The Anonymous Widower

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

Just Look How The Port Of Felixstowe Has Grown

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled Felixstowe Branch Line Capacity Enhancement Goes Live.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Funded by the Strategic Freight Network, with a contribution from Hutchinson Ports UK (HP-UK), a £60.4 million investment to create a new 1.4km loop on the Felixstowe branch line in Suffolk was successfully brought into service on 29 May 2019, on time and on budget. It facilitates an increase from 33 to 47 freight train paths a day in each direction on this key artery, carrying the highest freight tonnage in the country and serving the largest container port in the UK.

High Speed Two it is not, but if you read the article, you’ll see that a substantial amount of work has been done, involving track, footbridges, level crossings and signalling.

I can remember the Port of Felixstowe, when it was a just a small basin, with the Little Ships Hotel, a couple of warehouses and the giant seaplane crane. A couple of times, I used the Harwich Ferry to cross the harbour to Harwich on the Brightlingsea.

In some ways Felixstowe has come a long way in those sixty years.

With the increase in capacity on the Felixstowe Branch Line, the rail link can handle the container traffic through the Port better!

Note this about trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

  • 47 freight trains per day between Ipswich and Felixstowe is roughly two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • The current passenger service is one tph.
  • In addition, there is an hourly Ipswich and Lowestoft train, which shares track between Ipswich and Westerfield Junction.
  • The new Class 755 trains are faster and will have shorter dwell times than the current trains.

Between Ipswich and Westerfield, there are four tph.

  • The route is double-track.
  • Not all trains stop at Westerfield
  • The level-crossing at Westerfield station has been improved and is now is a Manually Controlled Barrier with CCTV
  • The signalling has been improved and moved to Colchester Power Signal Box.

Between Westerfield and Felixstowe, there are three tph.

  • The route is single track with loops to the East of Derby Road and the West of Trimley stations.
  • The level crossings have been improved and three have been converted to Manually Cntrolled Barriers.
  • The signalling has been improved and moved to Colchester Power Signal Box..

It looks to my untrained eye, that these service pattern are possible.

So what will happen in the future?

In the next few sections, I talk about the future.

Could More Passenger Trains Be Run To Felixstowe And Lowestoft?

I suspect here, that the limiting factor will be platform capacity at Ipswich station.

Ipswich station will have at least four tph running between Stowmarket and Colchester (3 x London and Norwich and 1 x Peterborough and Colchester), that will use Plstform 2 at Ipswich station. I suspect that this means Lowestoft and Felixstowe trains will have to share the Bay Platform 1.

With good signalling and precision driving, I suspect that the single platform could handle 2 tph to both Felixstowe and Lowestoft.

There would only ever be one train in Platform 1 at Ipswich station, unlike now, where two trains share. The new Class 755 trains will be just too long.

Could Two tph Be Run Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?

The current timetable is as follows.

  • Leaves Ipswich at XX:58 and arrives Felixstowe at XX:24
  • Leaves Felixstowe at XX:28 and arrives Ipswich at XX::54

Note.

  1. The clock-face nature of the timetable.
  2. Both journeys are 26 minutes
  3. There is four minutes for the driver to change ends and have a break.

This service would need two trains and if there’s one thing that Abellio Greater Anglia aren’t short of, it’s three-car Cl;ass 755 trains.

If the trains had the branch to themselves, there could be a two tph service between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

But they have to share it with freight trains running at two tph.

This would mean the following.

  • Five tph between Ipswich and Westerfield
  • Four tph between Westerfield and Felixstowe.

As two tph between Ipswich and Felixstowe is likely to be on Greater Anglia’s wish list, I suspect the new track layout was designed with this service in mind.

Currently, there is one or two cars per hour between Ipswich and Felixstowe, but a two tph service would mean a minimum of six cars per hour or a massive increase in capacity.

Could Two tph Be Run Between Ipswich And Lowestoft?

The current timetable between Ipswich and Lowestoft stations is as follows.

  • An almost clock-face hourly service in both directions.
  • A journey time of just under one-and-a-half hours.
  • There are nine stops on the route.
  • There are several minutes for the driver to change ends and have a break.

When the new Class 755 trains are working the route, the following will apply.

  • The Class 755 trains are faster and have a shorter dwell time in stations.
  • There will be four London and Lowestoft services per day.

I think it is true to say, that journey times will be reduced.

I suspect that the following could be possible.

  • A journey time of perhaps one hour and twenty minutes.
  • Trains would leave Lowestoft at XX:07
  • Trains would leave Ipswich at XX:37

This or something like it, would be an acceptable clockface timetable.

I strongly believe that an improved service will be possible between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

  • I feel that two tph between Ipswich and Lowestoft might be difficult to achieve without extra works on the track.
  • Extra capacity can be added by using four-car Class 755 trains on the route.
  • Faster services will certainly be introduced, as the train’s faster speed and shorter dwell times will knock several minutes from the journey.

I also think, that it may be possible to introduce a second service on the Southern section of the route, which runs to perhaps Leiston or even Aldeburgh. This would give the busier Southern section of the route two tph.

So Platform 1 at Ipswich station could see the following trains.

  • Two tph Ipswich and Felixstowe
  • One tph Ipswich and Lowestoft
  • One tph Ipswich and Leiston/Aldeburgh

I believe that timetabling of the route would not be a difficult task!

Four Trains Per Day Between Lowestoft and London

The London and Lowestoft service could be arranged as follows.

  • Lowestoft station has three platforms., so one could be reserved for the London service.
  • If the last service arrived back late or the first service needed to leave early, the dedicated platform could be used for overnight stabling.
  • When running between Ipswich and Lowestoft it would take over, one of the Ipswich and Lowestoft paths.
  • The trains will stop at all stations between Ipswich and Lowstoft, as there will be jealousy between users.
  • It would call in the through platforms 2 and 3 at Ipswich station..
  • The trains would make as few calls as possible South of Ipswich, as the Lowestoft train will be a fourth fast London service in the hour.

No new infrastructure would be required.

Could London And Lowestoft Services Be A Dedicated Shuttle Train?

This may have marketing advantages, as the train could have its own livery and perhaps a buffet or a catering trolley.

If you assume that the working day for a train is 0600-2400, then this means the following.

  • A round trip must be performed in four and a half hours.
  • A London and Lowestoft time of two hours and fifteen minutes,.
  • The journey time would include the turnround time at the destination.

As Ipswich and London times of an hour are possible with a 100 mph trains, like the Class 755 train, Ipswich and Lowestoft would have to be run in a time as close to an hour as possible.

Consider.

  • The only trains on the East Suffolk Line will be Class 755 trains between Ipswich and Lowestoft.
  • Class 755 trains may be able to stop at stations in under a minute.
  • Line speed could possibly be increased, as the route appears reasonably straight
  • Some level crossings could probably be removed.
  • The current average speed on the line is around 35 mph.

I also suspect that Greater Anglia have run tests with the current Class 170 trains, which are 100 mph trains to determine what times are possible.

I wouldn’t be surprised if using a single shuttle train to run the four trains per day between London and Lowestoft, is possible.

  • Services could leave Lowestoft at 06:00, 10:30, 15:00 and 19:30
  • Services could leave Liverpool Street at 08:15, 12:45, 17:15 and 21:45

The last service would arrive back in Lowestoft at midnight.

Tram-Trains Between Ipswich And Felixstowe

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the Eastern section of the East-West Rail Link.

This is said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe and street running through
Ipswich.

It is also said, that there will be a frequency of four tph  between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

It looks like the plan is to fully-double the branch line to the East of Derby Road station.

To the West of Derby Road, the line is mainly single track until it joins the East Suffolk Line close to Westerfield station.

The problem is that the single-track railway goes over the over the Spring Road Viaduct. Rebuilding the viaduct to add the second track, would be something that everybody would want to totally avoid, as how would the containers from forty-seven freight trains per day in both directions, be moved in and out of the Port of Felixstowe?

If the capacity can’t be increased, the demand will have to be reduced.

A Possible Tram-Train Proposal

The East West Rail report is proposing that the 1-2 tph passenger service between Ipswich and Felixstowe should be replaced by a four tph tram-train service.

  • The tram-train service would start at Ipswich station, running as a tram.
  • It would probably meander through Ipswich, serving places like Portman Road, the Town Centre< Christchurch Park, the new housing in the North, Ipswich Hospital and the Retail Parks in the East.
  • If Ipswich gets a new Northern Ring Road, the tram-trains, might run on the original by-pass, that goes past Ipswich Hospital.
  • It would then join the double-track section of the Felixstowe Branch Line on the Eastern outskirts of the town.
  • Extra stops might be built between Ipswich and Felixstowe.
  • At Felixstowe station, the tram-trains could revert to tram mode and might even go as far as the sea-front, using battery-power.

There are a lot of possibilities to give Ipswich and Felixstowe, one of the best local transport links in the world.

There will be some collateral benefits.

  • Extra freight trains can probably be squeezed through.
  • Ipswich Hospital will get the updated transport links, that it badly needs.
  • Road traffic would be reduced.

I also believe that the tram-train could be added to the Felixstowe Branch Line without disrupting trains, freight or passengers.

Electrification

I can remember reports from the 1960s, which said that felt the Felixstowe Branch Line would be electrified.

  • With a frequency of four tph, the route would surely be electrified for the tram-trains.
  • It would probably be electrified at 25 KVAC, so that freight trains could take advantage.
  • When street running in Ipswich and Felizstowe,, 750 VDC electrfication or battery-power could be used.

There would be no extra electrification needed to enable all freight trains going via London to be electric-hauled.

Freight Locomotives

I think it likely, that increasingly, we’ll see Class 93 locomotives and other electro diesel locomotives with a Last Mile capability taking freight trains into and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

These new breed of 110 mph locomotives will be able to take maximum-length freight trains on routes to, from and through London, but a new locomotive will be needed to take trains across East Anglia to Ely and Pryrtborough and then on to the Midlands and the Notth.

Conclusion

The Port of Felixstowe and the railways connecting it to the rest of the UK have come a long way in sixty years and they will expand more in the next decade or two!

August 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solar Panel Pilot For Aldershot

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the August 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the two paragraphs.

Solar panels are to be installed on derelict land near Aldershot station as part of an experiment into whether renewable energy can be used to power trains.

A total of 135 discrete solar panels are being installed and are expected to go live in August. The Riding Subnbeams ‘First Light’ demonstrator project is a collaboration between climate change charity 10:10, Community Energy South and Network Rail, alongside a consortium of specialist consultants and university departments.

I wrote about the company and its ideas in Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand, which I posted in December 2017.

I won’t repeat myself, but I will say that since I wrote the original article, a compatible development has happened.

In Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains, I wrote about Vivarail’s charging system for battery trains, which uses battery-to-battery power transfer to charge batteries on trains, through standard third-rail technology.

I do feel that the 10:10 and Vivarail ought to be talking, as I feel that between them, they could come up with some good joint ideas.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Electrification West Of Cardiff Central Station

These pictures show erected gantries for the electrification to the West of Cardiff Central station.

I have been sent a map of the proposed works and facilities for the South Wales Metro. This snippet shows the lines to the West of Cardiff Central station.

Note.

  1. Electrified lines are shown in blue and unelectrified ones in black.
  2. The South Wales Main Line is shown as a feint line going East-West to the North of Ninian Park station.
  3. Trains for Barry Island, Bridgend, Cardiff Airport, Maesteg and Penarth go via Grangetown station.
  4. Tram-trains for Radyr will go via Ninian Park station.

It looks like tram-trains emerging out of Canton Depot will have immediate access to 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

July 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Treforest Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Treforest station is on the list.

These pictures show the station and the current bridge,

The bridge is not the easiest to cross and I tripped.

I wouldn’t like to cross it in the worst weather the Valleys could through at it!

Installing The Step-Free Access

This Google Map shows the station.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

I believe that one of these bridges could be built at the Northern end of the station.

  • The Southbound platform could be widened if necessary.
  • The Western end of the bridge might mean a few car-parking spaces would be lost.
  • Disabled car-parking spaces could be close to the bridge.
  • The bridge could be used to support the electrification in the station.

But most importantly, the bridge could be installed without any disruption to trains and passengers.

I have been sent a map of the proposed works and facilities for the South Wales Metro. This snippet shows Treforest station.

Note.

  1. Treforest station is shown with a PRM-compliant bridge and step-free access from street to train. The new bridge would deliver this.
  2. The station is shown electrified.
  3. A short section of line North of the station is without electrification.

This Google Map shows the area to the North of the station.

It would appear, that instead of rebuilding the bridge to squeeze the wires underneath, a short earthed section of overhead conductor rail would be used.

Conclusion

Using one of Network Rail’s new bridges at Treforest station, solves all the problems of the station and could even make the electrification easier.

July 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Industry Urged To Decide On Alternative Technology

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

This is the first paragraph.

The rail industry needs to decide on the right approach to alternative technology as soon as possible, to ensure the industry can continue to reduce emissions.

Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Rail Group, Anthony Perratt of the RSSB, outlined how there was a huge opportunity to replace ageing Sprinter trains with new units powered by alternative energy sources like batteries and hydrogen.

The Size Of The Opportunity

Sprinter trains in service of stored in the UK include.

These add up to 516 trains, with a total of 1035 cars.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 710 train, this is said.

TfL announced that it had placed a £260m order for 45 four-car Bombardier Aventra EMUs.

This works out at nearly £1,500,000 for each car of a modern train.

This means that replacement of the Sprinters, with new independently-powered trains, would be project of the order of £1.5billion.

That is a market, that would be very much desired by a train builder.

Battery, Diesel Or Hydrogen Power?

Diesel power is probably not a good idea, if it can be avoided.

The following points about hydrogen- and battery-powered trains should be noted.

  • Most hydrogen-powered trains are battery-powered trains, with a hydrogen fuel-cell to recharge the batteries.
  • Battery technology is improving fast.
  • Systems to rapidly charge batteries will be available in a couple of years.
  • Battery-powered trains can use existing electrification to charge the batteries.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains may need a large tank for the hydrogen, which limits passenger capacity.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains need a refuelling structure, which may be more difficult to install, than a charging system for battery trains.

I feel that innovative engineers will be able to find ways to enable battery-powered trains on routes that need independently powered trains.

Conclusion

I don’t think, that we’ll see many long-term applications of hydrogen-powered trains in the UK.

 

 

 

July 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments