The Anonymous Widower

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
  • 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

Mule Trains Between Liverpool And Norwich

I have done two trips to Liverpool in the last week.

On Saturday, I saw this collection of one-car Class 153 trains with a two-car Class 156 train thrown in.

They were forming one of East Midlands Railway‘s Liverpool and Norwich services.

And then yesterday, I had to travel between Liverpool and Sheffield and this was the collection of trains that took me.

So what was it like?

It started badly, with the driver announcing that because of the late arrival due to an undisclosed problem with the incoming train, that we would be leaving ten minutes after the planned departure time of 1551. He also indicated that our late departure meant that we would be stuck behind one of Northern’s services.

In the end, despite the gloomy faces of passengers we left twelve minutes late at 1603.

It was a bit like one of those classic films, where an ancient train escapes in the nick of time, with a lot of important and assorted passengers.

The asthmatic Cummins diesels under the train could be heard straining.

  • But the driver was at the top of his game and the train was running smoothly towards Manchester at close to 75 mph, which is the maximum speed of a Class 153 train.
  • At Manchester Piccadilly, the driver had pulled back two minutes.
  • There were obviously, no problems on the Dover Valley Line and the driver pulled back another minute before Sheffield, to arrive nine minutes late.

Looking at Real Time Trains, the train ran well until March (The place, not the month!), but there was some form of delay there and sadly it was thirty-four minutes late into Norwich.

The Train Was Clean

I should say there was nothing wrong with the train except for its design and age. It was also as clean as you can get one of these trains. The toilet, that I used was better than many I’ve used on trains and worked as it should.

Customer Service

East Midlands Railway had loaded a trolley and a steward and in the two hours I was on the train, he came through twice. The only problem for me, that he had no card machine, but I did find a fiver in my briefcase.

At least it was very drinkable. Even, if I hate those plastic tubs of milk, as they are difficult to open with one good hand.

Where Did Two Cars Go?

I had been fairly certain, that we had started with six cars, but we only arrived in Sheffield with four Class 153 trains.

I suspect that the trouble that delayed the train, concerned two cars and these were left on the naughty step or the end of Platform 6 in Liverpool Lime Street station.

Being Fair To East Midlands Railway

This service used to be run by a four-car formation of two-car Class 158 trains, but these have been causing trouble lately and they will be replaced by Class 170 trains cascaded from other operators.

But because of late arrivals of new trains the much better Class 170 trains haven’t arrived yet.

The driver, steward and other staff did a good job and I feel that the steward enjoyed it. No-one was abusive and stories were just exchanged, as we climbed across the Pennines in what by Sheffield was a very crowded train.

Class 153 trains may have been built as a stop-gap for short branch lines, but you couldn’t fault their performance.

Unless of course, one caused the delay at March, by expiring in a cloud of blue smoke.

Other Observations

These are other observations.

Scheduled Journey Times

On my journey the scheduled times were

  • Liverpool and Manchester Oxford Road – forty-seven minutes.
  • Liverpool and Sheffield – one hour and forty-eight minutes.
  • Liverpool and Nottingham – two hour and forty minutes.
  • Liverpool and Norwich – Five hours and twenty-seven minutes

The train considering the configuration, nearly achieved them.

It’s probably the motoring equivalent of doing the journey in a Morris Minor!

The Nine Stops Were Executed Perfectly

There were nine stops on my journey and eight took less than a minute, with Sheffield taking four, as the driver and crew changed.

A modern train like a Class 755 train, with fast acceleration and level boarding could probably save up to three minutes a time on each stop.

The Route Is A Genuine 75 mph Railway In Good Condition

I was checking the speed of the train on parts of the route and the driver had his motley crew at a steady 75 mph for long periods.

  • The train was riding well, indicating to me, that both trains and track were in reasonably good condition.
  • Note that 75 mph is the maximum speed of a Class 153 train.
  • The train recovered three minutes on the late departure from Liverpool.

I can see a faster train and improvements to the route, some of which are underway, could reduce the journey time by a few minutes.

Could Merseyrail’s New Class 777 Trains Work To The Bay Platform At Oxford Road?

Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains will have the following performance.

  • A possible range of perhaps 40-50 miles on battery power.
  • An operating speed of 75 mph.
  • An acceleration rate of 1.1 m/sec², which is faster than a Class 153 or Class 170 train.
  • Fast stops due to regenerative braking, fast acceleration and level boarding.

As Liverpool Lime Street to Oxford Road is thirty four miles of which nine is electrified, I suspect that these new trains could extend Merseyrail’s Northern Line service from Hunts Cross to Manchester Oxford Road.

  • Two trains per hour (tph), but I’m sure four tph would transform the area.
  • I doubt any track modifications would be needed.

But would Liverpool and Manchester be able to sort out the local politics?

The Future Of The Liverpool And Norwich Service

This service will probably be spilt into two services.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Derby, which could be run by TransPennine Express or Northern Trains.
  • Derby and Norwich, which would be run by East Midlands Railway.

As to the trains to be used, consider the following.

The Liverpool and Derby leg would probably need six trains, with the same number needed for Derby and Norwich, or twelve in total.

Currently, eleven or twelve is needed for the longer service.

Sections of the route like through Manchester and between Grantham and Peterborough are electrified.

There are even sections of route, where 125 mph running is possible.

Run reliably to an hourly frequency, I think that this service could attract passengers, especially, as it would serve Derby and extra stops like Ilkeston and Warrington West could be added.

This leads to the following trains being possibilities.

Class 802 trains – 125 mph bi-mode train of which TransPennine Express have 19 trains.

Class 185 trains – 100 mph diesel train of which TransPennine Express have 51 trains.

Class 804 trains – 125 mph bi-mode train of which East Midlands Railway have ordered 33 trains.

Class 755 trains – 100 mph diesel train of which Greater Anglia have 38 trains, which are based at Norwich.

Alstom Breeze hydrogen trains could be ideal for Liverpool and Derby.

Note.

  1. Greater Anglia and East Midlands Railway are both subsidiaries of Abellio.
  2. Developments of Class 755 trains could include battery and hydrogen versions.
  3. I suspect that 125 mph trains may be required for both legs, to maximise capacity on the East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line.

January 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My First Ride In A Nova 3 Train

Nova 3 is the name that TransPennine Express have given to their new fleet of Mark 5A coaches hauled by Class 68 locomotives.

The first few pictures were taken, when I saw a Nova 3 at Manchester Victoria station and the ither during and after a ride between Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Comfort, Noise And Vibration

It was certainly good and up there with the best.

Tables For Four

There were quite a few tables, but not everyone got one.

Ride And Performance

There was nothing wrong with the ride, but we were only doing 75 mph across the Pennines.

Next time, I’m in the North, I’ll take one of these trains up the East Coast Main Line to Scarborough or Redcar to feel them at a faster speed.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t object to having these coaches with a Class 88 electric locomotive running between London and Nowich via Ipswich.

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

What Would Be The Range Of A Tri-Mode Class 802 Train?

In Could Cirencester Be Reconnected To The Rail Network?, I speculated about the routes of a battery-electric version of a Class 800 train.

I said this.

As Hitachi have stated they will be using battery power to extend ranges of their trains, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the current trains modified to have batteries instead of some of their current diesel engines.

Such a train would would be ideal for the following routes.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13 miles
  • Paddington and Cheltenham – 43 miles
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10 miles
  • Paddington and Weston-Super-Mare – 19 miles

The distance is the length that is not electrified.

I don’t think it improbable, that London Paddington and Swansea will be achieved by a battery-electric train based on the current Hitachi train designs.

So was it a serious idea or mad speculation?

Under Powertrain in the Wikipedia entry for theClass 800 train, this is said.

Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a 5-9 car set. These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails. The class 800/802 electro-diesel or Bi-Mode has 3 GU per five car set and 5 GU per nine car set. A 5 car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 respectively and a 9 car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8 respectively.

This means that a five-car Class 800 or Class 802 train has three engines and an all -electric Class 801 train has a single engine.

If you were building a tri-mode Class 802 train, could two of the diesel engines be replaced by batteries.

  • Hitachi have stated that trains can be changed from one class to another by adding or removing engines.
  • Trains would always have at least one diesel engine for emergencies, just as the Class 801 trains do.
  • Each MTU 1600 R80L diesel engine weighs just under seven tonnes.

Fourteen tonnes of batteries would probably store about 840 kWh of energy, if the most efficient batteries are used. That would not be a problem if Hitachi came calling.

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

Dividing 840 by 5 cars and 3.42 kWh per vehicle file gives a range of forty-nine miles.

  • The trains would need regenerative braking to the batteries.
  • Battery energy density is increasing.
  • Train aerodynamics could be improved, to reduce the power needed.
  • Secondary routes like the Golden Valley Line are unlikely to have an operating speed higher than 110 mph, which would reduce the power needed.

I am coming round to the opinion, that Hitachi could design a battery-electric train based on the current Class 80X trains, that could reach Swansea from Paddington, without touching a drop of diesel.

  • The batteries would need to be recharged before returning to London.
  • I am assuming that the electrification is up and working between Paddington and Cardiff.
  • Could the wires in the Severn Tunnel be removed or replaced with engineering plastic,  as they corrode so much?
  • Two five-car trains with batteries could work together as they do now.

Hitachi would need to get the software absolutely right.

Could The Diesel Engine Be Used To Increase Battery Range?

Lets assume that a tri-mode Class 802 train is running on a 125 mph main line.

It enters a section without electrification.

  • It is cruising at 125 mph
  • The batteries have a capacity of 840 kWh and have been charged on previous electrification.
  • The train needs 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain speed.
  • It’s a five-car train  so it will need 17.1 kWh per mile.
  • The train will take approximately thirty seconds to cover a mile and in that time the diesel engine will produce 5.83 kWh.
  • So the net energy use of the train will be 11.27 kWh per mile.

This would give the train a range of 74.5 miles at 125 mph.

Obviously, a good driver, aided by a powerful Driver Assistance System could optimise the use of power to make sure the train arrived on time and possibly minimised carbon emissions.

What Would Be The Ultimate Range?

I think it would be possible to reduce the electricity consumption by means of the following.

  • Slower operating speed.
  • Better aerodynamics.
  • More efficient train systems.
  • Improved Driver Assistance Systems.

I think an energy consumption of 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile could be possible, at perhaps a cruise of 100 mph

I can do the calculation without diesel assistance.

  • It’s a five-car train  so it will need 12.5 kWh per mile.

This would give the train a range of 67.2 miles at 100 mph on batteries alone.

I can also do the calculation again with diesel assistance.

  • It’s a five-car train  so it will need 12.5 kWh per mile.
  • The train will take thirty-six seconds to cover a mile and in that time the diesel engine will produce 7 kWh.
  • So the net energy use of the train will be 5.5 kWh per mile.

This would give the train a range of 153 miles at 100 mph on batteries with diesel assistance.

How Many Places Could Be Reached With A Fifty-Mile Range?

Setting a limit of fitly miles would allow running these routes on partial battery power, split down by companies who run the Hitachi trains.

Great Western Railway

These routes could certainly be run using a tri-mode Class 802 train.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13 miles
  • Paddington and Cheltenham – 43 miles
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10 miles
  • Paddington and Swansea – 46 miles
  • Paddington and Weston-Super-Mare – 19 miles
  • Swindon and Bristol via Bath – 39 miles

Note.

  1. The distance gives the length of the longest section of the route without electrification.
  2. Certain routes like Bedwyn, Oxford and Weston-super-Mare probably wouldn’t need a charging station at the final destination.
  3. GWR could probably run a few other routes, without adding substantial new infrastructure.
  4. Tri-mode Class 802 trains, might be able to avoid electrification through Bath.

But surely the the biggest gain is that they would reduce GWR’s carbon footprint.

Hull Trains

I very much feel that with a charging station at Hull station, a tri-mode Class 802 train could bridge the forty-four mile gap between Beverley and the electrified East Coast Main Line at Temple Hirst Junction.

  • The train could top up the battery every time it stops in Hull station.
  • The 700 kW diesel engine could add 700 kWh in the hour long trip with no wires.

If a tri-mode Class 802 train could bridge this gap, then Hull Trains could go zero carbon.

LNER

These routes could certainly be run using a tri-mode Class 802 train.

  • Kings Cross and Bradford – 14 miles
  • Kings Cross and Harrogate – 18 miles
  • Kings Cross and Huddersfield – 17 miles
  • Kings Cross and Hull – 36 miles
  • Kings Cross and Lincoln – 16 miles
  • Kings Cross and Middlesbrough – 21 miles

Note.

  1. The distance gives the length of the longest section of the route without electrification.
  2. Certain routes like Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Lincoln and Middlesbrough probably wouldn’t need a charging station at the final destination.
  3. LNER could probably run a few other routes, without adding substantial new infrastructure.
  4. Using both battery and diesel power, the train would be able to make Cleethorpes and Grimsby after Lincoln.

But surely the the biggest gain is that they would reduce LNER’s carbon footprint.

TransPennine Express

These routes could certainly be run using a tri-mode Class 802 train.

  • Leeds and Huddersfield – 17 miles
  • Liverpool and Edinburgh – 34 miles
  • Liverpool and Hull – 34 miles
  • Liverpool and Scarborough – 34 miles
  • Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough – 34 miles
  • Manchester Airport and Newcastle- 34 miles

Note.

  1. The distance gives the length of the longest section of the route without electrification.
  2. TransPennine Express services all suffer because of the long gap across the Pennines.
  3. Network Rail are planning to partly electrify Dewsbury and Huddersfield, which would reduce the major gap to just eighteen miles.

As with GWR, Hull Trains and LNER, the carbon footprint would be reduced.

Conclusion

A tri-mode Class 802 train would be a good idea.

It should be noted that GWR, Hull Trains and TransPennine Express are all First Group companies.

 

 

 

November 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 7 Comments

TransPennine Express’s New Liverpool Lime Street And Glasgow Central Service

Transpennine Express are introducing a new service between Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central stations at the December 2019 timetable change.

So I examined the service for the the 21st January, 2020.

  • There are three Northbound trains at 08:12, 12:12 and 16:12.
  • There are three Southbound trains at 07:45, 11:44 and 16:29
  • Journey times vary between three hours and 17 minutes and three hours and 47 minutes.
  • Trains appear to always stop at Wigan North Western, Preston, Penrith North Lakes and Carlisle.
  • Selective services call at other stations including Lancaster and St. Helens Central.

As passengers can always travel the route with a change at Preston, it is a useful start. It should also be born in mind that there are currently, two trains per hour (tph) between Glasgow Central and Preston stations, so the route with a change at Preston can be quicker than waiting for a direct train.

If you look at the Transpennine service between Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central stations, it appears that there are gaps in the hourly service at 08:00, 12:00 and 16:00.

These gaps have now been filled with Liverpool services.

Current and Future Trains Between Liverpool or Manchester and Glssgow or Edinburgh

The current service is run by nine Class 350 trains, which includes the following.

  • One tph between Between Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central, with three services missing.
  • One train every two hours between Manchester Airport and Edinburgh.

The service from the December 2019 change will at some point be run by twelve Class 397 trains.

It will add three trains per day between Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central, which will give an hourly TranPennine service between Glasgow Central and Preston.

I estimate that the new service will require two more trains, which is incorporated in the larger fleet size.

Timings Between Preston And Glasgow

If you look at the limitings between Preston and Glasgow, you find the following.

  • Virgin’s Class 390 trains take between two hours 21 minutes and two hours 34 minutes.
  • The new Liverpool service is timetabled to take two hours 53 minutes.

As the current Class 350 trains are only 110 mph trains, this is the explanation.

But the new Class 397 trains are 125 mph trains and can probably match the times set by Virgin.

So expect to see some timing reductions on TransPennine’s routes on the West Coast Main Line.

Will Services Between Liverpool And Manchester and Glasgow Split And Join At Preston?

TransPennine Express are meeting their franchise obligations, by providing three trains per day between Liverpool ad Glasgow, but could they do better by splitting and joining services at Preston.

  • Going North, a service from Manchester Airport and one from Liverpool would join at Preston, before proceeding to Glasgow as a ten-car train.
  • Coming South, a pair of trains from Glasgow, would split at Preston, with one train going to Liverpool and the other to Manchester Airport.

Obviously, the trains would need to be able to split and join in a minute or so, but it would open up the possibility of an hourly service from both Liverpool and Manchester to Glasgow.

Liverpool And Manchester To Edinburgh

After the December 2019 timetable change, TransPennine’s Liverpool and Newcastle service will be extend to Edinburgh, giving Liverpool a direct service to \Edinburgh and Manchester, a second service to Edinburgh.

Timings by the various routes will be.

  • Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester, Leeds and York – Four hours 28 minutes – Hourly
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Edinburgh via Preston and Carstairs – Three hours 10 minutes – Two hourly
  • Manchester Victoria  and Edinburgh via Leeds and York – Three hours 52 minutes – Hourly

These times compare well with the four hours drive predicted on the Internet.

Conclusion

Connections between Northern England and the Central Belt of Scotland will improve greatly after the December 2019 timetable change.

New trains on these routes will also mean faster services, where they run on the East and |West Coast Main Lines.

More trains will also increase frequency.

 

November 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

National Trust Looks At Car Ban In Lake District

The title of this post is the same as that as that of this article in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

The secondary headline sums up the article.

Nearly 20m visitors a year are ‘loving the national park to death’, and officials are looking at excluding drivers.

So what is to be done?

Can The Railways Help?

In 2015, I spent Three Days in Preston and explored the area by train.

These problems were apparent on the trains and at the stations.

  • The capacity, quality and frequency of the trains to Windermere is pitiful.
  • The capacity, quality and frequency of the trains along the Cumbrian Coast Line is inadequate.
  • Bus information and interchanges could be better.
  • Getting a train to Penrith North Lakes station was difficult.

The only line with an acceptable train service is the West Coast Main Line.

Everything else needs major improvements.

These are some random thoughts.

Could Carlisle Become The Rail Tourism Centre For The Borderlands And The Lakes?

These rail lines and services are already or will be connected to Carlisle Citadel station, within the next few years.

  • Virgin services on the West Coast Main Line between London and the South and Glasgow and Edinburgh in Central Scotland.
  • TransPennine Express services on the West Coast Main Line between Liverpool and Manchester in the South and Glasgow.
  • Possible Grand Union services on the West Coast Main Line between London and Stirling for the North of Scotland.
  • High Speed Two services between London and the South and Glasgow and Edinburgh in Central Scotland.
  • ScotRail services on the Glasgow South Western Line between Carlisle and Glasgow via Dumfries and Kilmarnock.
  • ScotRail services on an extended Borders Railway between Carlisle and Edinburgh via Hawick and Galashiels.
  • Northern services on the Tyne Valley Line between Carlisle and Newcastle via Hexham and the Metro Centre.
  • Northern services on the Settle and Carlisle Line between Carlisle and Leeds.
  • Northern services on the Cumbrian Coast Line between Carlisle and Carnforth via Workington, Whitehaven and Barrow.

Carlisle sits at the centre of a network of some of the most scenic rail lines, anywhere in the world.

Rail services in the area with the exception of the through services, provided by Virgin and TransPennine Express are probably considered by their operators to be a pain.

  • They are generally not used by commuters.
  • There are regular operational problems like floods and landslips.
  • They are overcrowded at some times of the year and need expensive new rolling stock.
  • Rail tourists from aboard probably complain like mad.

But above all the services probably lose money hand over fist.

What Is The Ideal Train For Scenic Routes?

Two possible trains for scenic routes are now in service in the UK.

The Scottish Solution – Inter7City

ScotRail are now introducing four- and five-car InterCity 125 trains on routes between the seven cities in Scotland.

They will probably do a good job and they have the following.

  • Large windows to enjoy the views.
  • Many seats have tables.
  • An on-board buffet and trolley service.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets for phones and laptops.
  • The trains should be reliable, as there is a vast knowledge base about running these trains.
  • The trains can be easily lengthened, by adding extra cars.
  • The trains were 125 mph trains and are probably slower in this application.

But the trains are forty years old and have two enormous diesel engines on each end.

The Swiss Solution – Class 755 train

Greater Anglia are introducing three- and four-car Class 755 trains on rural routes in East Anglia.

They appear to be doing a good job with high passenger satisfaction and they have the following.

  • Large windows to enjoy the views.
  • A number of seats have tables.
  • Space for bicycles.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets for phones and laptops.
  • The trains have level access between train and platform.
  • Hopefully, the trains will be reliable, as they are brand new and Stadler has been making similar trains for over ten years.
  • The trains can use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, where it is available.
  • The trains can work in multiple formations.
  • The trains can be easily lengthened, by adding extra cars.
  • The trains are 100 mph trains.

But the trains still have a diesel power-pack in the middle for operation independently.

In future, these trains will be used to run new services between London and Lowestoft, which is a distance of 118 miles of which 59 miles is electrified.

Similar trains will be fitted with batteries for the South Wales Metro.

Could a train be built with the best of all the features?

I believe the Class 755 train is a pretty good start, but it would have the following extra features.

  • Ability to run at up to 125 mph on 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third rail, where the track allows.
  • A well-designed buffet.
  • 50 mile battery range.
  • A stand-by generator.
  • The ability to fast-charge the battery at a station stop.

I also think that Hitachi could make a five-car AT-300 train and Bombardier could make an Aventra, that met this specification.

What would a fleet of battery-electric trains do for the rail lines around Carlisle?

  • Hopefully, they would become a tourist attraction in their own right and encourage visitors to corm by train.
  • Frequencies would be at least two trains per hour on all routes.

This could be a starting point for making the area easier to access.

Should Stations Around The Lakes Be Developed With Bus Interchanges?

I’ve seen the bus interchange at Windermere station, but are other stations around the Lakes as well provided with comprehensive bus routes?

The objective surely should be that if a family wanted to have a day out in the Lakes from their home in Liverpool or Manchester, they should be able to get a train to a convenient station and a bus to their final destination.

Surely, if there is a sensible alternative, then visitors might use it.

Could The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway Be Reopened?

The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway was finally closed in the 1970s and according to Wikipedia, the track-bed has been used for roads and other developments.

I doubt that the railway could be reopened, but a modern light rail route would probably be a very valuable tourist asset.

But Would Good Train And Bus Routes Cut The Traffic In The Lakes?

I doubt it!

If someone has spent £40,000 or more on an expensive car, they feel they have bought the right to drive it anywhere they want!

The Dutch once talked about road pricing for every vehicle and that government lost the next election.

Conclusion

Traffic congestion in the Lakes, is a problem that threatens other areas, where tourists want to go.

So will as the National Trust are suggesting have to ban cars to restore some sanity?

I suspect so!

But it won’t be popular!

 

 

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Chaotic Morning Peak Across The Pennines

I had intended to ride in one of TransPennine Express’s new trains that are formed of a rake of Mark 5A coaches hauled by a Class 68 locomotive.

As they run between Liverpool Lime Street and Scarbough, I thought it best to buy a return ticket between Manchester Victoria and Leeds.

Problem Number 1 – Northern’s Ticket Machine

Northern’s new ticket machines are fine when they work, but for some reason they wouldn’t respond to my fingers.

I find this with some touch screens, which are mainly in Sweden or IKEA in the UK.

So I bought a ticket from the ticket office intending to catch the next Scarborough train.

This had also happened the day before at Leeds.

Problem Number 2 – The Scarborough Train Didn’t Arrive

As the Scarborough train didn’t arrive, I gave up and took the Newcastle train towards Leeds.

Problem Number 3 – Overcrowding At Huddersfield

I took this picture of the crowds at Huddersfield.

My phone was telling me that the Scarborough train was behind my Newcastle train, so I decided to change at Huddersfield.

But I made a mistake and got on a very crowded train, that was going to Hull via Leeds.

I had to stand to Leeds, but at least I got a roomy and safe standing space.

Problem Number 4 – Class 185 Trains

.The Class 185 trains are just three-cars and totally inadequate for the route.

The  trains were ordered in 2003 and were delivered in 2006-2007.

If you read the section entitled Overcrowding And Passenger Feedback, in the Wikipedia entry for the trains., you’ll see from the early days, these trains did not have enough capacity for the route.

I blame the Treasury under Gordon Brown, who specified the trains and as with Class 700 trains, which were also specified by the Treasury, there are serious shortcomings.

Considering that among other routes at this time, the London and Norwich route was being run by eight car trains, what in heaven were they thinking about.

But it was only the North of England! And not London or Scotland!

Problem Number 5 – Crowded Leeds Station

Leeds station was crowded as ever, but it wasn’t helped by an escalator being broken down.

I had hoped, that I would have enough time to go to Harrogate, but I felt as it was all so slow, that it was best to go back to Manchester Victoria station, grab something to eat and then go on to Liverpool Lime Street station, which was my intended destination.

Problem Number 6 – Ticket Machine At Leeds Station

I needed a Single from Leeds to Liverpool Lime Street and try as I might, I couldn’t find it on the machine, so I resorted to the Ticket Office again.

Problem Number 7 – Train Failure At Manchester Victoria Station

The train from Leeds to Manchester Victoria was another Class 185 train and I did get a seat.

But where was the new five-car rake of Mark 5A coaches and a Class 68 locomotive?

I did successfully split my journey at Manchester Victoria station, but there seemed to be problems, so I thought I’d go on immediately to Liverpool and arrive in the city with an hour to spare for my meeting.

As if things could be so simple!

A Class 185 train had failed in the platform and it was nearly an hour, before I got away to Liverpool in a train, that arrived in the bay platform 2, which to get to the West, had to come out of the station and reverse. I suspect TransPennine Express were using a driver in both cabs or driving it from the Liverpool-facing cab at all time.

Problem Number 8 – Late Arrival Into Liverpool Lime Street

I arrived in Liverpool about fifteen minutes late for my meeting, with the rain chucking it down, after it being dry in Manchester.

The weather in itself must be unusual!

My Observations

I was having a text conversation with a friend in London and these were my observations to him, with a few other points added by hindsight.

1. Northern’s Ticket Machines

These need reeducation and the dry-finger problem that I suffer with the screens must be fixed.

2. Northern’s Ticket Offices

Northern needs to open more ticket office windows.

3. Where Is The London-Style Contactless Ticketing?

London has proven, that contactless ticketing based on bank cards increases passenger numbers and revenue and has a high level of passenger satisfaction.

\The area of the North between Liverpool and Blackpool in the West and Leeds and Sheffield in the East is in terms of passenger numbers smaller than London’s contactless ticketing area.

I think there are two reasons, why it doesn’t exist now or in the near future.

  • The trains are not big enough to cope with the increased traffic.
  • It will result in a reduction of ticket offices and their staff and those in charge are frightened of the RMT.

So visitors like me have to suffer an inadequate ticketing system because of timid management.

4. Buying Tickets In The North In The Future

In future, when I go to the North, I’ll plan my journey in detail and buy my tickets from the intelligent and extremely customer-friendly ticket machines in Dalston Junction station.

It’s strange that both Northern and the London Overground are run by Arriva. How can one get it so right and the other so wrong?

Perhaps it’s because the London Overground only deals with one organisation; Transport for London and Northern deals with a myriad rabble of councillors, MPs, pressure groups, all fighting their own corners.

5. All Trains Must Be At Least Six Cars

More capacity is needed and as there is a lack of train paths across the Pennines, because of lack of investment in the tracks for decades, starting with that enemy of the train; Harold Wilson.The simplest way to increase to increase capacity is to make all trains at least six cars.

But I would go father than that.

  • Trains running across the Pennines should all be identical.
  • Capable of at least 100 mph.
  • Capable of 125 mph, when the route includes the West or East Coast Main Lines.
  • Fast acceleration away from stops.
  • Identical door configuration with wide double doors on all trains.
  • Level access between train and platform.
  • Short dwell times in stopping stations.

Identical trains improve timekeeping and give a better service to passengers.

If you look at the Paddington and Oxford service it is now run virtually exclusively using Class 800 or 802 trains. I feel as an occasional passenger that it has improved dramatically, in terms of capacity, comfort and reliability for passengers.

6. What Idiot Decided To Buy Three Different Fleets For TransPennine Express?

The sister company of TransPennine Express is Great Western Railway.

Great Western Railway’s main line services are run by two fleets of trains.

As some of the Class 387 trains are being converted for Heathrow Express and Crossrail are taking over London and Reading services, I can see a time, when all fast services that go to and from Paddington through Reading will be run by the Hitachi trains.

Consider.

  • West of Heathrow, the fast lines are reserved for the 125 mph Hitachi trains.
  • The 110 mph Class 387 trains to and from Heathrow, don’t get in the way of the faster Hitachi trains.
  • Applying digital signalling to increase paths on the fast lines is easier with identical trains.
  • Driver training and rostering must be simpler.

It’s not perfect, but it’s an arrangement that can be made to work well.

If a unified fleet is so good, why did TransPennine Express buy three separate fleets?

Class 802 Trains

Nineteen Class 802 trains will be used for these services.

  • Liverpool Lime Street to Edinburgh Waverley via Newcastle (from December 2019)
  • Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle (until December 2019)
  • Manchester Airport to Newcastle

This seems to be a sensible and obvious choice.

  • A five-car Class 802 train has eighty percent more seats than a three-car Class 185 train.
  • A five-car Class 802 train is shorter than a pair of Class 185 trains.
  • The trains are 125 mph trains, that can be upgraded to 140 mph with digital in-cab signalling.
  • FirstGroup must have a large amount of experience of running Class 802 trains.
  • Class 802 trains have an automatic split and join facility.
  • East Coast Trains, Hull Trains and LNER will be running similar Hitachi trains on the East Coast Main Line.

In addition the fleet is future-proofed in two important ways.

  • If the TransPennine route is ever electrified, their diesel engines can be removed.
  • Extra cars can be added to Class 802 trains to increase capacity

Using Class 802 trains is an excellent choice.

Class 68 Locomotive And Mark 5A Coaches

Twelve rakes of four Mark 5A coaches between a Class 68 locomotive and a driving van trailer, will run these routes.

  • Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough via Manchester Victoria.
  • Manchester Airport to Redcar Central (In 2019).

I wonder why these services aren’t going to be run by another twelve Class 802 trains.

Consider.

  • Pollution would be reduced and the air improved in the electrified Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Airport and Manchester Airport stations,  if TransPennine used Class 802 trains on all services from the station.
  • Drivers on the routes across the Pennines would more often be driving the same trains.
  • The Class 802  trains are in service on the East Coast Main Line, which must make timekeeping better.
  • The Class 802 trains can be upgraded to work at 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line.

It’s rather strange!

Class 397 Trains

Twelve Class 397 trains will be replacing ten Class 350 trains.

  • The extra two trains are to provide a Liverpool and Glasgow service.
  • The Class 397 trains have an extra car over the Class 350 trains.
  • The seating capacity of both trains is 296.
  • The Class 397 trains are 125 mph trains, which can mix it with Virgin’s Pendelinos.
  • The Class 350 trains are only 110 mph trains, which must get in the way of the Pendelionos.
  • I suspect that the Class 397 trains can be upgraded to 140 mph in the future.

The Class 350 trains needed to be increased and replaced with a 125 mph train.

But why aren’t they being replaced with more Class 802 trains?

  • The Class 802 train is already in service.
  • The Class 802 train has 326 seats as against the 296 of the Class 397 train.
  • TransPennineExpress are already buying nineteen Class 802 trains.
  • If required, an all-electric version could be ordered.
  • West Coast Rail plan to run Hitachi trains on the West Coast Main Line.

It’s rather a puzzle, why TransPennine Express has ordered Class 397 trains, as everything suggests that Class 802 trains could run West Coast services.

All Three Fleets Use The Castlefield Corridor

Believe it or not, but TransPennine Express plan to run these services through the Castlefield Corridor.

  • Manchester Airport and Glasgow/Edinburgh – Class 397 trains.
  • Manchester Airport and Newcastle – Class 802 trains
  • Manchester Airport to Redcar Central – Mark 5A coaches.

Three routes and three different trains!

Was this timetable chosen to confuse staff and passengers?

Possible Reasons For Three Fleets

The only valid reason is that the Hitachi trains can’t work in Scotland.

But it is more likely to do with production schedules at Hitachi or that the fleets were bought by accountants, with very little brain!

I did notice this statement in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 397 trains.

An option for up to 22 extra units was available to TransPennine Express, but it was not exercised.

As 22 trains is close to the nineteen Class 802 trains that were ordered, were TransPennine Express trying to buy a totally-CAF fleet?

7. Track Speed Should Be Improved

Track speeds are slow compared to say the the Great Eastern Main Line,

Improving the track to allow faster speeds may be one of the best decisions to take.

8. There Should Be Better Platform Access At Manchester Victoria And Leeds Stations

These two stations don’t have the best access to the platforms..

They should be improved with more escalators, so that passengers changing trains don’t miss their connections.

Conclusion

Money needs to be spent to remove some of the chaos and constipation in the North.

 

 

 

 

I

 

November 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thoughts On LNER’s New Harrogate Service

I wrote about LNER’s improved service to Harrogate station in New Harrogate-London Rail Times Revealed.

If you look at each service, they have a very rel;axed stop at Leeds.

Northbound services are scheduled to take the following times.

  • 0733 – 8 minutes
  • 0933 – 7 minutes
  • 1133 – 7 minutes
  • 1333 – 7 minutes
  • 1533 – 11 minutes
  • 1733 – 13 minutes.

Sorthbound services are scheduled to take the following times.

  • 0736 – 11 minutes
  • 0936 – 10 minutes
  • 1136 – 8 minutes
  • 1336 – 9 minutes
  • 1536 – 8 minutes
  • 1736 – 9 minutes.

It seems a long time to pass through Leeds station.

But this is because the train reverses direction at Leeds station, so the driver has to change ends.

Will Azumas make any difference?

Azumas were designed around forty years after the current InterCity 125 trains that work the service. A five-car Azuma is also half the length of a two+eight InterCity 125.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to see in the new timetable, the 7-9 minutes reverse are timed for Azumas and the longer times are to allow InterCity 125 trains to run the service.

The Azuma services to Leeds seem to be run by two five-car trains, running as a pair.

Could this be, so that the train can split and join at Leeds?

  • A pair of five-car Azumas would arrive in Leeds from London.
  • A second driver gets in the rear cab of the rear train.
  • The two trains automatically uncouple.
  • The rear train drives off to the West to Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Skipton or wherever.
  • The front train can drive off to the East to perhaps Hull, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, Scotland or Sunderland.
  • If required the driver could change ends and continue to the East.

The process would be reversed when going South.

Possible Destinations

These are possible destinations, distances and times.

  • Bradford – 13 miles – 25 minutes
  • Harrogate – 18 miles – 30 minutes
  • Huddersfield – 17 miles – 35 minutes
  • Hull – 20 miles – 60 minutes
  • Middlesbrough – – 76 miles – 84 minutes
  • Scarborough – 67 miles – 75 minutes
  • Skipton – 26 miles – 43 minutes
  • York – 25 miles – 30 minutes

It looks to me that Leeds will become a very important station for LNER.

Their timetabling team will certainly be having a large amount of mathematical fun!

I can certainly see.

  • Bradford,, Chesterfield and Skipton having similar service levels to those starting to and from Harrogste in December.
  • Battery-electric Azumas handling the last few miles on battery power.
  • Journey times of under two hours between Leeds and Kings Cross.

I also feel that LNER and TransPennine Express will create an integrated network between Leeds and Scotland along the East Coast Main Line.

Conclusion

This arrangement gives a large range of destinations from London and the South.

Passengers and train operators would like it.

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Still Going For A Quart In A Pint Pot

The title of this post is the same as that of an artticle in the November 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

The article describes the problems of running trains through the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road and Deansgate stations.

It is a comprehensive article, that gets to the heart of the problem of the route.

It comes to the conclusion, that there is a need for either more infrastructure or less trains, than the current fifteen trains per hour (tph).

Under more infrastructure, the author lists these projects.

  1. Grade separated junctions at Castlefield and other junctions.
  2. A centre turnback at Manchester Oxford Road station.
  3. A West-facing bay platform at Manchester Victoria
  4. Four through platforms at Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly.
  5. Improvement at Manchester Airport station.

These points should be noted.

  • Options One and Four will be expensive and will probably cause massive disruption during construction for both rail and road traffic.
  • The author suspects Option Four would cost almost a billion pounds and would need the grade-separated junctions to get best value.

I shall deal with options Two, Three and Five later.

Trains Through The Castlefield Corridor

Current passenger trains through the Castlefield Corridor are as follows.

  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Norwich
  • Northern – One tph – Hazel Grove and Blackpool
  • Northern – One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Crewe
  • Northern – Two tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road
  • Northern – One tph – Manchester Airport and Blackpool
  • Northern – One tph – Manchester Airport and Cumbria
  • Northern – One tph – Manchester Airport and Liverpool Lime Street
  • Northern – One tph – Wigan North Western and Alderly Edge
  • Trains for Wales – One tph – Manchester Airport and Llandudno
  • TransPennine Express – One tph – Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough
  • TransPennine Express – One tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle
  • TransPennine Express – One tph – Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central or Edinburgh

This gives the following totals.

  • Eleven tph – Deansgate and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Two tph – Deansgate and Manchester Oxford Road

Add in a couple of freight trains and that gives 15 tph, which according to the author is the design limit.

These are frequencies from Manchester Airport.

  • There are seven tph between Manchester Airport and Oxford Road via Piccadilly.
  • There are three tph between Manchester Airport and Preston via Piccadilly and Oxford Road.
  • There are two tph between Manchester Airport and Leeds via Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria.

The author of the article also points out that Bradford is pushing for a direct service to Manchester Airport.

Frequency is important, but so is train length.

  • Transpennine Express services will generally be five cars in the future.
  • East Midlands Railway, Northern and Trains for Wales services will be between two and four cars.

Nothing too taxing to handle here, although Northern might decide to double trains of eight cars at times.

Comparison Of The Castlefield Corridor And The East London Line

Consider these facts about the Castlefield Corridor

  • Four Southern routings; Crewe, Hazel Grove, Stockport and Manchester Airport.
  • Five Northern routings; Bolton, Liverpool, Manchester Victoria, Trafford Park and Wigan North Western
  • Fifteen tph of which thirteen tph are passenger trains.
  • Three stations designed by Topsy, two of which are step-free.
  • Not step-free between train and platform.
  • Three interchange stations.
  • Conventional signalling.
  • Fully electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • Four train companies, with at least four types of passenger train.
  • Bad timekeeping.
  • Low customer satisfaction.

For comparison, consider these facts about the East London Line between Shoreditch High Street and Surrey Quays stations.

  • Four Southern routings; Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, New Cross and West Croydon.
  • Two Northern routings; Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington
  • Sixteen tph of which all are passenger trains. Soon to be raised to twenty tph.
  • Seven stations designed by various architects, two of which are step-free, with Whitechapel to soon make this three step-free.
  • Some stations are step-free between train and platform.
  • Two interchange stations.
  • More bespoke signalling.
  • Fully electrified with 750 VDC third rail.
  • One train company and one type of passenger train.
  • Good timekeeping.
  • High customer satisfaction.

The route complexity and frequencies are fairly similar, so what are the big differences?

  • Is the East London Line’s signalling better?
  • The East london Line doesn’t have freight trains.
  • Does one type of train with wide doors and walk-through interiors, work wonders?
  • Does London’s step-free between train and platform make a difference?

I think the following actions should be looked at for the Castlefield Corridor.

  • Modern digital signalling.
  • All Northern services to be run using Class 195 or Class 331 trains, which look the same to passengers, despite one being electric and the other diesel.
  • TransPennine Express will be running three different type of train all with single doors, through the Castlefield Corridor. Ways of reducing the number of types must be found.

What idiot decided to buy three incompatible fleets? Surely, an order for a larger number of Hitachi trains would have been better?

My Behaviour In Manchester

I know Manchester’s trams and trains, but I haven’t a clue about the City’s buses, which seem to be reserved for the locals.

I regularly find myself using stations in the Castlefield Corridor and I have developed certain rules.

  • Never use Oxford Road, unless you’re lost and end up there by chance. It must be the worst designed modern station in Europe.
  • Never use the route unless you’ve already bought the ticket some time before.
  • Use Deansgate if possible, as it has a good connection to Manchester Metrolink.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to catch a train from platforms 13 and 14 at Piccadilly.
  • Make sure you know what platform your train is using at Piccadilly.

I also tend to avoid catching any train from platform 13 or 14 at Piccadilly.

Passenger Problems On Platforms 13 and 14 At Manchester Piccadilly

One of the reasons, I avoid these platforms, is that they are always crowded and at weekends, there seems to be a lot of occasional travellers, often with heavy cases and babies in buggies.

I remember having a chat with a station guy there in a quiet time and it turned out that he’d also worked on platforms on the London Underground.

One point he made was that Londoners get back from the platform edge, when told, but Mancunians are slower to act.

He said trains were often delayed because of passengers struggling to get on.

Could Other Actions Be Taken To Ease The Overcrowding?

These are various ideas suggested in the article or some of my own.

Run Less Trains Through The Castlefield Corridor

This would ease the problem, but it would make it more difficult for passengers to travel where they wanted and needed.

Build A Centre Turnback At Manchester Oxford Road

Consider

  • It would mean that trains turning back at Oxford Road, wouldn’t have to cross tracks, entering or leaving the turnback.
  • It could probably turn up to four tph.
  • It might also help in service recovery.

The author obviously likes this idea and I suspect it is possible, because he mentions it more than once.

Completely Rebuild Manchester Oxford Road Station

Manchester Oxford Road is certainly not fit for purpose.

This is an extract from the Wikipedia entry.

The station, a Grade II listed structure, requires frequent maintenance. In 2004, the station roof was partially refurbished to prevent leaking. In 2011, the platform shelters, seats and toilets were refurbished at a cost of £500,000.[36] In 2013, the station received a £1.8 million renovation to improve access, including lifts and an emergency exit.

In my view, the station needs the following.

  • Step-free access.
  • Longer platforms.
  • Higher capacity platforms.
  • Much better signage and maps.
  • The turnback described earlier.

No wonder I avoid it like the plague.

A completely rebuilt station with excellent step-free access might encourage more passengers to use the station, rather than the overcrowded Piccadilly.

Improve Deansgate Station

Deansgate station is not bad, but it could be improved to encourage more passengers.

Over the next few years, as the Metroilink expands, It could become a better interchange.

Step-Free Access Between Train And Platform Must Be Achieved

This picture shows access to a new Class 195 train at Manchester Airport.

With new trains, there is no excuse for not having level access, where someone in a wheelchair can just wheel themselves across.

Level access should reduce loading delays, as it eases loading of buggies, wheelchairs and wheeled cases.

If Merseyrail, Greater Anglia and some parts of the London Overground can arrange it, then surely Manchester can?

Nova Problem

The author also talks about possible problems with TransPennine’s new Nova trains, which have single end doors, which could prove inadequate in busy times.

Build A West-Facing Bay Platform At Manchester Victoria Station

The author suggests this could be used to run a frequent shuttle service between Manchester Victoria and Manchester Airport via Deansgate, Oxford Road and Piccadilly.

It might mean that TransPennine services stopped short in Manchester and passengers would change for the Airport.

But it would solve the problems of the capacity in the Castlefield Corridor and platform availability at Manchester Airport

Could Passengers Be Nudged Towards The Metrolink?

I have watched the sheer number of passengers delay trains at Manchester Piccadilly, several times.

Would it ease delays if passengers used the Metrolink to Manchester Airport?

Perhaps, the journey by Metrolink could be made more affordable?

Conclusion

It’s a mess and as the author says in his title, quarts don’t fit into pint pots.

At least though, if High Speed Two is built to link up with Northern Powerhouse Rail and together they run London, Birmingham or Liverpool to Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester City Centre, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds, this would solve the problem of the Castlefield Corridor by bypassing it for long-distance trains.

 

 

 

October 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Stray TransPennine Express Class 802 Train In London

I took these pictures of a TransPennine Express Class 802 train running around London.

In the first three pictures, it was parked in the sidings to the East of Southall station.

The rest were taken at Willesden Junction station.

Looking at Real Time Trains it appeared to be going between the Hitachi depots at North Pole and Doncaster.

October 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment