The Anonymous Widower

Protests After Claim That Hitachi Has Lost T&W Contract

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

This is the introductory paragraphs.

There have been protests in north east England after a report claimed that Hitachi has been ruled out of the three-way contest to build a £500 million fleet for Tyne & Wear Metro.

The other contenders are CAF and Stadler, and the source of the claims says ‘insiders’ at Nexus have been told that Hitachi will be ‘overlooked’.

It should be noted that the two other bidders have orders for similar trains in the pipeline.

CAF

In TfL Awards Contract For New DLR Fleet To Replace 30-year-old Trains , I wrote about how CAF had been awarded the contract for new trains for the Docklands Light Railway.

I also said this about the possibility of CAF being awarded the contract for the new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

In Bombardier Transportation Consortium Preferred Bidder In $4.5B Cairo Monorail, I indicated that as the trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro and the trains on the Docklands Light Railway, are of a similar height and width, it might be possible to use the same same car bodies on both trains.

So now that CAF have got the first order for the Docklands Light Railway, they must be in prime position to obtain the Tyne and Wear Metro order!

A second order would fit well with the first and could probably be built substantially in their South Wales factory.

Stadler

Stadler seem to be targeting the North, with new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail and Class 399 tram-trains for Sheffield and bids in for tram-trains and and new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Their trains are both quirky, accessible and quality and built to fit niche markets like a glove.

Only Stadler would produce a replacement for a diesel multiple unit fleet with a bi-mode Class 755 train, with the engine in the middle, that is rumoured to be capable of running at 125 mph.

Note the full step-free access between train and platform, which is also a feature of the Merseyrail trains.

Does the Tyre and Wear Metro want to have access like this? It’s already got it with the existing trains, as this picture at South Shields station shows.

Stadler’s engineering in this area, would fit their philosophy

I first thought that Stadler would propose a version of their Class 399 tram-trains. for the Tyne and Wear Metro and wrote Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With Tyne And Wear Metro’s Class 994 Trains.

This was my conclusion.

I am led to the conclusion, that a version of the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle similar to those of the South Waes Metro, could be developed for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

My specification would include.

  • Length of two current Class 994 trains, which would be around 111 metres.
  • Walk through design with longitudinal seating.
  • Level access between platform and train at all stations.
  • A well-designed cab with large windows at each end.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at any voltage between 750 and 1500 VDC.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at 25 KVAC.
  • Pantographs would handle all voltages.
  • A second pantograph might be provided for reasons of reliable operation.
  • Ability to use onboard battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would use the batteries on the vehicle.

Note.

  1. Many of these features are already in service in Germany, Spain or Sheffield.
  2. The train would be designed, so that no unnecessary platform lengthening is required.
  3. As in Cardiff, the specification would allow street-running in the future.
  4. Could battery range be sufficient to allow new routes to be developed without electrification?

I also feel that the specification should allow the new trains to work on the current network, whilst the current trains are still running.

But since I wrote that comparison in June 2018, Merseyrail’s new trains have started to be delivered and Liverpudlians have started to do what they do best; imagine!

The Tyne and Wear Metro has similar ambitions to expand the network and would a version of the Class 777 train fit those ambitions better?

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised if Hitachi misses out, as the experience of the Docklands Light Railway or Merseyrail fed into the expansion of the Tyne and Wear Metro could be the clincher of the deal.

They would also be the first UK customer for the Hitachi trains.

 

September 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Could Merseyrail’s Class 777 Trains Run As Tram-Trains On The Manchester Metrolink?

Look at the main dimensions of the Stadler Class 777 train destined for Merseyrail  and the current M5000 tram of the Manchester Metrolink. I have also added the dimensions of the Stadler Class 399 tram-train, that is running on the Sheffield Supertram network.

Class 777 train

  • Width – 2.82 metres
  • Height – 3.82 metres
  • Floor Height – 0.96 metres
  • Overall Length – 64.98 metres
  • Capacity – 190 seats and 302 standing – 492 total
  • Operating Speed – 75 mph

M5000

  • Width – 2.65 metres
  • Height – 3.67 metres
  • Floor Height – 0.90 metres
  • Overall Length – 28.4 metres
  • Double Length – 56.8 ,metres
  • Capacity – 60 or 66 seats and 146 standing – 206 or 212 total
  • Operating Speed – 50 mph

Class 399 tram-train

  • Width – 2.65 metres
  • Height – 3.72 metres
  • Floor Height – 0.425 metres
  • Overall Length – 37.2 metres
  • Capacity – 96 seats and 140 standing – 236  total
  • Operating Speed – 62 mph

Note.

  1. Vehicle width and height could probably be incorporated on the same track
  2. The floor heights of the Class 777 train and the M5000 are surprisingly close,
  3. The floor height of the low-floor Class 399 tram-train is lower and wouldn’t allow step-free access from platform to tram on the Metrolink network.
  4. A double M5000 and a Class 777 train have similar lengths.
  5. A double M5000 has 86% of the capacity of a Class 777 train.

A Class 777 train looks to be able to go anywhere that a double M5000 tram can go and be able to give the same quality of passenger access.

Can double M5000 trams use the whole of the Metrolink network?

Power Supply

Around Manchester and Liverpool there are the following types of electrification.

  • 25 KVAC overhead – Connecting major cities and on the West Coast Main Line.
  • 750 VDC overhead – Manchester Metrolink
  • 750 VDC third-rail – Merseyrail

In the future it is intended that Class 777 trains will be able to handle.

  • 25 KVAC overhead
  • 750 VDC third-rail

It should also be noted that Class 399 tram-trains, which are also built by Stadler can handle.

  • 25 KVAC overhead
  • 750 VDC overhead

I wouldn’t be surprised to find, that Stadler can produce a Class 777 train, that could handle these voltages.

  • 25 KVAC overhead
  • 750 VDC overhead
  • 750 VDC third-rail

It’s all about the electrical systems on the train, but Stadler probably have the solutions in their boxes of tricks.

I very much feel it would possible for a version of a Class 777 train with an additional battery to do the following.

  • Run as a train on the Merseyrail network. using 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Run as a train between Otmskirk and Preston using a mixture of battery power and 25 KVAC overhead.
  • Run as a train between Kirkby and Wigan using the battery.
  • Run as a double tram on the Manchester Metrolink using 750 VDC overhead.
  • Run as a tram-train to extend the Manchester Metrolink using a mixture of battery power and 25 KVAC overhead.

Class 777 trains might even be able to run on the Sheffield Supertram network. But they might be too long and would not be able to provide step-free access from platform to tram, without modification of trains and/or platforms.

Poasible Routes

Just about anywhere a Manchester Metrolink M5000 tram or a four-car electric or diesel multiple unit can run.

Thjis article on Railway Gazette is entitled Battery Trial Planned For New EMU Fleet.

This is the first sentence.

The sixth of the 52 four-car 750 V DC third rail electric multiple-units which Stadler is to supply for Merseyrail services around Liverpool is to be fitted with a 5 tonne battery to test the business case for energy storage.

A five tonne battery will soon be able to have a capacity of 500 kWh, which should be able to give the train a range of fifty miles on battery power.

This would more than cover the thirty miles without electrification between Altrincham and Chester, where the battery could be recharged.

Conclusion

I am in no doubt that Merseyrail’s Class 777 trains, could run as tram-trains on the Manchester Metrolink.

But then, Stadler don’t do ordinary and obvious!.

Why should they?

There must also be an advantage to Manchester Metrolink and Merseyrail, if they were using the same or similar vehicles for their public transport networks.

 

 

September 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 11 Comments

St Michaels 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.

St. Michaels station is on the list.

These pictures show the current station.

St Michaels station, like Hunts Cross station, has rather unusual long shallow angle ramps, with steps.

This 3D Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. It is a well-appointed and well-maintained station with a Ticket Office, a toilet and cycle storage and hire.
  2. Car parking is very limited.
  3. But the station is designed for pedestrians, cyclists and visitors
  4. The station has a rather chequered history, being closed in 1972, only to be reopened six years later.
  5. I think the design of the ramps is a good example of independent Liverpudlian thinking, which often ignores conventional practice.

The ramps were built for International Garden Festival in 1984, the site of which is shown on this second Google Map.

St. Michaels station is in the top-right corner of the map.

The International Garden Festival site has since been updated and 1300 new houses are being built on the site.

Adding step-free access to the station, will surely be a big asset to the area.

Preparation For Class 777 Trains

Note that St. Michaels station has been updated to allow step-free access  between the new Class 777 trains and platform.

According to a fellow traveller, it had been done at night with little inconvenience to passengers.

Installing The Lifts

I would suspect, that the two new lifts could be installed in the space currently occupied by the two disused stairways.

Conclusion

This is the type of station that needs step-free access.

  • It will make nearby developments more desireable.
  • It will facilitate walking with children and for those in wheelchairs.
  • It will increase traffic at the station.

I would also suspect the lifts can be added without too much disruption to the travelling public.

I also think there a lesson in the chequered history of St. Michaels station.

Next time a station or even a whole line has to be closed, make sure that it can be reopened, if necessary in the future. To many useful stations like Horden and Maiden Lane have been reduced to rubble. The former is being rebuilt and many believe the latter is needed.

 

June 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hunts Cross 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.

Hunts Cross station is on the list.

These pictures show the station and the current bridge.

Hunts Cross station, like St. Michaels station, has rather unusual long shallow angle ramps, with steps.

This 3D Google Map shows the station.

It may be unusual, but I suspect a conventional lift tower on each platform would make the station fully step-free.

Note.

  1. The station is Grade II Listed and is described as”A good example of the stations built for the Cheshire Lines Committee.”
  2. The ramps and bridge look to be in excellent condition and could be reasonably recent. Some repainting was actually in progress.
  3. For those that are in need of a drink, after climbing the ramps, there is a handy pub called the Waiting Room. It was busy, when I went to the station.
  4. As well as providing step-free entrance and exit to the station, the lifts would provide step-free interchange for passengers from Manchester needing to transfer to Merseyrail.
  5. Passengers arriving at the station, who need to go to Manchester, would do as they do now and walk across the platform.
  6. Do the last two pictures in the gallery show that the bridge was built or has been modified for lifts to be added? The bridge seems to have a lower wall, which could be removed.
  7. There may be some adjustments needed to the path that Links the station entrance to the bridge.

I’m also pretty certain, that the layout of the station, would allow works to be done, whilst the station is in full operation.

Preparation For Class 777 Trains

Unlike most other stations, that I saw on on the Merseyrail network, work appears to be outstanding to create level access between the new Class 777 trains and platform.

Future Electrification

The bridge would appear to be high enough to clear any future 25 KVAC electrification.

Conclusion

This shouldn’t be the most difficult of projects, unless the Heritage Lobby get upset.

The only problem, I can see would be, it might attract more passengers and create a need for a larger car park.

June 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stadler Rail’s Specification For UK Trains

These are links to the pdf specifications of Stadler Rail’s products in the UK.

I shall add more as I find them!

March 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Merseyrail’s Battery Intentions

In New Merseyrail Fleet A Platform For Future Innovations, I quoted from  this article on the Rail Technology Magazine web site.

The article mainly is an interview with David Powell, who is programme director of rolling stock at Merseytravel.

This is a direct quote from the article.

We will be exploring, with Stadler, what the options are for having the trains becoming self-powered. This isn’t the bi-modes that lots of other people are talking about in the industry; this is on-board electrical storage.

The Wikipedia entry for Merseyrail links to this document, which puts a lot more flesh on Merseyrail’s intentions for battery trains.

It outlines strategies for the following routes.

Ellesmere Port And Helsby

The document says this.

There is a reasonable business case for extending the Merseyrail service through to Helsby.
However this is likely to be best served by the use of Merseyrail battery powered enabled
services. This will be tested on the new units in 2020.

According to Wikipedia, the sixth Class 777 train to be delivered will be fitted with batteries.

Currently, the service between Liverpool Central and Ellesmere Port stations is as follows.

  • A train every thirty minutes.
  • Trains take eighty-five minutes to do the round trip from Ellesmere Port round the Wirral Loop under Liverpool and back to Ellesmere Port.
  • There are thirty-one stops on the route.
  • There is a five minute turnround at Ellesmere Port station.

Two trains are needed to run the service.

The Current Class 507/508 trains and the future Class 777 trains both have the same operating speed, but there are performance differences.

The British Rail trains have 656 kW of power per train, whereas every new Stadler train will have 2,100 kW. The speed may be the same, but the acceleration will be much greater if needed and and the regenerative braking should be powerful and smoothly controlled.

  • Figures for the Class 313 train, which is similar to the Class 507/508 trains show a top speed of 75 mph and an acceleration of 0.67 m/s².
  • Figures for the Class 777 train show a top speed of 75 mph and an acceleration of 1.1 m/s².

These figures mean that a Class 507 train will get to 75 mph in 125 seconds, whereas the new Stadler trains will take just 76 seconds.

In addition, loading and unloading of passengers with their increasing levels of extras will be much faster due to the hollistic design of the trains and the platforms on the new Stadler trains.

It would not be unrealistic to see around a minute saved at every stop.

I think this level of improvement could be expected, with all the modern trains in the UK.

The extended service between Ellesmere Port and Helsby stations is not much extra distance and time.

  • Just over five miles each way.
  • About thirteen minutes each way , based on existing services on the route.

So if the terminus were to be moved to Helsby, when the new trains are in service, the time savings between Ellesmere Port and Liverpool should cover the extra distance.

It should also be noted about Helsby station.

  • It has four platforms and could probably handle four trains per hour (tph).
  • A platform with a charging station could be created.
  • It has a wide selection of services including Chester, Llandudno, Manchester and Warrington.

To my mind, Liverpool to Helsby would be an ideal route for a battery electric train.

Ormskirk-Preston Enhancements

The document says this.

This incorporates both electrification from Ormskirk through to Preston and the potential
reintroduction one or both of the Burscough Curves. In view of the deferral of electrification
proposals, and the relative low ranking of the electrification proposal in the Northern Sparks
report, it is unlikely that the electrification proposal is expected to be taken forward in the
near future. In addition to this, the business case for extending electrification to Burscough,
and the introduction of the southern Burscough Curve, is poor. The potential use of battery
powered Merseyrail units may improve the business case for both proposals. This will be
reviewed after the Merseyrail units have been tested for battery operation in 2020.

Currently, the service between Ormskirk and Preston stations is as follows.

  • A train every hour.
  • Trains take around thirty minutes to go between the two terminal stations.
  • The route is fifteen and a half miles long.
  • There are three stops on the route.
  • There is a long turnround in a bay platform at Preston station.

At the present time, the service seems rather erratic, with some services replaced by buses and long connection times at Ormskirk.

The service between Liverpool Central and Ormskirk stations takes thirty-five minutes with eleven stops and is generally every fifteen minutes, with a half-hourly service in the evening and at weekends.

If a Class 777 train could use battery power, I estimate it could run between Liverpool Central and Preston stations within an hour.

This would surely open up the possibility of a new service between Liverpool and Preston.

  • It would take only a few minutes longer than the fifty-one minutes of a direct train between Liverpool Lime Street and Preston stations.
  • It would connect a lot of stations to the West Coast Main Line at Preston.
  • It would link the major sporting venues of Aintree, Anfield and Goodison or Everton’s new ground to the North.
  • At the Southern end, it could connect to Liverpool Airport.

The Class 777 trains would need to be able to do about thirty miles on battery power and if required, the technology exists to either top up the batteries at Preston or use a pantograph to access the overhead wires of the West Coast Main Line.

At the present time, the Ormskirk Branch Line between Ormskirk and Preston stations is only single track and probably needs resignalling, but I suspect that a four tph service could be run between Liverpool and Ormskirk, with two tph extended to Preston.

Extra track work, North of Ormskirk and the reinstatement of the Burscough curves would allow.

  • Four tph between Liverpool and Preston via Ormskirk.
  • A service between Liverpool and Southport via Ormskirk.
  • A service between Preston and Southport.

There is even the possibility of extending Liverpool and Preston services to Blackpool South station, if they used the overhead electrification through Preston to charge the batteries.

Borderlands Development

The document says this.

While the aspiration is to fully electrify the line, and incorporate it into the Merseyrail
network, this is very much a long term aspiration. In the interim period the aim is to develop
the line through the introduction of an improved diesel service. Merseytravel will work
closely with relevant cross-border organisations such as Growth Track 360 to bring this
about. There are a number of new station proposals for the line, the principal being a new
station close to the Deeside Industrial Park, which would improve the ability of the
workforce to access the site via public transport.

The Borderlands Line provides a service between Liverpool and Wrexham Central station with a change at Bidston station.

  • The twenty-seven miles between Wrexham Central and Bidston are not electrified.
  • The line is double-track throughout.
  • There are twelve stations on the line.
  • The service is hourly, but probably needs to be at least half-hourly.
  • The service takes about an hour between Wrexham and Bidston stations.

Using Class 777 trains on the route, using battery power between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations would enable.

  • A direct service, that terminated in the Wirral Loop under Liverpool.
  • An increased capacity at Bidston station.
  • A faster service.

I estimate that a time of perhaps seventy to eighty minutes between Liverpool Central and Wrexham Central stations will be possible.

There would be very little infrastructure work, except for new stations and the possible ability to top up batteries at Wrexham Central.

I suspect that political problems, rather than any railway ones will be larger.

Bootle Branch Electrification

The document says this.

A long term proposal which will need to be considered alongside the developing freight
strategy for the region and the expansion of the Port of Liverpool. The proposal envisages
the introduction of passenger services which will operate from the Bootle Branch into Lime
Street. An initial study is required to understand fully the freight requirements for the line
and what the realistic potential for operating passenger services over the line is.

The Bootle Branch is known as the Canada Dock Branch in Wikipedia.

Class 777 trains with a battery capability and the ability to use the overhead electrification into Liverpool Lime Street would be able to serve this route, without the need for electrification.

Obviously, if for freight efficiency, the route was electrified, the trains could use it as needed.

North Mersey Branch

The document says this.

A long term proposal; this envisages a new service operating from Ormskirk via Bootle into
Liverpool. It was reviewed as part of the Merseyrail Route Utilisation Strategy in 2009 which
identified a poor business case.

I can’t identify the actual route, but there are various rail alignments into and through the Docks.

Skelmersdale

The document says this.

Merseytravel is currently working with Lancashire County Council and Network Rail to
develop the Merseyrail network from Kirkby through to Skelmersdale. This work is expected
to be completed in 2019. Further development work will be required before this project is
implemented. While 3rd rail electrification is being considered currently, alternatives will be
considered later in the development process. A new station at Headbolt Lane to serve the
Northwood area of Kirkby is an integral part of this proposal. The potential to extend the
network further through to Wigan will need to be developed separately.

I wrote about this plan in Merseyrail To Skelmersdale – How To Plan A New Rail-Link.

Thoughts On Battery Size And Range

Thjis article on Railway Gazette is entitled Battery Trial Planned For New EMU Fleet.

This is the first paragraph.

The sixth of the 52 four-car 750 V DC third rail electric multiple-units which Stadler is to supply for Merseyrail services around Liverpool is to be fitted with a 5 tonne battery to test the business case for energy storage. While all the EMUs will be equipped for regenerative braking, this is not seen as optimal on the Merseyrail network.

I find the last part of this paragraph difficult.

Does it mean the trains can use regenerative braking, but that it is not worth using?

This media release on the Stadler web site is entitled Stadler Signs Contract To Build And Maintain 52 Metro Trains For
Liverpool City Region.

This is a sentence.

The units will also be equipped with batteries that allow independent movement of the units in the workshop and depot areas.

Out of curiosity, what will be the kinetic energy of the four-car trains at the full speed of 75 mph

  • The train weight is given as 99 tonnes in Wikipedia.
  • The passenger capacity is 484, with a weight of 90 Kg each.
  • This gives a train weight of 142.56 tonnes.

Putting these figures into Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator gives a kinetic energy of 22.3 kWh.

I feel that this fairly low amount of energy could be held in a 60 kWh battery, that would probably come from a hybrid bus and weigh about 600 Kg.

I would be very surprised if Stadler are not using a smaller battery to do the following.

  • Handle regenerative braking.
  • Independent movement in the workshop and depot areas.
  • Train power in sidings and platforms.

It could also handle, train rescue to a safe evacuation point, in the event of power failure. I suspect that like Crossrail in London, Merseyrail would be very happy to have an independent recovery system in the tunnels under Liverpool, Birkenhead and the River Mersey.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I estimated that using 3 kWh per vehicle mile is not a bad estimate for the energy use of an electric train running at speeds in excess of 100 mph.

Using this figure would give  a range on a 60 kWh battery of at least five miles, which would move the train out of the tunnels if the power failed.

But we’re talking about a modern lightweight train running on probably newly relaid track and my 3 kWh per vehicle mile could be a little on the high side.

Stadler are talking of fitting the sixth train with a fifty five battery, which would probably have a capacity of around 500 kWh.

Using various consumption figures, the range would be as follows.

  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 42 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 62 miles
  • 1 kWh per vehicle mile – 125 miles

Stadler and their battery supplier are probably working on.

  • A train that uses less electricity.
  • More efficient regenerativer braking.
  • A more intelligent train control system.
  • Increased energy density in the battery.
  • Efficient charging systems.
  • A plug-in battery pack that can be added and removed in minutes.

As a Control and Electrical Engineer, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that the control, electrical and software system of trains with and without the five tonne battery are identical and some just have a larger amount of energy storage.

Range on battery power can only increase!

Consider the lengths of some of the routes discussed earlier.

  • Ellesmere Port and Helsby – 5 miles
  • Ormskirk and Preston – 16 miles
  • Bidston and Wrexham Central – 27  miles

Only the last route might need a charging station at the remote terminal.

My Own Speculation On Routes

I think there could be other routes that could easily be run by Class 777 trains running on battery power.

Onward From Hunts Cross

The current service between Hunts Cross and Manchester Oxford Road stations is only two tph, using rather suspect rolling stock.

  • Under Merseyrail and London Overground rules, it should be at least four tph to give travellers a Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • The stations are of variable quality, but are being improved and will soon be joined by a new station at Warrington Wrst.
  • There is a lot of new developments along the route.
  • The service terminates in a convenient bay-platform at Manchester Oxford Road station.
  • The service calls at Deansgale station for the Manchester Metrolink.

The route could be developed into a City-Centre-to-City-Centre and commuter route for both Liverpool and Manchester.

So could this route be run by Class 777 trains using battery power?

Consider.

  • Hunts Cross and Manchester Oxford Road are just twenty-seven miles apart.
  • The last couple of miles to Oxford Road is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Hunts Cross is electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

It will be a Liverpool and Manchester Railway for the Twenty-First Century

I think it is one of those problems, where the engineering is easy, but the politics will be very difficult.

Onward From Headbolt Lane

The current service between Liverpool and Kirkby, which will be extended to the new station at Headbolt Lane, is a a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four tph. But the onward service to Wigan and Manchester is just a very inadequate hourly-service.

Consider.

  • Headbolt Lane and Wigan are just twelve miles apart.
  • Plans are being developed to create a proper transport interchange at Wigan for the arrival of High Speed Two.
  • Wigan North Western is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Kirkby is and Headbolt Lane will be electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

It would appear to be very possible to extend Class 777 trains from Kirkby to Wigan using battery power.

More Trains For Merseyrail

This is a paragraph from the Stadler media release about Merseyrail’s new trains.

The new four-car trains will all be in service by 2021, with the first unit arriving for testing by the middle of 2019.
The value of the manufacture and maintenance contracts for the 52 trains is up to £700m and Merseytravel
also has the option to procure an additional 60 units of rolling stock.

If the options are taken up, this would more than double the size of the Merseyrail’s fleet.

But where will these trains connect to Liverpool City Centre?

Helsby, Preston, Skelmersdale, Wrexham Central and the other routes in Liverpool will all need more trains, but nothing like sixty trains.

So will we see Wigan and Warrington added to Merseyrail’s destinations? And what about Manchester?

Never say no to Liverpool and their Swiss co-conspirators!

Conclusion

It is a comprehensive expansion strategy, where much of the work to create the various extensions is performed by adding equipment to the trains in factories or depots, rather than by the disruptive installation of electrification.

It looks very much like a case of Have Swiss Train Will Travel.

But then, I think the London Overground is using a similar strategy to expand in partnership with Bombardier.

Other networks like the Tyne & Wear Metro and those in cities like Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Leeds will be using similar philosophies of battery trams, tram-trains and trains.

Cardiff has already disclosed their plans and Stadler are building the trains for the South Wales Metro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merseyrail Reveals Latest Station Closures For Upgrade Work Ahead Of New Trains

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Liverpool Business News.

This is the first paragraph.

Merseyrail has announced details of the next phases of station closures as it upgrades is platforms to make them ready its new £460m fleet of trains due to come into service in 2021.

In total, there are eleven phases of work to give all platforms level access to the new trains.

I am fairly sure that no other local rail network in the UK, will have this quality of level access.

Some stations on the London Overground have similar access, but not that many. When you consider, that many station platforms have been rebuilt and they are only used by Class 378 trains, I believe an opportunity was missed.

The article says this about Merseyrail‘s new Class 777 trains.

Swiss manufacturer Stadler has started the manufacturing process at its Szolnok plant in Hungary on the new fleet of 52 trains. There, the car-body production is under way with the units being machined, welded, sandblasted and coated in special protection and premium quality paint to combat corrosion, caused by the contact with sea-water.

Most of the current Class 507/508 trains are forty years old, but they appear to me to be one of the most bottom-friendly suburban trains in the UK, with desirable 2+2 seating. I regularly travel on Class 313 trains, which are similar trains of the same vintage, into and out of Moorgate, and these are scrapyard specials compared to Merseyrail’s spotless, spacious and comfortable trains.

These pictures from March 2017, show the current trains.

They certainly look to be in good enough condition to see all the new trains into service and through their inevitable teething troubles in the next couple of years.

Conclusion

,The care being taken by Merseyrail and Stadler in the preparation for and design of their new trains, seems to indicate that they are intending to get forty years out of the new fleet.

 

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Every Pair Of Pictures Tell A Story

This picture on the Rail Technology Magazine website shows a Greater Anglia Class 755 train.

And this picture on the Global Rail News website shows one of the new trains for Transport for Wales.

It is captioned “A Tri-mode unit on the Rhymney Line”.

On another report it is captioned “How a KeolisAmey tram-train will look”.

All trains look very similar and I’m pretty certain that Wales will be getting some Class 755 trains.

Class 755 Trains

Class 755 trains will have the following characteristics.

  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Able to work on 25 KVAC overhead electrification
  • Able to work using an onboard diesel power-pack.
  • Three or more passenger cars.
  • Ability to be lengthened by adding extra cars as required.
  • Lots of power.

They would be ideal replacements for the current Class 175 trains, as the performance would appear to be similar.

They would also be ideal for services on the following routes.

When running around Birmingham, Cardiff, Crewe, Liverpool and Manchester, they would be able to use the electrification.

So are Keolis/Amey going for a predominantly uniform fleet of perhaps three-car and four-car Class 755 trains outside of the Cardiff Valley Lines, just as Greater Anglia used these trains on their routes without electrification North of Cambridge and Ipswich?

The Borderlands Line

The interesting route is the Borderlands Line between Wrexham Central and Bidston stations.

Currently, to get to and from Liverpool, there is a need to change trains at Bidston.

Merseyrail‘s new Class 777 trains are being built by Stadler.

  • They will link Bidston station to Liverpool, where they will call at several stations in a single-track loop tunnel.
  • The trains have been designed to work under battery power.
  • Both classes of train are likely to be very similar under the skin.

So to eliminate the time-wasting change of train at Bidston station, I wonder if Stadler have designed the Class 755 and Class 777 trains, so that they can both run in the loop tunnel.

The additions needed to the Welsh Class 755 trains, over the Greater Anglian versions would be.

  • Ability to use Merseyrail’s third rail electrification.
  • Clearance to run in the tunnel with diesel onboard.
  • Ability to evacuate passengers in the tunnel, in an emergency.

As Merseyrail have recently rebuilt the tunnel for the new Class 777 trains, I suspect that Stadler can design a Class 755 train, that would be able to avoid the change of train at Bidston.

I’ll Wait For More Information

It would seem prudent to wait for more information.

 

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Alstom Seem To Be Stepping Up The Pressure To Get Hydrogen-Powered Trains Into The UK

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Alstom: Industry must start work bringing hydrogen trains to UK immediately.

This is said.

In an exclusive interview with RTM, Mike Muldoon, who leads on hydrogen for Alstom in the UK, also warned that if the British rail industry did not start trying to bring in hydrogen trains as quickly as possible, the country’s market could become less attractive.

Could it be that Alstom see the opportunity for hydrogen-powered trains closing and want to make sure that the UK Government comes on-side?

Would The Coradia iLint Be Able To Run In The UK?

This document on the Alstom web site is a data sheet for the Coradia iLint.

Unfortunately, the data sheet doesn’t give the height and width of the iLint, but I suspect that these and other dimensions are not much different to typical UK values.

Even if the current iLint is wider and taller, I suspect that on a lot of routes a Coradia iLint would be able to run.

Development Of A UK Hydrogen-Powered Train

The Alstom Coradia iLint was developed from an existing train in a few months, in much the same way that Bombardier’s Class 379 BEMU prototype was created.

There would be the following differences between a UK and a German version.

  1. Adjusted height, with and platform height.
  2. Would a different pantograph reach be required?
  3. 25 KVAC instead of 15 KVAC.
  4. Would a third-rail 750 VDC version be needed?

Notes.

  • Point 1 is probably covered by the way modern trains are built.
  • Point 2 is down to the pantograph manufacturer.
  • Point 3 is covered by developing an electrical system that handles both voltages. After all 25 KVAC will be needed for France.
  • Point 4 just needs the appropriate third-rail shoe and electrical system.

I think that all this could mean that a UK version of the iLint could be developed within a reasonable time and budget.

Have Alstom Said Anything Else About For The UK?

This article on the Engineer web site is entitled Alstom Eyes Liverpool Hydrogen Train Trials.

It would appear to be a good choice for the following reasons.

Location

Alstom’s UK base is at Widnes, which is in the South-East of the Liverpool City Region.

Test Partner

Merseyrail have shown in recent years, that they can think out of the box, about using trains and would be a very able partner.

Test Route

The article suggests that Liverpool to Chester via the Halton Curve could be the test route.

  • The route is partly electrified from Runcorn to Liverpool.
  • The route passes close to Alstom’s base.
  • The section without electrification from Runcorn to Chester is probably about twenty miles long, which is a good test, but not a very difficult one.
  • I don’t think that there are too many low over-bridges that would need to be raised.

There would also be good opportunities for publicity and photographs.

Availability Of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is available locally from the various petro-chemical industries along the Mersey.

Incidentally, I used to work in a chlorine plant at Runcorn, where brine was split into hydrogen and chlorine by electrolysis. There were hydrogen tankers going everywhere! Does the industry still exist?

Further Routes

If you look at a map of the railways in the area, there are several other possibilities of other services.

  • Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington
  • Chester to Manchester
  • Serving new stations like Middlewich

The trains might be a possibility for the Borderlands Line.

Conclusion

Hydrogen trains would seem to be a possibility for running services in the Liverpool area and especially over the Halton Curve.

  • Liverpool to Crewe via Runcorn is electrified.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains could easily handle the routes without electrification.
  • There is a plentiful local supply of hydrogen.
  • There will be no great difficulty in updating the track and signalling.

Services could be run by existing diesel trains, until the new trains are available.

I also feel that Stadler’s new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail, when fitted with the ability to run on 25 KVAC overhead electrification and batteries could be able to handle Halton Curve routes.

Although, it is obviously very feasble to run hydrogen-powered trains, I have a feeling that the finances might not be as simple. Especially if Stadler make sure that their new Merseyrail trains can extend the Merseyrail network to town along routess without electrification.

Are Alstom stepping up the pressure, as they can see other trains arriving?

 

February 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment