The Anonymous Widower

The Capacity Of London Overground’s New Class 710 Trains

The first of London Overground’s new Class 710 trains has just been delivered and will enter service by November.

This article on the International Railway Journal is entitledTfL Unveils Class 710 EMUs For London Overground.

This is a short extract.

The new EMUs will double the capacity of the current class 172 DMUs to almost 700 passengers per train and feature walk-through carriages for greater capacity and improved accessibility, with more wheelchair spaces.

It strikes me, that seven hundred seems a lot of passengers, so how does this compare with other trains?

Class 172 Trains

The Class 172 trains currently working the Gospel Oak to Barking Line are only two cars and have a capacity of 120 seats.

They will be replaced with Class 710/2 trains with longitudinal seating.

Class 315 Trains

The Class 315 trains currently working the Lea Valley Lines, have 318 seats according to Wikipedia.

They will be replaced with Class 710/1 trains with a mix of transverse longitudinal seating.

Class 378 Trains

The Class 378 trains currently working the North and East London Lines, have similar longitudinal seating as the new Class 710/2 trains for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and can really cram passengers inside.

London Underground S7 And S8 Trains

The S7/S8 Stock trains of the London Underground are London’s biggest people carriers.

  • S7 – 7 cars – 117.45 metres long – 865 passengers – 7.36 passengers per metre
  • S8 – 8 cars – 133.68 metres long – 1003 passengers – 7.50 passengers per metre

As the Class 710 trains have been designed on similar principles, I suspect we’ll be seeing similar passenger densities of around 7-8 passengers per metre.

This would give a capacity of around six hundred passengers, if the trains are the same eighty metre length as the current Class 315 trains.

Conclusion

These new Class 710 trains are going to substantially increase public transport capacity across North London.

They are certainly future-proofed for an outbreak of London Overground Syndrome, where passenger numbers greatly exceed forecasts.

As some of the trains are being delivered as five-car units, there is always the option of adding an extra car. Especially, as the platforms on the line, seem to have been built for five or even six car trains.

London Overground have not made the platform length miscalculations of the North and East London Lines.

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Roll-Out Of Electric Trains Along Gospel Oak Yo Barking Line Delayed Until The Summer

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on City AM.

So the rumours that I talked about in New Overground Trains For Gospel Oak To Barking line Delayed… By Three Months, would seem to be correct!

According to the article, Bombardier are saying it’s due to software issues dragging out the testing, of the Class 710 trains.

All trains these days are about software and  I speak from personal experience of fifty years writing extremely complex software.

Getting all of the software systems working correctly is an extremely complex task and, as this is only the second train of the Aventra family to be built, Bombardier are probably still going through a learning curve.

I feel, the problems are made worse, because of a lack of test tracks in the UK. A lot of train testing seems to be done for Hitachi’s new Class 385 trains in the Czech Republic and Germany and I find it interesting that Talgo, are thinking of building a new test track in the UK, as I reported in Talgo Explores Options For Building UK Test Track.

My experience of software writing, says that there is light at the end of this particular tunnel.

According to Wikipedia, twenty of the Class 710 trains have now been built, so when one train is approved, if the other nineteen are identical, twenty trains can surely be introduced into service fairly quickly, once enough drivers and other staff have been trained.

The City AM article finishes with these two paragraphs.

Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham council, said: “Coming on the back of the announcement of a delay with the Barking Riverside Overground, this is another slap in the face for the residents of Barking and Dagenham.

“Moving the completion dates of this project tells a lot about the contractors managing it and in future, may need us to look very closely into how these private sector contracts are awarded and managed.”

Does he believe, that if everything were to be nationalised, it would be much better?

If I go back to the 1960s and 1970s, my memory tells me that British Rail had lateness problems, when they did everything. Some projects like the Advanced Passenger Train never even saw service, after consuming millions of pounds.

In some ways, the real problem is the lack of testing facilities for the large numbers of new trains and the new digital signalling coming into service. Too much has to be done at the Old Dalby test track near Melton Mowbray.

Incidentally, I’ve just returned from the Aosta Valley in Italy, where their new Stadler Flirt trains have been delivered, but are yet to enter service. The new trains for the Aosta Valley Line are still not in service, as I reported in Where Are The New Trains For The Aosta Valley?.

So do the Swiss have software problems as well?

Building trains would appear to be a complex business.

 

June 1, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Walthamstow Central Tube Station To Receive £15m Improvement

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the Waltham Forest Guardian.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Walthamstow Central tube station has been allocated £15 million for improvements, but only if the controversial Walthamstow Mall redevelopment goes ahead.

New plans for the station include installing step-free access and a creating a new entrance.

That would surely get rid of the servere overcrowding that is experienced in Walthamstow Central station.

Overcrowding At Walthamstow Central Station

I often go to Walthamstow, at the tail end of the Evening Peak.

I have two routes.

  1. Take a bus to Highbury and Islington station and then use the Victoria Line.
  2. Take a bus to Hackney Downs station and then use the Chingford Line of the London Overground.

I always use the second route, as the two escalators at Walthamstow Central station can’t cope with the Victoria Line’s increased frequency of thirty-six trains per hour.

What makes matters worse is that all trains, except those going to and from the depot at Northumberland Park, run the whole length of the line between Brixton and Walthamstow Central stations.

Running this service on Dear Old Vicky, is one of the great engineering achievements on Metros around the world, but it means that passengers are finding some of the Victoria Line stations are inadequate. Walthamstow Central is one of them!

Another factor, that doesn’t help, is the excellent Walthamstow bus station. It is the third busiest in London and I’m sure it attracts more travellers to the rail and tube stations.

It is my belief, that the increase in train frequency and the building of the new bus station are the major cause of increasing overcrowding in the station.

It is worth noting that in 2016, the tube station handled nearly twenty-three million passengers with just two platforms and an up and a down escalator. By comparison, Cannon Street station, handled the same number of passengers with seven platforms and level access.

To be fair to Transport for London, they have sorted the gate lines at the station, but that still leaves the escalators severely overcrowded at times.

I actually can’t understand, why they haven’t replaced the middle staircase with a third escalator, as they have at Brixton, where there are also lifts.

Overcrowding Could Be Getting Worse!

Some transport improvements, that will happen in the next year or two,, will affect passenger numbers at Walthamstow Central station.

New Trains On The Chingford Line

The current Class 315 and Class 317 trains will be replaced by new Class 710 trains.

  • These will have the same number of carriages, but they will have a higher capacity, due to better design and being walk-through trains.
  • They will also have wi-fi and 4G available, if they follow the lead of the closely-related Class 345 trains.
  • Their operating speed has not been disclosed, but that of the Class 345 train is 90 mph, which is fifteen mph faster than a Class 315 train.
  • Their modern design will also allow them to save a minute or two at each of the seven stops.

The performance improvement may allow a more intense service.

The trains will certainly attract more passengers, as quality new trains always do!

  • Will the new trains generate more new passengers, than any forecaster dreamt was possible?
  • Will more passengers be attracted to stations North of Walthamstow Central and change to the Victoria Line?
  • Will some passengers change from using the Victoria Line to the Chingford Line?

Bear in mind, that new trains on the North London Line, started in 2010 with three-car trains running at six trains per hour (tph). They are now up to five-car trains running at eight tph. This is an capacity increase of over 120%.

On balance, I suspect that some of these factors will cancel each other out. But who knows?

New Trains On The Northern City Line

The geriatric Class 313 trains working the Northern City Line are being replaced by new Class 717 trains.

  • These new trains will offer higher frequencies and more capacity.
  • They will use 2+2 seating.
  • They will have wi-fi and power sockets.

Services on the Northern City Line have a cross-platform step-free interchange with the Victoria Line at Highbury & Islington station, so I believe the route will be increasingly used by passengers between the Walthamstow/Chingford area and the City of London.

Undoubtedly, it will increase passengers using the escalators at Walthamstow Central station.

New Trains On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

The current two-car Class 172 trains on the Gospel Oak To Barking Line, are being replaced by four-car electric Class 710 trains.

  • The new trains will double capacity.
  • They will have better passenger facilities.
  • They will be more environmentally-friendly.

These trains could encourage travellers to use the quieter Walthamstow Queen’s Road station, instead of the very busy Walthamstow Central station.

Stratford To Meridian Water

This project will add a third track to the West Anglia Main Line and allow a four tph service between Stratford station and the new station at Meridian Water with stops at Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale and Northumberland Park stations.

I have no view on how successful, this new line will be and how it will affect traffic on the Victoria line.

Crossrail

When you discuss transport provision in London, there is always a herd of elephants in the room!

Crossrail will change everybody’s journeys!

Crossrail will create a high-capacity fast route between Heathrow and Canary Wharf via Paddington, the West End and the City of London.

So how will those in Walthamstow and Chingford tie into this new high-capacity line?

In my view a direct link to Stratford is needed, which could be created by reinstating the Hall Farm Curve.

The World Ducking And Diving Championships

East Londoners would undoubtedly win the World Ducking-And-Diving Championships, if one were to be held.

Network Rail and Transport for London, are creating the ultimate training ground in North-East London.

Most people do a number of common journeys over time.

They get to know the best routes for these journeys dependent on various factors, like the time of day, weather and whether they are carrying heavy shopping.

For most people though, choosing the route for a particular day’s journey will not be process that can be written down, that might be more determined by random factors.

I for instance, will often choose my route, based on the first bus that comes along, even if it is not usually the quickest route.

To make journeys easier, through a network like North-East London, you need the following.

  • As many links as possible.
  • As few bottlenecks as possible.

These rules will allow the passengers to flow freely.

Passengers like water automatically find the quickest way from A to B.

Improvements In North-East London

There are various improvements in alphabetical order, that are proposed, planned or under construction for North-East London

Bicycle Routes Across The Lea Valley

The Lea Valley has a lot of green space and I have seen plans mentioned to create quiet cycling routes across the area.

It should also include lots of bikes for hire.

Hall Farm Curve

I mentioned this earlier and by building it to link Walthamstow and Stratford, it would enable direct access from Walthamstow and Chingford to the the following.

  • Olympic Park and Stadium.
  • The shops at Eastfield.
  • Crossrail
  • Docklands Light Railway
  • Jubilee and Central Lines
  • Highspeed serevices to Kent.
  • Continental services, if in the future, they stopped at Stratford.

It is a massive super-connector.

More Bus Routes

It may be that more bus routes or even stops are needed.

As an illustration of the latter, when the Walthamstow Wetlands opened, bus stops were provided.

New Stations

The new station at Meridian Water will add a new link to the transport network.

Two new stations on the Chingford Branch Line have also been proposed, which I wrote about them in New Stations On The Chingford Branch Line.

New stations are a good way to add more links in a transport network.

I shall be interested to see how many passengers the rebuilt Hackney Wick station attracts, when West Ham United are at home.

Northumberland Park Station

Northumberland Park station is being rebuilt with full step-free access, to provide better rail access to the new White Hart Lane Stadium.

Step-Free Access At Stations

Progress is being made, but there are still some truly dreadful access problems at some stations in East London.

Clapton, St. James Street, Seven Sisters, Stamford Hill and Wood Street certainly need improvement.

Tottenham Hale Station

Tottenham Hale Station is being rebuilt to give it full step-free access and a new entrance.

As this station handles well over ten million passengers a year, it is a good place to start.

Walthamstow Central Station

Walthamstow Central station is almost last in this alphabetical list.

It is probably, the second most important transport hub in North-East London and it does handle nearly thirty million passengers a year if the National Rail and Underground figures are combined.

But, is it treated last by the planners?

Walthamstow Wetlands

This massive urban nature reserve opened last year and its importance will only grow in the years to come.

Will transport links need to be added to the Wetlands?

West Anglia Main Line Four-Tracking

Stansted Airport will grow and to get proper rail access to the airport, the long promised four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line will happen.

  • There will be two fast tracks for Cambridge, Stansted and possibly Norwich services.
  • There will be two slow tracks for local services up the Lea Valley to Broxbourne, Hertford East and Bishops Stortford.

Broxbourne station and the rebuilt Tottenham Hale station, will be the interchanges between fast and slow services.

Four-tracking will open up the possibility of lots more services up the Lea Valley.

There has been rumours, that Greater Anglia would like to open up a service between Stratford and Stansted. But that would be just for starters.

Liverpool Street station is full, but there is space at Stratford if the High Meads Loop under the shops and housing at Stratford is used, just like it was a few years ago.

The West Anglia Main Line could be turned into a high-capacity main line into London with two London terminal station; Liverpool Street and Stratford.

  • Both termini would be connected to Crossrail.
  • Liverpool Street connects to Central, Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines.
  • The massive Liverpool Street-Moorgate Crossrail station will connect to the Northern and Northern City Lines.
  • Stratford connects to fast Kent services and Central and Jubilee Lines.

Will passengers for places like the West End get a fast train to Crossrail, rather than change for the Victoria Line at Tottenham Hale.

Conclusion

North-East London’s transport network is going to get better and better!

Note that I haven’t mentioned Crossrail 2! I doubt, this will be built before 2040!

 

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

LO ‘710s’ To Be Tested On ECML

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

After a period testing at the Old Dalby test track, the first Class 710 train will move to the East Coast Main Line.

I think this could be a pragmatic decision.

  • On the slow lines of the Southern part of the East Coast Main Line, there are typically four trains per hour (tph), which might be a low enough frequency for extra paths to be found for train testing.
  • Trains can access the East Coast Main Line from both the Gospel Oak to Barking and the North London Lines.
  • These lines give access to Willesden TMD, where some of the trains will be stabled.
  • The trains could be turned back at the sidings at Welwyn Garden City station.
  • The Class 710 trains are probably 90 mph units, which is faster than some of the older trains using the slow lines.

It will be interesting to see, where the testing is actually performed.

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

New Overground Trains For Gospel Oak To Barking line Delayed… By Three Months

The title of this post is the same as that, of this article in the Islington Gazette.

Various reasons are given.

  • The Bridge at Crouch Hill station.
  • Delays in testing the overhead wires.
  • Software problems on the trains.
  • TfL are awaiting trains for driver training.

Network Rail and TfL are apparently blaming each other.

There has been some very bad planning and design on the updating of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

  • Crouch Hill bridge should have been rebuilt earlier.
  • Some of the overhead gantry supports were built to wrong dimensions.
  • Some of the project planning seems optimistic with hindsight.

Would I also be right in thinking, that the process of introducing the new trains could have been better handled?

Or is it just, that the idea was to get the Geospel Oak to Barking Line working first and run perhaps a couple of Class 710 trains on the line for the following purposes.

  • Give a thorough testing of all systems.
  • Accumulate certification mileage.
  • Training of drivers.

This would appear to be what happened with Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, which could be seen shuttling up and down between Stratford and Shenfield stations for a couple of months in the middle of the day, before they were allowed to carry fare-paying passengers.

Perhaps, the testing of the trains and initial training of the drivers should have been planned for the Northern section of the Watford DC Line, where the same dual-voltage 710/2 variant of the trains will eventually be deployed.

Conclusion

It would all have been so much different, if the electrified railway had been delivered on the original target date that according to Wikipedia, would have allowed the new trains to run in early 2018.

 

 

April 26, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Could There Be A Bi-Mode Aventra for Commuter Routes?

The London Overground has ordered a fleet of four-car Class 710 trains.

The Gospel Oak to Barking Line is being extended to a new Barking Riverside station.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which probably has a terrain not much different to the lines in London.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

The proposed Barking Riverside Extension is about a mile, so this could need up to 20 kWh each way.

This could easily be done with a battery, but supposing a small diesel engine was also fitted under the floor.

Would anybody notice the same 138 kW Cummins ISBe diesel engine that is used in a New Routemaster hybrid bus? I doubt it!

It is revealing to calculate the kinetic energy of a fully-loaded Class 710 train. I estimate that it is around forty kWh, if it is travelling at 90 mph.

That speed would rarely be achieved on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

If a Class 710 train, had only one 75 kWh battery from a New Routemaster bus, the charge levels would be as follows, as it went to Barking Riverside and back.

  • Joining the new line to go to Barking Riverside and leaving the electrification – 75 kWh
  • Starting braking for Barking Riverside station – 55 kWh
  • Stopped at Barking Riverside station, after regenerative braking, which generates perhaps 30 kWh.- 75 kWh
  • At line speed after accelerating away from Barking Riverside station – 35 kWh
  • Joining the electrified main line – 15 kWh

Note,.

  1. I have assumed that the train needs 20 kWh for the journey, but this figure will probably be lower, as the Aventra is a very efficient train.
  2. Regenerative braking is not hundred percent efficient, so that explains generating only 30 kWh. But it could be more.

It would appear that the diesel engine would not need to be used.

I come to the conclusion, that there is no need to electrify, the Barking Riverside Extension!

Here are a few other thoughts.

The Size And Number Of Batteries

The total capacity of the battery or batteries must be such, that they can handle, the maximum amount of energy that will be generated in braking.

This has the following benefits.

  • The train may not have any need to be fitted with resistors on the roof or other means to use the generated eectricity.
  • Any electrification will not need to be given the ability to handle return currents from the train.
  • The train will use less energy on a given trip.

As an engineer, I like the concept of putting a battery in all cars with traction motors.

  • Each battery will have shorter cables to where energy is used and created, which will cut losses.
  • More batteries probably improves reliability.
  • Distributing the weight might be a good thing.

I would suspect that only unmotored trailer cars might not have batteries.

Supposing a Class 710 train had three 75 kWh batteries.

This would give a capacity of 225 kWh and the following ranges on battery against energy usage in k|Wh/per mile/per car.

  • 5 kWh – 11 miles
  • 4 kWh – 14 miles
  • 3 kWh – 19 miles
  • 2 kWh – 28 miles
  • 1 kWh – 56 miles

These figures show that an efficient train is key to a longer range.

The ultimate Class 710 train might have the following.

  1. Two 75 kWh batteries per car.
  2. Energy usage of 3 kWh/per mile/per car.

This would give a range of fifty miles.

With a small and almost silent Cummins diesel engine from a New Routemaster, it could go as long as you wanted.

Should A New Routemaster Bus Diesel Generator And Battery Be Used?

Consider.

  • There are a thousand New Routemaster buses on the streets of London, so the reliability of the power train must be known very accurately.
  • The Cummins diesel engine and generator are very quiet and are only noticed on an empty bus, when they start and stop.
  • The engine and generator are under the back stairs.
  • The battery is fitted under the front stairs.

The power train doesn’t appear to be large.

Using these components would certainly be a good place to start and they could probably be easily fitted under the train.

In the rest of this post, imagine a Class 710 train with a single 75 kWh battery and a Cummins diesel and generator,

Would Be The Maximum Speed On Diesel Power Be The Same As On Electricity?

Because the battery and the diesel generator will work together, I believe this will be possible, if there is a well-programmed computer system on the train.

  • Accelerating to line speed of 90 mph will take around forty kWh, as that will be the energy of the train.
  • This will perhaps take thirty seconds in which time, the 138 kW Cummins generator, will produce just over a kWh of electricity, so the battery will provide 39 kWh.
  • The battery will be charged by electrification where it exists and regenerative braking.
  • In addition, the diesel generator could also top up the battery.
  • In the cruise, energy would need to be supplied to overcome aerodynamic losses, to climb gradients and provide train and passenger services.
  • Under braking, the regenerative braking would charge the battery.

You wouldn’t be able to run on a challenging line, but running on a fairly level line, which was perhaps twenty miles long with a dozen stations, would be a possibility.

Range on a real route, would be increased by adding extra batteries.

I suspect, Bombardier have created a sophisticated computer simulation of various train configurations and routes.

In this article in Rail Magazine, which is entitled Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power, a company spokesman is quoted as saying.

The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.

So I’m pretty certain, a bi-mode version of a Class 710 train would have a 90 mph operating speed .

And for some easy routes on the similar-sized battery and diesel generator to that of a New Routemaster bus.

The Get-You-Home Train

Imagine a Class 710 train with a single 75 kWh battery and a Cummins generator.

Suppose power is cut to the electrification for some reason.

A normal electric train would just sit there, but the generator would cut in and using the residual energy in the battery, the train would go slowly to the next station.

With just 75 kWh and an energy usage of 3 kWh/per mile/per car, the train would go six miles.

Fast Station Stops

The keys to a fast stop at a station or a short dwell time are down to the following.

  1. Smooth, fast deceleration under regenerative braking.
  2. Efficient loading and unloading of passengers and their baggage.
  3. Fast acceleration away from the stop to regain operating speed.

Point two has nothing to do with the traction system of the train and it can be improved by good design of doors, lobbies on the train and platforms, and by better staff deployment and training.

Will the traction system be designed in a similar way to that of a New Routemaster bus?

The train’s traction, passenger, driving and other systems will be powered directly from the battery.

The battery will be charged in one of four ways.

  • From 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • From 750 third-rail electrification.
  • From the onboard generator.
  • From regenerative braking.

Note.

  1. A well-programmed computer system would control the whole traction system.
  2. Fast acceleration to operating speed will probably need the onboard generator or the electrification to provide a backup to the battery.
  3. The battery can probably supply more power for a short period, than an onboard generator or the electrification
  4. When the train stops in a station, the computer will ensure that the battery contain as much power as possible, so that a quick acceleration away is possible.
  5. A lot of power will have come from regenerative braking, but at times, the onboard generator  or the electrification would be used to charge the battery.
  6. At each stop, because of the limitations of regenerative braking, a certain proportion of the electrical energy will not be recovered and stored in the battery. The onboard generator or the electrification would make up the difference.

Note that the train works in the same way with an onboard generator or electrification.

The West London Orbital Railway

The proposed West London Orbital Railway will connect Hounslow and Kew Bridge stations in West London to West Hampstead and Hendon stations in North London using the Dudding Hill Line.

  • It is around twelve miles long.
  • It is electrified at the Western End using third-rail electrification.
  • There is overhead electrification in the North.
  • The middle section is not electrified.

Class 710 trains, with a diesel generator and a battery stolen from a New Routemaster bus could be able to handle the routes proposed.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion. that if you fitted the battery and diesel generator of a New Routemaster bus under one of the cars of a Class 710 train, you would have the following.

  • A train capable of 90 mph on diesel and electrification.
  • A useful range without electrification.

The train would need a well-programmed computer system.

The London Overground could use these trains on the Barking Riverside Extension and the West London Orbital Railway.

 

April 3, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will We See More Slab Track On UK Railways?

I ask this question, as I’ve just read this article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled Slab Track Austria: Now A Serious Contender?

 Slab track or ballastless track has a Wikipedia entry.

This is said under Characteristics.

In ballastless tracks, the rails are rigidly fastened to a special type of concrete ties/sleepers that are themselves set in concrete. Ballastless tracks therefore offer a high consistency in track geometry, the adjusting of which is not possible after the concreting of the superstructure. Therefore, ballastless tracks must be concreted within a tolerance of 0.5 millimetres. The elasticity of the ballast in the traditional railway superstructure is replaced by flexibility between either the rails and the concrete ties/sleepers or the ties/sleepers and the concrete or asphalt slab as well inherent elasticity within the conglomerate of the tie/sleeper, whereas the concrete or asphalt slab is usually inelastic.

Applications in the UK recently include.

This picture shows some of the slab track on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

I suspect, that slab track was used here mainly because of limited clearance. But low maintenance and long life, must have improved the financial case.

Returning to the Rail Engineer article, it would appear that the engineers behind the slab track, have rethought a lot of the process of building a railway.

Slab Track Austria, which used to be called PORR-STA, seems to offer the following.

  • Factory-build or one-site fabrication.
  • Ease of installation.
  • Accurate alignment
  • Switches and crossing can be fabricated.
  • Transition solutions to ballasted track.
  • Low noise and vibration.
  • Ease of maintenance
  • Sixty year life.

Slab Track Austria would also appear to have worked extensively with Austrian Railways, to get everything as right as possible.

It just shows how much improvement can be squeezed out of some traditional industrial and construction processes.

HS2

TheSlab Track Austria track has also been used extensively on the new Berlin to Munich high speed line, that I wrote about in From Berlin To Munich In Four Hours By Train. This is said about the use of the track on that line, in the Rail Engineer article.

PORR was contracted to design and build three major sections of the railway route. Its patented slab track, STA, was installed over a total length of 320km, in tunnels, on bridges and in open sections. Operations started successfully in December 2015 on the VDE 8.2 section, from Erfurt to Leipzig and Halle. Since December 2017, the sections VDE 8.1.2, from Coburg to Illmenau, and VDE 8.1.3, from Bad Staffelstein to Coburg, have been in operation. Trains have been running on the STA slab track layout at speeds of 300km/h. Prior to commissioning, this slab track was tested at 330 km/h.

So it would appear to be suitable for the 400 kph, that is quoted for HS2, with perhaps a bit of tweaking.

The article also says this about using the track on HS2.

Cost analysis research suggests that the savings made from the reduced maintenance required for STA track will equate to a payback of within 15 to 20 years when compared to ballasted track systems. The opportunity for significant savings, as well as increased network availability due to the reduced maintenance requirement, has to mean that this system is a serious contender for any new railway route, one of which, of course, is HS2.

A dedicated factory producing the slabs would surely increase quality.

But whatever happens, with its numerous, bridges, tunnels and viaducts, I suspect that HS2 will be built using slab track.

In the last quote, a payback time of fifteen to twenty years is suggested, if the track is used on a new railway.

So where else could slab track be used to advantage?

East-West Rail Link

I feel that the East West Rail Link, could be a possibility.

Consider.

  • It will not be initially electrified.
  • It is through terrain that is not very challenging
  • It is fairly close to HS2 and a possible slab track factory.

Building the line with slab track, could help make the East West Rail Link a low-energy and low-noise line for battery or hydrogen trains.

West Anglia Main Line Four-Tracking

Adding two extra tracks to the West Anglia Main Line between Coppermill Junction, which is just South of Tottenham Hale station, and Broxbourne station will be a difficult project.

The line is hemmed in on both sides by housing and slab track might give advantages.

  • Ease to squeeze the tracks in the limited space available.
  • Reduced noise.
  • Speedier construction.

If Crossrail 2 is built, this four-tracking will have to be done.

Calder Valley Line

The Calder Valley Line should be updated to create a quality roue across the Pennines from Preston to Leeds.

Parts of the line would be challenging to improve to say the least, with lots of heritage features around the track.

Using slab track in places, has has been done on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, might help with the following.

  • The construction works needed.
  • Increasing line speed.
  • Lowering noise.
  • Reduced maintenance.

The Wikipedia entry for the Calder Valley Line has a section called Holme Tunnel Engineering Work. This is said.

Holme Tunnel, which lies between Hebden Bridge and Burnley Manchester Road, was closed for 20 weeks from November 2013 until March 2014. This was to allow for major engineering work to fix the distorted shape of the tunnel, caused by movement of the ground through which it passes. The project was budgeted to cost £16.3million. During the works, buses replaced train services. Trains can now pass through at 45 mph.

I don’t think slab track was used in the work in this tunnel, but do we need 45 mph speed limits on Trans Pennine routes? After reading this article on Rail Engineer, it would appear that 75 mph will be possible in the future.

But this project does show some of the major problems on Trans Pennine routes!

It will be interesting to see what happens on this line.

Other Trans Pennine Routes

The other two Trans Pennine routes, the Huddersfield Line and the Hope Valley Line both have similar characteristics.

  • Twisting routes.
  • Several tunnels.
  • Lots of bridges.

They are also busy with passenger and freight traffic.

When the plans for the updating of these lines is published, I suspect that slab track will feature, especially in some of the tunnels.

Across Chat Moss

George Stephenson had difficulty building the Liverpool to Manchester Railway across Chat Moss in 1829. Wikipedia says this about his solution.

 Chat Moss threatened the completion of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, until George Stephenson, with advice from East Anglian marshland specialist Robert Stannard, succeeded in constructing a railway line through it in 1829; his solution was to “float” the line on a bed of bound heather and branches topped with tar and covered with rubble stone. The M62 motorway, completed in 1976, also crosses the bog, to the north of Irlam.

I have talked to drivers, who drive Class 319 trains along the now-electrified line across Chat Moss. They told me, that the soft suspension gives an interesting ride.

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

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

It would appear that something needs to be done  to get timings between Liverpool and Manchester, back to those of the 1930s.

Would slab track across Chat Moss be part of the solution?

Tunnels

Various tunnel upgrades have shown how using slab track in tunnels is a very helpful technique.

Many tunnels will need to be updated to increase clearance for freight trains and overhead wires and also to solve structural problems caused by anno domini.

I believe we’ll see a lot more slab track in tunnels on the UK rail network.

Noise Reduction

The Rail Engineer article, says this about Slab Track Austria’s slab track.

The elastomeric layer also helps to reduce vibration and structure-borne noise, thus offering protection to supporting structures and reducing the noise created by passing trains – an important feature in built-up areas and tunnels.

So will we see increasing use of slab track in areas, where noise asnd vibration is a problem?

Other Lines

I see the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, as an example use of slab track that will be very much copied.

Slab track has been used successfully in sections, where clearance is limited and noise is a problem.

The use of slab track, might have meant that several bridges didn’t need to be rebuilt.

How many places in the UK have similar needs.

Conclusion

The rethinking of how we build railways by Slab Track Austria, will benefit our rail network and all those who use it.

We’ll be seeing a lot more slab track!

 

 

March 21, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Really Back On Track?

This article in the Waltham Forest Echo is entitled Back On Track.

It details progress on the upgrading of the Gospel Oak To Barking Line.

This is a summary of the article.

  • The electrification works will finish by Sunday, the 14th of January.
  • The Class 172 trains will resume service on that day.
  • Testing of the electrification will be ongoing.
  • The bridge at Crouch Hill needs sorting. Probably over Easter.
  • The new Class 710 trains are supposed to be arriving.
  • There will be extra late night services.

I’ll believe it, when I see it!

 

December 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 5 Comments

The Struggle Continues On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

This article in the Islington Gazette is entitled New Overground Trains ‘By Spring’ – But Five Months Of cCosures In Crouch Hill.

It appears that the following will happen on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

  • The bridge at Crouch Hill will be rebuilt to allow space for the overhead wires.
  • The diesel trains will continue on the line from the 15th of January.
  • The new electrification will be tested on the line.

Nothing is said, when the much-needed four-car Class 710 electric trains will start running on the line.

Everybody seems to be hoping for Spring, but I suspect that date is optimistic, given Network Rail’s record on this line.

The meeting or missing of the next milestone of the 15th of January, will tell us an awful lot.

I hope the surveyors and managers, who decided that the Crouch Hill bridge didn’t need to be replaced are making a better job of managing their allotments and gardens!

December 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Will The New Class 710 Trains Use Selective Door Opening At Gospel Oak Station?

These two pictures were taken of a Class 172 train in Platform 3 of Gospel Oak station.

The two-car Class 172 trains are just over 47 metres long.

In The Aventra Car Length Puzzle, I said that the Class 710 trains for the Overground would have twenty metre long cars, which is similar to the 20.4 metres of the Class 378 trains.

For information other four-car electric units, that Aventras are likely to replace have the following car-lengths

  • Class 315 trains – 19.80 metres
  • Class 317 trains – 19.83 metres
  • Class 319/769 trains – 19.83 or 19.92 metres
  • Class 321 trains – 19.95 trains
  • Class 455 trains 19.83 trains.

So it looks like the Class 710 train, has been sized as a direct replacement foe much of the Mark 3-based electric multiple units.

This would mean, that no platform lengthening work needs to be done, when the many older units are replaced with new Aventras.

It would also mean that as I talked about in Musical Trains On The Overground, that Aventras could share routes with Class 378 trains without too much trouble on the North and West London Lines.

So will a four-car Class 710 train, which will be about eighty metres long fit Platform 3 at Gospel Oak station?

This Google Map shows the station.

Note that a Class 172 train is in Platform 3 and in Platform 2 there is a five-car Class 378 train.

The length of Platform 3 can be ascertained and it looks like that Platform 3 is already long enough for an eighty metre train.

If it isn’t Bombardier certainly have fitted Selective Door Opening to the new trains.

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments