The Anonymous Widower

Abellio’s Plans For London And Melton Mowbray Via Corby And Oakham

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These are mentioned for services to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

  • After electrification of the Corby route there will continue to be direct service each way between London and Oakham and Melton Mowbray once each weekday, via Corby.
  • This will be operated with brand new 125mph trains when these are introduced from April 2022.

This seems to be a very acceptable minimum position.

In Abellio’s Plans For London And Corby, I suggested that Class 379 trains could be used on the route and that the trains might be fitted with batteries.

  • Corby and Melton Mowbray are about twenty-fives apart.
  • Batteries and their fast-charging technology has come on at a fast pace since Abellio participated in the Class 379 BEMU Trial in 2015.

Are Abellio thinking about extending some Croby services using battery technology?

The technology is certainly capable, but is there a proven passenger need?

Turning Trains At Melton Mowbray stations

This Google Map shows Melton Mowbray station.

It looks to be a station on a large site with more than adequate car parking and I suspect building a bay platform with charging facilities would not be the most difficult of projects.

Conclusion

As current trains take about thirty minutes between Corby and Melton Mowbray, with a bay platform at the latter station, I think it would be possible to run hourly Class 379 trains with batteries to and from St. Pancras.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Abellio East Midlands Railway’s Plans For London And Corby

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These are mentioned for Midland Main Line services to Corby.

Dedicated Corby – St Pancras express Service Will Be Introduced From December 2020 With 12-car Trains In The Peaks

In 2020, the route between London and Corby will have been improved.

  • It will be fully electrified.
  • There will be double-track between Kettering and Corby.
  • Corby station will have a second platform.
  • 125 mph running will be possible in sections of the route between London and Corby.
  • Twelve-car trains indicate, that the rolling stock would be modern electric multiple units.

Possible trains include.

To run the current hourly service, three trains are needed, so if each train was three four-car electric multiple units, nine trains would be needed.

As these electric trains will need to mix it with the 125 mph trains on the fast lines between St. Pancras and Kettering, 110 mph trains would probably be preferable.

Class 387 trains were originally mooted for this route, but they all seem to have been snapped up by other operators, who may be reluctant to let them go.

On the other hand, as I wrote in When Crossrail Opens To Reading, Will Great Western Railway Have Too Many Class 387 Trains?, Great Western Railway may have a few trains going spare.

The three other possible trains are both used in Abellio-run franchises.

  • ,Abellio Greater Anglia are replacing their thirty Class 379 trains with new Stadler Class 745 trains in 2019.
  • Abellio Greater Anglia are replacing their twenty-one Class 360 trains with new Bombardier Class 720 trains in 2020.
  • West Midlands Trains have a large fleet of Class 350 trains.

As the Class 379 trains should be available in good time for a December 2020 service introduction, I would suspect that these ten-year-old trains, are the most likely to be used on the route.

  • Do Bombardier have the knowledge and time to upgrade the trains to 110 mph trains?
  • There is certainly time to upgrade the trains with any necessary refurbishments and updates.
  • Train availability could allow prolonged testing and driver training, prior to service introduction.
  • Only three new Class 745 trains would need to be in service for Greater Anglia to release the nine trains required to run an electric service between London and Corby.

If Class 379 trains are used, it could be a very relaxed train introduction.

Class 379 trains to Corby could explain, why Abellio Greater Anglia are introducing the Class 745 trains on Cambridge and Stansted Airport services before those on the Great Eastern Main Line.

There could be over a year, to turn the excellent Class 379 trains into perfect trains for a high-capacity London and Corby service.

I think using Class 387 and Class 350 trains wouldn’t be so simple.

Corby – London Service Doubled To Two Trains Per Hour All Day

This would mean the need would be eighteen four-car trains.

There are enough Class 379 trains, but obtaining the originally-planned Class 387 trains could be problematic.

Kettering, Luton And Luton Airport Parkway Services Provided With 2 Trains Per Hour for Most Of The Day

Note.

  1. Luton station is on the latest list of stations to be made step-free by 2024.
  2. Luton Airport has been agitating for more fast trains to and from London and now gets a half-hourly express.
  3. Class 379 trains are designed for airport services.

It appears to be a better service for passengers.

Enhanced Sunday Service Throughout The Route With Regular Direct Sunday Services Between London And Corby

No passenger complaints here.

Refurbished Modern Express Trains From December 2020

Features include.

  • Increased capacity
  • More reliable service
  • Improved comfort
  • Passenger information system
  • Free on-board Wi-Fi
  • At-seat power sockets
  • USB points
  • Air conditioning
  • Tables at all seats
  • Increased luggage space
  • On-board cycle storage

What more could passengers want?

Many of these features are already installed in the Class 379 trains.

  • When I rode the BEMU Trial train between Maningtree and Harwich, the information on the Class 379 train was word perfect.
  • The trains are reliable and comfortable.
  • Wi-fii, power sockets, air-conditioning and increased luggage space are already fitted.
  • The trains have lots of tables, but not at every seat.

These are a selection of pictures of the interior of a Class 379 train.

Updating the interior of the trains would not be a major problem.

Will The Class 379 Trains Be Fitted With Batteries?

The BEMU Trial in 2015, showed that this was feasible. Abellio was involved in this trial and must have their own views on the technology.

  • Depots are safer places.
  • Electrification can be simpler.
  • Regenerative braking can be handled on the train without using the overhead wires for return currents.
  • Batteries increase train efficiencies.

This picture shows, the wires are going up at Corby.

So it doesn’t look like battery power will be used to Corby.

But batteries could still be fitted for efficiency and safety reasons or possibly to power the trains to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

What About The Rumour Suggesting Class 360 Trains Will Be Used?

These are some pictures of a Class 360 train.

Consider.

  • The Class 360 trains have a 2+3 interior with few if any tables.
  • If Bombardier deliver the Class 720 trains, later than planned, availability of the Class 360 trains for Corby could be tight.
  • Could they be prated to 110 mph trains, if that was felt necessary?

I feel that there would be more work to prepare the trains for Corby and a higher chance, they would be late!

Will The Trains Be Replaced In A Few Years?

Consider.

  • The London and Corby route is 79.5 miles long and takes 75 minutes with four stops, which is an average speed of 64 mph.
  • At present, services between London and Corby are run using 125 mph Class 222 trains.
  • The Class 222 trains have better acceleration than an InterCity 125 and much better acceleration than a Class 360 train.
  • The London to Corby route is a less-than-125 mph route.
  • Network Rail ia currently improving the electrification between London and Bedford, so that the route between London and Corby will be an electrified 125 mph route.
  • All of the trains being considered for the service between London and Corby is faster than 110 mph.

Does all this mean that Corby services might be slower after electrification?

  • Will the 125 mph upgrade to the track and electrification ensure the electric trains are faster, even if they are 100 mph trains.
  • Well-driven 100-110 mph trains might be as fast.

However, the Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield expresses might be slowed, just as they are by the 100 mph Thameslink trains.

In the article in Issue 877 of Rail Magazine, four manufacturers are suggested for the bi-mode trains that will be used between London and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield from 2022.

  • Bombardier
  • Hitachi
  • Stadler
  • Talgo

Hitachi are the only manufacturer with 125 mph bi-mode trains on the UK Network.

They have a near-identical bi-mode Class 802 train and an all-electric Class 801 train.

  • Both are capable of 125 mph running.
  • Conversion between the two trains involves changing the numbers of engines.
  • Drivers are probably trained to drive both types of train.

Ideally, on the Midland Main Line, electric trains could run to Corby, with bi-mode trains running to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

So when the 125 mph bi-mode trains are delivered in 2022, would it be sensible to run their 125 mph electric cousins to Corby?

  • South of Market Harborough, all East Midlands Railway trains would be 125 mph electric trains, running on 125 mph tracks.
  • One tph between London and Corby would need three twelve-car trains.
  • Two tph between London and Corby would need six twelve-car trains.

If that is the case, then whatever train is run to Corby from December 2020, is only a stop-gap for a couple of years.

Would it be more economic in the long term to place the order for the bi-mode trains, with a manufacturer, who can deliver three all-electric trains by December 2020?

Conclusion

I’m fairly certain, that services between London and Corby could be run by refurbished Class 379 trains.

As there is plenty of time before service introduction, this could be a very relaxed and painless introduction of new trains. Unlike some others recently.

There may even be time to upgrade the top speed of the trains, so they fit in better with East Midlands Railway’s 125 mph expresses.

But I wouldn’t be surprised, if East Midlands Railway brought in Class 379 or Classs 360 trains as a stop-gap and replaced them with electric versions of the bi-modes in 2022.

The best solution would be to obtain three twelve-car all-electric versions of the bi-modes by December 2020, to run the initial service.

  • Hitachi has a 125 mph electric Class 801 train and a 125 mph bi-mode Class 802 train.
  • Stadler has a 125 mph electric version of Greater Anglia’s Class 745 train and I suspect a compatible 125 mph bi-mode train.
  • Bombardier are working on a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra and have been quoted as saying Aventras can be stretched to 125 mph.

It will be interesting to see what trains East Midlands Railway chooses.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

The Future Of London To Oakham And Melton Mowbray Rail Services

The bids for the future East Midlands Franchise are expected in April 2018, with the new franchise starting in April 2019.

A Statement From The Department for Transport

In the consultation about the Future of the East Midlands Franchise, this is said in a paragraph entitled Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

A consequence of operating electric trains between London and
Corby could be the loss of direct services between London and
Oakham and Melton Mowbray as there are no plans to electrify
beyond Corby on this route.

Can the Department for Transport really believe that this is a viable idea?

Efficient Train Operation

As I understand it, one of the reasons for the Oakham and Melton Mowbray service to London at six in the morning from Derby, is so they can get their trains positioned for an efficient service to London.

A Useful Diversion Route

The route from London to Derby via Oakham and Melton Mowbray also gives a useful diversion route, if there is engineering works at Leicester. These will happen, at some time in the next few years, as plans to work on the station and possible electrification could happen.

Track Improvements Between London And Kettering And Corby

  • The London to Kettering section is being upgraded.
  • Double-track to Corby.
  • Four-track between London and Kettering.
  • As much 125 mph operating speed as possible.

There may also be other track improvements to come.

Bi-Mode Trains

The new franchise will be using 125 mph bi-mode trains, to decrease the times between London and the Midlands and Yorkshire, without the need for more electrification.

Class 800 trains must be in the pole position, but Bombardier wouldn’t want another company’s products to be speeding past their factory gate, so I suspect we can expect them to offer a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra. In Is A Bi-Mode Aventra A Silly Idea?, I linked to  this article on Christian Wolmar’s web site which is entitled Bombardier’s Survival Was The Right Kind Of Politics, where this is said in the article.

Bombardier is not resting on its laurels. Interestingly, the company has been watching the problems over electrification and the fact that more of Hitachi’s new trains will now be bi-mode because the wires have not been put up in time. McKeon has a team looking at whether Bombardier will go into the bi-mode market: ‘The Hitachi bi-mode trains can only go 110 mph when using diesel. Based on Aventra designs, we could build one that went 125 mph. This would help Network Rail as it would not have to electrify everywhere.’ He cites East Midlands, CrossCountry and Wales as potential users of this technology.

Note the statement that Bombardier could build an Aventra that could do 125 mph running on diesel.

Could Class 387 Or Class 379 Trains Run Between London And Corby?

Once the route between Corby and London is fully electrified could the route be run by high-end Electrostars like Class 387 or Class 379 trains?

In theory, the answer is yes, but there is one major problem!

The Class 387 trains are 110 mph trains, but the Class 379 trains are only 100 mph trains.

They are just too slow.

Currently, London to Corby takes seventy minutes with a 125 mph Class 222 train.

These trains run on diesel, but after the track improvements between Corby and London, that will allow more 125 mph running, I would expect that the new franchise holder will be able to run these trains on the route in under an hour.

The trains may even be able to do a London to Corby round trip in under two hours, which would mean that the route would need less trains for the current level of service.

In addition to being too slow for the Corby route, the Electrostars would cause timetabling problems between Kettering and London, where they would be sharing the 125 mph Midland Main Line with a succession to 125 mph trains going between London and the North.

A Possible Solution

In my view the solution is obvious.

The current 125 mph diesel fleet, must be replaced by a 125 mph bi-mode fleet.

This would give the following advantages.

  • Faster or at least no slower journey times between London and the North, without any electrification North of Kettering and Corby.
  • 125 mph electric running between London and Kettering/Corby.
  • Efficient 125 mph running between London and Bedford, where possible.
  • The ability to use the route from Corby to Derby via Oakham and Melton Mowbray for passenger services or diversions.
  • Surely, the maintenance of a unified fleet is more affordable.

But that is not everything, as modern trains have other advantages.

Take for instance, Hitachi’s Class 800 trains, which have the ability to split and join in less than a couple of minutes at a station.

Some Corby services start or finish at Derby and stop North of Corby at Oakham, Melton Mowbray and East Midlands Parkway.

One possibility could be that some services could start in London as two five-car trains, running as a ten-car train.

  • The combined train would run fast to Corby.
  • At Corby the trains would split.
  • The front train would continue to Derby with stops at Oakham, Melton Mowbray and East Midlands Parkway.
  • The rear train would return to London.
  • Some trains would join up with a train from Derby before returning to London.

The London to Corby service would be two trains per hour, with an hourly train going on to Derby.

Looking at timings, I reckon that the round trip between Corby and Derby could be done in three hours, so it would fit neatly with a half-hourly service between London and Corby that took two hours for the round trip.

This is just speculation, but Class 395 trains have been doing the splitting and joining at Ashford for years.

Conclusion

If the new franchise holder goes for the conservative solution of Class 800 trains, I believe that it would be possible to run an hourly service from Derby to London with stops at Corby, Oakham, Melton Mowbray and East Midlands Parkway.

 

 

 

If

 

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

Should Thameslink Be Extended To Corby?

I ask this question as someone who created his pension pot from writing the algorithms to allocate resources in the planning of projects and because I know that the number of train paths on the Midland Main Line is very tight for the number of services required.

This document on the Network Rail web site has this paragraph.

Electrification of the MML north of Bedford to Kettering and Corby is scheduled to be completed by December 2019.

The Wikipedia entry for Corby station has a section entitled Future, where this is said.

It is planned that a half-hourly London St Pancras to Corby service will operate from December 2019 using new Class 387 trains, once the Midland Main Line has been electrified beyond Bedford as part of the Electric Spine project. Network Rail has also announced that it plans to re-double the currently singled Glendon Junction to Corby section as part of this scheme.

So how will the second service in each hour be provided?

Bedford To St. Pancras

Looking at Bedford, it would appear the following trains run to London.

  • East Midlands Trains in 39-40 minutes
  • Thameslink in 57-59 minutes at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).
  • A Limited-Stop Thameslink in 52 minutes.

As Thameslink has now fully introduced an all-Class 700 train service, could we be seeing a faster service?

Bedford To Corby

The current hourly service between St. Pancras and Corby stops at Bedford and takes thirty-four minutes between Bedford and Corby with stops at Wellingborough and Kettering.

A modern electric train like a Class 700 train, might be able to do the return trip from Bedford to Corby in under an hour. If a Class 700 train can’t do it, then a Class 387 train certainly could.

This would mean that one way to provide the extra service between St. Pancras and Corby would be to extend one of the four tph Bedford to Brighton services to Corby.

This approach would give the following advantages

  • No extra train path is needed South of Bedford.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would get a choice of service.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would have a direct link to Crossrail.

But there would be disadvantages.

  • The Thameslink service would be a few minutes slower.
  • The Class 700 trains don’t have tables, cup-holders, wi-fi and power sockets.
  • The Class 700 trains are only 100 mph trains and probably not fast enough.

The obvious solution is to run the service with a faster electric train, which addresses the deficiencies of the Class 700 trains.

The Ultimate Solution

The Midland Main Line  between Bedford and Glendon Junction for Corby is at least three tracks, with in most places space for a fourth.

I believe the following improvements should be made to the route between Bedford and Glendon Junction.

  • All the tracks between Bedford and Corby should be upgraded to be as fast as possible, so that 110 or 125 mph trains to Corby could make full use of their speed, without using the two Fast Lines.
  • Wellingborough station should have the fourth platform restored.
  • Extra stations, including a Parkway station, could be added if required.

Thameslink would acquire a number of 110 or 125 trains and replace the four tph service between Brighton and Bedford, with a four tph service between Brighton and Corby.

Class 387 trains would probably be acceptable. Especially, as Govia Thameslink Railway uses these trains on Cambridge services.

The consequences of doing this would be.

  • The current one tph path between St. Pancras and Corby on the Fast Lines would be released.
  • Platform needs at St. Pancras would be reduced.
  • No extra Slow Line paths would be needed.
  • Bedford would get the same four tph service to London all day.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would get four tph to St. Pancras.

Twelve faster trains would be needed to provide a full four tph service between Corby and St. Pancras.

Alternatively, you could extend just two opf the four tph from Brighton tom Bedford to Corby!

This would mean.

  • Bedford would get the same four tph service to London all day.
  • Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough would get two tph to St. Pancras.

Six faster trains would be needed.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion, that by providing some extra 110 or 125 mph trains for Thameslink, that the service on the Midland Main Line can be improved significantly.

It also leads me to believe that the specification of the Class 700 trains was created by someone with worse vision than George Shearing.

The trains lack a lot of features like wi-fi and power sockets.

But more importantly, they lack the 110 mph capability of trains like the |Class 350, Class 387 and Class 379 trains, which enables them to run efficiently with express services cruising at 125 mph.

 

 

 

 

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

A Trip To Corby

I’d never been to Corby station before, but had planned it for some time.

I went this morning to both have a look at one of Network Rail’s new stations and see the work going on in the area.

These are pictures I took.

Note.

  • I don’t think I saw one tricky bridge to electrify North of Bedford.
  • A lot of the second track to Corby is in place.
  • It would appear that the works at Corby will create a double track railway through the station to Oakham.
  • I was told at Corby station, that there is to be a closure of the station later in the year, to finish the works.
  • I saw no sign of any electrification North of Kettering.
  • Piles with batty yellow covers, for electrification had started from Bedford.

But one thing that surprised me, was how the line constantly moved changed from four tracks to three and back again and that it was surrounded by lots of space.

Electrifying from Bedford to Kettering wouldn’t be the most difficult of jobs.

Only the stations would be tricky.

But I do have this feeling from what I saw at Horwich Parkway station and wrote about in Are The Electrification Gantries Going In The Middle At Horwich Parkway Station?, that Network rail have some better and non-traditional ways of dealing with the electrification of stations in their tool-box these days.

I also think, that they could phase the work in places, as the lines are often in separate pairs.

 

April 26, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment