The Anonymous Widower

Exploring The Tyne And Wear Metro

The Tyne and Wear Metro is unique in the UK, in that it is a regional electric railway system, that is powered by 1500 VDC overhead electrification.

But what is not unique about the system is the affection shown by regular users. You get similar feelings on other local systems like these.

As they mature, other systems including the Manchester Metrolink, Midland Metro and the London Overground will be felt of by their passengers in a similar way.

My four examples and the Tyne and Wear Metro, have a lot more in common than just affection from their users.

  • All were created in their own unique ways in an era not noted for railway innovation.
  • Merseyrail has an unrivalled tunnel layout for a railway under a city.
  • The Docklands Light Railway is automated with a Train Captain on each train.
  • Glasgow’s Blue Trains were very-un-British at the time.
  • Local interests were very much involved in creating the systems.
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro was created for  Driver Only Operation.

All of these lines are seeking to add more branches and replace, update and augment the rolling stock, much of which is forty years old.

Does the age of te trains show Central Government contempt for important local railway systems, which are the lifeblood of communities?

Manchester’s Missing Tunnel

The tunnels under Liverpool and Newcastle, were part of a three pronged plan by to improve local transport in the North.

  • I remember from the 1960s, when I was at the University, the electric railway under the Mersey to Birkenhead and the Wirral. Modern it was not, but the innovative Loop and Link Project made it a lot better. Although, that project was never completed.
  • Newcastle had had Tyneside Electrics from the 1900s. In the 1970s the old system became the core of the Metro, with the addition of a central tunnel.

The third plan was to bore the Picc-Vic tunnel under Manchester to link Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria stations.

According to Wikipedia, it would have had the following characteristics.

  • Full-size twin-bore tunnels.
  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Low-level stations at Piccadilly and Victoria.
  • Three intermediate stations at Market Street, Albert Square and Princess Street
  • Trains would have been similar to the Class 315 trains, which are still common in London.

It would have joined the suburban rail services together across the city.

How would Manchester have developed if this important tunnel had been built?

We will probably be able to partially answer this question, when the Ordsall Chord is fully operational, which will handle cross-Manchester long-distance and local trains.

It is my view that cancelling this tunnel was one of the great infrastructure mistakes of the period along with the cancellation of the Channel Tunnel and London’s Third Airport at Maplin. But then Harold Wilson believed everybody would have their own car and that railways were of the past and preferred to spend what little money the Government had on political projects, many of which were total failures.

We must protect ourselves from politicians, who have a political view that owes too much to the extreme left or right and be left to get on with our personal lives.

To my mind, it is no surprise that the cities in the UK with the best urban rail systems; London, Cardiff, Liverpool and Newcastle, have more local control. Now that Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester have greater local control, will we see improvement?

Exploring The Metro

There are several main assets and factors that make up a railway system.

  • Tracks
  • Tunnels and Bridges
  • Electrification
  • Stations
  • Accessibility
  • Trains
  • Signalling
  • Operating Method
  • Ticketing

I shall now give my thoughts on these in detail.

Tracks

The branches of the Metro were all built for heavy rail trains and the Sunderland Branch even shares the tracks with Class 142, Class 180 and heavy freight trains.

This principle of building tracks for full-size trains, has been used on Merseyrail’s Northern and WirralLines, London’s Trameslink, Crossrail and East London Line and innumerable railways across the world.

Build a system for small-size trains and you paint yourself into a dead end. I doubt for instance, London will ever build another new Tube-size line across London.

As I explored the Matro, the tracks also seemed to be in generally good condition.

This picture taken at South Hylton station shows typical track in apparently good condition.

Tunnels And Bridges

Wikipedia has a section on the tunnels of the Metro. This is said.

The tunnels were constructed in the late 1970s, using mining techniques, and were constructed as single-track tubes with a diameter of 4.75 metres. The tunnels under Newcastle were mechanically bored through boulder clay and lined with cast iron or concrete segments. The tunnel under Gateshead, was bored through sandstone and excavated coal seams. Old coal mine workings, some of which dated from the Middle Ages had to be filled in before the tunnelling began.

This description of the Crossrail tunnels is on this page of their web site.

A network of new rail tunnels have been built by eight giant tunnel boring machines, to carry Crossrail’s trains eastbound and westbound. Each tunnel is 21 kilometres/13 miles long, 6.2 metres in diameter and up to 40 metres below ground.

The Crossrail tunnels have a walkway on either side, but they are only 1.25 metres larger in diameter than those of the Metro. So it would appear that there is not much difference in size of the important section in the middle, where the trains run.

It is worthwhile looking at the widths of various trains.

The last three figures are from Wikipedia.

Look at these pictures of some of the tunnels and bridges on the Metro.

The weather could have been betterfor photography.

I rode on all the branches of the Metro and, I get the impression that all the bridges and tunnels seem to have been built with a generous clearance in both width and height.

I very much feel that when the Metro was built that unlike some other lines, it was well-built to a heavy rail standard.

I wouldn’t be surprised to be told, that a battery-powered train based on say an Electrostar like the Class 379 BEMU demonstrator, could pass through all of the Metro.

Electrification

The electrification is a unique 1500 VDC overhead system, which is the same as was used on the Woodhead Line, which closed to passenger trains in 1970 and to goods in 1981.

Could it be that the Metro got this voltage, rather than the 25 KVAC used on similar systems in London and Glasgow suburban routes, as British Rail and their contractors had 1500 VDC expertise available in the North and all their 25 KVAC expertise was employed elsewhere?

The bridges and tunnels seem to have been built with the ability to handle the higher and more common voltage.

1500 VDC may have also saved on the cost of the installation, as they had a lot of gantries and brackets from the Woodhead Line.

These pictures show the simplistic nature of some of the electrification.

However, on the South Hylton Branch, which was built in the 2000s, it appears that better methods were used, as these pictures show.

The gantries and supports are certainly better than many you see on the Lea Valley Lines.

This picture shows 25 KVAC electrification at Walthamstow Central station.

Note the extra insulators to deal with the higher voltage.

Would it be possible and worthwhile to convert all of the Metro lines to 25 KVAC?

In theory this must be possible, but I think it is probably more important to first beef up the electrification gantries to the higher standard of the South Hylton Branch.

Consider.

  • A driver told me, that electrification failures are not unknown.
  • Trains running on 25 KVAC are more energy-efficient.
  • Trains could be built that would be able to run on both 1500 VDC and 25 KVAC, that use the same pantograph for current collection and automatically adjust to the voltage received.
  • Trains with batteries can be used on sections without electrification.
  • Mixed voltage systems are possible, that would have 25 KVAC electrification on some sections of track and 1500 VDC on others.
  • The passenger Health and Safety case would need to be established for the higher voltage.

The electrification could be designed holistically with any future trains to maximise reliability, electrical efficiency and operational flexibility, and minimise costs.

Obviously, during the changeover to new trains, all lines would need to be at 1500 VDC, so that the current rolling stock could be used as required.

Stations

These pictures show a selection of Metro stations.

The stations appear to be in generally good condition and vary from the the basic to well-preserved Victorian stations like Tynemouth and Whitley Bay.

The platforms are generally of an adequate length, which except for some stations in tunnels seem to have been built to accept three of the current trains working together, which would be a formation 83.4 metres long.

This would be long enough to accept one of any number of four-car trains running on the UK rail network, which are usually eighty metres long. London Overground’s, new Class 710 trains will be this length.

Sunderland Station

Sunderland station, is an important station on the Metro.

I describe the station and its operation in The Rather Ordinary Sunderland Station.

 

 

Accessibility

Stations are step-free, but this is often by the use of ramps and a few more lifts woulds be welcome.

Access from platform to train is generally good, as these pictures show.

Note the picture of the access to a Grand Central Class 180 train.

I suspect that when Northern replace their Class 142 trains, with brand new Class 195 trains on the services between Middlesbrough and Newcastle, that the step-free access will be good.

I think a lot of credit is due to the original designers of the Metro, who thought about what they were doing and seem to have created a system that fitted heavy rail trains, Metro trains and users requiring step-free access.

Trains

There are several sets of electric trains in the country, that continue to defy their age and are a tribute to their builders, refurbishers and operating companies, by providing a quality service to passengers and other stakeholders

  • Merseyrail’s Class 507 and Class 508 trains.
  • The Class 315 trains of TfL Rail and the London Overground.
  • The Piccadilly Line’s 1973 Stock trains.
  • South Western Railway’s Class 455 trains.
  • The trains of the Tyne and Wear Metro.

|These pictures show the trains for the Metro.

Note.

  1. The quality is not bad for nearly forty years of service.
  2. The lady in the last picture, sitting in the front of the train, watching the world go by.
  3. Standing is not difficult in the rush hour for this seventy-year-old stroke survivor.
  4. Information could be better.
  5. The Metro needs a new train wash.

Wikipedia says this about the Proposed New Fleet.

The proposed new fleet would consist of 84 trains to replace the existing 90 train fleet, as Nexus believe that the improved reliability of the newer trains would allow them to operate the same service levels with fewer trains. These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet, and a full width drivers cab instead of the small driving booth of the existing trains. The proposed new fleet is planned to have dual voltage capability, able to operate on the Metro’s existing 1.5 kV DC electrification system and also the 25 kV AC used on the national rail network, to allow greater flexibility. Battery technology is also being considered.

I’ll put my ideas at the end of this note.

Signalling

The Metro is unique in the UK, in that it uses the Karlsruhe model to mix Metro trains with heavy rail trains on the Southern branch to Sunderland and South Hylton.

If in the future modern signalling and trains are used on the Metro, an increasingly intricate set of routes could be designed.

Add in dual-voltage trains able to run on both the Metro’s 1500 VDC and the National network’s 25 KVAC and the possibilities will be even greater.

Operating Method

The trains are run in the same way as London Underground, with only a driver on the train, who does the driving and controls the doors.

Ticketing

As I always find outside London, ticketing is still in the Victorian era.

Will the Tyne and Wear Metro embrace a contactless card based on bank and credit cards?

Possible Future Expansion

Wikipedia gives a list of possible extensions under Proposed Extensions And Suggested Improvements.

These include.

Tyne Dock To East Boldon

Wikipedia says this.

Tyne Dock to East Boldon along a dismantled railway alignment through Whiteleas could easily be added, because two Metro lines are separated by only a short distance (1.61 miles). This would provide a service from South Shields to Sunderland via the Whiteleas area of South Shields.

If ever there was a route for a battery-powered train, this must be it.

Consider.

  • The route is less than two miles.
  • The route connects two electrified lines.
  • You can see the disused track-bed on a Google Map.
  • No electrification would be required.
  • The battery would be charged between South Shields and Tyne Dock and East Boldon and Sunderland.
  • Modern signalling would allow the route to be built as a single track if required, handling up to ten tph in both directions.
  • Single platform stations could be built as required.

I can certainly understand, why Wikipedia mentioned battery trains.

Washington

Wikipedia says this.

Washington either via the disused Leamside line or a new route. Present planning may lead to the Leamside line being opened at least as far as Washington as a conventional rail line for passengers as well as freight, although this could be shared with Metro trains in the same way as the line from Pelaw Junction to Sunderland.

Washington station would only be a short run of less than ten miles along a reopened Leamside Line.

  • If somebody else paid for 25 KVAC electrification of the Leamside Line, then dual-voltage trains could run the service.
  • If not, they could use battery-power.

Either way, Washington would get a Metro service.

If as I believe, the new trains on the Metro will be main line trains, then what is the point of running heavy rail services to the town, as the Metro would be able to serve more places and with a change at Newcastle station, you could get a train virtually anywhere.

The possibility must also exist if the Leamside Line is developed as a diversion of the East Coast Main Line, then the Metro could go as far South as Durham.

Blyth And Ashington

Wikipedia says this.

Blyth and Ashington, running on existing little-used freight lines. Northumberland Park station has been built to provide a link to a potential new rail service to these communities; if opened, it will not be a part of the Metro system.

Ashington is around fourteen miles from Northumberland Park station, which means that an return journey might be possible on battery-power.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which probably has a terrain not much different to the lines to Blyth and Ashington.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

If the Metro trains could have a high energy efficiency, I think it would be reasonable to assume that 4 kWh per vehicle mile is attainable.

So a three car train, would need a battery of 14 x 2 x 3 x 4 = 336 kWh. That is not an unattainable figure for battery size.

Killingworth And Cramlington

Wikipedia says this.

A northward extension to Killingworth and Cramlington has been planned since the Metro was on the drawing board, but would require widening of the busy East Coast Main Line to four tracks, which would be expensive, and a new alignment involving street running.

Suppose the new Metro trains were modern trains, such as the latest offerings from Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi, Siemens, Stadler and others, that were able to do the following in addition to running on the Metro.

  • Use 25 KVAC electrification.
  • Operate at around or even over 100 mph.
  • Execute fast stops at a station.

Would they be able to perhaps run a four tph Metro service along the East Coast Main Line to Cramlington station?

I suspect with modern signalling and a couple of passing loops on the East Coast Main Line, the answer is yes!

This may eliminate the need for street-running.

West End Of Newcastle

Wikipedia says this.

Extending the Metro to the West End of Newcastle would require new track, involving tunnelling and bridging in rough terrain; this would be very costly and is perhaps least likely to receive funding, though would probably have the highest potential ridership.

In this article in the Newcastle Chronicle, which is entitled What Could Happen To The Metro, this is said.

A rail extension out of Central Station along the original Newcastle to Carlisle line could head along Scotswood Road to serve Newcastle’s west, while a bridge could then connect the city to the Metrocentre. This would be integrated with the Metro system. Building developments in Gallowgate have greatly reduced any chance of extending the Metro west from St James’ Park.

The railway alignment still seems to be there in places.

It would be another extension that would use battery-powered trains on sections, that don’t have electrification.

Ryhope And Seaham

Wikipedia says this.

Ryhope and Seaham, a proposal drawn up by Tyne and Wear Passenger Authority to use the existing Durham coast line south of Sunderland.

Sunderland to Seaham is about six miles, so is definitely in range of battery trains.

But that is being timid!

Sunderland to Middlesbrough is probably about thirty miles and I believe it will be possible to do those sort of distances on battery power alone, in a few years. Provided that the train could be recharged at Middlesbrough.

What would a four or six tph service between Middlesbrough and Newcastle Airport via Hartlepool, Seaham, Sunderland, Gateshead and Newcastle, do for the area?

Conclusion About Possible Future Expansion

In this section on expanding the Metro network, it has surprised me how many of the extensions could be done with dual-voltage or battery-powered trains.

  • Tyne Dock To East Boldon – Battery
  • Washington – Battery
  • Blyth And Ashington – Battery
  • Killingworth And Cramlington – Dual-Voltage
  • West End Of Newcastle – Battery
  • Ryhope And Seaham – Battery
  • Middlesbrough – Battery and Dual-Voltage

I think it shows how we must be careful not to underestimate tyhe power of battery trains. But then I’m one of the few people in the UK, outside of the residents of Harwich, who’s ridden a battery-powered four-car heavy rail train in normal service! Mickey Mouse, they are not!

New Trains

I’ll repeat what Wikipedia says this about the Proposed New Fleet.

The proposed new fleet would consist of 84 trains to replace the existing 90 train fleet, as Nexus believe that the improved reliability of the newer trains would allow them to operate the same service levels with fewer trains. These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet, and a full width drivers cab instead of the small driving booth of the existing trains. The proposed new fleet is planned to have dual voltage capability, able to operate on the Metro’s existing 1.5 kV DC electrification system and also the 25 kV AC used on the national rail network, to allow greater flexibility. Battery technology is also being considered.

I’ll now give my views on various topics.

Heavy Rail Train Or Lightweight Metro?

Will the trains be lightweight metro trains or variants of heavy rail trains like Aventras, Desiro Cities or A-trains to name just three of several?

The advantages of the heavy rail train are.

  • It could run at 90 or even 100 mph on an electrified main line.
  • It will meet crashworthiness standards for a main line.
  • It would likely be a design with a lot in common with other UK train fleets.
  • It could run into most railway stations.
  • If it was shorter than about sixty metres it could use all current Metro stations without station rebuilding.

On the other hand the lightweight metro train would be lighter in weight and possibly more energy-efficient.

Walk-Through Design

Wikipedia says this about the seating layout.

These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet.

Longitudinal seating has been successfully used on London Overground’s Class 378 trains.

  • This layout increases capacity at busy times.
  • It allows passengers to distribute themselves along the train and get to the right position for a quick exit.

But the biggest advantage, is that when linked to selective door opening, it enables a longer train to be used successfully in stations with short platforms.

London Overground use this facility on their Class 378 trains to overcome platform length problems at a few stations on the East London Line.

But train design is evolving.

Bombardier have shown with the Class 345 train, that you can have both in the same train. So in a three-car train, you might have two identical driver cars with longitudinal seating and a middle car with 2+2 bench seating.

Bombardier are able to get away with this, as they are maximising the space inside the train. I wrote about it in Big On The Inside And The Same Size On The Outside.

These pictures show the inside of one of Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.

Whoever builds the new Metro trains, they’ll probably have similar interiors.

Train Length

A trend seems to be emerging, where new fleets of trains are the same length as the ones they replace, although they may have more carriages.

This has happened on Greater Anglia, Merseyrail and West Midlands Trains.

It probably makes sense, as it avoids expensive and disrupting platform lengthening.

Currently, the Metro trains work in pairs, which means a train length of 55.6 metres. As the standard UK train carriage size for suburban multiple units is often twenty metres, then if the platforms can accept them, three-car trains would be possible for the new trains.

Longer trains would be possible in most stations, except for some in the central tunnel, which appear to have platforms around sixty to seventy metres long.

So perhaps four-car trains would be possible for the new trains, that would use selective door opening at the short platforms of the stations in the central tunnels.

Because the trains are walk-through, passengers can position themselves accordingly, for the station, where they will leave the train.

London Overground have also shown that selective door opening and walk-through trains can be used to advantage, when trains are lengthened to increase capacity.

Dual-Voltage

Obviously, the trains will have the capability of running on both 1500 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead wires, as the extension to Killingworth And Cramlington would need the latter, for a start.

The interchange between the two different voltages can be very simple, due to some technology developed for the
German cousins of the Class 399 tram-train. A ceramic rod separates the two voltages and the pantograph just rides over. The train or tram-train, then determines the voltage and configures the electrical systems accordingly.

Batteries

These would appear to be key to several of the proposed extensions.

Batteries also enable other features.

  • Movement in depots and sidings without electrification.
  • Emergency power, when the main power fails.
  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Remote train warm-up.

In a few years time, all trains with electric drive will have batteries, that are probably around 75-100 kWh.

Operating Speed

To work efficiently on the East Coast Main Line, 90 mph or even a  100 mph operating speed will be needed.

Note that Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, which will generally work routes very similar to the Metro, have a 90 mph operating speed.

These faster trains will result in an increased service.

Currently, trains between Newcastle Airport and South Hylton take 65 minutes with sixteen stops.

Modern trains have the following features.

  • Minimised dwell times at stations.
  • Smooth regenerative braking and fast acceleration.
  • Driver Advisory Systems to improve train efficiency.
  • Higher safe speeds in selected sections.
  • Trains are designed for quick turnrounds at each end of the route.

In addition, train operators are organising station staff to minimise train delays.

Put it all together and I’m pretty certain, that this route could be done comfortably in under an hour.

So the same number of trains are able to do more trips in every hour.

Handling Tight Curves

Under Electrics, Wikipedia says this about the ability of the trains to handle tight curves.

Metro has a maximum speed of 80 km/h (50 mph), which it attains on rural stretches of line. The vehicles have a minimum curve radius of 50 m (55 yd), although there are no curves this tight except for the non-passenger chord between Manors and West Jesmond.

Could this chord be avoided by different operating procedures?

Serving Newcastle Station

Northern’s services from Newcastle station are.

  • 1 tph – Northbound on the East Coast Main Line to Cramlington and Morpeth with services extended to Chathill at peak hours.
  • 1 tph – Southbound along the Durham Coast Line to Middlesbrough calling at Heworth, Sunderland, Seaham, Hartlepool, Seaton Carew, Billingham, Stockton andThornaby, with an extension to James Cook University Hospital and Nunthorpe.
  • 1 tph – Westbound on the Tyne Valley Line to Carlisle calling at MetroCentre, Prudhoe, Hexham, Haydon Bridge, Haltwhistle, Brampton and others at alternate hours.
  • Westbound slow service on the Tyne Valley Line to Hexham calling at Dunston, MetroCentre, Blaydon, Wylam, Prudhoe, Stocksfield, Riding Mill, Corbridge and terminating at Hexham, with an extension to Carlisle at peak hours.
  • 1 tph – Newcastle to Metro Centre calling at Dunston only during the day.

Pathetic is probably a suitable word.

When Greater Anglia have their new trains, services between Ipswich, Norwich, Colchester, Bury St. Edmunds, Lowestoft and Yarmouth, will be at least two tph and sometimes three and four on most routes.

Newcastle To Sunderland Via Sunderland

Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough surely need a four tph rail connection along the Durham Coast Line.

I believe that dual-voltage Metro trains with a battery capability could run between Middlesbrough and Newcastle at a frequency of four tph.

If they can’t, I’m certain that a suitable train could be procured.

If the new Metro trains are correctly-configured heavy-rail trains, then surely a go-anywhere express version can be built.

  • Identical train bodies, cabs and traction systems to new Metro trains
  • An interior geared to the needs of passengers.
  • Four or five cars with selective door opening.
  • Ability to run on Metro tracks using 1500 VDC overhead wires.
  • Ability to run on 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Batteries for regenerative braking, emergency power and distances up to two miles.
  • Diesel or preferably hydrogen power pack.
  • Sufficient range to keep going all day.
  • 90-100 mph capability.

As the trains would have an identical cross-section to the new Metro trains, they could do any of the following at Newcastle.

  • Terminate at Newcastle station.
  • Go through Newcastle station to Metrocentre, Hexham, Carlisle, Morpeth or some other destination.
  • Go through the tunnel of the Metro to Newcsastle Airport.
  • Go through the tunnel of the Northumberland Park station to link to the North-East.

I believe that such a train could run as an express to link the whole conurbation from Middlesbrough to Morpeth together.

Newcastle To Carlisle Via Metrocentre and Hexham

The train that i just proposed would be ideal for this route.

I also believe that Metrocentre needs at least six tph connecting it to the centre of Newcastle and the Metro.

The proposed West End of Newcastle branch of the Metro looks to be a necessity, to provide some of this frequency.

What Is The Point Of Northern?

With the right trains, all of the local services in the Tyne-Wear-Tees area can be satisfied by a Metro running modern trains making the maximum use of modern technology.

This model already works in Merseyside, so why not in the North-East? And Manchester, Leeds and South Yorkshire!

A Tees Valley Metro

I have always been keen on the creation of a Tees Valley Metro. I wrote about it in The Creation Of The Tees Valley Metro.

Get the design of the trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro right and they could work any proposed Tees Valley Metro.

Conclusion

I think that Nexus will get some very interesting proposals for their new trains, which will open up a lot of possibilities to extend the network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 5, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stadler Publish More Details On Greater Anglia’s Flirts

These pictures are on several web sites and show more details on how Stadler is creating Greater Anglia’s Class 745 trains.

If you compare the first and third pictures, it would appear that the cab is a separate construction, probably made out of a variety of materials like steel, aluminium and glass reinforced plastic.

The body could be similar to that of a Bombardier Electrostar or Aventra and made of three aluminium sections welded together.

The cross-section seems simpler than that of an Aventra, which as this picture shows is double-skinned with ribs.

Are the sides and roof of Stadler Flirts extruded or fabricated?

But then Bombardier designed the Aventra bodies  to be made in large numbers, close to the production line, whereas Stadler build the bodies in Hungary.

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

New Trains For The Docklands Light Railway And The Tyne And Wear Metro

Transport for London and Nexus (The Tyne And Wear Passenger Transport Executive) are both asking for bids for new trains on the Docklands Light Railway and the Tyne and Wear Metro respectively.

Both systems are standard gauge light railways, but how do they compare to each other and to other trains running or soon to run in the UK?

Width and Height Of Cars

This table shows the width and height of various trains, that are currently in use on the UK network.

Note.

  1. What surprised me was how similar the width and height of these vehicles are.
  2. The Class 345 train uses clever design to make the train as wide as possible inside.

Wikipedia says this about how Bombardier Electrostars were designed and built.

The Clubman/Turbostar/Electrostar platform is a modular design, which share the same basic design, bodyshell and core structure, and is optimised for speedy manufacture and easy maintenance. It consists of an underframe, which is created by seam-welding a number of aluminium alloy extrusions, upon which bodyside panels are mounted followed by a single piece roof, again made from extruded sections. The car ends (cabs) are made from glass-reinforced plastic and steel, and are huck-bolted onto the main car bodies. Underframe components are collected in ‘rafts’, which are bolted into slots on the underframe extrusion. The mostly aluminium alloy body gives light weight to help acceleration and energy efficiency.

From what I’ve seen in the media about the manufacture of Bombardier’s new Aventra, the manufacturing methods are similar but improved.

I would suspect that most modern trains are made in a similar way, with extensive use of lightweight aluminium extrusions for sides and roof.

Bombardier’s method of making the cabs of glass-reinforced plastic and steel, must also give the flexibility required to create an appropriate cab for different classes of trains. Currently, there are Aventras on other, that feature  cabs without and with a gangway.

I suspect that Bombardier’s design team for the Aventra made sure that the design of the body could be adapted to produce a replacement train for the Tyne and Wear Metro or the Docklands Light Railway. After all, they built most of the current cars for the DLR!

This all leads me to the conclusion, that production of the bodies for the new vehicles for both routes will not be a problem. And not just for Bombardier! Stadler seem to have downsized a Flirt for Merseyrail.

Using an existing design, must also mean that equipment like seats, air-conditioning, doors and other fitments, just have to resized if needed.

Design Of The Cars

Bombardier have shown with the Aventra, that they can make cars in different lengths for different versions of the train. The Class 710 trains for the London Overground are being built as twenty metre long trains, whereas other variants have longer cars.

All Aventras ordered so far, appear to be walk-through between articulated cars.

The picture shows the inside of one of Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.

So what can we ascertain about the design the new fleets for the Docklands Light Railway and the Tyne and Wear Metro?

Docklands Light Railway

Under Future Stock in the Wikipedia entry for the Docklands Light Railway Rolling Stock, this is said.

TfL is seeking to order 43, 87-metre-long (285 ft) trains, 33 of which will replace the 70 B90/92 trains currently in use, which are the oldest on the DLR. The remaining 10 would support capacity increases in the Royal Docks area. DLR services presently operate with two or three trains coupled together, but the new fleet will be fixed formation units with walk-through carriages equivalent to the length of three current trains. The aim is to issue an invitation to tender for the new fleet later this year, with contract award planned for summer 2018.

Note.

  1. The trains will be walk-through.
  2. The new train length quoted of 87 metres,  doesn’t fit the length of three current trains, but it is close to the length of three current cars, so I suspect that is what is meant.
  3. In the early 2010s, the whole Docklands Light Railway was upgraded for three-car trains.
  4. The trains need the ability to handle tight curves.

It does appear that Bombardier and the other manufacturers  could design a train for the Docklands Light Railway by adapting their current design.

Consider.

  • To handle the tight curves, it would probably be a walk-through train with several articulated sections.
  • The current trains running as a three-car unit are 84 metres long.
  • Each of the current cars is 28 metres long.
  • Each of the current cars is articulated in the middle. Thus a three-car train has six sections.
  • The current cars have four double doors on either side. Thus a three-car train has twelve doors.
  • The new trains will be 87 metres long.

It should be noted that Edinburgh has a similar problem of tight curves and gradients like the Docklands Light Railway. The city’s Urbos 3 trams are just forty metres long, but have seven articulated sections, with six doors on either side.

Note the short sections, which show what is possible in an articulated rail vehicle.

I suspect the following.

  • As the current trains have six sections, this would be a starting point for a new design.
  • Four or five sections would be a more affordable design.
  • There will be an optimum number of sections to handle the curves and gradients.
  • Does an articulated walk-through design need quite as many doors as current trains?

It looks like a good cost-effective design is possible.

Tyne And Wear Metro

Under Proposed New Fleet in the Wikipedia entry for Tyne and Wear Metro Rolling Stock this is said.

In November 2017, the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the government would provide £337 million towards the new fleet. The proposed new fleet would consist of 84 trains to replace the existing 90 train fleet, as Nexus believe that the improved reliability of the newer trains would allow them to operate the same service levels with fewer trains. These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet, and a full width drivers cab instead of the small driving booth of the existing trains. The proposed new fleet is planned to have dual voltage capability, able to operate on the Metro’s existing 1.5 kV DC electrification system and also the 25 kV AC used on the national rail network, to allow greater flexibility. Battery technology is also being considered.

Note.

  1. A dual-voltage capability will be required.
  2. Battery capability would be ideal for short movements and regenerative braking.
  3. In my view longitudinal seating needs a walk-though capability.
  4. Currently, trains are two-car units and generally work in pairs.
  5. Trains can work in formations of three and four units, but the ability is not used.

If trains generally work in pairs would it be more affordable to have four-car trains?

  • Could they be adapted from proven lightweight main line rolling stock, by perhaps giving the trains a smaller cross-section?
  • They would only have two instead of four cabs.
  • They could be articulated, walk-through trains.
  • Class 399 tram-trains have shown dual voltage through one pantograph is possible.

Using a certified main line train, that had been made smaller would surely mean that certification would be easier.

I believe, that a section of the Tyne and Wear Metro works using tram-train principles under the Karlsruhe model, which allows the current trains to share tracks with other rail services.

So the new trains would make it possible for the Metro to be expanded onto main line railways. If they were electrified using 25 KVAC. Freight lines, which might see a reopened passenger service, could be electrified using the current Metro 1,500 VDC system.

It strikes me thyat by getting the design of the rolling stock right, a lot of possibilities could open up for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 28, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

London Bridge Station Gets The Last Five New Platforms

The last five platforms, numbered 1 to 5, at London Bridge station, opened this morning.

It is now possible to judge the station as a whole.

The Spacious Concourse

In my experience, the layout of the spacious concourse is unique in all the stations I have visited. And I’ve visited quite a few! And not just in the UK, but all over Europe.

Effectively, it is like a city square, with separate stations on viaducts above.

  • The one-platform station (Platform 1) for trains from Cannon Street to SE London and Kent.
  • The two-platform island station (Platforms 2 and 3) for trains from SE London and Kent to Cannon Street.
  • The two platform island station (Platform 4 and 5) for trains for Thameslink services going North and South,
  • The two-platform island station (Platform 6 and 7) for trains from Charing Cross and Waterloo East to SE London, Kent and Sussex
  • The two-platform island station (Platform 8 and 9) for trains from Waterloo East to SE London, Kent and Sussex to Charing-Cross and Waterloo.
  • The six-platform terminal station (Platforms 10-15) for trains to SE London, Surrey And Sussex.

All platforms have two or more escalators, stairs and a lift to and from the spacious concourse.

  • The circulation space is uncluttered with just one fast food outlet discretely to one side. Others will be slotted in.
  • The lighting is excellent, with lots of natural light. Many stations are dingy, despite having been built or rebuilt in the last few years.

Ticketing and security is ensured by several lines of ticket gates, leading to a surrounding unticketed concourse.

The Double-Concourse Design

|Effectively, London Bridge station has two concourses.

The ticketed concourse, that connects to all the platforms and the trains.

There is also a second concourse surrounding the ticketed concourse.

  • This second concourse extends through the station from Tooley Street to St. Thomas Street.
  • The streets outside the station are effectively parts of the second concourse.
  • Level walking routes to the Underground, the River, Guys Hospital and London Bridge are provided.
  • A separate escalator connection links to the bus station, from the second concourse.
  • There are more shops and a ticket office.

Where else could this concept be employed?

The obvious example is surely Manchester Piccadilly station, where there will effectively be three stations.

  • The HS2 station.
  • A terminal station for trains going to and from the South.
  • A two-platform through station capable of handling sixteen trains per hour, replacing the dreaded Platforms 13 and 14.

All would be linked by a huge London Bridge-sized area under the tracks, with both a ticketed and unticketed area.

  • The tram station would be at the same level as the concourse, accessible from the unticketed area.
  • Shops would be mainly in the unticketed area, with a minimum in the ticketed area.
  • A clutter-free design is needed.

The aim would be to ensure that quick and easy interchange between various transport modes was created.

The concept would also work at a rebuilt Euston and should probably have been used instead of the very passenger and staff-unfriendly design at St. Pancras, where interchange between separate services is not for those that are not 100% fit.

I also think that a similar concept of a split concourse, with ticketed and unticketed areas could be applied at a traditional terminal station like Brighton, Liverpool Street, Liverpool Lime Street or Waterloo, where significant numbers of passengers interchange between services at the station.

  • A second ticketed concourse could be created between the gate line and the actual platforms.
  • The concourse outside the ticket gates should be extended into the surrounding streets, as it effectively has been at Kings Cross.
  • A lot of decluttering should go on.

Hopefully, as each new station is designed, the concept will be improved.

Wide Island Platforms

Can platforms be too wide? Probably only accountants can answer that question.

But we certainly need more island platforms!

They make it so easy for passengers to reverse direction, without going up onto a bridge or down into a subway.

If say you were going between Bedford and Cambridge on Thameslink, perhaps with a heavy case or in a wheel-chair, it might  be easier to go as far South as London Bridge station, where you could just cross the platform for the second train.

Unfortunately, no-one thought to build the important Thameslink station at St. Pancras with an island platform.

Lights Above The Ticket Gates

The lights on some of London’s ticket gates are difficult to see, as you approach, but these are so much better.

Surely, as people will line up a few metres away and walk straight towards the gate, this might increase passenger throughput.

Can we have more of this please?

Information Above The Escalators And Stairs

This is good, but it could be better.

Imagine a one-line display on top of the main display, which could be used for title, important or emergency information.

Examples could be.

  • Trains To Waterloo East And Charing Cross
  • Way Out!
  • Do Not Enter!!
  • RMT Call Off Strike Tomorrow!

The standard display for the various platforms at London Bridge could be.

Platform 1 – Cannon Street To SE London And Kent

Platform 2 and 3 – To Cannon Street

Platforms 4 and 5 – Thameslink – 4 To South – 5 To North

Platform 6 and 7 – Charing Cross To SE London, Kent And Sussex

Platforms 8 and 9 – To Waterloo East And Charing Cross

Platforms 10 to 15 – To SE London, Surrey And Sussex

Ticket Machines

There are no ticket machines in the ticketed area.

In Germany, there is often a ticket machine after you have passed the gate.

I find it very useful, as they can be used to buy tickets for a later journey or look up future connections.

I only know of one ticket machine inside the ticketed area in the UK and that is on Platform 8 at Stratford station.

We need more of these!

The need will get more urgent after Crossrail and Thameslink are fully open.

Suppose you are doing a journey from somewhere in the Oyster/contactless card area like Ealing Broadway or Ilford to perhaps Hastings, Ipswich or Oxford, which are not.

  • You might not be starting your journey at a station with a ticket office.
  • Because you never go outside the Oyster/contactless card area, you haven’t bought a ticket in some time.
  • You might like me be a Freedom Pass holder.

So you might arrive at London Bridge or Stratford, without a valid ticket for the rest of your journey.

Currently, at London Bridge station, you have to go outside the ticketed area to get your onward ticket.

A ticket machine or machines inside the ticketed area would be better.

It could also.

  • Provide information.
  • Print intineraries
  • Display advertising.

Perhaps, like cash machines, ticket machines might be provided by third-party operators?

Seats

Are there enough seats?

Time will tell! But I think more will be added!

 

 

 

 

 

January 2, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

What A Waste Of Space!

This picture shows two two-car Class 170 trains working together as a four-car unit.

Look at how much space is wasted in the length of this train, by the two middle cabs!

If these Class 170 trains were to be replaced with a four-car train, this would surely increase the capacity of the train, as there would be more space to put seats!

It should be noted that West Midlands Trains have ordered some four-car CAF Civity trains.

 

December 29, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Siemens Joins The Hydrogen-Powered Train Club

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Siemens Working On Fuel Cell-Powered Mireo Train.

Siemens Mobility’s Mireo is their next-generation electric multiple unit.

This description is from Wikipedia.

The railcars have an articulated design and aluminium carbodies, with 26 metres (85 ft) cab cars on each end of a trainset and 19 metres (62 ft) passenger cars between them, with trainsets between two and seven cars long. The use of aluminium, combined with new control systems, is intended to reduce energy use by up to 25%. compared to previous Siemens EMUs. The railcars can reach a top speed of up to 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph)

The first units were ordered in February 2017 by DB Regio, which ordered 24 three-car trainsets with a passenger capacity of 220 for service on its routes in the Rhine valley in southwestern Germany.

This train has a lot in common with other offerings from the major train manufacturers.

  • Light weight
  • Articulated design.
  • Sophisticated control systems.
  • Low energy use.

Is it a case of engineering minds thinking alike?

The Global Rail New article says this about the hydrogen-powered trains.

Siemens is partnering up with Canadian manufacturer Ballard Power Systems to develop a fuel cell engine for its new Mireo train platform.

The two companies have signed a Development Agreement to produce a 200 kilowatt fuel cell engine to power a Mireo multiple unit.

The first fuel cell-powered Mireo could be running by 2021, Siemens and Ballard have announced.

There is a page on the Ballard web site, which lists their fuel cell engines called FCVeloCity.

  • FCVeloCity-MD – 30 kW
  • FCVeloCity-HD – 60kW, 85kW, 100kW
  • FCVeloCity-XD – 200 kW

I would assume that as there is no product sheet for the XD, that the 200 kW unit is still in development.

The first application would appear to be the Siemens Mireo.

Is Two Hundred Kilowatt Enough Power?

Bombardier’s four-car Class 387 train, is a typical electric muiltiple unit, that has been built in the last few years.

It has an installed power of 1.68 megawatts or 420 kW per car.

Porterbrook’s brochure says this about the two diesel engines in their Class 769 train, which is a bi-mode conversion of a Class 319 train.

The engine is a MAN D2876 LUE631 engine which generates 390 kW at 1800 rpm, giving an acceptable power output.

So that works out at 195 kW per car.

Both these trains have similar performance to the Siemens Mireo.

  • The trains will be substantially heavier than the Mireo.
  • The trains will do a lot of acceleration under electrification.

The 200 kW of the Mireo, isn’t much compared with the current generation of train.

As with the Alstom Coradio iLint, that I wrote about in Is Hydrogen A Viable Fuel For Rail Applications?, I suspect the Mireo has the following features.

  • Use of batteries to store energy.
  • Regenerative braking will use the batteries.
  • Selective use of electrification to drive the train directly.
  • Intelligent control systems to select appropriate power.

Given that the light weight will also help in the energy-expensive process of electrification, the intelligent control system is probably the key to making this train possible.

Will The Train Have One Or Two Hydrogen Power Units?

Wikipedia says this about the layout of the train.

The railcars have an articulated design and aluminium carbodies, with 26 metres (85 ft) cab cars on each end of a trainset and 19 metres (62 ft) passenger cars between them, with trainsets between two and seven cars long.

The trend these days in modern trains, is to fit large numbers of axles with traction motors for fast acceleration and smooth regenerative braking. As an Electrical Engineer, I believe that the most efficient electrical layout, would be for any car with motors to have some form of energy storage.

Have Siemens designed the train to use two identical cab cars?

  • These are longer to meet higher crash-protection standards.
  • Any diesel or hydrogen generator would be in these cars.
  • Energy storage would be provided.

Two cab cars with generators would have 400 kW, which would be more likely to be an acceptable power level.

Would the intermediate passenger cars be powered or just trailer cars?

I very much believe that the ideal intermediate cars should be powered and have a battery for regenerative braking.

Will Other Companies Join The Hydrogen Club?

Alstom, who are merging their train business with Siemens have announced orders for the Coradia iLint, so they are obviously a full-paid up member.

Bombardier have said nothing, but like Ballard, they are a Canadian company.

The key though, is that modern intelligent train control systems, which are used by all train manufacturers, have been designed to do the following.

  • Select appropriate power from electrification, battery or an on-board diesel generator.
  • Deploy pantograph and third-rail shoe as required.
  • Drive the train in an efficient manner.

Just swap the diesel generator for a hydrogen one.

Having a light weight, energy efficient train design will also help.

Conclusion

Expect hydrogen-powered trains from most manufacturers.

 

 

 

November 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater

I like the New Routemaster and I use them regularly as five of the routes running close to my house use the buses.

So when I saw that Wright SRM buses, which are based on the New Routemaster, were being trialled on Route 183, I had to take a ride.

I went between Golders Green and Kenton stations.

In my view the bus has three major design faults compared to the New Routemaster.

The Floor Is No Longer Flat

The New Routemaster has a completely flat floor, whereas this bus doesn’t.

I suspect that this is because the bus is based on a standard Volvo B5LH chassis to save money, whereas the New Routemaster used a custom design.

Front Entry Only

One of the great features of the New Routemaster is that you can get in at any door, as there are card readers on all doors.

Drivers take advantage of this and often seem to stop the bus, so passengers can board quickly.

This must mean that they keep to the timetable better!

The Bus Is Rather Gloomy Inside

I sat towards the back, as I often do on New Routemasters, but the bus is so gloomy, as there is no windows facing to the rear.

Conclusion

I very much feel that someone needs to design a better bus chassis, as the standard Volvo chassis means that a flat floor and a light and airy interior, which are so important in my view, seem to be impossible.

Wrightbus can do a lot better.

November 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

A First Ride In A Class 707 Train

I had my first ride in a Class 707 train today, from Clapham Junction station to Waterloo station.

I had expected a few glaring faults, as South Western Railway is dropping the trains.

But there are some good features.

  • Wide doors and spacious lobbies.
  • Free wi-fi, unlike the closely-related Class 700 trains.
  • Power scokets, unlike the Class 700 trains
  • Large litter bins.
  • Reasonably comfortable and spacious seats.
  • Walk-through.

And a few bad ones.

  • No 4G signal booster.
  • No full-length walk-through as two five-car trains, rather than one ten-car train.
  • A high step into and out of the train.

But they are certainly better than Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

The current schedule between Waterloo and Windsor and Eton Riverside stations appears to be something like this.

  • Waterloo to Windsor and Eton – 54 minutes
  • Turnback at Windsor and Eton – 31 minutes
  • Windsor and |Eton to Waterloo – 56 minutes
  • Turnback at Waterloo – 9 minutes

Which works out at a very neat two and a half hours for the round trip.

So for a two trains per hour (tph) service you need five trains.

The timetable is written around 75 mph Class 455 trains, but the Class 707 trains are 100 mph units with a shorter dwell time at stations.

In each direction, there are twelve stops, which will give savings of at least a minute at each stop, due to the faster acceleration and smoother regenerative braking.

So assuming a minute is saved at each stop, that brings the round trip time to 126 minutes. Reduce the turnback time at Windsor and Eton Riverside and I feel it would be possible to do the round trip in under two hours.

Which would mean that the current two tph service would need four trains.

From Twickenham station, the route is fairly straight and this may enable more speed improvements on the route.

The Waterloo to Windsor and Eton Riverside service is a classic example of how running faster trains often needs less trains to provide the same or even a better service.

Conclusion

I could see trains taking forty minutes on this route.

With the possible savings on the Waterloo to Windsor and Eton Riverside service, you can understaqnd, why this is the first route to receive the new trains.

 

September 28, 2017 Posted by | News, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Details In A Class 345 Train Interior

These pictures were taken of internal details of a Class 345 train.

Various thoughts.

Cantilevered Seats

The bays of four-seats are cantilevered to the sides of the train, which means the space underneath the seat is available for luggage and well-behaved dogs.

Heating

It would appear that the heating is under the Metro-style seating.

As I said in Aventras Have Under Floor Heating, it would appear that the Greater Anglia Aventras do have under-floor heating, so perhaps this is a customer-chosen option, more suited to longer-distance routes.

The Lobbies

East car in the Class 345 train, has three sets of doors and lobbies.

Note how each lobby has a central handrail and two vertical handrails in each corner. One of these is just behind the door and you can grab it from outside.

Metro-Style Seating

I have not travelled in the Peak, so I don’t know how the seats perform with a full load, but this type of seating works well in the Overground’s Class 378 trains.

Note how the Class 378 seats have wider armrests and are not so open underneath. That vertical handrail in front of the seats can get in the way too!

The Class 378 trains were introduced in 2009, so the differences are probably down to eight years of design and advanced manufacturing.

Armrests

The armrests have received praise in some reports and they appear to work.

Note how in the metro-style seating the armrests have two levels.

Conclusion

As the first Aventra to enter service, it is a very good effort.

Certainly finding criticism of these interiors is difficult.

If you’re in London and want to go to the Olympic Park or the Eastfield Shopping Centre at Stratford, why not forsake the Jubilee and Central Lines of the Underground and take one of these new trains from Liverpool Street.

There are four trains in service at the present time, but by the end of the year, there will be eleven, so there is an improving chance you’ll get a ride in the best commuter train, in which I’ve ever ridden.

 

September 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 3 Comments

The Rise Of One-Platform Stations

As I was writing DfT Names Five Winners Of Fresh £16m Stations Fund,  I came to the conclusion that a lot of well-designed one-platform stations have been built since the turn of the millennium.

New one-platform stations include.

  • Alloa – Scotland – Reopened 2008 – Commuter and terminal station
  • Alesbury Vale Parkway – Bucks – Opened 2008 – Park-and-Ride, commuter and terminal station.
  • Beauly – Scotland – Reopened 2002 – £250,000 – 75% of local commuters switched from road to rail.
  • Brunstane – Scotland – Opened 2002 – Commuter station
  • Chandler’s Ford – Hampshire – Reopened 2003 – Commuter station
  • Chatelherault – Scotland – Reopened 2005 – Commuter station.
  • Conon Bridge – Scotland – Reopened 2013 – £600,000 – Local station
  • Cranbrook – Devon – Opened 2015 – Commuter station
  • Ebbw Vale Parkway – Wales – Opened 2008 – Park-and-Ride and commuter station.
  • Ebbw Vale Town – Opened 2015 – Commuter and terminal station.
  • Eskbank – Scotland – Opened 2015 – Commuter station
  • Fishguard and Goodwick – Wales – Reopened 2012 – £325,000 – Local station and bus interchange.
  • Galashiels – Scotland – Reopened 2015 – Commuter station and bus interchange.
  • Gorebridge – Scotland – Opened 2015 – Commuter station
  • James Cook – Teeside – Opened 2014 – £2.2million – Serves the hospital
  • Kelvindale – Scotland – Reopened 2005 – Commuter station
  • Llanhilleth – Wales – Reopened 2008 – Commuter station
  • Merryton – Scotland – Opened 2005 – Commuter station
  • Newbridge – Wales – Reopened 2008 – Commuter station
  • Newcourt – Devon – Opened 2015 – £4million – Commuter station.
  • Newcraighall – Scotland – Opened 2002 – Park-and-Ride
  • Newtongrange – Scotland – Opened 2015 – Commuter station
  • Pye Corner – Wales – £3.5million – Commuter station
  • Rogerstone – Wales – Opened 2008 – Commuter station

That is a total of twenty-four stations including three termini since 2000.

Several of the stations are on three reopened or new lines.

The three routes have sections of single-track.

How many more one-platform stations will we see in the next few years?

  • They must be more affordable.
  • They don’t need expensive pedestrian bridges.
  • They are usually step-free.
  • They can be as long as you need
  • They are ideal for single-track lines without electrification.

On the other hand there may be signalling and safety issues.

Integrated Design Of Rail Routes, Stations And Trains

If you look at the design of a new or reopened railway line like the Borders Railway, there have been various complaints from residents, commuters, railway purists and tourists.

  • Why wasn’t it built as double-track throughout?
  • There is no siding to help if a train brakes down.
  • Parking is insufficient.
  • The capacity of the trains is small.
  • The trains are old and tired.
  • The trains perform poorly.

A lot of the complaints can be blamed on the need to deliver the railway on a minimum cost.

But, I also believe that if the line had been designed to fit around a small fleet of trains, designed specifically for the route, then more money could have been saved and the railway would offer a better service to everyone.

Imagine a train with these characteristics.

  • At least four comfortable carriages.
  • Ability to run on electricity, where 25 KVAC overhead electrification is available.
  • Ability to run on diesel or batteries, where there is no electrification.
  • Change of power mode would be automatic and at line speed.
  • Level access to Harrington Humps at all stations for those needing step-free access.
  • Integrated CCTV between train and stations, so train crew can check if there are any possible problems or passengers who need assistance as they approach a station.
  • Wi-fi and 4G, although the latter might be difficult on the Borders Railway.
  • An onboard ticket machine, so late passengers can board without a ticket and the conductor is busy.

The train doesn’t need to be new, but designed for the route and of refurbished to a high standard.

I believe that train designers can come up with a train that would be more efficient to operate at stations, so that time-keeping would be spot on.

A Rail Link To Saint Andrews

I will use this rail link as an example, because of the importance of the historic City and its links to golf.

The length of the route by road between Leuchars station and Saint Andrews is 5.8 miles.

This is not much longer than the 4.4 miles of the Greenford Branch Line in West London, which has a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

The service is provided by a single Class 165 train. So I suspect, a single train could maintain a two tph shuttle between Leuchars station and Saint Andrews.

The minimum infrastructure to sustain this two tph service would be as follows.

  • A single bay platform at Leuchars station.
  • A single platform terminus at Saint Andrews.
  • Perhaps a single platform station for golfing visitors convenient for the courses.
  • All platforms would be able to handle six car trains.
  • A single track would connect all the stations.

But surely this is not good enough for Saint Andrews.

  • A passing loop could be provided at halfway.
  • There must also be the possibility of a triangular junction to link the rail link to the main line.

Doing both, might allow four tph and direct trains from Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow to Saint Andrews.

 

 

 

July 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment