The Anonymous Widower

Puzzled By New Fleets For TransPennine Express

TransPennine Express (TPE) are replacing all their trains, but their choice of three different new fleets puzzles me.

The new fleets and their routes are as follows.

Nova1

This is a fleet of nineteen five-car bi-mode Class 802 trains.

According to Wikipedia, they will work the following routes, with probably a frequency of one tph

Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Newcastle, which I estimate will take 4:15 hours

Manchester Airport and Newcastle, which takes around 2:45 hours

These two services would probably need nine for the Edinburgh service and six for the Manchester Airport service.

This means that there are four extra trains.

If there is a spare or one in maintenance, that means that two trains are available to boost capacity on busy services if needed, by running a ten-car train.

I doubt that ten-car services to Manchester Airport could be run through the Castlefield Corridor due to the inadequate stations, but Liverpool and Edinburgh might be a route for longer trains.

I have some observations on Nova1.

  • The trains are 125 mph trains, that can be upgraded to 140 mph with in-cab signalling.
  • The trains will share the East Coast Main Line with LNER’s Azumas, which are other members of te same family of Hitachi trains.

The trains have been authorised to start running services.

Nova2

This is a fleet of twelve electric Class 397 trains.

According to Wikipedia, they will work the following routes,

  • Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central, which takes around 3:30 hours.
  • Manchester Airport and Edinburgh, which takes around 3:15 hours.
  • New route – Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central, which could take around 3:30 hours.

Currently, the two existing routes run at a frequency of one train per two hours, which would probably need at least seven trains.

This probably means that there will be four trains left for the service between Liverpool and Glasgow, if it assumed there is one train spare or in maintenance.

As a round trip between the two cities, would probably take eight hours, it looks like the frequency will be one train per two hours.

This would give the following services, all with a frequency of one train per two hours.

  • Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly
  • Manchester Airport and Edinburgh via Manchester Piccadilly
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central

Passengers wanting to go between Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh should keep reading.

I have some observations on Nova2.

  • They are 125 mph trains that are replacing the 110 mph Class 350 trains.
  • In the next few years, these 125 mph trains will be sharing the West Coast Main Line with faster trains like Class 390 trains and the trains of High Speed Two, both of which should be capable of 140 mph, when running using in-cab signalling.
  • I would assume that the trains can be similarly upgraded, otherwise they will have to be replaced.
  • There was an option for more trains, but I suspect the success of Class 802 trains on the Great Western Railway led to it not being taken up.,

The trains should come into service later this year.

Nova3

This is a fleet of five-car rakes of Mark 5A coaches, hauled by a Class 68 diesel locomotive.

There are fourteen locomotives and driving van trailers, with enough coaches for thirteen rakes.

I would suspect that TPE are aiming to have twelve trains available for service.

According to Wikipedia, they will work the following routes, which both have a frequency of one train per hour (tph)

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough via Manchester Victoria, which takes around 2:45 hours.
  • Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough, which takes around 2:45 hours.

So with turnround at both ends, I suspect that a six hour round trip is possible. So to provide the two hourly services across the Pennines, TPE will need six trains for each route.

This explains a fleet size of twelve operational trains.

I have two observations on Nova3.

  • They are diesel-powered and will be running at times on electrified lines. But I suspect the diesel Class 68 locomotive could be replaced in the future with an electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive.
  • Questions have been raised about the speed of exit and entry from the coaches through single end doors of the coaches.
  • They have an operating speed of only 100 mph, but opportunities for higher speeds on the routes are limited to perhaps thirty to forty miles on the East Coast Main Line.

At least they should be in service within a couple of months.

Why Didn’t TPE Order A Unified Fleet?

To summarise TPE have ordered the following trains.

  • Nova1 – Nineteen Class 802 trains
  • Nova2 – Twelve Class 397 trains.
  • Nova3 – Thirteen trains consisting of four coaches topped and tailed by a a Class 68 locomotive and driving van trailer.

All forty-four trains are five cars.

Surely, it would have been easier for TPE to have a fleet, where all the trains were the same.

I suspect that all routes can be run using Class 802 trains, so it as not as if there are any special requirements for the trains.

So why didn’t TPE order a fleet of Class 802 trains?

I can only think of these reasons.

  • Hitachi couldn’t supply the required number of trains in the appropriate time-scale.
  • ,CAF made an offer that TPE couldn’t refuse.

It should also be born in mind that Great Western Railway and Hull Trains, which like TPE are  First Group companies, went down the Class 802 route.

The Future

There are various issues, that will arise in the future.

Nova2 And West Coast Main Line Operating Speed

The new Nova trains are running on TPE’s Northern and Scottish routes and as I indicated earlier, the Nova2 trains might not be fast enough in a few years time for the West Coast Main Line, which will have Class 390 trains running at 140 mph using in-cab signalling.

High Speed Two will surely make this incompatibility worse, unless CAF can upgrade the Nova2 trains for 140 mph running.

Replacing the Nova2 trains with Class 802 trains, which are being built for 140 mph running, would solve the problem.

Nova3 And Class 68 Locomotives

There are powerful reasons to replace diesel locomotives on the UK’s railways, with noise, pollution and carbon emissions at the top of the list.

As Northern Powerhouse Rail is created, there will be more electrification between Manchester and York, adding to the pressure to change the traction.

  • There could be a change of locomotives to Class 88 or Class 93 locomotives, which would run using the overhead electrification, where it exists.
  • The trains could be changed to Class 802 trains.

The Class 68 locomotive is increasingly looking like an interim solution. At least, it’s a less polluting locomotive, than the dreaded and ubiquitous Class 66 locomotive.

Class 185 Replacement

TPE will still have a fleet of diesel three-car Class 185 trains.

  • They are running on routes between Manchester and Hull and Cleethorpes via Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield.
  • These are best described as just-about-adequate trains and are one of The Treasury’s boob-buys.
  • As Northern Powerhouse Rail is created, they will be increasingly running under wires.
  • Could it be likely that more capacity will be needed on routes run by these trains?
  • The capacity of a Class 185 train is 169 seats, as opposed to the 342 seats of a five-car Class 802 train.

I think it could be very likely that instead of running pairs of Class 185 trains, TPE will replace them with five-car Class 802 trains.

Conclusion

I very much feel, that over the next few years, TPE’s fleet will change further in the direction of a one-unified fleet!

 

 

 

June 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grayling: No Solution To Oxford Road Woes

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Place North West.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said there is no “simple, quick, non-disruptive solution” to improving journeys on one of the most congested rail routes in and out of Manchester, arguing the cost of the original scheme was “way out of kilter”.

Plans to extend platforms at Oxford Road station have been mooted for a number of years, and were designed to take advantage of the completion of the Ordsall Chord to allow more frequent trains between Piccadilly, Victoria, and beyond.

The more I read about the problems of the Castlefield corridor through Manchester, the more I’m coming to the conclusion, that British Rail’s three tunnel scheme for the North was the right solution.

Liverpool

Liverpool got the Loop And Link Project, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

The major engineering works required to integrate the Northern and Wirral lines became known as the ‘Loop’ and ‘Link’ Project. The ‘Loop’ was the Wirral Line tunnel and the ‘Link’ the Northern Line tunnel, both under Liverpool’s city centre. The main works were undertaken between 1972 and 1977. A further project, known as the Edge Hill Spur, would have integrated the City Lines into the city centre underground network. This would have meshed the eastern section of the city into the core underground electric city centre section of the network, releasing platforms at mainline Lime Street station for mid to long haul routes.

The Edge Hill Spur was never built and if it had, it may have created the extra capacity, that Liverpool Lime Street station has now finally got, but several years ago.

Liverpool’s Underground railways are getting a new fleet of Class 777 trains and will be expanded in the next few years.

British Rail’s scheme for Liverpool has been successful.

Although, I am surprised that the layout of a single-track loop tunnel, that is used to terminate the Wirral Line, has not been copied more.

Newcastle

Newcastle got tunnels under the city, to join up the Tyne and Wear Metro in the late 1970s.

The Metro is now getting a new fleet of trains and will be further expanded.

British Rail’s scheme for Newcastle has been successful.

Manchester

Manchester had a scheme in the pipeline called the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

This Proposal section in Wikipedia gives a full description of the project. This is the first paragraph.

The South-East Lancashire and North-East Cheshire Public Transport Executive (SELNEC PTE) – the local transport authority which became the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) in 1974 (now Transport for Greater Manchester – TfGM) – made a proposal in 1971 to connect the unjoined railways running through Manchester city centre under the Picc-Vic scheme. The Picc-Vic proposal envisaged joining the two halves of the rail network by constructing new tunnels under the city centre, connecting Manchester’s two main railway stations, Piccadilly and Victoria. This new underground railway would be served by three new underground stations, joining together the regional, national and local rail networks with an underground rapid transit system for Manchester.

It also gives these three objectives for the scheme.

  • To improve the distribution arrangements from the existing railway stations which are on the periphery of the central core
  • To link the separated northern and southern railway systems
  • To improve passenger movement within the central area.

This is also said.

It formed part of a four-phase, Long Term Strategy for GMPTE over 25 years, which included bus priority and an East-West railway network, as well as a light rapid transport system.

The scheme was cancelled by Harold Wilson’s government, partly because he believed that railways were of the past and that everybody would be able to afford their own car and wouldn’t need to use trains.

It should also be remembered that his government also cancelled the Channel Tunnel and London’s Third Airport at Maplin.

It’s funny, but I thought, I’d used the Channel Tunnel several times. Perhaps, Harold Wilson didn’t get his out-of-kilter thinking sufficiently into the minds of Civil Servants. Although, there is still the Treasury’s periodic attempts to kill High Speed Two. But that is driven by the belief of the average Oxford graduate, that there is nothing worth visiting North of Watford.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel may not have completely solved Manchester’s rail connectivity, but it is my belief that it would have been a good start.

A Few Random Thoughts

These are a few random thoughts on the various schemes in Manchester.

Development of Piccadilly And Victoria After A Picc-Vic Tunnel

One of the reasons for cancellation, was that after the building of the tunnel, two large stations would still be maintained in the City.

Looking at various schemes across Europe including Kassel and Leipzig in Germany, where central tunnels have been built, this releases the terminals for development with smaller numbers of platforms.

I think if the Picc-Vic Tunnel had been built, then Piccadilly and Victoria might have morphed into combined through and terminal station like the excellent London Bridge. The released space at Piccadilly would have allowed High Speed Two to be integrated.

But of course, the elite in the Civil Service isn’t interested in High Speed Trains, except on their holidays in France.

TransPennines New Trains

Greater Anglia needed to have new rolling stock for services between London and Norwich.

They needed trains with following.

  1. 100 mph running
  2. Eight coaches
  3. Powerful traction
  4. Short station dwell times.
  5. High quality.

So they ordered a fleet of new Class 745 trains.

  • 100 mph running
  • Twelve coaches
  • Walk-through trains
  • 757 seats
  • Double doors for easy entry and exit.

It’s also rumoured that platform height will be adjusted so that that buggy-pushers and wheelchair-users will have level access between train and platform at all stations.

  • If you want to do Norwich-in-90 for all trains, then a short station dwell time is essential.
  • It also means if passenger numbers need another station to be added to a route, the extra stop only blows a small hole in the schedule, as opposed to a large one for a train of Mark 3 coaches.
  • I have a feeling Greater Anglia are aiming to send all their disabled ramps to the scrapyard.

So what trains have TransPennine ordered?

AQll these trains will have single-doors at both end of each car. That’s classic crap design!

It will be interesting to see the average dwell time of a train on the Castlefield Corridor and compare it with that of Class 745 trains calling at Ipswich, Colchester and Chelmsford.

My money’s on Swiss clockwork!

Northern’s New Trains

Northern’s new Class 195 and Class 331 trains appear to have two sets of double-doors on each side of each car.

Now that’s more like it!

Improving Throughput On The Castlefield Corridor

If you look at successful high-capacity lines with a lot of stopping trains like most lines on the London Underground, Thameslink the Tyne and Wear Metro and the Merseyrail Northern Line, all trains are the same.

One of the problems with the trains through Castlefield, is that there are a lot of diffeent trains. So doors on your train may be in a different position to those on the previous train.

This means that passengers will be more likely to be in the wrong place, which means loading takes longer.

It is probably too much to get identical trains running on the route, but TransPennine’s trains with end doors will make matters worth for capacity.

I don’t think, any train should be allowed on the route, unless it has two sets of double-doors on each side of all cars.

The route should also have digital signalling.

If the North London Line can handle eight passenger and two freight trains per hour, then surely the Castlefield Corridor can do the same.

Passenger Behaviour

I was chatting to a station guy on Platform 14 at Piccadilly, who had also worked on the London Underground.

He told me, that Londoners obey his instructions to stand-back, whereas Mancunians don’t!

I watched for about twenty minutes and I think because the trains are rather bad time keepers, when one arrives everybody wants to get on immediately.

Single doors on TransPennine’s trains will make this behaviour worse!

Conclusion

I think Chris Grayling mades a good summary of the problems of doing major work on a busy passenger and freight corridor through a major city.

The only way to deal with the problems of the Castlefield Corridor, is a series of small improvements to the existing system.

  • All trains through the corridor must have two double-doors on each side of each car.
  • Digital signalling must be installed.
  • Platform access must be improved with lots of lifts and escalators.

I also feel that if the trains were running to the timetable, then passengers wouldn’t crowd the platforms.

 

 

 

May 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Better News Day For New Trains

Yesterday, was a better news day for new trains, with articles with these headlines.

All are significant for passengers.

Class 710 Trains

The authorisation of the Class 710 trains is particular importance to me, as they will be running locally to where I live.

It will be a couple of months before they enter passenger service.

But the trains have mainly been delayed by software problems and now that appears to have been fixed and as there are twenty trains already built, I could see them entering service, as soon as drivers have been trained.

It should be noted that eight trains are needed for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and six for the Watford DC Line, so if twenty have been built, I would expect that these two routes could be converted to the new trains by the summer.

Class 801 Trains

LNER’s Class 801 trains will be a significant introduction, as they will enable the cascade of the Mark 4 coaches to other operators, like Trains for Wales and East Midlands Railway.

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

Dwell Times And End Doors

Chris Stokes finishes his column in the January 2019 Edition of  Modern Railways, with this paragraph.

Dwell times remain critical too. The new TransPennine units provide more seats, but have single end doors. For an operation with high numbers joining and alighting at many stops, dwell times are going to increase significantly at stations such as Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, Boltonand Preston, chewing up any savings in running times, and exacerbating the problems at platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly.

I haven’t seen a TransPennine Mark 5A coach in the flesh yet, but I’ve seen several pictures, which show each coach has single end doors.

This  picture of the 100 mph Class 755 train shows the door layout is totally different.

It looks like it has a single double door on each coach.

It appears that the electric Class 745 trains have more doors.

If you look at a typical Bombardier Aventra or Electrostar, Stadler Flirt or Siemens Desiro City, there are generally no end doors.

Have CAF commited a design crime of the highest order?

Or is it TransPennine’s fault?

December 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine, there is an article, which is entitled Johnson Targets A Bi-Mode Future.

As someone, who has examined the mathematics of battery-powered trains for several years, I wonder if the Age of the Hybrid Battery/Electric Locomotive is closer than we think.

A Battery/Electric Class 88 Locomotive

 After reading Dual Mode Delight (RM Issue 863), it would appear that a Class 88 locomotive is a powerful and reliable locomotive.

  • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 86.1 tonnes and an axle load of 21.5 tonnes.
  • It has a rating on electricity of 4,000 kW.
  • It is a genuine 100 mph locomotive when working from 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The locomotive has regenerative braking, when working using electrification.
  • It would appear the weight of the diesel engine is around seven tonnes
  • The closely-related Class 68 locomotive has a 5,600 litre fuel tank and full of diesel would weight nearly five tonnes.

It is worth looking at the kinetic energy of a Class 88 locomotive hauling five forty-three tonne CAF Mark 5A coaches containing a full load of 340 passengers, who each weigh 90 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies. This gives a total weight would be 331.7 tonnes.

The kinetic energy of the train would be as follows for various speeds.

  • 90 mph – 75 kWh
  • 100 mph – 92 kWh
  • 110 mph – 111 kWh
  • 125 mph – 144 kWh

The increase in energy is because kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the speed.

Supposing the seven tonne diesel engine of the Class 88 locomotive were to be replaced by a battery of a similar total weight.

Traction batteries seem to have an energy/weight ratio of about 0.1kWh/Kg, which is increasing with time, as battery technology improves.

A crude estimate based on this energy/weight ratio would mean that at least a 700 kWh battery could be fitted into a Class 88 train and not make the locomotive any heavier. Given that lots of equipment like the alternator and the fuel tank would not be needed, I suspect that a 1,000 kWh battery could be fitted into a Class 88 locomotive, provided it just wasn’t too big.

A short length of electrification could be installed at terminal stations without electrification to charge the batteries during turnround.

This size of battery would be more than large enough to handle the braking energy of the train from full speed, so would improve the energy efficiency of the train on both electrified and non-electrified lines.

It would also contain more than enough energy to accelerate the train to line speeds that are typical of non-electrified routes.

TransPennine Express will soon run similar rakes of coaches hauled by Class 68 diesel locomotives between Liverpool and Manchester Airport and the North East.

The following sections of the Northern TransPennine route, are not electrified.

  • Stalybridge and Leeds – 35 miles taking 46 minutes
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles taking 18 minutes
  • Northallerton and Middlesbrough – 21 miles taking 29 minutes
  • York and Scarborough – 42 miles taking 56 minutes

When running on these sections without electrification, consider the following.

  • The train consists of modern coaches, which must be energy efficient.
  • The train would enter the sections with a full battery, that had been charged using the 25 KVAC electrification on part of the route.
  • Scarborough and possibly Middlesbrough stations, would have means to charge the battery.
  • The train would enter the sections as close to line speed as possible, after accelerating using electrification.
  • Regenerative braking would help conserve energy at any planned or unplanned stops.
  • The driver will be assisted by a modern in-cab signaling and a very capable Driver Assistance System.
  • Stadler and Direct Rail Services must have extensive theoretical and measured data of the performance of Class 88 locomotives and the related Class 68 locomotive, when they are hauling trains across the Pennines, which will enable extensive mathematical models to be built of the route.

For these reasons and especially the last about mathematical modelling, I believe that Stadler could create a battery/electric locomotive based on the Class 88 locomotive, that would be able to bridge the electrification gaps on battery power and haul a five-coach train on the Northern routes across the Pennines.

A Quick Look At The Mathematics

As I said earlier, the weight of a Class 88 locomotive and five Mark 5A coaches, full of passengers is 331.7 tonnes.

There would appear to be little weight difference between a diesel Class 68 locomotive and an electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive, so in this rough exercise, I will assume the train weight is the same.

The current Class 185 trains, that run across the Pennines have the following characteristics.

  • Three-cars
  • A weight of 168.5 tonnes.
  • A passenger capacity of 169.
  • Installed power of 560 kW in each coach, which means there is 1560 kW in total.

If each passengers weighs 90 Kg, with all their extras, a full train will weigh 183.7 tonnes.

So a full train has a power-weight ratio of nine kW/tonne, which must be sufficient to maintain the timetable across the Pennines.

The diesel Class 68 locomotive, which will be hauling trains on the route in the New Year,  has an installed power of 2,800 kW, which gives a power/weight ratio of 8.4 kW/tonne.

I would be interested to know, if a Class 88 locomotive running in diesel mode with a power output of only 700 kW, could take one of the new trains across the Pennines. I suspect Stadler and/or DRS know the answer to this question.

But it would be a power/weight ratio of only 2.1 kW/tonne!

The challenging route is between Stalybridge and Leeds via Huddersfield, where the Pennines has to be crossed. I’m pretty certain, that all the other sections lack the gradients of the section between Stalybridge and Leeds.

So would a Class 88 locomotive with a 1,000 kWh battery be able to cross the Pennines with a full train?

Theoretically, up and down routes are good for battery/electric trains with regenerative braking, as energy used going uphill can be recovered on the other side.

The thirty-five miles between Stalybridge and Leeds take forty-six minutes, so for how long on this journey will the locomotive be applying full power? Perhaps for twenty minutes. If the locomotive applied an average of 2,000 kW for twenty minutes or a third of an hour, that would be 667 kWh.

With an electric multiple unit like an Aventra, where most if not all axles are driven and they can also contribute to regenerative braking, reasonably high rates of braking energy can be recycled.

But what proportion can be recycled, when the locomotive is doing all the regenerative braking. Any braking done by disc brakes on the coaches will result in lost energy.

As an aside, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that train manufacturers simulate train braking in order to develop braking systems, that turn less energy into wasted heat.

I’d also love to see a simulation using Stadler’s real data of a Class 88 locomotive with batteries attempting to cross the Pennines, with a rake of Mark 5A coaches!

  • What size of battery will be needed?
  • Can this battery be fitted in the locomotive?
  • Would distributing the batteries along the train increase performance?
  • Would short lengths of electrification on the route, increase performance?

I was doing problems of similar complexity to attempt to design efficient chemical plants nearly fifty years ago. We had our successes, but not as great as we hoped. But we certainly eliminated several blind alleys.

My figures don’t show conclusively, that a Class 88 locomotive with a 1,000 kWh battery instead of a diesel engine and all the related gubbings, would be able to perform services across the Pennines.

But.

  • Battery technology is improving at a fast pace.
  • Train manufacturers are finding surprising ways to use batteries to improve performance.
  • I don’t have access to Stadler’s real performance figures of their diesel locomotives.
  • Finding a way to make it work, has a very high cost benefit.

Who knows what will happen?

125 Mph Running

The Class 88 locomotive, has a similar power output to the 125 mph Class 91 locomotive of the InterCity 225 and I believe that the locomotive might have enough power, when running on 25 KVAC overhead wires to be able to haul the train at 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line.

Conclusion

I believe that it is possible to create a battery/electric version of the Class 88 locomotive, that should be able to take a rake of five Mark 5A coaches across the Pennines.

Timings across the Pennines would benefit substantially, without any new infrastructure, other than that already planned and the charging system at Scarborough.

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

TPE Earmarks Top-And-Tail ’68s’ For Passenger Services

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

The article describes how TransPennine Express are going to use four Class 68 locomotives and four-carriage rakes of Mark 3 coaches to provide passenger services between Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough.

From the 20th of May, services will leave Liverpool at 0556, 0656, 1156, 1256, 1756 and 1856 and Scarborough at 0846, 0946, 1446, 1546, 2050 and 2149.

May 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

TPE Pledges Capacity Boost With Class 68/Mk 5A Sets

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

It adds a few extra details to those, that I wrote about in Nova 3 On The Test Track.

This information is revealed.

The Route

The TransPennine Express fleet will run on the Liverpool Lime Street-Manchester Airport-Scarborough/Middlesbrough Routes, replacing three car Class 185 trains.

Train Length

Each Mark 5A car has a length of 22.2 or 22.37 metres.

Adding on the Class 68 locomotive gives a train length of 131.84 metres.

This compares with a train length for the Class 185 train of 71.276 metres.

It means that two Class 185 trains working together, which is current practice, are longer than the new fleet.

This must limit platform and depot modifications.

The Capacity

The number of seats on the two trains are as follows.

  • Class 185 train – 15 First Class – 165 Second Class
  • Class 68/Mk 5A sets – 30 First Class – 261 Second Class

This gives twice as many seats in First Class and nearly sixty percent more in second.

Both trains seem to have around sixty seats in each car.

Technical Characteristics

The Rail Magazine article gives several technical characteristics.

  • Each coach has two passenger doors, except the First Class coach which has one.
  • There is Selective Door Opening controlled by GPS.
  • Door controls are in the Driver Trailer and Class 68 cans, which the driver controls.
  • Two door control panels are in every vehicle for usde by the conductor.
  • Wheel Slip Protection is fitted.
  • Automatic passenger counting is provided.
  • Wi-fi is fitted.

The trains have a high specification.

 

 

 

 

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

Nova 3 On The Test Track

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the May 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

Nova 3 is the name that TransPennine Express (TPE) have given to their thirteen new rakes of Mark 5A coaches, that are being built by CAF in Spain and will be hauled by Class 68 locomotives.

These are my thoughts on what we know about the trains.

The Test Phase

Testing is being performed on the Velim test track in the Czech Republic.

Increasingly, it seems that a lot of testing of trains is done on this track and I do wonder if one of the problems al our trains seeming to be late, is a lack of the suitable testing facilities in the UK.

Spanish train manufacturer; Talgo, seem to have noticed this gap and I wrote about their plans for a UK test track in Talgo Explores Options For Building UK Test Track.

Modern Railways, states that there was trouble getting the two test locomotives to Velim, because of industrial action in France.

Perhaps in parallel with the ordering of large numbers of trains, we should have built a test track!

Buying New CAF carriages Enabled Faster Deployment, Than Converting Spare Mark 3 carriages

I think that the main problem of converting Mark 3 carriages, which Chiltern have shown is very possible, is that until Greater Anglia release their carriages, after receiving their new Class 745 trains, the fifty-two coaches needed by TPE could be difficult to find. There are plenty of driving van trailers in store, that just need refurbishing.

The Modern Railways article says that most if not all, of the new Mark 5A coaches will be in service by early 2019.

I suspect that Greater Anglia won’t release their Mark 3 carriages until late 2019.

So to get the required number of Mark 3 coaches could be difficult!

I also suspect that going the CAF route means that if any extra sets re needed or the current ones need lengthening, that CAF would oblige. Whereas starching around for spare Mark 3 coaches might be more difficult.

Transpennine’s New Fleet Of Coaches

TPE have ordered the following.

  • Fifty-two coaches, of which thirteen are First Class and the rest Second Class
  • Fourteen driving van trailers (DVT). A spare seems prudent, as surely train ends are more likely to hit something.
  • Fourteen Class 68 locomotives, two of which are spare.
  • These are formed into thirteen  fixed rakes of four coaches and DVT, which are hauled by a single Class 68 locomotive.

The Modern Railways article says that the idea is to have twelve sets in service and one in maintenance.

Flexible Length

The rakes appear to have been designed, so they can be lengthened to six or seven coaches.

The article also says that extension beyond six would need infrastructure work at some stations.

Changing The Power Unit

These twelve rakes are powered by a Class 68 diesel locomotive.

But I suspect, they could be powered by any suitable locomotive for the route.

I would be interesting to find out how an electro-diesel locomotive live a Class 88 locomotive, performed with a rake of five Mark 5A coaches.

What is probably needed in the future is an electroc-diesel locomotive with the following characteristics.

  • Ability to haul a rake of five coaches at 125 mph on electricity.
  • Ability to haul a rake of five coaches at 90 mph on diesel.

In a few years time, such a locomotive could handle some of TPE’s routes as electrification progresses.

Wheelchair Users Travel First Class

The First Class vehicle is next to the engine.

  • A small kitvhen is provided.
  • It seats thirty passengers.
  • It has the only accessible toilet on the train.

Because of the last feature, TPE have taken the pragmatic decision, that all wheelchair users will be able to travel in First.

I’m not disabled or a wheelchair user, but that is probably down to luck more than anything else. So there but for luck, go I!

I travel on trains a lot and it is very rare for me to see more than one wheelchair user on a train.

Obviously TPE have statistics and adding everything up, they find that one accessible toilet is enough provided those needing it can sit close.

By not providing a second accessible toilet, but three ordinary toilets, they probably get another six seats they can sell to passengers.

I do wonder, if other train operating comp will adopt a similar philosophy.

Other Orders

The fleet appears to have been designed, so it can be adjusted to a train operating company’s needs.

I would suspect, that after two orders for their Mark 5 coaches, CAF are expecting more, from the next round of franchise renewals.

I also think, that TPE’s concept of a rake of five coaches with a locomotive could appeal to Open Access Operators like Grand Central Trains, especially if a 125 mph electro-diesel locomotive can be built.

One great advantage that CAF have is that once the TPE fleet is operating  successfully, there would not be a large testing phase for a new operator.

Conclusion

It appears that CAF and TransPennine Express have thought long and hard about these trains and I’m looking forward to riding in one.

 

 

April 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

More Train Services Between Leeds, Huddersfield And Manchester

This article on the Huddersfield Daily Examiner is entitled Important Timetable Changes For Huddersfield Rail Passengers Heading To Manchester.

It is a good explanation of the major changes that will take place to TransPennine Express services after the 20th of May.

  • There will be four fast trains between Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester Victoria station
  • There will be two slow trains between Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester Piccadilly station
  • But nothing is said about Northern services.

I suspect, it will be sorted by the time the service starts.

I would check before you travel.

Hopefully, if you want to go to Piccadilly and get on a train that only goes to Victoria, it will be a same platform interchange to continue, your journey if your ticket is marked Manchester Stastions.

I would assume that you won’t be able to touch in with a contactless card on this short journey as is becoming the norm in a lot of the World.

Ticketing in the North is so Nineteenth Century.

 

April 7, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

The Pressure For More Rail Electrification

Over the last few days, there have been several articles on the media pushing for more electrification.

This article in Rail Technology Magazine, which is entitled TfGM To Fight Corner For Full TransPennine Electrification.

This article in the Carlisle Times and Star, which is entitled Campaigners Urge Backtrack On Axed Electric Rail Projects.

This article in the Times, which is entitled New Oxford-Cambridge Rail Route Must Rely On Diesel Trains.

This article in the Nottingham Post, which is entitled Strong Condemnation Of Government Plan To Abandon Rail Electrification.

I feel that electric trains are the future, but like members of the current Government, I feel that we need an alternative approach to creating a modern railway network in the UK.

What Do Passengers Want?

Passengers in general want a comprehensive rail service, that is affordable, reliable, fast and frequent and gives them good comfort and service on trains and at their terminal stations.

What Do Train Operating Companies Want?

Train companies need and want to make profits.

Judging by the latest franchise awards to Northern, TransPennine Express, Greater Anglia, South Western Railway and West Midlands Trains, part of their philosophy to achieve this is to buy fleets of new trains to replace old ones, with the following characteristics.

  1. More carriages and increased capacity.
  2. Higher speed and performance.
  3. Power and USB points, wi-fi and 4G connectivity.
  4. Easier entrance and exit.
  5. Better facilities for persons of reduced mobility.
  6. Shorter dwell times at stations.
  7. Better driver assistance systems.

The best way to pay for these trains and make a profit is to fill them with happy passengers.

So Where Does Electrification Give Advantages?

In summarising what passengers and train companies want, I didn’t mention electrification, although electric trains do give advantages to both groups.

  • It must be easy to fit electrical equipment into an electric train.
  • Electric trains accelerate faster.
  • Electric trains can be fitted with regenerative braking to save energy

Electrification is not needed in all cases as electricity for the train can be provided by diesel or hydrogen-powered generators or some form of onboard energy storage can be used.

Why Are So Many Elecification Schemes In The UK Over Budget And Late?

With my experience of writing Project Management software and talking about it with numerous Project Managers all over the world, I suspect the following about electrifying an existing railway in the UK.

  • The drawings and documentation for some of the existing lines which go back well over a hundred years is questionable.
  • Politicians put undue pressure to keep costs down and corners are cut.
  • The scope of the project changes as it progresses.
  • Those against the electrification have lots of routes to delay the project.
  • We don’t have enough engineers or qualified personnel to do the work.
  • Often work is on constricted sites and the locals get annoyed.

I’m coming to the conclusion, that electrification is one of the most difficult of projects.

I do feel though there is hope for the future judged on what happened at Waterloo during August.

The Future Of Road Transport

We are seeing more and more electric and hybrid vehicles on the roads and this article in the Guardian, says that Britain will ban the sale of all diesel and petrol cars by 2040.

For this to happen, there needs to be a vast improvement in the efficiency and size of energy storage systems.

A few years ago, if you’d fitted solar panels to your house, your neighbours would have laughed at you. Now they don’t as technology has improved the performance of solar panels, just like it will improve energy storage in the next few years.

What Will Improved Energy Storage Mean For Trains?

The first trains with onboard energy storage are starting to appear on the UK’s railways.

Class 800 trains – Intercity Express Programme

This document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

 

The document provides this schematic of the traction system of a Class 800 train.

Note BC which is described as battery charger.

This is said in the text.

The system can select the appropriate power source from either the main transformer or the GUs. Also, the size and weight of the system were minimized by designing the power supply converter to be able to work with both power sources. To ensure that the Class 800 and 801 are able to adapt to future changes in operating practices, they both have the same traction system and the rolling stock can be operated as either class by simply adding or removing GUs. On the Class 800, which is intended to run on both electrified and non-electrified track, each traction system has its own GU. On the other hand, the Class 801 is designed only for electrified lines and has one or two GUs depending on the length of the trainset (one GU for trainsets of five to nine cars, two GUs for trainsets of 10 to 12 cars). These GUs supply emergency traction power and auxiliary power in the event of a power outage on the catenary, and as an auxiliary power supply on non-electrified lines where the Class 801 is in service and pulled by a locomotive. This allows the Class 801 to operate on lines it would otherwise not be able to use and provides a backup in the event of a catenary power outage or other problem on the ground systems as well as non-electrified routes in loco-hauled mode.

Note that GU refers to Generator Unit, which in these trains are diesel-powered.

This is all very comprehensive, but if you look at how the braking system of the trains work and if it uses regenerative braking, you won’t find anything on the web.

But note how the four traction motors in the diagram are connected to the system. When they are in braking mode, what happens to the electricity?

  1. It is returned to the overhead wires. Difficult when using GUs on lines without electrification.
  2. It is passed to resistors on the roof of the train and burnt off as heat.
  3. It is stored in some form of onboard energy storage, so it can be reused later.

I feel that Hitachi are using Option 3, as it would work in both modes of the train and would save a lot of energy.

Note that in the above extract from the Hitachi document, the company states that the electric Class 801 trains have at least one GU to provide auxiliary and traction power in the event of catenary failure.

It looks like the only difference between the Class 800 and Class 801 trains, is that the Class 800 trains have more GUs.

Could this explain why Hitachi seem to be doing all their testing with Class 800 trains, as the differences between the two trains are minimal?

If the Class 800 works, then the Class 801 will!

Hitachi are also testing the Class 802 trains, but then these are built in Italy, have more powerful engines and bigger fuel tanks.

Bombardier Aventras

Bombardier have been developing battery technology for some years and as I described in Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?, I rode in the prototype converted from a Class 379 train in February 2015.

I believe that the Class 345 trains are fitted with onboard energy storage for the following reasons.

  • Onboard energy storage is the logical way to handle regenerative braking in tunnels.
  • Onboard energy storage means that each train reuses its own braking energy and draws less current from the electrification.
  • Onboard energy storage is the only way to move a train to a safe place, when the Russians or North Koreans hack the power suppky.
  • Some of the features announced for Aventras, like remote wakeup as I discussed in Do Bombardier Aventras Have Remote Wake-Up?, need onboard energy storage.
  • Bombardier have won awards for the technology.

Until Bombardier say otherwise, I’ll assume that Aventras like the Class 345 trains have onboard energy storage.

Overhead Power In Long Tunnels

It should also be noted that the overhead power supply in the Crossrail tunnels is a rail fed with power at both ends, as incidentally is the Severn Tunnel.

Could it be that money could have been saved on the electrification of these tunnels as all electric trains using them; IEPs and Aventras, can handle their own regenerative braking energy?

The Effect Of Large Onboard Energy Storage On Trains and Trams

There is a big difference between adding weight to a pneumatic-tyred vehicle like a car or truck, and adding weight to that of a steel-wheel-on-steel-rail vehicle like a train or tram.

With the former, the rolling resistance is increased, which means more power is needed to move the vehicle, but with the latter, surprisingly, the reverse is true.

This allows locomotives to pull iron ore, coal and stone trains carrying hundreds of tonnes.

So adding a heavy energy storage device under a train may not be as detrimental to performance as you may think.

I suspect Bombardier, Hitachi and others have determined the optimal size of storage device for their trains.

I believe the following,  if an appropriately-sized online storage device is fitted to a train.

  • It will be able to handle all the regenerative braking energy.
  • It will give the train a range of up to fifty kilometres on stored energy.

Without doubt, all trains driven by electricity and having regenerative braking will use onboard energy storage.

This applies even if their main power source is not electricity, but perhaps diesel, hydrogen or extra-strong knicker elastic!

Discontinuous Electrification

Modern trains like Aventras and Hitachi Class 80x trains have another ability.

They can raise and lower their pantographs under GPS control, so that they only connect with the electrification, when it is there.

They can also do it at line speed.

This raises the possibility of discontinuous electrification, where the easy-to-electrify sections have wires and the difficult bits are run using either diesel, hydrogen or onboard storage power.

An example would be between Batley and Morley stations on the Huddersfield Line, between which is the Morley Tunnel.

  • The tunnel is four kilometres long and hopefully could be electrified using a conductor rail in the tunnel roof.
  • Morley station is hard by the Northern portal of the tunnel.
  • The line from Morley to the electrification at Leeds doesn’t appear to have any serious bridges to replace and the double-track line has wide margins.
  • Batley, Morley and Cottingley stations are all stations with platforms either side of the track and could probably have the gantries on the platform.

Would it be possible to electrify short sections of line like this and let the trains and the driver decide to use onboard or overhead power?

The TransPennine Route

I will look at the TransPennine route in detail.

Mainly Electrically-Driven Trains

Looking at the various trains on TransPennine routes, we see the following ways of driving the trains and locomotives.

The last three trains and all the locomotives in this list are electrically driven, where on-board diesel engines generate electricity to power the train.

In addition the Class 802 trains and the Class 88 locomotives are bi-mode and can use electrification to power the trains directly, if it is available.

So a Liverpool to Newcastle service using Class 802 trains or Class 88 locomotives and Mark 5 carriages could use the overhead electrification on the following sections of track.

  • From Liverpool to Stalybridge via Manchester Victoria
  • Through Leeds
  • On the East Coast Main Line

Electrifying between Leeds and the East Coast Main Line would seem to be a lot easier than that between Leeds and Manchester, so I suspect that there is some seriously difficulty that has prevented it being done already, as it would allow Kings Cross to Edinburgh services to stop at Leeds, if that was desired.

Improving The Current Service

Currently Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle takes three hours and three minutes, with the following sectional times.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria – 39 minutes
  • Manchester Victoria to Huddersfield – 30 minutes
  • Huddersfield to Leeds – 22 minutes
  • Leeds to York – 25 minutes
  • York to Newcastle – 67 minutes

Some places to save times are apparent.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria could be speeded up by a couple of minutes, after the addition of the fourth track at Huyton.
  • According to the time table, most dwell times are reasonable, but nine minutes is allowed at Manchester Victoria.
  • Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge is being electrified.
  • Virgin’s fastest trains take 56 minutes between York and Newcastle, so I would assume that a TransPennine Class 802 train could match this.
  • If Leeds to York were to be electrified, I would think that the same percentage decrease in journey time could be expected, which would give a Leeds to York time of 21 minutes.

Could we see the following times on the route?

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria – 30 minutes
  • Manchester Victoria to Huddersfield – 28 minutes
  • Huddersfield to Leeds – 22 minutes
  • Leeds to York – 21 minutes
  • York to Newcastle – 56 minutes

This gives a timing of 157 minutes, which is a saving of twenty-three minutes.

Is The Track Up To It?

Under Timings And Line Speeds in the Wikipedia entry for Liverpool and Manchester Lines, this is said.

As of 2016, the fastest journey times are around half an hour, which is little better than over a century earlier. The fastest recorded run was from Manchester Exchange to Liverpool Lime St in 30 minutes 46 seconds by a 1936 built Jubilee 5707 with 7 coaches. An 1882-built compound steam locomotive was timed on the same route in 38 minutes 18 seconds. Until 1968 trains from Liverpool to Manchester by all 3 routes were scheduled to take 40 minutes and often took less. The southern route via Warrington is now restricted to 85 mph and the northern route via Earlestown to 90 mph, with 75 mph over Chat Moss.

Work is under way to four-track the line between Huyton and Roby which is scheduled for completion in December 2017.

Surely, Twenty-First Century engineering can sort out Stephenson‘s problems of nearly two centuries ago!

If it’s like this between Liverpool and Manchester on a fully-electrified line, what’s it like between Manchester and Leeds?

I believe that modern engineering should be able to create a 100 mph route between Liverpool and Leeds.

Are The Other Trains Slowing The Expresses?

Northern run an assortment of trains between Liverpool and Leeds via Manchester Victoria.

Between Liverpool and Manchester Victoria are all the services timed for and run by 100 mph Class 319 trains, or do some of the assortment of 75 mph trains share the route? If it’s the latter then they will delay the expresses.

Between Manchester Victoria and Hudderfield, I’m sure that slower trains are on the route.

Help is at hand as Northern have ordered fifty-five Class 195 trains, which have a 100 mph capability.

Should Stalybridge To Leeds Be Electrified?

Only when slow trains have been eliminated and the track has been improved to allow 100 mph running between Liverpool and Leeds should we answer this question!

Using rough estimates, I feel we might see the following timings with a Class 802 train.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria – 26 minutes
  • Manchester Victoria to Huddersfield – 21 minutes
  • Huddersfield to Leeds – 16 minutes
  • Leeds to York – 21 minutes
  • York to Newcastle – 56 minutes

This gives a timing of 140 minutes, which is a saving of forty-three minutes on the current times.

Improving Leeds To Newcastle

The Class 802 trains are stated in Wikipedia as being capable of running at 140 mph with minor modifications.

How many minutes would this take off the journey, if this were to be possible?

Conclusion

There are a lot of things to do before the decision to electrify Stalybridge to Leeds is taken.

  • Sort the track for at least 100 mph running.
  • Remove all passenger trains not capable of 100 mph from the line.
  • Perhaps add some passing loops.
  • Electrify Leeds to Colton Junction.
  • Remove all level crossings.
  • Raise all bridges and other structures, so that electrification is possible.
  • Get the planning permission for electrifying the sensitive areas.

Hopefully these actions in themselves would deliver a time of under forty minutes between Manchester and Leeds.

That would be a spoonful of sugar for the passengers and the train operating companies.

Any attempt to electrify without doing all of these actions before the decision to electrify is taken, will result in the sort of mess seen in some of the electrification schemes of the last few years.

The East West Rail Link

I will look at the East West Rail Link in detail.

Linking To Electrified Lines

The East West Rail Link joins or crosses the following electrified lines.

  • The Great Western Main Line at Didcot
  • The West Coast Main Line at Bletchley
  • The Midland Main Line at Bedford
  • The East Coast Main Line at Sandy
  • The West Anglia Main Line at Cambridge

As connecting the National Grid to electrification is a major cost, if the line were to be electrified, then there are several places to connect at a cheaper cost.

Building For Electrification

The instructions from the Department for Transport seem to have stated the following.

  • The line will be double track.
  • The line will have an operating speed of at least 100 mph or possibly 125 mph.
  • All bridges and structures, will be built to accommodate overhead electrification.

I wonder if the specification suggests preparing the margins of the route, so putting up overhead gantries wouldn’t be a case of digging and hitting important cables or pipes.

Electrification of new lines like the East London Line, Crossrail and the Hitchin Flyover seem to have proceeded much smoother than schemes like the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Trains For The East-West Rail Link

The proposed services include.

  • Oxford to Bedford
  • Bletchley to Bedford
  • Oxford to Milton Keynes Central
  • Aylesbury to Milton Keynes Central.

I have also seen suggestions that the trains terminate at Reading.

The trains will need the following.

  • A 100 mph capability to make good use of the route.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification to get to Bedford, Milton Keynes Central and Reading.
  • Ability to use diesel to use the Chiltern routes to Aylesbury and Marylebone.

To meet all these requirements, it would appear bi-mode trains like a Class 800 train are needed.

Should The East-West Rail Link Be Electrified?

Consider.

  • The trains chosen for the route will be bi-mode and so the line doesn’t need to be electrified.
  • Freight trains using the route would be hauled by a diesel locomotive or possibly a bi-mode locomotive like a Class 88 locomotive.

However, if at a future date, all or part of the electrification were to be deemed needed, if the line had been built with electrification in mind, putting up the wires would be a lot easier than on the TransPennine route.

Conclusions

I have come to these conclusions from these two examples.

  • The bi-mode route allows a lot of flexibility and means that electrification with all its problems can be done when it is really necessary.
  • The bi-mode route, also means that passengers get the benefits of modern,  faster and more frequent trains at an earlier date.
  • Electrification of a new line is easier than electrifying an old Victorian one.
  • All new or reopened lines should be built to allow electrification at a future date.

Don’t underestimate the ingenuity of railway engineers to make a more comprehensive railway powered by electricity possible.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment