The Anonymous Widower

East Coast Main Line Northern Power Supply Works Funded

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

As part of its £1·2bn East Coast Upgrade programme, Network Rail has awarded a £216·2m contract to the Rail Electrification Alliance for the long-awaited strengthening of the 25 kV 50 Hz traction power supplies on the northern section of the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Edinburgh.

It is much-needed. if the planned extra electric services are to be run on the route.

These could include.

  • East Coast Train‘s new London and Edinburgh service.
  • Extra TransPennine Express services and some services converting from diesel traction.
  • Extra LNER services to Middlesbrough and other destinations.
  • Conversion of Grand Central services to electric or bi-mode traction.

Will Freightliner use some of its new fleet of thirteen Class 90 locomotives on the route?

Will News Of The Upgrade Bring Forth Train And Locomotive Orders?

I wonder if this could happen.

Freight operators need to decarbonise, but surely there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation on the East Coast Main Line, as there’s no point in ordering electric locomotives for the route, until you have a date, from when they can be used.

Conclusion

This upgrade will have some very good xonsequences.

September 21, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stevenage Station’s New Fifth Platform Opened A Year Early

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A new £40 million platform and track at Stevenage station has been completed more than a year ahead of schedule.

Yesterday, it appears that the first scheduled train left Stevenage for Moorgate at 0502.

Will This Be Good For Travellers?

A few thoughts!

Stevenage Hospital

One of my old school friends lives in Cuffley. From that part of Hertfordshire, the hospital, patients use is in Stevenage. He can drive, but not everybody can!

LNER

Currently, LNER run an hourly service between Stevenage and Leeds, with an hourly service between Stevenage and Lincoln or York via Newark.

North From Enfield, Palmers Green, Southgate, Winchmore Hill and Wood Green

If you live in Enfield or the old London boroughs of Southgate or Wood Green, it could be easier to pick up trains for the North from Stevenage, rather than Kings Cross.

Not Bad For Me Too!

Even, where I live now, which is a mile or so East of Highbury & Islington station, if the timing is right, I can walk or get a bus for four stops to Essex Road station and get a train to Stevenage and then change for Leeds and the North.

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains will be starting a fast, low-cost London Kings Cross and Edinburgh service, which will call at Stevenage.

Grand Central Trains

Grand Central Trains are currently shut down because of COVID-19, but will they call at Stevenage station, when they restart?

Hull Trains

Some Hull Trains services between London Kings Cross and Hull, call at Stevenage.

Hitachi’s Class 80x Trains

LNER, East Coast Trains and Hull Trains, all run versions of Hitachi’s Class 800 trains or similar.

These trains are built for performance and an extra stop at Stevenage station can probably be incorporated in the timetable without any penalty.

So will we see more trains stopping at Stevenage, if the train operators think it will be worthwhile?

Could Some Services From The North Terminate At Stevenage?

The Digswell Viaduct and the double-track section through Welwyn North station are the major bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line.

But a train returning North at Stevenage wouldn’t go over the viaduct.

Stevenage already has or could have excellent connections to the following.

  • Cambridge, Stansted Airport and East Anglia
  • Moorgate and the City of London and Crossrail.
  • North East London

If keen pricing can encourage travellers to use Stevenage instead of Kings Cross, I can see operators wanting to run extra services, that could start at Stevenage.

I can also see Greater Anglia getting in on the act.

Could Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Cambridge service be extended to Stevenage via the planned Cambridge South and Royston stations?

Could the service be timed to offer cross-platform interchange with their Norwich and Stansted Airport, at Cambridge South station?

Four important extra services would be created with a step-free interchange.

  • Ipswich and Stansted Airport – 106 minutes – Step-free walk across at Cambridge South station
  • Ipswich and Stevenage – 115 minutes – New direct service
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – 107 minutes – Existing service
  • Norwich and Stevenage – 116 minutes – Step-free walk across at Cambridge South station.

A large number East Anglian rail journeys would be simpler.

Car Parking

Will there be enough car parking at Stevenage station?

I suppose, it would be possible to build a Stevenage Parkway station between Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone stations.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note, that the railway seems to mark the development limit for the town.

The high performance of the Class 717 trains, would probably mean, that there would be no lengthened journey times.

Conclusion

This project appears to have been well-thought through!

 

 

August 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thoughts On East Coast Trains

According to an article and a picture, the second new Class 803 train for Open Access Operator; East Coast Trains, has arrived in the UK to be fitted out at Newton Aycliffe.

These are my thoughts on the service.

The Trains

The Class 803 trains are similar to the other Hitachi A-trains running in the UK, but with two big differences.

  • They will have a one class interior and they will be fitted with a battery, instead of a diesel engine.
  • The battery is not for traction and is to provide hotel power in stations and in the event of a dewiring. The latter has been surprisingly common on the East Coast Main Line in recent years.

Normally, these five-car trains are fitted with a single MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engine, which is described in this datasheet on the MTU web site.

The mass of the engine is given as 6750 Kg, when it is ready to run.

It would seem logical to replace the diesel engine with a battery of the same weight. I’ll use seven tonnes, as the fuel tank won’t be needed either.

This page on the Clean Energy institute at the University of Washington is entitled Lithium-Ion Battery.

This is a sentence from the page.

Compared to the other high-quality rechargeable battery technologies (nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal-hydride), Li-ion batteries have a number of advantages. They have one of the highest energy densities of any battery technology today (100-265 Wh/kg or 250-670 Wh/L).

Using these figures, a seven-tonne battery would be between 700 and 1855 kWh in capacity.

Incidentally, the power output of an MTU 12V 1600 R80L is 700 kW.

In Sparking A Revolution I gave Hitachi’s possible specification of a battery-electric train.

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

These figures are credited to Hitachi.

Doing a quick calculation, it would appear that.

  • A 700 kWh battery could supply the same power as the diesel engine for an hour.
  • A 1855 kWh battery could supply the same power as the diesel engine for two hours and thirty-nine minutes.

I am drawn to the conclusion, that although Hitachi say the battery is not for traction purposes in a Class 803 train, that a battery the same weight as the current diesel engine, would be a very adequate replacement.

If say, you put a 300-500 kWh battery in a Class 803 train, it would probable give enough hotel power until the train was able to move again. but it would also reduce the weight of the train and thus improve the acceleration in normal running.

A Battery Module

I wouldn’t be surprised if Hitachi are developing a battery module, that can replace the MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engine.

  • The module would be used for both traction and hotel services on the train.
  • It would be charged from the electrification or by regenerative braking.
  • It would act as emergency power.
  • To the driver and the train’s computer, it would have similar performance to the diesel engine.

The diesel engine and the battery module would be plug-compatible and could be exchanged as required.

I can do a quick calculation for a 1000 kWh battery, which would weigh under four tonnes.

  • A 1000 kWh battery would provide 700 kW for 86 minutes.
  • At 90 mph, the train would travel for 129 miles.
  • At 100 mph, the train would travel for 143 miles.

That would be a very handy extended range.

As East Coast Trains will only run on a fully-electrified route, they have no need for the traction capability.

  • But it would fit well with the routes of Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER and TransPennine Express.
  • All except East Midlands Railway and LNER, share part or full ownership with East Coast Trains.

It does look to me, that Hitachi is using East Coast Trains and their fully electrified route to give the battery module for the trains, a thorough work-out, on a route, where it will not normally be needed.

The Proposed Service

From various sources we know the following.

  • There will be five trains per day in both directions between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh. – See Wikipedia
  • East Coast Trains have ordered five trains. – See Wikipedia.
  • There will be stops at Stevenage, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth. – See Wikipedia
  • The first Northbound service will arrive in Edinburgh before 10:00. – See Rail Advent.
  • Fares will be low-cost at around £25 – See Wikipedia.

It is also likely that East Coast Trains will want a journey time of under four hours, which is being planned for the route anyway under the L2E4  project.

As the record time between London and Edinburgh was set in 1991 by an InterCity 225 train at a minute under three-and-a-half hours, could a time of around three hours and forty-five minutes be possible, including the turnaround of the train?

10:00 Arrival In Edinburgh

This is obviously a good idea, but with a four hour journey time, it would mean leaving London before six.

  • Perhaps to make the most of clear tracks in the morning the train would leave early.
  • Currently, the first two trains from Kings Cross are the 06:15 to Edinburgh, which arrives at 11:08 and the 06:33 to Leeds.
  • How early could the train leave?

I suspect that the first train to Edinburgh would leave Kings Cross around 05:30 and arrive in Edinburgh and be ready to return before 10:00.

10:00 Arrival In London

If arriving in Edinburgh before ten is a good idea, then surely arriving in London by the same time is worthwhile.

  • Currently, the first train from Edinburgh to London is the 05:48, which arrives at 10:40.

As with the Northbound service, I suspect the first train to Kings Cross would leave Edinburgh around 05:30 and arrive in Kings Cross and be ready to return before 10:00.

Five Services Per Day

If the first Edinburgh and  Kings Cross services left at 05:30 and after unloading and loading, were ready to return before 10:00, that would be the first service.

The simplest way to handle the rest of the day would be to split the time into four and run the trains continuously.

Suppose, the last train got to its destination at one in the morning, that would mean that fifteen hours were available for four trains or three hours and forty-five minutes for each trip between London and Edinburgh and the turnaround.

The train starting from Kings Cross would run the following services.

  • Kings Cross to Edinburgh – Leaves 05:30 – Arrives before 10:00
  • Edinburgh to Kings Cross – Leaves 10:00
  • Kings Cross to Edinburgh – Leaves 13:45
  • Edinburgh to Kings Cross- Leaves 17:30
  • Kings Cross to Edinburgh – Leaves 21:15 – Arrives 01:00 on the next day.

The train starting from Edinburgh would run the following services.

  • Edinburgh to Kings Cross – Leaves 05:30 – Arrives before 10:00
  • Kings Cross to Edinburgh – Leaves 10:00
  • Edinburgh to Kings Cross – Leaves 13:45
  • Kings Cross to Edinburgh – Leaves 17:30
  • Edinburgh to Kings Cross – Leaves 21:15 – Arrives 01:00 on the next day.

There would be two very tired trains at the end of every day, that would be looking forward to some well-deserved tender loving care.

This has been my best guess at what the timetable will be! But!

  • Travellers can catch an early train, do a full days work in the other capital and return at the end of the day.
  • There are three services during the day; one each in the morning, the afternoon and the early evening, for those who want affordable, slightly less frenetic travelling.
  • I suspect the intermediate stops have been chosen with care.
  • Improvements at Stevenage station could make the station, the preferred interchange for many between East Coast, LNER and local services for Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and North London. Car parking is probably easier than Kings Cross!
  • Is Durham station an alternative station on the other side of the Tyne from Newcastle, with better parking?
  • Could Durham City Centre be the terminal of a Leamside Line extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro?
  • Newcastle station is very well-connected to all over the North East.
  • Morpeth station could attract a large number of travellers from over the Border. It also looks to have space to expand the parking!

It looks a well-designed route and timetable.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed?

Consider.

  • Each train could be two five-car trains working together as a ten-car train.
  • This would maximise the use of paths on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Four trains would be needed for the full five trains per day ten-car service.

As there is going to be a fleet of five trains, the fifth train would either be in maintenance or waiting to enter the action as a substitute.

Improving Efficiency

It looks to me, that the efficiency of this service could be improved by good old-fashioned time and motion study.

  • Will  drivers use stepping-up to speed the reverse of trains?
  • Would cleaning teams board at Morpeth and Stevenage stations and clean the train on the last leg?
  • Will the buffet be designed for fast replenishment?
  • Will drivers be given all possible aids to go faster?

Every little will help!

Conclusion

I like this system and the competition will keep LNER on its toes!

Would a similar system work on the West Coast Main Line?

  • Grand Union have proposed a service between Euston and Stirling stations.
  • There will be stops at Milton Keynes Central, Nuneaton, Crewe, Preston, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell, Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert.
  • Trains will be InterCity 225s.

The service could start in 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

First Of Five FirstGroup Class 803s Arrives In UK

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

The Class 803 trains will be used by East Coast Trains for their low-cost, one-class, open-access service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

The trains would appear to be being delivered in time for services to start in Autumn 2021.

The article says the  trains are the first to have a new feature.

They will be fitted with batteries, although these will not provide traction performance – instead, they can power on-board services should the train fail.

The Class 803 trains are electric trains and are these batteries a replacement for the single diesel-engine on the electric Class 801 trains? This diesel-engine has two main purposes.

  • Provide emergency power for on-board services.
  • Move the train to a safe place foe evacuation of passengers.

The article also says that Hitachi could fit traction batteries to existing bi-mode fleets.

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

The Concept Of Electrification Islands

Consider how Imperial Airways and BOAC used to fly long routes to places like Sydney, Hong Kong and Cape Town before the days of long distance jet airliners. They used to fly from airport to airport, picking up fuel and supplies on the way.

If you want to know more about the details, read what is my favourite travel book, Beyond The Blue Horizon by Alexander Frater.

He followed the Imperial Airways route to Sydney, on what was reputed to be the most complicated ticket, that British Airways ever issued.

But can the concept of flying a short range airliner over a long distance refuelling as necessary, be applied to running a battery electric train by charging the batteries on a series of electrification islands?

In Ipswich And Peterborough In A Battery Train, I described how an Ipswich and Peterborough service could be run by a battery-equipped Class 755 train.

The Ipswich and Peterborough route is 82.5 miles long and it can be split as follows.

  • Ipswich and Haughley Junction – 13.8 miles – Electrified
  • Haughley Junction and Ely – 38.2 miles – Not Electrified
  • Ely and Peterborough – 30.5 miles – Not Electrified

Legs two and three, should be within the capability of a battery-equipped Class 755 train. No definite figure has been given, but in the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, this was said about the similar Class 756 trains, ordered for the South Wales Metro.

The units will be able to run for 40 miles between charging, thanks to their three large batteries.

Perhaps, what is needed is to create an electrification island at Ely, that can be used to charge the batteries.

An Electrification Island At Ely

This map from Wikipedia shows the complicated railways at Ely,

Note.

  1. Ely station is fully electrified.
  2. The line to Cambridge,Kings Cross, Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport is fully electrified. Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains between Norwich and Stansted Airport, change between diesel and electrification at Ely.
  3. The line to Kings Lynn is fully electrified.
  4. The lines to Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich and Peterborough are not electrified.
  5. Ely is a city of 20,000 inhabitants, so I suspect it must have a robust electricity supply.
  6. Freight trains take about five minutes to pass between Ely West and Ely Dock Junctions.
  7. Ely West and Ely Dock Junctions are 2.5 miles apart.
  8. There appears to be an avoiding line South-East of Ely station, where I’ve seen trains from Felixstowe to Peterborough sometimes wait for a few minutes before proceeding.
  9. There is also a lot of space at March station, where a passing loop with a charging station could be built.

I believe it would be possibly to do the following at Ely.

  • Electrify the West Curve and the South-East avoiding line.
  • Electrify the Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich and Peterborough lines for perhaps five miles.
  • If required, put a high capacity charging station on the avoiding line.

There would be plenty of electrification to charge the trains.

An alternative plan might be to electrify between March station and the new Soham station, which has been planned to open in 2021.

  • This would be around eighteen miles of electrification.
  • This would certainly be enough electrification to fully-charge passing freight and passenger trains.
  • Soham to Ely could be doubled.
  • The extra electrification would mean the two unelectrified sections of the Ipswich and Peterborough route; Haughley Junction-Soham and March-Peterborough would be well within range of a battery-electric train.
  • The proposed service between Cambridge and Wisbech would only have the twelve miles of the Bramley Line between March and Wisbech to run on battery power.

It might also be possible to put in an extra curve to make Ely Dock Junction, a full triangular junction. This would allow the new Soham station to have direct services to both Cambridge and Cambridge North stations, without a reverse at Ely station.

Other Possible Electrification Islands

I’ll break these down by regions and train operators.

East Anglia (Greater Anglia)

Greater Anglia only runs trains on diesel to the North of Cambridge and Ipswich, which are both fully electrified, as is Norwich.

I would consider Cambridge, Ely, Ipswich and Norwich to be electrification islands.

  • All have a good connection to the electrification power supply, as they handle main line electric trains.
  • All or most platforms at the stations are electrified to charge trains.
  • There are electrified sidings at Cambridge and Norwich and possibly at Ipswich.

Lowestoft and Yarmouth might be fitted with charging systems to make sure a fault doesn’t strand a train.

In Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s’, I talked about a report in Rail Magazine, which said that the Class 755 trains will get a battery fitted at the first overhaul.

I wouldn’t be surprised, that in a couple of years, Greater Anglia announces the end of diesel power on some or all of their services.

East Coast Main Line (LNER and Others)

Hitachi AT-300 Trains On The East Coast Main Line

The East Coast Main Line (ECML), is increasingly becoming a railway where the vast majority of services are run by versions of Hitachi AT-300 trains.

Classes 800, 802 and 803 are bi-modes and can probably have some or all of their diesel engines replaced by batteries.

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

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

I will use these figures from Hitachi in this post.

Electrification Islands On The East Coast Main Line

There are several large and smaller stations along the ECML, that can act as electrification islands to support either local services or long-distance services from London.

Cleethorpes

Consider

  • Cleethorpes station would need a decent electricity supply. Offshore wind?
  • Doncaster is 52 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 37 miles away.
  • Newark is 63 miles away.
  • Scunthorpe is 29 miles away.

If you can get battery-electric trains to Cleethorpes, you also serve Grimsby Town station, which is three miles closer to the ECML.

With electrification islands at Lincoln and Scunthorpe and Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery range of at least sixty miles, electric trains could be run to Cleethorpes and Grimsby.

Would that improve the economy of the area?

Darlington

Darlington station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Bishop Auckland is 12 miles away.
  • Middlesbrough is 15 miles away.
  • Nunthorpe is 20 miles away.
  • Saltburn is 27 miles away.
  • Whitby is 47 miles away.

Darlington could support battery-electric operation of the Tees Valley Line, if the route doesn’t go for hydrogen. Note that hydrogen would probably also handle services from Middlesbrough to Newcastle, Nunthorpe and Whitby with ease.

Note my views on the definitive hydrogen train, which will be a battery-electric-hydrogen hybrid train, able to use power from a variety of sources.

Doncaster

Doncaster station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Cleethorpes is 52 miles away.
  • Hull is 40 miles away.
  • Scunthorpe is 25 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 19 miles away.

Doncaster could certainly support some battery-electric services.

Grantham

Grantham station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Nottingham is 22 miles away.
  • Sleaford is 18 miles away.
  • Nottingham and Skegness services seem to take about four minutes to reverse in the station.

The Nottingham and Skegness service could take advantage of the driver changing ends to top up the battery.

Hull

Consider.

  • Hull is a city of nearly 300,000 people, so it must have a decent electricity supply.
  • Hull station is under forty miles from the electrification of the ECML.
  • Doncaster is 40 miles away.
  • Scarborough is 54 miles away.
  • York is 52 miles away, with about 20 miles electrified.

I would certainly suspect that with an electrification island at Hull, the Hitachi AT-300 trains of Hull Trains and LNER could certainly run fully electric services to the city, if they were fitted with batteries.

With an electrification island at Scarborough, could Hull Trains and LNER services be extended to Scarborough?

Leeds

Leeds station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

  • It also has electrified services to Bradford, Ilkley and Skipton.
  • Leeds and Huddersfield will be electrified in the next few years.

Harrogate is 18 miles away, so a return journey is within range of a Hitachi AT-300 train with a battery, that is charged on the ECML.

Lincoln

Consider.

  • Lincoln station would need a decent electricity supply.
  • Cleethorpes is 37 miles away.
  • Doncaster is 40 miles away.
  • Newark is 16 miles away, so a return journey is within range of a Hitachi AT-300 train with a battery, that is charged on the ECML.
  • Nottingham is 34 miles away and Leicester is 61 miles away.
  • Peterborough is 57 miles away.
  • Sleaford is 21 miles away.

With an electrification island at Lincoln, the following should be possible.

  • Electric services between Cleethorpes and Lincoln using battery-electric trains.
  • Electric services between Doncaster and Lincoln using battery-electric trains.
  • Electric services between Nottingham/Leicester and Lincoln using battery-electric trains. Electrify the Midland Main Line (MML) and this is easy.
  • Electric services between Peterborough and Lincoln using battery-electric trains. It may need an electrification island at Sleaford.
  • Electric services between London Kings Cross and Grimsby/Cleethorpes using Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery, that is charged on the ECML and at Lincoln.

The London Kings Cross and Lincoln services could top up their batteries if required if they were run using Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery

Surely, if Class 755 trains are good enough for Norfolk and Suffolk and both franchises are run by Abellio, then battery versions of these trains would be ideal for running services from Lincoln to Cleethorpes/Grimsby, Doncaster, Newark, Nottingham, Peterborough and Skegness.

Middlesbrough

If required an electrification island could be placed at Middlesbrough station.

  • Darlington is 15 miles away.
  • Newcastle is 47 miles away.
  • Saltburn is 13 miles away.
  • Whitby is 35 miles away.

This area might opt for hydrogen, but I believe battery-electric trains could also work the routes through Middlesbrough and Darlington. Note my views on the definitive hydrogen train, which will be a battery-electric-hydrogen hybrid train, able to use power from a variety of sources.

Newark

Consider.

  • Newark North Gate station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.
  • Cleethorpes is 63 miles away.
  • Grimsby is 60 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 16 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 17 miles away.

With an electrification island at Cleethorpes/Grimsby, battery-electric services could be extended to either town. They would need to use the electrification island at Lincoln station to top-up the battery.

Newcastle

Newcastle station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Carlisle is 61 miles away.
  • Middlesbrough is 47 miles away.
  • Nunthorpe is 52 miles away.

Newcastle could surely support local services using battery-electric trains. They could be dual-voltage, so they can use Tyne and Wear Metro electrification.

Peterborough

Peterborough station is on the electrified ECML, so it must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Ely is 31 miles away.
  • Leicester is 52 miles away, with Birmingham another 40 miles further.
  • Lincoln is 57 miles away.
  • Sleaford is 35 miles away.

It might even be possible for Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery to be able to run between Stansted Airport and Birmingham for CrossCountry.

  • Stansted and Ely – 38 miles – Electrified
  • Ely and Peterborough – 30.5 miles – Not Electrified
  • Through Peterborough – 6 miles – Electrified (ECML)
  • Peterborough and Leicester – 52 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leicester and Nuneaton – 19 miles – Not Electrified
  • Through Nuneaton – 3 miles – Electrified (WCML)
  • Nuneaton and Birmingham – 21 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. Trains would charge when running under electrification and also during station stops in Cambridge, Ely, Peterborough  Leicester and Nuneaton.
  2. Trains would automatically raise and lower their pantographs as required.
  3. There may be scope to add sections of extra electrification.
  4. For example, electrification of the MML could add as much as eight miles of electrification, through Leicester.

As much as forty percent of the route between Birmingham and Stansted could be electrified.

Sandy/St. Neots

It is planned that the East West Railway (EWR) and the ECML will cross at an interchange station somewhere in this area.

Consider.

Both stations are on the electrified ECML, so must have a top class electricity supply.

  • Bedford is 10 miles away.
  • The electrification South of Cambridge is about 20 miles away.

It would surely be possible to create an electrification island, where the two major routes cross at Sandy/St. Neots.

Scarborough

Consider.

  • Scarborough station would need a decent electricity supply.
  • Hull is 54 miles away.
  • York is 42 miles away.

With charging facilities at Scarborough battery-electric trains could be run to the seaside resort.

  • I also think it would be possible to run a direct service between London Kings Cross and Scarborough using Hitachi AT-300 trains with batteries, either via York or Hull.
  • TransPennine’s Hitachi trains could also read Scarborough from York, if fitted with batteries.

Would battery-electric trains between Hull, Scarborough and York attract more users of the services?

Sleaford

If required an electrified island could be placed at Sleaford station.

  • Sleaford would need a decent electricity supply.
  • The station is where the Nottingham and Skegness and Peterborough and Lincoln routes cross.
  • Grantham on the ECML is 18 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 21 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 40 miles away.
  • Peterborough is 35 miles away.
  • Skegness is 40 miles away.

Services through Sleaford would be run as follows.

As Lincoln and Peterborough are likely to both have the ability to charge trains, the Peterborough and Lincoln route can probably be run using a battery-electric train, that also charges during the stop at Sleaford.

To run the Nottingham and Skegness route, there will need to be a charging facility or an electrification island at Skegness, as forty miles is to far from an out and back from Sleaford on battery power. The section between Sleaford and Nottingham is easier, as there is a reverse at the fully-electrified Grantham station, where the trains could top-up their batteries.

York

York station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

  • Harrogate is 20 miles away, with Leeds another 18 miles further.
  • Hull is 52 miles away, with about 20 miles electrified.
  • Scarborough is 42 miles away.

It would appear that battery-electric trains could work the routes between Doncaster, Harrogate, Hull, Leeds, Scarborough and York.

Midland Main Line (East Midlands Railway)

Hitachi AT-300 Trains On The Midland Main Line

The Midland Main Line (MML) is a mixture of electrified and non-electrified sections. East Midlands Railway have chosen Hitachi Class 810 trains to cope with the mixed infrastructure.

  • There will be thirty-three five car trains.
  • They will have four diesel engines instead of three in the Class 800 trains.
  • They will have a redesigned nose.

Are East Midlands Railway ordering a dual-purpose design?

In the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, this is said about the bi-mode Hitachi Class AT-300 trains for Avanti West Coast.

Hitachi told Modern Railways it was unable to confirm the rating of the diesel engines on the bi-modes, but said these would be replaceable by batteries in future if specified.

Consider.

  • Both fleets of trains are for delivery in 2022.
  • Ease of manufacture would surely mean, that Hitachi would want the two fleets to be substantially the same.
  • A train with four engines could be needed to cruise at 125 mph on diesel.
  • Four engine slots would mean that, if you were replacing some engines with batteries, you’d have more flexibility.

Hitachi seem to be playing an inscrutable game.

This section entitled Powertrain in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train, says this about the powertrain for Class 800/801/802 trains.

Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a five to nine-car set. These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails. The Class 800 and Class 802 bi-mode has three GU per five-car set and five GU per nine-car set. A five-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 and a nine-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8.

Hitachi must have found a way to arrange four GUs under a Class 810 train.

  • They could be using slightly smaller engines. Smaller engines could be fitted to curb overheating.
  • The engines might be in pairs under vehicles 2 and 4, possibly sharing utilities like fuel tanks and cooling systems.

But as the vehicles are two metres shorter, it wouldn’t be a shoe-in.

When the trains are to be upgraded to battery electric trains, an appropriate number of GUs would be replaced by batteries.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that both Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway will have trains that can be converted from five-car bi-mode trains into battery-electric trains, with a range of between 55 and 65 miles.

  • As a control engineer, I believe that a battery could be made to be plug compatible with a GU.
  • An extra battery could be placed under vehicle 3, in the spare engine position.

I reckon that Hitachi’s quote of a sixty-five mile range would at 3 kWh per vehicle-mile need about one MWh of batteries.

That is 200 kWh per vehicle, so I feel it should be possible.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

Current plans for electrified sections of the MML are as follows.

  • London St. Pancras and Corby – 79.5 miles – Opening December 2020
  • London St. Pancras and Market Harborough – 83 miles – Opening December 2020
  • Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield – 15.5 miles – To be built in conjunction with High Speed Two

The gap between Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction is about 66 miles.

Electrification Islands On The Midland Main Line

As with the ECML, there are several large and smaller stations along the MML, that can act as electrification islands to support either local services or long-distance services from London.

I will deal with the electrification islands, starting in London.

Bedford

In Looking At The East West Railway Between Bedford And Cambridge, I came to the conclusion, that the East West Railway (EWR) and the MML, would share electrified tracks through Bedford station.

  • There are also rumours of electrification of the East West Railway, which I wrote about in EWR Targets Short-Term Fleet Ahead Of Possible Electrification, after an article in Rail Magazine with the same title.
  • But even so Bedford and Cambridge are only thirty miles apart, which is well within the capability of a battery-electric train.
  • Continuing to the West on the EWR, it is under twenty miles to the electrification at Bletchley on the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

It looks to be that battery-electric trains running on the EWR would be able to charge their batteries as they pass through Bedford.

  • It does appear to me, that the EWR chose a route through Bedford that would make this feasible.
  • It would also be relatively easy to electrify the EWR to the East and/or West of Bedford to increase the time using electrification, to fully charge the trains.
  • As Cambridge and Bletchley are around fifty miles apart, this journey between two fully-electrified stations, would be possible for a battery-electric train, especially, if it were able to take a sip of electricity in the possible stops at Bedford and Sandy or St. Neots.

If in the end, it is decided to electrify the EWR, Bedford would surely be a location, with enough power to feed the electrification.

Leicester

Leicester station is an important station on the MML.

But it would be a difficult station to electrify because of a bridge with limited clearance.

In Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station, I discussed how the following.

  • Discontinuous electrification through Leicester station.
  • Electrification between Leicester and Derby stations.
  • Electrifying the High Speed Two route between Clay Cross Junction and Sheffield.

Would allow Hitachi Class 810 trains, equipped with batteries to run between London and Sheffield on electric power alone.

 

East Midlands Parkway

East Midlands Parkway station is nineteen miles North of Leicester station.

This Google Map shows its unique position.

Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station is the eighteenth highest emitter of CO2 in Europe and will surely be closed soon.

But then, a power station, will have a good connection to the National Grid, ensuring there could be plenty of power for electrification, even after the current power station is long gone, as it will surely be replaced by another power station or energy storage.

East Midlands Parkway station is also well-connected.

  • Clay Cross North Junction is 31 miles away.
  • Derby is 10 miles away.
  • Leicester is 18 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 8 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 47 miles away.

It should be possible to reach all these places on battery-power from East Midlands Parkway.

Electrification Between Leicester And East Midlands Parkway

The more I look at this stretch of the MML, the more I feel that this eighteen mile stretch should be electrified to create what could become a linear electrification island.

Consider.

  • It is a 125 mph multi-track railway across fairly flat countryside.
  • Connecting electrification to the grid is often a problem, but Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station is adjacent to East Midlands Parkway station.
  • The section is only eighteen miles long, but this is surely long enough to fully-charge a battery train speeding to and from the capital.
  • There are only four intermediate stations; Syston, Sileby, Barrow-on-Soar and Loughborough.
  • The engineering for gauge clearance and electrification, looks to be no more difficult, than it will be between Kettering and Market Harborough.
  • Between Leicester and Market Harborough stations is only sixteen miles.
  • Between East Midlands Parkway and Nottingham is only eight miles, so it would be possible for Nottingham services to run without a charge at Nottingham station.
  • Between East Midlands Parkway and Derby is only ten miles, so it would be possible for Derby services to run without a charge at Derby station.
  • Between East Midlands Parkway and the shared electrified section with High Speed Two at Clay Cross North Junction is thirty-one miles, so it would be possible for Sheffield services to be run without using diesel, once the shared electrification is complete between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield.
  • Battery-electric trains between East Midlands Parkway and Clay Cross North Junction could also use the Erewash Valley Line through Ikeston, Langley Mill and Alfreton.
  • There would be no need to electrify through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills that lies between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction, as trains will be speeding through on battery power. Electrifying through this section, might be too much for some people.
  • If the trains can’t switch between battery and overhead electrification power, the changeover can be in Leicester and East Midlands Parkway stations. However, I believe that Hitachi’s AT-300 trains can do the changeover at line speed.

The electrification could also be used by other services.

  • Between Corby and Syston North Junction is only thirty-six miles, so it would be possible to run electric services between London St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield via Corby, if the main route were to be blocked by engineering work.
  • Between Peterborough and Syston East Junction is forty-seven miles, so it should be possible to run CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham service using battery-electric trains. If the train could leave Leicester with a full battery, both Birmingham New Street and Peterborough should be within range.
  • East Midlands Railway’s Lincoln and Leicester service run for a distance of sixty-one miles via East Midlands Parkway, Nottingham and Newark stations. Electrification between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway, would mean there was just forty-two miles to do on battery power. An electrification island at Lincoln would charge the train for return.

Battery-electric trains with a range of between 55 and 65 miles would really open up the East Midlands to electric services if between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway were to be electrified.

London And Sheffield In A Battery-Electric Class 810 Train

This is speculation on my part, but I think this could be how trains run London to Sheffield before 2030.

  • London to Market Harborough – 83 miles – Using electrification
  • Switch to battery power at line speed.
  • Market Harborough to Leicester – 16 miles – Using battery power
  • Switch to electrification in Leicester station
  • Leicester to East Midlands Parkway – 19 miles – Using electrification
  • Switch to battery power at line speed.
  • East Midlands Parkway to Clay Cross North Junction – 31 miles – Using battery power
  • Switch to electrification at line speed.
  • Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield – 15.5 miles – Using electrification

Note.

  1. 118 miles would be run using electrification and 47 miles using battery power.
  2. Battery power has been used to avoid the tricky electrification at Leicester station and along the Derwent Valley.

I don’t believe any of the engineering will be any more difficult, than what has been achieved on the MML in the last year or so.

Nottingham

Consider

  • Nottingham station would probably have access to a reliable electricity supply, as Nottingham is a large city of over 300,000 people.
  • Nottingham station has a comprehensive network of local services.
  • Nottingham station has an excellent connection to Nottingham Express Transit.
  • Birmingham New Street is 57 miles away, via Derby and Burton.
  • Burton-on-Trent is 27 miles away.
  • Derby is 16 miles away.
  • Grantham is 23 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 34 miles away.
  • Matlock is 33 miles away.
  • Newark is 17 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 40 miles away.
  • Worksop is 32 miles away.
  • Most of these local services are run by East Midlands Railway, with some services run by Northern and CrossCountry.
  • Some services run back-to-back through Nottingham.

I feel very strongly that if charging is provided in Nottingham, when trains turnback or pass through the station, that many of the local services can be run by battery-electric trains.

Previously, I have shown, that if between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway is electrified, then services between London and Nottingham, can be run by battery-electric trains.

There is also a fall-back position at Nottingham, as the local services could be run by hydrogen-powered trains.

Sheffield

Sheffield station would at first glance appear to be very similar to Nottingham.

  • Sheffield station would probably have access to a reliable electricity supply, as Sheffield is a large urban area of 700,000 people.
  • Sheffield station has a comprehensive network of local services.
  • Sheffield station has an excellent connection to the Sheffield Supertram.

But it looks like Sheffield station will see the benefits of electrification the Northern section of the MML from Clay Cross North Junction.

  • The 15.5 miles of electrification will be shared with the Sheffield spur of High Speed Two.
  • Currently, trains take sixteen minutes between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction.
  • Electrification and an improved high-speed track will allow faster running, better acceleration and a small saving of time.
  • A Sheffield train will be charged going to and from Sheffield, so will leave Clay Cross North Junction for Derby and the South with full batteries.
  • There must also be opportunities for local trains running between Sheffield and Class Cross Junction North to use the electrification and be run by battery-electric trains.

Current destinations include.

  • Derby is 36 miles away.
  • Doncaster is 19 miles away.
  • Huddersfield is 36 miles away.
  • Leeds is 45 miles away.
  • Lincoln is 49 miles away.
  • Manchester Piccadilly is 42 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 40.5 miles away.

Note.

  1. Doncaster, Leeds and Manchester Piccadilly stations are fully electrified.
  2. Work on electrifying Huddersfield and Leeds will start in a year or so, so Huddersfield will be electrified.
  3. I am firly sure that Lincoln and Nottingham will have enough electrification to recharge and turn trains.
  4. Some routes are partially electrified.

As with Nottingham, I am fairly sure, that local services at Sheffield could be run by battery-electric trains. And the same fall-back of hydrogen-powered trains, would also apply.

Sheffield And Manchester Piccadilly In A Battery-Electric Train

Consider.

  • Once Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction is electrified in conjunction with High Speed Two, at least five miles of the Hope Valley Line at the Sheffield end will be electrified.
  • It may be prudent to electrify through Totley Tunnel to increase the electrification at Sheffield to ten miles.
  • The route via Stockport is 43 miles long of which nine miles at the Manchester End is electrified.
  • The route via Marple is 42 miles long of which two miles at the Manchester End is electrified.

There would appear to be no problems with running the TransPennine Express service between Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes using battery-electric trains, as from Hazel Grove to Manchester Airport is fully electrified and in the East, they can charge the batteries at Sheffield, Doncaster and a future electrification island at Cleethorpes.

The Northern service between Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield could be run using battery-electric trains with some more electrification at the Manchester End or an extended turnback in Manchester Piccadilly.

Transport for Manchester has plans to run improve services at their end of the Hope Valley Line, with tram-trains possible to Glossop and Hadfield.

It would probably be worthwhile to look at the Hope Valley Line to make sure, it has enough future capacity. I would suspect the following could be likely.

  • More electrification.
  • More stations.
  • Battery-electric trains or tram-trains from Manchester to Glossop, Hadfield, New Mills Central, Rose Hill Marple and Sheffield.

I would suspect one solution would be to use more of Merseyrail’s new dual-voltage Class 777 trains, which have a battery capability.

Sheffield And Nottingham In A Battery-Electric Train

Consider.

  • Once Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction is electrified in conjunction with High Speed Two, 15.5 miles of the route will be electrified.
  • The total length of the route is 40.5 miles.
  • There are intermediate stops at Dronfield, Chesterfield, Alfreton, Langley Mill and Ilkeston.
  • Currently, journeys seem to take around 53 minutes.

I think it would be likely that the battery would need to be topped up at Nottingham, but I think a passenger-friendly timetable can be developed.

West Coast Main Line (Avanti West Coast)

Hitachi AT-300 Trains On The West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line (WCML) is a mainly electrified and with some non-electrified extended routes. Avanti West Coast have chosen Hitachi AT-300 trains to cope with infrastructure.

  • There will be ten seven-car electric trains.
  • There will be thirteen five-car bi-mode trains.

As these trains will be delivered after East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains and East Coast Trains’ Class 803 trains, the following questions must be asked.

  • Will the trains have the redesigned nose of the Class 810 trains?
  • Will the bi-mode trains have four diesel engines (Class 810 trains) or three ( Class 800 trains)?
  • Will the electric trains ordered by First Group companies; Avanti West Coast and East Coast Trains be similar, except for the length?

I would expect Hitachi will want the trains to be as similar as possible for ease of manufacture.

Electrification Islands On The West Coast Main Line

As with the ECML and the MML, there are a couple of large and smaller stations along the WCML, that can act as electrification islands to support either local services or long-distance services from London.

I will deal with the electrification islands, starting in London.

Watford Junction

Watford Junction station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

Services around Watford Junction have possibilities to be expanded and improved using battery-electric trains.

Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes Central station is already an electrification island, as it is fully electrified.

  • East West Railway services will call at Bletchley and not Milton Keynes.
  • There may be a connection between East West Rail and High Speed Two at Calvert station, which is 15 miles away.
  • Milton Keynes will get a service from Aylesbury, which is 22 miles away.

There may be possibilities to link Watford Junction and Milton Keynes via Aylesbury using battery-electric trains to give both places a connection to High Speed Two at a new Calvert station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service

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

This is the first paragraph.

FirstGroup has finalised an order for five Hitachi AT300 electric trainsets which it will use to launch a London – Edinburgh open access service in autumn 2021.

The trains appear to be be similar to those used by FirstGroup companies; Hull Trains and Great Western Railway.

These are some points from the article.

  • FirstGroup is targeting the two-thirds of passengers, who fly between London and Edinburgh.
  • They are also targeting business passengers, as the first train arrives in Edinburgh at 10:00.
  • The trains are five-cars.
  • The trains are one class with onboard catering, air-conditioning, power sockets and free wi-fi.
  • Stops will be five trains per day with stops at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.
  • The trains will take around four hours.
  • The service will start in Autumn 2021.

These are my observations.

Earlier Start

I suspect that the service can’t start earlier, due to one of the following.

  • The lead time in building the trains.
  • Completion of the new Werrington Junction.
  • Completion of the sorting of Kings Cross.
  • Completion of the works at Stevenage station.

The track works will probably be needed to create the extra paths needed on the East Coast Main Line.

Electric-Only Trains

Most other AT300 trains are bi-mode trains, but will these be electric-only?

Capacity Issues

If the trains prove too small, they can just add extra carriages or two trains can run as a pair.

Timetables

Trains will probably take nine hours for a round-trip, allowing 30 minutes for turnround.

This would mean that two trains leaving London and Edinburgh at six, would arrive back at home after two round trips around midnight.

Conclusion

I think it will be a successful service.

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Reasons To Go Virgin Or East Coast

I went up to the Commonwealth Games on the 08:30 Virgin out of Euston arriving on time at 13:01 give or take a minute or so.

The best thing about going Virgin before 09:00, is that you get a proper breakfast, which includes a gluten-free option. I had plenty of tea, some delicious scrambled egg and smoked salmon and a glass of juice.

I didn’t get my gluten-free roll though!

As I was meeting someone in Glasgow, who’d come through from Edinburgh, I could have gone up with East Coast and then across to Glasgow with her.

But it would have meant an earlier start and I had to see the builders.

I think it’s true to say that if you’re going to Glasgow or Edinburgh from London, it’s probably better to go direct. But even so, the distance between the two big Scottish cities isn’t great, with the fastest trains taking between fifty minutes and an hour.

So as Virgin run twenty trains a day up the West Coast and East Coast run eighteen and the fastest trains take about the same four hours sand a bit, it’s very much a case of you pays your money and takes your choice.

The trains are different with Virgin running tilting Class 390 trains and non-tiliting diesel InterCity 125 and electric Inter City 225 trains. My preference is for the non-tilting trains.

The only certain thing is that in the next few years, train routes between England and Glasgow and Edinburgh will gain more capacity and will get faster.

As an example, over the last year, Transpennine Express has introduced new faster Class 350 electric trains to and from Manchester. I thought I heard several northern families in Glasgow, who looked like day trippers up for the Games.

A Transpennine Class 350 In Glasgow

A Transpennine Class 350 In Glasgow

So is this illustrative of how fast, comfortable, high-capacity railways change our lives?

The biggest changed will be Network Rail moving to in-cab signalling, which will allow running over 200 kph on both the West and East Coast Main Lines. This could bring the journey time from London to Scotland much closer to the magic four hours, using the current trains.

When I went to Edinburgh recently by easyJet, security problems meant that I took five and a half hour from my home to Edinburgh city centre. So a four hour journey will be fast enough to give the planes a run for their money. But not everybody goes between London and the major Scottish cities and possibly the biggest beneficiaries of a faster service will be those who have easy access to intermediate stations like York, Peterborough, Preston and Carlisle.

The biggest problem will be track and train capacity on the East and West Coast routes. On the West Coast, there will probably be a further increase in the Class 390 fleet and on the East Coast the Class 800 and 801 are coming.

As with so much on Britain’s railways, the elephant-in-the-room is freight, which is increasing substantially. So will we see extra routes and tracks opened up to held the freight through, just like we have with the GNGE between Doncaster and Peterborough via Lincoln. Of course, we will!

Perhaps, in Scotland, we might even see the return of freight to a Waverley line extended to Carlisle.

Then there is the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Program, a project that seems to have lost its way a bit recently. But the main aim of getting about a dozen services every hour between Edinburgh and Glasgow, with some taking just over half-an-hour must be a goal for Scotland.

July 28, 2014 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not All Important Projects Are Visible

I have recently come down the East Coast Main Line from Edinburgh to London. Starting at 05:40 in the morning there are up to 23 trains on that route during a typical day.

That is a lot of trains, carriages and seats and it only needs something small to go wrong for all the services to be delayed and even cancelled.

One of the biggest problems is that the line is crossed by other important routes, where say a freight train has to cross from east to west. So a slight problem can have a tremendous knock-on effect.

Last year, one of these crossings was eased by the opening of the Hitchin flyover, where Cambridge trains join and leave the main line.

Now another of these crossings has been eliminated with the opening of the North Doncaster Chord, which now takes heavy coal trains over the main line. A level crossing was also eliminated.

This is a quote from the linked article in Modern Railways.

The movement of coal to generate electricity is vital in keeping the UK’s lights switched on. Over 35 per cent of UK-consumed electricity is generated by coal moved by rail

I didn’t think that coal was still used to generate that amount of electricity.

Both the Hitchin and North Doncaster projects cost a few tens of million pounds and will help the East Coast Main Line to be more punctual.

But I have not seen either of them in mainstream media.

We need to find a way to tell the frustrated passenger on the train, that things will be getting better and that the engineers are doing their utmost.

One of the good things about the troubles in Dawlish, was all the high profile media attention that the project received.

June 7, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Edinburgh – Plane Or Train?

I have just been up to Edinburgh and the Borders to see friends. I went up by EasyJet from Stansted and came back in First Class by East Coast.

I took the 11:50 flight and that meant I left home about eight in the morning. That sounds early, but as I needed to get there as the gate closed at 11:20 and the train took an hour or so, I wasn’t taking any chances. I also wanted to have a good breakfast on the way to the airport, as I know that there isn’t a good gluten-free restaurant air-side at Stansted.

I also had to take my passport for security purposes.

A Passport For Scotland

A Passport For Scotland

I suppose if Scotland votes for independence, this will become the norm for every journey across the border.

The plane was a few minutes early and after getting slightly lost in the Terminal, I was met by one of old friends and we were soon on one of the new trams to the city centre.

The flight up had cost me £47.93 for the actual flight, £13.85 to get to Stansted and £9 to get into Edinburgh.  Which makes a total of £70.78.

Coming back yesterday, I bought my First Class ticket at nine o’clock in the evening on Wednesday for £64.35.

This cost surprised me and should I say my hosts in the Borders, thought it was good value.

It did of course include snacks on the way down, which I declined, as they we’re gluten-free, but I did keep myself plied with free drink all the way. It was mostly tea, but I did have a miniature of whisky (Scotch of course!) and was offered a second.

On the flight up, all I’d got on board, was an excellent lemonade in a box. Paid for at £2.50. If EasyJet keep selling these, it’ll certainly mean when I fly, I’ll know where to book.

If we look at the time taken. From my house to the centre of Edinburgh, it took me an elapsed time of about five and a half hours. I did give myself a lot of time to get to Stansted, but I needed it, as security took nearly an hour. Gone are the days of turn-up-and-go at London’s third airport.

Coming back, the train left at 14:30 and I just missed the end of the One Show, which means that the time was about seven-thirty. So it was just over five hours.

I don’t think I’ll be flying up to Edinburgh again from Stansted. Both journeys took about the same time, but the train was cheaper, more luxurious and included as much free food and drink as I wanted. Even if as a coeliac, I couldn’t eat the food. On the train, I also got a proper table on which to lay my paper flat out. And of course, security was more noted by its apparent absence.

Over the next few years the train will get faster as new trains, in-cab signalling and track improvement will mean that large portions of the line will be capable of 140 rather than the current 125 mph.

So city centre to city centre travellers like me will probably always take the train. For me, all that East Coast Trains need to do is get some decent gluten-free food. As Virgin do it, why can’t they?

 

 

June 6, 2014 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is Meadowhall An Ideal Journey Break On A Train?

yesterday I went up to seeIpswich play in Barnsley. It wasn’t a good match, as the wind made a lot of things difficult and it probably had a part in some of the goals. Since the Nottingham Forest match on the 14th December, which was ruined by wind, I think there has only been one match, where conditions were conducive to good football. I know it’s only a game, but it does illustrate how bad the weather has been, these last couple of months.

As I said because of ticketing issues with East Midlands Trains, I went up to Barnsley changing at Sheffield, but came back via Meadowhall and Doncaster on Est Coast.

I walked quickly down the hill from Oakwell to the station and within a couple of minutes I was on a fast Class 158 train to Meadowhall. I nearly missed the stop, as the weather was so bad, you couldn’t make out the station names, but as it was the first stop from Barnsley, I was pretty sure it was Meadowhall.

It was an easy walk into the shopping centre and you enter by Marks and Spencer, where I just purchased some socks, but I could of course have bought a gluten-free meal. As it was I went further into the centre and had supper at Carluccio’s, which although it was full, was queueless.

The other thing I needed to buy, was a book and Waterstones was hard by the passage to the station.  i also picked up another copy of The Times, as a friend has a letter in the paper and they wanted me to send them a copy.

I suspect that if you’re going to Manchester Airport by train, then to break the journey at Meadowhall might be better than paying airport prices for your last minute purchases, that we always need.

My choice of route was further vindicated, when I got on an East Coast train from Doncaster to London.  The Inter City 225 was so much more comfortable and smoother in Standard, than the dreaded Class 222 of East Midland Trains in First.  I also had two chances to purchase a cup of tea from a trolley, whereas East Midlands there was no at-seat service and they expect you to walk to the bar.

I’ve got to go to Leicester in a couple of weeks and I’ll do anything to avoid going on one of those Class 222s.

February 9, 2014 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment