The Anonymous Widower

Class 755 Trains Are Now Serving Cambridge

Greater Anglia are now running Class 755 trains on services between Cambridge and Norwich.

The first picture shows Greater Anglia’s new logo of a red hare.

  • To my knowledge it is the only logo of a UK train company, that is not just a neutral graphic.
  • Greater Anglia use it on posters in other forms.

I quite like it, as if any animal sums up speed in East Anglia it is the brown hare.

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September 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

‘Digital Twin’ To Support More Robust Timetable Planning

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

When I saw the title of this post, I was surprised that it was a newsworthy story.

I have been doing scheduling of people, machines and other resources since the late 1960s and creating print outs and graphs to help people to manage businesses from the early 1970s.

In so many cases, I’ve found digital models have given a great insight into the interactions between factors affecting the system.

So I would have expected train companies to all have a digital twin from at least 1980, especially as I know BT and other phone companies had digital models of their networks by that time.

If they don’t have a digital model of their network, how do train companies plan their timetables?

By trial and error!

Or do they start with marketing ideas like four trains per hour and then fit the timetable together like a jigsaw?

September 10, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Shuttling Between Stratford And Meridian Water Stations

The shuttle between Stratford and Meridian Water stations started today with a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

As a driver said to me, it’s more of a Z, than a shuttle, as it has this pattern.

  • Bishops Stortford to Stratford. – 56 or 53 minute +turnaound of six minutes
  • Stratford to Meridian Water – 15 minutes + turnround of seven minutes
  • Meridian Water to Stratford – 15 minutes + turnround of seven minutes
  • Stratford to Bishops Stortford – 53 or 55 minutes + turnround of 19-24 minutes

As I said in Meridian Water Station Is To Be Upgraded, the diagram takes three and a half hours and it would need seven trains.

Note.

  1. Most of the trains today, seemed to have been formed of two four-car Class 317 trains, although there was at least one train working as a four-car train.
  2. I made two visits to the route today and it seemed to be performing reliably.
  3. One train was cancelled due to a shortage of crew.

These are some pictures, I took throughout the day.

A few thoughts on what I saw and deduced.

The Timetable Works

The timetable seems to have worked well today and the driver who described the timetable as a Z, didn’t say it was crazy or ridiculous.

Passengers didn’t seem to be running around like headless chickens, so they were probably getting the hang of it.

Greater Anglia and Network Rail should be very pleased.

The Stations Have Long Platforms

The stations on the route; Stratford, Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park and Meridian Water, all seem to have long platforms, which can certainly accommodate eight-car trains, which are 160 metres long.

Tottenham Hale’s platforms can handle twelve-car trains and are 240 metres long.

Do Greater Anglia’s Trains Fit the Platforms?

Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains come in two lengths.

  • Five-car trains are 122 metres long.
  • Ten-car trains are 243 metres long.

Only the five-car trains will fit the platforms at Lea Bridge, Northumberland Park and Meridian Water and the ten-car trains will only fit Stratford and Tottenham Hale.

It certainly looks to me, that only five-car trains will be able work the Z-shaped service between Stratford, Meridian Water and Bishops Stortford stations.

But this is not a problem.

In Greater Anglia Are Replacing Eight-Car Class 317 Trains With Five-Car Class 320 Trains , I explained how the new five-car train has almost the same capacity as the old eight-car train.

There Are Now Three tph Between Stratford and Northumberland Park 

This is probably only an interim timetable, but it still has tripled the frequency of trains between Stratford and Northumberland Park.

This means that the base frequency for events at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium has tripled.

So those going to events at the stadium, will have increased train  capacity from Stratford, Lea Bridge and Tottenham Hale.

As only one train of the two tph between Stratford and Bishops Stortford stops at Northumberland Park, it would be easy to up the frequency to four tph, by getting the second service to stop.

This Timetable Can Easily Be Increased To Four tph Between Stratford And Meridian Water

Currently, the two tph between Stratford and Bishops Stortford, stop as follows.

  • 1 tph – Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Harlow Town and Sawbridgeworth
  • 1 tph – Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park, Enfield Lock, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Roydon, Harlow Town, Harlow Mill and Sawbridgeworth

The four tph between Stratford and Meridian Water, that was promised in the STAR project, could be arranged by stopping both trains at Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park and Meridian Water in both directions.

The only extra stops at Northumberland Park and Meridian Water would be as follows.

  • Southbound in Platform 3
  • Northbound in Platform 4

These are the same platforms current services use at Tottenham Hale.

The Proposed Fourth Track Between Meridian Water And Tottenham Hale

How does the now-implemented Z-shaped service fit with the proposed fourth track, I discussed in Meridian Water Station Is To Be Upgraded.

The upgrade is described in the Wiukipedia entry for Meridian Water station, where this is said.

In August 2019, it was announced that funding had been approved for construction of a fourth platform and a new section of track between Tottenham Hale and Meridian Water to enable up to 8 trains per hour to serve the station at peak times.

This must be the earliest upgrade in history, after a new station has opened.

In the related report, I came to the conclusion, that the fourth track would.

  • Leave the Southbound West Anglia Main Line, just to the North of Meridian Water station.
  • Go through the new Platform 1 at the station.
  • Continue through Northumberland Park station.
  • Join the new third track, between Northumberland Park and Tottenham Hale.

This would allow Stratford and Liverpool Street trains to take separate routes to their respective terminals.

In the Meridian Water Station To Be Upgraded post, I said this.

Eight trains per hour (tph) in both directions calling at the station could be as follows.

  • Platform 1 – Two tph from Bishops Stortford to Stratford
  • Platform 2 – Two tph Meridian Water to Stratford
  • Platform 3 – Two tph from Hertford East to Liverpool Street
  • Platform 3 – One tph from Cambridge to Liverpool Street
  • Platform 3 – One tph from Cambridge North to Liverpool Street
  • Platform 4 – Two tph from Stratford to Bishops Stortford
  • Platform 4 – Two tph from Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • Platform 4 – One tph from Liverpool Street to Cambridge
  • Platform 4 – One tph from Liverpool Street to Cambridge North

Four tph go to and from each of Stratford and Liverpool Street.

At Tottenham Hale, platforms would be as follows.

  • Platform 2 – Southbound Services to Stratford and two tph to Meridian Water.
  • Platform 3 – Southbound Services to Liverpool Street
  • Platform 4 – Northbound services going further than Meridian Water.

I am assuming that the missing Platform 1 and the fourth track through Tottenham Hale station will not be built in the short term, as doing this, would blow the available budget.

Conclusion

The shuttle is working and it will get better, with the addition of a fourth track between Meridian Water and Tottenham Hale.

 

September 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Greater Anglia Are Replacing Eight-Car Class 317 Trains With Five-Car Class 320 Trains

At first sight eight into five won’t go, but here’s how it will be done.

Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains come in two lengths.

  • Five-car trains are 122 metres long.
  • Ten-car trains are 243 metres long.

Compare this length with that of an eight-car Class 317 train, which is just under 160 metres long.

Several platforms on the Greater Anglia network, such as Hertford East, can only take one five-car train, as I wrote about in Greater Anglia’s Class 720 Trains.

So how does the capacity of this train compare with an eight-car Class 317 train?

Using Wikipedia, the capacity of a five-car fie-car Class 720 train is 540 seated and 145 standing or 685 in total

  • Eight-car Class 317 train – 396 seated and 171 standing – 738 total – from Angel Trains web site.

The new five-car train has a capacity of 92.8% of that of the old eight-car train, but it has thirty-six percent more seats.

This plate was on the end of a Class 317/1 train.

This says that a four-car unit has 292 seats, so an eight-car Class 317 train would have 584 seats.

The new five-car Class 720 train has 92.4% of the seats of an old eight-car Class 317 train.

I suspect this is all down to modern train interior design.

Conclusion

An eight-car Class 317 train can be replaced with a five-car Class 320 train.

September 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

The Shuttle Train Between Stratford And Meridian Water Stations Has Appeared In The Timetable

In the Wikipedia entry for Meridian Water station, this is said about the initial service.

A seven day a week, half-hour service from 6am to 11pm is timetabled to start on 9 September 2019  to Stratford calling at Northumberland Park, Tottenham Hale and Lea Bridge which will start and terminate at Meridian Water from Platform two.

If you type this date and time into the on-line National Rail timetable, you get these trains.

  • 06:22
  • 07:08 and )7:38
  • 08:08 and )8:38

The trains then seem to follow the eight minutes past the half hour pattern until 23:08

Each journey has the same characteristics.

  • They leave from Platform 2 at Meridian Water
  • They arrive in Platform 11 at Stratford fifteen minutes later at XX:23 and XX:53
  • Times at Northumberland Park are XX:10 and XX:40.
  • Times at Tottenham Hale are XX:13 and XX:43
  • Times at Lea Bridge are XX:16 and XX:46

Return journeys have the following characteristics

  • They leave from Platform 11 at Stratford at XX:17 and XX:47
  • They arrive in Platform 2 at Meridian Water fifteen minutes later at XX:32 and XX:02
  • Times at Lea Bridge are XX:23 and XX:53
  • Times at Tottenham Hale are XX:26 and 56
  • Times at Northumberland Park are XX:29 and XX:59

The timetable to provide the two trains per hour (tph) service looks to have been put together in a very simple way.

  • Two trains are used.
  • Train One works the XX:08 from Meridian Water and the XX:47 train from Stratford
  • Train Two works the XX:38 from Meridian Water and the XX:17 train from Stratford
  • Trains have six minutes to turn round at Meridian Water.
  • Trains have twenty-four minutes to turn round at Stratford.
  • Only one train is North of Lea Bridge at any one time and they are on the new third track.
  • The two trains will pass between Stratford and Lea Bridge stations, where they will be on separate tracks.

There is one complication; the two tph service between Stratford and Bishops Stortford is still running and the timetable, says it will be using Platform 11 at Stratford.

  • But as the Meridian Water shuttle train will wait for twenty-four minutes at Stratford, could the Bishops Stortford train share the same platform?
  • Or will the signallers use Platform 12 as an overflow, when they need?

There must be a sound, safe and reliable plan, otherwise they wouldn’t run the trains.

Enfield Council has been promised four tph between Meridian Water and Stratford stations.

Sharing Platform 11 between the Meridian Water shuttle and the Bishops Stortford service might just fulfil Enfield’s needs.

  • If the Southbound Bishops Stortford to Stratford service stopped at Meridian Water, if would stop in Platform 3, which shares an island with Platform 2, which will be used by the shuttle.
  • The Southbound Bishops Stortford to Stratford service would probably stop at Meridian Water at XX:22 and XX:52, which would be conveniently between the shuttle services.
  • Northbound Stratford to Bishops Stortford services would leave conveniently at XX:00 and XX:30 from the samr platform as the shuttle.

But I feel that this is very much an interim service until Greater Anglia have worked out what is possible with real trains and passengers and their new Class 720 trains have been delivered.

August 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

South Lincolnshire, West Norfolk And The North Netherlands

These three areas are very similar.

This sentence comes from the Wikipedia entry for The Fens, which are found where Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk come together.

Most of the Fenland lies within a few metres of sea level. As with similar areas in the Netherlands, much of the Fenland originally consisted of fresh- or salt-water wetlands. These have been artificially drained and continue to be protected from floods by drainage banks and pumps.

I have heard it said, that The Fens owe a lot of their landscape to the Dutch, as it was the Dutch, who originally had a lot to do with draining the land.

It should also be noted, that one of the most famous people from the area is Commander George Vancouver of the Royal Navy, who was the son of John Jasper Vancouver, a Dutch-born deputy collector of customs in King’s Lynn. He gave his name to the Canadian city of Vancouver.

The Dutch have returned in that two of the three rail franchises in the area, are under the control of the Dutch company; Abellio; Greater Anglia (GA) and East Midlands Railway (EMR).

Current and future services through the area include.

  • GA – Stansted Airport and Norwich via Ely and Cambridge
  • GA – Liverpool Street and King’s Lynn via Ely and Cambridge
  • GA – Colchester and Peterborough via Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely
  • EMR – Norwich and Nottingham
  • EMR – Peterborough and Doncaster via Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln
  • EMR – Nottingham and Skegness via Grantham, Sleaford and Boston
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham and Stansted Airport via Peterborough, Cambridge and Ely.
  • Great Northern – King’s Cross and King’s Lynn via Ely and Cambridge
  • Thameslink – King’s Cross and Peterborough
  • Thameslink – King’s Cross and Cambridge

Note.

Most services are hourly, with some London services at a higher frequency.

  1. EMR are planning to increase certain early, late and Sunday services, so there may be improvements.
  2. GA are planning to introduce new Class 755 trains pn diesel services and new Class 720 trains on electric services.
  3. The Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge corridor can have a frequency as high as eight trains per hour (tph)

Will EMR and GA work together to improve services in the area they jointly serve?

These are a few of my thoughts.

A Look At The North Of The Netherlands

In The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands, I looked at what the Dutch are doing in the North of the country, near to the city of Groningen.

  • Groningen is a city of around 200,000 people and a major rail hub, with services fanning out through the flat landscape.
  • The trains are mainly Stadler GTWs, which are the forerunners of GA’s Class 755 trains.
  • The Dutch are developing a hydrogen-based economy in the area, which I described in The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen.

Are Abellio looking to bring some of the ideas from the Netherlands to the UK?

I think to a certain extent, we’re going the same way. For instance, in the North of Lincolnshire a lot of development is going on to develop an energy economy based on offshore wind and energy storage.

The Cambridge Effect

Cambridge effects the whole of the area, in its demand for housing and premises for research, development and manufacture.

The Cambridge And Peterborough Problem

I used to play tennis, with a guy, who was promoting Peterborough as an expansion area for Cambridge. Peterborough is a city, with space and good connections to London and the North, by rail and the A1 road.

,But the problem is that the road and rail links between the two cities are atrocious, with a two-lane dual-carriageway and an hourly three-car diesel train.

It is my view, that the gap in the electrification between Ely and Peterborough should eventually be removed.

  • The land is flat.
  • The route is thirty miles long.
  • The route was recently upgraded to take the largest container trains, so electrification, surely wouldn’t be too difficult.
  • The biggest problem would probably be dealing with the numerous level crossings.

Electrification would allow.

  • More frequent and faster passenger trains between Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough.
  • Freight trains between Felixstowe and the North would be easier to haul using electro-diesel locomotives like the Class 88 and Class 93.
  • It would create an electrified diversion route for trains on the East Coast Main Line.

After electrification, it would be possible to have a much-needed four tph service between Cambridge and Peterbough with stops at Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely, Manea, March and Whittlesea.

  • Cambridge and Peterborough sstations both have several platforms, that could be used to terminate extra services.
  • The service could be extended to Cambridge South station, when that is built in a few years.

GA’s Class 755 trains could even provide the service without electrification.

What About Wisbech?

Wisbech is a town of 33,000 people without a passenger rail link.

But it does have the Bramley Line.

This is the introductory paragraph in Wikipedia.

The Bramley Line is a railway line between March and Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, England. A number of proposals are currently being investigated relating to the possible restoration of passenger services along the route.

The Association of Train Operating Companies and various politicians have supported creating a passenger service between Wisbech and Cambridge via March and Ely.

The service could be as follows.

It would use an existing single-track line, which would probably just need upgrading.

  • Cambridge and Wisbech would take around forty-five minutes.
  • A train would take two hours for the round trip.
  • An hourly service would take two trains.

What is useful, is that the length of the branch line is short enough, that it may be possible to be run the service using One Train Working.

Improvements Between Cambridge And King’s Lynn

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Work On £27m East of England Upgrades Set To Begin.

It lists the work to be done and the benefit in these two paragraphs.

The upgrades, between Cambridge and King’s Lynn, will include two platform extensions at Waterbeach and a platform extension at Littleport.

This will allow the introduction of eight-car services during peak times, providing passengers with more seats and a better experience.

The works will certainly add capacity for commuters to and from Cambridge and London.

Will the upgrade at Waterbeach station allow Greater Anglia’s four-car Class 755 trains to call.?

There is a section in the Wikipedia entry for Waterbeach station, which is entitled Future Plans, where this is said.

Plans to develop a New Town of 8,000 to 9,000 homes on the former Waterbeach Barracks site have been outlined by South Cambridgeshire District Council. As part of the proposal, there are plans to relocate the station to a new site and extend the platforms to accommodate 12 car trains.

This is more housing for Cambridge and I’m sure that the promised Norwich and Stansted Airport service will call.

Will Services Be Joined Back-To-Back At Peterborough?

Train companies sometimes find that joining two services together in a busy station is a good idea.

  • It may use less trains and drivers.
  • It uses a through platform rather than two bay platforms.
  • Trains could be turned in a more convenient station.

A proportion of passengers don’t have to change trains.

Note.

  1. |East Midlands Railway are joining the Doncaster and Lincoln, and Lincoln and Peterborough services into one service.
  2. Greater Anglia are extending the Peterborough and Ipswich service to Manningtree.
  3. Greater Anglia are extending the Norwich and Cambridge service to Stansted Airport.

But East Midlands Railway are also splitting the Norwich and Liverpool service into two.

These are the services that are planned to terminate at Peterborough.

  • Peterborough and Colchester via Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely
  • Peterborough and Doncaster via Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln

As I said earlier, I would’ve be surprised to see extra Cambridge and Peterborough services to increase capacity between the two cities.

Current timings of the various sections are as follows.

  1. Peterborough and Lincoln – one hour and twenty-three minutes
  2. Lincoln and Doncaster – fifty-four minutes
  3. Peterborough and Ipswich – one hour and thirty-nine minutes
  4. Ipswich and Colchester – nineteen minutes
  5. Peterborough and Cambridge – fifty minutes

Adding up 3 and 4 gives a Colchester and Peterborough timing of one hour and fifty-eight minutes. But the new Class 755 trains are faster and will be running at full speed on electrification for sections of the journey.

With the turnround at both ends, a round trip would be under four hours. This would mean that four trains would be needed for an hourly service.

Adding up 1 and 2 gives a Peterborough and Doncaster timing of two hours and seventeen minutes.

With the turnround at both ends, a round trip would be under five hours. This would mean that five trains would be needed for an hourly service.

Could these two services be run back-to-back to create a Colchester and Doncaster service?

It would take four hours and fifteen minutes or nine hours for a round trip. This would mean that nine trains would be needed for an hourly service.

This is the same number of trains that would be needed for the two separate services.

The two companies might decide to run a joint service, but!

  • In whose colours would the train run?
  • Would there be crewing difficulties?
  • If a train fails, it would probably be a long way from home.
  • It has been felt sensible to split the five hour and thirty-five minute Norwich and Liverpool services.

Would it be possible to run a service between Cambridge and Lincoln?

  • Adding up 1 and 5 gives a timing of two hours and thirteen minutes.
  • With the turnround at both ends, a round trip would be under five hours.
  • This would mean that five trains would be needed for an hourly service.

It would be possible, but would the convenience attract enough passengers to make the service viable?

Would It Be Worth Reinstating March And Spalding?

There used to be a railway between March and Spalding.

Wikipedia says this about the closure of the route.

When the line closed between March and Spalding in 1982,[3] freight traffic was diverted through Peterborough station instead of cutting across the western edge of the Fens to avoid the line through Peterborough station

Some have called for the route to be reinstated to enable freight trains to by-pass Peterborough, when travelling between Felixstowe and the route to the North through Spalding, Sleaford, Lincoln and Doncaster.

  • It is not a long route.
  • It could provide a passenger route between Cambridge and Lincoln.

I suspect that Network Rail looked at this scheme as an alternative to the Werrington Dive Under, which has been costed at £200 million.

Wikipedia says this about the Werrington Dive Under.

The project will see the construction of 1.9 miles (3 km) of new line that will run underneath the fast lines, culverting works on Marholm Brook and the movement of the Stamford lines 82 feet (25 m) westwards over the culverted brook. The project, coupled with other ECML improvement schemes (such as the four tracking from Huntingdon to Woodwalton) will improve capacity on the line through Peterborough by 33% according to Network Rail. This equates to two extra train paths an hour by 2021, when the work is scheduled to be completed.

A thirty-three percent capacity increase seems a powerful reason to build the Werrington Dive Under.

Would it also enable a faster route for trains between King’s Cross and Lincoln?

As to whether the direct route between March and Spalding will ever be reinstated, this will surely depend on several factors.

  • The number of freight trains needing to go between Felixstowe and Doncaster.
  • The maximum number of freight trains, that can use the freight route, through Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln.
  • Whether a passenger service on the route is worthwhile.

There are also protests about the number of freight trains already using the route.

I can see the capacity of the freight route being increased and the route being made a more friendly neighbour, after the opening of the Werrington Dive Under.

  • Level crossings will be replaced by bridges.
  • Adoption of zero-carbon locomotives.
  • Installation of noise-reduction measures.

The line might even be electrified.

Peterborough After Werrington

If we assume that the services stay as currently proposed, the following trains will stop at Peterborough on their way to either Cambridge or Lincoln.

  • GA – Peterborough and Ipswich or Colchester – Platform 6
  • EMR – Peterborough and Lincoln or Doncaster- Platform 1 or 2
  • EMR- Norwich and Nottingham – Platform 7
  • EMR- Nottingham and Norwich – Platform 6
  • CrossCountry – Stansted Airport and Birmingham – Platform 7
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham and Stansted Airport- Platform 6

Note.

  1. Trains going to Cambridge use Platform 6.
  2. Trains coming from Cambridge  use Platform 7
  3. The Ipswich or in the future; Colchester service uses Platform 6 to turnback.
  4. The Lincoln or in the future; Doncaster service uses Platform 1 or 2 to turnback.
  5. Platform 6 and 7 is a new island platform with direct access to the Stamford Lines and the tracks in the Werrington Dive Under that connect to Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln.

This means that after the Werrington Dive Under opens in a couple of years, the Peterborough and Doncaster service will stop in the wrong side of the station.

So it is likely, that Doncaster services will continue from the Werrington Dive Under into Platform 6 or 7 in Peterborough station.

As the Colchester service will probably still turnback in Platform 6 could we see the Doncaster and Colchester services timed to be in the island platform 6 & 7 at the same time.

Passengers would just walk a few metres between the two trains.

This Google Map shows the lines South of the station.

The Peterborough-Ely Line can be seen running East-West, to the South of the River Nene and then going under the East oast Main Line, before connecting to Platforms 6 and 7 on the West side of the station.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note the three island platforms, which are numbered 6 & 7, 4 & 5 and 2 & 3 from West to East.

The Wikipedia entry for Peterborough station, says this about Platforms 6 & 7.

Platforms 6 & 7: These new platforms were commissioned over the Christmas break 2013, and are now used by CrossCountry services between Stansted Airport/Cambridge via Ely and Birmingham New Street via Leicester; East Midlands Trains services between Norwich and Liverpool; and Greater Anglia services to Ipswich.

North from Peterborough station and just South of the site of the Werrington Dive Under is the Cock Lane Bridge. I took these pictures in November 2018.

Note the three fast lines of the East Coast Main Line on the Eastern side and the two Stamford Lines on the Western side.

Just North of thie bridge, the Stamford Lines will split and trains will be able to continue to  Stamford or cross under the East Coast Main Line towards Lincoln.

As there is a loop for freight trains through Peterborough station, the Werrington Dive Under will be able to handle sufficient trains.

Conclusion

The layout of Peterborouh station and the Werrington Dive Under will give Abellio a lot of flexibility to improve services in South Lincolnshire and West Norfolk.

Network Rail gets a lot of criticism, but you can’t fault the design and what lies behind it, in this instant!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 8, 2019 Posted by | 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

An Early Bird Catches A Train!

I needed to go to Norwich today, so I caught the 06:00 out of Liverpool Street.

It cost me just £6.60 and arrives a few minutes early!

I also bought the ticket yesterday afternoon!

July 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Vere Promises East Midlands Bi-Modes In 2022

The title of this post is the saqme as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022, according to Baroness Vere, the Government’s transport spokesman in the House of Lords.

This statement means that whoever manufactures the trains has just over three years from today to design, build and test the trains.

This paragraph from the article talks about how Bombardier and Hitachi would design the trains.

It’s known that Bombardier and Hitachi are interested in the contract, but both will be supplying new designs, with the former offering a bi-mode Aventra while the latter will offer an AT300 (the Intercity Express Programme platform) but with shorter vehicles.

What do we know about these two trains?

Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

As is typical with Bombardier interviews, they give their objectives, rather than how they aim to achieve them.

In Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power, I said this.

The title of this post is the same as this article in Rail Magazine.

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

Bombardier’s spokesman also said, that they have offered the train to three new franchises. East Midlands, West Coast Partnership and CrossCountry.

Very little more can be gleaned from the later Modern Railways article.

Consider.

  • Aventras are designed to a modular concept.
  • Bombardier have finally got the software for the train working to a high standard.
  • The trains are designed for ease of manufacture, at a high rate.
  • Development of the bi-mode train must have started before June 2018.
  • Christian Wolmar disclosed the objective of a 125 mph Aventra in February 2017.
  • I have seem references to Aventras, being tested at 110 mph.

On the balance of probabilities, I think it is very possible that Bombardier can deliver a full fleet of 125 mph bi-mode trains with batteries before the end of 2022.

Hitachi AT-300

Consider.

  • Class 802 trains are a version of the AT-300 train, which in turn are a member of Hitachi’s A-Train family.
  • Class 802 trains are successfully in service on the Great Western Railway.
  • Class 385, 395, 800 and 801 are all members of the A-train family and are closely related to the Class 802 train.
  • The A-Train is a modular family.and different numbers of cars and car length, shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Hull Trains ordered their fleet of five Class 802 trains in November 2016 and they will enter service around December 2019 or early in 2020.
  • First Group ordered five AT-300 trains in March 2019 and they will enter service in Autumn 2021.

If the order has been placed in the last few months, there is every chance that Hitachi could deliver a fleet of new bi-mode trains for service in December 2022.

Stadler Flirt

These aren’t mentioned in the Rail Magazine article, but they were mentioned as a possibility for the order in an article by Roger Ford, which was entitled East Midlands IC125 Dilemma, in the June 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is an extract from Roger’s article.

In theory, Stadler should be in pole position. Itis also supplying Abellio’s Greater Anglia franchise, where Flirt bi-modes are running on test.

As they haven’t had any serious problems yet, and they are Swiss, everyone thinks they are amazingly efficient and wonderful. Whjich may turn out to be the case.

In the end, Roger rates their chances as slim.

But Stadler certainly has the technical capability to produce a 125 mph bi-mode train.

Electric Trains To Corby

When the electrified St. Pancras and Corby service opens in December 2020, a round trip will take three hours.

This means that as few as three trains would be needed to provide the service.

The specification would be.

  • Electric traction
  • Twelve cars and 240 metres long.
  • 125 mph capability.
  • Three trains and a spare would probably be needed by December 2020, with a further three trains by December 2021.

Abellio would also probably like the trains to be very similar for drivers and staff.

Currently, it appears that the electric services to Corby, will be run initially by cascaded Class 360 trains.

  • But with a bit of juggling of production, Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler might be able to manufacture, the four trains needed to start the service in December 2020.
  • Abellio also have Class 360 and Class 379 trains working on Greater Anglia, that are likely to be replaced before December 2020.

So they have a sensible back-stop.

How Many Trains Will Abellio Need?

The current service is two trains per hour to both Nottingham and Sheffield.

These are fastest times.

  • London and Nottingham is one hour forty minutes
  • London and Sheffield is two hours

Even if there is a bit of a speed increase, it looks like at least eight trains will be needed for both services.

As to train length, I doubt five cars will be enough on all trains.

  • Some services are currently run by six and eight-car HSTs.
  • Have Abellio promised more seats?
  • Abellio will be extending some Sheffield services to Rotherham, Barnsley and Leeds.
  • It has already been stated that the Corby trains will be 240 metres long
  • So will we see a uniform fleet of longer trains?

There are some short platforms, so I suspect Abellio will buy a mixture of full-length 240 metre-long trains and half-length 120 metre-long trains, as several train companies have done.

I feel we could see something like eight full length trains and perhaps twelve half-length trains.

I have calculated that seven full-length trains are needed for Corby.

Adding this up gives the following.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

This gives a total of 27 trains of a total of 210 cars, of which 140 are bi-mode and 70 are electric.

All of this is based on running the current service with new trains.

abellio Greater Anglia have not not just done this in East Anglia, but have purchsed extra trains to add new services and increase frequencies.

So I would feel, that these trains are a minimum order, if Abellio are not doing any expansion.

Daily Telegraph Report – 19th July 2019

A report in the Daily Telegraph on the 19th July 2019, which is entitled Blow For Bombardier’s Derby Plant As £600m Train Contract Goes To Hitachi, says the order has gone to Hitachi.

  • Value is quoted at £600million.
  • A formal announcement is expected next week.

Has next week already passed without an announcement from Abellio?

I do find it strange, that there has been no reference to the Telegraph report in local sources around Derby.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service.

FirstGroup have ordered AT-300 trains.

  • All-electric.
  • Five trains of five-cars.
  • A total order value of £100 million.
  • Order placed in March 2019
  • Service starting in Autumn 2021

This works out at four million pounds per car.

Earlier, I calculated that Abellio needed to buy 140 bi-mode cars and seventy electric ones.

Assuming that Abellio run the Corby services with refurbished Class 360 trains, then 140 carriages will cost £560 million.

But this would mean the following.

  • Abellio would be running two separate fleets on the Midland Main Line.
  • The Corby services would run below the operating speed of the route.
  • Expansion would mean the purchase of more trains.

This is very different to their philosophy in Abellio Greater Anglia.

  • Class 745 and Class 755 trains are very similar to drivers and other staff.
  • Both trains can operate at 100 mph on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Abellio Greater Anglia have significantly increased the size of their train fleet.

I believe that Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler can all met this schedule.

  • Deliver four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Deliver another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • Deliver the fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

At four million pounds for a car for a Hitachi train, this works out at £840 million.

So could it be, that Hitachi have thrown in a good discount to make sure of the order.

It will be very interesting, when Abellio announce their order.

Interim Trains

Baroness Vere also discussed the other trains on the Midland Main Line.

This was the final two paragraph from the article.

As it stands, the 12 High Speed Trains cannot operate in passenger traffic beyond December 31 2019 this year, as they will not meet new accessibility regulations.

When announcing the Abellio contract win in April, Government confirmed that four Class 180s would transfer from Hull Trains to EMR. There was also the possibility that the LNER HSTs could also transfer to the MML, although these do not meet the disability requirements either.

So what is going to happen?

It appears that the four Class 180 trains and the twenty-seven Class 222 trains of various lengths will have to manage.

But I do think, that Baroness Vere’s statement.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022.

Is very welcome, as the HSTs will retire on the 31st December 2019 and there will be less than three years of a reduced fleet.

These points should also be noted.

  • In December 2020, when the electrification goes live and new electric trains start running between London and Corby, there will be a few more Class 222 trains available.
  • The Corby electric trains, will also add capacity between London and Kettering.
  • I don’t think it unlikely, that some other trains are rustled up to fill the gaps using perhaps Mark 4 coaches and Class 43 locomotives.

I hope for Abellio’s and their passengers sake, that what Baroness Vere said, comes true!

Could Abellio Go For A Safety-First Solution?

Consider.

  • Abellio Greater Anglia’s new Class 745, Class 755 and Class 720 trains are all running, if not years, but a few months late.
  • There has been nothing serious and Greater Anglia only has one fleet that is not PRM-compliant; the London and Norwich expresses.
  • Providing all goes reasonably well with the introduction of the new Class 745 trains, Greater Anglia’s fleet will be fully PRM-compliant, by the end of the year.

But if they had opted for off-the-shelf Hitachi Class 801 trains for London and Norwich, there might have been less worry. On the other hand, Hitachi way of making trains, by shipping the bodies from Japan probably doesn’t lead itself to high productio rates.

But for Midland Main Line services, Abellio East Midlands Railway aren’t looking at a large fleet of trains.

I estimate they could need.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

Now that Hitachi’s big orders are coming to an end, Abellio can probably be sure, they will get the main line trains on time and with the minimum of fuss.

Going the safety-first route of buying a fleet of Hitachi trains could deliver the trains that are needed urgently.

  • Four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • A fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

It might be a bit tight for the Corby electrics, but other trains that could work the route in the interim are available.

Abellio could do a lot worse than give Hitahi the order, if they could deliver early!

Conclusion

If any of the three train manufacturers can supply new trains for the St. Pancras and Corby service to the tight timetable, Abellio would surely be very pleased, as they would only have one train type to introduce on the route.

But I do think, that there is a possibility, that a good discount has won it for Hitachi!

 

 

 

July 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Northern Considering Options For More New Trains

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

This is a paragraph.

Senior Northern sources told RAIL on June 28 that the operator believes the new trains will entice more people onto its services, and that within two years – once all 101 new trains are in service – there could be overcrowding.

This sounds to me, like another case of London Overground Syndrome.

At least, Northern have identified it early and taken the only action that works – Acquire more trains.

The High Speed Train Problem

Several of Northern’s routes use 100 mph trains on the West Coast and East Coast Main Lines.

  • Blackpool and York
  • Chester and Leeds
  • Hull and York
  • Leeds and York
  • Liverpool and Blackpool via Wigan
  • Manchester and Crewe
  • Manchester and Stoke
  • Manchester Airport and Barrow
  • Manchester Airport and Blackpool
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere

Will Northern acquire some 110 mph or even 125 mph trains to ease the creation of timetables amongst so many high speed trains using the main lines?

Greater Anglia’s New Train Order

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 an 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

Northern’s actions are in line with other operators.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments