The Anonymous Widower

Piling Work To Get Underway To Electrify Line To Fife

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Network Rail.

These four paragraphs outline the project.

Work to lay foundations that will pave the way for the electrification of the Fife Circle is about to get underway.

The £55million Scottish Government investment in the line between Haymarket and Dalmeny will see the railway transformed to accommodate quieter, more environmentally friendly electric trains.

The first phase of work between Haymarket and Dalmeny will see Network Rail pile the foundations for masts that will carry overhead wires up to the Forth Bridge. In total it will see 25 single track kilometres (STKs) of railway electrified by December 2024.

Subsequent phases of work will see ‘partial’ electrification of lines in Fife – totalling a further 104 STKs, to enable the introduction of Battery Electric Multiple Units (BEMUs) to replace life-expired diesel units which will be phased out.

This map from Wikipedia shows the stations on the Fife Circle Line.

Note.

  1. The route is double-track.
  2. The route is not electrified.
  3. The train service is generally two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  4. The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton via Cowdenbeath is 22.3 miles
  5. The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton via Kirkcaldy is 21.4 miles
  6. Trains appear to wait between three and seven minutes at Glenrothes with Thornton before returning to Edinburgh by the alternate route.

I have a few thoughts.

Partial Electrification And Battery-Electric Trains

In the Notes To Editors, this is said about what Network Rail means by partial electrification.

The ‘partial’ electrification approach to the decarbonisation of the railway – beyond delivering a reduction in carbon emissions, will also reduce the ongoing net cost to the taxpayer of operating the railway at an earlier point.

Reduced upfront infrastructure and associated capital expenditure makes projects more affordable and enables electrification of key trunk routes to start as a priority so the benefits of electrified railways will be realised earlier. Additionally, it does not preclude full electrification occurring at a future date.

The Fife electrification scheme has been approved for partial electrification, using battery electric multiple units, and further development work is to be undertaken to support this. The project is part of the plan to decarbonise the passenger railway network by 2035.

This map has been downloaded from the Network Rail web site.

The electrification is split into four phases.

  1. Haymarket and Dalmeny – 25 km
  2. Kirkcaldy and Thornton North – 25 km.
  3. Lochgelly and Thornton North – 20 km.
  4. Thornton North and Ladybank – 34 km.

Note that the last three phases of electrification connect to Thornton North.

Thornton North is Thornton North Junction, which is shown in this map from OpenRailwayMap.

Note.

  1. The orange line is the main Edinburgh and Aberdeen Line. South from here, it forms part of the Fife Circle Line and goes over the Forth Bridge.
  2. The yellow lines going West via Glenrothes with Thornton station are the Fife Circle Line via Dunfermline.
  3. The lines form a triangle which is Thornton Junction.
  4. North Thornton Junction is the Northern point of the triangle marked by a blue arrow.
  5. The black hashed line going to the North-East is the Levenmouth Rail Link, which is under construction.

As the Levenmouth Rail Link will be electrified, there will be four electrified lines fanning out from Thornton North Junction.

This must make construction easier.

  • Power supply can be established at Thornton North Junction.
  • The Levenmouth Rail Link can be built and electrified.
  • Phase 1 of the Fife Electrification between Haymarket and Dalmeny can be installed, as an extension of the electrification at Haymarket station.
  • These two sections of electrification could also allow battery-electric trains to run between Edinburgh and Leven stations, as the gap is less than thirty miles.
  • Phase 2, 3 and 4 of the Fife Electrification can then be installed in the preferred order.

It would appear, that someone has designed the electrification to a high standard.

The Forth Bridge

The Forth Bridge will be a nightmare to electrify.

I suspect the engineering problems can be solved, but the Heritage Taliban would probably protest about the desecration of a World Heritage Site.

Electrification Gaps And The Hitachi Regional Battery Train

The gaps in the electrification after all phases of the electrification have been completed, will be as follows.

  • Dalmeny and Lochgelly – 15.2 miles
  • Dalmeny and Kirkaldy – 16.4 miles
  • Ladybank and Perth – 17.8 miles
  • Ladybank and Dundee – 20.1 miles

The performance of the Hitachi Regional Battery Train is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

Note that a battery range of 90 km. is 56 miles.

A battery train of this performance, should be able to handle these routes.

  • Edinburgh and Dundee
  • Edinburgh and Glenrothes with Thornton via Kirkcaldy
  • Edinburgh and Glenrothes with Thornton via Lochgelly
  • Edinburgh and Leven
  • Edinburgh and Perth

With one of more further stretches of electrification North of Dundee, a train with this performance should be able to reach Aberdeen.

But to handle the Fife Circle and Levenmouth Rail Link, would probably need a train with a battery range of about forty miles, to allow for a round trip, if say there were problems like lifestock on the line.

Rolling Stock Procurement

The Network Rail press release also says this about Rolling Stock Procurement.

Approval has also been given hold a procurement competition to identify a preferred manufacturer and financier for new suburban trains to operate decarbonised rail passenger services on the routes covered by East Kilbride, Fife and Borders routes, replacing 42 Class 156 trains and to replace the 55 Class 318 and 320 trains operating in the Strathclyde area.

Note.

  1. It would appear that the East Kilbride, Fife and Borders routes would be worked by battery-electric trains, as they are all routes without electrification.
  2. I wrote about the East Kilbride and Kilmarnock services in East Kilbride Electrification Underway. The largest gap is about 16.8 miles.
  3. I wrote about electrification of the Borders Railway in Scottish Government Is Considering Plans To Electrify The Borders Railway. The largest gap is just under 31 miles.

It looks to me that a Hitachi Regional Battery Train with a battery range of over 40 miles would be suitable for the East Kilbride, Fife and Borders routes’

 

 

 

June 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Battery And Hydrogen Trains For ScotRail ‘Could Make Scotland A Global Leader’ In Zero-Emission Transport

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Scotsman.

This is the first paragraph.

New fleets of cutting-edge trains expected to include battery and hydrogen power are to be ordered for ScotRail which the rail industry believes will put Scotland at the forefront of zero-emission transport.

Other points from the article.

  • Talgo appear to have passed the story to Scotland on Sunday.
  • Three routes are mentioned; Borders Railway, Fife Circle and Glasgow-East Kilbride.
  • The new trains could help phase out diesel trains by 2035, which is Scottish Government policy.
  • The Inter7City trains might be replaced by 2030.
  • Talgo hopes to win an order for its factory in Fife.

Talgo’s Managing Director is quoted as saying, they are starting testing of a hydrogen and electric train with a range of 311 miles.

Consider.

  • I wrote about this train in Talgo To Begin Fuel Cell Loco Trials.
  • Talgo’s hydrogen and electric train would be ideal for Scotland’s railways of which only forty percent are electrified.
  • A four or five-car high specification hydrogen and electric train would be ideal for the Inter7City routes, if it were built specifically for the routes.
  • The range would cover all of Scotland.
  • Hydrogen hubs are being planned all over Scotland.
  • Scotland have 26 Inter7City trainsets.

This could be a rather nice order to fund the factory and test all the trains close to the factory.

Is there a better place to show off your new train to a prospective buyer than the Highlands of Scotland?

In A Class 319 Train, But Not As We Know It!, I told this tale.

I am reminded of a tale, that I heard from a former GEC manager.

He was involved in selling one of GEC’s Air Traffic Control radars to a Middle Eastern country.

The only working installation of the radar was at Prestwick in Scotland, so he arranged that the dignitaries and the sales team would be flown to Prestwick in GEC’s HS 125 business jet.

As they disembarked at Prestwick and walked to the terminal, the pilot called the GEC Manager over.

The pilot told him “The Scottish Highlands at this time of the year, are one of the most beautiful places in the world! Would you and your guests like a low-level tour on the way back? I can arrange it, if you say so!”

Despite knowing GEC’s draconian attitude to cost control he said yes.

The sale was clinched!

I’m sure that Talgo will exploit the scenery and the local produce.

Talgo’s Hydrogen Trains

This page on the Talgo web site, is entitled Talgo’s Hydrogen Train Will Be Ready In 2023.

This paragraph gives an overview of Talgo’s hydrogen power system.

This system is configured as a modular solution that can be installed on all types of trains, as well as in upgrades from diesel to hydrogen. However, it has been specifically designed for the Vittal platform for Commuter and Regional trains, which Talgo has presented in the bidding process for various tenders in Spain and other countries.

And these two paragraphs describe Talgo’s hydrogen trains in more detail.

This innovative system uses hydrogen batteries that provide the energy for the train’s electric motors. It is powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic or wind, which produce hydrogen that is stored and then used to power fuel cell-based propulsion systems, such as the one designed by Talgo. The system is complemented by batteries that increase the speed of the train when it starts, taking advantage of the braking system to recharge it.

Unlike the extended battery systems in the automotive industry, hydrogen (H2) technology is the logical answer to the needs of heavy transport and, in particular, of those railway lines that do not have catenary electrification systems, and which today depend on trains powered by diesel engines. The hydrogen system designed by Talgo enables conventional network lines to be “electrified” without the need for costly and lengthy adaptation operations, and without the use of fossil fuels.

What do they mean by hydrogen batteries? Looking at the German and the Spanish on the page, I think Talgo means hydrogen fuel cells.

The Rebuilding Of Ukraine

It should be noted that Talgo have sold trains in the past to Russia, which has a gauge of 1.520 metres, which lies between Iberian gauge of 1.668 metres and our standard gauge of 1.435 metres.

  • Talgo have also sold trains to Germany, who use standard gauge.
  • Talgo have built Strizh trains for Russia, that are both standard gauge and Russian gauge for running between Berlin and Moscow.
  • According to the BBC and The Times, Ukraine’s railways have been an important lifeline during the Russian invasion, but pictures show they are in need of modernisation and more electrification.
  • The Strizh trains or a development would surely be ideal for running between Kviv and Berlin, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw.
  • There would also appear to be a need for a hydrogen and electric regional train to reconnect the country back together.
  • Other countries using Russian gauge include Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland.

So are Talgo positioning themselves to take part in the modernisation of Ukraine’s railways, once the war is over?

  • Development and testing is done in Spain and Scotland.
  • Manufacturing could be done in Spain and Scotland.
  • Delivery from Scotland could either be by ship or if they were dual-gauge trains, they could be hauled through the Channel Tunnel and then through Germany and Poland.

As Talgo has the technology, I can certainly see them exploiting the Russian gauge market once Vlad the Mad has gone.

 

March 13, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Electrification Plans For Line Between Fife And Clackmannanshire

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The next stage of development work is due to begin for Network Rail engineers between Alloa and Longannet, which could see passenger services return between Clackmannanshire and Fife.

The article also makes these points.

  • As part of the Scottish Government’s decarbonisation plan, it is hoped the former freight line will be electrified.
  • Engineers will be conducting survey work and site and geological investigations.
  • Three new stations are also hoped to be introduced at Clackmannan, Kincardine and Longannet.
  • The work is also hoping to bring a two trains per hour (tph) passenger service between Alloa and Longannet.

There will be a lot of surveying and planning before work starts.

Existing Rail Routes And Services In The Area

These are the current routes and services in the area.

Alloa Station

Alloa station was closed in October 1968, when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister and re-opened in 2008.

Wikipedia says this about the re-opening.

Under Scottish Executive funding, the line between Stirling and Alloa was reopened to both passenger and freight traffic, with a key benefit being a reduction in congestion on the Forth Railway Bridge.

The basic train service is an hourly service to Stirling and Glasgow run by a Class 385 train.

Journey times are as follows.

  • Alloa and Stirling – 9-15 minutes
  • Alloa and Glasgow Queen Street – 45 minutes

Trains seem to take about twelve minutes to turnround at Alloa station.

This Google Map shows Alloa station.

Note.

  1. The station currently only has one platform.
  2. A second line is already laid through the station and although, it is not electrified, the gantries are positioned to electrify the second track.
  3. The two tracks merge into one to the West of the station.
  4. All passenger trains currently use the Southern platform.

This picture shows the station, just before the electric train services started.

The station also must have one of the largest station shops in the UK, which is an Asda superstore.

The Kincardine Line

The Kincardine Line is the one proposed for electrification.

  • It is currently, a freight-only route, that was re-opened to serve Longannet power station.
  • At Alloa station, it is an extension of the route from Stirling.
  • It may be connected to the new Talgo factory at Longannet, that I wrote about in A Spaniard In The Works!, as the factory will surely need electrified rail access, if any electric trains for the UK are to be built or serviced there.
  • The line passes through Clackmannan, Kincardine and Longannet.

As the route used to handle long coal trains, could it handle a 200 metre long classic-compatible high speed train, that Talgo might build for High Speed Two at Longannet?

The Fife Circle Line

According to Wikipedia, the Fife Circle Line is the local service North from Edinburgh, that goes in a long loop through Fife.

This map from Wikipedia shows the stations on the Fife Circle Line.

Note.

  1. The route is double-track.
  2. The route is not electrified.
  3. The train service is generally two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  4. The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton via Cowdenbeath is 22.3 miles
  5. The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton via Kirkcaldy is 21.4 miles
  6. Trains appear to wait between three and seven minutes at Glenrothes with Thornton before returning to Edinburgh by the alternate route.

The map doesn’t show the connection with the Kincardine Line at Dunfermline Town station.

This Google Map shows the Fife Circle Line, through Dunfermline Town station.

Note.

  1. Dunfermline Town station at the top of the map, is indicated by a station sign.
  2. The Northbound Fife Circle Line to Cowdenbeath leaves the map in a North-Easterly direction.
  3. The Southbound Fife Circle Line to Rosyth and Dalmeny, runs behind the building that looks strangely like a signpost and leaves the map in a Southerly direction
  4. There is a junction, called Charlestown Junction, where the Kincardine Line joins the Fife Circle Line.

This Google Map shows Charlestown junction.

Note.

  1. The Fife Circle Line is double-track.
  2. The Kincardine Line is only single-track.
  3. Trains must enter and leave the Kincardine Line from a Northerly direction.
  4. There is a cross-over between Charlestown junction and Dunfermline Town station.

The Google Map shows Dunfermline Town station to a larger scale.

It looks like fitting in an additional platform could be difficult.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

I am introducing this train into the discussion, as the train might be an alternative to electrifying the Kincardine Line.

This infographic from Hitachi, describes the train.

Note that 90 kilometres is fifty-six miles.

From what Hitachi have said, it is likely that Class 385 trains, as used by ScotRail could be fitted with batteries and become a version of the Regional Battery Train.

  • They could be three or four cars.
  • They could work in pairs.
  • They would have a 100 mph operating speed.

Even on battery power, they might save time, against the current diesel units working services in Scotland.

Regional Battery Trains And The Fife Circle Line

This map shows the rail system to the West of Edinburgh.

All lines except for the route through South Gyle and Edinburgh Gateway stations are electrified.

A train going round the Fife Circle Route would do the following legs.

  • Edinburgh and South Gyle – 4.5 miles – All but one mile electrified.
  • South Gyle and Dalmeny – 5 miles – Not electrified.
  • Dalmeny and Glenrothes with Thornton via Cowdenbeath – 22.3 miles – Not electrified
  • Glenrothes with Thornton and Dalmeny via Kirkaldy – 21.4 miles – Not electrified
  • South Gyle and Dalmeny – 5 miles – Not electrified.
  • Edinburgh and South Gyle – 4.5 miles – All but one mile electrified.

This gives the following  totals

  • Not electrified via Cowdenbeath – 28.3 miles
  • Not electrified via Kirkcaldy – 27.4 miles
  • Round trip – 62.7 miles
  • Electrified – 7 miles

It would be very tight for a Regional Battery Train to do a round trip of 62.7 miles consistently with a range of just 56 miles, with only seven miles of electrification at the Edinburgh end.

But if charging at Glenrothes with Thornton were added, this would enable the trains to start out on the near thirty miles without electrification with full batteries from both ends. They would be unlikely to run out of power halfway.

Regional Battery Trains And The Levenmouth Rail Link

In Scottish Government Approve £75m Levenmouth Rail Link, I wrote about the five-mile long Levenmouth Rail Link, and how it could be run by battery trains.

Since I wrote that post, Hitachi have announced their Regional Battery Train.

  • If these were used on the route, they would join the Fife Circle at Thornton North Junction.
  • I estimate that the track distance that is not electrified between Leven and Edinburgh via Thornton North junction, is about thirty-five miles, whether the trains go via Glenrothes with Thornton and Cowdenbeath or Kirkcaldy,

As with the Glenrothes with Thornton service, if there was charging at at both ends, the route would be within comfortable range of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains.

Regional Battery Trains And The Kincardine Line

Rough distances by road along the Kincardine Line are as follows.

  • Alloa and Longannet – 8 miles
  • Alloa and Dunfermline Town – 15 miles
  • Alloa and Glenrothes with Thornton via Dunfermline Town – 30 miles

This would surely mean that Regional Battery Trains could work all these routes.

  • Trains would leave Alloa with full batteries after charging on the electrification from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.
  • Longannet and Dunfermline Town could be served by a return trip from Alloa on batteries.
  • Charging at the Fife end would only be needed for the Glenrothes with Thornton route.

Some might think, that this would mean the Kincardine Line needn’t be electrified. But I feel Talgo will want an electrified route to their factory, so trains can move in and out under electric power.

The Design Of The Kincardine Route

These are my thoughts on various topics, taken vaguely from West to East.

Alloa Station

Alloa station already has two tracks, but as the plans envisage two tph between Alloa and Longannet, I am fairly certain a second platform will be needed at Alloa.

There is certainly space, but the station would also need a bridge for passengers.

Perhaps, the architects will use something like this bridge design.

This step-free bridge won the Network Rail/RIBA Footbridge Design Competition, but has yet to be deployed on the UK rail network.

Will the two tph service between Alloa and Longannet continue West to Stirling?

I suspect the track layout with a passing loop at Cambus to add to the one at Alloa station will give sufficient track capacity, so I suspect there will be two tph between Longannet and Stirling.

Would both services terminate at Glasgow or would one go to Glasgow, with the other to Edinburgh?

Clackmannan Station

The small town of Clackmannan has a population of about 3,500 and used to be served by Clackmannan and Kennet station, which closed in 1930.

This Google Map shows the town of Clackmannan.

Note.

  1. The Kincardine Line runs between the North West and South-East corners of the map, through the centre of the town.
  2. The original Clackmannan and Kennet station was to the South-East of this map.

This second Google map shows an enlargement of part of the town.

It would appear that there is space for a station.

  • Only a single platform would be needed.
  • What is the plan for the development site?

It could be designed as a walkway station, as has been proposed for Magor and Undy station in Wales.

Kincardine Station

The Kincardine Line runs between the small town of Kincardine and the River Forth and Kincardine station closed in 1930.

This Google Map shows the railway alongside the river.

Note.

  1. Kincardine Bridge crossing the Firth of Forth.
  2. The bridge can be used by pedestrians and cyclists.
  3. The Kincardine Line running along the river.
  4. It is not a long walk between the town centre and the railway.
  5. The blue dot to the South of the road junction marks the start of the Fife Coastal Path, which is over a hundred miles long.

Will the station be built in this area?

Longannet Station

Longannet power station was at the time of closure in 2016, the third-largest coal-fired power station in Europe.

This Google Map shows the site.

Note.

  1. The actual power station is in the middle.
  2. To the West is the coal store.
  3. The Kincardine Line comes along the river and then loops North of the power station, before curving down to the river to go to the East.
  4. There appears to be two triangular junctions either side of the coal store with a loop around the store to allow delivery of coal.

This second Google Map shows between the power station and the coal store.

Note.

  1. The Kincardine Line running West-East across the map.
  2. The triangular junction connecting it to the loop line around the coal store.
  3. The coal conveyor that used to move coal from the store to the power station.

I’d certainly like to see the plans for the site, as it is one with a lot of potential.

  • There is space for a large rail-connected factory for Talgo.
  • The station could be placed at the most convenient place.
  • There is space for a two platform station to make sure a two tph service is possible.
  • There could be lots of housing and industrial units.
  • there could be waterside housing.
  • There could be a convenient rail service to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.

It could be a big development for the Central Belt of Scotland.

Onward To Dunfermline

I have followed the route to Dunfermline Town station in my helicopter and it doesn’t seem the most difficult of lines to reopen.

  • Unlike many lines like this, there doesn’t appear to be too many bridges or level crossings.
  • The connection to the Fife Circle Line looks to be adequate.

I have these thoughts.

  • Cn this section of the line, could more stations be added?
  • As the Fife Circle Line is not electrified, would battery electric trains be ideal?
  • Would turnround facilities be needed at Dunfermline Town stations.

But at the moment, the plan is only to go as far as Longannet.

Thoughts On The Stations

The stations would generally be very simple.

  • Alloa would be a two-platform station.
  • Longannet might need provision for a passing loop and a second platform, so extension to Dunfermline wouldn’t be difficult.
  • All other stations could be single platforms.
  • All stations would be step-free.

Only two-platform stations would need footbridges.

Final Thoughts On Electrification

Consider.

  • All services on the Fife Circle Line, Kincardine Line and the Levenmouth Rail Link could be run using Hitachi’s proposed Regional Battery Train, with a few charging facilities at selected stations.
  • Talgo will need an electrified line to Longannet
  • As Alloa and Dunfermline Town is only about 15 miles, a Regional Battery Train could run a return trip without recharging.

It would appear that only the single-track between Alloa and Longannet needs to be electrified.

Conclusion

This looks to be a good scheme.

September 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Around The Fife Circle Line

Although, I’ve been to Scotland many times, I’d never knowingly been over the Forth Bridge in good light.

So I went all the way round the Fife Circle Line and took these pictures.

The route was fairly busy and I very much feel that the three-car Class 170 train could at times be rather small for the route.

The Fife Circle Line

This map from Wikipedia shows the stations on the Fife Circle Line.

Consider.

The route is double-track.

  • The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton station via Comdenbeath is 22.3 miles
  • The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton station via Kirkcaldy is 21.4 miles
  • The train I was on waited a couple of minutes at Glenrothes with Thornton station before turning to Edinburgh.

In addition my pictures show the following.

  • Many of the bridges are high- enough to allow electrification.
  • On the East side of the Circle, there are some old stone bridges that would need to be raised for electrification.
  • Some of the stations are step-free with ramps.

Overall, it is a typically-Scottish neat-and-tidy line, that needs some improvement, like longer electric trains and some improved stations with step-free access.

Electrification Of The Fife Circle Line

In my view, there are two major obstacles to full-electrification of the Fife Circle Line.

The Forth Rail Bridge

I feel that engineers could electrify the Forth Rail Bridge without too much difficulty.

But that is not the problem.

  • The bridge is on the main route between Edinburgh and Aberdeen and North East Scotland and electrification would cause major disruption during the installation.
  • There is also the Heritage Lobby, who would probably be totally against major changes to a World Heritage Site.

For these reasons, I don’t think that the Forth Bridge will be electrified.

The Stone Bridges On The Eastern Side Of The Circle

There are nearly a dozen stone arch bridges on the route through Kirkcaldy and raising these for electrification would cause major disruption to one of Scorland’s main rail routes.

Third-Rail Electrification Of The Fife Circle Line

In my view, this would be an option to get round the problems of disruption and the Forth Rail Bridge.

But, third-rail electrifrication is still-considered a method non-grata, despite being used successfully for over a hundred years in Merseyside and South of London.

I do wonder, if Brexit will make it easier to install third-rail systems.

Certainly, Hitachi who would probably make most of the electric trains that would use the Forth Rail Bridge and the Fife Circle Line have the technology for third-rail trains, which they used on the Class 395 trains for HighSpeed commuter services to Kent.

I do wonder, if Brexit will make it easier to install third-rail systems.

Battery-Electric Trains On The Fife Circle Line

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I discussed Hitachi’s plan to fit batteries to Class 385 trains, so they could run on unelectrified lines.

The Fife Circle Line would be an ideal route for battery-electric trains.

This map shows the rail lines to the South of the Forth Rail Bridge.

Note.

  1. An unelectrified line, through South Gyle and Edinburgh Gateway stations, connects the Forth Bridge to the main electrifield Edinburgh and Glasgow Line through Edinburgh Park station.
  2. There is also another unelectrified line, that connects the Forth Rail Bridge to Linlithgow, Falkirk and Glasgow.
  3. Shown in yellow is a proposed chord, which would create another route between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Electrification as far as Dalmeny station, which is between the Forth Bridge and the proposed chord would enable LNER’s bi-mode Class 800 trains to use electric power for a few extra miles.

As I said earlier, the distance between Dalmeny and Glenrothes with Thorntonh station is under twenty-five miles using either the Western or Eastern side of the Fife Circle Line.

  • Twenty-five miles is well within range of a battery-electric train, that has charged the battery using the electrification between Edinburgh and Dalmeny.
  • Most quoted ranges for battery-electric trains are in the order of sixty miles, so a well-designed train could probably do a complete round trip from Dalmeny station.
  • A charging point could be provided at Glenrothes with Thorton station to top up the batteries, whilst the train waits to return, if that were deemed necessary.

In my view, the Fife Circle Line is an ideal route for battery-electric trains. Especially, as the only new infrastructure required is as follows.

  • Electrification to Dalmeny station, which may be under consideration anyway.
  • Provision of a charging station at Glenrothes with Thornton station.

It is undoubtedly, the lowest cost way to provide new electric trains on the Fife Circle Line.

How Big Would The Batteries Need To Be?

I use a figure of three kWh per vehicle mile for the energy consumption of an electric multiple unit running on a typical route. My reasoning for this figure is given in How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?.

On that basis a three-car Class 385 train would need a battery capacity of 3x3x50 or 450 kWh to do a complete trip around the Fife Circle Line.

Note that Vivarail are talking about putting 424 kWh in a three-car Class 230 train.

This page on the Vivarail web site is entitled Battery Train Update.

This is a paragraph.

Battery trains are not new but battery technology is – and Vivarail is leading the way in new and innovative ways to bring them into service. 230002 has a total of 4 battery rafts each with a capacity of 106 kWh and requires an 8 minute charge at each end of the journey. With a 10 minute charge this range is extended to 50 miles and battery technology is developing all the time so these distances will increase.

So it looks like Vivarail manage to put 212 kWh under each car of their two-car train.

Surely, Hitachi have the technology to put 450 kWh in a three-car Class 385 train.

Trains On The Levenmouth Rail Link

In Scottish Government Approve £75m Levenmouth Rail Link, I talked about using Class 385 trains with batteries on the Levenmouth Rail Link.

The same Class 385 trains with batteies could do both routes.

Extension To The Borders Railway

There has been suggestions, that Borders Railway and Fife Circle Line trains run back-to-back across Edinburgh.

It is just over thirty miles between Newcraighall, where the electrification from Edinburgh ends, and Tweedbank.

With a charging station at Tweedbank, Class 385 trains with batteries could run both routes.

Conclusion

It appears that running battery-electric Class 385 trains on the Fife Circle Line and the Levenmouth Rail Link is a feasible option.

It would also be superb publicity for the company, who supplied the trains, if videos were shown of the trains on the Forth Rail Bridge.

August 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Scottish Government Approve £75m Levenmouth Rail Link

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

The plan seems to have been well-received by politicians and the media.

I’ve always thought this line to be a good candidate for reopening.

  • It is only five miles long.
  • It would serve Scotland’s largest town without a rail station.
  • There must be freight opportunities for freight, as the line could serve Scotland’s largest distillery.

There is more here on the Wikipedia entry for the Levenmouth Rail Link under Cost, Feasibility And Services.

Could The Levenmouth Rail Link Be Part Of A Bigger Picture?

The Fife Circle Line is an important route into Edinburgh for commuters, shoppers and visitors.

This map from Wikipedia shows the stations on the Fife Circle Line.

Consider.

  • The route is not electrified.
  • A train starting in Edinburgh and going rund the loop would cover about sixty miles.
  • Trains have a frequency of four trains per hour (tph)

It would appear that it would be the sort of service that would be ideal for electric trains, like ScotRail’s Class 385 trains, where a fleet of perhaps eight trains could provide the current service.

But there is a big obstacle to electrification; the Forth Rail Bridge.

It would be a difficult engineering project, that would cause massive disruption and one that would probably be strongly opposed by the Heritage lobby.

This map from Wikipedia shows the proposed Levenmouth Rail Link.

Note how it connects to the Fife Circle Line at Glenrothes with Thorton and Kirkcaldy stations.

I estimate that the distance between Leven and Edinburgh stations would be about 31 miles.

Could Battery-Electric Trains Work To Glenrothes with Thorton And Leven?

Consider these  facts abut battery-electric trains.

  • Bombardier ran a battery-electric train on the 11.5 mile Mayflower Line in public service for three months, without a hitch in 2015.
  • Hitachi, Siemens, Stadler and Vivarail have sold battery-electric trains.
  • Hitachi are running battery-electric trains in Japan.
  • Ranges of upwards of fifty miles are being claimed.
  • Battery-electric trains are a quality experience for passengers.

.As the Edinburgh and Leven and dinburgh and Glenrothes with Thorton routes  are about thirty miles, I believe it is now possible to run battery-electric trains on these two routes.

  • They would be charged at the Edinburgh end using the existing electrification.
  • Charging stations would be needed at Leven and Glenrothes with Thornton.
  • Electrification could also be erected as far as Dalmeny station at the Edinburgh end, which would reduce the range on batteries by about seven miles.

There would be no difficult engineering and the Forth Rail Bridge would look the same as the day it was built!

Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires

I covered this in more detail in Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires.

Hitachi appear to be serious according to this article of the same name on Rail Engineer.

The article concludes with this paragraph.

Hitachi’s proposal to operate battery trains in Scotland is at an early stage. However, with their use being recommended by the rail decarbonisation task force and the Scottish Government about to pass new climate change legislation, it may not be long before battery trains are operating in Scotland.

Hitachi aren’t stupid and I doubt they could want for a better portfolio of launch routes, than some of those in Scotland.

  • Edinburgh and Leven over the Forth Rail Bridge.
  • Edinburgh and Grenrothes with Thornton over the Forth Rail Bridge.
  • The Borders Railway.

I also show in the related article, that Glasgow to Oban and Mallaig may be possible.

The Rail Network And Electrification To The West Of Edinburgh

This map shows the rail system to the West of Edinburgh.

All lines except for the route through South Gyle and Edinburgh Gateway stations are electrified.

Electrification as far as Dalmeny station, the addition of the new chord (shown in yellow) and fill in electrification to join the chord to the Glosgow wires would open up the possibilities of more routes between Edinburgh and Glasgow and a connection between Glasgow and the Fife Circle.

But battery-electric trains would be needed.

ScotRail has Options For More Class 385 Trains

This is said in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 385 trains.

10 unit optional follow up order after 2020.

So ScotRail seem to have a gateway to the future.

Will Battery-Electric Trains Be Good For Tourism?

I very much doubt, that they’ll be bad for it!

Conclusion

The announcement of the reinstatement of the Levenmouth Rail Link, could be be a collateral benefit of a decision to trial or even order some battery-electric Hitachi Class 385 trains.

August 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Boost For Borders In New Report

This report on the Scottish Government web site is entitled Borders Transport Corridors – Pre-Appraisal.

It is a comprehensive report with a helpful pag of recommendations.

Recommendations that apply to rail include.

Develop Forestry Route Network

Improve network of internal forestry tracks as well as its connections to roads and railway, including ‘low-tech’ timber
pickup facilities.

This seems sensible, as some of the forests on both sides of the Scottish order are mature and need to be cut down and replanted.

Increase Park and Ride Provision

Increase capacity of existing Park-and-Ride sites and implement new Park-and-Ride schemes for all modes at strategic locations [e.g. Interchanges and Key Employment Areas]

Every part of the UK seems to need more Park-and-Ride. The Borders is no exception.

Borders Railway Extension – South/West

Extend the Borders Railway to Hawick and/or Carlisle

Will it go all the way to Carlisle?

Consider.

  • The West Coast Main Line will need a capacity increase through Carlisle because of High Speed Two. These works could be combined with those on the Southern part of the Borders Railway.
  • Plans exist for a large freight interchange at Longtown on the former MoD site.
  • Linking the Tourist areas North and South of the Scottish Border by rail must be a good thing.
  • Extension to Carlisle would give those in the Scottish Borders access to High Speed Two at Carlisle, without a long trip via Glasgow.

For these reasons, I think that the Borders Railway will go to Carlisle.

Borders Railway Extension – South/East

Extend the Borders Railway towards East Coast Main Line (ECML) via Berwick-upon-Tweed

This surprised me, but it does complete the jigsaw.

Does it offer a freight route for moving the timber out of the area?

It woulde certainly offer a scenic route between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

New Rail Stations

New rail stations on the existing Borders Railway

This is surely building on the success of the current Borders Railway.

Extension of Borders Railway Services

Link Borders Railway and Fife Circle, providing interchange at Edinburgh Gateway; West Edinburgh; and potential future link to Glasgow.

Back-to-back services across a city are always a good idea, as they cut the need for terminal platforms

  • The Borders Railway and Fife Circle are both half-hourly services, so could be connected together, once suitable rolling stock is available.
  • This service would also connect the Borders to the Edinburgh Airport tram at Edinburgh Gateway.
  • With extra services, would the capacity of the Borders Railway will probably need to be increased?

Does the South East extension enable better services for the Borders beyond Edinburgh?

Conclusion

There are a lot of projects needing to be developed, but they will create a lot of economic activity in the Borders.

The two railway extensions to Hawick and/or Carlisle and Berwick-on-Tweed are the two most expensive projects, but both have English implications, so I don’t think Westminster will mind paying some of the cost.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Catenary Masts Erected On Alloa Branch

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 851 of Rail Magazine.

Alloa is one of the many Scottish towns and cities, that I only know through the results of Alloa Athletic FC, at around 17:00 on a Saturday afternoon.

Alloa station has a chequered history with growth through the Victorian era and total closure in October 1968.

The station was demolished to make way for a leisure centre.

But then in 2008, the line to Stirling station was reopened and a new station was built.

Wikipedia says this about the reopening.

Passenger use of the new railway station has greatly exceeded forecasts and since re-opening the service has been improved by increasing evening and Sunday frequencies from two-hourly to hourly and by adding the peak hour service to Edinburgh in 2009. In its first year the station was used by 400,000 passengers, against a forecast of 155,000.

Now the branch to Alloa is getting the ultimate upgrade – It is being electrified.

This could provide a lot of useful data on the financial returns of electrification.

Use Of Battery Trains

When I first saw a map of this line which clings to the North shore of the Forth of Firth, I was surprised that Strling to Alloa should be electrified.

It is only eight miles and if it is a level coastal railway, it could surely be handled by battery-powered trains.

So why electrify now, rather than wait for Hitachi to bring their technology to the UK and save costs?

But digging deeper, there are two large industrial sites further to the East.

The railway from Alloa extends to Dunfermline Town station on the Fife Circle Line and could play a part in the development of both sites.

An electrified line to Alloa, leaves all options open.

The Wikipedia entry for the Stirling–Alloa–Kincardine Rail Link says more.

This is the first paragraph.

The Stirling–Alloa–Kincardine rail link was a project to re-open 21 kilometres (13 mi) of railway line between Stirling, Alloa and Kincardine in Scotland. The route opened to rail traffic in March 2008.

The rail link effectively had two purposes.

  • To allow passenger trains to run as far as Alloa station.
  • To allow coal trains to run to Longannet power station, without using the Forth Bridge.

The Wikipedia entry says this under Future Expansion.

The retention of the coastal route offers the possibility of providing passenger services to Dunfermline via Clackmannan, Kincardine, Culross, Valleyfield and Cairneyhill. The former direct main line from Alloa to Dunfermline (which was not proposed for closure by Dr. Beeching) is now partly obstructed by developments on the site of the old Dunfermline Upper station. There would appear to be no prospect of access to the existing Dunfermline Town (formerly Dunfermline Lower) station by this route, unless a new stretch of line were built west of Dunfermline. However, the coastal Kincardine line does give direct access to Dunfermline Town.

There has been some discussion of the possibility of providing a service to Rosyth Ferry Terminal.

The Scottish Government have a lot of options to provide the best rail system for the current rail travellers and future developments in the area.

 

 

May 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Running Electric Trains Across The Forth Bridge

Search for something like Electrification of the Forth Bridge and you find a lot of speculation and no one who.believes it can be done easily.

A ScotRail conductor said very firmly that it wouldn’t be done.

I think that in addition to the engineering problems of electrifying the Forth railway bridge, there will probably be a lot of opposition from the heritage lobby!

I also think, that if you could solve the engineering oroblems, they will.cost a lot and mean closing the bridge for at least several.months.

Bi-Mode Trains

Virgin are proposing to use Class 800 trains, which are bi-mode and will use diesel power on the bridge. These trains will have no problems crossing the bridge.

They will probably even be quieter than the current InterCity 125s, that will be continued to be used by ScotRail.

Trains With Energy Storage

The bridge is not very long at 2.5 km. and an electric train with onboard energy storage could prossibly cross the bridge, if the tracks were electrified as far as the approaches.

So do I think it is possible that a train with onboard energy storage could cross the Forth Bridge?

The Energy Storage Could Be Full Before Crossing

If the overhead electrification reached to perhaps five hundred metres from the bridge, then the onboard storage would be full.

The train would lower the pantograph and then raise it again, when under the wires on the other side.

The Maximum Speed On The Bridge Is 50 mph

This must help.

The Bridge Deck Appears Level

This must help.

Any Train Manufacturer Who Creates A Train With Onboard Energy Storage Will Gain A Worldwide Reputation

There is a lot of scepticism about trains with onboard energy storage or batteries and this would dismiss it for ever, once the crossing was shown on world-wide television with headlines like.

Battery Train Crosses Forth Rail Bridge Carrying Three Hundred Passengers

I believe that any train manufacturer, who felt they could achieve this feat would be willing to have a go, as the rewards would be immense!

Scotland Would Have A Unique Tourist Attraction

Although, I wouldn’t think it would be unique for long, as other countries would do the same to solve transport problems.

But nothing would ever be as iconic as the Forth Bridge!

I also doubt Scotland and ScoRail would say No!

Could A Class 385 Train Cross The Bridge On Stored Power?

In Hitachi Class 385 Trains, Batteries And Charging Stations, I discussed whether batteries or energy storage could be put into a Class 385 train.

I said this after giving details of Hitachi’s battery trains in Japan.

So will Scotrail’s new Class 385 trains have a battery capability?

Probably not initially!

But Hitachi have obviously been doing a lot of research into battery trains and the JR Kyushu is the first practical application.

Scotland’s rail system outside Edinburgh and Glasgow is not electrified, but it is well-known that Scotland’s Government would like more electrified services and also links to places like Leven and St. Andrews.

Both of these places, and there are probably others as well, are a few miles from a main line, that is very likely to be electrified.

So could we see a battery train charged as the JR Kyushu train on a main line, serving these branch lines on battery power?

I feel that the chance of this happening is very high.

So I feel it is highly likely, that if some form of stored power was fitted to Class 385 trains, that they would be able to bridge the gap between electrification systems North and South of the Forth Bridge.

Electrification Of The Fife Circle Line

Electrification of the Fife Circle Line would be the simplest way to improve the local rail service from North of the Forth Bridge to Edinburgh.

This shows a map of the line North from Edinburgh Gateway station.

It would need the electrification from Haymarket station through Edinburgh Gateway station to be completed South of the Bridge to an appropriate point on the bridge approach.

North of the Bridge, the circle could be electrified from an appropriate point on the bridge approach, all round the circle to Markinch station.

Running The Fife Circle Service With Class 385 Trains With Onboard Energy Storage

A belt and braces approach might see North Queensferry and Dalmeny stations being the changeover point from overhead to onboard power, so that with any problems, the train is safely in a station, rather than stuck on the bridge.

Currently, the two routes between Glenrothes With Thornton and Edinburgh stations take the following times.

  • Via Kirkaldy – 59 minutes with ten stops.
  • Via Dunfermline – 62 minutes with eleven stops.

This means a train doing a round trip from Edinburgh takes just over two hours with twenty-one stops.

The Class 385 trains will have the following characteristics compared to the current diesel trains on the route.

  • They will be faster.
  • They will accelerate better and have smoother regenerative braking.
  • They  will  have a much shorter dwell time at stations.

It would not be unreasonable to assume that the new electric trains could be several minutes under two hours for the round trip.

Trains that didn’t reverse could also go straight round the circle with the driver only changing ends at Edinburgh.

Currently, the route has three trains per hour (tph), so to run this level of service would require six trains.

Running four tph would need an extra two trains and if two tph used each direction, all stations would have a two tph service.

The trains would only need the ability to run between Dalmeny and North Queensferry stations on onboard storage.

Bi-Mode Trains Between Edinburgh And Aberdeen

Virgin Trains East Coast and possibly other operators wlll  be running bi-mode Class 800 trains between Edinburgh and Markinch stations.

They will have to use diesel power where there is no electrification, but if the Fife Circle Line were to be electrified, they could use it, to run the trains more efficiently.

Onward From The Fife Circle

The Fife Circle Line could be a bridgehead to extend electrified services to the North.

Consider these distances.

  • Markinch to St. Andrews  – 20.7 miles
  • Markinch to Dundee – 25.1 miles
  • Markinch to Perth – 22.7 miles
  • Glenrothes to Leven – 7.1 miles

All of these destinations could be reached by a combination of short lengths of electrification and trains with onboard energy storage.

Scotrail’s Extra Ten Class 385 Trains

Scotrail have an extra ten Class 385 trains on option, if the franchise is extended by 7 to 10 years and the trains would enter service in 2023.

Could these trains be to run an electrified Fife Circle Line service and perhaps running to Leven?

Conclusion

Scotrail have some ambitious plans for Scotland’s railways and I wonder, if they include using Class 385 trains with onboard energy storage to get electric trains across the Forth Bridge.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A Branch To Penicuik From The Borders Railway

I started this post as part of Extending The Borders Railway To Carlisle, but as I research it more and talk to my correspondent in the Borders, I feel it needs to be a separate post.

There is an article in the Scotsman from 2013, which is entitled Borders rail link: £150m plan for Penicuik spur. This is the first paragraph.

A vital £150 million rail line connecting Penicuik to central Edinburgh could be reopened for the first time in half a century.

The article then gives a lot of favourable comments about the possibility of the link. My correspondent, grew up in the town and feels that a rail link is needed, especially, as when he was a boy, the town had three rail lines.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Borders Railway, this is a paragraph about a future branch to Penicuik.

In May 2013, it was reported that Heriot-Watt University had been asked by Midlothian Council to carry out a feasibility study on a 10-mile (16 km) rail link connecting Penicuik with the Borders Railway. At least 6 miles (9.7 km) of the new line would follow the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway, the alignment of which is generally intact between Millerhill and Straiton.

This proposal is not mentioned in the recent CBR report, which is entitled A Summary Case For A New Cross-Border Rail Link, that can be downloaded in PDF form from this location.

Newcraighall Station And Park-And-Ride

Newcraighall station will be North of where the proposed branch to Penicuik joins the Borders Railway.

This Google Map shows the station and the surrounding area.

Note the A1 and the convenient Park-and-Ride.

Wikipedia says this about Services from Newcraighall station.

Monday to Saturday daytimes there is a half-hourly service to Edinburgh and to Tweedbank, and an hourly evening and Sunday service. Four weekday morning peak services run beyond Edinburgh to Glenrothes with Thornton via Kirkcaldy and a similar number run in the opposite direction in the evening. When the station was a terminus, many services ran through to/from the Fife Circle Line but this practice ended prior to the reopening of the full route to Tweedbank.

I believe that a Park-and-Ride of this size, location and probable importance needs at least four trains per hour (tph) all day.

Currently, two tph between Edinburgh and Tweedbank call at Newcraighall. As it takes two hours for a train to do the round trip, this means that four trains are needed to provide a two tph service.

Four tph all the way to Tweedbank would need eight trains, but due to limitations in the design of the Borders Railway would probably be very difficult to operate.

Terminating them at Newcraighall and perhaps running beyond Edinburgh to Fife is obviously a possibility, but Newcraighall station only has one bi-directional platform.

Two Trains Per Hour To Penicuik

Opening a branch to Penicuik and running two tph would give Newcraighall station and the Park-and-Ride the four tph train service it needs, when combined with the two tph along the Borders Railway.

The Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway

Wikipedia says the route would probably follow the route of the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway.

  • Much of the route is visible on Google Maps.
  • The original line closed in the 1960s.
  • There were stations at Gilmerton, Loanhead, Roslin and Glencourse.
  • The major engineering feature of the line was a visduct over Bilston Glen.

Penicuik was served by a freight-only line.

Shawfair Station

It would appear that the Northbound and Southbound trains on the Borders Railway seem to call at Shawfair station around the same time.

This must make operation of the line much simpler and it probably meant that Newcraighall station only needed one platform.

This Google Map shows the Borders Railway passing through Shawfair station.

Note the disused track of the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway crossing the Borders Railway at right-angles and then curving Northwards to the freight yard at Millerhill.

Trains could go via Millerhill, to join the Borders Railway South of Newcraighall station, but surely, it would be better if the branch to Penicuik, joined  the Borders Railway South of Shawfair station.

This would allow trains to and from Penicuik to pass at Shawfair station.

As trains to and from Tweedbank station seem to call between

  • XX:08 to XX:10
  • and XX 38 to XX:40

So  Penicuik trains could use times of perhaps .

  • XX:23 to XX:25
  • and XX 53 to XX:55

Which would mean a train would have thirty minutes to go from Shawfair to and from Penicuik.

The way Shawfair station is used also means the following for the Borders Railway.

  • A convenient spacing is imposed for trains to call at the single platform at Newcraighall station, as that is just four minutes towards Edinburgh.
  • Effectively, the Borders Railway to Tweedbank station runs a two tph service with two widely-seperated trains South of Shawfair station at any one time.
  • Two widely-separated  trains, South of Shawfair station enables the use of single-platform stations at all stations except Stow and Tweedbank.
  • Shawfair station is the only station with an expensive footbridge.

I also suspect that four tph is possible, with trains passing at Shawfair and Stow stations, perhaps with faster trains and improvements to the signalling.

By clever design and selective use of two-platform stations and double-track, it would appear that the engineers have designed an efficient affordable railway, that is mainly single track and has only one footbridge.

The Junction Of The Borders Railway And The Penicuik Branch

This Google Map shows where the track-bed of the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway passes under the Borders Railway to the South of Shawfair station.

Note the old track-bed of the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway running East-West across the bottom of the map.

The roads in the area don’t appear to have been built with a suitable space for a chord to connect.

But even so, I suspect it would be a practical proposition for a single-track chord to be built between the Borders Railway and the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway.

The only difficult construction would be crossing the A6106 road to the South-East of the roundabout.

A cross-over would be needed South of Shawfair station to allow Southbound trains to access the branch to Penicuik. But as there would only be no more than four tph South of Shawfair station, this wouldn’t be a large operational problem.

Single-Track To Penicuik

Wikipedia says that the proposed Penicuik branch is ten miles in length.

Surely, if it were a single-track branch, trains could go from Shawfair to Penicuik station and return within thirty minutes.

Consider.

  • It would take five minutes for the driver to change ends at Penicuik
  • Two stops each way with a modern train could take a total of just five minutes.
  • The train would be the only one on the branch.
  • A well-designed line could have an operating speed of at least 75 mph and possibly 90 mph.

All this would mean that there would be ten minutes for each leg of the journey between Shawfair and Penicuik.

Should A Future Penicuik Branch Be Electrified?

Electrification of a future Penicuik Branch would not be difficult.

  • Electrification would need to be extended from Newcraighall station.
  • Electrification would be easier, if the branch were single-track with single-platform stations.
  • Electrification of a new railway must be easier than electrifying an existing line.

Electrifying between Newcraighall and Penicuik may give advantages.

  • There will be a fairly plentiful supply of cascaded electric trains, that could be suitable for the route.
  • Electrifying may allow electric trains to access the Millerhill TMD.
  • Electrifying would help in running bi-mode trains on the Borders Railway, if that were thought necessary.
  • Electrifying may save a few minutes between Shawfair and Penicuik.

Obviously, electrification would allow politicians to boast about their green credentials.

The only disadvantage of electrification is that some bridges may need to be raised.

Surely, if the ten-mile branch was well-designed as mostly single-track, perhaps with electrification, and run by modern trains, two tph would be possible, even with one or more intermediate stops.

Could A Future Penicuik Branch Be Worked By Bi-Mode Trains?

A bi-mode train like a Class 319 Flex train could certainly work the route and as they have lots of power, they could probably achieve the Shawfair to Penicuik and return time of thirty minutes.

Could A Future Penicuik Branch Be Worked By Battery Trains?

As it is only ten miles between Shawfair and Penicuik, I suspect that in the future,, trains with onboard energy storage will be able to work the branch.

Single-Platform Stations

If the future Penicuik Branch could be a single-track railway, where only  one train was on the branch at any one time, all stations could be built with a single-platform and no expensive footbridge, as most stations were built on the existing Borders Railway.

As five-cars seems to be becoming the new standard train length, I would build all platforms to accept five-car trains.,

A North-South Service Across Edinbugh

Peak Hour services link Tweedbank and Newcraighall  beyond Edinburgh to Glenrothes with Thornton via Kirkcaldy.

There is obviously a need for a service in the Peak, but if there was a second Southern terminus at Penicuik would it be sensible that if a total of four tph were running from Newcraighall to Edinburgh, that a proportion cross the Forth.

Note that Cross-Forth services.

There are certainly lots of possibilities.

Could A Future Penicuik Branch Be Worked By Tram-Trains?

The Germans would probably use tram-trains in a city the size of Edinburgh.

Compared to the tram networks in Nottingham and Birmingham, Edinburgh trams always strike me that it was a network designed without ambition and that doesn’t provide the maximum benefit to the largest number of residents and visitors.

If you look at Edinburgh Gateway station, it could have been modified to allow tram-trains like the Class 399 tram-train to come from the Airport and then go straight onto the Fife Circle Line to South Gyle, Haymarket and Edinburgh stations.

At present this line is not electrified, but doing that is probably in Scotrail’s wish-list.

Once at Edinburgh station, the tram-trains could take any of the electrified routes to North Berwick, Dunbar or perhaps Penicuik.

Passengers would finally get a proper interchange between trains on the East Coast Main Line and the Edinburgh tram.

I also think that the Germans would run tram-trains on the Fife Circle Line and its proposed extension to Leven.

Currently, the frequency of trains on the Fife Circle Line is low and tram-trains could probably give a four tph service to all stations, if electrification was put in place.

Conclusion

I believe that it would be possible to open a single-track branch to Penicuik with single-platform stations and these objectives.

  • Provide a two tph service between Penicuik and Edinburgh.
  • Boost the service between the Park-and-Ride at Newcraighall and Edinburgh to four tph.
  • Provide an alternative Southern terminal for a North-South service across Edinburgh.

Electrification of the line might give operational advantages to Millerhill TMD, the Borders Railway and the branch itself.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Reopened Levenmouth Rail Link

This article in Global Rail News has a title a title of Levenmouth – Scotland’s next railway?.

According to the article, the figures look good, for the reopening of the Levenouth Rail Link,  with a Benefit Cost Ration of 1.3, which compares well with  a figure of 0.96 for the successful Borders Railway.

It would be a five mile extension from the Fife Circle Line and would serve a station at Leven and a large Disgeo distillery.

 

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment