The Anonymous Widower

Exploring Devon And Cornwall In Castles

Castle is the name given by Great Western Railway to their four- and five-car InterCity 125 trains, with which they run services in the West Country.

These pictures show the trains, as I meandered up and down the Cornish Main Line.

These are my observations.

The Doors

These trains now have electrically-controlled sliding doors and it seems to be a conversion, that has been carried out to a high standard.

Certainly, all the doors appeared to be working, as they should.

The Seats And Tables

The seats were comfortable, but not as comfortable as some seats I’ve used in Mark 3 coaches.

Could there be a few more tables?

The Ride

My pocket dynamometer was showing a speed of about 65 mph and the ride was as you’d expect from a well-maintained Mark 3 coach.

Access Between Platform And Train

This is not good as the pictures show.

This is the step on a Castle.

And this is the step on a new Class 755 train

Think buggies, heavy cases and wheelchairs.

The Class 755 train, really is the Gold Standard of step-free access between platform and train.

Conclusion

These iconic trains will do a good job for Great Western Railway.

You could certainly find a good hotel in Devon or Cornwall and have a few enjoyable days riding between Penzance and Exeter, to explore the area

I do hope that they eventually put a catering trolley on the train.

November 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Would Be The Range Of A Tri-Mode Class 802 Train?

In Could Cirencester Be Reconnected To The Rail Network?, I speculated about the routes of a battery-electric version of a Class 800 train.

I said this.

As Hitachi have stated they will be using battery power to extend ranges of their trains, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the current trains modified to have batteries instead of some of their current diesel engines.

Such a train would would be ideal for the following routes.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13 miles
  • Paddington and Cheltenham – 43 miles
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10 miles
  • Paddington and Weston-Super-Mare – 19 miles

The distance is the length that is not electrified.

I don’t think it improbable, that London Paddington and Swansea will be achieved by a battery-electric train based on the current Hitachi train designs.

So was it a serious idea or mad speculation?

Under Powertrain in the Wikipedia entry for theClass 800 train, this is said.

Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a 5-9 car set. These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails. The class 800/802 electro-diesel or Bi-Mode has 3 GU per five car set and 5 GU per nine car set. A 5 car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 respectively and a 9 car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8 respectively.

This means that a five-car Class 800 or Class 802 train has three engines and an all -electric Class 801 train has a single engine.

If you were building a tri-mode Class 802 train, could two of the diesel engines be replaced by batteries.

  • Hitachi have stated that trains can be changed from one class to another by adding or removing engines.
  • Trains would always have at least one diesel engine for emergencies, just as the Class 801 trains do.
  • Each MTU 1600 R80L diesel engine weighs just under seven tonnes.

Fourteen tonnes of batteries would probably store about 840 kWh of energy, if the most efficient batteries are used. That would not be a problem if Hitachi came calling.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a five-car Class 801 train needs 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile to cruise on electricity at 125 mph.

Dividing 840 by 5 cars and 3.42 kWh per vehicle file gives a range of forty-nine miles.

  • The trains would need regenerative braking to the batteries.
  • Battery energy density is increasing.
  • Train aerodynamics could be improved, to reduce the power needed.
  • Secondary routes like the Golden Valley Line are unlikely to have an operating speed higher than 110 mph, which would reduce the power needed.

I am coming round to the opinion, that Hitachi could design a battery-electric train based on the current Class 80X trains, that could reach Swansea from Paddington, without touching a drop of diesel.

  • The batteries would need to be recharged before returning to London.
  • I am assuming that the electrification is up and working between Paddington and Cardiff.
  • Could the wires in the Severn Tunnel be removed or replaced with engineering plastic,  as they corrode so much?
  • Two five-car trains with batteries could work together as they do now.

Hitachi would need to get the software absolutely right.

Could The Diesel Engine Be Used To Increase Battery Range?

Lets assume that a tri-mode Class 802 train is running on a 125 mph main line.

It enters a section without electrification.

  • It is cruising at 125 mph
  • The batteries have a capacity of 840 kWh and have been charged on previous electrification.
  • The train needs 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain speed.
  • It’s a five-car train  so it will need 17.1 kWh per mile.
  • The train will take approximately thirty seconds to cover a mile and in that time the diesel engine will produce 5.83 kWh.
  • So the net energy use of the train will be 11.27 kWh per mile.

This would give the train a range of 74.5 miles at 125 mph.

Obviously, a good driver, aided by a powerful Driver Assistance System could optimise the use of power to make sure the train arrived on time and possibly minimised carbon emissions.

What Would Be The Ultimate Range?

I think it would be possible to reduce the electricity consumption by means of the following.

  • Slower operating speed.
  • Better aerodynamics.
  • More efficient train systems.
  • Improved Driver Assistance Systems.

I think an energy consumption of 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile could be possible, at perhaps a cruise of 100 mph

I can do the calculation without diesel assistance.

  • It’s a five-car train  so it will need 12.5 kWh per mile.

This would give the train a range of 67.2 miles at 100 mph on batteries alone.

I can also do the calculation again with diesel assistance.

  • It’s a five-car train  so it will need 12.5 kWh per mile.
  • The train will take thirty-six seconds to cover a mile and in that time the diesel engine will produce 7 kWh.
  • So the net energy use of the train will be 5.5 kWh per mile.

This would give the train a range of 153 miles at 100 mph on batteries with diesel assistance.

How Many Places Could Be Reached With A Fifty-Mile Range?

Setting a limit of fitly miles would allow running these routes on partial battery power, split down by companies who run the Hitachi trains.

Great Western Railway

These routes could certainly be run using a tri-mode Class 802 train.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13 miles
  • Paddington and Cheltenham – 43 miles
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10 miles
  • Paddington and Swansea – 46 miles
  • Paddington and Weston-Super-Mare – 19 miles
  • Swindon and Bristol via Bath – 39 miles

Note.

  1. The distance gives the length of the longest section of the route without electrification.
  2. Certain routes like Bedwyn, Oxford and Weston-super-Mare probably wouldn’t need a charging station at the final destination.
  3. GWR could probably run a few other routes, without adding substantial new infrastructure.
  4. Tri-mode Class 802 trains, might be able to avoid electrification through Bath.

But surely the the biggest gain is that they would reduce GWR’s carbon footprint.

Hull Trains

I very much feel that with a charging station at Hull station, a tri-mode Class 802 train could bridge the forty-four mile gap between Beverley and the electrified East Coast Main Line at Temple Hirst Junction.

  • The train could top up the battery every time it stops in Hull station.
  • The 700 kW diesel engine could add 700 kWh in the hour long trip with no wires.

If a tri-mode Class 802 train could bridge this gap, then Hull Trains could go zero carbon.

LNER

These routes could certainly be run using a tri-mode Class 802 train.

  • Kings Cross and Bradford – 14 miles
  • Kings Cross and Harrogate – 18 miles
  • Kings Cross and Huddersfield – 17 miles
  • Kings Cross and Hull – 36 miles
  • Kings Cross and Lincoln – 16 miles
  • Kings Cross and Middlesbrough – 21 miles

Note.

  1. The distance gives the length of the longest section of the route without electrification.
  2. Certain routes like Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Lincoln and Middlesbrough probably wouldn’t need a charging station at the final destination.
  3. LNER could probably run a few other routes, without adding substantial new infrastructure.
  4. Using both battery and diesel power, the train would be able to make Cleethorpes and Grimsby after Lincoln.

But surely the the biggest gain is that they would reduce LNER’s carbon footprint.

TransPennine Express

These routes could certainly be run using a tri-mode Class 802 train.

  • Leeds and Huddersfield – 17 miles
  • Liverpool and Edinburgh – 34 miles
  • Liverpool and Hull – 34 miles
  • Liverpool and Scarborough – 34 miles
  • Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough – 34 miles
  • Manchester Airport and Newcastle- 34 miles

Note.

  1. The distance gives the length of the longest section of the route without electrification.
  2. TransPennine Express services all suffer because of the long gap across the Pennines.
  3. Network Rail are planning to partly electrify Dewsbury and Huddersfield, which would reduce the major gap to just eighteen miles.

As with GWR, Hull Trains and LNER, the carbon footprint would be reduced.

Conclusion

A tri-mode Class 802 train would be a good idea.

It should be noted that GWR, Hull Trains and TransPennine Express are all First Group companies.

 

 

 

November 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Pacers To Continue Into 2020, Operators Confirm

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Operators have confirmed that their Pacer diesel multiple-units will remain in service into early 2020, in spite of previous announcements that the unpopular four-wheeled vehicles dating from the 1980s would be withdrawn before enhanced PRM accessibility requirements come into force on January 1 2020.

The article then summarises the situation in the three operators running Pacers.

Northern

Some Pacers used by Northern will continue in service into 2020, because of late delivery of new Class 195 diesel trains and Class 331 electric trains.

They are also still awaiting delivery of eight Class 769 trains, which are very late into service.

Great Western

Great Western has said, that some Pacers will continue in service around Exeter.

No reason is given, but it does appear that because of non-delivery of electrification to Oxford and the late arrival of Crossrail, Great Western they still need Class 165 and Class 166 trains to work services for London commuters.

They are also still awaiting delivery of nineteen Class 769 trains.

Transport For Wales

Transport for Wales are in the same position as Great Western, in that the Class 769 trains, they ordered have still not been delivered.

The Operator Will Get The Blame!

Obviously, the operator will get the blame, but I would argue that all three have at least tried hard to avoid this crisis, as they knew the Pacers would have to be on their way to the scrapyard at the end of 2019.

  • If CAF had delivered their trains for Northern on time, things would be much better in the North.
  • If Porterbrook and their engineers had delivered the Class 769 trains on time, all three operators would be in a better position.

Hopefully, in a few months, the new trains will have been delivered and the Class 769 trains will have been created and in service.

 

October 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Will Happen To Great Western Railway’s Class 387 Trains?

I have been looking at the services that Great Western Railway run using Class 387 trains.

Current services run by these trains are.

London Paddington And Didcot Parkway

This service has the following characteristics.

  • The frequency is two trains per hour (tph)
  • Services are run by two trains working as a pair.
  • Intermediate stops are Ealing Broadway, Southall, Hayes and Harlington, West Drayton, Iver, Langley, Slough, Maidenhead, Twyford, Reading, Tilehurst, Pangbourne, Goring and Streatley and Cholsey.
  • Journey time is one hour twenty-three minutes, giving a three hour round trip.

I estimate that twelve trains are needed to run this service.

From the 15th December 2019, this service appears to run to a similar timetable.

London Paddington And Reading

This service has the following characteristics.

  • The frequency is two tph.
  • Services are run by two trains working as a pair.
  • Intermediate stops are Ealing Broadway, Southall, Hayes and Harlington, West Drayton, Slough, Burnham, Maidenhead and Twyford
  • Journey time is fifty-seven minutes, giving a two and a half hour round trip.

I estimate that ten trains are needed to run this service.

From the 15th December 2019, this service will be run by TfL Rail using Class 345 trains.

Reading And Newbury

This service has the following characteristics.

  • The frequency is one tph.
  • Services are run by two trains working as a pair.
  • Intermediate stops are Reading West, Theale, Aldermaston, Midgham, Thatcham and Newbury Racecourse.
  • Journey time is  twenty-nine minutes, giving an hour round trip.

I estimate that two trains are needed to run this service.

From the 15th December 2019, this service appears to run to a similar timetable.

Current Trains Needed

Summarising the trains needed gives the following.

  • London Paddington and Didcot Parkway – twelve trains
  • London Paddington and Reading – ten trains
  • Reading and Newbury – two trains.

This gives a total of twenty-four trains.

Trains Needed After 15th December 2019

Summarising the trains needed gives the following.

  • London Paddington and Didcot Parkway – twelve trains
  • London Paddington and Reading – no trains
  • Reading and Newbury – two trains.

This gives a total of fourteen trains.

Heathrow Express

Heathrow Express will use twelve Class 387 trains in the near future.

Great Western Railway’s Future Need For Class 387 Trains

Summarising the trains needed gives the following.

  • London Paddington and Didcot Parkway – twelve trains
  • Reading and Newbury – two trains.
  • Heathrow Express – twelve trains.

This gives a total of twenty-six trains.

Great Western Railway have a total of forty-five Class 387 trains. Wikipedia is a bit confusing on this point, but I’m fairly certain this is a correct figure.

This means that Great Western Railway have nineteen trains available for expansion of services.

Great Western Railway’s Class 769 Trains

Great Western Railway have also ordered nineteen dual-voltage bi-mode Class 769 trains.

These are for the following routes.

  • Reading – Redhill or Gatwick Airport
  • London Paddington – Reading and Oxford

As the spare number of Class 387 trains is the same as that of the bi-mode trains, was it originally intended, that these routes could be run by the Class 387 trains, after Network Rail had joined the electrification together.

But the extra electrification never happened.

So Great Western Railway ordered the bi-modes trains.

Great Western Railway’s Dilemma

The Class 769 trains appear to be running late, so Great Western Railway are running the Gatwick and Oxford services with diesel multiple units, that they’d like to send to the West Country.

Bombardier appear to have moved on with their battery technology, that was successfully trialled using a similar Class 379 train in 2015. I wrote about the possibility of battery Electrostars on the Uckfield Branch last month in Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch.

I believe that both routes would be within range of a battery-electric Class 387 train.

Reading – Redhill or Gatwick Airport

The various sections of the route are as follows.

Reading and Wokingham – Electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

Wokingham and Aldershot South Junction – Not electrified – 12 miles

Aldershot South Junction and Shalford Junction – Electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

Shalford Junction and Reigate – Not electrified – 17 miles

Reigate and Redhill/Gatwick – Electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

To my mind, this is a classic route for a battery-electric train, as it is mainly electrified and both gaps are less than twenty miles long.

Some or all of the Class 387 trains are dual-voltage.

London Paddington – Reading and Oxford

The distance between Didcot Parkway and Oxford is under twelve miles, so a return trip should be well within range of a battery-electric Class 387 train.

There are also plans at Oxford station to put a new bay platform on the London-bould side of the station. This could be fitted with a charging station to avoid any range anxiety.

A Gatwick And Oxford Service

Could the Oxford and Gatwick services be joined together to make a direct Oxford and Gatwick service via Reading?

  • I estimate that the service would take around two hours.
  • Assuming a fifteen minute turnround at both ends, a round trip would be four and a half hours.

Running a half-hourly service would need just nine trains.

Or eighteen, if they were to run as eight-car trains!

Could this explain the order for nineteen trains, as it’s always a good idea to have a spare?

Conclusion

Great Western Railway can dig themselves elegantly out of a hole of Network Rail’s making by converting the spare Class 387 trains to battery-electric trains.

I’m sure Bombardier have the design available and would be happy to oblige after they have  finished conversion of the Heathrow Express units.

There might also be an argument for fitting all Class 387 trains with batteries.

  • A more unified fleet.
  • Train recovery in the event of electrification failure.
  • Better safety in depots.
  • Direct services between Paddington and Henley and Bourne End.
  • Would it allow Class 387 trains to run between Paddington and Bedwyn?
  • Reduced electricity consumption.

It’ll be a decision for the accountants.

One collateral benefit of a successful conversion program for the Great Western Railway, is that it would enable Great Northern’s twenty-eight trains and c2c’s six trains to be easily converted to battery-electric versions.

  • Great Northern’s coulde be used by sister company; Southern on the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Line.
  • c2c trains are soon to be replaced by new trains.

I’m sure that quality four-car battery-electric trains won’t wait long for an operator.

October 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Worcestershire Parkway Station Is Now On The Map

This article on the BBC is entitled Worcester’s New Railway Station’s Set To Open In December.

This Google Map showsWorcestershire Parkway station, at the place, where the Cotswold and Cross Country lines cross.

Services will probably start to call at the timetable change of December 15th, 2019

Judging by the bands of car parking shown in this map, they are expecting a sizeable number of passengers.

I just tried to book a ticket to the station and it is not in the on-line ticketing system yet as a destination, although it does show up as a stop on these journeys.

  • CrossCountry – Nottingham and Cardiff – Hourly
  • GWR – Paddington and Worcestor, Great Malvern and Hereford.- Hourly

Two other hourly CrossCountry services also pass through.

October 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

TfL Confirms Details Of Reading Services

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

This is first paragraph.

Details of the transfer of London Paddington – Reading stopping services from Great Western Railway to TfL Rail from the December 15 timetable change have been confirmed by Transport for London.

Some significant points to note from the article.

  • The service will be run by Class 345 trains.
  • Fast services from Reading and some stations to the East will continue to be run by Great Western Railway.
  • There will be four trains per hour (tph) in the Peak and two tph in the Off Peak.
  • After the New Year Bank Holiday, contactless payments will be available between Paddington and Reading.
  • Children under 11 who are accompanied by an adult, as well as people who are eligible for the Freedom Pass, will be able to travel for free to Reading on the TfL service.
  • Oyster will not be available to the West of West Drayton.
  • Great Western Railway , but not South Western Railway, are expected to bring in contactless ticketing in the New Year.

A few of my thoughts.

What Will Be The Service Pattern?

When the possibility of TfL Rail taking over theservices to Reading, I wrote Will Crossrail Open To Reading in 2019?.

The service pattern to Maidenhead to Reading appears to be.

Reading To Paddington – Limited Stop

This service will be run at two trains per hour (tph) in the Peak with no trains in the Off-Peak.

Stops are Twyford, Maidenhead, Slough, West Drayton and Ealing Broadway.

Reading To Paddington – All Stations

This service will be run at two tph all day.

The service will call at all stations except Hanwell and Acton Main Line.

Maidenhead To Paddington

This service will be run at two tph all day.

The service will call at all stations except Hanwell and Acton Main Line.

A Summary Of Peak/Off Peak Calls

Adding these services up, gives the following numbers for Peak and Off Peak calls in trains per hour (tph)

  • Reading – 4,2
  • Twyford – 4,2
  • Maidenhead – 6,4
  • Taplow – 4.4
  • Burnham 4,4
  • Slough – 6,4
  • Langley – 4,4
  • Iver – 4,4
  • West Drayton – 6,4
  • Hayes & Harlington – 4.4
  • Southall – 4,4
  • Hanwell – None to Reading/Maidenhead
  • West Ealing – 4.4
  • Ealing Broadway – 6,4
  • Acton Main Line – None to Reading/Maidenhead
  • Paddington – 6,4

Note.

  1. 4,2 means 4 tph in the Peak and 2 tph in the Off Peak.
  2. It would appear that all stations except Reading and Twyford have at least four tph all day.
  3. Stations between Hayes & Harlington and Ealing Broadway will get another six tph all day going to Heathrow.
  4. Acton Main Line station will get another four tph all day going to Heathrow.

The frequency of trains would appear to satisfy Transport for London’s Turn-Up-And-Go frequency for Metro services.

No one should wait more than fifteen minutes on a Metro for a train!

Freedom Pass Holders Will Be Winners

Being able to use a Freedom Pass between Paddington and Reading will be very useful for many travellers.

It would appear that the cheapest way to use the trains West of Reading for a Freedom Pass Holder, will be to use the pass to get to Reading on TfL Rail and then buy a tricket from Reading to your ultimate destination.

Note that on the Overground, you can buy a ticket between any two UK stations. So if I was going to Bristol, I’d buy a Return at my local Dalston Junction station and use it from Reading, afdter going there on TfL Rail.

Very covenient and with the best price!

September 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 15 Comments

The High Speed Local Train

If Great Western Railway (GWR) are going to run a train service between Paddington and Bedwyn, they need an electric train which can power itself on the last thirteen miles between Newbury and Bedwyn, which is not electrified and is unlikely to be so in the next couple of decades.

The train must also be capable of cruising at 125 mph on the fast lines of the Great Western Main Line between Reading and Paddington.

GWR have no choice, but to run the service with a five-car Class 802 train.

When Hitachi were designing these 125 mph trains in Japan, I don’t suspect that running a service over a distance of 66.5 miles between London and a small village in Berkshire, was in the specification.

This morning, I took the 10:05 service from Paddington to Bedwyn, with the intention of returning on the 11:41 from Bedwyn to Paddington.

These are a few of the pictures that I took.

But things didn’t turn out as planned.

  • Nothing serious and some animals got on the tracks between Reading and Swindon, meaning that we were some minutes late into Bedwyn, due to platform congestion at Reading.
  • The return journey was consequently delayed.

These are a few observations.

Operating Speed

These were speeds on various parts of the journey.

  • I timed the train at 115 mph through Southall and at 123 mph through Hayes & Harlington as the train accelerated out of Paddington.
  • The train was doing just short of 125 mph for the major part of the route between London and Reading, until it had to stop because of the congestion.
  • The train was doing around 100 mph on the electrified line between Reading and Newbury.
  • Between Newbury and Bedwyn, speeds were between 80 and 90 mph.

Similar speeds were attained on the return journey.

Passenger Numbers

As the pictures show, there weren’t that many passengers who were travelling to Bedwyn, although there were more heading back to London.

Many more joined and left the service at the three larger stations of Reading, Newbury and Hungerford.

Now that the service is hourly between Reading and Bedwyn and half-hourly between Reading and Newbury in modern, comfortable trains, I can see passenger numbers growing.

Current Service

There are eleven trains per day, between Paddington and Bedwyn, at an hourly frequency, which take around three hours for a round trip.

So it would appear that three trains are needed for the service.

The service is also supplemented by an hourly stopping shuttle train between Reading and Newbury.

Two years ago, the service was just one three-car diesel train per hour between Paddington and Bedwyn with a few additional stops from long-distance trains.

Bedwyn Station Improvements

I got the impression, that Bedwyn station is probably at its limit for car parking with the current twenty-five spaces and cars all over the place.

This article on the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, is entitled It’s A Rail Problem At Great Bedwyn and indicates that commuters and residents don’t see eye-to-eye with the car parking.

If the car parking were to be increased and usage at the station increased then I feel that a step-free bridge could be needed.

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 Bedwyn station?

The installation wouldn’t be difficult, but the politics could be.

Other Station Improvements

A quick look at other stations suggest these improvements.

  • Hungerford station, which has a large car park, needs a step-free bridge.
  • Kinbury station doesn’t have a bridge.
  • Midgham station doesn’t have a bridge
  • Theale station has improvements planned.

There are level crossings at Hungerford, Kintbury, Thatcham and Midgham.

Future Trains To Bedwyn

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I discussed how Hitachi were proposing to add battery power to Class 385 trains, which are in the same family as GWR’s Class 802 trains.

So surely, what is a power source for the goose is also a power source for the gander.

As it would only be a journey of thirteen miles both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, this would surely be an ideal route for the use of battery power.

The other route, where battery power could be used would be between Didcot and Oxford, which is just over ten miles.

A Future Service To Marlborough

I covered this proposal in A Station For Marlborough.

Marlborough would be served by a single-track branch line on an old railway alignment, probably terminating near the large Tesco superstore in a single platform station.

The advantages of doing this would be.

  • Marlborough, which is an important market town of 8,500 people would be connected to the rail network.
  • Adequate car parking could be provided.
  • Creating a station at Marlborough could be an alternative to expanding Bedwyn station, which could be problematical.
  • It would improve the economics of the Paddington and Bedwyn service.

This is the sort of service, that should be developed.

Other Possible Services

The big advantage of this high speed local service for Great Western Railway, is that when it is on the Great Western Main Line, it becomes just another 125 mph service or once digital signalling is installed a possible 140 mph service.

These routes could have this type of high speed local services.

Great Western Main Line

Great Western Railway has several routes, where Class 800 and Class 802 trains break away from the Great Western Main Line to operate local services.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn
  • Paddington and Oxford

It could be argued that services to Cheltenham and Hereford are also high speed local services.

East Coast Main Line

In April 2018, I wrote Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

This post was based on an article in Rail Magazine, which talked about running 125 mph trains on the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route.

This would make operation of the East Coast Main Line easier with herds of 125 mph trains steaming into and out of London.

I think, improvement would also extend to the Cambridge Line, in addition to the Fen Line.

  • Operating speed up from 90 mph to 110 mph plus.
  • Full digital signalling.
  • Automatic Train Control.

Journey times and frequency to and from London Kings Cross would be improved significantly.

Siemens would probably need to uprate the Class 700 trains for faster running, as 100 mph trains are just too slow!

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Edinburgh, large sections of the line are only double track.

It is the ambition of train operating companies to run more high speed expresses between London and the North of England and Scotland.

I can see a time, when all trains using the East Coast Main Line will have to confirm with a high minimum speed, otherwise the future plans cannot be fulfiled.

Midland Main Line

By the end of 2020, the Midland Main Line South of Market Harborough, will be a 125 mph electrified railway with a high speed branch to Corby, which will be served by a half-hourly twelve-car electric service.

From 2022, 125 mph bi-mode trains will be running services on the Midland Main Line.

I can see services between St. Pancras and Corby becoming another high speed local service.

  • Half-hourly service.
  • 125 mph running.
  • Limited stop between Corby and London, with stops at Kettering, Luton And Luton Airport Parkway.
  • The journey time could even be under an hour.

Selected trains could even use battery power to extend the service to Melton Mowbray.

West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line will become increasingly crowded with fast 140 mph trains, especially after the opening of Phase 2a of High Speed Two to Crewe in 2027.

I believe that this will mean that all passenger services using the West Coast Main Line will need to be run using trains capable of at least 110 mph and possibly 125 mph.

The new operation of suburban services on the West Coast Main Line; West Midlands Trains are replacing their fleet with new Class 730 trains. Like the previous trains, they are 110 mph units, but are they capable of upgrading to 125 mph?

If they are upgradeable, they would ease timetabling problems between London and the West Midlands, as they could mix it with Virgin’s Class 390 trains.

Further North, Northern run services like these.

  • Barrow and Manchester Airport.
  • Blackpool and Manchester Airport
  • Windermere and Manchester Airport

Currently, the operator is introducing new Class 195 and Class 331 trains, alongside the Class 319 trains.All of these trains are 100 mph capable, which is probably not fast enough, if they have to use the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Lancaster, some of which is only double-track.

In Northern Considering Options For More New Trains, I wrote about Northern’s future rolling stock plans.

I suspect some 125 mph trains are in their plans for both the East and West Coast Main Lines.

Implications For Freight

There must surely be pressure for freight trains to go faster.

The 110 mph Class 93 locomotive is on its way, but with rail freight increasing we need to radically think how we run freight trains on a busy passenger line.

Conclusion

We will increasingly see upgrading of suburban services that use 125 mph line and not just around London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New GWR IETs Under Fire Over Lack Of Buffets

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

This is the first paragraph.

The RMT has been holding demonstrations today at London, Swansea and Plymouth about the lack of buffets on GWR’s new Intercity Express Trains. Surfers have also been protesting about the simultaneous withdrawal of space to carry their boards.

As I don’t even swim, the latter doesn’t bother me and I can’t remember going to the buffet on a GWR train since, I regularly used to go to Reading to see Foster Wheeler in the 1980s. I must admit, that I’ve availed myself of the trolley service.

I have flagged up for some time, that the Class 800, 801 and 802 trains are a bit lacking in the bulky luggage department.

The picture shows an InterCity 125 about to make luggage disappear.

Also in Bicycles And Class 800 Trains, I said this.

I also noticed from the information displays, that all bicycles needed to be booked. That is a bit different from the days of the InterCity 125s, which had lots of space in the back of the locomotive.

On one trip to Plymouth, I saw several surfboards swallowed by the locomotive.

I got in a conversation with a station guy about bicycles and surfboards and from the knowing look on his face, I suspect it is a bit of a pain.

With the growing popularity of cycling, surely a turn up and go regime is needed.

Given that cyclists and surfers may look at the weather and decide, it’s a good time to go cycling or surfing, I suspect that GWR need to come up with a solution to this problem.

In the 1960s, I remember working with a manic surfer; John Baxendale, at ICI in Runcorn. Regularly, at the weekend in the winter, he’d strap his surfboard to the roof of his trusty Morris Minor and drive to the very North of Scotland to go surfing.

Rather him than me!

But if all surfers are like John in the 1960s, they are devoted to their sport and grab all opportunities.

The simplest solution is probably to provide a hire service in Cornwall for bicycles and surfboards.

But the design of the Class 800 trains allows up to twelve cars in a single train.

Could this lead to GWR and/or other operators, adding a tenth car to the trains to handle large luggage and perhaps bring specialist cargo like flowers and seafood up to London? GWR have done this in the past.

 

 

 

 

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Grand Union Seeks ’91s’ To Cardiff

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the May 2019 Edition Of Modern Railways.

These are points fro the article.

  • Grand Union Railway is a new open access operator.
  • Trains will be formed of a Class 91 locomotive, nine Mark 4 coaches and a driving van trailer.
  • Trains will go between London and Cardiff, stopping at Bristol Parkway, Severn Tunnel Junction and Newport
  • Trains will leave Paddington hourly from 07:35 to 21:35
  • Trains will leave Cardiff hourly from 06:35 to 19:35
  • The journey time will be one hour and forty-five minutes.
  • To run this timetable would appear to need four trains. Grand Union will probably have a fifth train, to allow for one in maintenance.

The service is subject to regulatory approval.

Note that the company has been formed by Ian Yeowart, who was previously Managing Director of Grand Central.

Currently, Great Western Railway (GWR) runs the following trains to South Wales

  • Paddington and Cardiff via Reading, Didcot Parkway, Swindon, Bristol Parkway and Newport
  • Paddington and Swansea via Reading, Swindon, Bristol Parkway, Newport, Cardiff, Bridgend, Port Talbot Parkway and Neath

Services will soon be run exclusively by Class 800 or Class 802 trains.

Note.

  1. Some of the Swansea services are extended to Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock.
  2. Paddington to Cardiff takes two hours and eight minutes.
  3. Paddington to Swansea takes just under three hours.
  4. These times will be improved when the the electrification is completed between Paddington and Cardiff

Paddington and Cardiff will be getting three trains per hour (tph) and two operators

Great Western Railway And Grand Union Services Compared

It is interesting to compare the two services.

Journey Times

Consider.

  • The Grand Union service at one hour forty-five minutes appears to be quicker than the GWR service at two hours eight minutes.
  • But are we comparing times after full electrification of the route to Cardiff, which the Class 91 locomotives will need to operate?
  • There is also the possibility of digital signalling being fitted to both sets of trains.
  • Both trains can run at 140 mph with in-cab signalling
  • The Grand Union service has less stops than the GWR service.

Will the trains settle for a draw and have the same journey times?

Capacity

The seating capacity of the two trains are as follows.

  • GWR Class 800/802 train – 655 seats
  • Grand Union – InterCity 225 – 535 seats

My only thought, is that is there enough space in the GWR train or all luggage.

Bicycles And Bulky Luggage

Tourists with cycles are increasing in number and Wales will become a destination.

Hitachi Class 800 trains do not have much space for bicycles and  bulky luggage.

On the other hand, the driving van trailer of an InterCoty225 can swallow a lot.

Will There Be Sufficient Demand For An Extra Service between London and Cardiff?

A friend asked.

Is there actually a market/capacity for an extra hourly service?

I made these points in reply.

  • The South Wales Metro will be one of the best City metros in the world and will improve feeder services to Cardiff Central dramatically.
  • The M4 is getting busier between Bristol and Cardiff, partly due to the abolition of tolls on the Severn Bridge.
  • The Principality Stadium
  • Tourism to South Wales is growing.
  • Business and finance in Wales is finally looking up.
  • All trains will be at 140 mph for long stretches, so journey times will be one hour forty-five minutes.
  • Paddngton is not an attractive place to arrive at in London, but after Crossrail opens, all should  be different.
  • City of London to City of Cardiff in two hours.
  • Cardiff will be closer to the City of London, than Brussels, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester or Paris!
  • Heathrow’s Third Runway.
  • Four wheels bad, rails good
  • Kids are getting to like trains, just as  we did.
  • The next generation of on-train Internet will be much faster for working and keeping kids of all ages amused.
  • GWR, Grand Union and the Welsh Government could market the route as High Speed Wales!

Will three tph be enough?

My Prediction In October 2013

In October 2013, I wrote Will We Get HSW Before HS2?

This was the conclusion of that post.

So I believe that even if it still goes slower on opening, trains to Bristol and Wales will be doing 225 kph before the end of this decade.

If that isn’t a high speed railway like HS1, I don’t know what is?

But whatever we call it, it’ll be here several years before HS2!

I think we need to call for three cheers for Brunel, who got the route right in the first place.

I felt the biggest problem would be the Severn Tunnel! I got that wrong, as that difficult job is now done.

Conclusion

I like this proposal.

  • The important Paddington and Cardiff route gets a fifty percent increase in train frequency.
  • There could be genuine competition on the route.
  • Grand Union would be using five of the thirty InterCity225 sets, which are in good condition, judging by my recent journeys.
  • Could we see a customer service and catering war between the two operators?

If Grand Union Railway runs to Cardiff, I’ll give it a go.

 

 

April 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Crossrail Opens To Reading, Will Great Western Railway Have Too Many Class 387 Trains?

Currently, Great Western Railway has a fleet of 45 Class 387 trains

Twelve trains are currently being converted to Heathrow Express duties.

But if Crossrail takes over services between London and Reading, then their main use wuill have disappeared.

As Reading to Oxford is not fully-electrified, they can’t be used on this route, but both Class 802 and Class 769 trains can.

There may be used for trains on routes like.

  • Reading and Didcot Parkway
  • Reading and Newbury

But there won’t be opportunities to use thirty-three trains.

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 7 Comments