The Anonymous Widower

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

The Design And Development Of Crossrail’s Unique Luminaires

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

It is a very informative article and the lights look well-designed.

The lights were developed by a company called Future Designs.

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

Merseyrail Reveals Latest Station Closures For Upgrade Work Ahead Of New Trains

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Liverpool Business News.

This is the first paragraph.

Merseyrail has announced details of the next phases of station closures as it upgrades is platforms to make them ready its new £460m fleet of trains due to come into service in 2021.

In total, there are eleven phases of work to give all platforms level access to the new trains.

I am fairly sure that no other local rail network in the UK, will have this quality of level access.

Some stations on the London Overground have similar access, but not that many. When you consider, that many station platforms have been rebuilt and they are only used by Class 378 trains, I believe an opportunity was missed.

The article says this about Merseyrail‘s new Class 777 trains.

Swiss manufacturer Stadler has started the manufacturing process at its Szolnok plant in Hungary on the new fleet of 52 trains. There, the car-body production is under way with the units being machined, welded, sandblasted and coated in special protection and premium quality paint to combat corrosion, caused by the contact with sea-water.

Most of the current Class 507/508 trains are forty years old, but they appear to me to be one of the most bottom-friendly suburban trains in the UK, with desirable 2+2 seating. I regularly travel on Class 313 trains, which are similar trains of the same vintage, into and out of Moorgate, and these are scrapyard specials compared to Merseyrail’s spotless, spacious and comfortable trains.

These pictures from March 2017, show the current trains.

They certainly look to be in good enough condition to see all the new trains into service and through their inevitable teething troubles in the next couple of years.

Conclusion

,The care being taken by Merseyrail and Stadler in the preparation for and design of their new trains, seems to indicate that they are intending to get forty years out of the new fleet.

 

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tailpiece On The Sheffield To Rotherham Parkgate Tram-Train

I took this picture at the Rotherham Parkgate tram stop.

Note.

  1. The level step-free access between the Class 399 tram-train and the platform.
  2. The platform laid-out to help passengers and meet all regulations.
  3. The 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  4. The track continuing into a siding, which could be turned into a loop to extend the service to Doncaster.
  5. The well-placed safety fences.

It certainly appears that Network Rail have produced a professional design that works well and makes things easy for passengers.

November 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Prototype Overhead Line Structure Revealed

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Global Rail News.

This is the first paragraph.

A prototype overhead line structure (OLS) designed to be quick to install, easy to maintain and more attractive to look at has been unveiled by its creators, Mott MacDonald and Moxon Architects.

Searching the Internet, I found this press release about the structure, which is entitled Moxon and Mott MacDonald unveil prototype for innovative Integrated Overhead Line Structure.

This picture is from the press release.

Various advantages are claimed.

  • Reduced visual impact.
  • Complete interoperability with existing overhead systems.
  • Reduced number of components.
  • Ease of installation.
  • No additional engineer training.
  • Reduced maintenance costs.

I like the concept, but is it too radical for Network Rail to give its blessing?

Perhaps the most radical feature is the use of laminated wood in the structure.

Conclusion

This is a very good design, but I doubt we’ll see it installed on UK railways.

 

September 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Now That’s What I Call A Footbridge!

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Network Rail Launches Footbridge Design Competition.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A competition for new footbridge design ideas has been launched by Network Rail and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Entrants are asked to design fully accessible footbridges that can be used across Britain’s rail network and that further improve the legacy of rail pioneers.

Hopefully, something better than some of those on Britain’s rail network will be designed.

I was in Wales last week on the Ffestiniog Railway and saw this bridge.

Surely, someone can come up with something like this, that meets all the regulations and looks a lot better, than Network Rail’s standard offering in green-painted steel.

My father used to build structures like this with timber and bolts to create extra floors and storage in his print works in Wood Green. From about the age of seven, I was his little helper.

Perhaps, thirty years later, I had a barn built at a house I owned. The architect had the building designed in a similar manner.

Someone, ought to enter Network Rail’s competition with a similar design.

July 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cardiff Queen Street Station

Cardiff Queen Street station is the first station to be refurbished for the proposed South Wales Metro.

Note.

  1. The station is fully step-free.
  2. The platforms are wide, which helps interchange or waiting for your destination. See Canada Water on the Overground and St. Pancras on Thameslink.
  3. Currently, to get to Cardiff Bay station, you need to catch a five trains per hour (tph) shuttle train from Platform 1.

The service pattern is fairly-straight-forward, with the following lines passing though the station from South to North.

It is said, that to build anything, you need good foundations.

These services through Cardiff Queen Street station, seem to be a good foundation for the South Wales Metro.

The current proposed services through the station after the Metro is completed are.

  • 2 tph – Coryton Line between Penarth and Coryton stations via Cardiff Central – Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts
  • 2 tph – Cynon Line between The Flourish and Aberdare stations.. – Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles
  • 2 tph – Rhondda Line between Cardiff Queen Street and Treherbert stations – Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles
  • 2 tph – Rhondda Line between The Flourish and Treherbert stations – Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles
  • 2 tph – Rhymney Line between Barry Island and Rhymney stations via Cardiff Central – Tri-Mode Stadler Floirts
  • 2 tph – Rhymney Line between Bridgend and Rhymney stations via Cardiff Central – Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts
  • 2 tph – Rhymney Line between Penarth and Caerphilly stations via Cardiff Central – Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts
  • 2 tph – Taff Line between The Flourish and Merthyr Tydfil stations – Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles
  • 2 tph – Cynon and Taff Lines between Aberdate and Merthyr Tydfil stations via the City Line and Cardiff Central – Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles.

Summarising services gives these figures.

  • 6 tph – To and from The Flourish – Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles
  • 10 tph – To and from Cardiff Central – Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts
  • 2 tph – To and from Cardiff Central – Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

This Google Map shows Cardiff Queen Street station.

Note.

  1. The bay platform, which is numbered 1, is in the South East corner of the station. is used for services to Cardiff Bay station.
  2. There is no North-facing bay platform.
  3. Northbound trains for Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil and Treherbert share Platform 5.
  4. Northbound trains for Bargoed, Coryton and Rhymney share Platform 4.
  5. Sounthbound trains use Platforms 2 and 3.

I believe that this layout will be changed  in the creation of the South Wales Metro.

In an ideal world passengers should have a same-platform or cross-platform interchange between services going in the same direction.

If services going in the same direction shared the same platform, this would meet sixteen tph using two platforms, as two tph will terminate at Cardiff Queen Street station.

Canada Water station on the East London Line of the London Underground in a couple of years will be handling twenty tph.

  • The platforms are wide with escalators, lifts and stairs.
  • Four Southern destinations and Two Northern destinations are served.
  • All services are run by Class 378 trains.
  • Access between train and platform is step free and wheel-chairs and buggies can be pushed across.
  • The East London Line has modern signalling.

If Crossrail and Thameslink will be able to handle twenty-four tph with digital signalling, I believe a solution can be found so that sixteen tph can pass through Cardiff Queen Street station.

Having seen wide platforms in operation at stations like Canonbury, London Bridge and Whitechapel, I feel an ideal layout at Queen Street station would be to use Platform 3 for all Southbound services and Platform 4 for all Northbound services, with as  wide a platform as possible in between.

Consider.

  • Passengers from Rymney and Coryton needing to go to The Flourish, would get off the train and get a Citylink for The Flourish.
  • Passengers between The Flourish and Cardiff Central would just have to walk across the platform at Queen Street station to change trains.
  • Passengers needing a train to Rhoose Airport could choose to change at Queen Street station.

Most waits at Queen Street station would be in a few minutes.

Although, passengers would wait longer for Barry Island, Bridgend and Rhoose Airport.

There is still the problem about what to do with the two tph that from Treherbert that terminate at Queen Street station.

  1. They could use Platform 2 or 5.
  2. They could use a new bay platform in the North end of Pltform 3/4.
  3. They could go through Queen Street station to terminate at The Flourish
  4. They could go through Queen Street and Central stations to terminate elsewhere.

Option 1 would have problems.

  • Every thirty minutes a Citylink would have to cross the busy lines to the North of Queen Street station.
  • Passengers wouldn’t always use the same platform for the Rhondda Line.
  • Passengers wouldn’t have an easy interchange at Queen Street station.

Option 2 would be better.

  • The track layout would be similar.
  • Rhondda Line passengers would only have the inconvenience of sometimes walking along the platform.

.Even if this option was not used to turn trains, I suspect it could be built, as it would also be useful for service recovery purposes.

I like Option 3, although it will have the following consequences.

  • ,The Flourish would need to be able to handle eight tph on the two proposed platforms.
  • Queen Street station would need to be able to handle eighteen tph in both directions.

I suspect that both problems are solvable.

The problem with Option 4 is where do you turn the two extra trains?

I suspect that the Citylink vehicles can only use the City Line after Cardiff Central.

Would it be a good idea or not to run four tph on this route?

I don’t know! But a personable young station man at Queen Street station, said that handling the football can be a problem.

So perhaps more trains going to Ninian Park station might be a good idea.

I write about it in detail in The South Wales Metro and Big Events.

Conclusion

Cardiff Queen Street station has the possibility to be a World Class Metro interchange.

 

 

 

June 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Can Discontinuous Electrification Be Handled?

On the proposed South Wales Metro, it is proposed to use discontinuous electrification to avoid rebuilding a lot of bridges and other structures.

This document on the KeolisAmey web site details their plans for the new Wales and Borders Franchise.

The document states this about the electrification.

Discontinuous overhead line electrification to 25 KVAC with permanently earthed sections around restricted structures, saving 55 interventions e.g. rebuilding bridges/no need for wire in Caerphilly tunnel.

So how are these interventions avoided?

The Karlsruhe Solution

On the Karlsruhe Stadbahn, similar Citylink vehicles to those proposed for Cardiff need to work on both the main line 15 KVAC used in Germany and the 750 VDC used by Karlsruhe trams.

To isolate the two voltages, a ceramic rod is placed in the catenary. The vehicle’s pantograph just rides across the voltage boundary and the vehicle’s electrical system uses whatever voltage is present.

Bridges On The South Wales Metro

These pictures show some of the types of bridges on the Cardiff Valleys Lines.

They are a real assortment.

  • Some station footbridges from the Victorian era with nice castings and decoration, but no much-needed step-free access.
  • Some quality brick and stone arch bridges.
  • British Rail-era steel bridges, with no architectural merit
  • Some modern road bridges in steel and concrete.

I also saw sizeable pipelines over the railway, which would need to be raised.

The greatest number were simple steel bridges like the one at Caerphilly station, designed to get pedestrians and cyclists, who were not using the railway, from one side of the tracks to the other.

I suspect the simplest way would be to erect two standard gantries at a safe distance of a few metres either side of the structure.

Between the two gantries would be an conductor, like this one. that I photographed in the Berlin Hauphtbahnhof.

It would be earthed, so that it offered no danger to life. There could even be extra supports under the bridge.

At each end, it would be connected to the 25 KVAC using a ceramic rod or other insulating device.

The vehicle’s pantograph would then ride from one side of the bridge to the other on its own track without being lowered.

Anything electrified at 25 KVAC would be kept at a very safe distance from the bridge.

In the earthed section, when the vehicle would be receiving no power, the vehicle would automatically switch to battery power. There would be no driver action required, except to monitor it was all working as it should.

As on the South Wales Metro, it appears that all vehicles using the lines proposed to be electrified will have their own onboard batteries, there shouldn’t be any problem.

In some ways, this discontinuous operation is a bit like using your laptop connected to the mains. When say the cleaner pulls out the plug to put in the vacuum cleaner, your laptop switches automatically to the battery.

The Caerphilly Tunnel

The Caerphilly tunnel is over a mile long. This picture shows the tunnel entrance.

It would probably be possible to electrify using a rail in the roof, but why bother if the trains running through the tunnel could go from one end to the other on their own battery power?

Trains could lower the pantograph before entry and then raise it again, when under the electrification at the other end.

This could be performed automatically using a GPS-based system.

I have also had an e-mail, which said this.

As I understand Caerphilly will have a natural bar in it but be much closer to the train roof than would be allowed with a live one.

Now there’s an idea!

A composite or earthed metal rail would be fixed to the roof of the tunnel, so that the pantograph could run smoothly from one electrified section on one side of the tunnel to the electrification on the other side, using battery power all the way.

Cost Savings

In Novel Solution Cuts Cardiff Bridge Wiring Cost, I talked about another method applied in South Wales to avoid rebuilding a bridge.

At this bridge, traditional electrification methods were used, but the need to demolish the bridge was avoided by using advanced insulation and protection measures.

This was my final statement.

Network Rail reckon that the solution will save about £10 million on this bridge alone, as it avoids the need for an expensive rebuild of the bridge.

The savings on this bridge will be higher as it is a large bridge over several tracks, but even saving a million on each bridge in the South Wales Metro is £55 million, which will probably be enough to build much of the infrastructure to extend to The Flourish, which would appear to not need expensive viaducts or electrification.

Should Downhill Tracks Be Left Without Electrification?

I think this may be possible on the South Wales Metro, as vehicles coming down the hills could use gravity and small amounts of battery power.

Regenerative braking would also be continuously charging the batteries.

It would certainly be simpler, than having to constantly swap between overhead and battery power on the descent, where the electrification was discontinuous.

As the lines are going to have a more intensive service, there will be additions of a second track in places to allow trains to pass.

Any electrification that could be removed from the project would be beneficial in terms of building and operational costs.

Other Routes

This post has used the South Wales Metro as an example, but I don’t see any reason, why the discontinous method and that used on the Cardiff Bridge can’t be applied to other bridges and structures over the lines on other routes in the country.

I suspect, that if they’d been used on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, electric trains would have been running months ago!

Conclusion

Look what you get with thinking, when you have a Bonfire of the Boxes!

 

June 7, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Reason Why The UK Is Fertile Territory For Tram Trains

The UK has several modern tram systems. If you look at the cross section of trams you get the following figures.

I wonder why Nottingham is twenty-five centimetres narrower!

If you look at the Class 399 tram-train, it has a width of 2.65 metres and a height of 3.67 metres.

So no wonder, there has been no problems with Class 399 tram-trains running on the Sheffield Supertram as trams!

Various trains that run local rail networks include.

  • Class 142 – Width 2..8 metres – Height 3.86 metres
  • Class 150 – Width 2.8 metres – Height 3.8 metres
  • Class 222 – Width 2.73 metres
  • Class 319 – Width 2.82 metres – Height – 3.58 metres
  • Class 345 – Width 2.78 metres – Height N/A
  • Class 378 – Width 2.80 metres – Height 3.78 metres
  • Class 700 – Width 2.80 metres – Height N/A
  • Class 769 – Width 2.82 metres – Height 3.58 metres
  • Mark 4 Coach – Width 2.73 metres – Height 2.79 metres

These are some figures from German trains.

  • DBAG 641 – Width 2.90 metres – Height 3.7 metres
  • BD Class 420 – With 3.08 metres
  • ICE 3 – Width 2.95 metres – Height 3.89 metres

I’ll look at various issues.

Tram And Train Height

I think this is not a big issue.

If a tram or electric train can run on a particular track, then there should be no height problems running a tram-train over the route, providing overhead wires can be erected.

UK Tram And Train Width

It would appear that the maximum width of UK trains is 2.82 metres. In some stations, where there is only one class of train, level access is possible.

The picture shows a Class 378 train on the London Overground.

This is not one of the best I’ve seen, but there is no reason, why someone in a wheelchair shouldn’t be able to wheel themselves into every train at every station.

This is in the train operating company’s interest, as one of the things that delays trains, is getting someone in a wheelchair on and off the train with a portable ramp.

If we take the UK train width of 2.82 metres and compare that to the width of a Class 399 tram-train, which is 2.65 metres, that means that there is seventeen  centimetres difference or eight and a half centimetres on each side of the train.

If the platform can be arranged to be level, that is not a large gap. It’s probably about the same size as this gap in this picture.

Shown is a Class 399 tram-train at a tram stop on the Sheffield Supertram.

Continental Tram And Train Width

But on the Continent, where the trains are wider and the loading gauge is bigger, the gap will be larger.

Trains on the Continent also often have a significant step up as this picture shows.

Shown is an Italian High Speed train.

If the EU wanted to improve train travel for the disabled, those in wheelchairs, those with buggies and the elderly, they should make it compulsory for all trains to have level access from the platform.

It’s very rare to find level access on the Continent and not that easy in parts of the UK.

Gap Fillers

But things are getting better, as this picture shows.

Shown is a Stadler Flirt with a rather nifty automatic gap filler.

Merseyrail’s New Class 777 Trains

Gap fillers will be fitted to Merseyrail‘s new Class 777 trains, which are being built by Stadler.

The Class 777 trains and the current Class 507 trains have the same width of 2.82 metres, but the new Stadler trains have an eighteen centimetre lower floor.

The picture shows a Class 507 train at one of Liverpool’s underground stations.

Eighteen centimetres wouldn’t be far away from the height of the step in the picture.

The design must also allow both classes of trains to be in service at the same time, to ease introduction of the new Class 777 trains.

Talk about Swiss precision!

South Wales Metro

This document on the KeolisAmey web site details their plans for the new Wales and Borders Franchise.

For services around Cardiff and on the Cardiff Valley Lines, KeolisAmey Wales intend to acquire the following fleet.

  • 11 – four-car Stadler Flirt DEMU
  • 7 – three-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 17 – four-car Stadler Flirt Tri-mode MU
  • 36 – three-car Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles

Note.

  1. The Stadler Flirts look very similar to Greater Anglia‘s Class 755 trains, that by the time of delivery of these trains for Wales, will have proven themselves on the mountains of East Anglia.
  2. The tri-mode multiple units will be able to run on electric, diesel or battery power.
  3. The Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles look very similar to Sheffield Supertram‘s Class 399 tram-trains, that are providing a tram service in Sheffield and will soon be running on the rail network to Rotherham.
  4. It is an all-Stadler fleet.

This is a clip from the KeolisAmey document.

This looks like a visualisation of one of the Flirts, as the Citylink tram-trains have flat sides.

I will be very surprised if Stadler don’t provide the Cardiff area, with one of the best step-free networks in the world.

Conclusion

The UK’s standard tram width of 2.65 metres and our small loading gauge must make it easier to design tram-train systems for the UK.

 

 

 

 

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June 6, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abbey Wood Station – 21st May 2018

Abbey Wood station has been progressing and I took these pictures.

The layout of the connecting bridges between the Crossrail and North Kent Line platforms is now clear.

  • At the London End, there is a simple footbridge, with steps to each pair of platforms.
  • At the Main Entrance End, there are wide steps and a lift between the station ticket hall and each pair of platforms.
  • The third bridge in the middle is the unusual one with wide steps and a single escalator to each pair of platforms.

I would assume, that the direction of the escalators is as follows.

  • In the Morning Peak, the North Kent Line escalator is set to Up and the Crossrail escalator is set to Down, to speed passengers from the North Kent Line to Crossrail.
  • In the Evening Peak, the Crossrail escalator is set to Up and the North Kent Line escalator is set to Down, to speed passengers from Crossrail to the the North Kent Line.
  • At other times with less traffic, both escalators would be set to Up.

I have seen a lot of station layouts all over the UK and Europe and never one like this.

I doubt, I’ve even seen a pair of platforms connected by three separate bridges too!

Could it be a design of genius to allow thousands of passengers to change between the two pairs of platforms in a short space of time?

Other station layouts that enable this rate of passenger transfer, like the interchange between Crossrail and the Central Line at Stratford station, arrange for a cross-platform interchange, with lines going in the same direction sharing a common platform.

But that arrangement would have been difficult at Abbey Wood, unless perhaps the Crossrail tunnel emerged closer to the station or a flyover or dive-under were to be built.

Both options would have required more space and would have been a lot more expensive.

The design of Abbey Wood station with its three footbridges and wide platforms, would appear to be a more affordable alternative.

Train Length

In some of the pictures, a Class 345 train is shown in one of the Crossrail platforms.

This is a full-length train, which is 205 metres long.

The pictures show just how long these trains are.

LED Lights On The Stairs

Three of the pictures in the bottom row, show the stair handrails with their light underneath.

I Like them.

 

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment