The Anonymous Widower

Iron Ore Miner Orders Heavy-Haul Battery Locomotive

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Mining company Roy Hill has ordered a Wabtec FLXdrive battery-electric heavy-haul freight locomotive. This will replace one the four ES44ACi diesel-electric locos used to haul its 2 700 m long iron ore trains, and is expected to reduce fuel costs and emissions by ‘double digit’ percentages while also cutting maintenance costs.

The locomotive is scheduled to be delivered in 2023. It will have a capacity of 7 MWh, an upgrade from the 2·4 MWh prototype which Wabtec and BNSF tested in revenue service in California earlier this year.

Note.

  1. It will have a 7 MWh battery.
  2. 2700 metres is 1.6 miles.

It looks to me, that the three diesel locomotives and one battery locomotive are arranged as a massive hybrid locomotive and I suspect that with sophisticated control systems, those double digit cuts in fuel costs and emissions would be possible.

A couple of years ago, I took this picture near Shenfield.

This double-headed train has a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive at the front of a long freight train.

  • The Class 90 locomotive has an TDM system for multiple working.
  • The Class 66 locomotive has an AAR system for multiple working.

So does this mean that the two locomotives can’t work together, which if it does begs the question of what is happening.

  • Had the Class 66 locomotive failed and Class 90 was acting as a Thunderbird?
  • Was the Class 66 locomotive being moved from one depot to another for maintenance or repair?
  • Was it an experiment to see if the two locomotives could work together?

I sometimes think that I didn’t see this unusual formation, but then the camera doesn’t lie.

But could we learn from what Wabtec are doing for Roy Hill in Australia?

The Class 93 Locomotive

Rail Operations Group have already ordered thirty Class 93 tri-mode locomotives from Stadler, which have following power ratings.

  • Electric – 4000 kW
  • Diesel – 900 kW
  • Hybrid – 1300 kW

If this locomotive is capable of hauling the heaviest intermodal freight trains out of Felixstowe, Southampton and other ports and freight terminals, it could contribute to substantial  reductions in the diesel fuel used and emissions.

As an example, I will use a freight train between Felixstowe North Terminal and Trafford Park Euro Terminal.

  • It is a route of 280 miles.
  • I will ignore that it goes along the North London Line through North London and along the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • There is fifteen miles without electrification at the  Felixstowe end.
  • There is under three miles without electrification at the  Manchester end.

On this service , it could be as much as 94 % of diesel and emissions are saved, if the Class 93 locomotive can haul a heavy freight train out of Felixstowe. A few miles of strategically-placed electrification at the Ipswich end would help, if required.

It must also be born in mind, that the Class 93 locomotive is a 110 mph locomotive on electric power and could probably do the following.

  • Run at 100 mph on the busy Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Run at faster speeds on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Fit in well with the 100 mph passenger trains, that run on both routes.

So not only does it save diesel and carbon emissions, but it will save time and make the freight train easier to timetable on a route with lots of 100 mph passenger trains.

The Class 93 locomotive looks like it could be a game-changer for long-distance intermodal freight, especially, if there were short sections of strategically-placed electrification, added to the electrified network.

Emissions could also be reduced further by using some for of sustainable fuel.

The picture shows a Class 66 locomotive, which is powered by Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil  or HVO.

I can see that all diesel-powered trains and locomotives will be powered by sustainable fuels by the end of this decade.

A Wabtec Battery-Electric Locomotive

Wabtec is building a battery-electric locomotive for Roy Hill in Australia.

This article on Railway Age talks about Wabtec’s FLXdrive battery locomotives and describes some features of the locomotive for Roy Hill in Australia.

It mentions pantographs and overhead wires to charge the batteries.

  • Wabtec’s prototype battery locomotive has a power output of 3.24 MW and a battery size of 2.4 MWh
  • The Roy Hill battery locomotive has a power output of 3.24 MW and a battery size of 7 MWh

I could envisage Wabtec designing a UK-sized battery-electric locomotive with these characteristics.

  • 2.5 MW power output, which is similar to a Class 66 locomotive.
  • A battery size of perhaps 1.8 MWh based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology.
  • A pantograph to charge the batteries and also power the locomotive where electrification exists.
  • 75 mph operating speed.
  • Ability to work in tandem with a Class 66 locomotive.

All technology is under Wabtec’s control.

This locomotive could have a range of at least fifty miles on battery power.

I think this locomotive could handle these routes.

  • Peterborough and Doncaster via the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line via Lincoln, with some form of charging at halfway.
  • Felixstowe and Nuneaton, with some extra electrification at some point between Peterborough and Leicester.
  • Oxford and Birmingham, with possibly some extra electrification in the middle.

One option for charging electrification, would surely be to electrify passing loops.

I think a battery-electric locomtive based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology could be a very useful locomotive.

Could Wabtec’s Battery-Electric Locomotive Pair-Up With A Class 66 Locomotive?

Roy Hill will use their locomotive to form a consist of three diesel locomotives and one battery locomotive to obtain double-digit savings of fuel and emissions, when hauling iron-ore trains that are 1.6 miles long on a route of 214 miles.

We don’t have massive iron-ore trains like this, but we do move huge quantities of segregates and stone around the country in trains generally hauled by Class 66 locomotives.

So could a Class 66 or another suitable locomotive be paired-up with a battery-electric locomotive to make savings of fuel and emissions?

I would suggest that if it works in Australia, the technology will probably work in the UK.

The biggest problem for Wabtec is that the heavy end of the market may well be a good one for hydrogen-powered locomotives. But Wabtec are going down that route too!

Conclusion

I am convinced that the two decarbonisation routes I have outlined here are viable for the UK.

But I also feel that locomotive manufacturers will produce hydrogen-powered locomotives.

Other companies like Alstom, Siemens and Talgo will also offer innovative solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

New £157m Chelmsford Railway Station Makes Progress

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The submission of an environmental impact assessment application to Chelmsford City Council for the proposed £157m Beaulieu railway station marks the next step in the ambitious project.

It may not be a large step, but it moves things forward to creation of this new Beaulieu station, North of the City of Chelmsford, which should be open around 2025.

Beaulieu Station Will Have Three Platforms

Intriguingly, Wikipedia says that the station will have three platforms.

The stations on the Great Eastern Main Line between Shenfield and Colchester will have the following numbers of platforms.

  • Ingatestone – 2
  •  Chelmsford – 2
  • Beaulieu – 3
  • Hatfield Peverel – 2
  • Witham – 4
  • Kelvedon – 2
  • Marks Tey – 3

As Witham and Marks Tey have branch lines, Beaulieu will be very much the outsider.

I suspect the extra platform is very much for reasons, similar to those that result in Cambridge North station being built as a three-platform station with two through and one bay platform.

I don’t think we’ll see Crossrail extended to Beaulieu.

  • The route between Shenfield and Beaulieu is only double-track.
  • All passenger trains currently on the route are 100 mph electric trains.
  • Crossrail’s Class 345 trains are only 90 mph trains.

The speed mismatch would slow services to and from stations to the North.

But will we see a new service between London Liverpool Street and Beaulieu, which stops at perhaps, Stratford, Romford, Shenfield, Ingatestone and Chelmsford?

I suspect we will certainly see a new service terminating at Beaulieu, even if it is only in the Peak.

How Will Current Services Call At Beaulieu?

Currently, one fast and four stopping services stop in Chelmsford station every hour.

There are actually two trains per hour (tph) between London Liverpool Street and Norwich, but only one stops at Chelmsford.

So will the second hourly fast service stop at Beaulieu?

I would certainly be logical.

The four stopping services, that stop at Chelmsford every hour are.

  • London Liverpool Street and Braintree
  • London Liverpool Street and Clacton-on-Sea
  • London Liverpool Street and Colchester Town
  • London Liverpool Street and Ipswich

As all services stop at most stations, I would expect they would stop at Beaulieu.

  • This would give Beaulieu a four tph Turn-Up-And-Go service to and from Chelmsford station, which uniquely for East Anglia is in the centre of the City.
  • If the third platform were to be used for a fifth service to London Liverpool Street, this would be a train every twelve minutes between Chelmsford and Beaulieu stations.
  • I can see that for some journeys, the fastest and most convenient route may include a change of train at Beaulieu.

I also seem to remember, that Greater Anglia had plans to extend the Ipswich service to Norwich and this will surely be useful to travellers from Beaulieu, who would then have a fast and a stopping service to Norwich.

A Park-And-Ride For Football And Events At Ipswich And Norwich Football Grounds

Both football grounds at Ipswich and Norwich are close to the stations and I can see many attendees driving to Beaulieu  to catch a train, as parking in both Ipswich and Norwich can be difficult.

If in the future, there are two tph between Beaulieu and both destinations, it could be the quickest way to the grounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 20, 2021 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Class 93 Locomotive Hauling A Train Between The Port Of Felixstowe And Wentloog

I am looking at this trip in detail, to see how a Class 93 locomotive could change this journey.

Where Is Wentloog?

Wentloog is a Rail Freight Interchange, run by Freightliner, a few miles to the East of Cardiff.

This Google Map shows the interchange.

Note the electrified Great Western Main Line between London and Cardiff giving rail access to freight trains.

Sections Of The Route

The route can be divided into these sections.

  • Port of Felixstowe and Trimley – 2.3 miles – 7 minutes – 19.7 mph –  Not Electrified
  • Trimley and Ipswich – 14 miles – 60 minutes -14 mph – Not Electrified
  • Ipswich and Stratford – 64.6 miles – 77 minutes – 50.3 mph – Electrified
  • Stratford and Acton Wells Junction – 12.5 miles – 72 minutes – 10.4 mph – Electrified
  • Acton Wells Junction and Acton Main Line – 0.7 miles – 3 minutes -14 mph – Possibly Electrified
  • Acton Main Line and Wentloog – 134.3 miles – 249 minutes -32.4 mph – Electrified

Note.

  1. Nearly, all the route is electrified.
  2. I am not sure if between Acton Wells Junction and Acton Main Line is electrified.

The journey takes nearly eight hours.

These are my thoughts on how the various sections would be handled.

Port of Felixstowe And Trimley

As I stated in Rail Access To The Port Of Felixstowe, I would electrify the short section between the Port of Felixstowe And Trimley. This would do the following.

  • Charge the batteries on trains entering the Port, so they could operate in the Port without using diesel.
  • Charge batteries on trains leaving the Port, so that they could have a power boost to Ipswich.
  • The trains could be accelerated to operating speed using the electrification.

There would also be no use of diesel to the East of Trimley, which I’m sure the residents of Felixstowe would like.

Trimley and Ipswich

This section would be on diesel, with any energy left in the battery used to cut diesel running through Ipswich.

Ipswich And Stratford

Consider

  • Ipswich and Stratford is a 100 mph fully-electrified line.
  • A passenger train can do the route in an hour.

There must be savings to be made! Especially, if all trains between Ipswich and Liverpool Street are 100 mph electrically-hauled trains.

Stratford and Acton Wells Junction

The North London Line is getting increasingly busy and as it goes through the middle of residential areas, there will be increasing pressure for all trains to be electric, to cut noise and pollution.

In A North London Line With Digital Signalling, I wrote about the benefits of adding digital signalling on the North London Line.

I suspect in a few years time all freight trains using the North London Line will be electrically-hauled and will use digital ERTMS signalling, so that more trains can be squeezed onto the North London Line, so that increasing numbers of freight trains can travel between Felixstowe, London Gateway and Tilbury in the East and Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Scotland and other destinations in the North and West.

Locomotives like the Class 93 locomotive will become an increasingly common sight on the line.

Acton Wells Junction and Acton Main Line

This connection between the North London Line and the Great Western Main Line will surely, be electrified, if it has not been done already, so that electric freight trains can go between the two routes.

Acton Main Line and Wentloog

Consider

  • Acton Main Line and Wentloog is a fully-electrified line.
  • The operating speed is up to 125 mph
  • A passenger train can do the route in just under 100 minutes.

There must be savings to be made! Especially, if all trains between London and Cardiff are electrically-hauled trains, capable of upwards of 100 mph.

Conclusion

There would be very worthwhile time and diesel savings, by running the Felixstowe and Wentloog service using a Class 93 locomotive.

How many other services to and from Felixstowe, London Gateway and Tilbury would be improved by being hauled by a Class 93 locomotive?

I suspect, it’s not a small number, that can be counted on your fingers and toes.

January 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Greater Anglia Submits Bid to Improve Colchester Station

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

Colchester station is a busy station, that handles four and a half million passengers in a year.

The main stations on the Great Eastern Main Line have following passenger numbers in millions.

  • Shenfield – 4 – Fully step-free
  • Ingatestone – 0.8
  • Chelmsford – 8.5 – Fully step-free
  • Hatfield Peverel – 0.4
  • Witham – 2.5 – Fully step-free
  • Kelvedon – 0.8
  • Marks Tey – 0.6
  • Colchester – 4.5 – Partially step-free
  • Manningtree – 1.2 – Fully step-free
  • Ipswich 3.3 – Fully step-free
  • Needham Market – 0.1
  • Stowmarket – 1.0 – Going step-free
  • Diss – 0.7
  • Norwich – 4.4 – Fully step-free

I think it is fairly obvious, that the the very busy Great Eastern Main Line has not been high in the queue for full step-free access.

As the article says, Colchester has a lift on one side of the station, there is only a wheelchair stair lift on a staircase on the other side.

Why did one of the busiest stations on the line get only half a solution?

Probably, a civil servant who lives in leafy Surrey, said “Colchester has two entrances! Their driver can come round! And it’s only East Anglia!”

There are developments, that are happening, that make updated step-free access at Colchester station absolutely essential.

  • Greater Anglia are replacing the train fleet and all those new trains will attrract more passengers.
  • All the new trains are step-free between train and platform.
  • Greater Anglia will be increasing the frequency of trains between Colchester and Stowmarket and probably in other sections of the route as well.
  • Greater Anglia are introducing a new service between Sudbury and Colchester Town. Wheelchair passengers between London and Sudbury will need to change at Colchester, as Marks Tey is not step-free.
  • Greater Anglia is extending the Peterborough and Ipswich service to Colchester. This will surely increase the number of passengers wanting to cross over at Colchester.

The current system will work until three people turn up in wheelchairs at the same time.

Greater Anglia will get it in the neck, when the fault lies with the civil servants’ belief that East Anglia is a backwater that doesn’t need good facilities.

Other Stations

These stations on the Great Eastern Main Line has no step-free access or plans to install it.

  • Ingatestone
  • Hatfield Peverel
  • Kelvedon
  • Marks Tey
  • Needham Market
  • Diss

Note.

  1. Strangely, Ingatestone is probably the most important, as when the line is closed for engineering works, it is used as a bus interchange.
  2. Marks Tey is also important, because of interchange between Sudbury and London. Watch this one as Pritti Patel is the MP.
  3. Diss has had serious disabled access problems in the past.
  4. Needham Market could be difficult, but Stowmarket is an alternative.

All the stations between Liverpool Street and Shenfield will be fully step-free, when Crossrail is completed.

Conclusion

Personally, I feel that the whole Great Eastern Main Line should be made step-free.

 

December 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!

But, I very much expect that Greater Anglia know what they are doing.

I came up to Norwich on the 1100 train, which was timed to get in at 1230. According to the driver, there were signalling problems at Manningtree, which meant we arrived in Norwich twenty-one minutes late.

I was going on to Cromer or Lowestoft. So by the time I’d had a cider and bought a ticket, I didn’t leave Norwich until 1345 for Cromer. But I did have time by the sea to take a few pictures and have a coffee and a gluten-free scone, before getting the return train to Norwich.

Back at Norwich, I had a choice of two trains.

  • The 1700 stopping at just Ipswich and Norwich
  • The 1703 stopping at Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich and a few other places.

I was booked on the 1700, from where I’m writing this note on my phone.

These are some of my observations.

Operating Speed

I have just travelled between Norwich and Ipswich in thirty minutes, with Speedview on my phone reading within a couple of mph of 100 mph all the way from where we got to operating speed South of Norwich to where we slowed for Ipswich station.

Diss, Stowmarket and Nedham Market stations were passed at almost 100 mph

Ipswich to Colchester was at a slower 90 mph, but then from Marks Tey to just before Chelmsford, the train was back to around 100 mph.

Speeds between 70 and 90 mph were held from Chelmsford to Liverpool Street, which was reached at 1830 as scheduled.

Acceleration

I got the impression, that the acceleration of the train wasn’t up to the operating speed. Certainly, it didn’t seem to accelerate as fast as an InterCity 125,

But then we’re talking about a rather puny Class 90 locomotive with just 930 kW pulling eight Mark 3 coaches.

In an InterCity 125, there is nearly 1,400 kW to accelerate the same number of similar coaches to 125 mph.

But these are small numbers compared to a four-car Class 755 train running on electrical power, which according to Stadler’s data sheet is 2,600 kW, which is 86% more power than an InterCity 125.

As there are two power-bogies each must be good for 1,300 kW.

Typical four-car electric Flirts seem to have around 2-3,000 kW, according to various Stadler data sheets.

Flirts seem to be seriously powerful trains and I can understand why some Norwegian Flirts are capable of 125 mph running. This is said in Wikipedia about the Norwegian Flirts.

All trains have five cars. However, in contrast to previous five-car FLIRTs they will have a third powered bogie giving them a maximum power output of 4,500 kW (6,000 hp) and a top speed of 200 km/h (120 mph).

If that extract is saying that each bogie can provide up to 1,500 kW, then Class 745 trains with four bogies have 6,000 kW.

If they were Class 755 train-sized bogies, then Class 745 trains, then the trains have 5,200 kW.

For comparison, an eleven-car Class 390/1 train has 5,950 kW.

With these figures, I feel it is reasonable to assume, that Class 745 trains, will accelerate to operating speed faster than the current forty-year-old BR stock.

  • They appear to have a lot more power, than the current trains.
  • Their aluminium bodies probably mean they weigh less, than the steel-bodies of the current trains.
  • Their aerodynamics are probably more advanced.
  • They probably have sophisticated technology that stops wheel slip, controls the train in a smooth manner and assists the driver.
  • The rolling dynamics will be no worse than that of the current trains.

Some conclusions can be drawn about the current trains and their operation.

  • A Class 90 locomotive with only 930 kW has sufficient power to keep an eight-car train running at 100 mph. It looks like the figure  is around 1.2 kWh per car per mile.
  • They must be in top condition.
  • The drivers probably know the route like the back of their hand and can coax the required performance from their ageing charges.

BR’s forty-year-old design must still be seriously good and the trains get the TLC they need.

Passing Stations At 100 mph

Diss, Stowmarket, Needham Market, Marks Tey, Kelvedon, Hatfield Peverel and Ingatestone stations were all passed within a few mph of 100 mph, with Maningtree and Colchester stations passed at around 85-90 mph.

Obviously, this must be allowed and not having to slow means that the speed is not degraded.

The only station where there was a substantial slowing was Chelmsford, where the train slowed to about 60 mph.

The Current Norwich-in-Ninety Services

These are the current ninety minutes services between Liverpool Street and Norwich.

  • 0900 – Norwich to Liverpool Street
  • 1100 – Liverpool Street to Norwich
  • 1700 – Norwich to Liverpool Street
  • 1900 – Liverpool Street to Norwich

Only one train is needed that starts and finishes in Norwich, where it is stabled overnight.

Serving The Intermediate Stations

Both the 1100 train to Norwich and the 1700 to Liverpool Street only stop at Ipswich.

But leaving a couple of minutes behind was another Class 90 locomotive/Mark 3 coach set stopping at more stations.

  • Going North, the train takes nineteen minutes longer, with stops at Colchester, Manningtree, Ipswich and Diss.
  • Going South, this train takes ten minutes longer, with stops at Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Colchester and Stratford.

I suspect that when the Bombardier Class 720 trains have been delivered, these might be used for the stopping trains.

How Many Trains Will Be Needed?

It appears that the slower trains are currently timetabled to take between 111 and 115 minutes.

If a round trip can be done in four hours, then two trains per hour (tph), will require eight Class 745 trains.

As there are ten trains on order, this means the following.

  • Eight trains will be used to run the two tph stopping service.
  • One train will be needed for the Norwich-in-Ninety service.

This leaves one train as a spare or in maintenance.

Cromer And Back In A Day

In the four-and-a-half hours, I was in Norwich, I was able to take a train to Cromer, take a few pictures, have a quick lunch and then return to Norwich.

This is possible using the slower trains, but the fast trains can give you another hour in Norwich.

Obviously, this hour will be available for many journeys and must surely open up many possibilities for frequent travellers on the route.

How Reliable Is The Norwich-in-Ninety Service?

There have been twenty services in the first week of the service..

  • Fourteen have been on-time or a couple of minutes early.
  • Five have been under ten minutes late.
  • One was late by more than ten minutes.

That last train was twenty-two minutes late and I was on it, on the first Wednesday of the service.

I shall update this table, until I get bored with it!

Can The Timetable Be Changed?

The way the timetable is set out is an interesting solution to trying to be all things to all passengers.

  • There is a basic two tph service, which stops between London and Norwich according to a simple pattern.
  • Four services per day, with two in each direction, are delayed by two or three minutes.
  • The original departure times are taken by a fast train, that only stops at Ipswich.
  • These four departure times, are arranged, so that the services can be handled by a single fast train shuttling between Liverpool Street and Norwich
  • The fast train starts in Norwich at 0900 in the morning and returns to Norwich and its depot at 2030. The train can then have a good service after a hard day’s work!

Obviously, Greater Anglia have all the passenger data, so they have probably laid out a fast timetable, that will reflect current passenger numbers.

But as time goes on, this timetable can be augmented.

At present, they are using their express trains for both the two tph and the fast services.

These will be changed to Class 745 trains during the remainder of this year.

The venerable Class 90 locomotives and their Mark 3 coaches have blazed the trail and made everybody’s dream of Norwich-in-Ninety a reality, but now it is up to Greater Anglia’s new trains to fully develop the timetable.

  • If they are successful in attracting passengers more services will do Norwich in ninety and Ipswich in sixty.
  • The back-up stopping service running behind the fast train could be run by a new Class 720 train, which have a similar 100 mph operating speed.
  • Several services per day, using Class 755 trains, will be running between Lowestoft and London and augmenting the fast service between London and Ipswich.

Interestingly, as I left Norwich for Cromer, there was a Class 321 Renatus at Norwich station in Platform 2 Checking with Real Time Trains, this other relic from British Rail, but refurbished to a modern standard for passengers and performance, formed the 1400 express to London and arrived on time after seven stops.

It looks to me that Greater Anglia have a creditable back-stop, if there should be any unforeseen problems with the new trains.

But it also shows that the stopping service that follows the Norwich-in-Ninety service can be run by a 100 mph electric multiple unit.

This would surely release Class 745 trains to run more fast services.

An Improved Ipswich And Norwich Service

Greater Anglia have said that there will be three tph between London and Norwich and that one may or will be run the new Class 720 trains.

The only section of the Great Eastern Main Line, that won’t have four tph will be between Ipswich and Norwich. So could we see a 100 mph local service between two rivals.

Yesterday’s Class 321 Renatus did Norwich to Ipswich in forty-one minutes.

  • The route is fully-electrified.
  • Class 720 or Class 321 Renatus trains could be used.
  • Trains would stop at Diss, Stowmarket and Needham Market stations.
  • The rail line is not busy North of Stowmarket.
  • The bottleneck of Trowse bridge South of Norwich is to be replaced.

Running four tph between Ipswich and Norwich would be a lot more affordable, than improving the capacity on the mainly single-carriageway A140.

Would Faster Running Be Possible North Of Ipswich?

There are two major problems on the Great Eastern Main Line to the North of Ipswich.

  • Trowse Bridge to the South of Norwich.
  • Haughley Junction, where the Cambridge and Norwich routes divide to the North of Stowmarket.

Both projects have been kicked into the long grass more times than most, but it does look, that these two bottlenecks could be fixed in the next few years.

I also observed the following between Ipswich and Norwich.

  • The line wasn’t busy North of Stowmarket.
  • The train had no difficulty maintaining 100 mph.
  • The quality of the overhead electrification gantries might suggest a need for replacement.
  • There are some level crossings, that have no place on a 100 mph main line.

Would it be advantageous to update the line, so that higher speeds were possible?

I suspect that both the Class 745 and Class 720 trains could handle perhaps 110 mph with modifications, that are proven or planned with similar trains.

Conclusion

I had an exhilarating ride yesterday and it is a foretaste for the greatest improvement in transport for East Anglia in my lifetime.

 

 

May 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Are Greater Anglia’s Flirts Faster Than 100 mph?

Over the last fifty years or so, a lot of fast trains have been introduced onto the UK’s railways.

It does seem that often the design speed and what is possible differ by up to twenty miles per hour.

It is probably in part good design, as it means that an accidental overspeed can be safely handled.

Greater Anglia has ordered two fleets of Stadler FLIRTs.

Note

  1. Both trains share a lot of features and are capable of 100 mph.
  2. Some Norwegian electric FlLIRTs have a top speed of 120 mph. They have an extra powered axle, but do they have ostensibly the same running gear and electrifical systems?

So would it be reasonable to assume that Stadler have designed FLIRTs, so that faster versions can be created?

If the answer is in the affirmative, there is two interesting possibilities.

London To Norwich Services

The section of line between Norwich and Haughley Junction has the following characteristics.

  • Double-track
  • 31 miles long.
  • 100 mph operating speed
  • Electrified
  • A few level-crossings
  • It is fairly straight
  • There is the Trowse swing bridge over the River Wensum
  • Passenger services on the route will be run only using Stadler FLIRTs.

Network Rail have been very successful in upgrading routes like this for faster running and as the Trowse swing bridge will be replaced, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this section of line upgraded to perhaps 110 mph. This would save a couple of minutes, if the trains could take advantage.

Other services in East Anglia would also benefit from works to improve line speed.

Midland Main Line Services

The Midland Main Line will receive brand-new 125 mph bi-mode trains in 2022.

If Class 755 bi-mode trains could be configured to run at 125 mph, like their electric cousins, they must be a possibility.

Conclusion

Only Stadler know if their Class 745 and 755 trains can be upgraded to higher speeds.

But if they can be upgraded, they could be a very useful train for UK railways.

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

Why Are Abellio Starting Norwich-in-Ninety With Class 755 Trains?

At the May timetable change Abellio Greater Anglia will be running four trains per day between London and Norwich in ninety minutes.

I have read that this is possible with the current Class 90 locomotive /Mark 3 coach train sets and that is a fall-back position.

I was also told by a former employee of Greater Anglia, that one night, he was a passenger between Norwich station and Illford depot in an empty Class 321 train, that achieved an incredible time.

So why take the risk with untried Class 755 trains on the first day of the new timetable?

  • Abellio must be very sure that the trains will perform, as they say in the brochure.
  • They also know all the publicity that running new trains will bring.

But could Abellio just want to check the public’s reaction to these trains with effectively a locomotive in the middle, before they decide on the 125 mph bi-mode trains for the Midland Main Line?

I don’t believe that building a 125 mph version of Class 755 train would be beyond the bounds of possibility.

The Weight Of A Class 755 Train

I haven’t been able to do my energy calculation for a Class 755 train, as I can’t find the weight of a Class 755 train on the Internet.

However, I can estimate the weight of a four-car Class 755/4 train from the Stadler data sheet for the train.

This gives the following.

  • Mean Acceleration Electric (0-40 mph) – 1.1 metres/second squared
  • Maximum traction – 200 kN
  • 202 seats and 27 tip-up seats

I think it is reasonable to assume that the acceleration rate is for a train with a typical load of passengers.

Using Omni’s Acceleration Calculator, this gives a time of 16.256 seconds to accelerate from 0-40 mph.

Then putting this time into Omni’s Newton’s Second Law Calculator, gives a train mass of 181.8 tonnes.

As passengers can weigh around twenty tonnes, if they weigh 90 Kg each, with baggage, bikes and buggies, I would estimate that an empty Class 755/4 train weighs around 160-170 tonnes.

By comparison.

I don’t think a figure of 160-170 tonnes is out of line, with a figure of 180 tonnes for a typical loaded train.

Remember too, that these trains are Stadler FLIRTs, where FLIRT is Fast Light Intercity and Regional Train.

Applying Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, gives these figures for the kinetic energy of a train.

  • 90 mph – 40 kWh
  • 100 mph – 50 kWh
  • 125 mph – 78 kWh

As some electric FLIRTs can nun at 125 mph, I believe that a bi-mode FLIRT, based on the Class 755 train could be designed with these characteristics.

  • 125 mph on electric power
  • 125 mph on diesel power

Acceleration on diesel to 125 mph would probably be the biggest problem and it is likely that more power than for a Class 755 train will be needed.

Do Abellio Greater Anglia’s initial Norwich-in-Ninety trains give a clue in that they will be two four-car Class 755 trains working as an eight-car train?

  • It will be eight passenger cars and two power cars at the 25% and 75% positions in the formation.
  • Stadler have built the similar Stadler GTW with two power cars in a single train.

So I suspect that Stadler know the dynamics of these trains very well.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me, that Stadler had offered a bi-mode Stadler FLIRT with two power cars, for the Midland Main Line.

  • The power car concept has been sold to operators with diesel, electric and battery power options.
  • Stadler are proposing to use battery power in the Class 93 locomotive to boost performance.
  • Many would believe, as I do, that hydrogen power could be added to a Stadler power car.

So are these runs at 100 mph with two four-car Class 755 trains, a final trial of the technology to prove that similar higher-powered trains could run at 125 mph on the Midland Main Line, before Abellio sign a contract?

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stowmarket Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Stowmarket station is on the list.

In Roaming Around East Anglia – Stowmarket Station, I said this.

The station is Grade II Listed, has the capability to handle the long London-Norwich expresses and probably only needs a step-free footbridge to be ready for the East-West Rail Link.

This picture shows the bridge.

Step-free access would create an easy interchange between stations.

  • On the Great East Main Line between Stowmarket and Norwich.
  • On the East-West Rail Link between Stowmarket and Cambridge/Peterborough and further West.

Journeys like between Diss and Bury St. Edmunds, Newmarket, Cambridge and Peterborough will be so much easier.

Greater Anglia is already planning to increase services on both routes, so the step-free bridge will be well used.

Installing Step-Free Access

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Stowmarket station?

  • I think this could be possible, if the existing bridge were to be removed.
  • At least there is a level crossing by the station, which could be used as an emergency means of crossing the railway.

I very much favour this approach. which surely could be installed on a weekend possession.

April 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Integration Of High-Speed And Commuter Services Out Of Paddington Station

The following appears to be happening to the Great Western Main Line (GWML)

  • All srvices to Oxford and Bedwyn, which have been run by slow diesels for years, will soon be run by 125 mph Class 800 trains, so they can join the herds of high-speed services on the dash using the fast lines between Reading and Paddington stations.
  • All slower passenger trains between Paddington and Reading, will use the slow lines. Most will be Crossrail services and freight trains.
  • ,Heathrow Express services, which will be four tph and run by upgraded 110 mph Class 387 trains, will use the fast lines between Paddington and Stockley Junction.

Some Class 800 trains achieve the thirty-six miles between Paddinghton and Reading in twenty-five minutes. This is a start-stop average speed of nearly ninety mph.

Frequency Between Reading And Paddington

I wonder what frequency of Class 800 trains can be achieved between Paddington and Reading.,

  • Most will run non-stop.
  • Up to 125 mph running could be possible between Stockley Junction (for Heathrow) and Reading, as all trains will be 125 mph Class 800 trains.
  • Up to 110 mph running xould be possible between Paddington and Stockley Junction, as some trains will be 100 mph Class 387 trains.
  • Digital signalling and possible automatic train control, could run the all trains to a precise timetable.
  • Class 800 trains that stop at Slough, could do this in a very fast time.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least sixteen tph. Currently, the frequency is under ten tph.

If this frequency is achievable or even bettered, then this would be an impressive high-capacity service.

Class 387 Trains

Currently,, Great Western Railway has forty-five Class 387 trains.

Twelve are being modified, so they can run the Heathrow Express services.

But what happens to the other thirty-three trains?

Currently, some run a stopping service between Paddington and Didcot Parkway station, which stops West of Reading at Tilehurst, Pangbourne, Goring & Streatley and Cholsey stations, to give these stations a two tph service to Paddington.

The service between Reading and Paddington may be replaced by Crossrail in the near future offering four tph in the Peak and two tph in the Off Peak.

It strikes me that the following ways could be

Appleford, Culham and Radley.

 

 

Conclusion

It looks like the dropping of electrification to Oxford and Bedwyn, which resulted in Great Western Railway ordering more Class 802 trains to replace the slower Class 387 trains has resulted in a simpler and faster operating philosophy for the trains between Reading and Paddington.

  • All GWR services will be Class 800/801/802 trains, using the fast lines.
  • All Crossrail services will be Class 345 trains, using the slow lines.
  • All freight services will use the slow lines.
  • Heathrow Express services will use the fast lines, which they will leave ande join at Stockley Junction.
  • All fast line services will be non-stop.
  • All passenger trains will be using the electrification on the route.

It appears to be an efficient system, that keeps high-speed and stopping commuter services separate, whilst allowing 125 mph commuter services to be handled as high-speed services.

If I’m right, that there may be extra capacity for more high-speed services into Paddington, it will allow GWR to run extra services.

I like what’s happening.

March 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

DfT Keen To Encourage Rail Travel For Football Fans

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 873 of Rail Magazine.

I was moved to send this letter to the magazine.

Was this title on page 17 of Issue 873 serious or an ironic joke?

I am a seventy-one-year-old Ipswich fan and Season Ticket holder, who lives in London, within walking distance of Liverpool Street station on a fine day.

Over the last six or seven years, I have been unable to see Home matches as often, as I would like, as on perhaps half of weekend match days, there have been no trains running on the Great Eastern Main Line, due to the constant maintenance. Or is it a complete rebuilding for 140 mph trains?

To be fair, I have occasionally used the replacement buses, but the problem is that they make the journey well over an hour longer. So on a match day, there is no time left for anything else!

I had to watch the two Ipswich-Norwich matches on television, as on both these Sundays to get to the match by mid-day was impossible and probably needed an overnight stay!

I accumulated my very adequate pension pot, by writing software to schedule resources on complicated projects. Surely, Network Rail, Greater Anglia, the Premier League and the EFL can agree a plan that is better than the current shambles.

Greater Anglia surely have the means to improve the situation arriving in their depots.

Pairs of  four-car Class 755 trains could run reduced services via Cambridge.

  • If the line is blockaded between Ipswich and London, then a direct service could be run between Norwich and London via Ipswich and Cambridge.
  • If the line is blockaded between Ipswich and Norwich, then a direct service could be run between Norwich and London via Cambridge.

Although, this has nothing to do with football, pairs of Class 755 trains would also be useful for running a service between Peterborough and London, when the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line is closed.

I shall add a few extra notes to this on-line version of the letter.

Class 755 Trains

Points about Class 755 trains.

  • They are 100 mph trains on both electric and diesel, and probably have similar performance to the current Class 90 locomotive/Mark 3 coaches that run between Liverpool Street and Norwich.,
  • Capacity of a pair of Class 755 trains is 458 seats, as against the 514 seats of the current stock.
  • The interior will be suitable for services between London and Norwich.
  • The trains and their crews will probably be certified for all of Greater Anglia’s Network.
  • A single train is eighty metres long and a pair would be 160 metres.
  • The trains should fit all important main-line stations on the Greater Anglia Network.

I also suspect that these trains could run into Kings Cross station, either using the East Coast Main Line or the Hertford Loop Line.

They are blockade-busters par excellence.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment