The Anonymous Widower

A Safety Fence At Barnes Station

I noticed this barrier at Barnes station and I just had to investigate.

I don’t like being on the platform, when a train speeds through. Not that the Class 66 locomotive in the pctures was going fast.

This barrier will allow you to duck through and hang on to fence.

October 11, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

An Interesting Snippet From The Engineer

The Engineer is a magazine that reports on engineering and has done since 1856.

This article is entitled What’s Driving The UK’s Rail Renaissance?.

It is a worthwhile read.

This is a snippet from the section which talks about the Bombardier Aventra.

The “building blocks” of Aventra are being used for commuter train bids in India, South America and Australia.

I would take this to mean, that Bombardier have designed the train and its sub-assemblies, so that it can be put together locally.

Looking at what we know about assembly in Derby, which I reported on in How Long Will It Take Bombardier To Fulfil Their Aventra Orders?, I know or have surmised the following.

  • Bombardier are aiming for a production rate of 25 carriage a month.
  • The sides of the trains are one piece aluminium extrusions.
  • Sub-assemblies designed with suppliers feature in the design.

In addition, there has been a complete rethinking of everything about the design, manufacture and operation of the train.

The aluminium extrusions that appear to make up the sides of the train are revolutionary, with inner and outer skins and strengthening ribs between, probably being extruded in one pass, giving the following advantages.

  • High strength
  • Light weight
  • Thin train sides for greater interior width.
  • Simple, fast, affordable manufacture.

What helps is that train sides and roofs are simple shapes with a constant cross-section. Cars have much more fancy shapes.

See Wikipedia for more on extrusion.

But could it mean, that to set up a factory in say Australia, you only need to export the extruders and the handling rigs to create the body-shells for the locally-assembled trains.

Once the body-shells have been assembled, you just fit the components. Some might be manufactured locally, but other complicatedpartts like bogies, which Bombardier design in the UK, but make in Sweden, would probably be imported.

Hitachi by contrast, build the body-shells in Japan and send them by ship to their factories in Europe. How inefficient and costly is that?

Australia would get new modern trains, that were assembled locally, at a timely rate.

 

September 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Aventras Have Under Floor Heating

I have under floor heating in my house, so why shouldn’t trains.

In this article on Global Rail News, which is entitled First look around Greater Anglia’s Bombardier Aventra mock-up, this is said.

Instead of body-side heaters encroaching on leg room, under-floor heating has been used, seats are cantilevered too to save on space and there will be no doors separating vehicles.

These pictures show the heating in various trains.

 

Note.

No wonder the Class 345 trains give an impression of width.

September 14, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 5 Comments

Do Bombardier Aventras Have Remote Wake-Up?

Remote wake-up is detailed in this snippet from an article in the Derby Telegraph, which appears to have since been deleted.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, Aventra can shut down fully at night and can be “woken up” by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift.

So could we see a train parked up at night in the sidings at the end of the line, after forming the last train from London? The train would then call home and report any problems, which would be sorted if needed, by perhaps a local or mobile servicing team. In the morning, the driver would turn up and find that the train was warm and ready to form the first train of the day up to London.

Since I found this in 2016, I’ve told several drivers and all had stories about cold trains in their least favourite places.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 11 Comments

My Japanese Wallet

These pictures show my Japanese wallet.

Note.

  • The pocket on the outside to hold one credit card. Unfortunately, you can’t do contactless in the pocket.
  • The inside purse to hold a few coins, my door key and a few Warfarin tablets.
  • Plenty of space for cards.
  • The usual folder for notes.
  • The zip that closes it shut.

I haven’t shown the miniature Samurai sword, that pokes out if someone, who doesn’t look like me tries to open the wallet.

September 2, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

The Crazy Idea Of Female-Only Compartments On Trains.

This article on the BBC is entitled Labour MP says ‘merit’ in women-only train carriages.

This is the first paragraph.

Women-only train carriages could combat the rise in sexual offences on public transport, a Labour MP has said.

My use of crazy in the title of this post, is based on what Lord Adonis said on Radio 5 Live, this morning. He also indicated that the solution was to moderate peoples’ and especially men’s behaviour everywhere.

But I don’t think female-only compartments are a good idea for very practical reasons.

The latest generation of commuter trains like the Class 378 trains of the London Overground are walk-through.

This seems to be a design that is used in modern London Underground and Crossrail trains. Putting separate compartments in a train like this, would block off the ability to walk along the train to perhaps position yourself  at the appropriate place to disembark at your station.

I also think that this type of layout is safer and more passenger-friendly.

About a year ago, I had a severe nose-bleed on a train, caused by an excessive sneeze. I had no tissues, but a lady sitting opposite had several and even helped clean me up.

I’d be interested too, to see an analysis of all harrassment on trains differs according to train type.

Conclusion

Like Lord Adonis, I tend to believe that harrassment on trains is better stopped by other means.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment

The Transformation Starts Here

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled First GWR High Speed Train Off-Lease This Month.

It describes how the first InterCity 125 for ScotRail is leaving Great Western Railway for refurbishment to meet the new regulations coming in on the 1st of January 2020.

What other train in the world, after forty years front-line service, could be given a full upgrade to be made ready for more years of service?

 

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

How Long Will It Take Bombardier To Fulfil Their Aventra Orders?

I was reading this article in The Guardian, which is entitled Full speed ahead for train builders as minister pulls plug on electrification, when I found this useful nugget of information, from the General Manager of Bombardier’s Derby plant.

Building trains in an “ergonomically correct” fashion, he says, means completing and testing the carriage’s constituent parts, then assembling them, rather than wiring them up afterwards – and also takes the risk away from a production line which boasts a rate of 25 carriages per week.

It sounds like Bombardier’s engineers have been drinking and swapping ideas, with Toyota’s production engineers a few miles down the road at Burnaston.

But even so 25 carriages a week is an impressive  figure, as that is almost three Class 345 trains for Crossrail in a week.

Bombardier have not been producing at that rate until now, as if they had, there would be Aventras in sidings all over the place. In The Class 345 Trains Are More Numerous, I described how I saw four yesterday and Transport for London have said they will have they will have eleven in service by September.

But this is all consistent with not going into full production, until you are sure, that you’ve got everything right, as any prudent company would do!

The Trains On Order

Bombardier have the following orders for Aventras.

  1. Crossrail – Class 345 – 70 x nine-car – 630 cars – To be delivered in 2015-2018
  2. London Overground – Class 710 – 45 x four-car – 180 cars – To be delivered in 2017-2018
  3. Greater Anglia – Class 720 – 89 x five-car – 445 cars – To be delivered in 2018-2020
  4. Greater Anglia – Class 720 – 22 x ten-car – 220 cars – To be delivered in 2018-2020
  5. South Western Railways – Class xxx – 30 x five-car – 150 cars – To be delivered in 2019-2020
  6. South Western Railways – Class xxx – 60 x ten-car – 600 cars – – To be delivered in 2019-2020

This gives a total of 2,225 cars to be built.

The Building Schedule

Orders 1 and 2 are both directly or indirectly for Transport for London, with Wikipedia stating that the Class 710 trains for the Lea Valley  Lines are being stabled at Ilford TMD, where the current Class 345 trains are also stabled, whilst they are being tested between Liverpool Street and |Shenfield stations.

I suspect that this close relationship between the orders means that Bombardier and Transport for London have agreed a delivery schedule, that brings in trains as they are needed. There’s not much point in building Class 345 trains for Crossrail, when some won’t be needed until 2019, if there is a more urgent need for Class 710 trains for the Overground.

To improve matters for Bombardier, Orders 3 and 4 for Greater Anglia, will probably be stabled in part at Ilford TMD.

Bombardier have not only got four substantial initial orders, but because they can all be introduced into service from Ilford TMD, they must have a tremendous advantage in terms of testing, introduction into service, manpower and costs.

So it looks to me that the two London orders will be built first, followed by the Greater Anglia and then the South Western Railways.

The London orders total 810 cars, which would take 32 weeks using Bombardier’s figure of 25 cars per week in The Guardian.

But assuming they started full production on the 1st of August, that gives them seventy-two weeks until the end of 2018, which gives a equired production rate of under twelve cars a week.

Surely, given their past history of building around a couple of thousand Electrostar cars, that must be achievable. Especially, as the modular structure of the Aventra, which has been developed with suppliers, must make building quicker.

The Greater Anglia and South Western Railways orders, which total 1,415 cars, would need to be built in 2019-2020 or lets say a hundred weeks.

So the build rate would be 14 cars a week, which is well below Bombardier’s figure.

The Body Shells

It should also be stated that Bombardier make their body shells at Derby, whereas Hitachi make their’s in Japan and ship them to Newton Aycliffe. This must ease having a high production rate for Bombardier, as for this you must have timely and reliable deliveries.

The Class 345 and 710 trains seem to have different car lengths, so it would appear that their production of body shells is flexible.

Little can be discerned about the production process from the Internet, as articles like this one on Global Rail News, which is entitled Bombardier completes first Crossrail body shell, are short on production details.

If they have a capacity to produce twenty-five body shells a week, I don’t believe that this can be done without the use of sophisticated designs assisted by large amounts of automation, as used in most car and van body production.

I have found this picture of a number of Aventra car body sides on the Internet.

Note the double-skinned nature of the body sides, with reinforcing ribs inside, which must have great strength, light weight and a minimum number of components. I have read somewhere, that Bombardier are extruding aluminium for body components.

All of the holes would then be automatically cut by robots.

The joys of modern manufacturing!

Final Assembley

Modern manufacturing methods, as employed by car companies for years doesn’t mean you have to produce a sequence of identical vehicles on the line. Computer systems make sure all the components to build each car arrive at the right time.

A Class 345 train might have four or five different types of car, so similar methods would be used to speed production of the individual cars.

West Midlands Trains

Suppose Abellio, who own Greater Anglia, decided they wanted to use Aventras on their new West Midlands Trains franchise.

According to Wikipedia, the new franchise proposals include the following new trains.

  • 100 new carriages for the Cross-City Line
  • 80 new carriages for the Snow Hill Lines
  • 225 new carriages for services from London Euston
  • An indeterminate number of new carriages for the Abbey line

So how many of these could be run by Aventras?

  • The Cross-City Line is similar in nature to some of the Greater Anglia routes that will be run by Class 720 trains.
  • London Euston services could be served by an Aventra with a slightly higher top speed. Why not a 125 mph train, so it can mix it with the Pendelinos? Ian Walmsley has said in Modern Railways that a 125 mph Aventra is possible.
  • The Abbey Line could be served by an appropriate number of Class 710 trains, with whatever interior WMT want.

As it is unlikely that the Snow Hill Lines will be electrified in the near future, could we be seeing an Aventra bi-mode for these lines?

I discuss the concept of a bi-mode Aventra in Is A Bi-Mode Aventra A Silly Idea?.

The West Midlands Trains requirement totals to about 450 new carriages, which will all be pretty similar to previous orders, except in details like car length, number of cars, top speed and the interiors.

At Bombardier’s quoted production rate of 25 cars per week,l that means they would take just eighteen weeks to build them, after the design was finalised.

That sounds unbelievable!

The New South Eastern Franchise

The needs of the current South Eastern and West Midlands franchises are surprisingly similar.

  • High speed running on HS1 and the West Coast Main Line.
  • Suburban services in city networks; London and Birmingham.
  • A few short branch lines.
  • Some lines without electrification.
  • An ageing fleet without wi-fi.

So could we be seeing a mass fleet replacement with Aventras in both franchises?

Note that one of the bidders for this franchise is the same consortium of Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui, who successfully bid for West Midlands Trains.

Abellio bought a large number of Aventras for Greater Anglia and helped develop battery power for the trains.

So could we be seeing a large number of Aventras added to the fleet for the South Eastern franchise?

Currently, the franchise runs 824 Electrostar and 674 Networker carriages.

To replace the Networkers would be 27 weeks of production at Bombardier’s rate of 25 carriages a day.

The South Eastern franchise also needs more high speed trains for HS1. I can’t believe that Bombardier couldn’t achieve a top speed of 140 mph with an Aventra. They probably will have a solution for covering the line between Ashford and Hastings. My money’s is on some form of energy storage.

Conclusion

Bombardier would not quote the capability of being able to make 25 trains per week to a newspaper like the Guardian, if they didn’t know it was possible.

But to meet the deliveries needed by the four initial customers, probably needs about half the quoted production rate, which is the sort of conservative thinking I like.

This gives Bombardier the float to sort out production problems or non-delivery of sub-assemblies outside of their control.

But it would also give them the capacity to fit in other orders. Suppose Crossrail decided to extend to Gravesend or Southend and needed another five Class 345 trains, then in theory, that is only two days production, provided the suppliers can deliver.

The UK’s railways are going to be full of Aventras.

 

 

 

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Toilets In Class 345 Trains

I visited this topic in Do Crossrail Trains Need Toilets? over two years ago, when I said this.

Surely, a much better and more affordable solution would be to update the ribbon maps in all Underground and Crossrail trains to show if the station had toilets, in the same way, they show the step free access. Some extra signs on stations showing the status and location of toilets would also be a good idea.

Incidentally on the Essex and Reading legs of Crossrail, several of the stations already have decent toilets. Getting off a train and catching the next one, to have a relaxed toilet break, is probably not a huge delay, due to the high frequency of the trains.

London has a chance to set high standards in this area, without putting toilets on any trains.

My views haven’t changed, but I do think that now the Aventra is in limited service, I can speculate further.

Walk-through Trains, First Class And Toilets

London now has five walk-through trains.

In some ways the Class 700 train is the odd train out, as it has both First Class seating and toilets.

It should also be noted that Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains don’t have First Class, but it appears they have toilets.

Walk-through trains are an undoubted success, as any Overground or Underground passenger will confirm, after seeing the way other passengers move around the train to both get a seat and be able to make a convenient exit.

First Class causes problems, as it blocks off this passenger circulation, unless it as one end of the train. But this means that First Class passengers might have a long walk to their seat at the wrong end of the day.

I wonder if walk-through trains encourage passengers to not use First Class, as the freedom to circulate in Standard Class makes the travel experience better.

It will be interesting to see how posh commuters from Frinton take to Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains.

Another problem of First Class sitting at one end of the train, is that if toilet provision is made, there must be a toilet near to First Class.

So if you don’t have First Class in a train up to perhaps ten cars, you can get away with perhaps a universal access toilet and a standard one.

From comments I get, most people seem to like the Class 395 trains or Javelins, that work the Highspeed services to Kent. These trains are six-car, with no First Class and two toilets.

So are these trains setting the standard for the Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains?

Toilets On Class 345 Trains

The initial layout of Crossrail with terminals at Abbey Wood, Heathrow, Reading and Shenfield, has a longest journey from Reading to Shenfield of 102 minutes according to the Crossrail web site. But there are toilet facilities at Reading and Shenfield.

However, there is the possibility, that Crossrail trains may serve other terminals like Gravesend, High Wycombe, Southend and Tring.

Tring to Southend would be a journey of two hours, so a toilet is probably a necessity.

The current Class 345 trains have been designed to be nine-car units, although at present they are running as seven cars because of platform length issues at Liverpool Street.

I’ve read somewhere that Crossrail has been designed so that the trains can be increased to ten cars, if there should be a need for more capacity.

  • Platforms have been lengthened to at least two hundred metres.
  • All stations seem to have been updated for a large number of passengers.
  • Lengthening from seven to nine cars is obviously a simple matter.
  • A similar lengthening of the Class 378 trains was not a major exercise.

So surely, it would be a simple matter to slot in a car with a toilet.

So perhaps we might see an extra tenth car added to Class 345 trains, that is tailored to the route, as this ability to add and remove cars, is a feature of all Aventras.

Hitachi’s Class 800 trains also have the capability, as I suspect every well-designed train has.

The Ultimate Airport Train

Imagine a tenth car on Heathrow services.

  • Disabled toilet.
  • Ticket machine.
  • Visitor information and shop.
  • Space for large luggage.

The mind boggles!

Conclusion

If an operator wanted Aventras with a disco car, I’m sure Bombardier would oblige! At a price!

 

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How A Sketch On A Piece Of Paper Became An £85m Rail Bridge

The title of this post is the same as an article on inews, which describes the design process for the bridge over the Irwell in Manchester, which is the centrepiece of the Ordsall Chord.

It is a fascinating insight into the design of what could become Manchester’s new icon.

August 17, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment