The Anonymous Widower

Direct Trains Between Liverpool Lime Street And Norwich

In my wanderings around the UK, I very often come across this service and use it for short trips between two major towns or cities many miles from both Liverpool and Norwich.

The Current Service

Currently, the service is run by East Midlands Trains and is usually a two-car Class 158 train. Although, I have seen the service worked by a pair of these trains.

The route is very comprehensive with calls at Liverpool South Parkway, Widnes, Warrington Central, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Chesterfield, Alfreton, Ilkeston, Nottingham, Grantham, Peterborough, Ely and Thetford.

The service always seems to be full and I suspect that in addition to offering useful routes like Manchester-Sheffield, Liverpool-Nottingham and Nottingham-East Anglia, it is often a convenient route for some long distance business and family travellers.

The major problem for a train operator is that it needs a lot of rolling stock to provide a service.

Liverpool to Norwich takes five and a half hours, so to provide the hourly service probably needs as many as a dozen trains.

This extract comes from the East Midlands Trains section in Wikipedia entry for the Class 158 train.

The hourly Norwich to Liverpool service has been criticised for overcrowding, especially between Liverpool and Nottingham. This resulted from the Department for Transport specifying two-coach units in the EMT franchise starting in November 2007. In the light of persistent and excessive overcrowding, with some passengers being left behind on occasions, the DfT eventually admitted that it had made a mistake. Various cascades of other units enabled more Class 158 stock to be released for this route, and from the December 2011 timetable change the busiest services have been lengthened to four-coach trains between Liverpool and Nottingham, with units splitting and joining at Nottingham as necessary, two-coach trains being regarded as adequate between Nottingham and Norwich. Further services on this route were strengthened from December 2012.

Running a pair of Class 158 trains on the route between Liverpool and Nottingham, does seem to ease problems there, but I’ve encountered bad over-crowding at the Eastern end too.

Improvements On The Route

Several improvements or changes of rolling stock have or are taking place in the next few years.

Increased Capacity At Liverpool Lime Street

This is detailed in the 2017-2018 Station Remodelling section of the Wikipedia entry for Liverpool Lime Street station.

  • Two new platforms are being added.
  • Platforms are being lengthened.

In addition there are improvements on the approaches to the station.

Ordsall Chord And Related Improvements In Manchester

The Liverpool-Norwich service calls at both Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly stations, although it doesn’t use the new Ordsall Chord.

But I can’t believe that the Liverpool-Norwich service won’t be affected by all the works in Manchester.

Hope Valley Line Improvements

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Long-Awaited Hope Valley Line Plans Given The Green Light.

Improvements to the Hope Valley Line between Manchester and Sheffield include.

  • A loop to allow passenger trains to overtake slow freight trains.
  • Removal of a foot crossing.
  • Improvements around Dore and Totley station.

This is said on this document on the Transport for the North web site, which announces the Hope Valley improvements.

The new passing loops will mean three fast trains can run per hour between Sheffield and Manchester, one every 20 minutes, freight and stopping trains every hour, and a fast Manchester-Nottingham and East of England service every hour.

If nothing else, the extra capacity between Manchester and Sheffield, will reduce reliance on the Liverpool-Norwich service.

Improvements To The Midland Main Line

The Midland Main Line is not being electrified between Nottingham and Sheffield, but other improvements have taken place over the last few years.

  • In particular, the Erewash Valley Line has been improved and a new station at Ilkeston has been added.
  • The Liverpool-Norwich service calls at stations on this by-pass.
  • The line has been resignalled.

Would a train with a 125 mph capability, as opposed to the 90 mph operating speed of the Class 158 train, allow a faster service?

East Coast Main Line Running

The 90 mph Class 158 trains must present pathing problems on the East Coast Main Line, whereas a 125 mph train could mix it easier with the high speed trains.

Greater Anglia’s Plans

Greater Anglia have ordered a fleet of Class 755 trains.

  • The trains are bi-mode.
  • The trains have a 100 mph operating speed.
  • Greater Anglia have ordered fourteen three-car and twenty-four four-car trains.

Greater Anglia will be replacing 27 diesel trains, that consists of  58 carriages, with 38 bi-mode trains, that consist of 138 carriages.

  • There are forty percent more trains.
  • There are a hundred and thirty-eight percent more carriages.
  • Average train length of the diesels is 2.1 carriages, wheres that of the bi-modes is 3.6.

There are two possible reasons for these large number of trains.

  • Abellio have decided to buy a few bi-modes for their other franchises.
  • There is going to be a massive expansion of train services in East Anglia.

Two of the new bi-mode services interact with the Liverpool-Norwich service.

  • Colchester to Peterborough via Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely
  • Norwich to Stansted Airport  via Ely and Cambridge.

Both services are thought to be hourly.

Consider the Colchester to Peterborough service.

  • I estimate that trains will take around two hours.
  • The round trip could be under five hours, even with a generous turn-round at both ends and perhaps a wait at Ipswich.
  • The waits would allow connecting passengers to join the train.
  • A five hour round trip would need five Class 755 trains.
  • I would choose four-car trains, as the route can get crowded.

Could the Colchester to Peterborough service be considered as an extension of the Liverpool-Norwich service, that serves Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich and Colchester?

I think it could if the trains were timed appropriately.

  • Passengers from Liverpool to Ipswich, would change at Peterborough or Ely to the Peterborough to Colchester train, which would arrive a few minutes after the Liverpool to Norwich train.
  • Passengers from Ipswich to Liverpool, would change at Ely or Peterborough to the Liverpool train, which would arrive a few minutes after Colchester to Peterborough train.

Hopefully, the change would not require a platform change.

Consider the Norwich to Stansted Airport service.

  • I estimate trains will take about one hour and fifty minutes.
  • The round trip would be four hours and would need four Class 755 trains.
  • I would choose four-car trains, as the route can get crowded.

Could the Norwich to Stansted Airport service be equally spaced with the Liverpool-Norwich service between Ely and Norwich  to give a clock-face two trains per hour (tph)?

These services call at Ely

  • CrossCountry -Birmingham to Stansted Airport
  • East Midlands Trains – Liverpool to Norwich
  • Greater Anglia – Peterborough to Colchester
  • Greater Anglia – Norwich to Stansted Airport
  • Great Northern – Kings Lynn to Kings Cross

Totalling them up gives the following frequencies to various stations.

  • Bury St. Edmunds/Ipswich/Colchester – 1 tph
  • Cambridge North/Cambridge – 3 tph
  • Kings Lynn – 1 tph
  • Norwich – 2 tph
  • Peterborough – 3 tph
  • Stansted Airport – 2 tph

I suspect that the services will be arranged so there are convenient interchanges. No-one wants to spend an hour on a draughty Ely station waiting for the next train.

I also suspect that Greater Anglia  will use some of their extra trains to improve connectivity at Ely.

Speed Limits On The Route

Speed limits on the route are rather variable.

  • Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington is limited to 85 mph
  • The Hope Valley Line between Manchester and Sheffield is 90 mph
  • The proportion of the Midland Main Line, where 125 mph running is possible, is being increased.
  • Grantham to Peterborough on the East Coast Main Line allows 125 mph running.
  • The Peterborough to Ely Line is limited to 75 mph.
  • The Breckland Line between Ely and Norwich is limited to 75- 90 mph.

I feel that increasing speed limits on some parts of the line would help the Liverpool to Norwich service.

But surely, a train with a 125 mph-capability would help with journey times and train timetabling between Sheffield and Peterborough.

But on the rest of the route, trains with this speed capability, wouldn’t be needed.

Rolling Stock Choices For Liverpool Lime Street And Norwich

Various choices include.

Class 158 Trains

Everything could carry on as now using Class 158 trains

  • Two two-car trains working ass a pair would go from Liverpool Lime Street to Nottingham.
  • The trains would divide at Nottingham.
  • One train would go on its way to Norwich, and the other would wait at Nottingham to join with the train returning from Norwich.

With all the new diesel multiple units arriving in the next few years, I think it is likely that more Class 158 trains could be made available to strengthen the service.

The trouble with the Class 158 trains, is that with only a 90 mph operating speed, they can’t take advantage of the sections of the route where 125 mph running is possible.

Class 170 Trains

These trains were built as successors to the Class 158 trains.

  • They are more modern.
  • They are 10 mph faster.
  • Most  are three cars.

But they are still not fast enough for the 125 mph sections of the route.

A Second Service Between Liverpool And Nottingham

Improvements on the Hope Valley Line and in Liverpool and Manchester, might make it possible to run a much-needed second service between Liverpool and Nottingham via Manchester, Stockport and Sheffield..

This extra service could use the same trains as the full service.

Currently, the direct service between Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham takes two hours thirty five minutes. In some ways, this is a problem, as if the timing was say two hours twenty minutes, a five hour round trip would be possible.

This would mean that the second service would need just five trains.

I doubt that Class 158 trains could meet this schedule, so more would be needed.

Class 800 Trains

Class 800 trains are 125 mph bi-mode trains, but are they fast enough on diesel to make real differences to the timetable by running fast on the Midland Main Line?

I think not!

So more trains would be needed to run the service.

Bombardier’s Proposed 125 mph Bi-Mode

A genuine 125-mph bi-mode, with that performance on both electricity and diesel, would be a totally different matter.

  • Timings between Liverpool and Nottingham would drop to perhaps two hours twenty, thus allowing a five hour round trip.
  • Timings between Liverpool and Norwich would drop to perhaps four hours fifty, thus allowing a ten hour round trip.

Even so a full service would require fifteen trains.

Bombardier have proposed a train of this type and I wrote about it in Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

In my view, this small exercise shows why some routes in the UK need a 125 mph bi-mode.

If the train can’t do 125 mph, where it is possible on the Midland and East Coast Main Line, the time savings on the route won’t be possible and more trains will be needed to run the service.

One great advantage is that the trains working this route could be the same as those working the main routes of the East Midlands franchise to and from London.

Short Formation InterCity 125 Trains

The forty-year-old InterCity 125 trains have the power and the speed to match the 125 mph bi-mode trains.

Short formation with four or five passenger cars between the two Class 43 locomotives are being used by Scotrail and Great Western Railway, but to use them on Liverpool to Norwich would require another fifteen trains to be updated, which is probably not as cost effective as new 125 mph bi-modes.

Conclusion

If service between the Liverpool Lime Street and Norwich is to continue in its present form, it needs 125 mph bi-more trains.

 

 

 

 

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Railway At Dawlish Is In Trouble Again

This report on the Guardian is entitled Waves Batter Railway Line At Dawlish Station As Storm Emma Hits UK. It has a video, which shows the ferocity of the storm.

But at least things seem to be happening to create an alternative route, when Emma and her friends are causing trouble!

This article in the Tavistock Times Gazette is entitled Okehampton Rail News Welcomed Across The Region.

This is the first paragraph.

The news that the Government is creating a plan to bring an all-week, all year train service to Okehampton has been welcomed by MPs — including those for Okehampton and Tavistock — and county councillors from across the area.

The article goes on to say that the Transport Secretary; Chris Grayling, has instructed Great Western Railway to produce a creditable plan for an all-week, all-year train service between Exeter and Okehampton.

It is not a complete railway line to Plymouth and Cornwall avoiding Dawlish, but surely, it will help get rail passengers round a blockage, perhaps by using coaches along the A38 between Bodmin Parkway and Okehampton stations.

I suspect that part of the GWR plan will be to be able to get a trusty short-formation InterCity 125 between Exeter and Okehampton in all but the worst weather.

I suspect too, that GWR and their drivers and other staff, know the limitations of InterCity 125s by now, when it comes to getting services through Dawlish in atrocious weather.

The BBC has this video of the last train going through before the line through Dawlish was closed in 2014.

March 4, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Midland Mark 4

The title of this post is the same as an article by Ian Walmsley in the March 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

Ian builds on what he said in an article in the August 2017 Edition of the same magazine. I wrote about that article in We Should All Think Radically!

He proposes using Mark 4 coaches with two Class 43 power cars to create trains that meet the PRM-TSI regulations deadline, which will mean the replacement of the East Midland Franchise’s twelve InterCity 125s.

He suspects various technical solutions can be borrowed to make it all possible and because of the extra weight of the Mark 4 coaches, the trains may become 2+7 sets instead of the current 2+8.

The trains could be rather nice.

  • The Mark 4 coaches have been extensively refurbished in the last two decades and have full wi-fi and power socket fitment.
  • The Mark 4 coaches meet all the PRM-TSI regulations.
  • 125 mph running would be possible, where the track allowed.
  • The East Midland Franchise already has the Class 43 power-cars.
  • If the electrification of the Midland Main Line is ever electrified, then the Class 43 power cars could be swapped for electric locomotives.

I would assume that three extra sets, that the franchise is acquiring from Grand Central could also be converted., giving the East Midlands Franchise, fifteen sets with a life of at least ten years.

A quick calculation would indicate that this reorganisation could see the current 132 Mark 3 coaches replaced by perhaps 120 Mark 4 coaches. I’ve just applied 7/8 to the Mark 3 coach total after the Grand Central trains have been added to the fleet.

What Will Happen To The Remaining Mark 4 Coaches?

Currently, there are 302 Mark 4 coaches in service on the East Coast Main Line with Virgin Trains East Coast.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Mark 4 coach, there is a section named Future.

This is said.

The Mark 4s are scheduled to be replaced on the East Coast Main Line by Class 801s in 2018. Some may be redeployed to Midland Main Line services.[19] Virgin Trains East Coast will retain seven or eight nine-carriage sets to operate extra services to Edinburgh.

In 2017, Alliance Rail Holdings announced that, owing to it being unable to source new build Class 390 EMUs for its intended service between London and Blackpool, it was revising its proposal to use the Class 91/Mark 4 combination instead

So it looks like seventy-two coaches will be retained for the East Coast Main Line.

As to how many trains will be needed between London and Blackpool, that’s the old question of how long is a piece of string.

Consider.

  • I don’t think that the platforms at Blackpool will accept full-length sets.
  • Class 180 trains used by various operators are five cars in length.
  • There are fourteen Class 180 trains, running to Bradford, Hull and Sunderland.
  • TransPennine Express has ordered several multiple units and rakes of coaches, that are five-cars long.

So perhaps three sets of five carriages, which seem adequate for Sunderland, would be a rough estimate.

This gives the following  totals.

  • East Midlands Franchise – 120
  • East Coast Main Line – 72
  • Euston-Blackpool – 15

Which gives a total of 207.

This leaves ninety-five coaches for other purposes. Or dare I say it, nineteen sets of five coaches?

Motive Power

The rakes of coaches will need to be powered.

These are a few possibilities.

Class 91 Locomotive And A Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer

Currently, Mark 4 coaches are powered and driven by a Class 91 locomotive with a Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer, at the other end of the train.

Total numbers available are

  • 31 – Class 91 Locomotive
  • 32 – Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer

If eight sets are retained for the East Coast Main Line, this means that a maximum of twenty-three trains could be created.

But except for limited use by Open Access Operators from London on fully-electrified lines, I can’t see all Class 91 locomotives being required.

Mark 4 Coaches Topped And Tailed With Class 43 Locomotives

This is Ian Walmsley’s plan for the Midland Main Line, as he outlined in the March 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

Consider.

  • There are quite a few Class 43 locomotives available. There are thirty-two on the East Coast Main line for a start.
  • Ian feels that creating 2+7 sets is possible, but many needed would be shorter.
  • According to the article, Mark 4 coaches would be more affordable than making Mark 3 coaches PRM-TSI compliant.

The trains would share the iconic appearance of the InterCity 125, which passengers seem to love so much!

Class 68 Locomotive And A Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer

Chiltern use Class 68 locomotives and Mark 3 Driving Van Trailers, with Mark 3 coaches, so it is likely perhaps after some modification, these locomotives could be used with Mark 4 coaches and an appropriate Driving Van Trailer.

If a Class 68 locomotive would work, surely the closely-related Class 88 locomotive could also be used.

Mark 4 Coaches Topped And Tailed With Class 68 Locomotives

This arrangement has been used between Norwich, Lowestoft and Yarmouth with an elderly rake of Mark 2 coaches for some time.

It is a method that could be surely be used with Mark 4 coaches after a few modifications.

A New Class Of Electro-Diesel Locomotive And A Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer

I very much feel we need a new electro-diesel locomotive for both freight and passenger purposes.

Mark 4 Coaches Topped And Tailed With A Class 68 And A Class 88 Locomotive

I have often wondered, if instead of using two Class 68 locomotives, whether a Class 68 and a Class 88 locomotive could be used at opposite ends, to create the ultimate hybrid train, with a powerful diesel locomotive on one end and a powerful electric locomotive on the other.

Summing Up Motive Power

With a bit of ingenuity, I’m sure that uses could be found for most of the Mark 4 coaches.

Possible Routes

These routes need good quality rolling stock and innovatively-hauled Mark 4 coaches could be a solution.

Wales

Scotland has decided that the best way of serving some of its long routes, is to use shortened InterCity 125s.

Surely, if the concept works in Scotland, it is likely to work in Wales.

These could use Mark 4 coaches or more likely updated Mark 3 coaches.

Liverpool and Manchester To Holyhead

Once the Halton Curve is open, the possibility of a Liverpool to Holyhead service must exist.

A quality service along the North Wales Coast, must surely be beneficial to residents, business and tourism.

London Waterloo To Exeter Via Basingstoke

This service is currently served by Class 158 or Class 159 trains.

  • Trains generally work as six-car units.
  • The route is electrified between London Waterloo and Basingstoke.
  • Time could be saved by partial electric haulage.

The problem of this route might be solved by converting the Class 158/159 trains in bi-modes, as I wrote about in Class 158/159 Bi-Modes?

Cross-Country Routes

Cross Country routes and I don’t just mean those run by the company of the same name are often very-well pastronised, as often these routes are the only way to get between two provincial cities.

Take Norwich to Liverpool, which has a route, that definitely needs more coaches than those offered by a two-car Class 158 train.

Scenic Routes

Scotland is to run short-formation InterCity 125s between major cities.

IMany of these routes also fall into the category of scenic routes.

If this Scottish innovation is successful, will we see pressure for similar trains to work routes like Settle-Carlisle in England?

Summing Up Possible Routes

I don’t think there will be a shortage of routes to run Mark 4 coach-based services.

Conclusion

Don’t underestimate how the retired Mark 4 coaches will be used.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Era For Abellio ScotRail

How many train operating companies in the world would open a new rail service using forty-year-old refurbished trains with the slogan of A New Era?

According to the picture in this article on Global Rail News, which is entitled Aberdeen Launch For Scotland’s First HST, Abellio ScotRail have just done that!

I hope ScotRail are not tempting fate!

The service will be phased in from next Summer and I’m sure enthusiasts will book the first trains solid, such is the affection for these iconic trains.

GWR are also using the trains in a similar concept for local services between Cardiff and Penzance.

After these refurbishments, there will still be quite a few units left.

I can’t believe that none of them will find innovative uses with other train operators.

How about?

Norwich to Liverpool

East Midlands Trains run a service between Norwich and Liverpool, which does seem to suffer from fluctuations of use. It can be very busy, if say Norwich are playing Nottingham Forest and quiet at other times.

In some ways it the forgotten East-West route in England.

Derby and Nottingham to Liverpool and Manchester are journeys, where it is easier to drive.

Running the route with a refurbished and shortened HST might be a chance worth taking.

The Heart Of Wales Line

The Heart of Wales Line is an interesting possibility, to open up the centre of Wales.

The line is maintained as a diversion route for both much large passenger and freight trains, than the trains that usually  work the route.

Along The North Wales And Cumbrian Coasts

If the concept works in Scotland, it will surely work on these two lines. Especially, in the summer!

Conclusion

Terry Miller’s iconic High Speed Train will outlive us all!

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Running Electric Trains Across The Forth Bridge

Search for something like Electrification of the Forth Bridge and you find a lot of speculation and no one who.believes it can be done easily.

A ScotRail conductor said very firmly that it wouldn’t be done.

I think that in addition to the engineering problems of electrifying the Forth railway bridge, there will probably be a lot of opposition from the heritage lobby!

I also think, that if you could solve the engineering oroblems, they will.cost a lot and mean closing the bridge for at least several.months.

Bi-Mode Trains

Virgin are proposing to use Class 800 trains, which are bi-mode and will use diesel power on the bridge. These trains will have no problems crossing the bridge.

They will probably even be quieter than the current InterCity 125s, that will be continued to be used by ScotRail.

Trains With Energy Storage

The bridge is not very long at 2.5 km. and an electric train with onboard energy storage could prossibly cross the bridge, if the tracks were electrified as far as the approaches.

So do I think it is possible that a train with onboard energy storage could cross the Forth Bridge?

The Energy Storage Could Be Full Before Crossing

If the overhead electrification reached to perhaps five hundred metres from the bridge, then the onboard storage would be full.

The train would lower the pantograph and then raise it again, when under the wires on the other side.

The Maximum Speed On The Bridge Is 50 mph

This must help.

The Bridge Deck Appears Level

This must help.

Any Train Manufacturer Who Creates A Train With Onboard Energy Storage Will Gain A Worldwide Reputation

There is a lot of scepticism about trains with onboard energy storage or batteries and this would dismiss it for ever, once the crossing was shown on world-wide television with headlines like.

Battery Train Crosses Forth Rail Bridge Carrying Three Hundred Passengers

I believe that any train manufacturer, who felt they could achieve this feat would be willing to have a go, as the rewards would be immense!

Scotland Would Have A Unique Tourist Attraction

Although, I wouldn’t think it would be unique for long, as other countries would do the same to solve transport problems.

But nothing would ever be as iconic as the Forth Bridge!

I also doubt Scotland and ScoRail would say No!

Could A Class 385 Train Cross The Bridge On Stored Power?

In Hitachi Class 385 Trains, Batteries And Charging Stations, I discussed whether batteries or energy storage could be put into a Class 385 train.

I said this after giving details of Hitachi’s battery trains in Japan.

So will Scotrail’s new Class 385 trains have a battery capability?

Probably not initially!

But Hitachi have obviously been doing a lot of research into battery trains and the JR Kyushu is the first practical application.

Scotland’s rail system outside Edinburgh and Glasgow is not electrified, but it is well-known that Scotland’s Government would like more electrified services and also links to places like Leven and St. Andrews.

Both of these places, and there are probably others as well, are a few miles from a main line, that is very likely to be electrified.

So could we see a battery train charged as the JR Kyushu train on a main line, serving these branch lines on battery power?

I feel that the chance of this happening is very high.

So I feel it is highly likely, that if some form of stored power was fitted to Class 385 trains, that they would be able to bridge the gap between electrification systems North and South of the Forth Bridge.

Electrification Of The Fife Circle Line

Electrification of the Fife Circle Line would be the simplest way to improve the local rail service from North of the Forth Bridge to Edinburgh.

This shows a map of the line North from Edinburgh Gateway station.

It would need the electrification from Haymarket station through Edinburgh Gateway station to be completed South of the Bridge to an appropriate point on the bridge approach.

North of the Bridge, the circle could be electrified from an appropriate point on the bridge approach, all round the circle to Markinch station.

Running The Fife Circle Service With Class 385 Trains With Onboard Energy Storage

A belt and braces approach might see North Queensferry and Dalmeny stations being the changeover point from overhead to onboard power, so that with any problems, the train is safely in a station, rather than stuck on the bridge.

Currently, the two routes between Glenrothes With Thornton and Edinburgh stations take the following times.

  • Via Kirkaldy – 59 minutes with ten stops.
  • Via Dunfermline – 62 minutes with eleven stops.

This means a train doing a round trip from Edinburgh takes just over two hours with twenty-one stops.

The Class 385 trains will have the following characteristics compared to the current diesel trains on the route.

  • They will be faster.
  • They will accelerate better and have smoother regenerative braking.
  • They  will  have a much shorter dwell time at stations.

It would not be unreasonable to assume that the new electric trains could be several minutes under two hours for the round trip.

Trains that didn’t reverse could also go straight round the circle with the driver only changing ends at Edinburgh.

Currently, the route has three trains per hour (tph), so to run this level of service would require six trains.

Running four tph would need an extra two trains and if two tph used each direction, all stations would have a two tph service.

The trains would only need the ability to run between Dalmeny and North Queensferry stations on onboard storage.

Bi-Mode Trains Between Edinburgh And Aberdeen

Virgin Trains East Coast and possibly other operators wlll  be running bi-mode Class 800 trains between Edinburgh and Markinch stations.

They will have to use diesel power where there is no electrification, but if the Fife Circle Line were to be electrified, they could use it, to run the trains more efficiently.

Onward From The Fife Circle

The Fife Circle Line could be a bridgehead to extend electrified services to the North.

Consider these distances.

  • Markinch to St. Andrews  – 20.7 miles
  • Markinch to Dundee – 25.1 miles
  • Markinch to Perth – 22.7 miles
  • Glenrothes to Leven – 7.1 miles

All of these destinations could be reached by a combination of short lengths of electrification and trains with onboard energy storage.

Scotrail’s Extra Ten Class 385 Trains

Scotrail have an extra ten Class 385 trains on option, if the franchise is extended by 7 to 10 years and the trains would enter service in 2023.

Could these trains be to run an electrified Fife Circle Line service and perhaps running to Leven?

Conclusion

Scotrail have some ambitious plans for Scotland’s railways and I wonder, if they include using Class 385 trains with onboard energy storage to get electric trains across the Forth Bridge.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Cavalry Are Arriving!

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled First HST for ScotRail Arrives In Scotland.

I seem to remember reading accusations that Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and their governments weren’t too keen on the ageing InterCity 125 trains, that plied up to Scotland and across to Wales and the West of England. So they did a deal with Hitachi, which included a new train factory close to Blair’s constituency in the North-East of England.

But removing InterCity 125s or High Speed Trtains (HSTs) as they are commonly known, from the UK rail network, appears to be as difficult as removing Japanese knot-weed from a garden.

When delays hit the Great Western electrification, Great Western Railway started experimenting with short formation HSTs, consisted of two Class 43 power cars and four or five Mark 3 coaches. The experiments were obviously a success, as they have decided to do this according to Wikipedia.

Great Western Railway are to retain 24 powercars and 48 carriages to form 11 four-carriage sets for use on local services between Cardiff and Penzance. The carriages will be fitted with automatic doors and controlled emission tanks at Wabtec, Doncaster.

Scotrail have gone down a similar route of shortened HSTs.

This article in Rail |Engineer is entitled ScotRail’s ‘new’ HSTs, gives full details. This is the first three paragraphs of the article.

In 2012, Transport Scotland published the results of its rail passenger service consultation. This considered how the railway should develop and the types of passenger services required. Its results were incorporated into the specification for the ScotRail franchise which was renewed in 2014.

One conclusion from this consultation exercise was that passengers traveling from central Scotland to Aberdeen and Inverness much preferred to travel in Virgin Trains East Coast High Speed Trains (HSTs) from London than ScotRail’s Class 170 diesel multiple units (DMUs).

For this reason, the invitation to tender (ITT) document for the ScotRail franchise included a specification for improved rolling stock for Scotland’s internal inter-city services that could have been based on the HST’s mark 3 coach. In its franchise bid, Abellio’s response to this requirement was that it would provide refurbished HSTs on the routes that serve Scotland’s seven cities (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness).

Abellio received the franchise and ScotRail will be getting seventeen 2+5 and nine 2+4 HSTs. This paragraph from the Rail Engineer article gives more details on the trains.

The HSTs will be phased into service from summer 2018, with the full fleet operational for the May 2019 timetable change. This aligns with the completion of Network Rail’s Highland main line journey time improvements project. 54 power cars and 121 coaches will be leased from Angel Trains. These will make up 17 five-coach trains and 9 four- coach trains with two power cars spare. The 2019 timetable will require 23 trains in service each day with five coach sets operating Central Belt to Aberdeen services and the four coach trains generally running to Inverness. The number of through services from Inverness to the Central Belt via Aberdeen will also be increased.

As the first HST has now arrived in Scotland as is reported in the Rail Magazine article, it looks like everything is going to plan.

Politicians and others might say, why are the lines not being electrified or services provided by Class 802 trains.

  • Network Rail’s record on electrification isn’t good.
  • There would probably be opposition to overhead electrification marching all over the Highlands.
  • The lines in the North of Scotland probably have a maximum speed of 100 mph at best.
  • Drivers have forty years of experience of running HSTs to Aberdeen and Inverness.
  • To many of the British, the InterCity 125s are the definitive High Speed Train.

Could there even be a popular feeling behind using the trains, in much the same way people cling to the past in their politics?

I think it is a sensible plan for the following reasons.

  • A 2+5 shortened set running at less than the 125 mph design speed could be a very sound economic proposition.
  • The trains have large windows for a good view.
  • I’m sure Scotrail will add appropriate catering, on the upwards of two to three hour journeys.
  • These trains could be passenger magnets for business, leisure and tourists, especially from countries like Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, Canada and the USA.

But above all these Scottish InterCity services must be the Marketing Department’s dream!

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

HSTs For 2020

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the September 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

It describes how Wabtec in Doncaster will be updating  the InterCity 125 train, so that meet the latest Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM) regulations, which come into force in 2020.

The fitting of power doors and retention toilets will see the following trains in service for a number of years after 2020.

This totals up to eighty-four Class 43 power cars and two hundred and five Mark 3 coaches.

Work On The Power Cars

With the exception of some interlocks, there appears to be little work being done on the power cars, which is probably because of the good care, that the trains have had over the years.

Although, they’ll obviously be serviced and painted.

Work On The Coaches

This is summed up as follows.

  • Sliding power doors for  passengers will be fitted.
  • A test rig will simulate fifteen years of use.
  • Controlled emission toilets are being fitted.
  • If a coach has two toilets , only one can be retained due to space limitations, caused by the pockets for the sliding doors.
  • Most of the coaches are receiving new universal access toilets.
  • From a picture caption in the article, it appears that less work on the interiors will be done on the CrossCountry coaches.

Production details are also given.

  • The first GWR and CrossCountry sets will be released in early November.
  • Two production lines will be setup.
  • The CrossCountry sets are targeted for completion by May 2018.
  • The Scotrail sets are targeted for completion by May 2019.
  • The final ten GWR sets will be rebuilt last.

Initially coaches will be modified to a 40-day turnround, which should be halved for the Scotrail sets.

Conclusions

Wabtec seem to be doing a comprehensive and quality job in updating the Msrk 3 coaches.

Consider.

  • Wabtec are setting up two production lines for the modifications.
  • At twenty days to modify a train, that means in a year, they can refurbish 36 coaches or probably four trains.
  • Greater Anglia have fifteen rakes of recently-refurbished Mark 3 coaches, one of which has been sold to be used with 60163 Tornado.
  • East Midlands Trains have twelve InterCity 125 sets.
  • Virgin Trains East Coast have sixteen InterCity 125 sets,

I wonder if any of these extra sets will be converted at Wabtec?

Where would they be used?

Chiltern Railways

Chiltern will probably need some more coaches for their services to Birmingham, Oxford and in the future; Milton Keynes.

If partial electrification should happen on their routes, Chiltern could replace the current Class 68 locomotives for a bi-mode like a Class 88 locomotive.

The New East Midlands Franchise

The new East Midlands franchise could go for a fleet of InterCity 125s for Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield services given than electrification won’t happen.in the near future.

It should be noted that HS2 will reach the new East Midlands Hub station around 2032/2033, so this will become a date, when London to East Midlands services will change forever.

CrossCountry

CrossCountry has a capacity problem and might find more InterCity 125s a very well-proven solution, that is liked by passengers.

Long Distance Services

Some long-distance routes like Norwich to Liverpool and Cardff to Manchester might be ideal for shortened InterCity 125s.

New Services

It is well-known that passengers very much like travelling on InterCity 125s and after my trip from Edinburgh to Inverness in the cab, I am convinced that drivers and probably other staff too,  have a lot of affection for these superb trains from a very different era.

It is these thoughts and feelings, that led Scotrail to go down the route of introducing shortened InterCity 125s on their major inter-city routes North of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

So could we see Scotrail’s example used in other places in the UK?

Chris Stokes in the September 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, finishes his column, after talking about scenic railways in the rest of the world, with this paragraph.

There are limited examples in Britain, such as the ‘Jacobite’ steam service between Fort William and Mallaig and the expensive and exclusive ‘Royal Scotsman’ service. But elsewhere on the Kyle line, the Cambrian Coast or Settle-Carlisle, all you get is a Class 158, with, if you’re lucky seats aligned with the windows. We could do so much better.

A shortened InterCity 125, perhaps with a regional buffet car would certainly be a lot better.

Scotrail could perhaps start the process by running a Glasgow to Leeds service via the Glasgow South Western Line and the the Settle to Carlisle Line.

 

 

 

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

The Transformation Starts Here

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled First GWR High Speed Train Off-Lease This Month.

It describes how the first InterCity 125 for ScotRail is leaving Great Western Railway for refurbishment to meet the new regulations coming in on the 1st of January 2020.

What other train in the world, after forty years front-line service, could be given a full upgrade to be made ready for more years of service?

 

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

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 | Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

Bi-Mode Trains And CrossCountry

The CrossCountry franchise runs trains all over the UK.

I wonder how bi-mode trains will effect their services.

These are just a few thoughts.

InterCity 125 Trains

CrossCountry have enough Class 43 locomotives and Mark 3 carriages to make-up five 2+8 InterCity 125 sets.

These trains will not meet the regulations in a couple of years, so will they be replaced or refurbished.

It is probably not an easy decision for the following reasons.

  • Passengers and I suspect drivers too, love them.
  • They are probably ideal for longer routes like Devon and Cornwall to Scotland
  • Scotrail and Great Western Railway will be updating several trains each.
  • They are forty years old.
  • There may be pressure to retire the trains because of environmental problems.
  • If they even wanted to acquire a few extra sets, the type retirement by other operators might help.

Left to the Marketing \department, there would only be one decision.

Class 800 Trains

Class 800 trains or more likely Class 802 trains, specified for their routes may offer advantages to CrossCountry on some of their routes.

Consider these features of Class 802 trains.

  • Available in any number of cars between four and twelve.
  • Designed around a flexible interior.
  • Dual voltage is probably available.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets.
  • Hitachi have designed the trains for lower track-access charges.

Costs and the marketing advantage of new electric trains will probably decide.

Devon and Cornwall to Scotland

Consider.

  • Plymouth to Edinburgh and Glasgow is an hourly service that takes just under nine hours to Edinburgh with no changes.
  • One train per day goes from Plymouth to Aberdeen in eleven hours.
  • A lot of the route is not electrified, but it is North of York.
  • Would a Class 802 train have enough fuel capacity?

I suspect current arrangements will continue.

Southampton Central And Bournemouth To Manchester And Newcastle

Consider.

  • North of Leeds, the route is electrified using 25 KVAC overhead
  • South of Basingstoke, the route is electrified using 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Any bi-mode train would need to be dual-voltage.
  • Range should be less of a problem

A dual-voltage bi-mode Class 802 train might be ideal.

Other Routes

Most other routes only have a small proportion of running on electrified track.

Conclusion

I think it unlikely, that CrossCountry will go for a total replacement of their fleet with bi-mode trains.

But I suspect, they’re keeping a watching brief on developments in  electrification and trains.

 

July 24, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments