The Anonymous Widower

Ashington Targets 2023 Opening

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the April 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the sub-title.

A half-hourly service to Newcastle is planned.

The two trains per hour (tph) service and the opening date sounds just what is needed. Not just on the Northumberland Line, but in many places in the UK.

I would suggest some of the following.

There are also some much-needed stations, that could be added.

If we can create and manufacture a vaccine in a year, we can surely do a lot on a rail project in two years. And a lot of them! How many construction firms and workers would it keep employed?

The Modern Railways article gives a few more details.

How, Not If

This is the title of the first sub-section and sounds good to me!

It looks like Network Rail and others intend to apply good project management to deliver the project, fast and at a good price.

They haven’t been the best in the past, is all I’ll say!

Six Stations

This is said.

In summary, six new stations are proposed, at Northumberland Park (interchange with the Tyne and Wear Metro), Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington and Ashington. An extension at the Northern end to Woodhorn is possible at a later stage.

Other points made include.

  • Ashington is envisaged as the terminus.
  • There are level crossing issues between Ashington and Woodhorn
  • There will be a cycleway connecting Blyth Bebside with the town centre. With all those B’s, they need an Geordie equivalent to Boris bikes!

It sounds well-thought out to me.

Butterwell Freight Line

This is said.

Also for consideration at a later stage is conversion of the currently freight-only Butterwell Line to passenger use, permitting a service from Berwick-on-Tweed and Morpeth to Newcastle via Bedlington.

This Google Map shows the railway lines North of Ashington.

Note.

  1. The big grey building at the bottom of the map is Asda’s Ashington superstore.
  2. There is a rail junction to the West of the superstore.
  3. The line going South leds to Bedlington and Newcastle.
  4. The line going North-East goes to Woodhorn, Lynemouth Power station and the Alcan Smelter.
  5. The Line going North West through the trees is the Butterwell Line, which goes to the Butterwell Opencast coal mine, Widdrington station and up the East Coast Main Line to Berwick-on-Tweed.

This second Google Map shows to the North of the first one.

Note the Butterwell Line runs from the South East corner of the map through the woods and to the East of the Ellington landfill site.

This third Google Map shows the route of the line to the East Coast Main Line.

Note.

  1. The electrified East Coast Main Line runs North-South down the Western site of the map.
  2. The large fields may indicate that coal has been removed and they have been restored.
  3. The Butterwell Line meanders its way across the map.
  4. Trains would appear to be able to enter and leave the Butterwell Line to or from the East Coast Main Line to and from the South only.
  5. The next station to the South is Pegswood and to the North is Widdrington.
  6. At the East of the map, the line connects to the line to Ashington through the woods.
  7. The Butterwell Line appears to be a mix of single and double track.

I wonder if Network Rail and train companies have a cunning plan for train services on this section of the East Coast Main Line.

Current services on the East Coast Main Line, that use the section of the line between Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed include.

  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Newcastle and Edinburgh/Glasgow – Stops irregularly at Alnmouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed.
  • East Coast Trains – 5 trains per day (tpd) – Stops at Morpeth
  • LNER – 1 tph – Newcastle and Edinburgh – Stops at Berwick-on-Tweed
  • Northern Trains – 1 tph – Newcastle and Morpeth – Stops at Manors and Cramlington
  • Northern Trains – 2 tpd – Newcastle and Chathill – Stops at Manors, Cramlington, Morpeth, Pegswood, Widdrington, Acklington and Alnmouth
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Newcastle and Edinburgh – Stops at Morpeth

Note.

  1. Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed get at least one fast tph to both Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  2. Stations between Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed get only a two tpd service.
  3. Stations between Newcastle and Morpeth get a 1 tph service.
  4. The East Coast Main Line is only two tracks and I suspect that Northern’s slow diesel multiple units are not ideal trains for the route.

The obvious improvement would surely be to run an hourly train between Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed, via Bedlington.

  • It would stop at Northumberland Park, Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington, Ashington, Pegswood, Morpeth, Pegswood, Widdrington, Acklington and Alnmouth.
  • There would be a reverse at Morpeth.
  • It would join the East Coast Main Line between Pegswood and Widdrington stations.
  • Trains could be timed, so that passengers between Cramlington and Alnmouth only waited a couple of minutes during change at Morpeth.
  • Faster trains would be used to ease train pathing on the East Coast Main Line.

Current fastest times between Newcastle, Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed are as follows.

  • Berwick-on-Tweed and Newcastle – LNER – 67 miles – 46 minutes – 87 mph
  • Berwick-on-Tweed and Morpeth – LNER – 50.2 miles – 30 minutes – 100.4 mph
  • Morpeth and Newcastle – TransPennine Express- 17.5 miles – 26 minutes – 40.4 mph

It looks to me that because of the times North of Morpeth, that a high performance train or some cunning signalling will be needed.

Britishvolt’s Gigaplant

BritishVolt are building a factory to produce lithium-ion batteries at Blyth.

The Modern Railways article says this.

Recent news concerning Blyth is that it has been selected as the site for Britain’s first ‘gigaplant’ for electric car battery production, with a planning application for the 95-hectare site on the north of the river Blyth (the location of the former Blyth power station) submitted by Britishvolt in February. The £2.6billion scheme is expected to generate about 3000 jobs; if all goes well, lithium-ion batteries could be produced on the site by the end of 2023. The new factory will be about 2.5 miles from Bebside station and there has been talk of linking to the site with a shuttle bus.

I looked at Britishvolt’s web site and if I was graduating soon, I don’t think it would fire me up, unlike others in similar sectors.

We live in exciting times, so don’t have a boring web site, as it will not attract exciting and enthusiastic people.

This Google Map shows the Port of Blyth.

Note.

  1. The red arrow at the top of the map labelled as a former power station, which must be Blyth power station.
  2. There is certainly a large cleared site to the South of the arrow.
  3. The Port of Blyth is to the East.
  4. Because of the power station and the port the site could be rail connected fairly easily.

Britishvolt seem to be planning to use rail freight to bring in raw materials and take out finished product.

The Modern Railways article says this.

The new factory will be about 2.5 miles from Bebside station and there has been talk of linking to the site with a shuttle bus.

As there is a rail connection, at some point in the future could a shuttle train be used? Or perhaps a few trains per day between the factory and Newcastle.

A Bridge For The A1061 At Newsham

The Modern Railways article says this.

A new road bridge will be built on the A1061 to replace Newsham level crossing.

This Google Map shows where the Northumberland Line crosses the A1061 at the level crossing at Newsham.

Note.

  1. The railway is double-track through the level crossing.
  2. It doesn’t appear to be a challenging project.
  3. A bridge could either be built along the existing route or a few metres to the South.

But as it looks like there could be more housing development in the area, would a bold design, that would allow a station to be added later be better?

Two Footbridges

The Modern Railways article says this.

In addition, there will be two new footbridges; Palmersville Dairy (replacing Palmersville foot crossing) and Chase Meadows (replacing Chase Meadows foot crossing).

This Google Map shows the Palmersville foot crossing to the West of Palmersville station on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Note.

  1. The Northern pair of tracks are the Tyne and Wear Metro.
  2. The Southern pair of Tracks are the Northumberland Line.
  3. Palmersville and Northumberland Park stations are to the East.
  4. The current foot crossing is shown over the Northumberland Line.

It would appear that there is plenty of space for a footbridge.

Two Trains Per Hour

The Modern Railways article says this about infrastructure improvements to enable two trains per hour.

An extension of the double-track south from Newsham, for about 1 km in the direction of Seaton Delaval, along with a new 2.4 km passing loop between Holywell and Seghill, are in place in order to permit a half-hourly service in both directions.

From the maps, it looks like about half the route between Northumberland Park station and Seghill will be double-track.

It may even be possible to extend the double-track further South towards Northumberland Park station, if there became a need to run more trains on the Northumberland Line.

Operations

The Modern Railways article says this.

It is assumed that Class 158 DMUs will be the rolling stock for the first couple of years of service to Ashington, with three or four units required. Conversion of these trains (or replacement with new) to allow battery-electric operation is envisaged for the later years of this decade. There will be provision for two-car services at the outset with passive provision for extension to four-cars in the infrastructure works.

In Trains: £34m For Revival Of 50-Year-Old North-East Railway Line, I felt that the Hitachi Regional Battery Trains would be ideal for this route.

I said this.

I’m drawn inextricably to the conclusion, that the trains should be 100 mph battery-electric trains.

Hitachi, who have a factory in the North-East, have announced their Regional Battery Train in July 2020, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

These trains can be based on Class 385 trains.

    • They are 100 mph trains.
    • They come in three- and four-cars lengths.
    • The three-car trains have 206 seats.
    • They can work in pairs.
    • They can use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
    • They have a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles on battery power.
    • The batteries would be charged on the ECML between Benton North junction and Newcastle station.
    • The battery packs will be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation in Sunderland.
    • They have big windows for the views.

I’m sure Hitachi, Hyperdrive and Britishvolt would like a fleet in service, just up the road from their factories.

Now that the extension to between Ashington and Berwick-upon-Tweed via Morpeth is being talked about, I suspect that battery-electric trains, will be ideal for this route.

Distances without electrification of the two routes are as follows.

  • Benton North Junction and Ashington – 19 miles – 38 miles round trip
  • Benton North Junction and Widdrington – 27 miles

These distances are well within the planned range of the Hitachi Regional Battery Trains and they would even be capable of working a round trip to Ashington without charging at the Northern end of the route.

Batteries can be charged on the East Coast Main Line on the following sections of the route.

  • Between Benton North Junction and Newcastle.
  • Between Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed stations.

Their fast acceleration and 100 mph operating speed mean that it could keep out of the way of the 140 mph Hitachi trains North of Morpeth.

Calling At Manors Station

The Modern Railways article says that because the East Coast Main Line is so busy, some peak services may have to omit the call at Manors station in the suburbs of Newcastle that is envisaged for the off-peak services.

I wonder with their faster acceleration, if the Hitachi Regional Battery Trains would be able to handle the stop at Manors station for all services.

Development At Ashington

The Modern Railways article gives this quote from Network Rail’s manager for the reopening project.

For instance in the centre of Ashington there’s a rather grim 1960s tower block that is owned by the county council that could be replaced by something more appropriate to today’s needs. This is Wansbeck Square in the centre of the town; the square is in line to be remodelled to make it more attractive. The integrated station and development need to be delivered at the same time for maximum impact.

This Google Map shows the Northerland Line going through the centre of the town of Ashington.

Note.

  1. Station Road running East-West .across the top of the map.
  2. The 1960s block could be to the West of the railway, especially as the Southern part is labelled Northumberland County Council.
  3. The site to the West of the railway does appear to be quite large.

The new station and the Wansbeck Square site does look look to have strong development potential.

 

 

 

April 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – Firsby And Louth

This is one of the Round 3 bids of Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

The Proposed Route

This route was part of the historic East Lincolnshire Railway, which is shown in this diagram from Wikipedia.


Note.

  1. North of Louth, the line used to connect to Grimsby Town, Immingham and Cleethorpes.
  2. The loop that goes through Mablethorpe.
  3. Boston is to the South.
  4. The Poacher Line between Boston and Skegness is the only section that is still open.

These Google Maps show sections and features of the route.

North From Spilsby Road Level Crossing

The Spilsby Road level crossing is in the South-West corner, with the track of the old railway between Firsby and Louth going to the North-East.

Junction With The Poacher Line

This is an enlargement of the South-West corner of the map.

  • The Spilsby Road level crossing can be seen.
  • The Poacher Line does a loop and goes South-East on its way to Skegness.
  • It looks like Firsby station was quite important, with three platforms and lots of facilities.

A junction could be built here to connect the Firsby and Louth line to the Poacher Line.

Would a station built between the lines, be possible to provide interchange between the Louth and Skegness trains?

Willoughby Station

Note.

  1. The scar of the East Lincolnshire Railway can be followed from the South-East corner to the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The green scar of the Mablethorpe loop can be seen branching off from the East Lincolnshire Railway to the North-East corner of the map.

Could a station be rebuilt at Willoughby?

Alford And Alford Town Station

Note.

  1. The green scar of the East Lincolnshire Railway can be can be followed from the South-East corner to the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The town is Alford
  3. If you click on the map to enlarge it, you can see Station Road, which must have been the location of Alford Town station.

I would have thought a station would be needed.

Straight Between Alford And Louth

Note.

  1. The green scar of the East Lincolnshire Railway can be can be followed from the South-East corner to the North-West corner of the map.
  2. There are three stations on this section; Aby for Claythorpe, Authorpe and Legbourne Road.

This section would appear to be a rail engineer’s dream.

How many stations would be needed?

Louth

Note.

  1. The green scar of the East Lincolnshire Railway can be can be followed from the South-East corner to the North edge of the map.
  2. Louth is the largest town in Lincolnshire without a station.

It could be difficult to thread the line through the town.

Onward To Grimsby

 

The map shows the final section of the route between Louth and Grimsby.

Note that from North of New Waltham, the track bed has been used for Peeks Parkway.

Does this mean that any reopened rail line between Firsby and Louth must end at New Waltham or Louth?

Grimsby Town Station And Centre

Note.

  1. Grimsby Town station is in the West.
  2. The rail line between Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes stations runs across the map.
  3. Peeks Parkway runs up the East side of the map.
  4. It looks to me, that this was once a large triangular junction, that also allowed trains to go between Grimsby Town an Louth stations.

Grimsby town centre seems to have been planned for cars and losers without cars can go elsewhere.

Thoughts On The Firsby And Louth Rail Link

I have a few thoughts on the possible design of a rail link between Firsby and Louth.

Should The Line Allow Freight Trains?

It might be a future need that freight trains will need to go between say Peterborough and Immingham, but I don’t think any use that route at present.

So other than the occasional maintenance train, I think the route could be freight-free at present.

Should The Line Terminate at Grimsby?

Consider.

  • Grimsby is a town of 88,000
  • It is a large centre for food processing, which needs large numbers of people.
  • Grimsby is becoming an increasing important centre for the development of renewable energy.
  • Grimsby and Boston are nearly fifty miles apart, which illustrates that Lincolnshire is not a small county.

I believe in a perfect world, Grimsby would have an hourly train service to Boston via Louth and several other stops.

Terminating at Louth rather than Grimsby would be like terminating all trans pennine services at Leeds.

So how would a line terminate at Grimsby?

  • The missing side of the triangular junction could be rebuilt, so that traIns could run between Grimsby Town and Louth stations.
  • Trains could terminate at a new Grimsby South station on the outskirts of the town.
  • Trains could continue through Grimsby Docks station and terminate at Cleethorpes. with possibly an additional station in Grimsby town centre.

There is always an innovative tram-train solution, where with a small amount of street running, they sneaked into the town centre and called at Grimsby Town station and the major places people needed to visit.

This solution has been proposed for Ipswich and Felixstowe by East West Rail to increase the capacity on the Felixstowe Branch. I wrote about this scheme in Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?.

It would be challenging, but I think that it might be possible.

Failing that, I believe that a single-track could be sneaked along Peeks Parkway and go through the town centre to Grimsby Docks and Cleethorpes. stations.

The distance between Cleethorpes and New Waltham is about 7 miles.

A train would probably take about ten minutes.

Any town centre station could be a single platform.

Would An Hourly Service Be Enough?

An hourly service between Boston and Louth would probably be enough, but in an ideal world two trains per hour (tph) would probably be better.

  • A single-track section between New Waltham and Cleethorpes could probably handle four tph working bi-directionally.
  • Two tph is also regularly handled on single platform stations, like Galashiels and Newcourt.
  • The long straight sections of the route offer lots of scope for loops.

My feeling, is the service should start hourly, but that it can be designed to be upgraded to two tph. Or it could even work at two tph at certain times of the day.

Could Boston and Cleethorpes Be Run In Fifty Minutes?

Consider.

  • This time would be ideal for a service as it would give ten minutes to turn the trains at both ends.
  • Boston and Cleethorpes would be the longest service that would be run and it is 50 miles.
  • Fifty minutes would need an average speed including stops of 60 mph.
  • Ipswich and Cambridge is run at an average of 43.2 mph with seven stops.
  • The straight and flat Breckland Line has an operating speed of between 75 and 90 mph.
  • Trains between Cambridge and Norwich average 53 mph with six stops.

I believe that the Firsby and Louth line could be built with an operating speed of up to 90 mph and fifty minutes between Boston and Cleethorpes could be possible.

Will Firsby And Louth Be Single Track?

I believe that the route can be single track with one platform stations.

This will save both space and costs and would probably allow two tph with careful design.

As there are long straight sections to the North of Alford, I suspect it wouldn’t be difficult to add passing loops, if they were required.

What Rolling Stock Would Be Used?

Lincolnshire is a renewable energy-rich county and because of offshore wind and the HumberZero project, Lincolnshire will probably have more wind power and green hydrogen per head of population, than any other area of the UK.

So undoubtedly, the trains will be zero carbon, which means, electrification, battery electric or hydrogen trains.

If new trains are in the budget, then the obvious candidate is the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

The specification is given in this Hitachi infographic.

Note that it is a 100 mph train with a range of 56 miles.

It would need to be charged at both ends of the route.

In Cleethorpes Station – 16th September 2020, I suggested that electrification be added between Cleethorpes and Habrough stations should be electrified, so Cleethorpes and Manchester services could be run by Hitachi Regional Battery Trains.

This electrification could be used to charge the trains at Cleethorpes or a charging system could be installed.

This Google Map shows Boston station.

Note.

  • The station has only two platforms.
  • It looks like there were two North-facing bay platforms.

A charging system would be added to charge the trains.

The other obvious train for the route, would be Alstom’s Class 600 train, which is powered by hydrogen.

This is a visualisation of the train.

The specification has not been published yet, so there is no idea of the operating speed, although the range will be several hundred miles.

I speculated about the train in Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon.

  • There will be plenty of hydrogen available in Lincolnshire if the Humber Zero project goes to plan.
  • Trains may be able to do several trips between refuelling.
  •  Trains will not need any infrastructure at Boston.

The forsby and Louth route would be an ideal route for both trains.

The Hitachi product will probably be slightly larger, faster and new!

 

 

 

March 17, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will Hitachi Announce A High Speed Metro Train?

As the UK high speed rail network increases, we are seeing more services and proposed services, where local services are sharing tracks, where trains will be running at 125 mph or even more.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Kings Lynn

This Great Northern service is run by Class 387 trains.

  • Services run between London Kings Cross and Kings Lynn or Cambridge
  • The Class 387 trains have a maximum operating speed of 110 mph.
  • The route is fully electrified.
  • The trains generally use the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line, South of Hitchin.
  • Most trains on the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line are travelling at 125 mph.
  • When in the future full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented on the East Coast Main Line, speeds of up to 140 mph should be possible in some sections between London Kings Cross and Hitchin.

I also believe that digital signalling may be able to provide a solution to the twin-track bottleneck over the Digswell Viaduct.

Consider.

  • Airliners have been flown automatically and safely from airport to airport for perhaps four decades.
  • The Victoria Line has been running automatically and safely at over twenty trains per hour (tph) for five decades. It is now running at over 30 tph.
  • I worked with engineers developing a high-frequency sequence control system for a complicated chemical plant in 1970.

We also can’t deny that computers are getting better and more capable.

For these reasons, I believe there could be an ERTMS-based solution to the problem of the Digswell Viaduct, which could be something like this.

  • All trains running on the two track section over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station would be under computer control between Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations.
  • Fast trains would be slowed as appropriate to create spaces to allow the slow trains to pass through the section.
  • The driver would be monitoring the computer control, just as they do on the Victoria Line.

Much more complicated automated systems have been created in various applications.

The nearest rail application in the UK, is probably the application of digital signalling to London Underground’s Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines.

This is known at the Four Lines Modernisation and it will be completed by 2023 and increase capacity by up to twenty-seven percent.

I don’t think it unreasonable to see the following maximum numbers of services running over the Digswell Viaduct by 2030 in both directions in every hour.

  • Sixteen fast trains
  • Four slow trains

That is one train every three minutes.

Currently, it appears to be about ten fast and two slow.

As someone, who doesn’t like to be on a platform, when a fast train goes through, I believe that some form of advanced safety measures should be installed at Welwyn North station.

It would appear that trains between London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn need to have this specification.

  • Ability to run at 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line
  • Ability to run at 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under control of full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

This speed increase could reduce the journey time between London Kings Cross and Cambridge to just over half-an-hour with London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn under ninety minutes.

The only new infrastructure needed would be improvements to the Fen Line to King’s Lynn to allow two tph, which I think is needed.

Speed improvements between Hitchin and Cambridge could also benefit timings.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Norwich

I believe there is a need for a high speed service between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge.

  • The Class 755 trains, that are capable of 100 mph take 82 minutes, between Cambridge and Norwich.
  • The electrification gap between Ely and Norwich is 54 miles.
  • Norwich station and South of Ely is fully electrified.
  • Greater Anglia’s Norwich and Cambridge service has been very successful.

With the growth of Cambridge and its incessant need for more space, housing and workers, a high speed train  between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge could tick a lot of boxes.

  • If hourly, it would double the frequency between Cambridge and Norwich until East-West Rail is completed.
  • All stations between Ely and Norwich get a direct London service.
  • Cambridge would have better links for commuting to the city.
  • London Kings Cross and Cambridge would be less than an hour apart.
  • If the current London Kings Cross and Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, no extra paths on the East Coast Main Line would be needed.
  • Trains could even split and join at Cambridge or Ely to give all stations a two tph service to London Kings Cross.
  • No new infrastructure would be required.

The Cambridge Cruiser would become the Cambridge High Speed Cruiser.

London Paddington And Bedwyn

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Bedwyn.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Reading.
  • The 13.3 miles between Newbury and Bedwyn is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

London Paddington And Oxford

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Oxford.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Didcot Parkway.
  • The 10.3 miles between Didcot Parkway and Oxford is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Didcot Parkway and Oxford, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

Local And Regional Trains On Existing 125 mph Lines

In The UK, in addition to High Speed One and High Speed Two, we have the following lines, where speeds of 125 mph are possible.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line

Note.

  1. Long stretches of these routes allow speeds of up to 125 mph.
  2. Full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line to allow running up to 140 mph.
  3. Some of these routes have four tracks, with pairs of slow and fast lines, but there are sections with only two tracks.

It is likely, that by the end of the decade large sections of these four 125 mph lines will have been upgraded, to allow faster running.

If you have Hitachi and other trains thundering along at 140 mph, you don’t want dawdlers, at 100 mph or less, on the same tracks.

These are a few examples of slow trains, that use two-track sections of 125 nph lines.

  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Leicester and Lincoln – Uses Midland Main Line
  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Liverpool and Norwich – Uses Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Portsmouth Harbour – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Taunton – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Cumbria – Uses West Coast Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Newcastle and Morpeth – Uses East Coast Main Line
  • West Midlands Trains – Some services use West Coast Main Line.

Conflicts can probably be avoided by judicious train planning in some cases, but in some cases trains capable of 125 mph will be needed.

Southeastern Highspeed Services

Class 395 trains have been running Southeastern Highspeed local services since 2009.

  • Services run between London St. Pancras and Kent.
  • Services use Speed One at speeds of up to 140 mph.
  • These services are planned to be extended to Hastings and possibly Eastbourne.

The extension would need the ability to run on the Marshlink Line, which is an electrification gap of 25.4 miles, between Ashford and Ore.

Thameslink

Thameslink is a tricky problem.

These services run on the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct.

  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Kings Cross – Slow train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • 2 tph – Peterborough and Horsham – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.

Note.

  1. These services are run by Class 700 trains, that are only capable of 100 mph.
  2. The fast services take the fast lines South of the Digswell Viaduct.
  3. South of Finsbury Park, both fast services cross over to access the Canal Tunnel for St, Pancras station.
  4. I am fairly certain, that I have been on InterCity 125 trains running in excess of 100 mph in places between Finsbury Park and Stevenage.

It would appear that the slow Thameslink trains are slowing express services South of Stevenage.

As I indicated earlier, I think it is likely that the Kings Cross and King’s Lynn services will use 125 mph trains for various reasons, like London and Cambridge in well under an hour.

But if 125 mph trains are better for King’s Lynn services, then they would surely improve Thameslink and increase capacity between London and Stevenage.

Looking at average speeds and timings on the 25 miles between Stevenage and Finsbury Park gives the following.

  • 100 mph – 15 minutes
  • 110 mph – 14 minutes
  • 125 mph – 12 minutes
  • 140 mph – 11 minutes

The figures don’t appear to indicate large savings, but when you take into account that the four tph running the Thameslink services to Peterborough and Cambridge stop at Finsbury Park and Stevenage and have to get up to speed, I feel that the 100 mph Class 700 trains are a hindrance to more and faster trains on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

It should be noted, that faster trains on these Thameslink services would probably have better acceleration and and would be able to execute faster stops at stations.

There is a similar less serious problem on the Midland Main Line branch of Thameslink, in that some Thameslink services use the fast lines.

A couple of years ago, I had a very interesting chat with a group of East Midlands Railway drivers. They felt that the 100 mph Thameslink and the 125 mph Class 222 trains were not a good mix.

The Midland Main Line services are also becoming more complicated, with the new EMR Electric services between St. Pancras and Corby, which will be run by 110 mph Class 360 trains.

Hitachi’s Three Trains With Batteries

Hitachi have so far announced three battery-electric trains. Two are based on battery packs being developed and built by Hyperdrive Innovation.

Hyperdrive Innovation

Looking at the Hyperdrive Innovation web site, I like what I see.

Hyperdrive Innovation provided the battery packs for JCB’s first electric excavator.

Note that JCB give a five-year warranty on the Hyperdrive batteries.

Hyperdrive have also been involved in the design of battery packs for aircraft push-back tractors.

The battery capacity for one of these is given as 172 kWh and it is able to supply 34 kW.

I was very surprised that Hitachi didn’t go back to Japan for their batteries, but after reading Hyperdrive’s web site about the JCB and Textron applications, there would appear to be good reasons to use Hyperdrive.

  • Hyperdrive have experience of large lithium ion batteries.
  • Hyperdrive have a design, develop and manufacture model.
  • They seem to able to develop solutions quickly and successfully.
  • Battery packs for the UK and Europe are made in Sunderland.
  • Hyperdrive are co-operating with Nissan, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Newcastle University.
  • They appear from the web site to be experts in the field of battery management, which is important in prolonging battery life.
  • Hyperdrive have a Taiwanese partner, who manufactures their battery packs for Taiwan and China.
  • I have done calculations based on the datasheet for their batteries and Hyperdrive’s energy density is up with the best

I suspect, that Hitachi also like the idea of a local supplier, as it could be helpful in the negotiation of innovative applications. Face-to-face discussions are easier, when you’re only thirty miles apart.

Hitachi Regional Battery Train

The first train to be announced was the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. It is only a 100 mph train.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. It has a range of 56 miles on battery power.
  4. Any of Hitachi’s A Train family like Class 800, 802 or 385 train can be converted to a Regional Battery Train.

No orders have been announced yet.

But it would surely be very suitable for routes like.

  • London Paddington And Bedwyn
  • London Paddington And Oxford

It would also be very suitable for extensions to electrified suburban routes like.

  • London Bridge and Uckfield
  • London Waterloo and Salisbury
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere.
  • Newcastle and Carlisle

It would also be a very sound choice to extend electrified routes in Scotland, which are currently run by Class 385 trains.

Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train

The second train to be announced was the Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. Only one engine is replaced by a battery.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. Typically a five-car Class 800 or 802 train has three diesel engines and a nine-car train has five.
  4. These trains would obviously be capable of 125 mph on electrified main lines and 140 mph on lines fully equipped with digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

Nothing is said about battery range away from electrification.

Routes currently run from London with a section without electrification at the other end include.

  • London Kings Cross And Harrogate – 18.3 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Hull – 36 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • London Paddington And Bedwyn – 13.3 miles
  • London Paddington And Oxford – 10.3 miles

In the March 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, LNER are quoted as having aspirations to extend the Lincoln service to Cleethorpes.

  • With all energy developments in North Lincolnshire, this is probably a good idea.
  • Services could also call at Market Rasen and Grimsby.
  • Two trains per day, would probably be a minimum frequency.

But the trains would need to be able to run around 64 miles each way without electrification. Very large batteries and/or charging at Cleethorpes will be needed.

Class 803 Trains For East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains have ordered a fleet of five Class 803 trains.

  • These trains appear to be built for speed and fast acceleration.
  • They have no diesel engines, which must save weight and servicing costs.
  • But they will be fitted with batteries for emergency power to maintain onboard  train services in the event of overhead line failure.
  • They are planned to enter service in October 2021.

Given that Hyperdrive Innovation are developing traction batteries for the other two Hitachi battery trains, I would not be the least bit surprised if Hyperdrive were designing and building the batteries for the Class 803 trains.

  • Hyperdrive batteries are modular, so for a smaller battery you would use less modules.
  • If all coaches are wired for a diesel engine, then they can accept any power module like a battery or hydrogen pack, without expensive redesign.
  • I suspect too, that the battery packs for the Class 803 trains could be tested on an LNER Class 801 train.

LNER might also decide to replace the diesel engines on their Class 801 trains with an emergency battery pack, if it were more energy efficient and had a lighter weight.

Thoughts On The Design Of The Hyperdrive innovation Battery Packs

Consider.

  • Hitachi trains have a sophisticated computer system, which on start-up can determine the configuration of the train or whether it is more than one train running as a longer formation or even being hauled by a locomotive.
  • To convert a bi-mode Class 800 train to an all-electric Class 801 the diesel engines are removed. I suspect that the computer is also adjusted, but train formation may well be totally automatic and independent of the driver.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery seem to be based on a modular system, where typical modules have a capacity of 5 kWh, weighs 32 Kg and has a volume of 0.022 cu metres.
  • The wet mass of an MTU 16V 1600 R80L diesel engine commonly fitted to AT-300 trains of different types is 6750 Kg or nearly seven tonnes.
  • The diesel engine has a physical size of 1.5 x 1.25 x 0.845 metres, which is a volume of 1.6 cubic metres.
  • In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a five-car Class 801 electric train, needed 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • It is likely, than any design of battery pack, will handle the regenerative braking.

To my mind, the ideal solution would be a plug compatible battery pack, that the train’s computer thought was a diesel engine.

But then I have form in the area of plug-compatible electronics.

At the age of sixteen, for a vacation job, I worked in the Electronics Laboratory at Enfield Rolling Mills.

It was the early sixties and one of their tasks was at the time replacing electronic valve-based automation systems with new transistor-based systems.

The new equipment had to be compatible to that which it replaced, but as some were installed in dozens of places around the works, they had to be able to be plug-compatible, so that they could be quickly changed. Occasionally, the new ones suffered infant-mortality and the old equipment could just be plugged back in, if there wasn’t a spare of the new equipment.

So will Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery-packs have the same characteristics as the diesel engines that they replace?

  • Same instantaneous and continuous power output.
  • Both would fit the same mountings under the train.
  • Same control and electrical power connections.
  • Compatibility with the trains control computer.

I think they will as it will give several advantages.

  • The changeover between diesel engine and battery pack could be designed as a simple overnight operation.
  • Operators can mix-and-match the number of diesel engines and battery-packs to a given route.
  • As the lithium-ion cells making up the battery pack improve, battery capacity and performance can be increased.
  • If the computer, is well-programmed, it could reduce diesel usage and carbon-emissions.
  • Driver conversion from a standard train to one equipped with batteries, would surely be simplified.

As with the diesel engines, all battery packs could be substantially the same across all of Hitachi’s Class 80x trains.

What Size Of Battery Would Be Possible?

If Hyperdrive are producing a battery pack with the same volume as the diesel engine it replaced, I estimate that the battery would have a capacity defined by.

5 * 1.6 / 0.022 = 364 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.

As a figure of 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph, applies to a Class 801 train, I suspect that a figure of 3 kWh or less could apply to a five-car Class 800 train trundling at around 80-100 mph to Bedwyn, Cleethorpes or Oxford.

  • A one-battery five-car train would have a range of 24.3 miles
  • A two-battery five-car train would have a range of 48.6 miles
  • A three-battery five-car train would have a range of 72.9 miles

Note.

  1. Reducing the consumption to 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 87.3 miles.
  2. Reducing the consumption to 2 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 109.2 miles.
  3. Hitachi will be working to reduce the electricity consumption of the trains.
  4. There will also be losses at each station stop, as regenerative braking is not 100 % efficient.

But it does appear to me, that distances of the order of 60-70 miles would be possible on a lot of routes.

Bedwyn, Harrogate, Lincoln and Oxford may be possible without charging before the return trip.

Cleethorpes and Hull would need a battery charge before return.

A Specification For A High Speed Metro Train

I have called the proposed train a High Speed Metro Train, as it would run at up to 140 mph on an existing high speed line and then run a full or limited stopping service to the final destination.

These are a few thoughts.

Electrification

In some cases like London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn, the route is already electrified and batteries would only be needed for the following.

  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Emergency  power in case of overhead line failure.
  • Train movements in depots.

But if the overhead wires on a branch line. are in need of replacement, why not remove them and use battery power? It might be the most affordable and least disruptive option to update the power supply on a route.

The trains would have to be able to run on both types of electrification in the UK.

  • 25 KVAC overhead.
  • 750 VDC third rail.

This dual-voltage capability would enable the extension of Southeastern Highspeed services.

Operating Speed

The trains must obviously be capable of running at the maximum operating speed on the routes they travel.

  • 125 mph on high speed lines, where this speed is possible.
  • 140 mph on high speed lines equipped with full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling, where this speed is possible.

The performance on battery power must be matched with the routes.

Hitachi have said, that their Regional Battery trains can run at up to 100 mph, which would probably be sufficient for most secondary routes in the UK and in line with modern diesel and electric multiple units.

Full Digital In-cab ERTMS Signalling

This will be essential and is already fitted to some of Hitachi’s trains.

Regenerative Braking To Batteries

Hitachi’s battery electric  trains will probably use regenerative braking to the batteries, as it is much more energy efficient.

It also means that when stopping at a station perhaps as much as 70-80% of the train’s kinetic energy can be captured in the batteries and used to accelerate the train.

In Kinetic Energy Of A Five-Car Class 801 Train, I showed that at 125 mph the energy of a full five-car train is just over 100 kWh, so batteries would not need to be unduly large.

Acceleration

This graph from Eversholt Rail, shows the acceleration and deceleration of a five-car Class 802 electric train.

As batteries are just a different source of electric power, I would think, that with respect to acceleration and deceleration, that the performance of a battery-electric version will be similar.

Although, it will only achieve 160 kph instead of the 200 kph of the electric train.

I estimate from this graph, that a battery-electric train would take around 220 seconds from starting to decelerate for a station to being back at 160 kph. If the train was stopped for around eighty seconds, a station stop would add five minutes to the journey time.

London Kings Cross And Cleethorpes

As an example consider a service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • The section without electrification between Newark and Cleethorpes is 64 miles.
  • There appear to be ambitions to increase the operating speed to 90 mph.
  • Local trains seem to travel at around 45 mph including stops.
  • A fast service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes would probably stop at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town.
  • In addition, local services stop at Collingham, Hykeham, Barnetby and Habrough.
  • London Kings Cross and Newark takes one hour and twenty minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes takes three hours and fifteen minutes with a change at Doncaster.

I can now calculate a time between Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • If a battery-electric train can average 70 mph between Newark and Cleethorpes, it would take 55 minutes.
  • Add five minutes for each of the three stops at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town
  • Add in the eighty minutes between London Kings Cross and Newark and that would be  two-and-a-half hours.

That would be very marketing friendly and a very good start.

Note.

  1. An average speed of 80 mph would save seven minutes.
  2. An average speed of 90 mph would save twelve minutes.
  3. I suspect that the current bi-modes would be slower by a few minutes as their acceleration is not as potent of that of an electric train.

I have a feeling London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town, could be a very important service for LNER.

Interiors

I can see a new lightweight and more energy efficient interior being developed for these trains.

In addition some of the routes, where they could be used are popular with cyclists and the current Hitachi trains are not the best for bicycles.

Battery Charging

Range On Batteries

I have left this to last, as it depends on so many factors, including the route and the quality of the driving or the Automatic Train Control

Earlier, I estimated that a five-car train with all three diesel engines replaced by batteries, when trundling around Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire or Wiltshire could have range of up to 100 miles.

That sort of distance would be very useful and would include.

  • Ely and Norwich
  • Newark and Cleethorpes
  • Salisbury and Exeter

It might even allow a round trip between the East Coast Main Line and Hull.

The Ultimate Battery Train

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

This is a paragraph.

The projected improvements in battery technology – particularly in power output and charge – create opportunities to replace incrementally more diesel engines on long distance trains. With the ambition to create a fully electric-battery intercity train – that can travel the full journey between London and Penzance – by the late 2040s, in line with the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions target.

Consider.

  • Three batteries would on my calculations give a hundred mile range.
  • Would a train with no diesel engines mean that fuel tanks, radiators and other gubbins could be removed and more or large batteries could be added.
  • Could smaller batteries be added to the two driving cars?
  • By 2030, let alone 2040, battery energy density will have increased.

I suspect that one way or another these trains could have a range on battery power of between 130 and 140 miles.

This would certainly be handy in Scotland for the two routes to the North.

  • Haymarket and Aberdeen, which is 130 miles without electrification.
  • Stirling and Inverness, which is 111 miles without electrification, if the current wires are extended from Stirling to Perth, which is being considered by the Scottish Government.

The various sections of the London Paddington to Penzance route are as follows.

  • Paddington and Newbury – 53 miles – electrified
  • Newbury and Taunton – 90 miles – not electrified
  • Taunton and Exeter – 31 miles – not electrified
  • Exeter and Plymouth – 52 miles – not electrified
  • Plymouth and Penzance – 79 miles – not electrified

The total length of the section without electrification between Penzance and Newbury  is a distance of 252 miles.

This means that the train will need a battery charge en route.

I think there are three possibilities.

  • Trains can take up to seven minutes for a stop at Plymouth. As London and Plymouth trains will need to recharge at Plymouth before returning to London, Plymouth station could be fitted with comprehensive recharge facilities for all trains passing through. Perhaps the ideal solution would be to electrify all lines and platforms at Plymouth.
  • Between Taunton and Exeter, the rail line runs alongside the M5 motorway. This would surely be an ideal section to electrify, as it would enable battery electric trains to run between Exeter and both Newbury and Bristol.
  • As some trains terminate at Exeter, there would probably need to be charging facilities there.

I believe that the date of the late 2040s is being overly pessimistic.

I suspect that by 2040 we’ll be seeing trains between London and Aberdeen, Inverness and Penzance doing the trips without a drop of diesel.

But Hitachi are making a promise of London and Penzance by zero-carbon trains, by the late-2040s, because they know they can keep it.

And Passengers and the Government won’t mind the trains being early!

Conclusion

This could be a very useful train to add to Hitachi’s product line.

 

 

 

March 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Transport Secretary Urged Not To Derail Aylesbury Spur Plans

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

This is the sub-heading of the article.

Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, Martin Tett has written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urging him to confirm Government support and funding for the much needed Aylesbury link section of East-West rail.

I think this Aylesbury link needs very careful thinking.

There are certainly a lot of issues to consider.

The Aylesbury Link

The Great Central Main Line used to run from London Marylebone station to the East Midlands and North.

Much of the route closed in the 1960s and the only section with a regular passenger service is that that run by Chiltern Railways, between Marylebone and Aylesbury Vale Parkway station.

North of Aylesbury Vale Parkway this rail link connects to the East-West Rail Link.

It was originally proposed to run a service between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two is the herd of elephants in the room and it could have multiple effects all over the country.

Is High Speed Two For London, The Midlands, The North And Scotland Or For The Whole UK?

The answer surely, is that High Speed Two is for the whole UK.

Train Services Between Wales and the West Of England And The North Of England And Scotland

Consider.

  • North Wales is well served by a change at Crewe for passengers from the North and Scotland.
  • Mid Wales is served by a change at Crewe or in Birmingham.
  • South Wales, Bristol and the West and South-West of England are well-served by high speed trains from London Paddington and Reading.

Could South Wales, Bristol and the West and South-West of England, be better connected to the North and Scotland?

One of the ways to improve these services could be with a connection between High Speed Two and East-West Rail Link to allow trains to connect to the Great Western Railway at Didcot Junction.

Train Services Between East Anglia And The North Of England And Scotland

One of the ways to improve these services could be with a connection between High Speed Two and East-West Rail Link to allow trains to connect to and from Cambridge and East Anglia.

A High Speed Two Station At Calvert

Calvert is a village surrounded by landfill and wildlife sites to the South of where High Speed Two and East-West Rail Link cross to the North of Aylesbury.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Calvert is the village in the middle of the map.
  2. The light-coloured area to the South-East of the village is one of London’s biggest landfill sites.
  3. The single-track railway to Aylesbury runs along the North-East side of the landfill.
  4. To the North of the village, this railway connects to the East-West Rail Link.

This Google Map shows the junction between the two railways in greater detail.

Note.

  1. The Northern part of Calvert is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. The East-West Rail Link crossing across the North of the map
  3. The railway to Aylesbury running SE-NW across the map, to the East of the village of Calvert.
  4. The chord connecting the two railways, which allows trains to and from the South to connect to the East.

This map from High Speed Two shows the route of the new railway through the area.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is shown in yellow (cutting) and embankment (red).
  2. High Speed Two appears to run either on the same route or alongside the route to Aylesbury.

The Oakervee Review into High Speed Two, says this on Page 53, about a new station at Calvert in Buckinghamshire.

The Review also heard evidence from a number of informed stakeholders suggesting there should be a new station near Calvert, where HS2 would cross East-West Rail proposals to improve connectivity along the OxfordCambridge corridor. Previously, due to the impact on speed, no interim station had been planned between London and Birmingham Interchange.

The Review concluded that the DfT should consider making passive provision for a future HS2 station near to Calvert. If it is decided that a HS2 station should be built near to Calvert, passive provision will help prevent any disruption to HS2 services. There could be merit in developing an HS2 station in the future here if local plans support a significant residential and commercial development in this region, and if there is passenger demand to justify the cost of developing a station here. Without this coordinated planning, the experience of HS1 stations risks being repeated. The Review notes that the cost of developing a future station near Calvert could be shared with others including potentially the East West Rail Company.

I must admit, that I like the concept of a new station at Calvert.

  • The double-track High Speed Two and the single-track Aylesbury Link run alongside each other and a station wouldn’t be a very expensive one.
  • High Speed Two Trains will be very powerful and should be able to do a quick stop perhaps losing about two minutes.
  • The important Milton Keynes Central station would get a good High Speed Two service, with a change at Calvert.
  • Trains between Oxford and Cambridge could serve Calvert station.

It might also be possible for one of High Speed Two’s Classic Compatible trains to join High Speed Two at the station with a reverse.

This could enable a service between say Cardiff and Edinburgh.

  • Intermediate stops could be Newport, Bristol Parkway, Swindon, Oxford, Bicester Village, Calvert, Birmingham Interchange, Crewe, Preston and Carlisle.
  • It might even join and split at Swindon and Carlisle, with a second Classic Compatible train going between Penzance and Glasgow, which stopped at Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol Temple Meads, Bath, Swindon, Oxford, Bicester Village, Calvert, Birmingham Interchange, Crewe, Preston and Carlisle.
  • It would need extra two-hundred metre long platforms at Swindon, Oxford, Bicester Village and Calvert.

If this train ran hourly, there would certainly be a need for an hourly feeder train between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

But as yet, it hasn’t been decided to provide provision at Calvert for a possible High Speed Two station.

Rolling Stock For The East-West Rail Link

In July 2019, I wrote Tender Set To Be Issued For East West Rail Rolling Stock.

I analysed if battery electric trains could run services on the East West Rail Link.

I said this.

Consider.

    • All the major stations except Oxford have electrification.
    • Sections of the route are electrified.
    • The route is not very challenging.
    • The longest section without electrification is around forty miles.

All this leads me to believe that a battery-electric train with a range of forty miles could handle the route, if there was the means to charge the train at Oxford.

Possibly the easiest way to achieve the charging station at Oxford station, would be to electrify between Didcot Junction and Oxford stations.

Since then Hitachi have released the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, whose specification is shown in this infographic.

I believe this train could work the East-West Rail Link and also between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

I also believe, that other manufacturers could provide battery electric trains for the route.

These or similar trains would also be suitable for the decarbonisation of Chiltern’s diesel multiple units, that run the suburban services.

Conclusion

High Speed Two could have a station at Calvert.

If it does, there will certainly be a need between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

To be continued…

February 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Trains: £34m For Revival Of 50-Year-Old North-East Railway Line

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

These are the introductory paragraphs.

A £34 million investment to reopen a North-East rail route that closed more than 50 years ago has been announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The funding, announced today, January 23, is to progress plans to reopen the Northumberland Line between Newcastle and Ashington, which closed to passengers in 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts.

The money will fund preparatory works, including land acquisition, detailed design work and early site works.

The general tone of the article and the tone of comments from interested parties is welcoming and generally positive.

The Northumberland Line

In the Wikipedia entry for the Blyth And Tyne Railway, there is a section, which is entitled 2019-Present: Revised Plans And The Northumberland Line Project, where this is said about the design of the Northumberland Line.

The revised proposals, released in July 2019, are reduced in scope from the plan considered in the 2016 GRIP 2 study and propose a four-phase project allowing a reduction in the initial cost of the scheme; the initial phase, at an estimated £90 million, would see the creation of new or reopened stations at Northumberland Park, Newsham, Bedlington and Ashington as well as some line-speed upgrades, extension of the double track section further to the south of Newsham, creation of turn-back facilities at Ashington and some level crossing upgrades or closures Two further stations, at Seaton Delaval and Blyth Bebside (formerly Blyth Park & Ride), and additional line-speed improvements are suggested for Phase 2 while Phases 3 and 4 would deliver further line-speed improvements (including signalling upgrades) and an additional passing-loop at Seaton Delaval respectively. Previously proposed stations at Seghill and Woodhorn appear to have been dropped from the scheme.

There is also a lot more detail in this article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled Beeching Reversed: Reopening Of The Northumberland Line.

These are a few of my thoughts, based on Wikiiedia, Google Maps and the Rail Engineer article.

The Current Tracks Between Newcastle and Ashington

I will now follow the route of the Northumberland Line in a series of maps from where it leaves the East Coast Main Line to Ashington.

Benton Junction

Benton Junction is where the Northumberland Line joins the East Coast Main Line.

This Google Map shows Benton Junction

Note.

  1. The Tyne and Wear Metro (Metro) running East-West across the map.
  2. Benton Metro station towards the West of the map
  3. The fully-electrified East Coast Main Line (ECML) running  North-South down the map.
  4. The bridge at the bottom of the map, where the A191 crosses over the ECML, would need to be rebuilt to fit in any extra tracks.
  5. Manors station is the next station to the South on the ECML.
  6. Newcastle Central station is 4.3 miles to the South.
  7. Proctor and Gamble’s site to the East of the Junction.
  8. The Northumberland Line curves round the Proctor and Gamble site, connecting East and South.

This second Google Map shows the junction at the Southern point of the junction.

When the Northumberland Line closed to passenger trains in 1964, there were perhaps a dozen trains per day through this junction.

There are now 49, most of which are expresses on the ECML, so I suspect improvements are needed.

If the junction is remodelled, the single track section could be removed and perhaps Proctor & Gamble would like a station for their large workforce.

Single Track Alongside The Metro

After turning East after passing Proctor and Gamble, the Northumberland Line becomes single track and runs along the North side of the Metro.

This Google Map shows a section of the tracks.

It would appear that if required, there could be space to add an extra track.

Palmersville Station

The Northumberland Line then passes to the North of Palmersville Metro station, as this Google Map shows.

This extract from the Wikipedia entry for the station, indicates plans for connection between the Northumberland Line and the Metro.

Heading east from Palmersville, the route runs alongside a single-track line, which is used by freight services to and from North Blyth and Lynemouth. As of May 2020, proposals exist for the reinstatement of a passenger service over this route, as far as Ashington, as part of the Northumberland Line project. It is expected that additional platforms would be constructed at the nearby Northumberland Park station, in order to accommodate the new rail service, with a predicted September 2023 opening.

My only thought, is that a bi-directional platform could be created at this station, as a simple connection between the two Northumberland Line and the Metro.

Northumberland Park Station

Northumberland Park station is planned to be an interchange between the Northumberland Line and the Metro.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The two Metro tracks either side of an island platform.
  2. The single track of the Northumberland Line alongside.

There would appear to be space to the North of the Metro tracks to squeeze in two tracks, each with a platform for each.

But if the frequency on the Northumberland Line were only two trains per hour (tph), would the simplicity of a single Northumberland Line platform be worthwhile?

North From Northumberland Park

This Google Map shows the track layout to the North East of Northumberland Park station.

Note.

  1. Northumberland Park station is in the South West corner of the map.
  2. The double-tack of the Metro goes diagonally across the map to the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The Northumberland Line is a single-track line that breaks away to the North.

Would there be enough space to double-track the Northumberland Line through this area?

This 3D image from my virtual helicopter shows the bridge towards the top of the previous map.

It looks it would be a tight fit to put four tracks through this bridge or an expensive and disruptive rebuild.

As the Northumberland Line goes North from here, the engineering needed to add a second track would appear to get less challenging.

This image from my virtual helicopter, shows the Northumberland Line going under the A186.

At least this bridge seems to have been built large enough for all future options.

There would even be space for full double-tracking and a passing loop, where freight trains could wait for their slot to pass through.

Seghill Station

The line is single track until the site of the former Seghill station, which is shown in this Google Map.

 

The number of references to a station in the names are a bit of a giveaway.

  • According to Wikipedia, a new Seghill station was in the original plans.
  • It has since been dropped.

But there is still the problem of the level crossing.

As the original station was only a single platform, I do feel that following the example of some of the single platform stations like Newcourt in Devon, a single-platform station at Seghill could be a possibility in the future.

The current service at Newcourt station is two tph in both directions.

Onwards To Seaton Delaval Station

Seaton Delaval station is the first station proposed for reopening after Northumberland Park station and is shown in this image from my virtual helicopter.

Note that there is already a bridge over the railway line.

According to Wikipedia, the plans for Seaton Delaval station include.

  • Not building the station in the initial phase of the project.
  • Building the station at a later date.
  • Adding a passing loop.

Note that the original station had two platforms.

Newsham South Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Newsham South level crossing, which still has a signal box.

Note that just to the South of this crossing the track goes from single to double-track.

Newsham North Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Newsham North level crossing, which is a very complicated affair.

At least the railway is double-track all the way through Newsham.

Newsham Station

Wikipedia says this about the location of the former Newsham station.

It was situated at the end of Seaton Avenue and Carlton Road, off South Newsham Road on the B1523. There was an extensive system of sidings at the station and The Railway Clearing House Handbook indicated that the station handled goods and livestock.

Wikipedia also says it was a junction station.

This Google Map shows Newsham and its two level crossings on the Northumberland Line.

Note.

  1. Newsham North level crossing is in the North-West corner of the map
  2. Newsham South level crossing is to the East of the roundabout in the South of the map.
  3. The red arrow indicates Seaton Avenue, which was close to the station.
  4. There appears to be green space to the North-East of the red arrow, which could have been the extensive system of sidings mentioned in Wikipedia.

This Google Map shows Seaton Avenue and Carlton Road linking the B1523 to the old station site.

It looks to me, that the original station location would have very difficult access for buses, cars, taxis and pedestrians.

Perhaps, the rebuilt station would be better placed by one of the level crossings.

I obviously don’t know the area, but is the Southern level crossing in the wrong place.

One of the most interesting train systems, that I have seen is in Zwickau in the former East Germany, where instead of buying more trams to connect to other towns and cities, they devised a train-tram system using standard diesel multiple units.

The Zwickau system is as step-free as anything you’ll find in Germany, but I’m sure Stadler, who are the masters of step-free access and a few innovative Geordies could do much better

Would it be possible to build two tram-style platforms, South of the Northern level crossings and run the trains through at a safe speed?

The electric trains would probably be battery-powered through the area.

Bebside Station

Wikipedia says this about the location of Bebside station.

The station was situated on the south side of Front Street on the A19. The goods shed was north of the level crossing and east of the running lines.

This Google Map shows the location of Bebside station.

Note.

  1. This map fits with Wikipedia.
  2. The double-track through Bebside station, appears to run between Newsham South level crossing and Ashington.

Wikipedia says this about a reopened station at Bebside.

The GRIP 2 study, which NCC received in October 2016, confirmed that the reintroduction of a frequent seven-day a week passenger service between Newcastle and Ashington was feasible and could provide economic benefits of £70 million with more than 380,000 people using the line each year by 2034. The study suggested that a new Blyth Park & Ride station should be constructed close to the site of Bebside station to serve Blyth due to its close proximity to the A189 dual carriageway.

There certainly appears to be space for the Park-and-Ride.

Could this station be one of the busiest and most profitable of the route?

If surveys show, that could be the case, would it be worthwhile to build this station first and possibly run a preview service to perhaps Northumberland Park station?

Over The River Blyth

Between Bebside and Bedlington, there is the Bedlington Railway Viaduct.

This Google Map shows the viaduct.

Note the amazing shadow.

This image was taken from my virtual helicopter looking from the East.

Note that the road in the foreground is the A189.

Bedlington Station

Wikipedia says this about the location of Bedlington station.

The station was situated on the north side of the level crossing on Station Road, west of the junction with Palace Road. Nearby was Bedlington Colliery.

This Google Map shows the location of Bedlington station.

Note.

  1. Some of the old station still exists.
  2. The route is double-track through the station.
  3. Although the original station only had one platform, there would appear to be space for a second.

On the other hand good design as at Galashiels, which has a slightly smaller population than Bedlington, has created a new station with only a single platform.

These pictures show Galashiels station on the recently opened Borders Railway.

Galashiels is an interesting solution, as there is a single-platform step-free railway station on one side of the road and a comprehensive bus interchange on the other with seats, cafes, shops and warm shelter.

Galashiels station is designed to handle two tph in both directions.

Bedlington North Junction

This Google Map shows Bedlington North Junction.

Note.

  1. The double-track railway going West, quickly becomes a single track, which connects Bedlington to Morpeth.
  2. There is a full triangular junction at Morpeth, so that trains can go North or South on the East Coast Main Line.
  3. The double-track railway going North connects to Ashington.

There is also another level crossing, just to the North of the junction.

Connecting To North Blyth

About a mile North of Bedlington, there is a branch to North Blyth and the Port of Blyth.

This Google Map shows the junction.

Note.

  1. West Sleekburn junction is at the South.
  2. Marcheys House junction is at the North.
  3. Winning junction is at the East.

This Google Map shows the mouth of the River Blyth.

I can see some would find reasons to extend passenger services along the branch.

Over The River Wansbeck

I hadn’t expected what comes next.

This Google Map shows the crossing of the River Wansbeck, by the North Seaton Rail Viaduct.

This second image was taken from the East from my virtual helicopter.

Note.

  1. Marcheys House junction can be seen in the left of the second image.
  2. The bridge is double track.
  3. It is known as The Black Bridge.

As the viaduct will celebrate, its centenary sometime later in this decade, what better way to mark it, than reinstate the passenger service over the viaduct.

Through The Houses Into Ashington

This Google Map shows the route North from the bridge over the River Wansbeck into Ashington.

Note.

  1. The River Wansbeck is at the South of the Map.
  2. The railway is double track through the town.
  3. North Seaton station used to be about a third of the way up the map, where the A196 road crosses the railway.

This enlarged Google Map shows the site of station.

Note.

  1. The original station had two platforms.
  2. There is a level crossing where the railway crosses the road.

There doesn’t appear to be any plans to re-open North Seaton station.

There is another level crossing between the bridge and the original site of Ashington station.

Will these level crossings be a problem?

Ashington Station

This Google Map shows the original site of Ashington station.

Note.

  1. Station Road is a bit of a giveaway as to the location.
  2. The station would appear to have been in a cutting in a busy part of the town.
  3. Little of the original station seems to have survived.

It would appear that a station could be built here with a small amount of demolition.

But would it be big enough for all the possible plans for services to the North of Ashington.

This Google Map shows where the railway line when it emerges to the North of Station Road.

Note.

  1. The Northumberland Line curves round to the East to go to Lynemouth.
  2. It originally continued to Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.
  3. The area close to the line is a bus depot.
  4. There are several retail premises in the area.

Would it eventually be better to have an integrated transport interchange here?

Ashington To The Coast

This Google Map shows Ashington to the coast.

 

Note.

  1. The mothballed Alcan Smelter and Lynemouth power station are at the top of the map.
  2. The smelter and the power station are served by an extension of the Northumberland Line from Ashington, that is double-track for about half the way.
  3. Newbiggin-by-the-Sea on the coast and used to be served by a branch line from Ashington.

The route of the branch line can be picked out on this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The two branches used to divide by the Woodhorn Museum.
  2. Could a simple station be built to serve the museum and Wansbeck General Hospital.
  3. The branch to the smelter and the power station curves to the North.

The branch to Newbiggin-by-the-Sea station, takes a direct route to the coast.

I do think, that this extension from Ashington has possibilities.

I’ve even found this video of a freight train going to the smelter from the Port  of Blyth.

You don’t often see Class 55 locomotives or Deltics in action like this.

The State Of The Infrastructure

I’ve also found this video, which shows a cab ride from Blyth to the East Coast Main Line.

I can make the following observations. from the video.

  • There are wide margins in a lot of places so double-tracking could be possible.
  • The signalling is a mixture of semaphore and colour light signals.
  • There is work to do on some of the level crossings to make them safer.
  • The old platform is still visible at Bedlington station.
  • The bridge at Seaton Delaval is modern, but a double track, would be a tight fit.
  • The bridge where the B1322 crosses the tracks to the East of Northumberland Park station, looks like it would be little space for a fourth track.
  • The bridge taking the A186 over the Northumberland Line to the North of Northumberland Park station has been built with masses of space for extra tracks.
  • It would be difficult to fully double-track from Northumberland Park station to the East Coast Main Line.

Everything appears to be in generally good condition.

Length And Operating Speed Of The Route

Consider.

  • I estimate that the distance between Benton North Junction and Ashington is around nineteen miles. A round trip would therefore be under forty miles.
  • The Rail Engineer article says that the operating speed on the line will be increased to 65 mph.
  • I have found a freight train, that recently took 37 minutes to go between Benton North Junction and Ashington, which is an average speed of 31 mph.

I also estimate that the halfway point between Benton North Junction and Ashington is not far from the site of the possible Seaton Delaval station. Could this be why a passing loop has been proposed for the station?

The Frequency Of The Trains

Various sources like Wikipedia and media reports talk about the basic service being two tph or half-hourly.

Various average speeds Benton North Junction and Ashington give the following times for the journey.

  • 30 mph – 38 minutes
  • 40 mph – 28.5 minutes
  • 45 mph – 25 minutes
  • 50 mph – 22.8 minutes
  • 60 mph – 19 minutes

From these figures it looks to me, that a half-hourly service would certainly be possible with trains passing in a two-platform station with a passing loop at Seaton Delaval.

  • They would need to run at an average speed of 45 mph including stops.
  • This is a similar average speed to Ipswich and Cambridge, which has seven stops.
  • Modern step-free trains, as Stadler are building for the Metro, are designed for fast stops.
  • If the trains passed at Seaton Delaval at halfway, only one train would be North and South of that station at any time.

If only one train is on any section of the route at any one time, then single platform stations can be used, except at Seaton Delaval and Ashington.

There are a lot of people, who feel that train services like this should be four tph, as this gives a genuine Turn-Up-And-Go service.

Birmingham, London Overground, Merseyrail and other services use this frequency.

The Metro uses five tph, where possible.

Four tph would probably be possible with the passing loop at Seaton Delaval, as North of Newsham, the Northumberland Line is double-track, all the way to Ashington.

If the line is a success, I suspect there will be pressure to extend the passenger service to new stations at Lynemouth, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and perhaps other places.

Extra Northern destinations would help to create a viable four tph service between Newcastle and Ahington.

Rolling Stock

Consider.

  • As the trains will be running on a 65 mph route, trains capable of at least 90 mph would probably be needed.
  • The trains would run a short distance on the ECML, so perhaps electric trains, with at least a 100 mph capability would be needed, so they didn’t get in the way of the Azumas.
  • Pedicting ridership on a line like the Northumberland Line would be very much a Black Art and initial ideas will be wrong, so perhaps the initial trains should be three cars, with the capability of being easily lengthened to four cars. They must also be capable of working in pairs.
  • Electric traction is desirable, as it is zero-carbon at point of use, gives better acceleration and regenerative braking enables energy saving.
  • Ability to use a pantograph to access 25 KVAC overhead electrification would be useful.

Some would feel, that the same trains as the Metro should be used, but I can see services connecting across Newcastle using the 25 KVAC overhead electrification of the ECML.

The slower Metro trains would reduce the capacity of the ECML.

I’m drawn inextricably to the conclusion, that the trains should be 100 mph battery-electric trains.

Hitachi, who have a factory in the North-East, have announced their Regional Battery Train in July 2020, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

These trains can be based on Class 385 trains.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They come in three- and four-cars lengths.
  • The three-car trains have 206 seats.
  • They can work in pairs.
  • They can use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • They have a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles on battery power.
  • The batteries would be charged on the ECML between Benton North junction and Newcastle station.
  • The battery packs will be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation in Sunderland.
  • They have big windows for the views.

I’m sure Hitachi and Hyperdrive would like a fleet in service, just up the road from their factories.

These pictures show a ScotRail Class 385 train.

I think trains like these fitted with batteries, would do nicely.

There might need to be a charging station at Ashington to make sure the trains can get back to Benton North junction and the electrification.

Collateral Benefits Of Battery Electric Trains

I am one of a very small group of the general public, who have ridden in two different battery-electric trains in the UK.

It is my belief, that they have collateral benefits compared to other trains powered by electricity or diesel.

When I rode Bombardier’s Class 379 BEMU, six years ago,  between Manningtree and Harwich, afterwards I wrote Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?.

I must admit, that on that day as I travelled to Manningtree, I had my doubts, that the train would perform, to a sufficient level to be able to replace an electric or diesel train in regular passenger service.

But this was a paragraph I wrote.

It was an impressive demonstration, of how a full-size train could be run in normal service without connection to a power supply. I also suspect that the partners in the project must be very confident about the train and its technology to allow paying passengers to travel on their only test train.

This was my conclusion to the post.

Who’d have thought that such a rather unusual concept of a battery electric multiple unit would have so many possibilities?

I think I’ve seen the future and it just might work!

I think now, I might substitute will for might in the last sentence, with several manufacturers now offering battery-electric trains.

I very much feel my doubts before riding the train, were commonplace.

A year or so, after my ride, I met a lady on a train to Ipswich. She had been sceptical the train would work, but she had used the train to go to work every day for three months and was sorry, that it hadn’t been kept in service for longer.

I believe this scepticism and a natural human curiosity could lead to a serious increase in usage of the service, when compared to the predictions.

Did this mixture or curiosity and skepticism lead to the large turnout in Scotland to ride Vivarail’s battery-electric Class 230 train prototype, that I wrote about in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway?

I will not be surprised, if in a couple of years, after battery-electric trains have been introduced on several routes, that train operators are reporting, unexpected increases in passenger numbers.

As I said, I have ridden in two battery electric train; a Class 379 and a Class 230.

One characteristic of both that is exceptional, is their low noise levels.

Even as an Electrical Engineer, I can’t explain it, but then all electric vehicles, I’ve ridden in are quieter than I would have expected.

Could it be, that the electrics don’t contain any mechanical components, that clank away? Or are pantographs noisier than I think they actually are?

Will these low noise levels, drive more people to travel on the trains?

Other factors like zero pollution, reliability and lack of unsightly wires could all be further collateral benefits.

I seriously believe, that battery electric trains could be a dream for a Marketing Man or Woman.

Signalling

Earlier I included a video of a train going from Blyth to Benton North junction.

One thing you notice in the video, is that much of the signalling is still outdated semaphore signalling and there are lots of signal boxes.

Network Rail have two main methods to modernise the signalling.

  • In Norfolk, they have used modular colour light signals.
  • On the Cambrian Line in Wales, they have used full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

As there will only be a limited amount of trains using the line and the ECML will be fitted with the digital signalling, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the full digital signalling installed on the Northumberland Line.

Extra Northern Destinations

The obvious extra Northern destinations are Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and possibly Lynemouth.

It could all lead to a need for a passenger service to Newcastle via Ashington.

The other destination that could be served by a train on the Northumberland Line would be Morpeth station.

  • The track exists between Bedlington and Morpeth.
  • There used to be two intermediate stations between Bedlington and Morpeth, at Choppington and Hepscott.
  • There is an hourly service between Newcastle and Morpeth calling at Manors and Cramlington.
  • Manors station could be served by trains on the Northumberland Line, which pass through the station.

If Morpeth were to be served by the Northumberland Line, the problem would be that Cramlington would lose its service to and from Newcastle.

The Wikipedia entry for Cramlington station, says this about the station.

Northumberland County Council and the local rail users group SENRUG is campaigning to relocate the station to a new site 200 metres south of its present position, in order to better serve the town’s Manor Walks shopping centre, Westmorland Retail Park and main employment areas. The proposed site would also allow for the construction of a dedicated bus-rail interchange, a larger car park and serve several residential estates to the west built in the 1960s and 1970s.

That sounds a sensible, but cunning plan.

The simple way to give Cramlington an hourly service to Newcastle would be to have one tph of either CrossCountry, LNER or TransPennine Express stop at the station. But the companies might not want to introduce another stop.

Alternatively, the Morpeth train could continue South for a few minutes to a bay platform ar the new Cramlington station.

This Google Map shows Cramlington.

It looks like moving the station would be a good plan.

Future Traffic On The East Coast Main Line

The ECML between Newcastle and Berwick-on-Tweed is a very busy double-track railway.

Over the next few years, it is likely the following will happen.

  • Digital in-cab ERTMS signalling will allow large sections of 140 mph running on the ECML.
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh timings will drop to around three and a half hours. This timing was achieved by an InterCity 225 train in the 1980s.
  • Under four-hour timings will mean, passengers will switch to train from plane on the route.
  • Extra services will run between Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • There will certainly be three tph and possibly four tph between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.
  • Freight trains will be electric hauled at up to 120 mph.

It will be extremely difficult to fit the local services between Newcastle and Morpeth and Newcastle and Chathill into the traffic on the ECML.

The first improvement would be to run 110 mph battery electric trains between Carlisle and Morpeth and Chathill via Newcastle.

  • Many Morpeth and Newcastle trains are extended to Carlisle.
  • Carlisle and Newcastle id 61.5 miles, which with a small amount of electrification, would be within battery range.
  • Several services from Newcastle would be decarbonised.

To reduce the traffic on the ECML, these services could be rerouted via the Northumberland Line.

I suspect to Network Rail’s train planners, the Northumberland Line, is seen as a secondary route that can take the pressure from the ECML

Reopening The Northumberland Line In Sequence

My background is project management and I believe this project can be improved by good class project management.

I would do the project in this order.

Order A Fleet Of New Battery Electric Trains

These would have the following specification.

  • 100 mph or possible 110 mph on electrification on the ECML.
  • 100 mph on batteries, where the route allows.
  • 56 mile range on battery power.
  • Three- or four-cars
  • Ability to use digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

As I said earlier, the Hitachi specification for their Regional Battery Train based on a Class 385 train would be ideal, but other manufacturers would be capable of providing a suitable train.

Introduce The Trains Into Service

The trains would be introduced into service on the following routes from Newcastle.

  • Newcastle and Carlisle
  • Newcastle and Morpeth
  • Newcastle and Chathill

Note.

  1. There may need to be some extra electrification for the Newcastle and Carlisle service.
  2. Morpeth and Chathill would be served via the ECML.

Other routes from Newcastle could be possible.

Benefits would include.

  • Carlisle and Morpeth get electric train services from Newcastle.
  • Some services would be decarbonised.
  • The TOC would get feedback about the use of battery electric trains, in terms of passenger numbers and their comments.

Hopefully, the TOC would get information, that will help them plan future phases.

Test The Trains On The Northumberland Line

This would be for the following reasons.

  • To assess train performance.
  • Ascertain whether any changing would  be needed at Ashington.
  • Determine if any electrification would be needed to run any of the proposed services.

The TOC would continue to learn more.

Add A Single Platform On The Northumberland Line At Northumberland Park Station

Initially, I would only add a single platform at Northumberland Park station,

  • This would enable interchange between Northumberland Line and Metro services.
  • A temporary lift could be provided, as they were during the rebuilding of Abbey Wood station.
  • The extension to the station would be designed, so that all possible  future scenarios could be added later.

I would expect that the rebuilding of this station is on the critical path, so this should probably be performed early or in parallel with the introduction of the trains.

Benefits would include, the ability to start a shuttle service from the station to perhaps Carlisle via Manors and Newcastle.

Build A Single Platform Park-And-Ride Station At Bebside

I said earlier, that this Park-And-Ride station is important and it should be built early.

  • It is 6 miles from Ashington.
  • It is  4.5 miles from Cramlington.
  • It is proposed as a station for Blyth.
  • It is close to the A 189 dual carriageway.

It should be built early as a one-platform station with a large car park.

It would need a cross-over to turn back trains or the existing one at Bedlington could be used.

Reinstate A Single Platform Station At Bedlington

Bedlington station has some interesting remains.

  • There is a derelict platform on the Eastern (Up) track.
  • There are cross-overs to turnback trains.
  • There is a level crossing.

There is also a signal box with a signaller to keep order.

Start A Preview Service Between Newcastle and Bedlington

A preview service could be started once the following has been completed.

  • The track and signalling has passed all necessary inspections.
  • The trains have been certified for the route.
  • The interchange with the Metro has been completed at Northumberland Park station.
  • Either Bebside or Bedlington has been completed.
  • Drivers and other staff have been trained.

Starting a preview service should enable the future extensions of the service to be designed using some real passenger numbers and feedback.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 12 Comments

Shooter Urges Caution On Hydrogen Hubris

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the January 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Vivarail Chairman Adrian Shooter has urges caution about the widespread enthusiasm for hydrogen technology. In his keynote speech to the Golden Spanner Awards on 27 November, Mr. Shooter said the process to create ‘green hydrogen’ by electrolysis is ‘a wasteful use of electricity’ and was skeptical about using electricity to create hydrogen to then use a fuel cell to power a train, rather than charging batteries to power a train. ‘What you will discover is that a hydrogen train uses 3.5 times as much electricity because of inefficiencies in the electrolysis process and also in the fuel cells’ said Mr. Shooter. He also noted the energy density of hydrogen at 350 bar is only one-tenth of a similar quantity of diesel fuel, severely limiting the range of a hydrogen-powered train between refuelling.

Mr. Shooter then made the following points.

  • The complexity of delivering hydrogen to the railway depots.
  • The shorter range available from the amount of hydrogen that can be stored on a train compared to the range of a diesel train.
  • He points out limitations with the design of the Alstom Breeze train.

This is the last paragraph.

Whilst this may have seemed like a challenge designed purely to promote the battery alternatives that Vivarail is developing, and which he believes to be more efficient, Mr. Shooter explained: ‘I think that hydrogen fuel cell trains could work in this country, but people just need to remember that there are downsides. I’m sure we’ll see some, and in fact we should because competition improves the breed.’

i think Mr. Shooter may have made several good points.

These are my thoughts.

Creating Green Hydrogen

I haven’t done an analysis of the costs of creating green hydrogen from electrolysis, but I have a feeling, that electrolysis won’t be the only way to create large amounts of carbon-free hydrogen, in a few years.

These methods are currently available or under development or construction.

  • The hydrogen tram-buses in Pau have a personal electrolyser, that provides hydrogen at 350 bar.
  • London’s hydrogen buses will be provided with hydrogen from an electrolyser at Herne Bay by truck. Will the trucks be hydrogen-powered?

Some industrial processes like the Castner-Kellner process create hydrogen as a by-product.

In Shell Process To Make Blue Hydrogen Production Affordable, I describe the Shell Blue Hydrogen Process, which appears to be a way of making massive amounts of carbon-free hydrogen for processes like steel-making and cement production. Surely some could be piped or transported by truck to the rail depot.

In ITM Power and Ørsted: Wind Turbine Electrolyser Integration, I describe how ITM Power and Ørsted plan to create the hydrogen off shore and bring it by pipeline to the shore.

Note.

  1. The last two methods could offer savings in the cost of production of carbon-free hydrogen.
  2. Surely, the delivery trucks if used, must be hydrogen-powered.
  3. The Shell Blue Hydrogen Process uses natural gas as a feedstock and converts it to hydrogen using a newly-developed catalyst. The carbon-dioxide is captured and used or stored.
  4. If the local gas network has been converted to hydrogen, the hydrogen can be delivered to the depot or filling station through that gas network.

I very much feel that affordable hydrogen can be supplied to bus, train, tram or transport depot. For remote or difficult locations. personal electrolysers, powered by renewable electricity, can be used, as at Pau.

Hydrogen Storage On Trains

Liquid hydrogen could be the answer and Airbus are developing methods of storing large quantities on aircraft.

In What Size Of Hydrogen Tank Will Be Needed On A ZEROe Turbofan?, I calculated how much liquid hydrogen would be needed for this ZEROe Turbofan.

I calculate that to carry the equivalent amount of fuel to an Airbus A320neo would need a liquid hydrogen tank with a near 100 cubic metre capacity. This sized tank would fit in the rear fuselage.

I feel that in a few years, a hydrogen train will be able to carry enough liquid hydrogen in a fuel tank, but the fuel tank will be large.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I calculated how much liquid hydrogen would be needed to provide the same amount of energy as that carried in a full diesel tank on a Class 68 locomotive.

The locomotive would need 19,147 litres or 19.15 cubic metres of liquid hydrogen, which could be contained in a cylindrical tank with a diameter of 2 metres and a length of 6 metres.

Hydrogen Locomotives Or Multiple Units?

We have only seen first generation hydrogen trains so far.

This picture shows the Alstom Coradia iLint, which is a conversion of a Coradia Lint.

It is a so-so train and works reasonably well, but the design means there is a lot of transmission noise.

This is a visualisation of an Alstom Breeze or Class 600 train.

Note that the front half of the first car of the train, is taken up with a large hydrogen tank. It will be the same at the other end of the train.

As Mr. Shooter said, Alstom are converting a three-car train into a two-car train. Not all conversions live up to the hype of their proposers.

I would hope that the next generation of a hydrogen train designed from scratch, will be a better design.

I haven’t done any calculations, but I wonder if a lighter weight vehicle may be better.

Hydrogen Locomotives

I do wonder, if hydrogen locomotives are a better bet and easier to design!

  • There is a great need all over the world for zero-carbon locomotives to haul freight trains.
  • Powerful small gas-turbine engines, that can run on liquid hydrogen are becoming available.
  • Rolls-Royce have developed a 2.5 MW gas-turbine generator, that is the size of a beer-keg.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I wondered if the Rolls-Royce generator could power a locomotive, the size of a Class 68 locomotive.

This was my conclusion.

I feel that there are several routes to a hydrogen-powered railway locomotive and all the components could be fitted into the body of a diesel locomotive the size of a Class 68 locomotive.

Consider.

  • Decarbonising railway locomotives and ships could be a large market.
  • It offers the opportunities of substantial carbon reductions.
  • The small size of the Rolls-Royce 2.5 MW generator must offer advantages.
  • Some current diesel-electric locomotives might be convertible to hydrogen power.

I very much feel that companies like Rolls-Royce and Cummins (and Caterpillar!), will move in and attempt to claim this lucrative worldwide market.

In the UK, it might be possible to convert some existing locomotives to zero-carbon, using either liquid hydrogen, biodiesel or aviation biofuel.

Perhaps, hydrogen locomotives could replace Chiltern Railways eight Class 68 locomotives.

  • A refuelling strategy would need to be developed.
  • Emissions and noise, would be reduced in Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street stations.
  • The rakes of carriages would not need any modifications to use existing stations.

It could be a way to decarbonise Chiltern Railways without full electrification.

It looks to me that a hydrogen-powered locomotive has several advantages over a hydrogen-powered multiple unit.

  • It can carry more fuel.
  • It can be as powerful as required.
  • Locomotives could work in pairs for more power.
  • It is probably easier to accommodate the hydrogen tank.
  • Passenger capacity can be increased, if required by adding more coaches.

It should also be noted that both hydrogen locomotives and multiple units can build heavily on technology being developed for zero-carbon aviation.

The Upward Curve Of Battery Power

Sparking A Revolution is the title an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is mainly an interview with  Andrew Barr of Hitachi Rail.

The article contains a box, called Costs And Power, where this is said.

The costs of batteries are expected to halve in the next years, before dropping further again by 2030.

Hitachi cites research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) which expects costs to fall from £135/kWh at the pack level today to £67/kWh in 2030 and £47/kWh in 3030.

United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) are predicting that battery energy density will double in the next 15 years, from 700 Wh/l to 1400 Wh/l in 2-35, while power density (fast charging) is likely to increase four times in the same period from 3 kW/kg to 12 kW/kg in 2035.

These are impressive improvements that can only increase the performance and reduce the cost of batteries in all applications.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

This infographic gives the specification of Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which they are creating in partnership with Hyperdrive Innovation.

Note that Hitachi are promising a battery life of 8-10 years.

Financing Batteries

This paragraph is from this page on BuyaCar, which is entitled Electric Car Battery Leasing: Should I Lease Or Buy The Batteries?

When you finance or buy a petrol or diesel car it’s pretty simple; the car will be fitted with an engine. However, with some electric cars you have the choice to finance or buy the whole car, or to pay for the car and lease the batteries separately.

I suspect that battery train manufacturers, will offer similar finance models for their products.

This paragraph is from this page on the Hyperdrive Innovation web site.

With a standardised design, our modular product range provides a flexible and scalable battery energy storage solution. Combining a high-performance lithium-ion NMC battery pack with a built in Battery Management System (BMS) our intelligent systems are designed for rapid deployment and volume manufacture, supplying you with class leading energy density and performance.

I can envisage that as a battery train ages, every few years or so, the batteries will get bigger electrically, but still be the same physical size, due to the improvements in battery technology, design and manufacture.

I have been involved in the finance industry both as a part-owner of a small finance company and as a modeller of the dynamics of their lending. It looks to me, that train batteries could be a very suitable asset for financing by a fund. But given the success of energy storage funds like Gore Street and Gresham House, this is not surprising.

I can envisage that battery electric trains will be very operator friendly, as they are likely to get better with age and they will be very finance-friendly.

Charging Battery Trains

I must say something about the charging of battery trains.

Battery trains will need to be charged and various methods are emerging.

Using Existing Electrification

This will probably be one of the most common methods used, as many battery electric services will be run on partly on electrified routes.

Take a typical route for a battery electric train like London Paddington and Oxford.

  • The route is electrified between London Paddington and Didcot Junction.
  • There is no electrification on the 10.4 miles of track between Didcot Junction and Oxford.

If a full battery on the train has sufficient charge to take the train from Didcot Junction to Oxford and back, charging on the main line between London Paddington and Didcot Junction, will be all that will be needed to run the service.

I would expect that in the UK, we’ll be seeing battery trains using both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail electrification.

Short Lengths Of New Strategic Electrification

I think that Great Western Railway would like to run either of Hitachi’s two proposed battery electric trains to Swansea.

As there is 45.7 miles pf track without .electrification, some form of charging in Swansea station, will probably be necessary.

The easiest way would probably be to electrify Swansea station and perhaps for a short distance to the North.

This Google Map shows Swansea station and the railway leading North.

Note.

  1. There is a Hitachi Rail Depot at the Northern edge of the map.
  2. Swansea station is in South-West corner of the map.
  3. Swansea station has four platforms.

Swansea station would probably make an excellent battery train hub, as trains typically spend enough time in the station to fully charge the batteries before continuing.

There are other tracks and stations of the UK, that I would electrify to enable the running of battery electric trains.

  • Leeds and York, which would enable carbon-free London and Edinburgh services via Leeds and help TransPennine services. This is partially underway.
  • Leicester and East Midlands Parkway and Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield – These two sections would enable EMR InterCity services to go battery electric.
  • Sheffield and Leeds via Meadowhall, Barnsley Dearne Valley and the Wakefield Line, which would enable four trains per hour (tph) between Sheffield and Leeds and an extension of EMR InterCity services to Leeds.
  • Hull and Brough, would enable battery electric services to Hull and Beverley.
  • Scarborough and Seamer, would enable electric services services to Scarborough and between Hull and Scarborough.
  • Middlesbrough and Redcar, would enable electric services services to Teesside.
  • Crewe and Chester and around Llandudno Junction station – These two sections would enable Avanti West Coast service to Holyhead to go battery electric.
  • Shrewsbury station – This could become a battery train hub, as I talked about for Swansea.
  • Taunton and Exeter and around Penzance, Plymouth and Westbury stations – These three sections would enable Great Western Railway to cut a substantial amount of carbon emissions.
  • Exeter, Yeovil Junction and Salisbury stations. – Electrifying these three stations would enable South Western Railway to run between London and Exeter using Hitachi Regional Battery Trains, as I wrote in Bi-Modes Offered To Solve Waterloo-Exeter Constraints.

We will also need fast chargers for intermediate stations, so that a train can charge the batteries on a long route.

I know of two fast chargers under development.

I believe it should be possible to battery-electrify a route by doing the following.

  • Add short lengths of electrification and fast charging systems as required.
  • Improve the track, so that trains can use their full performance.
  • Add ERTMS signalling.
  • Add some suitable trains.

Note.

  1. I feel ERTMS  signalling with a degree of automatic train control could be used with automatic charging systems, to make station stops more efficient.
  2. In my view, there is no point in installing better modern trains, unless the track is up to their performance.

January 4, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Possible Destinations For An Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

Currently, the following routes are run or are planned to be run by Hitachi’s Class 800, 802, 805 and 810 trains, where most of the route is electrified and sections do not have any electrification.

  • Avanti West Coast – Euston and Chester – 21 miles
  • Avanti West Coast – Euston and Shewsbury – 29.6 miles
  • Avanti West Coast – Euston and Wrexham General – 33 miles
  • Grand Central – Kings Cross and Sunderland – 47 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Bedwyn – 13.3 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads- 24.5 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Cheltenham – 43.3 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Great Malvern – 76 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Oxford – 10.4 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Penzance – 252 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Swansea – 45.7 miles
  • Hull Trains – Kings Cross and Hull – 36 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Harrogate – 18.5 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Huddersfield – 17 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Hull – 36 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Middlesbrough – 21 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Sunderland – 47 miles

Note.

  1. The distance is the length of line on the route without electrification.
  2. Five of these routes are under twenty miles
  3. Many of these routes have very few stops on the section without electrification.

I suspect that Avanti West Coast, Grand Central, GWR and LNER have plans for other destinations.

A Battery Electric Train With A Range of 56 Miles

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train is deescribed in this infographic.

The battery range is given as 90 kilometres or 56 miles.

This battery range would mean that of the fifteen destinations I proposed, the following could could be achieved on a full battery.

  • Chester
  • Shewsbury
  • Wrexham General
  • Bedwyn
  • Bristol Temple Meads
  • Cheltenham
  • Oxford
  • Swansea
  • Hull
  • Harrogate
  • Huddersfield
  • Lincoln
  • Middlesbrough

Of these a return trip could probably be achieved without charging to Chester, Shrewsbury, Bedwyn, Bristol Temple Meads, Oxford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Lincoln and Middlesbrough.

  • 86.7 % of destinations could be reached, if the train started with a full battery
  • 60 % of destinations could be reached on an out and back basis, without charging at the destination.

Only just over a quarter of the routes would need, the trains to be charged at the destination.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that Hitachi have done some analysis to determine the best battery size. But that is obviously to be expected.

 

 

 

December 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On Batteries In East Midland Railway’s Class 810 Trains

Since Hitachi announced the Regional Battery Train in July 2020, which I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains, I suspect things have moved on.

This is Hitachi’s infographic for the Regional Battery Train.

Note.

  1. The train has a range of 90 km/56 miles on battery power.
  2. Speed is given at between 144 kph/90 mph and 162 kph/100 mph
  3. The performance using electrification is not given, but it is probably the same as similar trains, such as Class 801 or Class 385 trains.
  4. Hitachi has identified its fleets of 275 trains as potential early recipients.

It is also not stated how many of the three diesel engines in a Class 800 or Class 802 trains will be replaced by batteries.

I suspect if the batteries can be easily changed for diesel engines, operators will be able to swap diesel engines and battery packs according to the routes.

Batteries In Class 803 Trains

I first wrote about the Class 803 trains for East Coast Trains in Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service, which I posted in March 2019.

This sentence from Wikipedia, describes a big difference between Class 803 and Class 801 trains.

Unlike the Class 801, another non-bi-mode AT300 variant which despite being designed only for electrified routes carries a diesel engine per unit for emergency use, the new units will not be fitted with any, and so would not be able to propel themselves in the event of a power failure. They will however be fitted with batteries to enable the train’s on-board services to be maintained, in case the primary electrical supplies would face a failure.

Nothing is said about how the battery is charged. It will probably be charged from the overhead power, when it is working.

The Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

Hitachi announced the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train in this press release in December 2020.

This is Hitachi’s infographic for the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

Note.

  1. The train is battery-powered in stations and whilst accelerating away.
  2. It says that only one engine will be replaced by batteries.
  3. Fuel and carbon savings of 20 % are claimed.

Nothing has been said in anything, I’ve read about these trains, as to whether there is regenerative braking to batteries. I would be very surprised if fuel and carbon savings of 20 % could be attained without regenerative braking to batteries.

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I discussed the question in the title.

This is a shortened version of what I said in that post.

If you type “Class 800 regenerative braking” into Google, you will find this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

If you search for brake in the document, you find this paragraph.

In addition to the GU, other components installed under the floor of drive cars include the traction converter, fuel tank, fire protection system, and brake system.

Note that GU stands for generator unit.

The document provides this schematic of the traction system.

Note that BC which is described as battery charger.

Is that for a future traction battery or a smaller one used for hotel power as in the Class 803 train?

As a Control and Electrical Engineer, it strikes me that it wouldn’t be the most difficult problem to add a traction battery to the system.

From what Hitachi have indicated in videos, it appears that they are aiming for the battery packs to be a direct replacement for the generator unit.

Generator Unit Arrangement In Class 810 Trains

When I wrote Rock Rail Wins Again!, which was about the ordering of these trains, the reason for four engines wasn’t known.

It now appears, that the extra power is needed to get the same 125 mph performance on diesel.

The formation of a five-car Class 802 train is as follows.

DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF

Note.

  1. The three generator units are in the three middle cars.
  2. The three middle cars are motored.
  3. The two driver cars are trailer cars.

How are Hitachi going to put four generator units into the three middle cars?

  • I wonder if, the engines can be paired, with some auxiliaries like fuel-tanks and radiators shared between the generators.
  • A well-designed pair might take up less space than two singles.
  • A pair could go in the centre car and singles either side.

It will be interesting to see what the arrangement is, when it is disclosed.

Is there the possibility, that some of the mathematics for the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train has indicated that a combination of generator units and battery packs can give the required 125 mph performance?

  • Battery packs could need less space than diesel generators.
  • Regenerative braking could be used to charge the batteries.
  • How far would the train be able to travel without electrification?
  • Trains would not run the diesel engines in the station.
  • Could the fuel and carbon savings of 20 %, that are promised for the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, be realised?

There may be a train buried in the mathematics, that with some discontinuous electrification could handle the East Midlands Railway Intercity services, that generates only a small amount of carbon!

Would A Mix Of Diesel Generators And Battery Packs Enable 125 mph Running?

Consider.

  • The trial Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train intended for the London Paddington and Penzance route, will probably have two diesel generators and a battery pack according to what Hitachi have said in their infographic for the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.
  • East of Plymouth some of the stretches of the route are challenging, which resulted in the development and ordering of Class 802 trains, that are more powerful, than the Class 800 trains used on easier routes.
  • An Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train with two diesel generators and a battery pack, needs to be as powerful as a Class 802 train with three diesel generators.
  • So effectively does that mean that in the right installation with top class controlling software, that in fast running, a battery pack can be considered equivalent to a diesel generator?

I don’t know, but if it’s possible, it does bring other advantages.

  • Fuel and carbon savings of 20 %
  • No diesel running in stations or whilst accelerating away.
  • Better passenger environment.

Configurations of 3-plus-1 and 2-plus 2 might be possible.

 

 

December 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Report Reveals The Environmental Benefits HS2 Will Deliver

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A significant report from the High-Speed Rail Group has been published today and details how the environmental team working on HS2 are delivering connected, climate-resilient habitats at a new scale, raising ambition for future infrastructure projects.

The report also suggests that High Speed Two will bring forward other projects.

The Borders Railway

The article says this about the Borders Railway.

Besides providing capacity, an extended high-speed rail network could catalyse wider public transport upgrades, such as improving the case for reopening the Borders Railway to Carlisle.

It appears to me, that to go South, from towns like Galashiels, Hawick, Peebles and Selkirk will be quicker if you change at Carlisle to High Speed Two.

Battery Electric Trains On The Borders Railway

The Borders Railway could also be one, that is ideal for battery electric operation.

  • It is already electrified at the Edinburgh end of the route.
  • Newcraighall station, where the current wires end, is only thirty miles or so from the current end of the line at Tweedbank.
  • Tweedbank and Hawick are about 15 miles.
  • At the Southern end of the route it joins the West Coast Main Line to the North of Carlisle.
  • Hawick and the West Coast Main are about 35 miles.
  • The West Coast Main Line is fully electrified.

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification of their Regional Battery Train

As Hitachi and others are talking of trains with a range of over fifty miles on batteries, I can see a sensible plan evolving to run battery electric trains between Edinburgh and Carlisle.

  • At both ends trains would join the Borders Railway with full batteries.
  • It might be sensible to extend the electrification at both ends for perhaps five to ten miles.
  • From the South trains could certainly reach Hawick and might possibly be able to reach Tweedbank.
  • From the North trains could certainly reach Tweedbank and might possibly be able to reach Hawick.

I feel that by using the best of modern battery technology and with charging during extended stops at Hawick and Tweedbank, battery electric trains could work between Carlisle and Edinburgh.

 

 

December 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Railfuture North East – New Station At Team Valley

When I wrote Beeching Reversal – Ferryhill Station Reopening, I used this document from Railfuture, for information.

The document lists a series of campaigns and a New Station At Team Valley was one.

This is their summary of this campaign.

Construct a new Station at Team Valley where ECML passes through Team Valley near the site of
the former Low Fell station. The station could be served by a new local service from York or
Darlington to Newcastle via the ECML, the existing TransPennine Express services, the new Teesside
– Tyneside service via the Stillington freight line, or by an extension of the proposed local service
from Northumberland. This proposal is particularly relevant because the roads into
Newcastle from the south are congested at peak times and there are air quality issues to the extent
that the City Council is considering charging arrangements to help limit the traffic flow

These are my thoughts.

Location Of The Station

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the location of Low Fell station on the 1911 Railway Clearing House map.

Note.

  1. The still-open Dunston station in the West.
  2. Low Fell station at the Southern junction of the triangular junction.

This Google Map shows the same lines today.

Note.

  1. Dunston station towards the North-East corner of the map.
  2. The triangular junction can be picked out.
  3. The Team Valley, where according to Wikipedia, there are 20,000 jobs and large retail stores.
  4. The East Coast Main Line passing down the Eastern side of Team Valley.

This second Google Map shows, where the station might have been.

Note.

  1. The giveaway is the road leading to the bridge is called Station Road.
  2. A Royal Mail site with lots of red vans is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. But was the station North or South of Eastern Avenue?

There’s certainly a lot of space.

Reasons For The Station

This Google Map sums up the reasons for the station.

Note.

  1. The East Coast Main Line running down the East side of the site.
  2. There are a lot of businesses in Team Valley.
  3. If 20,000 work at the site, how many visitors does it get in a day?

Several trading estates and large shopping centres have railway stations in the UK. So why not Team Valley?

I can understand why Railfuture said this in their proposal.

This proposal is particularly relevant because the roads into Newcastle from the south are congested at peak times and there are air quality issues to the extent that the City Council is considering charging arrangements to help limit the traffic flow

I certainly can’t fault Railfuture’s desire to see a station at Team Valley

Current Passenger Train Services Through Team Valley

These services currently pass the location of the proposed Team Valley station.

  • LNER – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via York, Darlington. Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • LNER – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  • CrossCountry – Plymouth and Edinburgh via Totnes, Newton Abbot, Exeter St Davids, Tiverton Parkway, Taunton, Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  • CrossCountry – Southampton and Newcastle via Birmingham New Street, Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington and Durham
  • TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth
  • TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Newcastle via Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Northallerton, Darlington and Durham

Note.

  1. All trains have a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  2. All trains call at York, Darlington and Newcastle.
  3. I have missed out some of the intermediate stations, where trains don’t call at least hourly.
  4. I have missed out stations South of Birmingham New Street.
  5. A few Northern Trains services pass through at Peak times or to go to and from depots.

I suspect some of these services could stop and to encourage commuters to and from Newcastle, Durham and Darlington to swap from car to train,

I also suspect that Team Valley station needs a frequency of at least two tph and if possible four! Four tph would give a Turn-up-and-Go service to Darlington, Newcastle and York.

Planned And Possible Future Passenger Train Services Through Team Valley

From various sources, these services are either planned or possible.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two are planning the following services, that will pass through.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub, York, Darlington and Durham.
  • London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common, East Midlands Hub and York.
  • London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common, East Midlands Hub, York and Darlington.

Note.

  1. All trains have a frequency of one tph.
  2. All trains call at York, East Midlands Hub, York and Newcastle.
  3. All trains will be 200 metres long.

It is extemely unlikely, that these trains will stop in Team Valley station, but I would feel, that the platforms should be able to accommodate these trains and other long trains, to future-proof the design and to cater for possible emergencies, diversions or engineering works.

The longest trains on the route would probably be one of the following.

  • A pair of five-car Class 800 trains or similar, which would be 260 metres long.
  • A High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train, which would be 200 metres long.

Unless provision needed to be made for pairs of High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

East Coast Trains

From next year, East Coast Trains, intend to run a five trains per day (tpd) service between London and Edinburgh via Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.

These will pass straight through Team Valley station.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

Northern Powerhouse Rail has an objective to to run four tph between Leeds and Newcastle in 58 minutes.

At present there are only three tph on this route, two tph from TransPennine Express and one tph from CrossCountry. All three services stop at Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.

Northern Powerhouse Rail need to decide the stopping pattern for their four tph between Leeds and Newcastle, some of which could call at Team Valley

In Beeching Reversal – Ferryhill Station Reopening, I did a similar analysis to this for Ferryhill station and concluded that the fourth service should be a London Kings Cross and Edinburgh with just two stops at Newcastle and Leeds.

Railfuture’s Proposals

Railfuture said this in their document about services to Team Valley

The station could be served by a new local service from York or
Darlington to Newcastle via the ECML, the existing TransPennine Express services, the new Teesside
– Tyneside service via the Stillington freight line, or by an extension of the proposed local service
from Northumberland.

There are four services here.

  • A local service from York or Darlington to Newcastle via the ECML.
  • The existing TransPennine Express services.
  • The new Teesside– Tyneside service via the Stillington freight line
  • By an extension of the proposed local service from Northumberland.

I shall cover these three services in the next three sections.

A New Local Service From York Or Darlington To Newcastle Via The ECML

This service could have the following characteristics.

  • It could call at York, Darlington, Northallerton, the new Ferryhill station, Durham, Chester-le-Street and Team Valley stations.
  • It could be hourly or two tph.
  • The Southern terminal could be York, Darlington or possibly Leeds.
  • The route would be fully electrified, if the route between Leeds and York were to be finally wired.

If the Southern terminal were Leeds this would give Northern Powerhouse Rail, their fourth service between Leeds and Newcastle.

The Existing TransPennine Express Services

TransPennine Express runs these two services through Team Valley station.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth
  • Manchester Airport and Newcastle via Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Northallerton, Darlington and Durham

Note.

  1. You can make arguments for either or both trains to stop at Team Valley station.
  2. Both trains connect to Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.
  3. You can argue for direct connections to Edinburgh, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport.

The arguments will be partly settled by the number of tickets purchased.

Tyneside And Teesside Via Ferryhill And The Stillington Freight Line

Will this proposed service call at Team Valley station?

  • As this is likely to be the faster service between Tyneside and Teesside, I suspect this service will be a prime candidate to call at Team Valley station.
  • It is also favoured to call by Railfuture.

It would be useful to know how many people from Teesside regularly go to Team Valley to work or buy something.

A Service To Northumberland

This would be a new service on a disused freight line to Ashington and Blyth.

Little has been settled yet about this line.

If trains went South of Team Valley, where would they terminate?

Thoughts On The Trains

It is likely, that Cross Country, East Coast Trains, High Speed Two, LNER andTransPennine Express will be running trains capable of 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line through Team Valley station.

In Beeching Reversal – Ferryhill Station Reopening, I said this about the trains for any passenger service that uses the East Coast Main Line between Newcastle and Ferryhill.

I also feel that as some of these services will be running on the East Coast Main Line between Ferryhill and Newcastle, it probably would be desirable for these services to be run by Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains, which would be capable of maintaining the maximum speed for the route, as all the other passenger services can at present!

Increasingly, in the UK, over the last few years, we have seen increasing numbers of 110 mph local trains working on high speed lines, like the East Coast Main Line, Great Western Main Line, Midland Main Line and West Coast Main Lines, as these increase the capacity and mix better with 125 mph expresses.

But it is my belief that in the future we’ll be seeing more 125 mph services on main lines to increase the capacity.

  • Great Western Railway are already running Class 800 trains to Oxford and Bedwyn from Paddington.
  • In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I wrote about using 125 mph trains to speed up all services into Kings Cross.
  • When High Speed Two trains start sharing the East and West Coast Main Lines, all services would probably need to be fast services on the shared lines.

The specification of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

I am certain, that the train could be built to this specification for high speed routes, like the ones I indicated earlier to Bedwyn, Oxford, Kings Lynn and to share with High Speed Two.

  • 125 mph on electrified lines.
  • 140 mph on electrified lines with full in-cab digital ERTMS signalling.
  • 100 mph on battery power for 56 miles (90 kilometres)

Many places in the UK, will join Bedwyn, Oxford and Thanet in having high speed commuter services to their regional large city.

Could There Be A Combined Service?

As I said earlier, Railfuture are proposing these four services in the North East.

  • A local service from York or Darlington to Newcastle via the ECML.
  • The existing TransPennine Express services.
  • The new Teesside– Tyneside service via the Stillington freight line
  • By an extension of the proposed local service from Northumberland.

In the same document, they also say this about a Newcastle and Berwick service via Morpeth.

Developing a North of Morpeth Local Service by extending local Newcastle – Morpeth services to
Berwick offering an hourly service calling at all stations, possibly linking to similar service from
Berwick to Edinburgh. This service need not terminate in Newcastle and could be extended to serve
Team Valley and areas in County Durham that are on electrified lines.

It strikes me, that if you add up all their proposals, Railfuture could be proposing a Berwick and York service with the following characteristics.

Hourly or two tph.

Northern terminus of Berwick or Blyth.

Southern terminus of Leeds, York or Darlington.

Routing via East Coast Main Line to the North of Ferryhill station.

Routing via East Coast Main Line or Stillington Line and Eaglescliffe to the South of Ferryhill station.

Calling at York, Northallerton, Darlington, Ferryhill, Chester-le-Street, Team Valley, Newcastle, Manors, Ceamlington, Morpeth, Pegswood, Widdrington, Acklington, Alnmouth and Chathill.

Trains would be a version of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train or something like it, with the specification I proposed earlier.

  • 125 mph on electrified lines.
  • 140 mph on electrified lines with full in-cab digital ERTMS signalling.
  • 100 mph on battery power for 56 miles (90 kilometres)
  • A four or five car train would probably be sufficient.

It would effectively be a High Speed Metro. And probably, one of the first of many, that will be built around the world.

Conclusion

A new station at Team Valley seems a sensible idea.

As my logic shows, I think that between Berwick and York, is a section of line, that might be able to support a High Speed Metro.

 

 

 

 

December 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment