The Anonymous Widower

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.

But at night could it be used to access Express Parcels and Light Freight Services on that side of the station?

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

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 | , , , | 8 Comments

Whisky Galore!

The Levenmouth Rail Link has carried freight in the past.

Mainly in the past, it was coal to the now-demolished Methil power station.

But it has been known to carry whisky for Diageo.

This Google map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The blue dot marking Sainsbury’s by the bew Leven station, by the mouth of the River Leven.
  2. The railway follows the river with Cameron Bridge station to the East of the A915 and the two Camero Bridge distilleries.
  3. The silver warehouses at the North side of the map are labelled Diageo Global Supply.

I wonder, if a siding can be provided for the distribution of products stored in the warehouses?

Companies are looking to lower their carbon-footprint and I wouldn’t be surprised, if Diageo were looking at rail distribution.

Modern Rail Freight Distribution

Companies are converting redundant electric multiple units into fast parcel delivery trains to replace diesel trucks.

  • Typically, four-car trains are used.
  • Trains have a 100 mph capability and can be 240 metres in length.
  • Eversholt Rail Group are proposing adding battery power. This would be ideal to reach Cameron Bridge over the Forth Bridge.

These trains would be ideal for the delivery of Scotch Whisky.

They might even be capable of exporting product through the Channel Tunnel.

I don’t think the capacity of the Levenmouth Rail Link would be a problem, as it is a double-track railway, that can probably handle over four trains per hour and there is plenty of capacity for a number of freight trains.

Conclusion

I think freight will play a use in the future of the Levenmouth Rail Link.

Related Posts

The New Leven Station On The Levenmouth Rail Link

The New Cameron Bridge Station On The Levenmouth Rail Link

North From Thornton Junction

Service Provision On The Levenmouth Rail Link

Trains On The Levenmouth Rail Link

July 29, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?

This article on Rail Advent is entitled Eversholt Rail Unveils First Swift Express Freight Train In Doncaster.

It is a full report on the first of a new breed of freight trains based on redundant 100 mph electric multiple units.

Three Rail Problems

The rail industry, its financiers and customers have a lot of problems, they’d like to solve, but these three seem to be coming together to create a whole new industry.

Rolling Stock Leasing Companies Have A Surplus Of Redundant Rolling Stock

 

Most of the released rolling stock has been made redundant because of the arrival of new trains.

What will be left will be a an assortment, which will contain a lot of trains with these characteristics.

  • Four cars
  • Can run in formations of 4, 8 and 12 cars
  • Electrically-powered.
  • Some trains are even dual voltage.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Good reliability.
  • Easy maintenance and modification if needed.

Many were even built over thirty years ago by British Rail Engineering Ltd.

As someone, who used to part-own a company that leased trucks to operators, I know that to maximise cash-flow and ultimately profits, you don’t want them sitting in a yard or a siding.

Conversion to zero carbon is one option.

  • Porterbrook have said they will convert the Class 350 trains, that they own to battery-electric operation.
  • Porterbrook have also converted some Class 319 trains to electro-diesel Class 769 trains.
  • Porterbrook have also converted a Class 319 train to hydrogen operation.
  • Eversholt Rail Group and Alstom are converting Class 321 trains to hydrogen operation.

I also believe that the redundant Class 379 trains will also be converted to battery-electric operation.

But there will still be a substantial number of quality trains, that need a second life.

The Growth Of Parcel Freight

Parcel freight traffic driven by on-line shopping, has boomed in the pandemic.

This type of traffic often originates from outside of the UK and enters the country at places like London Gateway or East Midlands Airport.

Much of it is currently distributed to large cities by truck, which in this day and age is not a green option, or even an option at all.

Rail Operations Group have leased ten Class 769 trains and 9 Class 319 trains with the intention of running parcel services under the Orion brand. I wrote about this proposal in A Freight Shuttle For Liverpool Street Station Planned.

Road Congestion

Road congestion is getting worse and there is bir much point in having product stuck on the motorway, when it can be running along at a 100 mph on an electrified rail line.

The Need For Just-In-Time Deliveries

Many factories these days work on the Just-In-Time principle, with product delivered just as its needed.

As an example Toyota build their cars at Burnaston near Derby, but the engines are built in North Wales. I suspect that they go across the country by truck.

Looking at maps, the engine plant could be rail connected and I feel one could be arranged at Burnaston.

Do they keep a good stock of engines at Burnaston?

I can see several situations like this needing a regular company train.

Fast Food

Because of Brexit we will need to be growing more of our own food.

Traditionally, the Class 43 power cars of InterCity 125 trains carried flowers and fish up from Cornwall.

So will we see rail provide an alternative.

Conclusion

Put these problems together and you can see a fair number of four-car electric multiple units being converted to short 100 mph electric freight trains.

Eversholt Rail Group‘s Swift Express Freight Train is very much a demonstrator for their ideas and it has some expected and unexpected features.

Based On A Class 321 train

The train is based on a four-car Class 321 train.

I rode one recently and I timed it at over 90 mph on the way to Southend.

Trolley Cages

Pictures in the Rail Advent article show a stripped-bare interior with a steel floor, with another picture showing three supermarket trolley cages arranged across the train.

One estimate in the article says that each coach can handle over fifty of these cages and up to nine-and-a-half tonnes of cargo.

Four Seats And A Toilet

Eversholt feel that some of the trains could be used in a Travelling Post Office mode and there may be a need for sorting en route, so two first-class seats, two second-class seats and a toilet are provided.

This train would enable an Anglo-Scottish parcel service.

  • It might stop several times en route.
  • At each stop parcels would be rolled out and in, perhaps with the help of a Harrington Hump.
  • The on-train staff would sort the incoming parcels and put them in the required trolley for offloading.

I don’t think though, they’ll be delivering postal orders.

A Last Mile Capability

The article also disclosed that Eversholt were thinking of fitting a Last-Mile capability to the Swift Express Freight Train.

Batteries were mentioned and they would obviously work.

But one development recently is Porterbrook’s HydroFlex train, which has converted a Class 319 train to hydrogen power.

  • The conversion was done by Birmingham University.
  • It appears that all the hydrogen gubbins is underneath the floor, so cargo capacity would not be reduced.

I suspect underfloor hydrogen power could be very viable in an express freight train.

Fleet Size

The article talks of a fleet size of twenty and also says that the first train has been leased to an unnamed parcel distributor in the UK.

July 3, 2021 Posted by | Design, Finance, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

My First Ride In A Class 769 Train

I went to Cardiff today and had my first ride in a Class 769 train. These pictures summarise my ride on the train between Cardiff Central and Bargoed stations.

So what was it like?

Noise And Vibration

Going up to Bargoed, I deliberately sat as near over the top of the engine as I could.

There was a bit of a whine, but not as much as in a new Class 195 train.

For those, who commuted on Class 319 trains for years on Thameslink, they probably wouldn’t notice much difference.

Performance

For a 100 mph electric train built for running between the flat lands of Bedfordshire and the South Coast over the hillocks of the Downs, the train climbed to Bengoed, which has an altitude of around a thousand feet with a purpose.

But then I have a Porterbrook brochure for these trains and the power source was sized, such that the train would be able to climb the stiffest routes in the UK.

The Interior

It looked to me like the Thameslink interior with new sea covers and plugs to charge a mobile phone.

They could certainly be upgraded a bit further to the standard of the Class 319 trains on the Abbey Line, that I wrote about in A Very Smart Class 319 Train.

A Job To Do

Trains for Wales has acquired these trains for extra capacity, whilst they refurbish their Class 150, 153 and 160 trains.

It looks to me, that they will do this job more than adequately.

Future Uses

I suspect Porterbrook hope that these trains will find uses around the UK, as they have spent a lot of time, effort and money to bring these trains into service.

But there are around eighty of the Class 319 trains in service or in store, from which the Class 769 trains are converted.

So they could find uses in several niche applications.

Short Term Fleets

This is effectively, the Trains for Wales application, where extra trains are provided, so that a fleet refurbishment can be performed.

  • They would surely, have been a better replacement fleet for Greater Anglia, than the three Mark 2 coaches and a pair of diesel locomotives, that they used after a series of level crossing accidents.
  • They could also be used to increase capacity for some major events like the Open Golf or a pop festival.
  • Uniquely, they can stand in for both a 100 mph electric train or a 90 mph diesel train.
  • They can even be fitted with third-rail shoes.
  • They are the right size at four cars.
  • They fit most UK platforms.
  • They can be run in formations of up to twelve cars.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Porterbrook or someone on their behalf, keep a fleet of trains on standby to handle short term needs.

Route Development And Testing

There has been a lot of pressure to open up new routes in recent years and these trains would be ideal to try out routes and test new electrification.

Tri-Mode Services

Great Western Railway have a particular problem with their service between Reading and Gatwick, in that it has some third-rail electrification. As they might like to extend this service to Oxford, an ideal train would be dual-voltage and self-powered.

This extract is from the Great Western Railway section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 769 train.

Although initially planned for use in London and the Thames Valley whilst twelve Class 387 units are modified for Heathrow Express services, the future plan for these units will be operating on services between Oxford, Reading and Gatwick Airport, which would mean operating on unelectrified, 25 kV AC OHLE and 750 V DC third-rail routes. To enable this, Great Western Railway’s allocation of Class 769 units will retain their dual-voltage capability in addition to being fitted with diesel power units. The units will also receive an internal refurbishment and be fitted with air cooling.

I suspect, that they’ll also be used on the Henley, Marlow and Windsor branches, which have some operational problems.

  • The branches are not electrified.
  • Some branches run occasional services to Paddington.
  • The Windsor branch probably needs more capacity.

The Marlow branch could be difficult, but I suspect that, there’s a solution somewhere.

Luxury Bi-Modes

Greater Anglia felt they needed luxury bi-modes for East Anglia and they bought Class 755 trains, which are probably a lot more expensive, as they are brand-new and from Stadler of Switzerland.

Surprisingly, the Class 319 trains have a higher passenger capacity.

But both trains could do a similar task, where the route is partially electrified.

As I said earlier about the GWR units.

The units will also receive an internal refurbishment and be fitted with air cooling.

Porterbrook’s brochure for the Class 769 train talks about using them between Manchester and Buxton.

Surely, this route could do with a Northern version of a GWR interior.

I also think a service should link Hellifield and Buxton. as I wrote about in Why Not Buxton To Hellifield?

That would show what Class 769 trains could do!

It would also connect the Peak District to the hills North of Lancashire.

I might also be, that the standby-fleet should also be the luxury variant of the train. Surely, supporters going to the Open at some of the inaccessible venues could afford pay to pay extra for a comfy train.

Express Freight And Parcels Services

Rail Operations Group would appear to have placed the second-largest order for Class 769 trains, which they will use to launch a high-speed parcels service called Orion.

This extract is from the Rail Operations Group section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 769 train.

Orion is aiming to launch its first trial service conveying parcels and light freight in April 2021, with the Midlands to Mossend now likely to be the debut flow. The company is to use converted Class 319s for the service and is now planning for a fleet of 19 four-car units – nine Class 319s and 10 Class 769s. Arlington Fleet Services at Eastleigh is modifying the interiors of the units to accommodate roller cages for parcels, with the aim of operating primarily under electric power but with the 769s using their diesel engines to act as tractor units for the 319s on non-electrified stretches. The first 769 bi-mode, No 769501, has undergone its Flex conversion at Brush in Loughborough and is due to be outshopped from Arlington at Eastleigh in March following its interior modification.

In Did These Strawberries Have Road- Or Rail-Miles?, I talked about strawberries going between Scotland and London.

Surely, the movement of high-quality food could be one of the cargoes for Orion.

It wouldn’t be the first such traffic, as Class 43 power cars of the InterCity 125s used to carry flowers and fish up to London from Cornwall.

There’s a lot of space in the back of a Class 43 power car.

I certainly feel there are possibilities for using Class 769 trains as high speed parcels transport.

It should be noted that Class 325 trains already run high speed parcel services up and down the country on behalf of Royal Mail. These trains may look like later British Rail trains, but they are in fact based on Class 319 trains.

 

So I doubt, there’ll be any worries that the trains can’t handle the required services after conversion.

Conclusion

It looks to me that Porterbrooks plan to convert numbers of their Class 319 trains into Class 769 trains will find several ready markets.

It could be argued that more carbon savings could be achieved by perhaps a new battery-electric or hydrogen-electric train. But these will take years to develop!

These trains are a good short-term solution, that will help define their zero-carbon successors.

 

 

 

 

June 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Did These Strawberries Have Road- Or Rail-Miles?

These strawberries were grown my M Porter in Perthshire and I bought them in the M & S Simply Food store in Waterloo station.

So did they travel between Perthshire and London, by truck or train?

I think the strawberries came from East Seaton Farm, owned by Lochart and Debbie Porter.

If the strawberries were to be grown any further East, they’d be grown in the middle of the North Sea.

But did they come South, by road or rail?

I suspect it was the former, but there is change in the air! Or do I mean on the rails?

In My First Ride In A Class 769 Train, I talked about Rail Operations Group and their proposed Orion parcels service, that will use Class 769 trains.

This service would surely be ideal to bring strawberries and Arbroath smokies to the South.

 

June 8, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , | 8 Comments