The Anonymous Widower

A Trip On The East Suffolk Line In A New Stadler Class 755 Train

Today, I took a round trip between Ipswich and Lowestoft stations, along the East Suffolk Line, in one of Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains.

These are my observations and comments.

Stations

The stations vary between the very good and the very basic.

  • I don’t think that any station has a step-free bridge to cross the line.
  • Many stations are just a single platform.
  • Crossing the line often involves a nearby level crossing.
  • Westerfield, Woodbridge, Saxmundham, Darsham, Halesworth and Beccles have two platforms.
  • Lowestoft and Ipswich are both step-free from the street to the platforms.
  • There also appears to be step-free access between the new trains and the platforms.

Overall, from what I could see from the train, each stop was fairly efficient, although I do think that when the drivers and train staff, fully get to grips with the trains, that there is time to be saved on each of the ten stops.

Consider.

  • These trains have much better acceleration and deceleration, than the trains for which the timetable was written.
  • The trains have level access between train and platform. At Lowestoft, I saw an electric wheelchair roll out of the train at a smart speed.
  • These trains set the Gold Standard for step-free access.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least a minute and possibly two minutes saved at each station.

That would reduce the current journey time of one hour and thirty minutes between Lowestoft and Ipswich by perhaps ten minutes.

Level Crossings

Consider.

  • Over the years, Greater Anglia and its predecessors right back teyond British Rail have been plagued by accidents at level crossings.
  • Network Rail would like to close them all,
  • But there are always a lot of local objections especially in rural counties like Suffolk.
  • Removal is often expensive, as a new toad of several miles needs to be constructed.

I noticed perhaps ten crossings on my trip.

A big problem is that at many stations on the East Suffolk Line, there is a level crossing and it is often the only way to cross the line.

This Google Map shows Saxmundham station.

This is typical of the line. But here at Saxmundham, there is probably enough space to squeeze in a step-free bridge like this one, that won the Network Rail/RIBA Footbridge Design Competition.

There are lots of rural stations like Saxmundham in the country, so why should suburban stations get all the investment?

How long will it be before one of the new Class 755 trains hits a vehicle on an East Anglian level crossing?

Other Traffic

The only other trains that I saw on the route were Greater Anglia trains going the other way, which we passed in stations like Beccles and Saxmundham.

Checking on realtrimetrains.co.uk, there appears to have been no trains other than the Lowestoft and Ipswich service all day.

It appears that although parts of the route are only single track, that a well-designed timetable operated by well-trained and well-performing staff can provide a reliable hourly service.

Line Speed

I brought my personal dynamometer car with me and the train trundled along at a very easy and leisurely 55-60 mph, which is around the operating speed of the line of 55 mph.

Consider.

  • The train gave me the impression, that all those 2,920 kW in the diesel engines could go a bit faster.
  • The timetable was probably designed around a Class 156 train, which has just 425 kW per car, as opposed to the 730 kW per car of the Stadler train.
  • I estimate that the Stadler train is about sixty percent heavier per car, but it does have a lot of electrical gubbins to carry around.
  • The weight of the Stadler train does appear to be lighter per car than a Class 170 train.

I would expect that a well-driven Class 755 train has the power and speed to skip from station to station along the East Suffolk Line at several minutes faster than the timetable.

The line is 49 miles long and trains typically take 90 minutes between Lowestoft and Ipswich. That is an average speed of just under 33 mph.

The leg between Saxmundham and Darsham is just over four miles long and it takes nine minutes. This is an average speed of 27 mph.

Consider

  • The acceleration of a Class 755 train is 0.9 m/s², which means to get up to a line speed of 60 mph takes thirty seconds.
  • Four miles at 60 mph takes four minutes.
  • Driver assistance software can tell the driver exactly where to start slowing for the next station.

It might be possible to do the Saxmundham and Darsham leg in perhaps three or four minutes less than the current timetable.

How much time could be saved on the whole route between Lowestoft and Ipswich?

Trains Needed

Look at a typical Off Peak pattern.

  • An Off Peak train is the 1007 from Lowestoft, which arrives at Ipswich at 1136.
  • This train returns from Ipswich at 1217, which arrives in Lowestoft at 1343.
  • It then leaves Lowestoft for Ipswich at 1407.

The train takes four hours to do a round trip on the route, with forty-one minutes wait at Ipswich and twenty-four minutes wait at Lowestoft.

As trains are scheduled from Lowestoft at 1107, 1207 and 1307, four trains will be needed to provide the service.

This is very inefficient.

I feel that it is totally possible for the new trains to run between Lowestoft and Ipswich in around an hour and fifteen minutes, which would mean a saving of between one-two minutes on each leg of the journey.

Suppose though the trains could achieve this time, with an allowance of fifteen minutes to turn the trains at the two end stations.

This would mean that the round trip is now three hours and only three trains will be needed to provide the service.

The Possibility Of A Half-Hourly Service

The current timetable waits for awkward times in each of the end stations.

But my proposed hour and fifteen minute journey with a fifteen minute turnround could offer the possibility of a half-hourly service.

  • Suppose two trains left Ipswich and Lowestoft at identical times on the hour.
  • They would arrive at their destination an hour and fifteen minutes later at a quarter past the hour.
  • By the half-hour, they would be ready to return to the other station.
  • They would arrive back at the start at a quarter to the hour and fifteen minutes they would be ready to repeat the cycle.

The only problem would be to make sure all trains met each other at a place, where they could pass.

The half-hourly service would need six trains. or two more than the current service.

I don’t think that any major engineering works will be needed, although , there might be a need to adjust a passing loop or the signalling.

This is probably only one of many possibilities to provide a half-hourly services.

A Service Between Ipswich And Leiston And Aldeburgh

As I passed this branch the orange army was clearing the track of years of tree and other plant growth.

I’ve always thought that this would be a good idea and I wrote about it in A Station For Leiston.

  • A half-hourly service would need two trains.
  • It would add extra capacity between Ipswich and Saxmundham.
  • It would certainly be needed if Sizewell C is built.
  • Much of the route is double-track between Saxmundham and Ipswich.

It should also be noted that Sizewell has a high-capacity electricity grid connection and with the growtyh of offshore wind, Sizewell might be the ideal place for a large energy storage facility,

Cambridge And Lowestoft?

I took a train recently between Cambridge and Norwich and I noticed it went on to Cromer and Sheringham.

This was just Greater Anglia’s way of scheduling the trains for their convenience.

But could the same joining be done between these two services.

  • Lowestoft and Ipswich
  • Ipswich and Cambridge

It would do the following.

  • Make better use of Platform 1 at Ipswich.
  • Improve train utilisation.
  • It might encourage day trippers to the coast to use the trains.
  • It would improve the link from East Suffolk to Stabsted Airport.
  • Create a comprehensive service, that connects all the major towns in Suffolk.
  • It would connect these Suffolk towns; Lowestoft, Beccles, Saxmundham, Woodbridge, Ipswich, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmund’s and Newnarket.
  • It would serve the proposed A14 Parkway station.
  • It would be an excellent feeder sewrvice for the East-West Rail Link.

It would be a true TransSuffolk railway.

Could There Be A Lowestoft And Great Yarmouth Service?

There has been talk of a new service between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth stations.

There are two options to provide a service.

  • Reinstatement of the Reedham Curve that was closed in 1880.
  • By reversing the train in Reedham station.

I describe these options in Norfolk Rail Line To Remain Closed As £68m Upgrade Project Overruns.

As the second option does not need any extra infrastructure, I think it is more likely.

This was my conclusion about the route with a reverse.

Typical timings appear to be.

  • Between Reedham and Yarmouth – 14-16 minutes
  • Between Reedham and Lowestoft – 24-26 minutes

Given that the Class 755 trains have the following characteristics.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They are optimised for fast stops.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sub-forty minute time between Lowestoft and Yarmouth.

It would appear that one train could run an hourly shuttle between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

A Scenic Route Between Norwich And Ipswich

Using the current times between Ipswich and Lowestoft and Norwich and Yarmouth, it also looks like a sub-three hour scenic route is possible between Ipswich and Norwich.

It could be East Anglia’s version of the Cumbrian Coast Line.

Onboard Catering

The East Suffolk Line service currently takes ninety minutes.

I feel that this service is one that could benefit from a coffee service from a trolley.

The service could be provided by Greater Anglia or as on the Settle & Carlisle Line, by the local Community Rail Partnership.

Conclusion

The arrival of Class 755 trains on the East Suffolk Line could be the start of something special!

 

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My First Rides In A Class 755 Train

Today, I had my first rides in a Class 755 train. I use rides, as it was three separate timetabled journeys.

  • 12:36 – Norwich to Great Yarmouth
  • 13:17 – Great Yarmouth to Norwich
  • 14:05 – Norwich to Lowestoft

But it was only one train!

Although, I did see at least one other train in service.

These are my observations.

The Overall Style

These are a few pictures of the outside of the train.

The train certainly looks impressive from the front, but then it has a similar profile to a Bombardier Aventra or a member of Hitachi’s Class 800 family of trains.

The open nose is reminiscent of front-engined Formula One racing cars of the 1950s, with an added sloping front to apply downforce.

I would suspect that the similarity of the trains  is driven by good aerodynamic design.

If all the current Formula One cars were painted the same colour, could you tell the apart?

Trains seem to be going the same way. Only Siemens Class 700/707/717 design doesn’t seem to be rounded and smooth.

The PowerPack

The unique feature of these bi-mode trains is the diesel PowerPack in the middle of the train.

Stadler first used a PowerPack in the GTW, which I described in The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands.

  • GTWs date from 1998.
  • Over five hundred GTWs have been built.
  • You see GTWs in several countries in Europe.
  • GTWs have a maximum speed of between 115 and 140 kph.

The concept of the train with a PowerPack is certainly well-proven.

I have deliberately ridden for perhaps twenty seconds in the corridor through the PowerPack on both trains! Although I didn’t measure it with a sound meter, I’m fairly certain, that the more modern Class 755 train is better insulated against the noise of the engines.

But you would expect that with progress!

There could be another significant difference between the bi-mode Flirt and the GTW. This picture shows the connection between the PowerPack and the next car.

It looks like it could be a damper to improve the performance of the train on curves. It is not visible on this picture of a GTW PowerPack.

As an engineer, this says to me, that Stadler have taken tremendous care  to make the unusual concept of the PowerPack work perfectly.

Train Power On Diesel

Consider.

  • This four-car Class 755 train has installed diesel power of 1920 kW.
  • At 100 mph, the train will travel a mile in thirty-six seconds.
  • In that time, 19.2 kWh would be generated by the engines at full-power.

This means that a maximum power of 4.6 kWh per vehicle mile is available, when running on diesel power.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I answered the question in the title of the post.

This was my conclusion in that post.

I know this was a rather rough and ready calculation, but I can draw two conclusions.

  • Trains running at 125 mph seem to need between three and five kWh per vehicle mile.
  • The forty year old InterCity 125 has an efficient energy use, even if the engines are working flat out to maintain full speed.

The only explanation for the latter is that Terry Miller and his team, got the aerodynamics, dynamics and structures of the InterCity 125 almost perfect. And this was all before computer-aided-design became commonplace.

In future for the energy use of a train running at 125 mph, I shall use a figure of three kWh per vehicle mile.

These figures leave me convinced that the design of the Class 755 train can deliver enough power to sustain the train at 125 mph, when running on diesel power

Obviously, as the maximum speed in East Anglia, is only the 100 mph of the Great Eastern Main Line, they won’t be doing these speeds in the service of Greater Anglia.

I also  had a quick word with a driver and one of my questions, was could the train design be good for 125 mph? He didn’t say no!

This 125 mph capability  could be useful for Greater Anglia’s sister company; Abellio East Midlands Trains, where 125 mph running is possible, on some  routes with and without electrification.

With respect to the Greater Anglia application, I wonder how many engines will be used on various routes? Many of the routes without electrification are almost without gradients, so I can see for large sections of the routes, some engines will just be heavy passengers.

I’ve read somewhere, that the train’s computer evens out use between engines, so I suspect, it gives the driver the power he requires, in the most efficient way possible.

Remember that these Greater Anglia Class 755 trains, are the first bi-mode Stadler Flirts to go into service, so the most efficient operating philosophy has probably not been fully developed.

Train Weight

These pictures show the plates on the train giving the details of each car.

 

I only photographed one side of the train and I will assume that the other two cars are similar. They won’t be exactly the same, as this  intermediate car has a fully-accessible toilet.

The weight of each car is as follows.

  • PowerPack – PP – 27.9 tonnes
  • Intermediate Car – PTSW – 16.0 tonnes
  • Driving Car – DMS2 – 27.2 tonnes

Adding these up gives a train weight of 114.3 tonnes.

Note that the formation of the train is DMS+PTS+PP+PYSW+DMS2, which means that heavier and lighter cars alternate along the train.

Train Length

The previous pictures give the  length of each  car is as follows.

  • PowerPack – PP – 6.69 metres
  • Intermediate Car – PTSW – 15.22 metres
  • Driving Car – DMS2 – 20.81 metres

Adding these up gives a train length of 78.75 metres.

This is very convenient as it fits within British Rail’s traditional limit for a four-car multiple unit like a Class 319 train.

Train Width

The previous pictures give the width of each  car is as follows.

  • PowerPack – PP – 2.82 metres
  • Intermediate Car – PTSW – 2.72 metres
  • Driving Car – DMS2 – 2.72 metres

The PowerPack is wider than the other cars and it is actually wider than the 2.69 metres of the Class 170 train, that the Class 755 train will replace. However, Greater Anglia’s electric Class 321 trains also have a width of 2.82 metres.

It looks to me, that Stadler have designed the PowerPack to the largest size that the UK rail network can accept.

The other cars are narrower by ten centimetres, which is probably a compromise between fitting platforms, aerodynamics and the needs of articulation.

Seats

The previous pictures give the number of seats in each  car as follows.

  • PowerPack – PP – 0
  • Intermediate Car – PTSW – 32
  • Driving Car – DMS2 – 52

This gives a total of 168 seats. Wikipedia gives 229.

Perhaps the car without the toilet has more or Wikipedia’s figure includes standees.

Kinetic Energy Of The Train

I will use my standard calculation.

The basic train weight is 114.3 tonnes.

If each of the 229 passengers weighs 90 kg with Baggage, bikes and buggies, this gives a passenger weight of 20.34 tonnes.

This gives a total weight of 134.64 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator gives these figures for the Kinetic energy.

  • 60 mph – 13.5 kWh
  • 100 mph – 37.4 kWh
  • 125 mph – 58.4 kWh

If we are talking about the Greater Anglia C;lass 755 train, which will be limited to 100 mph, this leads me to believe, that by replacing one diesel engine with a plug compatible battery of sufficient size, the following is possible.

  • On all routes, regenerative braking will be available under both diesel and electric power.
  • Some shorter routes could be run on battery power, with charging using existing electrification.
  • Depot and other short movements could be performed under battery power.

The South Wales Metro has already ordered tri-mode Flirts, that look like Class 755 trains.

InterCity Quality For Rural Routes

The title of this section is a quote from the Managing Director of Greater Anglia; Jamie Burles about the Class 755 trains in this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the complete paragraph.

Burles said of the Class 755s: “These will be the most reliable regional train in the UK by a country mile – they had better be. They will be InterCity quality for rural routes, and will exceed expectations.”

I shall bear that quote in mind in the next few sections.

Seats And Tables

The seats are better than some I could name.

The seats are actually on two levels, as some are over the bogies. However |Stadler seem to managed to keep the floor flat and you step-up into the seats, as you do in some seats on a London New Routemaster bus.

Seat-Back Tables

I particular liked the seat-back tables, which weren’t the usual flimsy plastic, but something a lot more solid.

They are possibly made out of aluminium or a high class engineering plastic. You’d certainly be able to put a coffee on them, without getting it dumped in your lap.

It is the sort of quality you might get on an airliner, flown by an airline with a reputation for good customer service.

Step-Free Access

Stadler are the experts, when it comes to getting between the train and the platform, without a step. As I travel around Europe, you see little gap fillers emerge from trains built by Stadler, which have now arrived in East Anglia.

There was a slight problem at Great Yarmouth with a wheelchair, but it was probably something that can be easily sorted.

Some platforms may need to be adjusted.

Big Windows

The train has been designed with large windows, that are generally aligned with the seats.

There is no excuse for windows not aligning with most of the seats, as you find on some fleets of trains.

Low Flat Floor

The train has been designed around a low, flat floor.

The floor also improves the step-free access and gives more usable height inside the train.

Litter Bins

The train has well-engineered litter bins in  between the seats and in the lobbies.

This bin is in the lobby, next to a comfortable tip-up seat.

Too many trains seem to be built without bins these days and the litter just gets thrown on the floor.

Conclusion

It is certainly a better class of rural train and I think it fulfils Jamie Burles’ ambition of InterCity Quality For Rural Routes.

But then services between Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich are as important to East Anglia, as services between Hull, Leeds and Sheffield are to Yorkshire.

They are all services that can take a substantial part of an hour, so treating passengers well, might lure them out of their cars and off crowded roads.

In My First Ride In A Class 331 Train, I wrote about Northern’s new Class 331 trains.

If I was going to give the Greater Anglia train a score of eight out of ten, I’d give the Class 331 train, no more than two out of ten.

 

 

 

 

 

August 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

InterCity Quality For Rural Routes

The title of this post is a quote from the Managing Director of Greater Anglia; Jamie Burles about the Class 755 trains in this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the complete paragraph.

Burles said of the Class 755s: “These will be the most reliable regional train in the UK by a country mile – they had better be. They will be InterCity quality for rural routes, and will exceed expectations.”

Initially, the Class 755 trains will be deployed between Norwich and Great Yarmouth stations.

  • It is 18.4 miles long
  • There are four intermediate stations.
  • Trains currently take thirty-three minutes.

It is certainly not your traditional InterCity route and it only runs at a maximum frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

Consider.

  • Norwich is a City of over 140,000.
  • Great Yarmouth is a town of 40,000.
  • There are lots of business and leisure reasons to travel between the two.
  • The A47 road between the two is totally inadequate.

Greater Anglia are purchasing a fleet of 38 trains with a total of 138 carriages to replace 27 trains with a total of 58 carriages.

  • This is a forty percent increase in the number of trains.
  • This is nearly two and a half times as many carriages.
  • The average number of carriages per train is raised from 2.1 to 3.6.

That is a massive increase in train capacity.

I don’t believe that Greater Anglia will park these trains in a siding, but use them to increase frequencies.

  • Will the 100 mph operating speed of the trains allow a round trip between Norwich and Great Yarmouth to be done in after an hour?
  • Will the frequency be increased to up to four tph?

If this can be arranged then Greater Anglia could need as few as four trains to run a Turn-Up-and-Go service between Norwich and Great Yarmouth.

How many passengers would that attract to the route?

Comparing Three-Car Class 755 And Class 170 Trains.

Some three-car Class 170 trains were bought some years ago, to run services between London and Great Yarmouth.

In recent years, they have become the mainstay of Greater Anglia’s regional routes.

  • Ipswich and Cambridge
  • Ipswich and Peterborough
  • Norwich and Cambridge

All three routes are currently run at a frequency of one tph.

These trains have the following specification.

  • 100 mph operation
  • Two-class layout.
  • Between 100 and 200 seats.

They have proven to be a  capable train for the routes and appear to have been driving increasing traffic levels.

It should also be noted that other operators use these trains on routes including.

  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport
  • Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport
  • Cardiff and Nottingham

I think it is true to say that Class 170 trains are 100 mph trains for running on InterCity routes that can’t justify a full-size train like a bi-mode Class 802 train.

Some operators will also be running five-car Class 802 trains on routes that have been run in the past or still are run by Class 170 trains.

The Class 755 trains are 100 mph trains, which Greater Anglia are using in two sizes.

  • Class 755/3 train – three cars with 167 seats
  • Class 755/4 train – four cars with 229 seats

The longer trains will probably be used on Greater Anglia’s longer regional routes.

  • Ipswich and Cambridge
  • Colchester and Peterborough
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • Liverpool Street ans Lowestoft via Ipswich

Note that the last three routes are electrified for nearly have the route.

Except for the Ipswich and Cambridge route, these routes are longer than those run in the past and these routes will probably need four-car trains with InterCity interiors and service.

The Liverpool Street and Lowestoft service of the 1960s and 1970s had a buffet car and passengers on this route will at least expect a trolley service of drinks and snacks.

I very much feel that the Class 755 trains will in a worse case be better than the Class 170 trains, that have run InterCity services in the past.

Will Class 755/3 And Class 755/4 Trains Have The Same Interiors?

Greater Anglia haven’t said definitely that the interiors in the two classes of train will be the same, but I think it will be likely, with respect to the ease of building and maintaining the trains.

This video shows the train being tested at Diss.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t show the interior.

So I’ll have to wait until the end of June to have a look at a real train.

It should also be noted that Class 755 trains can be lengthened by adding extra trailer cars.

So it would be unlikely that the interiors in the driver and trailer cars were different, as this would mean that shuffling of cars could create a train with a mixed interior.

Conclusion

Consider.

  • Some of the Class 755/4 trains will be running InterCity services.
  • Both Class 755 variants are capable of 100 mph running.
  • Ease of building and maintenance probably requires identical interiors.

It would appear that all services where Class 755 trains are used, will get the same InterCity passenger experience.

Although some services could be slower than InterCity services, due to track limitations.

Will Abellio use a similar philosophy, with the new fleet for East Midlands Railway?

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Reedham Station

If you have to travel between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth stations by train, you have to change at Reedham station. Or you should be able to!

These pictures show the station.

You can’t do the direct journey between East Anglia’s two largest Eastern towns at present, as Network Rail have got their special Project Management knickers on. You know the ones with a twist!

So passengers between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth have three options.

  • Take an hour and a half jurney via Norwich.
  • Take a bus, which probably visits half of the villages in the local area.
  • Drive.

Hopefully, the Reedham to Great Yarmouth service will be restored sometime in the near (?) future.

This will allow two ways to travel by rail between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

Changing Trains At Reedham Station

Theoretically, this should work, especially, if trains were timetabled so that passengers waited perhaps a couple of minutes on what I suspect in winter can be a very pleasant station.

Look at the footbridge. Do Greater Anglia really expect elderly travellers or those with bikes, buggies and baggage to use the Victorian footbridge?

I suspect Greater Anglia don’t see this as a feasible way of attracting more passengers out of their cars and from the buses.

But Network Rail haven’t got the millions of pounds needed to bring the station into the Twentieth Century!

A Shuttle Train Reversing At Reedham

It would be possible for a train to shuttle between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, which could reverse in Reedham station.

In Norfolk Rail Line To Remain Closed As £68m Upgrade Project Overruns, I asked if the new Class 755 trains had a fast reverse procedure, as Greater Anglia’s services are full of stations, where a train must arrive and leave a few minutes later.

I wrote the following.

A simple system could be as follows.

  • On arrival in a station, the driver would put the train into a standby mode, when it was safely stopped.
  • The driver would then walk through the train to the second cab.
  • Whilst the driver is changing ends, the conductor is opening and closing the train doors and supervising the loading and unloading of passengers.
  • On arrival in the second cab, the driver would wake up the train and check everything.
  • After the doors are closed and having received the all clear from the conductor and a green light from the signals, the driver would proceed.

At all times, the driver and conductor, would have emergency remote controls to immobilise the train, if something is not what it should be.

Modern automation is certainly able to design a very safe system, that would save time at every reverse.

The stop ar Reedham station would become an almost normal stop and I would expect that a train could reverse  in about two or three minutes.

Use Only One Platform At Reedham

Could this be the most affordable solution?

  • The track layout at Reedham station would be modified, so that all trains would use the Norwich-bound Platform 1.
  • Platform 1 is improved with a quality waiting room and a coffee kiosk, to make a short wait between trains more pleasant.

If there were two trains per hour on both the Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth routes, I’m sure that with the new signalling and good driving, a single-platform at Reedham station would work.

Trains from Norwich could call at XX00, XX15, XX30 and XX45, with trains to Norwich calling at XX07, XX22, XX37 and XX52.

If trains stopped in the right order, then there would be a maximum wait of eight minutes in a comfortable waiting room at Reedham station.

Even with only one train per hour between Norwich and Yarmouth via Reedham, I’m certain an acceptable timetable could be devised.

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains

Greater Anglia have ordered thirty-eight Class 755 trains, which have a total of 138 cars.

These will replace twenty-six assorted trains, which have a total of 55 cars.

This is a increase of 46% in the number of trains and  150% in the number of cars.

Greater Anglia didn’t increase the fleet so that could sit in sidings, so I think we can expect some new services and higher frequencies.

Conclusion

I’m certain that a sensible hourly service between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth stations can be devised.

 

 

March 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Norfolk Rail Line To Remain Closed As £68m Upgrade Project Overruns

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

This is the first three paragraphs.

A major railway upgrade project has been delayed, meaning a Norfolk branch line will go longer without a service.

Network Rail is spending £68m to replace Victorian signalling equipment with a computer-based system between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft .

The project was due to be complete by 31 March, but the deadline will now be pushed back to allow for more testing.

As only Berney Arms station will be without a service, this probably isn’t a major disaster for the thousand passengers, who use the station in a year, but the story does have a very familiar ring.

Network Rail + Signalling = Overrun

Either they’ve found a very serious problem or the planning wasn’t the best!

The Possible Reinstatement Of The Reedham Chord

There used to be a direct Yarmouth to Lowestoft Line, but now it is possible to use the Wherry Lines, with a reverse at Reedham station.

Network Rail are talking about reinstating the Reedham Chord to create a more direct route between East Anglia’s largest North-Eastern towns. This is said about the Reedham Chord in Direct Yarmouth Services in the Wikipedia entry for Lowestoft station.

In January 2015, a Network Rail study proposed the reintroduction of direct services between Lowestoft and Yarmouth by reinstating a spur at Reedham. Services could once again travel between two East Coast towns, with an estimated journey time of 33 minutes, via a reconstructed 34-chain (680 m) north-to-south arm of the former triangular junction at Reedham, which had been removed in c. 1880. The plans also involve relocating Reedham station nearer the junction, an idea which attracted criticism.

This is a Google Map of the Reedham area.

Note.

  1. Reedham station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The single-track line to Yarmouth and the double-track line to Lowestoft, run together to form a triple-track railway to the East of Reedham station.
  3. There are a large number of cross-overs in the triple-track section to the East of Reedham station, so that trains can easily go between either platform at Reedham and Yarmouth or Lowestoft.
  4. The line to Yarmouth goes straight away to the East.
  5. The line to Lowestoft curves South to cross the River Yare.
  6. The Reedham to Lowestoft tracks appear to have been relaid, as far as the bridge.

Will the new track layout and signalling, allow trains between Lowestoft and Yarmouth to perform a fast reverse in either platform at Reedham station?

This approach has advantages over the reinstallation of the Reedham Chord.

  • Reedham station won’t need to be relocated.
  • All trains between Lowestoft and Yarmouth will stop at Reedham station.
  • There would be no need to build the Reedham Chord.

I also suspect, that not building the Reedham Chord is the more affordable option.

Do Class 755 Trains Have a Fast Reverse Procedure?

Greater Anglia have a number of routes, that will be run by new Class 755 trains, where the trains will need to be reversed at either end.

  • Cambridge and Ipswich
  • Colchester and Peterborough
  • Colchester Town and Sudbury
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Sheringham
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport
  • Norwich and Yarmoiuth

When Stadler designed the Class 755 trains for Greater Anglia, did they propose simple automation, so that trains could be reversed in the minimum time at these numerous terminals?

A simple system could be as follows.

  • On arrival in a station, the driver would put the train into a standby mode, when it was safely stopped.
  • The driver would then walk through the train to the second cab.
  • Whilst the driver is changing ends, the conductor is opening and closing the train doors and supervising the loading and unloading of passengers.
  • On arrival in the second cab, the driver would wake up the train and check everything.
  • After the doors are closed and having received the all clear from the conductor and a green light from the signals, the driver would proceed.

At all times, the driver and conductor, would have emergency remote controls to immobilise the train, if something is not what it should be.

Modern automation is certainly able to design a very safe system, that would save time at every reverse.

What I have described here, is much less ambitious than the system I described in Crossrail Trains Will Have Auto-Reverse.

This auto-reverse system will be used at Paddington on Crossrail, by the Class 345 trains, to allow the driver to change ends on a two-hundred metre long train, whilst it is reversing to return to the East.

Testing The Signalling With The New Class 755 Trains

Obviously, adequate testing must be done with all trains that will use the  new signalling on the Wherry Lines between Norwich, Lowestoft and Yarmouth.

This article on the BBC is entitled ScotRail Class 385 Fishbowl Windscreen Safety Concern.

This is the first three paragraphs.

Aslef has warned that modifications must be made to ScotRail’s new Class 385 electric trains – or its drivers will refuse to work them.

The train drivers’ union is concerned that the curved windscreen is causing reflections of other signals at night.

Drivers identified the problem on a recent evening test run between Glasgow Central and Paisley Gilmour Street.

Testing of the ~Norfolk signalling will cover a myriad of possible problems, against the whole route and all possible trains.

But there is one problem, that is probably delaying the project.

The Class 755 trains have not been certified yet! So starting of the testing can’t be started.

Conclusion

This delay is more complicated, than initial reports suggest.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if Network Rail have produced a track and signalling solution, that will allow a direct service between Lowestoft and Yarmouth, with a reverse at Reedham.

Typical timings appear to be.

  • Between Reedham and Yarmouth – 14-16 minutes
  • Between Reedham and Lowestoft – 24-26 minutes

Given that the Class 755 trains have the following characteristics.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They are optimised for fast stops.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sub-forty minute time between Lowestoft and Yarmouth.

Using the current times between Ipswich and Lowestoft and Norwich and Yarmouth, it also looks like a sub-three hour scenic route is possible between Ipswich and Norwich.

 

January 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is This Britain’s Worst Tourist Attraction?

I’ve never liked waxworks.  I went once to Madame Tussards in probably the 1950s with my mother and we weren’t impressed. To me once was enough!

So when I see the pictures and read the reports in today’s Times about Louis Tussauds House of Wax in Great Yarmouth, it doesn’t change my opinion on waxworks. Read what Trip Advisor says here. The Telegraph doesn’t mince its words either and describes the attraction as facing meltdown.

On the other hand, I might go there, as it sounds so awful. But then there are much better things to see in Great Yarmouth.

November 1, 2012 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Is Blackpool the Most Pedestrian Unfriendly Resort in the UK?

I went to Blackpool with an open mind, but I had met a plumber from Wigan in Liverpool, who goes to that city with his bike, when he wants to get some sea air.

But I hadn’t been prepared for what I found.

Arriving at Blackpool North station, there was no map or instructions to help me get to the football ground or even the town centre. There was a map for sale at a pound or so,but it didn’t have either the station or the football ground on it.

I was told as a child, that if you’re lost, you should always ask a policeman.  So I found two.  But one was from Manchester and the other was from Preston. They hadn’t a clue on directions.  So I suppose, if there was an incident, they’d probably turn up with difficulty and late.

In fact there are no useful maps in the dump, as to call it a town, insults all of those places, like Great Yarmouth, who care for their visitors so much better.

There is however this bus map on all the stops.

Blasckpool's Useless Bus Map

I suppose it might be useful to those who have the route they are taking to hand.  But for me it was as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Close to the football ground it gets worse with roads that have no crossing places for pedestrians.

A typical Pedestrian-Friendly Crossing In Blackpool

The picture was taken on a busy roundabout. where are the protective lights? And here are some Ipswich fans trying to cross the road to McDonalds.

Ipswich Fans Dodge The Traffic in Blackpool

I know Blackpool has financial problems, but surely they want visitors to return.

Obviously they don’t want coeliacs, who have to walk everywhere!

September 12, 2011 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

To Norwich in the Snow

The train from Dullingham to Cambridge was a few minutes late but for once in the last few weeks, it was actually two coaches, so it was fairly comfortable.  The Cambridge to Norwich train was a three coach, Class 170. It has been promised that the two coach version of this train will be used on the Ipswich Cambridge line after December 12th.  But hopefully, I’ll have moved before I need to use one. 

The train sped through the snow, as this picture shows. 

Through the Snow to Norwich

 

It reminds me off the old joke about the old lady who’d been on a train journey on a very snowy day and asked the conductor, “How does the driver know where he’s going, when he can’t see the rails.” 

Norwich incidentally, is the only town in East Anglia with a proper railway station, with enough platforms laid out so that trains can be despatched efficiently. 

Inside Norwich Station

But is it not to be expected that East Anglia, the forgotten part of the UK, has such awful stations, as there are always more important places to buy votes, especially when Labour is in power.  Norwich station seems to have slipped through the financial net or it could be that it is East Anglia’s only terminal station and was built properly in the first place.

But think of the others.

Bury St. Edmunds is best described as a building in keeping with the ruins of the Abbey.

Cambridge is effectively one long platform, which is the third longest in England, where trains are shunted, coupled and decoupled to try to run an effcient service. At least it is going to be upgraded with a new long platform.  Hopefully, this will allow, Ipswich, Norwich and services to and past Peterborough to be expanded.

Ely is a busy junction station that works, but it is not the best place to connect between north-south and east-west services.  It could do with a proper bridge and/or  lifts so that passengers can transfer easier and a lot more car parking.

Felixstowe is a halt in the car park of a shopping centre.

Great Yarmouth is a low cost industrial building with a few facilities.

Ipswich is really a two platform halt on the main London to Norwich line, with additional platforms for the branches tucked along the sides.

Newmarket is a single platform with a shelter

November 28, 2010 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The A11 Missing Link Goes Ahead

Or that’s what it looks like after the government’s cost cutting according to this report on the BBC.

I know you could have argued that in our current state all road projects should go, but this is one that will pay for itself in lives saved because of the dangerous Elveden village.

The upgrading of the A14 through Cambridge has been scrapped, but if the Felixstowe to Peterborough rail freight mprovements kick in as they should, then the congestion caused by heavy lorries may decrease.  Remember too, that a lot of the cars on this section of the A14 are commuters working in the high-tech businesses in the Cambridge area and these are just the commuters that might use alternative technological alternatives.

So if it was the A14 or the A11, then the A11 is the more iportant.  It’s just a pity though, that there appear to be no plans in place to improve the links between Great Yarmouth and the rest of the country.  The A11 Missing Link will be a great help, but work on the Acle Straight would very much be welcomed.

October 20, 2010 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Infamous Acle Straight

When I went to Great Yarmouth, the train travelled alongside the A47 or Acle Straight for a few miles close to the town.

The Acle Straight from the Train

I have written about this road before, as it is very dangerous.  You can just see a few vehicles on the road, by the windmill.

But it would appear that nothing will be done to improve transport links to Great Yarmouth!

Perhaps an alternative to improving the road, would be to increase capacity on the railway line.  In common with much of the services in East Anglia, trains are typically inadequate two-coach diesel multiple units, running on a mainly single-track line. The station at Great Yarmouth could also do with a substantial upgrade.

But then Great Yarmouth station is very typical to those around East Anglia.  As an example, Bury St. Edmunds station is a total dump and completely out of keeping with the town. Only Norwich has a station, which is fit for purpose.

But then here in East Anglia, we know how to live on the scraps that the Treasury dishes out!

September 17, 2010 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment