The Anonymous Widower

Will Abellio East Midlands Railway Go Flirting?

Abellio take over the East Midlands franchise in a few days and it will be renamed to East Midlands Railway.

It has already disclosed that it will have three divisions.

  • EMR Intercity for long distance services from London St Pancras
  • EMR Regional for local services
  • EMR Electrics for the London St Pancras to Corby service

It has also confirmed it has ordered thirty-three AT-300 trains for EMR Intercity.

Wikipedia also shows, that the following trains will be transferred to East Midlands Railway.

The first three fleets will come from Abellio-run franchises and the last will be released fairly soon, as Hull Trains new fleet is arriving.

Looking at the EMR Regional fleet it will comprise.

Consider.

  • Many probably feel that the Class 153 trains are inadequate.
  • Except for the Class 170 trains, these trains are around thirty years old.
  • Some of the Class 156 trains, which will be transferred from Greater Anglia, are currently being replaced with brand-new Class 755 trains.
  • Abellio are going through extensive fleet replacement exercises in ScotRail, Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains.

The EMR Regional routes, that they will run are a mixed bunch.

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

Digging out the blurb for each route shows the following.

Norwich – Nottingham – Derby

Crewe – Derby – Nottingham

Matlock – Derby – Nottingham

Nottingham – Lincoln – Grimsby

Nottingham – Worksop

Nottingham – Skegness

Leicester – Nottingham

Peterborough – Lincoln – Doncaster

Barton-On-Humber – Cleethorpes

Lincoln – London

London – Oakham – Melton Mowbray

London- Leeds – York

 

Newark North Gate – Lincoln

I have come to a few conclusions.

The Fleet Is Not Being Expanded Enough To Retire The Class 153 Trains

Consider.

  • There are twenty-one Class 153 trains.
  • Five Class 170 trains and nine Class 156 trains are being added to the fleet.

Surely, this means that some Class 153 trains will be retained.

Perhaps, the remaining Class 153  trains, will be reorganised into two-car trains to increase capacity.

Extended Services Will Be Run Using New Bi-Mode AT-300 Trains

Services to Leeds and York, Oakham and Melton Mowbray and Lincoln would appear to be run by the new AT-300 trains that have been ordeed from Hitachi.

I’ve no problem with that,but there are three developments that may effect passenger numbers.

  • There is a lot of housing development in the Corby, Oakham and Melton Mowbray area.
  • There is a very large renewable energy sector developing in North Lincolnshire.
  • Sheffield are proposing to add new stations between Sheffield and Leeds, at Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley.

Does the proposed service pattern take this fully into account?

In a way it doesn’t matter, as the worst that could happen, is that East Midlands Railway will need to increase the fleet size by a small number of trains.

Hopefully, they’ll just need to get Hitachi to build the trains!

Most Regional Services Will Be Run By Refurbished Modern Trains

Most services will be run by refurbished modern trains with the following features.

  • More reliable service
  • Improved comfort
  • Passenger information system
  • Free on-board wi-fi
  • At-seat power sockets
  • USB points
  • Air-conditioning
  • Tables at all seats
  • Increased luggage space

Can East Midlands Railway Refurbish Their Augmented Fleet To Meet Their Required Standards?

Consider.

  • The Class 170 trains are relatively recent and were built to a high standard, so can probably meet EMR’s standard.
  • The Class 158 trains are thirty years old and were built to a high standard, so they might be able to be upgraded to EMR’s standard.
  • The Class 156 trains are thirty years old and noisy and old-fashioned, so will need a lot of work to bring them up to EMR’s standard.
  • The Class 153 trains are thirty years old and only one car, so would probably be best retired or reduced to an auxiliary role like a bicycle car.
  • Only the Class 170 and Class 158 trains can be high standard trains.
  • All trains are diesel and only the Class 170 trains are possibly planned to be upgraded to more economical diesel hybrid trains

One additional option might be to refurbish some of the Class 222 trains, when they are replaced by the new Hitachi AT-300 trains on main line services, so they were suitable for the longer regional routes.

Will East Midlands Railway Replace The Fleet?

In their three other franchises in the UK; Greater Anglia, ScotRail and West Midlands Trains, Abellio have opted for replacement of all or a substantial part of the fleet.

So will the same action be taken at East Midlands Railway?

The company could do a lot worse, than invest in a fleet of Class 755 trains like Greater Anglia.

  • They could be a mix of lengths, so each route could have a train with capacity for the traffic.
  • The trains may be capable of 125 mph running on the Midland Main Line and the East Coast Main Line.
  • The interiors meet the company’s requirements.
  • The trains could use electrification , where it exists.
  • The trains could be fast enough to cover for the AT-300 trains.
  • Abellio Greater Anglia will soon have a large knowledge base for the trains.

The clincher could be, that as electrification increases, the trains could fit batteries and generate less carbon.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abellio East Midlands Railway buy a fleet of Class 755 trains for their EMR Regional services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rock Rail Wins Again!

This article on the Railway Gazette, is entitled Abellio Orders East Midlands Inter-City Fleet.

The order can be summarised as follows.

  • The trains will be Hitachi AT-300 trains
  • There will be thirty-three bi-mode trains of five cars.
  • The trains will be 125 mph capable.
  • Unlike the similar Class 802 trains, the trains will have 24 metre long cars, instead of 26 metres.
  • The new trains will have an extra diesel engine.
  • The new trains will cost a total of £400 million.

A few of my thoughts.

I shall constantly refer to an earlier post called Vere Promises East Midlands Bi-Modes In 2022.

Cost Of The Trains

In the earlier post, I calculated that the five five-car AT-300 all-electric trains, ordered by First Group for London and Edinburgh services cost four million pounds per car.

Thirty-three trains at this four million pounds per car, works out at £660 million, which is sixty-five percent higher than the price Abellio is quoted as paying.

Abellio are actually paying just £2.42 million per car or forty percent less First Group.

So are Abellio buying a cut price special?

As Abellio East Midlands Railway will be competing up against LNER’s Azumas on some journeys, I can’t see that running a second class train would be a sound commercial decision.

I am left to the conclusion, that Abellio have got a very good deal from Hitachi.

What Diesel Power Is Used?

In a five-car Class 802 train, there are three MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engines, each of 700 kW , which gives a total power of 2,100 kW.

If the Abellio train needs this power, with four diesel engines, each must have 525 kW.

Not sure yet, but this could save a couple of tonnes in weight.

I doubt that Hitachi are dissatisfied with the performance of the MTU diesel engines in the current Class 800, 801 and 802 trains, as there are no media reports of any ongoing problems. So I feel that they could go with the same supplier for the trains for Abellio East Midlands Railway.

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.

The only mention of the R-word is in this paragraph.

An RGS-compliant integrated on-train data recorder (OTDR) and juridical recording unit (JRU), and an EN-compliant energy
meter to record energy consumption and regeneration are fitted to the train.

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 BC which is described as battery charger.

Braking energy doesn’t appear to be re-used to power the train, but to provide hotel power for the train.

I talk about this in more detail in Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?.

In my view, it is an outdated design compared to some of those seen in the latest road vehicles and trains from other manufacturers.

This is a sentence from the Railway Gazette article.

According to Hitachi, the EMR units will be an ‘evolution’ of the AT300 design supplied to other UK operators, with 24 m long vehicles rather than 26 m, and a slightly modified nose profile.

So does that evolution include regenerative braking to batteries on the train.

This could have advantages.

  • improved acceleration and smoother braking
  • Less electricity and diesel consumption.
  • No running of diesel engines in stations.

I’m only speculating, but could the batteries or supercapacitors be under the car without a diesel engine? A balanced design might make this the middle car of the train

There must also be the possibility, that instead of using MTU diesel engines, the trains use MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

Why shouldn’t Hitachi get their respected supplier to do as much of the hard work as possible?

Train Length

A five-car Class 222 train, which work the Midland Main Line now, consists of two 23.85 metre and three 22.82 metre cars. So it is 116.16 metres long.

The article says the cars in the new trains will be 24 metres long,,so a new train will be 1220 metres long or 3.84 metres longer.

This will probably mean that there will be no need for costly and disruptive platform lengthening at a couple of stations.

Capacity

Abellio have stated that passengers like having a table and that they will be offering a catering service

So will we see most seats having a table?

Chiltern have proved it’s a philosophy that works for all stakeholders!

This means that capacity comparisons with the current trains will be difficult, as you’re comparing apples with oranges.

Hopefully, we’ll get more details soon!

Splitting And Joining

I would assume the new trains will have the ability to split and join an route like the other Hitachi trains.

This could be very useful in organising trains in the limited number of paths South of Kettering.

A ten-car train might leave St. Pancras as two five-car units running as a pair. It could split at East Midlands Parkway station and one train could go to Nottingham and the other to Derby. Coming South the two trains would join at East Midlands Parkway.

A Nose Job

I’m intrigued by the phrase “slightly different nose profile” in the extract I quoted earlier.

Have Hitachi’s champion origamists found a way of designing a train which can split and join with both an aerodynamic nose and a corridor connection?

After their experience with the Class 385 train and its curved windows, I suspect Hitachi have learned a lot. Could for instance one end of the five-car train have a Class 800-style nose and the other an improved Class 385-style front end?

Trains would mate blunt-to-blunt, so the Southern train would always point towards London and the Northern train would always point towards Sheffield.

I used to have a friend, who learned origami skills at Hiroshima in the 1950s, whilst doing National Service in the Army.

I don’t think my proposal is impossible, but I’l admit it’s unusual!

  • The blunt end might have a pair of doors, each with a flat window, thus giving the driver an uninterrupted view, when driving from that end.
  • When the trains connected the doors would open and swing forward. The gang way would unfold probably from under the cab The driver’s desk would probably fold away, as the two cabs wouldn’t be needed in a ten-car train.
  • Connect and disconnect would be totally automatic.

Effectively, two five-car trains would convert into a ten-car train.

The Number Of Trains

In my earlier post, I estimated that Abellio East Midlands Railway would buy 140 bi-mode carriages.

This works out as 35 trains, as against the thirty-three actually ordered.

This is close enough to say, that these new trains are only for main line services and will not be used on the electric services to Corby, which I estimate will be another seven 240 metre-long electric trains

A Complete Fleet Renewal

This is a paragraph from the Railway Gazette article.

Abellio UK Managing Director Dominic Booth said the new trains would ‘form the centrepiece of our ambitious plans for a complete replacement of all the trains on the East Midlands Railway’, representing ‘a more than £600m investment to really improve the region’s railway’.

When Abellio say renewal, they mean renewal.

So will Bombardier or another manufacturer receive a consolation prize of the seven high-capacity 240 metre long electric trains for the St. Pancras and Corby service?

A version of the Abellio part-owned, West Midlands Trains‘s, Class 730 train, would surely do just fine.

The Role Of Rock Rail

The trains will be leased from Rock Rail.

The Rock Rail web site gives this insight.

Rock Rail’s game changing approach to rolling stock funding has:

  • Enabled long term institutional investors to invest directly into a new sector.
  • Driven better value for government, operators and passengers.
  • Extended the market for infrastructure finance.

Rock Rail works closely with the franchise train operators and manufactures to ensure a collaborative approach to design, manufacture and acceptance of the new state of the art trains on time and to budget as well as to manage the long-term residual value and releasing risks.

It’s obviously an approach that has worked, as they have been behind three rolling stock deals at they have funded trains for Moorgate services, Greater Anglia and South Western Railway in recent months.

The Abellio East Midlands Railway makes that a fourth major fleet.

Take a few minutes to explore their web site.

Rock Rail say their backers are institutional investors. So who are these faceless institutions with deep pockets.

I have seen Standard Life Aberdeen mentioned in connection with Rock Rail. This Scottish company has £670 billion of funds under management and it is the second largest such company in Europe.

Companies like these need secure long term investments, that last thirty to forty years, so that pension and insurance funds can be invested safely to perhaps see us through retirement. I know that some of my pension is invested in a product from Standard Life Aberdeen, so perhaps I might ultimately own a couple of threads in a seat cover on a train!

As the Government now insists everybody has a pension, there is more money looking for a safe mattress!

Rock Rail allows this money to be used to purchase new trains.

Rock Rail seem to be bringing together train operators, train manufacturers and money to give train operators, their staff and passengers what they want. I seem to remember that Abellio did a lot of research in East Anglia about the train service that is needed.

Conclusion

Abellio have made a very conservative decision to buy trains from Htachi, but after my experiences of riding in Class 800, 801 and 802 trains in the last few months, it is a decision, that will satisfy everyone’s needs.

Unless of course, Hitachi make a horrendous mess of the new trains!

But the four fleets, they have introduced into the UK, have only suffered initial teething troubles and don’t seem to have any long term problems.

There are some small design faults, which hopefully will be sorted in the new trains.

  • Step-free access between train and platform.
  • The carriage of bicycles and other large luggage.

The second will be more difficult to solve as passengers seem to bring more and more with them every year.

July 31, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vere Promises East Midlands Bi-Modes In 2022

The title of this post is the saqme as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022, according to Baroness Vere, the Government’s transport spokesman in the House of Lords.

This statement means that whoever manufactures the trains has just over three years from today to design, build and test the trains.

This paragraph from the article talks about how Bombardier and Hitachi would design the trains.

It’s known that Bombardier and Hitachi are interested in the contract, but both will be supplying new designs, with the former offering a bi-mode Aventra while the latter will offer an AT300 (the Intercity Express Programme platform) but with shorter vehicles.

What do we know about these two trains?

Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

As is typical with Bombardier interviews, they give their objectives, rather than how they aim to achieve them.

In Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power, I said this.

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

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

Bombardier’s spokesman also said, that they have offered the train to three new franchises. East Midlands, West Coast Partnership and CrossCountry.

Very little more can be gleaned from the later Modern Railways article.

Consider.

  • Aventras are designed to a modular concept.
  • Bombardier have finally got the software for the train working to a high standard.
  • The trains are designed for ease of manufacture, at a high rate.
  • Development of the bi-mode train must have started before June 2018.
  • Christian Wolmar disclosed the objective of a 125 mph Aventra in February 2017.
  • I have seem references to Aventras, being tested at 110 mph.

On the balance of probabilities, I think it is very possible that Bombardier can deliver a full fleet of 125 mph bi-mode trains with batteries before the end of 2022.

Hitachi AT-300

Consider.

  • Class 802 trains are a version of the AT-300 train, which in turn are a member of Hitachi’s A-Train family.
  • Class 802 trains are successfully in service on the Great Western Railway.
  • Class 385, 395, 800 and 801 are all members of the A-train family and are closely related to the Class 802 train.
  • The A-Train is a modular family.and different numbers of cars and car length, shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Hull Trains ordered their fleet of five Class 802 trains in November 2016 and they will enter service around December 2019 or early in 2020.
  • First Group ordered five AT-300 trains in March 2019 and they will enter service in Autumn 2021.

If the order has been placed in the last few months, there is every chance that Hitachi could deliver a fleet of new bi-mode trains for service in December 2022.

Stadler Flirt

These aren’t mentioned in the Rail Magazine article, but they were mentioned as a possibility for the order in an article by Roger Ford, which was entitled East Midlands IC125 Dilemma, in the June 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is an extract from Roger’s article.

In theory, Stadler should be in pole position. Itis also supplying Abellio’s Greater Anglia franchise, where Flirt bi-modes are running on test.

As they haven’t had any serious problems yet, and they are Swiss, everyone thinks they are amazingly efficient and wonderful. Whjich may turn out to be the case.

In the end, Roger rates their chances as slim.

But Stadler certainly has the technical capability to produce a 125 mph bi-mode train.

Electric Trains To Corby

When the electrified St. Pancras and Corby service opens in December 2020, a round trip will take three hours.

This means that as few as three trains would be needed to provide the service.

The specification would be.

  • Electric traction
  • Twelve cars and 240 metres long.
  • 125 mph capability.
  • Three trains and a spare would probably be needed by December 2020, with a further three trains by December 2021.

Abellio would also probably like the trains to be very similar for drivers and staff.

Currently, it appears that the electric services to Corby, will be run initially by cascaded Class 360 trains.

  • But with a bit of juggling of production, Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler might be able to manufacture, the four trains needed to start the service in December 2020.
  • Abellio also have Class 360 and Class 379 trains working on Greater Anglia, that are likely to be replaced before December 2020.

So they have a sensible back-stop.

How Many Trains Will Abellio Need?

The current service is two trains per hour to both Nottingham and Sheffield.

These are fastest times.

  • London and Nottingham is one hour forty minutes
  • London and Sheffield is two hours

Even if there is a bit of a speed increase, it looks like at least eight trains will be needed for both services.

As to train length, I doubt five cars will be enough on all trains.

  • Some services are currently run by six and eight-car HSTs.
  • Have Abellio promised more seats?
  • Abellio will be extending some Sheffield services to Rotherham, Barnsley and Leeds.
  • It has already been stated that the Corby trains will be 240 metres long
  • So will we see a uniform fleet of longer trains?

There are some short platforms, so I suspect Abellio will buy a mixture of full-length 240 metre-long trains and half-length 120 metre-long trains, as several train companies have done.

I feel we could see something like eight full length trains and perhaps twelve half-length trains.

I have calculated that seven full-length trains are needed for Corby.

Adding this up gives the following.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

This gives a total of 27 trains of a total of 210 cars, of which 140 are bi-mode and 70 are electric.

All of this is based on running the current service with new trains.

abellio Greater Anglia have not not just done this in East Anglia, but have purchsed extra trains to add new services and increase frequencies.

So I would feel, that these trains are a minimum order, if Abellio are not doing any expansion.

Daily Telegraph Report – 19th July 2019

A report in the Daily Telegraph on the 19th July 2019, which is entitled Blow For Bombardier’s Derby Plant As £600m Train Contract Goes To Hitachi, says the order has gone to Hitachi.

  • Value is quoted at £600million.
  • A formal announcement is expected next week.

Has next week already passed without an announcement from Abellio?

I do find it strange, that there has been no reference to the Telegraph report in local sources around Derby.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service.

FirstGroup have ordered AT-300 trains.

  • All-electric.
  • Five trains of five-cars.
  • A total order value of £100 million.
  • Order placed in March 2019
  • Service starting in Autumn 2021

This works out at four million pounds per car.

Earlier, I calculated that Abellio needed to buy 140 bi-mode cars and seventy electric ones.

Assuming that Abellio run the Corby services with refurbished Class 360 trains, then 140 carriages will cost £560 million.

But this would mean the following.

  • Abellio would be running two separate fleets on the Midland Main Line.
  • The Corby services would run below the operating speed of the route.
  • Expansion would mean the purchase of more trains.

This is very different to their philosophy in Abellio Greater Anglia.

  • Class 745 and Class 755 trains are very similar to drivers and other staff.
  • Both trains can operate at 100 mph on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Abellio Greater Anglia have significantly increased the size of their train fleet.

I believe that Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler can all met this schedule.

  • Deliver four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Deliver another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • Deliver the fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

At four million pounds for a car for a Hitachi train, this works out at £840 million.

So could it be, that Hitachi have thrown in a good discount to make sure of the order.

It will be very interesting, when Abellio announce their order.

Interim Trains

Baroness Vere also discussed the other trains on the Midland Main Line.

This was the final two paragraph from the article.

As it stands, the 12 High Speed Trains cannot operate in passenger traffic beyond December 31 2019 this year, as they will not meet new accessibility regulations.

When announcing the Abellio contract win in April, Government confirmed that four Class 180s would transfer from Hull Trains to EMR. There was also the possibility that the LNER HSTs could also transfer to the MML, although these do not meet the disability requirements either.

So what is going to happen?

It appears that the four Class 180 trains and the twenty-seven Class 222 trains of various lengths will have to manage.

But I do think, that Baroness Vere’s statement.

East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022.

Is very welcome, as the HSTs will retire on the 31st December 2019 and there will be less than three years of a reduced fleet.

These points should also be noted.

  • In December 2020, when the electrification goes live and new electric trains start running between London and Corby, there will be a few more Class 222 trains available.
  • The Corby electric trains, will also add capacity between London and Kettering.
  • I don’t think it unlikely, that some other trains are rustled up to fill the gaps using perhaps Mark 4 coaches and Class 43 locomotives.

I hope for Abellio’s and their passengers sake, that what Baroness Vere said, comes true!

Could Abellio Go For A Safety-First Solution?

Consider.

  • Abellio Greater Anglia’s new Class 745, Class 755 and Class 720 trains are all running, if not years, but a few months late.
  • There has been nothing serious and Greater Anglia only has one fleet that is not PRM-compliant; the London and Norwich expresses.
  • Providing all goes reasonably well with the introduction of the new Class 745 trains, Greater Anglia’s fleet will be fully PRM-compliant, by the end of the year.

But if they had opted for off-the-shelf Hitachi Class 801 trains for London and Norwich, there might have been less worry. On the other hand, Hitachi way of making trains, by shipping the bodies from Japan probably doesn’t lead itself to high productio rates.

But for Midland Main Line services, Abellio East Midlands Railway aren’t looking at a large fleet of trains.

I estimate they could need.

  • Eight full-length bi-mode trains of ten-cars.
  • Seven full-length electric trains of ten-cars.
  • Twelve half-length bi-mode trains of five-cars

Now that Hitachi’s big orders are coming to an end, Abellio can probably be sure, they will get the main line trains on time and with the minimum of fuss.

Going the safety-first route of buying a fleet of Hitachi trains could deliver the trains that are needed urgently.

  • Four 125 mph electric trains by a date early enough for a December 2020 start for Corby services.
  • Another three 125 mph electric trains by December 2021 for two trains per hour to Corby.
  • A fleet of 125 mph bi-mode electric trains by December 2022 for Derby,Nottingham, Sheffield and beyond.

It might be a bit tight for the Corby electrics, but other trains that could work the route in the interim are available.

Abellio could do a lot worse than give Hitahi the order, if they could deliver early!

Conclusion

If any of the three train manufacturers can supply new trains for the St. Pancras and Corby service to the tight timetable, Abellio would surely be very pleased, as they would only have one train type to introduce on the route.

But I do think, that there is a possibility, that a good discount has won it for Hitachi!

 

 

 

July 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The High Speed Local Train

If Great Western Railway (GWR) are going to run a train service between Paddington and Bedwyn, they need an electric train which can power itself on the last thirteen miles between Newbury and Bedwyn, which is not electrified and is unlikely to be so in the next couple of decades.

The train must also be capable of cruising at 125 mph on the fast lines of the Great Western Main Line between Reading and Paddington.

GWR have no choice, but to run the service with a five-car Class 802 train.

When Hitachi were designing these 125 mph trains in Japan, I don’t suspect that running a service over a distance of 66.5 miles between London and a small village in Berkshire, was in the specification.

This morning, I took the 10:05 service from Paddington to Bedwyn, with the intention of returning on the 11:41 from Bedwyn to Paddington.

These are a few of the pictures that I took.

But things didn’t turn out as planned.

  • Nothing serious and some animals got on the tracks between Reading and Swindon, meaning that we were some minutes late into Bedwyn, due to platform congestion at Reading.
  • The return journey was consequently delayed.

These are a few observations.

Operating Speed

These were speeds on various parts of the journey.

  • I timed the train at 115 mph through Southall and at 123 mph through Hayes & Harlington as the train accelerated out of Paddington.
  • The train was doing just short of 125 mph for the major part of the route between London and Reading, until it had to stop because of the congestion.
  • The train was doing around 100 mph on the electrified line between Reading and Newbury.
  • Between Newbury and Bedwyn, speeds were between 80 and 90 mph.

Similar speeds were attained on the return journey.

Passenger Numbers

As the pictures show, there weren’t that many passengers who were travelling to Bedwyn, although there were more heading back to London.

Many more joined and left the service at the three larger stations of Reading, Newbury and Hungerford.

Now that the service is hourly between Reading and Bedwyn and half-hourly between Reading and Newbury in modern, comfortable trains, I can see passenger numbers growing.

Current Service

There are eleven trains per day, between Paddington and Bedwyn, at an hourly frequency, which take around three hours for a round trip.

So it would appear that three trains are needed for the service.

The service is also supplemented by an hourly stopping shuttle train between Reading and Newbury.

Two years ago, the service was just one three-car diesel train per hour between Paddington and Bedwyn with a few additional stops from long-distance trains.

Bedwyn Station Improvements

I got the impression, that Bedwyn station is probably at its limit for car parking with the current twenty-five spaces and cars all over the place.

This article on the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, is entitled It’s A Rail Problem At Great Bedwyn and indicates that commuters and residents don’t see eye-to-eye with the car parking.

If the car parking were to be increased and usage at the station increased then I feel that a step-free bridge could be needed.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Bedwyn station?

The installation wouldn’t be difficult, but the politics could be.

Other Station Improvements

A quick look at other stations suggest these improvements.

  • Hungerford station, which has a large car park, needs a step-free bridge.
  • Kinbury station doesn’t have a bridge.
  • Midgham station doesn’t have a bridge
  • Theale station has improvements planned.

There are level crossings at Hungerford, Kintbury, Thatcham and Midgham.

Future Trains To Bedwyn

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I discussed how Hitachi were proposing to add battery power to Class 385 trains, which are in the same family as GWR’s Class 802 trains.

So surely, what is a power source for the goose is also a power source for the gander.

As it would only be a journey of thirteen miles both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, this would surely be an ideal route for the use of battery power.

The other route, where battery power could be used would be between Didcot and Oxford, which is just over ten miles.

A Future Service To Marlborough

I covered this proposal in A Station For Marlborough.

Marlborough would be served by a single-track branch line on an old railway alignment, probably terminating near the large Tesco superstore in a single platform station.

The advantages of doing this would be.

  • Marlborough, which is an important market town of 8,500 people would be connected to the rail network.
  • Adequate car parking could be provided.
  • Creating a station at Marlborough could be an alternative to expanding Bedwyn station, which could be problematical.
  • It would improve the economics of the Paddington and Bedwyn service.

This is the sort of service, that should be developed.

Other Possible Services

The big advantage of this high speed local service for Great Western Railway, is that when it is on the Great Western Main Line, it becomes just another 125 mph service or once digital signalling is installed a possible 140 mph service.

These routes could have this type of high speed local services.

Great Western Main Line

Great Western Railway has several routes, where Class 800 and Class 802 trains break away from the Great Western Main Line to operate local services.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn
  • Paddington and Oxford

It could be argued that services to Cheltenham and Hereford are also high speed local services.

East Coast Main Line

In April 2018, I wrote Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

This post was based on an article in Rail Magazine, which talked about running 125 mph trains on the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route.

This would make operation of the East Coast Main Line easier with herds of 125 mph trains steaming into and out of London.

I think, improvement would also extend to the Cambridge Line, in addition to the Fen Line.

  • Operating speed up from 90 mph to 110 mph plus.
  • Full digital signalling.
  • Automatic Train Control.

Journey times and frequency to and from London Kings Cross would be improved significantly.

Siemens would probably need to uprate the Class 700 trains for faster running, as 100 mph trains are just too slow!

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Edinburgh, large sections of the line are only double track.

It is the ambition of train operating companies to run more high speed expresses between London and the North of England and Scotland.

I can see a time, when all trains using the East Coast Main Line will have to confirm with a high minimum speed, otherwise the future plans cannot be fulfiled.

Midland Main Line

By the end of 2020, the Midland Main Line South of Market Harborough, will be a 125 mph electrified railway with a high speed branch to Corby, which will be served by a half-hourly twelve-car electric service.

From 2022, 125 mph bi-mode trains will be running services on the Midland Main Line.

I can see services between St. Pancras and Corby becoming another high speed local service.

  • Half-hourly service.
  • 125 mph running.
  • Limited stop between Corby and London, with stops at Kettering, Luton And Luton Airport Parkway.
  • The journey time could even be under an hour.

Selected trains could even use battery power to extend the service to Melton Mowbray.

West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line will become increasingly crowded with fast 140 mph trains, especially after the opening of Phase 2a of High Speed Two to Crewe in 2027.

I believe that this will mean that all passenger services using the West Coast Main Line will need to be run using trains capable of at least 110 mph and possibly 125 mph.

The new operation of suburban services on the West Coast Main Line; West Midlands Trains are replacing their fleet with new Class 730 trains. Like the previous trains, they are 110 mph units, but are they capable of upgrading to 125 mph?

If they are upgradeable, they would ease timetabling problems between London and the West Midlands, as they could mix it with Virgin’s Class 390 trains.

Further North, Northern run services like these.

  • Barrow and Manchester Airport.
  • Blackpool and Manchester Airport
  • Windermere and Manchester Airport

Currently, the operator is introducing new Class 195 and Class 331 trains, alongside the Class 319 trains.All of these trains are 100 mph capable, which is probably not fast enough, if they have to use the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Lancaster, some of which is only double-track.

In Northern Considering Options For More New Trains, I wrote about Northern’s future rolling stock plans.

I suspect some 125 mph trains are in their plans for both the East and West Coast Main Lines.

Implications For Freight

There must surely be pressure for freight trains to go faster.

The 110 mph Class 93 locomotive is on its way, but with rail freight increasing we need to radically think how we run freight trains on a busy passenger line.

Conclusion

We will increasingly see upgrading of suburban services that use 125 mph line and not just around London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tender Set To Be Issued For East West Rail Rolling Stock

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

Brief details of the fleet include.

  • Eleven trains.
  • Self-propelled.
  • Three cars.

Services are due to commence in 2024, serving Oxford, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Here are a few of my thoughts.

Are Three Car Trains Long Enough?

New train services in the UK, especially those on new or reopened routes, seem to suffer from London Overground Syndrome.

I define it as follows.

This benign disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital, despite various eradication programs.

The Borders Railway certainly suffered and the London Overground is still adding extra services on the original routes.

Three-car trains may be enough for the initial service, but provision must be made  for running longer trains.

  • The trains that are purchased must be capable of lengthening.
  • Platforms must be built for longer trains.

So often we don’t future-proof new rail routes.

What Performance Is Needed?

I’ll ask this question first, as it may affect the choice of train.

The trains will certainly be at least capable of 100 mph operation.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if they were capable of 110 mph or even 125 mph, as this would surely make it easier for trains to go walkabout on the Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines.

Faster East West trains might also get more services out of the fleet.

Appropriate acceleration and braking would be needed.

Conservative Or Innovative?

Will we get more of the same or will some of the responders to the tender offer trains based on innovative designs?

I would hope that as the line will eventually connect Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes, the trains will take over the flavour of the route and be more innovative.

The Route

The eventual full route of the East West Rail Link will serve these sections.

  • Reading and Ocford – 25 miles – Partially-electrified
  • Oxford and Milton Keynes – 43 miles – Not electrified
  • Milton Keynes and Bedford – 20 miles – Partially-electrified
  • Bedford and Sandy – 10 miles – Not electrified
  • Sandy and Cambridge – 25 miles – Partially-electrified.

Note.

  1. The distances are approximate.
  2. With the exception of Oxford, all the major stations will be served by electric trains on other routes.

It is rather a mixture created out of existing and abandoned routes.

Could Battery Trains Run On The East West Rail Link?

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.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I showed that to run at 125 mph, a train needs around three kWh per vehicle mile.

This would mean that to run between Oxford and Milron Keynes stations, would need a maximum power of around 40*3*3 kWh or 360 kWh.

This is only a 120 kWh battery in each car.

I am fairly certain, that a well-designed battery train could run on the East West Rail Link.

The Usual Suspects

There are several train companies, who could be offering existing trains or their developments.

Alstom

Alstom don’t have a current design of train for the UK, but they are heavily into the development of trains powered by hydrogen.

By 2024, I suspect they will be offering a purpose-built hydrogen-powered train for the UK.

Also, by that time, I think it will be likely, that many buses in cities will be powered by zero-carbon hydrogen and the availability of this fuel would be much better than it is today.

An East West Rail Link running hydrogen-powered trains would go a long way to answer the electrification lobby.

Bombardier

Bombardier are developing a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries, that they are proposing for various franchises in the UK, including the Midland Main Line.

I believe that by rearranging the components of this train, they could develop a train that would be very suitable for the East West Rail Link.

  • Three cars
  • At least 100 mph operating speed
  • In service by 2024 or earlier.

It could be a bi-mode train with batteries, or if battery and the associated charging technology has improved, it could be a battery-electric train.

The latter would certainly fulfil the flavour of the route.

Bombardier’s Aventra would also have the advantages of an electrical version and the ability to add more cars.

CAF

CAF have recently introduced the Class 195 traincaf in the UK.

But would a diesel train be acceptable on a flagship route?

On the other hand CAF have been delivering battery-powered trams for several years and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the company, offer an innovative battery-electric train for the East West Rail Link.

Hitachi

Hitachi don’t make self-powered trains in the UK.

But in Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I wrote about the company’s plans to use batteries as range extenders on their Class 385 trains.

I suspect that by 2024, these trains will be running in Scotland and they will probably be high-quality reliable trains.

So could these trains be able to run between Reading and Cambridge using battery power, topped up at the various sections of electrification along the route.

Hitachi’s development regime is cautious, professional and well-funded, so I suspect they could offer a version of the Class 385 train, for delivery in 2024.

Hitachi would also have the advantages of an electrical version and the ability to add more cars.

Siemens

Siemens have a large number of modern electrical multiple units in the UK, but none are self-powered, except the diesel Class 185 train.

Siemens will have a factory in the UK to built London Underground trains by 2024.

But eleven trains could be an expensive order to fulfil, if it required a new self-powered train design.

Stadler

Stadler are an innovative company and their Class 755 train will shortly be starting passenger service in East Anglia.

  • It is three-cars, which is extendable if required.
  • It has a 100 mph operating speed.
  • It is a bi-mode; diesel and electric train.
  • Trains for Wales have ordered a diesel/electric/battery version.
  • There are rumours of hydrogen-powered versions.

Stadler could certainly deliver some of these trains by 2024.

Summing Up

I would suspect that the front runners are Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler, with CAF in fourth place.

  • All could probably develop a zero-emission train for the route using battery technology.
  • Stadler will have trains in service this year, and I suspect Bombardier and Hitachi will be running trains by 2022.

I think we could be seeing some very good trains on the route.

 

 

 

 

July 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires

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

This is the first paragraph.

Hitachi are in discussions with the Scottish Government to run a Class 385 variant with underfloor batteries that could either be charged whilst under the wires or whilst stationary at the end of the route.

The article makes these points, about adding batteries to Class 385 trains.

  • It would be straightforward to add batteries to give a range of twenty miles on batteries.
  • Sixty miles would be possible but more difficult.
  • Experience gained with the DENCHA trains in Japan would be used.

The article concludes with this paragraph.

Hitachi’s proposal to operate battery trains in Scotland is at an early stage. However, with their use being recommended by the rail decarbonisation task force and the Scottish Government about to pass new climate change legislation, it may not be long before battery trains are operating in Scotland.

I think it should be noted that Hitachi’s order book is rather thin these days and it appears that innovative technology will sell new trains.

Alstom, Bombardier, CAF, Siemens, Stadler and Vivarail have all designed, demonstrated or sold trains, where batteries are used improve efficiency or extend range.

As Scotland has several routes, where battery trains could provide a service, perhaps Hitachi thought it was time to do some marketing, to make sure that they got any orders for battery trains.

Scotrail would probably prefer to have a battery train similar to their largest fleet of electric trains.

Electric Trains On The West Highland Line Between Glasgow And Mallaig/Oban

This might be considered as difficult as putting a London bus on the Moon.

But consider.

  • The West Highland Line is electrified as far as Helenburgh Central station.
  • Electrification to Helensburgh Upper station would probably not be a difficult project for Network Rail in Scotland.
  • Heleburgh Upper to Mallaig is just under 140 miles.
  • Hellensuburgh Upper to Oban is around 80 miles.
  • Crianlarich station, where the two routes divide is forty miles from Helesburgh Upper.
  • Fort William station is around halfway between Mallaig and Crianlarich.
  • Trains take several minutes to reverse at Fort William.

Vivarail have developed fast charging for battery trains, that I wrote about in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

If Hitachi can develop a Class 385 train with batteries, that has a range of perhaps sixty miles on a full battery, then I believe it would be possible to run an electric train service between Glasgow and Oban and Mallaig.

  • Charging stations would need to be able to fully charge the batteries in perhaps six minutes.
  • Trains would leave Hellensburgh Upper with a full battery and charging stations at Crianlarich and Fort William would top up the batteries.
  • The longest stretch is between Crianlarich and Fort William and it would probably need an additional charging station at perhaps Tulluch.

What would battery-electric trains to Oban and Mallaig do for tourism in the area?

Hitachi would have one of the most scenic and iconic test tracks in the world!

 

 

April 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 8 Comments

£18.75m Halton Curve Project Delayed A Further Six Months

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

I could just blame politicians for the latest project to be delayed, but it is not wholly their fault.

Train companies all over the UK, Europe and the Rest of the World have been ordering new trains at an unprecedented rate for the following reasons.

  • The replacement of clapped-out trains like Pacers.
  • Extra trains to provide extra services.
  • Faster trains to provide faster services.
  • Bigger or longer trains to provide more capacity.
  • New electric trains for newly electrified routes.
  • New trains often cost less to service and maintain.
  • Affordable finance for quality new trains is available in billions of pounds, euros and dollars of all kinds.

In addition a lot of trains are being updated with new technology like signalling, automatic systems and high-technology interiors.

All of these factors mean that there is a high level of train testing that needs to be done.

These test tracks are in Europe and listed in Wikipedia.

Note that Italy and Soain, who build substantial numbers of trains, don’t have a specialist testing centre.

I have read somewhere that each individual train has to be run for so many hours before it can be certified for service.

Consider

  • Bombardier is building 412 Aventras with lengths between three and ten cars.
  • CAF is building trains for Calodonian Sleeper, Keolis Amey Wales, Northern, TranPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.
  • Hitachi is building 182 Class 800/801/802 trains with length of five or nine cars.
  • Hitachi is building 80 Class 385 trains with lengths of 3/4 cars.
  • Siemens are building trains for Govia Thameslink Railway.
  • Stadler is building trains for Greater Anglia, Keolis Amay Wales and MerseyRail.

I haven’t done a detailed calculation must it must be at least 700 trains.

In addition there are various rebuilt and existing trains that will need to be tested.

  • ScotRail’s shorterned InterCity 125s
  • Porterbrook’s Class 769 trains.
  • Vivarail’s Class 230 trains.
  • Alstom’s Class 321 Hydrogen trains.
  • Crossrail Class 345 trains need further testing.

And there will be new orders for the following franchises and lines.

  • East Midlands.
  • London Underground Piccadilly Line.
  • South Eastern
  • West Coast Alliance

I haven’t done a detailed calculation but we must be talking of nearly a thousand new trains of which probably six hundred will be delivered in the next five years.

I’m no expert, but I feel that two short test tracks and short lengths of improvised test tracks in factories, isn’t enough to test all these trains and certify them for service.

I should also blow my own trumpet and I know that when I wrote project management software, I was probably the best programmer in the World, at automatically scheduling resources.

So I tend to know, an impossible scheduling problem, when I see one!

Conclusion

We do send trains to Europe to specialist centres like the one at Velim in the Czech Republic. But these centres are also used by other European manufacturers.

I am led to the inevitable conclusion, that we need more train testing facilities, in both the UK and mainland Europe.

The Welsh Government has come to the same conclusion and are planning a test track at Neath, which I wrote about in £100m Rail Test Complex Plans For Neath Valley.

What would help, would be if Chris Grayling oiled a few wheels with some money. It might even result in some Continental trains coming to Wales for specialist testing like curing them of dracophobia.

I would also have felt that CAF would be happy with a test track fifty miles away from their new factory in Newport.

Come on, Wales! Fire up the dragons and get started!

 

 

September 25, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bidders For New Tyne And Wear Metro Fleet Revealed

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

The approved bidders are.

I am sure all will be good bids, but there are various factors that must be taken into account.

Current Rolling Stock

The current rolling stock has a slightly smaller cross section than most of the UK.

Although, some lines are shared with other trains like Grand Central’s InterCity 125s.

As new and old rolling stock will probably have to work together, they’ll probably need to be a similar size.

Modern manufacturing should handle that with ease.

Dual Voltage

I suspect that new route opportunities for the Metro will involve excursions on lines with 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

I doubt this is a problem these days.

Battery Power

Some new routes would be ideal for battery power.

As with dual voltage, this should not be a problem.

UK Experience

All bidders except for the Australian/Chinese joint venture of Downer EDI/CRRC have made significant sales in the UK.

Stadler is the interesting company, as they seem to be able to design bespoke trains for the local area, that seem to win bids.

  • Class 399 tram-trains for the tram-train trial in Sheffield.
  • Class 745 and Class 755 trains for Greater Anglia.
  • Class 777 trains for Merseyrail.
  • Citylink tram-trains and diesel/electric/battery tri-mode Flirts for the South Wales Metro.
  • Trains for the Glasgow Subway.

Stadler seem to have a library of standard solutions, that allows them to create smaller fleets to a slightly non-standard specification.

UK Manufacturing

All companies except Downer EDI/CRRC and Stadler have UK factories.

I can’t see the Australian/Chinese joint venture building a factory in the UK for a £362 million contract for one order in the North East, even though CRRC would probably like to get more involved in the UK rolling stock market.

Stadler has an unusual manufacturing model, in that trains and bodies are built in factories in various parts of Europe and sometimes brought to Switzerland for final assembly and testing.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stadler setting up a UK operation to support their increasing UK presence and perhaps do the interior fitting out for future orders.

As to Stadler, I think it should be noted, that with the exception of the Glasgow Subway trains, I suspect all their UK trains are capable of being towed on much of the UK rail network.

Brexit may also give Stadler, an opportunity to set up a factory outside the EU, but connected to it, by the Channel Tunnel.

Conclusion

As I said earlier, all bids will have a high quality and reasons for winning.

However, I do feel that the Downer EDI/CRRC bid may be discounted for reasons of geography and politics.

I also think we should be prepared for Stadler to offer an innovative bid similar to the ones that succeeded on Merseyside and in South Wales.

 

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

Class 365 Trains To The Rescue

I had intended to get a ride on a new Class 385 train, but I only caught a glimpse of one going the other way, from a Class 365 train, that I used both ways between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Passengers seemed to be quite happy with the Class 365 trains cascaded from the Cambridge Cruiser.

I really think that Hitachi have got their production of the Class 385 trains, seriously wrong here.

The body shells are made in Japan and then sent to Newton Aycliffe by sea. This must be an easy way to ensure a slow production of trains.

Bombardier make the body shells in the same factory as they design and assemble the trains.

Even if CAF make their body shells in Spain, that is a much shorter and probably more reliable journey.

I must admit if I was the CEO of a train operating company, I wouldn’t buy a Hitachi train.

But then Tony Blair only wanted a new factory, close to his constituency!

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Retrofitted Hydrogen Fuel Cell EMU Concept Presented

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Global Rail News, that was published in April 2014.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The possibility of retro-fitting diesel multiple units (DMUs) to run on hydrogen fuel cell technology has been put to the test as part of an RSSB and Network Rail-funded innovation research programme.

Fuel Cell Systems, which has worked alongside the University of Birmingham and Hitachi Rail Europe, says the six-month study has demonstrated the feasibility of installing hydrogen fuel cell technology on DMUs as an alternative to electrification.

It strikes me that some serious people are involved in this project.

The report on the project was published in June 2016 and it is stored here on the University pf Birmingham web site.

 

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