The Anonymous Widower

Third Degree Murder

The title of this post is the same as that of an article by Ian Walmsley in the April 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

In the article Ian has a heavyweight go at the Office of Road and Rail about their policy towards third rail electrification.

As a Control and Electrical Engineer, I agree with a lot he says, especially as I believe modern control systems and good design can improve safety of third rail systems to a high level.

I also believe the following.

  • In some places third-rail electrification, which is only live when a train is protecting the rails from morons, is safer than any other electrification system.
  • In some places, like on top of high viaducts third-rail electrification is safer for engineers installing and maintaining it,  than overhead electrification.
  • Some battery charging systems will be designed around third-rail electrification.

Ian’s article gives various reasons for using third-rail electrification.

He also proposes the radical innovation of using a voltage of 1500 VDC, which he calls 2XV.

I like it and agree wit his reasoning..

It sounds radical, but it is not a new idea.

An article on Wikipedia is entitled Rail Transport In The Netherlands.

This is said.

Most of the network is electrified at 1.5 kV DC (which limits interoperability with neighbouring countries), although Belgian trains – built for 3 kV DC – can run on the Dutch network at reduced power. Both the HSL-Zuid and the Betuweroute have been electrified at 25 kV AC; although conversion of existing electrified lines to 25 kV AC was considered in 1997, 2005 and 2012 at a cost of over €10 billion, a 2015 proposal (revised in 2017) is to convert to 3 kV DC at a 2017 cost of €1 billion. The higher DC voltage would reduce power losses and have faster acceleration above 60 to 70 kilometres per hour (37 to 43 mph), so stopping trains would save seven to 20 seconds per stop.

Are the Dutch implementing their proposal?

 

April 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

We Should All Think Radically!

In the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Ian Walmsley, who is a writer, that I respect, thinks radically about how to upgrade or replace the High Speed Trains  on the Midland Main Line.

He has a lot of experience in the rail industry and his views in this issue, are probably worth the price of the magazine alone.

He feels the InterCity 125s should be replaced as you can only make-do-and-mend for so long and he proposes replacing them with a modern equivalent, which would initially be two diesel locomotives topping and tailing a rake of new coaches, and then if electrification happens, the diesels are replaced with electric units.

Ian’s article comes a few days after this article in Rail Technology Magazine, entitled New bi-mode fleet a requirement for East Midlands as consultation opens, was published.

This is the first paragraph.

The DfT has this week launched its public consultation on the new East Midlands franchise, including specifications for a new bi-mode fleet of intercity trains, whilst at the same time revealing that plans to electrify the Midland Main Line north of Kettering have been abandoned.

There is going to have to be a lot of radical thinking to get a solution for that.

To make the replacement harder, Ian indicates various problems, which I won’t disclose here.

But I do think Ian’s idea is sound and it could be the solution to the problem of running modern 125 mph trains from St. Pancras to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

So How Feasible Is Ian’s Plan?

Maths and physics don’t change. so I suspect that the calculations done by Terry Miller and his team in the 19670s, which led to the iconic InterCity 125 are still valid.

Locomotive Haulage

The power output of each Class 43 power car is 2,250 hp, so to propel an appropriate number of new carriages, you still need a locomotive at each end of the train.

The most modern diesel locomotive in the UK is the Stadler-built Class 68 locomotive, which has a power voutput of 3,800 hp, but a top speed of only 100 mph. The only 125 mph diesel locomotive in the UK is the Class 67 locomotive. To complicate matters, there is also the Stadler-built Class 88 locomotive, which is a 100 mph electro-diesel locomotive, but this locomotive is more a powerful electric locomotive with a sensible-sized last-mile diesel engine.

Ian suggests, that as the Class 68 is a few tonnes lighter than the Class 67, that a 125 mph Class 68/2 locomotive would be possible.

I don’t disagree, but given the quality of railway engineering coming out of companies like Bombardier, CAF and Stadler, that someone will do better.

We should also consider that the UK will need more than a few new freight locomotives in the next few years, as they do seem to be scratching around for motive power, as this picture shows.

These two Class 86 locomotives date from the mid-1960s. But they do have around 3,600 hp each and a top speed of around 100-110 mph.

I even saw this interesting combination at Shenfield.

The Class 90 and Class 66 locomotives appear to be double-heading the heavy freight train. The Class 90, of which several will become available soon from Greater Anglia are 5,000 hp units with a top speed of 110 mph, whereas the ubiquitous Class 66 has only 3,300 hp and 75 mph.

With more and more long freight trains appearing on increasingly busy main lines, these freight trains must be becoming unwelcome to the companies running passenger trains and also to those, who live alongside the lines.

So is there another desperate need for a powerful locomotive to pull express freight trains at maximum length and weight around the country?

Some main freight routes like these are electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires or will be soon.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line
  • Greast Eastern Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • North London Line
  • Gospel Oak to Barking Line

But others are not.

  • London to Southampton
  • Felixstowe to Peterborough and The Midlands
  • Peterborough to Doncaster via Lincoln
  • Trans-Pennine Routes

And that’s just for starters.

I think it becomes obvious, why Direct Rail Services and Stadler came up with the Class 88 locomotive. The 5,300 hp available under the wires is more than adequate for the heaviest express intermodel freight train and the 1,000 hp under diesel can probably move the train into and out of the docks.

But this amount of diesel power is probably inadequate for hauling a heavy  freight train at 100 mph.

A New Electro-Diesel Locomotive

So could we see a new electro-diesel locomotive with the following characteristics?

  • The ability of a pair to top-and-tail an express passenger train on both diesel and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The ability to haul the heaviest intermodal freight trains at up to 100 mph  on both diesel and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The ability to switch between modes at line speed.
  • Regenerative braking underboth elkectricity and diesel.

In a few years time the diesel might be replaced by hydrogen or some other exotic fuel.

Electrification South Of Bedford

It might appear that these locomotives if working the Midland Main Line could switch to electric power South of Bedford or in the near future; Kettering, but the electrification is limited to 100 mph and there is no planned upgrade. This is a familiar story for anybody like me who uses the Great Eastern Main Line, where the inadequate electrification has had to be upgraded over the last couple of years to allow faster services.

The Coaches

The coaches are the least of the problems for Ian’s proposals.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled First bodyshell completed by CAF for new TPE fleet.

This is the first paragraph.

Pictures of the first bodyshell for new rolling stock to be used by TransPennine Express (TPE) have been unveiled as the operator looks to introduce 13 five-car Mark 5A Coaches – being built by Spanish company CAF – as part of its brand-new fleet.

The Mark 5A coaches, being built by CAF are designed for 125 mph!  So all that is needed is to specify the interior!

As the Spanish train manufacturer has just announced the building of a factory at Llanwern in South Wales, that might be an ideal place to build the coaches needed.

Beating The PRM Deadline In 2020

The Mark 5A coaches for TransPennine Express are scheduled for delivery in 2018-2019, so I suspect the coaches for the Midland Main Line could start to be delivered after the TransPennine Express and Caledonian Sleeper orders are complete.

The locomotives might be move problematical, but if they are a derivative of an existing type, then surely this wouldn’t delay fleet introduction.

I suspect that a certain amount of testing can be done in parallel too!

So having some trains in service by the PRM eadline of 2020 could certainly be possible.

Conclusion

Ian Walmsley’s proposal for the next Midland Main Line franchise is possible.

July 29, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Rolling Stock Leaser Beacon Rail Acquires 78-Train Fleet

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

European rolling stock leaser Beacon Rail has acquired the 352-vehicle fleet of Bombardier Class 220 and Class 221 Voyager’s from subsidiaries of Lloyds Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The diesel-electric multiple units are currently in passenger service on the Virgin West Coast and the Arriva Cross Country franchises.

Is it just a tidying up by two banks of their asset portfolios or is there something more behind the transaction?

Beacon Rail Leasing is a ROSCO  or specialist train leasing company and this is their mission statement.

The Mission of Beacon Rail Leasing is to be the leading provider of high utility rolling stock to the Pan-European operator base. Management’s goal is to provide the company’s equity investors with superior returns by being the best managed and most efficiently operated rail operating lease company in the Pan-European Market.

So do they have a long-term plan for these trains?

In Modern Trains From Old, I write about three articles in the February 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is a relevant extract from the previous post.

Bi-Modus Operandi

This is the title of an article by Ian Walmsley in the magazine, who makes the case for adding an extra coach with a pantograph to the Class 220, 221 and 222 and effectively creating a bi-mode train.

The idea is not new and I wrote about it in The Part-Time Electric Train, after a long editorial comment in Modern Railways in 2010.

If anything, the case for convcersion is even better now, as quality high-speed bi-mode trains are desperately needed.

As the article suggests, they could sort out some of the other problems with the trains.

There are quite a few suitable trains.

  • Class 220 trains – 34 trains of four cars.
  • Class 221 trains – 43 trains of a mix of four and five cars.
  • Class 222 trains – 27 trains of a mix of four, five and seven cars.

All are 125 mph trains.

ROSCOs are always looking for innovative ways to make money.

So perhaps Beacon have got together with Eversholt Rail Group, who are the owner of the Class 222 trains and Bombardier, the manufacturer of all three classes of trains to create a series of affordable 125 mph bi-mode trains.

I have no idea if these trains will be updated, but on the 20th of July, this document, which is entitled Rail update: bi-mode train technology, was published by the Department of Transport.

This is said about the new East Midlands franchise.

The next operator will be required to deliver modern, fast and efficient trains. This includes a brand new fleet of bi-mode intercity trains from 2022, delivering more seats and comfort for long-distance passengers. The provision of these trains will replace plans to electrify the line north of Kettering to Sheffield and Nottingham, improving journeys sooner, without the need for wires and masts on the whole route, and causing less disruption to services. We do not intend to proceed with plans to electrify the line from Kettering to Sheffield and Nottingham, and there will be further investment to come to ensure Sheffield is HS2-ready.

Ian Walmsley’s proposal of adding an extra coach, wouldn’t deliver brand-new bi-mode intercity trains, but it could deliver refurbished Class 222 trains with the following characteristics for the new East Midlands franchise.

  • More seats in one or more extra carriages.
  • One extra carriage would have an automatic pantograph to access the 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Trains could probably be any length from five-cars upwards, that the operatir wanted.
  • Refurbished interiors.
  • Wi-fi, 4G and power sockets.
  • Ability to run on electricity South of Kettering.
  • Diesel power North of Kettering
  • Update the current rheostatic to regenerative braking using energy storage in both electric and diesel mode.
  • 125 mph operating speed.
  • A modern and efficient electrical and control system.

Note.

  1. I suspect that some features and equipment from the new Aventra would be incorporated.
  2. The trains might cost a bit more to lease, but they would generate more revenue and ultimately profits.
  3. But the biggest advantage of going this route, is that the concept can be tested by building a single carriage and inserting it into a refurbished test train.
  4. After the concept is proven and a go-ahead is given, trains could be built steadily. It should also be said that Bombardier did a superb job in lengthening London Overground’s Class 378 trains twice!
  5. An efficient control system could reduce the amount of time the diesel engines were running.

Similar conversions could be performed on the Class 220 and Class 221 trains.

Conclusion

It will be interesting to see what happens.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

CAF Rarely Do The Obvious, But It’s Generally Sound

This article on the BBC is entitled 300 Train Building jobs Created At £30m Newport Centre.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Three hundred “highly-skilled and well paid” engineering jobs will be created when a Spanish train manufacturer opens a production factory in Newport.
Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) is expected to open its £30m centre where Llanwern Steelworks once stood in autumn 2018.

Currently CAF are supplying the following trains and trams for the UK.

The trains alone add up to nearly five hundred vehicles.

If you look at the geography of the sea routes between the Basque Country and the United Kingdom, taking a cargo ship with a few trains to South Wales  is probably not the most difficult or indirect of voyages.

Newport too, is on the South Wales Main Line, which is well connected all over England, by lines that should be electrified and will hopefully be by 2019.

This Google Map shows the Celtic Business Park in relation to Newport and its docks.

The Celtic Business Park is part of the massive rectangular site to the North East of Newport, that is the Llanwern steelworks, which is being downsized. The South Wales Main Line passes along the North side of the site and the map clearly shows access to Newport Docks.

It raises the question that CAF may bring the trains in on their wheels in a specialist train ferry.

I know nothing about how much preparation needs to be performed on a foreign-built train, before it can run on the UK rail network, but it would be expected that just checking the five hundred vehicles must keep quite a few employees busy. I suppose too, that if certain parts of the train were sourced from the UK, that instead of sending them to Spain, they could be fitted in Newport.

It should also be remembered, that Hitachi build their body-shells in Japan and then ship them to Newton Aycliffe for fitting out.

Although, the Welsh and the Basques are two nations with strong cultural ties; rugby included, I think that Newport was chosen with another very practical reason in mind.

In the May 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, Ian Walmsley, wrote an article called Metroland Of My Fathers, which included these  paragraphs.

Back in the November 2013 issue of Modern Railways I raised the possibility of converting the Cardiff network to light rail. I was still working for Porterbrook at the time, which, like other rolling stock companies (ROSCOs), saw the Valleys as a retirement home for its old London commuter trains, so when the proposal met with the response it’s heavy rail and that’s that, I was quite happy.

The local press and BBC Wales showed more interest and now I am delighted to say that Network Rail has the Valley Lines electrification ‘on hold’ pending re-evaluation.

Consider the following.

  • Urbos trams come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
  • Trams are getting better every year at climbing hills.
  • The Urbos family includes the Urbos TT, which is a tram-train.
  • Midland Metro’s trams are being fitted with energy storage using supercapacitors
  • How much marketing advantage for other places, is gained from having Edinburgh and Cardiff on the customer list?
  • Conversion could probably be done on a line-by-line basis.
  • Provision must be made for freight trains on some lines.
  • Cardiff and the Valley Lines were resignalled in the last few years and everything is controlled from Cardiff ROC

But remember that CAF are a very research and design-oriented company.

So what is the likelihood that the Cardiff Valley Lines will be converted to light rail using a CAF product?

I would say pretty high, especially after reading this article in Global Rail News, which is entitled Engineering Firm BWB Consulting Bought By Spanish Giant CAF.

I could see a design of rail vehicle with these features.

  • The ability to work on standard rail track.
  • The ability to give level step-free access to standard height rail station platforms.
  • The ability to use modern railway signalling.
  • The ability to climb steep gradients.
  • The ability to work on both 25 KVAC and 750 VDC overhead.
  • Automatic pantograph raising and lowering.
  • Supercapacitor energy storage.
  • Regenerative braking.

I could see an energy-saving vehicle being designed, that made clever use of the gradients.

Would it be a train or a tram-train?

Increasingly, the difference is getting blurred!

 

 

 

July 13, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Can’t A Train Be More Like A Tram?

This is the title of a two-part article by Ian Walmsley in the May 2017 edition of Modern Railways.

Part 1 – How Hard Can It Be?

In the First Part, which is entitled How Hard Can It Be?, he contrasts tram operation with typical heavy rail operation.

He starts the First Part with this paragraph.

After a career in trains, I wish they could be more like trams, at least for the short-distance commuting market. Big windows, low-back seats, super-cool looking front ends, terrific acceleration and braking, all at half the price. Meanwhile commuter trains are bogged down with legislation, defensive driving and restrictive practice.

He also compares trams and heavy rail with the London Underground, which has the frequency and speed of a tram to get the needed capacity. This is another quote.

Heavy-rail’s answer to capacity is to take a few seats out or declassify a First Class compartment, going faster is too difficult.

These points are also made.

  • A turn-up-and-go frequency is made possible by a continuous stream of trams doing the same thing, uninterrupted by inter-city or freight intruders.
  • Frequent stops on a tram mean rapid acceleration is essential, so a high proportion of axles must be motored.
  • In many heavy rail services, the culture of caution has removed any urgency from the process.
  • Separation of light from heavy rail is essential for safety reasons.
  • Trams can take tight corners which helps system designers.
  • Trams save money by driving on sight.
  • Lots of safety regulations apply to heavy rail,but not trams.

He also uses a lot of pictures from the Bordeaux trams, which I wrote about in Bordeaux’s Trams. These trams run catenary-free in the City Centre.

High-Cacapity Cross-City Heavy Rail Lines

It is interesting to note that cross-city heavy rail lines are getting to the following ideals.

  • High frequency of upwards of sixteen trains per hour (tph).
  • High-capacity trains
  • Heavy-rail standards of train and safety.
  • Slightly lower levels of passenger comfort.
  • Step-free access.
  • Several stops in the City Centre.
  • Interchange with trams, metros and other heavy rail services.
  • Separation from freight services.
  • Separation from most inter-city services.

Have the best features of a tram line been added to heavy rail?

Worldwide, these lines include.

There are obviously others.

Crossrail with up to 30 tph, platform edge doors, fast stopping and accelerating Class 345 trains, and links to several main lines from London could become the world standard for this type of heavy rail link.

30 tph would be considered average for the London Underground and modern signalling improvements and faster stopping trains, will raise frequencies on these cross-city lines.

All of these lines have central tunnels, but this isn’t a prerequisite.

Manchester is achieving the same objective of a high-capacity cross-city rail link with the Ordsall Chord.

Part 2 – Tram-Train, Are You Sure You Really Wnt |To Do This?,

In the Second Part, which is entitled  Tram-Train, Are You Sure You Really Wnt |To Do This?,

Ian starts the Second Part with this paragraph.

Anyone with a professional interest in public transport must have been to Karlsruhe in Germany, or at least heard of it.

He then wittily describes an encounter with the diesel tram-train in Nordhausen, which I shall be visiting within a week or so.

He was not impressed!

I like the concept of a tram-train, where the same rail vehicle starts out in the suburbs or the next town as a train, goes through the City Centre as a tram and then goes to a destination on the other side of the city.

But you could also argue that Merseyrail’s Northern Line and London Underground’s Piccadilly and Central Lines achieve the same purpose, by running at all times as a rail line, with the centre section in a tunnel under the City.

The Sheffield Tram-Train Project

Ian then goes on to talk about the Sheffield Tram-Train Project. He says this about the route extension from Meadowhall to Rotherham.

This route extension runs just over three miles and after a series of delays, it will not open until 2018, 10 years, after the first proposal, six after the scheme approval. The cost is £58million. That’s 21 million Rotherham – Meadowhall single fares, for which the existing journey time is six minutes. Bargain.

He also says that because Nick Clegg was a Sheffield MP, the project should stay in Sheffield.

I will add some observations of my own on the Sheffield -Rotherham tram-train.

  • The Class 399 tram-train is a variant of the tram-trains used in Karlsruhe – Good
  • The route, doesn’t connect to Sheffield station – Bad
  • The frequency is only a miserly three tph – Bad
  • The route is too short – Bad

Hopefully, the bad points don’t result in a system that nobody wants.

The Expert View Of Rotherham’s Problems

There is an article in the Yorkshire Post, which is entitled Rotherham could get new rail station, which gives detail from a consutant’s report of how to improve services in the town.

  • Rotherham Parkgate station should be developed as an inter-regional station, at a cost of up to £53.2 million
  • Rotherham Central station would be be more about local services.
  • Rotherham should have one tph to Leeds and Manchester, three tph  to Doncaster and six tph to Sheffield.

The consultant’s estimate was that this investment could benefit the area by up to £100million.

Ian’s Conclusion

Ian says this and I am coming to agree with him.

I, like many others, have been a fan of tram-train, but a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

The more I think about it, the more I think trams and trains have their place and mixing them up is fraught with problems.

As I said earlier, I’m off to Karlsruhe ad I’ll see how they’re getting on with the enormous hole in their budget; the new tunnel on the Karleruhe Stadtbahn.

Imagine building a cut-and-cover down Oxford Street in London.

Train Like A Tram

Ian finishes with two further sections, the first of which is Train Like A Tram.

He says this.

Heavy rail needs to recaspture a sense of urgency and realise that more speed = more trains = more capacity. Risk analysis should allow the use of low-back seats and plastics; based on the lower average speeds. All axles need to be motored for tram-like acceleration and lots of regenerative braking.

I agree with what he says, but I’m surprised that he doesn’t mention Zwickau.

In that German town, an extension was built from the Hauptbahnhof to a new station in the town centre. I wrote about Zwickau’s unique system in Riding The Vogtlandbahn 

Standard two-car diesel multiple units, run alongside Zwickau’s trams on a dedicated route according to similar operational rules on the three kilometre route.

Surely, there is scope to do this in the UK, on existing and new branch lines or spurs.

  • The route must be short.
  • All stops would be built like tram stops.
  • Trains would be independently-powered by diesel, battery or fuel cell.
  • Signalling would be heavy-rail.

In my view this sort of system would be ideal for serving Glasgow, Leeds-Bradford and Liverpool Airports, where off main line running would be done across open country that could be appropriately fenced.

Tram Like A Train

Ian finishes his final section, where he talks about the likelihood of more tram-train systems following Sheffield, with this.

I suspect that the number of follow-on vehicles in the foreseeable future will be about the same as the number of battery EMUs based on the last research trial. 

Don’t feel too bad though; do we really want the national rail system full of 50 mph-limited trams?

I feel that Ian and myself would have different views about battery EMUs.

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Rotherham?

I mentioned a consultant’s report earlier and the easiest way to get their recommended frequency of trains through Rotherham would be to expand the electrification network, by wiring the following lines.

  • Sheffield to Doncaster
  • Leeds to Colton Junction
  • Leeds to Selby
  • Fitzwilliam to Sheffield

As some of these lines were built or rebuilt recently for the Selby Coalfield, I suspect electrification would be starting from decent documentatyion.

Until the electrification is complete Class 319 Flex trains could work the routes.

 

 

 

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Modern Trains From Old

In the February 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there  are several articles about the updating of old trains to a modern standard.

There was also an article about the revival of locomotive hauled trains called Long Live The Loco!

The Class 321 Renatus

Note the following about the Class 321 trains.

  • There are a total of 117 of the four-car trains.
  • ,The trains have a 100 mph capability.
  • Many of them are in need of a refurbishment after nearly thirty years in service.

So train leasing company; Eversholt, has come up with a plan to create thirty Class 321 Renatus for Greater Anglia as a stop-gap until their new Aventras arrive in a couple of years time.

The updated trains will feature.

  • New air-conditioning and heating systems
  • New, safer seating throughout
  • Larger vestibules for improved boarding and alighting
  • Wi-Fi enabled for passengers and operator
  • Improved space allocation for buggies, bicycles and luggage
  • Passenger power sockets throughout
  • New, energy efficient lighting
  • One PRM compliant toilet and a second controlled emission toilet on each unit
  • Complete renewal and remodelling of all interior surfaces

The trains will also be given an updated traction package, which is described on this page on the Vossloh Kiepe web site.

This is said.

In 2013, Eversholt Rail and Vossloh Kiepe embarked on the pre-series project to demonstrate modern AC traction on a Class 321 unit. The key objectives were to reduce journey time for passengers, improve reliability and maintainability, and reduce the total cost of operation through a combination of reduced energy consumption and regenerative braking.

The prototype certainly looks good in the pictures.

Eversholt is stated as believing that if the market likes these trains, then other operators could be interested and other trains might be converted.

The Class 319 Flex

I like this concept and I wrote about the Class 319 Flex in Porterbrook Launch A Tri-Mode Train.

I felt one of the first routes would to be to Windermere and Modern Railways says the same.

Northern are quoted as saying, that after the concept is proven, the trains will be made available to a wide range of operators.

Consider.

  • There are 86 of the four-car units.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They are Mark 3-based, so ride well.
  • They can work on 750 VDC or 25 KVAC electrification.
  • With diesel alternators, they can go virtually anywhere.

If the trains are a success, I think we’ll be very surprised as to the routes they work.

I also think that Porterbrook could keep a small fleet ready for immediate lease for the purposes, like the following.

  • Proving the economics of new routes.
  • Blockade busting.
  • Extra capacity for special events.
  • Replacement capacity after train problems or accidents.

I suspect Porterbrook have got lots of ideas. Some of which could be quite wacky!

Bi-Modus Operandi

This is the title of an article by Ian Walmsley in the magazine, who makes the case for adding an extra coach with a pantograph to the Class 220, 221 and 222 and effectively creating a bi-mode train.

The idea is not new and I wrote about it in The Part-Time Electric Train, after a long editorial comment in Modern Railways in 2010.

If anything, the case for convcersion is even better now, as quality high-speed bi-mode trains are desperately needed.

As the article suggests, they could sort out some of the other problems with the trains.

There are quite a few suitable trains.

  • Class 220 trains – 34 trains of four cars.
  • Class 221 trains – 43 trains of a mix of four and five cars.
  • Class 222 trains – 27 trains of a mix of four, five and seven cars.

All are 125 mph trains.

The Vivarail Class 230 Train

The magazine also has an extensive report on the fire in a Class 230 train.

The report says that the definitive report will be published before the end of January, but on reading the detailed report of the damage, I think it will be some months before the rebuilt train is ready to roll.

In a post entitled Class 230 And Class 319 Flex Fight It Out, I came to this conclusion.

Vivarail will have a struggle to sell large numbers of trains, against a larger, faster, more capable train of proven reliability.

I stand by what I said.

Long Live The Loco!

This article describes the various uses of locomotive-hauled passenger trains on the UK rail network.

The title could be read another way, as it talks about the following locomotives.

Some could not be considered modern, but they perform.

The article goes on to detail how TransPennine Express will use their new Mark 5A carriages.

  • Wikipedia says each set will be composed of 1 first class car, 2 Standard class cars, 1 brake standard class car and a standard class driving trailer.
  • Sets will be able to be lengthened if required.
  • The trains will be worked push-pull between a Class 68 locomotive and a driving trailer.
  • The coaches will have a 125 mph design speed for future-proofing reasons.

It is also said, that a Class 88 locomotive is not powerful enough under diesel power to operate on the TransPennine route.

So the article speculates, that there may be a place for  a bi-mode locomotive with full diesel capability, given the success of the Hitachi bi-mode concept.

The article finishes by saying that as Chiltern and TransPennine have shown that push-pull operation is viable, could the concept become more widespread?

 

 

 

 

 

January 26, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Would High-Speed Trains With Onboard Energy Storage Enable Environmentally-Friendly High-Speed Lines?

If you stand on the platform at Stratford International station, when a Eurostar Class 373 train comes through, it is a very noisy experience.

For this and other reasons high-speed trains usually have their own fenced-off tracks, well away from centres of population.

High-speed trains like Eurostar tend to have a journey profile, where they accelerate to line speed and then run at this speed, until they stop at the next station.

High speed lines are also designed, so that trains don’t lose energy on gradients and curves for energy efficiency.

I’d love to see an energy use profile for a modern high-speed train like a Class 374 train, as it goes from London to Paris.

Onboard energy storage is rather primitive today, but who’s to know how far the next generation of battery technology will take a train in say ten years time.

Say a high speed train has to go through an area that is highly-sensitive with respect to visual and/or audio intrusion!

If the section was not electrified, which would cut the visual intrusion to just the trains passing through and reduce the pantograph noise to zero, how far would a mix of battery power and the kinetic energy of the train power it until it could get electric power on the other side of the electrification gap?

We could be closer than anybody thinks to the use of batteries on high-speed trains.

The Midland Main Line is being electrified and Ian Walmsley in Modern Railways has speculated that 125 mph Aventras could be used between London and Sheffield. I wrote about this in A High-Speed Train With An IPEMU-Capability.

Could we see sections of the fast lines deliberately built without wires, so that noise is reduced?

Leicester station is a serious bottleneck, so could track be arranged there with two quiet fast lines without wires,  through the centre of the city and the station?

It’s an interesting possibility to both reduce the effects on the environment and cut the cost of electrification.

I also think there are other reasons why trains will increasingly have on-board energy storage or in the case of electric locomotives, a small diesel engine.

  • A get-to-the-next-station capability for when electric power to the line fails.
  • Depots could be without electrification.
  • Complicated stations could be electrically-dead.

It is a technology, that will have a large number of positive effects in the coming years.

July 10, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

A High Speed Train With An IPEMU-Capability

Bombardier were reported by Ian Walmsley in the April 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, to be developing Aventra, with a 125 mph capability.

Bombardier have also told me, that all Aventras will be wired so they could be fitted with on-board energy storage.

I don’t know all the masses and speeds, but imagine if an Aventra with an IPEMU capability ran at high speed down an electrified main line and then with its on-board energy storage full to brimming, turned on to line with a reasonably high speed, where it might make a number of calls before returning.

A typical line could be London to Norwich via Cambridge, along the Breckland Line, which is not electrified from Ely to Trowse Junction south of Norwich. Parts have a 90 mph speed limit and I’m sure the speeds could be improved.

The train would need to use the energy storage, but this storage would be partially recharged every time the train stopped, by the regenerative braking of the train.

An interesting fact, is that the kinetic energy of a train is given by half the mass times the square of the speed. So if the train leaves the electrified section, as fast as is reasonably possible, it is carrying extra energy.

Because of the regenerative braking of Aventras and for that matter, Electrostars and some other trains. some of this energy can be recovered and stored in the on-board energy stoppage of an IPEMU, every time the train stops at a station

Intuition and many years of doing this sort of dynamic simulation, tells me, that the faster the train goes at the start, lengthens the range if on-board energy storage is available.

It is worth noting the energy levels involved. If you take the energy of a train travelling at 40 mph as one, the energy of a train travelling at 60 mph is 2.25 times as much and one travelling at 125 mph, a massive 9.76 times.

I think that other factors will also help.

  • A track built for speed.
  • Modern signalling.
  • An efficient train.
  • Low dwell-times in stops.
  • Advanced driving aids.
  • Good driving.

I suspect that Network Rail and Bombardier are doing extensive simulations of possible routes for trains with an IPEMU capability.

These calculations will probably show some routes are more suitable than others.

A route that could might be ideal, would be a branch where the line speed was high to a single station, so that by the use of the regenerative braking, the train could start the return journey with a high level of energy in the storage.

London to Norwich via Cambridge, is not a line to a single station, but both ends are electrified, so the trains will start the journey with full storage, probably losing a proportion of the energy at each stop.

I’d love to be doing those simulations. But it’s all physics that Isaac Newton would have understood.

 

 

April 23, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

The Kettering To Oakham Line

I took this picture, where the Kettering to Oakham Line branches away from the Midland Main Line, a few kilometres north of Kettering station at Glendon Junction.

The Kettering To Oakham Line Leaves The Midland Main Line

The Kettering To Oakham Line Leaves The Midland Main Line

I was surprised to see that the junction is only single-track.

Glendon Junction To Corby

This Google Map shows the layout of the lines to the South-East of Rushden.

Rushton And Glendon Junction

Rushton And Glendon Junction

Note that there is no chord allowing trains from the North to go towards Corby.

The Station Road, which crosses the Midland Main Line was probably the site of Glendon and Rushden station, which closed in 1960.

The junction is towards the South-East corner of the map, with the Midland Main Line going towards the North-West and the Kettering to Oakham Line to the North-East.

This second Google map, shows the actual junction.

The Junction

The Junction

It clearly shows the single-track nature of the junction. The line is single-track all the way to Corby station.

This Google Map shows Corby station.

Corby Station

Corby Station

The Kettering to Oakham Line goes virtually North-South through the station.

Note that there appears to be an old railway going away to the South-East.

Future Services Between London and Corby

Wikipedia says this will happen in the future.

It is planned that a half-hourly London St Pancras to Corby service will operate from December 2017 using new Class 387 trains, once the Midland Main Line has been electrified beyond Bedford as part of the Electric Spine project. Network Rail has also announced that it plans re-double the currently singled Glendon Junction to Corby section as part of this scheme.

I don’t think it will happen like that, as I can’t see Bedford to Corby being electrified in time. There’s also the problem of the arguments about who gets the Class 387 trains, that I wrote about in Are The TOCs Arguing Over The Class 387 Trains?

However, this article on the Network Rail web site, which is entitled Work to upgrade railway between Corby and Kettering enters next phase,  It talks about the installation of a second track between Glendon Junction and Corby to pave the way for additional passenger and freight services from the end of 2017.

I would assume that improving from Kettering to Corby, will not only allow more trains, but also improve speeds and reduce energy consumption.

Could this mean that Class 387 trains with an IPEMU capability could be used on the St. Pancras to Corby route, as they’d only have to go from Bedford to Corby and back to Bedford on a full load of electricity in their on-board storage device?

I estimate the distance is probably about 25-30 miles both ways, so it might just be possible.

As I wrote in The High Speed Train With An IPEMU Capability, it could be easier for an IPEMU running efficiently at high speed on entry to bridge a gap in the electrification.

Remember that 159 miles of the Midland Main Line is cleared for 125 mph running, so a Class 387 IPEMU could be running at its full speed of 110 mph at or through Kettering station. If it was to stop at Kettering station, as much as possible of the train’s kinetic energy could be used to top-up the on-board energy storage, so that the train had as much on-board energy for a short run to Corby and back on a fast efficient line with no stops.

Is this Network Rail’s Plan B to get electric trains to run a half-hourly service to Corby?

But as electrification proceeded North from Bedford, this would make running Class 387 IPEMUs easier, as every mile of electrified line, would take two off the total needed to be run using on-board energy storage.

So could we be seeing creeping electrification along the Midland Main Line, as every mile erected would gradually bring more destinations within range of St. Pancras?

I certainly think, that as spare Class 387 trains will be available from later this year and an IPEMU capability could be added fairly easily as it was to the Class 379 train demonstrator for IPEMU technology, that we could be seeing electric trains running to Corby before the date of 2019, which is quoted as the date, when Corby will be electrified.

Aventras For East Midlands Trains

I have assumed that the only electric train, that will be available for East Midlands Trains would be Class 387 train. These could be given an IPEMU capability and they would probably be able to reach Corby, when track improvements and additional electrification allowed.

But Bombadier’s Aventra is coming.

A 125 mph Aventra was reported as possible by Ian Walmsley in the April 2015 Edition of Modern Railways.

In his article about the Aventra, Ian Walmsley said this about an order  for Aventras.

But the interesting one to me is East Midlands Trains electrics. As a 125 mph unit it could cope well with Corby commuters  and the ‘Master Cutler’ crowd – It’s all about the interior.

So the same train could do all express routes and also act as the local stopping train.

But as Bombardier have stated that all Aventras will be wired so they can be fitted with on-board energy storage, we have a train, that can thunder up and down the Midland Main Line with its sections of 125 mph running and then take to the branch lines like Corby and Nottingham using the energy storage.

I don’t know where 125 mph running is possible, but as IPEMUs have regenerative braking as standard and charge the batteries when they stop, ready for a quick getaway, there must be an advantage in having a battery high speed train, as energy in a moving body is proportional to the square of the speed. I investigated this more in A High Speed Train With An IPEMU-Capability, where I came to the conclusion that faster IPEMUs may give more advantages than slower ones.

Class 800 Trains For East Midlands Trains

Until Ian Walmsley’s statement about the 125 mph Aventra, I’d always thought that Class 800 trains, in either bi-mode or electric variants were a shoe-in for the Midland Main Line.

They are the right size, with the right performance, but they do have three problems.

  • Corby needs an increased service now.
  • Unless some of GWR’s order is diverted to the East Midlands, the trains could not be delivered for some years.
  • Political lobbying would press for trains to be used in the East Midlands to be built there.

But they are a possibility.

As an electrical engineer though, I like the concept of Bombardier’s IPEMU, as I think that designed into a new train, it could offer savings in electrification and electricity costs.

Take Leicester station, shown in this Google Map.

Leicester Station

Leicester Station

It needs to be upgraded for electrification and because of its prominent position on the Midland Main Line, closing the station to install the overhead wires would be difficult to say the least.

Supposing the overhead wires were not installed in Leicester station, how would a bi-mode Class 800 handle the  station? It would put the pantograph down as it was slowing for the station and use its diesel power in the station. On leaving, it would wait until the wires started again and then raise the pantograph.

An IPEMU would use a similar procedure, but would use its on-board energy storage to bridge the electrification gap. But it has one great advantage in that all of the energy dissipated in the braking for the station would be used to top-up the on-board energy storage, which is used to restart the train.

So if the IPEMU route is chosen I see the following advantages.

  • Stations like Leicester, Derby and Nottingham don’t need to be electrified with all the problems that entails.
  • The route through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley can be left without electrification.
  • The electrification doesn’t need to be capable of handling regenerative braking, as the trains look after that method of valuable energy saving.
  • East Midlands Trains get an electric train only fleet.

The only problem is running electric freight trains.

Onward From Corby

East Midlands Trains do run services past Corby, with some services going to Oakham and on to Derby.

This is a diagram of the line between Corby and Oakham.

Corby To Oakham

Corby To Oakham

The line is double-tracked, looks to be picturesque and includes five tunnels and the Welland Viaduct shown in this Google Map.

Welland Viaduct

Welland Viaduct

Note the shadows of the eighty-two arches. It was built in 1878 and you can understand why it is Grade II Listed building.

I suspect Network Rail have filed electrification of this line under something like Avoid if Possible.

Under Services in the Wikipedia entry for Oakham station, this is said.

A single daily return service to London St Pancras commenced on 27 April 2009 running via Corby and is notable for being the first regular passenger service to cross the spectacular and historic Welland Viaduct since 1966. The company introduced a further return service from Derby via East Midlands Parkway (for East Midlands Airport) from May 2010. Further services may be introduced in the future. The initial London service had been due to start on 14 December 2008 but because of a delay in reaching agreement with the Department for Transport and the rolling stock operating company (ROSCO) for the four additional trains needed for the service EMT started the service around four months later.

Running electric trains with an IPEMU capability to Corby would probably mean that EMT would look at the possibility of extending the trains to Oakham.

I have a feeling that the Welland Viaduct could cause problems, because of its Listed status, so using IPEMUs to provide the passenger service to Oakham, would neatly sidestep any heritage problems associated with overhead wiring.

Once Derby and Corby are both electrified, the route would be fully open to electric multiple units with an IPEMU capability  as there is only a gap of about thirty miles in the wiring.

Oakham Station

There is also the problem of Oakham station, which is best summed up by this Google Map.

Oakham Station And Level Crossing

Oakham Station And Level Crossing

It is in the centre of the town and hemmed in by a major road. South of the station is a notorious level crossing, that needs to be replaced or avoided.

Network Rail engineers must have sleepless nights about this problem, especially as large numbers of long freight trains hauled by noisy Class 66 locomotives use the line through the station and the crossing to get between Felixstowe and Nuneaton.

Even the opening of the East West Rail Link, which will see some freight trains use the line between Cambridge and Bedford, will only offer a solution, where the freight trains are diverted through Cambridge and its increasingly busy station. What would the City and the University have to say about that?

So it would seem that another simple route for freight trains must be found.

Conclusion

The route between Kettering and Oakham is important and will be developed.

If East Midlands Trains or its successor go for either the rumoured 125 mph Aventra IPEMU or Class 800 bi-mode trains, they could improve the passenger service between London, Luton Airport, Kettering, Corby, Oakham, Melton Mowbray, Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway and Derby, by opening up a second route.

In the meantime, it looks like Network Rail’s Plan B of a faster dopuble-track line to Corby could deliver better services using an IPEMU-variant of the Class 387 train.

 

 

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Ian Walmsley Train Comfort Factor

Ian Walmsley is a respected rail industry professional and a regular contributor to Modern Railways.  In the last edition, he did a scientific analysis of passenger comfort in various classes of British train. Some typical Standard Class ratings he got were Eurostar – 77.6%, HSDT – 76.2% And a lot were much worse!

So I decided to apply his rules to the hybrid buses that take me to Wood Green and the City.

A 141 Bus to Wood Green

These are my rather crude results.

Noise Standstill – Estimated – 8 – 0.32

Noise Service Speed – Estimated – 8 – 8

Ride – Estimated – 6 – 6

Seat Comfort – 9 – 9

Seat Legroom – 8 – 0.64

Seat Window Alignment – 10 – 6

Seat Visibility Airline – 9 – 4.5

Seat Airline to Bay Ratio – 10 – 5

Seat Armrests – 0 – 0

Air Management – 9 – 7.2

Luggage Capacity – 7 – 3.5

Toilets – 0 – 0

Catering – 0 – 0

Vibration and Rattles – 8 – 4

Litter Bins – 0 – 0

Ambience – 9 – 6.3

So this gives a weighted score of 60.46.  Not bad considering it scored zero for armrests, toilets, catering and litter bins.  You could make a case for scoring somewhere about 7 for each of the last three, as they are generally available close to most bus stops.

It would also be interesting to borrow a noise meter and get correct values for that.

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments