The Anonymous Widower

Legal & General To Invest £350m in UK Rail Infrastructure

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

Wikipedia says this about Legal & General.

The company offers a wide range of products for individuals and corporate businesses. Its investment management is the UK’s largest investment manager of UK pension fund assets and has a growing US business, based in Chicago, Illinois.

So in a few years time, your pension might own a couple of nuts and bolts on a train.

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

What Will Happen To The Class 379 Trains?

Greater Anglia’s fleet of thirty Class 379 trains are being replaced by by a brand new fleet of Class 745 Stadler FLIRT EMUs which will be fixed 12-car trains on Stansted Express services and Class 720 Bombardier Aventra EMUs on Cambridge services.

These trains have a high specification.

  • Four-car trainsets.
  • Ability to work as four, eight and twelve-car trains.
  • 2+2 seating in Standard Class.
  • 2+1 seating in First Class.
  • Plenty of luggage space.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets.
  • Full compliance with all Persons of Reduced Mobility rules.
  • 100 mph capability.
  • Regenerative braking.

I also suspect the following is true about the trains.

  • The ability to run on 750 VDC third rail electrification could be added reasonably easily.
  • Lithium-ion batteries to give a limited range, can be fitted.
  • The top speed could be upgraded to the 110 mph of the closely-related Class 387 trains.
  • The trains have end gangways and could be certified to run through the core route of Thameslink, like the Class 387 trains.

So they would appear to be a very useful train.

So what will happen to the trains?

This is my speculative list of possible uses.

Continued Use By Greater Anglia

In some ways it’s strange that these reasonable new trains are being replaced on Stansted and Cambridge services.

They are being replaced by Stadler Class 745 trains, which like the Class 379 trains are 100 mph trains.

In the next decade or so, the West Anglia Main Line is to be upgraded with extra tracks and services will be faster.

So are performance upgrades available for the Class 745 trains, which will deliver these improved services?

If Stadler are late with their delivery of the Class 745 trains, the  Class 379 trains will continue to be used on Stansted and Cambridge services.

This is discussed in this article in Rail Magazine, which is entitled Contingency Plans In Place For Greater Anglia’s Main Line Fleet.

But surely, this would only delay their cascade to other operators.

According to Wikipedia, all of the replacement Class 745 trains, are scheduled to enter service in 2019, which should mean that the Class 379 trains should be available for cascade to other operators, sometime in 2020.

St. Pancras to Corby

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for Corby station, this is said.

It is planned that a half-hourly London St Pancras to Corby service will operate from December 2019 using new Class 387 trains, once the Midland Main Line has been electrified beyond Bedford as part of the Electric Spine project. Network Rail has also announced that it plans to re-double the currently singled Glendon Junction to Corby section as part of this scheme.

In the December 2017 Edition of Modern Railways there is an article, which is entitled Wires To Corby Now in 2020.

This is the first paragraph.

Carillion is to deliver electrification of the Midland Main Line to Corby, but electric services will not start until December 2020, a year later than previously envisaged.

The article also states the following.

  • A fourth track is to be installed between Bedford and Kettering.
  • Track and wires are to be updated so that new 125 mph bi-mode trains can run between St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.
  • Improvements to the current electrification South of Bedford.

Everything should be completed, so that the new bi-mode trains could enter service from 2022.

It should be noted that Wikipedia says this about the Future of the East Midlands Trains franchise.

The franchise is due to end in August 2019. The Invitation to Tender is due to be issued in April 2018, which will detail what improvements bidders for the franchise must make. The contract will then be awarded in April 2019.

This could give the following project schedule on the Midland Main Line.

  • April 2019 – Award of new East Midlands franchise.
  • August 2019 – New East Midlands franchise starts.
  • December 2020 – Electric services to Corby start.
  • December 2022 – Bi-mode services to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield start.

These dates would fit well with the retirement of the Class 379 trains by Greater Anglia in 2020.

Current timings between Corby and London are 71 minutes with four stops. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to assume that the improved track and new trains would be designed so that the timings between Corby and London would be reduced to under an hour, with a round trip of two hours.

If this can be achieved, then just four trains of an appropriate length will be needed to meet the required two tph timetable.

  • Four-car services would need four trains.
  • Eight-car services would need eight trains.
  • Twelve-car services would need twelve trains.

It might not be possible to run eight and twelve car services due to platform length restrictions.

If the two hour round trip could be achieved by an existing Class 387 or an uprated Class 379 trains, then either of these trains would be a shoe-in for the route.

Otherwise we’ll be seeing something faster like a Class 801 train.

But if services are to start in 2020, there would be a problem to manufacture the trains in the available time, as the contract will only have been awarded in April 2019.

I think that St. Pancras to Corby is a possibility for Class 379 trains, which may need to be uprated to 110 mph. On the other hand, Class 387 trains wouldn’t need to be uprated.

West Midlands Trains, who have a similar need, have ordered 110 mph Aventras.

  • So perhaps the new East Midlands franchise will do the same.
  • This would be more likely, if Bombardier come up with the rumoured 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.
  • Or they could buy a mixture of Class 800 and 801 trains.

I don’t think the Class 379 trains will work St. Pancras to Corby.

Battery Services

A Class 379 train was used for the BEMU trial, where a battery was fitted to the train and it ran for a couple of months between Manningtree and Harwich, using overhead power one way and battery power to return.

Was this class of train chosen, as it was one of the easiest to fit with a battery? After all it was one of the later Electrostars.

This article on the Railway Gazette from July 2007 is entitled Hybrid Technology Enters The Real World. It describes the experimental conversion of a Class 43 power-car from a High Speed Train into a battery-assisted diesel-electric power-car.

A second article in the Railway Gazette from October 2010 is entitled First New Stansted Express Train Rolls Out. It describes the Class 379 train in detail. This is an extract.

Although part of the Electrostar family, the Class 379 incorporates a number of technical changes from the original design developed in the late 1990s, making use of technologies which would be used on the Aventra next-generation Electrostar which Bombardier is proposing for the major Thameslink fleet renewal contract.

The body structure has been revised to meet European crashworthiness requirements. The window spacing has changed, with the glass bolted rather than glued in place to enable faster repairs. The couplers are from Dellner, and the gangways from Hübner. Top speed is 160 km/h, and the 25 kV 50 Hz trains will use regenerative braking at all times.

The last statement about regenerative braking is the most interesting.

To my knowledge electric trains that use regenerative braking had never run on the West Anglia Main Line before and that to handle the return currents with 25 KVAC needs special and more expensive transformers. The obvious way to handle regenerative braking at all times without using the electrification is to put an appropriately sized battery on the train.

If Bombardier have done this on the Class 379 train, then it might be a lot easier to fit a large battery to power the train. This would explain why the trains were chosen for the trial rather than a train from a more numerous variant.

The result was a trial of  which few, if any,negative reports can be found.

The result was a trial of  which few, if any,negative reports can be found.

Class 379 Train Performance On Batteries

Little has been said about the performance of the train.

However, in this document on the Network Rail web site, which is entitled Kent Area Route Study, this is said.

In 2015, industry partners worked together to investigate
battery-electric traction and this culminated with a
practical demonstration of the Independently Powered
Electric Multiple Unit IPEMU concept on the Harwich
Branch line in Anglia Route. At the industry launch event,
the train manufacturers explained that battery
technology is being developed to enable trains to run
further, at line speeds, on battery power, indeed, some
tram lines use this technology in the city centres and many
London buses are completely electric powered.

The IPEMU project looked at the feasibility of battery power
on the Marshlink service and found that battery was
sufficient for the train to run from Brighton to Ashford
International and back but there was insufficient charge to
return to Ashford International on a second round trip. A
solution to this could be that the unit arrives from Ashford
International at Brighton and forms a service to Seaford and
back before returning to Ashford International with a
charged battery.

The IPEMU demonstration train was a Class 379, a similar
type to the Class 377 units currently operated by Southern, it
was found that the best use of the battery power was to
restrict the acceleration rate to that of a modern diesel
multiple unit, such as a Class 171 (the current unit type
operating the line) when in battery mode and normal
acceleration on electrified lines.

|Ashford to Brighton is 62 miles, so a round trip would be 124 miles.

The document doesn’t say anything about how many stops were made in the tests, but I’m sure that Bombardier, Greater Anglia and Network Rail have all the data to convert a Class 379 into a viable IPEMU or Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit.

As to how long it takes to charge the battery, there is an interesting insight in this article from Rail Magazine, which is entitled Battery-Powered Electrostar Enters Traffic. This is said.

It is fitted with six battery rafts, and uses Lithium Ion Magnesium Phosphate battery technology. The IPEMU can hold a charge for 60 miles and requires two hours of charging for every hour running. The batteries charge from the overhead wires when the pantograph is raised, and from regenerative braking.

The two-one ratio between charging and running could be an interesting factor in choice of routes.

What About The Aventra?

I quoted from this article in the Railway Gazette from October 2010 earlier.  This is said.

Although part of the Electrostar family, the Class 379 incorporates a number of technical changes from the original design developed in the late 1990s, making use of technologies which would be used on the Aventra next-generation Electrostar.

So would it be a reasonable assumption to assume, that if batteries can be fitted to a Class 379 train, then they could also be fitted to an Aventra?

This article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required.

This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

But it does look that both battery variants of both Class 379 trains and Aventras are possible.

Routes For Battery Trains

What important lines could be run by either a Class 379 train or an Aventra with an appropriate battery capability?

I will refer to these trains as IPEMUs in the remainder of this post.

I feel that one condition should apply to all routes run by IPEMUs.

The 2:1 charging time to running time on battery ratio must be satisfied.

East Coastway And Marshlink Lines

As Network Rail are prepared to write the three paragraphs in the Kent Area Route Study, that I quoted earlier, then the East Coastway and Marshlink Lines, which connect Brighton and Ashford International stations, must be high on the list to be run by IPEMUs.

Consider.

  • All the route, except for about twenty-four miles of the Marshlink Line is electrified.
  • Brighton and Ashford International stations are electrified.
  • Some sections have an operating speed of up to 90 mph.
  • Brighton to Hastings takes 66 minutes
  • Ashford International to Hastings takes 40 minutes
  • There is a roughly fifteen minute turnround at the two end stations.

The last three points, when added together, show that in each round trip, the train has access to third-rail power for 162 minutes and runs on batteries for 80 minutes.

Does that mean the 2:1 charging to running ratio is satisfied?

I would also feel that if third-rail were to be installed at Rye station, then in perhaps a two minute stop, some extra charge could be taken on board. The third-rail would only need to be switched on, when a train was connected.

It looks to me, that even the 2015 test train could have run this route, with just shoe gear to use the third-rail electrification. Perhaps it did do a few test runs! Or at least simulated ones!

After all, with a pantograph ready to be raised to rescue a train with a flat battery, they could have run it up and down the test route of the Mayflower Line  at a quiet time and see how far the train went with a full battery!

Currently, many of the train services along the South Coast are run by a fleet of Class 313 trains, with the following characteristics.

  • There are a total of nineteen trains.
  • They were built in the late 1970s.
  • They are only three cars, which is inadequate at times.
  • They are 75 mph trains.
  • They don’t have toilets.
  • The trains are used on both the East Coastway and West Coastway Lines.

Replacing the trains with an appropriate number of Class 379 trains or Aventras would most certainly be welcomed by passengers, staff and the train companies.

  • Diesel passenger trains could be removed from the route.
  • There could be direct services between Ashford International and Southampton via Brighton.
  • One type of train would be providing most services along the South Coast.
  • There would be a 33% increase in train capacity.
  • Services would be a few minutes quicker.
  • For Brighton’s home matches, it might be possible to provide eight-car trains.
  • The forty-year-old Class 313 trains would be scrapped.

The service could even be extended on the fully-electrified line to Bournemouth to create a South Coast Seaside Special.

London Bridge To Uckfield

I looked at Chris Gibb’s recommendation for this line in Will Innovative Electrification Be Used On The Uckfield Line?

These actions were recommended.

  • Electrification of the branch using 25 KVAC overhead.
  • Electrification of tunnels with overhead conductor rail.
  • Dual-voltage trains.
  • Stabling sidings at Crowborough.

How would this be affected if IPEMUs were to be used?

The simplest way to run IPEMUs would be to install third-rail at Uckfield to charge the train.

Current timings on the route are as follows.

  • London Bridge to Hurst Green – electrified – 32 minutes
  • Hurst Green to Uckfield – non-electrified – 41 minutes
  • Turnaround at London Bridge – 16 minutes
  • Turnaround at Uckfield – 11 minutes

Hurst Green station is the limit of the current electrification.

Adding these times together, show that in each round trip, the train has access to third-rail power for 91 minutes and needs to on batteries for 82 minutes.

It looks like the 2:1 charging to running ratio is not met.

To meet that, as the round trip is three hours, that means that there probably needs to be two hours on electrification and an hour on batteries.

So this means that at least eleven minutes of the journey between Hurst Green and Uckfield station needs to be electrified, to obtain the 2:1 ratio.

It takes about this time to go between Crowborough and Uckfield stations.

  • Crowborough will have the new sidings, which will have to be electrified.
  • The spare land for the sidings would appear to be to the South of Crowborough station in an area of builders yards and industrial premises.
  • Crowborough Tunnel is on the route and is nearly a kilometre long.
  • The route is double-track from Crowborough station through Crowborough Tunnel and perhaps for another kilometre to a viaduct over a valley.
  • The viaduct and the remainder of the line to Uckfield is single track.
  • The single track section appears to have space to put the gantries for overhead electrification on the bed of the original second track.

If you apply Chris Gibb’s original recommendation of 25 KVAC, then electrification between Crowborough and Uckfield station, might just be enough to allow IPEMUs to work the line.

  • The sidings at Crowborough would be electrified.
  • About half of the electrification will be single-track.
  • Crowborough Tunnel would use overhead rails.
  • Power could probably be fed from Crowborough.
  • The regenerative braking would be handled by the batteries on the trains.
  • Changeover between overhead power and batteries would be in Crowborough station.
  • Buxted and Uckfield stations wouldn’t be complicated to electrify, as they are single-platform stations.

I very much feel that running IPEMUs between London Bridge and Uckfield is possible.

Preston to Windermere

The Windermere Branch Line is not electrified and Northern are proposing to use Class 769 bi-mode trains on services to Windermere station.

Current timings on the line are as follows.

  • Windermere to Oxenholme Lake District – non-electrified – 20 minutes
  • Oxenholme Lake District to Preston – electrified – 40 minutes

If you add in perhaps ten minutes charging during a turnaround at Preston, the timings are just within the 2:1 charging ratio.

So services from Windermere to at least Preston would appear to be possible using an IPEMU.

These trains might be ideal for the Windermere to Manchester Airport service. However, the Class 379 trains are only 100 mph units, which might be too slow for the West Coast Main Line.

The IPEMU’s green credentials would be welcome in the Lakes!

The Harrogate Line

This is said under Services in the Wikipedia entry for Harrogate station, which is served by the Harrogate Line from Leeds.

The Monday to Saturday daytime service is generally a half-hourly to Leeds (southbound) calling at all stations and to Knaresborough (eastbound) on the Harrogate Line with an hourly service onwards to York also calling at all stations en route.

Services double in frequency at peak time to Leeds, resulting in 4 trains per hour (tph) with 1tph running fast to Horsforth. There are 4 tph in the opposite direction between 16:29 and 18:00 from Leeds with one running fast from Horsforth to Harrogate.

Evenings and Sundays an hourly service operates from Leeds through Harrogate towards Knaresborough and York (some early morning trains to Leeds start from here and terminate here from Leeds in the late evening).

Proposals have been made to create a station between Harrogate and Starbeck at Bilton, whilst the new Northern franchise operator Arriva Rail North plans to improve service frequencies towards Leeds to 4 tph from 7am to 7pm once the new franchise agreement starts in April 2016.

I believe that the easiest way to achieve this level of service would be to electrify between Leeds and Harrogate.

  • IPEMUs might be able to go between Harrogate and York on battery power.
  • Leeds and York are both fully electrified stations.
  • If a link was built to Leeds-Bradford Airport, it could be worked on battery power and the link could be built without electrification.
  • The electrification could be fed with power from Leeds.
  • There is also the two-mile long Bramhope Tunnel.

Full electrification between Leeds and Harrogate would allow Virgin’s Class 801 trains to reach Harrogate.

I’m fairly certain that there’s a scheme in there that with minimal electrification would enable IPEMUsy to reach both a new station at Leeds-Bradford Airport and York.

Conclusion

These routes show that it is possible to use IPEMUs to run services on partially-electrified routes.

As I said earlier, the 2:1 ratio of charging to running time could be important.

Airport Services

Class 379 trains were built to provide fast, comfortable and suitable services between London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport.

Because of this, the Class 379 trains have a First Class section and lots of space for large bags.

Surely, these trains could be found a use to provide high-class services to an Airport or a station on a high-speed International line.

But there are only a limited number of UK airports served by an electrified railway.

Most of these airports already have well-developed networks of airport services, but Class 379 trains could provide an upgrade in standard.

In addition, the following airports, may be served by an electrified heavy rail railway.

All except Doncaster Sheffield would need new electrification. For that airport, a proposal to divert the East Coast Main Line exists.

Possibilities for airport services using IPEMUs, based on Class 379 trains with a battery capability would include.

Ashford International

The completion of the Ashford Spurs project at Ashford International station will surely create more travellers between Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton to Ashford, as not every Continental traveller will prefer to go via London.

Class 379 IPEMUs,with a battery capability to handle the Marshlink Line would be ideal for a service along the South Coast, possibly going as far West as Bournemouth.

Birmingham

Birmingham Airport is well connected by rail.

I think that as train companies serving the Airport, have new trains on order, I doubt we’ll see many Class 379 trains serving the Airport.

Bristol

Various routes have been proposed for the Bristol Airport Rail Link.

In my view, the routes, which are short could be served by light rail, tram-train or heavy rail.

As the proposed city terminus at Bristol Temple Meads station would be electrified and the route is not a long one, I’m pretty sure that a Class 379 IPEMU could work the route.

But light rail or tram-train may be a better option.

Gatwick

Gatwick Airport station is well served by trains on the Brighton Main Line, running to and from Brighton, Clapham Junction, East Croydon, London Bridge, St. Pancras and Victoria, to name just a few.

Gatwick also has an hourly service to Reading via the North Downs Line, which is only partly electrified.

In my view, the North Downs route would be a classic one for running using Class 379 IPEMUs.

  • The Class 379 trains were built for an Airport service.
  • Four cars would be an adequate capacity.
  • No infrastructure work would be needed. But operating speed increases would probably be welcomed.
  • Third-rail shoes could be easily added.
  • Several sections of the route are electrified.
  • Gatwick Airport and Reading stations are electrified.

Currently, trains take just over an hour between Reading and Gatwick Airport.

Would the faster Class 379 IPEMUs bring the round trip comfortably under two hours?

If this were possible, it would mean two trains would be needed for the hourly service and four trains for a half-hourly service.

There may be other possibilities for the use of Class 379 trains to and from Gatwick Airport.

  • Luton Airport keep agitating for a better service. So would a direct link to Gatwick using Class 379 trains be worthwhile?
  • Class 379 IPEMUs  could provide a Gatwick to Heathrow service using Thameslink and the Dudding Hill Line.
  • Class 379 IPEMUs could provide a Gatwick to Ashford International service for connection to Eurostar.

I also feel that, as the trains are closely-related to the Class 387/2 trains used on Gatwick Express, using the Class 379 trains on Gatwick services would be a good operational move.

Also, if Class 379 IPEMUs were to be used to create a South Coast Express, as I indicated earlier, two sub-fleets would be close together.

Leeds-Bradford

Earlier I said that the Harrogate Line could be a route for IPEMUs, where services could run to York, if the Leeds to Harrogate section was electrified.

A spur without electrification could be built to Leeds-Bradford Airport.

Based on current timings, I estimate that a Bradford Interchange to Leeds-Bradford Airport service via Leeds station would enable a two-hour round trip.

An hourly service would need two trains, with a half-hourly service needing four trains.

Manchester

Manchester Airport is well connected by rail and although the Class 379 trains would be a quality upgrade on the current trains, I think that as Northern and TransPennine have new trains on order, I doubt we’ll see many Class 379 trains serving the Airport.

Conclusion

Looking at these notes, it seems to me that the trains will find a use.

Some things stand out.

  • As the trains are only capable of 100 mph, they may not be suitable for doing longer distances on electrified main lines, unless they are uprated to the 110 mph operating speed of the Class 387 trains.
  • The main line where they would be most useful would probably be the East and West Coastway Lines along the South Coast.
  • Converting some into IPEMUs would probably be useful along the Marshlink and Uckfield Lines, in providing services to Gatwick and in a few other places.

I also feel, that Aventras and other trains could probably be designed specifically for a lot of the routes, where Class 379 trains, with or without batteries, could be used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Football Routine

I usually arrange my Saturday football around a schedule something like this.

  1. 09:00 Go to Islington Marks and Spencer, Boots and Chapel Market, as my grandmother would have done over a hundred years ago, to do my weekend shopping.
  2. 11:00 Listen to Fighting Talk on Radio 5.
  3. 12:45 Leave home and catch a bus to Liverpool Street.
  4. 13:30 Catch the train for Ipswich.
  5. 14:43 Arrive in Ipswich and walk to Portman Road
  6. 15:00 Watch the match.
  7. 17:09 Catch the train back from Ipswich.
  8. 18:30 Arrive back in London
  9. 19:00 Arrive back home.

Sometimes I vary the routine, by having lunch in Spitalfields before I get the train.

I should say that as I’m a coeliac, I find getting acceptable gluten-free food in Ipswich difficult, so I never eat anything in the town.

You might think what is wrong with my schedule.

It’s the dreaded Rail Replacement Buses, that seem to interrupt many weekends, when there is football at Ipswich.

The time taken by the buses means, I have to allow an extra ninety minutes over the normal rail journey.

I know there is a lot of work to do on the line, but why can’t it be done on days when there is no football. As a widower, who lives alone, I find it tiresome.

I’ve even talked to some Norwich supporters about this and they’re as angry as I am.

November 4, 2017 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Why GA Uses Locomotive-Hauled Trains And Why The Class 755 Trains Are Coming

The first part of the title of this post is the same as that of an article in Rail Magazine, which is well worth a read.

Some interesting points.

  •  Norwich-Sheringham had 200,000 passengers per year in 1996; it is 600,000 now.
  • Competition between Yarmouth and Norwich is the X1 bus with wi-fi and charging sockets and a fifteen minute frequency.
  • Level crossing accidents are a problem.
  • Locomotive-hauled stock is not a cheap option.
  • When Norwich City are at home, extra capacity is needed.

I suspect that Greater Anglia would like to not have to use locomotive haulage.

Class 755 Trains

The article certainly shows why they chose the fleet of Class 755 trains with 24 x four-car and 14 x three-car units.

  • A three-car or four-car train can be rostered accordingly.
  • The trains are bi-mode, being able to work electrified and non-electrified routes.
  • The trains are 100 mph trains and probably have a much shorter station dwell time, which must reduce some journey times.
  • The trains will probably have charging sockets, 4G and wi-fi.
  • There appear to be enough trains for increased frequencies on all services.
  • I suspect that, as the trains will probably carry a high-proportion of leisure passengers, there will be adequate space for buggies, bicycles, large cases and wheel-chairs.

I’ll look at the routes where Class 755 trains will be used.

Some general points apply.

  • Several proposed routes like Norwich to Stansted Airport are partially-electrified.
  • Most timetables away from the electrified lines are written for a 75 mph Class 150 train.
  • Some routes need more capacity and more frequent services.

Norwich To Yarmouth

Currently, this is a one train per hour (tph) service, which takes 33-37 minutes with four or five stops. Two trains are probably needed to run the service, although Greater Anglia do combine it with the Lowestoft services.

Note the following.

  • Norwich to Yarmouth is not an easy drive in a car.
  • |The X1 buses have a frequency of four tph.
  • There are generous turnround times at Norwich and Yarmouth.
  • The Wherry Lines are being resignalled, according to this article in Rail Engineer, which is entitled Atkins Awarded £29m Resignalling Contract In Anglia.

I would not be surprised to see the Norwich to Yarmouth service speeded up such that a Class 755 train could do a complete round trip in an hour.

  • This would mean the current hourly service would need just one train.
  • This would allow a four tph service to be run by just four trains.
  • The trains could alternate between the two possible routes to give all stations at least a two tph service to both Norwich and Yarmouth
  • Four tph would be a true Turn-Up-And-Go service.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need one train, but a much more customer-friendly four tph would need four trains.

How would a four tph service rejuvenate Yarmouth?

Norwich To Cromer And Sheringham

Currently, this is an hourly service, that takes just under an hour with seven stops. This service needs two trains.

Note the following.

I am fairly certain that the extra performance of the Class 755 trains, will allow a two tph service between Norwich and Sheringham.

This two tph service would need four trains.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need two trains, but a much more customer-friendly two tph would need four trains.

Norwich To Lowestoft

Currently, this is an hourly service, that takes 35-47 minutes with either one or six stops.

The current service would need two trains.

Note the following.

  • The line is double-track.
  • As  with Norwich to Yarmouth, the current timings are such, that they can be achieved by a 75 mph Class 150 train.
  • All the Wherry Lines will be resignalled.

I suspect that two tph may be possible with Class 755 trains, by means of some innovative timetabling.

It might be possible that if a train went fast one way with just one stop and slow the other with six stops, that it could do a round trip to Norwich in an hour.

A two tph service run like this could need just two trains, with the fast trip in probably something under twenty-five minutes.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need two trains, but a much more customer-friendly two tph could also need two trains.

 

Lowestoft To Yarmouth

There must be lots of good reasons concerning commerce, tourism, leisure and families to connect the two biggest towns in the very East of England by rail. Great Yarmouth is slightly larger with a population of 70,000 to Lowestoft’s 60,000.

Because no connection exists, I’d always thought that to provide one was difficult, as it would perhaps envisage building a large bridge across the water in the area. But I have just read a section entitled Direct Yarmouth Services in the Wikipedia entry for Lowestoft station. This is said.

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.

Surely if Network Rail has suggested this link in this study on their web site, it must be fairly easy to reinstate, as they don’t want to start any more fiascos.

There are several possible reasons.

  1. Has the Todmorden Curve shown that these links generate traffic and revenue for Network Rail? Perhaps, they’ve even got the maps out and looked for similar curves to Todmorden.
  2. Does this link give an extra route between Norwich and Ipswich, that makes it easier for passengers to do certain journeys without changing trains?
  3. There is a significant number of journeys betwen Lowestoft and Yarmouth by rail and road.
  4. Does it make it easier for trains to serve Lowestoft and Yarmouth?
  5. Perhaps reorganising the rail lines and station at Reedham realises a sizable piece of land for development.
  6. Do Network Rail want to create a record for reopening the oldest closed railway line? 135 years has probably not been beaten.

This map shows the area of the proposed junction.

Reedham Station And JunctionNorwich is to the West, Yarmouth to the North East and Lowestoft is to the South.

Despite being removed in 1880, the line of the third side of the junction is still visible.

But there is opposition as this article in the Great Yarmouth Mercury details. Perhaps, the locals don’t want any more housing?

The article mentions a cost of a billion pounds, which would make it a no-no!  However the Todmorden scheme cost less than ten million pounds for a similarly-sized curve.

Currently, the fastest Lowestoft to Yarmouth journey takes about eighty minutes with a change at Norwich.

But these timings are also possible.

  • Reedham to Yarmouth – 16 minutes
  • Reedham to Lowestoft – 26 minutes

I suspect canny locals know that some trains connect well, so do the trip in under an hour.

It would appear though that if the Reedham chord was relaid, that Yarmouth to Lowestoft could be achieved in about fifty minutes.

I suspect that even if the Reedham Chord is not relaid, Greater Anglia may have plans to incorporate this service into the pattern of trains on the Wherry Lines.

They’ve certainly even got enough trains to run a shuttle using a three-car Class 755 train between Lowestoft and Yarmouth with a reverse at Reedham station.

An hourly service would need only one train.

Norwich To Stansted Airport

Greater Anglia have said that this new hourly service will replace the current service from Norwich to Cambridge on the Breckland Line.

Consider.

  • Norwich to Cambridge takes 70 minutes, which is probably timed for 75 mph trains.
  • Cambridge to Stansted Airport takes 30 minutes
  • Trowse bridge at Norwich, is a major bottleneck on all trains connecting Norwich to the South and it may be improved or replaced. I wrote about Trowse Bridge in Is This The Worst Bottleneck On The UK Rail Network?
  • Some sections of the line are electrified.

Would a  round trip be possible in three hours?

This would need three trains for an hourly service and six trains for a two tph service.

When this hourly service is combined with services from other operators, there will be two tph from Norwich to Stansted Airport.

So I suspect only one tph will be needed on this route.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need three trains.

Ipswich To Lowestoft

Currently, this is an hourly service, that takes a few minutes under an hour and a half with nine stops.

Looking at the timetable for the 11:17 from Ipswich, the various sections of the journey take.

  • Ipswich to Lowestoft – 86 minutes
  • Turnround at Lowestoft – 24 minutes
  • Lowestoft to  Ipswich – 89 minutes
  • Turnround at Ipswich – 41 minutes

Which gives a round trip time of four hours.

This is from the Wikipedia entry for the East Suffolk Line and describes the infrastructure.

The line is double-track from Ipswich to Woodbridge and from Saxmundham to Halesworth with the rest of the route being single track, apart from a short passing loop at Beccles. The line is not electrified, has a loading gauge of W10 between Ipswich and Westerfield and W6 for all other sections, and a line speed of between 40-55 mph.

Also note the following.

  • The current four hour round trip means that four trains are needed for the service.
  • Up and down trains pass at XX:25 at Beccles station and at XX:54-57 at Saxmundham station.
  • The turnround times at Ipswich and Lowestoft are long, so that the timetable works and the trains can pass at Beccles and Saxmundham.

Given some track improvements, removal of a couple of level crossings and some clever  timetabling, I suspect that the Class 755 trains could probably travel between Ipswich and Lowestoft in around an hour. Greater Anglian would like that for marketing reasons.

Turning these trains in thirty minutes would give a three hour round trip and reduce the number of trains required to three.

The real benefit comes if the line could be upgraded such that the Class 755 trains could do the round trip in two hours, which would reduce the number of trains required to two.

I suspect that there is extensive work being done to find a method to get a time of under an hour between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

When they’ve cracked that problem, they’ll probably move on to increasing the services on the line to two tph.

If they can crack both problems, two tph between Ipswich and Lowestoft running in around an hour, would need just four trains.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need three trains, but a much more customer-friendly fwo tph would need four trains.

When the Lowestoft to London service is introduced, this will probably be a single morning train to London and an evening train back. This would need an additional train.

Ipswich To Felixstowe

Currently, the service is hourly and a single train does a round trip in an hour.

The track is being improved and I’m fairly sure that two tph are possible, which would need two trains.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need a single train, but a much more customer-friendly two tph would need two trains.

Ipswich to Cambridge

Currently, the service is hourly and a single train does a round trip in three hours.

Note the following.

  • Three trains are needed to run the hourly service.
  • The current three-car trains can get very crowded.
  • Some sections of the line are electrified.
  • Haughley Junction is going to be improved.

I feel that the Ipswich to Cambridge time can be reduced to under an hour by the new trains.

This would have the following effects.

  • Reduce the number of trains required for an hourly service to two trains.
  • It might be possible to run a two tph service with four trains.

I suspect that two tph all the way from Cambridge to Ipswich may not be needed, as Greater Anglia’s proposed timetable includes two tph between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds and the proposal was developed before Cambridge North station threw a new big and important station into the mix.

Consequently, we could see something very different at the Cambridge end of the route.

Perhaps an hourly service between Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and Bury St. Edmunds, needing perhaps two trains.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need two trains, but a much more customer-friendly Western end would need perhaps two extra trains.

Improvements At Ipswich Station

Ipswich station will need extra platform capacity to handle extra services to Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft.

Colchester Town To Sudbury

Greater Anglia have said that this new route will replace the current service on the Gainsborough Line.

Current timings on this route are.

  • Colchester Town to Marks Tey – 14 minutes
  • Marks Tey to Sudbury – 20 minutes
  • Turnround at Sudbury – 5 minutes
  • Audbury to Marks Tey -19 minutes
  • Marks Tey to Colchester Town – 16 minutes.
  • Turnround at Colchester Town – 5 minutes

This gives a round trip of 79 minutes, with a Marks Tey to Marks Tey time of 44 minutes.

Note the following.

  • One train would be needed to run an hourly service, if the round trip could be reduced between an hour.
  • Some sections of the line are electrified.
  • The Gainsborough Line has an operating speed of 50 mph.
  • A new platform will be needed at Colchester Town station.

I think is is highly likely that the Class 755 train will be able to do the round trip in under an hour.

If the time spent on the branch could be reduced to under thirty minutes, then two tph on the route are possible, which would need two trains.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need one train, but a much more customer-friendly two tph would need two trains.

Colchester To Peterborough

Greater Anglia have said that this new hourly service will replace the current service from Ipswich to Peterborough.

Current timings on this route are.

  • Colchester to Ipswich – 20 minutes
  • Ipswich to Peterborough – 99 minutes

A round trip should be possible in four hours.

Note the following.

  • Four trains would be needed to run an hourly service, if the round trip could be under four hours.
  • Some sections of the line are electrified.

If this service could be run at two tph, this would need eight trains.

I doubt two tph would be needed, as other trains and operators shadow the route.

To summarise, the proposed hourly service would need four trains.

Summary Of Class 755 Train Services

This is a summary of the current and proposed routes, with their frequencies and the trains needed

  • Norwich to Yarmouth – Hourly needs one train.
  • Norwich to Sheringham – Hourly needs two trains.
  • Norwich to Lowestoft – Hourly needs two trains.
  • Lowestoft to Yarmouth – Hourly needs one train.
  • Norwich to Stansted Airport – Hourly needs three trains.
  • Ipswich to Lowestoft – Hourly needs three trains.
  • Lowestoft to London – One train per day would need one train.
  • Ipswich to Felixstowe – Hourly needs one train.
  • Ipswich to Cambridge – Hourly needs two trains.
  • Colchester Town to Sudbury – Hourly needs one train.
  • Colchester to Peterborough – Hourly needs four trains.

This is a total of twenty-one trains, which is less than the current number of trains running the service.

The reduction in trains needed is because of the following.

  • Class 755 trains are 100 mph trains and the timetable is written for 75 mph trains.
  • Class 755 trains will be able to stop at a station quicker than current trains.
  • Class 755 trains can take advantage of electrification where it exists.

Three- or four-car trains can be scheduled according to traffic needs.

In my analysis, I added what I thought would be more customer-friendly services.

  • Norwich to Yarmouth – Four tph needs four trains.
  • Norwich to Sheringham – Two tph needs four trains.
  • Norwich to Lowestoft – Two tph needs two trains.
  • Lowestoft to Yarmouth – Hourly needs one train.
  • Norwich to Stansted Airport – Hourly needs three trains.
  • Ipswich to Lowestoft – Two tph needs four trains.
  • Lowestoft to London – One train per day would need one train.
  • Ipswich to Felixstowe – Two tph needs two trains.
  • Ipswich to Cambridge – Hourly needs two trains. Plus two trains to shuttle around Cambridge, Ely and Bury St. Edmunds.
  • Colchester Town to Sudbury – Two tph needs two trains.
  • Colchester to Peterborough – Hourly needs four trains.

This is a total of thirty-one trains, which is still below the total number of thirty-eight trains.

Greater Anglia probably won’t expand services in the way I have suggested, but consider the following.

  • They have a flexible fleet with both three- and four-car Class 755 trains.
  • They are the dominant passenger operator.
  • Norwich and Cambridge stations have good platform capacity and Ipswich can be improved.
  • Most of the signalling and track is in excellent condition.

This would enable train services to be increased as required.

There would also be trains available for new services such as.

  • Cambridge to Wisbech.
  • Ipswich to Aldeburgh

I could even envisage a Bury St. Edmunds to London service, that splits and joins with the Lowestoft to London service at Ipswich station.

Greater Anglia have planned well.

 

Infrastructure Required

The infrastructure required to run all these trains includes

  • The Wherry Lines are being resignalled, This may not be needed, but it will certainly make things easier.
  • Some platforms may need to be lengthened.
  • Ideally, all the station platforms will be adjusted so that their height fits the Class 755 trains.
  • The Reedham Chord may be reinstated to allow direct Lowestoft to Yarmouth services.
  • Track improvements might night be needed on the Esst Suffolk Line.
  • Ipswich station will need extra platform capacity to handle extra services to Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft.
  • Colchester Town will need a second platform for the service to Sudbury.

No electrification is required, although to perhaps extend the wires for a few hundred metres in a few places might ease operation.

  • From Norwich to where the Bittern and Wherry Lines divide.
  • From Ipswich to where the East Suffolk and Felixstowe Lines divide.
  • At Marks Tey along the Gainsborough Line.

This will allow the Class 755 trains to run on electricity for longer.

Conclusion

I’m probably very wide of mark, but iI do feel there is scope with the large number of Class 755 trains ordered by Greater Anglia to improve trains in East Anglia by a large amount.

 

September 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Greater Anglia’s New Manningtree Depot – 26th August 2017

Work has started on clearing the site for Greater Anglia’s new Manningtree Depot.

There’s still a fair part of the old industrial buildings left, so it is unclear how much of the whole site the deport will occupy.

This visualisation is from Greater Anglia’s web site.

And this Google Map shows the site.

Note the access road and the conveniently placed Norwich to London express train on both images.

There are other visual clues that suggest to me that although taking a substantial part of the derelict, there will be space around the depot for substantial development.

The train is about 220 metres long, with the building in the new depot being described as 300 metres long.

August 26, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Risky Business: Train Fleets In A State Of Flux

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

The article is certainly in the must-read category and it illustrates the perils of not getting your investments right.

You could argue that rolling stock leasing companies (ROSCOs) are sucking money out of the UKs railways.

I would argue differently.

The cause of the troubles for the ROSCOs is threefold.

  1. Train operating companies would prefer to have lots of similar trains, as this makes, maintenance, training and timetabling easier and more affordable. Some successful companies like c2c, London Overground, Virgin Trains and Merseyrail are one- or two-class companies and others like TransPennine Express and Great Western Railway are moving that way.
  2. New leasing companies have seen the returns, that the three original ROSCOs have made and have entered the market. As they are leasing new trains, they make it more difficult to find homes for existing rolling stock, many of of which have perhaps twenty years of life left and are priced accordingly.
  3. The  ROSCOs have also badly misjudged the technology. Bombardier, CAF and Stadler have come up with innovative solutions to the problems of our unique Victorian-designed railway and the train operating companies have liked what they have seen and ordered them.

It is interesting to note, that few of the large orders for rolling stock have not been financed by the three original ROSCOs; Angel Trains, Eversholt and Porterbrook.

Greater Anglia

As I know Greater Anglia well, I’ll look at their current fleet, which is being replaced train-for-train by new rolling stock.

  • Class 90 locomotives – These are thirty years old and will probably end up pulling freight or be cannibalised for spares.
  • Mark 3 coaches – These do not meet the latest regulations for passengers of reduced mobility and most will probably be scrapped, although one rake has been sold to be used by 60163 Tornado.
  • Driving Van Trailers – I doubt these will find a use and will join the many others in store or they will be scrapped.
  • Class 153 trains – At twenty-five years old, I doubt these single-carriage trains will see serious passenger use again.
  • Class 156 trains – At nearly thirty years old, these two-car DMUs may have use on rural lines, but they will need refurbishment.
  • Class 170 trains – These two- and three-car 100 mph DMUs  will certainly find another operator.
  • Class 317 trains – At thirty-five years old, but in good condition, these 100 mph EMUs will be difficult to place, as newly-electrified lines will inevitably deserve new trains.
  • Class 321 trains – These 100 mph EMUs will be difficult to place, despite some having been recently upgraded.
  • Class 360 trains – These 100 mph EMUs are only fifteen years old and will probably find a new operator.
  • Class 379 trains – These modern 100 mph EMUs are only a few years old and will will certainly find a new operator.

Quite frankly most of this rolling stock is not worth much!

The Class 360 and Class 379 trains will be the easiest to release.

The sheer numbers of Class 317 and 321 trains, with little new electrification planned, mean that something innovative will, have to be done to find them a home. I speculated aboutwhat will happen to all these Mark 3-based multiple units in What Will Happen To The Class 319, Class 455, Class 321 And Cl;ass 317 Trains? I certainly suspect that some will find uses, with the upgraded Class 321 trains probably the first in the queue.

As I said in the article, I feel that some Class 321 trains could become small parcel and pallet carriers.

The Class 707 Trains

The Rail Magazine article talks about the problem of the Class 707 trains, that were ordered by South West Trains and will be returned by South Western Railway.

It suggests they could be converted to run on 25 KVAC overhead working, but that will be expensive and in my view a new Desiro City is far inferior to a new Aventra.

So would a quality Class 317 or 321 be a good alternative for an operator, that needed some new trains to perhaps open a new electrified route?

It looks even more of a bad decision of Angel Trains to fund the Class 707 trains.

Is It Innovate Or Die?

Porterbrook saw problems coming with the Class 319 trains, they were leasing to Thameslink.

But they got together with Northern and designed an affordable bi-mode, which is now the Class 769 train.

Thirteen have been ordered!

In anotherf project, InterCity 125 trains are being shortened and updated to last another decade.

Will we be seeing more developments like this, where redundant trains are turned into useful ones for a different purpose?

We could even be seeing some innovative export deals!

Conclusion

It’s a tough world out there!

But those that innovate will survive and make money!

 

August 24, 2017 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Are Greater Anglia Replacing Class 379 Trains With New Stadler Class 745 Trains?

On the West Anglia Main Line, Greater Anglia are replacing ten twelve-car Class 379 trains on Cambridge and Stansted Airport services with ten twelve-car Class 745 trains.

In some ways this is a bit puzzling as the Class 379 trains were only built in 2010-2011 and with the same number of trains, they will probably only be able to run the same level of services between Liverpool Street, Cambridge and Stansted Airport.

Effectively, Greater Anglia have reorganised their fleet which currently is rather diverse into just two train types.

This probably gives tremendous advantages to Greater Anglia in terms of train operation and maintenance and staff utilisation and training.

It also means that as the trains have been specified at the same time, the passenger experience will be similar.

The interiors of the two Stadler Flirts will probably be identical and this must be something the operator will exploit.

Liverpool Street To Ipswich and Norwich

Greater Anglia are saying that they will run three Class 745 services between Liverpool Street and Norwich every hour in ninety minutes. These Great Easstern Main Line services will also do the shorter Liverpool Street to Ipswich journey in sixty minutes.

Greater Anglia have also said they will run a fourth service in each hour to Ipswich. They have also said that some of these extra Ipswich services would be extended to Lowestoft. As the East Suffolk Line is not electrified, the services would require a bi-mode Class 755 train.

When running between Ipswich and Liverpool Street, the Class 755 train would be identical in performance and experience to its electric big sister.

One advantage of the electric and bi-mode trains being the same, is that on electrified routes in the event of a Class 745 train being unavailable, two or even three lass 755 rains could deputise.

Perhaps the only difference would be the lack of a buffet.

Greater Anglia could also use the Class 755 trains to provide a direct Liverpool Street to Bury St. Edmunds service, if they felt the need was there.

Liverpool Street To Cambridge And Stansted Airport

Just as I believe they will be mixing the Class 745 and Class 755 trains on the Great Eastern Main Line, Greater Anglia have said they’ll be mixing the two types on the West Anglia Main Line.

An hourly Norwich to Stansted Airport service will be introduced using a Class 755 train.

Additional Class 755 Services

Greater Anglia have ordered fourteen three-car and twenty-four four-car Class 755 trains, which is a lot more trains than they use at present for the routes.

So in addition to increasing frequencies on routes  like Cambridge to Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough are they thinking of expanding services?

In the past the following services have been run.

  • Liverpool Street to Norwich via Cambridge.
  • Liverpool Street to Peterborough via Ipswich
  • Liverpool Street to Great Yarmouth via Norwich.

In addition, there are two services that Greater Anglia might take over from other operators.

Note.

  1. Both services seem to get overcrowded at times.
  2. Very little of either route is electrified.
  3. Liverpool to Norwich currently takes five and a half hours.
  4. After Norwich-in-Ninety is achieved, it will be possible in four and a half hours via London.
  5. Birmingham to Stansted Airport  currently takes nearly three and a half hours. Time can be saved by going via London.

With the opening of Crossrail and other faster services, I can see that these two routes will increasingly be important local routes, rather than ones used by masses of long distance travellers.

In the public consultation document for the new East Midlands Franchise, this is said about these services.

At the eastern end of the route, options might exist to provide direct services between Nottingham and a wider range of stations in East Anglia, such as Cambridge and Stansted Airport. Some options could also result in changes to the destinations served by the existing Birmingham to Stansted Airport service currently operated by the Cross Country franchise.

It looks to me that there will be a lot of serious discussions going on.

Conclusion

Where does this all fit with Greater Anglia and their fleet of Class 755 trains?

I just think that on some routes, they are ideal to provide new services or boost existing ones and they will give passengers the same experience as they get on the flagship London to Norwich services.

The Class 379 trains don’t give the flexibility and the homogeneous passenger experience.

 

 

 

August 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

The Design Of The New Greater Anglia Class 745 Train

I am writing this article about the new Class 745 trains for Greater Anglia, as I think they fit the evolving pattern of train design.

The Article In The July 2017 Edition Of Modern Railways

In the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled GA Shows Off Stadler Mock-Up, where this is said.

GA’s fleet will all offer air-conditioning, wi-fi, plug and USB points, electronic seat reservations and will have a low floor design to offer improved accessibility.

I would expect no less!

This is also said.

The 12-car EMUs are formed of two six-car sets permanently married together. Each six-car set has one power bogie at each end, with a total of four on a 12-car train.

As the train has a First Class section and the bistro buffet between First and Second Classes, I suspect there could be two different types of six-car set.

  • One with the First Class seats, the bistro buffet and perhaps a couple of Second Class cars.
  • One with Second Class seats.

Normally, trains will be formed of one of each set.

I would assume, if say two six-car sets were out of service for some reason, the two working sets could be married to create some temporary capacity.

But yet again we see a train and a half-train philosophy.

Bicycle Spaces

As the Norwich trains will have six bicycle spaces, perhaps three will be placed in each set.

The article also says that Stansted Expresses will have eighteen spaces. Perhaps, Class 745 trains have a movable bulkhead at the end opposite to the cab, so that bicycle capacity can be tailored to the expected passengers.

Surely, being able to book your bicycle on the train going to East Anglia for the weekend will not be a feature that is not used.

Capacity To Norwich

Currently, there is two trains per hour (tph) between London and Norwich via Colchester and Ipswich, which are eight-cars long.

The new trains will enable 3 tph, each of twelve-cars, which is more than doubling the number of cars in an hour.

Train Power

The current Class 90 locomotives have a power output of 930 kW to pull the eight coaches.

It could be that each of the four powered bogies are rated at 1000 kW, so if that is right, these new trains are much more powerful than the current ones.

This is an extract from the article.

GA is currently investigating the potential to change from diesel to electric power on the move, and says it will seek to utilise the environmental benefits of electric power wherever possible, even on short stretches out of Norwich and Ipswich stations.

All units are designed for 100 mph operation, but with the potential for upgrading to 110 mph in future.

Does the speed upgrade apply to both the electric and bi-mode units?

Knowing the lines well, I suspect that the extra speed could be useful on the following lines.

  • Stowmarket to Norwich
  • Cambridge to Norwich

I suspect that if there is more improved double-track introduced, there couple be other places.

Conclusion

So expect Norwich-in-Ninety and Ipswich-in-Sixty!

 

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Gibb Report – Options For Change

This paragraph is from the Gibb Report, and is labelled Options for Change.

I have quickly reviewed the current operation with both a short term and long-term perspective.

There is a widely held view that GTR is too large, with over 6,000 employees and a diverse group of routes and brands 

The 2018 Thameslink project is the priority, and focus on that is necessary as the project remains high risk on many levels.

Much change and dependency between Southern and Thameslink people and activities will be necessary during this period.

Meanwhile GTR is under significant pressure in respect of industrial action and the poorly performing
Southern services.

It says a lot, with which I agree.

  1. GTR is too large and diverse.
  2. Thameslink is the priority
  3. GTR is under significant pressure in respect of industrial action and poor Southern performance.

I do wonder how much points one and three are related.

I live in East London and when I moved here in 2010, rail services on the Lea Valley Lines were run by Abellio Greater Anglia, from a Head Office in Norwich.

  • Trains and stations were in poor condition and could have done with a very deep clean.
  • Staff appeared demotivated and were probably worried about their prospects.
  • Stations were an information-free zone.
  • Booking offices were not offering a first class service.

Was it out-of-sight-and-out-of-mind management?

Since May 2015, the Lea Valley Lines have been run by London Overground.

  • Staffing levels have improved.
  • Trains have been refreshed and are more reliable.
  • Stations are much cleaner.
  • Booking offices have improved.
  • Information at stations is now comprehensive.
  • New ticket machines have been added.
  • Staff appear to be more motivated.

If you look at the passenger figures for Hackney Downs station, which I use regularly, they are increasing faster than they were.

It will be interesting to see how things improve with the delivery of new Class 710 trains.

So judging on my experience with the Lea Valley Lines being taken from Abellio and given to London Overground, I very much agree with some of Chris Gibbs recommendations to prune some routes and services from GTR. These posts deal with his pruning.

I suspect more could be done.

 

 

 

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Greater Anglia’s New Manningtree Depot Site

It’s a bit of a mess, but contractors have started cleaning the site at Manningtree for Greater Anglia’s New Depot.

The site is on the left hand side of a train going towards Ipswich.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment