The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On Faster Trains On Thameslink

The Class 700 trains used by Thameslink only have an operating speed of 100 mph.

I do wonder, if that is a fast enough operating speed for all Thameslink routes.

Sharing The Midland Main Line With 125 mph Trains

A couple of years ago, I travelled back into St. Pancras with a group of East Midlands drivers in a Class 222 train.

They told me several things about the route including that the bridge at the South of Leicester station would be difficult to electrify, as it was low and the track couldn’t be lowered as one of Leicester’s main sewers was under the tracks at the bridge. Perhaps, this is one place, where discontinuous electrification could be used on the Midland Main Line.

They also told me, that sometimes the Thameslink trains were a nuisance, as because of their 100 mph operating speed, the 125 mph Class 222 trains had to slow to 100 mph.

Upgrading Of The Midland Main Line South Of Bedford

The electrification of the Midland Main Line South of Bedford is being updated, so that it is suitable for 125 mph running.

An Analysis Of Services On The Midland Main Line South Of Bedford

The current Class 222 trains are capable of 125 mph and will be replaced by Class 810 trains capable of the same speed on both diesel and electricity.

Currently, a Class 222 train is capable of doing the following on a typical non-stop run between St. Pancras and Leicester.

  • Covering the 30 miles between St. Albans and Bedford in 17 minutes at an average speed of 106 mph.
  • Covering the 50.3 miles between Bedford and Leicester in 30 minutes at an average speed of 100.6 mph.
  • Maintaining 125 mph for long stretches of the route, once the trains is North of London commuter traffic at St. Albans

I can estimate the timings on the 79.2 miles between Leicester and St. Albans, by assuming the train runs at a constant speed.

  • 100 mph – 47.5 minutes
  • 110 mph – 43.2 minutes
  • 125 mph – 38 minutes
  • 140 mph – 34 minutes

Note.

  1. I have done the calculation for 140 mph, as that is the maximum operating speed of the Class 810 train with full in-cab digital signalling.
  2. Trains have been running at 125 mph for a couple of decades on the Midland Main Line.
  3. To get a St. Pancras and Leicester time add another 14 minutes, which is the current time between St. Pancras and St. Albans of a Class 222 train.
  4. Some Off Peak trains are timed at 62-63 minutes between St. Pancras and Leicester.
  5. A time of under an hour between St. Pancras and Leicester might be possible and the Marketing Department would like it.
  6. As Thameslink trains between Bedford and St. Albans stop regularly, they are on the slow lines of the four-track railway, to the North of St. Albans.
  7. South of St. Albans, Thameslink trains often run on the fast lines.

I can expect that East Midlands Railway will want to be running their new Class 810 trains as far as far South as they can at 125 mph, to speed up their services. When the signalling allows it, they’ll want to run at 140 mph.

So they won’t want to see Thameslink’s slow trains on the fast lines.

  • But if you look at the Thameslink trains that do run on the fast lines between St. Albans and St. Pancras, they appear to be the four trains per hour (tph) that run to and from Bedford.
  • Of these trains, two tph terminate at Brighton and two tph terminate at Gatwick Airport.
  • The average speed of a Class 222 train between St. Albans and St. Pancras assuming 14 minutes for the 19.7 miles is 84.4 mph.

So it looks to me that a 100 mph Thameslink train could be able to get away without slowing the East Midland Railway expresses.

But then that is not surprising, as for many years, the Class 222 trains worked happily with 100 mph Class 319 trains.

Is There Scope For Extra And Faster Services Into St. Pancras?

I have only done a simple calculation, but I do wonder if there is scope for the following.

  • Increasing the frequency of trains for both Thameslink and East Midlands Railway.
  • Saving a few minutes on East Midlands Railway services.

Consider.

  • The new Class 810 electric trains will probably have better acceleration and deceleration than the current Class 222 diesel trains, when working using electric power.
  • East Midlands Railway is introducing Class 360 trains that were built as 100 mph trains by Siemens, who are now upgrading them to 110 mph trains.
  • Can Siemens do the same for the Class 700 trains and create a sub-fleet capable of 110 mph running?
  • All trains will be running under full in-cab digital signalling with a large degree of automatic train control.

I feel that if the Class 700 trains had the extra speed, they would make the planning of services South of St. Albans easier and allow the Class 810 trains to both run faster and provide more services.

Sharing The East Coast Main Line With 125 mph Trains

The following Thameslink services run up the East Coast Main Line past Stevenage.

  • Cambridge And Brighton – Two tph – Stops at Royston, Ashwell and Morden (1 tph), Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage, Finsbury Park, London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Balcombe, Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill
  • Cambridge and Kings Cross – Two tph – Stops at Foxton, Shepreth, Meldreth, Royston, Ashwell and Morden, Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • Peterborough and Horsham – Two tph – Stops at Huntingdon, St Neots, Sandy, Biggleswade, Arlesey, Hitchin, Stevenage, Finsbury Park, London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Horley, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Crawley, Ifield, Faygate (limited) and Littlehaven

Note.

  1. Services are generally run by Class 700 trains, although lately the Kings Cross service seems to use Class 387 trains, which have a maximum speed of 110 mph and a more comfortable interior with tables.
  2. It is intended that the Cambridge and Kings Cross service will be extended to Maidstone East by 2021.

In addition there are two Cambridge Express and Fen Line services.

  • Kings Cross and Ely – One tph – Stops at Cambridge and Cambridge North.
  • Kings Cross and King’s Lynn – One tph – Stops at Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely, Littleport, Downham Market and Watlington

Note.

  1. These services are generally run by Class 387 trains.
  2. Cambridge and King’s Cross is timetabled at around fifty minutes.

Adding all of this together means that slower services on the East Coast Main Line are comprised of the following in both directions.

  • Three tph – 110 mph – Class 387 trains
  • Four tph – 100 mph – Class 700 trains

These seven trains will have to be fitted in with the 125 mph trains running services on the East Coast Main Line, for LNER, Grand Central, Hull Trains and East Coast Trains.

There are also the following problems.

  • All trains must navigate the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station.
  • The King’s Cross and Cambridge service stops in Welwyn North station.
  • Full in-cab digital signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line, which could increase the speed of the expresses through the double-track section.

Could the introduction of the Class 387 trains on the Cambridge and King’s Cross service have been made, as it easier to fit in all the services if this one is run by a 110 mph train?

However, the full in-cab digital signalling with a degree of automatic train control could be the solution to this bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line.

  • Trains could be controlled automatically and with great precision between perhaps Hatfield and Stevenage.
  • Some expresses might be slowed to create gaps for the Cambridge and Peterborough services.
  • The Hertford Loop Line is also getting full in-cab digital signalling, so will some services be sent that way?

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked about a proposal to improve services on the Fen Line. This was my first three paragraphs.

The title of this post, is the same as that on an article in Edition 849 of Rail Magazine.

The article is based on this document on the Fen Line Users Aoociation web site, which is entitled Joint Response To Draft East Coast Main Line Route Study.

In addition to ETCS, which could improve capacity on the East Coast Main Line, they would also like to see journey time reductions using trains capable of running at 125 mph or faster on the King’s Lynn to Kings Cross route.

My scheduling experience tells me that a better solution will be found, if all resources are similar.

Hence the proposal to run 125 mph trains between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn and probably Ely as well, could be a very good and logical idea.

If the Class 700 trains were increased in speed to 110 mph, the trains through the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line would be.

  • One tph – 110 mph – Class 387 trains
  • Four tph – 110 mph – Class 700 trains
  • Two tph – 125 mph – New trains

Note.

  1. This would probably be an easier mix of trains to digest with the high speed services, through the double-track section.
  2. I like the idea of extending the Ely service to Norwich to give Thetford, Attleborough and Wymondham an improved service to London, Cambridge and Norwich.

The new trains would probably be a version of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.

  • It would need to be capable of 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line.
  • If the Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, this section would be on battery power.

There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

But as with on the Midland Main Line, it looks like for efficient operation, the operating speed of the Class 700 trains on the route needs to be increased to at least 110 mph.

Could Faster Class 700 trains Improve Services To Brighton?

These are the Thameslink services that serve Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough, that I believe could be run more efficiently with trains capable of at running at speeds of at least 110 mph.

  • Bedford and Brighton – Two tph
  • Bedford and Gatwick Airport – Two tph
  • Cambridge and Brighton – Two tph
  • Cambridge and Maidstone East – Two tph
  • Peterborough and Horsham – Two tph

Note.

  1. I have assumed that the Cambridge and King’s Cross service has been extended to Maidstone East as planned.
  2. Eight tph serve Gatwick Airport.
  3. Four tph serve Brighton.

The Gatwick Express services have a frequency of two tph between London Victoria and Brighton calling at Gatwick Airport is already run by 110 mph Class 387 trains.

It would appear that if the Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough were run by uprated 110 mph Class 700 trains, then this would mean that more 110 mph trains would be running to Gatwick and Brighton and this must surely improve the service to the South Coast.

But it’s not quite as simple as that, as the Cambridge and Maidstone East services will be run by eight-car trains and all the other services by twelve-car trains.

Conclusion

There would appear to be advantages in uprating some or possibly all of the Class 700 trains, so that they can run at 110 mph, as it will increase capacity on the Brighton Main Line, East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line.

 

 

April 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roger Ford’s Cunning Plan

In the February 2020 of Modern Railways, there is an article called LNER Procurement, which has been written by Roger Ford.

It is Roger’s reply to an article in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, which was entitled LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes.

He starts by describing the requirement and then says this.

Would any fleet engineer in his or her right mind want to add a unique sub-fleet of 10 high speed trains to an existing successful fleet, even if they were hydrogen-electric tri-modes from the respected Kim Chong t’ae Electric Locomotive Works?

In my analysis of the December 2020 article, I wrote this post with the same name, where I said this, under a heading of More Azumas?

Surely, It would require a very innovative train at perhaps a rock-bottom price from another manufacturer, for LNER to not acquire extra Azumas.

So it would appear that Roger and myself are vaguely in agreement on the subject of more Azumas.

The last section of the article has a title of Cunning.

Roger puts forward, the view that the procurement process, as well as being compatible with EU law, could be a warning to Hitachi, to make sure that LNER get a good deal.

It certainly could be, and I remember a similar maneuver by ICI around 1970.

The company was buying a lot of expensive IBM 360 computers.

ICI needed a new computer to do scientific calculations at their Central Instrument Research Establishment (CIRL) at Pangbourne in Berkshire.

  • English Electric had just released a clone of an IBM 360 and were keen to sell it to ICI.
  • As it would do everything that ICI wanted, they bought one.
  • It worked well and did everything that CIRL wanted at a cheaper price.

IBM’s reaction was supposedly quick and dramatic. The salesman who dealt with ICI, was immediately fired!

But as ICI had about a dozen large IBM computers, there wasn’t much they could do to one of the most important and largest UK companies.

IBM also made sure, that ICI got their next computer at a good price.

I’m with Roger that all the shenanigans are a warning to Hitachi.

Roger finishes the article with these two paragraphs.

A genuine bluff would have been to seek bids for the long-term deployment of remanufactured IC225s. Which in these straitened times could still turn out to be a more viable option.

I rather fancy the idea of a hydrogen-electric Class 91. Owner Eversholt Rail might even have played along on the understanding that it funded the inevitable hybrid Azumas.

Note that IC225s are InterCity 225 trains.

  • The 31 trains, were built for  British Rail in the 1980s.
  • They are hauled by a 4.83 MW Class 91 locomotive, which is usually at the Northern end of the train.
  • Nine Mark 4 coaches and a driving van trailer complete the train.
  • As with the Hitachi Azumas (Class 800 and Class 801 trains), they are capable of operating at 140 mph on lines where digital in-cab ERTMS signalling has been installed.

I just wonder, if a Class 91 locomotive could be to the world’s first 140 mph hydrogen-electric locomotive.

Consider the following.

Dynamics

The wheels, bogies and traction system were designed by British Rail Engineering Ltd, who were the masters of dynamics. This is a sentence from the locomotive’s Wikipedia entry.

Unusually, the motors are body mounted and drive bogie-mounted gearboxes via cardan shafts. This reduces the unsprung mass and hence track wear at high speeds.

That is a rather unique layout. But it obviously works, as otherwise these locomotives would have been scrapped decades ago.

I believe the quality dynamics are because BREL owned a PACE 231R for a start, which was an analogue computer, that was good enough for NASA to use two computers like this to calculate how to put a man on the moon.

London and Edinburgh is a slightly shorter distance, run at a somewhat slower speed.

Space

This picture shows a Class 91 locomotive.

What is in the space in the rear end of the nearly twenty metre-long locomotive?

This sentence from the Wikipedia entry for the locomotive gives a clue.

The locomotive also features an underslung transformer, so that the body is relatively empty compared to contemporary electric locomotives.

It also states that much of the layout came from the APT-P, which was a version of the tilting Advanced Passenger Train.

Would the space be large enough for a tank of hydrogen and some form of generator that used the hydrogen as fuel?

It should be noted that one version of the APT used a gas-turbine engine, so was the locomotive designed for future use as a bi-mode?

Fuel Cells

I’ve ignored fuel cells, as to get the amount of power needed, the fuel cells could be too large for the locomotive.

Class 91 Locomotive Performance

The performance of a Class 91 locomotive is as follows.

  • Power output – 4.83 MW
  • Operating speed – 140 mph
  • Record Speed – 161 mph

Not bad for a 1980s locomotive.

Required Performance Using Hydrogen Fuel

If the locomotives were only needed to use hydrogen to the North of the electrification from London, the locomotive would need to be able to haul a rake of coaches twice on the following routes.

  • Aberdeen and Edinburgh Haymarket – 130 miles
  • Inverness and Stirling – 146 miles

A range of three hundred miles would be sufficient.

The locomotive would need refuelling at Aberdeen and Inverness.

The operating speed of both routes is nowhere near 140 mph and I suspect that a maximum speed of 100 mph on hydrogen, pulling or pushing a full-size train, would probably be sufficient.

When you consider that a nine-car Class 800 train has five 560 kW diesel engines, that give a total power of 2.8 MW, can carry 611 passengers and an InterCity 225 can only carry 535, I don’t think that the power required under hydrogen will be as high as that needed under electricity.

Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce have developed a 2.5 MW generator, that is the size of a beer keg. I wrote about it in Our Sustainability Journey.

Could one of these incredibly-powerful generators provide enough power to speed an InterCity 225 train, through the Highlands of Scotland to Aberdeen and Inverness, at speeds of up to 100 mph.

I would give it a high chance of being a possible dream.

Application Of Modern Technology

I do wonder, if the locomotive’s cardan shaft drive could be improved by modern technology.

These pictures show Joseph Bazalgette’s magnificent Abbey Mills Pumping station in East London.

A few years ago, Thames Water had a problem. Under the pumping station are Victorian centrifugal pumps that pump raw sewage to Beckton works for treatment. These are connected to 1930s electric motors in Dalek-like structures on the ground floor, using heavy steel shafts. The motors are controlled from the control panel in the first image.

The shafts were showing signs of their age and needed replacement.

So Thames Water turned to the experts in high-power transmission at high speed – Formula One.

The pumps are now connected to the electric motors, using high-strength, lower-weight carbon-fibre shafts.

Could this and other modern technology be used to update the cardan shafts and other parts of these locomotives?

Could The Locomotives Use Regenerative Braking To Batteries?

I’ll start by calculating the kinetic energy of a full InterCity 225 train.

  • The Class 91 locomotive weighs 81.5 tonnes
  • Nine Mark 4 coaches weigh a total of 378 tonnes
  • A driving van trailer weighs 43.7 tonnes.
  • This gives a total weight of 503.2 tonnes.

Assuming that each of the 535 passengers, weighs 90 Kg with babies, baggage, bikes and buggies, this gives a passenger weight of 48.15 tonnes or a total train weight of 551.35 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, gives the following values at different speeds.

  • 100 mph – 153 kWh
  • 125 mph – 239 kWh
  • 140 mph – 300 kWh

I think, that a 300 kWh battery could be fitted into the back of the locomotive, along with the generator and the fuel tank.

With new traction motors, that could handle regenerative braking, this would improve the energy efficiency of the trains.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Sustainable aviation fuel produced by companies like Altalto would surely be an alternative to hydrogen.

  • It has been tested by many aerospace companies in large numbers of gas turbines.
  • As it has similar properties to standard aviation fuel, the handling rules are well-known.

When produced from something like household waste, by Altalto, sustainable aviation fuel is carbon-neutral and landfill-negative.

ERTMS Signalling And Other Upgrades

Full ERTMS digital signalling will needed to be fitted to the trains to enable 140 mph running.

Conclusion

I believe it is possible to convert a Class 91 locomotive into a hydrogen-electric locomotive with the following specification.

  • 4.83 MW power on electricity.
  • 140 mph on electrification
  • 2.5 MW on hydrogen power.
  • 100 mph on hydrogen
  • Regenerative braking to battery.

If it were easier to use sustainable aviation fuel, that may be a viable alternative to hydrogen, as it is easier to handle.

 

February 3, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Class 93 Locomotive Hauling A Train Between The Port Of Felixstowe And Wentloog

I am looking at this trip in detail, to see how a Class 93 locomotive could change this journey.

Where Is Wentloog?

Wentloog is a Rail Freight Interchange, run by Freightliner, a few miles to the East of Cardiff.

This Google Map shows the interchange.

Note the electrified Great Western Main Line between London and Cardiff giving rail access to freight trains.

Sections Of The Route

The route can be divided into these sections.

  • Port of Felixstowe and Trimley – 2.3 miles – 7 minutes – 19.7 mph –  Not Electrified
  • Trimley and Ipswich – 14 miles – 60 minutes -14 mph – Not Electrified
  • Ipswich and Stratford – 64.6 miles – 77 minutes – 50.3 mph – Electrified
  • Stratford and Acton Wells Junction – 12.5 miles – 72 minutes – 10.4 mph – Electrified
  • Acton Wells Junction and Acton Main Line – 0.7 miles – 3 minutes -14 mph – Possibly Electrified
  • Acton Main Line and Wentloog – 134.3 miles – 249 minutes -32.4 mph – Electrified

Note.

  1. Nearly, all the route is electrified.
  2. I am not sure if between Acton Wells Junction and Acton Main Line is electrified.

The journey takes nearly eight hours.

These are my thoughts on how the various sections would be handled.

Port of Felixstowe And Trimley

As I stated in Rail Access To The Port Of Felixstowe, I would electrify the short section between the Port of Felixstowe And Trimley. This would do the following.

  • Charge the batteries on trains entering the Port, so they could operate in the Port without using diesel.
  • Charge batteries on trains leaving the Port, so that they could have a power boost to Ipswich.
  • The trains could be accelerated to operating speed using the electrification.

There would also be no use of diesel to the East of Trimley, which I’m sure the residents of Felixstowe would like.

Trimley and Ipswich

This section would be on diesel, with any energy left in the battery used to cut diesel running through Ipswich.

Ipswich And Stratford

Consider

  • Ipswich and Stratford is a 100 mph fully-electrified line.
  • A passenger train can do the route in an hour.

There must be savings to be made! Especially, if all trains between Ipswich and Liverpool Street are 100 mph electrically-hauled trains.

Stratford and Acton Wells Junction

The North London Line is getting increasingly busy and as it goes through the middle of residential areas, there will be increasing pressure for all trains to be electric, to cut noise and pollution.

In A North London Line With Digital Signalling, I wrote about the benefits of adding digital signalling on the North London Line.

I suspect in a few years time all freight trains using the North London Line will be electrically-hauled and will use digital ERTMS signalling, so that more trains can be squeezed onto the North London Line, so that increasing numbers of freight trains can travel between Felixstowe, London Gateway and Tilbury in the East and Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Scotland and other destinations in the North and West.

Locomotives like the Class 93 locomotive will become an increasingly common sight on the line.

Acton Wells Junction and Acton Main Line

This connection between the North London Line and the Great Western Main Line will surely, be electrified, if it has not been done already, so that electric freight trains can go between the two routes.

Acton Main Line and Wentloog

Consider

  • Acton Main Line and Wentloog is a fully-electrified line.
  • The operating speed is up to 125 mph
  • A passenger train can do the route in just under 100 minutes.

There must be savings to be made! Especially, if all trains between London and Cardiff are electrically-hauled trains, capable of upwards of 100 mph.

Conclusion

There would be very worthwhile time and diesel savings, by running the Felixstowe and Wentloog service using a Class 93 locomotive.

How many other services to and from Felixstowe, London Gateway and Tilbury would be improved by being hauled by a Class 93 locomotive?

I suspect, it’s not a small number, that can be counted on your fingers and toes.

January 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hull Station

On my recent visit to Hull station I took these pictures.

This Google Map shows the station.

These are my thoughts on the station .

Platforms

Consider.

  • The station has seven platforms, which are numbers 1 to 7 from South to North.
  • My Hull Trains service from London arrived in the Northernmost platform, which is numbered 7.
  • Most Hull Trains services seem to use this platform.
  • LNER services also seem to use Platform 7.
  • Platforms 4, 5 and 6 seem to be the same length as Platform 7
  • A friendly station guy told me, that LNER have run nine-car Class 800 trains into the station. These trains are 234 metres long.
  • My pictures show that Platform 7 is more than adequate for Hull Train’s five-car Class 802 train, which is 130 metres long.
  • The platforms are wide.

This second Google Map shows the Western platform ends.

It looks to me, that the station should be capable of updating to have at least four platforms capable of taking trains, that are 200 metres long.

Current Long Distance Services To Hull Station

There are currently, two long distance services that terminate at Hull station.

  • One train per hour (tph) – Manchester Piccadilly – two hours
  • Eight trains per day (tpd) – London Kings Cross – two hours and forty-four minutes

Both services are run by modern trains.

Improvements To The Current London And Hull Service

I believe Hull Trains and LNER will run between London Kings Cross and Hull using battery-equipped versions of their Hitachi trains, within the next three years.

The trains will also be upgraded to make use of the digital in-cab signalling, that is being installed South of Doncaster, which will allow 140 mph running.

In Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, I estimated that this could enable a two hours and thirty minute time between London Kings Cross and Hull.

It is very likely that the service will be hourly.

Hull Station As A High Speed Station

Plans for High Speed Two are still fluid, but as I said in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, there is a possibility, that High Speed Two could be extended from Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly to Leeds and ultimately to Newcastle and Hull.

In that post, I felt that services across the Pennines could be something like.

  • High Speed Two – Two tph between London and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds
  • High Speed Two – One tph between London and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Newcastle.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – One tph between Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Newcastle.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Two tph between Liverpool and Sheffield via Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Two tph between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds

There would be four tph between Manchester Airport and Hull via Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds and other intermediate stations.

I estimate that the following timings would be possible.

  • London Euston and Hull – two hours and 10 minutes – Currently two hours and forty-four minutes to London Kings Cross
  • Liverpool and Hull – one hour and thirty minutes – No direct service
  • Manchester and Hull – one hour and three minutes – Currently two hours

As I said earlier London Kings Cross and Hull could be only twenty minutes longer by the classic route on the East Coast Main Line.

I think it will be likely, that both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail will use similar High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains, which will have the following characteristics.

  • Two hundred metres long
  • Ability to run in pairs
  • 225 mph on High Speed Two
  • 125 mph and up to 140 mph on Classic High Speed Lines like East Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and West Coast Main Line and sections of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

It would appear that as Hull station can already handle a nine-car Class 800 train, which is 234 metre long, it could probably handle the proposed High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

I could see the following numbers of high speed trains terminating at Hull in a typical hour would be as follows.

  • Two High Speed Two trains from London Euston
  • Two Northern Powerhouse Trains from Liverpool Lime Street
  • One Hull Trains/LNER train from London Kings Cross

As Hull already has four platforms, that can accept 200 metre long trains, I don’t think the station will have any capacity problems.

Charging Battery Trains At Hull Station

If Hull Trains, LNER and TransPennine Express, decide to convert their Class 800 and Class 802 trains, that run to and from Hull to Hitachi Regional Battery Trains, they will need charging at Hull station, to be able to reach the electrification of the East Coast Main Line at Temple Hirst Junction.

In Thoughts On The Design Of Hitachi’s Battery Electric Trains, I said this about having a simple charger in a station.

At stations like Hull and Scarborough, this charger could be as simple as perhaps forty metres of 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

    • The train would stop in the station at the appropriate place.
    • The driver would raise the pantograph.
    • Charging would start.
    • When the battery is fully-charged, the driver would lower the pantograph.

This procedure could be easily automated and the overhead wire could be made electrically dead, if no train is connected.

Platforms 4 to 7 could be fitted out in this manner, to obtain maximum operational flexibility.

Full Electrification Of Hull Station

Full electrification of Hull station would also allow charging of any battery electric trains.

I would hope, that any partial electrification carried out to be able to charge trains would be expandable to a full electrification for the station and the connecting rail lines.

A Full Refurbishment

The station would need a full refurbishment and a possible sorting out of the approaches to the station.

But this type of project has been performed at Kings Cross and Liverpool Lime Street in recent years, so the expertise is certainly available.

These pictures are of Liverpool Lime Street station.

I could see Hull station being refurbished to this standard.

Conclusion

It is my belief that Hull would make a superb terminal station for both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail

In the interim, it could be quickly developed as a modern terminal for long-distance battery electric trains to make services across the Pennines and to London zero carbon.

The work could also be organised as a series of smaller work packages, without interrupting train services to and from Hull.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

!40 mph Electric Trains At Kings Cross Station

This picture shows LNER’s old and new 140 mph electric trains at Kings Cross station.

On the left is a nine-car Class 801 train.

  • Introduced into service in 2019
  • 234 metres long
  • Capacity – 510 Standard and 101 First
  • One diesel engine for emergency power.

On the right is an InterCity 225.

Both trains are designed for 140 mph and will be able to attain this speed, when in-cab digital signalling is available.

It looks like LNER will have the following full-size electric fleet.

  • Thirty Class 801 trains
  • Seven InterCity 225 trains and spare coaches, driving van trailers and locomotives.

Both trains will be able to work any route with full electrification.

Changes In The Future To LNER Services

I predict that the following will happen.

140 mph Running Between Woolmer Green And Doncaster

This will happen and the following trains will take advantage.

The odd ones out will be Grand Central’s Class 180 trains, which are diesel and only capable of 125 mph.

How long will the other train operating companies accept slow trains on the 140 mph railway?

Digital In-Cab Signalling And 140 mph Running Will Speed Up Services

In Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, I said that following train times would be possible., in addition to a London Kings Cross and Leeds time of two hours.

  • London Kings Cross and Bradford Forster Square – two hours and thirty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Harrogate – two hours and thirty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Huddersfield – two hours and twenty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Hull – two hours and thirty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Middlesbrough – two hours and thirty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Scarborough – two hours and thirty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Skipton – two hours and thirty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and York – two hours

Note.

  1. All timings would be possible with Hitachi Class 80x trains.
  2. Timings on Fully-electrified routes would be possible with InterCity 225 trains.

It appears that Grand Central will be stuck in the slow lane.

Grand Central Will Acquire Hitachi Trains Or Give Up

Grand Central‘s destinations of Bradford Interchange and Sunderland can’t be reached by all-electric trains, so will either have to follow Hull Trains and purchase Hitachi bi-mode trains or give up their routes.

The Diesel Engines In The Class 801 Trains Will Be Replaced By Batteries

East Coast Trains’ Class 803 trains have a slightly different powertrain to LNER’s Class 801 trains, which is explained like this in Wikipedia.

Unlike the Class 801, another non-bi-mode AT300 variant which despite being designed only for electrified routes carries a diesel engine per unit for emergency use, the new units will not be fitted with any, and so would not be able to propel themselves in the event of a power failure. They will however be fitted with batteries to enable the train’s on-board services to be maintained, in case the primary electrical supplies would face a failure.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar battery system fitted to the Class 801 trains.

The Diesel Engines In Hull Trains Class 802 Trains Will Be Replaced By Batteries

In Hull Issues New Plea For Electrification, I showed how Hitachi’s Class 802 trains with batteries instead of diesel engines could work long-distance services to and from Hull.

This will happen, as electric trains to London, would be a dream for a marketing man or woman.

Will The InterCity 225 Trains Lose Some First Class Seats?

This may happen, so that the seating layout in both trains is almost identical.

I’m certain, that it could be arranged, that seat numbers in both trains could have a similar position.

This would mean that if an InterCity 225 train replaced a Class 801 train, there wouldn’t need to be a seat reallocation.

Could InterCity 225 Trains Be Fitted With Emergency Batteries?

If LNER thought they were needed, I’m sure that this would be possible and Hyperdrive Innovation would oblige!

Conclusion

British Rail last hurrah, is giving Hitachi’s latest trains, a run for their money!

 

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line

I came up to Doncaster yesterday on a new Hull Trains Class 802 train.

According to my pocket dynamometer car, the train seemed to be at or nearly at 125 mph, most of the time I looked from possibly around Stevenage to just South of Doncaster.

I came back today on an LNER Class 801 train and the train’s performance seemed very similar.

I also noted the following.

  • The two stops at Newark and Peterborough, took seven and nine minutes respectively from the start of slowing for the station until back up to speed.
  • Between Peterborough and Stevenage the train kept below a maximum of 110 mph.
  • The train went through the two tunnels before Welwyn North station and the station itself at 75 mph.
  • I timed the train at 100 mph over the Digswell Viaduct, when it reached the South side after accelerating on the viaduct.
  • 90 mph was maintained between Potters Bar and New Southgate stations.
  • Speed gradually reduced from New Southgate into Kings Cross.

Note.

  1. 125 mph is the maximum allowable speed of the train.
  2. The 110 mph running was probably to be compatible with the Class 387 trains.
  3. I will do the trip again and get some accurate figures.

It appears to me, that the driver was obeying a simple but fast plan.

The Wikipedia entry for the East Coast Main Line, says this about the opiating speed of the line, with the new trains.

Increasing maximum speeds on the fast lines between Woolmer Green and Dalton-on-Tees up to 140 mph (225 km/h) in conjunction with the introduction of the Intercity Express Programme, level crossing closures, ETRMS fitments, OLE rewiring and the OLE PSU – est. to cost £1.3 billion (2014). This project is referred to as “L2E4” or London to Edinburgh (in) 4 Hours. L2E4 examined the operation of the IEP at 140 mph on the ECML and the sections of track which can be upgraded to permit this, together with the engineering and operational costs

It also says this about the implementation of digital signalling.

A new Rail operating centre (ROC), with training facilities, opened in early 2014 at the “Engineer’s Triangle” in York. The ROC will enable signalling and day-to-day operations of the route to be undertaken in a single location. Signalling control/traffic management using ERTMS is scheduled to be introduced from 2020 on the ECML between London King’s Cross and Doncaster – managed from the York ROC.

The signalling could probably work in one of two ways.

  • The signalling tells the driver the required speed and they drive the train accordingly.
  • The signalling drives the train and the driver monitors what is happening.

Both methods are used in the UK.

A Possible London Kings Cross and Leeds Service

The combined affect of both track and signalling improvements is illustrated by this simple calculation.

  • As Dalton-on-Tees is North of Doncaster, the route between Woolmer Green and Doncaster should be possible to be run at 140 mph
  • Woolmer Green and Doncaster stations are 132.1 miles apart.
  • Non-stop York and London Kings Cross trains are currently timed at 70 minutes between Doncaster and Woolmer Green stations.
  • This is an average speed of 113.2 mph.

If 140 mph could be maintained between Doncaster and Woolmer Green, the section of the journey would take 56.6 minutes, which is a saving of 13.4 minutes.

Consider.

  • The fastest current trains between London Kings Cross and Leeds take between two hours and twelve minutes and two hours and fifteen minutes.
  • I suspect that the extra tracks into Kings Cross, that are currently being built will save a few minutes.
  • There must be some savings to be made between Doncaster and Leeds
  • There must be some savings to be made between London Kings Cross and Woolmer Green.
  • There could be a rearrangement of stops.

I think it is highly likely that in the future, there will be at least one train per hour (tph) between London Kings Cross and Leeds, that does the trip in two hours.

  • There is no reason why all London Kings Cross and Leeds trains could not take two hours.
  • London Kings Cross and Doncaster could be several minutes under an-hour-and-a-half.
  • High Speed Two is predicting one hour and twenty-one minutes for their future service  between London Euston and Leeds, which is a saving of 38 minutes.
  • London and Leeds in two hours will attract passengers.

There will be serious competition between London and Leeds.

Other Timing Improvements

I also think these times would be possible

  • London Kings Cross and Bradford Forster Square – two hours and thirty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Harrogate – two hours and thirty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Huddersfield – two hours and twenty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Hull – two hours and thirty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Middlesbrough – two hours and thirty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Scarborough – two hours and thirty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Sheffield – two hours
  • London Kings Cross and Skipton – two hours and thirty minutes
  • London Kings Cross and York – two hours

I would be fairly certain that London Kings Cross and Huddersfield could be slowed by ten minutes, which would give the London Kings Cross and Yorkshire a certain symmetry.

  • London Kings Cross and Leeds and York would take two hours.
  • London Kings Cross and all the others would take two hours and thirty minutes.

It would probably make arrangement of a fast timetable easier.

 

 

September 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Overhauls for LNER’s Remaining Class 91s And Mk 4s

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Eversholt Rail, which owns the trains, has confirmed that 12 London North Eastern Railway Class 91s and the remaining Mk 4 coaches will undergo overhauls at Wabtec Rail, Doncaster.

It had been expected, that LNER would purchase more trains, as I wrote about in More New Trains On LNER Wish List.

The article gives more details of the trains to be retained.

  • Twelve Class 91 locomotives, seven rakes of Mark 4 coaches and two spare coaches will be retained.
  • They will be confined to routes between London Kings Cross and Bradford, Leeds, Skipton and York.

How many trains will be needed to cover these routes?

  • Trains take two hours and fifteen minutes between London Kings Cross and Leeds and run at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph)
  • Trains take two hours and twenty-one minutes between London Kings Cross and York and run hourly.
  • I suspect that a round trip to Leeds or York can be five hours.

So a crude analysis says, that will mean fifteen trains will be needed,

But some of these trains will be extended past Leeds.

These are, electrification status and the times and distances between Leeds and the final destinations.

  • Bradford – Electrified – 22 minutes – 13.5 miles
  • Harrogate – Not Electrified – 40 minutes – 18 miles
  • Huddersfield – Not Electrified – 33 minutes – 17 miles
  • Skipton – Electrified  – 45 minutes – 26 miles

It appears that the following is true.

  • Trains serving Harrogate and Huddersfield must be worked by bi-mode Class 800 trains.
  • Trains serving Bradford and Skipton could be worked by InterCity 225 trains or an all-electric nine-car Class 801 train.

Note.

  1. Some times are those taken by LNER services and some are estimates from TransPennine Express.
  2. I have assumed 8-10 minutes for the Split-and-Join at Leeds and included it in the times.
  3. Class 800 trains seem to take around ten minutes to turnround at Harrogate.
  4. Times between London Kings Cross and Doncaster will decrease by a few minutes, with the addition of digital in-cab signalling on the route, which will allow 140 mph running by InterCity 225s, Class 800 trains and Class 801 trains.

I estimate that it will be possible for an InterCity 225, Class 800 train or Class 801 train to do a round trip between London Kings Cross and Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield or Skipton in six hours.

The round trip between London Kings Cross and York will be the five hours, I estimated earlier.

Wikipedia also says this.

LNER expects to introduce two-hourly services to Bradford and a daily service to Huddersfield in May 2020 when more Azuma trains have been introduced.

So would the pattern of trains to Leeds/York be as follows?

  • One tph – One pair of five-car Class 800 trains to Leeds, of which some or all split and join at Leeds, with one train going to and from Harrogate and the other going to and from Huddersfield.
  • One tph per two hours (tp2h) – An InterCity 225 or nine-car Class 801 train to Leeds, of which some or all are extended to Bradford.
  • One tp2h – An InterCity 225 or nine-car Class 801 train to Leeds, of which some or all are extended to Skipton.
  • One tph – An InterCity 225 or nine-car Class 801 train to York.

I estimate that it will be possible for an InterCity 225, Class 800 train or Class 801 train to do a round trip between London Kings Cross and Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield or Skipton in six hours.

This would need the following trains.

  • Six pairs of five-car Class 800 trains for the Harrogate and Huddersfield services.
  • Six full size all electric trains, which could be an InterCity 225, a nine-car Class 801 train or a pair of five Class 801 trains, for Bradford and Skipton services.
  • Five full size all electric trains, which could be an InterCity 225, a nine-car Class 801 train or a pair of Class 801 trains, for York services.

So why have LNER changed their mind and are retaining the InterCity 225?

Are InterCity 225 Trains Already Certified For 140 mph Running?

I wouldn’t be surprised, if a large part of the certification work for this had been done for 140 mph running and for it to be allowed, it needs digital in-cab signalling to be installed on the East Coast Main Line.

The Wikipedia entry for the InterCity 225 says this about the train’s performance.

The InterCity 225 has a top service speed of 140 mph (225 km/h); during a test run in 1989 on Stoke Bank between Peterborough and Grantham an InterCity 225 reached 162 mph (260.7 km/h). However, except on High Speed 1, which is equipped with cab signalling, British signalling does not allow trains to exceed 125 mph (201 km/h) in regular service, due to the impracticality of correctly observing lineside signals at high speed.

The Wikipedia entry for the East Coast Main Line says this about the future signalling.

A new Rail operating centre (ROC), with training facilities, opened in early 2014 at the “Engineer’s Triangle” in York. The ROC will enable signalling and day-to-day operations of the route to be undertaken in a single location. Signalling control/traffic management using ERTMS is scheduled to be introduced from 2020 on the ECML between London King’s Cross and Doncaster – managed from the York ROC.

A small fleet of InterCity 225 trains could be the ideal test fleet to find all the glitches in the new signalling.

Are InterCity 225 trains Already Certified To Run To Bradford and Skipton?

If they are, then that is another problem already solved.

A Fleet Of Seven Trains Would Cover Bradford And Skipton Services

Six trains are needed to run a one tp2h service to both Bradford and Skipton, so they could fully cover one tp2h to Bradford and occasional trains to Skipton with a spare train and one in maintenance.

Using InterCity 225s To Bradford and Skipton Would Not Require A Split-And-Join At Leeds

The number of trains that would Split-and-Join at Leeds would be only two tph instead  of four tph, which would be simpler with less to go wrong.

Not Enough Five-Car Bi-Mode Class 800 Trains

LNER’s full fleet of Azumas will be as follows.

  • 13 – Nine-car bi-mode Class 800 trains.
  • 10 – Five-car bi-mode Class 800 trains.
  • 30 – Nine-car electric Class 801 trains.
  • 12 – Five-car electric Class 801 trains.

This would appear to be a major problem, if Harrogate and Huddersfield were to be served hourly by Class 800 trains, existing services are to be maintained or even increased to Hull and Lincoln and extra services are to be added to Middlesbrough and perhaps Nottingham and other destinations.

The InterCity 225s only help indirectly, if they provided the London Kings Cross and Bradford and Skipton services.

Conversion Of Class 800 and Class 801 Trains To Regional Battery Trains

Hitachi have launched the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

For LNER, they will be useful for any Journey under about 90 kilometres or 56 miles.

The trains should be able to serve these routes.

  • Leeds and Harrogate and back – 36 miles
  • Leeds and Huddersfield and back – 34 miles
  • Newark and Lincoln and back – 33 miles
  • Northallerton and Middlesbrough and back – 42 miles

Whilst Class 800 trains and Class 801 trains are converted, the InterCity 225 trains would act as valuable cover on services like London to Leeds and York.

Conclusion

I think it is a good plan.

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

New MerseyRail ‘Connected’ Trains

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

It is an article that should be read, by anybody with an interest in either Merseyrail’s trains or modern urban rail networks in general. As Stadler, will be providing a fleet of trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro, I suspect a lot of the points made in the article can be expected to have parallels on that network as well.

What About The Signalling?

The article talks about the management of the signalling, but it says little about signalling in the future, although it does say that Merseyrail will be covered by a very high capacity digital network.

London’s Digital Signalling Revolution

In London, there are four tunnelled routes, that in a few years time will be running under full digital signalling.

  • Crossrail
  • East London Line
  • Northern and City Line
  • Thameslink

Note.

  1. Thameslink is already running upwards of twenty trains per hour (tph) using digital ERTMS signalling.
  2. Crossrail will be running 24 tph using digital ERTMS signalling.
  3. The East London Line currently handles 16 tph and will soon be handling 20 tph.
  4. The Northern and City Line will be going to digital ERTMS signalling, when it is applied to the Southern end of the East Coast Main Line.
  5. , In addition to the Circle, District, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern and Victoria Lines of the London Underground have digital signalling.
  6. Dear old Vicky is actually running 36 tph between two-platform stations at Brixton and Walthamstow Central.
  7. I wouldn’t bet against Vicky running the magic 40 tph, to become the most frequency line in the world.

All of these London systems, have one great advantage. In the tunnelled sections of the routes, there is generally only one class of fully digitally-equipped train, which must make system design and implementation easier.

Liverpool’s Digital Signalling Revolution

Consider.

  • As the article says, Merseyrail now has a world-class high-capacity digital network, that is accessible by all of its trains.
  • It has ordered 52 new Class 777 trains and has options for another sixty.
  • There are proposals to extend the Merseyrail network to Manchester, Preston, Skelmersdale, Warrington, Wigan and Wrexham.
  • The Northern Line runs at a frequency of 12 tph.
  • The Wirral Line runs at a frequency of 14 tph.
  • The loop Line has recently been relaid, so is probably high-quality track.

Compared to London’s tunnelled routes, the Northern and Wirral Lines are not handling a large number of trains.

But Liverpool now has a digital network to support the signalling and trains that could be upgraded to use it are arriving.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the maximum train frequency on Merseyrail is at least twenty tph or one train every three minutes.

What Would Twenty tph Do For The Wirral Line?

Currently, the following destinations are served by the Wirral Line and the services use the Loop under Liverpool City Centre.

Note.

  1. The current frequency around the Loop is 14 tph.
  2. Merseyrail is proposing to extend the Ellesmere Port service to Helsby, using battery-equipped Class 777 trains
  3. There is also an hourly service from Bidston to Wrexham Central in the Borderlands Line.
  4. I can see no technical reason why, the Bidston and Wrexham service could not be run using battery-equipped Class 777 trains and terminating in the Loop.

Surely, the ultimate twenty tph service on the Wirral Line would be as follows.

  • Chester – Four tph
  • Helsby via Ellesmere Port – Four tph
  • New Brighton – Four tph
  • West Kirby – Four tph
  • Wrexham Central – Four tph

All twenty tph would terminate in the Loop under Liverpool City Centre.

What Would Twenty tph Do For The Northern Line?

Currently, the following Northern destinations are served by the Northern Line.

And these Southern destinations are served.

Note.

  1. The current frequency, through the central section is 12 tph.
  2. There is a proposal, that I wrote about in Liverpool’s Forgotten Tunnel for the trains terminating at Liverpool Central station to use the Wapping Tunnel to connect to the City Line.
  3. There is a proposal to extend the Ormskirk service to Preston, using battery-equipped Class 777 trains.
  4. There is a proposal to extend the Kirkby service to Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale, using battery-equipped Class 777 trains.
  5. There must also be a possibility of a service that extends the Kirkby service to Wigan Wallgate, using battery-equipped Class 777 trains.

The service des appear to be biased towards the Northern end, with more possibilities there for extra trains than in the South.

This is why the plan to expand to the East through the Wapping Tunnel has evolved, as it gives the following possible destinations.

  • Manchester Oxford Road
  • Warrington Bank Quay
  • Warrington Central
  • Wigan North Western

Note.

  1. All destinations are currently served from Liverpool Lime Street by Northern.
  2. There must also be the possibility of a direct service to Liverpool Airport.
  3. There must also be the possibility of a service on the Canada Dock Branch to Bootle.

I can envisage between 12 and 16 tph through the Wapping Tunnel, which with the four tph to Hunts Cross could mean 16 to 20 tph on the Northern Line.

Conclusion

It would appear that a very frequent system can be developed on Merseyside, if frequencies common in London can be achieved.

 

August 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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 | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

£350m Investment For Britain’s First Mainline Digital Railway

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The East Coast Main Line will become Britain’s first mainline digital rail link with £350m of new investment to install state-of-the-art electronic signalling designed to cut journey times and prevent delays.

We’re finally going digital!

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment