follows.

  • Liverpool Street – 11:00
  • Colchester – 11:46
  • Manningtree – 11:55
  • Ipswich – 12:07
  • Diss – 12:36
  • Norwich – 12:50

Those of the faster train are.

  • Liverpool Street – 11:00
  • Ipswich – 11:55
  • Norwich – 12:30

I can remember in the 1960s, the diesel service was advertised as two-hour two-stop between London amd Norwich.

Norwich To London

Norwich-In-Ninety trains leave Norwich at 09:00 and 17:00!

The current times of the 09:00 train are as follows.

  • Norwich – 09:00
  • Diss – 09:17
  • Stowmarket – 09:29
  • Ipswich – 09:41
  • Manningtree – 09:52
  • Colchester – 10:02
  • Chelmsford – 10:21
  • Stratford – 10:45
  • Liverpool Street – 10:55

Those of the faster train are.

  • Norwich – 09:00
  • Ipswich – 09:33
  • Liverpool Street- 10:30

Note that the current Southbound services are slower than those going North.

The Current Linespeed

For part of my trip back from Ipswich today, I was following the linespeed using the Speedview App on my phone.

  • Between Kelvedon and Hstfield Peverel the train averaged around 100 mph.
  • It then slowed to 60 mph through Chelmsford.
  • By Ingatestone, it was up to 90 mph, before slowing for 60 mph through Shenfield.
  • There seemed to be some checking from a slower train, but at places into Liverpool Street it was up to 80-90 mph.

The Norwich-In-Ninety improvements certainly seemed to have helped.

It certainly left me with the feeling that the elderly Class 90 locomotive and Mark 3 carriages could achieve Ipswich to Liverpool Street in around an hour.

The Future

These four services are probably just the start. These four services can probably be achieved with one train.

  • Leave Norwich at 09:00 and arrive in Liverpool Street at 10:30
  • Leave Liverpool Street at 11:00 and arrive in Norwich at 12:30
  • Leave Norwich at 17:00 and arrive in Liverpool Street at 18:30
  • Leave Liverpool Street at 19:00 and arrive in Norwich at 20:30

Although, Greater Anglia will be running the initial service with Class 755 trains, the company has ten Class 745 trains on order.

The only thing so far disclosed, is that the Liverpool Street and Norwich service will go to three trains per hour (tph).

It should also be said, that the design of the new trains and their power, should make station stops much faster.

But what pattern of stops will be performed by the three trains?

April 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Greater Anglia’s Flirts Faster Than 100 mph?

Over the last fifty years or so, a lot of fast trains have been introduced onto the UK’s railways.

It does seem that often the design speed and what is possible differ by up to twenty miles per hour.

It is probably in part good design, as it means that an accidental overspeed can be safely handled.

Greater Anglia has ordered two fleets of Stadler FLIRTs.

Note

  1. Both trains share a lot of features and are capable of 100 mph.
  2. Some Norwegian electric FlLIRTs have a top speed of 120 mph. They have an extra powered axle, but do they have ostensibly the same running gear and electrifical systems?

So would it be reasonable to assume that Stadler have designed FLIRTs, so that faster versions can be created?

If the answer is in the affirmative, there is two interesting possibilities.

London To Norwich Services

The section of line between Norwich and Haughley Junction has the following characteristics.

  • Double-track
  • 31 miles long.
  • 100 mph operating speed
  • Electrified
  • A few level-crossings
  • It is fairly straight
  • There is the Trowse swing bridge over the River Wensum
  • Passenger services on the route will be run only using Stadler FLIRTs.

Network Rail have been very successful in upgrading routes like this for faster running and as the Trowse swing bridge will be replaced, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this section of line upgraded to perhaps 110 mph. This would save a couple of minutes, if the trains could take advantage.

Other services in East Anglia would also benefit from works to improve line speed.

Midland Main Line Services

The Midland Main Line will receive brand-new 125 mph bi-mode trains in 2022.

If Class 755 bi-mode trains could be configured to run at 125 mph, like their electric cousins, they must be a possibility.

Conclusion

Only Stadler know if their Class 745 and 755 trains can be upgraded to higher speeds.

But if they can be upgraded, they could be a very useful train for UK railways.

April 22, 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

Is This Stadler’s Plan For A Multi-Mode Future?

We have not seen any of Stadler’s bi-mode Flirts in service yet although Greater Anglia’a Class 755 trains have been rumoured to be speeding between London and Norwich in ninety minutes from this May!

Today, I rode on one of Stadler’s diesel GTWs between Groningen and Eemshaven in the Netherlands, which I wrote about in The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands.

GTWs are a diesel electric train with a power-pack car in the middle of the three car train. The diesel electric Flirts are a later train with a similar layout to the GTW.

So are the diesel GTWs and Flirts just a bi-mode without a pantograph? Or more likely the bi-mode is a diesel electric train with the addition of a pantograph and extra electrical gubbins.

Looking at the visualisations on Wikipedia of the bi-mode Class 755 train and the all-electric Class 745 train, it appears that the next-to-end car has the pantograph.

Are these cars with the pantograph identical on both the bi-mode and the all-electric versions? It would certainly be sensible from a engine erring point of view.

 

So could it be that all that is needed to convert a diesel electric Flirt into a bi-mode Flirt is to add the pantograph car and swap the power pack car for a bi-mode one? The old power pack car could then be converted into another bi-mode power pack car to convert another train.

But the power pack cars are not as simple as they look. They have four slots for diesel engines. Three-car and four-car Class 755 trains have two and four engines respectively.

I believe that one or more of the slots can be filled with a battery to create Flirts like the tri-mode ones proposed for South Wales.

So could we see some of the Greater Anglia Flirts converted in this way? Surely, Colchester Town to Sudbury could be a service that could benefit from battery power West of Marks Tey?

Today, I had a chat with a GTW driver, who said that the train he’d been driving was diesel-electric and that he had heard that batteries or hydrogen power could be used on the eoute.

The lines around Groningen seem to employ quite a few GTWs and distances are not overly long. So could some be converted to 1500 VDC electric/diesel/battery tri-modes? There is electrification at Groningen station and some of the bay platforms used by GTWs already have wires.

If the conversion is successful, then Stadler could be on a Swiss roll, as there are a lot of GTWs and Flirts out there, many of which are diesel-electric, like the one I rode today.

Would a train operator prefer to upgrade a diesel electric train that works well or buy a new bi-mode from another train manufacturer?

Could also an electric Flirt be converted into a bi-mode, by splitting the train and sticking a power pack car in the middle. Engineering common sense says that the passenger cars must be very similar to those of diesel Flirts to simplify manufacture of the trains.

We already know, that four-car Flirts are only three-car trains with an extra passenger car. Stadler could mix-and-match passenger, pantograph and power pack cars to give operators what they need.

Intelligent computer software would choose which power option to be used and the driver would just monitor, that the train was behaving as needed.

Looking at my route yesterday between Groningen and Eemshaven, it is a route of just under forty kilometres or twenty-five miles. Adrian Shooter is talking of ranges of sixty miles with battery versions of Class 230 trains. So I don’t find it impossible to create a tri-mode GTW or Flirt for this lonely route at the very North of the Netherlands.

Conclusion

Stadler seem to have created a very imitative modular train concept.

As some Flirts can travel at 125 mph, could they be serious bidders to provide the new trains for the Midland Main Line?

March 27, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There has been steady and worthwhile progess since.

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

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

Use Of The Third Track

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

The Northern End

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

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

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

Meridian Water Station

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

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

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

The dotted line on the map is the third track.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Using The Third Platform At Tottenham Hale Station

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

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

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

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

The following journey times should be noted.

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

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

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

The Southern End

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

Is The Third Track Going To Be Bi-Directional?

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

What Will Be The Operating Speed Of The Third Track?

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

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

Everything certainly looks professional to my untrained eye.

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

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

Could The Third Track Be Extended Northwards?

The length of the third track is 5.5 km.

Could the third track be extended to the North?

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

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

These are my observations

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

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

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

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

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

Currently, How Many Calls Are There At Each Station?

These figures are calculated from the current timetable.

Lea Bridge

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

Two tph stop in both platforms.

Tottenham Hale

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

Ten tph stop in both platforms.

Northumberland Park

  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Two tph stop in both platforms.

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

Meridian Water

  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Two tph stop in both platforms.

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

Ponders End

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East

Two tph stop in both platforms.

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

Brimsdown

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East

Two tph stop in both platforms.

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

Enfield Lock

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

Three tph stop in both platforms.

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

Waltham Cross

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

Four tph stop in both platforms.

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

Cheshunt

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

Six tph stop in both platforms.

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

Broxbourne

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

Six tph stop in both platforms.

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

Harlow Town

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

Six tph stop in both platforms.

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

Bishop’s Stortford

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

Four tph stop in both platforms.

Two tph would terminate at the station.

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

A Summary Of Current Services

This is summary of stops at the selected stations.

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

Note.

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

The service definitely needs improvement.

STAR Services

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

Current Services

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

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

Possible Northern Terminals

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

I think there are these possibilities.

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

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

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

Two Extra Trains To Bishop’s Stortford

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

This is summary of stops at the selected stations.

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

Note.

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

But generally, it is a better distribution than now!

Two Extra Trains To Broxbourne Or Hertford East

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

Use Of The High Meads Loop At Stratford

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

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

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

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

In my view it is wasted fully-working infrastructure.

The Wirral Line Loop Under Liverpool

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time Saving At Stratford Using The High Meads Loop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stansted Airport To Stratford

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

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

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

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

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

What Length Of Trains Could Use The High Meads Loop?

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

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

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

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

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

Consider.

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

Consider.

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

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

Using The High Meads Loop To Take Pressure From Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street is crowded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examining A Possible Timetable

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

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

A Few Rules

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

Extra Services On The Lea Valley Routes Of The London Overground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Future Developments

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

Track Improvements

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

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

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

Digital Signalling

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

New Trains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Possible Pattern Of West Anglia Line Services

Could we see the following in the future?

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

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

.Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the following.

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

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

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

 

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

The Last Unmodified Rakes Of Mark 3 Coaches In Front Line Service

Greater Anglia runs the last rakes of the unrivalled Mark 3 coaches, with their original doors, on their services between London and Norwich.

This set was going North pushed by an immaculate Class 90 locomotive, which like the coaches is no spring chicken.

The Swiss-built Class 745 trains, will have to be very good, to gain the same hard-won reputation.

One of these rakes of coaches is going to be hauled by 60163 Tornado.

I suspect other rakes will find specialist uses. If not in the UK, then in other countries with standard gauge railways.

July 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

TiLo

Treni Regionali Ticino Lombardia or TiLo is a train company. which is described like this in Wikipedia.

TILO (Regional Trains Ticino Lombardia) is a limited company established in 2004 as a joint venture between Italian railway company Trenord and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS), both companies participate in the equity of TILO SA with participation of 50%.

The company’s goal is to develop the regional cross-border traffic between the Canton of Ticino and the Region of Lombardy.

I came across one of their thirty Stadler FLIRT trains at Milan Centrale station.

Note how Stadler have solved the step problem, as compared to the train I took to Navara.

Stadler are producing three fleets of trains for the UK.

The trains are reported to have gap fillers, like the FLIRT in the pictures.

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Intelligent Bi-Mode Train

In the June 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Stadler Bi-Modes Taking Shape.

It gives a deep insight into the philosophy of how the trains was designed and how they operates.

Abbreviations Used

Low-Floor Design

This is said.

Both the BMUs and EMUs will have a low-floor design enabling level boarding at every passenger door, with retractable steps bridging the gap between the train and the platform edge.

How simple is that?

This picture show’s a Flirt in Italy.

Surely, every train should have level boarding!

Passive Provision For Digital Signalling

The cabling is already installed and rack space has been left.

Sensible!

But I suspect there will be a new train fleet delivered, in the next couple of years, where the trains are not future-proofed.

Drivers Helped Design The Cabs

Consultation was about both hardware and software.

Lots Of Cameras

This is said.

Extensive video surveillance and bodyside cameras will allow drivers to control the opening and closing of doors.

Surely, more cameras means better safety and security, so why are the RMT against these new trains?

Perhaps, RMT members didn’t get free trips to Switzerland?

Twelve-Car Trains Are Possible

This is said.

Up to three BMU sets can operate in multiple, allowing a 12-car formation to run should this ever be required.

Why would Greater Anglia need a twelve-car BMU?

Problems do occur and suppose one of the London-Norwich EMUs had a serious problem, that meant it would be in the workshop for several weeks.

During this time, three four-car BMUs could be run as a twelve-car formation to cover for the missing EMU.

  • Performance would be the same.
  • Both trains carry around 700 passengers.
  • The BMUs would be on electric power all the way.

The only disadvantage would be that the BMUs have no buffet and First Class seats.

In my regular travelling on the Great Eastern Main Line in the last thirty years, I have been involved in two incidents where all trains stopped because of weather or a derailment. If the track, electrification and trains are the best, then there will still be the occasional closure.

But a twelve-car BMU would still be able to use the alternative route via Cambridge!

Do Greater Anglia see the BMUs as a means of getting passengers to their destimation, in circumstances, which interrupt normal service?

They’ve obviously done their sums and is it cheaper to have a couple of BMUs spare to cover for problems, than have passengers wait until everything is fixed?

I think, t is more likely that eight-car trains will be used.

Could for instance two four-car trains start from Lowestoft and Bury St. Edmunds in the morning and then join at Ipswich for a fast run to London for commuters?

Or would eight-car trains be used on Cambridge-Ipswich and Cambridge-Norwich, when there are important football matches?

The BMU train lengths of three and four cars, would also allow train capacity to be geared to the route.

Will we see other train companies buying this type of flexible capacity?

Flexible Power Source

This is said.

Stadler says the bi-mode Flirts are EMUs with a power pack in between just to generate power, adding that the power pack can be removed later to create an EMU or the equipment in the power module exchanged for batteries or other power sources.

Stadler says this flexibility will be important in the train’s lifespan of between 30 to 35 years.

All End Cars Are The Same

Both the BMUs and EMUs have the same end cars.

Except for a switch box to change power source in the BMU.

The four-car BMUs have two extra cars, both of which have a pantograph, whereas the three-car BMUs have just a single extra car.

It has been said, that three-car trains can be converted to four-cars, by just adding another car.

This picture, clipped from Wikipedia, shows the layouts of both trains.

What does a design like this save in manufacture, operation, driver training and maintenance?

Environmentally-Friendly

It goes without saying that the trains comply with the latest emission and noise regulations.

Changing Power Source

This is said.

Drivers of BMUs will be able to switch between electric and diesel modes whilst on the move if agreement is reached with Network Rail.

As a Control Engineer by training, I would feel that if a BMU can’t switch between modes on the move, then it is a very poor design of BMU.

Regenerative Braking

Regenerative braking is fitted and it works in diesel mode as well as electric, but it is not stored on the train in a battery and is just burned off in a brake-resistor, if it can’t be returned through the overhead line.

I would expect, that at some point in the future batteries will be added to the power module to capture and resuse this energy, which is now wasted.

Intelligent Engine Management

This is said.

When the output of all the engines is not required one or more can be shut down to save fuel, with the engine management system ensuring this is shared across all engines over a period of time to balance maintenance schedules.

Sensible.

But, I worked for ICI in the 1970s and some of the early computerised chemical plants used optimisations like this to improve efficiency!

Bicycle Spaces

East Anglian trains, especially those starting or finishing in Cambridge, carry a lot of bicycles.

All the BMUs have provision for six bicycles! Is that enough?

Conclusion

The Class 745 and Class 755 trains are an interesting dual-solution to the problem of East Anglia’s railways, which have a dual electric spine from London to Norwich and Cambridge and a plethora of connecting routes without wires.

Other franchises must be looking seriously at a similar solution.

It should also be noted that Stadler have delivered Flirt EMUs with a 125 mph operating speed to Norway and Sweden.

So could we see 125 mph BMUs operating on lines, like the Midland Main and West Coast Main Line?

It could be that the weight of the power module means that the 100 mph of Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains is the maximum possible speed on diesel.

In which case could we see a Flirt with 125 mph on electric power and 100 mph on diesel?

 

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