The Anonymous Widower

LNER To Keep Class 91s Until 2023

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

This is the two introductory paragraphs.

Class 91s hauling Mk 4s will remain with London North Eastern Railway until 2023.

Ten rakes of coaches and ten ‘91s’ will be used, with two additional spare ‘91s’ and a handful of spare Mk 4s also retained.

It looks like LNER are keeping enough Class 91 locomotives and Mark 4 coaches to guarantee having ten trains in service.

Why 2023?

The answer to this question is probably contained in an article in Issue 901 of Rail Magazine, which is entitled ORR Approves New Hitachi Inter-Car Connector Design, which has these two statements.

  • All inter-car connectors will have been updated by Summer 2022.
  • Hitachi has deals for a further 61 trains for three operators and all will be in traffic by the end of 2022.

It looks like Hitachi could have production capability from 2023.

The original Rail Magazine article also says this.

The extension is until the end of 2023 while LNER sources brand new trains, which would take a minimum of around two years to build and deliver. The operator has previously told RAIL it needs around six new trains.

It appears the difference between retaining ten InterCity 225 trains and adding six new trains to the fleet, is to cover for the retrofit of the inter-car connectors.

The Performance Of A Class 91 Locomotive And Five Mark 4 Coaches

I have seen in mentioned that Virgin East Coast were intending to run shortened rakes of Mark 4 coaches.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive, there is a section called Speed Record, where this is said.

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

When you consider, this was nearly forty years ago, there can’t be much wrong with British Rail’s train engineering.

What Average Speed Do You Need  To Achieve London And Edinburgh In Four Hours?

The rail distance between London and Edinburgh is 393 miles, so four hours needs an average speed of 98 mph.

Consider.

  • I have travelled in InterCity 125 and InterCity 225 trains, where I have measured the speed at around 125 mph for perhaps thirty or forty miles.
  • In Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!, I travelled to Norwich and back, at around 100 mph most of the way.
  • Continuous 125 mph running is just as much about the track as the train.
  • I have watched a driver in an InterCity 125 at work and these guys and girls know the route and their charges, like the backs of their hands.

I think it is possible to arrange train pathing, so that trains could run between London and Edinburgh in excess of 100 mph.

I believe, that this would enable London and Edinburgh in under four hours.

Will LNER Run Faster Services With Short Sets?

Virgin East Coast’s original plan, was to run short sets between London and Edinburgh.

Would these short sets have been faster, than full size sets?

  • The power-to-weight ratio is higher, so acceleration would be better.
  • A five-car train would probably need half the power of a ten-car train to cruise at a given speed.
  • It might be possible to save weight to increase performance.
  • There would be no intermediate stops.
  • They know that the Kings Cross and Edinburgh record is three-and-a-half hours, which was set by a five-car train.
  • In-cab digital signalling and other improvements could be fitted.

It should also be noted, that a short set would probably do significantly less damage to the track than a full-size set at 140 mph.

Possible Short InterCity 225 Routes

LNER have only six fully-electrified routes, where they could run short InterCity 225 sets.

  • Kings Cross and Leeds
  • Kings Cross and Doncaster
  • Kings Cross and York
  • Kings Cross and Newcastle
  • Kings Cross and Edinburgh
  • Kings Cross and Stirling

Note.

  1. All routes are fully-electrified, which is a pre-requisite, as InterCity 225 sets have no self-power capability.
  2. Kings Cross and Leeds will probably be run by pairs of Class 800 trains, as LNER looks like it will split trains at Leeds and serve two destinations.
  3. Do Doncaster, York and Newcastle generate enough traffic for a fast service?
  4. The Edinburgh route will have direct competition from East Coast Trains, who will be running five-car Class 803 trains.
  5. The Stirling route at over five hours is probably too long.

It looks to me, that the preferred route for InterCity 225 sets,; short or full-size will be Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed To Run An Edinburgh Service?

A flagship service between London and Edinburgh might have the following timetable.

  • One tph perhaps leaving at a fixed time in every hour.
  • A timing of under four hours.
  • Minimal numbers of intermediate stops.
  • The service would not be extended past Edinburgh, as the trains need electrified lines.

Suppose, the trains could do a round trip in eight hours, this would mean that eight trains would be needed to provide a service.

Ten trains would allow one train in maintenance and one ready to be brought into service at a moment’s notice.

Does this explain, why ten InterCity 225 sets are being retained.

Would In-Cab Signalling Be Needed?

I suspect that under current rules, in-cab digital signalling might be needed! But as I observed in Partners On Board For In-Cab Signalling Project On East Coast Main Line, this is on its way!

But, as the average speed needed to do London and Edinburgh in four hours is only 98 mph, I wonder what time could be achieved by one of the top drivers, using the following.

  • All their route knowledge and driving skill.
  • A five-car train.
  • Maximum acceleration.
  • A well-thought out pathing structure.
  • A clear track
  • No hold-ups
  • A non-stop run.

If the train were to run at 125 mph all the way without stopping, the journey time would be around three hours and ten minutes.

Wikipedia says this about in-cab digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line.

The line between London King’s Cross and Bawtry, on the approach to Doncaster, will be signalled with Level 2 ERTMS. The target date for operational ERTMS services is December 2018 with completion in 2020.

  • I estimate that that this will mean that 145 miles of the route will have full in-cab digital signalling.
  • Currently, the fastest London and Doncaster times are around 90 minutes, with many taking 97-98 minutes for the 155 miles.

This means the fast train takes 84 minutes between King’s Cross and Bawtry, at an average speed of 103 mph.

Suppose this fast train could go at 125 mph for all but twenty of the distance between King’s Cross and Bawtry, how much time would this save?

  • 125 miles at 125 mph would take 60 minutes.
  • 125 miles at 103 mph would take 72 minutes.

This means that just by running at 125 mph continuously for all but twenty miles could save up to twelve minutes.

If 140 mph running could be maintained on this section, another six minutes would be saved.

As they say, every little helps!

Lessons From Norwich-in-Ninety

In Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!, I travelled to Norwich and back, at around 100 mph most of the way.

Liverpool Street and Norwich is 114 miles and a ninety minute journey is an average of just 76 mph, which is 24 mph below the maximum cruise of a Class 90 locomotive and a rake of eight Mark 3 coaches. Compare this with an average speed of 98 mph needed for London and Edinburgh in four hours and the 125 mph maximum certified cruise of an InterCity 225 train, without in-cab digital signalling.

It should also be noted that Greater Anglia, run an additional stopping train after the Norwich-in-Ninety expresses, that call at several important stations and not just Ipswich.

Will LNER use a similar strategy? It was working well and successfully for Greater Anglia, until services were decimated by COVID-19!

Will LNER Increase Frequency Between London And Edinburgh To Three Trains Per Hour?

It would seem that the current two tph service running nine- or ten-car trains, runs with a high level of occupancy, so to replace some of these trains with faster and shorter trains might cause capacity problems.

But to add, a third faster train in the hour might be possible. Especially, if the Norwich-in-Ninety strategy were to be used. The timetable in both directions could be something like.

  • XX:00 – Four hour express
  • XX:06 – Four-hour plus train to current timing
  • XX:30 – Four-hour plus train to current timing

LNER’s Marketing Department would like it.

Could Hitachi Trains Achieve London and Edinburgh In Four Hours?

The all-electric Class 801 trains most certainly have a performance to match an InterCity 225 in terms of acceleration and maximum operating speed without in-cab digital signalling. After all, the Japanese train was designed as a direct replacement for British Rail’s last high performance train!

So I believe that with a well-designed timetable, electric Hitachi trains will be able to run between London and Edinburgh in under four hours, with a small number of stops.

Note that LNER will have a fleet of thirty nine-car and twelve five-car all-electric Class 801 trains.

But East Coast Trains will have a fleet of five five-car all-electric Class 803 trains, which could get near to a four-hour timing, despite their four stops at Stevenage, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth.

  • I have timed a Class 800 train leaving Kings Cross and they get up to 125 mph fairly fast, by about Potters Bar, which is reached in eleven minutes.
  • Stops at Stevenage, Durham and Morpeth will probably each add two minutes to the timing, with Newcastle adding five minutes.
  • 125 mph all the way from Kings Cross to Edinburgh would be a timing of three hours and ten minutes.

Add up the stationary times at the stops (2+2+2+5) and that gives a journey time of three hours and twenty-one minutes, which leaves thirty-nine minutes for the five decelerations and accelerations between stationary and 125 mph.

This page on the Eversholt Rail web site, has a data sheet for a Class 802 train, which is a Class 800 train with larger engines.

The data sheet shows that a five-car train can accelerate to 125 mph and then decelerate to a stop in six minutes in electric mode. So five accelerations/deceleration cycles  to 125 mph would take thirty minutes. This gives a journey time between London and Edinburgh of three hours and fifty-one minutes.

Note that Class 801 trains, which don’t lug diesel engines about will have better acceleration, due to the lower weight, so should have better acceleration and deceleration.

Does this time seem reasonable? First Group with their extensive experience of running Class 800 trains on the Great Western Main Line will know the capabilities of the trains, down to the last mph.

I doubt, they’d have bought the trains for East Coast Trains, if they couldn’t do London and Edinburgh in four hours.

I believe that both InterCity 225 and Class 801/803 trains can do London and Edinburgh in four hours and any train company that doesn’t offer this timing, will come second!

A Possible Hitachi-Based Timetable For LNER

I would be very surprised if a service pattern like this wouldn’t be possible.

  • XX:00 – Four hour express – Class 801 train
  • XX:06 – Four-hour plus train to current timing – Class 801 train or InterCity 225
  • XX:30 – Four-hour plus train to current timing – Class 801 train or InterCity 225

Note.

  1. As there is only one extra train per hour, ten extra trains would be the addition to the fleet, needed to run this service pattern.
  2. Class 801 trains could be five-car or nine-car sets as passenger numbers require.
  3. InterCity 225 trains could be as long as are needed.

InterCity 225 trains would only be doing the job, they’ve done for many years.

Targeting The Airline Market

In Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service, which described the launch of First East Coast Trains, I said this about their target market.

First East Coast Trains is targeting the two-thirds of passengers, who fly between London and Edinburgh. The company are also targeting business passengers, as the first train arrives in Edinburgh at 10:00. Trains will take around four hours.

Note that currently, LNER’s first train arrives at 11:12. In the future, I would envisage that LNER intend to go for four hour journeys.

It would seem to me, that both train companies will be attempting to take passengers from the airlines.

Conclusion

It looks to me that ten InterCity 225 trains could add a third train in each hour between London and Edinburgh for LNER, that would do the journey in under four hours.

The third train could either be an InterCity 225 or a Class 801 train.

 

 

March 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Are Hitachi Designing the Ultimate Battery Train?

In Sparking A Revolution, a post based on an article of the same name in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, I repeated this about the specification of Hitachi UK Battery Train Specification.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

Does this mean that the train can do 55-65 miles cruising at 90-100 mph?

How Much Energy Is Needed To Accelerate A Five-Car Class 800 Train To Operating Speed?

I will do my standard calculation.

  • Empty train weight – 243 tonnes (Wikipedia for Class 800 train!)
  • Passenger weight – 302 x 90 Kg (Includes baggage, bikes and buggies!)
  • Train weight – 270.18 tonnes

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, the kinetic energy at various speeds are.

  • 60 mph – 27 kWh
  • 80 mph – 48 kWh
  • 90 mph – 61 kWh
  • 100 mph – 75 kWh
  • 125 mph – 117 kWh – Normal cruise on electrified lines.
  • 140 mph – 147 kWh – Maximum cruise on electrified lines.

Because the kinetic energy of a train is only proportional to the weight of the train, but proportional to the square of the speed, note how the energy of the train increases markedly after 100 mph.

Are these kinetic energy figures a reason, why Hitachi have stated their battery train will have an operating speed of between 90 and 100 mph?

A 100 mph cruise would also be very convenient for a lot of main lines, that don’t have electrification in the UK.

What Battery Size Would Be Needed?

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a five-car Class 801 electric train, needed 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph.

For comparison, an InterCity 125 train, had a figure of 2.83 kWh per vehicle-mile.

Hitachi are redesigning the nose of the train for the new Class 804 train and I suspect that these trains can achieve somewhere between 1.5 and 3 kWh per vehicle-mile, if they are cruising at 100 mph.

Doing the calculation for various consumption levels gives the following battery capacity for a five-car train to cruise 65 miles at 100 mph

  • 1.5 kWh per vehicle-mile – 487 kWh
  • 2 kWh per vehicle-mile – 650 kWh
  • 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile – 812.5 kWh
  • 3 kWh per vehicle-mile – 975 kWh

These figures don’t include any energy for acceleration to line speed from the previous stop or station, but they would cope with a deceleration and subsequent acceleration, after say a delay caused by a slow train or other operational delay, by using regenerative braking to the battery.

The energy needed to accelerate to operating speed, will be as I calculated earlier.

  • 90 mph – 61 kWh
  • 100 mph – 75 kWh

As the battery must have space to store the regenerative braking energy and it would probably be prudent to have a ten percent range reserve, I can see a battery size for a train with an energy consumption of 2 kWh per vehicle-mile, that needed to cruise at 100 mph being calculated as follows.

  • Energy for the cruise – 650 kWh
  • 10% reserve for cruise – 65 kWh
  • Braking energy from 100 mph – 75 kWh

This gives a total battery size of 790 kWh, which could mean that 800 kWh would be convenient.

Note that each of the three MTU 12V 1600 diesel engines, fitted to a Class 800 train, each weigh around two tonnes.

In Innolith Claims It’s On Path To 1,000 Wh/kg Battery Energy Density, I came to these conclusions.

  • Tesla already has an energy density of 250 Wh/Kg.
  • Tesla will increase this figure.
  • By 2025, the energy density of lithium-ion batteries will be much closer to 1 KWh/Kg.
  • Innolith might achieve this figure. But they are only one of several companies aiming to meet this magic figure.

Suppose two of the MTU 12V 1600 diesel engines were each to be replaced by a two tonne battery, using Tesla’s current energy density, this would mean the following.

  • Each battery would have a capacity of 500 kWh.
  • The train would have one MWh of installed battery power.
  • This is more than my rough estimate of power required for a 65 mile trip.
  • The train would have little or no weight increase.
  • I also wouldn’t be surprised to find that the exchange of a diesel engine for a battery was Plug-and-Play.

Hitachi would have an electric/battery/diesel tri-mode train capable of the following.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Out and Back Range – about 20-30 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Emergency diesel engine.

I feel it would be a very useful train.

Trains That Could Be Fitted With Batteries

The original article in Rail Magazine says this.

For the battery project, positive discussions are taking place with a number of interested parties for a trial, with both Class 385s and Class 800s being candidates for conversion.

So this means that the following operators will be able to use Hitachi’s battery technology o their trains.

  • Avanti West Coast – Class 80x trains
  • First East Coast Trains – Class 80x trains
  • East Midlands Railway – Class 80x trains
  • GWR – Class 80x trains
  • Hull Trains – Class 80x trains
  • LNER – Class 80x trains
  • ScotRail – Class 385 trains
  • TransPennine Express – Class 80x trains

Although, I based my calculations on Class 80x trains, I suspect that the methods can be applied to the smaller Class 385 trains.

Possible Out-And-Back Journeys

These are possible Out-And-Back journeys, that I believe Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains could handle.

  • Edinburgh and Tweedbank – 30 miles from Newcraighall
  • London Paddington and Bedwyn – 30 miles from Reading
  • London Euston and Blackburn – 12 miles from Preston
  • London Kings Cross and Bradford – < 27 miles from Leeds
  • London Euston and Chester – 21 miles from Crewe
  • London Kings Cross and Harrogate – <18 miles from Leeds
  • London Kings Cross and Huddersfield – 17 miles from Leeds
  • London St. Pancras and Leicester – 16 miles from Market Harborough
  • London Kings Cross and Lincoln – 17 miles from Newark
  • London St. Pancras and Melton Mowbray – 26 miles from Corby
  • London Kings Cross and Middlesbrough – 20 miles from Northallerton
  • London Kings Cross and Nottingham – 20 miles from Newark
  • London Paddington and Oxford – 10 miles from Didcot
  • London Kings Cross and Redcar – 29 miles from Northallerton
  • London Kings Cross and Rotherham- 14 miles from Doncaster
  • London Kings Cross and Sheffield – 20 miles from Doncaster
  • London and Weston-super-Mare – 19 miles from Bristol

Note.

  1. Provided that the Out-And-Back journey is less than about sixty miles, I would hope that these stations are comfortably in range.
  2. Leicester is the interesting destination, which would be reachable in an Out-And-Back journey. But trains from the North stopping at Leicester would probably need to charge at Leicester.
  3. I have included Blackburn as it could be a destination for Avanti West Coast.
  4. I have included Melton Mowbray as it could be a destination for East Midlands Railway.
  5. I have included Nottingham, Rotherham and Sheffield as they could be destinations for LNER. These services could prove useful if the Midland Main Line needed to be closed for construction works.
  6. I’m also fairly certain, that no new electrification would be needed, although every extra mile would help.
  7. No charging stations would be needed.

I suspect, I’ve missed a few possible routes.

Possible Journeys Between Two Electrified Lines

These are possible journeys between two electrified lines, that  I believe Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains could handle.

  • London St. Pancras and Eastbourne via Hastings – 25 miles between Ashford and Ore.
  • Leeds and York via Garforth – 20 miles between Neville Hall and Colton Junction
  • London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge – 54 miles between Ely and Norwich.
  • Manchester Victoria and Leeds via Huddersfield – 43 miles between Manchester Victoria and Leeds.
  • Preston and Leeds via Hebden Bridge – 62 miles between Preston and Leeds.
  • Newcastle and Edinburgh – Would battery-electric trains get round the well-publicised power supply problems on this route?

Note.

  1. I am assuming that a range of 65 miles is possible.
  2. If the trains have a diesel-generator set, then this could be used to partially-charge the battery in places on the journey.
  3. Leeds and York via Garforth has been scheduled for electrification for years.
  4. Preston and Leeds via Hebden Bridge would probably need some diesel assistance.
  5. London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge is a cheeky one, that Greater Anglia wouldn’t like, unless they ran it.
  6. As before no new electrification or a charging station would be needed.

I suspect, I’ve missed a few possible routes.

Possible Out-And-Back Journeys With A Charge At The Destination

These are possible Out-And-Back journeys, that I believe Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains could handle, if the batteries were fully charged at the destination.

  • Doncaster and Cleethorpes – 52 miles from Doncaster.
  • London Paddington and Cheltenham – 42 miles from Swindon
  • London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln – 64 miles from Newark
  • London Euston and Gobowen – 46 miles from Crewe
  • London Euston and Wrexham – 33 miles from Crewe
  • London Kings Cross and Hull – 45 miles from Selby
  • London Kings Cross and Shrewsbury – 30 miles from Wolverhampton
  • London Kings Cross and Sunderland 41 miles from Northallerton
  • London Paddington and Swansea – 46 miles from Cardiff
  • London Paddington and Worcester – 67 miles from Didcot Parkway
  • London St. Pancras and Derby – 46 miles from Market Harborough
  • London St. Pancras and Nottingham – 43 miles from Market Harborough

Note.

  1. I am assuming that a range of 65 miles is possible.
  2. If the trains have a diesel-generator set, then this could be used to partially-charge the battery in places on the journey.
  3. I am assuming some form of charging is provided at the destination station.
  4. As before no new electrification would be needed.

I suspect, I’ve missed a few possible routes.

Midland Main Line

The Midland Main Line could possibly be run between London St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield without the use of diesel.

Consider.

  • The route will be electrified between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough.
  • In connection with High Speed Two, the Midland Main Line and High Seed Two will share an electrified route between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction.
  • London St. Pancras and Derby can be run with a charging station at Derby, as Market Harborough and Derby is only 46 miles.
  • London St. Pancras and Nottingham can be run with a charging station at Nottingham, as Market Harborough and Nottingham is only 43 miles.
  • The distance between Clay Cross North Junction and Market Harborough is 67 miles.
  • The distance between Sheffield and Leeds is 38 miles.

It looks to me that the range of East Midlands Railway’s new Class 804 trains, will be a few miles short to bridge the gap on batteries, between Clay Cross North Junction and Market Harborough station, but Leeds and Sheffield appears possible, once Sheffield has been electrified.

There are several possible solutions to the Clay Cross North and Market Harborough electrification gap.

  1. Fit higher capacity batteries to the trains.
  2. Extend the electrification for a few miles North of Market Harborough station.
  3. Extend the electrification for a few miles South of Clay Cross North Junction.
  4. Stop at Derby for a few minutes to charge the batteries.

The route between Market Harborough and Leicester appears to have been gauge-cleared for electrification, but will be difficult to electrify close to Leicester station. However, it looks like a few miles can be taken off the electrification gap.

Between Chesterfield and Alfriston, the route appears difficult to electrify with tunnels and passig through a World Heritage Site.

So perhaps options 1 and 2 together will give the trains sufficient range to bridge the electrification gap.

Conclusion On The Midland Main Line

I think that Hitachi, who know their trains well, must have a solution for diesel-free operation of all Midland Main Line services.

It also looks like little extra electrification is needed, other than that currently planned for the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two.

North Wales Coast Line

If you look at distance along the North Wales Coast Line, from the electrification at Crewe, you get these values.

  • Chester – 21 miles
  • Rhyl – 51 miles
  • Colwyn Bay – 61 miles
  • Llandudno Junction – 65 miles
  • Bangor – 80 miles
  • Holyhead – 106 miles

It would appear that Avanti West Coast’s new AT-300 trains, if fitted with batteries could reach Llandudno Junction station, without using diesel.

Electrification Between Crewe And Chester

It seems to me that the sensible thing to do for a start is to electrify the twenty-one miles between Crewe and Chester, which has been given a high priority for this work.

With this electrification, distances from Chester are as follows.

  • Rhyl – 30 miles
  • Colwyn Bay – 40 miles
  • Llandudno Junction – 44 miles
  • Bangor – 59 miles
  • Holyhead – 85 miles

Electrification between Crewe and Chester may also open up possibilities for more electric and battery-electric train services.

But some way will be needed to charge the trains to the West of Chester.

Chagring The Batteries At Llandudno Junction Station

This Google Map shows Llandudno Junction station.

Note.

  1. It is a large station site.
  2. The Conwy Valley Line, which will be run by battery Class 230 trains in the future connects at this station.
  3. The Class 230 train will probably use some of Vivarail’s Fast Charging systems, which use third-rail technology, either at the ends of the branch or in Llandudno Junction station.

The simplest way to charge the London Euston and Holyhead train, would be to build a charging station at Llandudno Junction, which could be based on Vivarail’s Fast Charging technology or a short length of 25 KVAC overhead wire.

But this would add ten minutes to the timetable.

Could 25 KVAC overhead electrification be erected for a certain distance through the station, so that the train has ten minutes in contact with the wires?

Looking at the timetable of a train between London Euston and Holyhead, it arrives at Colwyn Bay station at 1152 and leaves Llandudno Junction station at 1200.

So would it be possible to electrify between the two stations and perhaps a bit further?

This Google Map shows Colwyn Bay Station,

Note how the double-track railway is squeezed between the dual-carriageway of the A55 North Wales Expressway and the sea.

The two routes follow each other close to the sea, as far as Abegele & Pensarn station, where the Expressway moves further from the sea.

Further on, after passing through more caravans than I’ve ever seen, there is Rhyl station.

  • The time between arriving at Rhyl station and leaving Llandudno Junction station is nineteen minutes.
  • The distance between the two stations is fourteen miles.
  • Rhyl and Crewe is fifty-one miles.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead is forty-one miles.

It would appear that if the North Wales Coast Line between Rhyl and Llandudno Junction is electrified, that Hitachi’s proposed battery trains can reach Holyhead.

The trains could even changeover between electrification and battery power in Rhyl and Llandudno Junction stations.

I am sure that electrifying this section would not be the most difficult in the world, although the severe weather sometimes encountered, may need some very resilient or innovative engineering.

It may be heretical to say so, but would it be better if this section were to be electrified using proven third-rail technology.

West of Llandudno Junction station, the electrification would be very difficult, as this Google Map of the crossing of the River Conwy shows.

I don’t think anybody would want to see electrification around the famous castle.

Electrification Across Anglesey

Llanfairpwll station marks the divide between the single-track section of the North Wales Coast Line over the Britannia Bridge and the double-track section across Anglesey.

From my virtual helicopter, the route looks as if, it could be fairly easy to electrify, but would it be necessary?

  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead is forty-one miles, which is well within battery range.
  • There is surely space at Holyhead station to install some form of fast-charging system.

One problem is that trains seem to turn round in only a few minutes, which may not be enough to charge the trains.

So perhaps some of the twenty-one miles between Llanfairpwll and Holyhead should be electrified.

London Euston And Holyhead Journey Times

Currently, trains take three hours and forty-three minutes to go between London Euston and Holyhead, with these sectional timings.

  • London Euston and Crewe – One hour and thirty-nine minutes.
  • Crewe and Holyhead – Two hours and four minutes.

The big change would come, if the London Euston and Crewe leg, were to be run on High Speed Two, which will take just fifty-five m,inutes.

This should reduce the London Euston and Holyhead time to just under three hours.

Freight On The North Wales Coast Line

Will more freight be seen on the North Wales Coast Line in the future?

The new tri-mode freight locomotives like the Class 93 locomotive, will be able to take advantage of any electrification to charge their batteries, but they would probably be on diesel for much of the route.

Conclusion On The North Wales Coast Line

Short lengths of electrification, will enable Avanti West Coast’s AT-300 trains, after retrofitting with batteries, to run between Crewe and Holyhead, without using any diesel.

I would electrify.

  • Crewe and Chester – 21 miles
  • Rhyl and Llandudno Junction – 14 miles
  • Llanfairpwll and Holyhead – 21 miles

But to run battery-electric trains between London Euston and Holyhead, only Rhyl and Llandudno Junction needs to be electrified.

All gaps in the electrification will be handled on battery power.

A Selection Of Possible Battery-Electric Services

In this section, I’ll look at routes, where battery-electric services would be very appropriate and could easily be run by Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains.

London Paddington And Swansea

Many were disappointed when Chris Grayling cancelled the electrification between Cardiff and Swansea.

I went along with what was done, as by the time of the cancellation, I’d already ridden in a battery train and believed in their potential.

The distance between Cardiff and Swansea is 46 miles without electrification.

Swansea has these services to the West.

  • Carmarthen – 32 miles
  • Fishguard – 73 miles
  • Milford Haven  71 miles
  • Pembroke Dock – 73 miles

It looks like, three services could be too long for perhaps a three car battery-electric version of a Hitachi Class 385 train, assuming it has a maximum range of 65 miles.

But these three services all reverse in Carmarthen station.

So perhaps, whilst the driver walks between the cabs, the train can connect automatically to a fast charging system and give the batteries perhaps a four minute top-up.

Vivarail’s Fast Charging system based on third-rail technology would be ideal, as it connects automatically and it can charge a train in only a few minutes.

I would also electrify the branch between Swansea and the South Wales Main Line.

This would form part of a fast-charging system for battery-trains at Swansea, where turnround times can be quite short.

I can see a network of battery-electric services developing around Swansea, that would boost tourism to the area.

Edinburgh And Tweedbank

The Borders Railway is electrified as far as Newcraighall station and the section between there and Tweedbank is thirty miles long.

I think that a four-car battery-electric Class 385 train could work this route.

It may or may not need a top up at Tweedbank.

The Fife Circle

The Fife Circle service from Edinburgh will always be difficult to electrify, as it goes over the Forth Rail Bridge.

  • The Fife Circle is about sixty miles long.
  • Plans exist for a short branch to Leven.
  • The line between Edinburgh and the Forth Rail Bridge is partly electrified.

I believe that battery-electric Class 385 train could work this route.

London Kings Cross and Grimsby/Cleethorpes via Lincoln

The Cleethorpes/Grimsby area is becoming something of a  renewable energy powerhouse and I feel that battery trains to the area, might be a significant and ultimately profitable statement.

LNER recently opened a six trains per day service to Lincoln.

Distances from Newark are as follows.

  • Lincoln – 17 miles
  • Grimsby – 61 miles
  • Cleethorpes – 64 miles

A round trip to Lincoln can probably be achieved on battery alone with a degree of ease, but Cleethorpes and Grimsby would need a recharge at the coast.

Note that to get to the Cleethorpes/Grimsby area, travellers usually need to change at Doncaster.

But LNER are ambitious and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them dip a toe in the Cleethorpes/Grimsby market.

The LNER service would also be complimented by a TransPennine Express service from Manchester Airport via Sheffield and Doncaster, which could in the future be another service run by a Hitachi battery train.

There is also a local service to Barton-on-Humber, which could be up for improvement.

London Waterloo And Exeter

This service needs to go electric, if South Western Railway is going to fully decarbonise.

But third-rail electrification is only installed between Waterloo and Basingstoke.

Could battery-electric trains be used on this nearly two hundred mile route to avoid the need for electrification.

A possible strategy could be.

  • Use existing electrification, as far as Basingstoke – 48 miles
  • Use battery power to Salisbury – 83 miles
  • Trains can take several minutes at Salisbury as they often split and join and change train crew, so the train could be fast-charged.
  • Use battery power to the Tisbury/Gillingham/Yeovil/Crewkerne area, where trains would be charged – 130 miles
  • Use battery power to Exeter- 172 miles

Note.

  1. The miles are the distance from London.
  2. The charging at Salisbury could be based on Vivarail’s Fast-Charging technology.
  3. The charging around Yrovil could be based on perhaps twenty miles of third-rail electrification, that would only be switched on, when a train is present.

I estimate that there could be time savings of up to fifteen minutes on the route.

 

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

RENFE To Launch Avlo Low-Cost High Speed Rail For Everyone

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

The title says it all and it looks like the Spanish are going the way of the French.

As High Speed Rail networks get larger,and able to handle more trains, it appears that the train operators, run out of premium passengers and turn to other markets.

SNCF have already launched a low-cost service called Ouigo, so it looks like the Spanish are following along similar lines.

In some ways is rail following air travel with low-cost companies offering a more affordable service.

On the whole, the UK, will find it more difficult to offer these services, as we don’t have the rail capacity. In part, this is due to the late development of high speed lines like High Speed Two.

But competitive services using a low-cost model are running or in development.

It should be noted that First East Coast Trains and Hull Trains will be running similar new Hitachi trains to the dominant operator on the route; LNER.

But then Ryanair and easyJet fly similar planes to British Airways and Air France!

Conclusion

It does appear that low-cost operators are providing competition, just as they have done with the airlines.

December 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The New Fifth Platform At Stevenage Station – 11th October 2019

Stevenage station is getting a fifth platform for the termination of Great Northern services to and from Moorgate station.

  • This platform will be on the down side of the station.
  • A single platform should be able to turnback at least four trains per hour (tph) and possibly as many as six tph, that have used the Hertford Loop Line to come North.
  • Wikipedia says that this will increase the capacity and frequency on the East Coast Main Line and the Hertford Loop Line.

These are a few pictures of the works.

This page on the Network Rail we site is entitled Stevenage Turnback and it gives more details.

  • improved resilience and reliability is claimed.
  • Two kilometres of new track and a set of points will be added.
  • The embankment on the West side of the track will be strengthened.
  • The signalling will be improved.
  • Two bridges will be modified.

Everything should be completed by Summer 2020, so that the four tph from Moorgate to Stevenage can be resumed.

These are my observations.

  • The work on the West side of the East Coast Main Line seems to be to a very high standard.
  • There seems to be enough space for a possible double-track or a passing loop between the new platform and the Hertford Loop Line in future.
  • The embankment on the West side of the track is being strengthened.
  • Will trains still be able to come from the Hertford Loop and continue North?

It certainly appears to me to be built to allow expansion in the future.

What Frequency Will The New Platform Be Able To Handle?

There are several platforms in the UK, where four tph are turned back.

It looks to me, that there is no reason, why this frequency couldn’t be handled in the new platform at Stevenage.

Especially, as there appears to be at least one crossover between Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone stations.

But could it handle more trains?

The Hertford Loop Line is scheduled to be updated with digital signalling. So in the future, this may be possible, if the need is there!

The Great Northern Metro

It should also be noted that in 2016, Govia Thameslink Railway published plans for a Great Northern Metro. They seemed to have dropped this idea, but I discussed the plan in The Great Northern Metro.

This is a brief summary of those proposals.

  • Fourteen tph in the High Peak.
  • In the Off Peak, there would be six tph to Hertford North, four tph to Welwyn Garden City and two tph to Stevenage.
  • Sunday services are four tph to both branches and two tph to Stevenage.

I do wonder what is the capacity of the Hertford Loop Line.

  • It has grade-separated junctions at both ends of the route.
  • It is double-track throughout.
  • It has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • It has a 75 mph operating speed.
  • It has turnback platforms at Gordon Hill and Hertford North stations.
  • It is planned to equip the route with digital signalling.
  • It is planned to upgrade the power supply.
  • It probably handles a maximum of about eight tph, which can include a couple of freight trains.

I suspect that this route can be improved to handle more and longer trains., at a higher speed than now!

Could Thameslink Use The Hertford Loop Line?

Could some Thameslink services to Cambridge and Peterborough use the Hertford Loop Line, rather than the East Coast Main Line?

Consider.

  • The Hertford Loop Line will have an increased speed limit.
  • Digital signalling is to be introduced on the route.
  • Trains might only stop at Hertford North, Enfield Chase and Alexandra Palace.
  • Some current Thameslink services between London and Cambridge and Peterborough, run non-stop between Finsbury Park and Stevenage.

Diverting some services to the Hertford Loop Line would have the following advantages.

  • It would relrease capacity on the East Coast Main Line.
  • It would reduce the number of trains using the two-track section over the Digswell viaduct.
  • It could give Hertford a direct link to Cambridge and Peterborough.

The disadvantage would be that services would be a few minutes slower.

140 mph Running On The East Coast Main Line

Under Planned Or Proposed Developments the Wikipedia entry for the EastCoast Main Line says this.

Most of the length of the ECML is capable of 140 mph subject to certain infrastructure upgrades. Below is the foreword of the Greengauge 21 report:

“Upgrading the East Coast Main Line to 140 mph operation as a high priority alongside HS2 and to be delivered without delay. Newcastle London timings across a shorter route could closely match those achievable by HS2..

The section then goes on to describe a lot of improvements with the aim of running between London and Edinburgh in four hours.

The project has a code name of L2E4. There is more information at this page on the Network Rail web site.

South of Peterborough, there are infrastructure and rolling stock limitations, that will stop the Hitachi Class 800 trains running at 140 mph.

  • Extra tracks are needed between Huntington and Woodwalton.
  • There is a double-track section over the Digswell viaduct, through Welwyn North station and the Welwyn tunnels.
  • Thameslink’s Class 700 trains that run services to Cambridge and Peterborough are only capable of 100 mph.
  • Great Northern’s Class 387 trains, that run services to Cambridge and Kings Lynn are only capable of 110 mph.
  • Hull Trains and Grand Central run services with trains that are only capable of 125 mph.

I will deal with these in order.

Extra Tracks Between Huntingdon and Woodwalton

The Wikipedia entry for the East Coast Main Line says this about this project.

Re-quadrupling of the route between Huntingdon and Woodwalton (HW4T) which was rationalised in the 1980s during electrification (part of the ECML Connectivity programme). This also involves the closure and diversion of a level crossing at Abbots Ripton which was approved in November 2017.

This improvement, which will mean continuous quadruple tracks between Stevenage and Peterborough will mean.

  • A few minutes for all trains will be saved.
  • Slower stopping services between London and Peterborough, will be kept out of the way of the 140 mph expresses.

What sort of stink would there be, if a motorway closed in the 1980s was now being rebuilt, to provide what existed forty years ago?

But British Rail closed or simplified infrastructure, without properly looking at the consequences, mainly to please or under the direction of the Treasury.

Double-Track Over Digwell Viaduct And Through Welwyn North Station

This is one of the worst rail bottlenecks in the UK.

To make matters worse, a service between Kings Cross and Cambridge with a frequency of two tph stops at the station.

It means a fast train would have to do a pit stop at speeds nor far off those of a racing car.

I think we can say, that adding extra tracks through the area would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

But consider the trains that pass Welwyn North every hour.

  • LNER – 5 trains
  • Thameslink – 3 trains
  • Cambridge and Ely expresses – 2 trains
  • Cambridge stopping trains – 2 trains.
  • Hull Trains – 7 trains per day.
  • Grand Central – 9 trains per day.

If it is assumed that the Hull Trains and Grand Central add up to one train per hour, it looks like about thirteen tph go through the double track section.

If another couple of trains are added for luck, this means that the double track section will be handling a train every four minutes.

The double-track section is less than five miles long, so a 140 mph train will run between the quadruple track sections at Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations  in jut over two minutes.

Currently, the trains that stop at Welwyn North station are timetabled to take nine minutes between stops at Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations.

Effectively, the stop at Welwyn North station blocks the double-track section for nine minutes..

This means that there are two twenty-one minute periods in an hour where the other trains can pass through.

So how can you maximise the use of these available periods?

  • The trains must arrive precisely at the right time – Digital signalling with automatic train control is probably the best way to ensure this.
  • All through trains must be running as near to 140 mph as possible.
  • Diverting of slower trains to alternative routes should be examined.
  • The stopping train should be able to execute a stop in the shortest possible time.

I believe that if the timetable is efficient, that as many as twenty tph could be handled.

Most would go through the double-track section at 140 mph!

I must add a point about safety.

Trains currently go through these platforms at Welwyn North station at a maximum speed of 125 mph.

Will more trains going through at a faster speed, necessitate the addition of a passenger protection system at the station?

Thameslink’s Class 700 Trains

I have heard East Midlands drivers moan about Class 700 trains on the Midland Main Line, as they are too slow at 100 mph to mix it with the 125 mph expresses.

It looks like the Treasury got the specification wrong again! Surprise! Surprise! Even a 110 mph capability, as is often specified for outer suburban trains would be better.

But these trains run non-stop between Finsbury Park and Stevenage stations, so at 100-110 mph, they will be a bit of a hindrance to the trains running at 140 mph. It would be like granny and grandpa in a Morris Minor in the fast lane of a motorway!

If there is the capacity, then perhaps the Thameslink trains should run on an upgraded Hertfprd Loop Line along with the 100 mph Class 717 trains.

Once they rejoined the East Coast Main Line, they would take to the upgraded slow lines to go Cambridge and Peterborough.

Great Northern’s Class 387 Trains

Cambridge is one of the UK’s world-class cities and it deserves a top quality service from London.

The current Class 387 trains are only 110 mph trains, so wouldn’t fit well with the herds of 140 mph trains running to and from London.

It would probably be best in the long term to replace these trains with 140 mph trains designed for the route.

After all if Oxford can have a commuter service to London using Class 802 trains, then surely these are good enough for Cambridge?

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I discuss the possibility of digital signalling on the London and Kings Lynn route via Cambridge, based on reports in Rail Magazine.

If the Cambridge Line from Hitchin were to be upgraded for faster running, then London and Cambridge times might be reduced significantly.

Hull Trains And Grand Central

Hull Trains and Grand Central will want to participate in the 140 mph action between London and Doncaster.

Hull Trains have already made their move and have leased a fleet of Class 802 trains, which will shortly enter service.

Another Open Access operator; First East Coast Trains has already ordered five Hitachi 140 mph trains.

Will Grand Central replace their fleet of Class 180 trains?

They will either buy 140 mph trains, cease trading or give up!

The other operators won’t want slow trains on the fast lines.

How Many 140 mph Trains Will Be Able To Run Between London And Doncaster?

I finish this section with a question.

I answered this question and a few others in Thoughts On A 140 mph East Coast Main Line Between London And Doncaster.

This was my conclusion.

If something similar to what I have proposed is possible, it looks like as many as an extra seven tph can be accommodated between Kings Cross and the North.

That is certainly worth having.

Conclusion

The new platform at Stevenage station is a well-designed sub-project that enables  the Hertford Loop Line to be used to its full capability.

  • Up to four tph will be able to run between Moorgate and Stevenage stations.
  • The redesigned junction at Stevenage will allow services like Thameslink to use the Hertford Loop Line rather than run at 100 mph on the East Coast Main Line.

It is an important sub-project in turning the East Coast Main Line into a high speed line with a high proportion of 140 mph running.

 

 

 

 

 

October 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment