The Anonymous Widower

Switching From Lorries To Freight Trains Could Cut Air Pollution By 10%

The title of this post is the same as this article on Rail Technology Magazine. This is the first paragraph.

Making the switch from HGVs to trains for freight travel could lead to 10% less air pollution from NOx across the country, says new research from the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

The major problem will be to get freight operators to switch from road to rail.

However, I do feel that this may be hastened by external factors and innovative methods and technology.

Shortages Of Train And Truck Drivers

There are regular news items about shortages of train and truck drivers.

I would think, that both careers will attract the same type of person.

Both careers will have their good and bad points.

But after a search of the Internet, it does appear that the train driver will earn more than the truck driver.

So will a shortage of truck drivers, nudge more freight operators to use rail?

Track Improvements For Rail Freight

Over the last decade or so, there have been several improvements in track layouts, that have been driven by the need to increase the amount of freigt carried by rail.

  • The development of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line through Lincolnshire as a freight by-pass for the East Coast Main Line.
  • The building of the Bacon Factory Chord to increase capacity to and from the Port of Felixstowe.
  • Electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line will create a second electrified freight route across London.
  • Several passing loops have been lengthened to allow longer freight trains.
  • The Ordsall Chord will help freight through Manchester.

Obviously any general improvements will help freight trains as well as passenger trains.

Air-Pollution Activitists And Politicians

Most long-distance rail-freight is diesel-hauled and increasingly it goes through areas of large cities, where there is electrification. These electrified lines all see diesel-hauled freight trains.

  • The North London Line
  • The West London Line
  • The Gospel Oak to Barking Line
  • The Ordsall Chord
  • The Great Eastern Main Line
  • The West Coast Main Line
  • The East Coast Main Line
  • The Great Western Main Line

It will not be long before air-quality activists set their sites on removing diesel haulage from lines like these.

Will a local politician in North London say, be more likely to get elected, if they say, they will push for a ban on noisy and polluting diesel-powered locomotives running through their constituency.

The Replacement Of Diesel Locomotives With Electro-Diesel Locomotives

If you take a freight route like say Felixstowe to Trafford Park in Manchester via the Great Eastern Main Line, the North London Line and the West Coast Main Line, all of the route except for the two ends is electrified.

Normally, freight on this route would be hauled by a Class 66 diesel-locomotive, which would probably score 2/10 as a friend of the environment.

A modern electro-diesel locomotive, like a Class 88 locomotive  may be able to this and similar routes using electricity in the middle and its onboard diesel engine at both ends of the route.

The various locomotives, used on UK freight trains compare as follows.

  • Class 66 – 65/75 mph – 2.4 MW on diesel
  • Class 68 – Modern diesel to Stage II A emission standards – 100 mph – 2.8 MW on diesel
  • Class 70 – 75 mph – 2.7 MW on diesel
  • Class 86 – 75 mph – 0.7 MW on electricity
  • Class 88 – 100 mph – 4 MW on electricity – 0.7 MW on diesel
  • Class 90 – Electric locomotive – 100 mph – 0.9 MW on electricity
  • Class 92 – Electric locomotive – 87 mph – 5 MW on electricity

As the table shows the  Class 66 locomotives  are slow and less powerful than both the more modern Class 68 or Class 88 locomotives.

Cynically, I would say that the only reason that Class 66 and Class 70 locomotives are still in service is that they are good for the bottom line.

Despite this, I feel we’ll see an increasing number of electro-diesel locomotives like the Class 88 arriving in the UK.

New Electric Locomotives

Judging by some of the strange combinations, I’ve seen on some freight trains, we are short of electric locomotives.

This double-headed train has a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive at the front of a long freight train.

Even electric locomotives from the 1960s are being called up for service.

These two Class 86 locomotives were hauling a freight train through Hackney Wick station.

I think we’ll see small numbers of new electric locomotives arriving in the UK.

I suspect too, that freight operators are preparing their bids for the fifteen Class 90 locomotives, that will be released in the next few years by Greater Anglia.

More Electrification

In a couple of years, there will be full electrification from London to Bristol and Cardiff.

Although the Government has put a hold on a lot of electrification,  current schemes like electrification of the Great Western Main Line will increase the use of electric or electro-diesel haulage.

Other smaller schemes might be added to increase the use of electric haulage for freight.

As an example, the lines into the important freight ports of London Gateway and Liverpool Two are not electrified. Electrifying both would probably increase the proportion of electrically-hauled freight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Cirencester Be Reconnected To The Rail Network?

In Boris Johnson Vows New Life For High Streets And Axed Rail Lines, I laid out a list of rail lines that could be reopened by a future Conservative government.

Today, I’m going to Cirencester to have lunch with an old friend.

But, Cirencester does not have a rail connection, although there used to be a Cirencester branch line from Kemble station.

The Wikipedia entry says this under Future.

As of 2016, discussions have taken place regarding the potential of relaying 5km of track from Kemble station to the edge of Cirencester at Chesterton Halt.

In January 2019, the Campaign for Better Transport released a report identifying the line as Priority 2 for reopening. Priority 2 is for those lines which require further development or a change in circumstances (such as housing developments)

It looks to me, the sort of rail reopening that fits with Boris’s list.

These are a few of my thoughts on the rebuilding.

The Connection At Kemble Station

This Google Map shows the connection at Kemble station.

It appears that connecting a new single-track branch line could be possible.

Crossing The A 429

This Google Map shows, where the A 429 and the Cirecenter Branch cross.

A bridge would be needed, as Network Rail doesn’t do level crossings on major roads.

Crossing Of Spratsgate Lane

This Google Map shows, where the Cirecester Branch crosses Spratsgate Lane as Cirencester is approached.

Would a bridge be needed?

Other Crossings

There are three other minor crossings on the route, between the two major ones I’ve mapped.

Approach To Cirencester

This Google Map shows the approach to Cirencester.

Could a rail track be squeezed in for a station?

Service Frequency

I would feel that, if the Cirencester Branch was reinstated as a single-track line, that a two tph service could be run between Swindon and Cirencester station with a stop at Kemble.

Extra Stations

The Golden Valley Line used to have two extra stations between Swindon and Kemble stations.

Minety & Ashton Keynes

Purton

If housing developments were to be proposed near these two locations or perhaps in other locations in Swindon, it would improve the financial case for a shuttle between Swindon and Cirencester stations.

Could Battery Trains Be Used?

The nearest electrification is fourteen miles away at Swindon station. An out-and-back trip on battery power should be possible.

Could Tram-Trains Be Used?

I don’t see why not! They would also have advantages.

  • Bridges would be lighter and less intrusive.
  • The minor crossings could work under tramway rules.
  • They might be able to reach Cirencester Town Centre
  • The branch could be fitted with lightweight tramway electrification.
  • Extra stations at Minety & Ashton Keynes and Purton could be simpler designs.
  • Battery power could be used on sections of the route.

I very much feel that a tram-train solution would be possible, from my observations in Karlsruhe and Sheffield.

A Visit To Cirencester

I had an excellent lunch with my friend in Cirencester and I have some some observations.

Cirencester

I have seen towns like Cirencester so often and used to live near Bury St. Edmunds which is going in a similar direction.

  • A town that is worth a visit, but is overrun with cars and people driving around looking for somewhere to park.
  • It is a typical country town, that is unfit for the Twenty-First Century.
  • It will strangle itself with traffic.
  • At least through traffic can use a by-pass.
  • Is it the sort of place, where teenagers, that are too young to drive, or don’t have a car, get exceedingly bored?

Residents will move away and the shopping centre will see lower footfall.

The Bay Platform At Swindon Station

This picture shows the Western end of the bay plstform 2 at Swindon station.

Shuttle trains from Cheltenham and Kemble, usually call in this platform, with through trains stopping in either Platforms 1 and 3.

All platforms are fully electrified, with the electrification continuing about a hundred metres up the Golden Valley Line.

Kemble Station

These pictures show Kemble station.

Note.

  1. There is a lot of car-parking for a small station.
  2. How many of the cars parked at the station are commuters Between Cirencester and London?
  3. It is not a step-free station.
  4. The station, water tank and limestone bridge are all Grade two Listed.

It also looks like the Cirencester branch had its own platform.

Traffic On The Golden Valley Line

It appears that except for the occasional freight train, it is not a busy line.

Although one of the reasons for making it a full double track, was so it can be used as a diversion route, when the Severn Tunnel is closed.

Electrification Of The Golden Valley Line

The distance between Swindon and Cheltenham stations is a short distance over forty-three miles, with four intermediate stations, Listed structures and two tunnels.

Electrification has been considered and under Electrification Proposal in the Wikipedia entry for the line, this is said.

As of 2016 there are no plans to electrify the line.

At present trains from London are Class 802 trains, which are electric trains with onboard diesel engines for routes like this.

As Hitachi have stated they will be using battery power to extend ranges of their trains, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the current trains modified to have batteries instead of some of their current diesel engines.

Such a train would would be ideal for the following routes.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13 miles
  • Paddington and Cheltenham – 43 miles
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10 miles
  • Paddington and Weston-Super-Mare – 19 miles

The distance is the length that is not electrified.

I don’t think it improbable, that London Paddington and Swansea will be achieved by a battery-electric train based on the current Hitachi train designs.

Train Frequency Between Paddington And Kemble

Trains on the Paddington and Cheltenham route, run every two hours and I just missed the 09:36, so I had to change at Swindon.

  • Cheltenham and Gloucester probably need at least an hourly service to and from London.
  • The current timetable effectively gives an hourly service, with the second service provided by a change at Swindon.
  • But it was a busy down-and-up interchange, and I wonder how many travellers miss the connection.

An hourly direct service from London would be so much more convenient.

Conclusion

With some clever and sympathetic engineering on the branch to handle the crossings, it could be a feasible reopening.

My Preference Would Be For A Tram-Train With Batteries

It would have the following characteristics.

  • Single-track branch from Kemble.
  • Kemble and Cirencester electrified with 750 VDC overhead.
  • Tram rules on the branch.
  • Trams as close to the centre of Cirencester as possible.
  • Two trams per hour between Swindon and Cirencester.
  • Trams would use batteries between Kemble and Swindon.
  • Batteries would be charged at Swindon station using the existing 25 KVAC overhead electrification and on the branch.
  • Extra stops where needed.

The route might even loop into Cirencester to provide a Park-and-Ride on the by-pass, that would serve the town and Kemble station.

The tram-trains ordered for the South Wales Metro would be able to run the service.

It would be an unobtrusive rural tram-train.

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Shapps Supports Beeching Axe Reversals

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps says he supports the reopening of routes closed in the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

In the article, which describes proceedings in the House of Commons, Grant Shapps, says he was very supportive of opening the Market Harborough Line.

Digging around the Internet, I found this article on the Harborough Mail, which is entitled Harborough Rail Group Says Plan To Reopen Historic Line Is A ‘Excellent Idea’.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Moves to reopen the historic Market Harborough-Northampton railway line are being backed by a local rail passengers’ chief.

The Market Harborough-Northampton Line was only finally closed in 1981.

  • It used to connect the two stations with a double-track railway.
  • It is about fourteen miles long.
  • It is now partly a heritage railway and a walking and cycling route called the Brampton Valley Way.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route and can make these observations.

  • There is space for a bay platform at Market Harborough station.
  • Once clear of Market Hrborough, the route appears to be across open countryside.
  • The connection to the Northampton Loop Line wouldn’t be too difficult.

The only problem, I can see is that the route into Market Harborough station could be tricky.

These are a few of my thoughts.

What Passenger Service Would Be Provided?

Consider.

  • The route could certainly handle an hourly shuttle, as does the nearby Marston Vale Line.
  • Northampton station currently has three trains per hour (tph) to and from London.
  • Timings between Northampton and Market Harborough stations would probably be around twenty minutes.
  • Fast services between Northampton and Euston take about an hour.
  • Four tph between Northampton and London would probably be desirable.

So could a fourth service to and from London, be extended to Market Harborough station? Or perhaps even Leicester, which already has a platform, where the trains could be turned back?

  • I estimate that with a ten minute turnround at Market Harborough, a three hour round trip would be possible and very convenient.
  • A single track between Northampton and Market Harborough station would be enough.
  • The fourteen miles between the two stations could be handled by a battery-electric train, as there will be electrification at both ends of the route.
  • Porterbrook are developing a battery-electric Class 350 train.

It looks to be a very sensible proposition.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the rail line between Milton Keynes Central and Northampton stations.

It is planned to introduce, a service between Marylebone and Milton Keynes Central using the tracks of the East West Rail Link.

  • It could be run by East West Rail or Chiltern.
  • It might be an easier service to operate as trains wouldn’t need to be turned back at Milton Keynes Central station.
  • It might be a better financial option, if services were to be extended to Northampton and Market Harborough.

As the East West Rail Link is being built by a private company, do they have plans to create services between say Leicester and Oxford?

Could Freight Trains Use The  Northampton And Market Harborough Line?

Consider.

  • A large rail freight interchange is being developed close to East Midlands Airport.
  • The East West Rail Link will be a better route between Southampton Docks and the West Coast Main Line, than the current roundabout routes.
  • Multimodal trains need to travel between the East Midlands and Sheffield and Southampton Docks.
  • Stone trains need to travel between the North Midlands and West London.

If the  Northampton and Market Harborough Line were to be reopened, it would provide a convenient freight route between the Midland Main Line and the Great Western Main Line.

Would the The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Be Electrified?

Consider.

  • It joins the electrified Midland Main Line at Market Harborough station.
  • It joins the electrified Northampton Loop Line at Northampton station.
  • It is only fourteen miles long.
  • Most trains should be able to bridge use the line on battery power.
  • It will be a new well-surveyed railway, which is easier to electrify.

I suspect, whether the line is electrified will be more down to planning issues.

Would the The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Be Double Track?

The line was double-track when it closed and I think that only planning issues will stop it being reopened as a double track.

Is the Opening Of The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Being Driven By The East West Rail Link?

This is a paragraph from the Rail Magazine article.

Asked by Andrew Lewer (Con) at Transport Questions on October 24 whether he would elaborate on plans to open the proposed Market Harborough line as part of the Oxford to Cambridge expressway he said: “I understand that the reopening is at a formative stage, but I am very supportive of it. Indeed, I support the reopening of many of the smaller lines that were closed as a result of the Beeching cuts under a Labour Government, and I should like to see as many reopened as possible.”

Does that mean that The East West Rail Link is driving this project?

Conclusion

Reopening of the Northampton and Market Harborough Line  could be a nice little earner for the East West Rail Link.

  • Freight trains between Southampton Docks and the Midlands and Yorkshire.
  • Stone trains between the North Midlands and London.
  • Passenger trains between Marylebone and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.
  • Passenger trains between Oxford and/or Reading and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.

These sections could be electrified.

  • Basingstoke and Reading
  • Didcot Packway and Oxford
  • Oxford and Milton Keynes
  • Northampton and Market Harborough

Much of the abandoned Electric Spine would have been created.

 

 

October 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Did Someone Try To Steal The Electrification?

I arrived at Ipswich station to come back to London at 09:30 this morning and finally arrived home at 15:00. The journey had taken at least four times longer than it should.

This article on Railnews, which has a subtitle of Overhead Line Damage Disrupts Great Eastern, explains the problem.

The wires between Colchester and Marks Tey stations were damaged at around four in the morning and trains didn’t run again until about 1700.

This is a paragraph that adds more details.

overhead line damage was discovered between Colchester and Marks Tey. Network Rail workers reported shortly before 04.45 that overhead line equipment was tripping, and a train driver reported ‘visible damage’ to the power lines.

I eventually came home by this route.

  • I took a train to Class 153 train to Cambridge.
  • Another electric train took me to to Tottenham Hale,.
  • It was then two buses home.

It was a completely wasted day.

What puzzles me is that the damage to the wires appears to have happened, when no trains were running. So that seems to indicate they either just fell down for no apparent reason or someone was up to no good.

Years ago, I did some work for British Rail and they talked about all sorts of groups getting up to all sorts f tricks to steal copper. signalling cable.

The crooks would even repeatedly cut fibre optic signalling cables, in the hope it would be replaced by copper, so they could nick that!

I shall await the report of what happened yesterday with interest!

Greater Anglia Were Short Of Trains

I took this picture, when I arrived at Ipswich.

It shows the Ipswich to Cambridge service that gives a good connection to the train from London. For several years, it has been a smart three-car Class 170 train. This is a rwo-car Class 156 train.

  • Greater Anglia were also apologising for the connecting Lowestoft service being just a one car; Class 153 train.
  • It appeared to me, that Greater Anglia has sent nearly all of their Class 170 trains to Wales.
  • And yet again, Greater Anglia are looking after their Norwich customers and heaping all the inadequate rolling stock on Ipswich.
  • Are the new Class 755 trains and their drivers ready?

It looks to me, to be a management cock-up.

Train For Cambridge Anybody?

This was my train to Cambridge.

As I said, it was normally a three-car Class 170 train, but this is an inadequate Class 153 train, which went they ran between Ipswich and Cambridge generally ran in pairs.

Gerald Fiennes and Delia Smith at Dullingham

At least I only had to wait ten minutes at Cambridge for my Tottenham Hale train.

Greater Anglia’s Response

The staff at Ipswich did their best, but there did seem to be a biit of bad leadership from somewhere as at one point, it was announced that a London train would be running and I don’t think it did.

To make matters worse, as we ran into Cambridge, we passed two brand new Class 755 trains in the sidings. Are they parked their ready to start the service?

This article on the East Anglian Daily Times is entitled We’re Completely Stuck – it’s A Joke’ – Rail Passengers’ Anger At Train Chaos.

It shows a large degree of management failure.

Planning For The Future

The electrification on the Great Eastern Main Line appears to be notoriously unreliable.

Network Rail must get it better! But they don’t seem to be doing a good job, as I have had pain getting to Ipswich for six years, whilst they are updating the wires!

I believe that the best insurance for the train services would be to do the following, as soon as possible.

  • Increase services on the Ipswich and Cambridge route to two trains per hour (tph) using four-car Class 755 trains. One would be direct and the other would have a change at Ely.
  • Increase services on the Norwich and Cambridge route to two tph using four-car Class 755 trains. One would be direct and the other would have a change at Ely.
  • Start running the London and Lowestoft service using four-car Class 755 trains.
  • Make sure that, it is possible to run routes with pairs of Class 755 trains.
  • Ensure, that Class 755 trains can run London and Norwich via Cambridge.

As an example yesterday, a six-car Class 755 formation formed of two three-car trains shuttling between Ipswich and Cambridge, would probably have solved the problem.

But I do think that East Anglia’s rail problems might be best served by running a new direct service between London Kings Cross and Norwich.

As I have said several times, the Kings Cross and Cambridge and/or Kings Lynn service needs to be upgraded to 140 mph trains to make the most of the 140 mph running on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

So why not run the following services?

  • Hourly between Kings Cross and Kings Lynn via Cambridge.
  • Hourly between Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge.

The trains could be Hitachi AT-300 trains with a battery capability sufficient to take the train North of Ely.

Conclusion

Did someone try to steal the electrification?

I will await the answer as to what happened with interest.

October 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Haughley Junction Improvements

This article in the East Anglian Daily Times is entitled New Tracks. New Platforms At Ipswich Station. And Faster Trains. Will East Anglia’s Rail Bosses Be Able To Deliver?.

This is said about Haughley Junction.

Mr Bradley said improving Haughley junction, making it a full double-track junction, would mainly benefit cross-country services but it would reduce a potential main-line bottleneck.

This Google Map shows the junction.

Haughley Junction is towards the top of the map.

  • The track going vaguely to the North-West goes towards Bury St. Edmunds, Newmarket and Cambridge.
  • The track going North goes to Diss and Norwich.
  • Ipswich is to the South.

Work is eased by having a large space on the Eastern side of the junction, but where the railway crosses Station Road, there is a level crossing, which is to be removed.

It looks to me, that this is one of those projects, that can grow to be very complicated.

Consider.

  • Will a flyover be built or will it be a flat junction?
  • Will the main Ipswich-Norwich line be moved to the East.
  • How will engineers deal with the level crossing closure?
  • Will any electrification be added towards Cambridge?

With regards to the last question, it should be noted that Cambridge and Haughley Junction are forty-two miles apart.

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains can replace each diesel engine with a battery pack. This will be done on the South Wales Metro.

In .Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s’, I investigate what Stadler have said about Class 755 trains running on batteries.

  • Ranges of up to forty miles are quoted.
  • Batteries could be fitted to Greater Anglia’s bi-mode Flirts at an overhaul.

I would expect that the electrification would be extended towards Cambridge by as much as is needed to make sure that battery operation between Ipswich and Cambridge is possible.

I have just flown my helicopter along the line, as far as Chippenham Junction.

  • The line splits at Chippenham Junction, with one branch going through Newmarket to Cambridge and the other to Ely.
  • Chippenham Junction is seventeen miles from Cambridge.
  • The route betwen Chippenham Junction and Haughley Junction appears to have been cleared for el;ectrification.
  • Electrification through Newmarket would be expensive, as there is a tunnel, a section of single track and possibly a station rebuild.
  • Chippenham Junction and Haughley Junction are about twenty-five miles apart.
  • Chippenham Junction and Ely are about fourteen miles apart.

If I was in charge of this project, I would certainly investigate the possibility of electrification between Haughley and Chippenham Junctions

  • Class 755 trains with batteries would be able to run between Chippenham Junction and Cambridge or Ely on battery power.
  • The East West Rail Consortium is proposing a Park-And Ride station, which could be called A14 Parkway.
  • How much money would train operators save, if this section was el;ectrified?
  • Power for the electrification would be picked up at Haughley Junction.

Would it allow tri-mode Class 93 locomotives to be able to go between Felixstowe and Ely only using a relatively small amount of diesel compared to a Class 66 locomotive?

I also think that electrifying between Chippenham and Haughley Junctions is low risk electrification.

  • The route has been gauge-cleared.
  • Thee new Class 755 trains can run without it.
  • On the other hand they will run more efficiently when it has been installed.
  • It would enable Class 93 locomotives to run on electricity.

Too many electrification projects need new trains. These are already in service.

Conclusion

There is more to this project than meets the eye.

 

October 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Unrelated (?) Stories About Rail Freight

Today there are two news stories about rail freight on the Internet.

I’ll sketch out a few details from both stories.

Invest In Rail Freight

This is the first paragraph of the news story.

A new report published by the Rail Freight Group today is outlining how an ‘ambitious growth strategy’ for rail freight over the next ten years could be worth between £75 billion and £90 billion in environmental and economic benefits.

The report was written by well-respected rail commentator; Stephen Joseph

Recommendations include.

  • A new approach from national and local government.
  • New investment
  • More investment in the Strategic Freight Network.
  • Increased electrification
  • New rail linked terminals
  • Reforms to planning laws
  • High speed freight services to city centres.
  • Road pricing could also be used to encourage a shift to rail.

The Rail Freight group’s director general Maggie Simpson is quoted as saying. With renewed focus on the environment, and with new trade opportunities on the horizon, there has never been a better time to invest in rail freight.

Note that invest or investment is mentioned five times in the short news story.

New Owner For GB Railfreight

This is the first paragraph of the news story.

Hector Rail Group has sold GB Railfreight to Infracapital – the unlisted infrastructure equity arm of M&GPrudential.

This article in Rail Magazine was published in July 2017 and is entitled GB Railfreight In ‘Locomotive Acquisition’ Talks.

GB Railfreight has a fleet of seventy-eight Class 66 locomotives with other locomotives in the ageing category. Some of their work like hauling the Caledonian Sleeper needs well-presented reliable locomotives, so perhaps they need to update their image.

Would being owned by Infracapital give the company better access to finance for a renewed fleet?

The previous article indicated, that new investment in infrastructure, like selective electrification, railfreight terminals and perhaps freight loops is needed in the UK Strategic Freight Network.

Would Infracapital be prepared to fund this infrastructure, where it made their locomotives more profitable?

Consider.

  • Partial electrification of the Felixstowe Branch Line might enable a hybrid Class 93 locomotive to haul the heaviest intermodal freight trains between Felixstowe and Ipswich. This improvement would also allow Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains to run partially on electricity on the route.
  • Doubling of the single-track between Soham and Ely would increase the number of freight paths across Suffolk.
  • Reworking of junctions at Haughley and Ely would also speed up freight trains across Suffolk.

These are just three examples from an area I know well, but in how many places in the UK would smaller projects improve the profitability of new locomotives.

Infracapital would also be paid track access charges for their small sections of infrastructure. So well-planned improvements would have two revenue streams. And both would have a lifetime of thirty to forty years.

Case Study – Partial Electrification Of Felixstowe Branch Line

The Felixstowe Branch Line has now been double-tracked to create a passing loop to the West of Trimley, which allows more freight trains per day into and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

I believe that if sections of the branch line were to be electrified, that a diesel/electric/battery Class 93 locomotive would be able to haul a maximum weight intermodal freight train from Felixstowe to Ipswich.

The freight train would continue South and would use electric power to go to Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester using existing electrified routes through London.

In Issue 888 of Rail Magazine, there is a short article, which is entitled Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s.

This is said.

Class 755s could be fitted with battery power when they undergo their first overhaul.

Stadler built the trains with diesel and electric power.

The Swiss manufacturer believes batteries to be the alternative power source for rail of the future, and is to build tri-mode trains for Transport for Wales, with these entering traffic in 2023.

Rock Rail owns the Greater Anglia fleet. Chief Operating Office Mike Kean told RAIL on September 4 it was possible that when a four-car ‘755/4’ requires an overhaul, one of its four diesel engines will be removed and replaced by a battery.

I suspect the battery size and electrification can be designed, so that the trains can work the twelve mile branch without using diesel  power.

I can envisage a time, when the following trains on the Felixstowe Branch are zero-carbon.

  1. Freight trains between Felixstowe and London via Ipswich.
  2. Passenger services.

That will be a substantial improvement in environmental credentials.

Conclusion

There is more to this than an insurance and fund management company, funding locomotives.

Suppose GB Railfreight see an opportunity to deploy a new fleet of locomotives on a valuable contract, but perhaps a missing piece of infrastructure, stops them from running the service. Will they then approach their parent company; Infracapital, to see if they can help?

Are we seeing the first green shoots of realism in the financing of much-needed improvements to the UK rail network.

If it works out well, I don’t think that Infracapital will mind the good publicity.

 

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September 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does The Acceleration Of The TransPennine Upgrade Have Anything To Do With Boris?

In Issue 885 of Rail Magazine, which was published on 14/08/19, there is an article, which is entitled Johnson Vows To Build New Manchester-Leeds Line, where this is said.

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to fund a new line as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail in what has been described by leaders in the North as a “seminal moment”.

Speaking in Manchester on July 27, Johnson said. “I want to be the PM who does with Northern Powerhouse Rail what we did with Crossrail in London. And today I’m going to deliver on my commitment to that vision with a pledge to fund the Leeds to Manchester route.

“It will be up to local people and us to come to an agreement on the exact proposal they wat – but I have tasked officials to accelerate their work on these plans so that we are ready to do a deal in the autumn.”

Since Boris’s speech, plans for improvements between Huddersfield and Dewsbury have been announced and now it seems that Network Rail have published plans for full electrification between Huddersfield and Leeds, as I discussed in Is There Going To Be Full Electrification Between Leeds And Huddersfield?.

Whether you are for or against Boris, he certainly seems to have got action from Network Rail.

August 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Is There Going To Be Full Electrification Between Leeds And Huddersfield?

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is dated 23/08/19 and is entitled Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route and it prompted me to write this post of the same name.

The Rail Technology Magazine article talks about a comprehensive upgrade to the Huddersfield Line is planned that includes.

  • Improvement between Huddersfield and Westtown
  • Grade separation or a tunnel at Ravensthorpe
  • Rebuilding and electrification of eight miles of track.
  • Possible doubling the number of tracks from two to four.
  • Improved stations at Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe.

I have now found this document on the Network Rail web site, which is entitled Huddersfield to Westtown (Dewsbury).

This statement is included under proposals.

Electrification of the railway from Huddersfield to Ravensthorpe – and right through to Leeds.

Because there is a dash in the words, has electrification to Leeds, been a recent addition?

It certainly doesn’t fit with the Rail Technology Magazine article.

It also doesn’t fit with this article on the BBC, which is dated 20/08/19 and is entitled Detailed TransPennine £2.9bn Rail Upgrade Plans Unveiled.

Electrification is mentioned in the second paragraph.

Network Rail has also announced it intends to electrify the line between Huddersfield and Dewsbury and double the number of tracks from two to four.

And in the sixth paragraph.

Network Rail said the proposed major overhaul and electrification work would be carried out on an 8-mile (13km) section of the route, with the “first round” of consultations starting with those living closest to the railway.

The two news sites seem to have used the same source.

The BBC also uses this map, that I have copied from the Network Rail document

Note the railway lines shown in red. Are these the ones to be electrified? As they go from Huddersfield to Westtown, I think the answer is probably in the affirmative.

I seems to me, that Rail Technology Magazine and the BBC are using a common source and could it be an earlier version of the Network Rail document.

But the map, I have shown, shows the electrification only going as far as Westtown, despite coming from a document, that states twice that the electrification is going as far as Leeds.

It is certainly sloppy documentation.

Track Layouts

This document on the Digital Railway web site is dated 16/08/18 and is entitled Transpennine Route Upgrade SDO1 ETCS – Analysis.

Significantly, it is written by the Digital Railway – Joint Development Group (JDG), which consists of representatives of Siemens, Hitachi, ARUP and Network Rail.

It is mainly about using digital signalling called ETCS on the Transpennine Route, but it does give these track layouts between Huddersfield and Dewsbury.

This is the current layout.

There is also this full four-track layout, which I assume was the original plan.

It is more complicated and involved the building of bridges in the area of Ravensthorpe station.

There is also a reduced four-track layout, which I assume was developed as the track analysis progressed.

It is not a massive upgrade from the current layout.

As I see it, if the reduced layout can handle the required number of services, it has major advantages over the full scheme.

  • There are no changes to track  layout between Ravensthorpe and Dewsbury stations.
  • Rebuilding Ravensthorpe station should be a smaller project.
  • The current and reduced layout have three tracks between Mirfield and Ravensthorpe stations.
  • There are no expensive new bridges to be built.

To make the scheme work there is a small amount of bi-directional running on the centre track, which is made possible by using digital signalling on the route.

Track Usage

By using bi-directional running on the centre track between Ravensthorpe and Mirfield stations, which is controlled by ETCS, the track layout is simplified, with three tracks instead of four.

  • Slow trains from Huddersfield to Dewsbury will dive under the Brighouse lines and call in/pass Platform 1 at Mirfield station before going straight on to Ravensthorpe and Dewsbury. This is as trains do now.
  • Slow trains from Dewsbury to Huddersfield will use the centre track from East to West and call in/pass Platform 2 at Mirfield station before turning South-West  on to Huddersfield. This is as trains do now.
  • Fast trains from Huddersfield to Dewsbury will call in/pass Platform 3 at Mirfield station and then cross over to the top track and go straight on to Ravensthorpe and Dewsbury.
  • Fast trains from Dewsbury to Huddersfield will use the centre track from East to West and call in/pass Platform 4 at Mirfield station before turning South-West  on to Huddersfield.
  • Trains from Brighouse  to Wakefield will call in/pass Platform 1 at Mirfield station and then cross to the centre track and go straight on to Wakefield. This is as trains do now.
  • Trains from Wakefield to Brighouse will use the centre track from East to West and call in/pass Platform 2 at Mirfield station and go straight on to Brighouse.

Note.

  1. Platforms at Mirfield station are numbered 1 to 4 from the North
  2. The slow lines between Mirfield and Huddersfield are shown in black.
  3. The fast lines between Mirfield and Huddersfield are shown in blue.
  4. Passengers can use Platforms 1/2 as a cross-platform interchange between slow Huddersfield-Leeds and Brighouse-Wakefield services.

I also think it likely, that the proposed layout will improve the timetable.

Does The Reduced Layout Produce A Cost Saving?

In one of the first jobs I did at ICI Plastics Division, I simulated a chemical process on an analogue computer. My mathematics showed they could use much smaller vessels, which meant the height of the plant could be reduced by a few  metres. I remember the engineer in charge of the project being very pleased, when he told me, that height costs money.

  • The reduced layout removes three bridges, which must mean a cost saving.
  • There is probably less track to lay

The negative is that digital signalling with ETCS must be installed through the area. This is going to be installed on the UK network, so it probably needs little more than shuffling the installation order.

On balance, when all things are considered, I suspect if the reduced layout can be used, there will be substantial cost savings on the project.

Problems At Morley Station

Morley station is two stations after Dewsbury station on the route towards Leeds.

Unusually for Wikipedia, the entry for Morley station has a large section entitled Current Problems.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The increase in demand, combined with growth elsewhere on the line, means that overcrowding in the morning peak, particularly for commuters heading towards Leeds, is becoming more of an issue.

Despite this commuter growth little has been done to bring this station into the 21st century. For example, only one platform is accessible for disabled passengers, there is insufficient parking, access routes to and from the station are often overgrown with weeds, and there are frequent drainage problems which all combine to make the station not as pleasant as other stations in West Yorkshire. In 2012 a “Friends of Morley station” group was formed, and is addressing some of these issues. Work to improve the car park and drainage commenced in February 2013.

To make matters worse, the station is 10-15 minutes walk from the centre of Morley with poor bus and taxi connections.

Would the following help the Friends of Morley Station?

  • Longer trains.
  • More frequent trains.
  • Faster trains to Leeds
  • Better bus services.

Electric trains would help solve the first three.

White Rose Station

There are plans to build a new White Rose station in the next couple of years at the White Rose Centre..

This would be between Morley and Cottingley stations.

This station will surely increase the passenger numbers on the Huddersfield Line.

Have Network Rail Designed The Electrification Between Dewsbury And Leeds?

This electrification has been off and on more times, than the lights in an average kitchen, so I suspect there is a workable plan dating from the last century amongst many others.

Would Extending Electrification To Leeds Provide The Power?

Electrification needs a good connection to the National Grid to provide the power needed to run the trains.

The short eight-mile electrification, as originally proposed could probably have been fed from one end; Huddersfield or Dewsbury.

Both locations would need new sub-stations, with Huddersfield possibly needed in the future to power the wires all the way to Manchester.

Leeds is already fully-electrified with electric expresses to Doncaster and London and several electric local services.

So is the easiest and most affordable way to power the eight-mile electrification between Huddersfield and Westtown to run an extension cable between Leeds and Dewsbury?

Network Rail had a similar problem on the Midland Main Line, which I wrote about in Welcome For Extension Of Midland Electrification.

National Grid had provided a power connection near Market Harborough for the Midland Main Line electrification, which was then cancelled North of Kettering North Junction, leaving the electrification to Corby without a power supply.

The problem is being solved, by extending the electrification to Market Harborough and connecting the wires to the power there.

I do wonder, that the most affordable way to power the Huddersfield and Westtown electrified line is to electrify all the way to Leeds and connect to the power there.

Conclusion

Improving services on the Huddersfield Line between Huddersfield and Leeds is going to be very necessary in the next few years, as passenger numbers will surely grow, due to new housing, increased commuting and the opening of White Rose station.

  • New or refurbished four-car electric trains would provide more capacity, increased frequencies and faster services,
  • Digital signalling with ETCS would allow more trains to run smoothly.

It appears to me, that to electrify all of the Huddersfield Line between Huddersfield and Leeds would be a good idea, if the money can be found.

Has that money been found by developing a more affordable track layout for the proposed TransPennine Upgrade between Huddersfield and Westtown?

But also using the power at Leeds and electrifying all the way between Huddersfield and Leeds, seems to be a bloody great tail, that is wagging the dog of electrification.

Further Electrification

Providing a fully-electrified route between Huddersfield and Leeds, would leave just two sections of the main TransPennine route without electrification.

I don’t know about the planning and difficulty of the first route, but from my helicopter the engineering shouldn’t be too difficult, with the exception of the elecxtrification of the Standedge Tunnels, although Wikipedia seems optimistic about the electrifying the main twin-bore tunnel.

During the 2000s, Network Rail proposed reinstating rail traffic through the 1848 and 1871 tunnels to increase capacity on the Leeds-Manchester trans-Pennine route, but after a re-appraisal after the decision to electrify the trans-Pennine line, it was reported in 2012 that reinstatement was unnecessary.

In addition, could it be, that Manchester with lots of electric trains can provide enough power at Stalybridge, where an updated power connection has been recently installed, to power electric trains between Manchester and Huddersfield?

, The second has been planned for years and has a string of advantages.

  • Speed up services between Leeds and Newcastle and Scotland.
  • Allow LNER to run electric trains between London and Scotland via Leeds.
  • Create an electrified route between Neville Hill Depot and York.
  • Create an electrified diversion through Leeds for the East Coast Main Line

This section should be electrified for operational reasons on the East Coast Main Line.

A Final Conclusion

Network Rail’s plans seem to have evolved under analysis to be as follows.

  • Limited four-tracking and updated track between Huddersfield and Westtown.
  • Digital signalling with ETCS between Huddersfield and Leeds.
  • Full electrification between Huddersfield and Leeds
  • Power for the electrification from Leeds.

Could it even cost less than the allocated £2.9billion?

 

 

 

August 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dewsbury Station

I broke my journey between Leeds and Huddersfield at Dewsbury station, where I had a very acceptable gluten-free pizza and a glass of cider.

I took these pictures of the station.

Note.

  1. There appears to be an avoiding line, through the station, which means that faster trains can pass slower ones stopped in the station.
  2. The station has a step-free bridge, but no toilets.
  3. The square outside the station has been recently landscaped.
  4. The station is Grade II Listed.
  5. The station has four TransPennine Express trains per hour (tph) in both directions.

Overall it is an excellent station with a touch of class, that probably deserves a few more trains.

Electrification

I cover possible electrification between Leeds and Huddersfield in Is There Going To Be Full Electrification Between Leeds And Huddersfield?.

Electrification as far as Leeds, which would offer faster acceleration and shorter station dwell times could offer the following.

  • The solution to the problems at Morley station. using longer and faster trains.
  • A faster journey time between Leeds and Huddersfield for the stopping trains.

Northern’s new Class 331 trains would probably do just fine.

If the stopping trains could run between Leeds and Huddersfield in perhaps twenty-five minutes, which may or may not be possible after the upgrade, just two trains would be needed for a two tph service.

I could see electrification opening up the following services on the electrified route, through Dewsbury.

  • Two tph – Leeds and Huddersfield – Stopping at all stations
  • One tph – Leeds and Wigan North Western – Stopping at all stations
  • Four tph – Leeds and Huddersfield – Stopping only at Dewsbury and other selected stations.

All except the Wigan service would be electric trains.

Conclusion

Dewsbury station is going to get a much-improved train service.

 

August 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

World’s First Solar-Powered Trains Are Coming To England

The title of this post, is the same as that on this article on Lonely Planet.

This is the first paragraph

The first ever solar unit to directly supply a railway line with electricity has been put in place in England, paving the way for the world’s first solar-powered trains

I am not sure yet about this technology., powering large sections of the UK’s railways.

But the technology does have applications, if it is combined with energy storage.

Boosting Power With Third-Rail Electrification

Third-rail electrification has a problem, in that it needs to be fed with power every few miles. Inevitably, as timetables get busier, there are areas, where there is not enough power to supply the trains.

These systems can provide that fill-in power.

Note that 25 KVAC overhead electrification doesn’t have the problem, as the wires themselves distribute the electricity.

This means that the Great Western Main Line electrification is only supplied with power from the electricity grid at three places; the two ends and one in the middle.

Electrification In Visually-Sensitive Places

Look at this picture of Brunel’s magnificent Wharncliffe Viaduct.

It has been recently electrified and some groups object to the electrification of Grade I Listed structures like this.

Most modern electric trains can be dual-voltage and can work on both electrification systems used in the UK; 25 KVAC  overhead and 750 VDC third rail. They can also change between electrification systems at maximum speed

So could we see selective use of solar-powered third-rail electrification in visually-sensitive areas?

Possibly! But battery/electric trains may be a better alternative!

Charging Battery-Electric Trains

There are some branch lines, that will be served by battery-electric trains in the future.

These solar-powered systems could be used to provide the energy to charge the batteries for the return journey.

Powering Remote Stations

Stations are increasingly needing better electricity supplies with more lighting and various ticket and parking machines, and charging for electric cars will become more important.

Solar power systems and batteries could be used.

Conclusion

Solar power will be increasingly used on the railways, with a large number of stations like Blackfriars and the recently-opened White Hart Lane.

But that will happen, irrespective of the result of the Aldershot trial, as many stations are easy places to install solar panels, either on the roof or redundant spaces.

This Google Map shows one of my local stations; Haggerston.

It was rebuilt and reopened in April 2010, so solar panels were probably not thought about for the station.

From my helicopter, it appears that the stations at  Dalston Junction, Hoxton and Shoreditch High Street, which were all built at the same time, don’t have solar rooves either.

Perhaps Transport for London and/or Network Rail should rent their roof areas to companies, who run solar farms?

I’m sure there’s a mutually beneficial deal in there somewhere!

As to powering trains, I’m sure they that Riding Sunbeams has a place on third-rail networks, where power needs boosting.

However, electric trains with batteries might be a better option in other applications.

August 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments