The Anonymous Widower

Class 345 Trains Really Are Quiet!

This morning I was sitting waiting on Platform 8 at Stratford station.

Platform 8 is separated from Platform 9 by just two tracks, so you notice a train, when it goes through Platform 9 at speed.

Usually, the trains that go through Platform 9 at speed towards Liverpool Street station are Class 321 trains or rakes of Mark 3 coaches oulled by a Class 90 locomotives.

Today, a new Class 345 train went through and the level of noise was extremely low compared to other trains.

Bombardier have applied world class aviation aerodynamics to these trains. Particularly in the areas of body shape, door design, car-to-car interfaces, bogies and pantographs.

Remember too, that low noise means less wasted energy and greater energy efficiency.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manor Park Station – 15th May 2017

In Before Crossrail – Manor Park, I likened Manor Park station to A Ruin With Serious Issues and gave it a score of 1/10.

I also said.

Manor Park is very unusual architecturally. I do wonder if the Luftwaffe tried to demolish the station.

Perhaps the builders just ran out of money and couldn’t afford to put in windows.

With hindsight, I think I was being generous with one point.

But these are the pictures I took today.

The builder is certainly not our friend Jerry.

When my train arrived, I stepped out close by the driver’s cab. I was surprised to see that half the old station had disappeared and it must have shown, as the driver asked me if I was OK!

I certainly was and it looks like the builders and the architects are well on the way to turning one of London’s worst stations, into one of the better.

  • Judging by the position of the gate line on the South side of the Ticket Hall, it will lead to a series of passages to the stairs and the lifts to the platforms.
  • I particularly liked the use of strips of LED lights to illuminate the Ticket Hall and the area outside the doors.
  • The staff seem to have a good view of the front glass doors from the Ticket Counter.
  • It looks to me that any bits of the old station that there were good reasons to keep, have been kept.
  • It could be a very welcoming station, that I suspect Transport for London hopes will attract a lot of new passengers.
  • I was told that the lifts are only a couple of months away.

Importantly with my Project Manager’s hard hat on, it would appear that they have managed to create much of the new station without too much disruption.

May 15, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Platform 6 At Shenfield Station

These pictures show the new double Platform 5 and Platform 6 at Shenfield station, which opened a few days ago.

I think that it is a good design.

  • Platform 5 is a through platform, where trains can go through the station to and from the sidings to the East of the station.
  • Platform 6 is a new bay platform.

If these two platforms are for the exclusive use of Crossrail services, that means that in the Peak, they will be handling sixteen trains per hour (tph) or eight tph  on each platform. The Victoria Line handles over twice as many trains on each of its four terminal platforms at Brixton and Walthamstow Central, so the more modern Crossrail should handle the number of trains with ease.

There has also been a major restructuring of the other lines through the station. But as services terminating at Shenfield are not now handled by Platform 4, I would assume that it is a much more operator-friendly layout.

These could be platform assignments.

  1. Southend Branch to London trains
  2. Great Eastern Main Line to London trains
  3. London to Great Eastern Main Line trains.
  4. London to Southend Branch trains
  5. Crossrail
  6. Crossrail

As there is more platform capacity, it will be interesting to see how Greater Anglia use their share of the extra capacity.

Current and Crossrail times between Liverpool Street and Shenfield are as follows.

  • Shenfield Metro – Current – 43 minutes
  • Single-Stop at Stratford – Current – 24 minutes
  • Crossrail – 41 minutes.

The interesting time will be what will be achieved by Greater Anglia’s Aventras, with just a single-stop at Stratford. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sub-twenty minute time.

I think passengers between Shenfield and London will choose a route appropriate to their journey.

Crossrail will be a line for the duck-and-divers.

May 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

What Train Is This?

I took these pictures of a train coming from Barnstaple to Exeter.

But what type if train is it?

The last picture shows it is Class 150 train built in the 1980s by British Rail.

It is certainly a high quality refurbishment of 150263.

I’d much rather travel in this train, than a new Class 700 train.

Consider.

  • The seats were comfortable.
  • There were several tables in each car.
  • The toilet was one of the best I’ve seen.
  • The information system, tip-up seats and grab handles were all excellent.

The train even had it’s own wheelchair ramp stowed away in a secure metal cupboard.

I can’t find anything on the web about who did the refurbishment of this train.

My only thought, is that it was an in-house job and came from Laira with love!

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

A Neat Seat

These pictures show some seats  by Vauxhall Bridge, as part of a new development.

The idea is so brilliant and probably affordable, I’m surprised I haven’t seen something like it before.

March 14, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

The New Tunnel Under Bank Station

I never took the connection tunnel between the Waterloo and City Line or Drain platforms at Bank station to the escalators that eventually get you out into the air by Lombard Street, where I used to visit clients at a major clearing bank.

I doubt, it was as good as it is now!

I was travelling home from Waterloo using the Drain and once back on the surface, I just  crossed King William Street and got a 141 bus home.

It might be upwards of a hundred metres underground, but it’s light, airey and traffic-free.

We need more pedestrian tunnels like this under London.

Obviously, it wasn’t Rush Hour!

February 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Will We Be Seeing More Railway Stations?

I didn’t put any qualification like UK or London in the title of this post, as it is a question that applies to all railways.

The post was prompted by an article in the January 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Funding Buds For New South Wales Stations.

The article talks of two possible stations.

  • A Cardiff Parkway station near St. Mellions.
  • A Magor Walkway station between Newport and Severn Tunnel Junction stations.

Cardiff Parkway station seems the more conventional of the two and is proposed to support a proposed new business park, with car parking and a bus station,

This article on Wales Online is entitled Plans revealed for huge new development and train station in Cardiff that could create 15,000 jobs, gives more details.

On the other hand, according to The Magor And Undy Walkway Station Website, the second station at Magor Walkway appears to be less conventional.

But the two stations do illustrate two common reasons for developing new stations.

A New Station To Support Development

Cardiff Parkway station falls into this category and there are several for this reason in the pipeline.

We will see a lot more, as having a station at a new development, has many positive effects on the project.

A New Station To Provide Better Transport Opportunities

Magor Walkway station falls into this category and others include.

There are also schemes for airport links to Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds and Luton.

Why New Stations Don’t Get Built

Obviously, some stations don’t get built for reasons of practicality and cost.

The traffic may be there, but the proposed site is difficult, so a new station might be impossible to fit the space available.

When a re-opened station like Lea Bridge is reported to cost £11million, without car parking, new stations don’t come cheap.

So new stations need a good financial case to get built.

Another factor that is often ignored by campaigners for new stations, is the knock-on effects they will have on services through the station.

Stopping trains at a station on a single or double-track line will effectively block the line, thus slowing other traffic in the area.

But Innovation Is Making It Easier To Build New Stations

In the following sections, I shall detail some of the ideas and innovations that will make the building of stations easier.

The Rise Of The Single-Platform Station

Single-platform stations are not that common in the UK, and the first new one of this type I saw was James Cook station, which I wrote about in James Cook Station – The Reinvention Of The Halt .

Other recently built stations in this category include.

Note there is a parkway station on the list and Galashiels is a major train-bus interchange.

A good proportion of the list are also on newly opened lines.

Consider the advantages of a single-platform station.

  • There is no need for an expensive footbridge., that is part of the station.
  • Only one set of shelters, ticket machines and information displays are needed.
  • Single platform stations can be easily made long enough for the largest trains that will call.
  • Interchange to cars, buses and taxis is quick and easy.
  • Modern signalling makes bi-directional operation safe.

There may also be advantages in fitting a station into a restricted space, like shopping centres, airports, sports grounds or an historic town centre.

I think we’ll see a lot more single platform stations in the future.

The Express Stop Train

Next time, you’re on a train, notice how long it takes to perform a stop at a typical station.

It is often not a quick process.

  • Passengers have to lift children, buggies, bicycles and heavy cases over the step up or down between train and platform.
  • Passengers coming on get in the way of passengers getting off.
  • On a crowded train, that is not working under driver-only-operation (DOO) rules, the guard often has to struggle to get in position to open the doors.
  • Older trains without information systems, often mean that passengers aren’t ready to get off, so cause delays at the stop.

But look at the new trains for Merseyrail, I wrote about in Thoughts On Merseyrail’s New Trains.

  • They are designed to eliminate the gap between station and train and for passengers to step or roll across quickly.
  • They will have wide doors and probably ample lobbies, to ease entry and exit.
  • They will be information-rich trains, as are all modern trains.
  • They will be DOO, which avoids guard delays on crowded trains.
  • They will have high performance with respect to braking and acceleration.

I also wonder if braking and acceleration will be automated, so that they are fast, smooth and very safe in all weather and track conditions.

On Merseyrail, this will result in faster trains and a saving of nine minutes between Southport and Hunts Cross is quoted.

New trains on Greater Anglia, will also give substantial help in enabling a headline-grabbing Norwich in 90 and Ipswich in 60 service for all trains.

I suspect that as new trains improve their stop times, it will make it easier for a new station to be fitted into an intense schedule on a main line with extensive services.

Stations Without Electrification

Often electriofying stations is an expensive business, in planning, execution and in operation.

With the development of bi-mode and battery trains and especially ones that can switch mode automatically, I think we’ll see a lot more stations left without electrification, thus eliminating health and safety and heritage issues, whilst reducing costs.

The Station On A Train

Merseyrail’s new trains will be DOO and from the reports, it appears that all the CCTV needed for safe operation will be on the train, rather than the station.

So will this allow Merseyrail to simplify their stations, with the only CCTV needed on stations being only that for passenger and station security.

I wonder if the driver will have access to a station’s CCTV as he approaches. Being able to assess crowd density in a station on approach must be to the driver’s advantage.

Ticket Machines On A Train

Operators might even put a card-only ticket machine on the train, so the number of machines in stations can be cut to save costs.

I have seen this is in several places in Europe, but never in the UK.

Tram Style Operation Of Local Trains

There are two basic types of through platforms  in the UK, served by local or regional passenger trains.

  • Platforms where some freight and passenger trains pass through without stopping.
  • Platforms where all trains stop.

Merseyrail’s Northern Line and some of the branches of the Wirral Line would be examples of the second.

What would be the implications for station design, if say a branch line worked exclusively by one type of train ran to say a tram speed limit and the visual rules a tram driver would obey in the centre of Birmingham, Manchester or Nottingham.

Could we see new two platform stations built like say this station on the Croydon Tramlink?

Gentle Ramps To the Platforms

Passengers would just walk across the tracks to get to the other side.

I believe that Merseyrail’s new trains could work in this way.

Consider.

  • Stadler have enormous experience of trams and tram-trains.
  • Merseyrail’s new trains can be fitted with batteries, so for perhaps fifty metres either side of the station, the third rail can be removed.
  • The new trains look like trams, although they are trains.
  • There will always be a driver in the front of the train with a big horn, as the train enters the station.
  • Trains would be restricted to tram speeds in the station area.

Imagine a station on a network like Merseyrail or perhaps a branch line like the Walton-on-the-Naze Branch of the Sunshine Coast Line.

A train stopping at the station would go through the following procedure.

  • A safe distance from the station, after ascertaining, that the line in the station is clear, the driver initiates the automatic stop procedure or halts the train.
  • The train slows automatically from line speed to the tram speed perhaps fifty metres from the station.
  • The train proceeds automatically to the station at tram speed using onboard stored energy, as there is no electrification.
  • The driver would open the doors, so that passengers and their belongings can be unloaded and loaded.
  • Once everything is ready, the driver closes the doors and initiates the automatic leave sequence.
  • The train leaves the station at tram speed.
  • Once electrification starts and the train is connected, the train automatically accelerates back to line speed.

Note.

  1. The train is not at line speed anywhere near the station.
  2. The driver can take control at any time.
  3. The procedure is not very far removed from that used on the Victoria Line since 1967!

Effectively the operation of the train through the station is train-tram-train.

I wonder if Merseyrail have been thinking this way to create a tram-train link to Liverpool Airport.

Conclusion

Various innovations will mean that stations will cost less.

  • Simpler design.
  • Step-free without footbridges.
  • Less expensive features.
  • Equipment moved from station to train.

In addition, trains will find it easier to fit stops into busy timetables.

This will mean that the available station budget will go further and more stations will be built.

 

December 25, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

How To Build A Step-Free Access Ramp For A Train

This new ramp or Harrington Hump, has been built on Platform 1 at Canonbury station.

I didn’t use it, as I was going the other way.

It looks to be a very good design.

  • Like all the best designs, it is simple.
  • It is double-ended.
  • It’s a gentle slope to ascend to train level, with no steps to trip on.
  • It’s got seats to prop yourself on.
  • It’s got a rail to hang on to.
  • Those with poor eye-sight wouldn’t miss it and trip over.
  • I suspect any sensible local builder could build one of these, from a kit of parts and instructions on a page of A4.

It looks to me like it is one of those classic engineering designs, that was developed using copious amounts of real ale, with everything written down on the back of fag-packets and used envelopes.

After my musings on dual-height platforms for the Bakerloo Line Extension, in How Will They Build The Bakerloo Line Extension?, I think that a modified version could handle the problems at stations on the Northern reaches of the Bakerloo Line, where 1972 Stock and Class 378 trains, share a platform.

December 12, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Grayling’s Proposal For The East-West Rail Link Could Be Right?

I’m not saying it’s right that one  company will build the line and then operate it, but I do think it could have advantages.

Track

With the exception of a few short lengths of existing track, most of the construction is a green field site or one where there is just rusty worthless track from decades ago.

This must give opportunities to design a future-proofed route, that in say the 203os or 2040s could run trains much faster, frequent, heavier and longer, than envisaged today.

The route can also be optimised for what is mow believed to be the likely scheduled service.

Stations

This line could have stations optimised for the modern level of working, that the line will.use.

Nothing should be ruled out in station design, if it makes for a more efficient railway.

I would also hope that stations could be modular, so that improvements and new stations could be added by the operator as ttaffic changes.

Get the design right and the company, passengers and staff will benefit.

It would be easier to get the design right, if all stakeholders are in the same team.

Electrification

Parts of the route are electrified and it will have connections to existing electrified lines at Bedford, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Reading.

I believe that there could be considerable savings to be made, by designing the electrification so that it is integrated with the trains bought for the line.

For instance, I believe in a few years time that all new trains will have on-board energy storage, so could this be taken advantage of to perhaps?

  • Enable regenerative braking on trains, rather than trackside
  • Not put overhead wires in stations.

It could be difficult for freight trains and other electric trains, but there could be scope to simplify the electrification.

Signalling

Go digital to save money.

Operation

I have sat in the cab of a High Speed Train as it went between Edinburgh and Inverness. You see a lot and surely some that drivers see could be safety related.

Surely, if the same company is responsible for both trains and track, reporting and fixing problems must be much more direct.

Conclusion

Good design could really.make the railway cheaper to build and operate.

So if it’s one company, with everybody working to the same objectives, it must benefit that company, if someone has a good idea at any point.

If they have a bad idea, then hopefully it will.be ignored.

December 6, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

How To Spend Five Million Pounds

Whtton station has recently been rebuilt. I was alerted to the completion by this article in Rail Technology Magazine, which is entitled £5m upgrades completed at Whitton station.

I took these pictures this morning.

It is a no-frills design, which uses a lot of painted steel beams and classic brickwork.

I think it is true to say, that they’ve spent the money on what a station like this needs.

  • Full length platforms
  • Lifts
  • Adequate platform cover.
  • New cafe and booking office.
  • More than one ticket machine.
  • Bicycle parking.
  • Seats

The one thing it needs, is a bit of colour!

But then, the station is in the London Borough of Richmond and flowers could be the solution. Before Overground – Highams Park, shows a station with a group of community gardeners.

Certainly, the grass needs to grow!

It’ll be interesting to see this station in a couple of years.

For more on how the station was designed and built, this page on the Innovare Systems web site.

This is said.

The station will rebuilt by Innovaré Systems using the i-SIP building system. The system uses structural insulated panels (SIPs), high performance building components which will complete the thermal watertight structure within one week, compared to the 8 weeks which would normally be required using traditional construction. 

This off-site construction method will both simplify the works and provide a highly energy-efficient building for the public to use. The construction will be carried out during daytime hours to avoid unnecessary night time disturbance.

Looking at the impressive quality, I’ll think we’ll see more use of this system.

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment