The Anonymous Widower

Transforming High-Speed Rail Logistics

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10038447

Project title: Transforming High-Speed Rail Logistics
Lead organisation: VARAMIS LTD
Project grant: £396,467

Public description:

Our project is to transform high-speed rail logistics combining a repurposed all electric passenger unit and bespoke consignment device technology to support the conveyance of parcels. This technology, offered alongside a new approach to using space at stations to create easily accessible city-centre distribution hubs, will enable the operation of a new high-speed non-letters parcels service.

The project meets the competitions challenge and scope through: Development and application of new technologies and approaches to rail, innovative reuse of existing rail assets (such as passenger rolling stock converted for light freight), repurposing of space at station hubs (which has been released due to changing passenger demand) and engagement with new to rail logistics operators to develop and grow new high-speed rail freight services.

Furthermore, the project is in support of permanent modal shift from road to rail, delivering rail freight growth, meeting future customer needs, and realising significant emissions reductions which supports the UK’s low emissions target of a 68% reduction by 2030, compared to 1990 levels through modal diversion from road.

My Thoughts And Conclusions

November 17, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

British Land Plans Underground London Logistics Hub

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Construction Enquirer.

This is the sub-title to the article.

British Land is planning to create an underground low-carbon logistics hub in central London.

Note.

  1. The former Crossrail box works site beneath Kingdom Street in Paddington is being turned into the logistics hub.
  2. The site was returned to British Land’s ownership when the Elizabeth Line opened.
  3. There will be a 13-storey office above the box.
  4. The 21-storey office at the Five Kingdom Street site has been reduced to seven storeys, to meet today’s expectations for environmentally-sustainable design and occupier wellbeing.
  5. The urban logistics hub would facilitate deliveries within Westminster using electric vehicles and cargo bikes

It looks to me, that this logistics hub has similar aims and objectives, to British Land’s other planned hub, that I wrote about in Finsbury Square Car Park Becomes British Land Hub For Delivery Drivers.

Conclusion

British Land seem to have a plan to develop low carbon logistics hubs.

November 17, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will It Be Third-Time Lucky For Grand Union Trains In Wales?

It is three years since I wrote Grand Union Seeks ’91s’ To Cardiff and their proposal has not been accepted and the third iteration has been announced.

This article on Wales Online is entitled Independent Rail Firm Bids To Launch As Rival To Great Western On The Mainline From South Wales To London.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

An independent rail firm is hoping to launch a rival train service in Wales which they say will slash journey times between Carmarthen and London. Grand Union Trains is making a fresh bid to introduce an initial service in both directions between Cardiff and London on the existing Great Western line.

The company believes the move will “create passenger choice” and increase the number of trains available, with the hope that the service can be extended west in South Wales towards Carmarthen.

Other points in the article include.

  • Swansea will be by-passed, which will speed up services to and from Llanelli and Carmarthen.
  • A new Park-and-Ride station will be built by Grand Union at Felindre, which is to the North of Swansea.
  • Services will stop at Llanelli, Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Bristol Parkway.
  • When Cardiff Parkway opens, this will be an extra stop.

An article in the June 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Grand Union Bids For London To Carmarthen, gives extra details.

  • Three classes.
  • 2023 start for the service.
  • Five return trains per day.
  • Cycle provision.
  • Vanload freight will be carried.
  • Electric trains could start between London and Cardiff by 2023.
  • In 2025, trains could be nine-car bi-modes.
  • South Wales-based operation and maintenance.
  • 125 full-time jobs created.

It certainly seems to be a comprehensive and well-thought out plan.

These are my thoughts and observations.

Felindre Station

Felindre station is named in Wikipedia as the West Wales Parkway station, where it is introduced like this.

West Wales Parkway is a proposed railway station north of Swansea, near to the boundaries of the neighbouring principal area of Carmarthenshire, and the villages of Felindre and Llangyfelach. The station is proposed to be situated at the former Felindre steelworks, near Junction 46 of the M4 and A48, and near Felindre Business Park and Penllergaer Business Park. The project is in the planning stages, as part of a wider Department for Transport proposal to re-open the Swansea District line to passenger traffic.

This Google Map shows where, it appears the Felindre station will be built.

Note.

  1. The Felindre Business Park in the North-West corner of the map, with a Park-and-Ride.
  2. The M4 running across the bottom of the map.
  3. The Swansea District Line runs East-West between the motorway and the Business Park.

It looks that the new station could be located on the South side of the Business Park.

According to Wikipedia, the station would cost £20 million to build.

  • It would need a comprehensive rethinking of transport improvements in the Swansea area.
  • But it could result in time savings on services between Carmarthen and Cardiff.

The Modern Railways article says this.

GU proposes to build the Felindre station near Swansea and invest in Severn Tunnel Junction station, where it says it will increase parking, provide direct access from the M4 motorway and improve passenger and staff facilities, backing up plans being evaluated by the Welsh Government for the station.

Grand Union is not a charity and does this indicate that a bank or infrastructure company is prepared to fund parking and the extra passengers pay the charges.

Rolling Stock

Wikipedia says that the rolling stock could be nine-car InterCity 225s hauled by Class 91 or Class 93 locomotives.

As the Class 93 locomotives are bi-modes, these would handle the Carmarthen and Cardiff leg.

The Modern Railways article says this.

Trains could start between Cardiff and London Paddington as early as May 2023 if electric only, with services extended west around two years later with new bi-mode trains in up to nine-car formations.

Would a new Class 93 locomotive count as a new bi-mode train?

I suspect the new locomotive would be more affordable, than a new bi-mode train.

Vanload Freight

This is an interesting idea and it follows similar thinking to Royal Mail’s latest ideas, that I wrote about in Royal Mail Rolling Back The Years To Put More Post On Trains.

One coach could be a nice little earner, if it were modified to carry roller cages, that were loaded and unloaded at the end of the route.

One advantage of the InterCity 225s is that they are 125 mph trains, so that this will be high speed freight.

Timings

Consider.

  • A GWR Carmarthen and London service takes three hours and 47 minutes.
  • This includes a nine-minute reverse at Swansea.
  • GWR makes seven more stops than Grand Union will.
  • GWR does seven diesel stops, whereas Grand Union will only do two.

I would estimate that Grand Union will be under three hours and thirty minutes.

Carmarthen Station

This Google Map shows Carmarthen station.

Note.

  1. The station has two platforms.
  2. There are certainly pictures of the station with an InterCity 125 in the station.

These pictures show the station.

I suspect that the station will be upgraded to accommodate Grand Union.

Rrenewable Energy Developments In South West Wales

In Enter The Dragon, I talked about renewable energy developments in South West Wales.

I used information from this article on the Engineer, which is entitled Unlocking The Renewables Potential Of The Celtic Sea.

The article on the Engineer finishes with this conclusion.

For now, Wales may be lagging slightly behind its Celtic cousin to the north, but if the true potential of the Celtic Sea can be unleashed – FLOW, tidal stream, lagoon and wave – it looks set to play an even more prominent role in the net zero pursuit.

The Red Dragon is entering the battle to replace Vlad the Mad’s tainted energy.

South West Wales could see a massive renewable energy boom.

The Railways To The West Of Carmarthen

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the rail lines to the West of Carmarthen.

There are three main branches to Fishguard, Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock.

I can see the railways becoming increasingly important in supporting the growing renewable energy in the area.

  • There would be more frequent services.
  • Services would tie in with London and Cardiff trains at Carmarthen.
  • Closed stations could be reopened and new ones built.

It may also be possible to bring in large components needed by the renewable energy industry.

Conclusion

I feel that Grand Union have seen the opportunities presented to a frequent Carmarthen and London service and have grabbed them with both hands.

May 29, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The TruckTrain

Note that I first came across the TruckTrain, when I wrote Innovative Composite Masts Look To Reduce Cost And Increase Efficiency Of Rail Electrification.

I have now decided that the concept could be so revolutionary, that it needs its own post.

The TruckTrain

TruckTrain is a concept with roots in Coventry University that could be off-beam enough to become a new normal.

The TruckTrain Web Site

The TruckTrain web site is the main source of information for the TruckTrain.

A sales leaflet for the TruckTrain can be accessed from the Home page.

The About page on the web site, gives this description of the TruckTrain.

TruckTrains® are short, fast, bi-directional self-propelled fixed freight train formations able to operate at passenger train speeds. Train sets can work in multiple in response to operational and commercial imperatives. Each vehicle is powered and all axles are powered to deliver the acceleration and braking required to achieve and to sustain this demanding level of performance. The initial configuration will use diesel-electric power to ensure freedom of operation over the national network. A hybrid design able to operate on electrified lines has also been developed together with an all-electric variant capable of extremely high-speed performance.

The Specifications page on the web site gives a detailed specification  of the TruckTrain.

These are my thoughts.

The Basic Design Concept

This leaflet on their web site describes the concept.

This visualisation at the bottom of the leaflet shows four TruckTrains forming a train carrying twelve intermodal containers, each of which I suspect are each 20 feet long.

Note.

  1. Each of the four TruckTrains appears to be carrying three intermodal containers.
  2. A 20 foot container is 6.096 metres long, so three are 18.288 metres long.
  3. Each TruckTrain has two bogies and four axles.
  4. The cabs at the two ends of each TruckTrain are different sizes.
  5. The longest carriages in use on the UK rail network are the 26 metre carriages used by Hitachi in their Class 800 and other trains.

I can deduce that with a twenty metre load space, a TruckTrain would accommodate any of the following.

  • Three twenty-foot containers.
  • A forty foot container and a twenty foot container.
  • Large numbers of pallets.
  • Ability to handle roll-cages as regularly used by supermarkets.
  • A curtain-sided load space.

Any of these would give six metres for the two cabs.

This should be enough space for two cabs, but there are other possibilities.

  • The longer cab could have a pantograph on the roof to use 25 KVAC electrification.
  • The space behind the driver cab in the longer cab could be used for power-train gubbins.
  • There must also be space under the load space for more power-train gubbins.

I feel certain, that an electrically-powered TruckTrain is more than a possibility.

The Width And Height Of A TruckTrain

This sentence from the Wikipedia entry for intermodal container, says this about their size.

Intermodal containers exist in many types and a number of standardized sizes, but ninety percent of the global container fleet are so-called “dry freight” or “general purpose” containers – durable closed rectangular boxes, made of rust-retardant Corten steel; almost all 8 feet (2.44 m) wide, and of either 20 or 40 feet (6.10 or 12.19 m) standard length, as defined by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard 668:2020. The worldwide standard heights are 8 feet 6 inches (2.59 m) and 9 feet 6 inches (2.90 m) – the latter are known as High Cube or Hi-Cube (HC / HQ) containers.

The Specifications page for the TruckTrain says this.

2-7 car Freight multiple unit capable of carrying combinations of 6 to 21 TEU of ISO containers, Hi-cube containers or swap bodies or 175 cubic meters of palletised cargo per vehicle with refrigeration available for both variants.

And the sales leaflet for the TruckTrain says this.

Performance and train path profile similar to a Turbostar passenger DMU.

Does that also mean that the width and height of a TruckTrain are no greater than that of a Class 170 train, which are respectively 2.69 and 3.77 metres?

It appears that international standards allow for a wagon floor height of 0.94 metres, which gives the following train heights to the top of the container.

  • Standard container – 3.53 metres
  • High Cube container – 3.84 metres

It will be a tight fit, but companies like Stadler use smaller wheels on some of their UK trains, which also have a height of 3.95 metres

I suspect that with a bit of selective bridge-raising TruckTrains will be able to go anywhere a Turbostar can go.

Connecting TruckTrains Together

The pictures of the TruckTrain on the web-site and the leaflet appears to show a standard multiple unit coupler like a Dellner.

The Specifications page for the TruckTrain says this.

2-7 car Freight multiple unit capable of carrying combinations of 6 to 21 TEU of ISO containers.

Is seven the maximum or just a marketing limit?

The technology and software to connect the trains and run them as a formation has been well and truly tested in many multiple units.

Motive Power Of TruckTrains

The About page for the TruckTrain says this.

The initial configuration will use diesel-electric power to ensure freedom of operation over the national network. A hybrid design able to operate on electrified lines has also been developed together with an all-electric variant capable of extremely high-speed performance.

As I said earlier, the pantograph could go on the roof of the longer cab for electric operation and the diesel engine could go under the load, as it does on most diesel multiple units.

I would think though, that one of the best variants would mount batteries under the load space.

Hydrogen would probably be a no-no, as this would limit the availability of the train to serve certain routes.

Performance Of TruckTrains

The Specifications page for the TruckTrain says this.

Maximum speed 140 kph for the inter-modal version, 160 kph for the pallet carrier.

As some of the routes, where these trains would be used is out of Felixstowe, where there is a 100 mph operating speed on the Great Eastern Main Line, I suspect that TruckTrains will sell better with a 100 mph (160 kph) operating speed on electric power.

125 mph Truck Trains

If they were running on a fully electrified route, I suspect the technology is available to run TruckTrains at 125 mph, which would make them ideal for parcels and light freight.

Manufacture Of TruckTrains

I don’t see that there would be many problems in manufacturing TruckTrains.

  • 100 mph (160 kph) bogies are readily available for freight trains.
  • A wagon manufacturer would probably be happy to design and build the chassis.
  • The cabs could possibly be a standard multiple unit design.
  • There shouldn’t be any problems with the power-train.
  • Multiple running and splitting/joining technology is very much proven.

Certified rail components would probably be available for other parts and uses.

Combi TruckTrains

Combi Aircraft is defined in Wikipedia like this.

Combi aircraft in commercial aviation are aircraft that can be used to carry either passengers as an airliner, or cargo as a freighter, and may have a partition in the aircraft cabin to allow both uses at the same time in a mixed passenger/freight combination.

Would a Combi TruckTrain have applications on some routes in the world, where a passenger route carries the occasional container up and down the route?

Several ideas might be possible.

  • The simplest would probably to have a twenty or forty foot passenger module, which could be lifted in and out like a standard intermodal freight container.
  • TruckTrains could also be built with the load space fitted out for passengers, so they became a Class 153 replacement, that could be coupled to a freight TruckTrain.
  • Could a TruckTrain be fitted out as a specialised work train to take workers and equipment to a work site, which had difficult road access?

It could almost be like a rail equivalent of Thunderbird 2.

Point-To-Point TruckTrains

The classic point-to-point train, could be run by someone like Toyota, where the engines for their cars are made in North Wales and the cars are assembled at Burnaston near Derby. I know there is a doubt over the future of Toyota’s engine plant, due to the stopping of manufacture of cars running on fossil fuels, but surely, an appropriate number of TruckTrains shuttling on the route would give advantages over a fleet of trucks, like, speed and reliability.

In the leaflet, they mention that the TruckTrain has been designed to use single-track short-terminals. These would surely be ideal for a company that decides to use TruckTrain as a point-to-point train between an important supplier and their main factory or distribution centre.

TruckTrains Could Use Stations

There has been a lot of talk recently about using major stations as freight terminals at night.

I doubt that a TruckTrain would have any problems using stations.

International TruckTrains

Why not? In Kraft Heinz And Freight Innovation, I talked about an international freight movement, that would be ideal for TruckTrains.

TruckTrains And Ferries

Could we even see the revival of train ferries?

Imagine a terminal at a port in Ireland, which could load and unload containers between standard gauge TruckTrains and trucks.

  • A short length of standard gauge track would lead from the terminal to the quay, so that the TruckTrains could be driven on and off the ferry, either using a shunter or the TruckTrains’ own battery or diesel power.
  • On the other side of the water, the TruckTrain would use the UK railways to get to its destination.

This concept would allow freight to go between most of Western Europe and Ireland with only a transfer to and from trucks at both ends.

It could even be improved with dual-gauge TruckTrains, which might be able to run between Ireland and Spain, through the Channel Tunnel.

Conclusion

I like the concept and I can’t see why it would not be successful worldwide.

 

April 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Side Door At King’s Cross Station

Earlier this week, I noticed this door in the Eastern side of King’s Cross station.

The door appears to lead through to the concourse and in normal operation, probably gets used if a vehicle needs to access the platforms.

These pictures were taken on the other side.

If you walk to the left, you go to Platforms 0 and 1.

But at night could this entrance be used to access Express Parcels and Light Freight Services on these two platforms?

September 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 1 Comment

Arriving In Platform 0 At Kings Cross

I’ve arrived in Kings Cross station hundreds of times, but today, when i came back from Spalding via Peterborough, it could have been the first time, that I arrived in Platform 0.

I took these pictures of the island between Platform 0 and Platform 1, which contains the InterCity 225.

Note that it is a very long and wide platform.

I am getting more convinced that the answer to the question I asked in Is King’s Cross Station Ready For Parcel Trains?, is in the affirmative.

September 8, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Could British Land’s Plans For Finsbury Square Car Park Include A Rail Link To The Northern City Line?

This map from cartometro.com shows the railway lines in the area of Liverpool Street, Moorgate and Old Street stations.

Note.

  1. The four tracks in black are the Northern and Northern City Lines.
  2. It is planned to install digital signalling on the Northern City Line to increase capacity.

Finsbury Square is to the East of these lines.

The Northern Line is about fifteen metres deeper and underneath the Northern and City Line.

This picture shows the escalator between the two lines at Moorgate station.

 

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the Northern City Lines are deep enough to be below the Finsbury Square Car Park.

So would it be possible to run a four-car electric multiple unit into the Finsbury Square Car Park, so that there is no need to shuttle parcels and light freight to Liverpool Street station.

The digital signalling on the Northern City Line will probably allow a few extra trains to travel to a siding in or under the Finsbury Square Car Park, so it wouldn’t effect services into Moorgate.

 

 

August 27, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Walking From Finsbury Square To Liverpool Street Station

In Finsbury Square Car Park Becomes British Land Hub For Delivery Drivers, I wondered if

.

So today, I walked the route from Finsbury Square To Liverpool Street Station.

Note.

  1. The roads around Finsbury Square are probably the narrowest on the route between Finsbury Square and Liverpool Street station.
  2. Sun Street, Appold Street and Primrose Street are wide roads and didn’t strike me as too busy for eleven in the morning.
  3. The Old Cab Road is a high capacity route into Liverpool Street station between Platforms 10 and 11.

If Finsbury Square Car Park is be used to distribute parcels and light freight that is to be handled in Liverpool Street station, the roads between the car park and the station are more than adequate for an electric shuttle truck designed for the task.

But

  • I suspect that Finsbury Square Car Park would need remodelled access ramps.
  • There might be a need for a second entrance or exit on the East side of the site.
  • The gardens on top probably need a makeover.

I wouldn’t be surprised if British Land dug another floor or two beneath the car park.

August 27, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finsbury Square Car Park Becomes British Land Hub For Delivery Drivers

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

It is a surprising headline or is it a logical development given some of the projects in the rail freight business.

In A Freight Shuttle For Liverpool Street Station Planned. I talked about Rail Operations Group and their plans to run a freight shuttle between London Gateway and Liverpool Street station.

  • Trains will be Class 769 bi-mode trains.
  • The trains will be fitted with roller doors, roller cages and strengthened floors.
  • Three services will leave Thames Gateway at 0029, 1208 and 1856.
  • They will return from Liverpool Street at 0242, 1421 and 2100.
  • Services will use Platforms 9 and 10 in Liverpool Street station.
  • Goods would be delivered to the customer by e-bikes or electric vans.

This a very detailed plan.

But would it be better, if it had a logistics hub close to or even in the station?

These pictures show the Old Cab Road at Liverpool Street station.

This would probably be the only area in the station, that can be used. But it is not very large. Although it does have an access road at the back of the station.

This Google Map shows the area between Finsbury Square and Liverpool Street station.

Note.

  1. Finsbury Square is in the North West corner of the map.
  2. Liverpool Street station is in the South East corner of the map.
  3. There is an entrance to the Old Cab Road Liverpool Street station on Primrose Street.
  4. Amazon UK’s corporate office is in the North East corner of the msp.

Could roller cages be rolled into electric vans and taken to Finsbury Square for sorting and onward distribution?

  • The car park has a height limit of 1.98 metres.
  • It has 258 parking spaces.
  • Could it be expanded downwards?
  • How many e-bikes would it hold?

It think that this could be the reason for the purchase.

But I would be very surprised if a siding was dug that connected to the nearby Northern City Line that runs into Moorgate station.

 

August 27, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is King’s Cross Station Ready For Parcel Trains?

In Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?, I wrote about the converting of redundant electrical multiple units into 100 mph freight and parcel trains.

A couple of days ago, I was walking through Kings Cross station and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. The wide platforms.
  2. The gates in the ticket barriers to allow vehicles through.
  3. The passenger entrances line up with the gates in the ticket barriers.

It does look like everything is setup to efficiently get cargo between the trains and the road network outside.

A collateral benefit, is that access to the trains for passengers is step-free.

August 7, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 8 Comments