The Anonymous Widower

Batteries In Class 378 Trains Revisited

Two and a half years ago, I wrote Will London Overground Fit On-board Energy Storage To Class 378 Trains?.

This post effectively updates that post, with what we now know.

As far as I know, batteries have not been fitted to the Class 378 trains, but there have been other developments involving Bombardier since.

Aventras

The linked post was based on statements by Marc Phillips of Bombardier in this article in Rail Technology Magazine entitled Bombardier enters key analysis phase of IPEMU. He also said about Aventras.

Bombardier is also looking at battery options on new builds, including its Aventra platform.

I have stated several times including in Rail Magazine, that the Class 345 trains for Crossrail must have batteries and no-one has told me that I’m wrong.

Battery Train Applications

The Rail Technology article also says this.

Bombardier has started assessing potential customers for battery-powered trains, looking first at branch line applications. Batteries could be a solution allowing non-continuous electrified infrastructure, and emergency rescue and last-mile opportunities.

The article was written three and a half years ago and I suspect Bombardier have been busy researching the technology and its applications.

The High-Speed Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries

This train was first reported to be in development in this article in Rail Magazine, which was entitled Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra Could Feature Battery Power.

The article stated the following.

  • 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.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.

I very much believe that the key to the performance of this train is using batteries to handle regenerative braking in both electric and diesel modes.

In Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, I looked at how the train might operate.

Bombardier with better data and the latest mathematical modelling techniques have obviously extensively modelled the proposed trains and prospective routes.

No sane company listed on a Stock Exchange would launch such a product, if it didn’t know that the mathematics of the dynamics and the numbers for the accountants didn’t add up.

Voyagers With Batteries

In Have Bombardier Got A Cunning Plan For Voyagers?, I discuss a snippet found in the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, in an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

In a report of an interview with Bombardier’s Des McKeon, this is said.

He also confirmed Bombardier is examining the option of fitting batteries to Voyager DEMUs for use in stations.

Batteries appear to be being proposed to make the trains more environmentally-friemdly and less-noisy.

Talent 3 With Batteries

Bombardier have launched a version of their Talent 3 train with batteries. This is the launch video.

Some of Bombardier’s points from the video.

  • Emission-free
  • The current range is forty kilometres
  • The range will be extended to a hundred kilometres by 2020.
  • Charging for forty kilometres takes between seven and ten minutes from overhead electrification.

This looks to be a serious train with orders from German train operators.

It would appear that Bombardier are very serious about the application of batteries to both new and existing trains.

Class 378 Trains And Batteries

What could batteries do for the Class 378 trains?

It looks like over the next few years, the Class 378 trains will be increasingly used on the East London Line, as they have the required evacuation capability for the Thames Tunnel.

Various documents indicate that to maximise capacity on the line, the following may happen.

  • Some or all services may go to six trains per hour (tph)
  • Trains may be lengthened to six-cars from five-cars.

Extra destinations might be added, but although this could be easy in South London, it would probably require a lot of station or platform development in the North.

Trains Required For The East London Line

If you look at the timing of the East London Line, you get the following journey times for the four routes.

  • Highbury & Islington to West Croydon – 52-57 minutes
  • Dalston Junction to New Cross – 24 minutes
  • Highbury & Islington to Crystal Palace – 46 minutes
  • Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction – 47-48 minutes

It could almost have been choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

This means that to run four tph on the routes needs the following number of trains.

  • Highbury & Islington to West Croydon – 8 trains
  • Dalston Junction to New Cross – 4 trains
  • Highbury & Islington to Crystal Palace – 8 trains
  • Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction – 8 trains

Which gives a total of 28 trains.

To make all these services six tph, would require the following number of trains.

  • Highbury & Islington to West Croydon – 12 trains
  • Dalston Junction to New Cross – 6 trains
  • Highbury & Islington to Crystal Palace – 12 trains
  • Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction – 12 trains

Which gives a total of 42 trains.

At present only the Crystal Palace and Clapham Junction routes have dates for the extra trains and if only these routes were increased in frequency, there would be a need for 36 trains.

Six-Car Trains

The trains might also go to six cars to increase capacity on the East London Line.

As I indicated in Will The East London Line Ever Get Six Car Trains?, cars could be used from the five-car trains not needed for the East London Line.

You would just end up with a number of three- and four-car Class 378 trains, that could be used on other routes with less passengers.

My conclusion in Will The East London Line Ever Get Six Car Trains? was this.

It will be interesting to see how London Overground, increase capacity in the coming years.

There are fifty-seven Class 378 trains in total, which have the following formation.

DMOS-MOS(B)-PTOS-MOS-DMOS

They can be lengthened and shortened, by adding or removing MOS cars.

As an extra MOS car was added to convert all trains from four-cars to five-cars a few years ago, I suspect it is not the most difficult of processes.

It should also be noted that the original three-car trains for the North London Line had the following formation.

DMOS-PTOS-DMOS

If all East London Line routes go to six tph, the required number of trains would be forty-two.

This would leave a surplus of fifteen trains to act as donors for lengthening.

To make all trains six-cars would require a further forty-two MOS cars.

Reducing the trains not needed for the East London Line to three-cars, would yield thirty MOS cars.

This could give the following fleet.

  • Thirty six-car trains.
  • Twelve five-car trains
  • Fifteen three-car trains

To lengthen all trains needed for six-cars would require another twelve MOS cars to be obtained.

Some services could be run with five-car trains, but I don’t think that be a good idea.

I am inevitably led to the conclusion, that if the the Class 378 trains need to be extended to six-cars, then Bombardier will have to produce some more cars.

Adding Batteries To A Six-Car Class 378 Trains

Batteries would be added to Class 378 trains for all the usual reasons.

  • Handling energy from regenerative braking.
  • Health and safety in depots and sidings.
  • Short movements on lines without electrification
  • Emergency train recovery

But there might also be another important use.

The Thames Tunnel is under five hundred metres long.

As the only trains running through the tunnel are Class 378 trains, it might be possible and advantageous to run services on battery power through the tunnel.

I will estimate the kinetic energy of a six-car Class 378 train, as the batteries must be able to handle the energy of a full train, stopping from maximum speed.

  • The empty train will weigh around 192 tonnes
  • The maximum speed of the train is 75 mph.
  • The train will hold 1050 passengers, who I will assume each weigh 90 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This gives a fully loaded train weight of 286.5 tonnes.

Using the Omni Kinetic Energy calculator gives an kinetic energy of 45 kWh.

If four 100 kWh batteries can be fitted under a two-car Class 230 train, then surely a reasonable amount o capacity can be fitted under a six-car Class 378 train.

These pictures show the under-floor space on a dual-voltage Class 378/2 train.

As a six-car train will have five motored cars, why not put one 50 kWh battery in each motored car, to give a capacity of 250 kWh.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

So how far would a six-car Class 378 train go with a fully-charged 250 kWh battery?

  • 5 kWh per vehicle mile – 8 miles
  • 4 kWh per vehicle mile – 10 miles
  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 14 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 20 miles

This is only a crude estimate, but it shows that fitting batteries to a Class 378 train with batteries could give a useful range.

Adding Batteries To A Three-Car Class 378 Trains

The same calculation can be performed for a three-car train created by removing the two MOS cars.

  • The empty train will weigh around 96 tonnes
  • The maximum speed of the train is 75 mph.
  • The train will hold 525 passengers, who I will assume each weigh 90 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This gives a fully loaded train weight of 143.3 tonnes.

Using the Omni Kinetic Energy calculator gives an kinetic energy of 22.4 kWh.

Unsurprisingly, the kinetic energy of the three-car train is around half that of a six-car train.

As a three-car train will have two motored cars, why not put one 50 kWh battery in each motored car, to give a capacity of 100 kWh.

Using the Ian Walmsley formula gives the following ranges.

  • 5 kWh per vehicle mile – 7 miles
  • 4 kWh per vehicle mile – 8 miles
  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 11 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 17 miles

When you consider that the length of the Greenford Branch Line is 2.5 miles, these ranges are very useful.

Routes For Three-Car Class 378 Trains With Batteries

I would suspect that these trains will have the following specification.

  • Dual-voltage with ability to use either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • A maximum speed of 75 mph
  • Three cars
  • Passenger capacity of 525 passengers.
  • Range of between seven and fifteen miles

So for what routes would the train be suitable?

Brentford Branch Line

There have been various ideas for reopening the freight-only Brentford Branch Line to passenger traffic.

The simplest proposal would be to run a two tph shurttle train Southwards from Southall station.

As the branch is only four miles long, I believe that a three-car Class 378 train, which ran on battery-power and charged at Southall station could work the branch.

Greenford Branch Line

I’ve already mentioned the 2.5 mile long Greenford Branch Line.

The following work would need to be done before the trains could be used.

  • Electrification of the bay platform at West Ealing with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Electrification of the bay platform at Greenford with 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Minor lengthening of the bay platform at Greenford to allow sixty metre long trains.
  • An extra crossover at the West Ealing end of the branch.

With these modifications it might be possible to run four tph on the branch.

Romford To Upminster Line

Currently, the Romford-Upminster Line uses a single train to shuttle the three miles at a frequency of two tph.

If the passing loop were to be reinstated, I believe that two trains could run a four tph service.

Using battery-power on the line and charging on the existing electrification at either end of the line might be a more affordable option.

It should be noted that increasing the current two x four-car tph to four x three-car tph, would be a doubling of frequency and a fifty percent increase in capacity.

West London Orbital Railway

The West London Orbital Railway is outlined like this in Wikipedia.

The West London Orbital is a proposed extension to the London Overground that makes use of a combination of existing freight and passenger lines including the Dudding Hill Line, North London Line, and the Hounslow Loop. The route runs for approximately 11 miles from West Hampstead and Hendon at the northern end to Hounslow at the Western end via Brent Cross West, Neasden, Harlesden, Old Oak Common, Acton and Brentford.

This is one of those plans, which ticks a lot of boxes.

  • The tracks are already in existence.
  • There is a proven need.
  • Passenger numbers would support at least four tph.
  • The route connects to Crossrail and HS2.
  • Changing at Old Oak Common to and from Crossrail gives a quicker route to Heathrow for many in West London.
  • There is electrification at both ends of the route, with only four miles without any electrification.
  • At only eleven miles, it could be run by electric trains under battery power.
  • The cost is quoted at around £250 million.
  • Studies show it has a benefit cost ratio of 2.2:1.

As the route is now being promoted by the Mayor of London, I have a feeling this route will be created in time for the opening of HS2 in 2025.

If you want to know more about the proposals, this document on the Brent Council web site, which is entitled West London Orbital Rail, was written by consultants WSP to analyse the proposals and give a cost.

This is paragraph 5.4.38

At this stage we are assuming that the railway will be operated by diesel traction, or possibly battery or hybrid traction. While the Kew – Acton and Dudding Hill Line sections are not electrified, all the rest of the line is and battery technology may have developed sufficiently by the time of opening to be a viable option. Therefore, potential subsequent phases of the
enhancement plans could electrify the non-electrified sections.

The consultants go on to say, that stabling for diesel trains is more difficult to find in London than for electric..

The route would be suitable for Class 378 trains with batteries, but the consultants say that four-car trains will be needed.

So four-car Class 378 trains with a battery capability will be needed.

Alternatively, new four-car Class 710 trains, which I’m certain are built around a battery capability could be used instead.

A rough estimate says that for the full service of two four tph routes will need a total of eight four-car trains.

This is a much-needed route with definite possibilities.

Should A Battery MOS Car Be Designed?

If the Class 378 trains are lengthened to six cars, it looks like there will be a need for at least twelve new MOS cars.

I wonder, if it would be better to design a new BMOS car with batteries, that could either be created from an existing MOS car or newly-built.

The car would have the following specification

  • It would be able to replace any current MOS car.
  • It would contain the appropriate size of battery.

The advantages of a compatible new BMOS car are.

It would not require any modifications to the PTOS or DMOS cars, although the train software would need to be updated.

It would make it possible to easily create trains with a battery option with a length of four and five cars.

Could The PTOS Car Be Updated With Batteries?

This could be a logical way to go, if a battery of sufficient size can be fitted in the limited space available with all the other electrical gubbins under the floor of a PTOS car.

 

These pictures show a Class 378/2 PTOS car.

Modifying only the PTOS cars would give the following advantages.

  • Only the PTOS car would need to be modified.
  • PTOS cars for Class 378/1 trains would be 750 VDC only.
  • PTOS cars for Class 378/2 trains, would be dual-voltage.
  • Only PTOS cars for Class 378/2 trains would have a pantograph.

I will propose that the PTOS car is fiited a 100 kWh battery.

This would be sufficient for the six-car East London Line services, as all it would do was handle the regenerative braking energy, which has a maximum value of just 45 kWh. Battery range of the train would be between three and five miles, which would be enough to recover the train if power failed.

For three-car trains, the 100 kWh ranges would be as I calculated earlier.

  • 5 kWh per vehicle mile – 7 miles
  • 4 kWh per vehicle mile – 8 miles
  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 11 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 17 miles

Which is a very useful range.

If some four-car trains, were built by adding a new MOS car, the ranges on 100 kWh batteries would be.

  • 5 kWh per vehicle mile – 5 miles
  • 4 kWh per vehicle mile – 6 miles
  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 8 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 12.5 miles

As the Dudding Hill Line is only four miles long with electrification at both ends, these four-car Class 378 trains would be able to work the routes of the West London Orbital Railway.

Conclusion

Fitting batteries to Class 378 trains opens up a lot of possibilities.

One scenario could be.

  • Forty-two six-car trains for the East and |South London Lines.
  • One three-car train for the Brentford Branch Line
  • Two three-car trains for the Greenford Branch Line.
  • Two three-car trains for the Romford to Upminster Line.
  • Eight four-car trains for the West London Orbital Railway.

There would be two spare three-car trains and another twenty MOS cars would be required.

 

 

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October 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Did Adrian Shooter Let The Cat Out Of The Bag?

This article with a video in the Scotsman is entitled Video: Battery Trains On Track To Cut Emissions and gives a lot of information about the Class 230 train. This is a paragraph.

The train is restricted to a 25mph speed on this week’s test trips, but Vivarail Chief Executive Adrian Shooter says it can sustain speeds of “60 mph for 40 miles” when new batteries become available next year.

Moreover, the batteries need just four minutes to recharge.

So what does this mean for the various routes?

Borderlands Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Borderlands Line.

The line runs between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations is around twenty-seven miles and takes an hour. There is a generous turnround time at both ends in the current schedule.

This Google Map shows the layout of the two-platform station at Bidston.

This picture shows the red-roofed shed in the middle of the island platform, with the tracks on either side.

Would it be sensible to add a dedicated bay platform at Bidston for charging the battery trains?

The train will certainly be able to start with a full battery after a long charge at Wrexham Central and then do the following.

  • Run to Bidston on battery power.
  • Turnround at Bidston, where four minutes could be used to charge the batteries.
  • Run back to Wrexham Central on battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would be used at the thirteen intermediate stations.

If necessary during the long runs the diesel engines could be used to provide more power or top up the batteries.

Chester To Crewe Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Chester to Crewe Line.

It runs between Chester and Crewe stations, is around twenty miles long and services take about twenty minutes.

As there are no stations between Chester and Crewe and the maximum speed of the Class 230 train is sixty mph, it looks like the train will be almost at maximum speed  along this route.

So will the four diesel engines be working hard?

When these trains were built in the 1980s, I doubt that anybody thought they’d be running services on a section of the North Wales Coast Line.

Conwy Valley Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Conwy Valley Line.

It runs between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations, is around thirty miles long and services take eighty minutes to ascend and seventy to come down.

The train will certainly be able to start with a full battery after a long charge at Llandudno and then do the following.

  • Ascend to Blaenau Ffestiniog on battery power, with help from the diesel engines.
  • Turnround at Blaenau Ffestiniog, where four minutes could be used to charge the batteries.
  • Descend to Llandudno on battery power, with help from gravity.
  • The descent would be controlled by regenerative braking.
  • Regenerative braking would be used at the eleven intermediate stations.

If necessary during the long ascent the diesel engines could be used to provide more power or top up the batteries.

Greenford Branch

What do you do with a problem like the Greenford Branch?

In Could Class 165 HyDrive Trains Be The Solution To The Greenford Branch?, I looked at the possibility of using the proposed Class 165 Hydrive trains to provide a four trains per hour (tph) service on the Greenford Branch.

This was my conclusion.

Four tph is possible on the Greenford Branch, but it will need an extra crossover just outside West Ealing station.

Class 165 HyDrive trains with their extra performance would make the four tph timetable more reliable.

The lower noise and emissions of the trains would also please the local residents.

I also feel that a well-designed battery-powered two-car train, with perhaps a charging station at either end could also provide the improved service.

That well-designed battery-train has arrived in the shape of the Class 230 train.

Island Line

It appears likely, that Class 230 trains will be ordered for the Island Line.

It runs between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin stations, is under nine miles long and a typical round trip is as follows.

  • Shanklin to Ryde Pier Head – 24 minutes
  • Turnround at Ryde Pier Head – 20 minutes
  • Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin – 24 minutes
  • Turnround at Shanklin – 5 minutes

The Island Line has an operating speed of just 45 mph.

Adding all that up, I would estimate that a train doing a round trip would do under twenty miles at a maximum speed of 45 mph.

Adrian Shooter said that the trains will be able to store 2,400 miles² /hour, whereas the Island Line would use only 900 miles² /hour in a round trip. They may be weird units, you won’t find in any text book, but I want to prove if something is possible or not.

It looks like it most definitely is possible for a battery-powered Class 230 train to perform a round trip on one charge of of the batteries.

Suppose though, the line was reinstated to Ventnor station, as a  line without electrification. A quick estimate gives the round-trip as thirty miles, which would need  1350 miles² /hour.

There could even be a second charging station at Ventnor.

Could we see a future Island Line like this?

  • No electrification.
  • Extension to a new Ventnor station.
  • A passing loop at Brading station.
  • Battery trains.
  • Relaid track for very gentle curves and high efficiency.
  • Charging stations at Ryde Pier Head and Ventnor stations.

I suspect with some faster running, where it is possible and perhaps one diesel power pack per train, three-car Class 230 trains could run a two tph service.

This type of service would not be unique for long, as other places would quickly copy.

Marston Vale Line

West Midlands Trains have ordered Class 230 trains for the Marston Vale Line.

It runs between Bedford and Bletchley stations, is around twenty-four miles long and services appear to take about forty-five minutes, with a turn-round time of well over four minutes.

So it would seem that each leg of a return journey would be less than forty miles and there would be sufficient time for a full four-minute charge at either end.

The regenerative braking would be useful in handling the eleven stops.

Conclusion

It isn’t one cat!

It’s a whole destruction, glorying or nuisance of felines!

 

 

 

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

An Illustration Of Why The Greenford Branch Needs Four Trains Per Hour

I wanted to ride the Greenford Branch to photograph a Class 165 train in the livery of Great Western Railway.

So I took one of TfL Rail’s Class 345 trains to West Ealing station.

By the time, that I’d climbed over the bridge and walked to Platform 5 to catch the Class 165 train to Greenford, the train had just left.

So I then spent a miserably cold thirty minutes in a fierce wind on a station without a shelter, whilst I waited for the next train.

In that time, when I took these pictures, two passenger trains in each direction stopped in the station.

Crossrail

When Crossrail finally opens, West Ealing station is going to get ten trains per hour (tph) in both directions, which will terminate in the West at Heathrow Terminal 4, Heathrow Terminal 5, Maidenhead and Reading.

Passengers interchanging with the Greenford Branch will enjoy the thirty minute wait.

Airport Workers

I have been told several times by train staff and airport workers that getting to Heathrow Airport somtimes needs a car, as the buses are hard to find.

Nothing has been said about Crossrail running through the night, but as Thameslink runs to Gatwick, I wouls suspect this will happen.

And if Crossrail runs through the night, surely the humble Greenford Branch should do the same.

Conclusion

Plans should be developed to get the Greenford Branch running at four tph, throughout the day and perhaps two tph, when Crossrail is running through the night.

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Could Class 165 HyDrive Trains Be The Solution To The Greenford Branch?

I ask this question, as I think the Greenford Branch should be developed and run at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).

I give my reasons in An Illustration Of Why The Greenford Branch Needs Four Trains Per Hour.

The Class 165 HyDrive Train

I described the proposed Class 165 HyDrive trains in Class 165 Trains To Go Hybrid.

These are given as the advantages of these and other hybrid trains.

  • Improved acceleration.
  • Smooth and powerful regenerative braking.
  • Less gaseous and noise emissions.

A two-car Class 165 train can already run on the branch, so I’m pretty sure, that to run on the route,, a Class 165 HyDrive train would require no new major infrastructure, like lengthened platforms or electrification.

The Track Layout Of The Greenford Branch

The Greenford Branch is double-track.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track layout at Greenford station.

Note that both tracks of the branch, are connected to the following.

  • The bay platform in Greenford station, where the service on the branch terninates.
  • Both tracks of the Acton-Northolt Line going West using Greenford West Junction.
  • Both tracks of the Acton-Northolt Line going East using Greenford East Junction.

It is a well-designed junction, where all required movements seem possible.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track layout at West Ealing station.

Unlike at Greenford station, it appears that, there is no connection from the bay platform at West Ealing station to the left track towards Greenford station.

This might make it difficult to run the more frequent service of four tph, that this line needs.

So there might be a need for an extra crossover or minor track updates.

The Current Passenger Service On The Greenford Branch

The current service is two tph, which is based on a single train, shuttling backwards and forwards.

  • West Ealing to Greenford – 12 minutes
  • Turnround at Greenford – 3 minutes
  • Greenford to West Ealing – 11 minutes
  • Turnround at West Ealing – 4 minutes

Obviously, the train can only do two round trips in an hour.

Service Improvements With The Class 165 HyDrive Train

The proposed Class 165 HyDrive train will not offer and dramatic improvements, but its superior acceleration and braking, could speed up the three intermediate stops by a minute or two.

But I doubt that this would be enough time savings to enable one train to achieve the much-needed four tph.

Four Tph On The Greenford Branch

This could be achieved by two trains.

Train 1 would run as follows.

WE Dep – XX:00

GF Arr – XX:12

GF Dep – XX:15

WE Arr – XX:26

WE Dep – XX:30

GF Arr – XX:42

GF Dep – XX:45

WE Arr – XX:56

Train 2 would run as follows.

WE Dep – XX:15

GF Arr – XX:27

GF Dep – XX:30

WE Arr – XX:41

WE Dep – XX:45

GF Arr – XX:57

GF Dep – XX:00

WE Arr – XX:11

Note how Train 2 is fifteen minutes behind Train 1.

With the track improvements at West Ealing station, two Class 165 trains could run this timetable, if they were well driven and nothing went wrong.

But I believe that if the more agile Class 165 HyDrive trains were to be used, they could use their performance to regain the timetable.

Their extra performance might also allow the  creation of  some extra paths for freight trains and empty stock movements.

Conclusion

Four tph is possible on the Greenford Branch, but it will need an extra crossover just outside West Ealing station.

Class 165 HyDrive trains with their extra performance would make the four tph timetable more reliable.

The lower noise and emissions of the trains would also please the local residents.

I also feel that a well-designed battery-powered two-car train, with perhaps a charging station at either end could also provide the improved service.

 

 

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

What Is Happening (Or Not!) At West Ealing Station?

I took these pictures at West Ealing station a few days ago.

There appears to be no work going on to finish the station for Crossrail.

There has also been no announcement about what is happening to the Greenford Branch.

Surely, if the bay platform were to be electrified, it would be the ideal place to charge a battery shuttle train to Greenford station.

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

West Ealing Station – 21st June 2018

The progress to create new station buildings at West Ealing station seems to be painfully slow, as these pictures show.

It looks like there are now no platforms on the fast lines and the actual platforms for Crossrail and the Greenford Branch Line appear to be complete except for finishing off.

There appeared to be no if any work going on to built the new station building and the fully-accessible bridge.

But there did appear to be some electrification gantries and wires over the Western end of the bay platform.

Were Network Rail making sure that if it were decided to electrify the Greenford Branch Line, it would not be a difficult job?

If on the other hand, it was decided to use battery trains on the Greenford Branch, I suspect that sufficient electrification could be installed to charge the batteries.

 

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Will London Overground Procure Some Class 230 Trains?

Transport for London has a cash flow problem caused by various factors.

  • The reduction in grant from Central Government.
  • A fall in bus revenue caused by traffic congestion.
  • The freeze of fares by the Mayor.
  • The need to add services to stimulate much-needed housing.

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled Vivarail’s D-Trains Confirmed For Bedford-Bletchley.

As West Midlands Trains have now confirmed the order for the Class 230 trains, does this mean that buying Vivarail’s innovative refurbished London Underground D78 Stock, is now a less-risky train purchase?

Battery Or Diesel Class 230 Trains?

Would Transport for London buy a diesel or battery version of the Class 230 train?

Transport for London will have an exclusively electric fleet in a few months, when they have passed the Class 172 trains to West Midlands Trains.

I can’t believe they’d want to buy a small number of diesel trains, so I suspect they’ll go for battery versions.

Advantages Of Class 230 Trains For Transport for London

The trains must have advantages for Transport for London.

  • They are simple trains, built for remote servicing.
  • In some applications, their short length of just two cars must help, in that expensive platform extensions will not be needed.
  • I would suspect that one two-car train is designed to rescue another.
  • Capacity can be increased by adding a third-car.
  • Transport for London must also have a lot of expertise on how to get the most out of these trains.

Possible Routes

There are a handful of possible routes.

Greenford Branch Line

The Greenford Branch Line must be a prime candidate for running with two-car battery version of a Class 230 train.

Consider.

  • Using a four-car train, like a Class 710 train would require the platform at Greenford to be lengthened.
  • A Class 230 train would only need some form of simple electrification at Greenford and/or West Ealing stations.
  • Class 230 trains, would probably fit all platforms easily and give level access for wheelchairs and buggies.
  • Could London Overground’s third-rail engineers add suitable electrification to charge the batteries at Greenford station?
  • The branch is only four kilometres long.
  • The branch only has the two tph passenger service and the occasional freight train.
  • All trains use the new bay platform at West Ealing station.

One train could obviously work the current two trains per hour (tph) timetable, but could two trains and a possible spare run a four tph service on the branch?

The advantages of using Class 230 trains over a more conventional approach using perhaps Class 710 trains would include.

  • No electrification of the branch.
  • No platform lengthening and possibly little platform modification.
  • Only a short length of third-rail electrification would be needed to charge the batteries.
  • A four tph service might be possible.

The big advantage would be that it would be a low-cost project.

Romford To Upminster Line

The Romford To Upminster Line is currently run by a single four-car Class 315 train, which was to be replaced by a new Class 710 train.

In the March 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, whilst discussing nine more Class 71 trains for the London Overground, it is said, that a Class 315 train will be retained for the Romford To Upminster Line.

Why not procure another Class 230 train and use that to shuttle along the branch?

Consider.

  • The electrification can be removed from the line, to save maintenance costs.
  • A short length of third-rail electrification can be used to charge the batteries at Upminster station.
  • The trains could be stabled at Upminster Depot.

The line used to have a short passing loop between Romford and Emerson Park station, that could be long enough for a two-car Class 230 train. If this loop were to be reinstated without electrification, if might allow a four tph service.

It would be another low-cost project.

Bromley North Line

The Bromley North Line is currently served by Southeastern.

Reading Wikipedia for the line, I get the impression, that the line isn’t a major problem, but there are little annoyances.

  • Services are not frequent enough at some times of the day and week.
  • Connection to services to and from London aren’t always convenient.
  • It is not the easiest branch to provide with trains and drivers.

In addition, Southeastern would appear to be amenable to pass the line to Transport for London.

The track layout for the line has the following characteristics.

  • Double-track throughout.
  • There is a single platform at Grove Park station.
  • There are two platforms at Bromley North station.
  • The intermediate station; Sundridge Park has two platforms.

It looks like the line was designed so that two trains can operate simultaneously.

  • Two Class 230 trains could run a four tph service.
  • Stabling and servicing could be in Bromley North station.
  • Trains could be third-rail or battery.
  • A spare train could be held ready if it was felt needed.

It would be a self-contained low-cost solution.

Epping To Ongar

The Epping to Ongar service on the Central Line is no more, but would it be viable now with a Class 230 train?

Brentford Branch Line

The Brentford Branch Line has been proposed for reopening.

Class 230 trains powered by batteries would be ideal rolling stock.

The trains would be charged in Southall station.

West London Orbital

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Commitment To West London Orbital rail line.

This is said.

A press release distributed by the office of London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This new line, delivered through TfL, the West London Alliance, boroughs and Network Rail, could potentially support the delivery of an additional 20,000 homes, as well as employment growth in west London.”

In this article on Ian Visits, this is said about the service on the proposed West London Orbital line.

Phase 1: 4 trains per hour from West Hampstead to Hounslow, calling at West Hampstead, Cricklewood, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central, South Acton, Brentford, Syon Lane, Isleworth, Hounslow.

Phase 2: additional 4 trains per hour from Hendon to Kew Bridge, calling at Hendon, Brent Cross/Staples Corner, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central, South Acton, Kew Bridge.

The track is all in place and with a new bay platform at Hounslow, Class 230 trains could work Phase 1 on batteries with ease.

The key to the intermediate stations is property development. At Neasden, Harlesden and Old Oak Common, there is a lot of spare land around the Dudding Hill Line, where the trains will run. Developers will be told to build an appropriate amount of housing with a new station underneath.

The West London Orbital could be built to the following specification.

  • No full electrification.
  • Battery trains.
  • Platforms long enough for four-car Class 710 trains.
  • Bay platforms with possible charging at West Hampstead, Hendon, Hounslow and Key Bridge stations.
  • Four tph on both routes.

It lends itself to a very efficient way of building the railway.

  1. Build a platform on the freight line through West Hampstead Thameslink station.
  2. Build a bay platform that will accept a four-car train at Hounslow station.
  3. Establish a four tph shuttle service between West Hampstead  Thameslink and Hounslow stations calling at Acton Central, South Acton, Brentford, Syon Lane and Isleworth.
  4. Stations could be built at Neasden, Harlesden and Old Oak Common, where there is a generous amount of brownfield land, with lots of space for housing above the tracks and platforms.

Note.

  1. Batteries would be charged between Acton Central and Hounslow using the existing third-rail electrification.
  2. About five miles of the route would not be electrified.
  3. Housing developments on top of a station are a property developers dream.

The service could be started using Class 230 trains, with the option to switch to four-car Class 710 trains, powered by batteries, when more capacity is needed and Bombardier have fully developed the battery Aventra.

Phase two of the project would need development of platforms at Hendon and Kew Bridge stations.

The beauty of the West London Orbital, is that the only costs for Transport for London are four new platforms, some track-work and a fleet of new trains.

Hopefully, the development of the intermediate stations would be down to property developers, as they will make a fortune out of the housing!

Conclusion

I think the answer to my original question posed in the title of this post is Yes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 3, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Are Transport for London Planning For The Future In The West?

Over a dozen Underground stations in West London have been earmarked for upgrading to step-free access.

I listed them in West London Stations To Be Made Step-Free.

There are various common properties.

  • Boston Manor and Osterley stations are on the Heathrow branch of the Piccadilly Line, which when updated would make the branch  seventy percent step-free.
  • Hanger Lane and Northolt stations are on the West Ruislip branch of the Central Line, which when updated would make the branch seventy-one percent step-free.
  • Ickenham, Ruislip, Sudbury Hill and Park Royal are on the Uxbridge branch of the Piccadilly Line, which when updated would make the branch  sixty percent step-free.
  • Hanger Lane and Park Royal stations are a valid out-of-station interchange.
  • Sudbury Hill and Sudbury Hill Harrow are a valid out-of-station interchange.
  • Ickenham and West Ruislip are a valid out-of-station interchange.
  • Ealing Broadway and Old Oak Common are developing into major interchanges.

With Crossrail going through West London and due to be fully-open in a couple of years, transport in West London is certainly going to get better for all.

But other things will or possibly could happen.

New Trains On The Piccadilly Line

The Piccadilly Line is in some ways an odd one out of London Underground lines.

  • Only 28 % of the line’s stations have an interchange with other lines or National Rail compared with 94 % for the Victoria Line.
  • Only two of the major London terminals; Kings Cross and St. Pancras International, are served by the Piccadilly Line and very badly in truth!
  • The line has no interchange with Crossrail.
  • The line has a terminus at Heathrow.
  • The line runs extensively in West London on old District Line tracks, so there are a lot of stations in the area, where platform-to-train access is bad.

The trains are also some of the oldest on the London Underground.

Under Future Upgrades in the Wikipedia entry for the line, this is said.

The intention is for the new trains to eventually operate on the Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines. On current plans, resignalling work on the Piccadilly line will begin in 2019 and new trains should be in service by 2022.

Wikipedia also says this about the trains.

  • The trains will be lightweight, low-energy and semi-articulated.
  • The trains will have a battery capability to take them to the next station in case of power failure.
  • The trains will have a low-floor. Will this be lower than current trains? Probably yes, as it would increase headroom.
  • The trains will have an 11 % higher capacity than the existing trains.
  • The trains could have air-conditioning.

I would add the following comments and pedictions.

  1. The trains will be designed for quicker exit and entry to the trains.
  2. The trains will shorten journey times.
  3. The trains will be wheelchair and buggy friendly.
  4. The batteries on the train will be used to handle regenerative braking.
  5. The trains will have air-conditioning, as passengers will demand it.
  6. A solution will be found, so that there is level platform-to-train access at all stations.

Point six will be difficult, but in my view this must be done to enable trains to spend as little time as possible, whilst calling at a station.

Perhaps trains will adjust their ride height as they approach a station, by adding and releasing air from the suspension.

If this level access can be achieved by a clever train design, the expense and disruption of rebuilding station platforms substantially, could be reduced.

Unfortunately, some Piccadilly Line platforms are also used by the larger S Stock trains, so any technological advantages must be made on the new Piccadilly Line trains.

Piccadilly Line To Ealing Broadway

Ealing Broadway station is being upgraded for Crossrail.

In the November 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a Capital Connection supplement, which discusses London’s railways.

On Page 7 in a section about the sub-surface lines, this is said.

One possibility being discussed is that the Piccadilly should take over the District’s Ealing Broadway service. This would free up space on the South side of the inner-London circle for more City trains off the Wimbledon branch, one of the sub-surface network’s most-crowded routes.

On Page 15 in a section about the Mayor’s plans, this is said.

It is suggested Piccadilly Line services run to Ealing Broadway instead of the District Line, enabling increased frequencies on the latter’s Richmond and Wimbledon branches.

As the plan is mentioned twice, certainly the proposal is being thought about.

I discussed this in some detail in Is There Going To Be More Change At Ealing Broadway Station?

Distilling my thoughts from last year and what I’ve seen recently, I have the following thoughts, if the Piccadilly Line had a branch to Ealing Nroadway station.

  • The Piccadilly Line would have a two-platform step-free terminus, capable of handling twelve trains per hour (tph)
  • Increasing Piccadilly Line frequencies through the core, probably needs another high capacity terminal in the West.
  • The Piccadilly Line would have an interchange with Crossrail and Great Western Railway for Heathrow, Oxford and Reading.
  • In the later 2020s, when the Piccadilly and Central Lines are running the same new deep-level trains, Ealing Broadway would only handle one type of Underground train.
  • As Ealing Broadway, Ealing Common and Acton Town stations would only handle the new deep-level Underground trains, platform-to-train access problems could be solved by lowering the platforms.

The current Piccadilly Line service in the West is as follows.

  • Twelve tph to Heathrow
  • Six tph to Rayner Lane station, with three tph continuing to Uxbridge.
  • Three tph to Northfields

The new trains and signalling, must surely increase the core frequency from the current 21 tph to something approaching the 36 tph of the Victoria Line.

I suspect that twelve tph to Ealing Broadway would fit well, with both the needs of the Piccadilly Line and Crossrail’s frequency of twelve tph.

There are other problems to sort out, but Piccadilly Line trains to Ealing Broadway station could be an excellent plan.

Piccadilly Line To Heathrow

The Heathrow branch of the Piccadilly Line will be seventy percent step-free, after Boston Manor and Osterley stations are upgraded.

I think the time will come in the next few years to bite the bullet and do the following on the branch.

  • Make all street-to-platform fully step-free.
  • Lower the platforms to give level platform-to-train access to the new deep-level trains.

As this branch is Piccadilly Line-only, there should be few related problems.

Piccadilly Line To Rayners Lane and Uxbridge

The Uvbridge branch of the Piccadilly Line will be sixty percent step-free, after Ickenham, Ruislip, Sudbury Hill and Park Royal stations are upgraded.

As with the Heathrow branch, I think that the following should be done.

  • Make all street-to-platform fully step-free.
  • Lower the platforms to give level platform-to-train access tothe new deep-level trains.

The problem is between Rayners Lane and Uxbridge stations, where the branch is shared with the Metropolitan Line.

The following could be done.

  1. Put in extra tracks and platforms.
  2. Live with the  current platforms and step down into a Piccadilly Line train.
  3. All Piccadilly Line trains could terminate at Rayners Lane and from Rayners Lane to Uxbridge is served by Metropolitan Line only
  4. As the platforms are long and all trains are walk-through, clever platform design with Harrington Humps could be a solution.

Only option 4 would be an affordable solution, that might be acceptable to all stakeholders.

Central Line To Uxbridge

In the Wikipedia entry for the Central Line, this is said.

The Central crosses over the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines’ shared Uxbridge branch near West Ruislip depot, and a single track linking the two routes was laid in 1973. The London Borough of Hillingdon has lobbied TfL to divert some or all Central trains along this to Uxbridge, as West Ruislip station is located in a quiet suburb and Uxbridge is a much more densely populated regional centre. TfL has stated that the link will be impossible until the Metropolitan line’s signalling is upgraded in 2017.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Ruislip Depot.

Note.

  1. The Central Line is shown in red.
  2. The track used by the Piccadilly and Metropolitan Lines is the bluey colour.
  3. The Chiltern Main Line is shown in black.
  4. Ickenham and Ruislip stations will soon have some measure of step-free access.
  5. Ickenham and West Ruislip stations are a  valid out-of-station interchange, with a walk of 1.1 miles.

Would running Central Line trains to Uxbridge be feasible?

Uxbridge station has four platforms and currently has the following Off Peak services.

  • Metropolitan  – 8 tph to Aldgate
  • Piccadilly – 3 tph to Cockfosters

With these frequencies in the morning Peak.

  • Metropolitan  – 6 tph to Aldgate
  • Metropolitan  – 4 tph to Baker Street
  • Piccadilly – 6 tph to Cockfosters

West Ruislip has a 3 tph Off Peak service.

Uxbridge with four platforms can probably handle up to twenty-four tph with modern signalling, so there should be scope once the the new signalling is installed on the Metropolitan Line for changes to be made.

It may need new trains on both the Central and the Piccadilly Line, that can use the new signalling, before full advantage could be taken of running Central Line trains to Uxbridge.

But at some time in the future, it looks like the following would be possible on the West Ruislip branch of the Central Line.

  • 4 tph to West Ruislip
  • 4 tph to Uxbridge

That would be a very worthwhile service.

The Greenford Branch

The Greenford Branch is one of those lines in London and the South East, that have a low priority for the train operating companies.

Others include.

Twenty years ago, you would have included the North London and the Gospel Oak to Barking Lines. But look at those two now!

The Greenford Branch is typical of this sort of line.

  • Single platform at each end.
  • Two tph run by a single train.
  • Elderly trains.
  • No electrification
  • No Sunday service
  • More information.
  • Virtually no marketing.
  • Poor interchange at West Ealing station, although interchange at Greenford is excellent.

All of these lines could benefit from a common philosophy.

  • Four tph where possible, to encourage Turn-Up-And-Go.
  • A viable train use philosophy.
  • Modern electric trains that attract passengers.
  • Good interchange at the principal station or stations.

A plan for the Greenford Branch has yet to emerge.

However Crossrail will change everything.

  • Up to twelve tph could stop at West Ealing station.
  • West Ealing station will have full step-free access between the Greenford Branch, Crossrail and GWR services.
  • Passengers might use the line with heavy bags to get to and from Heathrow.
  • Management of West Ealing station may pass to Transport for London.

On a cold, wet day, passengers changing to the Greenford Branch will not want to wait half an hour for the next train to Greenford and the intermediate stations.

Increased passenger numbers and pressure for good service will require a four tph frequency on the Greenford branch.

  • This will require two trains.
  • Better customer service will be needed.

|As the two end stations could both be under Transport for London control, would it be sensible to pass management of the line to that organisation and run the line under the Overground banner?

But what trains could be used?

  • As the line is not electrified and platforms can only handle two- or possibly three-car trains, London Overground’s standard four-car Class 710 trains would not be suitable.
  • Class 172 trains could be used, but these are going to West Midlands Trains.
  • Passengers might accept a modernised British Rail era diesel like a Class 150 train.
  • There is also the Class 230 train, which West Midlands Trains will be using on the Marston Vale Line.
  • Could Bombardier create a three-car Aventra with on board energy storage, that would be charged at either or both ends?

My money would be on one of the last two options.

  • A standard electric train would require electrification of the branch.
  • There would be servicing problems with a small diesel fleet.
  • Class 230 trains have been designed for remote servicing, so three trains would work.
  • The diesel trains and the Class 230 train would require little if no infrastructure changes.
  • The branch is under three miles long, so a return trip is probably well within range of a battery train.
  • A three-car Aventra with on board energy storage would have many applications in the UK.
  • The Aventra with on board energy storage  would require little if no infrastructure changes, except for some extra overhead wires to create a charging point at West Ealing.

London Overground will probably go for a surprising, but cost-effective solution.

Onward From Greenford

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Greenford station.

There must surely be possibilities to extend the current passenger service to the West.

  • It would create a West Ealing to West Ruislip feeder service for Crossrail.
  • Greenford station would need extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line.
  • Train length would be less of a problem and four-car trains could probably be used.

It would fit well with restoring passenger services on the Acton-Northolt Line.

Old Oak Common To West Ruislip On The Acton-Northolt Line

Network Rail have plans to reinstate passenger services on the Acton-Northolt Line, so that Chiltern Railways can have an extra London terminal with a connection to Crossrail, High Speed 2 and the London Overground. Under Chiltern Main Line Connection, in the Wikipedia entry for Old Oak Common station, this is said.

Network Rail has proposed that the Chiltern Main Line should have a second terminal at Old Oak Common to increase capacity on the route as there is no room to expand the station at Marylebone. To do so, services would use the Acton–Northolt line (formerly the “New North Main Line”) and perhaps see Chiltern trains terminating here rather than Marylebone.

A summary report by Network Rail, which was released in 2017, forecast that a new London terminal will be needed by 2043 and proposed Old Oak Common for this role, with upgrading of the Acton-Northolt Line.

I doubt that I’ll see it, as I’ll be 96!

But it does seem a credible idea with questions to ask!

  • Will the route be double- or single-track?
  • Will there be express and/or Metro services?
  • How many interchanges will there be with the Central Line?
  • Will the route be used by Crossrail?
  • Will the route be electrified?

I do think that there will be some very serious thinking going on.

A few thoughts on what could define what might ensue.

High Wycombe Station

High Wycombe station is a three platform station, with a lot of space between the tracks, as this Google Map shows.

It would appear there is space for the station to be developed, as a terminus for more services from London.

The Chiltern Metro

According to Wikipedia, Chiltern Railways have ambition to create a Chiltern Metro. Wikipedia says this.

New Chiltern Metro Service that would operate 4+tph for Wembley Stadium, Sudbury & Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park, South Ruislip and West Ruislip. This would require a reversing facility at West Ruislip, passing loops at Sudbury Hill Harrow, and a passing loop at Wembley Stadium (part of the old down fast line is in use as a central reversing siding, for stock movements and additionally for 8-car football shuttles to convey passengers to the stadium for events). This ‘Chiltern Metro’ service was not programmed into the last round of franchising agreements.

This sounds to be a good idea but it would need a dedicated platform at Marylebone and is there sufficient capacity on the Chiltern Main Line to accommodate the number of extra trains required to West Ruislip.

Crossrail

How Crossrail will affect London is totally unpredictable.

  • Currently, the system is planned to run 24 tph between Heathrow, Paddington and Reading in the West and Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the East.
  • Various sources show that Crossrail has been built for 30 tph.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see the route move to a Thameslink or East London Line model, where two or four tph run to other destinations outside the core.

Ebbsfleet, Gravesend and Milton Keynes have been mentioned for expansion, but what about Basingstoke, Beaulieu, High Wycombe, Oxford and Southend?

Electrification

Three factors will be the main drivers if the Acton-Northolt Line is electrified for Network Rail’s proposed passenger services to Old Oak Common.

  • Extension of Crossrail to High Wycombe would surely need the Acton-Northolt Line to be electrified and possibly double-tracked.
  • The next generation of multi-mode trains will operate on a mixture of electric, diesel, hydrogen and battery power.
  • The ambition of Chiltern Railways.

I think on balance, if the Acton-Northolt Line is reopened to passenger services, it will be electrified.

Space could be limited as this picture from Hangar Lane station shows.

But most problems should be possible to solve, by lowering track  and rebuilding some bridges.

North Acton Station

North Action station could be updated in the following ways.

  • Extra platforms for the Acton-Northolt Line.
  • A connection to the North London Line.
  • Over-site development.
  • More spacious station buildings.

Note also that North Acton station could be a calling point on the West London Orbital Railway.

On the other hand, Old Oak Common station might handle a lot of these connections, so I suspect that if North Acton station has a connection, it will be led by the needs of property developers.

Park Royal Station

Park Royal station could be rebuilt with Hanger Lane station as an interchange between the Central and Piccadilly Lines, with extra platforms for the Acton-Northolt Line.

Again, property development will decide what happens.

Hanger Lane Station

This Google Map shows the location of Hanger Lane station in the middle of the Hanger Lane Gyratory.

Note the following.

  • The Central Line train in the Westbound platform.
  • The double-track of the Acton-Northolt Line to the North of the Central Line station.
  • Inside the ring of roads, there would appear to be a large site, that could be suitable for redevelopment, as perhaps offices or housing.

These pictures show the site in the middle of the roads.

Note.

  1. To call the site a junk-yard would be a compliment.
  2. Hanger Lane station is going to be made step-free.
  3. A  tunnel for HS2 will pass underneath., following the route of the Acton-Northolt Line.
  4. There are HS2 notices about. Are HS2 going to use the dump for a ventilation shaft for a tunnel underneath?

It would not be the most difficult design project in the world to make provision for platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line, to future-proof the station for Crossrail or any Chiltern service to Old Oak Common.

This is the sort of development that I like!

Imagine the following.

  • A cluster of perhaps four very high residential and office towers, reaching above the pollution and noise of the traffic.
  • A ring of trees could also shield the development from the traffic.
  • The tracks of the Acton-Northolt Line could be slewed to take advantage of an island platform.
  • Trains running at least four tph to Old Oak Common.
  • Crossrail could continue across Central London.
  • Trains could run to West Ruislip or High Wycombe in the West.
  • London Underground running up to ten tph on the Central Line.
  • Developers will integrate the station, the development and the required local services.

The possibilities are dramatic.

In the next decade or so, as vehicles get less polluting, developments like this will become more common.

Perivale Station

Perivale station is Grade II Listed with some of the worst steps I’ve seen on the London Underground.

Extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line and a step-free station would be very difficult.

 

I doubt, there are many stations worse for step-free access in London!

Greenford Station

Greenford station is already step-free, but extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line, could be very difficult, due to the different track levels.

But Action-Northolt Line platforms with a step-free connection would give easy access to the Greenford Branch.

Northolt Station

Northolt station is being made step-free and could be extended with extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line.

The picture was taken from the Central Line platform and shows  the station building, which almost looks as if it was built to be extended to a platform on the Acton-Northolt Line, which is to the left of the electrified Central Line track.

South Ruislip Station

South Ruislip station already has platforms on both lines.

Ruislip Gardens Station

Ruislip Gardens station probably wouldn’t need a connection to the Chiltern Line.

West Ruislip Station

West Ruislip station already has platforms on both lines.

A Possible Heavy Rail Service Between Old Oak Common and West Ruislip

Consider.

  • Central Line trains take seventeen minutes between North Acton and West Ruislip with six intermediate stops.
  • So I think it likely that a modern train could travel from Old Oak Common to West Ruislip in about fifteen minutes, with perhaps stops at three or four stations like North Acton, Hanger Lane, Greenford, Northolt and South Ruislip.
  • The Acton-Northolt Line is a mixture of single and double track. with some space for a second track.
  • All stations except Old Oak Common could have step-free interchanges with the bCentral Line.

It could either be a service linked to Chiltern or Crossrail.

I can’t help feeling that eventually, this service will be part of Crossrail.

Conclusion

The railway changes that are happening will certainly allow a lot more development in West London.

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Could Three-Car Aventras Run Services On The Greenford Branch?

Services on the Greenford Branch Line between West Ealing and Greenford stations, are currently provided by a two-car Class 165 train.

Consider.

  • There are no plans to electrify the line.
  • West Ealing station has a recently-constructed bay platform to serve the branch.
  • The branch line is a 2.7 mile double-track line with three stations.
  • The intermediate stations at Drayton GreenCastle Bar Park and South Greenford have short platforms, that can only accept two-car trains.
  • The service frequency is two trains per hour (tph).
  • Each trip takes eleven minutes.

In an ideal world, the service would be electric and four tph.

Proposals For New Trains

Most proposals seem to suggest moving the branch line to the London Overground and using one of their Class 172 trains. But these trains are now being moved to West Midlands Trains, so that proposal would seem to be a non-starter.

Three-Car Aventras

Could three-car Aventras run services on the line using battery power?

I discussed such a train in A Detailed Look At A Three-Car Aventra, after West Midlands Trains ordered thirty-six of the trains.

These are my thoughts.

Capacity Increase

A three-car train would give a fifty percent increase in capacity on the line.

Is this capacity increase needed?

The Link With Crossrail

Under Services in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, it is indicated that twelve tph will pass through West Ealing station, although it is not yet known how many will stop.

Surely, when Crossrail opens fully, an integrated service with good connections will be created at West Ealing.

I believe Crossrail will work in one of two ways at West Ealing.

  1. In a London Underground-like manner, all trains will stop.
  2. Perhaps four or six tph will stop.

I suspect that Londoners won’t accept the second pattern, as they are used to the Underground and the Overground, where there are not many limited-stop services and a train comes along every few minutes.

So this would mean that there will be trains every five minutes in both directions at West Ealing station, creating a steady stream of passengers for the Greenford Branch Line.

Passengers will get fed up waiting thirty minutes for the branch line train.

As West Ealing will be a well-equipped station, waiting fifteen minutes for a train will probably be acceptable to passengers.

Anything less and there will be masses of complaints.

The Link With The Central Line

What applies at West Ealing with Crossrail, surely applies at Greenford with the Central Line.

Short Platforms

I feel that selective door opening on the Aventra could handle the short platforms on the branch.

Four Trains Per Hour

I think it be possible to work a four tph West Ealing to Greenford shuttle, as the branch line is double-track.

But it may need another cross-over to be installed.

Four tph would need two operational trains.

Charging The Trains

The trains could be charged at either end of the branch line, although for practical reasons, charging might use 25 KVAC overhead at West Ealing and 750 VDC at Greenford, as these are used on other tracks in the respective stations.

But as Aventras can be dual voltage, this could be handled by the trains.

As the line is only 2.7 miles long, charging could probably be done at one end only.

Other Alternatives

It would not be balanced to ignore other possibilities.

Refurbished Two-Car Diesel Trains

Two refurbished two-car diesel trains, like say Class 150 trains could also work four tph. on the branch.

But these would probably present services and refuelling problems.

Class 230 Trains

Two Class 230 trains could also work four tph. on the branch.

Consider.

  • They could work the branch on diesel or battery, or a combination of both.
  • Trains would be refurbished to a modern standard, with wi-fi and power sockets.
  • Two-car trains would fit the stations on the branch.
  • They are designed for remote servicing.

I think that a dedicated fleet of three two-car Class 230 trains would be a viable alternative.

Conclusion

Three-car Aventras could provide a good service on the Greenford Branch Line, but there are issues and it may be more complicated than anyone thinks to run a service, that is acceptable to passengers.

But three two-car Class 230 trains would be a viable alternative.

October 19, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

What Is Happening To The Greenford Branch?

It appears to me, that the Greenford Branch Line has been quietly shunted into a siding, as it has been some months since any statements of any worth have come from the Department of Transport, Transport for London, Great Western Raiiway or Network Rail.

The line now gets a two trains per hour  shuttle service between Greenford and West Ealing stations. Trains that use the branch line to don’t go to Paddington any more.

West Ealing station is being rebuilt and looks like it won’t be complete for a couple of years.

This article on City AM is entitled Ealing Council seeks ‘urgent clarity’ over five delayed Crossrail stations as Network Rail retenders contracts to save money, which says a lot and may even explain, why nothing has been decided about the future of this branch line.

Current Speculation And Rumours

Various reports and forums outline solutions that suggest or include the following.

  • It is probably not the easiest line operationally, as the train has to be stabled some distance away.
  • Four trains per hour.
  • Transfer of the line to the Overground.
  • Run a shuttle from High Wycombe to West Ealing.
  • Use London Overground’s Class 172 trains, when the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is electrified.

But there are a few problems.

  • The incomplete West Ealing station.
  • The platform at Greenford is rather short.
  • Electrification would be difficult.

I hope all the silence is because the DfT, TfL, GWR, Network Rail and perhaps a train manufacturer are working hard to create an innovative solution for short branch lines like the Greenford Branch.

London’s Other Branches

London has two other short branch lines, that currently carry passengers.

Both are electrified and are run by a four-car shuttle using a bog-standard electric multiple unit.

But I doubt, they are some of most profitable routes in London.

In one forum, it was suggested that London Overground might use the Romford to Upminster Line for driving training on the new Class 710 trains.

In addition, there is the Brentford Branch Line, which has been proposed for reopening.

The Marlow Branch Line

I’m including the Marlow Branch Line, as according to the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Network Rail have devised an innovative track layout for Bourne End station, that will allow trains to pass in the station and thus allow at least a two trains per hour service all day.

Modern Railways says  this about financing the new track layout at Bourne End.

The LEP has allocated £1.5million to the infrastructure change needed to accommodate this proposal and GWR is seeking to close the funding gap on it.

There is also an informative diagram.

This Google Map shows Bourne End station.

 

Note how a two-car Class 165 train is parked in the station with lots of space. These trains have two 23 metre long cars, so it would appear that a three-car train with possibly shorter length cars could be accommodated.

I wonder what is the maximum length train that the design team are working with.

Two three-car trains per hour would be a tripling of capacity over the current single two-car train per hour at present.

This innovative proposal certainly looks like one, that has a high chance of realisation.

Other Branch Lines

The UK probably has several short branch lines, with a similar profile to the Bromley North, Greenford and Marlow Lines, where often the service is inadequate or expensive and difficult to provide.

A Train For Branch Lines

Would it be possible to create a train using existing stock, that was ideal for these lines?

Vivarail with their Class 230 train have attempted to do this.

  • Two or three cars.
  • Diesel-electric or battery power.
  • Designed to be serviced remotely.

It may turn out to be a high-class and reliable train, but there may be operational and marketing disadvantages, due to the train’s London Underground history.

But it is certainly a possibility.

Otherwise it is probably necessary to carry on as before with a two-car diesel multiple unit.

But at least, London Overground will be releasing eight Class 172 trains in Spring 2018.

The Unconventional Solution

Although two or three-car diesel multiple units will serve these branches well, I just wonder whether applying the same thinking that led to the Class 319 Flex train could produce a much better solution.

In their brochure for the train, Porterbrook state that they are thinking of adding a battery option to the train. The electrical layout of the Class 319 train leads me to believe it is certainly possible.

These branch lines are not arduous, so why not do the following.

  • Replace one diesel power-pack of the Class 319 Flex train with a battery pack.
  • Remove the trailer car to create a three-car train.
  • Give the trains a good refurbished interior.

Note.

  1. A three-car train would probably not be a 100 mph train.
  2. A three-car Class 319 Flex train would only be fourteen metres longer than a two-car Class 165 train.
  3. Several similar four-car Class 321 trains have been converted to three-car Class 320 trains.
  4. Being able to run on electrified lines would ease operation, open up new services and charge the batteries.

I feel that having both diesel and battery power for working away from electrified lines would give the trains a high degree of reliability.

These trains could certainly work the Brentford, Greenford, Marlow and Windsor Branches.

The Bombardier Solution

In Will London Overground Fit On-board Energy Storage To Class 378 Trains?, I mused about this statement, after reading this article in Rail Technology Magazine entitled Bombardier enters key analysis phase of IPEMU. Marc Phillips of Bombardier is quoted as saying this in the article.

All Electrostars to some degree can be retrofitted with batteries. We are talking the newer generation EMU as well as the older generation. So, the 387s and 378s are the ones where we have re-gen braking where we can top-up the batteries and use the braking energy to charge the batteries. That gives us the best cost-benefit over operational life.

So it would seem that the Class 378 trains of the London Overground are candidates for fitting with batteries.

These trains started out with just three cars and have grown twice, by adding another motor car and a trailer car. So they are now five-car trains.

London Overground have said that they might lengthen the trains again to six cars.

I would suspect that Bombardier can play musical carriages and create, some six-car trains and a few three-car trains.

Fit batteries to the three-car trains and you have a battery-powered train for a short branch line, that starts in an electrified station.

Services on the Brentford, Greenford and Marlow branches could probably be run by these three-car battery-electric trains.

If the Class 378 train is too spartan, then there is always other Electrostars.

Just remember, that 4 + 4 = 5 + 3!

Conclusion

Don’t be surprised to see an innovative solution at Greenford.

August 10, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments