The Anonymous Widower

Open Access Operators And The Lumo Model

In the UK, there are only three established Open Access operators, who run UK train services.

  • Grand Central
  • Heathrow Express
  • Hull Trains

From the 25th of October, they will be joined by Lumo.

We probably don’t think of Heathrow Express as an Open Access operator and as it is effectively a short distance special service with new trains between Heathrow and Paddington, it has its own business model, that may or may not survive.

But how will Lumo and their bold new business model affect Grand Central, Hull Trains and any future Open Access operators?

Grand Central Trains

Grand Central is a well-established Open Access operator.

  • They run services between London King’s Cross and Bradford Interchange, Sunderland and several other convenient en-route stations.
  • They are owned by Deutsche Bahn.
  • They also regularly seem to apply for new routes and extra services.

But they have a big problem fast catching up on them; they have a diesel-only fleet and need to decarbonise.

I also think that all express passenger services on the East Coast Main Line will at some date need to be run by 140 mph trains capable of running with full digital signalling and a degree of Automatic Train Operation.

In Lumo: Why Won’t The New Train Service Stop At Yorkshire Stations?, I said that to continue to be successful, they probably need to embrace the Lumo model and acquire new trains.

I will repeat what I said in the related post.

This would entail.

  • The ten diesel Class 180 trains would be replaced by new electric trains.
  • The trains would need a 140 mph capability under digital signalling to fit in with the plans of Network Rail, LNER and Lumo to create a top-class high-speed high-capacity East Coast Main Line.
  • The trains would need a battery capability as Grand Central’s routes are not fully electrified.
  • They could copy Lumo’s green marketing philosophy, ticketing and catering offering.

As to the trains, I’m sure that Hitachi could offer a version of their Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, the specification of which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

The trains would need a range of fifty miles on battery-power.

I have some other thoughts.

Financing

If you look at the finances of decarbonising Grand Central, they would need a new fleet of ten trains, which as Lumo’s fleet of five trains are reported to be costing £100 million, so that figure can be at least doubled.

There would also be costs for the two charging systems at Bradford Interchange and Sunderland. But at least there are several possible solutions for charging systems, so the price will probably not be more than a few million, if that.

Will Deutsche Bahn be prepared to stump up the extra finance?

A Service To Cleethorpes

In the Wikipedia entry for Grand Central, there is a section which is entitled London Kings Cross to Cleethorpes, which outlines a proposed service.

  • It would split and join with the London King’s Cross and Bradford service at Doncaster.
  • It would call at Crowle, Scunthorpe, Barnetby, Habrough and Grimsby.
  • Doncaster and Cleethorpes is 52.1 miles and should be in range of a Battery-electric train with a charging system at Cleethorpes.

Using current times from LNER and TransPennine Express, I estimate that Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Trains could travel between London and Cleethorpes in around two hours and twenty minutes.

With digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line to the South of Doncaster, the overall time could be much closer to two hours.

This could be a very viable service with battery-electric trains capable of running at 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line and for sixty miles at 100 mph on battery power.

Maximising The Use Use Of Train Paths By The Use Of Splitting And Joining

The proposed service to Cleethorpes is a classic use of splitting and joining, which enables two separate services to run a large part of their routes together.

  • On the East Coast Main Line, it means that maximum use can be made of the paths available.
  • Splitting and joining is part of the specification for the Hitachi trains and they do it automatically in under two minutes.
  • LNER are already talking about using the technique to serve various destinations from Leeds.

I wouldn’t rule out Grand Central’s two services working as a pair between London King’s Cross and Doncaster, where they would split and join.

Conclusion On Grand Central Trains

Decarbonisation with high-speed battery-electric trains could ensure the future of Grand Central Trains.

Hull Trains

Hull Trains is another well-established Open Access operator.

  • They run services between London King’s Cross and Hull and Beverley.
  • They have a fleet of five bi-mode Class 802 trains.
  • The company is part of First Group.

Hull Trains don’t have the decarbonisation problem of Grand Central Trains, as I suspect Hitachi will come up with a solution to turn Class 802 trains into a battery-electric train with a range of perhaps seventy miles on battery power.

  • Beverley and Temple Hirst junction is a distance of 44.3 miles and is the only section of the route without electrification.
  • Charging of the batteries will be needed at the Eastern end and probably would be best handled by a short length of electrification in Hull station or between Hull and Brough stations.

The Class 802 trains are also ready for updating to run under the new digital signalling of the East Coast Main Line.

First Harrogate Trains

First Harrogate Trains was a subsidiary of Hull Trains, which hoped to run the following services.

  • London King’s Cross and Harrogate via York
  • London King’s Cross and Cleethorpes via Peterborough, Spalding and Lincoln

Both these services could be run in conjunction with the current service with an appropriate split and join.

Conclusion On Hull Trains

As both Hull Trains and Lumo share London King’s Cross and are both owned by First Group, I would expect that both train operators would share some services, methods and ideas.

There may be advantages if Hull Trains’s Class 802 trains and Lumo’s Class 803 trains could run each other’s services.

Grand Union

Grand Union is a prospective open access operator who are proposing to operate train services from England to Wales and Scotland.

They are proposing two services.

London Paddington and Cardiff Central via Reading, Bristol Parkway, Severn Tunnel Junction, Newport and Cardiff Parkway, with a possible extension later to Swansea andLlanelli or Carmarthen.

London Euston and Stirling via Milton Keynes Central, Nuneaton, Crewe, Preston, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell, Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert.

Note.

  1. London Paddington and Cardiff Central is fully electrified, but there is no electrification West of Cardiff Central.
  2. Cardiff Central and Swansea are 45.7 miles apart.
  3. London Euston and Stirling is fully electrified.

Currently, the rolling stock for both services is proposed to be a tri-mode Class 93 locomotive hauling a rake of Mark 4 coaches and a driving van trailer.

The locomotive should be capable of handling the routes to Stirling and Cardiff using the electrification alone.

When the Cardiff route is extended, Grand Union would intend to use Class 802 trains, which could be fitted with batteries to serve Swansea, where the batteries would be charged.

There is no sign as yet, that the Office of Rail and Road have approved any of their possible services, but both services might be improved with some Lumo-style thinking.

Alliance Rail Holdings

Alliance Rail Holdings, which is a sister company to Grand Central, is ultimately owned by Deutsche Bahn, seems to have several ideas for new services, but only seems to have got approval to one.

They were given approval some years ago to run a service between London Euston and Blackpool North.

  • Calls would be made at Poulton-le-Fylde, Kirkham and Wesham, Preston, Nuneaton and Milton Keynes Central.
  • There will be six trains per day.
  • Trains would be InterCity 225 trains.
  • The approval is for seven years from 2018.

But because of the pandemic it hasn’t run.

Conclusion

The Lumo model will affect all these services.

 

 

 

September 12, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lumo Aims To Be The Green Alternative To Edinburgh – London Flights

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

Some points from the article.

Lumo Is Targeting Flyers

This is a paragraph.

Lumo is aiming to carry more than 1 million passengers per year. It is particularly targeting people who currently fly between Edinburgh and London; in June it says there were 74 764 air journeys on the route, compared to 82 002 by rail.

I find it interesting that the number of passengers using air and rail are within nine percent. I thought it would have been more of a difference.

The Service Will Ramp Up

This is a paragraph.

Services will ramp up over a period of months to the planned timetable of five trains each way per day. A small increase is envisaged at the December timetable change, followed by full implementation in Q1 2022.

There is a lot of training to do and some more Class 803 trains to be delivered.

Viability Level

Industry sources are quoted that at the prices charged, the trains will need to be eighty percent full to be viable.

As a Control Engineer, who has built hundreds of mathematical models, I am fairly certain, that by adjusting ticket prices and getting the marketing right, they’ll hit that level.

Late Bookers

The eighty percent viability level probably means that they can afford to leave a few seats available for those that need to book the day before.

Yesterday, when I went to Spalding, I bought my ticket in the Booking Office half-an-hour before travel and got a seat with a window.

Seat allocation algorithms on LNER seem to be very good and I don’t think Lumo’s will be in any way inferior.

Early Bookers

The article says advance tickets can be bought earlier than the usual twelve weeks.

So say you always travel to Scotland for your mother’s birthday, you can buy the ticket early and not be hit by low availability, as it turns out later that Rangers are playing Celtic on the day you travel.

Mutual Support In Case Of Disruption

This is a paragraph.

Reciprocal contracts providing support in case of disruption have been signed with other operators, including LNER.

I think in all the troubles yesterday, that I wrote about in Azumas Everywhere!, LNER could have done with some help yesterday.

Lumo Want To Grow Rail

This is a quote from the company.

We want to grow rail and bring people to a more sustainable, environmentally way of travelling.

They also seem fairly relaxed if you want to travel in First on LNER.

Luggage

This is a paragraph.

Passengers will be able keep their luggage close by or, for an additional charge, have it delivered to their final station or destination.

Does that mean you’re going to Edinburgh to see the family at Christmas and the New Year, you can take a lot of luggage and get it delivered both ways?

Efficient Running North Of Newcastle

I particularly liked this paragraph.

The trainsets will be able to run with power draw limited to 80% of normal on the northern part of the East Coast Main Line where there is limited power supply, with modelling by FirstGroup’s engineers and Network Rail suggesting that for five-car sets this will not affect sectional running times and will allow electric trains to continue running.

If you’re on time, the passengers won’t mind, but the electricity saved is all profit.

As a Control Engineer, my philosophy would be to have an economy mode for 80 % power sections.

  • Trains would enter these sections with a full battery, that had been charged earlier from the electrification.
  • The battery would provide hotel power in these sections.
  • Traction power would come from the electrification.
  • Trains could leave these sections with an almost flat battery.

The battery is not used for traction, but because it is handling the hotel power, less power is drawn from the electrification for traction.

I always remember Freddie Laker was keen on getting his pilots to save fuel.

Charging The Hotel Power Battery

Obviously this can be charged from the overhead electrification, although I doubt they would charge it in sections where power supplies are limited.

But can the battery be charged using regenerative braking?

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I tried to answer this question using the information in 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 , which was published in 2014 and contains this diagram of the traction system.

Note that BC in the diagram stands for battery charger. So even in 2014, Hitachi were thinking about batteries.

In this diagram it seems to me, that electricity for the Auxiliary Power Supply and charging any batteries, can come from these sources.

  • The Electrification
  • The Generator Unit, if fitted
  • The Drive Converter if it can divert regenerative braking energy to the APS.

It is all very comprehensive.

Handling Engineering Blockades

This is a paragraph.

Lumo has looked at how to manage any engineering blockades involving diversions away from the wires, with options including transfers to Hull Trains or TPE services operated using bimode trainsets, transfer to buses if no alternatives are available, and even the cancellation of a service if passengers indicate they would prefer not to travel if their journey will be disrupted.

Being part of a larger group always helps.

Borrowing Trains

Yesterday, whilst waiting to leave Peterborough, I saw a TransPennine Express Class 802 train go through.

Peterborough isn’t exactly near the Pennines!

On checking today, it appears it was running in one of Lumo’s paths.

So was the train being borrowed for training purposes?

But I can envisage, when a difficult blockade say around Newark is to be enacted, that Lumo would borrow a bi-mode from TransPennine Express, so they could use diesel to run the service via Lincoln.

Conclusion

There’s a lot more to Lumo than has so far been disclosed.

In the meantime read the Railway Gazette article, as there’s more there for starters.

September 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Anxiety Over HS2 Eastern Leg Future

I did think about giving this post a title of Hear We Go Again, as it yet another story about delaying or cancelling the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

But in the end I decided to use the title of the article in the September 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

I wrote about this subject in Is The Eastern Leg Of High Speed Two Under Threat? in December 2020.

In that post, this was my major conclusion.

To achieve the required timings for High Speed Two, major improvements must be made to existing track on the East Coast Main Line and these improvements will mean that existing services will be competitive with High Speed Two on time.

It is backed up by the timings in the following table., which show the direct time by High Speed Two and my best estimate of time on an improved East Coast Main Line.

  • Bradford – Will not served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty-four minutes
  • Cleethorpes – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and fifty-one minutes
  • Darlington – One hour and forty-nine minutes – One hour and forty-nine minutes
  • Doncaster – Will not served by High Speed Two – One hour
  • Edinburgh – Three hours and forty minutes via Western Leg – Three hours and thirty minutes.
  • Grimsby – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and thirty-six minutes
  • Harrogate – Will not served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty-two minutes
  • Huddersfield – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and eight minutes
  • Hull – Will not served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty minutes
  • Leeds – One hour and twenty-one minutes – One hour and thirty minutes
  • Lincoln – Will not served by High Speed Two – One hour and fifty-one minutes
  • Middlesbrough – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and twenty minutes
  • Newcastle – Two hours and seventeen minutes – Two hours and sixteen minutes
  • Nottingham – One hour and seven minutes – One hour and fifty minutes
  • Scarborough – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and fifty-seven minutes
  • Sheffield – One hour and twenty-seven minutes – One hour and twenty-seven minutes
  • Skipton – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and seven minutes
  • Sunderland – Will not served by High Speed Two – Two hours and thirty minutes
  • York – One hour and twenty-four minutes – One hour and twenty-four minutes

Note.

  1. I have included all destinations served by Grand Central, Hull Trains and LNER.
  2. I have included Nottingham and Sheffield for completeness and in case whilst electrification is installed on the Midland Main Line, LNER run services to the two cities.
  3. I suspect LNER services to Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton will split and join at Leeds.

There are a total of nineteen destination in this table.

  • Twelve are not served by High Speed Two.
  • Six are not more than fifteen minutes slower by the East Coast Main Line.

Only Nottingham is substantially quicker by High Speed Two.

In Is The Eastern Leg Of High Speed Two Under Threat?, I said that if Nottingham services ran at the sort of speed on the East Coast Main Line, that a time of one hour and twenty-one minutes between London St. Pancras and Nottingham could be possible. That would be just fourteen minutes slower than the time on High Speed Two with a change at East Midlands Hub.

Conclusion

I am getting more convinced that we don’t need the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two to East Midlands Hub and Leeds for a few years yet, as by uprating the East Coast and Midland Main Lines we can handle the traffic that we currently are generating with ease.

August 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Solving The Electrification Conundrum

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

This is the introductory sub-heading.

Regional and rural railways poses a huge problem for the railway to decarbonise.

Lorna McDonald of Hitachi Rail and Jay Mehta of Hitachi ABB Power Grids tell Andy Roden why they believe they have the answer.

These are my thoughts on what is said.

Battery-Electric Trains

The article starts by giving a review of battery-electric trains and their use on routes of moderate but important length.

  • Some short routes can be handled with just a charge on an electrified main line.
  • Some will need a recharge at the termini.
  • Other routes might need a recharge at some intermediate stations, with a possible increase in dwell times.

It was in February 2015, that I wrote Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?, after a ride in public service on Bombardier’s test battery-electric train based on a Class 379 train.

I also wrote this in the related post.

Returning from Harwich, I travelled with the train’s on-board test engineer, who was monitoring the train performance in battery mode on a laptop. He told me that acceleration in this mode was the same as a standard train, that the range was up to sixty miles and that only minimal instruction was needed to convert a driver familiar to the Class 379 to this battery variant.

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

A couple of years later, I met a lady on another train, who’d used the test train virtually every day during the trial and she and her fellow travellers felt that it was as good if not better than the normal service from a Class 360 train or a Class 321 train.

So why if the engineering, customer acceptance and reliability were proven six years ago, do we not have several battery electric trains in service?

  • There is a proven need for battery-electric trains on the Marshlink Line and the Uckfield Branch in Sussex.
  • The current Class 171 trains are needed elsewhere, so why are no plans in place for replacement trains?
  • The government is pushing electric cars and buses, but why is there such little political support for battery-electric trains?

It’s almost as if, an important civil servant in the decision process has the naive belief that battery-electric trains won’t work and if they do, they will be phenomenally expensive. So the answer is an inevitable no!

Only in the South Wales Metro, are battery-electric trains considered to be part of the solution to create a more efficient and affordable electric railway.

But as I have constantly pointed out since February 2015 in this blog, battery-electric trains should be one of the innovations we use to build a better railway.

Hydrogen Powered Trains

The article says this about hydrogen powered trains.

Hybrid hydrogen fuel cells can potentially solve the range problem, but at the cost of the fuel eating up internal capacity that would ideally be used for passengers. (and as Industry and Technology Editor Roger Ford points out, at present hydrogen is a rather dirty fuel). By contrast, there is no loss of seating or capacity in a Hitachi battery train.

I suspect the article is referring to the Alstom train, which is based on the technology of the Alstom Coradia iLint.

I have ridden this train.

  • It works reliably.
  • It runs on a 100 km route.
  • The route is partially electrified, but the train doesn’t have a pantograph.
  • It has a very noisy mechanical transmission.

Having spoken to passengers at length, no-one seemed bothered by the Hindenburg possibilities.

It is certainly doing some things right, as nearly fifty trains have been ordered for train operating companies in Germany.

Alstom’s train for the UK is the Class 600 train, which will be converted from a four-car Class 321 train.

Note.

  1. Half of both driver cars is taken up by a hydrogen tank.
  2. Trains will be three-cars.
  3. Trains will be able to carry as many passengers as a two-car Class 156 train.

It is an inefficient design that can be improved upon.

Porterbrook and Birmingham University appear to have done that with their Class 799 train.

  • It can use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • The hydrogen tanks, fuel cell and other hydrogen gubbins are under the floor.

This picture from Network Rail shows how the train will appear at COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Now that’s what I call a train! Let alone a hydrogen train!

Without doubt, Porterbrook and their academic friends in Birmingham will be laying down a strong marker for hydrogen at COP26!

I know my hydrogen, as my first job on leaving Liverpool University with my Control Engineering degree in 1968 was for ICI at Runcorn, where I worked in a plant that electrolysed brine into hydrogen, sodium hydroxide and chlorine.

My life went full circle last week, when I rode this hydrogen powered bus in London.

The hydrogen is currently supplied from the same chemical works in Runcorn, where I worked. But plans have been made at Runcorn, to produce the hydrogen from renewable energy, which would make the hydrogen as green hydrogen of the highest standard. So sorry Roger, but totally carbon-free hydrogen is available.

The bus is a Wightbus Hydroliner FCEV and this page on the Wrightbus web site gives the specification. The specification also gives a series of cutaway drawings, which show how they fit 86 passengers, all the hydrogen gubbins and a driver into a standard size double-deck bus.

I believe that Alstom’s current proposal is not a viable design, but I wouldn’t say that about the Porterbrook/Birmingham University design.

Any Alternative To Full Electrification Must Meet Operator And Customer Expectations

This is a paragraph from the article.

It’s essential that an alternative traction solution offers the same levels of performance and frequency, while providing an increase in capacity and being economically viable.

In performance, I would include reliability. As the on-board engineer indicated on the Bombardier  test train on the Harwich branch, overhead electrification is not totally reliable, when there are winds and/or criminals about.

Easy Wins

Hitachi’s five-car Class 800 trains and Class 802 trains each have three diesel engines and run the following short routes.

  • Kings Cross and Middlesbrough- 21 miles not electrified – Changeover in Northallerton station
  • Kings Cross and Lincoln – 16.6 miles not electrified – Changeover in Newark Northgate station
  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13.3 miles not electrified – Changeover in Newbury station
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10.3 miles not electrified – Changeover in Didcot Parkway station

Some of these routes could surely be run with a train, where one diesel engine was replaced by a battery-pack.

As I’m someone, who was designing, building and testing plug-compatible transistorised electronics in the 1960s to replace  older valve-based equipment in a heavy engineering factory, I suspect that creating a plug-compatible battery-pack that does what a diesel engine does in terms of power and performance is not impossible.

What would be the reaction to passengers, once they had been told, they had run all the way to or from London without using any diesel?

Hopefully, they’d come again and tell their friends, which is what a train operator wants and needs.

Solving The Electrification Conundrum

This section is from the article.

Where electrification isn’t likely to be a viable proposition, this presents a real conundrum to train operators and rolling stock leasing companies.

This is why Hitachi Rail and Hitachi ABB Power Grids are joining together to present a combined battery train and charging solution to solve this conundrum. In 2020, Hitachi and ABB’s Power Grids business, came together in a joint venture, and an early outcome of this is confidence that bringing together their expertise in rail, power and grid management, they can work together to make electrification simpler cheaper and quicker.

I agree strongly with the second paragraph, as several times, I’ve been the mathematician and simulation expert in a large multi-disciplinary engineering project, that went on to be very successful.

The Heart Of The Proposition

This is a paragraph from the article.

The proposition is conceptually simple. Rather than have extended dwell times at stations for battery-powered trains, why not have a short stretch of 25 KVAC overhead catenary (the exact length will depend on the types of train and the route) which can charge trains at linespeed on the move via a conventional pantograph?

The article also mentions ABB’s related expertise.

  • Charging buses all over Europe.
  • Creating the power grid for the Great Western Electrification to Cardiff.

I like the concept, but then it’s very similar to what I wrote in The Concept Of Electrification Islands in April 2020.

But as they are electrical power engineers and I’m not, they’d know how to create the system.

Collaboration With Hyperdrive Innovation

The article has nothing negative to say about the the collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation to produce the battery-packs.

Route Modelling

Hitachi appear to have developed a sophisticated route modelling system, so that routes and charging positions can be planned.

I would be very surprised if they hadn’t developed such a system.

Modular And Scalable

This is a paragraph from the article.

In the heart of the system is a containerised modular solution containing everything needed to power a stretch of overhead catenary to charge trains. A three-car battery train might need one of these, but the great advantage is that it is scalable to capacity and speed requirements.

This all sounds very sensible and can surely cope with a variety of lines and traffic levels.

It also has the great advantage , that if a line is eventually electrified, the equipment can be moved on to another line.

Financing Trains And Chargers

The article talks about the flexibility of the system from an operator’s point of view with respect to finance.

I’ve had some good mentors in the area of finance and I know innovative finance contributed to the success of Metier Management Systems, the project management company I started with three others in 1977.

After selling Metier, I formed an innovative finance company, which would certainly have liked the proposition put forward in the article.

No Compromise, Little Risk

I would agree with this heading of the penultimate section of the article.

In February 2015, when I rode that Class 379 train between Manningtree and Harwich, no compromise had been made by Bombardier and it charged in the electrified bay platform at Manningtree.

But why was that train not put through an extensive route-proving exercise in the UK after the successful trial at Manningtree?

  • Was it the financial state of Bombardier?
  • Was it a lack of belief on the part of politicians, who were too preoccupied with Brexit?
  • Was it that an unnamed civil servant didn’t like the concept and stopped the project?

Whatever the reason, we have wasted several years in getting electric trains accepted on UK railways.

If no compromise needs to be made to create a battery-electric train, that is equivalent to the best-in-class diesel or electric multiple units, then what about the risk?

The beauty of Hitachi’s battery-electric train project is that it can be done in phases designed to minimise risk.

Phase 1 – Initial Battery Testing 

Obviously, there will be a lot of bench testing in a laboratory.

But I also believe that if the Class 803 trains are fitted with a similar battery from Hyperdrive Innovation, then this small fleet of five trains can be used to test a lot of the functionality of the batteries initially in a test environment and later in a real service environment.

The picture shows a Class 803 train under test through Oakleigh Park station.

This phase would be very low risk, especially where passengers are concerned.

Phase 2 – Battery Traction Testing And Route Proving

I am a devious bastard, when it comes to software development. The next set of features would always be available for me to test earlier, than anybody else knew.

I doubt that the engineers at Hyperdrive Innovation will be any different.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the batteries in the Class 803 trains can also be used for traction, if you have the right authority.

We might even see Class 803 trains turning up in some unusual places to test the traction abilities of the batteries.

As East Coast Trains, Great Western Railway and Hull Trains are all First Group companies, I can’t see any problems.

I’m also sure that Hitachi could convert some Class 800 or Class 802 trains and add these to the test fleet, if East Coast Trains need their Class 803 trains to start service.

This phase would be very low risk, especially where passengers are concerned.

Possibly, the worse thing, that could happen would be a battery failure, which would need the train to be rescued.

Phase 3 – Service Testing On Short Routes

As I indicated earlier, there are some easy routes between London and places like Bedwyn, Lincoln, Middlesbrough and Oxford, that should be possible with a Class 800 or Class 802 train fitted with the appropriate number of batteries.

Once the trains have shown, the required level of performance and reliability, I can see converted Class 800, 801 and Class 802 trains entering services on these and other routes.

Another low risk phase, although passengers are involved, but they are probably subject to the same risks, as on an unmodified train.

Various combinations of diesel generators and batteries could be used to find out, what is the optimum combination for the typical diagrams that train operators use.

Hitachi didn’t commit to any dates, but I can see battery-electric trains running on the Great Western Railway earlier than anybody thinks.

Phase 4 – Service Testing On Medium Routes With A Terminal Charger System

It is my view that the ideal test route for battery-electric trains with a terminal charger system would be the Hull Trains service between London Kings Cross and Hull and Beverley.

The route is effectively in three sections.

  • London Kings Cross and Temple Hirst junction – 169.2 miles – Full Electrification
  • Temple Hirst junction and Hull station – 36.1 miles – No Electrification
  • Hull station and Beverley station – 8.3 miles – No Electrification

Two things would be needed to run zero-carbon electric trains on this route.

  • Sufficient battery capacity in Hull Trains’s Class 802 trains to reliably handle the 36.1 miles between Temple Hirst junction and Hull station.
  • A charging system in Hull station.

As Hull station also handles other Class 800 and Class 802 trains, there will probably be a need to put a charging system in more than one platform.

Note.

  1. Hull station has plenty of space.
  2. No other infrastructure work would be needed.
  3. There is a large bus interchange next door, so I suspect the power supply to Hull station is good.

Hull would be a very good first destination for a battery-electric InterCity train.

Others would include Bristol, Cheltenham, Chester, Scarborough, Sunderland and Swansea.

The risk would be very low, if the trains still had some diesel generator capacity.

Phase 5 – Service Testing On Long Routes With Multiple Charger Systems

Once the performance and reliability of the charger systems have been proven in single installations like perhaps Hull and Swansea stations, longer routes can be prepared for electric trains.

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

The press release talks about Penzance and London, so would that be a suitable route for discontinuous electrification using multiple chargers?

These are the distances between major points on the route between Penzance and London Paddington.

  • Penzance and Truro – 35.8 miles
  • Truro and Bodmin Parkway – 26.8 miles
  • Bodmin Parkway and Plymouth – 26.9 miles
  • Plymouth and Newton Abbot – 31,9 miles
  • Newton Abbot and Exeter – 20.2 miles
  • Exeter and Taunton – 30.8 miles
  • Taunton and Westbury – 47.2 miles
  • Westbury and Newbury – 42.5 miles
  • Newbury and Paddington – 53 miles

Note.

  1. Only Newbury and Paddington is electrified.
  2. Trains generally stop at Plymouth, Newton Abbott, Exeter and Taunton.
  3. Services between Paddington and Exeter, Okehampton, Paignton, Penzance, Plymouth and Torquay wouldn’t use diesel.
  4. Okehampton would be served by a reverse at Exeter.
  5. As Paignton is just 8.1 miles from Newton Abbot, it probably wouldn’t need a charger.
  6. Bodmin is another possible destination, as Great Western Railway have helped to finance a new platform at Bodmin General station.

It would certainly be good marketing to run zero-carbon electric trains to Devon and Cornwall.

I would class this route as medium risk, but with a high reward for the operator.

In this brief analysis, it does look that Hitachi’s proposed system is of a lower risk.

A Few Questions

I do have a few questions.

Are The Class 803 Trains Fitted With Hyperdrive Innovation Batteries?

East Coast Trains‘s new Class 803 trains are undergoing testing between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh and they can be picked up on Real Time Trains.

Wikipedia says this about the traction system for the trains.

While sharing a bodyshell with the previous UK A-train variants, the Class 803 differs in that it has no diesel engines fitted. They will however be fitted with batteries to enable the train’s on-board services to be maintained, in case the primary electrical supplies have failed.

Will these emergency batteries be made by Hyperdrive Innovation?

My experience of similar systems in other industries, points me to the conclusion, that all Class 80x trains can be fitted with similar, if not identical batteries.

This would give the big advantage of allowing battery testing to be performed on Class 803 trains under test, up and down the East Coast Main Line.

Nothing finds faults in the design and manufacture of something used in transport, than to run it up and down in real conditions.

Failure of the catenary can be simulated to check out emergency modes.

Can A Class 801 Train Be Converted Into A Class 803 Train?

If I’d designed the trains, this conversion would be possible.

Currently, the electric Class 801 trains have a single diesel generator. This is said in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train about the Class 801 train.

These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails.

So it looks like the difference between the powertrain of a Class 801 train and a Class 803 train, is that the Class 801 train has a diesel generator and the Class 803 train has batteries. But the diesel generator and batteries, would appear to serve the same purpose.

Surely removing diesel from a Class 801 train would ease the maintenance of the train!

Will The System Work With Third-Rail Electrification?

There are three routes that if they were electrified would probably be electrified with 750 DC third-rail electrification, as they have this electrification at one or both ends.

  • Basingstoke and Exeter
  • Marshlink Line
  • Uckfield branch

Note.

  1. Basingstoke and Exeter would need a couple of charging systems.
  2. The Marshlink line would need a charging system at Rye station.
  3. The Uckfield branch would need a charging system at Uckfield station.

I am fairly certain as an Electrical Engineer, that the third-rails would only need to be switched on, when a train is connected and needs a charge.

I also feel that on some scenic and other routes, 750 VDC third-rail electrification may be more acceptable , than 25 KVAC  overhead electrification. For example, would the heritage lobby accept overhead wires through a World Heritage Site or on top of a Grade I Listed viaduct?

I do feel that the ability to use third-rail 750 VDC third-rail electrification strategically could be a useful tool in the system.

Will The System Work With Lightweight Catenary?

I like the design of this 25 KVAC overhead electrification, that uses lightweight gantries, which use laminated wood for the overhead structure.

There is also a video.

Electrification doesn’t have to be ugly and out-of-character with the surroundings.

Isuspect that both systems could work together.

 

Would Less Bridges Need To Be Rebuilt For Electrification?

This is always a contentious issue with electrification, as rebuilding bridges causes disruption to both rail and road.

I do wonder though by the use of careful design, that it might be possible to arrange that the sections of electrification and the contentious bridges were kept apart, with the bridges arranged to be in sections, where the trains ran on batteries.

I suspect that over the years as surveyors and engineers get more experienced, better techniques will evolve to satisfy all parties.

Get this right and it could reduce the cost of electrification on some lines, that will be difficult to electrify.

How Secure Are The Containerised Systems?

Consider.

  • I was delayed in East Anglia two years ago, because someone stole the overhead wires at two in the morning.
  • Apparently, overhead wire stealing is getting increasingly common in France and other parts of Europe.

I suspect the containerised systems will need to be more secure than those used for buses, which are not in isolated locations.

Will The Containerised Charging Systems Use Energy Storage?

Consider.

  • I’ve lived in rural locations and the power grids are not as good as in urban areas.
  • Increasingly, batteries of one sort or another are being installed in rural locations to beef up local power supplies.
  • A new generation of small-footprint eco-friendly energy storage systems are being developed.

In some locations, it might be prudent for a containerised charging system to share a battery with the local area.

Will The Containerised Charging Systems Accept Electricity From Local Sources Like Solar Farms?

I ask the question, as I know at least one place on the UK network, where a line without electrification runs through a succession of solar farms.

I also know of an area, where a locally-owned co-operative is planning a solar farm, which they propose would be used to power the local main line.

Will The System Work With Class 385 Trains?

Hitachi’s Class 385 trains are closely related to the Class 80x trains, as they are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.

Will the Charging Systems Charge Other Manufacturers Trains?

CAF and Stadler are both proposing to introduce battery-electric trains in the UK.

I also suspect that the new breed of electric parcel trains will include a battery electric variant.

As these trains will be able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, I would expect, that they would be able to charge their batteries on the Hitachi ABB  charging systems.

Will The System Work With Freight Trains?

I believe that freight services will split into two.

Heavy freight will probably use powerful hydrogen-electric locomotives.

In Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project, which is based on a Freightliner press release, I detail Freightliner’s decarbonisation strategy, which indicates that in the future they will use hydrogen-powered locomotives.

But not all freight is long and extremely heavy and I believe that a battery-electric freight locomotive will emerge for lighter duties.

There is no reason it could not be designed to be compatible with Hitachi’s charging system.

In Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?, I talked about the plans for 100 mph parcel services based on redundant electric multiple units. Eversholt Rail Group have said they want a Last-Mile capability for their version of these trains.

Perhaps they need a battery-electric capability, so they can deliver parcels and shop supplies to the remoter parts of these islands?

Where Could Hitachi’s System Be Deployed?

This is the final paragraph from the article.

Hitachi is not committing to any routes yet, but a glance at the railway map shows clear potential for the battery/OLE-technology to be deployed on relatively lightly used rural and regional routes where it will be hard to make a case for electrification. The Cambrian Coast and Central Wales Lines would appear to be worthy candidates, and in Scotland, the West Highland Line and Far North routes are also logical areas for the system to be deployed.

In England, while shorter branch lines could simply be operated by battery trains, longer routes need an alternative. Network Rail’s Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy interim business case recommends hydrogen trains for branch lines in Norfolk, as well as Par to Newquay and Exeter to Barnstaple. However, it is also entirely feasible to use the system on routes likely to be electrified much later in the programme, such as the Great Western main line West of Exeter, Swansea to Fishguard and parts of the Cumbrian Coast Line.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and mine would be driven by high collateral benefits and practicality.

These are my thoughts.

Long Rural Lines

The Cambrian, Central Wales (Heart Of Wales), Far North and West Highland Lines may not be connected to each other, but they form a group of rail routes with a lot of shared characteristics.

  • All are rural routes of between 100 and 200 miles.
  • All are mainly single track.
  • They carry occasional freight trains.
  • They carry quite a few tourists, who are there to sample, view or explore the countryside.
  • All trains are diesel.
  • Scotrail have been experimenting with attaching Class 153 trains to the trains on the West Highland Line to act as lounge cars and cycle storage.

Perhaps we need a long-distance rural train with the following characteristics.

  • Four or possibly five cars
  • Battery-electric power
  • Space for a dozen cycles
  • A lounge car
  • Space for a snack trolley
  • Space to provide a parcels service to remote locations.

I should also say, that I’ve used trains on routes in countries like Germany, Poland and Slovenia, where a similar train requirement exists.

Norfolk Branch Lines

Consider.

  • North of the Cambridge and Ipswich, the passenger services on the branch lines and the important commuter routes between Cambridge and Norwich and Ipswich are run by Stadler Class 755 trains, which are designed to be converted to battery-electric trains.
  • Using Hitachi chargers at Beccles, Bury St. Edmunds, Lowestoft, Thetford and Yarmouth and the existing electrification, battery-electric Class 755 trains could provide a zero-carbon train service for Norfolk and Suffolk.
  • With chargers at Dereham and March, two important new branch lines could be added and the Ipswich and Peterborough service could go hourly and zero carbon.
  • Greater Anglia have plans to use the Class 755 trains to run a London and Lowestoft service.
  • Could they be planning a London and Norwich service via Cambridge?
  • Would battery-electric trains running services over Norfolk bring in more visitors by train?

Hitachi may sell a few chargers to Greater Anglia, but I feel they have enough battery-electric trains.

Par And Newquay

The Par and Newquay Line or the Atlantic Coast Line, has been put forward as a Beeching Reversal project, which I wrote about in Beeching Reversal – Transforming The Newquay Line.

In that related post, I said the line needed the following.

  • An improved track layout.
  • An hourly service.
  • An improved Par station.
  • A rebuilt Newquay station with a second platform, so that more through trains can be run.

I do wonder, if after the line were to be improved, that a new three-car battery-electric train shuttling between Par and Newquay stations could be the icing on the cake.

Exeter And Barnstaple

The Tarka Line between Exeter and Barnstaple is one of several local and main lines radiating from Exeter St. David’s station.

  • The Avocet Line to Exmouth
  • The Great Western Main Line to Taunton, Bristol and London
  • The Great Western Main Line to Newton Abbott, Plymouth and Penzance
  • The Riviera Line to Paignton
  • The West of England Line to Salisbury, Basingstoke and London.

Note.

  1. The Dartmoor Line to Okehampton is under development.
  2. Several new stations are planned on the routes.
  3. I have already stated that Exeter could host a charging station between London and Penzance, but it could also be an electrified hub for battery-electric trains running hither and thither.

Exeter could be a city with a battery-electric metro.

Exeter And Penzance

Earlier, I said that I’d trial multiple chargers between Paddington and Penzance to prove the concept worked.

I said this.

I would class this route as medium risk, but with a high reward for the operator.

But it is also an enabling route, as it would enable the following battery-electric services.

  • London and Bodmin
  • London and Okehampton
  • London and Paignton and Torquay

It would also enable the Exeter battery-electric metro.

For these reasons, this route should be electrified using Hitachi’s discontinuous electrification.

Swansea And Fishguard

I mentioned Swansea earlier, as a station, that could be fitted with a charging system, as this would allow battery-electric trains between Paddington and Swansea via Cardiff.

Just as with Exeter, there must be scope at Swansea to add a small number of charging systems to develop a battery-electric metro based on Swansea.

Cumbrian Coast Line

This is a line that needs improvement, mainly for the tourists and employment it could and probably will bring.

These are a few distances.

  • West Coast Main Line (Carnforth) and Barrow-in-Furness – 28.1 miles
  • Barrow-in-Furness and Sellafield – 25 miles
  • Sellafield and Workington – 18 miles
  • Workington and West Coast Main Line (Carlisle) – 33 miles

Note.

  1. The West Coast Main Line is fully-electrified.
  2. I suspect that Barrow-in-Furness, Sellafield and Workington have good enough electricity supplies to support charging systems  for the Cumbrian Coast Line.
  3. The more scenic parts of the line would be left without wires.

It certainly is a line, where a good case for running battery-electric trains can be made.

Crewe And Holyhead

In High-Speed Low-Carbon Transport Between Great Britain And Ireland, I looked at zero-carbon travel between the Great Britain and Ireland.

One of the fastest routes would be a Class 805 train between Euston and Holyhead and then a fast catamaran to either Dublin or a suitable rail-connected port in the North.

  • The Class 805 trains could be made battery-electric.
  • The trains could run between Euston and Crewe at speeds of up to 140 mph under digital signalling.
  • Charging systems would probably be needed at Chester, Llandudno Junction and Holyhead.
  • The North Wales Coast Line looks to my untrained eyes, that it could support at least some 100 mph running.

I believe that a time of under three hours could be regularly achieved between London Euston and Holyhead.

Battery-electric trains on this route, would deliver the following benefits.

  • A fast low-carbon route from Birmingham, London and Manchester to the island of Ireland. if coupled with the latest fast catamarans at Holyhead.
  • Substantial reductions in journey times to and from Anglesey and the North-West corner of Wales.
  • Chester could become a hub for battery-electric trains to and from Birmingham, Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Shrewsbury.
  • Battery-electric trains could be used on the Conwy Valley Line.
  • It might even be possible to connect the various railways, heritage railways and tourist attractions in the area with zero-carbon shuttle buses.
  • Opening up of the disused railway across Anglesey.

The economics of this corner of Wales could be transformed.

My Priority Routes

To finish this section, I will list my preferred routes for this method of discontinuous electrification.

  • Exeter and Penzance
  • Swansea and Fishguard
  • Crewe and Holyhead

Note.

  1. Some of the trains needed for these routes have been delivered or are on order.
  2. Local battery-electric services could be developed at Chester, Exeter and Swansea by building on the initial systems.
  3. The collateral benefits could be high for Anglesey, West Wales and Devon and Cornwall.

I suspect too, that very little construction work not concerned with the installation of the charging systems will be needed.

Conclusion

Hitachi have come up with a feasible way to electrify Great Britain’s railways.

I would love to see detailed costings for the following.

  • Adding a battery pack to a Class 800 train.
  • Installing five miles of electrification supported by a containerised charging system.

They could be on the right side for the Treasury.

But whatever the costs, it does appear that the Japanese have gone native, with their version of the Great British Compromise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 9, 2021 Posted by | Design, Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Thoughts On Faster Trains On Thameslink

The Class 700 trains used by Thameslink only have an operating speed of 100 mph.

I do wonder, if that is a fast enough operating speed for all Thameslink routes.

Sharing The Midland Main Line With 125 mph Trains

A couple of years ago, I travelled back into St. Pancras with a group of East Midlands drivers in a Class 222 train.

They told me several things about the route including that the bridge at the South of Leicester station would be difficult to electrify, as it was low and the track couldn’t be lowered as one of Leicester’s main sewers was under the tracks at the bridge. Perhaps, this is one place, where discontinuous electrification could be used on the Midland Main Line.

They also told me, that sometimes the Thameslink trains were a nuisance, as because of their 100 mph operating speed, the 125 mph Class 222 trains had to slow to 100 mph.

Upgrading Of The Midland Main Line South Of Bedford

The electrification of the Midland Main Line South of Bedford is being updated, so that it is suitable for 125 mph running.

An Analysis Of Services On The Midland Main Line South Of Bedford

The current Class 222 trains are capable of 125 mph and will be replaced by Class 810 trains capable of the same speed on both diesel and electricity.

Currently, a Class 222 train is capable of doing the following on a typical non-stop run between St. Pancras and Leicester.

  • Covering the 30 miles between St. Albans and Bedford in 17 minutes at an average speed of 106 mph.
  • Covering the 50.3 miles between Bedford and Leicester in 30 minutes at an average speed of 100.6 mph.
  • Maintaining 125 mph for long stretches of the route, once the trains is North of London commuter traffic at St. Albans

I can estimate the timings on the 79.2 miles between Leicester and St. Albans, by assuming the train runs at a constant speed.

  • 100 mph – 47.5 minutes
  • 110 mph – 43.2 minutes
  • 125 mph – 38 minutes
  • 140 mph – 34 minutes

Note.

  1. I have done the calculation for 140 mph, as that is the maximum operating speed of the Class 810 train with full in-cab digital signalling.
  2. Trains have been running at 125 mph for a couple of decades on the Midland Main Line.
  3. To get a St. Pancras and Leicester time add another 14 minutes, which is the current time between St. Pancras and St. Albans of a Class 222 train.
  4. Some Off Peak trains are timed at 62-63 minutes between St. Pancras and Leicester.
  5. A time of under an hour between St. Pancras and Leicester might be possible and the Marketing Department would like it.
  6. As Thameslink trains between Bedford and St. Albans stop regularly, they are on the slow lines of the four-track railway, to the North of St. Albans.
  7. South of St. Albans, Thameslink trains often run on the fast lines.

I can expect that East Midlands Railway will want to be running their new Class 810 trains as far as far South as they can at 125 mph, to speed up their services. When the signalling allows it, they’ll want to run at 140 mph.

So they won’t want to see Thameslink’s slow trains on the fast lines.

  • But if you look at the Thameslink trains that do run on the fast lines between St. Albans and St. Pancras, they appear to be the four trains per hour (tph) that run to and from Bedford.
  • Of these trains, two tph terminate at Brighton and two tph terminate at Gatwick Airport.
  • The average speed of a Class 222 train between St. Albans and St. Pancras assuming 14 minutes for the 19.7 miles is 84.4 mph.

So it looks to me that a 100 mph Thameslink train could be able to get away without slowing the East Midland Railway expresses.

But then that is not surprising, as for many years, the Class 222 trains worked happily with 100 mph Class 319 trains.

Is There Scope For Extra And Faster Services Into St. Pancras?

I have only done a simple calculation, but I do wonder if there is scope for the following.

  • Increasing the frequency of trains for both Thameslink and East Midlands Railway.
  • Saving a few minutes on East Midlands Railway services.

Consider.

  • The new Class 810 electric trains will probably have better acceleration and deceleration than the current Class 222 diesel trains, when working using electric power.
  • East Midlands Railway is introducing Class 360 trains that were built as 100 mph trains by Siemens, who are now upgrading them to 110 mph trains.
  • Can Siemens do the same for the Class 700 trains and create a sub-fleet capable of 110 mph running?
  • All trains will be running under full in-cab digital signalling with a large degree of automatic train control.

I feel that if the Class 700 trains had the extra speed, they would make the planning of services South of St. Albans easier and allow the Class 810 trains to both run faster and provide more services.

Sharing The East Coast Main Line With 125 mph Trains

The following Thameslink services run up the East Coast Main Line past Stevenage.

  • Cambridge And Brighton – Two tph – Stops at Royston, Ashwell and Morden (1 tph), Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage, Finsbury Park, London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Balcombe, Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill
  • Cambridge and Kings Cross – Two tph – Stops at Foxton, Shepreth, Meldreth, Royston, Ashwell and Morden, Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • Peterborough and Horsham – Two tph – Stops at Huntingdon, St Neots, Sandy, Biggleswade, Arlesey, Hitchin, Stevenage, Finsbury Park, London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Horley, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Crawley, Ifield, Faygate (limited) and Littlehaven

Note.

  1. Services are generally run by Class 700 trains, although lately the Kings Cross service seems to use Class 387 trains, which have a maximum speed of 110 mph and a more comfortable interior with tables.
  2. It is intended that the Cambridge and Kings Cross service will be extended to Maidstone East by 2021.

In addition there are two Cambridge Express and Fen Line services.

  • Kings Cross and Ely – One tph – Stops at Cambridge and Cambridge North.
  • Kings Cross and King’s Lynn – One tph – Stops at Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely, Littleport, Downham Market and Watlington

Note.

  1. These services are generally run by Class 387 trains.
  2. Cambridge and King’s Cross is timetabled at around fifty minutes.

Adding all of this together means that slower services on the East Coast Main Line are comprised of the following in both directions.

  • Three tph – 110 mph – Class 387 trains
  • Four tph – 100 mph – Class 700 trains

These seven trains will have to be fitted in with the 125 mph trains running services on the East Coast Main Line, for LNER, Grand Central, Hull Trains and East Coast Trains.

There are also the following problems.

  • All trains must navigate the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station.
  • The King’s Cross and Cambridge service stops in Welwyn North station.
  • Full in-cab digital signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line, which could increase the speed of the expresses through the double-track section.

Could the introduction of the Class 387 trains on the Cambridge and King’s Cross service have been made, as it easier to fit in all the services if this one is run by a 110 mph train?

However, the full in-cab digital signalling with a degree of automatic train control could be the solution to this bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line.

  • Trains could be controlled automatically and with great precision between perhaps Hatfield and Stevenage.
  • Some expresses might be slowed to create gaps for the Cambridge and Peterborough services.
  • The Hertford Loop Line is also getting full in-cab digital signalling, so will some services be sent that way?

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked about a proposal to improve services on the Fen Line. This was my first three paragraphs.

The title of this post, is the same as that on an article in Edition 849 of Rail Magazine.

The article is based on this document on the Fen Line Users Aoociation web site, which is entitled Joint Response To Draft East Coast Main Line Route Study.

In addition to ETCS, which could improve capacity on the East Coast Main Line, they would also like to see journey time reductions using trains capable of running at 125 mph or faster on the King’s Lynn to Kings Cross route.

My scheduling experience tells me that a better solution will be found, if all resources are similar.

Hence the proposal to run 125 mph trains between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn and probably Ely as well, could be a very good and logical idea.

If the Class 700 trains were increased in speed to 110 mph, the trains through the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line would be.

  • One tph – 110 mph – Class 387 trains
  • Four tph – 110 mph – Class 700 trains
  • Two tph – 125 mph – New trains

Note.

  1. This would probably be an easier mix of trains to digest with the high speed services, through the double-track section.
  2. I like the idea of extending the Ely service to Norwich to give Thetford, Attleborough and Wymondham an improved service to London, Cambridge and Norwich.

The new trains would probably be a version of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.

  • It would need to be capable of 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line.
  • If the Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, this section would be on battery power.

There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

But as with on the Midland Main Line, it looks like for efficient operation, the operating speed of the Class 700 trains on the route needs to be increased to at least 110 mph.

Could Faster Class 700 trains Improve Services To Brighton?

These are the Thameslink services that serve Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough, that I believe could be run more efficiently with trains capable of at running at speeds of at least 110 mph.

  • Bedford and Brighton – Two tph
  • Bedford and Gatwick Airport – Two tph
  • Cambridge and Brighton – Two tph
  • Cambridge and Maidstone East – Two tph
  • Peterborough and Horsham – Two tph

Note.

  1. I have assumed that the Cambridge and King’s Cross service has been extended to Maidstone East as planned.
  2. Eight tph serve Gatwick Airport.
  3. Four tph serve Brighton.

The Gatwick Express services have a frequency of two tph between London Victoria and Brighton calling at Gatwick Airport is already run by 110 mph Class 387 trains.

It would appear that if the Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough were run by uprated 110 mph Class 700 trains, then this would mean that more 110 mph trains would be running to Gatwick and Brighton and this must surely improve the service to the South Coast.

But it’s not quite as simple as that, as the Cambridge and Maidstone East services will be run by eight-car trains and all the other services by twelve-car trains.

Conclusion

There would appear to be advantages in uprating some or possibly all of the Class 700 trains, so that they can run at 110 mph, as it will increase capacity on the Brighton Main Line, East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line.

 

 

April 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Approaching Kings Cross – 6th January 2021

I took these pictures approaching Kings Cross.

Note.

  1. There is still track to be laid.
  2. The electrification is still to be erected.

But everything seems to be getting there.

This Google Map shows the section between the two tunnels.

Both tunnels have three double-track bores, where in this massive project, the Eastern bores are being brought back into use to add capacity to Kings Cross station.

Note.

  1. The East Coast Main Line runs North-South across the map.
  2. The quadruple track crossing East-West at the top of the map is the North London Line.
  3. Below it, is the Channel Tunnel Rail Link into |St. Pancras.
  4. The link to the Canal Tunnels take Thameslink trains to the deep level platforms in St. Pancras.
  5. The two new tracks will be on the Eastern side of the East Coast Main Line.

This second Google Map shows the track and platform layout at Kings Cross station.

Note.

  1. There are twelve platforms, which are numbered from 0 to 11, with Platform 0 in the East.
  2. The various islands are numbered as follows from East to West; 0/1, 2/3, 4/5, 6/7, 8/9 and 10/11.
  3. The six tracks through the tunnels may be bi-directional, so will each track be linked to a pair of platforms?
  4. Platforms 0 to 4 are in the Eastern half of the station
  5. Platforms 5 to 0 are in the Western half of the station
  6. Platforms 9, 10 and 11 are short platforms  in the old suburban station, which is mainly used by suburban services to Cambridge and Kings Lynn.

When I arrived there was a five-car Azuma in Platform 9, as these pictures show.

I’ve seen Grand Central’s Class 180 trains in these short platforms before, so is this going to be a regular occurrence.

Services Into Kings Cross

When the remodelling at Kings Cross is complete, current plans say the following trains will be running into Kings Cross station.

  • LNER – Two tph – Edinburgh – Long train
  • LNER – Two tph – Leeds – Long train
  • LNER – One tph – Lincoln or York – Long or short train
  • Great Northern – Two tph – Cambridge (stopping) – Short train
  • Great Northern – Two tph – Cambridge (fast) – Short train
  • Hull trains – Seven tpd – Hull and Beverley – Short train
  • East Coast Trains – Five tpd – Edinburgh – Short train
  • Grand Central – Four tpd – Bradford Interchange – Long or short train
  • Grand Central – Five tpd – Sunderland – Long or short train

Note,

  1. tph is trains per hour and tpd is trains per day.
  2. There is a mixture of short and long trains.
  3. Short trains can fit all platforms, but long trains can only use platforms 0-8.
  4. There are nine tph and a total of 21 tpd in various less-frequent services.

My scheduling experience in other fields, says that ten platforms will be needed for a full service, with each of the ten platforms handling just one tph.

Conclusion

Wjen all the work is completed, Kings Cross station will have room for a few extra trains.

 

 

January 12, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the opening paragraph.

LNER has launched the procurement of at least 10 new trains to supplement its Azuma fleet on East Coast Main Line services.

Some other points from the article.

  • It appears that LNER would like to eliminate diesel traction if possible.
  • On-board energy storage is mentioned.
  • No form of power appears to be ruled out, including hydrogen.
  • LNER have all 65 of their Azumas in service.

The last paragraph is very informative.

Infrastructure upgrades are due to prompt a timetable recast in May 2022 (delayed from December 2021) from which point LNER will operate 6.5 trains per hour, out of Kings Cross, compared to five today. As an interim measure, LNER is retaining seven rakes of Mk 4 coaches hauled by 12 Class 91 locomotives to supplement the Azuma fleet and support its timetable ambitions until the new trains are delivered.

These are my thoughts.

More Azumas?

Surely, It would require a very innovative train at perhaps a rock-bottom price from another manufacturer, for LNER to not acquire extra Azumas.

Classic-Compatible Trains For High Speed Two

Consider.

  • Alstom, Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi, Siemens and Talgo are involved in the competition to design Classic-Compatible trains for High Speed Two.
  • As the York and Edinburgh section of the East Coast Main Line will eventually be upgraded and used by High Speed Two services,
  • Also in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, is an article entitled 140 mph Plan For ECML North of York, which details improvements proposed by Northern Powerhouse Rail to improve services between Leeds and Edinburgh.

Would there be advantages to High Speed Two, LNER and Network Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail, to have some commonality between the  High Speed Two, LNER and Northern Powerhouse Rail fleets?

Hopefully, the various government-controlled companies are talking.

A Flagship Train For Aberdeen And Inverness

The InterCity 225s, which consist of a Class 91 locomotive and a rake of nine Mark 4 coaches, have given thirty years of top-quality service on the East Coast Main Line and appear to be being asked to handle services until the new trains are delivered.

  • Full-length InterCity 225s are 245 metres long and have 406 Standard and 129 First seats or a total of 535 seats.
  • Nine-car Azumas are 234 metres long and have 510 Standard and 101 First seats or a total of 611 seats.
  • Two five-car Azumas working as a pair are 260 metres long and have 604 seats. They can also be handled on most platforms, that are used by LNER.
  • The power of a Class 91 locomotive is 4.83 MW.
  • A Class 91 locomotive is 19.4 metres long and weighs 81.5 tonnes.
  • Both Azumas and InterCity 225s can maintain 125 mph with ease on the East Coast Main Line and both will be able to reach 140 mph with in-cab signalling.

There would appear to be nothing wrong with locomotive-hauled high speed services, in terms of capacity and performance.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I laid out my thoughts on a high-powered railway locomotive fuelled by hydrogen, that used one or possibly two Rolls-Royce gas-turbine engines to generate electricity for traction.

With all the work done, by the companies bidding for Classic-Compatible trains for High Speed Two, into very high speed trains, I believe that at least one company could build a locomotive with this specification.

  • 140 mph operation on 25 KVAC overhead electrification. As I said, that was done by British Rail almost forty years ago.
  • Ability to use full digital in-cab signalling. This is on its way and already working in some applications.
  • 110 mph operation on hydrogen. Hitachi are planning 100 mph battery trains, so it should be possible.
  • 400 mile range on one filling of hydrogen. This is working in Germany.
  • Ability to be upgraded to higher speeds on electric power, should the East Coast Main Line be upgraded for higher speeds in the future. The train manufacturers are probably ahead of track designers with this one.

Such a locomotive would be key to building a train with this specification.

  • Sub-four hour time between London and Edinburgh.
  • Sub-seven hour time between London and Aberdeen, which has 130 miles without wires.
  • Sub-eight hour time between London and Inverness, which has 146 miles without wires.
  • Hydrogen would be used, where there is no electrification.
  • Zero-carbon at all times.
  • A maximum length of 260 metres, which I estimate could give a passenger capacity of around 640 seats.
  • The last coach would include a driving van trailer.
  • They would not need the ability to split and join, except for the purpose of rescue, as there is no platform on the route, that could accommodate the resulting 520 metre long pair of trains.

I estimate that a fleet of around seven trains would be needed to run the current Aberdeen and Inverness services.

A few extra thoughts.

  • Could they have an up-market more spacious interior, as their main competition to the North of Scotland, would be the budget airlines?
  • Could they be slightly longer, with some platform work at Kings Cross and other stations?
  • Add a few extra trains to the order, so that extra services between London and Edinburgh could be added to the timetable.
  • Could the driving van trailer incorporate an observation car?
  • Hydrogen refuelling shouldn’t be a problem in Scotland, as the country is developing a hydrogen economy.
  • Hydrogen refuelling wouldn’t be needed in England, as they’d be using the electrification.
  • As an alternative to hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuel could be used.

I suspect that Talgo, would be very happy to tender.

  • They are developing hydrogen-powered trains as I wrote in Talgo: Our Hydrogen Train Will Be Ready In 2023.
  • They are building a factory in Scotland, close to the Forth Bridge.
  • Because of the factory, Talgo probably have the ear of the Scottish Government, who would probably welcome a Scottish-built train.
  • A shorter version of these trains without the hydrogen, could be the design for a High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train, for which Talgo, are on the short list of suppliers.

What better way, would there be to sell your hydrogen-powered high speed trains, than to give prospective clients a ride up from London to the factory in the luxury version?

A New Elizabethan

I can remember The Elizabethan, which was a steam-hauled non-stop express between London and Edinburgh between 1953 and 1961.

I have laid out my ideas for a modern express train of the same name in A New Elizabethan.

It could be an interesting concept, to increase capacity between London and Edinburgh.

Splitting And Joining

Some of LNER’s philosophy to serve places like Harrogate, Huddersfield and Middlesbrough, depends on the ability to split and join trains.

A pair of Azumas could leave London and go to Leeds, where they would split, with one train going to Harrogate and the other going to Huddersfield.

When returning to London, the two trains would join at Leeds.

The big advantage of splitting and joining, is that it increases the capacity on the main line, as services can be arranged, so that every path always carries a full-length train. I would expect that LNER would prefer never to run a single five-car Azuma into Kings Cross.

Currently LNER have these paths to and from Kings Cross.

  • 2 tph between London Kings Cross and Leeds
  • 1 tph between London Kings Cross and Lincoln and East Yorkshire
  • 2 tph between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh

Note.

  1. LNER have already started to extend services from Leeds, so will we see splitting and joining being used on one tph at Leeds to provide services to several destinations, throughout the day.
  2. Splitting and joining at Edinburgh is surely another possibility, to serve Stirling and Glasgow, with the same train.
  3. Splitting and joining at York could serve destinations like Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Redcar, Scarborough and Sunderland.
  4. In A Trip To Grantham Station – 4th November 2020, I advocated splitting at Grantham station to serve both Nottingham and Lincoln.

There are a lot of possibilities for splitting and joining.

As LNER has a fleet of twenty-two five-car Azumas, if the new trains are needed to split and join on certain services, this might mean more five-car Azumas are a better buy.

What Will Happen To Nine Car Azumas?

Hitachi have launched the Regional Battery Train concept, the specification of which is given in this Hitachi infographic.

The diesel engines in LNER’s Class 800 trains will be able to be replaced with batteries, making them all-electric trains.

  • Destinations like Cleethorpes, Dundee, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Lincoln, Middlesbrough Nottingham, Perth, Redcar, Scarborough, Sheffield and Sunderland will be within range of battery electric Azumas.
  • Some destinations would need the ability to charge the train before it returned, but I can see lots of places getting an appropriate service, even if it was just one or two trains per day.
  • Unfortunately, Aberdeen and Inverness would be too far for battery electric Azumas, so services will still need to be run by nine-car bi-mode Azumas.

Five-car battery electric Azumas working in pairs from London could be the key to increasing LNER services.

I can see that LNER may end up with too many nine-car Azumas, if nine-car trains are replaced by pairs of five-car trains to serve two destinations by splitting and joining.

Would it be possible to shorten nine-car Azumas to five-car trains?

These are the formations of the two trains.

  • nine-car: DPTS-MS-MS-TS-MS-TS-MC-MF-DPTF
  • five-car: DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF

It is known, that the trains have a computer, that does a quick check on start-up to determine, what cars are present and correct in the train.

  • This means that if LNER needed twelve-car trains for say London and Edinburgh, they could create a sub-fleet by just buying the requisite number of extra TS (Trailer Standard) and MS (Motor Standard) cars and coupling them up.
  • This feature also means that operators running fleets of five-car Hitachi trains, like TransPennine Express and Hull Trains can increase capacity by just purchasing the extra cars.
  • It would also allow, cars to be shuffled to create viable trains, after say several cars were damaged by vandalism.

All trains these days seem to have this very operator-friendly feature.

With LNER’s trains, I suspect that all cars of the same type are identical.

This would mean, that a nine-car train can be converted to a five-car by removing two TS (Trailer Standard), one MS (Motor Standard) and one MF (Motor First) cars.

The four cars, that have been removed could be reconfigured to form the middle three cars of a new five-car train, which would be completed by adding new DPTS (Driver Pantograph Trailer Standard) and DPTF (Driver Pantograph Trailer First) cars.

An Increase In Paths From 5 To 6.5

This will certainly allow LNER to run more services.

The odd half path could be easy to explain.

  • Hull is a city, that is on the up.
  • I suspect that it could support a five-car direct service from London with a frequency of one tph.
  • But Hull Trains are also running a successful service on the route.

Perhaps a fair solution, would be to allow both LNER and Hull Trains to run a one train per two hour (tp2h) service.

If LNER didn’t want to use the path to just run a five-car train to Hull, there are several possibilities for a split and join.

  • With a Cleethorpes, Lincoln or Nottingham service at Grantham.
  • With a Cleethorpes or Lincoln service at Newark.
  • With a Cleethorpes, Middlesbrough, Sheffield or Sunderland service at Doncaster.

I can only see splitting and joining increasing, which surely means an Azuma order is more likely.

As someone, who spent a working life, writing software to schedule projects, I can’t resist speculating on what to do with the extra whole path, that LNER will be allocated, when the infrastructure allows.

  • Many travellers wouldn’t mind LNER providing more seats between the English and Scottish capitals.
  • Many would like an alternative to flying.
  • Others would like a faster service.
  • Leeds and York will soon be a route, that LNER’s Azumas will be able to use without diesel, because of extra electrification and Azumas with traction batteries.

This leads me to believe that LNER could use the extra path for a third London and Edinburgh service in every hour, that ran via Leeds.

  • Additionally, it might stop at stations like Peterborough, York, Darlington or Newcastle.
  • It could also provide a non-stop London and Leeds service.
  • Some services could go non-stop between London and Edinburgh.
  • The direct London and Edinburgh service would be under four hours.
  • Going via Leeds would add under an hour.

It would be run by a nine-car all-electric Azumas, of which there will be unlikely to be a shortage.

How Many Azumas Could Be Fitted With Batteries Instead Of Diesel Engines?

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train, has a section called Powertrain, where this is said.

Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a five to nine-car set. These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails. The Class 800 and Class 802 bi-mode has three GU per five-car set and five GU per nine-car set. A five-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 and a nine-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8.

Consider.

  • Class 807 trains for Aventi West Coast will have no batteries or diesel engines. Does this save weight?
  • Class 803 trains for East Coast Trains will only have a small battery for emergency hotel power, in case of catenary failure. Does this save weight?
  • Saving weight should improve acceleration and deceleration, which could reduce journey times.
  • Removal of diesel engines would reduce the trains carbon footprint.
  • Removal of diesel engines could reduce maintenance costs.
  • Diesel engines are only needed for services that run North of Edinburgh. Other sections without electrification are probably within battery range or could be easily made so.
  • It appears every Motor car (MC, MF and MS) can be fitted with a diesel engine, although in Class 801 trains, only one is fitted. Does that mean that every Motor car in the future, could have a battery?

I think this could lead to the following.

  • The Class 801 trains are fitted with sufficient batteries to enable handling of expected emergencies. These could be similar to those in the Class 803 trains.
  • Enough nine-car Class 800 trains would be kept with diesel engines to work the Aberdeen and Inverness services. These routes at 130 and 146 miles without wires are too long for battery trains, without a succession of chargers along the routes.
  • If a third Edinburgh service were to be introduced, could some of the remainder of the nine-car Class 800 trains be converted to Class 801 trains, by removing the diesel engines?
  • I would expect most of the five-car thirty-six Class 800 trains would be fitted with batteries to run services to destinations, that can be reached on battery power. In a few years time, these will probably mean splitting and joining at Edinburgh, Leeds and other places.
  • Could we even see the twelve five-car Class 801 trains converted to battery electric Class 800 trains, which would surely give maximum flexibility about their use?

If the software on the trains, is as intelligent as it could be and can accept cars with diesel engines, batteries or no extra power, then LNER will have an enormous amount of flexibility, to configure the trains as they need.

I could even see a nine-car Class 800 train with a mix of batteries and diesel engines, that can be used as range extenders, reaching further towards Aberdeen and Inverness.

Consider a five-car Class 800 train with two batteries and a single diesel engine!

  • If I assume that Hitachi’s specification for the Regional Battery Train, is for a five-car train with three diesel engines replaced with battery packs, then a two battery pack train could have a range of 60 km or 37 miles.
  • If the route wasn’t very challenging, and the computer made judicious use of the diesel engine, could the train’s range be extended to beyond the ninety kilometres of the three-battery pack train.
  • The diesel engine could also be used to charge the batteries, before returning to the electrification of the main line.

In Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, I talked about Adrian Shooter and his concept of a Pop-Up Metro, run for perhaps a year, to test if a Metro service would be viable, instead of spending the money on consultants.

The two-battery pack/one diesel Class 800 train, could run a Pop-Up London Service to test the need for a London service. All it would need is a convenient platform long enough to take a 130 metre long Class 800 train.

Possible destinations to test could include Cleethorpes, Dundee, Glenrothes-with-Thornton, Grimsby, Nottingham, Norwich, Perth, Redcar, Sheffield and Sunderland

Conclusion

There is a lot of scope to develop LNER’s services.

I think it is likely that the order will go to Hitachi.

But as I indicated, I do believe that there is scope for a manufacturer to design a zero-carbon train, that was able to serve the Aberdeen and Inverness.

  • I suspect a fleet of ten trains would be sufficient.
  • Trains would use the 25 KVAC overhead electrification, where it exists and hydrogen or battery power North of the wires.

The trains would also be capable of being upgraded to high speeds, should the East Coast Main Line be turned into a High Speed Line.

I also think, that whatever trains are bought, there will be a large upgrading of the existing Hitachi fleet, which will add batteries to a lot of trains.

November 25, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A Trip To Grantham Station – 4th November 2020

I hadn’t intended to go to Grantham station, but that’s what I did on the last day before lockdown.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking to a guy in Lincolnshire, who read Energy In North-East Lincolnshire, on this blog.

Last week, we both realised that we’d worked together in the 1970s, when he worked at a bank in the City, and I did some data analysis for the section, where he worked.

He is unwell with cancer at the moment and suggested I come down and see him in Skegness, where he now lives with his wife.

So I arrived at Grantham and found that the connecting train was running nearly an hour late and even then it was terminating at Boston.

After a quick exchange of texts, I told him the bad news and he gave me the good news, that his condition had improved and would be able to see me after Christmas and/or lockdown.

Luckily, I was able to change my ticket and took the next train back to London, after taking these pictures of the station.

I just had time to have a last drink of Aspall cyder before lockdown, in the station bar.

These are some thoughts.

Platform Layout At Grantham

The Wikipedia entry for Grantham station says this about the platforms.

It is composed of four platforms; platforms 1 and 2 are on the East Coast Main Line and are responsible for express services between London and Scotland. Platform 1 serves exclusively London King’s Cross via Peterborough and Stevenage; Platform 2 serves cities of northern England and Edinburgh. Platform 2, 3 and 4 are formed from a large island platform structure. Platform 3 is a bay platform at the northern end of the station that is used to allow local trains to reverse, while Platform 4 is a two-way platform that is used by East Midlands Railway. Only Platform 1 has amenities, including toilets, refreshments and a buffet.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. Platforms are numbered 1 to 4 from East to West.
  2. Platforms 1 and 2 are long enough to take two five-car Class 800 trains working as a pair.
  3. Platform 4 may be long enough for these pairs of trains or could be made so.
  4. All trains to and from Nottingham call in Platform 4.
  5. Trains from Nottingham to Peterborough call in Platform 4 before crossing over to the down lines.
  6. There would appear to be no easy way for a Southbound train on the East Coast Main Line to access Platform 4.
  7. Platform 3 didn’t get much use on the day I visited.

There is also an avoiding line to allow freight and other passing trains to avoid going through the platforms.

Services Through Grantham Station

Services stopping at Grantham are as follows.

  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and Harrogate via Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds
  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and Bradford Forster Square via Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds
  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and Lincoln via Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate
  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and York via Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark North Gate, Retford and Doncaster.
  • Hull Trains – Five tpd – London Kings Cross and Hull via Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden and Brough
  • Hull Trains – Two tpd – London Kings Cross and Beverley via Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden, Brough, Hull and Cottingham.
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Horwich via Peterborough and Nottingham
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Nottingham and Skegness

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour
  2. tp2h is trains per two hours.
  3. tpd is trains per day.

Adding the services together, there is a frequent service between Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate.

Train Timings Between London Kings Cross and Grantham

The fastest trains take 67 minutes between London Kings Cross and Grantham.

  • The distance is 105.5 miles
  • This would be an average speed of 94.5 mph.
  • The East Coast Main Line is being upgraded with in-cab digital ERTMS signalling, which will allow 140 mph running.
  • The works at Kings Cross station will have increased the station’s capacity.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a time between London Kings Cross and Grantham, of under an hour, time-tabled in the near future.

Could There Be A London Kings Cross and Nottingham Service Via Grantham?

On this page on UK Rail Forums, this was posted in 2010.

According to today’s East Midlands news on BBC1, Network Rail is considering inviting tenders to run a faster service from Nottingham to London King’s Cross via Grantham, from 2014. The present service of around 1hr 45m is considered too slow by passengers.

How would this new service be reconciled with the much-publicised capacity constraints at Welwyn and at King’s Cross itself? Will the proposed possible service be diesel-powered under the wires from Grantham, or will the Grantham-Nottingham stretch be electrified? Interesting times.

Technology has changed since 2010 and the East Coast Main Line has improved.

  • King;s Cross station is being sorted.
  • Digital ERMTS signalling is coming to the East Coast Main Line
  • Hatachi’s new Class 800 trains have arrived and could go between Grantham and Nottingham on diesel power.
  • Grantham and Nottingham takes 35 minutes on a service with three stops, that’s timed for a Class 153 train.
  • Grantham and Nottingham is just over twenty miles.

As I said earlier, that I believe Grantham and London could be inside an hour, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Nottingham and London Kings Cross service in under an-hour-and-a-half.

But it could be better than that?

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

This is the train that could unlock the potential of a London Kings Cross and Nottingham service.

This Hitachi infographic gives details of the train.

Note that the train has a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles, at speeds of up to 100 mph.

The trains would be ideal for a London Kings Cross and Nottingham service.

  • They would charge the batteries, whilst using the electrification on the East Coast Main Line.
  • The battery range is such, that it would not need any charging between leaving Grantham and returning there from Nottingham.
  • They could travel at speeds of up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, once the digital ERTMS  signalling is installed.
  • Stops could be at Stevenage, Peterborough and Grantham.

LNER’s five-car Class 800 trains, which are branded Azumas can be turned into Regional Battery Trains, by replacing the three diesel engines with battery packs.

I would suspect that times of around eighty minutes, between London Kings Cross and Nottingham, could be in order.

A Park-And-Ride For Nottingham And London

Nottingham has several Park-and-Ride sites, that are served by the trams. of the Nottingham Express Transit, which already calls at Nottingham station.

Would another site on the rail line between Grantham and Nottingham be useful?

This map shows. where the rail line crosses the A46, near its junction with the A52.

Note the Grantham and Nottingham line running across the top of the map and the big junction between the A52 and the A46.

It looks to be a good place for a Park-and-Ride station, if it was decided one needed to be built.

There might also be sites further in towards Nottingham, close to the racecourse or the Holme Pierpoint National Watersports Centre.

A Combined Nottinghamshire And Lincolnshire Service

I originally called this section a Combined Nottingham And Lincoln Service, but I don’t see why it can’t serve most of both counties.

Consider.

  • Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Oxford and Southend get two services from the capital by different routes.
  • Hitachi’s Class 800 trains can Split/Join in around two minutes.
  • Running five-car Class 800 trains all the way between London Kings Cross and Lincoln is not a good use of a valuable train path on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Lincoln is just 16.5 miles and 24 minutes from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Nottingham is 22 miles and could be 20 minutes from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Both Lincoln and Nottingham would be in battery range for a return trip from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Platforms 1, 2 and 4, at Grantham are long enough to handle two Class 800 trains, running as a pair and regularly pairs call in Platforms 1 and 2.

I believe it would be possible for a pair of Regional Battery Trains to do the following.

  • Leave London Kings Cross and run to Grantham in an hour, stopping at Stevenage and Peterborough.
  • Stop in Platform 4 at Grantham station, where the trains would split.
  • One train would continue on the East Coast Main Line to Newark North Gate station, where it would leave the East Coast Main Line and go to Lincoln.
  • The other train would continue to Nottingham.

Note.

  1. Coming back, the process would be reversed with trains joining in Platform 1 or Platform 4 at Grantham.
  2. There may need to be some track and signalling modifications, but nothing too serious or challenging.

Connections to other parts of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire would be as follows.

  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire would be connected using the Nottingham Express Transit and the Robin Hood and Maid Marian Lines from Nottingham station.
  • All stations between Grantham and Nottingham would be reached from either Grantham or Nottingham.
  • All stations to Boston and Skegness would be reached from Grantham.
  • All stations between Newark and Lincoln would be reached from either Lincoln or Newark.
  • All stations between Doncaster and Lincoln would be reached from either Doncaster or Lincoln.
  • All stations between Peterborough and Lincoln would be reached from either Lincoln or Peterborough.
  • All stations to Market Rasen, Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes would be reached from Lincoln.

Note.

  1. I feel that some Lincoln services could be extended to Cleethorpes via Market Rasen and Grimsby Town.
  2. Hopefully, a timetable could be developed, so that no connection was overly long.

Most of the distances are not unduly long and I would hope that most secondary services could be battery electric trains, which would be charged in the larger stations like Boston, Cleethorpes, Doncaster, Grantham, Lincoln, Mansfield, Nottingham, Peterborough, Sleaford, Spalding and Worksop.

Doncaster, Grantham and Peterborough already have 25 KVAC overhead electrification and this could be used to charge the trains, with possibly some small extensions.

The other stations will need a number of systems to charge the trains, as they pass through.

Some stations will be suitable for the installation of the standard 25 KVAC overhead electrification, but others will need specialised charging systems.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

Vivarail’s Fast Charge system must surely be a front-runner for installation.

What frequency of the Combined Nottinghamshire And Lincolnshire service would be needed and could be run?

Consider.

  • Currently, Lincoln is served with one tp2h with a five-car Class 800 train running the service.
  • The Lincoln service alternates with a one tp2h service to York, which also calls at Retford and Doncaster.
  • Work is progressing on increasing the number of high speed paths on the East Coast Main Line.

Obviously, an hourly service to both Nottingham and Lincoln would be ideal and would give most of the two counties an hourly service to and from London Kings Cross with a single change at either Doncaster, Grantham. Lincoln, Newark, Nottingham or Peterborough.

  • An hourly service might be difficult to timetable because of the York service.
  • But I don’t believe it would be impossible to setup.

Especially if after, the Eastern leg of High Speed Two opens, East Coast Main Line services from London Kings Cross to North of York are replaced in part, by High Speed Two services.

The Effect Of High Speed Two

High Speed Two will build a new station at Toton called East Midlands Hub station.

  • The station will be situated about halfway between Nottingham and Derby, with frequent connections to both cities.
  • There will be frequent services to Birmingham, Leeds, London, Newcastle and Sheffield.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see a direct service to Edinburgh and Glasgow from the station.
  • There will be a lot of economic growth around the station.

I very much feel, that a lot of passengers were travel to East Midlands Hub station for both long distance trains and to access the Derby-Nottingham area.

A Cambridge And Birmingham Service

In How Many Trains Are Needed To Run A Full Service On High Speed Two?, I proposed a Cambridge and Birmingham Curzon Street service.

This is what I said.

The obvious one is surely Cambridge and Birmingham

  • It would run via Peterborough, Grantham, Nottingham and East Midlands Hub.
  • It would connect the three big science, engineering and medical centres in the Midlands and the East.
  • It would use High Speed Two between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub.
  • It could be run by High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

It might even be a replacement for CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham service.

Timings for the various legs could be.

  • Cambridge and Peterborough – CrossCountry – 49 minutes
  • Peterborough and Grantham – LNER – 19 minutes
  • Grantham and Nottingham -Best Estimate – 20 minutes
  • Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street – Midlands Rail Engine – 33 minutes

Note.

  1. This totals to two hours and one minute.
  2. The current service takes two hours and forty-four minutes.
  3. The Ely and Peterborough and Grantham and Nottingham legs are not electrified.

If the route were to be fully electrified or the trains were to be fitted with batteries, the time via High Speed Two, would surely be several minutes under two hours.

Conclusion

These objectives are possible.

  • An hourly service between London Kings Cross and Grantham, Lincoln, Newark and Nottingham.
  • A very much more comprehensive train service for Nottingham and Lincolnshire.
  • A two hour service between Cambridge and Birmingham.

Most of the services would be zero carbon.

No major infrastructure would be needed, except possibly completing the electrification between Nottingham and Ely, some of which is probably needed for freight trains anyway.

Alternatively, the High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains could be fitted with batteries.

 

November 9, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Hull Trains Seat Allocation System

When I went to Hull recently, I used Hull Trains.

 

These pictures show the train as I boarded at London Kings Cross.

When I got my ticket out of the machine, I was very surprised to see the phrase No Specified Seat on the ticket.

I queried it with one of the LNER staff and they said, it will be alright and anyway, it is nothing to do with them.

When I got to the gate, I asked the guy from Hull Trains and he said, you’ll see when you get inside and something like. “Sit in any seat with a green flag!”

You can see the coloured flags on the seats in the pictures. The different colours mean.

  • Green – For single travellers
  • Red – Do not sit here
  • Yellow – For two or more travelling together.

So I choose a window seat with a green flag on it.

Did it work?

  • There were no families, but several  pairs of travellers and I suspect about sixty percent of the seats were taken.
  • Everybody was socially distanced and either had a spare seat or someone they knew next to them.
  • At one table, I could see four guys all sitting together,
  • The system deals with no-shows and leaves their seat for someone else.

Until proven otherwise, I think it worked well.

  • I didn’t get allocated a seat, but I’m certain the system would work well if say some seats had been allocated by the booking computer.
  • Seats could also be indicated by coloured lights.
  • But as Hull Trains had only just restarted after the attack of the covids.

I had to have a quiet smile though.

My father was a master at designing production control systems and coloured cards were one of the tools in his box.

Often cards for his big customers like Belling, Dunlop and Enfield Rolling Mills were intricate and numbered creations, all produced with letterpress and his two faithful Original Heidelberg Plattern Presses.

 

Original Heidelberg

With the right gadgets in the chase, that held the type, they could number, score and perforate. You couldn’t do those operations with litho, in the 1950s and 1960s.

I hadn’t realised much about this side of my father’s work, until I met Ray Askew, whilst walking our basset hound. He had a basset too and on talking,  it turned out he had worked for Enfield Rolling Mills and it was part of his job to source production control documents and he used to design them with my father, whose firm, then printed them!

Could This System Be Used On East Coast Trains?

East Coast Trains are another First Group company like Hull Trains, who will be running services between London and Edinburgh from some time next year.

I can’t see why they could use a developed version of this system, with tri-colour lights on the seats.

East Coast Trains will be aiming for a four hour service and I suspect they’d like people to just turn up and go, so quick ticketing would be needed. A simple app, where you said how many tickets and what train and then you just turned up in time for your train would do.

 

 

October 13, 2020 Posted by | Design, Health, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hull Station

On my recent visit to Hull station I took these pictures.

This Google Map shows the station.

These are my thoughts on the station .

Platforms

Consider.

  • The station has seven platforms, which are numbers 1 to 7 from South to North.
  • My Hull Trains service from London arrived in the Northernmost platform, which is numbered 7.
  • Most Hull Trains services seem to use this platform.
  • LNER services also seem to use Platform 7.
  • Platforms 4, 5 and 6 seem to be the same length as Platform 7
  • A friendly station guy told me, that LNER have run nine-car Class 800 trains into the station. These trains are 234 metres long.
  • My pictures show that Platform 7 is more than adequate for Hull Train’s five-car Class 802 train, which is 130 metres long.
  • The platforms are wide.

This second Google Map shows the Western platform ends.

It looks to me, that the station should be capable of updating to have at least four platforms capable of taking trains, that are 200 metres long.

Current Long Distance Services To Hull Station

There are currently, two long distance services that terminate at Hull station.

  • One train per hour (tph) – Manchester Piccadilly – two hours
  • Eight trains per day (tpd) – London Kings Cross – two hours and forty-four minutes

Both services are run by modern trains.

Improvements To The Current London And Hull Service

I believe Hull Trains and LNER will run between London Kings Cross and Hull using battery-equipped versions of their Hitachi trains, within the next three years.

The trains will also be upgraded to make use of the digital in-cab signalling, that is being installed South of Doncaster, which will allow 140 mph running.

In Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, I estimated that this could enable a two hours and thirty minute time between London Kings Cross and Hull.

It is very likely that the service will be hourly.

Hull Station As A High Speed Station

Plans for High Speed Two are still fluid, but as I said in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, there is a possibility, that High Speed Two could be extended from Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly to Leeds and ultimately to Newcastle and Hull.

In that post, I felt that services across the Pennines could be something like.

  • High Speed Two – Two tph between London and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds
  • High Speed Two – One tph between London and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Newcastle.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – One tph between Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Newcastle.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Two tph between Liverpool and Sheffield via Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Two tph between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds

There would be four tph between Manchester Airport and Hull via Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds and other intermediate stations.

I estimate that the following timings would be possible.

  • London Euston and Hull – two hours and 10 minutes – Currently two hours and forty-four minutes to London Kings Cross
  • Liverpool and Hull – one hour and thirty minutes – No direct service
  • Manchester and Hull – one hour and three minutes – Currently two hours

As I said earlier London Kings Cross and Hull could be only twenty minutes longer by the classic route on the East Coast Main Line.

I think it will be likely, that both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail will use similar High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains, which will have the following characteristics.

  • Two hundred metres long
  • Ability to run in pairs
  • 225 mph on High Speed Two
  • 125 mph and up to 140 mph on Classic High Speed Lines like East Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and West Coast Main Line and sections of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

It would appear that as Hull station can already handle a nine-car Class 800 train, which is 234 metre long, it could probably handle the proposed High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

I could see the following numbers of high speed trains terminating at Hull in a typical hour would be as follows.

  • Two High Speed Two trains from London Euston
  • Two Northern Powerhouse Trains from Liverpool Lime Street
  • One Hull Trains/LNER train from London Kings Cross

As Hull already has four platforms, that can accept 200 metre long trains, I don’t think the station will have any capacity problems.

Charging Battery Trains At Hull Station

If Hull Trains, LNER and TransPennine Express, decide to convert their Class 800 and Class 802 trains, that run to and from Hull to Hitachi Regional Battery Trains, they will need charging at Hull station, to be able to reach the electrification of the East Coast Main Line at Temple Hirst Junction.

In Thoughts On The Design Of Hitachi’s Battery Electric Trains, I said this about having a simple charger in a station.

At stations like Hull and Scarborough, this charger could be as simple as perhaps forty metres of 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

    • The train would stop in the station at the appropriate place.
    • The driver would raise the pantograph.
    • Charging would start.
    • When the battery is fully-charged, the driver would lower the pantograph.

This procedure could be easily automated and the overhead wire could be made electrically dead, if no train is connected.

Platforms 4 to 7 could be fitted out in this manner, to obtain maximum operational flexibility.

Full Electrification Of Hull Station

Full electrification of Hull station would also allow charging of any battery electric trains.

I would hope, that any partial electrification carried out to be able to charge trains would be expandable to a full electrification for the station and the connecting rail lines.

A Full Refurbishment

The station would need a full refurbishment and a possible sorting out of the approaches to the station.

But this type of project has been performed at Kings Cross and Liverpool Lime Street in recent years, so the expertise is certainly available.

These pictures are of Liverpool Lime Street station.

I could see Hull station being refurbished to this standard.

Conclusion

It is my belief that Hull would make a superb terminal station for both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail

In the interim, it could be quickly developed as a modern terminal for long-distance battery electric trains to make services across the Pennines and to London zero carbon.

The work could also be organised as a series of smaller work packages, without interrupting train services to and from Hull.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment