The Anonymous Widower

Werrington Dive-Under – 8th November 2018

In Issue 865 of Rail Magazine, there is an article, which is entitled NR Primed To Start Work On £200m ECML Dive-Under.

This is said about construction of the dive-under.

Devegetation has already commenced in the area, while work compounds and access roads are due to be constructed before the end of the year (when the main construction sequence is expected to begin).

The dive-under is expected to enter service in 2021.

The article also says that the Cock Lane footbridge will be replaced with a longer truss bridge to span the widened alignment.

These pictures show the current Cock Lane footbridge.

Whilst I took the pictures there was a lot of noise from chain saws and other machinery, as the vegetation was cleared.

The Track Layout

Note how the tracks are divided into a set of two on the Western side and three on the Eastern.

The Western pair are the so-called Stamford lines, which go off to the West through Stamford station.

A diagram in Rail Magazine shows how they will be moved apart and twenty-five metres to the West. This will enable the two new tracks to be laid between them, which will then dive under the East Coast Main Line and connect to the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line towards Spalding, Sleaford and Doncaster.

This Google Map shows the Cock Lane Bridge as it crosses the tracks.

The Cock Lane Bridge is at the bottom of the map.

Doing The Work

It looks a simple plan, that NR believes could be executed with a nine-day closure of the East Coast Main Line. This would be needed to tunnel under the three tracks of the main line.

But I suspect that Network Rail could have a series of cunning plans to keep a limited service going.

  • There will probably be a number of bi-mode Class 800 trains available.
  • Some of the sixteen InterCity 125 trains could be retained.

The diesels and bi-modes could be able to use the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line and other routes without electrification to sneak through.

They might also use an interim layout of lines at Werrington to keep the service going.

Extra Electrification

It appears to me that not all tracks are electrified.

The Northbound Stamford Line certainly has electrification, but it appears that the Southbound doesn’t.

Given that in the next decade, it is likely that battery/electric or electro-diesel trains or locomotives will use the route throughStamford station to Leicester and Nuneaton, would it be worthwhile to fully electrify the Stamford Lines.

This image captured from a Network Rail video, clearly shows the new Cock Lane footbridge and that the following lines are electrified.

  • The Northbound Stamford Line on the left.
  • The three tracks of the East Coast Main Line on the right.

The actual dive-under and the Southbound Stamford Line appear not to have electrification.

Retention Of Diesel Trains

But surely, if there are a few extra diesel trains around for a couple of years or at least until the end of 2019, would it help to sort out some of the other problems on the East Coast Main Line.

 

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

ScotRail Finds A Use For The Unloved Class 153 Trains

Class 153 trains are the unloved members of British Rail’s Sprinter family. I occasionally use one on excursions to Felixstowe, but they are cramped, noisy and slow.

As the pictures show, some are not in bad condition and to be fair, some train operators have tried hard to provide a better level of service.

Greater Anglia still has five Class 153 trains in service and the fact that they will be replaced by three-car Class 755 trains by the end of 2020. You don’t increase capacity by that amount, unless the current one-car trains are overcrowded or you know that there is a lot of untapped demand on the route.

If on the Felixstowe Branch, a doubling of capacity would have been sufficient, then surely a refurbished two-car Class 150, 156 or 170 train, would have been a more than adequate replacement.

Currently, there are seventy of these trains in service and many of them, like those in East Anglia are being replaced with new or refurbished trains.

Greater Anglia’s five units are going to Wales, where they will join another eight on rural lines in West Wales. Nothing has ben said about how they will be used, but they could be used singly, in pairs or in multiple with Class 15x or Class 17x trains.

So they could be useful to the Welsh in providing extra capacity.

In the November 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, Alex Hynes of ScotRail talks about how a number of Class 153 trains will be used to add bicycle space to trains on some of Scotland’s scenic routes. Alex Hynes is quoted as saying.

The interior format is yet to be fixed, but is likely to include a large amount of space given over to bicycles. Bike tourism is a growing area and the aim would be to allay fears about whether or not you’d get your bike on a train by providing plenty of space. Part of the vehicle might be given over to a lounge car layout to make the most of the magnificent views on these routes.

Transport Scotland sees the scenic routes as a key part of the rural economy for the part they play in stimulating tourism.

Our inspiration is to get “158s” on the West Highland route.

So it looks like ScotRail could be running Class 158/Class 153 pairs to provide increased capacity on the West Highland Line.

Wikipedia says this about the use of the Class 153 trains on the West Highland Line.

These single car units are to be completely adapted to accommodate bikes, skis and other outdoor equipment.

They will be attached to the Class 156s either as centre cars, or as extra coaches at either end.

If ScotRail’s scheme is a success, I suspect more of the Class 153 trains could end up doing the same task, in Wales, the South West and North of England.

It should also be noted, with respect to bicycle tourism, that ScotRail’s shortened HSTs will hopefully retain their bicycle swallowing abilities in the back ends of the power cars, thus enabling bicycle tourists to do the longer Scottish journeys with ease.

My one worry about bicycle tourism in Scotland and Wales is not concerned with trains internally, but with getting there from other parts of the UK with a heavily-loaded bicycle.

With the replacement of the HSTs and InterCity 225 from the London to Edinburgh and London to Wales and the West routes, will the new Class 800 trains have enough bicycle capacity? The bicycle storage on these trains look to be a good design for a racing bicycle, but some of the heavily-loaded bicycle tourists I’ve seen in Suffolk, would find them inadequate.

This article in The Guardian is entitled New High-Speed Trains Go Slow On Provision For Cyclists.

The article is critical.

I wonder what provision has been made for bicycles on the new rolling stock for the Caledonian Sleeper?

 

 

October 26, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

London To Thurso Direct

According to Edition 863 of Rail Magazine, LNER are thinking of doing a demonstration run on this route to show off their new trains.

But is it such a daft idea?

In Rail Sleeper Plan Between Caithness And Edinburgh, I talked about a plan to operate a sleeper service on the route between Edinburgh and Thurso, which currently takes nine hours.

This journey time is definitely territory for those rail enthusiasts, who ride across America, Australia, Europe and Russia, but it is not for me.

But doing the route in day-long segments with a stop in a good hotel, in say Edinburgh and Inverness could open up an iconic tourism route to the Orkney Islands for an increasing number of intrepid travellers, many of whom, like me are past retirement age.

Travel on the Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness and you meet lots of foreign tourists from all over the globe.

On all days except Saturday, there are two services between Inverness and London; a day train to and from Kings Cross and a sleeper to and from Euston.

To go North on Day 1, you take eight hours on a direct train to Inverness, with after an overnight rest, you take four hours to Thurso.

Route Proving For The New Class 800 Trains

So if nothing else it is route proving for Class 800 trains on the service between Kings Cross and Inverness, which because it serves so many places on the Highland Main Line, is an important route to the area.

From the current schedule, it looks like the train will take twelve hours, so there will surely be a lot of driver training possibilities.

It surely, will be a good marketing exercise.

Highland Main Line Improvements

This archived document was produced by Transport Scotland.

This is the first paragraph.

Upgrading the Highland Main Line is one of the Scottish Government’s key priorities. The long-term goal of the project seeks to achieve a fastest journey time of 2 hours 45 minutes between Inverness and the Central Belt with an average journey time of 3 hours and an hourly service by 2025.

A time of three hours between Edinburgh and Inverness could be possible with electrification to Perth.

Far North Line Improvements

The Far North Line between Inverness and Thurso doesn’t appear to be built for speed, as it takes a train about four hours to do the journey.

  • It is 167 miles from Inverness to Thurso.
  • It is mainly single-track with passing places.
  • There are twelve services on the line most days, with fewer on Sundays.

It should also be said, that Caledonian Sleeper are thinking of running a service between Thurso and Edinburgh and/or Glasgow, as I reported in

In the Wikipedia entry for the Far North Line, there is a section called Future Expansion, where this is said.

For many years there have been proposals to bypass the Lairg loop[note  with a line across the Dornoch Firth, linking Tain (via Dornoch, more directly with Golspie. British Rail attempted to get funding for this when the road bridge was built, but the government declined.

Now this project would involve building a new bridge over the Firth, or making dual-purpose the bridge which now carries just the A9. Discussions have been held concerning the shortening of the Far North Line involving a bridge over the Dornoch Firth and the possible use of the trackbed of the former light railway. Nothing has yet come of these ideas.

If an hour could be knocked off the journey time, I suspect it would be very beneficial, to both the local population and visitors.

What Time Could Be Achieved?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the time between London and Inverness reduced by the Class 800 trains in a couple of years, as the new trains will be able to use electricity South of Stirling and possibly Perth.

With the improvements to the Highland Main Line and better signalling on the East Coast Main Line, I could see a time between London and Inverness of under seven hours.

This would enable a civilised departure from London at say eight in the morning and still be in your castle, hotel or holiday cottage in time for dinner and a wee dram or several.

If improvements were made to the Far North Line, it might be possible to go from London to Thurso in ten hours.

Could The Class 800 Train Continue To Thurso?

A Class 800 train could continue to Thurso and LNER’s test run will probably prove whether it can or not!

It could arrive in Thurso, in time for the evening ferry to the Orkneys.

I think though, that the London service would not be extended to Thurso.

  • The train would have to be fully-replenished at Thurso for the trip South.
  • A nine-car train needed between London and Inverness would be too much capacity for the Inverness to Thurso section.
  • The current Inverness to London service starts at eight in the morning and passengers wouldn’t be happy to leave Thurso at three to go straight through to London.

But I can see the reduced journey time between London and Inverness attracting more passengers to the route.

Enter The Shortened High Speed Train

This article on Rail Magazine is entitled ScotRail HSTs Enter Traffic On October 15.

This is the second paragraph.

Branded Inter7City as they will serve Scotland’s seven cities, the refurbished HST will run initially between Aberdeen and Edinburgh. More routes will follow as more sets arrive from refurbishment.

It also says that the refurbished HSTs will offer.

  • More seats,
  • Increased luggage space.
  • At seat power sockets.
  • Hospitality.

I would also expect wi-fi, comfortable seats, tables and big windows.

With their four or five Mark 3 coaches and two Class 43 power cars each with a diesel engine of around 2,200 bhp, these trains must have superb acceleration.

I estimate that a fully loaded four-car train carrying 250 passengers, will weigh about three hundred tonnes. This gives a power to weight ratio of 11.2 kW/tonne

By comparison, the the original 2+8 sets of the InterCity 125s have a power to weight ratio of 7.3 kW/tonne.

I will also add some other power to weight ratios.

  • New Routemaster bus weighing twenty tonnes with 137 kW – 6.85 kW/tonne.
  • Hummer H2 weighing 2.9 tonnes with 293 kW – 101 kW/tonne.
  • Mini One weighing 1.2 tonnes with 75 kW – 62.5 kW/tonne

Incidentally, my Lotus Elan weighed about 1050 Kg when I was driving and had power of 121 kW. This gives a power to weight ration of 115 kW/tonne.

In Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST, I described a memorable ride.

One thing I  noticed, was that the driver controlled the two engines with considerable precision, to make sure, the train was on time on what must be a challenging route, as it climbed, descended and twisted through the Highlands.

With the same amount of power in a train only half the length and weight, I suspect these trains could save time effortlessly, as a good driver in a sports car can on a twisting road.

Also, don’t underestimate the contribution, the replacement of the 1970s-style slam-doors with modern powered units, will contribute at every stop.

I looked at the actual times yesterday of the 12:00 between Kings Cross and Inverness and compared to my journey in the cab, there are less stops. So services are being speeded up and I suspect ScotRail’s trains stop more often.

Transport Scotland talked about a fastest time of two hour forty-five minutes between the Central Belt and Inverness.

When the route between Inverness and Perth has been fully modernised with passing loops, I have a feeling that times will be faster.

They will not only be an iconic forty-year-old train, but a tourist attraction in their own right, like Scottish mountains, tartan food and whisky.

Get Up In London And Go To Bed In The Orkneys

If LNER have an objective in testing London to Thurso with a Class 800 train,, it must be finding a civilised way, to be able to get between London and the Orkneys, by train and ship in both directions within a single day.

Consider.

  • The first train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh leaves just after 06:00.
  • There has been an aim to run services between the two capitals in under four hours for as long as I can remember.
  • Modern in-cab signalling is being rolled out on the East Coast Main Line to enable 140 mph running.
  • The last ferry to the Orkneys leaves from Scrabster near Thurso at 19:00

With the improvements to the Highland Main Line and electrification to Perth, three hours between Edinburgh and Inverness should be possible in a Class 800 train or a well-driven shortened HST.

This would give LNER options to get to Inverness at a reasonable hour of the day.

Run An Early Train From London To Inverness

This could be timed to leave London at 06:00 and it could be in Inverness at 13:00.

This would give a fast train on the Far North Line six hours, including transfer to move passengers between Inverness and Scrabster.

It looks that ScotRail have the train for the job, in the shape of the shortened HST.

They could also serve an early Scottish dinner, to prepare tourists, for what could be a breezy crossing.

Run A Pair Of Class 800 trains To Both Aberdeen And Inverness

LNER’s Class 800 trains come in two sizes; five-cars and nine-cars.

Two five-cars can run as a ten-car train, that can split and join as required, in under two minutes in a suitable station.

So could we see a pair of five-car Class 800 trains leave Kings Cross and run together to Edinburgh, where one train went to Dundee, Montrose, Stonehaven and Aberdeen and the other went to Stirling, Perth and Inverness.

Consider.

  • The first train from Kings Cross to Aberdeen leaves at 07:00 in the morning.
  • The journey takes six hours.
  • There are three trains per day between London and Aberdeen.
  • The last direct train that is not a sleeper service leaves just before 15:00.
  • As with the route to Inverness, the route to Aberdeen is not electrified.

I think this option has advantages

There would be an early morning service to Edinburgh and many of the large towns and cities in Eastern Scotland.

The service only uses one path on the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh.

If traffic patterns and passenger numbers are favourable, other Aberdeen services could split and join.

Running a five-car train to Inverness earlier in the day, before the main train of the day, may be a way to provide an economic service to Thurso.

  • A five-car train would probably be more affordable to run.
  • The train would be stabled at Thurso overnight.
  • It would leave for Inverness, Edinburgh and london about 10:00.
  • At Edinburgh, it could join up with an Aberdeen train at around 16:00.

Time-tabled properly, it could result in Inverness and Aberdeen getting an extra train to and from London every day.

Change At Edinburgh

Plans by various rail companies for services include.

  • LNER will continue to run two trains per hour (tph) between Edinburgh and England.
  • LNER would like to run services between London and Edinburgh in under four hours.
  • TransPennine Express will run more services to Edinburgh.
  • ScotRail will run hourly services between the seven major cities in Scotland.
  • Edinburgh to Inverness and Inverness to Thurso should both to become three hour journeys.

Edinburgh will become a very well-connected city.

If Edinburgh to Thurso could be achieved  in six hours, then any service leaving Edinburgh after about 14:00 would catch the last ferry at Scrabster for the Orkneys.

When trains between London and Edinburgh, are regularly achieving the four-hour journey, there will be several trains, that will give a change in Edinburgh suitable for passengers individual preferences.

A single change at Edinburgh could be the preferable route for many.

Conclusion

Because LNER, ScotRail and other train companies now have a large fleet of very capable trains on order, there are several possibilities to create a world-class train service to connect Scotland fully both internally on the mainland and to important destinations in the islands and England.

The renaissance of the HST as a train to provide high-quality services has been astounding.

  • ScotRail are creating twenty-six shortened HSTs for use within Scotland.
  • GWR are creating eleven similar trains for use between Penzance and Cardiff.

I would be very surprised, if more HSTs are not refurbished to modern standards.

Germany may have the Volkwagen Beetle, but we have the High Speed Train.

Could we see them on the following routes?

  • Oxford and Cambridge
  • Waterloo and Exeter
  • North Wales Coast Line
  • Some Cross-Country services

There’s probably enough power-cars and coaches to make another fifty shortened HSTs, so if ScotRail’s trains are a success, I suspect we’ll see some imitation.

I suspect too, that just as engineers have found solutions to the problems in the coaches like the doors and the toilets, they will find a solution, that replaces the diesel engine in each power with some form of more eco-friendly hybrid power pack.

Consider.

  • MTU, which is a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce, are developing hybrid power packs for diesel multiple units.
  • There is a lot of space in the engine compartment of the power car.
  • On most routes, 90-100 mph running will be sufficient.

Hitachi converted a power-car to work in this way ten years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 11, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Introduction Of Class 800 Trains On The Great Western Railway

I have travelled about six times on Class 800 trains on the Great Western Railway.

I have not had any train-related problems and on every journey, the trains have arrived close to schedule.

That even included an out-and-back trip to Swansea from Paddington on a Saturday.

There doesn’t seem to be too many complaints or news stories on the Internet. Although, I do feel some passengers are missing the InterCity 125s and others talk of hard seats.

I would also not complain about the view from a window seat and I have found the trains to be a good camera platform.

Rail Magazine’s Verdict

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled Does Great Western Railway’s Class 800 IET pass the test?.

This is their main conclusion.

The Great Western Railway Class 800 is a good train. It is quiet and comfortable, with better legroom for those travelling in Standard Class. Its acceleration on electric is borderline spectacular, while its diesel performance appears better than predicted.

They also say, that First Class is not worth the extra, whereas they felt it was was in the InterCity 125s.

Conclusion

There’s nothing much wrong operationally or passenger-wise with the Class 800 trains, that will not be put right by minor adjustments in the next couple of years.

 

August 24, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

More Thoughts On Aberdeen Crossrail

In A Crossrail For Aberdeen, I put down my initial thoughts for Aberdeen Crossrail.

Now that I’ve been to Aberdeen and travelled on most of the Aberdeen Crossrail route between Inverurie and Montrose stations, I can add more thoughts.

I shall express my thoughts in generally a Southerly direction.

Inverurie Station

Currently, this is a two-platform station on a passing loop.

This picture gives a flavour of the station, which is Grade B Listed.

You can just see, the rather elderly iron footbridge across the tracks.

I suspect that platform usage will be as follows.

  • Platform 1 – All through trains to and from the West and Inverness.
  • Platform 2 – All trains starting or terminating at Inverurie.

If platform 2 is to be in regular use, then there will be pressure to improve the footbridge.

Double Track From Inverurie To Aberdeen

Most of this section seems to be single track, with passing loops at Inverurie and Dyce stations.

The only difficult bit is probably where the track goes under the new Aberdeen Western By-Pass.

This Google Map shows where they cross to the West of Dyce station.

The difficulty is not the engineering, but the insolvency of Carrilion, who were the contractor for the road.

Dyce Station

These pictures show Dyce station, where I changed from train to bus.

I’m pretty sure that once the track is complete, Dyce station will only need a small amount of work.

Aberdeen Station

Aberdeen station is not only a transport hub with a bus station, but it is also connected directly to the Union Square development.

It is certainly ready for Aberdeen Crossrail.

InterCity 125s

In my travels up and down between, Aberdeen, Montrose, Stonehaven and Dundee, it surprised me, how many journeys were made on an InterCity 125.

I’ve read somewhere, that one of the reasons, ScotRail are bringing in shortened InterCity 125s, is that passengers tend to use these faster trains on journeys like those between Stonehaven and Aberdeen.

Although the shorterned InterCity 125s will be limited to 100 mph, their bags of grunt, will mean good acceleration and surely faster times between Aberdeen and Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.

Trains For Aberdeen Crossrail

I timed the InterCity 125s at 100 mph on large sections of the route between Aberdeen and Montrose, as this picture of the SpeedView App on my phone shows.

I think this means, that any trains working passenger services on the Edinburgh-Aberdeen and Glasgow-Aberdeen Lines must be capable of continuous operation at 100 mph.

As Wikipedia gives the operating speeds of both lines as being this figure, it does appear that Aberdeen Crossrail will be a fast local service, very much in line with the performance of services from London to Basingstoke, Brighton, Chelmsford and Oxford.

Initially, I suspect that ScotRail will be using Class 170 trains to provide the stopping service on Aberedeen Crossrail. Class 158 trains could also provide the service, but their 90 mph operating speed may not be enough.

ScotRail certainly have enough Class 170 trains, but I suspect that running two-car trains between Montrose and Inverurie stations, which stop everywhere will not have enough capacity. So a pair of trains will need to be used for each service.

In A Crossrail for Aberdeen, I said this under Frequency Issues.

The route of Inverrurie to Montrose has been deliberately chosen.

  • Inverurie to Aberdeen takes around 23 minutes.
  • Montrose to Aberdeen takes around 35 minutes.

So with slightly faster trains and line speed, than currently used, it should be possible for a train to go from Inverurie to Montrose and back in two hours to include a few minutes to turn the train round.

A two hour round trip means that a train leaving Inverurie at say 06:00 in the morning, will if all goes well, be back in Inverurie to form the 08:00 train.

How convenient is that?

This means that one tph will need two trains, two trph will need four trains and four tph will need eight trains.

These figures would be doubled if four-car trains were to be run on the route.

I feel that four-car trains will be needed on all services on Aberdeen Crossrail, if some of the passenger loading I saw, were to increase. As it surely will do, if they have a more convenient and much better quality service.

Passengers will also see the lots of seats on the shortened InterCity 125s, speeding past and will want some of that.

Two two-car trains working as a four-car train can provide the capacity, but in my view they are not what passengers want, as they can’t circulate in the train to find a preferred seat.

I also think, that at least two tph should run between Montrose and Inverurie stopping at all stations.

This would require four four-car trains.

ScotRail doesn’t at present have any suitable four-car trains.

Will It Be Hydrogen Trains For Aberdeen Crossrail?

Trains will need to be independently powered, as I think it unlikely that the route will be electrified.

I’m sure that CAF, Stadler or another manufacturer, will be happy to supply a small fleet of four-car diesel trains.

But would Abellio want to introduce more diesel trains, when they have enough Class 170 trains to provide a pretty good four-car service

Class 769 trains, which are bi-mode could be used, but they only do around 90 mph on diesel.

I am led to the conclusion, that the only suitable train available to a reasonable time-scale will be Alstom’s proposed conversion of a Class 321 train, running on hydrogen.

  • The trains are capable of 100 mph using electric power.
  • I would be very surprised if these trains couldn’t do 100 mph on hydrogen power.
  • The new interiors fitted under the Renatus project, are a quality upgrade, as I said in A Class 321 Renatus.
  • The trains could be available from 2020.

There is plenty of wind in the Aberdeen area to generate the hydrogen.

Conclusion

Aberdeen Crossrail will become a two trains per hour service using four-car trains.

I wouldn’t be surprised if those trains are Alstom’s Class 321 trains, powered by hydrogen.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

ScotRail’s Four-Car High Speed Trains

I took these pictures at Aberdeen station.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t really get any closer.

Looking at the pictures, it appears that the new sliding doors to the coaches have not been fitted.

It also looked as if windows had been added to the sides of one power car. Why?

 

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Glasgow Queen Street Station – August 10th 2018

I took these pictures as I passed through Glasgow Queen Street station.

Note the four-car InterCity 125 in the station, testing and training staff for new services to Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Perth and Stirling.

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Would Electrically-Driven Trains Benefit From Batteries To Handle Regenerative Braking?

There are two basic types of electrically-driven trains.

Electric trains, which include electrical multiple units and trains hauled by electric locomotives like the InterCity 225.

Diesel-electric trains, which include multiple units like Voyagers and the InterCity 125.

Regenerative Braking

In an electrically-driven train, the traction motors can be turned into generators to slow the train, by turning the train’s kinetic energy into electricity.

Many electric trains can do this and the generated electricity is returned through the electrification system, so that it can power other trains nearby.

This all sounds fine and dandy, but there is the disadvantage that all the electrification system must be able to handle the reverse currents, which increases the capital cost of the electrification.

Batteries For Regenerative Braking

Fitting batteries to a train, to handle the electricity that is generated by regenerative braking is an alternative.

A Station Stop

Suppose a four-car train that weighs 200 tonnes is travelling at 125 mph and needs to stop at a station.

My example train would according to Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator would have a kinetic energy of 86.7 kWh.

To put that amount of energy into context, the traction battery in a New Routemaster bus is 55 kWh.

So if a battery of this size was put into each car, there is more than enough capacity to store the energy of the train, when it stops at a station.

When the train leaves the station, a proportion of this energy can be used to accelerate the train back to 125 mph.

As regenerative braking is perhaps only eighty percent efficient at present, additional energy will need to be provided.

But even with today’s primitive batteries and less-than-efficient traction motors, there are still substantial energy savings to be achieved.

Hitachi Class 800/801/802 Trains

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I looked at the question in the title.

I found this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

It was written in 2013 and I suspect every train designer has read it, as it gives a deep insight into the design of the trains.

The document provides this schematic of the traction system.

Note

  1. BC which is described as battery charger.
  2. The battery size is not disclosed.
  3. The APS supplies the hotel power for the train in two different voltages.
  4. Can the APS with the battery supply power to the Drive Converter?

After a lot of reasoning, I came to this conclusion.

I will be very surprised if Class 800/801/802 trains don’t have batteries.

Looking at the schematic of the electrical system, the energy captured will at least be used for hotel power on the train.

Hitachi have not said, if the batteries on the Class 800/801/802 trains can be used for traction purposes.

Storing the regenerative energy in a battery can be used for one of two purposes.

Hotel Power

Hitachi’s Class 800 trains certainly use the electricity in the battery to power the hotel functions of the train like air-conditioning, doors, lights, power-sockets, toilets and wi-fi.

In a diesel-electric train, this could give benefits.

  • The engines generally won’t need to run in a station to provide hotel power.
  • Less fuel will need to be expended to provide hotel power.
  • If say the train has to halt perhaps because of a signalling or track fault, hotel power can be provided without running the engines.
  • If batteries are supplying the hotel power, the train may have more power for traction.

Overall, the diesel-electric train would be more efficient and would emit less carbon dioxide and pollutants.

Traction Power

There is no engineering reason, why the energy in the battery can’t be used to actually move the train.

But to implement it, could be complicated and expensive on an existing train.

Some Worked Examples

I’ll look at a few examples.

InterCity 125

The iconic InterCity 125s are unique, in that they are impossible to scrap. Just as they seem to beapproaching the end of their life, a devious engineer or marketing man comes up with a plan to keep them running.

 

As I write this, Great Western Railway and Abellio ScotRail are testing short-formation InterCity 125s and training drivers for services in the South West of England and Scotland. Both train operating companies appreciate the marketing advantages of Terry Miller‘s world-famous train, that was built as a stop-gap, after the failure of the Advanced Passenger Train.

So what size of battery would need to be fitted to each locomotive to handle the braking energy of a short-formation InterCity 125 with four passenger cars?

Consider.

  • Each Class 43 locomotive weighs 70.25 tonnes.
  • Each Mark 3 coach weighs 33.60 tonnes.
  • An eight car InterCity 125 can carry about 500 passengers.
  • I will assume that a four-car InterCity 125 can carry 250 passengers.
  • If each passenger weighs 90 Kg with all their bikes, buggies and baggage, that adds up to 22.50 tonnes.

This gives a total train weight of 297.40 tonnes.

Calculating the kinetic energy using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator for various speeds gives.

  • 50 mph – 20.6 kWh
  • 75 mph – 46.4 kWh
  • 90 mph – 66.9 kWh
  • 100 mph – 82.5 kWh

A fifty kWh battery in each locomotive would be able to handle the braking energy of the train.

The only problem, is that Class 43 locomotives have DC traction motors, no regenerative braking and air brakes.

But if any operator or rolling stock owner were bonkers enough to fit a new traction system, a diesel/electric/battery Class 43 locomotive is possible for a four-car InterCity 125.

This page on the Hitachi web site is entitled V-TRAIN 2.

Hitachi used a Class 43 power car to prove that diesel/electric/battery trains were feasible, before getting the order for the Class 800 trains.

So fitting batteries to Class 43 locomotives has been done before!

The simplest thing to do would be to use the batteries to provide hotel power for the train.

Class 375 Train

In this exercise, I shall consider a Class 375/6 train, with the following characteristics.

  • Four cars
  • Three cars are motored.
  • Regenerative braking
  • A weight of 173.6 tonnes.
  • A capacity of 236 seated passengers
  • An operating speed of 100 mph.

I will now go through my standard train kinetic energy calculation.

  • I will assume three hundred passengers including standees.
  • If each passenger weighs 90 Kg with all their bikes, buggies and baggage, that adds up to 27 tonnes.

This gives a total train weight of 200.60 tonnes.

Calculating the kinetic energy using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator for various speeds gives.

  • 50 mph – 13.9 kWh
  • 80 mph – 35.6 kWh
  • 100 mph – 55.7 kWh

It would appear that adding batteries to a Class 375 train would not involve large capacity batteries, especially if one was added to each of the three cars with motors.

As a Control Engineer by training, blending battery and electrification power could run the train more efficiently.

Probably naively on my part, I suspect that using batteries on Class 375 trains to handle regenerative braking, would be one of the easier installations.

Other Electrostars

All Electrostars are fairly similar, so if Class 375 trains could be updated, then I wouldn’t be surprised if all could.

InterCity 225

It looks like InterCity 225 trains will be used between London and Blackpool by Alliance Rail Holdings.

Other commentators have suggested that shortened sets run on the Midland Main Line between a diesel locomotive and a Driving Van Trailer (DVT) or two Class 43 locomotives.

I shall do the energy calculation for a five-car InterCity 225.

  • A Class 91 locomotive weighs 81.5 tonnes.
  • A Mark 4 coach weighs between 40 and 43.5 tonnes.
  • A nine-car InterCity 225 seats 535 passengers.
  • I will assume that a five-car InterCity 225 will seat around 300 passengers.
  • I will assume each passenger weighs 90 Kg. with all their baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • A DVT weighs 42.7 tonnes.

For a current nine-car train this gives the following.

  • The empty train weight is almost exactly 500 tonnes.
  • The passengers weigh 48 tonnes.
  • This gives a total weight of 548 tonnes.

At 125 mph, the nine-car InterCity 225 has a kinetic energy of 238 kWh.

For a proposed five-car train this gives the following.

  • The empty train weight is almost exactly 333 tonnes.
  • The passengers weigh 27 tonnes.
  • This gives a total weight of 360 tonnes.

At 125 mph, the five-car InterCity 225 has a kinetic energy of 156 kWh.

Reduce the speed to 110 mph and the kinetic energy drops to 121 kWh.

I suspect that using current technologies, there is not enough space in a Class 91 locomotive for the batteries.

Perhaps a short section of the coach next to the engine could be converted to hold a large enough battery.

Five Mark 4 Coaches And Two Class 43 Locomotives

This has been suggested in Modern Railways by Ian Walmsley and I wrote about it in Midland Mark 4.

Consider.

  • A Class 43 locomotive weighs 70.25 tonnes.
  • A Mark 4 coach weighs between 40 and 43.5 tonnes.
  • A nine-car InterCity 225 seats 535 passengers.
  • I will assume that a five-car InterCity 225 will seat around 300 passengers.

This gives the following.

  • The empty train weight is 349 tonnes
  • The passengers weigh 27 tonnes
  • The train weight is 376 tonnes.

At 125 mph this train would have a kinetic energy of 163 kWh.

I’m sure that it would be possible to put a 100 kWh battery in the space behind the engine of a Class 43 locomotive, so I suspect that all the engineering solutions exist to create a train with the following characteristics.

  • Two Class 43 locomotives with new traction motors to enable regenerative braking and a 100 kWh battery.
  • Five Mark 4 coaches meeting all the regulations.
  • The batteries would provide hotel power for the train.
  • 125 mph operating speed.

It may be a fantasy, as the economics might not stack up.

Five Mark 4 Coaches, A Driving Van Trailer And A Stadler UKLight Locomotive

I wrote about this combination in Five Mark 4 Coaches, A Driving Van Trailer And A Stadler UKLight Locomotive.

I came to this conclusion.

Using the Mark 4 coaches or new Mark 5A coaches with a new 125 mph diesel/electric/battery hybrid Stadler UKLight locomotive could create an efficient tri-mode train for the UK rail network.

The concept would have lots of worldwide applications in countries that like the UK, are  only partially electrified.

The concept or something like it, has possibilities.

Voyagers

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

A lot of the article takes the form of reporting an interview with Des McKeon, who is Bombardier’s Commercial |Director and Global Head of Regional and Intercity.

This is a paragraph.

He also confirmed Bombardier is examining the option of fitting batteries to Voyager DEMUs for use in stations.

The Voyager family of trains has three members.

The trains are diesel-electric and I explore the possibility of using batteries in these trains in Have Bombardier Got A Cunning Plan For Voyagers?.

I felt is was a good plan.

Conclusion

In answer to the question, that I posed in the title of this post, I feel that handling regenerative braking in batteries on the train could be of benefit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 5, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Direct Trains Between Liverpool Lime Street And Norwich

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

The Current Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Improvements On The Route

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

Increased Capacity At Liverpool Lime Street

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

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

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

Ordsall Chord And Related Improvements In Manchester

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

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

Hope Valley Line Improvements

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

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

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

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

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

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

Improvements To The Midland Main Line

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

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

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

East Coast Main Line Running

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

Greater Anglia’s Plans

Greater Anglia have ordered a fleet of Class 755 trains.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both services are thought to be hourly.

Consider the Colchester to Peterborough service.

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

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

I think it could if the trains were timed appropriately.

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

Hopefully, the change would not require a platform change.

Consider the Norwich to Stansted Airport service.

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

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

These services call at Ely

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

Totalling them up gives the following frequencies to various stations.

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

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

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

Speed Limits On The Route

Speed limits on the route are rather variable.

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

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

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

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

Rolling Stock Choices For Liverpool Lime Street And Norwich

Various choices include.

Class 158 Trains

Everything could carry on as now using Class 158 trains

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

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

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

Class 170 Trains

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

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

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

A Second Service Between Liverpool And Nottingham

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

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

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

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

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

Class 800 Trains

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

I think not!

So more trains would be needed to run the service.

Bombardier’s Proposed 125 mph Bi-Mode

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

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

Even so a full service would require fifteen trains.

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

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

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

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

Short Formation InterCity 125 Trains

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

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

Conclusion

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

 

 

 

 

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

The Railway At Dawlish Is In Trouble Again

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

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

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

This is the first paragraph.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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