The Anonymous Widower

The Vivarail Fast Charge System At West Ealing – 7th November 2022

I went to West Ealing station today and took these pictures.

At last, it seems something is happening.

Note the concrete pads on the other side of the track for the bay platform. There appear to be eight pads, which could be to support the containers that will hold the Vivarail Fast Charge System.

November 9, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 8 Comments

Are Finally Battery-Electric Trains Going To Enter Service?

In the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there are three articles about battery-electric trains on four different routes.

The technology has been a long-term arriving, as I had my first ride in a battery-electric train in February 2015, which I wrote about in Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?.

What kept it so long?

May 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Vivarail Fast Charge System At West Ealing – 4th May 2022

This article on Rail Business UK is entitled UK Railway News Round-Up.

This is the first section.

Vivarail has awarded Sella Controls a contract to supply of Tracklink III Readers and beacons for GWR’s Class 230 battery train fast charging trial on the Greenford branch. As the train enters the station one beacon will initiate the deployment of the train collectors for charging, and another beacon will trigger the charging process when the train is in the correct position.

I went to West Ealing station today and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. The bay platform is Platform 5.
  2. I couldn’t see any signs of any Tracklink III Readers.
  3. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that two Class 230 trains could fit in Platform 5.

I took these pictures of the station in April 2021.

It does appear by comparing the pictures, that the biggest change is that the area on the far side of the track in Platform 5, which has been cleared.

May 4, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Battery Train And Fast Charger To Be Tested In London

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

This is the first paragraph.

Great Western Railway has signed an agreement to test Vivarail’s Class 230 battery multiple-unit and fast charging technology under real-world conditions on the 4 km non-electrified branch between West Ealing and Greenford in West London.

As an engineer, who started designing control systems for rolling mills in the mid-1960s and went on to get a Degree in Control and Electrical Engineering from Liverpool University, before working for ICI applying computers to a variety of problems, I can’t look at a railway line like the Greenford Branch without wanting to automate it.

I had one amateurish attempt in An Automated Shuttle Train On The Greenford Branch Line. I was trying to get four trains per hour (tph) on the branch and I don’t think that is possible, with the Class 230 trains.

Now we know the train we are dealing with, I could plan an automated system, that would drive the train.

  • Each journey on the branch takes around 11-12 minutes.
  • Two tph would take between 44 and 48 minutes shuttling between the two stations in an hour.
  • The article states that recharging takes ten minutes.
  • If the train charged the batteries once per hour, that would leave between two and six minutes for the other three stops.
  • Any freight train using the branch seems to take about six minutes, so they could sneak through, when the shuttle is having a fast charge.
  • I would also use a similar system to that originally used on the Victoria Line. After the driver has closed the doors and ascertained that there were no problems, they would press a button to move the train to the next station and then automatically open the doors.

From this rough calculation to run a two tph service, I suspect that the train needs to be able to go between West Ealing and Greenford stations in ten minutes. Assuming one ten minute Fast Charge per hour, this would give three minutes and twenty seconds to turn the train, at the three terminal station stops.

I certainly feel, that an automatic shuttle would be possible.

February 16, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Does Anybody Know Of A Shuttle Train Without A Timetable?

In Very Light Rail – A Revolution, I suggested that automated shuttle trains could be run between West Ealing and Greenford on the Greenford Branch.

Trains would not run to a timetable, but when they were ready and the line was clear, they would move to the next station.

I suspect the safest way would be for when the driver had a green signal and the doors were closed, they just pressed a button which told the train to proceed to the next station.

I believe this was the system, that was used when the Victoria Line was opened in 1968.

It has its advantages.

  • On average passengers don’t have to wait so long.
  • If the driver sees a group of passengers coming, he can delay the train for a minute or so until they have got on.
  • If perhaps a passenger in a wheelchair is having a bit of difficulty, he can wait.
  • If, as on the Greenford Branch, another train needs to come through, the shuttle train can park up in a platform and continue operating after the second train has cleared. Separation between the lightweight passenger train and any other train is maintained at all times.

But the biggest advantage is that you get more trains per hour (tph).

I know that cable cars, cliff railways, funiculars and of course lifts often work without a timetable, but does anybody know of a rail line, that works without one?

January 12, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Very Light Rail – A Revolution

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

It is a good explanation of what very light rail is all about and the design concepts behind the first vehicle, which is called Revolution.

My feeling is that Any Very Light Rail vehicle should be able to run a short branch line route as capably as a Class 153 train.

But hopefully with better passenger and driver comfort and facilities.

  • The speed of Revolution is 65 mph and that of a Class 153 train is 75 mph, so is that close enough?
  • I would hope that Revolution has better acceleration as it has an electric transmission.
  • Revolution has 56 seats and a wheelchair space and is PRM-compliant, whereas the Class 153 train has a few more seats and only some are PRM-compliant.
  • Revolution has wi-fi and power sockets and most Class 153 trains don’t.

The quality of the seats and the view from the trains will probably be the tie-breaker.

The article doesn’t say, but surely they would find more applications, if they could run in pairs, do they might be able to replace a two-car Class 150 train.

Reading the whole article gives me the impression, that the designers have done thorough job to design a lightweight train, that both passengers and drivers will like.

I will reserve my judgement until I see and ride one of these trains.

An Automated Shuttle Train

In An Automated Shuttle Train On The Greenford Branch Line, I proposed an automated shuttle on the Greenford branch.

The Greenford Branch Line has the following features.

  • It is 2.5 miles long.
  • It is double-track.
  • It is not electrified.
  • There is a single platform station at both ends with three intermediate stations.
  • The service frequency is two tph.
  • Trains take 11-12 minutes to go between the two terminals.
  • Freight trains also use the line.

To run the ideal four tph, trains would need to do a round trip between West Ealing and Greenford in fifteen minutes.

Suppose the Revolution vehicle was automated with the driver having a supervisory role.

  • The train would shuttle between West Ealing and Greenford, leaving each station, when it was ready, so as many trips as possible were performed.
  • On seeing a green signal, the driver would tell the train to proceed top the other station, if they knew it to be safe.
  • If a freight train needed to come through, the shuttle train would stay in either West Ealing or Greenford stations out of the way protected by the signalling, until the freight train had cleared the track.
  • Freight trains and the shuttle would never be on the same piece of track at the same time, which would greatly aid safety.

I suspect that at least three trains would go between the two stations in every hour, with perhaps four in the Peak.

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 9 Comments

Wallingford Station: Historic Railway Canopy Finds New Home

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

A historic canopy over a railway station platform that was in danger of being junked has found a new home.

The structure at Maidenhead in Berkshire had to be taken down because of electrification works needed for the Crossrail scheme.

It was painstakingly relocated to Wallingford Station in Oxfordshire and restored over seven years.

Judging by the comments in the article, it sounds like a job well done!

These paragraphs give the comments of TV historian; Tim Dunn.

TV historian Tim Dunn, who was present at the unveiling, called the canopy “one of a kind”.

“The fact that it’s been brought up bit by bit and rebuilt finally gives this railway a portal to the rest of the town,” he added.

“This is a brand new entrance to Wallingford.”

Does Tim Dunn imply anything more by the final statement?

Is There A Possibility Of The Restoration Of A Passenger Service Between Cholsey And Wallingford?

Consider these factors.

Great Western Railway Seem To Have a Policy Of Developing Their Branch Lines

In GWR To Test Battery Train On Branch Line, I said this.

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Business UK.

This is the first paragraph.

Great Western Railway has invited expressions of interest in trialling a battery powered train on the 4 km non-electrified branch line from West Ealing to Greenford in west London.

The article says that Vivarail have made a previous proposal, but other companies are also likely to declare their interest.

Later in the related article, Mark Hopwood, who is Managing Director of Great Western Railway, indicated that they were looking for a modern zero-carbon solution for all of the branch lines, which they doubt would ever be electrified.

If GWR had a fleet of battery trains, then they could probably handle the two-and-a-half miles of the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway, provided the traffic was there, to make the service worthwhile.

Wallingford

Wallingford is a town of nearly twelve thousand inhabitants and many smaller towns and villages in England, have a regular rail service.

Cholsey Station

Cholsey station has two trains per hour (tph) between Paddington and Didcot Parkway stations, with extra services between Oxford and Reading stations in the Peaks.

This Google Map shows Cholsey station.

Note.

  1. Four through platforms for Great Western Railway services.
  2. Platforms 1 and 2 for the fast services are on the Western side.
  3. Platforms 3 and 4 for the slow services are on the Eastern side.
  4. Bay Platform 5 is tucked in the North-East corner of the station and is the terminus for services on the Cholsey And Wallingford Railway.
  5. There are only 55 parking spaces.

Is the number of parking spaces sufficient for the station, if a lot of passengers drive from Wallingford?

Could Battery-Electric Trains Handle The Service Between Cholsey And Wallingford?

As GWR has decided to look for battery-electric trains for their branch lines and this is only a five mile round trip, I think we can assume, that the battery-electric trains of the type, that Great Western Railway chooses, will be able to work this branch.

Intriguingly, the Greenford Branch Line is also 2.5 miles long and a round trip takes under thirty minutes, although the service is only hourly.

I feel that a well-driven single battery-electric train can provide two tph on the branch.

Charging would probably be needed at only one end of the branch line.

As all the through lines at Cholsey station are electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires, I suspect that charging would be provided at that station.

Conclusion

I think it would be possible to provide a two tph service on the Cholsey and Wallingford branch line, using a battery-electric train.

July 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

GWR To Test Battery Train On Branch Line

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Business UK.

This is the first paragraph.

Great Western Railway has invited expressions of interest in trialling a battery powered train on the 4 km non-electrified branch line from West Ealing to Greenford in west London.

The article says that Vivarail have made a previous proposal, but other companies are also likely to declare their interest.

I feel some unexpected proposals could turn up.

The reason would be commercial,.

This is the last paragraph of the article, which says this.

The challenge on Great Western is we’ve got branches like Greenford, Windsor, Marlow and Henley along the Thames valley, and then in the West Country we’ve got St Ives, Falmouth, Newquay, Looe, Gunnislake and so on’, said Hopwood. ‘If we don’t electrify those could we fit the trains with a battery?’ The ideal solution may be a train that fast charges either at one end of the route or possibly at both ends, or on a route like Marlow, Gunnislake or Looe, where the trains reverse during their journey, could the charge point even be on that part of the branch?’

Note.

  1. Mark Hopwood is now the Managing Director of GWR.
  2. Nine branches are mentioned, so with spare trains and maintenance, it could be a good-sized order.

But this project could be even bigger.

South Western Railway are a sister company of Great Western Railway and in August 2020, I wrote Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line about the plans to open the Fawley Line.

This was a section, I wrote about trains that might work the line.

South Western Railway’s Innovative Train Plan

This is another quote from the article.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

This is the same Mark Hopwood, who is now Managing Director of GWR.

These pictures show the current status of one of the twenty-four Class 456 train.

In Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains I discuss this conversion in detail.

Conclusion

Twenty-four battery-electric Class 456 trains would probably go a long way to satisfy GWR’s needs.

June 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

West Ealing Station Goes Step-Free As Part Of Crossrail Upgrades

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Ian Visits.

The title says it all.

These pictures, which were taken on the 31st March 2021, show West Ealing station.

Note

  1. It is fully step-free.
  2. As at Acton Main Line station, the lifts are very disabled-friendly.
  3. The terrible staircases of the old station have yet to be demolished.
  4. There is just a small amount of work to finish.

It is a fine addition to London’s portfolio of stations.

But one thing is not covered in the article – What is going to happen to the Greenford Branch?

I think I would favour the automated shuttle! But then I’m a trained Control Engineer.

  • Two-car battery electric train.
  • Option of being lengthened to three cars.
  • I suspect Alstom, CAF, Stadler and Vivarail could all provide trains.
  • There would be level access between train and platform to reduce station dwell times.
  • Automated like the Victoria Line, where when ready to depart, the driver presses a button to close the doors and then the train moves automatically to the next station.
  • The driver could sit in the middle of the train with screens to see front and rear, so they wouldn’t even have to change ends, which wastes time.
  • Or they might choose to sit in the front cab or even use a sophisticated remote control, developed with gaming or military drone experience.
  • Charging would be automatic at both terminals.
  • One train would run a continuous service with a timetable, which just said services would be a service approximately every fifteen minutes
  • Trains would have wi-fi and passengers could view front and rear camera images on their devices.
  • Trains would be stabled at night in one of the two terminal platforms and could have a spruce up each night from a mobile or the station cleaning crew.
  • Trains might need to have sufficient performance to run a service into and out of Paddington, at the beginning and end of the day. But if Crossrail services were reliable and six tph, this feature could be superfluous. But other services might need a main line capability at say 60 or 70 mph to relocate to and from the main depot.
  • On the Greenford Branch, signallers and/or the driver would need the ability to park the train in the next terminal station, when a freight train is passing through.

Get this automated branch line right and the technology could be used in several places around the UK.

 

 

April 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

West Ealing Station – 12th October 2020

These pictures show the current state of West Ealing station.

A few of my thoughts.

The Size Of The Station

It is not small!

Will The Current Entrance Be Retained?

From the outside the original entrance looks to be in good condition.

Will it be retained?

I think it won’t be as the stairs are a bit of an accident waiting to happen.

Electrification Of The Greenford Branch

If the Greenford Branch is going to be electrified, the last picture shows that gantries and headspan wires are in place over the Western end of Platform 5.

The electrification could be fixed to the new station building, if it were to be electrified.

Power would not be a problem, as a main sub-station for Crossrail and the Great Western Main Line is nearby.

In Could Class 165 HyDrive Trains Be The Solution To The Greenford Branch?, I showed that a train with better acceleration could provide four trains per hour (tph) on the Greenford Branch.

I feel that a pair of powerful two-car battery electric trains could  provide four tph on the branch.

  • They would charge using a short length of 25 KVAC overhead electrification in Platform 5 at West Ealing station.
  • The route is only 2.5 miles.
  • Recharging time wouldn’t be very long, as the battery wouldn’t be enormous.

In Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line, the Managing Director of South Western Railway; Mark Hopwood is quoted as saying, that their Class 456 trains could be converted to two-car battery trains. Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains discusses this conversion in detail.

A two-car Class 456 train equipped with batteries and the ability to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, would be ideal for the branch and could probably provide four tph.

Conclusion

This station is starting to look like a quality station for Crossrail.

October 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 6 Comments