The Anonymous Widower

Environmentally-Friendly InterCity 125 Trains

InterCity 125 trains are not the most environmentally-friendly of beasts.

  • They do not meet the modern emission regulations.
  • They still emit a lot of carbon dioxide.
  • They is also a deadline of 2040, when UK railways will be net-carbon-free.

There might also be individuals and groups, who feel that these elderly trains with so much history, should be replaced by modern zero-carbon trains.

  • Would the same groups accept electrification with all the wires?
  • Would the train operating companies, accept battery power will long waits for charging?
  • Would hydrogen be viable on the numerous branch lines in Devon and Cornwall, with some difficult access to depots by road. Especially, if the hydrogen had to be brought from say Bristol or Southampton!

But various engineering solutions are emerging.

Biodiesel

This is probably the simplest solution and I suspect most modern engines can run on biodiesel with simple modifications. InterCity 125s have modern engines from German firm and Rolls-Royce subsidiary; MTU, so they probably have a solution in their tool-box.

Computerisation

I have never built a computer control system for anything, but I did work with the first engineers in the world, who computerised a chemical plant.

They always emphasised, if you could nudge the plant into the best area of operation, you’d have a much more efficient plant, that produced more product from the same amount of feedstock.

At about the same time, aircraft engine manufacturers were developing FADEC or Full Authority Digital Engine Control, which effectively let the engine’s control system take over the engine and do what the pilot had requested. The pilot can take back control, but if FADEC fails, the engine is dead.

But judging by the numbers of jet aircraft, that have engine failures, this scenario can’t be very common, as otherwise the tabloids would be screaming as they did recently over the 737 MAX.

Now, I don’t know whether the MTU 16V4000 R41R engines fitted to the InterCity 125, have an intelligent FADEC to improve their performance or whether they are of an older design.

If you worry about FADEC, when you fly, then read or note these points.

  •  Read the FADEC’s Wikipedia entry.
  • Your car is likely to be heavily computerised.
  • If you took a modern train or bus to the airport, that certainly will have been heavily computerised.

You could be more likely to meet someone with COVID-19 on a flight, than suffer an air-crash, depending on where you travel.

Rolls-Royce’s Staggering Development

Staggering is not my word, but that of Paul Stein, who is Rolls-Royce’s Chief Technology Officer.

He used the word in a press release, which I discuss in Our Sustainability Journey.

To electrify aviation, Rolls-Royce has developed a 2.5 MW generator, based on a small gas-turbine engine, which Paul Stein describes like this.

Amongst the many great achievements from E-Fan X has been the generator – about the same size as a beer keg – but producing a staggering 2.5 MW. That’s enough power to supply 2,500 homes and fully represents the pioneering spirit on this project.

This generator is designed for flight and the data sheet for the gas-turbine engine is available on the Internet.

  • It has a weight of under a couple of tonnes compared to the thirteen tonnes of the diesel engine and generator in a Class 68 locomotive.
  • It is also more powerful than the diesel.
  • It looks to be as frugal, if not more so!
  • Rolls-Royce haven’t said if this gas-turbine can run on aviation biofuel, but as many of Rolls-Royce’s large engines can, I would be very surprised if it couldn’t!

Rolls-Royce’s German subsidiary is a large producer of rail and maritime diesel engines, so the company has the expertise to customise the generator for rail applications.

Conclusion

I think it is possible, that the Class 43 power-cars can be re-engined to make them carbon-neutral.

September 25, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Health, Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

GWR Buys Vehicles Outright In HST Fleet Expansion

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Despite concerns over future passenger numbers, the Department for Transport has given permission for Great Western Railway to procure three more shortened HST diesel trainsets, branded as the Castle Class by the franchisee.

These pictures show some of the Castle Class trains.

They must be profitable and/or popular with passengers.

If I have a problem with these trains, it is with the Class 43 diesel power cars.

  • Each train has two power cars.
  • It would appear that there are about 150 of the Class 43 power cars in regular service.
  • Each is powered by a modern MTU 16V4000 R41R diesel engine, that is rated at 1678 kW.
  • The engines are generally less than a dozen years old.
  • They will be emitting a lot of carbon dioxide.

As the trains are now only half as long as they used to be, I would suspect, that the engines won’t be working as hard, as they can.

Hopefully, this will mean less emissions.

The article says this about use of the fleet.

With its fleet now increasing to 14, GWR expects to use 12 each day on services across the west of England. Currently the fleet is deployed on the Cardiff – Bristol – Penzance corridor, but the company is still evaluating how the additional sets will be used.

It also says, that they are acquiring rolling stock from other sources. Some of which will be cannibalised for spares.

Are First Rail Holdings Cutting Carbon Emissions?

First Rail Holdings, who are GWR’s parent, have announced in recent months three innovative and lower-carbon fleets from Hitachi, for their subsidiary companies.

Hitachi have also announced a collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation to provide battery packs to replace diesel engines, that could be used on Class 800 and Class 802 trains.

First Rail Holdings have these Class 800/802 fleets.

  • GWR – 36 x five-car Class 800 trains
  • GWR – 21 x nine-car Class 800 trains
  • GWR – 22 x five-car Class 802 trains
  • GWR – 14 x nine-car Class 802 trains
  • TransPennine Express – 19 x five-car Class 802 trains
  • Hull Trains – 5 x five-car Class 802 trains

Note.

  1. That is a total of 117 trains.
  2. As five-car trains have three diesel engines and nine-car trains have five diesel engines, that is a total of 357 engines.
  3. In Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work Hull Trains’s Services?, I showed that Hull Trains could run their services with a Fast Charging system in Hull station.
  4. In Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work TransPennine Express’s Services?, I concluded that Class 802 trains equipped with batteries could handle all their routes without diesel and some strategically-placed charging stations.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train, there is a section called Powertrain, where this is said.

According to Modern Railways magazine, the limited space available for the GUs has made them prone to overheating. It claims that, on one day in summer 2018, “half the diagrammed units were out of action as engines shut down through overheating.

So would replacing some diesel engines with battery packs, also reduce this problem, in addition to cutting carbon emissions?

It does appear to me, that First Rail Holdings could be cutting carbon emissions in their large fleet of Hitachi Class 800 and Class 802 trains.

The Class 43 power cars could become a marketing nightmare for the company?

Could Class 43 Power Cars Be Decarbonised?

Consider.

  • Class 43 power cars are forty-five years old.
  • They have been rebuilt with new MTU engines in the last dozen years or so.
  • I suspect MTU and GWR know everything there is to know about the traction system of a Class 43 power car.
  • There is bags of space in the rear section of the power car.
  • MTU are part of Rolls-Royce, who because of the downturn in aviation aren’t performing very well!

But perhaps more importantly, the power cars are iconic, so anybody, who decarbonises these fabulous beasts, gets the right sort of high-class publicity.

I would also feel, if you could decarbonise these power cars, the hundreds of diesel locomotives around the world powered by similar diesel engines could be a useful market.

What methods could be used?

Biodiesel

Running the trains on biodiesel would be a simple solution.

  • It could be used short-term or long-term.
  • MTU has probably run the engines on biodiesel to see how they perform.
  • Biodiesel could also be used in GWR’s smaller diesel multiple units, like Class 150, 158, 165 and 166 trains.

Some environmentalists think biodiesel is cheating as it isn’t zero-carbon.

But it’s my view, that for a lot of applications it is a good interim solution, especially, as companies like Altalto, will be making biodiesel and aviation biofuel from household and industrial waste, which would otherwise be incinerated or go to landfill.

The Addition Of Batteries

This page on the Hitachi Rail Ltd web site shows this image of the V-Train 2.

This is the introduction to the research program, which was based on a High Speed Train, fotmed of two Class 43 power cars and four Mark 3 carriages.

The V-Train 2 was a demonstration train designed in order to demonstrate our skills and expertise while bidding for the Intercity Express Programme project.

The page  is claiming, that a 20 % fuel saving could be possible.

This paragraph talks about performance.

The V-Train 2 looked to power the train away from the platform using batteries – which would in turn be topped up by regenerative braking when a train slowed down to stop at a station. Acceleration would be quicker and diesel saved for the cruising part of the journey.

A similar arrangement to that Hitachi produced in 2005 could be ideal.

  • Technology has moved on significantly in the intervening years.
  • The performance would be adequate for a train that just trundles around the West Country at 90 mph.
  • The space in the rear of the power car could hold a lot of batteries.
  • The power car would be quiet and emission-free in stations.
  • There would be nothing to stop the diesel engine running on biodiesel.

This might be the sort of project, that Hitachi’s partner in the Regional Battery Train; Hyperdrive Innovation. would probably be capable of undertaking.

MTU Hybrid PowerPack

I wouldn’t be surprised to find, that MTU have a drop-in solution for the current 6V4000 R41R diesel engine, that includes a significant amount of batteries.

This must be a serious possibility.

Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW Generator

In Our Sustainability Journey, I talk about rail applications of Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW generator, that has been developed to provide power for electric flight.

In the post, I discuss fitting the generator into a Class 43 power car and running it on aviation biofuel.

I conclude the section with this.

It should also be noted, that more-efficient and less-polluting MTU engines were fitted in Class 43s from 2005, so as MTU is now part of Rolls-Royce, I suspect that Rolls-Royce have access to all the drawings and engineers notes, if not the engineers themselves

But it would be more about publicity for future sales around the world, with headlines like.

Iconic UK Diesel Passenger Trains To Receive Green Roll-Royce Jet Power!

COVID-19 has given Rolls-Royce’s aviation business a real hammering, so perhaps they can open up a new revenue stream by replacing the engines of diesel locomotives,

I find this an intriguing possibility. Especially, if it were to be fitted with a battery pack.

Answering My Original Question

In answering my original question, I feel that there could be several ways to reduce the carbon footprint of a Class 43 power car.

It should also be noted that other operators are users of Class 43 power cars.

  • ScotRail – 56
  • CrossCountry – 12
  • East Midlands Railway – 39
  • Network Rail – 3

Note.

  1. ScotRail’s use of the power cars, is very similar to that of GWR.
  2. CrossCountry’s routes would need a lot of reorganisation to be run by say Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.
  3. East Midlands Railway are replacing their Inter-City 125s with new Class 810 trains.

The picture shows the power car of Network Rail’s New Measurement Train.

These may well be the most difficult to decarbonise, as I suspect they need to run at 125 mph on some routes, which do not have electrification and there are no 125 mph self-powered locomotives. After the Stonehaven crash, there may be more tests to do and a second train may be needed by Network Rail.

Why Are GWR Increasing Their Castle Class Fleet?

These are possible reasons.

GWR Want To Increase Services

This is the obvious explanation, as more services will need more trains.

GWR Want To Update The Fleet

There may be something that they need to do to all the fleet, so having a few extra trains would enable them to update the trains without cutting services.

GWR Want To Partially Or Fully Decarbonise The Power Cars

As with updating the fleet,  extra power cars would help, as they could be modified first and then given a thorough testing before entering passenger service.

GWR Have Been Made An Offer They Can’t Refuse

Suppose Rolls-Royce, MTU or another locomotive power plant manufacturer has a novel idea, they want to test.

Over the years, train operating companies have often tested modified trains and locomotives for manufacturers.

So has a manufacturer, asked GWR to test something in main line service?

Are Other Train Operators Thinking Of Using Introducing More Short-Formed InterCity 125 Trains?

This question has to be asked, as I feel there could be routes, that would be suitable for a net-zero carbon version of a train, like a GWR Castle or a ScotRail Inter7City.

Northern Trains

Northern Trains is now run by the Department for Transport and has surely the most suitable route in the UK for a shorted-formed InterCity 125 train – Leeds and Carlisle via the Settle and Carlisle Line.

Northern Trains may have other routes.

Transport for Wales Rail Services

Transport for Wales Rail Services already run services between Cardiff Central and Holyhead using diesel locomotive hauled services and long distance services between South Wales and Manchester using diesel multiple units.

Would an iconic lower-carbon train be a better way of providing some services and attract more visitors to the Principality?

Conclusion

GWR must have a plan, but there are few clues to what it is.

The fact that the trains have been purchased rather than leased could be significant and suggests to me that because there is no leasing company involved to consult, GWR are going to do major experimental modifications to the trains.

They may be being paid, by someone like an established or new locomotive engine manufacturer.

It could also be part of a large government innovation and decarbonisation project.

My hunch says that as First Rail Holdings appear to be going for a lower-carbon fleet, that it is about decarbonising the Class 43 power cars.

The plan would be something like this.

  • Update the three new trains to the new specification.
  • Give them a good testing, before certifying them for service.
  • Check them out in passenger service.
  • Update all the trains.

The three extra trains would give flexibility and mean that there would always be enough trains for a full service.

Which Methods Could Be Used To Reduce The Carbon Footprint Of The Class 43 Power Cars?

These must be the front runners.

  • A Hitachi/Hyperdrive Innovation specialist battery pack.
  • An MTU Hybrid PowerPack.
  • A Rolls-Royce MTU solution based on the Rolls-Royce 2.5 MW generator with batteries.

All would appear to be viable solutions.

 

 

 

 

September 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Do We Need More New Measurement Trains?

In New Measurement Train – 30th July 2020, I said this.

With all the spare InterCity 125 trains at present, will Network Rail create a second train?

We have now had the tragic Stonehaven Derailment, where three have been sadly killed.

Increasingly, we seem to be getting weather-related problems on the UK’s railways.

I can remember several in the last few years.

So perhaps just as the Hatfield Crash led to the New Measurement Train, we should up our testing and the development of new tests.

Extra trains would increase the amount of testing, but also provide more laboratory space to test the testing systems in real railway conditions.

Perhaps, if a University or high-tech company has a feasible idea, there should be a mechanism, whereby they can rent space in the trains, just as they can on satellite launchers.

August 13, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

New Measurement Train – 30th July 2020

Whilst I was at Westbury station today, the New Measurement Train arrived.

It is the first time, that I’ve been up close enough to take pictures.

With all the spare InterCity 125 trains at present, will Network Rail create a second train?

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments

Our Sustainability Journey

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on the Rolls-Royce web site.

It is sub-titled.

Paul Stein’s Thoughts On Sustainability And Electrification

Paul Stein is Rolls-Royce’s Chief Technology Officer, so what he says is important.

This press release was the source of the information behind Distributed Propulsion ‘Maybe The Only Means’ For Small Electric Flight Progress, which I wrote about Rolls-Royce’s beer keg-sized 2.5 MW generator.

This is the third paragraph.

We’ve taken great steps at Rolls-Royce with our three-pillar sustainability approach of developing the gas turbine to even greater efficiency, supporting the introduction of Sustainable Aviation Fuel and creating new, disruptive technologies such as electrification.

These are definitely, the three pillars of wisdom, when it comes to sustainable aviation.

E-Fan X

This paragraph is Paul Stein’s view of the E-Fan X.

One of the great endeavours in the latter category has been our E-Fan X programme in partnership with Airbus. From our side, this has involved creating a hybrid-electric power generation system at a scale never previously seen in our industry, comprised of an embedded AE2100 gas turbine driving a 2.5MW generator and 3000V power electronics and an electric propulsion unit. What has been particularly encouraging has been the amount of industry interest and support for this programme, and I know everyone at Rolls-Royce and Airbus has been truly grateful for that.

He states that the E-Fan  has now concluded, but a several valuable lessons have been learned.

2.5 MW Generator

He describes the generator like this.

Amongst the many great achievements from E-Fan X has been the generator – about the same size as a beer keg – but producing a staggering 2.5 MW. That’s enough power to supply 2,500 homes and fully represents the pioneering spirit on this project.

The press release discloses that the heart of this staggering generator is a Rolls-Royce AE2100 gas turbine, which powers the latest version of the legendary Lockheed Hercules; the C-130J Super Hercules.

Wikipedia gives this data for the AE2100D2 version of the engine.

  • Length – three metres
  • Diameter – 0.73 metres
  • Weight – 783 kilograms
  • Maximum Power Output – 3458 kW
  • Fuel Consumption – 0.25/kW/h

It looks like in the E-Fan X application, the engine is not at full power.

Use With Aviation Biofuel

Aviation Biofuel is described like this in the first sentences of its Wikipedia entry.

Aviation biofuel is a biofuel used for aircraft. It is considered by some to be the primary means by which the aviation industry can reduce its carbon footprint. After a multi-year technical review from aircraft makers, engine manufacturers and oil companies, biofuels were approved for commercial use in July 2011.

But it doesn’t necessarily mean growing large amounts of crops and converting it to the fuel. Altalto, who are backed by British Airways, Shell, Oxford University and the British Government are building a plant at Immingham to convert household and industrial waste into aviation biofuel.

I would expect that Rolls-Royce have made sure that the generator will work with aviation biofuel.

A Memory Of Emergency Power Generation

About twenty-five years, there was a major power failure after a thunder storm, where I lived in Suffolk and C and myself went to bed in the dark. We awoke to full power in the morning, after a good night’s sleep with no disturbance.

Imagine my surprise, when I let the dogs out to find parked in the field in front of the house, a very large articulated truck.

I was greeted by an engineer, who asked if I minded, his generator in my field. I seem to remember my response was to offer him a cup of tea, which he refused, as he said he had everything he needed in the truck.

It turned out that the main sub-station for the area had received a direct lightning strike and had been destroyed. So to supply power to all the nearby villages, as my farm was at the end of the supply, it was the most convenient place to plug in a transportable gas-turbine generator. The generator was in the field for about ten days and the whole operation impressed me with its professionalism.

But with this new 2.5 MW generator from Rolls-Royce, there would only need to be a small 3.5 tonne four-wheeled truck, to include the generator, fuel and living quarters for the engineer

We have made a lot of progress in twenty-five years.

A Modern Railway Locomotive

The power of this new Class 68 diesel locomotive, that was built in Spain, by Swiss company Stadler is a very healthy 2,800 kW.

Consider these facts about a Class 68 locomotive.

  • Thirty-four of these locomotives have been produced for the UK.
  • They are powered by a Caterpillar C175-16 engine, which weighs thirteen tonnes.
  • The transmission of these locomotives is electric, which means that the diesel engine drives a generator and the train is driven by electric traction motors.
  • The locomotive is equally at home hauling intermodal freight trains and passenger trains for Chiltern Railways or TransPennine Express.
  • According to Wikipedia, Class 68 locomotives comply with Stage III A of the European emission standards but not Stage III B. But that is much better than most of our noisy, smelly and polluting diesel locomotives.

Class 68 locomotives are members of the UKLight family of locomotives, which contains, these two other locomotives.

  • Already in service is the Class 88 locomotive, which is a bi-mode locomotive, which is capable of running on electrification or the on-board 0.7 MW diesel engine.
  • Under development is the Class 93 locomotive, which is a tri-mode 110 mph locomotive, which is capable of running on electrification, the on-board 0.7 MW diesel engine or battery power.

Stadler seem to be able to mix-and-match various power sources to provide versatile and highly-desirable locomotives.

I feel it would be feasible to design a railway locomotive with the following power sources.

  • 25 KVAC  overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification, providing up to perhaps the four MW of a Class 88 locomotive.
  • A Rolls-Royce gas-turbine generator running on aviation biofuel, providing up to perhaps three MW.
  • Batteries up to a weight of perhaps ten tonnes.

I am sure that it could handle many of the routes still run with diesel locomotives in the UK.

  • It would handle all locomotive-hauled passenger services and would be electric-only in stations.
  • It certainly solves the problem of hauling long intermodal freight trains between Felixstowe and the Midlands and the North.
  • To handle the heaviest stone and aggregate trains, it might need a more powerful generator, but I’m sure Rolls-Royce would oblige.

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I gave a list of routes, that would need to be handled by a battery electric locomotive.

  • Didcot and Birmingham – Around two-and-a-half hours
  • Didcot and Coventry – Just under two hours
  • Felixstowe and Ipswich – Around an hour
  • Haughley Junction and Peterborough – Around two hours
  • Southampton and Reading – Around one-and-a-half hours
  • Werrington Junction and Doncaster via Lincoln – Around two hours
  • Werrington Junction and Nuneaton – Just under two hours

Will Rolls-Royce’s generator be able to supply 2.5 MW for up to four hours?

This would need two-and-a-half tonnes of aviation biofuel, which would be around 3,200 litres, which could be carried in the 5,000 litre tank of a Class 68 locomotive.

It certainly seems feasible to replace diesel locomotives with gas-turbine locomotives running on aviation biofuel, to reduce net carbon emissions and reduce noise and pollution.

But this is not just a UK problem and many countries, who rely on diesel-hauled rail freight, would look seriously at such a locomotive.

Underfloor Mounting In Passenger Trains

These pictures show the space underneath a Hitachi Class 800 train.

The red cap visible in some pictures is the filler for the oil or diesel for the MTU 12V 1600 R 80L diesel engine used to power the trains away from electrification.

This diesel engine has this specification.

  • It produces 560 kW of power.
  • It weighs around six tonnes.
  • Its is about 4 x 2.5 x 1 metres in size.

The diesel engine produces about a fifth of the power as the gas-turbine generator, which is also smaller and very much lighter in weight.

It should also be noted, that a nine-car Class 800 train has five of these MTU diesel engines.

At a first glance, it would appear Hitachi could find one of Rolls-Royce’s gas-turbine generators very useful.

  • It might even enable self-powered high speed trains to run on lines without electrification at speeds well in excess of 140 mph.
  • I can certainly see, High Speed Two’s classic-compatible trains having one or possibly two of these generators, so they can extend services on lines without electrification.

We shouldn’t forget that one version of British Rail’s Advanced Passenger Train was to be gas-turbine powered.

A Class 43 Diesel Power-Car

Rolls-Royce would need a test-bed for a trial rail application of their 2.5 MW generator and there is probably no better trial vehicle, than one of the numerous Class 43 power-cars waiting to be scrapped. They could probably obtain a complete InterCity 125, if they wanted one for a realistic weight, test equipment and a second power-car for comparison and rescue.

But seriously, if we are going to remove diesel from UK railways by 2040, a solution needs to be found for the GWR Castles, ScotRail’s Inter7Citys and NetworkRail’s New Measurement Train.

One of the great advantages of these staggering (Rolls-Royce’s Chief Technology Officer’s word, not mine!) generators is that they are controlled by Full Authority Digital Engine Control or FADEC.

FADEC will give the pilots in a Hercules or other aircraft, all the precise control they need and I doubt Rolls-Royce will leave FADEC out of their gas turbine generator, as it would give the operator or driver extremely precise control.

A driver of a GWR Castle equipped with two gas-turbine power-cars, would be able to do the following.

  • Adjust the power to the load and terrain, with much more accuracy, than at present.
  • Shut the engines down and start them quickly, when passing through sensitive areas.
  • Cut carbon-dioxide emissions, by simply using a minimum amount of fuel.

I would put a battery in the back of the Class 43, to provide hotel power for the passenger coaches.

Running current MTU engines in the Class 43s, on biodiesel is surely a possibility, but that not an elegant engineering solution. It also doesn’t cut carbon emissions.

As there are still over a hundred Class 43s in service, it could even be a substantial order.

It should also be noted, that more-efficient and less-polluting MTU engines were fitted in Class 43s from 2005, so as MTU is now part of Rolls-Royce, I suspect that Rolls-Royce have access to all the drawings and engineers notes, if not the engineers themselves

But it would be more about publicity for future sales around the world, with headlines like.

Iconic UK Diesel Passenger Trains To Receive Green Roll-Royce Jet Power!

COVID-19 has given Rolls-Royce’s aviation business a real hammering, so perhaps they can open up a new revenue stream by replacing the engines of diesel locomotives,

A Class 55 Locomotive

Why Not?

A Class 55 locomotive is diesel electric and there are thousands of diesel locomotives in the world, built to similar basic designs, that need a more-efficient and more environmentally-friendly replacement for a dirty, smelly, noisy and polluting diesel power-plant.

Marine Applications

The Wikipedia entry for the Cat C175, says this.

The Cat C175 is often used in locomotives and passenger-class ships.

I suspect there will be marine applications for the gas-turbine generator.

Conclusion

I’m very certain that Rolls-Royce’s pocket power station has a big future.

Who said that dynamite comes in small parcels?

 

 

July 19, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Existing Stations Where High Speed Two Trains Will Call

The June 2020 Edition Of Modern Railways has an article called HS2 Minister Backs 18 tph Frequency, which gives a detailed diagram of the route structure of High Speed Two and it is possible to summarise the stations, where High Speed Two trains will call.

  • Carlisle – 3 tph – 400 metres – Split/Join
  • Chesterfield – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Crewe – 2 tph – 400 metres – Split/Join
  • Darlington – 2 tph – 200 metres
  • Durham – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • East Midlands Hub HS2 – 7 tph – 400 metres – Split/Join
  • Edinburgh Haymarket – 2.5 tph – 200 metres
  • Edinburgh Waverley – 2.5 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Glasgow Central – 2.5 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Lancaster – 2 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Leeds HS2 – 5 tph – 400 metres
  • Liverpool Lime Street – 2 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Lockerbie – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Macclesfield – 1 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Manchester Airport HS2 – 5 tph – 400 metres
  • Manchester Piccadilly HS2 – 5 tph – 400 metres
  • Motherwell – 0.5 tph – 200 metres
  • Newcastle – 3 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Oxenholme – 0.5 tph – 200 metres
  • Penrith – 0.5n tph – 200 metres
  • Preston – 4 tph – 400 metres
  • Runcorn – 2 tph – 200 metres
  • Sheffield – 2 tph – 200 metres
  • Stafford – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Stoke-on-Trent – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Warrington Bank  Quay – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Wigan North Western – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • York – 4 tph – 200 metres

Note.

  1. HS2 after the station name indicates a new station for High Speed Two
  2. tph is trains per hour
  3. 0.5 tph is one train per two hours (tp2h).
  4. 200/400 metres is the maximum length of trains that will call.
  5. Terminal indicates that trains will terminate at these stations.
  6. Split/Join indicates that trains will split and join at these stations.

These are more detailed thoughts on how existing stations will need to be modified.

Train Lengths

Before, I look at the individual stations, I’ll look at the train lengths.

  • High Speed Two train – Single – 200 metres
  • High Speed Two train – Pair – 400 metres
  • Class 390 train – 11-car – 265.3 metres
  • Class 390 train – 9-car – 217.5 metres
  • Class 807 train – 7-car – 182 metres
  • Class 810 train – 5-car – 120 metres
  • Class 810 train – Pair of 5-car – 240 metres
  • InterCity 125 – 2+8 – 220 metres
  • InterCity 225 – 9-car – 245 metres
  • Class 222 train – 4-car – 93.34 metres
  • Class 222 train – 5-car – 116.16 metres
  • Class 222 train – 7-car – 161.8 metres
  • Class 222 train – 4-car+5-car – 209.5 metres
  • Class 222 train – 5-car+5-car – 232.32 metres

These are the thoughts on the individual stations.

Carlisle

Carlisle station will need two 400 metre through platforms, so each can accommodate a pair of 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

 

I estimate the platforms are about 380 metres, but it looks like, they could be lengthened, without too much difficulty.

As High Speed Two trains to the North of Carlisle will be 200 metres long, there would probably be no need for platform lengthening North of Carlisle, as these trains are shorter than the Class 390 trains, that currently work the routes to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Carlisle station is step-free, has good secondary rail connections and is within walking distance of the city centre.

The only thing it needs, is a connection to Edinburgh on a rebuilt Borders Railway.

Chesterfield

Consider.

  • Chesterfield station will need to handle 200 metre trains.
  • Chesterfield station may be rebuilt for High Speed Two.
  • Chesterfield station can handle an InterCity 125, which is 220 metres.
  • It will need to handle a pair of Class 810 trains, which would be 240 metres.

This Google Map shows Chesterfield station.

Note.

  1. The slow lines passing the station on the Eastern side.
  2. There are two long through platforms and a third bi-directional platform on the down slow line.

There is space to build two long platforms for High Speed Two, but is it worth it, when one one tph will stop?

  • According to High Speed Two’s Journey Time Calculator, trains will take just twelve minutes between Sheffield and Chesterfield stations.
  • This compares with 12-15 minutes for the current diesel trains.
  • The distance between the two stations is 14 miles, which means that a twelve minute trip has an average speed of 70 mph.
  • If there are still two tph to St. Pancras, there will be four tph, that run fast between the Sheffield and Chesterfield stations, of which three will stop at Chesterfield.

I think this could result in a simple and efficient design for the tracks between Sheffield and South of Clay Cross, where High Speed Two joins the Erewash Valley Line.

Chesterfield station is step-free.

Crewe

Crewe station will need two 400 metre through platforms, so each can accommodate a pair of 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

There have been references to rebuilding of Crewe stations, but it does appear that some platforms are over 300 metres long.

Darlington

Darlington station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Durham

Durham station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Edinburgh Haymarket

Edinburgh Haymarket station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Edinburgh Waverley

Edinburgh Waverley station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Glasgow Central

Glasgow Central station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Currently, Avanti West Coast runs the following services to Glasgow Central.

  • One tph from London Euston calling at Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme Lake District (1tp2h), Penrith (1tp2h) and Carlisle.
  • One tp2h from London Euston calling at Milton Keynes Central, Coventry, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Sandwell and Dudley, Wolverhampton, Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme Lake District (1tp2h), Penrith (1tp2h) and Carlisle.

High Speed Two is proposing to run the following trains to Glasgow Central.

  • Two tph from London Euston calling at Old Oak Common, Preston and Carlisle.
  • One tp2h from Birmingham Curzon Street calling at Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme (1tp2h), Penrith (1tp2h), Carlisle, Lockerbie and Motherwell (1tp2h)

If the current services to Glasgow Central  were to be replaced by the High Speed Two services, most travellers would get a similar or better service.

But if Avanti West Coast decide to drop their classic services to Glasgow via Birmingham, will travellers starting between Milton Keynes and Crewe, be a bit miffed to lose their direct services to Glasgow?

Glasgow Central station would appear to be ready for High Speed Two.

Lancaster

I was initially surprised, that on High Speed Two, one tph would terminate at Lancaster station.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. There are two bypass lines without any platforms on the Western side of the tracks, where trains can speed through.
  2. The station has five platforms.
  3. Some Avanti West Coast services terminate at Lancaster station.
  4. 265 metre, eleven-car Class 390 trains, stop in Lancaster station.

As High Speed Two services will use 200 metre trains, which are shorter than all Class 390 trains, I would suspect that High Speed Two services will be able to be turned at Lancaster station, without too much difficulty.

Liverpool Lime Street

Liverpool Lime Street station will need to be able to turn two 200 metre High Speed Two tph.

  • The remodelling of the station in 2018, probably allowed for two tph between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • From 2022-2023, it will be turning two Class 807 trains per hour, which will probably be 182 metres long.

Liverpool Lime Street station may well be ready for Phase One of High Speed Two. It’s also very much step-free.

There are also alternative plans for a new High Speed station in Liverpool.

  • It would be alongside the current Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • The station would have a route to High Speed Two at Crewe via Warrington and a junction at High Legh.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail would start in the station and go to Manchester via Warrington, High Legh and Manchester Airport.
  • It would enable six tph between Liverpool and Manchester, in a time of just 26 minutes.

I talked about this plan in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, where I included this map.

High Legh Junction is numbered 5 and 6.

Nothing published about High Speed Two, would appear to rule this plan out.

Lockerbie

Lockerbie station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Macclesfield

I was initially surprised, that on High Speed Two, one tph would terminal at Macclesfield station.

This Google Map shows the station.

Wikipedia says this about the platforms in the station.

There are three platforms but only two are in regular use, the up platform for services to Manchester and the down platform to Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham. Platform 3 sees a small number of services. Evidence of a fourth platform can be seen, on which a Network Rail building now exists.

As the station has a regular Avanti West Coast service every hour, the platforms must be over 200 metres long and they will be long enough for the 200 metre High Speed Two trains.

So why would High Speed Two want to terminate a train at Macclesfield, rather than at Manchester Piccadilly as they do now?

Currently, Avanti West Coast runs these services between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly.

  • One tph via Milton Keynes Central, Stoke-on-Trent and Stockport.
  • One tph via Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield and Stockport
  • One tph via Stafford, Crewe, Wilmslow and Stockport

The diagram in the Modern Railways article shows these High Speed Two services to Manchester Piccadilly.

  • One tph from London Euston via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange and Manchester Airport
  • Two tph from London Euston via Old Oak Common and Manchester Airport
  • Two tph from Birmingham Curzon Street via Manchester Airport.

Note.

  1. None of these five tph serve Macclesfield, Milton Keynes Central, Stockport, Stoke-on-Trent or Wilmslow.
  2. All five proposed services are shown to call at Manchester Airport.
  3. It is likely, that a tunnel will be bored between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly stations.
  4. The High Speed Two station at Manchester Piccadilly might even be in a tunnel under the current Manchester Piccadilly station or central Manchester.
  5. A below-ground High Speed Two station for Manchester could also serve Northern Powerhouse Rail services to Leeds and the East.
  6. According to the plans, I talked about under Liverpool Lime Street earlier, there could also be up to six tph running between Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport, as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Plans need to be developed to serve the towns and cities, that will not be served by High Speed Two’s current proposals.

  • It appears Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield will be served by an independent High Speed Two service from London Euston.
  • Terminating one tph at Macclesfield station doesn’t appear to be challenging.
  • A rail route between Macclesfield and Manchester Airport to link up with the proposed tunnel could be very difficult.
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Macclesfield stations have a frequent rail connection, with most trains calling at Stockport station.
  • Perhaps during construction work for High Speed Two in the centre of Manchester, Macclesfield station can be used as an alternative route into the city, using the existing Manchester Piccadilly station.

The London Euston and Macclesfield service via Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent could be a pragmatic solution to part of the problem, but what about Milton Keynes, Wilmslow and Stockport?

According to the title of the Modern Railways article, High Speed Two will have a maximum frequency of 18 tph.

When fully-developed, the current proposed timetable shows the following.

  • A frequency of 17 tph between London Euston and Birmingham Interchange stations.
  • A frequency of 11 tph between Birmingham and Crewe.
  • A frequency of 9 tph through East Midlands Hub station.

It would appear that if there is a capacity bottleneck, it is between London and Birmingham.

However if classic services to Manchester Piccadilly are replaced by the High Speed Two services to the city via the new tunnel from Manchester Airport to a new station in the City Centre, there will be spare capacity on the Crewe and Manchester Piccadilly route via Wilmslow and Stockport stations.

This could lead to a number of solutions.

  • A direct High Speed Two service runs using the spare path, between London and the current Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • Similar to the previous service, but the service splits and joins at Crewe, with one individual train going to Manchester Piccadilly and the other somewhere else. Blackpool?
  • One service between London and Liverpool is planned to split and join at Crewe with individual trains going to Lancaster and Liverpool. The other Liverpool service could split at Crewe with individual trains going to Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • The service between London and Macclesfield is run by a pair of trains, that split at Birmingham Interchange, with individual trains going to Macclesfield and Manchester Piccadilly. The advantage of this service, is that if you got into the wrong train, you’d still be going to roughly the same destination.
  • Wikipedia says “At peak times, the current Avanti West Coast services may additionally call at one or more of: Watford Junction, Rugby, Nuneaton, Tamworth, Lichfield Trent Valley.” So why not run classic services on the West Coast Main Line between Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Milton Keynes using suitably fast trains. Perhaps, the new Class 807 trains would be ideal.

Note.

  1. All services serving the current Manchester Piccadilly station would call at Crewe, Wilmslow and Stockport stations.
  2. Passengers going to or from Manchester Airport would change at Crewe.

The more I look at Macclesfield, the more I like using it as a High Speed Two destination.

Motherwell

Motherwell station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Newcastle

Newcastle station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Oxenholme

Oxenholme station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Penrith

Penrith station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Preston

Preston station will need two 400 metre through platforms, so each can accommodate a pair of 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

 

I estimate that the main through platforms aren’t much short of the required 400 metres.

But something must be done to make the station step-free.

Runcorn

Runcorn station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 217 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The station is also step-free.

Sheffield

Sheffield station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

As the station can already handle a 220 metre InterCity 125, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The station is also substantially step-free.

Stafford

Stafford station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The station is also step-free.

Wikipedia says this about Stafford station and High Speed Two.

Under current proposals, Stafford will be a part of the High Speed 2 network, via a ‘Classic Compatible’ junction, which will allow HS2 trains to operate to Stafford, and further on towards Liverpool. This would shorten journey time from Stafford to London, to an estimated 53 minutes. Under current proposals it is expected that an hourly services will operate in both directions, however it is currently unclear if these services will terminate at Stafford, or Liverpool.

This does appear to be rather out of date with High Speed Two’s latest proposals as disclosed in the Modern Railways article, which say that Stafford is served by the following service.

  • One tph between London Euston and Macclesfield.
  • Calls at Old Oak Common, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent.
  • A 200 metre train.

One possibility must surely be to run a pair of 200 metre trains to and from Stafford, where they would split and join.

  • One could go as currently proposed to Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield.
  • The second train could go to Liverpool via Crewe and Runcorn or Manchester Piccadilly via Crewe, Wilmslow and Stockport.
  • The recent works at Norton Bridge Junction will have improved the route for the second train.

There would need to be platform lengthening at Stafford to accommodate the 400 metre pair of trains.

A split and join at Stafford does show the possibilities of the technique.

Another possibility is mentioned for Stafford in Wikipedia.

There is also been proposals to reintroduce services to Stafford to terminate on the Chase Line which was cutback to Rugeley Trent Valley in 2008. The Key Corridors states “Extension of Chase Line services to Stafford”. This is proposed to be in development.

It will surely connect a lot of people to Stafford for High Speed Two.

The extract from Wikipedia, that I used earlier, mentions a Classic Compatible junction, which will allow High Speed Two trains to reach Stafford.

This map clipped from the High Speed Two web site, shows the junction North of Lichfield, where High Speed Two connects to the Trent Valley Line through Stafford.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two runs North-South across the map.
  2. After the Junction by Fradley South,
  3. High Speed Two to Crewe and the North, is the branch to the East.
  4. The other branch connects to the Trent Valley Line, which can be picked out North of Lichfield, where it passes through Lichfield Trent Valley station.

The Trent Valley Line is no Victorian double-track slow-speed bottleneck.

  • Most of the route between Rugby and Stafford is three or four tracks.
  • The speed limit is generally 125 mph.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Avanti West Coast’s Class 390 and Class 807 trains running at 140 mph on the route.
  • This speed would probably be attained by High Speed Two trains.

London Euston and Stafford would only have under twenty miles of slower line and that could be 140 mph, so High Speed Two  times on the route could be very fast. High Speed Two is quoting 54 minutes on their Journey Time Calculator.

Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke-on-Trent station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The station is also step-free.

Warrington Bank Quay

Warrington Bank Quay station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Wigan North Western

Wigan North Western station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

In Is Wigan North Western Station Ready For High Speed Two?, I said this.

Wigan North Western station would accept a single-train now, but the platforms would need lengthening to handle a double-train.

As all trains through Wigan North Western station will only be 200 metre single trains and the station is step-free, the station appears to be ready for High Speed Two.

York

York station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Conclusion

I have come to these conclusions.

  • Because most of these stations have been rebuilt in the last few decades to accommodate the 200-plus metre InterCity 125s, InterCity 225s and Class 390 trains, all the stations can handle a 200 metre High Speed Two train without significant lengthening.
  • Some stations like Carlisle, Crewe, Preston and Stafford may need a small amount of platform lengthening to accommodate a pair of trains, but most of the improvements needed for a world-class High Speed railway will be more refurbishment than a complete rebuild.
  • Using existing platforms at Lancaster and Macclesfield stations as terminal platforms is an elegant and a much more affordable solution than building new stations or even platforms.
  • Because all five tph into the High Speed Two station at Manchester Piccadilly go via Manchester Airport, I would envisage that this will be in a tunnel, that can be part of a future Northern Powerhouse Rail.

I also think that the plan has been devised with the Project Management and minimising disruption to travellers in mind.

 

 

June 13, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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 | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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