The Anonymous Widower

A Trip To Corby

I took these pictures on a trip to Corby this morning.

These are my thoughts.

Trains To And From Corby

I got a Class 222 train to Corby and an eight-car Class 360 train back.

Brent Cross West Station

There was a lot of constructruction activity at the new Brent Cross West station.

Luton Airport Parkway Station

The extensions to Luton Airport Parkway station look to be comprehensive, with several escalators.

The Luton DART connection to Luton Airport appears to be under test, so should open in 2022.

But will there be any air passengers to use it?

I last used it in 2008, when I went to see England play in Belarus.

Electrification North Of Bedford

The electrification North of Bedford station is obviously complete on the slow lines, but on the fast lines, as the pictures show, the gantries are all erected, but there are still wires to be installed.

But as the Class 810 trains won’t be in service until 2023, there’s still a bit of time.

The gantries certainly look sturdy, as this picture shows.

They’re certainly built for 125 mph, but as the Class 810 trains will be capable of 140 mph with full digital in-cab signalling, I would hope that the electrification has been installed to that standard. Or at least to a standard, that can be easily upgraded!

Corby Station

Corby station has been finished to a single-platform station, which is able to accept a twelve-car Class 360 train.

This should be adequate for the current half-hourly service, as a single platform can handle a least four trains per hour (tph) and several around the country regularly do.

Both tracks through the station are electrified and I suspect with a second platform bridge, both could be used by electric trains to create a two-platform station.

But there would appear to be no need at the moment.

Even, if it were to be decided to extend one tph to Oakham and Melton Mowbray stations, this could probably be accommodated on the single-platform.

Network Rail seem to have already installed a crossover South of Corby station, so that trains can use the single platform.

Serving Oakham And Melton Mowbray

I discussed this extension in detail in Abellio’s Plans For London And Melton Mowbray Via Corby And Oakham.

In the related post, I said this.

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.

When my Class 222 train arrived in Corby at 1154, it waited a couple of minutes then took off to the North.

I then took the next train to London, which was an eight-car Class 360 train which formed the 1211 service back to St. Pancras.

Meanwhile the Class 222 train, that I’d arrived on did a reverse in the Corby North Run Around Loop finally arriving back in Corby at 1345. The train had taken one hour and forty-nine minutes to return to Corby.

It might be just coincidence, but are East Midlands Railway doing timing tests to see if services can be extended to Oakham And Melton Mowbray?

It should be noted that service times North of Corby are as follows.

  • Corby and Oakham – 19 mins – 14.3 miles
  • Corby and Melton Mowbray – 31 mins – 25.7 miles
  • Melton Mowbray and Leicester – 17 mins – 12.8 miles (estimate) – CrossCountry service

My logic goes like this.

  • It looks to me that it would not be unreasonable that a Class 222 train could run between Corby and Leicester in forty-eight minutes.
  • Double that and you get one hour and thirty eight minutes, for a journey from Corby to Leicester and back.
  • Subtract that time from the one hour and forty-nine minutes that my train took to reverse and there is eleven minutes for a turnback at Leicester station.
  • Eleven minutes would certainly be long enough to tidy a train and for the crew to change ends.

I also believe that the 35.8 miles would be possible for a Class 810 train fitted with one or more battery power-packs instead of a similar number of the four diesel engines.

So are East Midlands Railway doing tests to find the most efficient way to serve Oakham And Melton Mowbray?

On The Corby Branch

I travelled North on a Class 222 diesel train and South on an electric Class 360 train.

On the Corby branch, I was monitoring the train speed on an app on my phone and both trains travelled at around 90 mph for most of the way.

There were sections at up to 100 mph and the track was generally smooth.

I was left with the impression, that trains might be able to go faster on the branch.

Average speeds for the 2.5 miles of the branch were as follows according to these timings from realtimetrains.

  • Class 222 train – Arriving – 5.25 mins – 28.6 mph
  • Class 222 train – Leaving – 5 mins – 30 mph
  • Class 360 train – Arriving – 7.5 mins – 20 mph
  • Class 360 train – Leaving – 5 mins – 30 mph

It doesn’t appear that there are much difference in the timings, although it might be said, that the electric approach is more cautious.

The Class 360 Trains

The Class 360 trains have not been refurbished yet although as my pictures show, some have been given a new livery.

In Are Class 360 Trains Suitable For St. Pancras And Corby?, I said this about the train refurbishment.

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

These features are mentioned for Midland Main Line services to Corby.

    • Increased capacity
    • Twelve-car trains in the Peak.
    • 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?

It certainly hasn’t happened in full.

I did ask a steward, when the new interiors will be installed and he said they were running late because of the pandemic.

Performance Of The Class 360 Trains

I used my app to follow the speed of the Class 360 train, that brought me back to London.

  • The train hit a maximum speed of about 105 mph.
  • The train arrived in London a minute late.

I feel that as the drivers get used to their new charges, they will match the timetable.

Conclusion

I have a feeling that in a couple of years, these trains will fulfil Abellio’s promises.

May 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Class 360 Trains On The London St. Pancras And Corby Route

In May the Class 360 electric trains will be introduced by East Midlands Railway on the service between St. Pancras and Corby stations.

The Class 360 train is on the left.

The following data has come from Real Time Trains.

  • St. Pancras and Corby are 79.3 miles apart.
  • The current service stops at Kettering, Wellingborough, Bedford and Luton.
  • The new electric service stops at Kettering, Wellingborough, Bedford and Luton and Luton Airport Parkway.
  • Current services take between 67 and 73 minutes
  • The new electric services take between 71 minutes
  • Services leave St. Pancras at XX:15 and XX:45
  • Services leave Corby at XX:11 and XX:40
  • Turnround at St. Pancras appears to be about 23-25 minutes
  • Turnround at Corby appears to be about 12-16 minutes.
  • St. Albans and St. Pancras takes 14 minutes.

Note.

  1. The Class 222 train has a top speed of 125 mph and a maximum acceleration: of 0.80 ms-2
  2. The Class 360 train has a top speed of 110 mph and a maximum acceleration: of 0.98 ms-2

Looks like a case of swings and roundabouts to me!

I can deduce the following.

Average Speed

Consider.

  • Assuming a trip time of seventy minutes for the Class 222 train, gives an average speed of 68 mph including stops.
  • Assuming a trip time of seventy-one minutes for the Class 360 train, gives an average speed of 62 mph including stops.

These speeds don’t seem to be too difficult to achieve. Especially, as the Midland Main Line is a series of straight line between a number of stations., which are ideal for a quick dash in between.

It’s A Three Hour Round Trip

Add up the two 71 minute trips and the turnaround times and it looks to be a comfortable three hour round trip.

So for a two trains per hour (tph) service, you will need six formations of Class 360 trains.

As it looks like each formation will be twelve cars long, that will mean that eighteen of the current twenty-one trains will be needed.

The three spare trains will be very useful, whilst the trains are refurbished with new liveries and interiors.

Route Capacity

This picture shows a five-car Class 222 train at Corby station.

Consider.

  • The current five-car Class 222 trains have a capacity of 50 First Class and 192 Standard Class seats
  • Four-car Class 222 trains have a capacity of 33 First Class and 132 Standard Class seats.
  • A four-car Class 360 train has a capacity of 16 First Class and 264 Standard Class seats.

I can do a simple calculation.

  • The current one tph service, if run by a five-car Class 222 trains would have an hourly capacity of 50 First Class and 192 Standard Class seats.
  • The planned two tph service if run by twelve-car 360 trains has an hourly capacity of 96 First Class and 1584 Standard Class seats.

First Class capacity on the route has doubled and Standard Class accommodation has gone up by a massive 8.25 times.

The latter figure will probably be reduced as some of the seats are to be removed for a more spacious interior with tables.

Serving Luton Airport

It looks like these trains will enable a quick journey to Luton Airport.

  • The St. Pancras and Corby train will take 22 minutes between St. Pancras and Luton Airport Parkway stations.
  • There will be the Luton DART connecting Luton Airport Parkway to the Airport from 2022.
  • I suspect Luton Airport will be aiming for a thirty minute journey between St. Pancras and the Airport.
  • The fast service will have a frequency of two tph.

It will not compare badly with rail times from London to Gatwick of 35 minutes and to Stansted of 50 minutes.

Services To Oakham And Melton Mowbray

Consider.

  • Oakham and Melton Mowbray stations are on the route between Corby station and the Midland Main Line North of Leicester.
  • Oakham and Melton Mowbray stations have a one train per day (tpd) in both directions to London via Corby.
  • In Beeching Reversal – Increased Services To Nottingham And Leicester, via Syston And Loughborough From Melton Mowbray. I wrote about how the local MP wants better services at Melton Mowbray.
  • Oakham is 11.5 miles from Corby.
  • Melton Mowbray is 25.8 miles from Corby.
  • Leicester is just over forty miles from Corby and could be covered in under an hour.
  • A pair of Class 810 trains are the same length as a trio of Class 360 trains, so both trains would fit all platforms.

I think that there are a lot of possibilities for services through Corby.

  • Class 810 trains could use Corby as a diversion, when the Midland Main Line is closed for engineering works.
  • Class 810 trains could run a service between St. Pancras and Leicester via Corby, Oakham and Melton Mowbray.
  • If the Class 360 trains could be fitted with batteries, they should be able to provide a service from St. Pancras to Melton Mowbray and perhaps Leicester.

It could even provide an alternative route to London, if Leicester station has to be substantially rebuilt for electrification..

Conclusion

This not the longest of electric services, but I can see it carrying a lot of passengers.

It will also give a boost to Luton Airport.

April 7, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Testing Begins On Midland Main Line Electrification

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

  • From the article, it looks like the first part of mechanical testing has been completed as planned and unpowered pantograph runs have been performed at up to 110 mph.
  • It does seem to me, that this thirty  miles of electrification has avoided the troubles that have plagued similar projects in recent years.

Perhaps the good progress on this electrification, is making the government think again about early electrification of all of the  Midland Main Line

In Hopes Rekindled Of Full Midland Main Line Electrification. I showed how battery electric Class 810 trains would be able to work the route.

This was my conclusion of that earlier post.

It appears that both the Nottingham and Sheffield services can be run using battery electric Class 810 trains.

  • All four diesel engines in the Class 810 trains would need to be replaced with batteries.
  • The route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, which will be shared with High Speed Two, will need to be electrified.
  • Charging facilities for the battery electric trains will need to be provided at Nottingham.

On the other hand using battery electric trains mean the two tricky sections of the Derwent Valley Mills and Leicester station and possibly others, won’t need to be electrified to enable electric trains to run on the East Midlands Railway network.

Will it be the first main line service in the world, run by battery electric trains?

There was one thing, that wasn’t available, a month ago, when I wrote that post – A charging system for battery electric trains, that could be installed at Nottingham.

In Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, I report on Adrian Shooter’s plans for Vivarail, which are outlined in a video by Modern Railways.

Ar one point he says this   see about Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.

The system has now been given preliminary approval to be installed as the UK’s standard charging system for any make of train.

I may have got the word’s slightly wrong, but I believe the overall message is correct.

So could we see a Hitachi Class 810 train using Vivarail’s patented Fast Charge system at Nottingham?

In Interview: Hitachi’s Nick Hughes On Driving Innovation In Rail Propulsion, Nick Hughes of Hitachi is quoted as saying.

Rail is going to become increasingly digitised and integrated into other sectors involved in smart cities, mobility-as-a-service and flexible green grid. Therefore, Hitachi Rail won’t be able to stay at the forefront of innovation by its self. This is why we are focused on building partnerships with other like-minded, innovative, clean tech companies like Hyperdrive Innovation, Perpetuum and Hitachi group companies such as Hitachi ABB.

Does Vivarail fit that philosophy? In my view, it does!

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification of their Regional Battery Train.

Note.

  1. The range on battery power is 90 km or 56 miles at up to 100 mph.
  2. Class 810 trains could be converted to battery electric trains by replacing the diesel engines with batteries.
  3. As the electrification has reached Kettering. there is only 55 miles between London St Pancras and Nottingham without electrification.

I could see Class 810 trains running between St. Pancras and Nottingham on delivery, provided the following projects have been completed.

  • Hitachi have been able to give the Class 810 trains a range of say 60 miles on batteries.
  • Hitachi have modified their trains, so they can be recharged by a Vivarail Fast Charge system in fifteen minutes.
  • Vivarail have installed a Fast Charge facility at Nottingham station.

Network Rail are planning to extend the electrification from Kettering to Market Harborough, which would reduce the distance without electrification to under 50 miles. This would make running battery electric trains between London St. Pancras and Nottingham even easier.

Expanding The Network

If I am putting two and two together correctly and Hitachi have turned to Vivarail to provide a charging system or a licence for the use of the technology, I am sure, it would be possible to create a comprehensive network of battery electric trains.

Consider.

  • Hitachi should be able to squeeze a sixty mile range at 90-100 mph from a battery-equipped Class 810 trains.
  • Market Harborough and Derby are about 47 miles apart.
  • Derby and Sheffield are about 36 miles apart
  • Sheffield and Leeds are about 48 miles apart
  • Corby and Leicester are about 41 miles apart.

Vivarail Fast Charge systems at Derby, Leicester and Sheffield would enable the following routes to be run using battery electric trains.

  • London St. Pancras and Sheffield via Derby – Fast Charging at Derby and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Leeds via Derby and Sheffield – Fast Charging at Derby and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Sheffield via the Erewash Valley Line – Fast Charging at Ilkeston (?) and Sheffield
  • London St. Pancras and Leicester via Corby – Fast Charging at Leicester

Note.

  1. The only extra electrification needed for the initial network would be between Kettering and Market Harborough.
  2. The Class 810 trains would all be identical.
  3. The Class 810 trains might even be built and delivered as battery electric trains
  4. Trains would also charge the batteries between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough, between London St. Pancras and Corby. and between Leeds and Wakefield Westgate.

The network can be extended by adding more electrification and Fast Charge systems.

Conclusion

The technologies of Hitachi and Vivarail seem complimentary and could result in a fully electric main line train network for East Midlands Railway.

 

 

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

MP Campaigns To Extend Train Services For Melton Borough

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Melton Times.

This is the introductory sub-title.

A campaign has been launched by the Melton’s MP to improve services passing and operating from the town station and the one at Bottesford.

Alicia Kearns has submitted two bids to the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

I’ll now look at the two proposals in more detail.

More Regular Services To Bottesford

Wikipedia says this about services at Bottesford station.

  • The service is generally every two hours to Nottingham in the West and Skegness in the East.
  • Some trains call at Grantham and give connection to the East Coast Main Line.
  • LNER services at Grantham connect to Doncaster, King’s Cross, Leeds, Lincoln, Peterborough, Stevenage, Wakefield and York.
  • Bottesford is in the Borough of Melton and their is no direct rail service between Bottesford and Melton. A typical journey takes over two-and-a-half hours with two changes, that can include a wait of an hour at Leicester station.
  • Bottesford is in the County of Leicester. There is no direct rail service between Bottesford and Leicester.

I think the MP has a point and an improved and more frequent service at Bottesford could be very beneficial.

  • Many routes like this in the UK have an hourly service and I suspect many communities along the Poacher Line would benefit from this frequency.
  • All services calling at Grantham for East Coast Main Line services would be useful.
  • Do services have a good interchange at Nottingham for Midland Main Line services?

It looks like improvements at Bottesford wouldn’t require any new expensive infrastructure, but they would need more trains.

More Services Through Melton

Wikipedia says this about services at Melton station.

  • There is an hourly off-peak service in both directions between Stansted Airport and Birmingham, that calls at Cambridge, Peterborough, Oakham and Leicester.
  • East Midlands Railway and their predescessor have added services to London via Corby and to Derby and East Midlands Parkway.

When you consider, that both Bottesford and Melton Mowbray are the same Council and Parliamentary constituency, it does seem that a more direct train service is needed between Bottesford and Melton stations.

It does seem to me that some innovative thinking is needed.

If the current plans to fulfil British Rail’s ambition of an Ivanhoe Line running from Lincoln to Burton-on-Trent via Nottingham, East Midlands Parkway, Loughborough and Leicester, are carried out, that will give important towns to the West of Leicester much better rail connections.

Given that High Speed Two is coming to East Midlands Hub station at Toton and there will be a Bedford and Leeds service run by Midlands Connect using High Speed Two classic-compatible trains, that I wrote about in Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station, I wonder if in the interim, there should be more trains between Derby and Melton.

  • Intermediate stations would be Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway Long Eaton and Spondon.
  • An hourly frequency would double the service frquency at smaller stations like Sileby and Barrow-upon-Soar.
  • The Southern terminal could be Melton station, but I feel Corby or Peterborough stations would be better, as this would improve services at Oakham station. We should not forget Rutland.
  • As Corby will be an electrified two-platform station with a two trains per hour (tph) service to London, this could work quite well as a Southern terminus.
  • Peterborough would have advantages and give a good connection to Cambridge, London and Scotland, but improvements to the current Birmingham and Stansted Airport service would have similar effects.

This route would be just as valuable after High Speed Two opens through the East Midlands Hub station, as it will give fast ongoing connections to Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and York.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

I feel strongly, that full electrification of the Midland Main Line could be a step to far.

  • Electrification, through Leicester station will mean a complete closure of the station for a couple of years.
  • Electrification of the route North of Derby, through the Derwent Valley Mills, which is a World Heritage Site, will be opposed by the Heritage Taliban with all their might.

But.

  • Electrification of the route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield via Chesterfield will take place in conjunction with High Speed Two
  • Electrification to Market Harborough, which is sixteen miles South of Leicester will happen.
  • East Midlands Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with a battery option giving a range of between 55 and 65 miles.
  • Pantographs on this trains can go up and down with all the alacrity of a whore’s drawers.

If the easier section of electrification between Leicester and Derby stations, were to be erected, this would enable the following routes to be run using battery=equipped Class 810 trains.

  • London and Derby, where battery power would be used through Leicester.
  • London and Nottingham, where battery power would be used through Leicester and between East Midlands Parkway and Nottingham.
  • London and Sheffield, where battery power would be used through Leicester and between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction.
  • Lincoln and Burton-on-Trent, where battery power would be used South of Leicester and North of East Midlands Parkway.
  • Derby and Corby, where battery power would be used between Syston and Corby.

There would also be the service between Derby and Norwich, which might be able to be run by a similar train.

Conclusion

The MP’s plan is worth pursuing.

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Corby Class 360/1s Earmarked For 110 mph Running

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on Page 10 of Issue 886 of Rail Magazine.

In Are Class 360 Trains Suitable For St. Pancras And Corby?, I came to this conclusion.

In my view there is a lot of upgrade work to be done to the Class 360 trains to make them suitable for working on the services between St. Pancras and Corby.

  • They need a new upgraded interior.
  • The trains need upgrading to at least 110 mph.
  • A possible upgrading with digital signalling.

I can’t help feeling that the Class 360 trains would make a good stop-gap, but in the long-term it might be better to have a small fleet of electric trains.

The Rail Magazine article says the following will be done.

  • Trains will be upgraded for 110 mph running.
  • 3+2 seating will be replaced by 2+2 seating.
  • Wi-fi, tables and updated information screens will be added.

This all sounds a lot better.

August 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Are Class 360 Trains Suitable For St. Pancras And Corby?

It appears that East Midlands Railway will be using Class 360 trains on the route between St. Pancras and Corby stations running them under the branch name of EMR Electrics.

The London And St. Pancras Route

The route has the following characteristics.

  • It is just short of 80 miles long.
  • The current Class 222 trains take one hour and fifteen minutes for the journey.
  • This means these trains have a start to stop average at 64 mph.
  • Much of the route is cleared for 125 mph running.
  • The route is being made a complete double track.
  • The whole route is being electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.

In December 2020, the route will host a new electric service.

East Midlands Railway’s Train Specification For The Route

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

These features are mentioned for Midland Main Line services to Corby.

  • Increased capacity
  • Twelve-car trains in the Peak.
  • 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?

How Well Do Class 360 Trains Fit The Specification?

These are a few pictures of a Class 360 train, which I took today.

Some problems and strengths are immediately obvious.

  • There are no tables.
  • Will two+three seating e acceptable, considering that the current trains on the route have two+two seating.
  • There is no space for bicycles.
  • There are no luggage racks, which will be needed as the Corby service will also double as a service to Luton Airport.
  • The trains are in reasonably good condition.
  • There ia a fully-accessible toilet.

A lot of work will need to be done to update the interior of the trains to a standard, that fits East Midland Railway’s specification and their customers expectations.

But there is a full twelve months before the trains will be needed to run on the newly electrified route between St. Pancras and Corby stations.

This may seem enough time, but many current train refurbishment projects are running late.

Is The Performance Of Class 360 Trains Good Enough?

The current Class 222 trains have the following performance.

  • 125 mph maximum speed.
  • An acceleration rate of 0.80 m/sec/sec

By comparison the Class 360 trains have the following performance.

  • 100 mph maximum speed.
  • An acceleration rate of 0.98 m/sec/sec.

Given that much of the route between St. Pancras and Corby stastions will be constructed for 125 mph running, will the top speed of the Class 360 trains be high enough?

Will The Class 360 Trains And The Hitachi AT-300 Bi-Modes Be Compatible?

East Midlands Railway has ordered thirty-three AT-300 bi-modes, which will be able to run at 125 mph on the fully-electrified Midland Main Line to the South of Market Hsrborough station.

As thetwo trains will share the fast lines, with the Class 360 trains, will there be conflicts, as the Class 360 trains are only capable of 100 mph?

Ideally, the Class 360 trains should be upgraded to their highest speed possible.

Some of similar Class 350 trains are capable of 110 mph.

This could be enough, but surely for ease of operation, all of East Midlands Railway’s services into St. Pancras should be run by trains capable of running at 125 mph.

Will The Class 360 Trains Need Digital Signalling?

The Hitachi AT-300 trains will probably be able to run using digital signalling, which could be a valuable way of creating more paths on the Midland Main Line.

So will the Class 3560 trains be fitted with digital signalling?

Conclusion

In my view there is a lot of upgrade work to be done to the Class 360 trains to make them suitable for working on the services between St. Pancras and Corby.

  • They need a new upgraded interior.
  • The trains need upgrading to at least 110 mph.
  • A possible upgrading with digital signalling.

I can’t help feeling that the Class 360 trains would make a good stop-gap, but in the long-term it might be better to have a small fleet of electric trains.

Electric AT-300 trains must be one of the favourites, although Class 745 trains, similar to those that Abellio will run between Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport, would do nicely.

 

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

Vere Promises East Midlands Bi-Modes In 2022

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

This is the first paragraph.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022, according to Baroness Vere, the Government’s transport spokesman in the House of Lords.

This statement means that whoever manufactures the trains has just over three years from today to design, build and test the trains.

This paragraph from the article talks about how Bombardier and Hitachi would design the trains.

It’s known that Bombardier and Hitachi are interested in the contract, but both will be supplying new designs, with the former offering a bi-mode Aventra while the latter will offer an AT300 (the Intercity Express Programme platform) but with shorter vehicles.

What do we know about these two trains?

Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

As is typical with Bombardier interviews, they give their objectives, rather than how they aim to achieve them.

In Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power, I said this.

The title of this post is the same as 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.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

Bombardier’s spokesman also said, that they have offered the train to three new franchises. East Midlands, West Coast Partnership and CrossCountry.

Very little more can be gleaned from the later Modern Railways article.

Consider.

  • Aventras are designed to a modular concept.
  • Bombardier have finally got the software for the train working to a high standard.
  • The trains are designed for ease of manufacture, at a high rate.
  • Development of the bi-mode train must have started before June 2018.
  • Christian Wolmar disclosed the objective of a 125 mph Aventra in February 2017.
  • I have seem references to Aventras, being tested at 110 mph.

On the balance of probabilities, I think it is very possible that Bombardier can deliver a full fleet of 125 mph bi-mode trains with batteries before the end of 2022.

Hitachi AT-300

Consider.

  • Class 802 trains are a version of the AT-300 train, which in turn are a member of Hitachi’s A-Train family.
  • Class 802 trains are successfully in service on the Great Western Railway.
  • Class 385, 395, 800 and 801 are all members of the A-train family and are closely related to the Class 802 train.
  • The A-Train is a modular family.and different numbers of cars and car length, shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Hull Trains ordered their fleet of five Class 802 trains in November 2016 and they will enter service around December 2019 or early in 2020.
  • First Group ordered five AT-300 trains in March 2019 and they will enter service in Autumn 2021.

If the order has been placed in the last few months, there is every chance that Hitachi could deliver a fleet of new bi-mode trains for service in December 2022.

Stadler Flirt

These aren’t mentioned in the Rail Magazine article, but they were mentioned as a possibility for the order in an article by Roger Ford, which was entitled East Midlands IC125 Dilemma, in the June 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is an extract from Roger’s article.

In theory, Stadler should be in pole position. Itis also supplying Abellio’s Greater Anglia franchise, where Flirt bi-modes are running on test.

As they haven’t had any serious problems yet, and they are Swiss, everyone thinks they are amazingly efficient and wonderful. Whjich may turn out to be the case.

In the end, Roger rates their chances as slim.

But Stadler certainly has the technical capability to produce a 125 mph bi-mode train.

Electric Trains To Corby

When the electrified St. Pancras and Corby service opens in December 2020, a round trip will take three hours.

This means that as few as three trains would be needed to provide the service.

The specification would be.

  • Electric traction
  • Twelve cars and 240 metres long.
  • 125 mph capability.
  • Three trains and a spare would probably be needed by December 2020, with a further three trains by December 2021.

Abellio would also probably like the trains to be very similar for drivers and staff.

Currently, it appears that the electric services to Corby, will be run initially by cascaded Class 360 trains.

  • But with a bit of juggling of production, Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler might be able to manufacture, the four trains needed to start the service in December 2020.
  • Abellio also have Class 360 and Class 379 trains working on Greater Anglia, that are likely to be replaced before December 2020.

So they have a sensible back-stop.

How Many Trains Will Abellio Need?

The current service is two trains per hour to both Nottingham and Sheffield.

These are fastest times.

  • London and Nottingham is one hour forty minutes
  • London and Sheffield is two hours

Even if there is a bit of a speed increase, it looks like at least eight trains will be needed for both services.

As to train length, I doubt five cars will be enough on all trains.

  • Some services are currently run by six and eight-car HSTs.
  • Have Abellio promised more seats?
  • Abellio will be extending some Sheffield services to Rotherham, Barnsley and Leeds.
  • It has already been stated that the Corby trains will be 240 metres long
  • So will we see a uniform fleet of longer trains?

There are some short platforms, so I suspect Abellio will buy a mixture of full-length 240 metre-long trains and half-length 120 metre-long trains, as several train companies have done.

I feel we could see something like eight full length trains and perhaps twelve half-length trains.

I have calculated that seven full-length trains are needed for Corby.

Adding this up gives the following.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

This gives a total of 27 trains of a total of 210 cars, of which 140 are bi-mode and 70 are electric.

All of this is based on running the current service with new trains.

abellio Greater Anglia have not not just done this in East Anglia, but have purchsed extra trains to add new services and increase frequencies.

So I would feel, that these trains are a minimum order, if Abellio are not doing any expansion.

Daily Telegraph Report – 19th July 2019

A report in the Daily Telegraph on the 19th July 2019, which is entitled Blow For Bombardier’s Derby Plant As £600m Train Contract Goes To Hitachi, says the order has gone to Hitachi.

  • Value is quoted at £600million.
  • A formal announcement is expected next week.

Has next week already passed without an announcement from Abellio?

I do find it strange, that there has been no reference to the Telegraph report in local sources around Derby.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service.

FirstGroup have ordered AT-300 trains.

  • All-electric.
  • Five trains of five-cars.
  • A total order value of £100 million.
  • Order placed in March 2019
  • Service starting in Autumn 2021

This works out at four million pounds per car.

Earlier, I calculated that Abellio needed to buy 140 bi-mode cars and seventy electric ones.

Assuming that Abellio run the Corby services with refurbished Class 360 trains, then 140 carriages will cost £560 million.

But this would mean the following.

  • Abellio would be running two separate fleets on the Midland Main Line.
  • The Corby services would run below the operating speed of the route.
  • Expansion would mean the purchase of more trains.

This is very different to their philosophy in Abellio Greater Anglia.

  • Class 745 and Class 755 trains are very similar to drivers and other staff.
  • Both trains can operate at 100 mph on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Abellio Greater Anglia have significantly increased the size of their train fleet.

I believe that Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler can all met this schedule.

  • Deliver four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Deliver another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • Deliver the fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

At four million pounds for a car for a Hitachi train, this works out at £840 million.

So could it be, that Hitachi have thrown in a good discount to make sure of the order.

It will be very interesting, when Abellio announce their order.

Interim Trains

Baroness Vere also discussed the other trains on the Midland Main Line.

This was the final two paragraph from the article.

As it stands, the 12 High Speed Trains cannot operate in passenger traffic beyond December 31 2019 this year, as they will not meet new accessibility regulations.

When announcing the Abellio contract win in April, Government confirmed that four Class 180s would transfer from Hull Trains to EMR. There was also the possibility that the LNER HSTs could also transfer to the MML, although these do not meet the disability requirements either.

So what is going to happen?

It appears that the four Class 180 trains and the twenty-seven Class 222 trains of various lengths will have to manage.

But I do think, that Baroness Vere’s statement.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022.

Is very welcome, as the HSTs will retire on the 31st December 2019 and there will be less than three years of a reduced fleet.

These points should also be noted.

  • In December 2020, when the electrification goes live and new electric trains start running between London and Corby, there will be a few more Class 222 trains available.
  • The Corby electric trains, will also add capacity between London and Kettering.
  • I don’t think it unlikely, that some other trains are rustled up to fill the gaps using perhaps Mark 4 coaches and Class 43 locomotives.

I hope for Abellio’s and their passengers sake, that what Baroness Vere said, comes true!

Could Abellio Go For A Safety-First Solution?

Consider.

  • Abellio Greater Anglia’s new Class 745, Class 755 and Class 720 trains are all running, if not years, but a few months late.
  • There has been nothing serious and Greater Anglia only has one fleet that is not PRM-compliant; the London and Norwich expresses.
  • Providing all goes reasonably well with the introduction of the new Class 745 trains, Greater Anglia’s fleet will be fully PRM-compliant, by the end of the year.

But if they had opted for off-the-shelf Hitachi Class 801 trains for London and Norwich, there might have been less worry. On the other hand, Hitachi way of making trains, by shipping the bodies from Japan probably doesn’t lead itself to high productio rates.

But for Midland Main Line services, Abellio East Midlands Railway aren’t looking at a large fleet of trains.

I estimate they could need.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

Now that Hitachi’s big orders are coming to an end, Abellio can probably be sure, they will get the main line trains on time and with the minimum of fuss.

Going the safety-first route of buying a fleet of Hitachi trains could deliver the trains that are needed urgently.

  • Four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • A fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

It might be a bit tight for the Corby electrics, but other trains that could work the route in the interim are available.

Abellio could do a lot worse than give Hitahi the order, if they could deliver early!

Conclusion

If any of the three train manufacturers can supply new trains for the St. Pancras and Corby service to the tight timetable, Abellio would surely be very pleased, as they would only have one train type to introduce on the route.

But I do think, that there is a possibility, that a good discount has won it for Hitachi!

 

 

 

July 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

East Midlands Railway’s New Look

The title of this post, is the same as a short article in Issue 882 of Rail Magazine.

What is interesting, is that it shows a visualisation of a Class 360 train in the new livery.

In Abellio East Midlands Railway’s Plans For London And Corby, I came to this conclusion.

I wouldn’t be surprised, if East Midlands Railway brought in Class 379 or Class 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.

By showing, a Class 360 train in their new livery, are they attempting to do one or all of the following.

  • Get better terms for the nine interim trains they may need.
  • Get better terms and earlier delivery for enough new twelve-car electric trains to run a 125 mph service between London and Corby.
  • Trying to get better terms with the leasing companies to take back Class 379 and Class 360 trains, currently at Greater Anglia.

The Dutch can be tough negotiators.

July 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

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 | , , , , , , | 4 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.

There must also be the possibility, for a train manufacturer to deliver enough new trains to run the London and Corby service.

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 745/1 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.

Greater Anglia’s plans currently give the order of the new Stadler fleet introduction as.

  • Four-car Class 755/4 trains
  • Twelve-car Class 745/0 trains for London and Norwich services
  • Three-car Class 755/3 trains
  • Twelve-car Class 745/1 trains for London and Stansted services

All trains are to be introduced by the end of 2020.

The Bombardier Class 720 trains are also planned to be introduced by the same date, starting this Autumn.

Could this mean that it is likely that nine Class 379 or Class 360 trains could be available before the end of 2019?

If Class 379 or Class 360 trains are used to Corby, it would allow a very relaxed train introduction.

There could be at least a year, to turn the 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.

As the Class 745/1 trains for London and Stansted could be the last to be delivered, which might delay the release of the Class 379 trains, could this explain the rumours for using the Class 360 trains, between London and Corby.

There is also an interesting possibility.

Suppose, Abellio decided to order 125 mph trains from Stadler identical to the Class 745/0 trains between London and Norwich on the route between London and Corby.

  • Stadler probably knows how to upgrade the trains to 125 mph, as there are electric Flirts in Norway with this performance.
  • Greater Anglia have invested heavily in driver simulators and training aids for their Stadler trains.
  • By the end of 2019, they will be running Class 745/0 trains between London and Norwich.

With different colours and a few route-specific details, the London and Norwich Class 745/0 trains, would surely be more than acceptable for London and Corby.

Stadler would surely be able to build the extra trains before the Stansted trains. This would mean that the unwanted Class 379 trains would have to soldier on to Stansted for a few more months.

125 mph Class 745 trains would be a magnificent upgrade to the London and Corby service.

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

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

There are enough Class 379 and Class 360 trains, but obtaining the originally-planned Class 387 trains could be problematic.

Building the three extra new trains would not be a problem.

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. Luton Airport Parkway station will have the Luton DART connection to the Airport in 2021.
  4. 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 and would be no problem.

  • 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.

Class 360 Trains Would Need A Substantial Refurbish

If Class 360 trains were to be used to Corby, they would need a substantial refurbish, but the general feeling is that this would be possible and there is a year to do it.

iNew-Build Class 745 Trains

With a small fleet of new-build Class 745 trains, the customer would get what they want! – Tables, 2+2 seating, wi-fi sockets etc.

The Greater Anglia London and Norwich specification would be a good starting point.

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 a lot more work to prepare the trains for Corby and a higher chance, they would be late!

I think except as a stop-gap, it is unliklely that Class 360 trains will be used between London and Corby.

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.
  • None 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 number 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, where only nine four-car trains would be needed.

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?

I believe Stadler could do that!

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.

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

But 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.

But I think Stadler Class 745 trains are a distinct possibility.

  • Abellio will have experience of running these trains and training drivers and other staff.
  • 125 mph trains could be almost identical to those on London and Norwich services.
  • Stadler have built 125 mph electric Flirts for Norway.

By juggling production a bit, they could be delivered on time for a December 2020 start of services.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments