The Anonymous Widower

Is Spain Looking Both Ways On Brexit?

This article on the BBC is entitled Spain Brexit: PM Sánchez Threatens To Vote No Over Gibraltar.

The title says it all.

On the other hand, Spanish rail companies seem to be very keen to invest in the UK and also create new and innovative trains for the British market.

  • Amey, which is a subsidiary of the Spanish public company Ferrovial is heavily involved in big projects all over the UK, including the South Wales Metro.
  • The train builder; CAF, is supplying lots of trains and coaches for UK operators and building a factory at Newport in South Wales.
  • Another train builder; Talgo, is on the short list to build the trains for High Speed Two and is proposing to open a factory at Longannet in Scotland and a research centre at Chesterfield

It does appear, that big Spanish companies see the UK as a place to do business.

In connection with the Longannet factory, there is a feature article about the factory in Issue 866 of Rail Magazine.

This is the last paragraph.

As for Brexit, which is known to be a concern for other firms, Talgo said in a statement that its plans were “Brexit-free”, claiming there is a huge potential UK market as well as export opportunities.

The article also says that Talgo need more manufacturing capacity and the brownfield Longannet site, with its space and excellent access by rail and sea, fits their needs.

I also suspect that manufacturing in Scotland will help them secure sales in important English-speaking markets for their innovative high speed trains.

November 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Spaniard In The Works!

Whilst it was pantomime season at Westminster today, with the usual fights over, who would be best at ruining this country, something more important was happening close by.

This article on Rail Magazine is entitled Talgo Names Longannet As Site Of New Train Factory.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Spanish train manufacturer Talgo plans to build trains in Longannet, in Scotland, after confirming that its preferred location for its UK factory will be at the site of the closed power station.

The company made the announcement at Westminster today (November 14), following an 18-month search for a UK site. It also confirmed that a Research and Development site would be built at Chesterfield, although it would not be drawn on the relationship between the two sites.

The article also says.

  • Up to a thousand will be employed at the Scottish site.
  • Construction starts in 2020.
  • Work on trains starts eighteen months later.
  • The factory will cost £40million.
  • The branch line to the power station could be developed and used by passenger trains.
  • The site was chosen because of good access by road, rail and sea.

The article is very much worth reading.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Did Or Does Brexit Affect The Investment?

Talgo are on the short-list for the trains for High Speed Two and have always said, that they would build the trains in the UK.

I suspect that if they were to be dropped from the short-list for High Speed Two or High Speed Two were to be cancelled, these would have a bigger effect. than Brexit.

What Are Talgo’s Strengths?

The company is strong on innovation and their trains are a bit different.

The picture of two of Talgo’s high-speed trains was taken in Seville.

I think it could be an AVE Class 102 train. They are nicknames pato in Spanish, which means duck!

I wonder why?

Talgo also makes trains, that can run on both Spanish and standard gauge, which enables trains to go direct between Madrid and Paris. The company is also targeting export orders in Russia and India.

They are very much an international company.

Why Choose Longannet?

If Talgo should get the order for the classic-compatible trains for High Speed Two, they have said the trains will be manufactured in the UK.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Joint Venture To Bid For HS2 Rolling Stock Contract.

This is an extract.

In November 2017 project promoter HS2 Ltd shortlisted Alstom, Bombardier Transportation UK, Hitachi Rail Europe, Patentes Talgo and Siemens for the rolling stock design, manufacturing and maintenance contract worth an estimated £2·75bn.

This would cover the supply of at least 54 trainsets with a maximum speed of 360 km/h for Phase 1 of HS2 between London and the West Midlands. The ‘classic compatible’ units would be able to run through from the new line onto existing infrastructure to serve destinations including York, Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The formal tendering process is due to start later this year, with the contract expected to be awarded in late 2019 and entry into service planned for 2026.

54 trains for a total of £2.75billion is not a small order.

And that is only this first order, as dedicated trains will be needed as well.

Talgo’s AVE Class 102 train already runs at 330 kph and trains can automatically join and split to make four hundred metre long trains, so they can probably demonstrate a train that would be suitable for High Speed Two.

Having a factory in Scotland would surely be a plus point in the bidding process.

Longannet also will have good access to the ports at Rosyth and Grangemouth, which could be a great help in importing anything from components or complete trains and perhaps exporting carriages and trains to places like Russia, which are easier by sea from Scotland, than from Spain.

Will Talgo Bid For Other Train Contracts?

Talgo have built 125 mph bi-mode trains in the past and there are other franchises that might need such a train.

  • Southeastern to add extra capacity to domestic services on High Speed One and serve Hastings.
  • Cross Country to replace their HSTs.
  • West Coast Main Line to replace Voyagers.
  • Midland Main Line to replace HSTs and Voyagers.

There could be other franchises and routes that could use their trains.

Conclusion

There’s a lot more to this announcement than meets the eye!

 

 

 

 

 

November 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

What Do You Do With An Unwanted Eurostar Train?

In Edition 865 of Rail Magazine, there is a short article which is entitled Eurostar ‘373s’ Leased To Thalys.

This is the first paragraph.

Class 373s that were due to be scrapped have instead been leased to Thalys for a year.

Class 373 trains and Thalys rolling stock are very similar, as both were built by GEC-Alsthom around the same time.

So just as ScotRail borrowed a few Class 365 trains to make up for a shortage, Thalys are borrowing a pair of Class 373 trains.

I wonder if passengers between Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, that they are getting a train, that was destined for the scrapyard?

November 7, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Opening Date Set For Hong Kong Section Of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link

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

From September 23rd, passengers will be able to take 300 kph trains between Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link will give access to the Chinese High Speed Rail network for onward travel to places like Beijing and Shanghai.

I can see a whole new tourism market opening up.

  • Fly to Hong Kong
  • High Speed Rail to Beijing via Guangzhou and other places.
  • Fly Home from Beijing.

Only two long distance flights and a wide-ranging itinerary, without the hassle of airports.

August 29, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Two Platform Stations With 125 mph Trains

Increasingly, we are seeing stations in the UK, where there is only two platforms and trains pass through the station without stopping at 125 mph.

If HS4Air is built, there will be several stations between Gatwick Airport and Ashford, where this will happen.

I must admit, that I don’t like being on a platform, where trains past through, so perhaps it is a personal thing.

With me it’s not just 125 mph trains, but freight trains as well.

But for reasons of safety, I think we could come up with a better design of station.

I shall use Penshurst station on the Redhill to Tonbridge Line as an example.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note that it is very simple with a platform on each line.

Currently, it gets a single train per hour (tph) in both directions.

HS4Air would probably mean that at least another four tph, passed through the station at 125 mph.

Platform-edge doors would be a difficult and expensive solution, but why not make access to the platform only possible, when a train is stopping?

Looking at Penshurst station, this station also needs some more facilities, like a fully accessible footbridge.

The footbridge would be outside the secure area.

For slower passing trains and heavy freight trains, the use of wide platforms and rear access will suffice as these pictures from Hackney Wick station show.

If more stations were built to the rules used at Hackney Wick, the UK’s railways would probably be safer.

August 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

HS4Air Between Gatwick Airport And Ashford

This map clipped from the Expedition Engineering web site, shows the route of HS4Air between Gatwick Airport and Ashford International station.

The route reuses the existing railway between Ashford International and Edenbridge (Kent) stations.

From Gatwick Airport To Edenbridge

This Google Map shows the countryside between Gatwick and Edenbridge.

According to the first map, the Gatwick Tunnel emerges to the East of the M23 Motorway, which runs North-South down the left side of the map.

It probably emerges South of the Airport spur from the M23 and then it would travel on the surface to Edenbridge (Kent) station, which is in the North East corner of the map.

It looks to be a very challenging route, although there are several industrial sites scattered between the M23 and Lingfield, which is perhaps halfway between the motorway and Edenbridge.

This Google Map shows Edenbridge (Kent) station with the Redhill-Tonbridge Line passing through.

It would appear that the engineering could be reasonably attainable, but getting the natives on-side might not be so easy.

It’s not as though the residents between Edenbridge and Gatwick will get much benefit from HS4Air.

From Edenbridge To Ashford

This line has the following characteristics.

  • It is around forty miles long.
  • It is almost straight.
  • It is double track.
  • There are several stops.
  • There is a maximum speed of 100 mph

It doesn’t appear to have many more than about four trains per hour (tph) in both directions.

Very little has been said about how HS4Air will transform the line, except that it will be upgraded to a high speed line.

The only information of value is that Ashford to Gatwick will take 25 minutes.

How far would a train go in that time at various speeds?

  • 100 mph – 42 miles
  • 125 mph – 52 miles
  • 140 mph – 58 miles

As the route between Edenbridge and Gatwick is probably around a dozen miles, it would appear that a well-designed 125 mph route could enable the time quoted by HS4Air.

Local Stations On The High Speed Line

I’ll take Penshurst station as an example.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note that it is very simple with a platform on each line.

Currently, it gets a single tph in both directions.

HS4Air would probably mean that at least another four tph, passed through the station at 125 mph.

It could be argued that this could cause safety problems.

On the other hand, there are many stations in the UK, where local trains stop and expresses go through at 125 mph.

Platform-edge doors would be a difficult and expensive solution, but why not make access to the platform only possible, when a train is stopping?

Looking at Penshurst station, this station also needs some more facilities, like a fully accessible footbridge.

Conclusion

The Gatwick to Ashford section can be converted into a 125 mph route,  which would give a time of 25 minutes between the two stations.

However, I do think there will have to be a lot of political leverage to get it built.

July 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

How Would HS4Air Affect The Western Rail Approach to Heathrow?

The Western Rail Approach to Heathrow (WRAtH), is a proposed new rail route to Heathrow from Reading and Slough.

It has a similar objective to HS4Air’s connection to the Great Western Main Line at Iver.

Both railways would connect Reading and Slough to stations in the Airport.

But in my view the HS4Air approach has several advantages.

  • HS4Air connects to both Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Ashford, whereas WRAtH only connects to Heathrow.
  • It would connect high speed trains from Bristol, Cardiff, Oxford, South Wales and the West of England to Heathrow, Gatwick and Ashford for Continental services.
  • As an example a direct Cardiff-Ashford service would take three hours twenty minutes.
  • Trains would be faster, with an operating speed between Reading and Heathrow of at least 140 mph.

But perhaps most importantly, HS4Air could be a totally privately-funded project.

Conclusion

I feel Network Rail’s proposal for a Western Rail Approach to Heathrow is not needed, if HS4Air is built.

 

July 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Plans Revealed For £10bn High-Speed Railway To Connect Britain’s Busiest Airports, HS1 and HS2

The title of this post is the same as this article on Global Rail News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Developers are submitting plans for a new high-speed line to the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) in response to a call for market-led proposals.

Named ‘HS4Air’, the proposed £10 billion railway will connect HS1 at Ashford to HS2 North West of London with stops at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and a spur connection to the Great Western main line.

This map from Expedition Engineering shows the route.

To minimise environmental disruption, the following should be noted.

  • There is a North-South tunnel under Heathrow Airport.
  • HS4Air follows the M25 to the South-West of London.
  • Several miles of the route between Heathrow and Gatwick is in tunnel to the West of Horsham.
  • There is a West-East tunnel under Gatwick Airport.
  • The Ashford to Tonbridge Line would become part of HS4Air.

There will also be stations at Ashford, Tonbridge, Gatwick and Heathrow.

This further diagram from Expedition Engineering shows the various possible routes.

Note the following about HS4Air.

  • Four major airports; Gatwick, Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester, will be connected to the Channel Tunnel.
  • Wikipedia suggests, that the line could be extended to a reopened Manston Airport.
  • A Paris to Manchester passenger service via Gatwick, Heathrow and Birmingham, is proposed.
  • High-speed connecting services from Cardiff, Oxford and Manchester to Ashford are proposed.
  • HS2’s major interchanges of Birmingham International and Crewe, are served.
  • Freight routes from Liverpool and Southampton to the Channel Tunnel will be enabled.

It looks a good basis to connect the rest of the UK to the services through the Channel Tunnel.

The article also gives some sample journey times.

  • Ashford-Gatwick: 25 minutes
  • Manchester-Heathrow: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Heathrow-Gatwick: 15 minutes;
  • Cardiff-Heathrow: 1 hour 40 mins
  • Birmingham-Paris: 3 hours
  • Manchester-Paris: 3 hours 40 minutes (My Estimate)

Intriguingly, the Manchester-Paris time, is the same as Eurostar’s current time between London and Amsterdam.

Conclusion

The plan seems to be well-thought out and it gives a good increase in connectivity from Wales, the West Country and the Midlands and North of England to Heathrow, Gatwick and the Channel Tunnel.

But I can see a few problems.

  • Will the residents of the North Downs accept a high-speed railway through their area?
  • If freight routes from Liverpool and Southampton to the Channel Tunnel are established, will residents object to masses of noisy freight trains?
  • Will there be pressure for more tunnels?

On the other hand Expedition Engineering are saying that needed extensions to the UK’s electricity grid can be laid underground along the same route.

July 25, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

ERTMS Rollout Between London-Paris-Brussels Agreed

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

This is the first paragraph.

An agreement has been reached by the infrastructure managers of the high-speed railway between London, Paris and Brussels – one of Europe’s busiest routes – to coordinate the rollout of European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).

Rollout of ERTMS on these important routes must surely be a good idea, if it can enable extra and faster services on these busy routes.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getlink Pushes Budget Train Service Between London And Paris To Rival Eurostar

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on I-News.

Getlink is the infrastructure company, who actually own the tunnel and they have commissioned research into the idea, as this paragraph indicates.

Currently, Eurostar trips take around 2.2o hours and depart from St Pancras. The new link between Stratford and Paris would take just over three hours, but 25-30 per cent lower operating costs would mean lower fares for passengers. The numbers come from consultancy firm Roland Berger, and was commissioned by Getlink.

Elsewhere, the article says that the service will go to Roissy, which would be convenient for Charles de Gaulle Airport.

I do wonder, if someone has their eye on a couple of Eurostar’s retired Class 373 trains.

In 2011, I posted  about an idea for a Trans Manche Metro.

 

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment