The Anonymous Widower

Could Avanti West Coast Run A Lumo-Style Service Between London And Liverpool?

Avanti West Cost’s Class 807 Trains

Avanti West Coast will be introducing their new Class 807 trains by 2023.

One of the routes, on which they will run, will be between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations.

These trains are members of Hitachi’s AT300 family, with these characteristics.

  • Seven cars.
  • 453 seats
  • 125 mph operating speed, with 140 mph possible under in-cab signalling, where the track allows.

They have been designed to be able to achieve or better times from the Class 390 trains, which tilt.

The Seats In The New Trains

Seats are important to passengers and there has been criticism, that some of the seats in Hitachi trains are like ironing boards.

But, so far nothing has been said about the seats on the new Class 807 trains.

453 seats in seven cars of a Class 807 train is 64.7 seats per car.

These are comparison figures for other trains.

  • On a nine-car Class 801 train, there are 611 seats or 67.8 seats per car.
  • On a five-car Class 801 train, there are 302 seats or 60.4 seats per car.
  • On a five-car Class 810 train, there are 301 seats or 60.2 seats per car.
  • On a five-car Class 803 train, there are 406 seats or 81.2 seats per car.
  • On a nine-car Class 390 train, there are 469 seats or 52.1 seats per car.
  • On an eleven-car Class 390 train, there are 589 seats or 53.5 seats per car.

Note.

  1. The Class 390 trains or Pendolinos have less seats per car, than the Hitachi trains. Is this because of all the space taken up by the tilting mechanism?
  2. As the seats per car for a Class 807 is between the five- and nine-car Class 801 trains, it would appear that the seat density is not much different to the trains on LNER and Great Western Railway.
  3. Lumo’s Class 803 trains on their low-cost service would appear to have a higher seating density. But  Lumo says that they have redesigned the sweats for more comfort.
  4. In The Seat Of Aurora, I looked at a report from Modern Railways on the seats in the Class 810 trains, which the writer found were much more comfortable.

It would appear that the two latest fleets of Hitachi trains have seats that are designed for more comfort.

Consider.

  • First Group own seventy percent of Avanti West Coast.
  • First Group own hundred percent of two train operating companies; Great Western and TransPennine Express, who run versions of Hitachi AT300 trains, so they probably have a lot of bottom-level feedback.
  • In the current Class 390 train upgrade, Avanti West Coast are replacing all the Standard Class seats, the company must care about seat quality.
  • First Group own hundred percent of Lumo, who have acquired new trains with comfortable seats.

I would be very surprised if the seats in the new Class 807 trains for Avanti West Coast were not custom-designed for their routes.

The Unusual Length Of The Class 807 Train

These are the length of the Class 390 and Class 807 trains.

  • Class 390/0 – nine-car – 217.5 metres
  • Class 390/1 – eleven-car – 265.3 metres
  • Class 807 – seven-car – 182 metres

Note.

  1. A ten-car Class 807 train would be 260 metres.This could be convenient, if more eleven-car Pendolinos were needed.
  2. The Class 807 train is thirty-five metres shorter, than the nine-car Pendolino.

As eleven-car Class 390 trains commonly run London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street, why would they need the Class 807 train to be shorter?

I think there is a clue in this picture.

It shows a Class 390 train in Liverpool South Parkway station.

  • At the time, Liverpool Lime Street station was closed for track remodelling.
  • Liverpool South Parkway was acting as Liverpool’s main terminus.
  • To accommodate the Pendolinos a temporary platform extension was built in the station.

Could it be that shorter trains were ordered to avoid the expense of lengthening the platforms at Liverpool South Parkway and perhaps other stations, that Avanti West Coast might serve?

The Current Service Between London Euston And Liverpool

The current London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street service is as follows.

  • There is one train per hour (tph)
  • The service calls at Milton Keynes Central, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • All of the stations can accommodate an eleven-car Pendolino.
  • Trains take around an average of two hours and twelve minutes.
  • The first Northbound train leaves at 07:07 and the last at 21:07.
  • The first Southbound train leaves at 07:00 and the last at 20:48.

Services are generally run by eleven-car Class 390 trains, which gives a capacity of 589 passengers per hour.

I always think, there a need for a later train back to London, but then that could be said of many places.

A Possible Service From December 2022

Wikipedia says this.

  • There will be two tph.
  • The second service will call at Liverpool South Parkway station.

If two tph were to be run by Class 807 trains, this would give the following.

  • A capacity of 906 seats per hour.
  • This is a 54 % increase in capacity.

But if only the Liverpool South Parkway service was run by a Class 807 train and the other service was still run by an eleven-car Class 390 train, this would give the following.

  • A capacity of 1042 seats per hour.
  • This is a 77 % increase in capacity.

And all without platform extensions at Liverpool South Parkway station.

According to Wikipedia, the plans will need to be approved by the Office of Road and Rail.

How Fast Will A Class 807 Train Travel Between London Euston And Liverpool?

The Class 807 trains will have these features.

  • The trains will have no diesel engines or batteries. This must save weight and that means better acceleration.
  • The trains will have no tilt mechanism.. This must save weight and that means better acceleration.
  • The trains will have a new nose. Is it more aerodynamic, which would cause less drag and increase operating speed?

Would these features mean the Class 807 trains can match the performance of the Class 390 train, despite not having tilt?

There are also improvements on the West Coast Main Line, that have not been fully reflected in the timetable.

I did a full analysis about how a two-hour journey time might be achieved in Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours? This analysis led me to these conclusions.

  • I am convinced that the new trains are designed for a two hour journey between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations.
  • Refurbished Class 390 trains should also be able to do the same time.
  • I also calculated that nine trains would be needed for the two tph service, if they can arrange a fifteen minute turnround at both ends of the route. So would, the Class 807 trains be used on the Liverpool service to release newly-refurbished Class 390 trains to boost Blackpool and Birmingham services?

Alternatively, if the two services are run using eleven-car Class 390 trains for the current service and seven-car Class 807 trains for the one via Liverpool South Parkway, Avanti West Coast would need five of each train.

  • They could fit in thirty minute turnrounds at both ends of the route.
  • The mixed pair of trains would give a 77 % increase in capacity.
  • The Class 807 service would be a two-hour trip.
  • If the Class 390 service couldn’t match the time it could use current timings.

Whatever is done, it would be a flagship service between London and Liverpool.

The new trains will pay for themselves many times over, if this is the case, as a two-hour journey will surely attract passengers.

Organising The Service

If you really wanted to make the service simple and passenger-friendly, you would have dedicated platforms for the trains at both ends of the route.

  • In Liverpool Lime Street station trains seem to have used one platform for many years. Currently, they seem to be using Platform 9.
  • Surely, a similar arrangement could be setup at London Euston.

The service could also be setup with contactless ticketing, if that was felt the way things should be done.

Conclusion

As a two tph service run by Class 807 trains in two hours would be over 4,500,000 seats in each direction, I feel that this will be a very popular and intensive service.

I feel that Avanti West Coast will need to apply lessons learned on sister company’s Lumo’s service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

 

 

 

 

 

September 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Anxiety Over HS2 Eastern Leg Future

I did think about giving this post a title of Hear We Go Again, as it yet another story about delaying or cancelling the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

But in the end I decided to use the title of the article in the September 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

I wrote about this subject in Is The Eastern Leg Of High Speed Two Under Threat? in December 2020.

In that post, this was my major conclusion.

To achieve the required timings for High Speed Two, major improvements must be made to existing track on the East Coast Main Line and these improvements will mean that existing services will be competitive with High Speed Two on time.

It is backed up by the timings in the following table., which show the direct time by High Speed Two and my best estimate of time on an improved East Coast Main Line.

  • Bradford – Will not served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty-four minutes
  • Cleethorpes – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and fifty-one minutes
  • Darlington – One hour and forty-nine minutes – One hour and forty-nine minutes
  • Doncaster – Will not served by High Speed Two – One hour
  • Edinburgh – Three hours and forty minutes via Western Leg – Three hours and thirty minutes.
  • Grimsby – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and thirty-six minutes
  • Harrogate – Will not served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty-two minutes
  • Huddersfield – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and eight minutes
  • Hull – Will not served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty minutes
  • Leeds – One hour and twenty-one minutes – One hour and thirty minutes
  • Lincoln – Will not served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty-one minutes
  • Middlesbrough – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and twenty minutes
  • Newcastle – Two hours and seventeen minutes – Two hours and sixteen minutes
  • Nottingham – One hour and seven minutes – One hour and fifty minutes
  • Scarborough – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and fifty-seven minutes
  • Sheffield – One hour and twenty-seven minutes – One hour and twenty-seven minutes
  • Skipton – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and seven minutes
  • Sunderland – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and thirty minutes
  • York – One hour and twenty-four minutes – One hour and twenty-four minutes

Note.

  1. I have included all destinations served by Grand Central, Hull Trains and LNER.
  2. I have included Nottingham and Sheffield for completeness and in case whilst electrification is installed on the Midland Main Line, LNER run services to the two cities.
  3. I suspect LNER services to Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton will split and join at Leeds.

There are a total of nineteen destination in this table.

  • Twelve are not served by High Speed Two.
  • Six are not more than fifteen minutes slower by the East Coast Main Line.

Only Nottingham is substantially quicker by High Speed Two.

In Is The Eastern Leg Of High Speed Two Under Threat?, I said that if Nottingham services ran at the sort of speed on the East Coast Main Line, that a time of one hour and twenty-one minutes between London St. Pancras and Nottingham could be possible. That would be just fourteen minutes slower than the time on High Speed Two with a change at East Midlands Hub.

Conclusion

I am getting more convinced that we don’t need the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two to East Midlands Hub and Leeds for a few years yet, as by uprating the East Coast and Midland Main Lines we can handle the traffic that we currently are generating with ease.

August 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Why Does Birmingham Interchange Station On High Speed Two Need Four Long Platforms?

This page on the High Speed Two web site describes the design and construction at Birmingham Interchange station.

This paragraph talks about the overall design philosophy of the station.

The Interchange Station itself will be made up of two 415 metre long island platforms, offering 4 platform faces, as well as 2 central high speed through lines for non-stopping services. The station will be linked to the NEC, Birmingham International Station and Birmingham Airport via an automated people mover carrying up to 2,100 passengers per hour in each direction. In addition to the APM, the station will be fully integrated with other local buses, taxis and private vehicle options.

Note.

  1. There would appear to be six tracks through the station.
  2. The four platforms will accept the longest High Speed Two trains.
  3. The automated people mover appears to be very comprehensive.

Birmingham Interchange certainly seems to have been designed as a very high capacity station.

This table gives the a list of the trains that will call at Birmingham Interchange station.

 

  • Train 2 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 3 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 7 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible
  • Train 14 – London Euston and Leeds – 400 metre Full-Size

Note.

  1. 400 metre Full-Size trains will be a pair of 200 metre trains.
  2. Train 11 is a pair of 200 metre long Classic-Compatible trains, that  split and join at Carlisle.

Only five 400 metre trains call at Birmingham Interchange.

I have some thoughts.

Stations Served From Birmingham Interchange

These destinations are served from Birmingham Interchange.

  • Two tph – Birmingham Curzon Street
  • One tph – Carlisle
  • One tph – East Midlands Hub
  • One tph – Edinburgh Haymarket
  • One tph – Edinburgh Waverley
  • One tph – Glasgow Central
  • One tph – Leeds
  • Five tph – London Euston
  • One tph – Manchester Airport
  • One tph – Manchester Piccadilly
  • One tph – Motherwell
  • One tph – Preston

I suspect as the service develops more services will stop at Birmingham Interchange, to reduce the number of passenger journeys where a change is necessary.

Surely Liverpool needs a service from Birmingham Interchange, as it doesn’t have one from Birmingham Curzon Street.

Perhaps, the Liverpool/Lancaster service should stop at Birmingham Interchange?

Splitting And Joining At Birmingham Interchange

Consider.

  • The position of Birmingham Interchange to the South of the junction where the Western and Eastern legs, surely makes it an ideal place for splitting and joining a pair of trains, one of which serves the Western leg and the other serves the Eastern.
  • The Liverpool/Lancaster service could split and join at Birmingham Interchange to give better connectivity between the North West and the West Midlands.

Intelligent use of splitting and joining at Birmingham Interchange could make better use of paths to and from Euston.

Splitting And Joining Of Full-Size Trains At Birmingham Interchange

According to the currently proposed timetable Birmingham Curzon Street, Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly will all get three Full-Size tph to and from London Euston, with East Midlands Hub and Leeds getting two Full-Size tph.

This may be a right decision, but if four Full-Size tph is the frequency needed on some routes, then splitting and joining of Full-Size trains can be used at Birmingham Interchange to increase frequencies.

Suppose it was decided that the Leeds and Manchester services needed to be four Full-Size tph.

  • The London and Manchester service that stops at Birmingham Interchange would split into two trains at the station, with one train going to Manchester and the other going to Leeds.
  • The London and Leeds service that stops at Birmingham Interchange would split into two trains at the station, with one train going to Manchester and the other going to Leeds.

Coming South the two services would join at Birmingham Interchange.

I can almost envisage  Full-Size pairs of trains leaving London Euston every ten minutes, which then split and join at Birmingham Interchange to give Leeds and Manchester a core service of six Full-Size tph.

There are a large number of possibilities.

Down One Leg Up T’Other

Birmingham Interchange can be used as an interchange station for journeys where you come South on one leg and then go North on the other.

It might even be possible to arrange some changes with an interchange across one of the island platforms at Birmingham Interchange.

Turning Back Trains

There is a worry about late trains delaying everything.

But because it has four platforms, it could be the station, where trains are turned back, when they are running very late.

It could be better to turnback a train at Birmingham Interchange, rather than let it run all the way to Euston and create havoc.

Perhaps, simulation has shown, that two extra platforms at Birmingham Interchange enable the optimal working of ten platforms t Euston?

Line Blocked Or Blockaded Between Birmingham And Euston

Events happen and there may be reasons why services can’t run through to London.

It could easily be turned into a mini-terminus for services to the North and linked to London by either the West Coast Main Line or a Rail Replacement Bus.

Conclusion

Because of its position in the middle of the country, I suspect there are many reasons for the four long platforms at Birmingham Interchange station.

 

August 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 10 Comments

How Many High Speed Two Trains Will Be Able To Terminate In Euston Station?

This is one of those questions for which you get a different answer depending on what conditions you put on the question.

But there are some physical constraints that have been built into the design.

High Speed Two Tracks And Signalling Are Designed For Eighteen Trains Per Hour

It seems to be an accepted fact, that High Speed Two tracks and signalling will be able to handle 18 trains per hour (tph) or a train every three minutes and twenty seconds.

If this applies to all High Speed Two routes it is certainly a big increase in capacity of the UK rail network.

Seventeen Trains Per Hour In Euston Station

Does it also mean that Euston station must be able to handle 18 tph? Not necessarily, as High Speed Two will only need to handle 17 tph, because they will be keeping one path for recovering the service, after perhaps a train breaks down.

  • If the station has eleven platforms, that means each platform must handle 1.5 tph or in practice two tph or a train every thirty minutes.
  • If the station has ten platforms, that means each platform must handle 1.7 tph or in practice two tph or a train every thirty minutes.

Ten platforms appear to make little  difference in normal operation But when things go wrong, it is more likely, there will be another platform to park a late train.

Turning Trains In Thirty Minutes At Euston Station

One train every thirty minutes means that operating procedures and staff training must be such that trains can be turned within this time.

If trains could be turned faster, then this would enable services to be recovered after a delay.

Twenty-Four Trains Per Hour In Euston Station

If say at some time in the future, signalling improves and 24 tph on High Speed Two is possible with perhaps Automatic Train Operation, this would mean that if there were ten platforms each would have to handle 2.4 tph, or in practice three tph or a train every twenty minutes.

A frequency of 24 tph won’t happen in my lifetime, but I do believe it is possible on High Speed Two  with ten platforms at Euston station.

Thirty Trains Per Hour In Euston Station

Thirty tph may be practical on Metros today and could be possible on High Speed Two in the far future, but in practice, that would only be four tph or a train every fifteen minutes.

The Initial Full Timetable Is Seventeen Trains Per Hour

Currently, this is planned to be the case and the trains to and from London Euston are planned to be as follows.

  • Train 1 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 2 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 3 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 4 – London Euston and Lancaster – Classic Compatible
  • Train 4 – London Euston and Liverpool – Classic Compatible
  • Train 5 – London Euston and Liverpool – Classic Compatible
  • Train 6 – London Euston and Macclesfield – Classic Compatible
  • Train 7 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 8 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 9 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 10 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible
  • Train 10 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible
  • Train 12 – London Euston and Sheffield – Classic Compatible
  • Train 12 – London Euston and Leeds – Classic Compatible
  • Train 13 – London Euston and Leeds – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 14 – London Euston and Leeds – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 15 – London Euston and Sheffield – Classic Compatible
  • Train 15 – London Euston and York – Classic Compatible
  • Train 16 – London Euston and Newcastle – Classic Compatible
  • Train 17 – London Euston and Newcastle – Classic Compatible

Note.

  1. I have assumed 400 metre Full-Size trains will be a pair of 200 metre trains.
  2. Trains 4, 10, 11, 12 and 15 are pairs of 200 metre long Classic-Compatible trains, that  split and join at Crewe. Carlisle, Carlisle and East Midlands Hub respectively.
  3. Trains 5, 6, 16 and 17 are single 200 metre long Classic-Compatible trains.

In an hour, the following trains will leave London Euston.

  • 8 – 400 metre Full-Size trains, each of which consist of a pair of 200 metre trains.
  • 5 – Pairs of 200 metre long Classic-Compatible trains.
  • 4 – Single 200 metre long Classic-Compatible trains.

Note.

  1. Adding up the 200 metre trains gives a total of thirty trains.
  2. If all paths were handling a pair of 200 metre trains, the total would be thirty-four trains.

As I showed in Could High Speed Two Serve Holyhead?, these four trains can be used to serve extra destinations by appropriate splitting and joining.

So in answer to the question in the title of this post, the answer is thirty-four 200 metre trains.

  • Each path can carry one pair of 200 metre trains per hour.
  • The number of paths is determined by the 18 tph that each leg can handle, reduced by one for a path for recovery.

I am assuming each platform can handle two tph.

But thirty or forty years in the future, this figure with more advanced trains and signalling could be a lot higher.

Does Euston Station Need Ten Or Eleven Platforms?

Mathematically, the following is possible.

  • Ten platforms can handle thirty tph, if trains can be turned in fifteen minutes.
  • Ten platforms can handle twenty-four tph, if trains can be turned in twenty minutes.
  • Ten platforms can handle seventeen tph, if trains can be turned in thirty minutes.

The only need for the eleventh platform, is for when things go seriously wrong.

 

 

 

August 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Should London Euston’s High Speed Two Station Have Ten Or Eleven Platforms?

This article on Ian Visits is entitled Call For A Rethink Of HS2’s Euston Station Plans.

These two paragraphs describe the current plan for Euston station.

The current plans for the HS2 station at Euston will see it delivered in two phases, with six platforms opened first to carry HS2 trains on the first stage of the railway up to the West Midlands. The second phase of the Euston station would open later, with an additional 5 platforms to manage demand when HS2 is extended to Crewe, Manchester and Leeds.

Phase one was scheduled for completion in 2026, and phase two in 2033.

This paragraph describes the latest idea from the Department for Transport.

However, the Oakervee review from last year called for a redesign of the station scaling back the station and increasing the amount of oversite development to fund it. Earlier this year it was revealed that the Department for Transport has instructed HS2 to refine the development to build it in one phase, but with just 10 platforms instead of 11 platforms.

There are now two camps arguing as to whether the station should be built with ten or eleven platforms.

I used to write project management software for four decades.

I have seen and heard of many arguments like these where money, time and resources push the design of a project one way or another.

My feeling is that Oakervee is right to recommend increasing the amount of oversite development to fund the station, as there are a lot of knockers of High Speed Two, who object to the amount of money being spent.

But this might mean that the station should be built in one phase, so that the oversite development can proceed at pace on the whole site, rather than just half at a time. I wasn’t involved in the planning of Canary Wharf, but it did seem to go up faster than other developments. And it was a large site!

So perhaps building the station in one phase will get it finished earlier in a better financial state.

But the downside of that, is the station will have ten platforms instead of eleven. But it will have ten platforms from the day it opens!

I would object to the reduction in the number of platforms, if it made High Speed Two more difficult to operate.But I do tend to believe those who say that High Speed Two can manage with ten platforms, as signalling, train design and operation is improving fast.

As an example, I think the next generation of high speed trains will be able to be turned faster in a terminal station.

The test of this statement will come in a few months, when I take a ride to Edinburgh on the new East Coast Trains service, which seems to be proposing to run to a tight timetable. This says to me, that they have found ways of running more efficiently!

Conclusion

I will let others choose the number of platforms at Euston, but I reserve the right to criticise their decision.

Although, I do believe that it could be better to build the station in one phase to maximise the oversite development and optimise the cash flow to pay for the project, both during the building and in the operation.

I would also hope to see some radical ideas for the uses of the oversite development. But I suspect, it will be more of the same.

August 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Could High Speed Two Serve Holyhead?

Why?

It could be a way to create a zero- or low-carbon route between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland.

Battery-Electric Trains Could Be The Solution

In Will High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible Trains Have Battery Operation?, I suggested that it might be feasible for High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains to have batteries.

I said this at the start of that post.

I believe it is very likely, that High Speed Two’s new classic-compatible trains will have battery capabilities.

    • Batteries would handle energy generated by regenerative braking.
    • Batteries would give a train recovery capability in case of overhead catenary failure.
    • Batteries would be used for depot movements.
    • Batteries would probably improve the energy efficiency of the trains.

Effectively, the batteries would power the train and would be topped-up by the electrification and the regenerative braking.

Since I wrote that post in February 2020, Hitachi have launched two battery-electric trains, one of which is the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

As diesel (or should I say Stuart) engines are so nineteenth-century. any high speed independently-powered train would probably use batteries, have no diesel engines and be a battery-electric train.

So could Hitachi or any other bidder for the High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains produce a train, that would be capable of handling the long-distance routes from London, that would be difficult or expensive to electrify, by the use of batteries?

  • Batteries will improve dramatically in the next few years.
  • Batteries will also become more affordable.
  • Engineers will also learn how to package them in better and more innovative ways.

I think it is very likely, that a High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train could be produced with a reliable range of over eighty miles on batteries.

Holyhead And Crewe By Battery-Electric Classic-Compatible High Speed Train

These are the distances between stops on the route between Holyhead and Crewe

  • Holyhead and Bangor – 25 miles.
  • Bangor and Llandudno Junction – 16 miles
  • Llandudno Junction and Colwyn Bay – 4 miles
  • Colwyn Bay and Rhyl – 10 miles
  • Rhyl and Prestatyn – 4 miles
  • Prestatyn and Flint – 14 miles
  • Flint and Chester – 13 miles
  • Chester and Crewe – 21 miles

Note.

  1. It is a route of only 105 miles.
  2. There is no 25 KVAC electrification, except at Crewe.
  3. It is nearly all double-track.
  4. The operating speed is 90 mph
  5. The route is also generally flat and mainly along the coast.

Suppose the following were to be done.

  • Erect traditional electrification between Chester and Crewe.
  • Hitachi ABB Power Grids build a section of their discontinuous electrification around Llandudno Junction.
  • Install a battery charging system at Holyhead.

An alternative might be to put another section of discontinuous electrification through Bangor, if installing the charging station at Holyhead proved to be difficult.

I believe it would be possible to run a High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train equipped with batteries between London Euston and Holyhead.

What Time Would Be Possible?

Consider.

  • High Speed Two are predicting 56 minutes between London Euston and Crewe.
  • Avanti West Coast are showing journey times of one hour and 57 minutes between Crewe and Holyhead.
  • Avanti West Coast are using 125 mph Class 221 trains, but are restricted to a lot less than this speed.
  • The HSC Dublin Swift can sail between Dublin and Holyhead in several minutes under two hours.

I believe that a High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train equipped with batteries could go between London Euston and Holyhead in under three hours.

If this were to be linked to the latest hydrogen-powered fast ferry between Holyhead and Dublin, would  London Euston and Dublin be fast enough to attract passengers from the airlines?

  • The journey time could be under five hours.
  • It would be zero-carbon.
  • By cutting stops to the West of Chester and track improvements train times could be reduced.
  • It would be the sort of adventure, that some families like!

I think that Avanti West Coast and the ferry company could have a rail and ferry service, that would appeal to many travellers.

Would There Be A Path To Euston For Another High Speed Service?

In How Many Trains Are Needed To Run A Full Service On High Speed Two?, I listed the trains that would use the Western leg of High Speed Two.

  • Train 1 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 2 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 3 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 4 – London Euston and Lancaster – Classic Compatible
  • Train 4 – London Euston and Liverpool – Classic Compatible
  • Train 5 – London Euston and Liverpool – Classic Compatible
  • Train 6 – London Euston and Macclesfield – Classic Compatible
  • Train 7 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 8 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 9 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size
  • Train 10 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible
  • Train 10 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible
  • Train 12 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh or Glasgow – Classic Compatible
  • Train 13 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester – 200 metre Full-Size
  • Train 14 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester – 200 metre Full-Size

Note.

  1. A lot of the paths into London Euston would appear to be allocated.
  2. Train 4 is a pair of 200 metre long Classic-Compatible trains, that will split and join at Crewe, with one train going to Liverpool and the other going to Lancaster.
  3. Train 5 is only a single 200 metre long Classic-Compatible train.

I suspect it would be possible to make Train 5 a pair of 200 metre long Classic-Compatible trains, that will split and join at Crewe, with one train going to Liverpool and the other going to Chester and Holyhead.

It does appear that the proposed timetable for High Speed Two has been designed so extra trains can be added if the demand is there.

What Times Would Be Possible Between Holyhead And Crewe?

Consider.

  • I have looked at the route from my virtual helicopter and suspect that much of the route can be upgraded to 100 mph running.
  • The current average speed between Holyhead and Crewe is 54 mph.
  • London Liverpool Street and Norwich is 114.5 miles and is regularly achieved in ninety minutes on a 100 mph line, which is an average speed of 76 mph.
  • The number of stops could be reduced.

I can build a table of times for faster average speeds.

  • 60 mph – One hour and 45 minutes – Two hours and 41 minutes
  • 70 mph – One hour and 30 minutes – Two hours and 26 minutes
  • 80 mph – One hour and 19 minutes – Two hours and 15 minutes
  • 90 mph – One hour and 10 minutes – Two hours and 6 minutes
  • 100 mph – One hour and 3 minutes – One hour and 59 minutes

Note.

  1. The first time is Holyhead and Crewe.
  2. The second time is London and Holyhead.

I am fairly certain, that a substantial time improvement is possible.

Why Not Electrify All The Way Between Holyhead And Crewe?

I am seventy-four and can remember several incidents of serious storms and flooding along the North Wales Coast Line.

There was a warning earlier this year according to this article on the BBC.

Perhaps it would be better to spend the money on improving the resilience and operating speed of the track?

Conclusion

London Euston and Holyhead could be a serious proposition.

With some development and a new fast ferry, it could also open up a practical zero-carbon route between Great Britain and Ireland.

Times of four and a half hours between London Euston and Dublin could be possible.

 

August 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

London To Glasgow Train Journey Record Bid Fails By Just 21 Seconds

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on ITV.com.

These are the first three paragraphs.

An attempt to break the 36-year-old record for the fastest train journey between London and Glasgow has failed.

Avanti West Coast’s Royal Scot train arrived at Glasgow Central 21 seconds behind the record of three hours, 52 minutes and 40 seconds set by British Rail in December 1984, according to rail expert Mark Smith, who was onboard.

Mr Smith, founder of Seat61.com, wrote on Twitter that a temporary speed limit on the track in Carstairs, South Lanarkshire, “cost us 90 seconds”.

It appears to be a valiant attempt that failed by a small margin.

I have a few thoughts.

The Trains

The British Rail 1984 record was set by an Advanced Passenger Train (APT) and today’s run was by a nine-car Class 390 train.

  • The design speed of the APT was 155 mph and that of a Class 390 train is 140 mph.
  • Service speed of both trains was and is 125 mph.
  • Record speed of the APT was 162 mph and that of a Class 390 train is 145 mph.
  • Both trains employ similar tilt technology to go faster.

At a brief look the performance of these two trains is very similar.

The InterCity 225

The InterCity 225 train is the ringer in this race to the North.

  • The design speed is 140 mph.
  • The service speed is 125 mph
  • The record speed of an InterCity 225 is 161.7 mph.
  • The train doesn’t use tilting technology.
  • The train was built after the APT around 1990.
  • The train holds the record between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh at thirty seconds under three-and-a-half hours.
  • To rub things in, one of these trains, even holds the London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly record.

But there can’t be much wrong with the InterCity 225 trains as a few are being brought back into service, whilst LNER are waiting for ten new bi-mode trains to be delivered.

Hitachi Class 80x Trains

The various variants of Class 800 trains run to Edinburgh and I’m sure they will run to Glasgow.

  • The design speed is 140 mph.
  • The service speed is 125 mph

If an InterCity 225 can go between Edinburgh and London in around three-and-a-half hours, I can’t see why these trains can’t.

Especially, as Hitachi seem to be able to produce versions like the Class 803 and Class 807 trains, which appear to be lighter and more efficient, as they don’t have any diesel engines.

A Small Margin

I said earlier that it was only a small margin between the times of the APT and the Class 390 train. But why was the InterCity 225 able to run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh at thirty seconds under three-and-a-half hours?

This section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive is entitled Speed Record. This is the first paragraph.

A Class 91, 91010 (now 91110), holds the British locomotive speed record at 161.7 mph (260.2 km/h), set on 17 September 1989, just south of Little Bytham on a test run down Stoke Bank with the DVT leading. Although Class 370s, Class 373s and Class 374s have run faster, all are EMUs which means that the Electra is officially the fastest locomotive in Britain. Another loco (91031, now 91131), hauling five Mk4s and a DVT on a test run, ran between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley in 3 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds on 26 September 1991. This is still the current record. The set covered the route in an average speed of 112.5 mph (181.1 km/h) and reached the full 140 mph (225 km/h) several times during the run.

It looks from the last sentence of this extract, that the record run of the InterCity 225 train ran up to 140 mph in places, whereas the record run of the APT and today’s run by a Class 390 train were limited to 125 mph.

The Signalling

In the Wikipedia entry for the InterCity 225 train, the following is said.

Thus, except on High Speed 1, which is equipped with cab signalling, British signalling does not allow any train, including the InterCity 225, to exceed 125 mph (201 km/h) in regular service, due to the impracticality of correctly observing lineside signals at high speed.

Note.

  1. I have regularly flown my Cessna 340 safely at altitude, with a ground speed of around two hundred miles per hour.
  2. High Speed One has an operating speed of 186 mph.
  3. Grant Schapps, who is Secretary of State for Transport has a pilot’s licence. So he would understand flight instruments and avionics.

So why hasn’t a system been developed in the thirty years since trains capable of running at 140 mph started running in the UK, to allow them to do it?

It is a ridiculous situation.

We are installing full digital ERTMS in-cab signalling on the East Coast Main Line, but surely a system based on aviation technology could be developed until ERTMS  is ready. Or we could install the same system as on High Speed One.

After all, all we need is a system, to make sure the drivers don’t misread the signals.

But then the EU says that all member nations must use ERTMS signalling.

Didn’t we just leave the EU?

Conclusion

By developing our own in-cab digital signalling we could run trains between London and Scotland in around three-and-a-half hours.

The Japanese could even have an off-the-shelf system!

ERTMS sounds like a closed shop to give work to big European companies, who have lobbied the European Commission.

June 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

What Is Possible On The East Coast Main Line?

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive, there is an amazing story.

This picture shows one of these locomotives at Kings Cross.

Note.

  1. They have a design speed of 140 mph.
  2. They have a power output of 4.8 MW.
  3. They were built around 1990 by British Rail at Crewe.

They were designed to run services between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh as fast as possible, as the motive power of the InterCity 225 trains.

This section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive is entitled Speed Record. This is the first paragraph.

A Class 91, 91010 (now 91110), holds the British locomotive speed record at 161.7 mph (260.2 km/h), set on 17 September 1989, just south of Little Bytham on a test run down Stoke Bank with the DVT leading. Although Class 370s, Class 373s and Class 374s have run faster, all are EMUs which means that the Electra is officially the fastest locomotive in Britain. Another loco (91031, now 91131), hauling five Mk4s and a DVT on a test run, ran between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley in 3 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds on 26 September 1991. This is still the current record. The set covered the route in an average speed of 112.5 mph (181.1 km/h) and reached the full 140 mph (225 km/h) several times during the run.

Note.

  1. For the British locomotive speed record, locomotive was actually pushing the train and going backwards, as the driving van trailer (DVT) was leading.
  2. How many speed records of any sort, where the direction isn’t part of the record, have been set going backwards?
  3. I feel that this record could stand for many years, as it is not very likely anybody will build another 140 mph locomotive in the foreseeable future. Unless a maverick idea for a high speed freight locomotive is proposed.

I have a few general thoughts on the record run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh in three-and-a-half hours.

  • I would assume that as in normal operation of these trains, the Class 91 locomotive was leading on the run to the North.
  • For various reasons, they would surely have had at least two of British Rail’s most experienced drivers in the cab.
  • At that time, 125 mph InterCity 125 trains had been the workhorse of East Coast Main Line for well over ten years, so British Rail wouldn’t have been short of experienced high speed drivers.
  • It was a Thursday, so they must have been running amongst normal traffic.
  • On Monday, a typical run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh is timetabled to take four hours and twenty minutes.
  • High Speed Two are predicting a time of three hours and forty-eight minutes between Euston and Edinburgh via High Speed Two and  the West Coast Main Line.

The more you look at it, a sub-three-and-and-a-half hour time, by 1980s-technology on a less-than-perfect railway was truly remarkable.

So how did they do it?

Superb Timetabling

In Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!, I talk about how Network Rail and Greater Anglia created a fast service between Liverpool Street and Norwich.

I suspect that British Rail put their best timetablers on the project, so that the test train could speed through unhindered.

Just as they did for Norwich-in-Ninety and probably will be doing to the East Coast Main Line to increase services and decrease journey times.

A Good As ERTMS Signalling

Obviously in 1991, there was no modern digital in-cab signalling and I don’t know the standard of communication between the drivers and the signallers.

On the tricky sections like Digswell Viaduct, through Hitchin and the Newark Crossing were other trains stopped well clear of any difficult area, as modern digital signalling can anticipate and take action?

I would expect the test train got a signalling service as good as any modern train, even if parts of it like driver to signaller communication may have been a bit experimental.

There may even have been a back-up driver in the cab with the latest mobile phone.

It must have been about 1991, when I did a pre-arranged airways join in my Cessna 340 on the ground at Ipswich Airport before take-off on a direct flight to Rome. Air Traffic Control had suggested it to avoid an intermediate stop at say Southend.

The technology was arriving and did it help the drivers on that memorable run North ensure a safe and fast passage of the train?

It would be interesting to know, what other equipment was being tested by this test train.

A Possible Plan

I suspect that the plan in 1991 was to use a plan not unlike one that would be used by Lewis Hamilton, or in those days Stirling Moss to win a race.

Drive a steady race not taking any chances and where the track allows speed up.

So did British Rail drive a steady 125 mph sticking to the standard timetable between Kings Cross and Edinburgh?

Then as the Wikipedia extract indicated, at several times during the journey did they increase the speed of the train to 140 mph.

And the rest as they say was an historic time of 3 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds. Call it three-and-a-half-hours.

This represented a start-to-stop average speed of 112.5 mph over the 393 miles of the East Coast Main Line.

Can The Current Trains Achieve Three-And-A-Half-Hours Be Possible Today?

Consider.

  • The best four hours and twenty minutes timings of the Class 801 trains, represents an average speed of 90.7 mph.
  • The Class 801 trains and the InterCity 225 trains have similar performance.
  • There have been improvements to the route like the Hitchin Flyover.
  • Full ERTMS in-cab signalling is being installed South of Doncaster.
  • I believe ERTMS and ETC could solve the Newark Crossing problem! See Could ERTMS And ETCS Solve The Newark Crossing Problem?
  • I am a trained Control Engineer and I believe if ERTMS and ETC can solve the Newark Crossing problem, I suspect they can solve the Digswell Viaduct problem.
  • The Werrington Dive Under is being built.
  • The approaches to Kings Cross are being remodelled.

I can’t quite say easy-peasy. but I’m fairly certain the Kings Cross and Edinburgh record is under serious threat.

  • A massive power supply upgrade to the North of Doncaster is continuing. See this page on the Network Rail web site.
  • ERTMS and ETC probably needs to be installed all the way between Kings Cross and Edinburgh.
  • There may be a need to minimise the number of slower passenger trains on the East Coast Main Line.
  • The Northumberland Line and the Leamside Line may be needed to take some trains from the East Coast Main Line.

Recent Developments Concerning the Hitachi Trains

There have been several developments  since the Hitachi Class 800 and Class 801 trains were ordered.

  • Serious engineers and commentators like Roger Ford of Modern Railways have criticised the lugging of heavy diesel engines around the country.
  • Network Rail have upgraded the power supply South of Doncaster and have recently started to upgrade it between Doncaster and Edinburgh. Will this extensive upgrade cut the need to use the diesel power-packs?
  • Hitachi and their operators must have collected extensive in-service statistics about the detailed performance of the trains and the use of the diesel power-packs.
  • Hitachi have signed an agreement with Hyperdrive Innovation of Sunderland to produce battery-packs for the trains and two new versions of the trains have been announced; a Regional Battery Train and an Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.
  • East Coast Trains have ordered five five-car Class 803 trains, each of which will have a small battery for emergency use and no diesel power-packs.
  • Avanti West Coast have ordered ten seven-car Class 807 trains, each of which have no battery or diesel power-packs.

And these are just the ones we know about.

The Class 807 Trains And Liverpool

I find Avanti West Coast’s Class 807 trains the most interesting development.

  • They have been partly financed by Rock Rail, who seem to organise train finance, so that the train operator, the train manufacturer all get the best value, by finding good technical solutions.
  • I believe that these trains have been designed so they can run between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations in under two hours.
  • Does the absence of battery or diesel power-packs save weight and improve performance?
  • Euston and Liverpool Lime Street in two hours would be an average of only 96.8 mph.
  • If the Class 807 trains could achieve the same start-stop average of 112.5 mph achieved by the InterCity 225 test run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh, that would mean a Euston and Liverpool Lime Street time of one hour and forty-three minutes.
  • Does Thunderbird provision on the West Coast Main Line for the Class 390 trains mean that the Class 807 trains don’t need emergency power?
  • Have diesel power-packs been rarely used in emergency by the Hitachi trains?

I believe the mathematics show that excellent sub-two hour times between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street are possible by Avanti West Coast’s new Class 807 trains.

The Class 803 Trains And Edinburgh

East Coast Trains ordered their Class 803 trains in March 2019,  nine months before Avanti West Coast ordered their Class 807 trains.

In Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service, I outlined brief details of the trains and the proposed service.

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

I also thought it would be a successful service

As I know Edinburgh, Liverpool and London well, I believe there are similarities between the Euston-Liverpool Lime Street and Kings Cross-Edinburgh routes.

  • Both routes are between two cities known all over the world.
  • Both routes are fully-electrified.
  • Both routes have the potential to attract passengers from other transport modes.

The two services could even be run at similar speeds.

  • Euston-Liverpool Lime Street in two hours will be at 96.8 mph
  • Kings Cross-Edinburgh in four hours will be at 98.3 mph.

Does this explain the similar lightweight trains?

Could Lightweight Trains Help LNER?

There is one important factor, I haven’t talked about in detail in this post. Batteries and diesel power-packs on the Hitachi trains.

I have only mentioned them in the following circumstances.

  • When trains are not fitted with battery and/or diesel power-packs.
  • When battery developments are being undertaken.

Let’s consider the LNER fleet.

  • LNER has thirteen nine-car Class 800 trains, each of which has five diesel power-packs
  • LNER has ten five-car Class 800 trains, each of which has three diesel power-packs
  • LNER has thirty nine-car Class 801 trains, each of which has one diesel power-pack
  • LNER has twelve five-car Class 801 trains, each of which has one diesel power-pack

There are sixty-five trains, 497 coaches and 137 diesel power-packs.

And look at their destinations.

  • Aberdeen – No Electrification from Edinburgh
  • Alnmouth – Fully Electrified
  • Berwick-upon-Tweed – Fully Electrified
  • Bradford Forster Square – Fully Electrified
  • Darlington – Fully Electrified
  • Doncaster – Fully Electrified
  • Durham – Fully Electrified
  • Edinburgh – Fully Electrified
  • Glasgow – Fully Electrified
  • Grantham – Fully Electrified
  • Harrogate – No Electrification from Leeds – Possible Battery Destination
  • Huddersfield – No Electrification from Leeds – Possible Battery Destination – Probable Electrification
  • Hull – No Electrification from Temple Hirst Junction – Possible Battery Destination
  • Inverness – No Electrification from Stirling
  • Leeds – Fully Electrified
  • Lincoln – No Electrification from Newark North Gate – Possible Battery Destination
  • Middlesbrough – No Electrification from Northallerton – Possible Battery Destination
  • Newcastle – Fully Electrified
  • Newark North Gate – Fully Electrified
  • Northallerton – Fully Electrified
  • Peterborough – Fully Electrified
  • Skipton – Fully Electrified
  • Retford – Fully Electrified
  • Stevenage – Fully Electrified
  • Stirling – Fully Electrified
  • Sunderland – No Electrification from Northallerton – Possible Battery Destination
  • Wakefield Westgate – Fully Electrified
  • York – Fully Electrified

The destinations can be summarised as followed.

  • Not Electrified – 2
  • Possible Battery Destination – 6
  • Fully Electrified – 20

This gives a total of 28.

Could the trains be matched better to the destinations?

  • Some routes like Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle and Stirling could possibly be beneficially handled by lightweight trains without any diesel or battery power-packs.
  • Only Aberdeen and Inverness can’t be reached by all-electric or battery-electric trains.
  • In LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, I proposed a hydrogen-electric flagship train, that would use hydrogen North of the existing electrification.

There certainly appear to be possibilities.

Example Journey Times To Edinburgh

This table shows the various time for particular start-stop average speeds between Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

  • 80 mph – 4:54
  • 85 mph – 4:37
  • 90 mph – 4:12
  • 98.2 mph – 4:00
  • 100 mph – 3:56
  • 110 mph – 3:34
  • 120 mph – 3:16
  • 125 mph – 3:08

Note.

  • Times are given in h:mm.
  • A few mph increase in average speed reduces journey time by a considerable amount.

The figures certainly show the value of high speed trains and of removing bottlenecks, as average speed is so important.

Decarbonisation Of LNER

LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes was based on an article in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, with the same title. These are the first two paragraphs of the article.

LNER has launched the procurement of at least 10 new trains to supplement its Azuma fleet on East Coast main line services.

In a Prior Information Notice published on 27 October, the operator states it is seeking trains capable of operating under 25kW overhead power with ‘significant self-power capability’ for operation away from overhead wires. ‘On-board Energy Storage for traction will be specified as a mandatory requirement to reduce, and wherever practical eliminate, diesel usage where it would otherwise be necessary, although LNER anticipates some degree of diesel traction may be required to meet some self-power requirements. Suppliers tendering are asked to detail their experience of designing and manufacturing a fleet of multi-mode trains with a range of traction options including battery-electric, diesel-electric, hydrogen-electric, battery-diesel, dual fuel and tri-mode.

From this, LNER would appear to be serious about decarbonisation and from the destination list I published earlier, most services South of the Scottish Central Belt can be decarbonised by replacing diesel-power packs with battery power-packs.

That last bit, sounds like a call for innovation to provide a solution to the difficult routes to Aberdeen and Inverness. It also looks as if it has been carefully worded not to rule anybody out.

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

It announces the Hitachi Intercity Tri-mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

As the Hitachi press release is dated the 15th of December 2020, which is after the publication of the magazine, it strikes me that LNER and Hitachi had been talking.

At no point have Hitachi stated what the range of the train is on battery power.

To serve the North of Scotland these gaps must be bridged.

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

It should also be noted that distances in Scotland are such, that if these gaps could be bridged by battery technology, then probably all of the North of Scotland’s railways could be decarbonised. As Hitachi are the major supplier of Scotland’s local and regional electric trains, was the original Prior Information Notice, written to make sure Hitachi responded?

LNER run nine-car Class 800 trains on the two long routes to Aberdeen and Inverness.

  • These trains have five diesel power-packs under coaches 2,3, 5, 7 and 8.
  • As five-car Class 800 trains have diesel power-packs under coaches 2, 3 and 4, does this mean that Hitachi can fit diesel power-packs under all cars except for the driver cars?
  • As the diesel and battery power-packs appear to be interchangeable, does this mean that Hitachi could theoretically build some very unusual trains?
  • Hitachi’s trains can be up to twelve-cars in normal mode and twenty-four cars in rescue mode.
  • LNER would probably prefer an all Azuma fleet, even if a few trains were a bit longer.

Imagine a ten-car train with two driver and eight intermediate cars, with all of the intermediate cars having maximum-size battery-packs.

Supposing, one or two of the battery power-packs were to be replaced with a diesel power-pack.

There are a lot of possibilities and I suspect LNER, Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation are working on a train capable of running to and from the North of Scotland.

Conclusion

I started by asking what is possible on The East Coast Main Line?

As the time of three-and-a-half hours was achieved by a short-formation InterCity 225 train in 1991 before Covids, Hitchin, Kings Cross Remodelling, Power Upgrades, Werrington and lots of other work, I believe that some journeys between Kings Cross and Edinburgh could be around this time within perhaps five years.

To some, that might seem an extraordinary claim, but when you consider that the InterCity 225 train in 1991 did it with only a few sections of 140 mph running, I very much think it is a certainly at some point.

As to the ultimate time, earlier I showed that an average of 120 mph between  King’s Cross and Edinburgh gives a time of 3:16 minutes.

Surely, an increase of fourteen minutes in thirty years is possible?

 

 

 

May 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Would A Mutant Many-Parent Child Help To Solve London’s Transport Problems?

London needs to increase the capacity of its public transport system, as the City continues to get larger and larger.

Current Major Projects

There are only three major rail projects ongoing in London at the present time.

The Bank Station Upgrade

The Bank Station Upgrade appears to be progressing well, albeit perhaps it’s a bit late due to the pandemic.

It is a complex project and from what I have heard and observed, it has been well designed and planned.

The Barking Riverside Extension

As with the Bank Station Upgrade the Overground extension to the new Barking Riverside station, appears to be going reasonably well.

But compared to that project, it is a relatively simple project, built mainly in the open air, with no tunneling.

Crossrail

Crossrail is in trouble, after what many believe was a very good tunnelling phase of the project.

But then tunnels under London usually seem to go well. I can remember the Victoria Line tunnelling and many other under London since the 1960s and all of these tunnels seem to have been dug without trouble. As I write, there don’t seem to be any tunneling problems with the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Crossrail now has been reduced to a series of station builds and rebuilds, some of which are as large as the Bank Station Upgrade, with other ongoing projects like the testing of trains and systems.

So why are some of these stations running late in their delivery?

If you walk along the route of Crossrail in the City of London and through Clerkenwell and the West End, it is one massive building side as developers raise massive clusters of new developments around and above the Crossrail stations.

The picture shows Farrington station’s Eastern entrance, with a new development on top.

This one wasn’t a big one, but it went up in record time.

These buildings are often funded by Sovereign Wealth Funds, who want their buildings finished ASAP and as they have bottomless pockets, they are prepared to pay more to get the builders and tradesmen they need.

And where did they get the workers from? Other projects, including Crossrail.

This problem happened in Aberdeen at the height of the oil boom in the last century.

I also think that Brexit worsened the problem, as workers from mainland EU moved to large projects closer to home, like Stuttgart 21 and the new Berlin Brandenburg airport, that were both very much in trouble and could have been offering premium salaries as well!

The solution would have been to phase developments so that the limited pool of workers was not exhausted.

But that probably wouldn’t have suited the developers and politicians for all sorts of reasons.

  • An uncompleted building doesn’t bring in money and jobs.
  • Early completion must improve chances of letting the building.
  • Delaying the building would probably have meant fewer holidays for politicians in exotic locations.

Hopefully, a comprehensive enquiry into the lateness of Crossrail will provide answers.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two is to my mind a London local project. But only in a secondary way!

  • Rebuilding Euston station will improve Underground connections and interchange at Euston and Euston Square stations.
  • It is claimed by High Speed Two, that the rebuilt Euston station will create 16000 jobs and 2200 homes.
  • High Speed Two will enable massive development at Old Oak Common, with tens of thousands of homes and jobs.
  • Old Oak Common station will be a very important rail hub in North-West London.

With seventeen trains per hour (tph) between Euston and Old Oak Common will High Speed Two attract local traffic?

  • I suspect High Speed Two between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly and between Birmingham Interchange and Birmingham Curzon Street will also attract local traffic.
  • I’ve used TGVs between Nice and Antibes.
  • Tourists might visit, just like they did and still do at the Olympic Park.
  • Many Londoners will join High Speed Two at Old Oak Common.

Some wag will suggest putting it on the Tube Map. But is it such a stupid idea?

Where Does London Need More Rail Services?

Having lived in London on and off for over seventy years, I feel the worst areas for rail links are probably.

  • North West London
  • South East London
  • South Central London between Wimbledon and Croydon.
  • South West London

Note.

  1. Over the years, there is no doubt that East and North London have improved considerably, with the development of the East London, North London and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.
  2. Thameslink has been improved in North London and now it is being supported with improvements to the Northern City Line. Both routes now have new Siemens trains, which give a whole new dimension to using ironing-boards as seats.
  3. Crossrail will produce major improvements in West, East and South East London.
  4. Building of a new Penge Interchange station, which I wrote about in Penge Interchange could improve routes to and from South East London.
  5. Hopefully the work in recent years at Waterloo will improve suburban services out of Waterloo. In An Analysis Of Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2, I showed that four tph could be run to Chessington South, Epsom, Hampton Court and Shepperton stations.

It looks like North West and South Central London are missing out.

How Can Services Be Improved In North West London?

There are radial routes from the centre of London to the suburbs.

Starting from the North and going to the West, there are the following lines.

When I used to live at Cockfosters as a child,  to visit my many cousins in North West London, there was no alternative but to use a bus and take well over an hour each way.

There are now some circular rail routes in London but nothing in the North West of the capital.

The Dudding Hill Line And The West London Orbital Railway

But there is the little-used freight route called Dudding Hill Line.

  • It runs between Cricklewood on the Midland Main Line and Acton Central on the North London Line.
  • It is four miles of double-track railway.

This YouTube video shows a cab ride from Acton to Cricklewood.

Plans exist to turn it into the West London Orbital Railway, which will run two services.

  • West Hampstead and Hounslow via Cricklewood, Neasden, Harlesden, Old Oak Common Lane, Acton Central, South Acton, Lionel Road, Brentford, Syon Lane and Isleworth
  • Hendon and Kew Bridge via Brent Cross West, Neasden, Harlesden, Old Oak Common Lane, Acton Central, South Acton

Note.

  1. The proposed frequency of both services is four tph.
  2. There would be some stations to be built, but the track exists.
  3. There would be no new tunnels.
  4. The route is technically feasible.
  5. The route would connect West London to High Speed Two.
  6. There would be little disruption whilst it was built.
  7. The services could be run by dual-voltage battery-electric trains charged on the electrification at both ends of the route.
  8. The scheme represents a high value for money, with a benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of 2.2.

On the other hand, the scheme has two serious problems, as far as the current London Mayor is concerned.

  • Transport for London has no money, partly because of London’s Fare Freeze.
  • The project is not in South London.

This important and value-for-money project will not be built, whilst Sadiq Khan is still Mayor of London.

Harlesden Interchange

I believe that if we get the interchanges right on the West London Orbital Railway correct we can do things like.

  • Increase the benefit cost ratio.
  • Link the route to South London to make the Mayor a bit happier about the North London Scheme.

This Google Map shows Harlesden station.

Note.

  1. The Bakerloo Line/Watford DC Line running North-West/South-East through Harlesden station.
  2. The West Coast Main Line in the Southern section of the map.
  3. The Dudding Hill Line running North-South across the map.

Platforms will be built on the Dudding Hill Line to connect that would probably be new or extended platforms in the current Harlesden station to enable interchange between the West London Orbital and the Watford DC Lines.

I also think there is a possibility that platforms could be added to the slow tracks of the West Coast Main Line, so that suburban services into London Euston can also connect to the West London Orbital Line.

It would also enable a connection between Southern’s Clapham Junction and Milton Keynes service and the West London Orbital Railway.

Looking at this from various angles, I think that an architect good at designing three-dimensional structures could develop a quality Harlesden Interchange station.

Neasden Interchange

Like Harlesden, Neasden is another possibility for a comprehensive interchange.

This Google Map shows Neasden station.

Note.

  1. There are a lot of lines going through Neasden station.
  2. The Dudding Hill Line goes across the South-East corner of the map.
  3. There is plenty of space in the area.

This map from cartometro.com shows the lines in the area.

Note.

  1. The Dudding Hill Line is indicated by the former Dudding Hill station.
  2. The red tracks are Metropolitan Line tracks.
  3. The silver tracks are Jubilee Line tracks.
  4. The Southerly pair of lines through Neasden and Dollis Hill stations are Chiltern’s lines into Marylebone.
  5. The Chiltern tracks divide to the West of Neasden station, with the Aylesbury line following the other tracks and the Chiltern Main Line diverging to the West.
  6. London’s largest Underground Depot at Neasden, lies to the North-West in an area of London noted for few merits with the North Circular Road passing through.

I wonder, if the station and the depot offers a unique opportunity to offer large scale additions to London’s housing stock over the top of a rebuilt station and depot.

This Google Map shows the wider area.

Note.

  1. Much of the depot appears to be open-air stabling for trains.
  2. The North Circular Road passes North-South between the depot and Neasden station.
  3. The Dudding Hill Line cuts across the South-East corner of the map.
  4. This corner of the map is labelled as Dudden Hill.
  5. According to Wikipedia, Dudding Hill is considered a more genteel spelling of Dudden Hill and could be as old as 1544.

It looks as if it would be relatively easy to develop over the top of the depot to create housing, industrial or commercial properties.

But why stop there and cover both the North Circular Road and the six tracks through Neasden station?

Neasden station could be rebuilt into a station with platforms on the following lines.

  • Metropolitan Line
  • Jubilee Line
  • Chiltern Lines
  • Dudding Hill Lines

Note.

  1. I estimate that Chiltern has a train about every six minutes, so some could stop.
  2. There might be space for a bay platform for Chiltern.

Neasden could be a major housing and transport hub.

  • There could be large amounts of parking.
  • Road access would be good.
  • It would have good rail connections.
  • It could have a bus interchange.
  • London needs housing.

It might even be an alternative to Chiltern’s plan for a West Hampstead Interchange.

The Mayor of London, Transport for London and the Borough of Brent need to be bold!

Improvements To Chiltern’s Routes

Chiltern Railways have some plans that could improve services in North West London.

Using The Acton-Northolt Line

Wikipedia says this about using the Acton-Northolt Line to access new platforms at Old Oak Common station.

Upgrading the Acton–Northolt line (formerly the “New North Main Line”) to new platforms at Old Oak Common. This upgrade will also extend to London Paddington to increase capacity on the Chiltern Main Line as there is no room to expand the station at Marylebone.

This scheme has merit.

  • The platforms would be connected to the Chiltern Main Line along the route of a partly-disused railway.
  • The route could be double-tracked.
  • There must be space for at least two new platforms.
  • The new platforms could easily handle four tph.
  • There may be a case for some new stations.

The scheme could add valuable extra capacity for Chiltern.

A Chiltern Metro

Wikipedia says this about a  proposed metro service between Marylebone and West Ruislip stations.

  • The Metro would have a frequency of four tph.
  • It would call at Wembley Stadium, Sudbury & Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park and South Ruislip.
  • The service would require a reversing facility at West Ruislip.
  • There would need to be passing loops at Sudbury Hill Harrow, and  Wembley Stadium.

Given that the Chiltern Metro was first proposed over a decade ago, perhaps the concept could be increased in scope.

  • Housing and other developments along the route may suggest that a station further out like High Wycombe might be a better terminal.
  • ERTMS in-cab digital signalling is likely to be installed at some time, which would decrease headways between trains and allow more services.
  • Electrification is likely in some form before 2040 and this will improve train performance.
  • If Neasden station were to be rebuilt, as a comprehensive transport and residential development, I believe that this Metro service should also call at Neasden, as it would complement the West London Orbital Railway.

I believe that a review of the Chiltern Metro may mean, that an improved version is worth building.

Improvements To The Milton Keynes And Clapham Junction Service

I feel that this service could be key in improving services between North London and South London via the West London Line and High Speed Two’s station at Old Oak Common.

Currently, this service is as follows.

  • It runs between Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction stations.
  • It has a frequency of one tph.
  • It calls at Bletchley, Leighton Buzzard, Tring, Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead, Watford Junction, Harrow & Wealdstone, Wembley Central, Shepherd’s Bush, Kensington (Olympia), West Brompton and Imperial Wharf stations.
  • The service used to extend to South Croydon via Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Common, Norbury, Thornton Heath, Selhurst and East Croydon.
  • It uses Class 377 trains.
  • It shares parts of the route with the London Overground.

I also think it has various issues and questions with respect to the future.

  • The Class 377 trains are only 100 mph units, whereas the outer suburban trains on the West Coast Main Line are 110 mph Class 350 trains, which will soon be replaced by 110 mph Class 730 trains. Do the slower trains cause timetabling problems?
  • Is one tph enough?
  • The route doesn’t serve High Speed Two at Old Oak Common station.
  • Is the service run by the right operator?
  • What is the ideal Southern terminal?

These are my thoughts on the various issues.

The Service As A North-South Link

A friend, who lives in South London has told me, that if you go to an event at Wembley stadium the route is busy.

On the other hand, I’ve used it at midday on a Tuesday and found the trains empty.

But developed properly it could connect the following.

  • Milton Keynes Central
  • Bletchley for the East West Rail Link
  • Watford for the West Coast Main Line to the North
  • Wembley Central for Wembley Stadium and other entertainments
  • Willesden Junction for the North London Line
  • Hythe Road for High Speed Two, Crossrail and the Great Western Railway
  • Shepherd’s Bush for the shopping.
  • Clapham Junction for most of South London and the South of England

It would be a very useful cross-London route to complement Thameslink and the East London Line.

The Frequency

The current Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction has a frequency of one tph.

This may be enough for some parts of the route, as other services also provide services.

But many would argue, that perhaps South of Watford Junction, the service needs to be increased to connect the area to Old Oak Common and Clapham Junction.

I feel that High Speed Two, Crossrail and the Great Western Railway give so much connectivity, that between Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction needs a frequency of at least eight tph.

As the North London Line and the Watford DC Line are working at a frequency of four tph, this could indicate that a four tph direct service Watford Junction and Clapham Junction be ideal. Perhaps, it could continue North to Milton Keynes with a frequency of two tph.

The Trains

I am absolutely certain, that the full service needs to be operated by dual voltage trains, that are capable of running at 110 mph.

The Class 350/1 trains of West Midlands Trains would probably be ideal for the full service.

  • They are dual voltage trains.
  • They are 110 mph trains.
  • They have a long distance interior.

They are being replaced with new Class 730 trains, so would be available.

If some services were running only as far North as Watford Junction, these could be either Class 378 or Class 710 trains of the London Overground.

The Connection To The West London Line And High Speed Two

This map from Wikipedia by Cnbrb shows the latest iteration of the lines at Old Oak Common station.

Note.

  1. The green route is taken by the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction trains.
  2. The bright blue is High Speed Two.
  3. The purple is Crossrail.
  4. The orange is the Overground
  5. Hythe Road station is proposed for the West London Line to connect to Old Oak Common station for High Speed Two.
  6. Hythe Road station will have a bay platform to turn trains from the South.
  7. Old Oak Common Lane station is proposed for the North London Line to connect to Old Oak Common station for High Speed Two.

But where is the connection between the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service and Old Oak Common station for High Speed Two?

  • Access from the South is not a problem as the Overground can be used to Hythe Road station.
  • Extra services from the South can be run to and from the bay platform at Hythe Road station.
  • Access from the East is not a problem as the Overground can be used to Hythe Road station.
  • How do passengers go between say Wembley Central and Heathrow?

In addition for access from the West is the Overground can be used to Old Oak Common Lane station.

But as things stand at the moment the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service bypasses Hythe Road station and the only ways to go from Milton Keynes to Old Oak Common station for either High Speed Two, Crossrail or the Great Western is to do one of the following.

  • Change to the Watford DC Line at Watford Junction, Harrow & Wealdstone or Wembley Central and then change to the Overground at Willesden Junction for either Old Oak Common Lane or Hythe Road station.
  • Continue South to Shepherd’s Bush station, cross over to the other platform and then come back to Hythe Road station.
  • Go via Euston station. OK for High Speed Two, but not for Crossrail or the Great Western.

They cannot be serious!

I hope that there is a cunning plan to enable the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service to connect.

Whilst on the subject of connections at Old Oak Common, where is the promised connection of Crossrail to the West Coast Main Line?

Were all these connections just kicked into the long grass and quietly forgotten, as they were deemed too difficult and/or expensive?

I think serious questions need to be asked about the design of Crossrail and High Speed Two at Old Oak Common.

Why weren’t Crossrail and High Speed Two designed to connect directly to the London Overground at Willesden Junction station perhaps by the use of a North South people mover serving the following lines?

  • Bakerloo, Watford DC, West Coast Main and West London Orbital Lines at a rebuilt Harlesden station.
  • London Overground at the high-level Willesden Junction station.
  • High Speed Two
  • Crossrail and the Great Western Railway
  • The new Chiltern platforms.
  • Central Line at East Acton station.

Note.

  1. Hythe Road and Old Oak Common stations would not be needed.
  2. The Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service would call additionally at the rebuilt Harlesden station.

The current design of Old Oak Common stinks like a horse designed by a committee!

The Northern Terminal

I suggested earlier that some trains use Watford Junction and others use Milton Keynes Central.

Both stations have the capacity and the connectivity.

The Southern Terminal

In the last ten years, South Croydon, East Croydon and Clapham Junction have been used as the Southern terminal.

Thameslink seems to have chosen its various terminals to satisfaction of the travelling public, so perhaps the same method or personnel should be used.

The Operator

The Gibb Report said that this service should be transferred to the London Overground and I wrote about this proposal in Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground.

This is one suggestion, but I do wonder, if it should be transferred to West Midlands Trains and run in conjunction with their West Coast Main Line services.

  • The service needs 110 mph trains.
  • Timetabling and operation should be easier.
  • London Overground trains don’t have a long-distance interior.

On the other hand, trains running between Watford Junction and Clapham Junction would probably be better if they were London Overground trains.

Conclusion

I believe that by using the current network and some modern trains and signalling, the passenger services to the West of the capital can be substantially improved.

 

 

 

 

May 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

The New Step-Free Entrance At Euston Square Station

This map from cartometro.com shows the Underground Lines in the Euston station area.

Note.

  1. The Northern Line is shown in black.
  2. The Victoria Line is shown in light blue.
  3. The sub-surface lines are shown in yellow and mauve.
  4. The Northern and Victoria Lines are deep underneath the station, whereas the sub-surface lines are under Euston Road.

This Google Map shows the area and the positions of the station entrances.

Note.

  1. Warren Street station in the South West corner of the map at the Northern end of Tottenham Court Road.
  2. Euston Road running South-West to North-East across the map.
  3. University College Hospital is on the South side of Euston Road between Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street.
  4. There is a subway under Euston Road almost in line with Gower Street, that gives access to the Western ends of the platforms at Euston Square station.
  5. There is a lift to the station from the South side of Euston Road on the Eastern side of Gower Street.
  6. The Western end of the platforms at Euston Square are probably just to the East of Gower Street.

The next road across Euston Road is Gordon Street, where the entrance to a new subway under Euston Road to Euston station will be located.

This Transport for London visualisation shows the entrance to the subway looking towards Euston station.

This diagram of the subway. is from Ian Visits,

Note the platforms at Euston Square station appear to be shown in red and end to the West of Gordon Street.

I took these pictures at the Eastern end of Euston Square station.

Note what look like bricked off areas at the end of the platforms for electrical and other gubbins. I suspect they could be removed to create more space.

Conclusion

I don’t think that connecting the platforms to the subway will be the most challenging of projects, if they can dig easily behind and over the walls of the Victorian tunnel and behind the platforms.

 

March 31, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments