The Anonymous Widower

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.

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 | , , , , , | 3 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 | , , , , | 2 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

How Times Change

Several hundred years ago, those living in the North of England, would have waited with fear and trepidation at the thought of invasion from those living across the Border.

But not anymore!

According to this article in the Cumbria Crack, which is entitled Settle-Carlisle groups welcome Scottish rail study.

This is said.

Putting this into historical context, Mark Rand, Joint Vice Chairman of the 3500-member Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line said: “People often ask why did the Victorians build a railway line from tiny Settle to the border city of Carlisle. It was part of a much greater whole – the Midland Railway’s main route from London St Pancras to Scotland via Leeds and Carlisle, from where what is today called the Borders Railway continued to Edinburgh. What opportunities the full Edinburgh-Carlisle re-opening would enable! The Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line welcomes this study with open arms.”

Further, the full re-opening would give a railway offering world-class scenery for much of the 211 miles from Leeds to Edinburgh, attracting huge numbers of international tourists, as happens in countries such as Norway and Switzerland, an industry so vital to the UK economy.

Unlike many railway projects, this project only needs the railway to be built, as the trains that would be ideal for Leeds to Edinburgh via Caelisle, were built forty years ago.

What better route would there be to serve with refurbished examples of Terry Miller‘s masterpiece, the InterCity 125?

May 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Last ‘319s’ On Thameslink This Summer

The title of this post is the title of an article in the May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph of the article.

Govia Thameslink Railway plans to withdraw its last Class 319s by the end of June, allowing it to operate a full Class 700 service on Thameslink this summer.

According to Wikipedia on the 28th April 2017, Thameslink still have thirty-five examples (319/0 – 13 and 319/4 – 22) and there are twelve examples Off Lease (319/2 – 1,319/3- 6 and 319/4 – 5)

So it looks like there could be a maximum of forty-seven trains released, of the following types.

In Riding In A Clean Class 319/4 Train, I wrote about riding in a particularly nice Class 319/4 train. If any of the other twenty-six are in as good a condition, operators will want to take them over.

There’s certainly enough trains to keep the refurbishment line busy for four or five years.

There is also plenty of scope for speculation about the specification of the refurbished trains and where the trains will see service.

  • How many will end up as bi-mode Class 319 Flex trains?
  • How many will retain their third rail capability?
  • How many will retain their First Class seats?
  • How many will get wi-fi?
  • How many will end up in a reserve fleet to cover for train shortages? Think level crossing accidents!
  • Will any have a luxury interior, so they can be used as special event trains and shuttles? Think Edinburgh to St. Andrews for the Open or Manchester to Aintree for the Grand National!
  • Will any be bought for use in non-passenger roles? Think 100 mph parcel carriers bringing goods into and out of big city stations at three in the morning!
  • Will any be bought by Network Rail for engineering purposes? Think testing and checking overhead and third-rail electrification!

Uses will be demand-led and I suspect some will be very surprising.

Operators have never had a train that is both a 100 mph electric train and a 90 mph diesel train, which is available, affordable and proven.

I shall discuss a few of the ideas in detail.

Parcels Trains

Currently, Royal Mail uses the closely-related Class 325 trains to move parcels traffic around the country. These trains have the following specification.

  • They are four-car electric units.
  • They can run as four, eight and twelve car units.
  • They are 100 mph dual-voltage trains.
  • Each car can carry twelve tonnes.
  • They use the same running gear as the Class 319 trains.

If they have a problem it is that they can only run on electrified lines, so they seem to be confined to the West and East Coast Main Lines.

Royal Mail and their train operator DB Cargo UK, might be interested in some more trains. They might even have use for some Class 319 Flex trains for routes with no or partial electrification.

In A Station At Doncaster Sheffield Airport, I talked of Peel Group’s plans to develop the Airport.

I said this.

It should also be stated that Doncaster Sheffield Airport has air cargo ambitions.

Consider.

  • It has a massive runway, that was able to accept the Space Shuttle in an emergency.
  • The airport has lots of space for cargo terminals.
  • The largest cargo planes, that exist only in the minds of Airbus and Boeing engineers would be welcome.
  • The Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway, which is a major freight route between the South East and the North passes the airport.
  • Plans exist to create a network of high speed package carrying trains. I’d use Doncaster Shjeffield Airport as a hub.
  • Amazon already fly freight to and from the Airport. Deliveries could leave the United States in the evening and be in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester  for a morning delivery.

It looks like the Peel Group have a plan to create a transport interchange for both passengers and freight for a cost of millions, not billions. But it were to be worth spending billions, I’m certain that they can obtain it.

Could Class 319 trains be the trains delivering the parcels to main-line stations all over the country for onward distribution?

There must also be specialist and possibly perishable cargoes like fish and flowers, perhaps between Cornwall and London. Some of the cargoes now go in the large space in the locomotives of the InterCity 125s , but these trains are being phased out.

Could a Class 319 Flex train substitue with honour?

The Luxury Go-Anywhere Shuttle Train

Look at the venues for the Open Championship and they seem to be tucked away. But supposing there was an all Class 319 Flex train fitted with all First Class seating and a bar, it would make a very good alternative to get spectators to the venue in style.

Other venues within the trains range would include.

  • Aintree, Ascvot, Chelternham, Doncaster, Epsom, Goodwood, Haydock Park, Newbury, Newmarket, Sandown Park and York racecourses.
  • Glastonbury for the Festival
  • Henley for the Regatta.
  • Important football and rugby matches.

Travel First Class in any InterCity 125 and you realise the standard that can be applied to a Mark 3 coach.

Reserve Trains

Greater Anglia are often short of a train or two, with the cause often being a level crossing accident.

Their way round the problem is to hire in two Class 68 locomotives and some elderly coaches.

But surely, a better way, would be to have an appropriate number of Class 319 Flex trains available for hire with a driver!

They could deputise for a 100 mph electric train and an up to 90 mph diesel train.

Network Rail Use

Network Rail have a highly-instrumented InterCity 125 called the New Measurement Train, which is used to test the condition of the tracks all over the UK.

But it can only test those tracks where an InterCity 125 train is allowed.

If Network Rail ever need to create a smaller version of the train and especially one to test both overhead and third-rail electrification systems, a Class 319 train would be a candidate.

Conclusion

Porterbrook’s Sales and Marketing Department are going to have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How Will Virgin Trains East Coast Use Class 800/801 Trains?

The following two sections give Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) current and future fleets.

Current Fleet

VTEC have a current fleet comprising the following locomotives and coaches.

The Class 43 locomotives and the Mark 3 coaches are formed into InterCity 125 trains.

  • Two locomotives and nine coaches per set.
  • 125 mph capability
  • Diesel-powered

Which gives thirteen diesel trains.

The Class 91 locomotives and Mark 4 coaches are formed into InterCity 225 trains.

  • One locomotive, one driving van trailer and nine coaches per set.
  • 140 mph capability
  • Electric-powered.
  • Ability to run London to Edinburgh in under four hours.

Which gives thirty-one electric trains.

Adding the two figures together gives a total of forty-four nine-car trains.

Future Fleet

VTEC’s  future fleet will include.

Adding these together counting the five-car trains as half gives fifty-four nine-car trains.

Or ten more nine-car trains!

In addition six to eight InterCity225 trains could be retained in service to run limited stop trains between London and Edinburgh.

This increase in capacity can only me good for passengers, with more services and destinations.

Questions About Class 800/801 Trains

What is the capacity of a nine-car Class 800/801 train?

I can’t find this on the Internet and I suspect it hasn’t been decided.

Wikipedia gives the capacity of an InterCity 225 train as 406 Standard and 129 First Class seats.

It should also be noted that the car length in a Class 800/801 is twenty-six metres, as opposed to the twenty-three metres of the InterCity 225.

I would hope good design can make excellent use of this space.

Will two Class 800/801 trains be able to work as a pair?

I suspect the answer to this is yes, as the closely-related Class 395 trains regularly do this.

The most common use would be to run two five-car trains as a ten-car set.

This would be a 260 metre long train, which is perhaps fifteen metres longer than an InterCity 225 train.

Some lengthening of platforms may be necessary, but it probably isn’t a major problem.

Will coupling and uncoupling of a pair of Class 800/801 trains be automatic?

In The Impressive Coupling And Uncoupling Of Class 395 Trains, I linked to videos of the closely-related Class 395 trains, doing just this in under a minute.

I would be very surprised if two Class 800/801 trains couldn’t do the same.

Will a Class 800 train and a Class 801 train be able to work as a pair?

There may be circumstances, where this is needed on electrified lines, so I would be very surprised if this is not possible.

At what station will a Class 800/801 train be able to call?

The nine-car trains are 234 metres long and a pair of five car trains will be 260 metres long, so platform length will mean they can’t call at a lot of smaller stations.

But a five-car train will be only 130 metres long, which will be shorter than a pair of four-car multiple-units working together, which are regularly seen on the UK’s rail network.

So the five-car trains will probably be able to serve a surprising number of stations.

Will Class 800/801 trains have a faster turn-round time?

If you look at the times of trains between London and Leeds, this things happen.

  • A few minutes after a train leaves the platform at Leeds and Kings Cross, the next incoming service arrives.
  • It then waits in the station for nearly half-an-hour before going back.

Effectively, an hour must be added to each Out and Back journey between London and Leeds.

This time will enable.

  • Passengers to unload and load.
  • Train to be prepared.
  • Crew to be changed if required.

Any delay of a few minutes can hopefully be recovered.

Train preparation time will probably be better with the Class 800/801 trains, as hopefully automation and better design will speed the process.

But cutting this thirty minutes  substantially would probably require passengers to be marched around like the Brigade of Guards, which is of course not possible.

Hopefully, the new trains will be designed, so that ingress and egress for all passengers will be easier and faster but at some stations like Leeds, the station layout is more of a bottleneck than the train.

A few minutes reduction in turn-round time might be possible, but nothing that would mean a train doesn’t occupy a platform for half-an-hour.

How long will A Class 801 train take between London and Edinburgh?

Currently the fastest journey time using an InterCity 225 is around four hours and twenty minutes, but they have done it in under four hours in test runs.

For marketing reasons, I suspect that VTEC would like to dip under four hours with the fastest trains.

As the Class 800/801 trains have a similar 140 mph performance to the InterCity 225, I suspect that four hours will also be possible.

But the big difference will be that the Class 800/801 trains will probably have faster stop times at any intermediate stations.

So I suspect that the average journey time between London and Edinburgh will drop.

How Will VTEC Use Class 800/801 Trains?

Returning to my original question, I’ll now attempt to answer it in the next few sections.

London-Edinburgh Services

I think we can assume the following.

  • There will be at least two trains per hour (tph)
  • Trains will usually be nine-car trains.
  • Class 800 trains will not normally use diesel power on the route.
  • Some trains could be  two five-car trains running as a pair.
  • A proportion of trains will do the trip in under four hours.
  • Intermediate stops as now will be optimised to the passenger traffic.
  • Intermediate stops will be faster.

I also think, that the InterCity 225 sets will be improved, so they can match the times of the Class 800/801 trains.

I think that once improved signalling on the East Coast Main Line is working and allowing running faster than 125 mph, we could be seeing trains being able to go from London to Edinburgh and back in under nine hours, assuming a thirty minute turn-round at both ends of the route.

This would mean that a dedicated London to Edinburgh fleet of just eighteen trains would be required to run a two tph service. Three tph would need another nine trains.

Speed up the trains so, that a round trip can be done in eight hours and sixteen trains are needed for the two tph service, with eight more trains needed to up the service to three tph.

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for Virgin Trains East Coast, this is said.

If VTEC’s application to operate extra limited stops services to Edinburgh is successful, it is proposing to operate these by retaining six to eight InterCity 225 sets.

Interesting! So will some or all hours see a third train between London and Edinburgh.

Are the thirty-year-old InterCity 225 trains, showing the same survival instincts of their ten-year-older predecessors; the InterCity 125s?

London-Aberdeen And London-Inverness Services

Currently times on these routes from London are as follows.

  • London-Aberdeen – seven hours and four minutes – three trains per day
  • London-Inverness- eight hours and four minutes – one train per day

So what times could a Class 800 achieve on these routes?

Times North of Edinburgh with an InterCity 125 are as follows.

  • Edinburgh to Aberdeen takes two hours and thirty-six minutes – Fastest ScotRail takes two hours sixteen minutes.
  • Edinburgh to Inverness takes three hours and thirty-one minutes – Fastest ScotRail takes three hours nineteen minutes.

I suspect that a Class 800 train running on diesel power could match the InterCity 125 times and approach the ScotRail times.

But as they would be running on electric power to and from London in four hours, times could be as follows.

  • London-Aberdeen – six hours and sixteen minutes
  • London-Inverness – seven hours and nineteen minutes

So over half-an-hour could be saved on both routes.

Currently trains leave London at these times.

  • 10:00 – Aberdeen
  • 12:00 – Inverness
  • 14:00 – Aberdeen
  • 16:00 – Aberdeen

Note that there is probably no 18:00 train, as that would arrive in Aberdeen at 0110.

That is probably too late, but a well-driven Class 800 train, might get to Aberdeen around 00:30, which could be acceptable.

There is also the possibility of running a pair of five-car Class 800 trains to |Edinburgh, where they split with one train going to Aberdeen and the other to Inverness.

If the 16:00 train were to split, the Inverness portion would finish its journey before midnight.

A schedule like this from London could be possible.

  • 10:00 – Aberdeen and Inverness
  • 12:00 – Inverness
  • 14:00 – Aberdeen and Inverness
  • 16:00 – Aberdeen and Inverness
  • 18:00 – Aberdeen

Both Northern cities would get four trains per day from London, because of two factors.

  • The ability to run on electric power between London and Edinburgh, which knocks time off that section of the route.
  • The ability to split and join trains at Edinburgh, which saves paths on the East Coast Main Line.

It should be noted that any electrification North from Edinburgh will help.

Stirling to Edinburgh and Glasgow could be electrified by 2019 or 2020.

  • Trains would run to the South of Stirling on electric power.
  • Any splitting going North and joining going South would take place at Stirling.
  • Trains would still stop at Edinburgh to load and unload passengers.
  • Crew change currently takes place at Edinburgh, but that could happen at Stirling.

With a well-executed stop at Stirling, electric power between Stirling and Edinburgh and a few other improvements could we see the following?

  • London-Aberdeen – six hours
  • London-Inverness – seven hours

It would certainly please VTEC’s Marketing Department.

Services To St. Andrews

The Open Championship was last held at St. Andrews in 2015, so by the next time it is held at the Home of Golf, it is likely that a station will have been built for the town.

This new station must be able to accept Class 800/801 trains, which during a major event might need to run to the area.

This reasoning must apply to lots of places either on or within fifty miles of the East Coast Main Line.

London-Leeds Services

Leeds is generally served by 2 tph from London in around two hours ten minutes.

These are usually nine-car InterCity 225 trains, with a couple of InterCity 125 trains, that go to places like Harrogate, which are not electrified.

As the speed limits on the East Coast Main Line are increased as trains are fitted with in-can signalling, I suspect that VTEC’s Marketing Department will be pushing for times between London and Leeds to be under two hours.

I can’t believe that VTEC will not extend services from Leeds by making use of five-car trains running to Leeds as a pair, where they would divide and join.

I am assuming that Class 800/801 trains can join as well as the closely-related Class 395 trains, which do so it in under a minute.

Places that could be served include.

  • Bradford
  • Harrogate
  • Horsforth
  • Huddersfield
  • Ilkley
  • Keighley
  • Shipley
  • Skipton

Note.

  1. Some stations like Harrogate and Horsforth are not electrified, so would need Class 800 electro-diesel trains.
  2. Five-car trains could serve a lot of stations on the Leeds-Bradford Metro network, thus opening up the possibility of services to places like Headingley for the cricket and rugby and Saltaire for the culture.
  3. Could a five-car Class 800 electro-diesel train run over the Settle and Carlisle Line to Carlisle and Scotland?
  4. Extending some services from Leeds may mean that platform space is released at the station.

I think that the possibilities to extend services from Leeds using the five-car Class 800/801 trains are large.

London-Edinburgh Via Leeds

 

On the West Coast Main Line, some Scottish services from London, go via Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

So if there was a fully electrified route from Leeds to York, then some Scottish trains could go via Leeds.

At present, I don’t think this is possible with an electric train, as part of the route from Leeds to York is not electrified.

The electrification should be well underway by now, but there is no sign of it.

Other Extended Services

What can be done at Leeds can surely be done at other places.

If the two trains can couple and uncouple within a minute, that means that a pair of trains can arrive in a station and go through the following sequence.

  • 00:00 -A joined pair of Class 800/801 trains arrive in the station and load and unload passengers.
  • 00:03 – Close the train doors
  • 00:04 – Start the automatic decoupling process.
  • 00:05 – The first train leaves the platform.
  • 00:08 – After three minutes the second train leaves the platform.

I believe that the stop could be under ten minutes and the trains would be a safe three minutes apart, as they left the station.

So where could trains be split?

  • Newark or Peterborough for Lincoln and Nottingham
  • Doncaster for Hull and Sheffield
  • York for Scarborough and Harrogate
  • York for Middlesbrough and Sunderland
  • Newcastle for Ashington and Sunderland

Note.

  1. Trains could go in a loop to serve several stations.
  2. Sunderland could be on such a loop.
  3. As trains would only be five cars, they could stop at most stations in need of a service.
  4. Stations like Peterborough, Doncaster, York and Newcastle with more than one through platform in each direction would probably be preferred stations for split and join.
  5. No electrification is needed away from the East Coast Main Line.

Obviously, passenger needs and traffic patterns will decide, where the trains split and join.

Conclusions

The big conclusion will be that more places will receive long distance services to London and the places in between.

But these trains will really put the squeeze on smaller operators like Hull Trains and Grand Central Trains, as VTEC will be serving their station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments