The Anonymous Widower

Aerial Pictures Show New Trains Housed In Mid-Norfolk

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Eastern Daily Press.

Greater Anglia has a storage problem for all the new trains being delivered from Stadler in Switzerland.

So the train operating company has done a deal with the Mid Norfolk Railway to store the trains in the depths of deepest Norfolk.

Wikipedia gives more details in a section, entitled Storage Of Main Line Stock.

Working with Abellio Greater Anglia, the Mid-Norfolk Railway have developed a rolling stock storage facility close to their Kimberley Park station. The £3 million sidings have been funded by Abellio Greater Anglia to allow them to store their Class 745 and 755 fleets until they are ready to be in service.

It has also been reported that the site, will be used to store the replaced trains, whilst they await new operators or the scrapyard.

This picture clipped from the Eastern Daily Press article, shows the trains.

Reading the Wikipedia entry for the Mid Norfolk Railway, which is obviously a well-maintained standard gauge heritage railway, it gets used for various rail-related training and other purposes, so as the multi-million pound deal shows, I’m pretty certain there is a lot of co-operation between all parties in Norfolk, including Greater Anglia, Network Rail, Balfour Beatty and the Emergency Services.

Will The Class 755 Trains Return With Passengers?

The following should be noted.

  • Rail tours and charters use the branch and visit Dereham, several times a year.
  • An InterCity 125 has even used the line.
  • Dereham is a town of 19,000 people.
  • Norfolk is a county, that welcomes lots of tourists.
  • Wymondham station will soon have a direct hourly service to and from Stansted Airport.

Given the co-operation between Greater Anglia and the Mid-Norfolk Railway over the train storage, where a long term conveniently-located facility is of benefit to both parties, will we see occasional visits of Class 755 trains to Dereham?

There must be long-term possibilities.

  • Weekend steam trains between Dereham and Norwich, similar to the Shakespeare Express, that runs between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stratford stations.
  • A limited commuter service between Dereham and Norwich.

The Mid-Norfolk Railway’s long term ambition to extend their route past Dereham to reopened stations at County School and Fakenham, would surely increase the viability of these services.

 

July 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tender Set To Be Issued For East West Rail Rolling Stock

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

Brief details of the fleet include.

  • Eleven trains.
  • Self-propelled.
  • Three cars.

Services are due to commence in 2024, serving Oxford, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Here are a few of my thoughts.

Are Three Car Trains Long Enough?

New train services in the UK, especially those on new or reopened routes, seem to suffer from London Overground Syndrome.

I define it as follows.

This benign disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital, despite various eradication programs.

The Borders Railway certainly suffered and the London Overground is still adding extra services on the original routes.

Three-car trains may be enough for the initial service, but provision must be made  for running longer trains.

  • The trains that are purchased must be capable of lengthening.
  • Platforms must be built for longer trains.

So often we don’t future-proof new rail routes.

What Performance Is Needed?

I’ll ask this question first, as it may affect the choice of train.

The trains will certainly be at least capable of 100 mph operation.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if they were capable of 110 mph or even 125 mph, as this would surely make it easier for trains to go walkabout on the Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines.

Faster East West trains might also get more services out of the fleet.

Appropriate acceleration and braking would be needed.

Conservative Or Innovative?

Will we get more of the same or will some of the responders to the tender offer trains based on innovative designs?

I would hope that as the line will eventually connect Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes, the trains will take over the flavour of the route and be more innovative.

The Route

The eventual full route of the East West Rail Link will serve these sections.

  • Reading and Ocford – 25 miles – Partially-electrified
  • Oxford and Milton Keynes – 43 miles – Not electrified
  • Milton Keynes and Bedford – 20 miles – Partially-electrified
  • Bedford and Sandy – 10 miles – Not electrified
  • Sandy and Cambridge – 25 miles – Partially-electrified.

Note.

  1. The distances are approximate.
  2. With the exception of Oxford, all the major stations will be served by electric trains on other routes.

It is rather a mixture created out of existing and abandoned routes.

Could Battery Trains Run On The East West Rail Link?

Consider.

  • All the major stations except Oxford have electrification.
  • Sections of the route are electrified.
  • The route is not very challenging.
  • The longest section without electrification is around forty miles.

All this leads me to believe that a battery-electric train with a range of forty miles could handle the route, if there was the means to charge the train at Oxford.

Possibly the easiest way to achieve the charging station at Oxford station, would be to electrify between Didcot Junction and Oxford stations.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I showed that to run at 125 mph, a train needs around three kWh per vehicle mile.

This would mean that to run between Oxford and Milron Keynes stations, would need a maximum power of around 40*3*3 kWh or 360 kWh.

This is only a 120 kWh battery in each car.

I am fairly certain, that a well-designed battery train could run on the East West Rail Link.

The Usual Suspects

There are several train companies, who could be offering existing trains or their developments.

Alstom

Alstom don’t have a current design of train for the UK, but they are heavily into the development of trains powered by hydrogen.

By 2024, I suspect they will be offering a purpose-built hydrogen-powered train for the UK.

Also, by that time, I think it will be likely, that many buses in cities will be powered by zero-carbon hydrogen and the availability of this fuel would be much better than it is today.

An East West Rail Link running hydrogen-powered trains would go a long way to answer the electrification lobby.

Bombardier

Bombardier are developing a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries, that they are proposing for various franchises in the UK, including the Midland Main Line.

I believe that by rearranging the components of this train, they could develop a train that would be very suitable for the East West Rail Link.

  • Three cars
  • At least 100 mph operating speed
  • In service by 2024 or earlier.

It could be a bi-mode train with batteries, or if battery and the associated charging technology has improved, it could be a battery-electric train.

The latter would certainly fulfil the flavour of the route.

Bombardier’s Aventra would also have the advantages of an electrical version and the ability to add more cars.

CAF

CAF have recently introduced the Class 195 traincaf in the UK.

But would a diesel train be acceptable on a flagship route?

On the other hand CAF have been delivering battery-powered trams for several years and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the company, offer an innovative battery-electric train for the East West Rail Link.

Hitachi

Hitachi don’t make self-powered trains in the UK.

But in Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I wrote about the company’s plans to use batteries as range extenders on their Class 385 trains.

I suspect that by 2024, these trains will be running in Scotland and they will probably be high-quality reliable trains.

So could these trains be able to run between Reading and Cambridge using battery power, topped up at the various sections of electrification along the route.

Hitachi’s development regime is cautious, professional and well-funded, so I suspect they could offer a version of the Class 385 train, for delivery in 2024.

Hitachi would also have the advantages of an electrical version and the ability to add more cars.

Siemens

Siemens have a large number of modern electrical multiple units in the UK, but none are self-powered, except the diesel Class 185 train.

Siemens will have a factory in the UK to built London Underground trains by 2024.

But eleven trains could be an expensive order to fulfil, if it required a new self-powered train design.

Stadler

Stadler are an innovative company and their Class 755 train will shortly be starting passenger service in East Anglia.

  • It is three-cars, which is extendable if required.
  • It has a 100 mph operating speed.
  • It is a bi-mode; diesel and electric train.
  • Trains for Wales have ordered a diesel/electric/battery version.
  • There are rumours of hydrogen-powered versions.

Stadler could certainly deliver some of these trains by 2024.

Summing Up

I would suspect that the front runners are Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler, with CAF in fourth place.

  • All could probably develop a zero-emission train for the route using battery technology.
  • Stadler will have trains in service this year, and I suspect Bombardier and Hitachi will be running trains by 2022.

I think we could be seeing some very good trains on the route.

 

 

 

 

July 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Leicester Station – 11th July 2019

I took these pictures at Leicester station today.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Long Straight Platforms

The two main platforms for trains to and from London are long and straight and can easily accommodate the longest trains that do or will use the station.

Wide Spacious Platforms

The two island platforms are wide and spacious.

In my time at the station, I didn’t see any trains use the outer platforms and I do wonder if the station is used to the maximum capacity allowed by the layout.

The Station Could Have More Trains And Be A Better Interchange

When you arrive at Ipswich station on a fast train from London, one of the half-hourly services has an easy connection to either Bury St. Edmunds and Cambridge, Felixstowe, Lowestoft and/or Peterborough. and staff and information screens are there to speed you on your way.

Leicester station doesn’t seem to welcome you to continue your journey elsewhere

Abellio And Ipswich Station

Abellio with their new trains and timetable, will be increasing frequencies, so that Suffolk’s County Town with a population of 133,000, will have the following services.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) to Bury St. Edmunds. – Doubled from current.
  • One tph to Cambridge – A second hourly service will be available with a change at Ely.
  • One tph to Felixstowe – Might be doubled, now thst the Felixstowe branch has more capacity.
  • Three-four tph to London – Faster and up from two expresses and a stopping train per hour.
  • One tph to Lowestoft – Better timetable and faster.
  • Three tph to Norwich – Up from two tph
  • One tph to Peterborough – Doubled from current one train per two hours.

The creation of the East-West Rail Link will see a doubling of the service to Cambridge and one train per two hours to Oxford.

Applying Abellio’s East Anglian Rules To Leicester

Leicester is a city and County Town, with a population of 330,000.

These appear to be the current services.

  • Two tph to Birmingham
  • One tph to Cambridge, Peterborough and Stansted Airport
  • Two tph to Derby
  • One tph to Lincoln – Stopping train via Loughborough and East Midlands Parkway.
  • Four tph to London
  • Two tph to Nottingham
  • Two tph to Sheffield

Leicester doesn’t seem to have the sort of train service the City deserves.

This is the London, Ipswich and Norwich philosophy as proposed by Abellio and in the process of being delivered.

  • New maximum-length and maximum-speed high-capacity Class 745 trains will provide more seats on the route.
  • A fifty per-cent increase in train frequency from two tph to three tph.
  • Four express services per day, only stopping at Ipswich, have been introduced, giving a ninety minute service between London and Norwich.
  • Four trains per day between Lowestoft and London.

What would a similar philosophy for London Midland Main Line, look like at Leicester?

  • Three tph to Derby, Chesterfield and Sheffield.
  • Six tph to London
  • Three tph to Nottingham
  • All trains would be maximum-length with a capacity at least similar to a 2+8 HST.
  • Greater Anglia’s Class 745 trains will have 757 seats in two classes and a buffet. Expect a similar specification on the Midland Main Line.
  • Services will be faster, with I suspect no trains taking longer than an hour from Leicester to London or Sheffield.
  • Could there be a couple of non-stop trains every hour between London and Leicester?

This service would be a lot better and it only needs.

  • An extra tph between London and Sheffield via Derby and Chesterfield
  • An extra tph between London and Nottingham.
  • Enough new maximum-length trains, which will probably be bi-mode trains, that are scheduled to arrive in 2022.

Four tph between London and Sheffield and London and Nottingham would surely be the ideal, but there just isn’t the capacity to the South of Kettering and in St. Pancras station.

So will we see extra services on the Midland Main Line to boost services North of Leicester?

  • One tph between Leicester and Sheffield via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby and Chesterfield.
  • One tph between Leicester and Sheffield via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway, Ilkeston, Langley Mill, Alfreton and Chesterfield.
  • One tph between Leicester and Nottingham via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway and Beeston.
  • The one tph Leicester to Lincoln service could also be included.

The services would be as follows.

  • Trains would probably be shorter versions of the maximum-length bi-mode Midland Main Line trains.
  • They would use the outer platforms at Leicester station to give cross-platform interchange with the frequent London trains.
  • Services could possibly be extended past Sheffield to Leeds and past Nottinghm to Newark or Lincoln.

Leicester’s excellent platform design would see an increase in the number of trains and hopefully passengers.

Leicester And East-West Services

I also think, that there is sufficient capacity in Leicester station to add the following East-West services.

  • Four tph to Birmingham
  • Four tph to Cambridge
  • Four tph to Peterborough

The following should be noted.

  • Abellio has a substantial interest in all three stations and Leicester.
  • The routes are often run by two-car Class 170 trains.
  • The trains are often full.
  • There is only short sections of lines that are electrified.

I believe that there should be the  following service between Birmingham and Cambridge.

  • Four tph
  • At least four-car bi-mode trains.
  • At least a 100 mph capability.
  • Stops would include Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March and Ely.
  • At the Birmingham end, services could go via Birmingham International and Coventry.
  • At the Cambridge end. perhaps two tph could be extended to Audley End and Stansted Airport.
  • At Leicester there would be an easy interchange to London, the East Midlands and Sheffield.
  • At Peterborough, there would be an easy interchange to London, Leeds, Newcastle and Scotland

It could be argued that if there is a need for a Cambridge and Oxford rail link, then Britain’s fastest growing high-technology hub, needs to have a high quality rail link to Birmingham via Leicester, Coventry and Birmingham International.

One overcrowded hourly two-car diesel train is not suitable for this important rail route.

Currently, trains take two hours forty-five minutes between Birmingham and Cambridge, which means with a fifteen minute turnround at either end, twenty-four trains would be needed for the service.

So it is probably not feasible, but I suspect it could be an aspiration for Abellio.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abellio try to take over the Birmingham and Stansted Airport service from CrossCountry.
  • Greater Anglia’s four-car Class 755 trains would double the capacity and be able to use electrification at both ends of the route.
  • Greater Anglia have a few spare Class 755 trains, so is this takeover in their ambitions.
  • Would the service be easier for Abellio to run, than CrossCountry?

This is a service to watch over the next couple of years.

Class 755 Trains In The East Midlands

I also suspect that Class 755 trains could be in Abellio’s plans for the East Midlands. Lincolnshire’s railways are little different to those of East Anglia.

The Bridges At The Southern End Of The Station

An East Midlands Trains driver told me, that one of the problems of electrifying through Leicester station with 25 KVAC overhead wires, is that the bridges at the Southern end of the station are a problem.

The general impression, I got was that the structure under the bridges is so complicated, that there would need to be a massive reconstruction of the railway.

So if this meant that the railway had to be closed for a number of months, is this the reason for only electrifying as far as Market Harborough?

Surely, if the Midland Main Line is only to be partly-electrified, then Leicester would surely be a better changeover point.

Charging Battery Electric Trains

In The Mathematics Of Fast-Charging Battery Trains Using Third-Rail Electrification, I showed how a third-rail-based fast charging sstem, like that proposed by Vivarail could transfer several hundred kWh to the batteries of a train stopped in the station, for a few minutes.

Leicester station with the two tracks between widely-spaced platforms with a gap between the tracks, would be an ideal location for such a charging system.

  • The two third-rail would be laid together between the two tracks.
  • The third-rails could be shielded, but as they would only be live with a train on the top, would it be necessary?
  • The driver would only need to stop the train in the correct position, but they do that anyway.

In a three minute contact between the train and the third-rail, I believe it would be possible to transfer up to 200 kWh to the batteries of the train.

Conclusion

Leicester station is a station, that suits the ambitions of the City.

But the unimaginative train service as provided by Stagecoach, is very fourth-rate and has left Abellio with a lot of scope to improve the train service throughout the East Midlands.

Stagecoach have only themselves to blame for losing the franchise.

 

 

 

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Irlam Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Irlam station is on the list.

These pictures show the station and the current subway.

The station was a total surprise, with a large pub-cafe and a lot of visitors and/or travellers sitting in the sun.

I had an excellent coffee and a very welcoming gluten-free blueberry muffin!

This Google Map shows the station.

It is one of those stations where commuters have to cross the railway either on the way to work or coming home.

So a step-free method of crossing the railway is absolutely necessary.

The Current And Future Rail Service

As the station lies conveniently between Liverpool and Warrington to the West and Manchester and Manchester Airport to the East, it must be a station with tremendous potential for increasing the number of passengers.

At the moment the service is two trains per hour (tph) between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road stations.

  • Oxford Road is probably not the best terminus, as it is not on the Metrolink network.
  • When I returned to Manchester, many passengers alighted at Deansgate for the Metrolink.
  • On the other hand, Liverpool Lime Street is a much better-connected station and it is backed up by Liverpool South Parkway station, which has a connection to Merseyrail’s Northern Line.
  • The current service doesn’t serve Manchester Piccadilly or Airport stations.

A guy in the cafe also told me that two tph are not enough and the trains are oqften too short.

Merseyrail work to the same principle as the London Overground and other cities of four tph at all times and the frequency certainly draws in passengers.

Whilst I was drinking my coffee, other trains past the station.

  • One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport
  • One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Norwich

Modern trains like Northern’s new Class 195 trains, should be able to execute stops at stations faster than the elderly diesel trains currently working the route.

So perhaps, after Irlam station becomes step-free, the Manchester Airport service should call as well.

As Liverpool Lime Street station has been remodelled, I can see a time in the not too distant future, when that station can support four tph, that all stop at Irlam station.

The Manchester end of the route could be a problem, as services terminating at Oxford Road have to cross the busy lines of the Castlefield Corridor.

So perhaps all services through Irlam, should go through Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly stations to terminate either at the Airport or perhaps Stockport or Hazel Grove stations.

But would this overload the Castlefield Corridor?

Battery/Electric Trains

If you look at the route between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road stations, the following can be seen.

  • Only about thirty miles between Deansgate and Liverpool South Parkway stations is not electrified.
  • The section without electrification doesn’t appear to be particularly challenging, as it is along the River Mersey.

It is my view, that the route between Liverpool and Manchester via Irlam, would be an ideal route for a battery/electric train.

A train between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport stations would do the following.

  • Run from Liverpool Lime Street station to Liverpool South Parkway station using the installed 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Drop the pantograph during the stop at Liverpool South Parkway station.
  • Run from Liverpool South Parkway station to Deansgate station using battery power.
  • Raise the pantograph during the stop at Deansgate station.
  • Run from Deansgate station to Manchester Airport station, using the installed 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

The exact distance between Deansgate and Liverpool South Parkway stations is 28.2 miles or 45.3 kilometres.

In 2015, I was told by the engineer riding shotgun on the battery/electric Class 379 train, that that experimental train was capable of doing fifty kilometres on battery power.

There are at least four possible trains, that could handle this route efficiently.

  • Porterbrook’s proposed batteryFLEX train based on a Class 350 train.
  • A battery/electric train based on the seemingly unwanted Class 379 train.
  • A battery/electric version of Stadler’s Class 755 train.
  • I believe that Bombardier’s Aventra has been designed so that a battery/electric version can be created.

There are probably others and I haven’t talked about hydrogen-powered trains.

Battery power between Liverpool and Manchester via Irlam, appears to be very feasible.

Tram-Trains

As my train ran between Manchster and Irlam it ran alongside the Metrolink between Cornbrook and Pomona tram stops.

Manchester is very serious about tram-trains, which I wrote about in Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?.

Tram-trains are often best employed to go right across a city, so could the Bury tram-trains go to Irlam after joining the route in the Cornbrook area?

  • Only about thirty miles between Deansgate and Liverpool South Parkway stations is not electrified.
  • The route between Liverpool and Manchester via Irlam doesn’t look to be a very challenging line to electrify.
  • The total distance bettween Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria station is only about forty miles, which is a short distance for a tram-train compared to some in Karlsruhe.
  • Merseyrail’s Northern Line terminates at Hunts Cross station, which is going to be made step-free.
  • There is an existing step-free interchange between the Liverpool and Manchester route via Irlam and Merseyrail’s Northern Line at Liverpool South Parkway station.
  • Class 399 tram-trains will have a battery capability in South Wales.
  • Class 399 tram-trains have an operating speed of 62 mph, which might be possible to increase.
  • Stadler make Class 399 tram-trains and are building the new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail.

I think that Stadler’s engineers will find a totally feasible and affordable way to link Manchester’s Metrolink with Liverpool Lime Street station and Merseyrail’s Northern and Wirral Lines.

I can envisage the following train service running between Liverpool and Manchester via Irlam.

  • An hourly service between Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham, as has been proposed for the new East Midlands Franchise.
  • A four tph service between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport via Manchester Piccadilly.
  • A tram-train every ten minutes, linking Liverpool Central and Manchester’s St Peter’s Square.
  • Tram-trains would extend to the North and East of Manchester as required.
  • All services would stop much more comprehensively, than the current services.
  • Several new stations would be built.
  • In the future, the tram-trains could have an interchange with High Speed Two at Warrington.

Obviously, this is just my speculation, based on what I’ve seen of tram-train networks in Germany.

The possibilities for the use of tram trains are wide-ranging.

Installing Step-Free Access At Irlam Station

There would appear to be two ways of installing step-free access at Irlam station.

  • Add lifts to the existing subway.
  • Add a separate bridge with lifts.

These are my thoughts on each method.

Adding Lifts To The Existing Subway

Consider.

  • The engineering would not be difficult.
  • Installaton would probably take a number of weeks.
  • There is good contractor access on both sides of the railway.

There are similar successful step-free installations around the UK

The problem is all about, how you deal with passengers, whilst the subway is closed for the installation of the lifts.

Adding A Separate Bridge With Lifts

Consider.

  • There is a lot of space at both the Eastern and Western ends of the platform to install a new bridge.
  • Adding a separate bridge has the big advantage, that during the installation of the bridge, passengers can use the existing subway.
  • Once the bridge is installed, the subway can be refurbished to an appropriate standard.

Passengers will probably prefer the construction of a new bridge.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Irlam station?

There is certainly space at both ends of the platform to install such a bridge and the daily business of the station and its passengers would be able to continue unhindered, during the installation.

I’m also sure, that the cafe would be happy to provide the daily needs of the workforce.

Conclusion

From a station and project management point-of-view, adding a new factory-built bridge to Irlam station is the easiest and quickest way to make the station step-free.

It also appears, that Network Rail have made a wise choice in deciding to put Irlam station on their list of stations to be made step-free, as the station could be a major part in creating a new high-capacity route between Liverpool and Manchester.

This could also be one of the first stations to use an example of the new bridge.

  • Installation would be quick and easy.
  • There is no site access problems.
  • There station can remain fully open during the installation.
  • All stakeholders would probably be in favour.

But above all, it would be a superb demonstration site to bring those from stations, where Network Rail are proposing to erect similar bridges.

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

Battery Answer To Schleswig-Holstein’s Diesel Replacement Question

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette International.

It is a good explanation of why there is so much interest in battery-powered trains.

This paragraph from the article, describes how the trains will operate in Schleswig-Holstein.

They will have range of 150 km under optimal conditions, although the longest non-electrified route they will operate on is around 80 km. The batteries will be recharged from the existing 15 kV 16·7 Hz overhead electrification at Kiel, Neumünster, Flensburg, Lübeck and Lüneburg stations and on the Osterrönfeld – Jübek line. Charging facilities will also be provided in other locations, and there will be some extensions to the existing overhead power supply.

Consider.

  • These trains can run on routes of up to eighty kilometres or around fifty miles.
  • Greater Anglia and Transport for Wales will be running the UK versions of the Stadler Flirts, that will be used in Schleswig-Holstein.
  • Transport for Wales will also be running a tri-mode Flirt with electric, diesel and battery power.
  • The Continental loading gauge, probably allows more batteries than the smaller UK loading gauge.

I think it could be reasonable to assume, that a UK-sized  battery-electric Stadler Flirt could have a range of forty miles on batteries.

These could be possible routes for Greater Anglia.

  • Norwich and Sheringham – 30 miles
  • Norwich and Lowestoft – 23.5 miles
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth – 18 miles
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe – 16 miles
  • Colchester Town and Sudbury – 20 miles

In addition some partially-electrified routes have gaps less than forty miles. Think Cambridge and Ipswich!

I would not be surprised to see battery trains, quietly gliding around East Anglia.

Would they attract passengers and tourists?

Perhaps Germany and Stadler will give us the Schleswig-Holstein Answer, which will be much more interesting than the Schleswig-Holstein Question.

Economics Of Battery Trains

The article also has this quote from the CEO of Stadler Germany about the economics of battery trains.

It makes us very proud that with the battery-powered Flirt we have not only managed to find an ecological and innovative solution, but have also enabled a clear economic improvement. If we consider the average life of a rail vehicle of around 30 years, battery-operated vehicles are more cost-effective than diesel’.

I think it can also be said, that battery technology will improve continuously in the next thirty years and we should see a corresponding improvement in range and performance.

You don’t get that with diesel.

Hydrogen Or Battery Power?

I would think that Alstom are not happy about this order for battery-powered trains.

  • Only a hundred kilometres or so to the West, they are supplying Alstom Coradia iLint trains for a similar network.
  • These trains are working well.
  • They have teamed up with Linde to supply the hydrogen.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if Schleswig-Holstein had chosen hydrogen trains.

So why did Schleswig-Holstein, choose battery rather than hydrogen trains?

  • Provided, the driver or a computer, raises and lowers the pantograph appropriately, there is no difference between an electric train and its battery-electric sibling.
  • Systems to charge battery trains can be installed anywhere, there is an electricity supply.
  • The electricity supply could be local wind or solar.
  • Charging battery trains could be automatic and require no more action from the driver, than checking everything is as it should be and perhaps pushing a button or two. On a bleak miserable day, the driver would remain in the warm and comfortable cab.
  • Hydrogen would need to be loaded on the train at a depot or another place with the necessary safety clearance.
  • The iLint seats 160 and the Flirt Akku seats 124, so I suspect capacity isn’t much of a problem.
  • The Flirt Akku is a train designed for battery-electric operation, whereas the iLint is a modified diesel train, with a noisy and harsh mechanical transmission. It’s like comparing Class 710 trains, with their predecessors on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line; the Class 172 trains.
  • I suspect most Germans have talked to a relative or older person, who remembers the Hindenburg.

There is probably little to choose between the two trains, but I believe that the operation of the hydrogen-powered train will be more complicated.

I also don’t know the cost of each train.

As I said earlier, Stadler claim long-term ownership of battery-powered trains is more economic than diesel. Does the same apply to battery against hydrogen power.

Conclusion

I believe we’ll see lots more battery trains.

 

 

 

 

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

What More Could Passengers Want?

The latest Press Release on the Stadler web site about the new trains for Greater Anglia is entitled Milestone For The UK: First Stadler FLIRT train Receives Approval.

These are the last two paragraphs.

With 20 per cent more seats, which have been designed to be as comfortable as possible, trains will feature
low flooring to make them accessible for people in wheelchairs and with pushchairs. Windows will be bigger
and ‘picture style’ to improve the passenger experience and create a more airy and spacious feel.
Mobile phone reception will be better and plug and USB sockets will be installed at every seat. Wifi will be
free and faster than previously. All trains will be fully air-conditioned and have disabled toilets and bicycle
spaces.

What more could passengers want?

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

Transport for Wales Is Invading England

There is an article in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled TfW Targets Swansea To Bristol Services.

This is the first paragraph.

Transport for Wales Rail Services is aiming to start an open access service between Swansea and Bristol Temple Meads, commencing in December 2020.

These are characteristics of the proposed service.

  • Hourly service
  • Calls at Neath, Port Talbot Parkway, Bridgend, Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Filton Abbey Wood stations.
  • Sixteen services per day will run Monday to Saturday in both directions, with twelve services on Sundays.
  • Trains will be Class 170 or Class 175 diesel trains.

Looking at current times of sections of the route, I suspect that services could take a few minutes under two hours and would need four trains.

Reasons given for planning the service include.

  • Long-term political pressure.
  • Welsh ministers abandoning plans for the £1.6 billion M4 Relief Road around Newport.
  • Cross-Severn road traffic has increased after abolition of tolls.
  • Main roads on either side of the Severn are congested.
  • Increased house sales in South Wales to people who work in the Bristol area.

Incidentally, before I read the article, if you asked me, I’d have thought there would be a direct service.

My only thought about the service, is that as there will be electrification between Bristol and Cardiff, why not run a proper fast bi-mode train like a Hitachi Class 800 train or a Stadler Class 755 train. The latter of which Transport for Wales have on order, for delivery in 2023.

The Class 755 train or its Welsh cousin, could be an interesting option.

  • The distance without electrification between Cardiff and Swansea is 46 miles.
  • Transport for Wales tri-mode version of the Class 755 train could have three batteries and a diesel engine in the four slots in the powrpack car.

Could it have the capability of jumping the gap.

Birmingham Services

The article also says that, Transport for Wales are also planning to extend their services that terminate at Birmingham to Coventry.

  • Holyhead and Birmingham New Street takes three hours.
  • Aberystwyth and Birmingham New Street takes three hours
  • Pwllheli and Birmingham New Street takes five hours

As Birmingham and Coventry takes twenty minutes or perhaps a convenient hour to go to Coventry and return with a relaxed turnround, does the extension make these three long services simpler to operate?

Extra positioning services from Crewe to Coventry in the morning and return in the evening are also proposed.

These would  also suggest that improving the ease of operation of these services is the reason for the extension to Coventry.

Liverpool Services

The article also says that these services to Liverpool will be added in 2022.

  • An hourly service to Llandudno.
  • A two-hourly service to Cardiff.

It isn’t said, if one of these services is an extension to the recently launched Liverpool and Chester service.

Conclusion

The Welsh are getting ambitious.

 

 

June 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Future Stansted Airport Train Services

Currently, the following services go to Stansted Airport station, in trains per hour (tph)

  • Four tph – Stansted Express – Liverpool Street
  • One tph -CrossCountry – Birmingham New Street via Cambridge, Peterborough and Leicester
  • One tph – Greater Anglia – Cambridge via Audley End and Whittlesford Parkway

Greater Anglia have plans to change the services.

  • Extend the Norwich and Cambridge service to Stansted Airport.
  • Reintroduction of a Stansted Express service between the Airport and Stratford is mentioned in Wikipedia.

With two very long and one shorter platform, the Airport station has plenty of capacity.

Stansted Express Journey Times And Trains Required

Currently, Stansted Express services run at a frequency of four tph, that take fifty minutes between London and the Airport.

If a turnround time of ten minutes is added, then it takes trains two hours to do a round trip between London and the Airport.

So this means that thse numbers of trains are needed for the following frequencies.

  • One tph – Two trains
  • Two tph – Four trains
  • Four tph – Eight trains

As Greater Anglia have ordered ten Class 745/1 trains for Stansted Express, these would be able to provide a reliable service with eight in service, one as a spare and one in maintenance.

A Stansted Express service to Stratford would take the same time and would need similar numbers of trains.

Norwich and Stansted Airport Journey Times And Trains Required

The timing for the proposed service between Norwich and Stansted Airport, can be estimated by taking the timing of current services.

  • Norwich and Cambridge – One hour 20 minutes
  • Cambridge and Stansted Airport – 30 minutes

Both services are run by reasonably-modern 100 mph diesel trains.

Add in a ten minute turnround at both ends of the route and it should be possible to schedule a Stansted Airport and Norwich round trip in four hours.

Greater Anglia is introducing new bi-mode Class 755 trains on this route.

  • The trains will be designed for fast stops.
  • The trains will run on electricity on the nearly forty miles between Stansted Airport and Ely and around Norwich.
  • The trains will run on diesel between Ely and Trouse Junction, just to the South of Norwich.
  • The trains will probably be abe to achieve 100 mph on a good proportion of the route.
  • The trains will probably be four-cars.

It would need four trains to run the proposed one tph service.

The current Norwich and Cambridge service probably needs three trains, so extending to Stansted Airport will need an extra train.

This seems to be good value for passengers, the Cities of Cambridge and Norwich, Stansted Airport and Greater Anglia.

Could There Be A Norwich And London Service Via The West Anglia Main Line?

I can remember seeing steam-hauled expresses thundering between Liverpool Street and Norwich in the 1950s, through places like Brimsdown.

They are long gone, but they gave places like Wymondham and Thetford a direct rail link to London.

Greater Anglia’s future plans will connect these towns and others directly to Stansted Airport, but could they go all the way to London?

What do the mathematics show?

The section timings of a Norwich and London service via Cambridge and Stansted Airport would be as follows.

  • Norwich and Cambridge – One hour 20 minutes
  • Cambridge and Stansted Airport – 30 minutes
  • Stansted Airport and London – 50 minutes

This is just two hours and forty minutes.

Add in a few minutes for the reverse at Stansted Airport and the turnround at either end and I believe a round trip could be comfortably within six hours.

It would therefore mean that six trains would be needed to run an hourly service between London and Norwich.

  • Stops could be Tottenham Hale, Broxbourne, Harlow Town, Bishops Stortford, Stansted Airport, Audley End, Whittlesford Parkway, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and all stations to Norwich.
  • The London terminal could be Liverpool Street or Stratford.
  • If Stratford were to be used, trains could be turned round in the High Meads Loop.
  • Trains would be Class 755 trains, which are bi-mode and capable of 100 mph running.
  • Between London and Ely, the trains would take advantage of the electrification.

The service would give a lot of stations a direct connection to Stansted Airport, that would be complimentary to the Stansted Express.

It would require just two more trains, than the planned Norwich and Stansted Airport service.

The advantages of the service would be.

  • Stations between Thetford and Norwich would get direct London and Stansted Airport services.
  • Stratford would get a very useful direct service to Stansted Airport.

Greater Anglia would serve two markets with the extended service and just two extra trains, over the planned service.

If Greater Anglia say a London and Norwich via Stansted Airport service will never happen, they are being economical with the truth.

Could Class 755 Trains With Batteries Bridge The Electrification Gap,Between Ely And Trowse Junction?

The distance between the electrification at Ely station and Trowse Junction, South of Norwich, is just under fifty-three miles.

I believe that the tri-mode four-car Flirts for Trains for Wales are similar to Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, with three of the Deutz diesel engines replaced with 100-120 kWh batteries.

Would this be enough power to take the train across the electrification gap?

Consider.

  • There is electrification at both ends and the batteries could be full, on entering the unelectrified section.
  • The route is very gentle.
  • There are a few stops, but the trains will have regenerative braking to charge the batteries.
  • The trains could retain a single diesel-engine,, should livestock on the line cause the service to be suspended.

For these and other reasons, I suspect that in a couple of years, diesel will be relegated to emergency use only between Norwich and Stansted Airport.

The Herd Of Wannabe Unicorns In The Room

Other places have elephants, but the City of Cambridge has herds of wannabe unicorns.

For those of you, unfamiliar with the term, Wikipedia defines unicorn like this.

A unicorn is a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion.

Cambridge is expanding at a fast rate and it needs public transport systems to bring in the workers, visitors and investors.

  • A new Cambridge North station has been built.
  • A guided busway linking Addenbrooke’s and Papworth Hospitals and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus to the City Centre has been built.
  • A new Cambridge South station is being planned.
  • The East-West Rail Link will connect Cambridge to Oxford.

Road travel in the local area is not an option.

Currently, most rail services radiate from Cambridge station, but like London and other cities are proving, Cambridge needs Cross-City services.

A high-frequency North-South route is being created  across the City.

  • To the North of the City is Ely station.
  • North of Ely station, lines fan out to Peterborough, Kings Lynn and Norwich.
  • From North to South across the City, there will be Waterbeach, Cambridge North, Cambridge and Cambridge South  stations.
  • South of Cambridge South station, lines will fan out to Bedford and Oxford, Royston, Hitchin and Kings Cross and Audley End, Stansted Airport and Livepool Street.

In addition routes to Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich and Felixstowe reach out to the East.

The current North-South train services include.

  • 1 tph – Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport
  • 1 tph – Kings Lynn and Kings Cross
  • 1 tph – Cambridge and Norwich
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Liverpool Street
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Kings Cross

The number of these services will grow.

Will More Stations Be Built Or Reopened Between Stansted Airport And Norwich?

I know the route, South of Cambridge better than I know it to the North.

To the South of Cambridge, the current stations could be sufficient, with improved car and bicycle parking and provision for electric cars.

To the North, there appear to be new housing developments under consideration and surely, these will need good public transport to and from Cambridge.

Does The Norwich and Stansted Airport Service Need Two Trains Per Hour?

I have a feeling that Greater Anglia think, that East Anglia’s generally one tph services between major towns and cities is not enough.

Greater Anglia have said they will do the following.

  • Increase the Ipswich and Norwich frequency from two to three tph.
  • Run two tph between Ipswich and Kennett via Bury St. Edmunds.

I talked previously about Cambridge and its  herd of wannabe unicorns.

I believe strongly, that the Cambridge Effect will in a couple of years, mean that the frequency between Norwich and Stansted Airport will need to be doubled.

But will Greater Anglia have enough trains?

Greater Anglia are  purchasing a fleet of 38 Class 755 trains with a total of 138 carriages to replace 27 assorted trains with a total of 58 carriages.

  • This is a forty percent increase in the number of trains.
  • This is nearly two and a half times as many carriages.
  • The average number of carriages per train is raised from 2.1 to 3.6.

That is a massive increase in train capacity.

There should be enough for either.

  • Eight trains for two tph between Norwich and Stansted Airport.
  • Twelve trains for two tph between Norwich and London via Stansted Airport.

These would be increases of four and eight trains respectively on Greater Anglia’s  current plan for a one tph service between Norwich and Stansted Airport.

Conclusion

Greater Anglia have enough trains to run a two tph service between Norwich and London via Stansted Airport.

I believe that the Cambridge Effect will create enough demand to necessitate expansion of the proposed one tph service between Norwich and Stansted Airport into a Norwich and London via Stansted Airport service.

  • Frequency will be two tph.
  • New commuter-friendly stations could be built.
  • The Southern terminal could be Stratford to give a second route to Stansted Airport from London.

Greater Anglia would be satisfying two markets with one train.

 

 

June 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mathematics Of A Stadler Flirt Akku Battery Train

In Stadler Receives First Flirt Akku Battery Train Order, I  quoted thia from as that of this article in Railway Gazette International.

Schleswig-Holstein transport authority NAH.SH has selected Stadler to supply 55 Flirt Akku battery multiple-units to operate regional services and provide 30 years of maintenance.

This is a substantial order for a large number of trains and many years of maintenance, and would appear to be structured similarly to deals in East Anglia, Glasgow and Liverpool in the UK.

Does The Train Have A Central Power-Pack Car?

Is the Flirt Akku, similar to Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains and other of the companies products, in that it has a central power-pack car?

This picture shows a Class 755 train at Norwich.

 

Note that this four-car train has four full-size cars and a shorter one, that doesn’t appear to have any doors or proper windows.

This is the power-pack car, which in these trains has the pollowing properties.

  • The power-pack car is 6.69 metres long.
  • The power-pack car is identical in both the four-car and three-car versions of the Class 755 trains.
  • The four-car trains have four diesel engines.
  • The three-car trains have two diesel engines.

The number of engines possible, leads me to believe there are four slots for engines in the power-pack car.

Transport for Wales have ordered a number of Flirts, which are similar to those in use by Greater Anglia, but they are tri-mode trains, that can run on overhead 25 KVAC electrification, diesel or battery power.

I speculate that they have one diesel engine and three batteries in the four slots.

This is a picture of the Flirt Akku.

I have enlarged the image and it would appear that the trains do not have a central power-pack car, but they do seem to have a lot of electrical gubbins on the roof.

This video shows the Class 755 train being tested at Diss.

It looks to have a much smoother roof line.

Could this indicate that the batteries on the Akku are placed on the roof of the train, as there is certainly a lot of equipment up there?

 

 

 

June 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 10 Comments

Stadler Receives First Flirt Akku Battery Train Order

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in Railway Gazette International.

This is said.

Schleswig-Holstein transport authority NAH.SH has selected Stadler to supply 55 Flirt Akku battery multiple-units to operate regional services and provide 30 years of maintenance.

Announcing its selection as preferred bidder on June 19, Stadler said that it will reveal more details when the contract is signed, which is expected after the 10-day standstill period. NAH.SH called tenders for zero-emission trains to run on non-electrified lines but did not specify the technology to be used.

NAH.SH becomes the launch customer for the Flirt Akku, which was officially unveiled last year at the Stadler Pankow factory in Berlin.

Information on the order is a bit short, but that doesn’t stop me speculating.

Do The Flirt Akku Trains Have A Power-Pack Like Greater Anglia’s Class 755 Trains?

Certainly, the Stadler Flirts for the South Wales Metro, do have both a power-pack and a battery, as Stadler use the same image for both trains and the trains have batteries.

These pictures show some of Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains in the sidings at Crown Point Depot.

Note, these are four-car Class 755 trains with a power-pack in the middle.

In Importance Of Battery Range: Stadler’s FLIRT BMU For Greater Anglia, I referenced an article, that said that Greater Anglia’s network is too long for battery trains. But the article seemed to suggest, that Greater Anglia could go battery in the future.

Until, I get more details on the Flirt Akku, I will assume that they use a power-pack containing batteries instead of diesel engines.

As in South Wales, there could also be a mix of diesel engines and batteries in the power-pack of a Flirt Akku.

 

June 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment