The Anonymous Widower

Two Unrelated (?) Stories About Rail Freight

Today there are two news stories about rail freight on the Internet.

I’ll sketch out a few details from both stories.

Invest In Rail Freight

This is the first paragraph of the news story.

A new report published by the Rail Freight Group today is outlining how an ‘ambitious growth strategy’ for rail freight over the next ten years could be worth between £75 billion and £90 billion in environmental and economic benefits.

The report was written by well-respected rail commentator; Stephen Joseph

Recommendations include.

  • A new approach from national and local government.
  • New investment
  • More investment in the Strategic Freight Network.
  • Increased electrification
  • New rail linked terminals
  • Reforms to planning laws
  • High speed freight services to city centres.
  • Road pricing could also be used to encourage a shift to rail.

The Rail Freight group’s director general Maggie Simpson is quoted as saying. With renewed focus on the environment, and with new trade opportunities on the horizon, there has never been a better time to invest in rail freight.

Note that invest or investment is mentioned five times in the short news story.

New Owner For GB Railfreight

This is the first paragraph of the news story.

Hector Rail Group has sold GB Railfreight to Infracapital – the unlisted infrastructure equity arm of M&GPrudential.

This article in Rail Magazine was published in July 2017 and is entitled GB Railfreight In ‘Locomotive Acquisition’ Talks.

GB Railfreight has a fleet of seventy-eight Class 66 locomotives with other locomotives in the ageing category. Some of their work like hauling the Caledonian Sleeper needs well-presented reliable locomotives, so perhaps they need to update their image.

Would being owned by Infracapital give the company better access to finance for a renewed fleet?

The previous article indicated, that new investment in infrastructure, like selective electrification, railfreight terminals and perhaps freight loops is needed in the UK Strategic Freight Network.

Would Infracapital be prepared to fund this infrastructure, where it made their locomotives more profitable?

Consider.

  • Partial electrification of the Felixstowe Branch Line might enable a hybrid Class 93 locomotive to haul the heaviest intermodal freight trains between Felixstowe and Ipswich. This improvement would also allow Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains to run partially on electricity on the route.
  • Doubling of the single-track between Soham and Ely would increase the number of freight paths across Suffolk.
  • Reworking of junctions at Haughley and Ely would also speed up freight trains across Suffolk.

These are just three examples from an area I know well, but in how many places in the UK would smaller projects improve the profitability of new locomotives.

Infracapital would also be paid track access charges for their small sections of infrastructure. So well-planned improvements would have two revenue streams. And both would have a lifetime of thirty to forty years.

Case Study – Partial Electrification Of Felixstowe Branch Line

The Felixstowe Branch Line has now been double-tracked to create a passing loop to the West of Trimley, which allows more freight trains per day into and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

I believe that if sections of the branch line were to be electrified, that a diesel/electric/battery Class 93 locomotive would be able to haul a maximum weight intermodal freight train from Felixstowe to Ipswich.

The freight train would continue South and would use electric power to go to Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester using existing electrified routes through London.

In Issue 888 of Rail Magazine, there is a short article, which is entitled Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s.

This is said.

Class 755s could be fitted with battery power when they undergo their first overhaul.

Stadler built the trains with diesel and electric power.

The Swiss manufacturer believes batteries to be the alternative power source for rail of the future, and is to build tri-mode trains for Transport for Wales, with these entering traffic in 2023.

Rock Rail owns the Greater Anglia fleet. Chief Operating Office Mike Kean told RAIL on September 4 it was possible that when a four-car ‘755/4’ requires an overhaul, one of its four diesel engines will be removed and replaced by a battery.

I suspect the battery size and electrification can be designed, so that the trains can work the twelve mile branch without using diesel  power.

I can envisage a time, when the following trains on the Felixstowe Branch are zero-carbon.

  1. Freight trains between Felixstowe and London via Ipswich.
  2. Passenger services.

That will be a substantial improvement in environmental credentials.

Conclusion

There is more to this than an insurance and fund management company, funding locomotives.

Suppose GB Railfreight see an opportunity to deploy a new fleet of locomotives on a valuable contract, but perhaps a missing piece of infrastructure, stops them from running the service. Will they then approach their parent company; Infracapital, to see if they can help?

Are we seeing the first green shoots of realism in the financing of much-needed improvements to the UK rail network.

If it works out well, I don’t think that Infracapital will mind the good publicity.

 

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September 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just Look How The Port Of Felixstowe Has Grown

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

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

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

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

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

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

Note this about trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

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

Between Ipswich and Westerfield, there are four tph.

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

Between Westerfield and Felixstowe, there are three tph.

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

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

So what will happen in the future?

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

Could More Passenger Trains Be Run To Felixstowe And Lowestoft?

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

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

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

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

Could Two tph Be Run Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?

The current timetable is as follows.

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

This would mean the following.

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

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

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

Could Two tph Be Run Between Ipswich And Lowestoft?

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

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

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

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

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

I suspect that the following could be possible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Trains Per Day Between Lowestoft and London

The London and Lowestoft service could be arranged as follows.

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

No new infrastructure would be required.

Could London And Lowestoft Services Be A Dedicated Shuttle Train?

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

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

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

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

Consider.

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

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

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

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

The last service would arrive back in Lowestoft at midnight.

Tram-Trains Between Ipswich And Felixstowe

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

This is said in the report.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Possible Tram-Train Proposal

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

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

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

There will be some collateral benefits.

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

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

Electrification

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

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

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

Freight Locomotives

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Roaming Around East Anglia – Could A Tram/Train Run Through Felixstowe?

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

This is said in the report.

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

It is also said, that there will be a frequency of four trains per hour (tph)  between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

On my trip round East Anglia, I deliberately walked from the sea-front to Felixstowe station, taking these pictures.

Would it be possible to run a tram-train through the town?

To my mind there are three places for the tram-train to Felixstowe to terminate.

The Current Platform In Felixstowe Station

This picture shows a Class 153 train in the current platform.

To say that it is safe and boring would be an understatement.

The Tram-Train Breakout

If the operator is running four tram-trains per hour to Felixstowe, then surely they should be taken to somewhere more interesting.

So would it be possible for the tram-trains to go through the station and perhaps use a single track railway to the Town Centre?

This Google Map shows the station and the old station buildings, which are now a Shopping Centre.

Would it be possible for a tram-train, running as a tram to run North of the Shopping Centre and turn onto the station forecourt, from where it would go walkabout?

These pictures show where the tram would run.

These pictures show the station buildings, which have been turned into a a Shopping Centre.

It looks very much like the shops would not need to be disturbed.

How Far Could The Tram-Train Go?

If a single-track extension were to be built through the station, the time-table could be arranged so that the outgoing and the incoming passed in the current island platform at Felixstowe station.

The simplest system would be for the tram-trains to go to the shops in the Town Centre and reverse outside by the shared space.

The picture shows the location. Trams would be timed to take fifteen minutes for the trip from Felixstowe station and the return.

  • Only one tram-train would be on the single-track route at any time.
  • Tram-trains would work on battery power.

It would be a very simple use of a tram-train to move a terminus of a branch line to a better place.

According to a tram driver in Sheffield, the Class 399 tram-trains as used in the City have bags of grunt and handle hills with ease.

So why not run a single tram line through the Town Centre and then take the route via Convalescent Hill to the sea-front, where a terminus could be by the Pier and the Leisure Centre?

The Pier stop would have the following.

  • Two platforms, so that two tram-trains could pass.
  • A charging facility.

So that the single-track through the Town Centre would work, tram-trains would need to go between Felixstowe station in perhaps ten minutes.

This would give ten minutes for a turnround with a charge at the Pier stop.

The Number of Tram-Trains Needed

Four tram-trains per hour between Ipswich and Felixstowe stations would need four vehicles.

Extending it to Felixstowe Pier would need another two tram-trains for a similar service.

Conclusion

A tram-train serving Felixstowe sea-front running on battery power through the Town Centre., looks to be feasible.

 

March 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Felixstowe Beach Station And The Dolphin Hotel

Felixstowe Beach station closed in 1967 and I can remember seeing the station buildings in the 1960s.

I can also remember sitting in the car outside the Dolphin Hotel, drinking an orange juice, whilst my father was inside having a quick beer.

These days, I suspect that in many pubs the children would have been allowed into the pub.

My reason for visiting the area of Felixstowe Beach station was to investigate the possibility of using the site as a terminus for the proposed tram-train to Felixstowe.

I doubt it is a feasible plan.

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

Will Greater Anglia Fit Batteries To Their Class 755 Trains?

Greater Anglia have ordered the following Class 755 trains.

  • 14 x three-car trains with two diesel engines in the power-pack
  • 24 x four-car trains with four diesel engines in the power-pack

The power-pack would appear to have four slots, each of which could take.

  • A V8 16-litre Deutz diesel that can produce 478 kW and weighs 1.3 tonnes.
  • A battery of about 120 kWh, which would probably weigh about 1.2 tonnes.

I estimated the battery size , by using typical battery energy densities for a battery of similar weight to the diesel engine.

The KeolisAmey Wales Tri-Mode Flirts

The Tri-Mode Flirts ordered by KeolisAmey Wales can use either electric, diesel or battery power.

From the pictures it appears that these trains have the same basic structure as the Class 755 trains.

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled KeolisAmey Wins Welsh Franchise.

This is said about the Stadler Tri-Mode Flirts on the South Wales Metro.

The units will be able to run for 40 miles between charging, thanks to their three large batteries.

So does this mean that these Flirts have just one Deutz diesel engine of 478 kW and three batteries in the four slots of the power-pack?

These trains will run between Penarth and Rhymney stations.

  • I estimate about half the route will be electrified.
  • Penarth to the electrification at Cardiff is under ten miles.
  • The trains will work on battery power from Ystrad Mynach to Rhymney, which is ten miles up the hill.
  • Coming down from Rhymney, Newton’s friend will give assistance.

This seems a challenging task, but it must be possible, even after an important rugby match in Cardiff.

I think it is true to say, that these Tri-Mode Flirts are no wimps.

Greater Anglia’s Flirts And Batteries

Four-Car Flirts

The four-car Class 755 trains don’t have a spare slot, as they have four engines.

I also suspect the four-car trains will tend to serve the longer routes or those with more passengers.

  • Colchester and Peterborough
  • Stansted Airport and Norwich
  • Ipswich and Cambridge
  • Lowestoft and London via Ipswich
  • Norwich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth

Consider.

  • These routes are partially-electrified.
  • These routes don’t have challenging terrain.
  • Except for Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, all end stations are electrified.
  • A short length of electrification could be installed at Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth stations.

I wonder if one of the diesel engines were to be replaced with a battery, by capturing and reusing the regenerative braking energy, this could improve the economics of running the services.

In Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts, I estimated the following.

  • A four-car Tri-Mode Flirt will weigh around 150 tonnes.
  • I will assume 250 passengers at 90 Kg. each with all their baggage, which gives a weight of 22.5 tonnes.
  • This gives a total rain weight  of 172.5 tonnes.
  • The train is running at 100 mph.

This gives a kinetic energy of 48 kWh.

This would mean that a single 120 kWh battery could easily handle the regenerative braking and use the energy for the following purposes.

  • Hotel power, which includes the power to run passenger and train systems.
  • Traction power on sections, where low noise is important.
  • Traction power, if there is overhead electrification failure.
  • Short movements in depots and sidings.

I think that once Stadler have got their Tri-Mode Flirts working, that replacing one diesel with a battery in four-car Class 755 trains may be a sensible decision.

Lowestoft And London Via Ipswich

When the Class 755 trains are running services, there will be four direct trains per day from Lowestoft to London via Ipswich.

I will assume the following.

  • There will also be four trains in both directions.
  • An hourly service operates between Lowestoft and Ipswich
  • Lowestoft to Ipswich will take the current 90 minutes.
  • Greater Anglia will meet their promise of Ipswich to London in 60 minutes.
  • The first train currently leaves Lowestoft just after five in the morning.
  • The last train currently arrives at Lowestoft just before midnight.

For one train to do four round trips between five in the morning and midnight would need a round trip of around four hours and thirty minutes, which would mean that a time of around seventy minutes is needed between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

That is extraordinarily challenging.

But I think that could be Greater Anglia’s ultimate aim.

  • There must be savings of a minute or two at each of the nine stations between Ipswich and Lowestoft.
  • Some trains could be limited stop.
  • The current maximum speed on the East Suffolk Line is just 55 mph and could probably be increased in places.
  • The 100 mph Class 755 trains are quicker and probably accelerate and stop faster, than the current 75 mph Class 150 trains.
  • Trains turn at Liverpool Street in under five minutes.

If it can be done, then the four trains per day between Lowestoft and London can be run with just one train.

Would batteries help the achievement of this aim?

They might do! But they would certainly improve the electrical efficiency and cut the amount of running of the diesel engines.

Three-Car Flirts

The three-car Class 755 trains have two spare slots, as they have two engines.

I would expect that the three-car trains would be used on the shorter routes and those with less passengers.

  • Colchester Town and Sudbury
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe
  • Norwich and Sheringham via Cromer

To my mind the first two routes stand out for battery operation.

Ipswich and Felixstowe

Consider the following about the service between Ipswich and Felixstowe stations.

  • The Felixstowe Branch is just over twelve miles long.
  • There is one train per hour (tph) each way.
  • It takes the current trains abut 26-29 minutes to do the journey.
  • Currently, one train can provide the service.

In The New Trimley Freight Loop And Trimley Station, I talk about how a 1.4 km loop is being built to allow more freight trains to use the branch.

I also feel that there could be a second path in each hour for passenger trains, which would help reliability

But it also might make it possible to run a two tph service with two trains.

I also think, that if it was felt worthwhile, that this route could be run on battery power, charging at Ipswich and possibly with a short length of electrification in Felixstowe.

The advantages would be

  • Diesel-free running.
  • Less noise.
  • The environmentally friendly trains may attract new passengers.

As with the trains on the South Wales Metro, they’d probably have one diesel engine and three large batteries.

Knowing the bicycle-friendly contours of the centre of Ipswich and Felixstowe as I do, the trains would probably need adequate capacity for bikes.

Colchester Town And Sudbury

I am sure that this new route between Colchester Town and Sudbury stations has been designed for a battery train.

Consider.

  • A direct run between Colchester Town and Sudbury would probably take 45 minutes.
  • Over half the route would be electrified.
  • The Gainsborough Line is just eleven miles long.
  • A silent battery train would be ideal for the rural route.

A Class 755 train could leave the Great Eastern Main Line at Marks Tey with full batteries, go both ways on the branch and then return to Colchester Town using the electrification.

Norwich And Sheringham Via Cromer

At thirty miles, the Bittern Line is probably too long for running totally on batteries.

But one battery handling regenerative braking would make the train more environmentally friendly.

Conclusion

Batteries would make the Class 755 trains more economical and environmentally-friendly to run, but with the exception of the Felixstowe and Sudbury branches, I suspect that the routes are too long for pure battery power.

I do believe that Greater Anglia knew about Stadler’s concept for fitting batteries on Class 755 trains before they ordered the trains.

As this opens up possibilities for the future and the ability to be more environmentally-friendly and fiscally efficient, I suspect it was a factor in their decision to buy the trains.

 

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July 18, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Trimley Freight Loop And Trimley Station

Felixstowe Port is the UK’s largest container port and it generates a lot of freight traffic on the Felixstowe Branch Line.

So a 1.4 km. loop is being added to the line at Trimley to enable more freight trains to enter and leave the port.

I took these pictures as I went to and from Trimley station.

This Google Map shows the section of line, that will effectively be doubled.

I do have a few thoughts on various issues.

How Many Extra Freight Trains Will Be Possible?

This page on the Network Rail web site, is entitled Felixstowe Branch Line Works To Unlock More Freight And More Reliable Passenger Services.

This is said.

The work on the branch line in this area will support up to 10 additional trains in each direction to move goods to and from the Port of Felixstowe.

I assume the frequency is in trains per day.

I would assume that with careful scheduling of the freight trains, one train per hour (tph) will be able to move reliably to and from each of the two rail freight terminals at the Port.

There are certainly upwards of thirty scheduled trains per day to and from the Port at the present time, so another ten will obviously need the ability to run two tph both ways for most of the day.

Is The Loop Long Enough?

Network Rail are working towards the UK network being able to handle freight trains up to a maximum length of 775 metres.

At a length of 1.4 km, the loop may not be long enough to accommodate two maximum length trains, if perhaps something goes wrong on the Great Eastern Main Line, like a track or signalling failure.

I would hope Network Rail have done their track planning!

Passenger Services

The Network Rail web page implies that passenger services will be more reliable.

So how would a freight loop improve passenger services?

I suspect that just as the number of freight paths each way will be a reliable two in every hour, the number of passenger paths will also be doubled.

The second path in the hour would be useful for two reasons.

  • If say there was a train or signalling failure, then the service can be recovered once the fault is fixed using the second path.
  • If demand on the branch were to increase substantially or a boost was needed for a special event, Greater Anglia could put on a second service.

Greater Anglia have ordered 38 Class 755 trains and they will be running direct routes to five destinations from Ipswich, so I suspect the operator could station a spare train at Ipswich to deal with disruptions, like the inevitable level crossing accidents that happen in East Anglia.

Will The Felixstowe Branch Line Ever Be Electrified?

This picture is from the Network Rail web page.

It illustrates why ports are not keen to electrify.

Containers do get dropped and a single mistake by a crane driver or the controlling automation could shut the rail terminal.

Class 66 locomotives may be an environmental disaster, but they are an affordable and reliable locomotive for ports and freight operators.

New locomotive types like the Class 88 locomotive are being ordered, which could work a port without electrification and change to and from electrification at a safe distance outside the port. The Class 88 locomotives can even do this at line speed.

There would also be no point in electrifying the Felixstowe branch line without electrifying the route all the way between Felixstowe and Nuneaton, which is the route a lot of freight trains take.

I think it is more likely, that innovative locomotive engineers will design a locomotive capable of pulling the longest trains on electricity or diesel, efficiently across the country. After all, using large environmentally unfriendly diesel locomotives is not a problem confined to the UK, so there are millions to be made, by designing the right locomotive for today.

 

July 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Grayling Gives Green Light To Double Track On Part Of Felixstowe Line

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the East Anglian Daily Times.

This page on the Network Rail web site gives more details.

This is said.

Building the additional track will help increase the capacity of the Felixstowe branch line and take lorries off the road. It will also mean more reliable journeys for passengers traveling between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

There is also this map, which shows where a second track is being added to the Felixstowe Branch Line between Trimley station and Grimston Lane level crossing.

Note that six level crossings are also being removed, with the one at Gun Lane being replaced with a bridge, which seems to be a bit controversial.

Freight Traffic On The Line

The East Anglian Article says this.

This will allow up to 47 freight trains to run per day, 14 more trains than can currently run on the single line. Each train can carry the equivalent of 60 lorry loads, meaning fewer lorries on busy roads such as the A14.

That is quite a lot of freight and a forty-two percent increase in the number of trains.

Trimley Station

Trimley station will be the Southern end of the new track.

This Google Map shows Trimley station.

Note.

  • Cordy’s Lane crossing the line at Trimley station.
  • The line to Flelixstowe Port (North) going South.
  • The line to Felixstowe station going straight on.

Judging by the number of houses on the South side of the track, I would assume that an automatic level crossing is being installed there.

Noise, Smell And Vibration

The Felixstowe Branch Line illustrates one of the problems of the various freight locomotives and especially the ubiquitous Class 66 locomotive. The locomotives are not particularly environmentally-friendly, especially when they are hauling up to forty truck with containers.

I think that some parts of the branch need to have noise mitigation measures installed, otherwise there will be serious levels of complaint.

New Locomotives Are Needed

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled GB Railfreight In ‘Locomotive Acquisition’ Talks, so at least one company thinks so!

In Jumbo Trains Are Arriving, I mused about the type of train required.

I came to this conclusion.

Some more powerful freight locomotives are needed, but the designs should be available.

I would add to that now. The locomotives would need to be dual-mode and a lot more environmentally-friendly/

October 2, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment