The Anonymous Widower

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 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Idea From India

This article from Global Rail News is entitled India’s Minister for Railways launches glass-roof scenic rail cars.

Why not?

Scotrail’s plans for shortened HST train sets to go between the major cities will hopefully carried out with style and a great deal of respect for the scenery.

For a start, will the seats be arranged like these in Chiltern’s Mark 3 coaches.

Note that the picture was taken in Standard Class.

There can’t be more stylish, comfortable and practical rides in a train of this Class anywhere in the world.

What is not shown is the cheery staff with the snacks and drinks trolley.

All of this too comes from a subsidiary of Deitsche Bahn and it is far superior to anything I’ve ridden in Germany.

I wonder if windows can be put in the roof of a Mark 3?

Probably! Engineers  certainly have ways of making Mark 3 coaches do anything they want

But there’s always the option of connecting cameras to the train’s wi-fi.

 

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

The Train Of The Future

This article in Rail |Engineer is entitled ScotRail’s ‘new’ HSTs, gives full details of the modifications ScotRail wukk make to their HSTs, before they enter service in Summer 2018. This is said.

The iconic HST is now over forty years old. It ensured the success of British Rail’s inter-city service and is still the world’s fastest diesel train, although the ScotRail HSTs will have a maximum speed of 100 mph. With around ten million miles on the clock these trains are approaching retirement for long-distance services as they are about to be replaced by IEPs. However, as ScotRail is about to demonstrate with its reincarnation of these trains, there is still much life left in them.

I wrote Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST, after a trip to Inverness and it was the trip of a lifetime.

On the trip, you realise that Scotland has a big problem and an asset with railways and it’s called mountains. So a train is needed with bags of grunt and big windows.

An HST has both, coupled with an iconic style, unmatched since the days of steam.

Scotrail’s plan to run the trains between the seven Scottish cities would appear to be a good one.

I wonder, if we’ll ever see the trains going to Kyle of Lochalsh, Thurso and Tweedbank.

The article is worth reading, as it details everything that will be done to create a train worthy of the iconic routes.

If I’m still of this life next Summer, I shall be in Scotland.

I’ve never spent a night in Aberdeen, Dundee or Perth for a start!

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Can Mark 3 Coaches Come To The Rescue?

The Mark 3 coach is one of the mainstays of UK railways.

  • Chiltern Railways use thirty one coaches on Birmingham and Oxford services from Marylebone.
  • CrossCountry have thirty-eight coaches as part of InterCity 125s.
  • East Midlands Trains have over a hundred as part of InterCity 125s
  • Greater Anglia use one hundred and thirty coaches between Liverpool Street and Norwich.
  • Great Western Railway have over four-hundred and fifty coaches as past of InterCity 125s.
  • Virgin Trains East Coast have over a hundred coaches as part of InterCity 125s.

It should be said, that some are in better condition than others and very few meet the latest access regulations.

But even the table hides a few strength and problems.

Chiltern Trains

Chiltern Trains run their Mark 3 sets with a driving van trailer (DVT) and a Class 68 locomotive on some Birmingham and Oxford services.

  • Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street is a two trains per hour (tph) service and the journey takes ten minutes under two hours.
  • Marylebone to Oxford is a two tph service and the journey takes a few minutes over an hour.

The Birmingham service needs eight trains for a 2 tph service.

The Oxford service would need six trains for a 2 tph service, but if the journey could be under the hour, there could be a reduction in the number of trains needed.

If Chiltern decided to run a 2 tph service between Oxford and Birmingham, as I suggested in Where Next For Chiltern?, this would need another four trains.

This leads me to say.

  • As Chiltern only have six sets of Mark 3 coaches, they will have to use Class 168 trains for some of the services.
  • Probably by clever timetabling, they would  need at least a dozen trains to run a quality two tph service on both routes.
  • They would probably like all their services to Birmingham and Oxford to share a common train type, for operational and marketing reasons.

So where do Chiltern find another probably ten trains?

  • The Class 68 locomotives would have to be hired.
  • There are up to a dozen DVTs in storage at Long Marston according to Wikipedia, so creating some for the trains, might be a reasonably predictable refurbishment.

But where do they find the sixty coaches needed?

This article from Rail Magazine in June 2012, is entitled Making the Mk 3s even better, describes Chiltern’s methods.

This is an extract.

Economics dictate that it is cheaper to rebuild the Mk 3s than to order brand new DMUs. Indeed, because of track access and fuel costs, if a LHCS formation is more than five coaches (as they are in Chiltern’s case), then the costs favour locomotive-hauled trains. 

The freedom to be able to do this is also a factor for Chiltern. The franchise is owned by Deutsche Bahn, which also owns the coaches. This means that vehicles can be tailored to exactly what the operator wants, rather than thinking about the re-sale value. No expensive engineering will be needed, again because this is what Chiltern wants.

Note the trains are in the same ownership as Chiltern; Deutsche Bahn.

As a passenger, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

The product looks, feels and tastes good!

Greater Anglia

Greater Anglia could be a good source of quality Mark 3 coaches.

  • Greater Anglia have 130 of them, which are leased from Porterbrook.
  • The trainsare due to be replaced by new Flirt electric multiple units during 2019/2020.
  • The trains have recently been refurbished and have been fitted with wi-fi and retention toilets.

The problem is that they are still slam-door stock and don’t meet the latest access regulations.

But this is not a great problem, as Chiltern have form in updating Mark 3 coaches to meet the latest standards.

Greater Anglia are also replacing fifteen sets of carriages with just 10 electric multiple units, which will provide Norwich in ninety minutes at 3 tph, as opposed to the current service of Norwich in two hours at just 2 tph.

Incidentally, just eight trains are needed to provide the current service, so Greater Anglia could have a few spares.

So it looks to me, that immediately each Flirt is in service, there will be a Mark 3 set sitting in Crown Point ready to go on its next task.

But as just ten Flirts will be replacing fifteen Mark 3 sets, it looks to me, Chiltern might be able to raid Greater Anglia’s stock of spare trains earlier than has so far been thought.

Suppose three trains could be released, this would release twenty-four refurbished coaches and three DVTs.

If another DVT could be sources from Long Marston, then there would be another four rakes of coaches for refurbishment to Chiltern’s standards.

One of the great advantages of modifying the Greater Anglia coaches, is that they have all been refurbished to a high standard, so I suspect that all the mechanicals and structure of the coaches are in virtually in as-new condition.

This page on the Greater Anglia web site, gives full details of the refurbishment.

This is said.

The significant refresh will see all of the train operator’s MkIII fleet enhanced, with improvements throughout for both First Class and Standard carriages including, plug points; new LED lighting; new carpets; new tables; new seat covers; upgraded environmentally-friendly controlled emission toilets with new floors and new taps; re-painting of the carriage interior saloon and vestibule panels, walls and ceilings.

It also appears that Greater Anglia set up a special work-shop in Crown Point TMD to do the update.

Could Greater Anglia have stolen a copy of Chiltern’s rule-book? More likely, they used the same consultant.

After a recent trip in one of these coaches with a friend, I wrote The Power Of Three! To say she was impressed, could be an understatement!

Chiltern just need to fit the new doors and their own interiors.

The Various InterCity 125 Coaches.

There are several ideas as to what to do with the various High Speed Trains formed from two Class 43 locomotives and an appropriate number of Mark 3 coaches.

This according to Wikipedia is Abellio’s Scotrail’s plan.

Abellio ScotRail will also introduce 9 four-car (2+4) and 17 five-car (2+5) refurbished High Speed Trains by December 2018 on longer-distance services between Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness. Scotrail will receive the first locomotives and carriages late 2017, with the refurbishment program taking place at Brush Loughborough (power cars) and Wabtec Doncaster (carriages) between late 2017 and May 2019.

There have been rumours that Great Western Railway will do something similar with a few more trains.

As the InterCity 125s will each be shortened by a few coaches this will release more coaches for use by other operators.

Lots Of Mark 3 Rakes Of Coaches

There are probably enough Mark 3 coaches in excellent condition and DVTs, that can be refurbished, to create perhaps another twenty-five rakes of between five-car and eight-car Mark 3 coaches, tailored to an individual customer’s need.

All of the design work has been done and proven by Chiltern or their contractors.

Obviously, you wouldn’t fit the doors and do the final parts of the refurbishment, until you actually had a customer, but it looks to me, that Porterbrook, who own the Greater Anglia Mark 3 coaches, seem to be doing a bit of speculation. Obviously, they have a plan in there to make money, as ROSCOs don’t do charity!

There is also this article from Rail Magazine, which is entitled Refurbished Mk 3s for Tornado.

It describes how, a rake of Greater Anglia’s Mark 3 coaches, will be acquired to be used with the new-build steam locomotive 60163 Tornado. One would even be fitted with a water tank to extend the range of the engine. Surely, a Mark 3 can handle that sort of weight.

Porterbrook have done well in the last few months out of a speculative order for Class 387 trains, that helped tide some train companies through rolling-stock shortages.

So have they seen a market niche to create an affordable train for longer routes based on Mark 3 coaches hauled by a Class 68 locomotive or perhaps a Class 88 electro-diesel locomotive.

Consider.

  • It would meet all the access and environmental regulations.
  • It would probably be quieter than a shortened InterCity 125.
  • According to the Rail Magazine article, track access charges are affordable.
  • As Chiltern and Greater Anglia are showing, it would deliver a superb customer experience.
  • Chiltern like the package and could be a customer or do something similar themselves.
  • It would be ideal for some of CrossCountry’s long routes like Aberdeen to Plymouth.
  • It would be ideal for an open-access operator, developing a new route.
  • Virgin West Coast might like it for Euston to Holyhead.
  • With a faster version of the Class 88 locomotive, it might have a maximum speed in excess of 100 mph.

It would do anything a Class 800 train can do, at probably a more affordable purchase price, lower track access charges and  an earlier delivery date.

Conclusion

Their is something behind Porterbrook’s decision to refurbish Greater Anglia’s Mark 3 coaches, when  they knew there was a good chance they would be replaced by new trains, as the clapped Class 90 locomotives certainly couldn’t do London to Norwich in ninety minutes, as mandated in the new East Anglian franchise.

I suppose that Abellio could have been keen to upgrade the coaches, as the interiors were very much on the tatty side and the upgraded coaches would hold the fort until the Flirts arrived, without too much grief.

On the other hand, if the Great Western Electrification gets later and Abellio ScotRail lose their source of shortened InterCity 125s, locomotive-hauled Mark 3s to a high standard would be a very acceptable and affordable alternative.

I must also ask this question.

Could Greater Anglia’s Mark 3 coaches have been refurbished, so that to fulfil Scotrail’s requirements, all that needs to be done is the following?

  • Fit doors that are compliant with the access regulations.
  • Shuffle the coaches to the length and First and Standard Class capacities required.
  • Give the rake of coaches a Scotrail livery.
  • Couple a Class 68 or Class 88 locomotive on one requisite end.

I suspect the negotiation would be quite convivial, as both Greater Anglia and Scotrail are owned by Abellio.

The only problem would be that Scotrail need 9 four-car and 17 five-car trains and there may not be enough DVTs. However, some sets could be to the original plan of shortened InterCity 125s.

Scotrail certainly have a Plan B, if the Great Western Electrification gets even more pear-shaped.

Appendix – Posted on December 24th, 2016

In the January 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, under a heading of Pennine Pretendolino, there is a picture of a Class 68 locomotive hauling, the jokily named spare rake of Mark 3 coaches to Laira depot for attention, so that it can be used for driver training purposes by TransPennine Express, prior to the arrival pg the new Mark 5A coaches from CAF.

The Pretendolino is described under rolling stock on the Virgin Trains entry in Wikipedia. This is said.

Following the loss of a Class 390 Pendolino in the Grayrigg derailment, a Mark 3 set with a Driving Van Trailer was leased with a Class 90 hired from English Welsh & Scottish as required. In 2008 Virgin looked at leasing two Class 180[49] but decided to retain the Mark 3 set. Nicknamed the Pretendolino, this received re-upholstered seating, power points, wi-fi and a full external re-paint at Wabtec, Doncaster in 2009.[50] Virgin used this set with a Class 90 locomotive hired from Freightliner on a Euston to Crewe (via Birmingham) service on Fridays only until December 2012. From 9 December 2013 it was utilised to operate a London Euston -Birmingham New Street train on Thursdays and Fridays only, until its withdrawal in October 2014. The Mk.III set was also occasionally hired out as a private charter train. It was used in the filming of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and can be seen at King’s Cross station at the end of the film. It is currently in use as a ‘hot spare’ with Abellio Greater Anglia

Like most of its siblings, it is showing a very strong survival instinct and keeping well away from the scrapyard.

Over the last year or so, I’ve ridden to and from Ipswich in the train several times, as it has been filling in whilst, the operator was updating their own Msrk 3 coaches.

 

 

 

December 13, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Great Western Railway’s New Train

Great Western Railway have a new train.

Certainly, as they always do, this InterCity 125 has scrubbed up well!

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line Along The Derwent Valley

As I went to Sheffield yesterday, I took these pictures as the train ran along the Derwent Valley on the Midland Main Line between Derby and Chesterfield.

The river from Matlock in the North to Derby in the South, is the centre of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

And Network Rail want to electrify this line, so that fast electric trains can run between Sheffield and London via Derby!

This map shows the Midland Main Line from Trent Junction, South of Derby and Nottingham to Chesterfield.

Note the following about the route of the Midland Main Line.

It’s certainly all happening around the Midland Main Line between Derby and Nottingham.

This is said in Wikipedia about the future of the Erewash Valley Line.

Network Rail as part of a £250 million investment in the regions railways has proposed improvements to the junctions at each end, resignalling throughout, and a new East Midlands Control Centre.

As well as renewing the signalling, three junctions at Trowell, Ironville and Codnor Park will be redesigned and rebuilt. Since the existing Midland Main Line from Derby through the Derwent Valley has a number of tunnels and cuttings which are listed buildings and it is a World Heritage Area, it seems that the Erewash line is ripe for expansion.

It would seem fairly logical to perhaps make the Erewash Valley Line an electrified one, with a maximum speed, as high as practically possible and just run self powered trains through the Derwent Valley.

There would be two real possibilities for running the services for the London Sheffield services, including those via Nottingham,  up the electrified Erewash Valley Line.

  • Class 801 electric trains
  • Bombardier’s 125 mph Aventra which was reported as possible by Ian Walmsley in the April 2015 Edition of Modern Railways.

Obviously, other manufacturers would offer suitable trains.

For the London to Sheffield route via Derby, the following trains could handle the twenty miles between Derby and Clay Cross, that could be without electrification.

  • Class 800 electro-diesel trains
  • Bombardier’s 125 mph Aventra which can probably be modified with an IPEMU-capability.
  • Voyagers modified as electro-diesel trains, as was proposed in Project Thor, could probably handle the gap.
  • A Class 88 locomotive and a rake of coaches with a driving van trailer.

If all else couldn’t handle it, InterCity 125s certainly could.

Surely though, it would help the train operator to have one fleet, so I think we’ll either see mixes of Class 800/801s or Aventras with and without an IPEMU-capability.

The Class 800/801s could certainly do it, but in his article about the Aventra, Ian Walmsley said this about an order  for Aventras.

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

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

The maze of lines shown in the map, would be an absolute dream for such a train!

I also think it would be pushing it to run the Hitachi trains through Derby and the Voyagers and the Class 88 solutions aren’t that elegant and would be very much stop-gap solutions. Loved as the InterCity 125s are, after a lifetime of very hard service, they are probably ready for retirement.

As the gap is only about twenty miles, I suspect that Network Rail’s and Bombardier’s engineers have got the engineering envelopes on the table in a local hostelry in Belper to solve the problem of getting 125 mph Aventra IPEMUs to jump the gap, so that services between London and Sheffield, can stop at Derby.

Why are they in Belper? Look at this Google Map of the railway through the town!

Midland Main Line Through Belper

Midland Main Line Through Belper

Note the following.

  • There must be half a dozen stone bridges north of Belper station, similar to ones shown in the gallery of this post.
  • The River Derwent seems to be crossed by the railway, periodically for fun.
  • Get that line right, probably without electrification and their uncluttered design will live for centuries.
  • Get it wrong and they’ll be lynched by the local Heritage Taliban!
  • If Aventra IPEMUs can’t be made to jump the gap, there’s always the reliable Derby-built InterCity 125.

Just as Great Western Railway use iconic photos of Intercity 125s running through Dawlish in their advertising, I think that East Midlands Trains will use video of 125 mph Aventra IPEMUs speeding with little noise and disturbance, through the towns, villages and countryside of the Derwent Valley.

If this could be made to happen, at an affordable cost, everybody concerned will see positive commercial effects.

April 17, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Electrifying The Great Western Through Sydney Gardens In Bath

The Great Western Railway runs i through Sydney Gardens in Bath. This picture shows an InterCity 125 running through the gardens.

An InterCity 125 Passes Through Sydney Gardens

An InterCity 125 Passes Through Sydney Gardens

Note.

  • There is plenty of width, as the line was built for broad gauge trains.
  • Height might a bit tight, when you add in the pantograph.
  • I would think that the structure under the track is pretty sound, as it’s had masses of pounding for years from Castles, Kings, Warships and InterCity 125s.
  • I suspect that the bridges over the line have been fully surveyed and like most of Brunel’s structures are well designed.

So I suspect that the track could be arranged, so that it positioned the train in the right place, to allow a Class 800 train to pass through with absolute safety.

 

The tracks could be moved closer or further apart to match the geometry of the bridges.

The tracks could be lowered if required.

If necessary, as is often done in tunnels, a solid concrete slab track could be laid. But this can create more noise.

 

I wouldn’t be surprised to see an innovative rail system used in Sydney Gardens to make sure the trains run accurately, reduce noise and improve the look of the railway.

But then after Dawlish and some of the challenging situations, Network Rail has faced with tracks in the last few years, I suspect they’ll come up with a very acceptable solution.

The problem is the electrification.

Engineers will renew switches and crossings at Bathampton Junction, and will lower the track at Sydney Gardens, as well as at Hampton Mill and Meadow Farm bridges.

They will install specially designed electrification equipment in Sydney Gardens, which is classed as a World Heritage Site. Work on Box Tunnel will continue over the entire six-week period.

So as I thought height is tight.

This was a comment from the article.

When these plans were presented in the Guildhall last year, the Network Rail representative emphasised that the brackets hadn’t been finalised. The poor guy had the patient of a saint as he dealt with audience members insisting that trains be fitted with batteries to enable them to do without overhead lines in Bath as well as suggesting that they could coast through the city un-powered.

I don’t think it was a good meeting for Network Rail.

As an engineer, I agree with the comment about battery trains, but the Class 800 trains are not to my knowledge able to accept batteries at the present time. Although, judging by the way the industry is going, I suspect that within a few years, all electric trains will have provision for batteries, if the operator wants them.

In some ways, I feel that Brunel might be providing the solution.

To erect overhead wires for railway electrification, you need to support the wires every fifty metres or so.

This Google Map shows the gardens.

Sydney Gardens, Bath

Sydney Gardens, Bath

Note there is a solid road bridge over the railway at both ends of the gardens, with Beckford Road in the North and Sydney Road in the South.

I estimate that the distance between the two road bridges is two to three hundred metres.

In the middle is the footbridge from where I took the picture of the InterCity 125 and another wider bridge.

As the trains will not be going flat out at 200 kmh through here, as they’ll probably be stopping at Bath Spa station, I suspect that the four bridges could be used as support for the overhead electrification.

This Network Rail visualisation shows the footbridge with a Class 800 train going underneath.

Sydney Gardens Bridge And A Class 800 Train

Sydney Gardens Bridge And A Class 800 Train

It looks to me, that the wires are attached under Brunel’s bridges and that by clever design tNetwork Rail can get an solution acceptable to all.

One of the problems, is of course making sure, that pedestrians on the bridge are safe, with 25KVAC overhead electrification underneath.

By lowering the track, they are increasing the safety distance and also making it less likely that naughty dogs can get on the track.

I have a feeling that this problem, will be one that will haunt Network Rail.

This picture was taken from the Sydney Road bridge and shows the area of the visualisation.

The Footbridge In Sydney Gardens, Bath

The Footbridge In Sydney Gardens, Bath

As the train appears to be on the left track, the visualisation actually shows the back of a train.

This is a gallery of pictures that I took in Sydney Gardens.

It would be a shame to ruin the gardens, by some less than adequate design.

 

 

 

March 29, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Adonis Promises Milk And Honey In The Future, But The North Needs Unblocking Now!

I don’t have much time for Lord Adonis, as I always think that unelected politicians who change sides are a bit like the Vicar of Bray.

And lets face it, he was part of Tony Blair’s gang of idiots, who felt that licking Dubya’s arse and making war in Afghanistan and Iraq was more important than creating proper transport links across the north.

But they were only following the lead set by Harold Wilson, when he cancelled the Picc-Vic Tunnel. Wikipedia says this about how the need for the tunnel has been and is being fulfilled.

In 1992, the Metrolink system opened and linked both stations via tram, negating the requirement for a direct rail connection to an extent. In 2011, the Ordsall Chord was announced; it is an overground railway scheme designed to directly link Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria in a comparable fashion to Picc-Vic.

Wouldn’t it have been better to dig the tunnel in the first place?

I heard Lord Haskins and Chris Hyomes from Railfuture on Wake Up To Money this morning and they were aggressive in demanding that something happen sooner rather than later.

After my last trip to Huddersfield and writing Welcome To Huddersfield, I can say, that the Class 185 trains are a sick joke inflicted on the North by Tony Blair as Prime Minister and Gordon Brown as Chancellor. The trains are both too short and to few in number.

And then we have Lord Adonis saying on BBC Breakfast, that the line needs to be electrified as soon as possible.

So how long will the misery of the TransPennine routes continue before the line is electrified? 2022 is mentioned!

In my view there are four solutions for acceptable trains across the Pennines.

  1. Introduce the first bi-mode Class 800 trains on the route.
  2. Introduce the first bi-mode Class 800 trains on the East Coast to release InterCity 125s for the route.
  3. Introduce some locomotive-hauled stock.
  4. Create Class 387 trains with an IPEMU capability, so they could use energy storage to bridge the electrification gaps.

One of these must be implemented before the end of this year.

The first two options are impossible, as the Class 800 trains won’t be ready for passenger service until 2017.

I also think that Option 3 would be unacceptable to passengers, but is probably impossible, as there are no modern diesel locomotives available and probably very few coaches in good condition.

So we’re left with the Class 387 IPEMUs.

  • They are modern four car electric trains, with everything passengers expect. Only wi-fi is missing.
  • The IPEMU technology was successfully demonstrated in early 2015 using a Class 379 train.
  • I rode the demonstrator and was impressed for what that is worth!
  • Bombardier have won awards for the technology.
  • There are well upwards of twenty four-car trains available or being built, that could be modified.
  • There are rumours that IPEMUs could be used on the Great Western.
  • They can work in eight or twelve car trains, where platforms allow.
  • They can travel for over fifty miles on battery power, after charging on electrified track. So Leeds to Manchester is no problem!
  • Liverpool to Newcastle and Edinburgh via Leeds could be served by 110 mph electric trains.

Would a Northern Powerhouse built on battery trains be acceptable to politicians?

In my view, it will have to be, as Derby-built Bombardier Class 387 trains with an IPEMU capability are all we’ve got.

I shall be listening to George Osborne tomorrow!

March 15, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments