The Anonymous Widower

Is The East-West Rail Link Going For The Freight Market?

I will deal with question in two main sections; West and East.

Freight In The West

In Shapps Supports Beeching Axe Reversals, I talked about the reopening of the Northampton and Marketharborough Line to connect the West Coast and Midland Main Lines..

  • Passenger services could run between Market Harborough or Leicester and Marylebone, Milton Keynes, Oxford or Reading.
  • Multi-modal services could run between freight terminals in the North Midlands and Yorkshire and Southampton Docks.
  • With electrification, it could create the Electric Spine, that was cancelled a few years ago.

Judging by Grant Shapps comments, I do wonder if this scheme is part of the East-West Rail Link.

Look at freight trains between Sheffield or South Yorkshire and Southampton Docks.

  • Currently, they seem to use a route via Chesterfield, Ilkeston, Toton, Burton-on-Trent, Bordesley, Solihull, Warwick Parkway, Banbury, Oxford, Reading and Basingstoke.
  • After the East-West Rail Link and the Northampton and Market Harborough Line are opened, the trains would go via Chesterfield, Ilkeston, East Midland Parkway, Loughborough, Leicester, Market Harborough, Northampton, Milton Keynes, Bletchley, Bicester, Oxford, Reading and Basingstoke.

The advantages of the new second route would appear to be.

  • It doesn’t involve a Grand Tour of Birmingham.
  • It only involves the next phase of the East-West Rail Link.
  • It is partially-electrified.
  • It would be relatively easy to electrify between Didcot and Bletchley.
  • Innovative locomotives like the Class 93 locomotive might be ideal for the route.

I do suspect that the new route will be substantially quicker.

Freight In The East

If the East-West Rail Link will improve freight services in the West, what will it do in the East?

I wrote about freight at the Eastern end of the route in Roaming Around East Anglia – Freight Trains Through Newmarket.

This was the introduction to that article.

The East West Rail Consortium plan to change the route of freight trains to and from Haven Ports; Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich to the West of Kennett station.

In this document on the East-West Rail Consortium web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

How would these changes affect Newmarket and the horse-racing industry in the town?

I then examined the affects in detail.

My conclusions were that it will be a difficult project to get approved, as Newmarket won’t like a double-track freight railway through the centre.

Summary Of Freight Routes Using The East-West Rail Link

As far as I can see, these will be the major freight routes using the link.

Felixstowe and Birmingham

Ipswich, Newmarket, Cambridge, Bletchley, Nuneaton and Castle Bromwich

Felixstowe and Bristol

Ipswich, Newmarket, Cambridge, Bletchley, Oxford and Swindon

Felixstowe and Cardiff

Ipswich, Newmarket, Cambridge, Bletchley, Oxford, Swindon and Newport

Felixstowe and Glasgow

Ipswich, Newmarket, Cambridge, Bletchley, Stafford, Crewe, Preston and Carlisle

Felixstowe and Liverpool

Ipswich, Newmarket, Cambridge, Bletchley, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn

Felixstowe and Trafford Park

Ipswich, Newmarket, Cambridge, Bletchley, Stafford Crewe, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Oxford Road

Southampton and Birmingham

Basingstoke, Oxford, Bletchley, Nuneaton and Castle Bromwich

Southampton and Glasgow

Basingstoke, Oxford,  Bletchley, Stafford, Crewe, Preston and Carlisle

Southampton and Liverpool

Basingstoke, Oxford, Bletchley, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn

Southampton and Sheffield

Basingstoke, Oxford, Bletchley, Northampton, Market Harborough, Leicester, East Midlands Parkway, Ilkeston and Chesterfield

Southampton and Trafford Park

Basingstoke, Oxford, Bletchley, Stafford Crewe, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Oxford Road

Note, that I have ignored routes like Felixstowe and Leeds or London Gateway and Trafford Park, which will avoid the East-West Rail Link.

Conclusion

The East-West Rail Link is going to be a very important freight route.

Winners And Losers

Will there be objections in places like Cambridge, Market Harborough and Newmarket, which will see a large increase in freight traffic?

On the other hand, some places like Banbury, Birmingham and North London will see a reduction in freight traffic.

Others like Oxford would see little difference in the numbers of trains.

Electrification

The East-West Rail Link connects to five electrified main lines at Oxford, Bletchley, Bedford, Sandy and Cambridge.

For freight’s sake, I think it should be electrified to make the most of new motive power, like the Class 93 locomotive and reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

 

October 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Haughley Junction Improvements

This article in the East Anglian Daily Times is entitled New Tracks. New Platforms At Ipswich Station. And Faster Trains. Will East Anglia’s Rail Bosses Be Able To Deliver?.

This is said about Haughley Junction.

Mr Bradley said improving Haughley junction, making it a full double-track junction, would mainly benefit cross-country services but it would reduce a potential main-line bottleneck.

This Google Map shows the junction.

Haughley Junction is towards the top of the map.

  • The track going vaguely to the North-West goes towards Bury St. Edmunds, Newmarket and Cambridge.
  • The track going North goes to Diss and Norwich.
  • Ipswich is to the South.

Work is eased by having a large space on the Eastern side of the junction, but where the railway crosses Station Road, there is a level crossing, which is to be removed.

It looks to me, that this is one of those projects, that can grow to be very complicated.

Consider.

  • Will a flyover be built or will it be a flat junction?
  • Will the main Ipswich-Norwich line be moved to the East.
  • How will engineers deal with the level crossing closure?
  • Will any electrification be added towards Cambridge?

With regards to the last question, it should be noted that Cambridge and Haughley Junction are forty-two miles apart.

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains can replace each diesel engine with a battery pack. This will be done on the South Wales Metro.

In .Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s’, I investigate what Stadler have said about Class 755 trains running on batteries.

  • Ranges of up to forty miles are quoted.
  • Batteries could be fitted to Greater Anglia’s bi-mode Flirts at an overhaul.

I would expect that the electrification would be extended towards Cambridge by as much as is needed to make sure that battery operation between Ipswich and Cambridge is possible.

I have just flown my helicopter along the line, as far as Chippenham Junction.

  • The line splits at Chippenham Junction, with one branch going through Newmarket to Cambridge and the other to Ely.
  • Chippenham Junction is seventeen miles from Cambridge.
  • The route betwen Chippenham Junction and Haughley Junction appears to have been cleared for el;ectrification.
  • Electrification through Newmarket would be expensive, as there is a tunnel, a section of single track and possibly a station rebuild.
  • Chippenham Junction and Haughley Junction are about twenty-five miles apart.
  • Chippenham Junction and Ely are about fourteen miles apart.

If I was in charge of this project, I would certainly investigate the possibility of electrification between Haughley and Chippenham Junctions

  • Class 755 trains with batteries would be able to run between Chippenham Junction and Cambridge or Ely on battery power.
  • The East West Rail Consortium is proposing a Park-And Ride station, which could be called A14 Parkway.
  • How much money would train operators save, if this section was el;ectrified?
  • Power for the electrification would be picked up at Haughley Junction.

Would it allow tri-mode Class 93 locomotives to be able to go between Felixstowe and Ely only using a relatively small amount of diesel compared to a Class 66 locomotive?

I also think that electrifying between Chippenham and Haughley Junctions is low risk electrification.

  • The route has been gauge-cleared.
  • Thee new Class 755 trains can run without it.
  • On the other hand they will run more efficiently when it has been installed.
  • It would enable Class 93 locomotives to run on electricity.

Too many electrification projects need new trains. These are already in service.

Conclusion

There is more to this project than meets the eye.

 

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

Europhoenix Earmarks ‘91s’ For European Freight Use

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

Class 91 locomotives are the locomotives at one end of an InterCity 225 train.

The picture shows three Class 91 locomotives lined up at Kings Cross station. Locomotives are normally at the Northern end of the train, with driving van trailers, which are dummy locomotives with a cab, at the other end of the train. The locomotives have a pantograph.

They are electric locomotives, with an unusual transmission, described like this in Wikipedia.

The locomotive body shells are of all-steel construction. Unusually, the motors are body mounted and drive bogie-mounted gearboxes via cardan shafts. This reduces the unsprung mass and hence track wear at high speeds. The locomotive also features an underslung transformer so that the body is relatively empty compared to contemporary electric locomotives. Much of the engineering specification for the locomotive was derived from the research and operational experience of the APT-P.

Wikipedia also says this about the locomotives.

  •  Have a power of 4.83 MW.
  • Have a weight of 81.5 tonnes.
  • Can work on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Have a service speed of 125 mph
  • Have a service speed of 110 mph going blunt end first.
  • Can operate as a  normal locomotive.

According to Wikipedia, there are a total of 31 locomotives.

They are powerful locomotives, that were designed to haul nine heavily-loaded coasches at 140 mph.

Europheonix’s Plan

Europhoenix, which is described as a railway locomotive hire company by Wikipedia, intend to do the following, according to the Rail Magazine article.

Up to twenty Class 91 locomotives will be acquired and they will be used for freight in Eastern Europe.

Two have already been purchased and these are being readied for tests.

This paragraph gives more details on the modifications and how they will be used.

EP owner Glenn Edwards told RAIL on October 4 that the locomotives would work in permanent pairs, with the blunt ends coupled together. Currently, ‘91s’ are not suitable for heavy freight haulage duty, so in partnership with Voith they will be re-geared to a lower rating to enable them to operate in this manner.

A few of my thoughts!

The Double Locomotive

British Rail gets a lot of criticism.

Some of this is justified, but on the other hand, some of their track,locomotive and carriage design has admirably stood the test of time.

In his quote, Glenn Edwards seems very confident that the engines can work in permanent pairs.

As the Class 91 locomotives were designed to work as normal locomotives, perhaps the ability to work as a pair, was part of the original specification.

But as no-one ever used them to haul heavy freight trains, the feature was never needed.

British Rail has form in using pairs of electric engines to haul freight.

 

The picture shows a pair of Class 86 locomotives, which were built in 1965-66, pulling a heavy freight train through Canonbury in 2019.

I also must show this picture of a British Rail-era Class 90 locomotive double-heading a heavy freight train with a Class 66 diesel locomotive.

Is this the ultimate bi-mode locomotive for the UK?

I’ve never seen the formation again or found any reference on the Internet.

I wouldn’t be surprised to be told, that running two Class 91 locomotives, blunt end together, was part of the original design.

The pair would be a powerful beast.

  • Almost ten MW of power.
  • Eight driven axles.

But the pair would have a lowish axle loading of around twenty tonnes.

Modifications Planned

The only modification noted in the Rail Magazine article is to change the gearing from that needed for a 140 mph passenger train to that needed for a slower freight train.

Hopefully the manufacturer of the original gear-boxes are still in existence.

Other Information

There is a discussion about these locomotives on this topic on RailUK Forums.

One post says this.

I spoke to a colleague the other day who said ROG were getting 2X91’s for testing the new wires on the MML.

ROG is Rail Operations Group and they are should be well-qualified to do the testing.

According to Wikipedia, there is a lot of space inside the locomotive, so could this space be used to house instrumentation used to test the overhead wires?

Could Pairs Of Class 91 Locomotives Be Used For Freight In The UK?

I think it all depends on the routes, the amount of electrification and the economics.

On the other hand new Stadler Class 93 locomotives might be a better alternative.

Conclusion

It does look like Eirophoenix have organised an export deal, that is to the benefit of several parties.

October 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Batteries For Bombardier Electrostars

This article on the Railway Gazette is entitle Bombardier And Leclanché Sign Battery Traction MoU.

This is the second paragraph.

According to Bombardier, Leclanché will deliver ‘imminently’ its first performance demonstrator battery systems, after which it will be in line to supply traction equipment worth in excess of €100m for use in more than 10 rolling stock projects.

In Stadler’s New Tri-Mode Class 93 Locomotive, I investigated who was providing two large suitcase-sized batteries for Stadler’s new Class 93 locomotive.

In the related post, I said this about the batteries in the Class 93 locomotive, which I describe as a hybrid locomotive.

The Class 93 Locomotive Is Described As A Hybrid Locomotive

Much of the article is an interview with Karl Watts, who is Chief Executive Officer of Rail Operations (UK) Ltd, who have ordered ten Class 93 locomotives. He says this.

However, the Swiss manufacturer offered a solution involving involving an uprated diesel alternator set plus Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) batteries.

Other information on the batteries includes.

  • The batteries are used in regenerative braking.
  • Batteries can be charged by the alternator or the pantoraph.
  • Each locomotive has two batteries slightly bigger than a large suitcase.

Nothing is said about the capacity of the batteries, but each could be say 200 litres in size.

I have looked up manufacturers of lithium-titanate batteries and there is a Swiss manufacturer of the batteries called Leclanche, which has this data sheet, that describes a LT30 Power cell 30Ah.

  • This small cell is 285 mm x 178.5 mm x 12 mm.
  • It has a storage capacity of 65 Wh
  • It has an expedited lifetime of greater than 15,000 cycles.
  • It has an energy density of 60 Wh/Kg or 135 Wh/litre

These cells can be built up into much larger batteries.

  • A large suitcase is 150 litres and this volume would hold 20 kWh and weigh 333 Kg.
  • A battery of 300 litres would hold 40 kWh. Is this a large Swiss suitcase?
  • A box 2.5 metres x 1 metre x 0.3 metres underneath a train would hold 100 kWh and weigh 1.7 tonnes

These batteries with their fast charge and discharge are almost like supercapacitors.

, It would appear that, if the large suitcase batteries are used the Class 93 locomotive will have an energy storage capacity of 80 kWh.

I wonder how many of these batteries can be placed under a Bombardier Eectrostar.

It looks rather cramped under there, but I’m sure Bombardier have the detailed drawings and some ideas for a bit of a shuffle about. For comparison, this is a selection of pictures of the underneath of the driver car of the new Class 710 trains, which are Aventras.

It looks like Bombardier have done a big tidy-up in changing from Electrostars to Aventras.

In Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch, I came to the conclusion that Class 387 trains were the most likely trains to be converted for battery operation.

I also developed Excel spreadsheets that model the operation of battery trains on the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Line.

AshfordOre

HurstGreenUckfield

Feel free to download and examine.

Size Of Batteries Needed

My calculations in the two spreadsheets are based on the train needing 3 kWh per vehicle-mile to cruise between stations.

To handle the Uckfield Branch, it appears that 290.3 kWh is needed to go South and 310.3 kWh to go North.

I said this earlier.

A box 2.5 metres x 1 metre x 0.3 metres underneath a train would hold 100 kWh and weigh 1.7 tonnes.

So could we put some of these batteries under the train?

The Effect Of More Efficient Trains

My calculations  are based on the train needing 3 kWh per vehicle-mile, but what if the trains are more efficient and use less power?

  • 3 – 290.3 – 310.3
  • 2.5 – 242.6 – 262.6
  • 2 – 194.9 – 214.9
  • 1.5 – 147.2 – 167.2
  • 1 – 99.4 – 119.4

Note.

  1. The first figure is Southbound and the second figure is Northbound.
  2. More power is needed Northbound, as the train has to be accelerated out of Uckfield station on battery power.

The figures clearly show that the more efficient the train, the less battery capacity is needed.

I shall also provide figures for Ashford and Ore.

  • 3 – 288
  • 2.5 – 239.2
  • 2 – 190.4
  • 1.5 – 141.5
  • 1 – 92.7

Note that Westbound and Eastbound energy needs are the same, as both ends are electrified.

I obviously don’t know Bombardier’s plans, but if the train’s energy consumption could be reduced to around 2 kWh per vehicle-mile, a 250 kWh battery on the train would provide enough energy storage for both routes.

Could this be provided by two of Leclanche’s batteries designed to fit a space under the train?

These would be designed to provide perhaps 250 kWh.

What Would Be The Ultimate Range Of A Class 387 Train On Battery Power?

Suppose you have a four-car Class 387 train with 25 kWh of battery power that leaves an electrified station at 60 mph with a full battery.

How far would it go before it came to a lifeless stop?

The battery energy would be 250 kWh.

There would be 20 kWh of kinetic energy in the train.

Ranges with various average energy consumption in kWh per vehicle-mile are as follows.

  • 3 – 22.5 miles
  • 2.5 – 27 miles
  • 2 – 34 miles
  • 1.5 – 45 miles
  • 1 – 67.5 miles

Obviously, terrain, other traffic and the quality of the driving will effect the energy consumption.

But I do believe that a well-designed battery-electric train could easily handle a fifty mile electrification gap.

What Would Be The Rescue Range On One Battery?

One of the main reasons for putting batteries on an electrical multiple unit is to move the train to a safe place for passenger evacuation if the electrification should fail.

This week, there have been two electrification failures in London along, one of which was caused by a failing tree in the bad weather.

I’ll assume the following.

  • The train is a Class 387 train with one 125 kWh battery.
  • The battery is  ninety percent charged.
  • The train will be moved at 40 mph, which has a kinetic energy around 9 kWh.
  • The energy consumption of the train is 3 kWh per vehicle-mile.

The train will use 9 kWh to accelerate the train to line speed, leaving 116 kWh to move the train away from the problem.

With the energy consumption of 3 kWh per vehicle-mile, this would be a very useful 9.5 miles.

Regenerative Braking To Battery On Existing Trains

This has been talked about for the Class 378 trains on the London Overground.

Regenerative braking to batteries on the train, should cut energy use and would the battery help in train recovery from the Thames Tunnel?

What About Aventras?

Comparing the aerodynamics of an Electrostar like a Class 387 train with an Aventra like a Class 710 train, is like comparing a Transit van with a modern streamlined car.

Look at these pictures some of which are full frontal.

It should be noted that in one picture a Class 387 train is shown next to an InterCity 125. Did train designers forget the lessons learned by Terry Miller and his team at Derby.

I wonder how much electricity would be needed to power an Aventra with batteries on the Uckfield branch?

These are various parameters about a Class 387 train.

  • Empty Weight – 174.81 tonnes
  • Passengers – 283
  • Full Weight – 2003 tonnes
  • Kinetic Energy at 60 mph – 20.0 kWh

And these are for a Class 710 train.

  • Empty Weight – 157.8 tonnes
  • Passengers – 700
  • Full Weight – 220.8 tonnes
  • Kinetic Energy at 60 mph – 22.1 kWh

Note.

  1. The Aventra is twenty-seven tonnes lighter. But it doesn’t have a toilet and it does have simpler seating with no tables.
  2. The passenger weight is very significant.
  3. The full Aventra is heavier, due to the large number of passengers.
  4. There is very little difference in kinetic energy at a speed of 60 mph.

I have played with the model for some time and the most important factor in determining battery size is the energy consumption in terms of kWh per vehicle-mile. Important factors would include.

  • The aerodynamics of the nose of the train.
  • The turbulence generated by all the gubbins underneath the train and on the roof.
  • The energy requirements for train equipment like air-conditioing, lighting and doors.
  • The efficiency of the regenerative braking.

As an example of the improvement included in Aventras look at this picture of the roof of a Class 710 train.

This feature probably can’t be retrofitted, but I suspect many ideas from the Aventra can be applied to Electrostars to reduce their energy consumption.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bombardier push the energy consumption of an Electrostar with batteries towards the lower levels that must be possible with Aventras.

 

 

 

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

Two Unrelated (?) Stories About Rail Freight

Today there are two news stories about rail freight on the Internet.

I’ll sketch out a few details from both stories.

Invest In Rail Freight

This is the first paragraph of the news story.

A new report published by the Rail Freight Group today is outlining how an ‘ambitious growth strategy’ for rail freight over the next ten years could be worth between £75 billion and £90 billion in environmental and economic benefits.

The report was written by well-respected rail commentator; Stephen Joseph

Recommendations include.

  • A new approach from national and local government.
  • New investment
  • More investment in the Strategic Freight Network.
  • Increased electrification
  • New rail linked terminals
  • Reforms to planning laws
  • High speed freight services to city centres.
  • Road pricing could also be used to encourage a shift to rail.

The Rail Freight group’s director general Maggie Simpson is quoted as saying. With renewed focus on the environment, and with new trade opportunities on the horizon, there has never been a better time to invest in rail freight.

Note that invest or investment is mentioned five times in the short news story.

New Owner For GB Railfreight

This is the first paragraph of the news story.

Hector Rail Group has sold GB Railfreight to Infracapital – the unlisted infrastructure equity arm of M&GPrudential.

This article in Rail Magazine was published in July 2017 and is entitled GB Railfreight In ‘Locomotive Acquisition’ Talks.

GB Railfreight has a fleet of seventy-eight Class 66 locomotives with other locomotives in the ageing category. Some of their work like hauling the Caledonian Sleeper needs well-presented reliable locomotives, so perhaps they need to update their image.

Would being owned by Infracapital give the company better access to finance for a renewed fleet?

The previous article indicated, that new investment in infrastructure, like selective electrification, railfreight terminals and perhaps freight loops is needed in the UK Strategic Freight Network.

Would Infracapital be prepared to fund this infrastructure, where it made their locomotives more profitable?

Consider.

  • Partial electrification of the Felixstowe Branch Line might enable a hybrid Class 93 locomotive to haul the heaviest intermodal freight trains between Felixstowe and Ipswich. This improvement would also allow Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains to run partially on electricity on the route.
  • Doubling of the single-track between Soham and Ely would increase the number of freight paths across Suffolk.
  • Reworking of junctions at Haughley and Ely would also speed up freight trains across Suffolk.

These are just three examples from an area I know well, but in how many places in the UK would smaller projects improve the profitability of new locomotives.

Infracapital would also be paid track access charges for their small sections of infrastructure. So well-planned improvements would have two revenue streams. And both would have a lifetime of thirty to forty years.

Case Study – Partial Electrification Of Felixstowe Branch Line

The Felixstowe Branch Line has now been double-tracked to create a passing loop to the West of Trimley, which allows more freight trains per day into and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

I believe that if sections of the branch line were to be electrified, that a diesel/electric/battery Class 93 locomotive would be able to haul a maximum weight intermodal freight train from Felixstowe to Ipswich.

The freight train would continue South and would use electric power to go to Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester using existing electrified routes through London.

In Issue 888 of Rail Magazine, there is a short article, which is entitled Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s.

This is said.

Class 755s could be fitted with battery power when they undergo their first overhaul.

Stadler built the trains with diesel and electric power.

The Swiss manufacturer believes batteries to be the alternative power source for rail of the future, and is to build tri-mode trains for Transport for Wales, with these entering traffic in 2023.

Rock Rail owns the Greater Anglia fleet. Chief Operating Office Mike Kean told RAIL on September 4 it was possible that when a four-car ‘755/4’ requires an overhaul, one of its four diesel engines will be removed and replaced by a battery.

I suspect the battery size and electrification can be designed, so that the trains can work the twelve mile branch without using diesel  power.

I can envisage a time, when the following trains on the Felixstowe Branch are zero-carbon.

  1. Freight trains between Felixstowe and London via Ipswich.
  2. Passenger services.

That will be a substantial improvement in environmental credentials.

Conclusion

There is more to this than an insurance and fund management company, funding locomotives.

Suppose GB Railfreight see an opportunity to deploy a new fleet of locomotives on a valuable contract, but perhaps a missing piece of infrastructure, stops them from running the service. Will they then approach their parent company; Infracapital, to see if they can help?

Are we seeing the first green shoots of realism in the financing of much-needed improvements to the UK rail network.

If it works out well, I don’t think that Infracapital will mind the good publicity.

 

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September 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

South Lincolnshire, West Norfolk And The North Netherlands

These three areas are very similar.

This sentence comes from the Wikipedia entry for The Fens, which are found where Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk come together.

Most of the Fenland lies within a few metres of sea level. As with similar areas in the Netherlands, much of the Fenland originally consisted of fresh- or salt-water wetlands. These have been artificially drained and continue to be protected from floods by drainage banks and pumps.

I have heard it said, that The Fens owe a lot of their landscape to the Dutch, as it was the Dutch, who originally had a lot to do with draining the land.

It should also be noted, that one of the most famous people from the area is Commander George Vancouver of the Royal Navy, who was the son of John Jasper Vancouver, a Dutch-born deputy collector of customs in King’s Lynn. He gave his name to the Canadian city of Vancouver.

The Dutch have returned in that two of the three rail franchises in the area, are under the control of the Dutch company; Abellio; Greater Anglia (GA) and East Midlands Railway (EMR).

Current and future services through the area include.

  • GA – Stansted Airport and Norwich via Ely and Cambridge
  • GA – Liverpool Street and King’s Lynn via Ely and Cambridge
  • GA – Colchester and Peterborough via Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely
  • EMR – Norwich and Nottingham
  • EMR – Peterborough and Doncaster via Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln
  • EMR – Nottingham and Skegness via Grantham, Sleaford and Boston
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham and Stansted Airport via Peterborough, Cambridge and Ely.
  • Great Northern – King’s Cross and King’s Lynn via Ely and Cambridge
  • Thameslink – King’s Cross and Peterborough
  • Thameslink – King’s Cross and Cambridge

Note.

Most services are hourly, with some London services at a higher frequency.

  1. EMR are planning to increase certain early, late and Sunday services, so there may be improvements.
  2. GA are planning to introduce new Class 755 trains pn diesel services and new Class 720 trains on electric services.
  3. The Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge corridor can have a frequency as high as eight trains per hour (tph)

Will EMR and GA work together to improve services in the area they jointly serve?

These are a few of my thoughts.

A Look At The North Of The Netherlands

In The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands, I looked at what the Dutch are doing in the North of the country, near to the city of Groningen.

  • Groningen is a city of around 200,000 people and a major rail hub, with services fanning out through the flat landscape.
  • The trains are mainly Stadler GTWs, which are the forerunners of GA’s Class 755 trains.
  • The Dutch are developing a hydrogen-based economy in the area, which I described in The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen.

Are Abellio looking to bring some of the ideas from the Netherlands to the UK?

I think to a certain extent, we’re going the same way. For instance, in the North of Lincolnshire a lot of development is going on to develop an energy economy based on offshore wind and energy storage.

The Cambridge Effect

Cambridge effects the whole of the area, in its demand for housing and premises for research, development and manufacture.

The Cambridge And Peterborough Problem

I used to play tennis, with a guy, who was promoting Peterborough as an expansion area for Cambridge. Peterborough is a city, with space and good connections to London and the North, by rail and the A1 road.

,But the problem is that the road and rail links between the two cities are atrocious, with a two-lane dual-carriageway and an hourly three-car diesel train.

It is my view, that the gap in the electrification between Ely and Peterborough should eventually be removed.

  • The land is flat.
  • The route is thirty miles long.
  • The route was recently upgraded to take the largest container trains, so electrification, surely wouldn’t be too difficult.
  • The biggest problem would probably be dealing with the numerous level crossings.

Electrification would allow.

  • More frequent and faster passenger trains between Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough.
  • Freight trains between Felixstowe and the North would be easier to haul using electro-diesel locomotives like the Class 88 and Class 93.
  • It would create an electrified diversion route for trains on the East Coast Main Line.

After electrification, it would be possible to have a much-needed four tph service between Cambridge and Peterbough with stops at Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely, Manea, March and Whittlesea.

  • Cambridge and Peterborough sstations both have several platforms, that could be used to terminate extra services.
  • The service could be extended to Cambridge South station, when that is built in a few years.

GA’s Class 755 trains could even provide the service without electrification.

What About Wisbech?

Wisbech is a town of 33,000 people without a passenger rail link.

But it does have the Bramley Line.

This is the introductory paragraph in Wikipedia.

The Bramley Line is a railway line between March and Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, England. A number of proposals are currently being investigated relating to the possible restoration of passenger services along the route.

The Association of Train Operating Companies and various politicians have supported creating a passenger service between Wisbech and Cambridge via March and Ely.

The service could be as follows.

It would use an existing single-track line, which would probably just need upgrading.

  • Cambridge and Wisbech would take around forty-five minutes.
  • A train would take two hours for the round trip.
  • An hourly service would take two trains.

What is useful, is that the length of the branch line is short enough, that it may be possible to be run the service using One Train Working.

Improvements Between Cambridge And King’s Lynn

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Work On £27m East of England Upgrades Set To Begin.

It lists the work to be done and the benefit in these two paragraphs.

The upgrades, between Cambridge and King’s Lynn, will include two platform extensions at Waterbeach and a platform extension at Littleport.

This will allow the introduction of eight-car services during peak times, providing passengers with more seats and a better experience.

The works will certainly add capacity for commuters to and from Cambridge and London.

Will the upgrade at Waterbeach station allow Greater Anglia’s four-car Class 755 trains to call.?

There is a section in the Wikipedia entry for Waterbeach station, which is entitled Future Plans, where this is said.

Plans to develop a New Town of 8,000 to 9,000 homes on the former Waterbeach Barracks site have been outlined by South Cambridgeshire District Council. As part of the proposal, there are plans to relocate the station to a new site and extend the platforms to accommodate 12 car trains.

This is more housing for Cambridge and I’m sure that the promised Norwich and Stansted Airport service will call.

Will Services Be Joined Back-To-Back At Peterborough?

Train companies sometimes find that joining two services together in a busy station is a good idea.

  • It may use less trains and drivers.
  • It uses a through platform rather than two bay platforms.
  • Trains could be turned in a more convenient station.

A proportion of passengers don’t have to change trains.

Note.

  1. |East Midlands Railway are joining the Doncaster and Lincoln, and Lincoln and Peterborough services into one service.
  2. Greater Anglia are extending the Peterborough and Ipswich service to Manningtree.
  3. Greater Anglia are extending the Norwich and Cambridge service to Stansted Airport.

But East Midlands Railway are also splitting the Norwich and Liverpool service into two.

These are the services that are planned to terminate at Peterborough.

  • Peterborough and Colchester via Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely
  • Peterborough and Doncaster via Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln

As I said earlier, I would’ve be surprised to see extra Cambridge and Peterborough services to increase capacity between the two cities.

Current timings of the various sections are as follows.

  1. Peterborough and Lincoln – one hour and twenty-three minutes
  2. Lincoln and Doncaster – fifty-four minutes
  3. Peterborough and Ipswich – one hour and thirty-nine minutes
  4. Ipswich and Colchester – nineteen minutes
  5. Peterborough and Cambridge – fifty minutes

Adding up 3 and 4 gives a Colchester and Peterborough timing of one hour and fifty-eight minutes. But the new Class 755 trains are faster and will be running at full speed on electrification for sections of the journey.

With the turnround at both ends, a round trip would be under four hours. This would mean that four trains would be needed for an hourly service.

Adding up 1 and 2 gives a Peterborough and Doncaster timing of two hours and seventeen minutes.

With the turnround at both ends, a round trip would be under five hours. This would mean that five trains would be needed for an hourly service.

Could these two services be run back-to-back to create a Colchester and Doncaster service?

It would take four hours and fifteen minutes or nine hours for a round trip. This would mean that nine trains would be needed for an hourly service.

This is the same number of trains that would be needed for the two separate services.

The two companies might decide to run a joint service, but!

  • In whose colours would the train run?
  • Would there be crewing difficulties?
  • If a train fails, it would probably be a long way from home.
  • It has been felt sensible to split the five hour and thirty-five minute Norwich and Liverpool services.

Would it be possible to run a service between Cambridge and Lincoln?

  • Adding up 1 and 5 gives a timing of two hours and thirteen minutes.
  • With the turnround at both ends, a round trip would be under five hours.
  • This would mean that five trains would be needed for an hourly service.

It would be possible, but would the convenience attract enough passengers to make the service viable?

Would It Be Worth Reinstating March And Spalding?

There used to be a railway between March and Spalding.

Wikipedia says this about the closure of the route.

When the line closed between March and Spalding in 1982,[3] freight traffic was diverted through Peterborough station instead of cutting across the western edge of the Fens to avoid the line through Peterborough station

Some have called for the route to be reinstated to enable freight trains to by-pass Peterborough, when travelling between Felixstowe and the route to the North through Spalding, Sleaford, Lincoln and Doncaster.

  • It is not a long route.
  • It could provide a passenger route between Cambridge and Lincoln.

I suspect that Network Rail looked at this scheme as an alternative to the Werrington Dive Under, which has been costed at £200 million.

Wikipedia says this about the Werrington Dive Under.

The project will see the construction of 1.9 miles (3 km) of new line that will run underneath the fast lines, culverting works on Marholm Brook and the movement of the Stamford lines 82 feet (25 m) westwards over the culverted brook. The project, coupled with other ECML improvement schemes (such as the four tracking from Huntingdon to Woodwalton) will improve capacity on the line through Peterborough by 33% according to Network Rail. This equates to two extra train paths an hour by 2021, when the work is scheduled to be completed.

A thirty-three percent capacity increase seems a powerful reason to build the Werrington Dive Under.

Would it also enable a faster route for trains between King’s Cross and Lincoln?

As to whether the direct route between March and Spalding will ever be reinstated, this will surely depend on several factors.

  • The number of freight trains needing to go between Felixstowe and Doncaster.
  • The maximum number of freight trains, that can use the freight route, through Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln.
  • Whether a passenger service on the route is worthwhile.

There are also protests about the number of freight trains already using the route.

I can see the capacity of the freight route being increased and the route being made a more friendly neighbour, after the opening of the Werrington Dive Under.

  • Level crossings will be replaced by bridges.
  • Adoption of zero-carbon locomotives.
  • Installation of noise-reduction measures.

The line might even be electrified.

Peterborough After Werrington

If we assume that the services stay as currently proposed, the following trains will stop at Peterborough on their way to either Cambridge or Lincoln.

  • GA – Peterborough and Ipswich or Colchester – Platform 6
  • EMR – Peterborough and Lincoln or Doncaster- Platform 1 or 2
  • EMR- Norwich and Nottingham – Platform 7
  • EMR- Nottingham and Norwich – Platform 6
  • CrossCountry – Stansted Airport and Birmingham – Platform 7
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham and Stansted Airport- Platform 6

Note.

  1. Trains going to Cambridge use Platform 6.
  2. Trains coming from Cambridge  use Platform 7
  3. The Ipswich or in the future; Colchester service uses Platform 6 to turnback.
  4. The Lincoln or in the future; Doncaster service uses Platform 1 or 2 to turnback.
  5. Platform 6 and 7 is a new island platform with direct access to the Stamford Lines and the tracks in the Werrington Dive Under that connect to Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln.

This means that after the Werrington Dive Under opens in a couple of years, the Peterborough and Doncaster service will stop in the wrong side of the station.

So it is likely, that Doncaster services will continue from the Werrington Dive Under into Platform 6 or 7 in Peterborough station.

As the Colchester service will probably still turnback in Platform 6 could we see the Doncaster and Colchester services timed to be in the island platform 6 & 7 at the same time.

Passengers would just walk a few metres between the two trains.

This Google Map shows the lines South of the station.

The Peterborough-Ely Line can be seen running East-West, to the South of the River Nene and then going under the East oast Main Line, before connecting to Platforms 6 and 7 on the West side of the station.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note the three island platforms, which are numbered 6 & 7, 4 & 5 and 2 & 3 from West to East.

The Wikipedia entry for Peterborough station, says this about Platforms 6 & 7.

Platforms 6 & 7: These new platforms were commissioned over the Christmas break 2013, and are now used by CrossCountry services between Stansted Airport/Cambridge via Ely and Birmingham New Street via Leicester; East Midlands Trains services between Norwich and Liverpool; and Greater Anglia services to Ipswich.

North from Peterborough station and just South of the site of the Werrington Dive Under is the Cock Lane Bridge. I took these pictures in November 2018.

Note the three fast lines of the East Coast Main Line on the Eastern side and the two Stamford Lines on the Western side.

Just North of thie bridge, the Stamford Lines will split and trains will be able to continue to  Stamford or cross under the East Coast Main Line towards Lincoln.

As there is a loop for freight trains through Peterborough station, the Werrington Dive Under will be able to handle sufficient trains.

Conclusion

The layout of Peterborouh station and the Werrington Dive Under will give Abellio a lot of flexibility to improve services in South Lincolnshire and West Norfolk.

Network Rail gets a lot of criticism, but you can’t fault the design and what lies behind it, in this instant!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could A Modular Family Of Freight Locomotives Be Created?

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I looked at the possibility of creating a battery/electric locomotive with the performance of a Class 66 locomotive.

  • I felt that the locomotive would need to be able to provide 2,500 kW for two hours on battery, to bridge the gaps in the UK electrification.
  • This would need a 5,000 kWh battery which would weigh about fifty tonnes.
  • It would be able to use both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • It would have a power of 4,000 kW, when working on electrification.
  • Ideally, the locomotive would have a 110 mph operating speed.

It would be a tough ask to design a battery/electric locomotive with this specification.

The Stadler Class 88 Locomotive

Suppose I start with a Stadler Class 88 locomotive.

  • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 86.1 tonnes and an axle loading of 21.5 tonnes.
  • It has a rating on electricity of 4,000 kW.
  • It is a genuine 100 mph locomotive when working from 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The locomotive has regenerative braking, when working using electrification.
  • It would appear the weight of the diesel engine is around seven tonnes
  • The closely-related Class 68 locomotive has a 5,600 litre fuel tank and full of diesel would weight nearly five tonnes.

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I said this about replacing the diesel-engine with a battery.

Supposing the seven tonne diesel engine of the Class 88 locomotive were to be replaced by a battery of a similar total weight.

Traction batteries seem to have an energy/weight ratio of about 0.1kWh/Kg, which is increasing with time, as battery technology improves.

A crude estimate based on this energy/weight ratio would mean that at least a 700 kWh battery could be fitted into a Class 88 train and not make the locomotive any heavier. Given that lots of equipment like the alternator and the fuel tank would not be needed, I suspect that a 1,000 kWh battery could be fitted into a Class 88 locomotive, provided it just wasn’t too big.

This would be a 4,000 kWh electric locomotive with perhaps a twenty minute running time at a Class 66 rating on battery power.

The Stadler Class 68 Locomotive

The Stadler Class 68 locomotive shares a lot of components with the Class 88 locomotive.

  • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 85 tonnes and an axle loading of 21.2 tonnes.
  • It has a rating on diesel of 2,800 kW.
  • It is a genuine 100 mph locomotive.
  • The locomotive has regenerative braking to a rheostat.
  • It has a 5,600 litre fuel tank and full of diesel would weight nearly five tonnes.

They are a locomotive with a growing reputation.

A Double Bo-Bo Locomotive

My devious engineering mind, thinks about what sort of locomotive would be created if a Class 68 and a Class-88-based battery/electric locomotive were integrated together.

  • It would be a double Bo-Bo locomotive with an axle loading of 21.5 tonnes.
  • It has a rating on electricity of 4,000 kW.
  • It has a rating on diesel of 2,800 kW.
  • Battery power can be used to boost the power on diesel as in the Stadler Class 93 locomotive.
  • It would be nice to see regenerative braking to the batteries.

Effectively, it would be a diesel and a battery/electric locomotive working together.

This picture shows a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive pulling a heavy freight train at Shenfield.

If this can be done with a diesel and an electric locomotive, surely a company like Stadler have the expertise to create a double locomotive, where one half is a diesel locomotive and the other is a battery/electric locomotive.

A Control Engineer’s Dream

I am a life-expired Control Engineer, but I can still see the possibilities of creating an sdvanced control system to use the optimal power strategy, that blends electric, battery and diesel power, depending on what is available.

I feel that at most times, the locomotive could have a power of up to 4,000 kW.

The Ultimate Family Of Locomotives

I have used a diesel Class 68 and a Class 88-based battery/electric locomotive,, to create this example locomotive.

In the ultimate family, each half would be able to work independently.

In time, other members of the family would be created.

A hydrogen-powered locomotive is surely a possibility.

The Control System on the master locomotive, would determine what locomotives were coupled together and allocate power accordingly.

Conclusion

I have used Stadler’s locomotives to create this example locomotive.

I suspect they are working on concepts to create more powerful environmentally-friendly locomotives.

As are probably, all the other locomotive manufacturers.

Someone will revolutionise haulage of heavy freight trains and we’ll all benefit.

 

 

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

Toshiba Unveils Tri-Mode Locomotive Demonstrator

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Toshiba Railway Europe unveiled a electric-diesel-battery hybrid traction technology demonstrator locomotive at the Transport Logistic trade show in München on June 4.

The company has a contract to supply 50 diesel-battery centre cab locomotives to DB Cargo from 2021, TRE Managing Director Hinrich Krey told Railway Gazette. The demonstrator is intended to showcase the company’s design work to date as well as highlighting future development options.

It is based on the frame and bogies of a heavy shunting locomotive.

  • There are two MAN 471 kW gensets.
  • The diesel engines are compatible with EU Stage V emissions regulations.
  • There are two SCiB 62 kWh lithium titanate oxide traction batteries.
  • Battery life is quoted as up to ten years.
  • The design is modular, so that a diesel engine can be replaced with another battery pack.
  • A pantograph working with common European voltages can provide electric power.

The locomotive is aimed at heavy shunting and light freight.

Conclusion

The power of the locomotive is probably about 1MW, which is less than half the power of a Class 66 locomotive. But locomotives like the Class 66 are often used for tasks, where a smaller locomotive could do an excellent job.

The low pollution of the Toshiba locomotive probably means it could work in sensitive areas or close to a workforce.

The locomotive appears to be a well-designed locomotive for an important niche market.

If this design and others like the Stadler Class 93 locomotive succeed it will lead nearer to the ultimate goal of a high performance heavy freight zero-carbon locomotive to replace the polluting diesel locomotives, that are so common on the railways of the world.

June 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Freight Diesel Traction Realities

The title of this post is the same as that of a comprehensive article by Roger Ford in an article in the April 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

In the article Roger talks about the problems of decarbonising the freight sector on the UK’s railways.

Future Traction

This section in the article begins with this paragraph

Since the laws of physics and chemistry rule out pure battery or hydrogen fuel cell 3 MegaWatt (4,000 hp) freight locomotives from around 2035 we are going to need to start replacing the diesel locomotives for routes yet to be electrified.

The following actions are suggested.

  • More electrification, through a rolling program.
  • Research into and production of low-CO2 locomotives.
  • 4000 hp locomotives to run faster, longer and heavier freight trains.

These actions will apply to many countries in Europe and the wider world.

Hybrid

This section in the article begins with these two paragraphs.

Extension of electrification will reduce the length of the last miles beyond the end of the wires, making increased use of electric traction viable. Here the challenge will be to provide sufficient diesel traction power and range.  Stadler’s Class 93 ‘tri-mode’ locotive provides an interesting preview.

It builds on the Class 88, which adds a 700kW diesel engine to a 4MW Bo-Bo electric locomotive.

The Class 93 locomotive has a larger 900 kW diesel engine and a lithium titanate oxide battery.

I estimated the battery size at 126 kWH in Stadler’s New Tri-Mode Class 93 Locomotive.

Roger reckons that the battery gives 6-7 ,minutes of power to boost output to 1,740 hp or 1300 kW.

  • The boost from the battery would appear to be 400 kW
  • For 6.5 minutes this would need 43.3 kWH

Either Roger’s 6-7 minutes or my deduced battery size of 126 kWH is wrong. So I will assume both figures are wrong.

Suppose though, you wanted to boost the power of a Class 93 locomotive to the 2,500 kW of a Class 66 locomotive for an hour, which would get a freight train into or out of the Port of Felixstowe.

  • 1600 kW will be needed to boost the diesel engine.
  • 1600 kWH will need to be stored in the battery.
  • I will assume 75 Wh/Kg for the LTO batteries.
  • I have made no allowance for the use of regenerative braking.

This gives a weight of 21.3 tonnes for the batteries.

Roger says this in the article.

If you need to fit diesel engines and batteries into an electric locomotive for freight the a Co-Co configuration gives you another 20 tonnes on a 17.5 tonne axle load.

This leads me to believe that a hybrid locomotive with the power of a Class 66 locomotive and a range of one hour is possible.

 

 

 

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Freight Trains Through Newmarket

The East West Rail Consortium plan to change the route of freight trains to and from Haven Ports; Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich to the West of Kennett station.

In this document on the East-West Rail Consortium web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

How would these changes affect Newmarket and the horse-racing industry in the town?

How Many Freight Trains Are We Talking About?

This table shows the number of freight trains going through Kennett station on the 1st of March 2019.

  • 00  1  1
  • 01  1  0
  • 02  0  1
  • 03  2  1
  • 04  1  1
  • 05  1  1
  • 06  1  2
  • 07  1  1
  • 08  1  0
  • 09  1  0
  • 10  1  0
  • 11  0  0
  • 12  0  0
  • 13  2  2
  • 14  0  2
  • 15  1  1
  • 16  0  1
  • 17  1  1
  • 18  0  1
  • 19  1  1
  • 20  1  0
  • 21  1  2
  • 22  0  2
  • 23  0  0

In the table the first figure is the hour, the second figure is the number of freight trains going West and the third figure is the number of freight trains going East.

This gives a daily total of eighteen trains going West and twenty-one trains going twenty-one trains going East.

But these figures will increase!

At present, Network Rail are adding a passing loop on the Felixstowe Branch Line. This article on Rail Magazine is entitled £60.4m Felixstowe Branch Upgrade Under Way and says this about the upgrade.

Installing the new line will create capacity for up to ten additional freight trains, each the equivalent of 76 lorries.

Not all will come via Kennett, as some will go via London.

The Port of Felixstowe will get larger and other improvements on the route across Suffolk will increase the number of freight trains passing through Kennett station.

I estimate that it is very likely that in a few years there will be two trains per hour (tph) in both directions for every hour of the day.

Rerouting The Trains Through Newmarket

Currently, these freight trains go via Ely, but the plan of the East West Rail Consortium would be to reroute all these freight trains through the Warren Hill tunnel and Newmarket station.

I suspect the reasons for the change of route could include the following.

Accessing The East West Rail Link From Newmarket Is Easy And Quick

If as expected the East West Rail Link joins the London-Cambridge Line just South of Cambridge South station, then the trains would run through Dullingham, Cambridge and Cambridge South stations, when running between the East West Rail Link and Newmarket station.

The East West Rail Link Will Be An Efficient Railway

Drive on a new motorway and the curves are smooth with relaxed gradients.

A new railway will be like that too and less energy will be used to power trains along its length.

Increasing the Capacity Through Ely Is Difficult

There is a very complicated track layout at Ely and increasing the number of trains might be difficult or very expensive.

Freight Trains Will Use The East West Rail Link To Avoid London

Take going between the Haven Ports and Bristol or South Wales.

Currently, these trains tend to go via London and in a couple of years will have to share tracks with London’s intensive Crossrail network between Acton Main Line and Reading stations.

Using the East West Rail Link, the trains would join the Great Western Main Line at Didcot, a few miles West of Reading.

How many services will use the East West Rail Link to by-pass London?

Freight Trains Will Use The East West Rail Link To Get To The West Coast Main Line

Currently, these trains either go via London or take the slow cross-country route via Peterborough to Nuneaton for the West Coast Main Line.

If they use the East-West Rail Link, they can join the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley.

The East-West Rail Link Will Be An Important Freight Link

I think that as the years pass and more freight terminals are created, we will see more freight trains using the East-West-Rail-Link and many of these trains will go through Newmarket.

What Problems Would The Rerouting Create In Newmarket?

I can see these problems.

Noise And Vibration

Four freight trains per hour will create a lot of noise and vibration as they pass through.

Frightening The Horses

This Google Map shows a corner of the gallops at Newmarket.

Note how the railway from the East splits into two, to the West of the band of trees running down the map.

  • The top branch curves away to the North and goes through Soham to Ely.
  • The bottom branch curves away to the South and goes through Warren Hill Tunnel to Newmarket station and then on to Cambridge.

Alongside, the Southern route is the Al Bahatri all-weather gallop, which is an important facility for training racehorses. It can just be picked out as a sand-coloured line.

Currently, nearly all the freight trains take the Northern route to Ely, keeping them away from the Al Bahatri.

But, if the main freight route was through the town, as planned by the East West Rail Consortium, then at least four freight trains per hour would run alongside the gallop. There could also be four passenger trains per hour.

Railway Electrification

It is unlikely, that the railway through Newmarket will be electrified, but under a different government, this could happen.

It might add another dimension to disturbance through the town, as you get pantograph noise and occasional sparks and flashes. I don’t know how horses will react, but from my own experience years ago, they do react to electrical fields.

The Rail Freight Industry

Look at most freight trains on the UK’s railways and the locomotive on the front, is a noisy, smelly and polluting Class 66 or Class 70 locomotive.

You’ll see these American imports, which don’t meet the latest emission regulations, hauling freight trains, even when there are overhead wires for electric haulage.

Why?

Because rail freight companies are so driven by accountants, that they can’t be bothered to obtain more modern diesel locomotives, that are quieter, more powerful and less polluting.

The picture shows a modern Class 68 locomotive at Stratford. These are quieter and meet most of the noise and emission regulations.

Mitigating The Problems

I’ll deal with various methods, that could be used, starting with the easiest.

A Level Railway Through The Town

It looks like the Victorian engineers, who built the railway through the town, built it as level as possible, so that steam locomotives didn’t have to work so hard in the Warren Hill Tunnel, which I don’t think has a chimney for smoke.

Modern engineers will ensure that the railway is as level as possible, with gentle gradients and curves all the way between Kennett and Dullingham stations.

Passenger Trains With Batteries

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains are powered by both overhead electrification and onboard diesel engines. The latter sit in a power pack in the middle of the train.

Not having seen or heard one of these Swiss-built trains in the metal, I can make no comment as to the noise and vibration of these trains, but they should be quieter than the current three-car Class 170 trains.

It does appear that passenger trains built in the last years are much quieter, as they are much more aerodynamically correct and slippery, so they generate less noise.

The new trains have also been ordered for the South Wales Metro. But the Welsh trains will additionally be fitted with batteries to avoid some difficult electrification in the Valleys.

So if the passenger trains prove to be noisy through the town, which I doubt they will be, there will be the option of adding batteries to avoid the use of diesel power.

It is my belief, that technology will ensure that passenger trains will not be a problem.

More Environmentally-Friendly Freight Locomotives

As I said earlier, smelly, noisy and polluting freight locomotives are a big problem.

This is not just a problem for places like Newmarket with special circumstances, but on railways like the London Overground and those in Central Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester,, where suburban electric railways have to accommodate heavy rail freight.

The railway locomotive manufacturers have designed solutions for the problem in recent years.

Stadler, who are an innovative Swiss company have started to manufacture a Class 93 locomotive, which can run on diesel, electric and/or battery power. I’m fairly sure, that one of the design goals of this locomotive is to be able to haul a heavy freight train between Felixstowe and Peterborough, using electric power where it is available and a mix of diesel and battery at other times.

At Newmarket if the new double-track was well-designed and almost level, I suspect that a Class 93 locomotive could haul a train between Kennett and Dullingham stations on battery power.

Locomotives of this type should be compulsory on all freight routes through sensitive areas.

The government must legislate, as left to themselves the rail freight companies will sit on their hands and wallets.

One of the conditions of a double-track railway through Newmarket, should be that only locomotives that meet the latest noise, vibration and pollution standards, like the Class 93 locomotive should be allowed.

Quieter 100 mph Freight Trains

Karl Watts, who is a disruptive innovator and CEO of the Rail Operations Group, has bought the first ten Class 93 locomotives and intends to use them to haul 100 mph freight trains, where the routes allow.

On the electrified Great Eastern Main Line between Ipswich and London, the operating speed is 100 mph. But freight trains trundle up and down at 75 mph, thus slowing all of the passenger services.

Watts plans to use the Class 93 locomotives with new 100 mph container wagons to run freight trains at 100 mph on this and other routes, which would increase the freight and passenger capacity of the line.

New 100 mph freight wagons will be smoother, quieter and used through Newmarket at an appropriate speed would remove a large proportion of the noise and vibration.

Again, it would need investment from the freight companies.

However, modern freight trains hauled by modern hybrid locomotives like the Class 93 could significantly remove noise and vibration.

Lengthen Warren Hill Tunnel

A second bore will be dug to double-track the kilometre long Warren Hill Tunnel.

Some rail tunnels have been extended with covers and this technique might be possible at the Newmarket station end of the tunnel. The techniques exist, so that housing or other developments can be built on top of the railway.

Techniques like this not only suppress noise and vibration, but create much needed housing.

Acoustic Barriers

You see these a lot in Germany to reduce noise and vibration from railway lines in sensitive area, but rarely in the UK.

Conclusion

It will be difficult to put a double-track railway through Newmarket, but I believe that using modern rolling stock and some advanced construction, that a solution can be found.

Newmarket should dig in its heels and only accept the best to force rail freight companies to get their act together.

Government too, should enforce the current regulations on diesel locomotives, which most of the current locomotives do not meet.

March 4, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment