The Anonymous Widower

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

If Crossrail Opens To Reading In December 2019, How Will It Terminate In Paddington?

If you look at the Services in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, the services on the Western Branch are the following in trains per hour (tph).

  • Reading and Abbey Wood (5 stops) – Two tph in the Peak, None in the Off-Peak
  • Reading and Abbey Wood (12 stops) – Two tph all day
  • Maidenhead and Abbey Wood (10 stops) – Two tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Abbey Wood (6 stops) – Four tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 and Abbey Wood (6 stops) – Two tph all day

If these services terminate in Paddington station, then the station must be able to handle twelve tph in the Peak and ten tph at all other times.

Perhaps two platforms could be used as follows.

  • Reading and Maidenhead services handling six tph in the Peak and four in the Off Peak.
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Heathrow Terminal 5 services, handling six tph all day.

Or to give a bit of spare capacity and make it easier for passengers, three platforms could be used as follows.

  • Reading and Maidenhead services handling six tph in the Peak and four in the Off Peak.
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 services, handling four tph all day
  • Hesthrow Terminal 5 services, handling two tph all day

For convenience, services could terminate in the two Northernmost platforms 12,and 14. 13 hseems to have disappeared.

  • These platforms have their own short gate line.
  • They are on the same side of the station, as the slow lines that Crossrail will use to leave the station.
  • Platform 14 is 164 metres long, with platforms 11 and 12 longer.

Could these two platforms be turned into a self-contained Crossrail station?

  • Each platform could handle six tph.
  • I don’t think full-length nine-car Crossrail trains could be used, but seven-car trains could fit a 164 metre platform.
  • The lighting needs to be improved.
  • If these platforms could be used for exclusively for Crossrail, there would be no crossing of tracks outside the station involving Crossrail trains.
  • It would be convenient for passengers as they’d just go to the Crossrail station and through the gate.

But above all, there would not be a lot of work needed to create a Crossrail station.

Unless it was decided to make all platforms capable of handling full-length trains. But hopefully, it would only be needed for a couple of years.

Conclusion

Platform 12 and 14 at Paddington could be converted into a two-platform Crossrail station handling seven-car Class 345 trains, at a frequency of twelve tph, with its own gate line.

 

 

 

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ealing Broadway Station – 19th April 2019

These pictures show Ealing Broadway station.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, to make the station, look like Crossrail’s image on the hoarding.

These are the proposed train frequencies at the station in the Off Peak, when Crossrail opens.

  • Four trains per hour – Great Western Railway.
  • Ten trains per hour – Crossrail.
  • Six trains per hour – District Line
  • Nine trains per hour – Central Line

There will be extra services in the Peak.

Crossrail To Reading In December 2019

As current rumours are that Crossrail will open in December to Reading, it looks like the station will be usable, if the architects have got the design right.

It is planned that Ealing Broadway station will have a Crossrail train every six minutes.

 

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

Newquay Link With Heathrow Takes Off Courtesy Of Taxpayer

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in today’s copy of The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

From next weekend air travellers will be given the equivalent of a £5 bung, courtesy of the taxpayer, to use Newquay airport in Cornwall for four flights a day both ways to Heathrow.

The article describes how the service is run under a Public Aervice Obligation or PSO.

Other air services in the UK run on this basis include.

  • Stansted to Derry
  • Stansted to Dundee

Similar subsidies are used in the EU and the United States.

This Google Map shows Newquay (indicated by a red marker,and the airport.

The town and the airport are about 4.3 miles apart.

This Google Map shows the centre of Newquay.

Note Newquay station in the middle of the town close to the beach.

  • How rare to see a coastal town with a well-placed station.
  • It does seem that in the Summer, there are more than just a rudimentary local service to the town.
  • In the Summer, there are also long distance services, to London, Manchester and Scotland.

I also think, that GWR might run one of their shortened HSTs to the town from perhaps Exeter with upmarket service on board.

So I have to ask, the question, if the a subsidy for the air service is really necessary?

March 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a 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

Could Class 387 Trains Help Out On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line?

This tweet was on the Goblin Users Twitter Account this morning.

We are trying to persuade @TfL to approach @c2c_Rail to hire in some Class 387s for weekend services, even just on Saturdays would help. @c2c_Rail have 6xClass 387s and they are not used at weekends.

It’s an interesting thought.

  • They are very good trains.
  • Class 387 trains are four-car Electrostars and many are dual-voltage, if that is needed.
  • The Gospel Oak to Barking Line needs three more trains for a full service, after the departure of the Class 172 trains.
  • In addition to c2c, they are used by Great Northern and Great Western.

But at 110 mph, are they over-powered for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line?

But what would happen if TfL Rail were to take over services between Paddington and Reading?

  • Would this release some of Great Western’s Class 387 trains?
  • Great Western are updating twelve trains for Heathrow Express.

I do think that there could be three trains with no place to go because of the late-running electrification of the Great Western Main Line.

January 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments

The Paddington Fiasco

Everybody is looking for a scapegoat for the problems at Paddington station, that is reported in this article on the BBC, which is entitled Paddington Station: Passengers Face Major Disruption.

Tony Miles of Modern Railways was on BBC Breakfast this morning and he explained what happened.

The Class 802 train was accumulating the 2,000 miles it needs before it can be accepted by Great Western Railway.

The trains are designed to be able to change from diesel to electric power and vice-versa at line speed.

This train was raising the pantograph to access the pverhead wires on a section of British Rail-era overhead wires at Ealing.

The pantograph is thought to have bounced and the overhead wires have broken and become entangled in the pantograph.

Modern electrification with its heavyweight gantries has each line wired separately, but according to Tony Miles, the British Rail lightweight system, means if one comes down, they all fail.

I should add, that several times in the last ten years on the East Coast Main and Great Eastern Main Lines, I have been on trains that have been stranded by failed overhead wires.

In addition, over the last few years, it has been a nightmare travelling to Ipswich, as Network Rail have been renewing the overhead wires to a modern standard.

There are still many miles of this sub-standard British Rail-era overhead wiring all over the country.

It should all be replaced with new modern systems.

There is a problem though with the new modern electrification systems. They are ugly and many believe they are totally out-of-place in the countryside.

There is also the problem caused by the disruption, when the old systems are removed.

Conclusion

This sub-standard overhead electrification should have been removed years ago.

 

October 18, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment