The Anonymous Widower

The Fastest Ambulance In The World

This article on CityLab is entitled To Fight a Fast-Moving Pandemic, Get a Faster Hospital.

This is the introductory paragraph.

To move Covid-19 patients from the hardest-hit areas, authorities in France turned one of the nation’s famous TGV trains into a very fast ambulance.

It appears that French COVID-19 outbreaks are as patchy, as they are in the UK, where some towns and cities like Hull, Blackpool and Middlesbrough have only a few COVID-19 patients and major hospitals.

Evening up the numbers is probably a good idea.

Could we see a spare InterCity 125 train fitted out as an ambulance train to move patients around the country?

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

The Cuckoo In The Nest

Look at these pictures of the passenger doors on Hitachi Class 802 trains, InterCity 125 trains and Mark 3 coaches.

All are single end doors at the two ends of the car.

But look at this pair of doors on one of Greater Anglia’s new Class 745 trains.

The doors are in the middle of the car.

  • Each car is only twenty metres long, as opposed to the twenty-six metres of a Class 802 train.
  • The pictures don’t show if the trains are fully walk-through.
  • They are also step-free between train and platform, which can’t be said for many trains.

I can’t wait to have a ride, which will hopefully be in a few weeks.

This is the comparison between a twelve-car Class 745 train and a nine-car Class 802 trains.

  • The Class 745 train is 237 metres long, and the Class 802 train is 225 metres long.
  • The Class 745 train has 757 seats and the Class 802 train has 647 seats.
  • The Class 745 train has 3.2 seats per metre and the Class 803 train has 2.9 seats per metre.
  • The pair of double doors on a Class 745 train will have to unload 64 passengers, when a full train arrives in Liverpool Street
  • The Class 745 train is step-free between train and platform, so buggies, baggage and wheel-chairs can be wheeled out.
  • The pair of single doors at each end of the car on a Class 802 train will have to handle 75 passengers, when a full train arrives at the destination.
  • The Class 902 train is not step-free between train and platform, so buggies, baggage and wheel-chairs will have to be lifted out!
  • The Class 745 trains running between Liverpool Street and Norwich via Ipswich will have a buffet.

Will the Stadler trains load and unload quicker than the various Hitachi trains?

 

December 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Would It Have Been Better To Scrap HSTs, Abandon Class 769 Trains And Use Stadler Bi-Mode Flirts Instead?

I have ridden for several hours in Greater Anglia'[s new Class 755 trains and they seem to make good trains for scenic rural lines.

From December 16th, we’ll be seeing them work between Stansted and Norwich, which will show their mettle as true bi-modes working a partially-electrified route.

By mid-next year they will be working the following partially-electrified routes.

  • Liverpool Street and Lowestoft
  • Colchester and Peterborough
  • Norwich and Stansted
  • Ipswich and Cambridge
  • Sudbury and Colchester Town

I think that about forty percent of these routes are electrified and they also include a lot of 100 mph lines.

ScotRail

These Greater Anglia routes are not unlike some of the ScotRail Inter7City routes, which are to be run by shorterned four- and five-car HSTs.

Both trains have been late because of training and other issues, but delivery of the HSTs seems to have got stuck round various remanufacturing problems at Wabtec.

Would ScotRail have done better to follow their sister company Greater Anglia and buy some Class 755 trains to their specification?

Consider the advantages of the Inter7City over the Class 755 train.

  • Nostalgia
  • Well-known engineering
  • Comfortable

They could have been obtained at an affordable price.

But they do come with disadvantages.

  • Forty years old
  • Two big diesel engines
  • They are rather dark and dingy inside.

The Class 755 trains also have the following advantages.

  • They would help to remove diesel power from Edinburgh, Glasgow Queen Street and Stirling stations.
  • They have large picture windows ideal for looking at lakes and mountains.
  • Some seats are raised for a better view.
  • They are genuine 100 mph trains, which could be uprated to 125 mph, so would be ideal for incursions on the fast routes to England.
  • They’re probably ready to fit ERTMS.
  • They come in various lengths.
  • They are able to be modified for battery-electric operation.
  • I suspect hydrogen operation will be possible in the future.

But the biggest advantage is that they could extend Scotland’s electric network by using the bi-mode capability.

Think.

  • Fife Circle
  • Borders Railway
  • West Kilbride
  • Perth
  • West Highland Line

I think Scotland could really get to love these trains.

Great Western Railway

I could see a case for running shortened HSTs in the far South West, where GWR call them Castles, mainly on nostalgia and tourism grounds, but Class 755 trains would surely be better running the following partially-electrified services.

  • Henley and Paddington
  • Oxford and Gatwick via Reading
  • Oxford and Paddington
  • Cardiff and Taunton
  • Cardiff and Portsmouth Harbour

Often, they would be replacing Class 156 or Class 769 trains.

  • Some would need to be fitted with third-rail equipment.
  • The Gatwick services could be given an airport interior.
  • I suspect a 125 mph capability is available.
  • The Class 769 trains seem to be late in arriving.

I have no doubt in my mind, that the new Stadler trains are much better than the refurbished British Rail trains.

Transport For Wales

Transport for Wales have ordered a selection of bi-mode and tri-mode Flirts.

They must have good reasons for buying a selection of trains, rather than buying more Flirts.

Probably cost!

All these routes could be run using bi-mode Flirts

  • Cardiff and Holyhead
  • Birmingham International and Holyhead
  • Manchester Airport and Llandudno
  • Crewe and Chester
  • Chester and Liverpool Lime Street
  • Milford Haven and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Birmingham International and Aberystwyth via Shrewsbury
  • Birmingham International and Pwllheli via Shrewsbury
  • Heart of Wales Line
  • Conwy Valley Line

Some of these routes are partially electrified and use lines with a 125 mph operating speed.

Answering The Question In The Title

I very much feel that bi-mode Flirts would be better trains than shortened HSTs and Class 769 trains.

  • They are new trains.
  • They can use electrification, where it is present.
  • The appear to be capable of uprating to 125 mph.
  • They have good viewing for scenic routes because of large windows and some raised seats.
  • They are comfortable with a good ride.
  • They are able to be modified for battery-electric operation.
  • I suspect hydrogen operation will be possible in the future.

I  suspect their one downside is cost.

Conclusion

Bi-mode and tri-mode Flirts and other similar trains will proliferate and within ten years we’ll have seen the last of pure diesel trains in the UK.

I suspect that most of the shortened HSTs will have gone by 2030.

 

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring Devon And Cornwall In Castles

Castle is the name given by Great Western Railway to their four- and five-car InterCity 125 trains, with which they run services in the West Country.

These pictures show the trains, as I meandered up and down the Cornish Main Line.

These are my observations.

The Doors

These trains now have electrically-controlled sliding doors and it seems to be a conversion, that has been carried out to a high standard.

Certainly, all the doors appeared to be working, as they should.

The Seats And Tables

The seats were comfortable, but not as comfortable as some seats I’ve used in Mark 3 coaches.

Could there be a few more tables?

The Ride

My pocket dynamometer was showing a speed of about 65 mph and the ride was as you’d expect from a well-maintained Mark 3 coach.

Access Between Platform And Train

This is not good as the pictures show.

This is the step on a Castle.

And this is the step on a new Class 755 train

Think buggies, heavy cases and wheelchairs.

The Class 755 train, really is the Gold Standard of step-free access between platform and train.

Conclusion

These iconic trains will do a good job for Great Western Railway.

You could certainly find a good hotel in Devon or Cornwall and have a few enjoyable days riding between Penzance and Exeter, to explore the area

I do hope that they eventually put a catering trolley on the train.

November 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On LNER’s New Harrogate Service

I wrote about LNER’s improved service to Harrogate station in New Harrogate-London Rail Times Revealed.

If you look at each service, they have a very rel;axed stop at Leeds.

Northbound services are scheduled to take the following times.

  • 0733 – 8 minutes
  • 0933 – 7 minutes
  • 1133 – 7 minutes
  • 1333 – 7 minutes
  • 1533 – 11 minutes
  • 1733 – 13 minutes.

Sorthbound services are scheduled to take the following times.

  • 0736 – 11 minutes
  • 0936 – 10 minutes
  • 1136 – 8 minutes
  • 1336 – 9 minutes
  • 1536 – 8 minutes
  • 1736 – 9 minutes.

It seems a long time to pass through Leeds station.

But this is because the train reverses direction at Leeds station, so the driver has to change ends.

Will Azumas make any difference?

Azumas were designed around forty years after the current InterCity 125 trains that work the service. A five-car Azuma is also half the length of a two+eight InterCity 125.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to see in the new timetable, the 7-9 minutes reverse are timed for Azumas and the longer times are to allow InterCity 125 trains to run the service.

The Azuma services to Leeds seem to be run by two five-car trains, running as a pair.

Could this be, so that the train can split and join at Leeds?

  • A pair of five-car Azumas would arrive in Leeds from London.
  • A second driver gets in the rear cab of the rear train.
  • The two trains automatically uncouple.
  • The rear train drives off to the West to Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Skipton or wherever.
  • The front train can drive off to the East to perhaps Hull, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, Scotland or Sunderland.
  • If required the driver could change ends and continue to the East.

The process would be reversed when going South.

Possible Destinations

These are possible destinations, distances and times.

  • Bradford – 13 miles – 25 minutes
  • Harrogate – 18 miles – 30 minutes
  • Huddersfield – 17 miles – 35 minutes
  • Hull – 20 miles – 60 minutes
  • Middlesbrough – – 76 miles – 84 minutes
  • Scarborough – 67 miles – 75 minutes
  • Skipton – 26 miles – 43 minutes
  • York – 25 miles – 30 minutes

It looks to me that Leeds will become a very important station for LNER.

Their timetabling team will certainly be having a large amount of mathematical fun!

I can certainly see.

  • Bradford,, Chesterfield and Skipton having similar service levels to those starting to and from Harrogste in December.
  • Battery-electric Azumas handling the last few miles on battery power.
  • Journey times of under two hours between Leeds and Kings Cross.

I also feel that LNER and TransPennine Express will create an integrated network between Leeds and Scotland along the East Coast Main Line.

Conclusion

This arrangement gives a large range of destinations from London and the South.

Passengers and train operators would like it.

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Selection Of Train Noses

I have put together a selection of pictures of train noses.

They are in order of introduction into service.

Class 43 Locomotive

The nose of a Class 43 locomotive was designed by Sir Kenneth Grange.

Various articles on the Internet, say that he thought British Rail’s original design was ugly and that he used the wind tunnel at Imperial College to produce one of the world’s most recognised train noses.

  • He tipped the lab technician a fiver for help in using the tunnel
  • Pilkington came had developed large armoured glass windows, which allowed the locomotives window for two crew.
  • He suggested that British Rail removed the buffers. Did that improve the aerodynamics, with the chisel nose shown in the pictures?

The fiver must be one of the best spent, in the history of train design.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I did a simple calculation using these assumptions.

  • To cruise at 125 mph needs both engines running flat out producing 3,400 kW.
  • Two locomotives and eight Mark 3 carriages are a ten-car InterCity 125 train.

This means that the train needs 2.83 kWh per vehicle mile.

Class 91 Locomotive

These pictures show the nose of a Class 91 locomotive.

Note, the Class 43 locomotive for comparison and that the Driving Van Trailers have an identical body shell.

It does seem to me, that looking closely at both locomotives and the driving van trailers, that the Class 43s  look to have a smoother and more aerodynamic shape.

Class 800/801/802 Train

These pictures show the nose of a Class 800 train.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I did a simple calculation to find out the energy consumption of a Class 801 train.

I have found this on this page on the RailUKForums web site.

A 130m Electric IEP Unit on a journey from Kings Cross to Newcastle under the conditions defined in Annex B shall consume no more than 4600kWh.

This is a Class 801 train.

  • It has five cars.
  • Kings Cross to Newcastle is 268.6 miles.
  • Most of this journey will be at 125 mph.
  • The trains have regenerative braking.
  • I don’t know how many stops are included

This gives a usage figure of 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile.

It is a surprising answer, as it could be a higher energy consumption, than that of the InterCity 125.

I should say that I don’t fully trust my calculations, but I’m fairly sure that the energy use of both an Intercity 125 and a Class 801 train are in the region of 3 kWh per vehicle mile.

Class 717 Train

Aerodynamically, the Class 700, 707 and 717 trains have the same front.

But they do seem to be rather upright!

Class 710 Train

This group of pictures show a Class 710 train.

Could these Aventra trains have been designed around improved aerodynamics?

  • They certainly have a more-raked windscreen than the Class 717 train.
  • The cab may be narrower than the major part of the train.
  • The headlights and windscreen seem to be fared into the cab, just as Colin Chapman and other car designers would have done.
  • There seems to be sculpting of the side of the nose, to promote better laminar flow around the cab. Does this cut turbulence and the energy needed to power the train?
  • Bombardier make aircraft and must have some good aerodynamicists and access to wind tunnels big enough for a large scale model of an Aventra cab.

If you get up close to the cab, as I did at Gospel Oak station, it seems to me that Bombardier have taken great care to create a cab, that is a compromise between efficient aerodynamics and good visibility for the driver.

Class 345 Train

These pictures shows the cab of a Class 345 train.

The two Aventras seem to be very similar.

Class 195 And Class 331 Trains

CAF’s Class 195 and Class 331 trains appear to have identical noses.

They seem to be more upright than the Aventras.

Class 755 Train

Class 755 trains are Stadler’s 100 mph bi-mode trains.

It is surprising how they seem to follow similar designs to Bombardier’s Aventras.

  • The recessed windscreen.
  • The large air intake at the front.

I can’t wait to get a picture of a Class 755 train alongside one of Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains, which are Aventras.

 

 

 

 

 

October 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

LNER Confirms Dates For Azuma Introduction Onto Highland Services

This title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

The dates when Class 800 trains will enter service to the Highlands are as follows.

  • Aberdeen on November 25th 2019.
  • Inverness on December 9th 2019

InterCity 125s are being replaced.

Soon there won’t be many of these iconic trains running on the East Coast Main Line.

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

University Of Birmingham Leases HST For Alternative Fuel Tests

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

A High Speed Train is being leased by the University of Birmingham to help analyse and test what alternative fuel could be used to power long-distance passenger or freight trains.

It will be interesting to see what results from the research.

A few of my thoughts.

Suitability Of A HST For Research

It must be suitable for research purposes, otherwise the University wouldn’t have obtained the train.

If you look at the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education web site, they list the Research Areas.

  • Railway Control and Operations Simulation
  • Data Integration and Cybersecurity
  • Condition Monitoring and Sensing
  • Centre of Excellence in Digital Systems
  • Power Systems and Energy Use
  • Aerodynamics
  • Climate Change and Weather Impact

There must be a lot of scope for the use of a real train, especially one which has a lot of free space in the engine, where test equipment can be mounted.

Porterbrook’s Interest

I can think of several reasons, why Porterbrook might need to partner with the Research Centre, for sound commercial reasons.

Most will probably seem small in the eyes of the general public, but might be based on Porterbrook’s feedback from customers about their extensive fleet.

Understanding The HST’s Success

The HST or InterCity 125 has been an undoubted success with passengers, drivers, staff and train companies for forty years and understanding the reasons could be invaluable in improving rail transport in the future.

Education

I suspect too that the train will be used to educate students, especially those, who want to work in train or railway design.

When I left Liverpool University with my Control Engineering degree in 1968, I was one of the few, who’d worked on bg heavy machinery in a factory environment.

These days, with Heath and Safety rules much tighter, I doubt, today’s students can gewt the same experience.

Conclusion

I do hope that Porterbrook and the Research Centre, when they look back in a few years, feel that this venture has been a success.

September 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Kinetic Energy Of A Five-Car Class 801 Train

The standard argument against the bi-mode Class 800 train, was that it would be lugging heavy diesel engines around the country wasting energy.

The Class 801 train is the all-electric version of the Hitachi train.

  • Wikipedia says each coach weighs 41 tonnes.
  • An empty five car train will therefore weigh 205 tonnes.
  • A five-car train seats 315 passengers.
  • If each passenger with baggage, bikes and buggies weighs 90 Kg, this mean they weigh 28.35 tonnes.
  • So the train has a weight of 233.35 tonnes.
  • The train is travelling at 125 mph.

Putting these figurea into Omni’s Kinetic Engine Calculator gives a kinetic energy of 101.2 kWh.

Five-car Class 801 trains have one underfloor MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engine, which weigh seven tonnes, whereas the bi-mode Class 800 trains have three.

The engines have a rating pf 700 kW in the Class 802 trains and are derated to 560 kW in the other  two classes.

So adding engines and repeating the calculation gives.

  • One engine – 104.2 kWh
  • Two engines – 107.2 kWh
  • Three engines – 110.3 kWh

To accelerate a train with three engines to 125 mph will need an extra six kWh compared to a train with only one engine.

There will be a small acceleration penalty. But as three engines have a total power of 1,680 kW (Class 800) or 2,100 kW (Class 802), the penalty would be measured in seconds.

When the train is at the cruising speed of 125 mph, the only difference will be a two tonne difference in axle loading on some axles.

All Class 80x trains will have to overcome the same air resistance and provide similar hotel power., so I’m fairly certain, that all trains will consume very similar amounts of power in the cruise.

Power Comparison With An InterCity 125

Each Class 43 power car of an InterCity 125 has a single diesel engine rated at 1,700 kW.

Divide this by three and you get 566.7 kW

The de-rated MTU diesel engines in the Class 800 train are rated at 560 kW.

So did Hitachi look at the power of half an InterCity 125, feel that they could put diesel engines in three cars of a five-car train and then size the engines to get InterCity 125 power, with two trains working as a pair.

All they would then need to do is to design the cars of the new train to have aerodynamics, dynamics, performance and power usage as good or better than a forty-year-old train.

As they knew that the InterCity 125 had the capabilities needed for the routes, it would mean that their new train would perform, as required.

And if they needed more power for some routes, there was a 700 kW engine available.  Great Western Railway did need some more powerful trains and ordered thirty-six extra Class 802 trains with the larger engine.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Japanese have been showing tremendous respect to the InterCity 125.

Conclusion

It really is extraordinary, that the installed power of two five-car Class 800 trains, is little different to that of an InterCity 125.

The vindication is that both trains work well.

 

 

July 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

Can I get any other figures for running at 125 mph, that agree or disagree with these figures?

Class 801 Train

I have found this on this page on the RailUKForums web site.

A 130m Electric IEP Unit on a journey from Kings Cross to Newcastle under the conditions defined in Annex B shall consume no more than 4600kWh.

This is a Class 801 train.

  • It has five cars.
  • Kings Cross to Newcastle is 268.6 miles.
  • Most of this journey will be at 125 mph.
  • The trains have regenerative braking.
  • I don’t know how many stops are included

This gives a usage figure of 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile.

InterCity 125

Note that the Class 43 power cars of the InterCity 125 (HST) put 1,300 kW to the rail and have a 1,700 kW engine. Two of these powerful beasts giving out a total of 3,400 kW,, can sustain a ten-car train (two power cars and eight passenger cars) at 125 mph.

In the roughly thirty seconds, it would take to cover a mile, an HST could use 3400/120 kWh or 28.3 kWh.

Counting the locomotives as a car and dividing by ten gives 2.83 kWh per vehicle mile.

This is actually a maximum figure, as the driver could throttle-back if required.

This figure is not out of line with the 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile for a Class 801 train, that I stated earlier.

The force was with Terry Miller and his team.

Class 222 Train

The Class 222 trains have one 580 kW engine in each car.

In the thirty seconds, it would take to cover a mile, a Class 222 train would use 580/120 or 4.83 kWh per vehicle mile.

Again this must be a maximum figure.

Class 170 Train

The Class 170 train is a 100 mph train with a 315 kW engine in each car.

In the thirty-six seconds, it would take to cover a mile at 100 mph, a Class 170 train would use 315/100 or 3.15 kWh per vehicle.mile.

Again this must be a maximum figure.

Conclusions

I know this was a rather rough and ready calculation, but I can draw two conclusions.

  • Trains running at 125 mph seem to need between three and five kWh per vehicle mile.
  • The forty year old InterCity 125 has an efficient energy use, even if the engines are working flat out to maintain full speed.

The only explanation for the latter is that Terry Miller and his team, got the aerodynamics, dynamics and structures of the InterCity 125 almost perfect. And this was all before computer-aided-design became commonplace.

In future for the energy use of a train running at 125 mph, I shall use a figure of three kWh per vehicle mile.

It is also probably a good starting point for a 100 mph train.

After all, if a forty-year-old diesel-electric train built from steel can achieve that figure, surely a modern electric train built from aluminium can do better!

 

July 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 16 Comments