The Anonymous Widower

DfT and Arriva CrossCountry Sign Agreement

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The franchisee CrossCountry, which is owned by Arriva, has signed a three-year agreement with the Department for Transport to bring the franchise in line with the Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements (ERMAs).

CrossCountry has the following trains in its fleet.

34 x Class 220 trains

24 x Class 221 trains

This gallery shows Class 220 trains and the closely related Class 222 trains, which are in service with East Midlands Railways.

Note that these three fleets of Bombadier Voyager trains are now twenty years old and will probably need a makeover soon.

If they have a problem it is that they are diesel multiple units and create a lot of noise and pollution in stations and depots.

This is said in the Railway News article.

One element of this new contract is a focus on reducing the environmental impact of the operator’s diesel fleet.

, Two separate projects are mentioned.

  • Using a separate electrical supply to Turbostars during cleaning.
  • Use of on-train batteries on the Voyagers in stations.

In Have Bombardier Got A Cunning Plan For Voyagers?, I gave my thoughts on the second project, when Bombardier proposed it in 2018.

I can see the following scenario happening.

  • When the new Class 805 trains are delivered, Avanti West Coast’s Class 220 trains are transferred to Arriva CrossCountry.
  • When the new Class 810 trains are delivered, East Midland Railway’s Class 222 trains are transferred to Arriva CrossCountry.
  • CrossCountry update their Voyagers with batteries.
  • CrossCountry retire their InterCity 125 trains.

CrossCountry may have enough trains to run a mainly Voyager fleet, backed up by a few Turbostars.

Could Bombardier’s Plan Be Revived In A Different Form?

If CrossCountry had all the Voyages, they would have the following fleet.

  • 34 x four-car Class 220 trains – Currently with CrossCountry.
  • 20 x five-car Class 221 trains – Currently with Avanti West Coast
  • 20 x five-car Class 221 trains – Currently with CrossCountry
  • 4 x four-car Class 221 trains – Currently with CrossCountry
  • 6 x seven-car Class 222 trains – Currently with East Midlands Trains
  • 17 x five-car Class 222 trains – Currently with East Midlands Trains
  • 4 x four-car Class 222 trains – Currently with East Midlands Trains

This totals to eighty-five trains with a total of 285 intermediate cars, of which 128 were built with tilt for Class 221 trains.

Currently CrossCountry has a total of 58 four- and five-car Voyagers and enough Class 43 locomotives for six InterCity 125 trains.

If they rearranged the non-tilting intermediate cars of the Voyagers, 157 intermediate cars is enough for one of the following.

  • 78 – four-car trains
  • 52 – five-car trains
  • 39 – six-car trains
  • 26 – eight-car trains
  • 22 – nine-car trains

Add in forty five-car Class 221 trains and there is more than enough trains for CrossCountry to run their current services without the retired InterCity 125s.

CrossCountry would also be able to form the trains into the lengths they needed for efficient services.

This formation photographed at Basingstoke could be formed of a single train, if they wished, as they have more than enough coaches.

I suspect in true design engineering fashion, engineers at CrossCountry have got the toy trains or Lego bricks out to shuffle the coaches on a big table to see what are the best train lengths for their network.

If they decided to go the eight-car route, which could give up to twenty-six trains, this would be more than enough to be able to retire the InterCity 125s.

Could one of the Intermediate cars be converted into a pantograph and battery car?

  • If the diesel engine and the associated gubbins were to be removed, this would save around two tonnes in weight.
  • A two-tonne battery could probably have a capacity of 200 kWh.
  • Bombardier probably have ideas about how a car could be converted.

Someone could have a lot of fun playing musical carriages and the following trains could be created.

  • A fleet of Voyager bi-mode  trains of optimum length for CrossCountry’s route network.
  • Most services would be run by single trains, which must give advantages to the operator, their staff and passengers.
  • All braking would be regenerative braking to battery to save energy.
  • Where electrification exists, the trains could use it.
  • All station stops would be performed on battery power.

There might even be some left over driving cars and some intermediate cars to be converted into battery electric trains for another route.

Conclusion

There is a route there for CrossCountry to have a much more environmentally-friendly fleet, better suited to their needs

  • The Turbostars would be given a local electricity supply to cut noise and pollution during overnight cleaning.
  • The InterCity 125s would be retired.
  • CrossCountry acquires as many Voyagers as it needs after Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway get their new trains.
  • The Voyagers carriages would be shuffled so that they could handle all routes and replace the InterCity 125s.
  • The design exists to convert the Voyagers into diesel-electric-battery tri-mode high speed trains.

Note.

  1. There are enough trains to do a gradual conversion, with CrossCountry having enough trains for a full service at all times.
  2. All trains will probably have been built this century or nearly so!

I also feel, that the fleet would be a marketing asset, rather than a bit of a discouragement to use CrossCountry’s services again.

 

 

 

October 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Goodrington and Churston Stations

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

I wrote about a similar project, that had been proposed by the Association of Train Operating Companies in Between Exeter And Paignton. after I visited Devon, three years ago.

The basic idea is described in a section called Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Riviera Line, where this is said.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies identified Brixham as one of fourteen towns for which the provision of a new railway service would have a positive benefit-cost ratio. This would be an extension of the Great Western Railway service beyond Paignton to Churston station on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway, which would then act as a railhead for Brixham. It would also serve other housing developments in the area since the opening of the steam railway, and may require the doubling of that line between Paignton and Goodrington Sands.

This Google Map shows between Paignton and Goodrington Sands stations.

Note.

  1. Paignton station is marked by a station sign towards the top of the map.
  2. Goodrington Sands station is towards the bottom of the map.

The two stations seem well placed to serve the serve the town of Paignton and its beaches.

This second Google Map shows the Goodrington Sands and Churston stations in relation to Brixham and Berry Head.

Note.

  1. Goodrington Sands station is at the top of the map.
  2. Two other stations on the Dartmouth Steam Railway are shown; Greenway Halt and Churston.
  3. Churston station is the most Northerly of the pair.

Churston station looks well-placed for Brixham.

These are my thoughts.

The Current Train Service

The train service between Paignton and Exeter St. Davids is run by Great Western Railway.

There are basically two services,

  1. A two train per hour (tph) service between Paignton and Exmouth via Torquay and Exeter St. Davids. I have used it and it is a useful local service for commuters, shoppers and visitors, although it could do with some modern trains.
  2. Occasional trains during the day to London Paddington.

There are also some CrossCountry trains going to and from Manchester Piccadilly.

The Dartmouth Steam Railway also runs trains between Paignton and via Goodrington Sands and Churston.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

This train is described in this infographic from Hitachi.

I believe it will revolutionise rail travel in the South West of England, as shorter lengths of electrification, will enable this train based on current Class 800 and Class 802 trains to run all-electric services between London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids, Newquay, Paignton, Penzance and Plymouth.

Exeter St. Davids As A Hub For Battery Electric Trains

Exeter St. Davids station could become a major hub for battery electric trains.

These are distances to various stations.

  • Barnstaple – 39 miles
  • Exmouth – 11 miles
  • Paignton – 28 miles
  • Plymouth – 52 miles
  • Taunton – 32 miles
  • Yeovil Junction – 49 miles

All of these would be in range of a Hitachi Regional Battery Train or any battery electric train with sufficient range, that was fully-charged at Exeter St. Davids station.

The station has plenty of space and several long platforms, so I believe it would make an ideal hub for battery electric trains.

Could Battery Electric Trains Work The Riviera Line?

The Riviera Line was designed by Brunel for atmospheric power. Perhaps, he had observed the weather and felt the massive seas would make it difficult for for the steam locomotives of the day?

As an Electrical Engineer, I certainly couldn’t recommend electrifying through Dawlish with 25 KVAC overhead wires.

I took the picture from an InterCity 125 in 2011 and the seas seem to have got worse. Remember, that the line was washed away at Dawlish in February 2014.

But Hitachi’s Class 802 trains, seem to be handling the route on diesel power, without too much trouble.

I would expect that if one or more of the diesel engines are swapped for battery packs that the performance in heavy seas will not be worse.

But the biggest advantage of battery electric trains on the Riviera Line would surely be one of marketing.

And not just of the environmentally-friendly train service by Great Western Railway and CrossCountry, but by Hitachi in the marketing of their trains all over the world.

The only minor problem, I can see, could be the provision of charging at Paignton, as a 28 mile journey twice might be on the limit of the range of a battery electric train. Unless of course, bigger batteries were fitted!

A Splash-and-Dash At Newton Abbott

Newton Abbott station is roughly halfway between Plymouth and Exeter St. Davids and might be needed to give a Splash-and-Dash to trains between Devon’s two cities.

Some trains terminate at the station and others seem to take a leisurely stop at the station, so it could be a valuable calling point in a discontinuous electrification strategy.

Edginswell Station

Wikipedia has an entry for a new Edginswell station.

This is said.

Edginswell railway station is a proposed station in the Edginswell area of Torquay, Devon. The station would be located on the Riviera Line between Newton Abbot and Torre stations. Edginswell will be the location of employment and housing development and the new station will support this development. The station would also serve Torbay Hospital, The Willows retail park and the Torquay Gateway development area.

Plans for the station are being developed by Network Rail and Devon County Council.

This Google Map shows the area, where I think the station could be built.

Note.

  1. The large red dot indicates Edginswell.
  2. The main road across the map, was built on the North side of the Riviera Line.
  3. The Willows retail park lies to the North of the Hospital on the other side of the road and the railway.
  4. Torbay Hospital lies in the bend of the road and the railway.

This second Google Map shows an enlargement of the area to the North of the large red dot in the previous map.

Note.

  1. The A380 or South Devon Expressway leaving the map to the North-West. This road connects Torquay and the neighbouring towns and villages to the A38 and M5, which connect to the rest of the UK Motorway network.
  2. The Riviera Line passing across the North-East corner of the map.

Could this be the position to build a large Park-and-Ride station?

  • It is a sizeable site, with good rail and road connections.
  • I would estimate that the distance between Edginswell and Churston is under ten miles.
  • Frequent electric shuttle buses could take people to the hospital and the nearby retail parks.
  • Battery electric shuttle trains with a frequency of up to four tph could run between Exeter St. Davids and Paignton or another suitable terminal.
  • Shuttle trains could charge at Edginswell and probably manage two round trips in an hour.
  • This article on DevonLive is entitled Gridlocked Devon: Pollution – The Invisible Killer On Devon’s Roads, says a lot in the title.
  • Long distance trains run by Great Western Railway or CrossCountry could call.
  • Could some heritage trains terminate at Edginswell station?
  • Would a Park-and-Ride station allow some of the land taken up by car parking along the coast, to be released for other purposes, more in tune with today’s mood?

It would be very interesting to see what would happen, if Edginswell station was built as a Park-and-Ride station with a Turn-Up-and-Go service to Torquay and Paignton and their beaches.

Paignton Station

This Google Map shows Paignton station.

Note.

  1. The station has three National Rail platforms and one heritage platform for the Dartmouth Steam Railway.
  2. There is also a level crossing at the Northern end of the station, where Torbay Road crosses the railway.

Obviously, I don’t know the definitive answer, but would fitting a Fast Charge system to charge battery trains into the station be difficult because of the lack of space.

Goodrington Sands Station

This Google Map shows Goodrington Sands station.

Note.

  1. Goodrington Sands station has two platforms.
  2. There is a comprehensive track layout between Paignton and Goodrington Sands stations.
  3. South of Goodrington Sands station, the line becomes single-track
  4. Goodrington Sands station appears to be surrounded by car parks.
  5. The only bridge across the railway appears to be at the North end of the station.

I think that a well-designed Goodrington Sands station could feature the following.

  • Charging for battery trains.
  • There might be a bay platform to turn and charge trains.
  • A step-free bridge across the tracks.
  • Easy walking routes to the nearby attractions.
  • At least four tph to and from Edginswell, if that is built as a Park-and-Ride station.

Churston Station

This Google Map shows Churston station.

Note.

  1. Churston station is towards the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The station has two platforms.

Until I see the station, I am inclined to think, that the site would be a difficult one, in which to fit a Fast Charge system.

Conclusion

I can see the addition of Goodrington Sands and Churston turning the Riviera Line into a Coastal Metro between Exmouth and Churston.

I do think, the following would make it the ultimate rail line for the area.

  • A Park-and-Ride station at Edginswell.
  • Battery electric operation.
  • A Turn-Up-and-Go frequency of four tph, between Exeter St. Davids and Churston.
  • Two tph between Exmouth and Churston.
  • One tph between London Paddington and Churston.
  • One tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Churston.

It may be that some trains will turn back at Paignton or Goodrington Sands.

There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

August 19, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CrossCountry’s Bournemouth And Manchester Piccadilly Service

Whilst I was at Basingstoke station yesterday one of CrossCountry‘s services between Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly came through, so I took these pictures.

It was a long formation of Class 220 trains.

Could This Service Be Replaced By Hitachi Regional Battery Trains?

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

I feel that in most condition, the range on battery power can be up to 56 miles.

I can break the Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly route into a series of legs.

  • Bournemouth and Basingstoke – 60 miles – 750 VDC third-rail electrification
  • Basingstoke and Reading – 15.5 miles – No electrification
  • Reading and Didcot North Junction – 18 miles – 25 KVAC overhead electrification
  • Didcot North Junction and Oxford – 10 miles – No electrification
  • Oxford and Banbury – 22 miles – No electrification
  • Banbury and Leamington Spa – 20 miles – No electrification
  • Leamington Spa and Coventry – 10 miles – No electrification
  • Coventry and Manchester Piccadilly – 101 miles – 25 KVAC overhead electrification

Note.

  1. 63 % of the route is electrified.
  2. The short 15.5 mile gap in the electrification between Basingstoke and Reading should be an easy route for running on battery power.
  3. But the 62 mile gap between Didcot North Junction and Coventry might well be too far.

The train would also need to be able to work with both types of UK electrification.

If some way could be found to bridge the 62 mile gap reliably, Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains could work CrossCountry’s service between Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly.

Bridging The Gap

These methods could possibly  be used to bridge the gap.

A Larger Battery On The Train

If you look at images of MTU’s Hybrid PowerPack, they appear to show a basic engine module with extra battery modules connected to it.

Will Hitachi and their battery-partner; Hyperdrive Innovation use a similar approach, where extra batteries  can be plugged in as required?

This modular approach must offer advantages.

  • Battery size can be tailored to routes.
  • Batteries can be changed quickly.

The train’s software would know what batteries were fitted and could manage them efficiently.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train able to handle a gap only six miles longer than the specification.

Battery And Train Development

As Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train develops, the following should happen.

  • Useable battery capacity will increase.
  • The train will use less electricity.
  • Actions like regenerative braking will improve and recover more electricity.
  • Driving and train operating strategies will improve.

These and other factors will improve the range of the train on batteries.

A Charging Station At Banbury Station

If some form of Fast Charge system were to be installed at Banbury station, this would enable a train stopping at Banbury to take on enough power to reliably reach Oxford or Coventry depending, on their final destination.

This method may add a few minutes to the trip, but it should work well.

Electrification Of A Section Of The Chiltern Main Line

This could be an elegant solution.

I have just flown my helicopter between Bicester North and Warwick Parkway stations and these are my observations.

  • The Chiltern Main Line appears to be fairly straight and has received a top class Network Rail makeover in the last couple of decades.
  • There are a couple of tunnels, but most of the bridges are new.
  • Network Rail have done a lot of work on this route to create a hundred mph main line.
  • It might be possible to increase the operating speed, by a few mph.
  • The signalling also appears modern.

My untrained eye, says that it won’t be too challenging to electrify between say Bicester North station or Aynho Junction in the South and Leamington Spa or Warwick Parkway stations in the North. I would think, that the degree of difficulty would be about the same, as the recently electrified section of the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Corby stations.

The thirty-eight miles of electrification between Bicester North and Warwick Parkway stations would mean.

  • The electrification is only eight-and-a-half miles longer than Bedford and Corby.
  • There could be journey time savings.
  • As all trains stop at two stations out of Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick and Warwick Parkway, all pantograph actions could be performed in stations, if that was thought to be preferable.
  • Trains would be able to leave the electrification with full batteries.
  • The electrification may enable some freight trains to be hauled between Didcot and Coventry or Birmingham using battery electric locomotives.

Distances of relevance from the ends of the electrification include.

  • London Marylebone and Bicester North stations – 55 miles
  • London Marylebone and Aynho junction – 64 miles
  • Didcot North and Aynho junctions – 28 miles
  • Leamington Spa and Coventry stations – 10 miles
  • Leamington Spa and Birmingham Snow Hill stations – 23 miles
  • Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon stations – 15 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Birmingham New Street stations – 20 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Birmingham Snow Hill stations – 20 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Kidderminster – 40 miles
  • Warwick Parkway and Stratford-upon-Avon stations – 12 miles

These figures mean that the following services would be possible using Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.

  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street
  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill
  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Kidderminster
  • Chiltern Railways – London Marylebone and Stratford-upon-Avon
  • CrossCountry – Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly
  • CrossCountry – Southampton Central and Newcastle
  • Midlands Connect – Oxford and Birmingham More Street – See Birmingham Airport Connectivity.

Other services like Leicester and Oxford via Coventry may also be possible.

As I see it, the great advantage of this electrification on the Chiltern Main Line is that is decarbonises two routes with the same thirty-eight miles of electrification.

Conclusion

CrossCountry’s Bournemouth And Manchester Piccadilly service could be run very efficiently with Hitachi’s proposed Regional Battery Train.

My preferred method to cross the electrification gap between Didcot North junction and Coventry station would be to electrify a section of the Chiltern Main Line.

  • The electrification would be less than forty miles.
  • I doubt it would be a challenging project.
  • It would also allow Hitachi’s proposed trains to work Chiltern Main Line routes between London Marylebone and Birmingham.

I am fairly certain, that all passenger services through Banbury would be fully electric.

 

August 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – Unlocking Capacity And Services Through Bramley (Hants)

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Bramley Station

Bramley (Hants) station is on the  Reading-Basingstoke Line, which is 15.5 miles long.

  • The line is double-track.
  • Bramley station is the nearest one to Basingstoke station.
  • The two stations are about five miles apart.
  • The basic local service is two trains per hour (tph), with trains taking a few minutes under half-an-hour.
  • The speed limit is listed in Wikipedia at 75 mph and my Class 165 train was travelling at about 60 mph on both journeys between Basingstoke and Bramley stations.

This Google Map shows Bramley station.

Note the level crossing, just to the North of the station.

These are some pictures, that I took, whilst I spent about thirty minutes at Bramley station.

Note

  1. In the thirty minutes, I was at the station, two long freight trains and three passenger trains came through.
  2. The level crossing barriers were going up and down like a whore’s drawers.
  3. Each level crossing closure resulted in long queues at the barriers.

It reminded me how bad the level crossing at Brimsdown station used to be in the Peak in 1966, when I crossed it twice every day to go to and from work at Enfield Rolling Mills. At least I was on two wheels and it gave me a break from pedalling!

There is more on the problems of the level crossing on this article on the Bramley Parish Council web site, which is entitled Living With Our Level Crossing.

Current Future Plans For the Reading-Basingstoke Line

The Wikipedia entry for the Reading-Basingstoke Line has a Future section, where this is said.

The railway is listed with Network Rail as part of route 13, the Great Western main line, and was due to be electrified with 25 kV overhead wiring by 2017 as part of the modernisation of the main line.[8] In July 2007, plans were agreed to build a station in Reading south of Southcote Junction in the Green Park business park, serving the southern suburbs of Reading and also the Madejski Stadium. Construction of Reading Green Park railway station was expected to be completed in 2010; the plans were suspended in 2011, but were reinstated in 2013. It is now set to open by the end of 2020[9], with electrification along the line at a later date.

It is my view, that the new Reading Green Park station will probably mean that four tph between Reading and Basingstoke stations will be needed. especially if a second new station were to be built at Chineham.

But four tph would probably be impossible, without improving the traffic of both rail and road through Bramley.

Solving The Level Crossing Problem

Ideally, the level crossing should be closed and the road diverted or put on a bridge,

If you look at a wider map of the area, building a by-pass to enable road traffic to avoid the crossing will be difficult if not impossible.

But this is not an untypical problem on rail networks and not just in the UK.

I suspect that with precise train control using digital ERTMS  signalling, trains and level crossing closures can be timed to improve traffic on both road and rail.

Consider.

  • If trains crossed on the level crossing and they were under precise control, this would reduce the number of level crossing closures per hour.
  • If the line speed was higher and the trains ran faster, this should ease timetabling, as there could be more train paths per hour.
  • Faster accelerating electric trains would save time too, by shortening station dwell times.
  • A third track might be laid in places.
  • The signalling could possibly drive the train or tell the driver exactly what speed to travel, so trains passed on the crossing or in the station.

As Network Rail and their contractors roll-out ERTMS, they’ll discover better and more intelligent ways to deploy the system.

Electric Trains Would Help

Electric trains accelerate faster and if they use regenerative braking to batteries, this cuts station dwell times.

But powering them by electrification would mean the connecting lines between the Reading and Basingstoke Lines and the nearest electrified lines would also have to be electrified.  This would make the scheme excessively expensive.

But Battery Electric Trains Could Be Better!

I believe that battery electric trains, would be a more-than-viable alternative.

  • You still get the performance advantages of electric trains.
  • With charging at just one end of the route, a battery electric train could run a round trip on battery power.

The big advantage, would be that the only new electrification infrastructure needed would be to charge the trains.

Charging Battery Electric Trains At Reading Station

Reading is a fully electrified station and the shuttle trains to and from Basingstoke station, appear to use Platform 2.

This Google Map shows electrification gantries over Platforms 1, 2 and 3 at Reading station.

Note.

  1. The route between Reading station and Southcote junction, where the Basingstoke and Newbury routes divide, may be under two miles, but it is fully electrified.
  2. Trains take three minutes to travel between Reading station and Southcote junction.
  3. Trains wait for up to twenty minutes in the platform at Reading station.

It would appear that trains get enough time at Reading to fully charge the batteries.

Charging Battery Electric Trains At Basingstoke Station

The shuttle trains between Reading and Basingstoke stations, appear to use Platform 5 in Basingstoke station.

This Google Map shows Platform 5 at Basingstoke station.

Platform 5 is towards the top of the map and contains a two-car train.

These pictures show the platform.

Note.

  1. There would appear to be space on the North side of Platform 5 to install another platform, if one should be needed.
  2. It appears from the Google Map, that Platform 5 could take a four-car train.
  3. The platform is wide and spacious for passengers.
  4. I suspect a Fast Charge system of some sort could be installed in this platform.

As at Reading, trains can take around twenty minutes to turn back at Basingstoke, which would be ideal for a battery charge.

What Trains Could Work The Shuttle?

After South Western Railway‘s interim Managing Director; Mark Hopwood’s comments, that led me to write Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains, these trains must be a possibility.

I also think, that as both South Western Railway and Great Western Railway are both First Group companies, there won’t be too much argument about who supplies the trains for the shuttle.

CrossCountry Trains Between Reading And Basingstoke

CrossCountry will need to replace their Class 220 trains with electric or bi-mode trains soon, to meet the dates for decarbonisation.

The prime candidate must be a dual-voltage version of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, which could easily work the 15.5 miles between Reading and Basingstoke on battery power, after charging up on the electrification at both ends.

The trains could also be easily fitted with the ERTMS signalling equipment that will be required to go smoothly along the line.

Freight Trains Between Reading And Basingstoke

We might see this section of the UK rail network, electrified for freight, but as it would require lots of connecting electrification, I think it is more likely that freight locomotives will be powered by an alternative fuel like hydrogen or bio-diesel. This would cut electrification needs, but still reduce carbon emissions.

Freight locomotives are already being fitted with the required ERTMS signalling equipment.

 

Conclusion

I am absolutely sure, that there’s a technological solution in there, that can increase the number of trains through Bramley.

But diverting the road traffic and clossing the level crossing would appear to be difficult.

 

 

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Midlands Rail Hub

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Midlands Rail Hub.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Midlands Rail Hub – our flagship project – is the biggest upgrade of our rail network for a generation.

The page contains this helpful map.

There is also a table of journeys and the improvements to be made.

  • Birmingham – Nottingham – +1 tph – 72 minutes – 59 minutes
  • Birmingham – Leicester – +2 tph – 66 minutes – 42 minutes
  • Birmingham – Hereford – +1 tph – 85 minutes – 65 minutes
  • Bitmingham – Worcester – +1 tph – 40 minutes – 35 minutes
  • Birmingham – Derby – +2 tph – 38 minutes – 38 minutes
  • Coventry – Leicester – +2 tph – 57 minutes – 38 minutes
  • Coventry – Nottingham -+2 tph – 99 minutes – 63 minutes
  • Birmingham – Bristol – +1 tph – 85 minutes – 80 minutes
  • Birmingham – Cardiff – +1 tph – 117 minutes – 112 minutes
  • Birmingham – Kings Norton – +2 tph – 18 minutes – 14 minutes

Note that the data by each route is the increase in frequency in trains per hour (tph), the current journey time and the future journey time.

I’ll now look at each route in more detail.

Birmingham And Bristol

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Bristol Temple Meads stations are 90 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Worcestershire Parkway, Cheltenham Spa and Bristol Parkway.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 85 minutes
  • Future journey time is 80 minutes

As CrossCrountry’s Birmingham and Bristol service goes through to Edinburgh, Glasgow or Manchester Piccadilly, would it not be convenient, if the service could use High Speed Two to the North of Birmingham?

Birmingham And Cardiff

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Cardiff Central stations are 108 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Worcestershire Parkway, Cheltenham Spa. Gloucester and Newport.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 85 minutes
  • Future journey time is 80 minutes

As CrossCrountry’s Birmingham and Cardiff service goes through to Nottingham, would it not be convenient, if the service could use High Speed Two between Birmingham and Nottingham?

It would appear that both Bristol and Cardiff services could benefit from a High Speed Two connection.

This map from High Speed Two shows the line’s route through the Water Orton area.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is shown in various colours.
  2. High Speed Two splits at the Eastern edge of the map, with the Northern link going to Northern destinations and the Southern link going to Birmingham Interchange and London.
  3. Curving across the map beneath it, is the M6 motorway, with Spaghetti Junction off the map to the West.
  4. Water Orton station is in the North East corner of the map.
  5. The Birmingham and Peterborough Line, which connects Leicester and Birmingham New Street stations via Water Orton runs just tom the North of the route of High Speed Two shown on the map.

This Google Map shows the area.

I wonder if it would be possible to provide links so that the following would be possible.

  • Trains running East from New Street station could join High Speed Two to run to East Midlands Hub, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.
  • Trains from the North could run into New Street station and then continue to Bristol, Cardiff and Cheltenham.

The trains would have to be classic-compatible High Speed Two trains. These would fit into New Street station, as they are shorter than Class 390 trains and will have a aimilar height and width.

Time savings could be as follows.

  • Bristol/Cardiff and Edinburgh – 110 minutes
  • Bristol/Cardiff and Manchester Piccadilly- 50 minutes
  • Bristol/Cardiff and Newcastle – 80 minutes
  • Bristol/Cardiff and Nottingham – 45 minutes

All trains would be direct.

Birmingham And Derby

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Derby stations are 41 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Wilnecote, Tamworth and Burton-on-Trent
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 38 minutes
  • Future journey time is 38 minutes
  • High Speed Two will run three tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub station in 20 minutes.
  • Midlands Connect will run one tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham Station in 30 minutes. See Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station

Will passengers between Birmingham and Derby use High Speed Two services, which will be four tph or the current ones?

Birmingham And Hereford Via Worcester

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Hereford stations are 55 miles apart.
  • Current service is one tph, which is provided by West Midlands Trains, and goes via Bromsgrove, Malvern Link and Great Malvern.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 85 minutes
  • Future journey time is 65 minutes
  • The track between Bromsgrove and Birmingham is electrified.
  • Hereford and Bromsgrove are 41 miles apart.
  • Worcester and Bromsgrove are 13 miles apart.

With charging facilities at Worcester, this route would be an ideal one for battery electric trains.

Birmingham And Leicester

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Leicester stations are 40 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Water Orton, Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Hinckley and Narborough.
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 66 minutes
  • Future journey time is 42 minutes

Birmingham – Nottingham

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Nottingham stations are 57 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent and Derby.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 72 minutes
  • Future journey time is 59 minutes
  • High Speed Two will run three tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub station in 20 minutes.
  • Midlands Connect will run one tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham Station in 30 minutes. See Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station

Will passengers between Birmingham and Nottingham use High Speed Two services, which will be four tph or the current ones?

Coventry And Leicester

Consider.

  • Coventry and Leicester are 28 miles apart.
  • There is currently no direct train and a change is needed at Nuneaton
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 57 minutes
  • Future journey time is 38 minutes

I suspect that a direct Coventry and Leicester service is being provided that does one of the following.

  • Reverses in Nuneaton station.
  • Takes a new flyover to cross the West Coast Main Line.

Would the Southern terminus of the route be Coventry, Leamington Spa or Stratford-on-Avon?

Coventry And Nottingham

Consider.

  • Coventry and Nottingham are 55 miles apart.
  • There is currently no direct train and a change is needed at Birmingham New Street or at both Nuneaton and Leicester.
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 99 minutes
  • Future journey time is 63 minutes

Would this service be an extension of the Coventry and Leicester service?

As Leicester and Nottingham takes around thirty minutes, this could be the case.

Birmingham And Kings Norton Via The Camp Hill Line

The Midlands Rail Hub page, says this about the Bordesley Chords, which will connect Birmingham Moor Street station to the Camp Hill Line.

Construction of the Bordesley Chords, two viaducts creating new paths to the East Midlands and South West from Birmingham Moor Street Station.

This Google Map shows where they will be built.

Note.

  1. The Football ground in the North-East corner of the map is St. Andrew’s, which is Birmingham City’s home ground.
  2. The rail line going North South across the map and passing to the West side of the ground is the Camp Hill Line, which leads to Water Orton station in the North and Kings Norton station in the South.
  3. The station in the middle of the map is Bordesley station.
  4. The rail line going NW-SE across the map through the station is the Chiltern Main Line into Birmingham Moor Street station, which is a couple of miles to the North-West.

The two Bordesley chords will be double-track chords linking the following routes.

  • Moor Street station to the Camp Hill Line going South to Kings Norton via new stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell.
  • Moor Street station to the Camp Hill Line going North to Water Orton station.

The initial service would appear to be two tph between Moor Street and Kings Norton stations.

CrossCountry Trains and Moor Street Station

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street station is very busy.
  • Some CrossCountry trains take a Water Orton-Birmingham New Street-Kings Norton route across the city.

Could these trains go between Water Orton and Kings Norton, with a reverse in Moor Street station?

  • Plymouth and Edinburgh Waverley
  • Cardiff Central and Nottingham

And could these services terminate at Moor Street station?

  • Birmingham New Street and Nottingham
  • Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport via Leicester
  • Birmingham New Street and Leicester

It would seem there must be scope improve the operation of New Street station, by using Moor Street station and the Bordesley chords.

If all these trains used Moor Street station it would be a very busy station.

In an hour it would handle these trains via the Bordesley chords.

  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Cardiff Central
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Edinburgh Waverley
  • West Midlands Railway – 2 tph – Kings Norton
  • CrossCountry – 2 tph – Leicester
  • CrossCountry – 2 tph – Nottingham
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Plymouth
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Stansted Airport

That is a balanced five tph to the North and five tph to the South.

There would also be the existing services.

  • Chiltern Trains – 2 tph – London Marylebone and Birmingham
  • West Midlands Railway – 6 tph – Dorridge/Stratford-upon-Avon/Whittocks End and Stourbridge Junction

There would also be the proposed Moor Street and Oxford service.

Battery Electric Trains

If we assume that a battery electric train has a battery range equal to or longer than Hitachi’s quoted figure of 56 miles, these routes are possibilities for battery electric trains.

  • Birmingham and Leicester with either electrification or charging at Leicester.
  • Birmingham and Hereford with charging at Hereford
  • Birmingham and Kings Norton
  • Birmingham and Oxford with charging at Oxford and Banbury
  • Coventry and Leicester

If the Midland Main Line is electrified in the Nottingham Area, then all services to Nottingham could be added.

CrossCountry And High Speed Two

Consider.

  • There are up to half-a-dozen spare hourly paths on both the Northern legs of High Speed Two.
  • Using High Speed Two tracks to the North of Birmingham can speed up services considerably.
  • CrossCountry needs a new fleet of trains.
  • Services could be run using classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  • The trains might be shorter and would certainly have independent power sources.

It could be a large improvement in quality and journey times, with all current destinations served.

The only extra infrastructure needed would be a connecting junction near Water Orton station. A junction there would work, whether services used Moor Street or New Street station in Birmingham.

Cnnclusion

The concept of a Midlands Rail Hub is very sound.

July 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Birmingham Airport Connectivity

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Birmingham Airport Connectivity.

This is the introductory paragraph.

By using capacity released by HS2 and investing in new track south of Birmingham Airport, we can improve connections from the south of England, East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East.

The page contains this helpful map.

It looks like Midlands Connect are thinking about improving the Reading and Newcastle service.

Points made on the page and related articles, like this one on Rail News  include.

  • Birmingham Airport has plans to increase passenger numbers to 18 million by 2033.
  • Coventry and Leamington Spa via Kenilworth will be double-tracked.
  • High Speed Two will release capacity in the area.
  • It will open up rail capacity between Birmingham and Solihull.
  • There will be a new service between Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford via Solihull and Warwick Parkway.
  • It will improve local connections to Birmingham Airport.
  • Birmingham and Reading services will be increased to two trains per hour (tph)
  • The Government is being asked to chip in £20 million.

These are my thoughts.

Birmingham Airport

Birmingham Airport can become a true Heart of England Airport.

I feel that the future of aviation will be very different to the past.

  • COVID-19 and the future pandemics, that we will endure from the East and the Americas, will mean that flying will be a very different experience with hygiene and social distancing to the fore.
  • Smaller aircraft, for flights up to 500 miles, will be odd-looking zero-carbon machines with exotic power systems.
  • Larger aircraft will be energy efficient planes powered by aviation biofuels produced from household and industrial waste, and biomass.
  • Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s will only be talked about in tales from older people to the young.
  • Airports will be important rail hubs to more than just the local area.

Wikipedia also says this about expansion of Birmingham Airport.

Plans for a second runway (a third when demand requires) on the other side of the M42 and a new terminal complex and business park have been published, and they could help to create around 250,000 jobs. It has been estimated that if these plans went ahead, the airport could handle around 70,000,000 passengers annually, and around 500,000 aircraft movements.

This Google Map shows the Airport.

Note the M42 motorway passing North-South to the East of the Airport.

Could Birmingham Airport develop towards Birmingham Interchange and High Speed Two?

It is worth looking at the distance to other airports.

  • Aberdeen – 328 miles
  • Amsterdam – 280 miles
  • Dublin – 199 miles
  • Frankfurt – 478 miles
  • Geneva – 558 miles
  • Paris – 304 miles

All could be within range of an electric aircraft like the under-development Eviation Alice.

I believe that large airports will develop low-noise zero-carbon secondary runways.

Birmingham Airport is well-situated to take advantage.

Adding A Second Track Between Leamington Spa And Coventry

This section of track is about ten miles long, with probably under half only single-track.

This Google Map shows the single-track through the new Kenilworth station.

And these are pictures I took soon after the station opened.

It is certainly one of the best of the current crop of new small stations.

I don’t think that adding a second track will be the most challenging of projects.

It should be noted that the Leamington Spa and Nuneaton service could be a candidate for a battery electric train.

  • The route is twenty miles long
  • Nuneaton and Coventry stations are fully electrified.
  • There might be possibilities to extend this service at either or both ends.
  • Nuneaton and Leicester are nineteen miles apart and a new Nuneaton Parkway station is proposed for the route. I wrote about this station in New Railway Station Between Hinckley And Nuneaton Receives Backing.
  • Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon are fifteen miles apart and would need a reverse at Leamington Spa.

A battery electric train might give a faster and more passenger-friendly service, if the passenger numbers and forecasts would support an extended service.

A Birmingham Moor Street And Oxford Service

This Google Map shows Birmingham Moor Street station.

Note.

  1. The two Northern through platforms on the Snow Hill Lines, that continue under Birmingham to Birmingham Snow Hill station.
  2. At least two, but possibly three bay platforms, that can take Chiltern Railway’s longest trains.
  3. There is more space for possibly another two bay platforms to be reinstated or built.

Birmingham Moor Street station will also be a short walk from High Speed Two’s Birmingham Curzon Street station.

This Google Map shows Oxford station.

Note.

  1. Birmingham Moor Street station is to the North via Banbury and Warwick Parkway stations.
  2. The two long through platforms capable of taking a nine-car train.
  3. There are two bay platforms to the East of the two through platforms, at the Northern end of the station.
  4. The bay platforms handle Chiltern’s services from London Marylebone and could also handle the proposed service to Birmingham Moor Street.

Consider this about the proposed Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford service.

  • The service could stop at Solihull, Warwick Parkway, Warwick, Leamington Spar and Banbury, as was thought necessary.
  • I estimate that Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford are 66 miles apart and that a 100 mph train would take around 66 minutes.
  • Birmingham Moor Street and Banbury are 43 miles apart.
  • Oxford and Banbury are 23 miles apart.

With these timings and a few minutes to reverse at each end of the route, I would estimate that a 2.5 hour round trip would be possible.

But, I also think, that with charging facilities or short lengths of electrification at Birmingham Moor Street, Banbury and Oxford stations, this service could be run by battery electric trains.

  • A three hour round trip should be possible.
  • Three trains would be needed to provide an hourly service.
  • Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa and Warwick would have a direct connection to High Speed Two.

It should also be noted

  • Birmingham Moor Street and Stratford-upon-Avon stations are only 25 miles apart and the journey rakes 46 minutes
  • Banbury and Stratford-upon-Avon are 35 miles apart. and the journey takes 57 minutes.
  • Leamington Spa and Nuneaton are 20 miles apart and the journey takes 36 minutes.

There would appear to be tremendous potential for battery electric services between Birmingham and Oxford.

How many tourists would a Birmingham and Oxford service via Stratford-upon-Avon attract?

Improving The Reading And Newcastle Service

Currently, this is a one tph service between Reading and Newcastle stations.

  • It is run by CrossCountry.
  • Intermediate stops include Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington and Durham.
  • It appears that the full journey takes four-and-a-half hours.

It looks like to run a two tph service would need as many as twenty trains.

There is an alternative route after High Speed Two opens.

  • High Speed Two – Newcastle and Birmingham Curzon Street – 118 minutes
  • Walk – Curzon Street and New Street – 10 minutes
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham New Street and Reading – 90 minutes

This saves about forty-five minutes.

You could even do a double change.

  • High Speed Two – Newcastle and East Midlands Hub – 96 minutes
  • High Speed Two – East Midlands Hub and Birmingham Interchange – 17 minutes
  • Walk – Birmingham Interchange and Birmingham International – 10 minutes
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham International and Reading – 78 minutes

This gives a time of around three hours and twenty minutes.

High Speed Two certainly saves time.

But look at this map clipped from the High Speed Two web site.

Note.

  1. The blue dot shows the location of Curzon Street station.
    The West Coast Main Line running into New Street station, is just to the South of Curzon Street station.
    New Street station can be picked out to the West of Curzon Street station.

This Google Map shows a close-up of the current Curzon Street station site.

The same pattern of rail lines going past the Curzon Street site into New Street station can be picked out.

Surely, a connection could be made to allow trains from a couple of platforms in Curzon Street station to terminate trains from the West Coast Main Line.

To improve services between Newcastle and Reading, trains would do the following.

  • Run on the current East Coast Main Line infrastructure between Newcastle and York. Station stops could be Durham, Darlington and York.
  • Switch to new High Speed Two infrastructure South of York.
  • Run on High Speed Two infrastructure to Birmingham Curzon Street station. Station stops could be Sheffield, Chesterfield and East Midlands Hub.
  • The train would reverse at Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • Switch to the West Coast Main Line outside Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • Run on the West Coast Main Line to Birmingham International station.
  • Take the route currently used by CrossCountry between Birmingham International and Reading. Station stops could be Leamington Spa, Warwick Parkway, Banbury and Oxford stations.

Timings would be as follows.

  • Newcastle and Birmingham Curzon Street – 118 minutes – From High Speed Two web site.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Reading – 90 minutes – Current CrossCountry timing.

Note.

  1. This saves about an hour over the current CrossCountry timings.
  2. It could use classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  3. Between Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle, it follows the same route as one of the current proposed High Speed Two services.
  4. The service could be extended to Edinburgh from Newcastle.
  5. The service could be extended to Southampton from Reading
  6. As there are only twelve tph planned to be running on the Eastern leg of High Speed Two, against a total capacity of eighteen tph, it should be possible to accommodate the extra service or services.

This would surely be a very useful High Speed Two service.

Conclusion

It is a comprehensive package of measures, some of which could have a high cost benefit ratio.

 

 

 

 

July 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Macclesfield Station And High Speed Two

Today, I went to Macclesfield station.

In the latest iteration of High Speed Two, two new destinations were added to the High Speed Two Network; Macclesfield and Lancaster.

These pictures show Macclesfield station.

It is a modern station, with three through platforms, two bridges and some Modernist architecture from the 1970s, that could be improved.

This Google Map shows the layout of the station.

Note.

  1. Platform 1 is in the West and is used by trains to Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly.
  2. Platform 2 is in the middle and is used by trains going to Stoke, London and the South.
  3. Platform 3 is in the East and appears to be used a couple of times per day.
  4. It also appears there might have been a fourth platform.

All platforms appear capable of handling an eleven-car Class 390 train, which are over two hundred and sixty metres in length.

 

Is the plan to use Macclesfield as a High Speed Two terminal feasible?

Which Trains Will High Speed Two Use On Macclesfield Services?

It appears that High Speed Two will have two types of trains.

  1. Trains built to the European loading gauge, that will only be able to work on high lines like High Speed One and High Speed Two. Examples would be Eurostar’s Class 373 and Class 374 trains.
  2. Trains built to the UK loading gauge, that could also work on existing UK 125 mph routes like the East Coast, Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines. Examples would be Class 800. Class 801, Class 802, Class 390 and Class 745 trains.

The second type, which are referred to, as class-compatible trains will be used to Macclesfield, as these services will share track with Class 390 and other trains, that have been or will be built to the smaller UK loading gauge.

Will Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains Fit Into Macclesfield Station?

Currently, every hour, one eleven-car Class 390 train calls in Macclesfield station in both directions, as they provide one of Avanti \west Coast’s three trains per hour (tph) between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly stations.

The current trains are sixty metres longer than the proposed classic-compatible High Speed Two trains, that could be terminating in Macclesfield station.

How Would Passengers Who Started And Finished Their Journeys In Macclesfield, Connect to Manchester?

Currently, these hourly services connect Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke stations.

  • Avanti West Cost – Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston.
  • CrossCountry – Manchester Piccadilly and Bournemouth
  • CrossCountry – Manchester Piccadilly and Bristol
  • Northern – Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke, which stops at all stations.

The characteristics would be common to all these four trains.

  • Services call at Stockport, Macclesfield and Stoke stations.
  • As services share tracks with a High Speed Two service, they must be reasonably fast.
  • All except the Northern service are 125 mph trains.
  • The Northern service is run by a 90 mph Class 323 electric train.
  • As Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke via Stockport is a fully-electrified route, the trains should probably be able to take advantage.

In an ideal world should the frequency be six tph or one train every ten minutes in each direction?

Which Platforms Would Be Used To Terminate High Speed Two Services?

Trains built to the UK loading gauge could probably terminate in any of the three platforms.

But it might be advantageous to terminate all services in the same platform.

Platform 3 would be the obvious choice.

  • It shares an island platform with classic services going South between Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke.
  • Passengers starting their journeys in Manchester Piccadilly or Stockport could just walk across from their connecting train to the High Speed Two train.

It must surely be a possibility to make Platform 2 able to operate bi-directionally, so that all trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke stations in both directions, stop in Platform 2, alongside the High Speed Two train for London and the South, that is waiting in Platform 3. The combined frequency would be eight tph. All passengers would just walk across the island platform to change trains.

Could A North-Facing Bay Platform Be Fitted Into The Northern End Of The Island Platform 2/3?

If you are going to provide a High Speed Two service to and from Macclesfield station, it needs to have superb and comprehensive connections to as many places as possible.

The station currently has four tph to Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport and Stoke, but would a North-facing bay platform with level access to the High Speed Two platform make any of the following feasible?

  • Run a second local stopping service between Manchester Piccadilly and Macclesfield to give all intermediate stations two tph to High Speed Two.
  • Run hourly services to places that don’t have good connections to high speed services to London and the South.
  • The Stockport and Stalybridge Line could be used to connect Stalybridge and Huddersfield to High Speed Two.
  • There might even be a way of creating a link between Macclesfield and Manchester Airport.

Note.

  1. Looking at the platform layout at Macclesfield station, fitting in a bay platform would appear to be feasible.
  2. The important Stockport station, which seems to have been forgotten by High Speed Two would probably have at least six tph to High Speed Two at Macclesfield station.
  3. The local train could be timed to arrive at Macclesfield station, a convenient time before the High Speed Two train is scheduled to depart.

The bay platform could even be part of Platform 3, if it was decided that trains stopping in Platform 3, never used the platform as a through platform. It would be Macclesfield’s version of the Clapham Kiss.

I suspect more space could be found, by moving the signal box at the end of the station.

\remember that these days most signalling is controlled from centralised Rail Operation Centres.

Could High Speed Two Trains Run Between Macclesfield And Manchester Piccadilly?

As I said earlier, High Speed Two’s classic-compatible trains will be the same cross-section and shorter, than an eleven-car Class 390 train.

So the answer to my question must be yes!

  • This would enable a stop at Stockport station.
  • No platform lengthening would be required at Manchester Piccadilly and Stockport stations.

High Speed Two must have good reasons for using Macclesfield as a terminal.

  • There are capacity issues between Macclesfield and Manchester Piccadilly stations.
  • Macclesfield offers opportunities to connect to places, that are difficult to reach from Manchester Piccadilly station.

But these problems could probably be overcome by digital signalling or extension of the Manchester Metrolink.

Could More High Speed Two Services Run Between Macclesfield Station and The South?

Consider.

  • I believe that Macclesfield station could handle more than an hourly High Speed Two train.
  • It is a general principle, that on a metro like the London Overground or Merseyrail, that a single platform can handle up to four or even six tph.
  • Four tph would surely be too high, but Macclesfield could easily handle a second classic-compatible train to and from Birmingham Curzon Street via Stoke and Stafford.
  • During the inevitable works at Manchester Piccadilly station to sccomodate High Speed Two, Macclesfield could offer an alternative route, between London and Manchester.

Using Macclesfield station, as an alternative terminal for Manchester Piccadilly, builds in extra capacity for the future and offers a valuable alternative route during construction and upgrade works.

Rationalisation Between Cross Country And High Speed Two

Consider.

  • In a lot of locations North of Birmingham, CrossCountry and High Speed Two seem to provide similar services between the same stations.
  • Using currently proposed connections between High Speed Two and the classic network, CrossCountry’s services could run faster.
  • CrossCountry’s new fleet of trains will probably be multi-mode trains, that will be very similar to the classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  • Some of the routes used by CrossCountry’s services will have a substantial upgrade to allow higher speeds and more trains, to speed up High Speed Two services.

There must be a case for rationalisation of services.

Conclusion

The more I look at High Speed Two terminating at Macclesfield station, the more I like it.

I can see these services running from the station in the future.

  • High Speed Two – Macclesfield and London Euston – One tph – This service would additionally call at Birmingham Interchange to link up with CrossCountry to the South.
  • High Speed Two – Macclesfield and Birmingham Curzon Street – One tph
  • CrossCountry – Macclesfield and Bournemouth, Plymouth or Reading – One tph.
  • Northern and others – Macclesfield and Manchester Piccadilly via Stockport – Four-six tph
  • Northern – Macclesfield and Huddersfield via Stockport and Stalybridge – Two tph
  • Northern – Macclesfield and Manchester Airport – Two tph.

Obviously, this is all speculation, but Macclesfield will develop into an important rail hub to the South-East of Manchester.

 

July 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

EWR Targets Short-Term Fleet Ahead Of Possible Electrification

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Electrification could yet be on the agenda for East West Rail, after Government ministers confirmed that the decision not to wire the reopened railway could be reversed.

East West Railway (EWR) also announced last week, that it was looking for second-hand diesel multiple units to start services.

  • The lease will be for four years, with a possible extension of two years.
  • The deal is worth £40million and will include maintenance.
  • The deal will end on May the 10th 2028.
  • 12 to 14 three-car trains are required.
  • Services will start at the end of 2024.

It looks to me, that this deal has interim written all over it.

Could Class 170 Trains Be Used For East West Railway?

Class 170 trains come in two- and three-cars and by 2024 many could be being replaced by trains with a smaller carbon-footprint.

If you look at the three-car Class 170 trains, they are the following numbers of trains with various companies.

  • Class 170/1 – CrossCountry – 10
  • Class 170/2 – Transport for Wales – 8
  • Class 170/3 – Abellio ScotRail – 26
  • Class 170/3 – CrossCountry – 2
  • Class 170/4 – Abellio ScotRail – 13
  • Class 170/4 – Northern Trains – 16

There are also some Class 170/5 and Class 170/6 trains, that it appears will be consolidated into ten three-car trains for CrossCountry.

Could CrossCountry Provide The Trains For East West Railway?

I think one likely scenario would be for the trains for East West Rail to come from CrossCountry‘s mixed fleet of Class 170 trains.

Consider.

  • CrossCountry need a bit of a fleet change as they still ten High Speed Trains, that will need to be replaced with more modern rolling stock.
  • CrossCountry have been criticised for a lack of capacity.
  • Several of CrossCountry’s services are run by diesel trains on electrified tracks.

Perhaps, if they replaced the fleet with a customised variant of Hitachi’s Class 800 trains, they might offer a better service to their customers.

  • Each train would be five cars long.
  • Trains would be able to work in pairs.
  • Trains might have electric, battery and diesel capabilities.
  • Some would be dual-voltage trains and able to work on both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail electrification.

I’m sure those clever people at Rock Rail are working on an appropriate specification, just as they did for Avanti West Coast with their customised variant of Hitachi’sClass 800 trains.

Looking at the delivery schedules for various fleets of Hitachi trains, we find.

  • East Midlands Railway will be receiving 33 x five-car Class 810 bi-mode  trains in 2020-2022.
  • Avanti West Coast will be receiving 13 x five-car AT-300 bi-mode  trains in 2020-2022.
  • Avanti West Coast will be receiving 10 x seven-car AT-300 electric  trains in 2020-2022.

Could the CrossCountry fleet be delivered in 2022-2024 to allow the Class 170 trains to be released?

Could Class 185 Trains Be Used For East West Railway?

TransPennine Express have a fleet of 51 three-car Class 185 trains.

The future of these trains is uncertain, as TransPennine Express is renewing their fleet.

  • They are all fully-compliant with the latest regulations.
  • They are 100 mph trains,
  • They are the right length.
  • They can work in pairs to increase capacity.

These trains would be easy to freshen up for East West Railway.

Could Bombardier Voyagers Provide The Trains For East West Railway?

There are four fleets of Bombardier Voyagers, that by the end of 2024 could be looking for a new home.

  • Thirty-four Class 220 trains could be released by 2024 by CrossCountry, if they replace their fleet with new trains.
  • Twenty-four Class 221 trains could be released by 2024 by CrossCountry, if they replace their fleet with new trains.
  • Twenty Class 221 trains will be released by 2022 by Avanti West Coast, when they replace their fleet with new AT-300 trains.
  • Twenty-seven Class 222 trains will be released by 2022 by East Midlands Railway, when they replace their fleet with new Class 810 trains.

These fleets could be updated for the East West Railway.

  • They are all fully-compliant with the latest regulations.
  • They are 125 mph trains.
  • Bombardier have been working on various schemes to fit batteries to these trains, to reduce running on diesel.

They could also be rebuilt to any required length.

Fast Forward To May 2028

By 2028, the following will have happened.

  • High Speed Two will have been substantially completed and electrified at Calvert, where it crosses the East West Railway.
  • East West Railway will be connected to the electrified West Coast Main Line at Bletchley.
  • East West Railway will be connected to the electrified Midland Main Line at Bedford.
  • New Hitachi Class 810 trains will be running through Bedford.
  • Future connections to the electrified East Coast Main Line at Sandy and the electrified West Anglia Main Line at Cambridge South will have been designed, if not well underway or even completed.

East of Calvert, there will be plenty of electricity to power any electrification.

The article also quotes a Government minister as saying there will be passive provision for electrification. This is sensible, as the clearances required for 25 KVAC overhead electrification are not that much higher, than those needed for the largest freight containers.

So the two major requirements for 25 KVAC overhead electrification; electricity supply and gauge-clearance, appear to be met in the basic design of the East West Railway.

The East West Railway will also have one characteristic, that has been lacked, by most of the railways we have electrified in the last few years.

It will be a substantially new railway, although quite a few miles will have been rebuilt on an existing track bed.

It is my view after looking at several electrification schemes in the last ten years, that when we have electrified a substantially new railway, we have made a much better fist of it, in terms of both cost and timescale.

Could this be, that if the track-bed has just been created or relaid, it is well surveyed and the engineers and workers, who laid it, can be asked their opinion, so fewer costly mistakes are made?

It should also be said, that the route of the East West Railway goes through fairly flat country, which probably doesn’t have the sewers and mine-shafts, that have plagued the erection of electrification in recent years.

I wonder, if having looked in detail at the costs, the builders of East West Railway have found that perhaps around 2023, after a detailed survey of the route, they can build the railway at a cost, which includes electrification, that still offers benefits.

What Would Be The Benefits Of Electrification Of The East West Railway?

The benefits of electrification are generally as follows.

  • Faster passenger and freight trains because of higher cruising speed and greater acceleration.
  • Lower carbon emissions.

Faster trains would lead to more trains running over the railway.

Will The Electrification Be Full Or Partial?

I believe that Hitachi and other ,manufacturers will produce passenger trains with the following abilities.

  • To use either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • To use onboard energy storage for running a number of miles.
  • To charge onboard energy storage, whilst dynamically connected to electrification.
  • To charge onboard energy storage, whilst stationary in a station or siding.
  • To swap between electrification and energy storage modes at operating speed.

These trains will be able to run on partially-electrified lines, by using energy storage to bridge gaps in the electrification.

In Sparking A Revolution, I gave this specification for a Hitachi battery-electric train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

It looks like a route run by Hitachi battery-electric trains could have approximately sixty mile gaps in the electrification.

The trouble with gaps, is that they would mean that electric freight locomotives could not be used on the route.

One possibility could be the new tri-mode Class 93 locomotive, which has the following power sources.

  • 1.3 MW on diesel
  • 4.055 MW on electric
  • A power boost on battery

Hopefully, it can switch seamlessly between the various modes at line speed.

Until we see these locomotives in operation, we will not know if they can haul a maximum weight freight train all the way from Felixstowe to Ipswich and on to London, Cambridge or Peterborough.

Freight Trains Through Cambridge And Onto The East West Railway

In Roaming Around East Anglia – Freight Trains Through Newmarket, I said this.

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 believe that many freight trains would go straight through Cambridge and Cambridge South stations and onto the East West Railway.

One point to note, is that all of the route between Felixstowe and Cambridge South station has been gauge-cleared for the largest container trains and electrification.

This would surely make it reasonably easy to electrify all the way between Felixstowe and Cambridge South station.

Conclusion

I am coming to the conclusion, that given the importance of the rail freight route between Felixstowe and the Midlands, that something like the following will happen.

  • 2024 – Diesel passenger trains start running between Reading and Bedford via Didcot, Oxford and Bletchley
  • 2026 – Opening of Cambridge South station.
  • 2028 – Partial or full electrification is erected between Reading and Bedford
  • 2028 – Battery-electric passenger trains replace the diesel passenger trains.
  • 2030 – Opening of the full route between Reading and Cambridge.
  • 2935 – Opening of a fully-developed route though Newmarket to allow freight trains to go between Felixstowe and the East West Railway.

It appears to me, that by using diesel trains for an interim period, they can open the Reading and Bedford service early, whilst they complete the East West Railway.

 

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Silent Hydrogen Trains On The Cards For New Line Linking Burton And Leicester

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

The idea of using hydrogen power came about after some people worried about the noise of trains, if the full route were to reopen.

The Proposed Route

The proposed route that would be reopened is the Leicester and Burton-on-Trent Line.

  • The route is double-track.
  • It is around forty miles long.
  • It is still used by freight trains, so the track must be in serviceable condition.
  • There are no stations.

Sadly, when the route was closed to passengers in 1964, British Rail simplified Knighton Junction at the Leicester end of the line. Wikipedia says this.

At the Leicester end of the line, Knighton North Junction has been dismantled and the former course of the line to the junction has been sold and turned into an industrial estate. The line’s remaining connection with the Midland Main Line is Knighton South Junction, which faces southwards, away from Leicester station. Trains between Leicester and the line therefore have to reverse direction at the junction.

This Google Map shows, what’s left of the junction.

Note.

  1. Leicester is to the North
  2. Burton is to the North-West.
  3. Melton Mowbray and London are to the South.

It looks to me, that someone at British Rail made it absolutely certain, that the rail line could not be reopened to provide a passenger service between Leicester and Burton.

For a train to go between Leicester and Burton, it would either need to reverse as Wikipedia indicated, or the curve would have to be very tight.

There is only one class of passenger train, that can go round tight curves and that is a Class 399 tram-train!

So to enable trains to go direct around the corner, the option is either expensive disruptive demolition or use something like tram-train technology or a specially designed bendy train.

The Ivanhoe Line

The route was originally planned to be the second part of the Ivanhoe Line, but this was discontinued after rail privatisation.

Services on this line is an hourly service between Leicester and Lincoln Central stations.

  • Intermediate stations are Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Beeston, Nottingham, Newark Castle, Collingham, Swinderby and Hykeham.
  • Services can get overcrowded, as the service is run by two-car trains.
  • Platforms would need to be lengthened for longer trains.

Extending this service to Burton station would surely be good for connectivity at and through Leicester.

The Association Of Train Operating Companies Plan For The Line

This is taken from the Wikipedia entry for the line.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies published a £49 million proposal (Connecting Communities: Expanding Access to the Rail Network) to restore passenger services to the line that would include reopening stations at Kirby Muxloe, Bagworth and Ellistown, Coalville Town, Ashby de la Zouch, Moira, and Gresley (for Swadlincote). There is also some support in the Leicester area for the line to have new stations to serve Leicester City F.C.’s stadium and the suburb of Braunstone.

Wikipedia also says, it could be developed as a no-frills line.

Possible New Stations In Leicester

I have mentioned new stations in Leicester, so here’s a few more thoughts.

Leicester Reversal Station

A friend said that to reverse the trains between Leicester and Burton, a station has been proposed to be built, south of Knighton Junction.

This Google Map shows the junction and the line to the South.

Only a single-platform station would be needed and it would be a simple and affordable solution to British Rail’s lack of vision of the future.

Leicester City Stadium

This Google Map shows the stadium.

Note the rail line passing to the South of the station.

It would appear that building a new station would not be the most difficult of projects.

But after the experience of Coventry City, who were relegated twice after Coventry Arena station opened, would eicester City want a station?

Braunstone Station

This Google Map shows the rail line running through Braunstone.

The rail line is at the top of the map.

Leicester Forest East Station

I wrote about this possible station in A Station At Leicester Forest East.

Burton Station

Intriguingly, Burton station is run by East Midlands Railway, who run no services to the town.

Services are provided by CrossCountry using a variety of long distance services.

The South Staffordshire Line connects Burton and Birmingham.

Part of this line is being converted to become an extension of the West Midlands Metro and Staffordshire County Council have looked at converting the whole route to tram-train operation to bring trams to Burton to promote tourism.

Hydrogen Power

I estimate that the distance between Lincoln and Burton is about a hundred miles.

Alstom are predicting a range of several hundred miles for their hydrogen trains for their Breeze train, which should mean a round trip to Lincoln from Burton will surely be in range.

Refuelling could be at a suitable place on the route.

In Delivering Hydrogen For Vehicles, I talk about how iTM Power are building hydrogen refuelling stations for road vehicles.

As the company is already building stand-alone hydrogen fuelling stations for fleets of buses in Birmingham and Pau, I’m sure that one for a fleet of trains is not a problem.

All their filling stations need is a small amount of space, a supply of tap water and a connection to the electricity grid.

It should be noted that Central Rivers Depot is four miles South of Burton.

Possibilities

There are a lot of possibilities to extend the Ivanhoe Line to Burton and even beyond using the South Staffordshire Line.

  • Battery or hydrogen trains can be used.
  • Stations can be added as required.
  • The route will connect to Eat Midlands Airport.
  • A solution for Knighton Junction an surely be devised.

Amazon are reported to be interested in the project, as they have a big depot at Coalville.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will Flybe Survive?

This article on the BBC is entitled Flybe Boss ‘Focused’ On Turning Airline Around.

This was the start of the BBC article.

Flybe boss Mark Anderson has told staff that he and the management team remain “focused” on turning the airline round.

Mr Anderson’s comments came in an email to staff following reports that the airline is in crisis talks in an attempt to put together a rescue deal.

According to Sky News, Flybe, which has already been bailed out once, has been struggling to secure fresh finance.

So will the airline survive?

A Wake Up To Money Discussion

At 0530 this morning, the BBC Radio 5 Live program discussed Flybe with Lord Adonis, who is a former New Labour Transport Minister giving his fourpennyworth.

The following suggestions and observations were made.

Air Passenger Duty Be Scrapped For Domestic Flights

This has been suggested and it is thought it would give Flybe several tens of millions of pounds of aid.

The feeling was that it wouldn’t be illegal under EU law and it looks like it could be the solution.

But it would apply to all domestic flights within the UK and I can’t see BA, Ryanair and easyJet accepting, this to be available only to Flybe.

It would also cost the Government a lot of tax and why should I as a non-flyer inside the UK have to pick up the tab in other ways?

Certain Flights Could Be Directly Subsidised

To get to some parts of the UK, flying is necessary and under EU rules, essential flights can be subsidised directly.

The programme mentioned that Newquay flights are subsidised and those to Derry could be.

Other Airlines Would Take Over Profitable Routes

This is the law of the jungle and it has always been so.

A Radical Solution

Consider these facts.

Flybe’s Routes Tend To Be Shorter

As examples, Flybe flies.

  • Aberdeen to Belfast–City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Durham/Teesside, Humberside, London–Heathrow, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and Wick
  • Birmingham to Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Belfast–City, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Guernsey, Inverness, Isle of Man, Jersey, Knock, Paris–Charles de Gaulle and Stuttgart
  • Exeter to Amsterdam, Belfast–City, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Guernsey, Jersey, London–City, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and Paris–Charles de Gaulle.
  • London City, to Amsterdam, Belfast–City, Edinburgh, Exeter and Jersey.
  • Manchester to Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Belfast–City, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Exeter, Hanover, Isle of Man, Jersey, Knock, Luxembourg, Lyon, Newquay, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Southampton and Stuttgart.

Most if not all of these flights are under 500 miles.

Flybe Flies A Lot Of Smaller Aircraft

The backbone of their fleet is the Dash 8 Q 400, of which they currently have 54 in service, making Flybe one of the largest operators of the type.

  • They are powered by two turboprop engines.
  • They seat 78 passengers.
  • They have a cruise speed of 400 mph.
  • They have a range of 1,200 miles.
  • They can fly into city centre airports like London City and Belfast City.

In my view, they are an ideal aircraft for their shorter routes, with shorter runways and stricter noise restrictions.

Flybe Makes A Lot Of Places Accessible

Boris said this morning on the BBC, that we need regional connectivity and Flybe is part of the solution.

Northern Ireland would fare badly if Flybe ceased to exist, until alternative airlines provided the flights.

London And Edinburgh Is A Rail Journey

Over the last few years, more and more of my friends travel by rail on this route rather than flying.

Why?

  • Trains are now virtually every half hour.
  • Trains go between city centres.
  • Prices are generally comparable.
  • The trains and service has improved.
  • One friend takes her dog.
  • The journey time is getting closer to four hours.

In the next couple of years, there will be more services and journeys will be faster.

But go beyond four hours and train travel is not so attractive, so there will always be a need for regional flights to the North of Scotland, the South and South-West of England and other places where trains are not convenient.

Noise, Pollution and Carbon Emissions

These are aviation’s three main environmental problems and although Flybe’s core fleet is mainly turboprop, they are still not totally environmentally friendly, although they are better than the smaller jets, of which Flybe use a few.

CrossCountry Trains

Several of Flybe’s routes are mirrored by some of the services of CrossCountry Trains.

CrossCountry uses exclusively diesel trains and these will surely be replaced by bi-mode or hydrogen-powered hybrid trains to take advantage of the electrification, where it exists.

A revitalised CrossCountry could take advantage of Flybe’s troubles to increase revenue.

Eviation Alice And Other Electric Aircraft

Eviation Alice and other electric aircraft are on the way.

Within ten years, there will be an electric aircraft that meets this specification.

  • All-electric operation
  • At least twenty passengers
  • A range of 500 miles
  • A half-hour turnround for an hour’s flight.
  • Low noise.
  • No pollution or carbon emission.

Eviation Alice will show the way with a first flight this year.

Note that their first customer is Cape Air, who are a very successful feeder airline in New England.

I am confident of my prediction because the maths and physics, say it is possible.

I also feel that the might of Airbus is the one to watch!

  • They have much to lose at the small end of their market.
  • They are very strong in aerodynamics and lightweight structures.
  • easyJet are reportedly behind the project.

It should also be remembered, that their rival Boeing has too much on their plate.

The Short Term Solution

The short term solution must be to keep Flybe functioning, as the economic damage to far-flung regions will be far greater than the cost of keeping the airline flying.

But it must be done legally and within the rules, as the large profitable carriers have access to some of the world’s best lawyers.

I can see the following happening.

A reduction in Air Passenger Duty for domestic air travel.

Government subsidies for essential routes like those to and from the North of Scotland, Northern Ireland and remoter parts of England and Wales.

BA, Ryanair and easyJet using their lawyers to get equal treatment.

The Long Term Solution

The long term solution will undoubtedly depend on electric aircraft, when they meet the following criteria.

  • Sufficient range and passenger capacity.
  • Sufficient support infrastructure at airports.
  • Full certification
  • Overcoming the scepticism of the general public.

I feel that the first electric aircraft will be about nine-ten seats and they will build up from there and that thirty seat aircraft will be flying in ten years.

They will start on thin routes, where the number of passengers are low.

The government could encourage the fast adoption of electric aircraft, by abolishing all Air Passenger Duty for electric flights.

What would that do for an airline’s marketing and the environment?

Conclusion

Electric aircraft will be one of the factors , that will ensure the survival of regional airlines like Flybe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment