The Anonymous Widower

Passenger Crowding On Platform 14 At Manchester Piccadilly Station

After changing trains at Salford  Crescent station, I arrived  on Platform 13 at Manchester Piccadilly station.

Everybody says the two island platforms need more capacity and another two platforms.

This picture shows a train in Platform 14.

Note all the passengers alongside the train at the bottom of the stairs. Many of whom are waiting for later trains.

There are also few passengers waiting on the platform.

Consider.

I am writing this at eight in the morning and there are seventeen trains in total calling at Platforms 13 and 14, in the next hour.

  • As one train starts from Platform 13, that is just nine trains per hour (tph) on each platform.
  • The two platform station at Canada Water on the  London Overground handles sixteen tph and in 2016-17, around 25 million passengers used the station.
  • By comparison Manchester Piccadilly station handles around twenty-seven million passengers on fourteen platforms.

Because of the numbers of trains and passengers involved, I believe strongly that a rebuild of Platforms 13 and 14 could raise the numbers to those currentl achieved at Canada Water.

So what are the differences between Platform 13 and 14 ar Manchester Piccadilly and Canada Water?

  • Both were originally built in the Victorian era.
  • Both have been improved since 2000.
  • The Manchester Platforms have a lift, two staircases and an up escalator, whereas each platform at Canada Water has a lift, and at least one of both a staircase and an  escalator.
  • Access at the Manchester Platform is all at one end, whereas access at Canada Water is to the centre of the platforms, where there is a wide lobby set back from the platform.
  • The Manchester Platforms are narrower, than those at Canada Water.
  • Canada Water has the advantages that it is only served by Class 378 trains and there is level access between platform and all trains.
  • Canada Water is a well-designed light and airy below ground station, whereas the Manchester Platforms have all the dtyle and charm of a Victorian toilet block.

So what would I do to Platform 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly?

  • If all trains were at least four carriages, this might encourage people to spread out, instead of hanging about at the bottom of the main stairs.
  • If platforms could be released in the main section of Manchester Piccadilly station, by virtue of the Ordsall , this might help.
  • Increase the width of the platforms.
  • Add more escalators.
  • Put an enlarged waiting room on top of the current platforms, with quality information, so passengers can wait in the warm, with perhaps a cup of coffee.

In addition, the ultimate solution would be to built a long footbridge to connect the Southern end of all platforms.

It would be wide

Each pair of platforms would have lift and escalator  access to the footbridge.

  • It could have a lift to street level at both ends.
  • I believe that this could be built, without disrupting the current traffic through the station.

Hopefully, this will all be sorted, when the HS2 station is built.

If something like it is not built, it will be a very long walk, between the HS2 platforms and Platforms 13 and 14.

 

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

HS2 Need To Get Their Act Together

Crossrail has been good in keeping Londoners and others informed about designs and what is happening, with constant updates to the News page on their web site.

Last month, HS2 started the contractual process to find a builder for the HS2 station at Old Oak Common.

But there is nothing about it on their News page, which is just a load of press releases.

I have found this picture of the proposed station in several places on the Internet.

But where is the detailed information page, which explains it all?

I found this map of the rail lines in Wikipedia Commons.

 

Note.

  1. It would appear that the rail line going along the North side of the common in the visualisation is the Great Western Main Line, which will also be used by Crossrail.
  2. It appears that the rail loop in the foreground of the visualisation, which is not shown on the map, is to allow Crossrail trains to access the North London Line.
  3. There must be another proposed loop or viaduct to allow trains to connect to the Northbound West Coast Main Line. This would allow Crossrail to be extended to Watford and Milton Keynes.

Where is the definitive map and information from HS2?

Old Oak Common station will affect travel plans for millions of travellers to and from most parts of London and a lot of places in the wider South East.

No wonder, there are people who don’t want HS2 to be built, if they have no information!

So why aren’t HS2 following the same news and information route, that has been successful for Crossrail?

April 7, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 6 Comments

Routes For Bombardier’s 125 Mph Bi-Mode Aventra

This article in Rail Magazine, is entitled Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

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.

These are my thoughts on these franchises.

Bi-Mode And Pure Electric

I’m pretty certain that if you want to create a 125 mph bi-mode train, you start with a 125 mph electric train, if you want a high degree of commonality between the two trains.

Hitachi have a whole family of Class 800 trains, each of which has a different specification for the diesel power. Even the pure-electric Class 801 trains, has one diesel engine for emergencies.

An electric train with batteries could be very efficient, if the batteries were used to handle regenerative braking and boost the trains, where more power is required.

East Midlands

It is no surprise that Bombardier are talking to the groups, that are bidding to become the new franchise holder for the East Nidlands, when it is awarded in April 2019.

They wouldn’t want to see another company’s product roaring past the factory.

The proposed bi-mode Aventra will probably have been designed very much with the Midland Main Line in mind.

  • The Midland Main Line will be electrified from St. Pancras to Kettering and Corby.
  • Will the fast lines be electrified to Glendon Junction, where the Corby Branch joins the Midland Main Line?
  • The route between St. Pancras and Glendon Junction is being upgraded to four tracks, with as much 125 mph running as possible.
  • The non-stop nature of Midland Main Line services South of Kettering could be significant.
  • North of Kettering, there is currently no electrification.
  • The development of Toton station for HS2 is being accelerated and there could be an island of electrification here, by the mid-2020s.
  • If HS2 shares the Midland Main Line corridor between Toton and Sheffield, this section could be electrified by the late-2020s.

Over the next decade, there will be more electrification and a greater proportion of the route, where 125 mph running will be possible.

There has been a bit of controversy, that the number of stops the franchise will make at Bedford and Luton is being reduced after May this year.

The reason given is that it will enable faster services to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

North To Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield

Consider a bi-mode train with batteries going North.

  • Between St. Pancras and Kettering, it will be at 125 mph for as long as possible.
  • The train will also ensure that at Kettering, it has the batteries brim full, sfter charging from the electrification.
  • After a stop at Kettering station, if the electrification reached to Glendon Junction, the acceleration would all be electrically-powered.
  • Whether it stopped at Kettering or not, the train would pass Glendon Junction at line speed with full batteries.

It’s almost as if the electrification is being used as a catapult to speed the train North.

South From Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield

Being as electrically efficient coming South would be a lot more difficult.

  • I suspect that train batteries will be charged at Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, so they start their journey South with full batteries.
  • Using a full battery and assistance from the onboard generator, trains would be accelerated away from the terminii.
  • The trains computer would select automatically, whether to use battery or onboard generator power and would harvest all the power from regenerative braking.
  • At each stop on the journey, energy would be lost, as regenerative braking systems do not are only between seventy and ninety percent efficient.
  • Once at Glendon Junction, the train would raise the pantograph and switch to getting power from the overhead wires.

It’s all about a well-programmed computer on the train, which knows the route, the timetable and battery state so it can switch power sources appropriately.

Electrification

On the other hand, electrification around Toton could make everything easier and more efficient.

With electrification, every little helps.

  • Modern trains can raise and lower pantographs, quickly and automatically.
  • Faster journeys.
  • Lower carbon emissions.
  • Less noise and vibration from diesel generators.

Everyone’s a winner.

Oakham To Kettering

The Oakham-Kettering Line to Corby station is being electrified, double-tracked and I suspect speed limits will be raised.

Speed limits are also being raised and track improvements are being done, South of Glendon Junction.

Currently, services take seventy minutes. With the 125 mph Aventras on the route, they will not need to use the onboard generator, but surely the journey time could be reduced to under an hour, which would attract passengers and need less trains to run a two trains per hour (tph) service.

The Oakham Problem

Oakham station is in the middle of the town, as this Google Map shows.

The Department for transport would like to see more services to the town and the next station of Melton Mowbray.

But the line through the station is busy with freight trains and there is a level crossing in the middle of the town.

125 mph bi-mode trains, won’t help with the problem of Oakham.

Joining And Splitting Of Trains

There is also the possibility of joining and splitting trains.

Hitachi’s Class 800 trains can do this and I’m sure bi-mode Aventras will be able to do this automatically.

There is only four platforms available for trains on the Midland Main Line at St. Pancras and regularly two trains occupy one platform.

The ability to run a pair of bi-mode trains, that joined and split could be a great asset.

Liverpool To Norwich

This long route is an important one for those, who live near its stations. It is usually served by one or two Class 158 trains, which are often very crowded.

The route is partially electrified.

  • Liverpool to Hunts Cross
  • Manchester Oxford Road to Stockport
  • Grantham to Peterborough
  • Around Ely
  • Around Norwich

So there should be plenty of places to raise the pantograph and charge the batteries.

It is a typical long-distance route for the UK and I’m sure it would benefit from 125 mph bi-mode Aventras.

West Coast Partnership

Bids for the West Coast Partnership, which will run services on the West Coast Main Line and HS2, will be submitted by July 2018. The winning bidder will be announced in May 2019 and take over services two months later.

A modern 125 mph bi-mode would be an ideal replacement for the current twenty Class 221 trains, that work on the West Coast Main Line.

These Class 221 trains are.

  • Diesel powered.
  • Five-cars long.
  • Built in 2001-2002 by Bombardier.
  • 125 mph capable.
  • Some services are run by splitting and joining trains.

But most importantly, most services are run substantially under wires.

New 125 mph bi-mode trains would certainly improve services.

  • Several of the current services operated by Class 221 trains,  would become electric ones.
  • How much faster would they be able to run a service between London Euston and Holyhead?
  • They would also be able to run new services to places like Barrow. Blackburn and Huddersfield.
  • Five cars could be a convenient train size for the operator.

But above all, they would offer a better passenger experience, with less noise and vibration from the diesel engines.

The longest section of running using onboard power of a bi-mode Aventra will be along the North Wales Coast Line to Holyhead.

  • The line has an 90 mph operating speed.
  • The line is 85 miles long.
  • The gradients won’t be too challenging, as the line runs along the coast.
  • Services stop up to half-a-dozen times on the route.
  • From London to Crewe is electrified.
  • The section between Crewe and Chester may be electrified.

It looks to be an ideal route for a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.

As the route appears to not be as challenging as the Midland Main Line, could this route, be the ideal test route for a hydrogen fuel-cell powered Aventra.

West Coast Partnership may well have plans to use 125 mph bi-mode trains as feeder services for HS2’s hubs at Birmingham and Crewe.

I could certainly see West Coast Partnership ordering a mixed fleet of 125 mph Aventras, some of which would be bi-modes and some pure electric.

CrossCountry

CrossCountry has a diverse portfolio of routes, which have every characteristic possible.

  • Some are lines with a 125 mph operating speed.
  • Some are electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Some are electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Some are not electrified.

A bi-mode train with these characteristics would fit well.

  • 125 mph capability on both electric and diesel power.
  • Battery power for short branch lines.
  • Modern passenger facilities.
  • Five-cars.
  • Ability to work in pairs.

They could actually go for a homogeneous fleet, if they felt so inclined.

That would be a substantial fleet of upwards of fifty five-car trains.

The new CrossCountry franchise will be awarded in August 2019 and start in December 2019.

Other Routes

If the 125 bi-mode Aventra with batteries is built, there could be other routes.

Borders Railway

Why would you run a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra on the 90 mph Borders Railway?

  • The Borders Railway will be extended to Carlisle, which will mean, that both ends will be electrified for a few miles.
  • This will mean that bi-mode trains with batteries could charge their batteries at both ends of the line.
  • If traffic increases, extra cars can be added.
  • The trains would be able to use the West Coast Main Line to link the Lake District to Edinburgh.
  • They could be given a tourism-friendly interior, to go with the large windows common to all Aventras.

The trains would help to develop tourism in the South of Scotland and the North of England.

East West Rail

The East West Rail between Oxford and Cambridge is going to built without electrification.

  • But that doesn’t mean that it should be built with an operating speed in the region of 90 mph!
  • The legendary InterCity 125s have been running on lines without electrification at 125 mph since the late 1970s, so it isn’t an unknown practice.

So if the line were to be built for high speed across some of the flattest parts of England, why not unleash the 125 mph bi-mode Aventras?

They could serve Ipswich, Norwich and Yarmouth in the East using their onboard generators.

They could serve Bournemouth, Bristol, Reading and Southampton, if the trains had a dual-voltage capability.

They could use electrification at Bedford, Bletchley, Cambridge and Reading to charge the batteries.

 

Settle-Carlisle Line

Surely, if the 125 mph bi-mode Aventras are suitable for the Borders Railway, then it should be able to work the Settle-Carlisle Line.

  • Both ends of the line are electrified, so batteries could be charged.
  • The line needs more and better services.

But the main reason, is that there will be a high-class scenic route between Edinburgh and Leeds.

I estimate that a London to Edinburgh service via Leeds, Settle, Carlisle and the Borders Railway would take six and a half hours, using a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.

Some tourists love that sort of trip.

Waterloo To Exeter

The West of England Line has the following characteristics.

  • It runs between Basingstoke and Exeter.
  • It is a hundred and twenty miles long.
  • It has a 90 mph operating speed.
  • The line is not electrified.
  • It is connected to the electrified South Western Main Line to Waterloo.
  • The route is electrified between Waterloo and Basingstoke.
  • Direct trains take three hours twenty-three minutes between Waterloo and Exeter, with fourteen stops between Basingstoke and Exeter.
  • The trains used on the route are twenty-five year-old Class 159 trains.

Would a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra improve the passenger service between Waterloo and Exeter?

  • The Aventras are built for fast dwell times at stations, so there could be time saving with all those stops.
  • The Aventras could use the third-rail electrification between Waterloo and Basingstoke.
  • There may be places, where the operating speed can be increased and the faster Aventras would take advantage.
  • The trains could have a passenger-friendly interior and features designed for the route.

The real benefits for South Western Railway and their passengers would come, if the trains could do Waterloo to Exeter in three hours.

Routes For A Pure-Electric Version

There are several routes in the UK, where the following apply.

  • Some long-distance trains are run by 125 mph trains.
  • The route is fully- or substantially-electrified.
  • A proportion of the route allows 125 mph running.
  • Sections of the route is only double-track.

Routes satisfying the criteria include.

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

On these routes, I believe it would be advantageous, if all passenger trains were capable of operating at 125 mph.

This is cause if all trains were running at 125 mph, they could be more closely spaced, thus increasing capacity.

Digital signalling would probably be needed.

There are several train services,, that use the electrified  125 mph sections of these routes.

Birmingham/Liverpool/Manchester To Edinburgh/Glasgow

TransPennine Express, are replacing their current Siemens 110 mph Class 350 trains on this service, with new CAF  125 mph Class 397 trains.

 

Euston To The West Midlands, Liverpool And Preston

West Midland Trains are replacing some of their current Siemens 110 mph Class 350 trains with new Aventras.

Information is scarce at the moment, but could some of these new Aventras be 125 mph units for working on the West Coast Main Line?

Leeds/York To Edinbugh

TransPennine Express run trains on this route.

St. Panvras To Corby

The Corby Branch is being upgraded.

  • Double-track
  • 125 mph running
  • Electrification

The section of the Midland Main Line between St. Pancras and Glendon Junction is also being upgraded to allow as much 125 mph running as possible.

If 125 mph bi-mode trains are to be used from St. Pancras to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, then surely, it would be logical to use a pure-electric version of the train between St. Pancras and Corby?

Various documents and web pages say, that the St. Pancras to Corby services are going to be worked by 110 mph Class 387 trains. Surely, faster 125 mph trains, which had been designed for the route would be better for passengers and the train operating company.

From my experience of scheduling, the section of the Midland Main Line between St. Pancras and Bedford, must be a nightmare to timetable successfully.

  • There are two train operating companies using the route, who go a hundred miles in different directions.
  • The Class 700 trains used by Thameslink are only 100 mph trains, so probably can’t use the fast lines too often, as if they do, they’ll delay the expresses..
  • Regular passengers object to any change in stopping patterns or journey times.
  • Passengers liked to get on express services at Bedford, but they now don’t stop.
  • Passengers don’t like the Class 700 trains.
  • Luton Airport wants more services.

My experience, says that something radical must be done.

Consider.

  • Plans are for two tph between St. Pancras and Corby.
  • How many passengers would complain if they ended up in the St. Pancras Thameslink platforms, rather than the high-level ones? They’re both equally badly connected to the Underground, buses and taxis.
  • There will be four tph between Bedford and London all day on Thameslink, with an extra four tph in the Peak.
  • Some or all of these services will call at both Luton and Gatwick Airports.
  • Looking at the two semi-fast services. which both run at tw trph, they seem to stop virtually everywhere.

I think it would be possible for the two tph St. Pancras to Corby services to become express services between Corby, Gatwick Airport and Brighton.

  • The services would only stop at Kettering, Bedford, Luton, Luton Airport Parkway, St. Albans, West Hampstead Thameslink, St. Pancras Thameslink, Farringdon, City Thameslink, Blackfriars, London Bridge and East Croydon.
  • The services would use the 125 mph fast lines North of St. Pancras, as much as possible.
  • Corby services would always call at St. Pancras Thameslink.
  • The trains would be designed for both Airport services and long-distance commuting.
  • The trains would be maximum length.

Obviously, this is my rough idea, but something like it might satisfy the stakeholders, more than what is proposed.

I think there are also other services, which are fully electrified, which could be upgraded, so that they would be suitable for or need 125 mph electric trains.

Kings Cross To King’s Lynn

I wrote about this route in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

Portsmouth Direct Line

Under Topography Of The Line in the Wikipedia enter for the Portsmouth Direct Line, this is said.

The central part of the route, from Guildford to Havant, runs through relatively thinly populated country. The line was designed on the “undulating principle”; that is, successive relatively steep gradients were accepted to reduce construction cost. In the days of steam operation this made the route difficult for enginemen.

But with.

  • A second man in the cab, in the shape of the train’s computer, juggling the power.
  • Regenerative braking to the batteries saving energy for reuse when needed.
  • Bags of grunt from the traction motors.

The pure electric version of the 125 mph Aventra might just have the beating of the topography.

South Western Railway plan to introduce an older train from Litchurch Lane in Derby on this route, in the shape of the last of the Mark 3s, the Class 442 train or the Wessex Electrics, which were built in the 1980s.

It will be interesting to see how a 125 mph pure electric Aventra compares to something made in the same works, thirty years earlier.

Waterloo To Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth

The South Western Main Line goes to Southampton Central, Bournemouth and Weymouth.

  • It is a 100 mph line
  • It is fully-electrified.

Would a 125 mph pure-electric Aventra be able to put the hammer down?

I’m sure Network Rail can improve the line to a maximum safe line-speed.

Conclusion

If Bombardier build a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries, there is a large market. Especially, if there is a sibling, which is pure electric.

April 1, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power

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.

In some ways, I am not surprised about what is said in this article.

Another article on Christian Wolmar’s web site, is entitled Bombardier’s Survival Was The Right Kind Of Politics.

This is said.

Bombardier is not resting on its laurels. Interestingly, the company has been watching the problems over electrification and the fact that more of Hitachi’s new trains will now be bi-mode because the wires have not been put up in time. McKeon has a team looking at whether Bombardier will go into the bi-mode market: ‘The Hitachi bi-mode trains can only go 110 mph when using diesel. Based on Aventra designs, we could build one that went 125 mph. This would help Network Rail as it would not have to electrify everywhere.’ He cites East Midlands, CrossCountry and Wales as potential users of this technology.

The article was published in February 2017 and mentions, 125 mph on diesel and two of the companies in the recent article.

The Design Of The Trains

My thoughts are as follows.

The Starting Point

I’m pretty certain that if you wanmt to create a 125 mph bi-mode train, you start with a 125 mph electric train, if you want a high degree of commonality between the two trains.

Bombardier haven’t yet built any of their Aventras for West Midland Trains, but as they will use the West Coast Main Line extensively, will they be 125 mph trains and not 110 mph trains, as is said in Wikipedia?

Aventras And Battery Power

I will believe until Bombardier say I’m wrong, that Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, which are Aventras, use batteries for the following purposes.

  • To handle regenerative braking.
  • To limp the train out of the tunnel or to the next station or safe exit point, if there should be a catastrophic power failure.
  • To lessen the amount of electricity fed to the trains in the tunnels.
  • To allow features like remote wake-up, which need a train to have some form of power at all times.
  • To move trains in sidings and depots without having live electrification.
  • To run passenger features, when the power fails.

Effectively, the Class 345 trains have electricity as a main power source and batteries for energy storage and a secondary or emergency power source.

I talked to one of their staff, who was training drivers on Crossrail’s Aventras. The conversation went something like this.

  • Me: “What happens, when the Russians hack the power supply?”
  • Driver-Trainer: “We switch the train to emergency power!”
  • Me: “You mean batteries?”
  • Driver-Trainer: (Pause, then something like) “Might be!”

Can anybody think of another way to have emergency power on the train?

Electric Traction, Regenerative Braking and Batteries

Bi-mode trains and Alstom’s hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint are electrically powered at all times.

This means that under electric, diesel or hydrogen power, the traction motors can generate electricity to brake the train.

On an electric train, this electricity is returned through the overhead wire or third rail to power other nearby trains. This electricity could also be stored in an onboard battery, just as it is in a hybrid or battery-electric vehicle.

Driving A Bi-Mode Train With Batteries

The bi-mode Aventra could have electricity from one of four power sources.

  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • An onboard electricity generator powered by diesel fuel or hydrogen.
  • Batteries

So will the driver need to keep switching power sources?

I am a Control Engineer by training and optimising the best power to use is a typical problem for someone with my training and experience.

The train’s computer would take all the information about the route, timetable, signal settings, battery charge level, train loading, weather and other factors and drive the train automatically, with the driver monitoring everything thoroughly.

Aircraft have been flown in a similar fashion for decades.

I look in detail, at the mathematics of a bi-mode Aventra with batteries in Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries.

I came to the following conclusions.

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, that a 125 mph bi-mode train is a practical proposition.

  • It would need a controllable hydrogen or diesel power-pack, that could deliver up to 200 kW
  • Only one power-pack would be needed for a five-car train.
  • For a five-car train a battery capacity of 300 kWh would probably be sufficent.

From my past professional experience, I know that a computer model can be built, that would show the best onboard generator and battery sizes, and possibly a better operating strategy, for both individual routes and train operating companies.

Obviously, Bombardier have better data and more sophisticated calculations than I do.

Note, that everything I proposed, is well within the scope of modern engineering, so other companies like CAF and Stadler, who are actively involved in rail application of battery technology, could join the party.

This picture is a visualisation of a Stadler Class 755 train, which they are building for Greater Anglia.

Note the smaller third car, which contains the diesel engine of this hybrid train. Is there room for batteries as well?

I can’t find any information on the web about the power train of the Class 755 train, but this article in the Railway Gazette, describes another Stadler bi-mode Flirt, that Stadler are building for Italy.

This is said.

The units will be rated at 2 600 kW with a maximum speed of 160 km/h when operating from 3 kV DC electrification, and 700 kW with a maximum speed of 140 km/h when powered by the two Stage IIIB compliant Deutz TCD 16.0 V8 diesel engines.

There is provision to add up to two more cars if required to meet an increase in ridership. Two more engines could be added, or the diesel module removed if only electric operation is needed.

Note.

  • The Deutz diesel engines are rated at 520 kW.
  • As 700 kW is the power of the train, I suspect each engine generator creates 350 kW of power.
  • 160 km/h would be ideal for the Great Eastern Main Line
  • 140 km/h would be more than adequate for roaming around East Anglia

I suspect that if batteries were used on this train, that the engines would be smaller.

We will see in May 2019, when the trains enter service.

Diesel Or Hydrogen Generator

Electricity generation using a diesel generator and electricity generator from a hydrogen fuel cell, each have their own advantages.

  • Diesel fuel has a higher energy density than hydrogen
  • Diesel engines create a lot of noise and vibration and emit carbon dioxide, noxious gases and particulates.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells can be silent and only emit water and steam.
  • Ballard who are a Canadian company and a leading manufacturer of hydrogen fuel-cells,  manufacture one for use in rail applications which has an output of 100 kW, that weighs 385 Kg.
  • MTU make the diesel engine for a Class 800 train, which has an output of over 600 kW, that weighs 5000 Kg.
  • Hydrogen storage is probably heavier and more complicated than diesel storage.
  • Both generators can be fitted into convenient rectangular power packs.

I would envisage that in the future,  hydrogen electricity generators will get more efficient, lighter in weight and smaller in size for a given power output.

I don’t think it is unreasonable to believe, that within a reasonable number of years, hydrogen generators and their hydrogen storage tank, will be comparable in weight and size to current diesel generators and fuel tanks.

Accelerating A Bi-Mode Train With Batteries

The major use of electricity on a 125 mph train, will be in accelerating the train up to line speed. The energy needed will be.

  • Proportional to the mass of the train. This is why your car accelerates better, when it’s just you in the car  and you don’t have your overweight mother-in-law in the back.
  • Proportional to the square of the velocity.

I have calculated that a five-car bi-mode Aventra, carrying 430 passengers and travelling at 125 mph, will have a kinetic energy of 91.9 kWh.

Obviously, using electricity from electrification is the best way to accelerate a train.

  • Electricity from electrification is probably cheaper and more convenient, than that from an onboard electricity generator.
  • If diesel is not used to power the train, there is no noise and vibration from an onboard diesel generator.
  • A route with a lot of running on onboard fuel, means more fuel has to be carried.

Using electricity stored in batteries on the train, is also a good way to accelerate a train, but the batteries must have enough charge.

The onboard electricity generator will be used, when there is no electrification and the power stored in the batteries is approaching a low level.

|When Bombardier’s spokesman says, that the ambience will be good, control of the train’s power sources has a lot to do with it.

Could he have been hinting at hydrogen, as hydrogen fuel cells do not have high noise and vibration levels?

Cruising A Bi-Mode Train With Batteries

Newton’s First Law states.

Every body continues in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless impressed forces act on it.

If you have a train on a railway track moving at a constant speed, the following forces are acting to slow the train.

  • Aerodynamic forces, particularly on the front of the train.
  • Rolling friction of the steel wheel on a steel rail.
  • Bends and gradients in the track.
  • Speed limits and signals.

So the driver and his control system will have to feed in power to maintain the vrequired spreed.

I have sat on the platform at Stratford, whilst an Aventra has gone past at speed. I wrote about it in Class 345 Trains Really Are Quiet!

This was my conclusion.

Bombardier have applied world class aviation aerodynamics to these trains. Particularly in the areas of body shape, door design, car-to-car interfaces, bogies and pantographs.

Remember too, that low noise means less wasted energy and greater energy efficiency.

In addition steel wheel on steel rails is a very efficient way of moving heavy weights. Bombardier have a reputation for good running gear.

Once a train has reached its cruising speed, appropriate amounts of power will be fed to the train to maintain speed.

But compared to the power needed to accelerate the train, they could be quite small.

For small amounts of power away from electrification, the control system will use battery power if it is available and can be used.

The onboard electricity generator would only be switched in, when larger amounts of power are needed or the battery power is low.

Slowing A Bi-Mode Train With Batteries

The regenerative braking will always be used, with the energy being stored in the batteries, if there is free capacity.

Imagine the following.

  • A bi-mode making a stop at Leicester station on the Midland Main Line.
  • It is doing 100 mph before the stop on the main line.
  • It will be doing 100 mph after the stop on the main line.

The energy of the train after Leicester will be roughly the same as before, unless the mass of the train has changed, by perhaps a large number of passengers leaving or joining the train.

Let’s assume that the energy at 100 mph in the train is X kWh

  • When the train brakes for Leicester this energy will be transferred to the train’s batteries, if there is capacity.
  • On accelerating the train, it will need to acquire X kWh. It couldn’t get all of this from the batteries, as for various reasons the overall efficiency of this sort of system is about seventy to ninety percent.
  • The onboard electricity generator will have to supply a proportion of the energy to get the train back up to 100 mph.

But in a diesel train it will have to supply all the energy to get back to 100 mph.

Where Would I Put The Batteries?

Aventras seem to have a lot of powered-bogies, so to keep cable runs short to minimise losses and maximise the efficiency of the regenerative braking, I would put a battery in each car of the train.

This would also distribute the weight evenly.

Where Would I Put The Electricity Generators?

Diesel engines always seem to be noisy, when they are installed under the floor of a train. I’ve travelled a lot in Bombardier’s Turbostars and although they are better than the previous generation, they are still not perfect.

I’ve also travelled in the cab of a Class 43 locomotive, with a 2,250 hp diesel engine close behind me. It was very well insulated and not very noisy.

As I said earlier, the most intensive use of the onboard generators will come in accelerating a train to operating speed, where no electrification or battery power is available. There is only so much you can do with insulation!

Stadler, who are building the Class 755 train for Greater Anglia, have opted to put a short diesel generator car in the middle of the train.

This was an earlier train, where Stadler used the technique.

There are reports in Wikipedia, that the ride wasn’t good, but I’m sure Stadler has cracked it for their new 100 mph bi-mode trains.

Creating a bi-mode by adding an extra motor car into the middle of an electric train could be a serious way to go.

  • The dynamics are probably better understood now
  • A powerful diesel engine could be fitted.
  • Batteries could be added.
  • Insulating passengers and staff from the noise and vibration would surely be easier.
  • There could be a passage through the car, to allow passengers and staff to circulate.

In an ideal world, a four-car electric train could be changed into a five-car bi-mode train, by adding the motor car and updating the train software.

In Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, I came to the conclusion, that if the batteries are used in conjunction with the power-pack, that a single power-pack of about 200 kW could be sufficient to power the train. This would be smaller and lighter in weight, which would probably mean it could be tucked away under the floor and well-insulated to keep noise and vibration from passengers and staff.

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required.

This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

So could it be that Bombardier have designed a secondary power car, that can be fitted with a battery and a diesel engine of appropriate size?

  • Using a diesel engine with batteries means that a smaller engine can be used.
  • The diesel engine could also be replaced with a 200 kW hydrogen fuel cell.

I won’t speculate, but Bombardier have a very serious idea. And it’s all down to the mathematics.

What Would Be The Length Of A 125 Mph Bi-Mode Aventra?

Long distance Aventras, like those for Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains, seem to be five and ten car trains.

This would fit well with the offerngs from other companies, so I suspect five- and ten-cars will be the standard lengths.

Could There Be A Bi-Mode Aventra for Commuter Routes?

The London Overground has ordered a fleet of four-car Class 710 trains.

The Gospel Oak to Barking Line is being extended to a new Barking Riverside station.

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 probably has a terrain not much different to the lines to London.

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

The new extension is about a mile, so this would need 20 kWh each way.

This could easily be done with a battery, but supposing a small diesel engine was also fitted under the floor. Would anybody notice the same 138 kW Cummins ISBe diesel engine that is used in a New Routemaster hybrid bus?

I doubt it.

It is a revealing to calculate the kinetic energy of a fully-loaded Class 710 train. I estimate that it under 50 kWh, if it was travelling at 90 mph, which would rarely be achieved on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Could Bombardier Be Serious About Exporting Bi-Mode Aventras?

In my opinion, the Aventra is a good train an it seems to sell well in its electric form to train operating companies in the UK.

But would it sell well in overseas markets like the United States and Canada, India and Australia?

They obviously know better than I do, so we should take their statements at face value.

The Prospective Customers

The Rail Magazine article mentions three prospective customers.

I deal with them and other possiblilities in Routes For Bombardier’s 125 Mph Bi-Mode Aventra.

This was my conclusion.

If Bombardier build a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries, there is a large market.

It looks like the company has done a lot of research.

Conclusion

Bombardier are designing a serious train.

 

March 31, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Will We See More Slab Track On UK Railways?

I ask this question, as I’ve just read this article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled Slab Track Austria: Now A Serious Contender?

 Slab track or ballastless track has a Wikipedia entry.

This is said under Characteristics.

In ballastless tracks, the rails are rigidly fastened to a special type of concrete ties/sleepers that are themselves set in concrete. Ballastless tracks therefore offer a high consistency in track geometry, the adjusting of which is not possible after the concreting of the superstructure. Therefore, ballastless tracks must be concreted within a tolerance of 0.5 millimetres. The elasticity of the ballast in the traditional railway superstructure is replaced by flexibility between either the rails and the concrete ties/sleepers or the ties/sleepers and the concrete or asphalt slab as well inherent elasticity within the conglomerate of the tie/sleeper, whereas the concrete or asphalt slab is usually inelastic.

Applications in the UK recently include.

This picture shows some of the slab track on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

I suspect, that slab track was used here mainly because of limited clearance. But low maintenance and long life, must have improved the financial case.

Returning to the Rail Engineer article, it would appear that the engineers behind the slab track, have rethought a lot of the process of building a railway.

Slab Track Austria, which used to be called PORR-STA, seems to offer the following.

  • Factory-build or one-site fabrication.
  • Ease of installation.
  • Accurate alignment
  • Switches and crossing can be fabricated.
  • Transition solutions to ballasted track.
  • Low noise and vibration.
  • Ease of maintenance
  • Sixty year life.

Slab Track Austria would also appear to have worked extensively with Austrian Railways, to get everything as right as possible.

It just shows how much improvement can be squeezed out of some traditional industrial and construction processes.

HS2

TheSlab Track Austria track has also been used extensively on the new Berlin to Munich high speed line, that I wrote about in From Berlin To Munich In Four Hours By Train. This is said about the use of the track on that line, in the Rail Engineer article.

PORR was contracted to design and build three major sections of the railway route. Its patented slab track, STA, was installed over a total length of 320km, in tunnels, on bridges and in open sections. Operations started successfully in December 2015 on the VDE 8.2 section, from Erfurt to Leipzig and Halle. Since December 2017, the sections VDE 8.1.2, from Coburg to Illmenau, and VDE 8.1.3, from Bad Staffelstein to Coburg, have been in operation. Trains have been running on the STA slab track layout at speeds of 300km/h. Prior to commissioning, this slab track was tested at 330 km/h.

So it would appear to be suitable for the 400 kph, that is quoted for HS2, with perhaps a bit of tweaking.

The article also says this about using the track on HS2.

Cost analysis research suggests that the savings made from the reduced maintenance required for STA track will equate to a payback of within 15 to 20 years when compared to ballasted track systems. The opportunity for significant savings, as well as increased network availability due to the reduced maintenance requirement, has to mean that this system is a serious contender for any new railway route, one of which, of course, is HS2.

A dedicated factory producing the slabs would surely increase quality.

But whatever happens, with its numerous, bridges, tunnels and viaducts, I suspect that HS2 will be built using slab track.

In the last quote, a payback time of fifteen to twenty years is suggested, if the track is used on a new railway.

So where else could slab track be used to advantage?

East-West Rail Link

I feel that the East West Rail Link, could be a possibility.

Consider.

  • It will not be initially electrified.
  • It is through terrain that is not very challenging
  • It is fairly close to HS2 and a possible slab track factory.

Building the line with slab track, could help make the East West Rail Link a low-energy and low-noise line for battery or hydrogen trains.

West Anglia Main Line Four-Tracking

Adding two extra tracks to the West Anglia Main Line between Coppermill Junction, which is just South of Tottenham Hale station, and Broxbourne station will be a difficult project.

The line is hemmed in on both sides by housing and slab track might give advantages.

  • Ease to squeeze the tracks in the limited space available.
  • Reduced noise.
  • Speedier construction.

If Crossrail 2 is built, this four-tracking will have to be done.

Calder Valley Line

The Calder Valley Line should be updated to create a quality roue across the Pennines from Preston to Leeds.

Parts of the line would be challenging to improve to say the least, with lots of heritage features around the track.

Using slab track in places, has has been done on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, might help with the following.

  • The construction works needed.
  • Increasing line speed.
  • Lowering noise.
  • Reduced maintenance.

The Wikipedia entry for the Calder Valley Line has a section called Holme Tunnel Engineering Work. This is said.

Holme Tunnel, which lies between Hebden Bridge and Burnley Manchester Road, was closed for 20 weeks from November 2013 until March 2014. This was to allow for major engineering work to fix the distorted shape of the tunnel, caused by movement of the ground through which it passes. The project was budgeted to cost £16.3million. During the works, buses replaced train services. Trains can now pass through at 45 mph.

I don’t think slab track was used in the work in this tunnel, but do we need 45 mph speed limits on Trans Pennine routes? After reading this article on Rail Engineer, it would appear that 75 mph will be possible in the future.

But this project does show some of the major problems on Trans Pennine routes!

It will be interesting to see what happens on this line.

Other Trans Pennine Routes

The other two Trans Pennine routes, the Huddersfield Line and the Hope Valley Line both have similar characteristics.

  • Twisting routes.
  • Several tunnels.
  • Lots of bridges.

They are also busy with passenger and freight traffic.

When the plans for the updating of these lines is published, I suspect that slab track will feature, especially in some of the tunnels.

Across Chat Moss

George Stephenson had difficulty building the Liverpool to Manchester Railway across Chat Moss in 1829. Wikipedia says this about his solution.

 Chat Moss threatened the completion of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, until George Stephenson, with advice from East Anglian marshland specialist Robert Stannard, succeeded in constructing a railway line through it in 1829; his solution was to “float” the line on a bed of bound heather and branches topped with tar and covered with rubble stone. The M62 motorway, completed in 1976, also crosses the bog, to the north of Irlam.

I have talked to drivers, who drive Class 319 trains along the now-electrified line across Chat Moss. They told me, that the soft suspension gives an interesting ride.

Under Timings And Line Speeds in the Wikipedia entry for the Liverpool-Manchester Lines, this is said.

The fastest recorded run was from Manchester Exchange to Liverpool Lime St in 30 minutes 46 seconds by a 1936 built Jubilee 5707 with 7 coaches. An 1882-built compound steam locomotive was timed on the same route in 38 minutes 18 seconds. Until 1968 trains from Liverpool to Manchester by all 3 routes were scheduled to take 40 minutes and often took less. The southern route via Warrington is now restricted to 85 mph and the northern route via Earlestown to 90 mph, with 75 mph over Chat Moss.

It would appear that something needs to be done  to get timings between Liverpool and Manchester, back to those of the 1930s.

Would slab track across Chat Moss be part of the solution?

Tunnels

Various tunnel upgrades have shown how using slab track in tunnels is a very helpful technique.

Many tunnels will need to be updated to increase clearance for freight trains and overhead wires and also to solve structural problems caused by anno domini.

I believe we’ll see a lot more slab track in tunnels on the UK rail network.

Noise Reduction

The Rail Engineer article, says this about Slab Track Austria’s slab track.

The elastomeric layer also helps to reduce vibration and structure-borne noise, thus offering protection to supporting structures and reducing the noise created by passing trains – an important feature in built-up areas and tunnels.

So will we see increasing use of slab track in areas, where noise asnd vibration is a problem?

Other Lines

I see the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, as an example use of slab track that will be very much copied.

Slab track has been used successfully in sections, where clearance is limited and noise is a problem.

The use of slab track, might have meant that several bridges didn’t need to be rebuilt.

How many places in the UK have similar needs.

Conclusion

The rethinking of how we build railways by Slab Track Austria, will benefit our rail network and all those who use it.

We’ll be seeing a lot more slab track!

 

 

March 21, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Siemens Unveils Plans For £200m Train Factory In East Yorkshire

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

This is a key paragraph.

While the factory is only in the planning stage at the moment, Siemens hopes to begin construction later this year if the company can confirm some “major future orders.”

As to major future orders in the UK, the following would appear to be possibilities.

  1. New London Underground train orders for the Piccadilly, Bakerloo and Central Lines.
  2. New trains for HS2.
  3. New trains for the new East Midlands Franchise.
  4. New trains for the new Southeastern Franchise.

Note.

  1. Siemens have shown designs for the Underground, which I discussed in Siemen’s View Of The Future Of The Underground.
  2. HS2 will be built to the same standard as most European High Speed Lines.
  3. The trains for the East Midlands could probably be based on German ICE trains.
  4. Desiro City trains would handle a lot of Southeastern’s needs.

I suspect, that Siemens have designs that could be adapted for most of the UK’s possible large orders.

I shall a few thoughts to these orders.

New Tube For London

The New Tube For London is a very large project, that will do the following.

  • Replace the current rolling stock on the Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo and City Lines.
  • Initially, there will be 250 new trains.
  • Increase capacity.
  • Increase frequency.
  • Run under a much higher level of automation.
  • Hopefully, the first train will run on the Piccadilly Line by 2023.
  • It is also intended that the new trains will replace the current trains on other lines.

Wikipedia says this about the project cost.

The project is estimated to cost £16.42 billion (£9.86 bn at 2013 prices)

The following companies were on an approved short list.

  • Alstom
  • Siemens
  • Hitachi,
  • CAF
  • Bombardier

Since this list was published, Bombardier and Hitachi have said they will propose a joint bid and Siemend and Alstom have merged their train-building interests.

So we are left with the following bidders.

  • Alstom-Siemens, who have various small factories in the UK.
  • Bombardier-Hitachi, who have two large factories in the UK.
  • CAF, who are building a factory at Newport in South Wales.

Various factors will come into the choice of manufacturer.

  • The London Underground order, is probably one of the largest train orders, that will be placed in the next few years and fulfilling it will most likely require a large manufacturing capacity in the UK.
  • Bombardier-Hitachi and Alstom-Siemens have the resources to create such a manufacturing capacity. Would CAF have that capacity?
  • Bombardier has been working with Transport for London for about thirty years and their recent trains for London have been generally well received.
  • Hitachi will add Japanese technology and finance to the bid.
  • Do Hitachi have a lot of space at Newton Aycliffe?
  • Siemens are Europe’s biggest industrial company, so they can invest heavily to ensure they get the order.
  • Delivering the first trains for the Piccadilly Line in 2023, could be a tough ask!

In a Brexit World, it will be interesting to see who gets the order.

Trains For HS2

Note these points about Siemens, High Speed Trains and the trains required for HS2.

  • It would appear that most German ICE trains are built by Siemens or the company is involved in a consortium.
  • Siemens latest trains for Eurostar have been well-received.
  • The High Speed Train market around the World is increasing in size.
  • The initial HS2 contract will be sixty trains, each of which will hold a thousand passengers.

As trains will be of two types;HS2-only and classic-compatible, the designing of the trains will be a challenging exercise.

But Siemens experience from Germany, where classic-compatible trains have to be extensively used, may give them an edge.

I have ridden High Speed Trains in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Kent, and single-deck trains are very similar, especially where trains are classic-compatible.

They are certainly more similar, than say commuter trains, which all seem to suffer from lots of local preferences.

Another factor is the size of the site at Goole, which is 23 hectares or the size of 23 football pitches.

  • Could Siemens be planning a new site to build its High Speed Trains?
  • Are Siemens short of space for expansion at Krefeld?
  • There is probably space for a test track at Goole, that could be connected to the factory.
  • The site would be well-connected to the East Coast Main Line and the rest of the UK’s High Speed Network and the Channel Tunnel.
  • Exports to the Rest of the World, could use the ports of the Humber.
  • Siemens have a lot of investment in other industries in East Yorkshire.

It looks to be a logical choice of location to manufacture and commission trains.

If they get the order for the new trains for HS2, it would be the ideal manufacturing site.

But if they do, will Siemens manufacture High Speed Trains for export?

This could explain, why Chris Grayling was present for the announcement in Goole.

New  Trains For The New East Midlands Franchise

With these trains, which will likely be bi-modes, it depends on whether they are trains like Hitachi Class 800 trains or classic-compatible versions of High Speed Trains.

But this order will be smaller than the London Underground or HS2 orders, so9 I wouldn’t be surprised if it went to the company with the best of the previous generation of 125 mph bi-mode trains.

New  Trains For The New Southeastern Franchise

Surely, if Siemens get this order it will be for Desiro City trains and like the Class 700 trains for Thameslink, Siemens would seriously, think about building them in Germany.

On the other hand, Southeastern’s routes could be very much in Crossrail territory and as I showed in Is Crossrail Having An Affect On Train Purchases In The South East?, I think it is very likely that the nod will go to Aventras for the franchise.

But I estimate, there are 1,300 trains needed, so with the right offer, they might get the order and decide to build them at Goole.

Once this franchise is settled, there probably aren’t too many large train orders left in the UK, for this class of train.

And Then There Is Hydrogen!

I believe that just as Alstom converted a Alstom Coradia Lint, into a hydrogen version, that Siemens could apply the same process to create a hydrogen-powered Class 707 train, which would probably be a useful train for a train operating company to have in its fleet.

I describe my thinking in Could The Unwanted Class 707 Trains Be Converted To Hydrogen-Power?

Perhaps, the current unwanted thirty trains could be converted to dual-voltage hydrogen-powered trains?

But this is not a project that would require a large factory!

Unless of course, it was linked to the 1,300 new trains that the new Southeastern franchise could need.

Conclusion

I feel that Siemens is in pole position to build the High Speed Trains, but it could be more than that!

Are Siemens developing Goole as their main manufacturing site for High Speed Trains, due to limitations at Krefeld in Germany?

Does this leave the Bombardier-Hitachi consortium to pick up the London Underground order?

It’s all getting very interesting!

 

 

 

 

 

March 3, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

MP Calling For Borders Link To High-Speed Rail Network

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the Southern Reporter.

My feeling is that I don’t think the MP should worry about this one.

Consider.

  • When High Speed 2 opens to Crewe in 2027, London to Glasgow trains will take under four hours.
  • The West Coast Main Line will be improved between Carlisle and Glasgow.
  • Freight traffic between England and Scotland is increasing.
  • A large freight interchange could be built at Longtown.
  • Increased services between Liverpool/Manchester and Edinburgh/Glasgow are starting.
  • Carlisle station is being refurbished.

All this will lead to more through traffic at Carlisle.

I would think it would be extremely likely, that the West Coast Main Line between Carlisle and Longtown will be improved substantially.

If this happens, then any extension of the Borders Railway will have a fast link to HS2 at Carlisle, from where it will probably join the West Coast Main Line in the Longtown area.

It should also be noted, that High Speed 2 is being designed to give benefits to as many places as possible.

A Borders Railway connected to Carlisle fits this strategy.

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Campaign For New Cross-Border Rail Link Gathers Pace

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Carlisle News And Star.

The interesting thing about the article is that it shows the growing co-operation between Councils and organisations on both sides of the border.

That co-operation and the need to increase capacity on the West Coast Main Line through Carlisle will eventually get a reinstated railway between Edinburgh and Carlisle via Galashield, Melrose and Hawick.

East-West and North-South Railways

When politicians talk about East-West links in the UK, they tend to be very parochial. Some are getting improved and some are not!

These can be considered major East-West links in the UK.

  • Inverness to Aberdeen – Being upgraded.
  • Glasgow to Edinburgh – Undergoing a major upgrade and electrification.
  • Carlisle to Edinburgh via Hawick – Still a study
  • Carlisle to Newcastle- Could be improved.
  • Carlisle to Leeds – Recently upgraded and safeguarded.
  • Preston to Leeds – Needs upgrading.
  • Manchester to Leeds – Desperately needs upgrading.
  • Manchester to Sheffield- Desperately needs upgrading.
  • Holyhead to Manchester – Needs some improvement.
  • Nuneaton to Felixstowe – Needs upgrading and electrification.
  • Oxford to Cambridge – Being rebuilt slowly.
  • Cardiff to London – Being upgraded and electrified slowly.
  • Exeter to Ashford via Southampton and Brighton – Needs upgrading.

East-West links are not in the same state as the major North-South routes.

  • West Coast Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • East Coast Main Line
  • Brighton Main Line
  • West Anglia Main Line
  • Great Eastern Main Line

It could be argued that the last three are in need of some improvements, but the first three will be augmented by HS2.

Look at the quality of trains on East-West routes compared to those on North-South routes.

HS2’s Needs

It could also be argued that all East-West routes should be substantially improved to compliment the building of HS2.

Carlisle, Crewe, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Preston and Sheffield will probably have excellent single-station interchange between HS2 and classic routes and good East-West connections will benefit a lot of passengers.

However, as things stand at present,Birmingham is getting rather a dog’s breakfast with passengers having to transfer between Curzon Street and New Street stations for onward travel.

Birmingham deserves better!

 

 

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

How Will Chiltern Railways Serve Old Oak Common?

Whilst writing A Proposal For Two London Overground Stations At Old Oak Common, I got to thinking about how Chiltern Railways would use Old Oak Common station as a second London terminus, to relieve pressure on Marylebone station.

Lines At Old Oak Common

This map from TfL shows the lines in the area and the location of the proposed two new stations; Hythe Road and Old Oak Common Lane, for the London Overground.

Hythe Road station will be on the  West London Line between Willesden Junction and Shepherd’s Bush stations.

Old Oak Common Lane station will be on the North London Line between Willesden Junction and Acton Central stations.

How Will Chiltern Serve Old Oak Common?

Search the Internet for “Chiltern Railways Old Oak Common” and you find little of substance.

So exactly how will Chiltern Railways get trains to the station complex?

Using The Acton-Northolt Line

The Acton-Northolt Line is a logical route from Northolt Junction on the Chiltern Main Line to Old Oak Common.

But there could be problems with the Acton-Northolt Line.

  1. It will be on top of the tunnel taking HS2 out of London and building HS2 might be difficult.
  2. It is partly single track and would need to be doubled.
  3. It might be difficult to find space to build the station at Old Oak Common around the platforms for HS2, Crossrail and the Great Western Main Line.
  4. Getting tracks to the Northern part of the site for a Chiltern station there, might be difficult.

Points 1 and 2 would probably combine together to delay the Chiltern extension until after HS2 or at least the tunnel, is substantially complete.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr illustrates the problem of finding a place for the station.

Note.

  1. The Great Western Railway is the multi-track in black .
  2. The single track shown in black North of North Action station is the Acton-Northolt Line.
  3. Old Oak Common Lane station is just to the North of Acton Wells Junction.
  4. The curves to connect the Acton-Northolt Line to the North London Line would be very tight.

The preferred position for the station is probably in the area of the current Heathrow Express Depot.

An alternative position for the station could be at North Acton station.

This Google Map shows North Acton station and its relation to the proposed Old Oak Common Lane station.

Old Oak Common Lane station would be located North of the Junction, where the Dudding Hill Line and the North London Line split, in the top-right corner of the map.

The rebuilt North Acton station could have the following characteristics.

  • Two or possibly three, Chiltern platforms could be built North of the current Central Line platforms.
  • The station could have a walking route or moving walkway to connect it to Old Oak Common Lane station and the main Old Oak Common complex.
  • It would also fulfil the aims of politicians to link the Central and North London Lines.

It could be a viable alternative with valuable over-site development.

I took these pictures from the bridge, where Victoria Road passes over the Central Line and Acton-Northolt Lines.

Note.

  1. The pictures were taken looking East towards Old Oak Common.
  2. The single-track Acton-Northolt Line is in the shrubbery on the left.
  3. The Acton-Northolt Line is about two or three metres higher than the Central Line.
  4. The greyish-blue bridge in the distance carries the North London Line over the cutting.

North Acton station is on the other side of the bridge.

It strikes me that the various levels give possibilities for an improved Central Line layout and a couple of platforms for Chiltern Railways.

Advantages and Problems Of Using The Acton-Northolt Line

The advantages of using this route could include.

  • It could open up development sites along the route.
  • New stations could be developed at Hanger Lane, Perivale, Greenford, Northolt, South Ruislip, Ruislip Grdens and West Ruoslip.
  • The new double-track line could be electrified without disrupting existing services.
  • It connects the Chiltern Main Line to HS2 and Crossrail.
  • It could enable a Crossrail extension along the Acton-Northolt Line.

The big problem could be doubling the Acton-Northolt Line and building the station, whilst the tunnelling work for HS2 was proceeding.

The Acton-Northolt Line And HS2

I do hope that HS2 is not being designed to block future use of the Acton-Northolt Line.

In fact, I hope the reverse is true and creation of a double-track Acton-Northolt Line is part of the specification for HS2.

Using The Dudding Hill Line

There is a connecting chord between the Chiltern Main Line and the Dudding Hill Line at Neasden.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows how trains would get between Wembley Stadium station and the Dudding Hill Line.

Note.

  1. The Dudding Hill Line is the line crossing all the tracks to the South of Neasden.
  2. The route would mean that Chiltern trains would be sent to their destination; Marylebone or Old Oak Common at Neasden.

The biggest problem may be where to put the station, as the Dudding Hill Line passes slightly to the West of the Old Oak Common complex.

But look at TfL’s visualisation for Old Oak Common Lane station.

The Dudding Hill Line is shown in the visualisation running under the pedestrian and cycle route to Victoria Road.

This Google Map shows the area in detail.

Note.

  1. The North London Line goes North-East.
  2. The proposed Old Oak Common Lane station would be built where the road is closest to the North London Line.
  3. The Dudding Hill Line goes North.

There would appear to be a site ripe for development to the West of the Dudding Hill Line.

Advantages and Problems Of Using The Dudding Hill Line

The advantages of using this route could include.

The station could be built in combination with London Overground’s proposed Old Oak Common Lane station.

  • There is a lot of space for the station.
  • No new track is required, although the Dudding Hill Line would need upgrading.
  • Good connections to HS2 and Crossrail will be built for Old Oak Common Lane station.
  • Thestation on the Dudding Hill Line could also be used by the proposed West London Orbital Railway.
  • Construction would not be a difficult job and would not affect existing services.
  • The site would not be affected by HS2.

The problems are mainly about connectivity to other lines, but well-designed connections to Crossrail and the Central Line would solve a lot of these problems.

Conclusion

There are at least two feasible options for a Chiltern station in the Old Oak Common area.

 

 

October 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Proposal For Two London Overground Stations At Old Oak Common

Transport for London published this proposal a few weeks ago, but it’s only now that I’ve found time to document it here.

TfL’s Proposal

This document on Tfl’s web site, gives full details of their proposals.

The Location Of The Stations

This map from TfL shows the location of the two stations.

Hythe Road station will be on the  West London Line between Willesden Junction and Shepherd’s Bush stations.

Old Oak Common Lane station will be on the North London Line between Willesden Junction and Acton Central stations.

This Google Map shows the area.

Three features on both maps link them together.

  • The Grand Union Canal.
  • The layout of the two Overground Lines that meet at the distinctive Willesden High Level Junction.
  • The long silver-roofed North Pole Depot at the bottom of the maps.

Note from the Google Map, how much space is available.

Are Two New Stations Needed?

There are various factors at work here.

More Stations And Entrances Shorten Journey Times

Research has shown that the more routes you give passengers, the quicker and easier the journeys.

Old Oak Common Is A Large Site

25,500 new homes and 65,000 jobs are being created in the Old Oak Common/Park Royal area and two new stations are probably needed.

The North And West London Lines Pass Separately Through The Site

Two separate stations give direct services to the following.

  • West and South-West London via the North London Line.
  • North and North-East London via the North London Line.
  • Clapham Junction for South London via the West London Line.

Some might argue, that a new spur from Willesden High Level Junction, where the two lines divide direct to the combined HS2 and Elizabeth Line station, may be a better and cheaper option.

But this would only provide a connection to North and North-East London. Connections to the latter area, are also provided by the Elizabeth Line with a change of train at Liverpool Street or Stratford.

Conclusion About Two Stations

I’m convinced, that two Overground stations are needed and I suspect eventually, there will be other stations.

Hythe Road Station

TfL’s proposal for Hythe Road station would be built to the North of the existing embankment of the West London Line, which would be demolished.

This visualisation is from the TfL document.

It would appear to be reminiscent of Shoreditch High Street station, but built at ground-level.

Conclusion About Hythe Road Station

It is an inherently simple proposal, that can be built around an existing rail line, so it shouldn’t create too many construction problems.

Old Oak Common Lane Station

TfL’s proposal for Old Oak Common Lane station would incorporate an overbridge extending westwards to Victoria Road, to allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross the railway.

This map from the TfL document shows the location of the station.

And this Google Map shows roughly the same area.

The line breaking off to the North is the Dudding Hill Line, which is an important part of a proposal for a new railway line in West London, which I wrote about in New Railway Line For West London Proposed.

This visualisation is from the TfL document.

Note.

  • The bridge for cyclists and pedestrians to Victoria Road.
  • The Dudding Hill Line passing under the bridge.

It very much looks like Old Oak Common Lane station could have platforms on the Dudding Hill Line, which would be a very important addition to the West London Orbital Railway proposal.

Cnclusion About Old Oak Common Lane Station

TfL’s proposal looks comprehensive and reasonably simple to build.

It also includes provision to connect to the proposed West London Orbital Railway.

What Else Would I Do?

Here are my thoughts.

An East-West People Mover

The only one thing I would definitely add, is some form of people mover stretching East-West across the whole Old Oak Common site.

My preferred option would be to use a high-level moving walkway perhaps enclosed in a glass tunnel, which would stretch from Victoria Road in the West to perhaps Wormwood Scrubs Park in the East.

Escalators and lifts would give step-free connections to Old Oak Common Lane, HS2, Elizabeth Line and Hythe Road stations.

We’re not getting any younger!

Terminal Platforms

Both stations could have terminal platforms in the visualisations.

But they would surely be a good idea to allow extra services to be run to and from the major station complex.

Both new stations will have a platform on each track.

Would it be a good idea to have a third platform, that could be used as a bay platform in both directions?

A Terminal Platform At Hythe Road Station

The West London Line currently has a Milton Keynes to East Croydon service and this must mean that services to the West Coast and Brighton Main Lines are possible from a Hythe Road station.

  • Trains to the South could go to Clapham Junction, East Croydon, Gatwick and any desired station South of London.
  • Trains to the North could go to Wembley Central, Watford and Milton Keynes.

A stopping service on the West Coast Main Line would be complementary to HS2. Take for instance, sports or music fans going to an event at Wembley Stadium.

A Terminal Platform At Old Oak Common Lane Station

The only passenger services on the North London Line are London Overground services, between Stratford and Eichmond, but surely a terminal platform at Old Oak Common Lane station could be useful in providing some needed services.

If the West London Orbital Railway is created, this will add eight trains per hour after Acton Central. This might be too many trains for the route, so perhaps there would be a need to turn-back some trains from Stratford at Old Oak Common Lane?

A terminal platform at Old Oak Common Lane station might be used for an extended Gospel Oak to Barking service.

Building The Stations

I haven’t had a good look at the sites of the two stations and I don’t know the area well.

But I do have the feeling that both these stations can be built independently without affecting any other projects.

So they could be built at any convenient time in the development of this large site.

 

 

 

 

October 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment