The Anonymous Widower

Freight Diesel Traction Realities

The title of this post is the same as that of a comprehensive article by Roger Ford in an article in the April 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

In the article Roger talks about the problems of decarbonising the freight sector on the UK’s railways.

Future Traction

This section in the article begins with this paragraph

Since the laws of physics and chemistry rule out pure battery or hydrogen fuel cell 3 MegaWatt (4,000 hp) freight locomotives from around 2035 we are going to need to start replacing the diesel locomotives for routes yet to be electrified.

The following actions are suggested.

  • More electrification, through a rolling program.
  • Research into and production of low-CO2 locomotives.
  • 4000 hp locomotives to run faster, longer and heavier freight trains.

These actions will apply to many countries in Europe and the wider world.

Hybrid

This section in the article begins with these two paragraphs.

Extension of electrification will reduce the length of the last miles beyond the end of the wires, making increased use of electric traction viable. Here the challenge will be to provide sufficient diesel traction power and range.  Stadler’s Class 93 ‘tri-mode’ locotive provides an interesting preview.

It builds on the Class 88, which adds a 700kW diesel engine to a 4MW Bo-Bo electric locomotive.

The Class 93 locomotive has a larger 900 kW diesel engine and a lithium titanate oxide battery.

I estimated the battery size at 126 kWH in Stadler’s New Tri-Mode Class 93 Locomotive.

Roger reckons that the battery gives 6-7 ,minutes of power to boost output to 1,740 hp or 1300 kW.

  • The boost from the battery would appear to be 400 kW
  • For 6.5 minutes this would need 43.3 kWH

Either Roger’s 6-7 minutes or my deduced battery size of 126 kWH is wrong. So I will assume both figures are wrong.

Suppose though, you wanted to boost the power of a Class 93 locomotive to the 2,500 kW of a Class 66 locomotive for an hour, which would get a freight train into or out of the Port of Felixstowe.

  • 1600 kW will be needed to boost the diesel engine.
  • 1600 kWH will need to be stored in the battery.
  • I will assume 75 Wh/Kg for the LTO batteries.
  • I have made no allowance for the use of regenerative braking.

This gives a weight of 21.3 tonnes for the batteries.

Roger says this in the article.

If you need to fit diesel engines and batteries into an electric locomotive for freight the a Co-Co configuration gives you another 20 tonnes on a 17.5 tonne axle load.

This leads me to believe that a hybrid locomotive with the power of a Class 66 locomotive and a range of one hour is possible.

 

 

 

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Finland – Estonia Tunnel Secures €15bn In Funding

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

This is the first paragraph.

FINEST Bay Area Development has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Touchstone Capital Partners, China, to secure €15bn in financing for construction of a 100km railway tunnel under the Gulf of Finland between Helsinki, Finland, and Tallinn, Estonia.

Linked to the planned Rail Baltica, it will mean that passengers and freight will be able to use railways between the UK and Finland.

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

Roaming Around East Anglia – Freight Trains Through Newmarket

The East West Rail Consortium plan to change the route of freight trains to and from Haven Ports; Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich to the West of Kennett station.

In this document on the East West Rail Consortium web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

How would these changes affect Newmarket and the horse-racing industry in the town?

How Many Freight Trains Are We Talking About?

This table shows the number of freight trains going through Kennett station on the 1st of March 2019.

  • 00  1  1
  • 01  1  0
  • 02  0  1
  • 03  2  1
  • 04  1  1
  • 05  1  1
  • 06  1  2
  • 07  1  1
  • 08  1  0
  • 09  1  0
  • 10  1  0
  • 11  0  0
  • 12  0  0
  • 13  2  2
  • 14  0  2
  • 15  1  1
  • 16  0  1
  • 17  1  1
  • 18  0  1
  • 19  1  1
  • 20  1  0
  • 21  1  2
  • 22  0  2
  • 23  0  0

In the table the first figure is the hour, the second figure is the number of freight trains going West and the third figure is the number of freight trains going East.

This gives a daily total of eighteen trains going West and twenty-one trains going twenty-one trains going East.

But these figures will increase!

At present, Network Rail are adding a passing loop on the Felixstowe Branch Line. This article on Rail Magazine is entitled £60.4m Felixstowe Branch Upgrade Under Way and says this about the upgrade.

Installing the new line will create capacity for up to ten additional freight trains, each the equivalent of 76 lorries.

Not all will come via Kennett, as some will go via London.

The Port of Felixstowe will get larger and other improvements on the route across Suffolk will increase the number of freight trains passing through Kennett station.

I estimate that it is very likely that in a few years there will be two trains per hour (tph) in both directions for every hour of the day.

Rerouting The Trains Through Newmarket

Currently, these freight trains go via Ely, but the plan of the East West Rail Consortium would be to reroute all these freight trains through the Warren Hill tunnel and Newmarket station.

I suspect the reasons for the change of route could include the following.

Accessing The East West Rail Link From Newmarket Is Easy And Quick

If as expected the East West Rail Link joins the London-Cambridge Line just South of Cambridge South station, then the trains would run through Dullingham, Cambridge and Cambridge South stations, when running between the East West Rail Link and Newmarket station.

The East West Rail Link Will Be An Efficient Railway

Drive on a new motorway and the curves are smooth with relaxed gradients.

A new railway will be like that too and less energy will be used to power trains along its length.

Increasing the Capacity Through Ely Is Difficult

There is a very complicated track layout at Ely and increasing the number of trains might be difficult or very expensive.

Freight Trains Will Use The East West Rail Link To Avoid London

Take going between the Haven Ports and Bristol or South Wales.

Currently, these trains tend to go via London and in a couple of years will have to share tracks with London’s intensive Crossrail network between Acton Main Line and Reading stations.

Using the East West Rail Link, the trains would join the Great Western Main Line at Didcot, a few miles West of Reading.

How many services will use the East West Rail Link to by-pass London?

Freight Trains Will Use The East West Rail Link To Get To The West Coast Main Line

Currently, these trains either go via London or take the slow cross-country route via Peterborough to Nuneaton for the West Coast Main Line.

If they use the East-West Rail Link, they can join the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley.

The East-West Rail Link Will Be An Important Freight Link

I think that as the years pass and more freight terminals are created, we will see more freight trains using the East-West-Rail-Link and many of these trains will go through Newmarket.

What Problems Would The Rerouting Create In Newmarket?

I can see these problems.

Noise And Vibration

Four freight trains per hour will create a lot of noise and vibration as they pass through.

Frightening The Horses

This Google Map shows a corner of the gallops at Newmarket.

Note how the railway from the East splits into two, to the West of the band of trees running down the map.

  • The top branch curves away to the North and goes through Soham to Ely.
  • The bottom branch curves away to the South and goes through Warren Hill Tunnel to Newmarket station and then on to Cambridge.

Alongside, the Southern route is the Al Bahatri all-weather gallop, which is an important facility for training racehorses. It can just be picked out as a sand-coloured line.

Currently, nearly all the freight trains take the Northern route to Ely, keeping them away from the Al Bahatri.

But, if the main freight route was through the town, as planned by the East West Rail Consortium, then at least four freight trains per hour would run alongside the gallop. There could also be four passenger trains per hour.

Railway Electrification

It is unlikely, that the railway through Newmarket will be electrified, but under a different government, this could happen.

It might add another dimension to disturbance through the town, as you get pantograph noise and occasional sparks and flashes. I don’t know how horses will react, but from my own experience years ago, they do react to electrical fields.

The Rail Freight Industry

Look at most freight trains on the UK’s railways and the locomotive on the front, is a noisy, smelly and polluting Class 66 or Class 70 locomotive.

You’ll see these American imports, which don’t meet the latest emission regulations, hauling freight trains, even when there are overhead wires for electric haulage.

Why?

Because rail freight companies are so driven by accountants, that they can’t be bothered to obtain more modern diesel locomotives, that are quieter, more powerful and less polluting.

The picture shows a modern Class 68 locomotive at Stratford. These are quieter and meet most of the noise and emission regulations.

Mitigating The Problems

I’ll deal with various methods, that could be used, starting with the easiest.

A Level Railway Through The Town

It looks like the Victorian engineers, who built the railway through the town, built it as level as possible, so that steam locomotives didn’t have to work so hard in the Warren Hill Tunnel, which I don’t think has a chimney for smoke.

Modern engineers will ensure that the railway is as level as possible, with gentle gradients and curves all the way between Kennett and Dullingham stations.

Passenger Trains With Batteries

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains are powered by both overhead electrification and onboard diesel engines. The latter sit in a power pack in the middle of the train.

Not having seen or heard one of these Swiss-built trains in the metal, I can make no comment as to the noise and vibration of these trains, but they should be quieter than the current three-car Class 170 trains.

It does appear that passenger trains built in the last years are much quieter, as they are much more aerodynamically correct and slippery, so they generate less noise.

The new trains have also been ordered for the South Wales Metro. But the Welsh trains will additionally be fitted with batteries to avoid some difficult electrification in the Valleys.

So if the passenger trains prove to be noisy through the town, which I doubt they will be, there will be the option of adding batteries to avoid the use of diesel power.

It is my belief, that technology will ensure that passenger trains will not be a problem.

More Environmentally-Friendly Freight Locomotives

As I said earlier, smelly, noisy and polluting freight locomotives are a big problem.

This is not just a problem for places like Newmarket with special circumstances, but on railways like the London Overground and those in Central Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester,, where suburban electric railways have to accommodate heavy rail freight.

The railway locomotive manufacturers have designed solutions for the problem in recent years.

Stadler, who are an innovative Swiss company have started to manufacture a Class 93 locomotive, which can run on diesel, electric and/or battery power. I’m fairly sure, that one of the design goals of this locomotive is to be able to haul a heavy freight train between Felixstowe and Peterborough, using electric power where it is available and a mix of diesel and battery at other times.

At Newmarket if the new double-track was well-designed and almost level, I suspect that a Class 93 locomotive could haul a train between Kennett and Dullingham stations on battery power.

Locomotives of this type should be compulsory on all freight routes through sensitive areas.

The government must legislate, as left to themselves the rail freight companies will sit on their hands and wallets.

One of the conditions of a double-track railway through Newmarket, should be that only locomotives that meet the latest noise, vibration and pollution standards, like the Class 93 locomotive should be allowed.

Quieter 100 mph Freight Trains

Karl Watts, who is a disruptive innovator and CEO of the Rail Operations Group, has bought the first ten Class 93 locomotives and intends to use them to haul 100 mph freight trains, where the routes allow.

On the electrified Great Eastern Main Line between Ipswich and London, the operating speed is 100 mph. But freight trains trundle up and down at 75 mph, thus slowing all of the passenger services.

Watts plans to use the Class 93 locomotives with new 100 mph container wagons to run freight trains at 100 mph on this and other routes, which would increase the freight and passenger capacity of the line.

New 100 mph freight wagons will be smoother, quieter and used through Newmarket at an appropriate speed would remove a large proportion of the noise and vibration.

Again, it would need investment from the freight companies.

However, modern freight trains hauled by modern hybrid locomotives like the Class 93 could significantly remove noise and vibration.

Lengthen Warren Hill Tunnel

A second bore will be dug to double-track the kilometre long Warren Hill Tunnel.

Some rail tunnels have been extended with covers and this technique might be possible at the Newmarket station end of the tunnel. The techniques exist, so that housing or other developments can be built on top of the railway.

Techniques like this not only suppress noise and vibration, but create much needed housing.

Acoustic Barriers

You see these a lot in Germany to reduce noise and vibration from railway lines in sensitive area, but rarely in the UK.

Conclusion

It will be difficult to put a double-track railway through Newmarket, but I believe that using modern rolling stock and some advanced construction, that a solution can be found.

Newmarket should dig in its heels and only accept the best to force rail freight companies to get their act together.

Government too, should enforce the current regulations on diesel locomotives, which most of the current locomotives do not meet.

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

What’s This Dirty Rotten Beast Doing On The GOBlin?

I photographed this dirty rotten beast at Blackhorse Road station on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line at 10:30 this morning.

Isn’t this very much a load of pollution in the face of all those, who had to put up with all the disruption whilst the line was electrified.

By the way, it is exhaust smoke above the train and not a tree on the nearby Wetlands!

The Class 70 locomotive is supposed to meet EU Tier IIIa emission regulations.

Pull the other one!

The freight train was going from Garston F.L.T. to Lonfon Gateway Freightliner.

As neither of these terminals are electrified, the train has to be diesel-hauled.

But surely, the diesel shouldn’t be throwing out this level of pollution.

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Spain – Luxembourg Rail Motorway Service Launched

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

This is the first paragraph.

A ‘rail motorway’ service carrying unaccompanied lorry trailers 1 219 km between Barcelona and Luxembourg was launched on February 19. 

This is the fifth such service to be operated across France and will be operated five times a week, with a sixth service to be added in April.

One of these services takes unaccompanied lorry trailers between Calais and a terminal near Perpignan, so you might wonder why this service doesn’t start in the UK.

The only place, that it could serve in the UK would be Barking, due to our antique loading gauge not being able to accept piggyback trailers.

So we can’t really link the UK to this freight network.

There is an excellent discussion on Rail Forums, which goes through the issues.

Barking

Barking is probably not the best place for a terminal for unaccompanied lorry trailers.

It is close to the heavily-congested M25, but surely trains of unaccompanied trailers could be assembled in other parts of the UK and taken to Barking.

But rail lines connecting Barking to the North include the North London and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines, both of which would need drastic gauge enhancement to take the traffic. As these routes are crowded London commuter routes, this work would go down like a whole squadron of lead balloons.

Specialist Freight

If you stood by the Gospel Oak To Barking Line for twenty-four hours, you would see some specialist freight trains going through, often carrying cars or vehicle components.

I think there will be growth in this sector, perhaps for high-value or perishable cargo, in purpose-built trains. But it would only take a few trucks off the roads.

There is also the problem, that a lot of specialist cargo is only one way.

  • Minis go from Oxford to Europe.
  • Ford cars and vans go from Europe to the UK.
  • Perishable fruit and vegetables go from Southern Europe to the UK.
  • Scotch whisky and seafood would go from Scotland to Europe.

I am certain, there is a profitable market niche here to pair compatible cargoes.

High Speed Parcel Traffic

Could we also see a network of overnight high speed parcel trains linking Europe’s major conurbations and commercial centres?

Conclusion

Neither specialist freight or high speed parcel trains will make much of a dent in the number of trucks, that will continue to clog the motorways to the Port of Dover.

 

 

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Severn Toll Change

The title of this post is the same as that of a short article in the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

There are concerns that the removal of toll charges on the M4 Severn Crossings on 17 December could result in a loss of rail freight traffic to road. The toll, for westbund vehicles only, was £16.70 per Heavy Goods Vehicle last year. It had been reduced from £20 in January 2018, when VAT ceased to be levied because the motorway bridges had passed from private to public ownership.

It now appears that it is now cheaper to get wine from Felixstowe to a warehouse in Avonmouth, by using a train to Cardiff and then using trucks, than by using a train to Bristol and a shorter truck journey.

Surely, the longer journeys by both diesel truck and probably diesel train, creates more carbon dioxide.

Obviously, the UK and Welsh Governments didn’t assess the carbon emission consequences of abolishing the tolls on the Severn Bridges.

I also wonder, if more people will now drive between South Wales and England, because of the incentive of a toll-free crossing, which will further increase carbon-dioxide emissions.

 

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

Rail Operations Group Gets Serious About Thunderbirds Etc.

The February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Class 93 Tri-Oomph!, which has been written by Ian Walmsley.
This is the first paragraph.

Rail Operations Group has become known for the efficient haulage of EMUs around the country using very clever tranlation devices built into Europhenix converted Class 37 kicos. As I described in the March 2016 issue (“Lost in translation”) it looked at tens of millions of pounds worth of EMUs being dragged around unbraked, thought ‘this can’t be right’, and proceeded to make 50-year-old locomotives operate with state-of-the-art computer kit.

Rail Operations Group (ROG) had employed classicdisruptive innovation to create a new market, that was to everybody’s benefit.

As Ian reports, the company has grown a lot in the last few years and now does a lot more than just move new trains around.

  • Old trains are also moved.
  • Old trains are also stored safely.
  • Operations are all planned as a consultancy.

The company is already planning their next operational niche.

A Move Into Logistics

ROG is moving into logistics.

Ian talks about the inefficiency and polluting distribution system using trucks, that add to traffic congestion.
He talks about rail being a better way and then says this.

The difference with ROG is that the company is going to invest in two Class 769 (bi-mode 319s’) converted for parcel use, and while these are not my favourite trains, parcels are a lot less fussy than me about how long they take to get to top speed.
Using 769s’ means that your hubs can be almost anywhere; not necessarily on a 25 KVAC electrified siding, just close to a road system interchange area.

So what happens, if they don’t get a customer? The Class 769 trains will be delivered with seats, so they could be sub-leased for passenger use.

I wrote The Go-Anywhere Express Parcel And Pallet Carrier (HSPT) in May 2017, where I discussed the uses for this type of parcel carrier. This was my conclusion.

There is definitely a market for a HSPT.
If it does come about, it will be yet another tribute to the magnificent Mark 3 design!

As to the secondary use of these trains as passenger trains, there is nothing wrong with that. After all, we’ve all had our fill of the dreaded Rail Replacement Buses.

In Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, I talked about the problems caused by late delivery of the new Class 710 trains.

The problem would have been eased, if two Class 769 trains in good condition could have been called up at a couple of days notice.

Surely, there are other applications.

  • I suspect that given the number of level-crossing accidents in the UK, they will find a lot of use.
  • I don’t think Porterbrook will mind, if ROG effectively offered a try-before-buy service to train operators.
  • There must also be a market for pop-up rail services to large sporting and cultural events.

Again, it appears ROG have found a niche and have invested in it.

Before leaving the subject of Class 769 trains, I must mention Brexit.

Could the trains find a use in a no-deal Brexit-world moving high-value freight from ports and airports to inland distribution centres?

Thoughts On The Class 93 Locomotive

These are some thoughts from the article.

Available Power

Ian starts by saying this about the operation of the Class 93 locomotive.

Apart from the obvious electric (4,000kW) and diesel (900kW), the third mode is a Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) battery (400kW), which can be used in conjunction with the diesel to give a power boost up to 1,300kW or 1,743hp in old money.
The extra oomph from the battery takes you from a Class 33 to a Class 37 in old locos but with minimal losses, and you don’t need full power for very long on most non-electrified routes.

I suspect there’s a clever control system, that optimises the use of the battery.

The Ultimate Thunderbird

The locomotive appears to have a unique feature of a variable height coupler, which enables it to haul rolling stock with all the five standard heights of coupler, that exist on UK railways.

How did this madness occur?

But as the locomotive can deal with them all, Ian argues that the Class 93 locomotive could be the ultimate Thunderbird or rescue locomotive.

Moving Trains In The Future

Ian argues that ROC’s collection of locomotives used for moving new and replaced trains is getting older and will soon be difficult to service.

The Class 93 locomotives would be ideal for this role.

But Ian sees this very much as a fallback position, if the locomotives do not find innovative new uses.

Ian finishes with this paragraph.

When we first saw Dr. Beeching’s new Freightliners(now ‘intermodal’) in the 1960s, they did 75 mph. They still do, but there are some really smart looking 100 mph flats available. Remember the path-ology. There are plenty of cross-country runs where a Class 37 equivalent is fine for the diesel bits, then pan up and 4,000kW is yours. Come on. Not excited by this? You must be in the wrong job.

As an example some freight trains go between Felixstowe and Birmingham, Liverpool or Manchester using the North London Line.

They are hauled all the way by a Class 66 diesel.

Put the containers on the smart looking 100 mph flats with a Class 93 locomotive on the front and the following happens.

  • The locomotive uses diesel between Felixstowe and Ipswich, with possibly some battery boost.
  • The locomotive uses electric power for most of the journey.
  • The locomotive might use diesel power at the destination for a short distance.
  • On the double-track 100 mph Great Eastern Main Line, the operating speed will not be far off the new Class 745 and Class 720 trains.
  • On the North London Line, the train will pass through some of the smartest parts of North London with lower levels of noise, vibration and pollution.
  • On the West Coast Main Line, the train will be able to mix it with the new Class 730 trains on the slow lines.

Greater Anglia have the trains to run more services between London and Ipswich.

How many more could they squeeze in, if all freight trains had a similar performance to their express services?

Consider now, freight trains taking the cross-country route from Felixstowe to the North and Midlands via Peterborough.

  • With track improvements at Haughley and doubling of the line between Kennett and Ely, I suspect that timings on the flat lands of East Anglia using hybrid power would be approaching those of Class 66 locomotive-hauled stock.
  • With a faster cruise on the East Coast Main Line, would the trains take the direct route on the slow lines, rather than the diversion through Lincoln?

The Class 93 locomotive could be the ultimate Felixstowe Flyer.

Could it also be the freight locomotive that passenger train operators want reight operators to use, as it keeps freight trains out of the way of passenger ones?

January 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rossendale Reopening Prospect

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

This is the opening two paragraphs.

A blend of heritage and commuter operations could be on the cards in Lancashire, if Rossendale Council’s plans proceed.

The borough is the only one in Lancashire without a main line rail service. A report commissioned by the council in partnership with Lancashire County Council suggests co-operating with the heritage East Lancashire Railway, which runs from Heywood to Rawstenstall, to introduce such a rail link for the borough.

Yesterday, I had a comment read out on the BBC, as I discussed in Wake Up To Money – New Stations.

Wake Up To Money yesterday was broadcast from Darwen, which is only a valley away from Rossendale.

One of the complaints on the program was about crowded roads and bad transport links to Manchester and Manchester Airport.

It looks to me, that the proposed Rossendale services will fulfil a similar need.

The main objective appears to be to create good links to Manchester and Manchester Airport, with a secondary objective of creating a link across the Pennines to Leeds with a change at Rochdale.

The article gives more details of the proposal.

Track

The plan envisages reinstating the route between Rawtenstall and Castleton Junction on the Calder Valley Line.

The section between Rawtenstall and Heywood stations, via Bury Bolton Street station is the heritage line of the East Lancashire Railway (ELR). It is best described as predominately single-track with passing loops.

The article says this about improving the track.

The section of the ELR from Bury Bolton Street to Heywood is envisaged as returning to Network Rail control but with the ELR having access. To facilitate timetabling of trains along the stretch, some double-tracking is expected to be required, although this is suggested to be a modest investment compared to most reopening schemes. Having the ELR on board as a co-operative partner is seen as key to the scheme’s success.

Having flown my virtual helicopter along the line, it looks to me, that it could become another scenic route out of Manchester.

Castleton Junction

This Google Map shows Castleton Junction, where the East Lancashire Line meets the Calder Valley Line.

Note.

  1. The Calder Valley Line runs North-South.
  2. The ELR goes off to the West.
  3. Castleton station is in the North-East corner of the map.

What was or is the large site to the North-West of the junction?

The Junction will need to be upgraded and resignalled.

Electrification

It would be very unlikely, that the route will be electrified.

Although, I suppose there is a chance, that the Calder Valley Line might be electrified, to create an electrified route between Leeds and Manchester Victoria.

If this were to happen, then there would be electrification between Manchester Victoria and Rochdale.

Castleton Junction, where the new route would join the Calder Valley Line would be electrified.

This would make it easier and more likely for battery-electric trains to work the new route.

Possible Routes

Three routes are suggesting in the article.

  1. Manchester Victoria and Bury Bolton Street
  2. Bury Bolton Street and Rochdale
  3. Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall – Peak-Hour shuttle.

It is suggested that the third route would be run by the ELR.

Rolling Stock

The article says this about rolling stock.

In terms of rolling stock, a suggested option is the use of Vivarail Class 230 units, operating under either diesel-electric or battery power. These could be used for ELR shuttle services in addition to or instead of existing heritage stock, as well as for services from Bury to Manchester.

The Class 230 trains are an obvious choice, but I think that other trains could also be suitable.

These are my thoughts.

Class 230 Trains

I described a ride in a Class 230 train in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

The Class 230 train would have these characteristics.

  • The three-car train has a useful capacity of around 300 passengers.
  • The range on battery power should enable a service between Bury Bolton Road and Manchester Victoria stations.
  • The batteries can be charged in under ten minutes.
  • The operating speed is 60 mph.
  • The trains have been designed to be easy to service and this can be done on a remote basis.
  • The trains are of an age, to fit in well on a heritage railway.

The trains also have the advantage of large windows for looking at the scenery.

The trains would need to be charged at the end of the route and I suspect that Vivarail’s fast charging system would handle this in the terminal stations.

Class 769 Trains

Class 769 trains are electro-diesel trains, that use their diesel engines, where there is no 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

They are four-car trains with a passenger capacity of over 300 passengers.

They would have a very big advantage for the train operator.

Services across Manchester are often paired to give travellers the chance to do cross-city journeys without changing trains.

Using Class 769 trains would enable more services to be paired up.

Class 399 Tram-Trains

Class 399 tram-trains are under trial in Sheffield and they will also be used on the South Wales Metro.

The terrain in Rossendale involves a hundred metre or so climb from Bury Bolton Street to Rawtenstall. Rochdale is perhaps fifty metres higher than Bury Bolton Street.

Consider a Class 399 tram/train, working between Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall stsations.

  • Wikipedia gives the weight of the vehicle as 66 tonnes.
  • The altitude difference is 120 metres.
  • I will assume 200 passengers at 90 Kg. each, which gives a weight of 12 tonnes.

This means that the train has a increase of potential energy of 25 kWh at Rawtenstall station. This would be easily stored in an appropriately-sized traction battery.

It would appear that tram-trains should be able to climb to Rawtenstall, provided they could get to Bury with a full battery.

I look at this in detail in Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations? 

Alstom Breeze Trains

Alston Breeze trains could be a possibility, if hydrogen trains are compatible with steam trains.

The trains would also be able to work across Manchester, as the Class 769 trains will be able to.

Diesel Multiple Units

Northern have lots of better quality diesel multiple units including Class 156 and Class 170 trains. The company also has around sixty new Class 195 diesel multiple units on order.

These could obviously handle the route, but would it be better to use battery or more capable bi-mode trains on the route?

Diesel Use In Manchester

I suspect too, that train companies, their staff, passengers and all Mancunians would like to see Central Manchester’s railways become a diesel-free zone.

Train Timings

I obviously don’t have accurate figures, but I have a feeling that most of these trains could do a round trip in an hour between Manchester Victoria and Bury Bolton Street stations. The Class 230 trains would probably have time for a fast charge at each end of the route.

My Choice Of Train

It will be Class 230 or Class 769 trains.

Both trains could work the services to Bury Bolton Street station from Manchester Victoria and Rochdale stations.

The Class 769 has two advantages.

  • It is the larger train.
  • It could use its electric capability to cross Manchester.

Both trains wouldn’t look out of place running a shuttle between Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall stations, as they are rebuilt trains from a previous era.

Stations

A few points about the existing stations.

Bury Bolton Street Station

Bury Bolton Street station has four platforms and will be the interchange between the new services and those of the ELR.

The station has a bay platform that faces South East.

With modern signalling, I would expect that it could handle four trains per hour (tph).

Perhaps, these could be two tph from both Manchester Victoria and Rochdale stations.

Heywood Station

This Google Map shows Heywood station.

At present it has a long single curved platform.

I suspect to accommodate the new services, which could be four tph in both directions, the station would need a second platform.

Ramsbottom Station

This Google Map shows Ramsbottom station.

It is a two platform station, which appears to be close to the Town Centre and a Tesco Superstore and a Morrison’s.

Rawtenstall Station

This Google Map shows Rawtenstall station.

Note, the train in the single platform with a run round loop for a locomotive.

The article says it would be possible to create a second platform at the station.

It would appear that if Class 230 trains were to be used for the proposed.Peak Hour service to Rawtenstall station, then there would be space for installing a fast charger.

Rochdale Station

Rochdale station will be a terminus for services from Bury Bolton Street station.

This paragraph in the Wikipedia entry for Rochdale station describes the new bay platform at the station and how it is used.

In 2015, construction on a fourth railway platform began. The 135m-long bay platform was completed in 2016 and is intended to relieve congestion at Manchester Victoria, where terminating trains would occupy the through platforms; numerous services now will continue on to Rochdale as opposed to terminating at Victoria. It is located at the south end of the main island platform, with the southbound through line having been re-aligned slightly further east to accommodate the new terminating line.

This section of the Calder Valley Line appears to be very busy with a train every four minutes.

I wonder, if by diverting some services to Bury Bolton Street station, this helps ease traffic on the Calder Valley Line.

Could trains do the following triangular route?

  • Manchester Victoria
  • Heywood
  • Bury Bolton Street
  • Heywood
  • Rochdale
  • Manchester Victoria

Train timetablers with much more knowledge than myself, will have fun getting a workable timetable.

New Stations

About half-a-dozen new stations will need to be built.

Most will probably be fairly simple affairs and those North of Bury Bolton Street station could probably by just a single platform.

There is one possibly proposed station, that could be more complicated.

Buckley Wells station could be built where the Bury Line of the Manchester Metrolink and the East Lancashire Line cross by the A56.

Park-and-Ride stations are also suggested in the article at Broadfield, Ewood Bridge, Heap Bridge and Stubbins.

Freight

The article also raises the possibility of running freight trains between the Calder Valley Line and Heywood.

This is said.

,The line could incorporate a rail connection to the 200-acre Heywood Distribution Park, currently served only by road, but adjacent to the existing ELR line. An intermodal rail freight terminal could be provided in the land around the existing distribution park, with sidings at least 500 metres in length needed to accommodate modern freight trains. Conversion into a Strategic Freight Interchange would remove significant numbers of HGVs from the congested strategic road network.

Would the implementation of this plan for freight be popular with the residents of Rossendale?

Conclusion

The proposal is a comprehensive one, which could benefit several groups.

  • The residents of Rossendale.
  • Vsitors to the area
  • Commuters to Manchester
  • Travellers across the Pennines
  • Travellers to Manchester Airport
  • Freight companies.

The proposal needs further investigation to see whether there is a strong business case for implementation.

I also think, that this sort of project model, where a heritage line is integrated with the National Rail network, can be repeated elsewhere in the country.

We have some very well-managed heritage railways in the UK, some of which could be extended to the National Rail network to provide much needed passenger and freight services to new and existing developments and difficult to access towns.

The rules need to be developed, so that these projects can be developed.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rail Company In Bid To Build Multi-Million-Pound Rail Depot Near Ipswich Station

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Rail company Freightliner has revealed that it is hoping to build a new multi-million pound depot for its trains just outside Ipswich station.

Freightliner said it wants to build an extensive workshop to maintain its locomotives and wagons, with around 20 new full-time and part-time jobs created to help it carry out the maintenance currently carried out at other depots across the country.

This Google Map shows the current position of Freightliner’s yard at Ipswich station.

Note the yard tucked in to the South of the station. It looks like fuel is being delivered.

It is not very large and according to the article, its position means that to refuel, locomotives have to cross the Great Eastern Main Line.

Part of the yard could also become the site for additional platforms for Ipswich station.

This article in the Ipswich Star, says this about the position of the new depot.

It wants to build a massive new workshop to maintain its locomotives and wagons on land where there are currently little-used tracks beside Ranelagh Road.

This Google Map shows the position.

Several freight trains are visible in Ipswich Yard and just to the North are the little-used tracks, mentioned in the Ipswich Star. It looks like this will be the new location of the depot.

The new depot will be well out of the way of Ipswich station, which can just be seen in the bottom-right corner of the map.

As the new depot will create extra jobs and be able to handle wagon repairs, that currently need to go to Manchester or Southampton, it seems that Freightliner’s plan is a good one.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Poetic Return For The Night Train In The Era Of ECommerce

The title of this post is the same as that of a half-page article on Page 34 of the Business Section of today’s copy pf The Times.

As you can see The Times gave it the full treatment with stills from the classic documentary film;  The Night Mail, which has a verse commentary written by W. H. Auden.

It’s an idea from the seemingly irrepressible  Karl Watts, who is Chief Executive of Rail Operations (UK) Limited.

He plans to start test operations with two Class 769 trains leased from Porterbrook.

I wrote about this concept two years ago, in The Go-Anywhere Express Parcel And Pallet Carrier (HSPT).

January 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment