The Anonymous Widower

Huge Increase In Capacity On GWR As Final Class 800 Enters Traffic

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

More than 10,000 extra seats will be available to Great Western Railway passengers on January 2, compared with the same number last year.

This follows the delivery of the final Class 800 Intercity Express Train.

This means that Great Western Railway (GWR) ‘s fleet is now

  • 21 x nine-car Class 800 trains
  • 36 x five-car Class 800 trains.
  • 21 x Class 802 trains

With still another 15 Class 802 trains to come of the 32 x five-car and 14 x nine-car order.

They are certainly ready to increase services in 2019.

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

Will Crossrail Open To Reading in 2019?

The latest rather dodgy date for the opening of Crossrail’s Core Tunnel is Autumn 2019.

In the January 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Crossrail Can’t Commit To Autumn Opening.

This a paragraph from the article.

TfL also says that it is exploring with DfT the possibility of beginning to operate Reading to Paddington services ahead of the completion of the Elizabeth Line to help provide a boost in revenue.

This is a very interesting possibility.

How Much Work Is Still To Be Done To The West of Hayes & Harlington?

This is the key factor as to whether Western Branch of Crossrail can be opened.

  • The biggest problem is that Class 345 trains can’t run to Heathrow as there are signalling issues to eradicate.
  • There are also several stations, that need to be completed.

There is no work-round to the first problem, but trains seem to be able to call at the unfinished stations.

It would appear, that for TfL’s proposal to be taken fully forward, the signalling issues to and from Heathrow, must be dealt with.

The stations can be finished later.

The Current Proposed Crossrail Service To Reading And Maidenhead

These are the proposed services shown on Wikipedia, so they could have been updated.

Reading To Paddington – Limited Stop

This service will be run at two trains per hour (tph) in the Peak with no trains in the Off-Peak.

Stops are Twyford, Maidenhead, Slough, West Drayton and Ealing Broadway.

Reading To Paddington – All Stations

This service will be run at two tph all day.

The service will call at all stations except Hanwell and Acton Main Line.

Maidenhead To Paddington

This service will be run at two tph all day.

The service will call at all stations except Hanwell and Acton Main Line.

A Summary Of Peak/Off Peak Calls

Adding these service up, gives the following numbers for Peak and Off Peak calls in trains per hour (tph)

  • Reading – 4,2
  • Twyford – 4,2
  • Maidenhead – 6,4
  • Taplow – 4.4
  • Burnham 4,4
  • Slough – 6,4
  • Langley – 4,4
  • Iver – 4,4
  • West Drayton – 6,4
  • Hayes & Harlington – 4.4
  • Southall – 4,4
  • Hanwell – None to Reading/Maidenhead
  • West Ealing – 4.4
  • Ealing Broadway – 6,4
  • Acton Main Line – None to Reading/Maidenhead
  • Paddington – 6,4

Note.

  1. 4,2 means 4 tph in the Peak and 2 tph in the Off Peak.
  2. It would appear that all stations except Reading and Twyford have at least four tph all day.
  3. Stations between Hayes & Harlington and Ealing Broadway will get another six tph all day going to Heathrow.
  4. Acton Main Line station will get another four tph all day going to Heathrow.

This gives the following frequencies.

  • Reading – 4,2
  • Twyford – 4,2
  • Maidenhead – 6,4
  • Taplow – 4.4
  • Burnham 4,4
  • Slough – 6,4
  • Langley – 4,4
  • Iver – 4,4
  • West Drayton – 6,4
  • Hayes & Harlington – 10,10
  • Southall – 10,10
  • Hanwell – 6,6
  • West Ealing – 10,10
  • Ealing Broadway – 12,10
  • Acton Main Line – 4,4
  • Paddington – 12,10

I can draw these conclusions from the figures.

  • Every station has a good service from Crossrail.
  • But could Reading and Twyford have another two tph in the Off-Peak to make the services four tph all day?
  • Paddington station would need perhaps two or three platforms dedicated to Crossrail to handle twelve tph.
  • The maximum frequency of 12 tph should be easily handled with conventional signalling and could be increased with modern digital signalling.

It looks like running the Western services of Crossrail from Paddington could be a possibility.

Consider.

  • The Reading and Maidenhead services will be run on routes with mainly conventional signalling.
  • The Class 345 trains, which each can hold 1,500 passengers would give a massive capacity boost to the outer Crossrail stations.
  • Heathrow services can be run with Class 345 trains, when the signalling problems are solved.
  • Higher frequencies to and from Paddington may enable trains to provide a better interchange with branch line services, at West Ealing, Slough, Maidenhead and Twyford.

But I think that separating these services initially from Crossrail will have substantial operational and development  benefits.

  • Paddington to Reading is essentially a self-contained railway, with a major branch to Heathrow and four small branch lines worked by diesel shuttle trains.
  • The route, with the exception of the Heathrow branch, has conventional signalling.
  • The signalling problems of the Heathrow branch can be solved independently.
  • The Western branches of Crossrail could be fully debugged before trains start running through the Core Tunnel.

I also wonder, if the route could be useful for mileage accumulation, driver training  and certification of newly-delivered trains.

Is It Just About The Money?

The original Modern Railways extract said that the proposal was to help provide TfL with extra revenue.

It must bring in revenue and especially when the Heathrow Branch is working reliably to plan.

Faster Journeys

Modern Class 345 trains have the following advantages over the current British Rail-era Class 156 trains.

  • They are slightly faster.
  • They have better acceleration.
  • They are modern trains designed for short dwell times at stations.

It would be very likely, that journey times between Paddington and Reading, will improve..

Passenger Behaviour

But passengers may change their behaviour .

  • Will passengers use Crossrail as a lower-cost alternative to Heathrow Express?
  • Will passengers use Crossrail as a faster alternative to the Piccadilly Line?
  • Will passengers,  going between Heathrow and the West and Wales, use Crossrail to and from Reading, with a change at Hayes & Harlingon?
  • Will passengers on branch lines find the extra capacity helpful, when travelling to London or Reading?

In addition, as I said earlier, I think opening Paddington to Reading early,, could make finishing the Crossrail project easier.

If nothing else, it shortens the to-do list!

GWR Might Object

Will GWR object to losing their local services between Reading and London to Crossrail?

Consider the following issues.

Heathrow Express

GWR have taken over the lucrative Heathrow Express.

  • Heathrow Express will be run using 110 mph Class 387 trains in an Airport Express configuration.
  • Will these trains be less of a block on the line, than the 100 mph Class 332 trains currently running the service?
  • Currently both Class 332 and Class 800 trains take nine 9½ minutes to go between Paddington and Heathrow Airport Junction.

Perhaps GWR could squeeze in extra trains, by replacing the Class 332 trains with faster Class 387 trains?

The more trains they could squeeze into Paddington, the larger their revenue.

Reading, Bedwyn and Oxford Services

I am not sure, but it does appear that GWR services to places like Bedwyn and Oxford will in future be run using the new five-car Class 802 trains.

  • The trains will surely use electric traction on the fast lines to Paddington.
  • Will passengers going between Bedwyn/Oxford and stations between Reading and Paddington, be happy to change at Reading?

As it appears that Bedwyn/Oxford services might not need to use the slow lines, these will be used  exclusively by  Crossrail and the occasional freight.

Could Bedwyn And Oxford Services Be Combined?

There is also the possibility that to save paths on the fast lines between Reading and Paddington, that hourly Bedwyn and Oxford services could be combined and split at Reading.

  • GWR already splits and joins Class 387 trains at Reading.
  • Class 800/802 trains are designed to be split and joined quickly.
  • Timings to the two destinations are about the same, being around 75 minutes.

Two five-car Class 802 trains with one running to Bedwyn and one to Oxford might be a good idea. Especially, as it saves one high-speed path between Paddington and Reading  and possibly a few trains.

It does look, that Oxford and Bedwyn services could be moved out of the way of Crossrail services.

Will There Be Enough Class 800/802 Trains?

In Huge Increase In Capacity On GWR As Final Class 800 Enters Traffic, I wrote that there are now only fifteen trains of a total fleet of 93 trains to be delivered.

I suspect that GWR can find enough trains to run Bedwyn/Oxford services to London.

Too Many Class 387 Trains!

But it does strike me that GWR will have too many Class 387 trains, if Crossrail takes over local services to Reading and Class 802 trains take over services to Bedwyn and Oxford.

Twelve Class 387 trains are being converted to take over Heathrow Express services, but that still leaves GWR with 33 trains to find a use for.

It seems like Greater Anglia’s twenty Class 379 trains, they could become homeless orphans.

Will The Class 769 Trains Get In The Way?

Original plans talked about using 100 mph Class 769 trains to back up the Class 387 trains, whilst twelve of these were updated to Heathrow Express standard.

But it appears now from Wikipedia and other sources on the Internet, that these trains will concentrate on the following services.

  • Reading To Gatwick Airport
  • Reading to Oxford

I can’t find any reference of them continuing to serve Paddington, so it looks like they should keep out of the way.

Serving The Henley And Marlow Branches

Henley-on-THames station on the Henley Branch Line and Bourne End station on the Marlow Branch Line are having their Peak services to London gradually withdrawn.

If Crossrail took over services between Reading and Paddington, the frequencies in the Peak at the interchange stations would be.

  • Maindenhead for the Marlow Branch Line – 6 tph,
  • Twyford for the Henley Branch Line – 4 tph

Two tph at each interchange station run limited stop to and from Paddington.

The trains will each hold 1,500 passengers.

Could it be that GWR feel that the increased frequencies and reduced journey times to and from Paddington mean that there is a lesser need to run a direct diesel service.

But I could see the following.

  • A four-car shuttle train, which could be a Class 769 bi-mode, at two tph on the Henley Branch Line.
  • Two tph on the Marlow Branch Line.

At least GWR have the trains to provide a service to match customer demand.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a radical plan for these branches.

No Diesel Running Into Paddington

Every train run by GWR and Crossrail, between Paddington and Reading, would use electric traction.

  • Now that large numbers of Class 800/802 trains have been delivered, it can’t be long before the last InterCity 125 runs into Paddington on a regular service.
  • Class 165 and Class 166 diesel trains will be refurbished and sent to the West Country.
  • Bedwyn and Oxford services will be run by Class 800/802 trains.

In addition all GWR trains running into Paddington will be 125 mph units running on electricity.

What is that worth as a marketing hook?

Conclusion

It looks to me, that running a full Western Branch service for Crossrail could be a good move.

So will it happen in 2019?

I think it all depends on solving the signalling issues on the Heathrow Branch!

But I feel, it should be possible, otherwise TfL wouldn’t have suggested it!

December 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Axed Rail Routes May Be Reopened Under New Department for Transport Plans

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The Department for Transport has confirmed it is actively working with a number of groups to explore the possibility of reopening old rail routes, axed under the so-called Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

It follows a call by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling a year ago, encouraging those in the public and private sector to submit proposals for potential projects to regenerate old lines.

It also quotes a Department of Transport spokesman.

This is on top of exploring reopening the Northumberland Line for passenger use, supporting the reinstatement of stations on the Camp Hill Line, developing new rail links to Heathrow and a new station at Cambridge South

He apparently, didn’t say more because of confidentiality.

The article then talks about the success of the Borders Railway in Scotland.

So is this just a good news story for Christmas or is there a plan to reopen old railway lines?

I feel that a several factors are coming together, that make the reopening of railway lines and the creation of new ones more likely.

Digital Signalling

Signalling is expensive, but where you have rolling stock to a high modern standard, with digital in-cab signalling, does this mean that new or reopened rail lines can be built without conventional signalling?

In addition, installing digital signalling on some routes, would probably make it easier to add a new station. Surely, it must just be a reprogramming of the route!

It could be a problem that, I would expect that on a digitally-signalled line, all trains must be capable of using it. But in many areas of the country, like East Anglia, these routes will be run by new trains.

Digital signalling must also make it easier to design more efficient single-track railways, with perhaps a passing loop to allow higher frequencies.

More Efficient Track Construction

Network Rail and their contractors and suppliers are getting better and more efficient at building track and bridges through difficult terrain and places, judging by some of their construction in recent years, such as the Acton Dive-Under and the Ordsall Chord. They have also overseen some notable successes in the refurbishment of viaducts and tunnels.

It should also be noted that the reopening of the Borders Railway was a successful project in terms of the engineering and was completed on budget and on time.

According to Wikipedia, though there was criticism of the infrastructure.

This is said.

The line’s construction has been described as resembling a “basic railway” built to a tight budget and incorporating a number of cost-saving features, such as using elderly two-carriage diesel trains and running the line as single track.

But looking back on the line from over three years since it opened, it has certainly been judged by many to be an undoubted success.

Would it have had the same level of success, if it had been built as a double-track electrified railway?

Single-Track Lines

The Borders Railway is a good example of an efficient single-track railway, that runs a half-hourly service.

Other routes like the East Suffolk Line and the Felixstowe Branch Line, show how good design can handle more than the most basic levels of traffic, with perhaps selective double track or a well-placed passing loop.

They may be dismissed by rail purists as basic railways, but when well-designed, they are able to provide the service that is needed along the route, for a construction cost that is affordable.

I would though advocate, that if a new single-track railway is built, that provision is made where possible to be able to add the second track. But not at too great an expense or to provide a service level that will never be needed.

I believe that good design of a new railway can cut the construction cost by a fair amount.

Single-Platform Stations

Several of the new stations built in recent years have been stations with only a single-platform.

  • Cranbrook – A station in Devon on the West of England Main Line to serve a new housing development.
  • Ebbw Vale Parkway – A parkway station in Ebbw Vale.
  • Galashiels – A station, that handled 356,000 passengers last year. It is a unique station on a narrow site, that shares facilities with a large bus station on the other side of the road. It is a very functional transport interchange.
  • James Cook – A basic but practical station, that serves the hospital in Middlesbrough. – It cost just over £2million in 2014.
  • Newcourt – A £4million station handling over 100,000 passengers per year.
  • Pye Corner – A basic station in Newport handling nearly 100,000 passengers per year.

The stations have several common characteristics.

  • They can all handle at least a four-car train.
  • The single-platform is used for services in both directions.
  • Disabled access is either level or by a gently-sloping ramp.

Only James Cook station has a footbridge over the track.

These single-platform stations must cost less, as for instance a footbridge with lifts costs upwards of a million pounds.

Note that of the nine stations on the Borders Railway only three have two platforms.

Single-Platform Terminal Stations

There are also several terminal stations in the UK with only one platform.

  • Aberdare – Handling over 500,000 passengers per year.
  • Aberystwyth – Handling around 300,000 passengers per year.
  • Alloa – Handling around 400,000 passengers per year.
  • Aylesbury Vale Parkway – Handling over 100,000 passengers per year.
  • Blackpool South – Handling over 100,000 passengers per year.
  • Exmouth – Handling nearly a million passengers per year.
  • Felixstowe – Handling around 200,000 passengers per year.
  • Henley-on-Thames – Handling around 800,000 passengers per year.
  • Marlow – Handling nearly 300,000 passengers per year.
  • Merthyr Tydfil – Handling around 500,000 passengers per year.
  • North Berwick – Handling around 600,000 passengers per year.
  • Redditch– Handling over a million passengers per year.
  • Seaford – Handling over 500,000 passengers per year.
  • Shepperton – Handling around 400,000 passengers per year.
  • Sheringham – Handling around 200,000 passengers per year.
  • Walton-on-the-Naze – Handing around 130,000 passengers per year
  • Windsor & Eton Central – Handling nearly two million passengers per year.

Many of these stations have only a single hourly train. whereas Redditch and Windsor & Eton Central stations have three trains per hour (tph).

As a single terminal platform can probably handle four tph, I suspect that most terminals for branch lines could be built with just a single platform.

No Electrification

Chris Grayling has said that the East West Rail Link will be built without electrification.

I wasn’t surprised.

  • Network Rail has a very poor performance in installing electrification.
  • There have been complaints about the visual intrusion of the overhead gantries.
  • Electrification can cause major disruption to road traffic during installation, as bridges over the railway have to be raised.

In addition, I’ve been following alternative forms of low- or zero-carbon forms of train and feel they could offer a viable alternative

Bi-Mode, Hydrogen And Battery-Electric Trains

When the Borders Railway was reopened, unless the line had been electrified, it had to be run using diesel trains.

But in the intervening three years, rolling stock has developed and now a new or reopened railway doesn’t have to be electrified to be substantially served by electric trains.

  • Bi-Mode trains are able to run on both diesel and electric power and Hitachi’s Class 800 trains are successfully in service. They will be shortly joined by Porterbrook’s innovative Class 769 trains.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains have already entered service in Germany and they are being developed for the UK.
  • Battery-electric trains have already been successfully demonstrated in the UK and will enter service in the next few years.

All of these types of train, will be able to run on a new railway line without electrification.

Bi-mode trains are only low-carbon on non-electrified lines, whereas the other trains are zero-carbon.

The trains on the Borders Railway must be prime candidates for replacement with hydrogen-powered or battery-electric trains.

Adding It All Up

Adding up the factors I have covered in this section leads me to conclude that rail developments over the last few years have made it possible to create a new railway line with the following characteristics.

  • An efficient mainly single-track layout.
  • Single-platform stations.
  • A single-platform terminal station capable of handling well upwards of a million passengers per year.
  • Service levels of up to four trains per hour.
  • Zero-carbon operation without electrification.
  • Low levels of visual and noise intrusion.

The new railway will also be delivered at a lower cost and without major disruption to surrounding road and rail routes.

The Need For More Housing And Other Developments

There is a very large demand for new housing and other developments all over the UK.

Several proposed rail projects are about connecting new developments with the rail network.

In London Overground Extension To Barking Riverside Gets Go Ahead, I listed a few developments in London, where developers and their financial backers, were prepared to put up around £20,000 for each house to fund decent rail-based transport links.

Obviously, developments in London are expensive, but with all the new developments, that have been built close to stations in the last few years, I suspect that infrastructure financiers. like Legal and General and Aviva, know how much being by a rail station is worth.

Conclusion

Both public and private infrastructure financiers will take advantage of the good railway and rolling stock engineering, which will mean the necessary rail links to new developments will be more affordable and zero-carbon.

December 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Werrington Dive-Under – 8th November 2018

In Issue 865 of Rail Magazine, there is an article, which is entitled NR Primed To Start Work On £200m ECML Dive-Under.

This is said about construction of the dive-under.

Devegetation has already commenced in the area, while work compounds and access roads are due to be constructed before the end of the year (when the main construction sequence is expected to begin).

The dive-under is expected to enter service in 2021.

The article also says that the Cock Lane footbridge will be replaced with a longer truss bridge to span the widened alignment.

These pictures show the current Cock Lane footbridge.

Whilst I took the pictures there was a lot of noise from chain saws and other machinery, as the vegetation was cleared.

The Track Layout

Note how the tracks are divided into a set of two on the Western side and three on the Eastern.

The Western pair are the so-called Stamford lines, which go off to the West through Stamford station.

A diagram in Rail Magazine shows how they will be moved apart and twenty-five metres to the West. This will enable the two new tracks to be laid between them, which will then dive under the East Coast Main Line and connect to the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line towards Spalding, Sleaford and Doncaster.

This Google Map shows the Cock Lane Bridge as it crosses the tracks.

The Cock Lane Bridge is at the bottom of the map.

Doing The Work

It looks a simple plan, that NR believes could be executed with a nine-day closure of the East Coast Main Line. This would be needed to tunnel under the three tracks of the main line.

But I suspect that Network Rail could have a series of cunning plans to keep a limited service going.

  • There will probably be a number of bi-mode Class 800 trains available.
  • Some of the sixteen InterCity 125 trains could be retained.

The diesels and bi-modes could be able to use the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line and other routes without electrification to sneak through.

They might also use an interim layout of lines at Werrington to keep the service going.

Extra Electrification

It appears to me that not all tracks are electrified.

The Northbound Stamford Line certainly has electrification, but it appears that the Southbound doesn’t.

Given that in the next decade, it is likely that battery/electric or electro-diesel trains or locomotives will use the route throughStamford station to Leicester and Nuneaton, would it be worthwhile to fully electrify the Stamford Lines.

This image captured from a Network Rail video, clearly shows the new Cock Lane footbridge and that the following lines are electrified.

  • The Northbound Stamford Line on the left.
  • The three tracks of the East Coast Main Line on the right.

The actual dive-under and the Southbound Stamford Line appear not to have electrification.

Retention Of Diesel Trains

But surely, if there are a few extra diesel trains around for a couple of years or at least until the end of 2019, would it help to sort out some of the other problems on the East Coast Main Line.

 

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Paddington Fiasco

Everybody is looking for a scapegoat for the problems at Paddington station, that is reported in this article on the BBC, which is entitled Paddington Station: Passengers Face Major Disruption.

Tony Miles of Modern Railways was on BBC Breakfast this morning and he explained what happened.

The Class 802 train was accumulating the 2,000 miles it needs before it can be accepted by Great Western Railway.

The trains are designed to be able to change from diesel to electric power and vice-versa at line speed.

This train was raising the pantograph to access the pverhead wires on a section of British Rail-era overhead wires at Ealing.

The pantograph is thought to have bounced and the overhead wires have broken and become entangled in the pantograph.

Modern electrification with its heavyweight gantries has each line wired separately, but according to Tony Miles, the British Rail lightweight system, means if one comes down, they all fail.

I should add, that several times in the last ten years on the East Coast Main and Great Eastern Main Lines, I have been on trains that have been stranded by failed overhead wires.

In addition, over the last few years, it has been a nightmare travelling to Ipswich, as Network Rail have been renewing the overhead wires to a modern standard.

There are still many miles of this sub-standard British Rail-era overhead wiring all over the country.

It should all be replaced with new modern systems.

There is a problem though with the new modern electrification systems. They are ugly and many believe they are totally out-of-place in the countryside.

There is also the problem caused by the disruption, when the old systems are removed.

Conclusion

This sub-standard overhead electrification should have been removed years ago.

 

October 18, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Introduction Of Class 800 Trains On The Great Western Railway

I have travelled about six times on Class 800 trains on the Great Western Railway.

I have not had any train-related problems and on every journey, the trains have arrived close to schedule.

That even included an out-and-back trip to Swansea from Paddington on a Saturday.

There doesn’t seem to be too many complaints or news stories on the Internet. Although, I do feel some passengers are missing the InterCity 125s and others talk of hard seats.

I would also not complain about the view from a window seat and I have found the trains to be a good camera platform.

Rail Magazine’s Verdict

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled Does Great Western Railway’s Class 800 IET pass the test?.

This is their main conclusion.

The Great Western Railway Class 800 is a good train. It is quiet and comfortable, with better legroom for those travelling in Standard Class. Its acceleration on electric is borderline spectacular, while its diesel performance appears better than predicted.

They also say, that First Class is not worth the extra, whereas they felt it was was in the InterCity 125s.

Conclusion

There’s nothing much wrong operationally or passenger-wise with the Class 800 trains, that will not be put right by minor adjustments in the next couple of years.

 

August 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

A New Train On The North London Line

I was waiting at Gospel Oak station on the North London Line, when this train went through.

Checking with Real Time Trains, the Class 800 train was going from Hitachi’s depot at Doncaster to North Pole Depot.

July 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

MML Wires Could Reach Market Harborough

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the June 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

It appears that Network Rail have a problem.

So Network Rail are now looking for a twelve mile long extension lead.

A Network Rail spokesman, says they are looking at various options, including an underground cable or extending the Overhead Line Equipment.

Extending The Electrification To Market Harborough

There must be a scenario, where extending the electrification as far as Market Harborough, is a feasible and cost-effective engineering solution.

Consider, the MML between Market Harborough station and Glendon Junction, where the Corby Branch Line joins.

  • The distance is less than twelve miles.
  • There are no stations, which can be a pain to electrify.
  • The track through Market Harborough station is being re-aligned, so the station should be easy to electrify.
  • Glendon Junction is the only junction.
  • The electrification will reach as far as Glendon Junction from St. Pancras.
  • The route is is a double-track railway, which appears to be over fairly level terrain.
  • There appears to be wide margins on either side of the railway.
  • There are about half-a-dozen bridges over the railway, some of which could have been fairly recently built or rebuilt.

I doubt, it would be one of the most difficult of electrification projects.

I also suspect, that after their electrification fiascoes of the last few years, Network Rail might have learned enough to do this at an affordable cost.

For example, if the bridges are a problem, they might be able to use the technique I described in Novel Solution Cuts Cardiff Bridge Wiring Cost.

East Midlands Trains Services To And From London

If you look at the current long distance service of East Midlands Trains, there are the following four services between St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield stations.

  • Nottingham (stopping) – Stops at Luton Airport Parkway, Bedford, Wellingborough, Kettering, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough and Beeston.
  • Sheffield (semi-fast) – Stops at Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby and Chesterfield
  • Nottingham (fast) – Stops at Market Harborough, Leicester and East Midlands Parkway
  • Sheffield (fast) – Stops at Leicester, Derby and Chesterfield.

Note.

  1. Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Psrkway, Derby, Nottingham, Chesterfield and Sheffield stations, all get at least two trains per hour (tph) to and from London.
  2. Include the Corby service and Bedford, Wellingborough and Kettering have two tph to and from London.
  3. All trains stop at Leicester station, which gives the city four tph to and from London.
  4. Market Harborough to Leicester is only sixteen miles.

Bi-Mode Trains

From 2021, it is expected that these services will be run by 125 mph bi-mode trains.

So how will electrification help these bi-mode trains?

Class 802 Trains

Suppose the services were to be run by a Class 802 train, which can do at least 125 mph using electric power.

An article on Christian Wolmar’s web site, is entitled Bombardier’s Survival Was The Right Kind Of Politics.

This is said.

The Hitachi bi-mode trains can only go 110 mph when using diesel.

The article was written a year ago, so this figure may be higher now!

So a Hitachi bi-mode will be able to go to the end of the electrification at either Glendon Junction or Market Harborough, as fast as the track allows and then at 110 mph on diesel.

Currently, services between St. Pancras and London take around seventy to eighty minutes.

What difference would the planned electrification to Glendon Junction make to this time?

Consider.

  • Electrification to Glendon Junction or Market Harborough station could save more time, through faster running.
  • Electrification to Market Harborough would mean only sixteen miles to Leicester would be on diesel.
  • Electrification at Market Harborough station would cut time for those services stopping at the station.
  • Track improvement could allow more 125 mph running using electric power.
  • Modern in-cab digital signalling might allow sections of even faster running under electric power.
  • Modern trains should save time at stations.

I’m certain that the right combination of improvements to track, stations and trains, will mean all services between St. Pancras and Leicester would be around an hour with Class 802 trains.

Bombardier’s Proposed 125 mph Aventra Bi-Mode

Bmbardier have announced a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra, which I wrote about in Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

I said this about the train.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.

This train with its faster speed on diesel would certainly achieve a time between St. Pancras and Leicester of under an hour.

I also think that this time will be achieved, whether or not, the wires are extended to Market Harborough.

Improving The Track

Many politicians, union leaders and environmentalists, see electrification as the main answer to better train services.

But before you can electrify a route, the track must be in a state, so that trains can run at a high speed, with long gentle curves and as few junctions as possible.

In the Wikipedia entry for Market Harborough station, there is a section called Future. This is said.

Market Harborough station is located on a large curve on the Midland Main Line, as a result of this line speeds through the station have always been relatively slow, at around 60 mph (100 km/h). The track layout is set to change significantly over the next couple of years as Network Rail engineers set about straightening the line, as part of their overall plan to increase overall line speeds.

How many other sections between Glendon Junction and Leicester could benefit from this type of improvement?

Should Market Harborough To Leicester Be Electrified?

As Market Harborough and Leicester stations are only about sixteen miles apart, surely it would be sensible to electrify this section, if Glendon Junction to Market Harborough is electrified?

I have flown my helicopter from Market Harborough to Leicester and the whole route has the following characteristics.

  • Double-track
  • Fairly level
  • Wide margins.
  • Market Harborough is the only station.
  • There are junctions South of Leicester.

It would be fairly easy to electrify, but for one thing.

Although, there are only half-a-dozen bridges South of Market Harborough, it would appear there to be up to twenty bridges on the Northern section, some of which look like they would need serious work to get the wires underneath.

I have a feeling that electrifying between Market Harborough and Leicester would cause massive disruption to road traffic, if some bridges needed to be demolished and rebuilt.

A bi-mode travelling at upwards of 110 mph would probably achieve the same times on this section, without the disruption.

Conclusion

I think that electrification between Glendon Junction and Market Harborough station will happen.

  • The section wouldn’t be the most difficult to electrify.
  • As there needs to be an electrical connection between Market Harborough and Glendon Junction, electrification of that section of the railway, might be a cost-effective solution to provide the connection.
  • Electrification of Market Harborough station would cut the time to make a call at the station.
  • It would offer enough time reduction on the Midland Main Line, that to give Leicester a four tph service to and from St. Pancras, with a journey time of under an hour, using existing train designs.

However, electrifying from Market Harborough to Leicester would be more difficult and I can’t see it offering any substantial benefits over a modern bi-mode train.

 

 

 

May 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 Trains Seem To Have Bags Of Grunt

This article on Rail Magazine, is entitled IN PICTURES: Greater Anglia Unveils First New Stadler Bi-Mode Train In Switzerland.

The text with the excellent and numerous pictures is informative, with other details of the Class 755 trains.

Dynamic Testing

This starts in July and involves.

  • Sixteen trains.
  • Eight teams.
  • Seven locations across Europe including the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Romania and Switzerland.

No-one can say that Stadler are not being thorough.

Entry Into Service

The bi-modes will enter service in Summer 2019, when Greater Anglia hope to have twenty trains in service.

The first Class 755 train will be delivered to Norwich Crown Point depot in October.

Articulated Trains

The trains are articulated and the article has a good image of two carriages showing the join.

Power Car And Car Lengths

The article says that the engines will be located in a power car. There is also an image looking through the power car.

I’m still unsure, whether the length of the train, includes the power car!

There are two versions.

  • Three-car Class 755/3 trains.
  • Four-car Class 755/4 trains.

This clipped image from Wikipedia shows the train formats.

It looks like the four-car Class 755/4 trains, a three-car train with an extra passenger car.

The Class 755/4 train would appear to consist of the following

  • Two full-length drive cars, with passenger accommodation.
  • A half-length power car.
  • Two  full-length passenger car.

The three-car Class 755/3 car train would not have the extra full-length passenger car.

So in terms of full-length passenger cars, train lengths could be as follows

  • Class 755/3 trains – 3 cars
  • Class 755/4 trains – 4 cars

Wikipedia says that each train has the following number of seats

  • Class 755/3 trains – 166 seats
  • Class 755/4 trains – 224 seats

Calculating the seats per car, gives the following.

  • Class 755/3 trains – 55.3 seats/car.
  • Class 755/4 trains – 56 seats/car.

This suggests to me, that the interior of a passenger car is very similar to that of a driver car, which must mean manufacturing cost savings.

Diesel Engines

Both trains are fitted with  16 litre V8 engines supplied by Deutz which produce 478 kW.

The power cars have the following numbers of engines

  • Class 755/3 trains – 2 engines – 956 kW – 319 kW per car
  • Class 755/4 trains – 4 engines – 1912 kW – 478 kW per car.

I suspect that a fifth car could be added to a Class 755 train. This would have 1912 kW and 382 kW per car.

Add a sixth car and this would have 1912 kW and 319 kW per car.

Comparison With A Class 170 Train

Compare these figures with a diesel Class 170 train, which has 315 kW per car.

Both trains are 100 mph trains, built from aluminium, so I suspect that the performance of three-car Class 755/3 and Class 170 trains are roughly the same.

But the four-car Class 755/4 trains have fifty percent more power per car, than the Class 170 train, so these will be no sedate rural trundlers.

Looking at the power figures for five-car and six-car units, they would still have at least as much power per car as a Class 170 train.

Other Possible Routes For Class 755 Trains

Could Class 755 trains be a replacement for routes like the following?

  •  Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury
  • Basingstoke to Exeter – Stadler are doing third-rail in Liverpool
  • Birmingham to Stansted Airport
  • Cardiff to Holyhead
  • Cardiff to Shrewsbury
  • Holyhead to Liverpool via Halton Curve
  • Holyhead to Manchester Piccadilly
  • Liverpool to Norwich
  • Milford Haven to Manchester Piccadilly
  • Swansea to Shrewsbury

Trains could be any suitable length from three to six cars.

Note that electric FLIRTs can attain 125 mph, so could we see a train with the following characteristics?

  • 125 mph on electrified lines, where operating speeds allow.
  • 100 mph on lines with no electrification.

This performance is not far off Hitachi’s Class 802 train.

The other major competition could be Bombardier’s proposed 125 mph bi-mode Aventra, that I wrote about in Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

The winners will be the train operating companies and their passengers.

A Video

Greater Anglia have put a video on YouTube.

Conclusion

The Class 755 trains certainly seem to have bags of grunt!

May 4, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Thoughts On Trains Between Cardiff And Swansea

I decided to write this post, when, I read this article on Rail Magazine, which is entitled Cardiff-Swansea wires ‘not sensible’.

This is the first paragraph.

Electrifying the railway between Cardiff and Swansea was not a sensible thing to do, according to Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling.

Some would argue that Chris Grayling holds a controversial view!

The Current Route

Before, proposing anything, I’ll list what we have today.

The Tracks

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route and nearly all the route is double track, with sections of triple and quadruple track in places.

This Google Map shows a typical section of the line.

Note.

  • There are two well-spaced tracks.
  • The tracks are not straight, but gently curve.
  • There appears to be a lot of green space on either side.

The line appears to be similar to this most of the way.

I may be wrong, but I don’t think much of the line would be that difficult to electrify, from an engineering point of view.

The signalling and operating speed are described under Infrastructure in the Wikipedia entry for the South Wales Main Line.

The signalling is modern and this is said about operating speed between Cardiff and Swansea.

90 mph (145 km/h) from Newport to east of Bridgend; 75 mph (120 km/h) from east of Bridgend to Swansea Loop North junction (with a small section of 100 mph (160 km/h) track through Pyle station); and 40 mph (65 km/h) from Swansea Loop North Junction to Swansea.

It is not a high speed line, although I suspect that things could be improved.

The Stations

These are the stations between Cardiff and Swansea.

  • Pontyclun – Two platforms – 300,000 passengers – Reopened in 1992
  • Llanharan – Two platforms – 200,000 passengers – Reopened in 2007
  • Pencoed – Two platforms – 200,000 passengers – Reopened in 1992
  • Bridgend – Two platforms – 1,500.00 passengers – Opened in 1850
  • Pyle – Two platforms – 100,000 passengers – Opened in 1850
  • Port Talbot Parkway – Two platforms – 500,000 passengers – Opened in 1850
  • Baglan – Two platforms – 24,000 passengers – Opened in 1996
  • Briton Ferry – Two platforms – 40,000 passengers – Reopened in 1994
  • Neath – Two platforms – 800,000 passengers – Opened in 1850
  • Skewen – Two platforms – 40,000 passengers – Reopened in 1994
  • Llansamlet – Two platforms – 40,000 passengers – Opened in 1994

Note that the passenger figure is the number of passengers given for the past year, rounded to a sensible value.

It should also be noted, that not one of the stations has a layout that allows a fast train to bypass a slow one stopped in the station.

The Trains

Current trains on the route include.

Some parts of the route are also used by freight trains.

As much of the route has a operating speed of less than 100 mph, the operating speed of the two 100 mph trains is determined by the track, not the train.

The Services

There appears to be a fast service between Cardiff and Swansea.

  • It runs with a frequency of three trains per hour (tph)
  • Trains stop at Bridgend, Port Talbot Parkway and Neath.
  • Two services are run by Great Western Railway and one by Arriva Trains Wales
  • Timings are not clock-face by any means.

In an ideal world the frequency of this fast service would be four or more tph.

There is also a slow train, which appears to be once every two hours at the other stations.

It surely should be at least one tph.

Why are the services so limited?

Improving The Route

A new franchise for Wales will be announced and I wouldn’t be surprised to see improvements promised for the route between Cardiff and Swansea.

How could the capacity of the line be increased?

Raising The Operating Speed

I quoted this extract from Wikipedia, about operating speed between Cardiff and Swansea, earlier

90 mph (145 km/h) from Newport to east of Bridgend; 75 mph (120 km/h) from east of Bridgend to Swansea Loop North junction (with a small section of 100 mph (160 km/h) track through Pyle station); and 40 mph (65 km/h) from Swansea Loop North Junction to Swansea.

So except for around Pyle station, the operating speed is below and sometimes well below 100 mph.

Improving the operating speed to as high as possible will reduce the timings between Cardiff and Swansea.

Elimination Of Slower Trains

There is no point in raising the operating speed, if trains that cannot cruise at the improved speed are still running on the line.

Modern Trains With A Fast Dwell Time

Modern trains like Class 800 trains, Desiros and Aventras are designed to be able to stop from line speed, load and unload passengers and regain line speed as fast as possible.

Off the current trains working on the line, only Class 800 trains are in this category.

Step-Free Access Between Platform And Train

All stations between Cardiff and Swansea should be made step-free between platform and train.

This will help the trains keep to the timetable.

Allow Faster Trains To Overtake Slower Ones

Timetabling is probably made difficult, in that there is nowhere where a fast train can overtake a slower one.

Often this is done in a station, where whilst the slow train sits in the station, the fast train goes straight through.

Rebuilding Some Stations

It might be prudent to rebuild some stations, for better step-free access and allow trains to pass.

Are there any plans for new ones?

Electrification

None of these improvements need or affect any future electrification of the route.

But these improvements don’t need it!

In fact, it might be quite the reverse in that some of the improvements like improving the track may need to be done before electrification!

The Next Generation Of Bi-Mode Trains

In Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power, I discussed Bombardier’s proposed 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.

The information came from this article in Rail Magazine.

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.

If Bombardier are doing this, what are Alstom , CAF, Hitachi, Siemens and Stadler doing.

And I haven’t mentioned hydrogen power!

Conclusion

Put all this together and I’m sure this could be the reasoning behind  Chris Grayling’s statement that electrifying between Cardiff and Swansea is not sensible.

I am coming round to the belief that it might be better spending the electrification money on improving the line between Cardiff and Swansea, so that something like the following is possible.

  • Four fast tph between Cardiff and Swansea.
  • Two slow tph between Cardiff and Port Talbot Parkway stopping at all stations.
  • Two slow tph between Port Talbot Parkway and Swansea stopping at all stations.

Or whatever is needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment