The Anonymous Widower

The Design Of The Class 378 Trains Keeps The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Running

In some ways, London Overground’s Class 378 trains are the ultimate Electrostars.

These ten-year-old trains are  no high-performance trains, but they are people carriers par excellence.

Wikipedia describes their interiors like this.

The design is similar to the Class 376 trains used by Southeastern, featuring the same wider metro-style sliding pocket doors for more efficient boarding and alighting. However, it also has significant differences from the Class 376, such as fully longitudinal seating similar to that used on London Underground rolling stock to give more standing and less seating capacity and reduce overcrowding, suitable for the high-volume metro-style services on London Overground.

This picture shows a view through the five cars of a standard-length train.

At the present time they are the only heavy rail train with this seating layout. Although London Overground will soon be running some Class 710 trains with a similar layout.

  • The seats are reasonably comfortable.
  • All passengers get at least one arm-rest.
  • Passengers can walk between cars to find a seat or more space.
  • The aisle between the seats is wide enough for passengers to stretch their legs and others to walk through, when all seats are taken.
  • There’s plenty of space for standees and lots of handholds.
  • In less busy times, everybody gets at least one seat.

There are also wide lobbies and doors for easy embarking and alighting.

Note the perches either side of the door and the numerous handholds.

In my travels across Europe, I’ve never found a better inner-city commuter train.

To run a four trains per hour (tph) service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, ideally eight trains are needed; six to run the service, one in maintenance and a spare.

But all London Overground can scrape together is three Class 378 trains shortened to four-cars.

  • This limited number of trains can only run a two tph service.
  • The four-car Class 378 trains have 152 seats (including tip-up seats) and thirty-two double perch seats.
  • The two-car Class 172 trains have 124 seats.

This gives these seats per hour for the two services.

  • Class 172 trains – four tph – 496
  • Class 378 trains – two tph – 432

The Class 378 trains may offer less seats, but each four-car train can hold a lot of standees.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled London Overground Class 378 Ready To Enter Service, says that four-car versions of Class 378 trains can hold up to 700 passengers.

If you’ve ever travelled on the East and North London Lines around Dalston in the Peak, you’ll know how many people these trains can hold at a push!

Since the two tph service started yesterday I’ve done several trips on the Gospel Oak to Baring Line over two days.

  • 09:20 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • 10:33 – Barking to Blackhorse Road
  • 14:27 – Harringay Green Lanes to Gospel Oak
  • 14:50 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • 15:33 – Barking to Gospel Oak
  • 07:33 – Barking to Gospel Oak

Only the last trip can really be considered to be in the Peak.

I have the following observations on the Off Peak trips.

  • There were typically at least twenty per cent of seats available.
  • No-one was ever forced to stand, although some were.
  • A proportion of passengers were doing short trips of one or two stops.
  • Some stops like Crouch Hill, Blackhorse Road and Leyton Midland Road seemed to have more passenger traffic than others.
  • The trains had more passengers towards the Barking end of the route.
  • I asked a few passengers, if they’d had to wait long and all said, they’d read the timetable and arrived accordingly.
  • The usual accessories like dogs, buggies and baggage were carried by a proportion of passengers.
  • Two station staff said passengers were only complaining about the frequency.

It appears to me, that Off Peak journeys on the route will be adequate if not as frequent as passengers want.

I have the following observations for the single Peak journey at 07:33 this morning.

  • Nearly all seats were taken for the whole route.
  • Dwell times were slowed at certain stations, due to the numbers wanting to enter and alight.
  • All standees had a decent hand-hold.
  • Some passengers were still doing short trips of one or two stops.
  • Blackhorse Road with its connection to the Victoria Line was busy.
  • A staff member told me, that it all gets less busy after eight o’clock.

I should also say, that one passenger was complaining hard, as he had to stand for his short journey from Crouch Hill to Gospel Oak. But then he was dressed like he would pay for a First Class seat.

On arrival at Gospel Oak, I took a North London Line train to Hampstead Heath and that was carrying more passengers per car.. This added a perspective to the trip.

But then, in my part of London, at times, there are more overcrowded trains that I use regularly.

  • The Central, Victoria and Northern Lines on the Underground.
  • The North and East London Lines of the Overground.
  • The Northern City Line into Moorgate station.

Today’s Peak trip was no worse, than some I’ve experienced in the North of England.

Conclusion

The three gallant Class 378 trains are coping well and if they don’t suffer any failures, I suspect they can hold the line, until reinforcements arrive.

My trip today, illustrated the strengths of the train design as a large number of passengers were transported in a half-hour journey across North London.

Bombardier must also be pleased that it is three of their ten year-old-trains, that have been quickly reconfigured and have made up for their software shortcomings, that are causing late delivery of the Class 710 trains.

 

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Porterbrook Awards £11m Contract To Modify New Digital Heathrow Express Fleet

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Porterbrook has unveiled a £11m contract with Bombardier to modify 12 Class 387 trains in preparation for their use on the Heathrow Express rail link.

The 12 specially converted ‘Electrostar’ trains currently operate on London commuter services for GWR but will now form a dedicated Heathrow Express fleet of electric multiple-units.

As other Class 387 trains are used on Gatwick Express, I’m sure that the trains will end up as some of the best airport expresses in the world.

But I feel that this is the most significant paragraph in the article.

The deal will also see the company fit digital signalling equipment, called ETCS, to the Class 387s – the first-time digital signalling will have been fitted on an existing fleet of electric passenger trains and will result in ‘type approval’ from the ORR which will enable ETCS to be fitted on all Electrostar fleets.

Fitting ETCS to the Heathrow Express trains will have several benefits.

More Trains Between Paddington And Reading

With the refurbishment of the Class 387 trains for the Heathrow Express, there will only be three types of trains between Paddington and Reading stations.

  • Class 387 trains
  • Class 800/801/802 trains
  • Class 345 trains

Within a few years, all of these trains will be able to use ETCS and the benefits will be more trains between Paddington and Reading stations.

The trains would probably be a few minutes faster too!

All Electrostars Will Be Able To Be Updated With Digital Signalling

If the digital signalling works for the Class 387 trains, it would appear that it could be fitted to all the other Electrostars.

This could be very significant, as several busy lines have a high proportion of Electrostars.

These are my thoughts on some lines.

Brighton Main Line

The trains working the Brighton Main Line include.

  • Gatwick Express’s Class 387 trains.
  • Thameslink’s Class 700 trains, which are already using ETCS.
  • Southern’s Electrostars.

Could we see digital signalling increase the capacity of this line.

East London Line

The East London Line is an all-Electrostar line and in the next few years, with the coming of Crossrail, it will probably need more services.

I suspect it will be using digital signalling and ETCS in a few years time.

North And West London Lines

If the East London Line were to be successfully signalled to bring capacity benefits, I could see the North London and West London Lines following suit.

The Class 710 trains, that will be boosting passenger capacity are Aventras and will be compatible with digital signalling. The freight locomotives are also being upgraded to digital signalling.

c2c

In a few years time, c2c will be using only Electrostars and Aventras! So why not use digital signalling?

As more new trains arrive with digital signalling, more lines will be converted to digital signalling and ETCS.

Conclusion

The updating of twelve Class 387 trains for Heathrow Express is a big step in the creation of a digital railway.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Dwell Times And End Doors

Chris Stokes finishes his column in the January 2019 Edition of  Modern Railways, with this paragraph.

Dwell times remain critical too. The new TransPennine units provide more seats, but have single end doors. For an operation with high numbers joining and alighting at many stops, dwell times are going to increase significantly at stations such as Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, Boltonand Preston, chewing up any savings in running times, and exacerbating the problems at platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly.

I haven’t seen a TransPennine Mark 5A coach in the flesh yet, but I’ve seen several pictures, which show each coach has single end doors.

This  picture of the 100 mph Class 755 train shows the door layout is totally different.

It looks like it has a single double door on each coach.

It appears that the electric Class 745 trains have more doors.

If you look at a typical Bombardier Aventra or Electrostar, Stadler Flirt or Siemens Desiro City, there are generally no end doors.

Have CAF commited a design crime of the highest order?

Or is it TransPennine’s fault?

December 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Electrostars Are Going Digital

This article on the Railway Gazette is entitled Electrostar ETCS Contract Awarded.

Hopefully, this will mean that as more lines become part of the Digital Railway, Electrostars can all be fitted accordingly.

It should be noted that all the major train leasing companies seem to be part of the deal.

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Anybody Want To Buy A Fleet Of Electric Trains Going Purr?

When I wrote Southend In The Sun, I went to the Essex town in one of c2c‘s Class 357 trains.

These trains were the first of Derby’s Electrostars to hit the tracks in 1999.

Consider.

 

The last Electrostars are currently being built at Derby.

The 357s don’t seem much different to the latest Class 387 trains.

The 357s have air-conditioning, regenerative braking and lots of modern features.

There are 74 of the trains and to a passenger they look and feel pretty good.

 

c2c has a few problems.

  • It needs more capacity.
  • Competition on the Southend Route will be fierce, when Greater Anglia start running faster Aventra trains into Liverpool Street.
  • c2c has no direct link to Crossrail.
  • The Class 357 trains lack certain features that passengers demand like wi-fi.

To ease the capacity problem, they are adding six Class 387 trains to the fleet.

Wikipedia also says this about new trains.

As part of its new franchise, c2c has committed to leasing new trains to cope with rising passenger numbers, which were boosted especially by the opening of the DLR station at West Ham in 2011 and the rise of Canary Wharf as a financial centre. 9 new four-car trains will be introduced by 2019, followed by 4 more by 2022 and 4 more by 2024.

But could c2c do something more radical, to combat the lure of the new Aventras running between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria stations?

Gradually, over the next few years, there one class fleet of Class 357 trains will become mixed with the new trains.

So could c2c, start a roiling replacement program, so they migrate to a brand new and much better homogeneous fleet?

If it happens, a large fleet of 74 Class 357 trains will be released at a rate of perhaps one or two a month.

They will be very desirable trains to provide services in Birmingham, Lancashire, Leeds or Scotland to replace older fleets.

But they would be even more desirable if Bombardier’s parts bin could be raided to create a bi-mode Electrostar on the lines of the Class 319 Flex!

The specification could be as follows.

  • Modern interior with everything passengers demand.
  • 100 mph capability.
  • Regenerative braking handled by onboard energy storage.
  • Diesel or even hydrogen power-pack.
  • Independent operation on lines without electrification.

The size of the onboard energy storage would be determined by the nature of the routes to be operated and the extra costs of the required storage.

 

 

December 30, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Parallel Thinking From Bombardier

Bombardier’s New Talent 3 Electrical Multiuple Unit

This is the data sheet on Bombardier’s web site announcing the new Talent 3 EMU, which has recently been announced at Innotrans 2016. It is the successor to the Talent 2.

These are some phrases picked from the sheet.

  • Flexible and efficient when operating as commuter, regional, or intercity train.
  • The use of proven and optimized components, recognized in operation in several European countries,
  • For the first time a TALENT EMU train is compatible with the BOMBARDIER PRIMOVE Li-ion battery system.

Reading the data sheet the train seems very similar to the Aventra, except that in the case of the Talent 3, they mention batteries.

Primove

This Bombardier press release is entitled New PRIMOVE battery for rail presented at InnoTrans exhibition.

This is said.

The TALENT 3 EMU with PRIMOVE battery system will provide an environmentally friendly alternative to diesel trains operating on non-electrified lines. The results will significantly reduce noise pollution and emissions while making rail passenger transport cleaner and more attractive. Operators and passengers will also benefit from a battery technology that eliminates the need to change trains when bridging non-electrified track sections.

Other documents and web pafes emphasise how Primove is for all tranport applications. Thjs is the Primove web site.

In their data sheet, Bombardier said this.

For the first time TALENT EMU train is compatible with the BOMBARDIER PRIMOVE Li-ion battery system.

Reading about Primove, it would appear to be various standard modules.

Supposing you fit a train with the a standard Primove battery. This will give a defined range and performance to a p[articular train or tram with a specfic size battery.

As an electrical engineer and a control engineer in particular, I would suspect that the connections and the control system are the same for all batteries and that provided the battery can fit within the space allocated, all sizes will fit all trains.

So a suburban trundler would probably have less battery capacity, than a fast regional express, that stopped and started  quickly all the time.

If you want more range and performance, you just fit a bigger or more efficient battery.

I suspect too, that if an innovative company came up with another battery design, perhaps based on something like several miles of strong knicker elastic, so long as the plugs fit and it goes in the standard space, Bombardier would at least look at it.

So it looks like the fitting of batteries could be totally scale-able and future-proofed to accept new innovative battery technologies.

Aventras And Batteries

There has been no direct mention of batteries on Aventras

This is the best information so far!

This article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-Iron batteries if required.

Bombardier have confirmed the wiring for onboard power storage to me.

But you have to remember that the Talent 3 is for the more generous European loading gauge.

So could it be that Bombardier’s standard Primove system fits the Talent 3 and it’s too big for an Electrostar and an Aventra designed on standard lines?

But possibly, splitting the various heavy electrical components between two cars, as indicated in the Global Rail News article, gives more space for fitting a standard Primove battery and distributes the weight better.

Perhaps they can even fit a standard Primove battery into an Aventra, if it has the underfloor space to itself!

Obviously, using the same batteries in a Talent 3 and an Aventra must have cost and development advantages. Especially, if you can size the battery for the application.

Electrostars And Batteries

It has always puzzled me, why some Electrostars with an IPEMU-capability have not appeared. Could it be, that the amount of electrical equipment required is too much for a standard design of train running on a UK loading gauge?

Bombardier must have a target range for a train running on batteries. Perhaps, the Electrostar can’t get that range, but the Aventra with its twin power-car design can!

I wonder if the Electrostar with batteries and an IPEMU-capability will borrow from the Aventra design and have twin power-cars. That could be a much more major modification than that performed on a Class 379 train to create the BEMU denonstrator early last year.

But it could enable the use of a standard Primove battery and obtain the range needed for a viable Electrostar with an IPEMU-capability.

Crossrail And Energy

Crossrail is unlike any other railway, I’ve ever seen, with the exception of the RER under Paris.

  • Crossrail will be deep and all stations will have platform edge doors.
  • Crossrail will have twenty-four trains per hour.
  • A fully loaded Crossrail train going at the design speed of 145 kph has an energy of 105.9 kWh.

All of these and other factors will lead to lots of energy and heat being introduced into the stations, trains and tunnels.

One way of minimising problems is to design the the tunnels, trains, stations and electrical systems together.

As an example of how systems interact consider this. A train pulling away from the station needs a lot of energy to get to line-speed. In a traditional design, there could be a lot of energy wasted as heat in the overhead wires getting the electricity to the train. This heat would then need more air-conditioning to cool the platforms and the train.

So in this and many ways, saving energy, not only saves costs, but leads to further energy saving elsewhere.

Because of enegy problems, railways like Crossrail have to be designed very carefully with respect to energy usage.

Class 345 Trains

A few facts about Class 345 trains, for Crossrail, from their fact sheet.

  • They have been specifically designed for Crossrail.
  • Regenerative braking is standard.
  • High energy efficiency.
  • Acceleration is up to 1 m/s² which is more than an |Electrostar.
  • Maintenance will be by the manufacturer in purpose-built depots.

From this I conclude that it is in Bombardier’s interest to make the train efficient and easy to service.

I also founds this snippet on the Internet which gives the formation of the new Class 345 trains.

When operating as nine-car trains, the Class 345 trains will have two Driving Motor Standard Opens (DMSO), two Pantograph Motor Standard Opens (PMSO), four Motor Standard Opens (MSO) and one Trailer Standard Open (TSO). They will be formed as DMSO+PMSO+MSO+MSO+TSO+MSO+MSO+PMSO+DMSO.

As the article from Global Rail News  said earlier, the power system of an Aventra is based on two cars, with the heavy equipment split. So as each half-train seems to have be DMSO+PMSO+MSO+MSO in a Class 345 train, could the trains be using a three-car power system, with one car having the converter and batteries in the other two, all connected by a common bus.

It should also be noted that most Electrostar pantograph cars, don’t have motors, but the Class 345 trains do. Thus these trains must have prodigious acceleration with thirty-two diving axles in a nine-car formation.

There are also sound engineering and operational reasons for a battery to be fitted to the Class 345 trains.

  • Handling regenerative braking in the tunnels. As a train stops in a tunnel station, the regenerative brakes will generate a lot of energy. It would be much more efficient if that energy was kept in batteries on the train, as the tunnel electrical systems would be much simpler. There could also be less heat generated in the tunnels, as the overehead cables would be carrying less power to and from the trains.
  • Remote wake-up capability. Trains warm themselves up in the sidings to await the driver, as doiscussed in Do Bombardier Aventras Have Remote Wake-Up?
  • The depots could be unwired. I’ve read that the main Old Oak Common depot is energy efficient. Batteries on the trains would move the trains in the depots.

But the biggest advantage is that if power fails in the tunnel, the train can get to the next station using the batteries. In a worst case scenario, where the train has to be evacuated, the batteries could keep the train systems like air-conditioning, doors and communication working, to help in an orderly evacuation via the walkway at the side of the track.

How do you open the doors on a boiling train with fifteen hundred panicking passengers and no power? An appropriately-sized battery solves the problem.

Incidentally, I have calculated that a Class 345 train, loaded with 1,500 80 Kg people travelling at 145 kph has an energy of 105.9 kWh. As s Nissan Leaf electric car can come with a 50 kWh battery, I don’t believe that capturing all that braking energy on the train is in the realm of fantasy.

One big problem with regenerative braking on a big train with these large amounts of energy, must be that as the train stops 105.9 kWh must be fed back through the pantograph to the overhead line. And then on starting-up again 105.9 kWh of energy must be fed to the train through the pantograph, to get the train back up to speed.

As this is happening at a crowded station like Bond Street, twenty-four times an hour in both directions, that could mean massive amounts of energy flows generating heat in the station tunnels.

Remember that London’s tube train are smaller, have similar frequencies and have regenerative braking working through a third-rail system.

Surely, if the train is fitted with a battery or batteries capable of handling these amounts of energy, it must be more efficient to store and recover the energy from the batteries.

Batteries also get rid of a vicious circle.

  • Feeding the braking energy back to the overhead wire must generate heat.
  • Feeding the start-up energy to the train from the overhead wire must generate heat.
  • All this heat would need bigger air-conditioning, which requires more energy to be drawn by the train.

Batteries which eliminate a lot of the high heat-producing electricity currents in the tunnels at stations, are one way of breaking the circle and creating trains that use less energy.

After writing this, I think it is obvious now, why the trains will be tested in short formations between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

The trains could be without any batteries during initial service testing, as all the reasons, I have given above for batteries don’t apply on this section of Crossrail.

  • Regenerative braking can either work using two-way currents on the upgraded overhead wiring or not be used during testing.
  • Remote wake-up is not needed, as the trains will be stored overnight at Ilford depot initially.
  • Ilford depot is still wired, although the jury may be out on that, given the depot is being rebuilt.
  • There will be no need to do rescues in tunnels.

Once the trains have proven they can cope with herds of Essex girls and boys, batteries could be fitted, to test their design and operation.

You have to admire Bombardier’s careful planning, if this is the way the company is going.

Could the following be the operating regime for Crossrail going from Shenfield to Reading?

  • The train runs normally between Shenfield and Stratford, using regenerative braking through the overhead wires or batteries.
  • The train arrives at Stratford with enough power in the batteries to come back out or get to a station, if there was a total power failure.
  • The train uses regenerative braking with the batteries between Whitechapel and Paddington.
  • In the tunnels, the power levels in the batteries, are kept high enough to allow train recovery.
  • Once in the open, regenerative braking could use overhead wires or batteries as appropriate.
  • The train even handles complete power failure and perhaps a problem with one pair of power cars, as the train is in effect two half-trains coupled together, with at least two of everything.

Has there ever been a train design like it?

Conclusions

It looks to me, that the Aventra and Talent 3 trains are just different-sized packages for the same sets of components like Flex-Eco bogies and Primove batteries.

One train is for the UK and the other for Europe and the rest of the world.

But have the two design teams been borrowing ideas and components from both sides of the Channel?

You bet they have!

Brexit? What Brexit?

The engineers of Crossrail, have not only dug one of the biggest holes in Europe for a long time, but with Bombardier’s engineers, they could also have designed a very efficient and different way of getting passengers through it.

I am very strongly of the opinion, that putting batteries on the trains to handle regenerative braking in tunnels, is almost essential, as it is simpler, possibly more affordable and cuts the amount of heat generated in the tunnels.

 

 

September 24, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments