The Anonymous Widower

New GWR IETs Under Fire Over Lack Of Buffets

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

This is the first paragraph.

The RMT has been holding demonstrations today at London, Swansea and Plymouth about the lack of buffets on GWR’s new Intercity Express Trains. Surfers have also been protesting about the simultaneous withdrawal of space to carry their boards.

As I don’t even swim, the latter doesn’t bother me and I can’t remember going to the buffet on a GWR train since, I regularly used to go to Reading to see Foster Wheeler in the 1980s. I must admit, that I’ve availed myself of the trolley service.

I have flagged up for some time, that the Class 800, 801 and 802 trains are a bit lacking in the bulky luggage department.

The picture shows an InterCity 125 about to make luggage disappear.

Also in Bicycles And Class 800 Trains, I said this.

I also noticed from the information displays, that all bicycles needed to be booked. That is a bit different from the days of the InterCity 125s, which had lots of space in the back of the locomotive.

On one trip to Plymouth, I saw several surfboards swallowed by the locomotive.

I got in a conversation with a station guy about bicycles and surfboards and from the knowing look on his face, I suspect it is a bit of a pain.

With the growing popularity of cycling, surely a turn up and go regime is needed.

Given that cyclists and surfers may look at the weather and decide, it’s a good time to go cycling or surfing, I suspect that GWR need to come up with a solution to this problem.

In the 1960s, I remember working with a manic surfer; John Baxendale, at ICI in Runcorn. Regularly, at the weekend in the winter, he’d strap his surfboard to the roof of his trusty Morris Minor and drive to the very North of Scotland to go surfing.

Rather him than me!

But if all surfers are like John in the 1960s, they are devoted to their sport and grab all opportunities.

The simplest solution is probably to provide a hire service in Cornwall for bicycles and surfboards.

But the design of the Class 800 trains allows up to twelve cars in a single train.

Could this lead to GWR and/or other operators, adding a tenth car to the trains to handle large luggage and perhaps bring specialist cargo like flowers and seafood up to London? GWR have done this in the past.

 

 

 

 

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Two East Midland Power Cars In Kings Cross

I was surprised to see two East Midlands Class 43 locomotives in Kings Cross station yesterday.

I have noticed an East Midlands-branded set recently and it looks like they have been separated.

 

 

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Can You Fit These Cases In A Class 800 Train?

I took this picture at Edinburgh station, after arriving there on an Aberdeen to London train.

Could these cases be fitted into a new Class 800 train?

I’ve seen surfboards and heavily-loaded bikes being swallowed by a Class 43 locomotive in an InterCity 125.

Perhaps, passengers with loads like this, will fly to Edinburgh and then use ScotRail’s Inter7City trains around Scotland.

April 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Abellio’s Plans For The Midland Main Line

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These are mentioned for Midland Main Line services to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

From May 2020, Modern Diesel Trains Will Begin To Replace Ageing HSTs.

May 2020 is only a year away. Is that enough time to order and build new or refurbish existing diesel trains.

So how will they obtain new trains?

Timetable Changes Will Enable Faster Journey Times From December 2020

These HST-replacement trains must be faster too!

This article on Rail Magazine is entitled Government Seeks Midland Main Line HST Upgrade Update.

It describes how the current eleven HSTs are being updated with retention tanks and accessible toilets, so they can continue to run after this year.

But as the doors won’t be replaced, this means that eleven trains with between six and eight coaches must be found.

One solution mooted is to use Mark 4 Coaches released from LNER, by new Class 801 trains.

In Midland Mark 4, I talk about a possible solution described by Ian Walmsley in the March 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

  • Two Class 43 power cars would be at each end of a rake of Mark 4 coaches.
  • The current 2+8 formation may need to be shortened to 2+7 because of the heavier coaches.
  • The coaches meet all the regulations.
  • There are plenty of power cars available.

I rode in a Mark 4 coach back from Scotland recently and these will be comfortable trains.

The pictures show First Class, is as good as anything in Europe. The only thing worse, than in Eurostar’s latest Class 374 trains is the space, which is due to our smaller loading gauge.

Not bad for a thirty year old train.

But

  • They were designed for a 140 mph maximum speed.
  • There are 302 coaches of various types available.
  • They meet all current and future accessibility regulations.
  • They have push-button automatic doors.

I estimate that a seven-car set of coaches for the Midland Main Line would have a capacity of around 400-420 passengers in two classes.

As there are currently, eleven InterCity 125 trains working the Midland Main Line, I can’t see there being a shortage of carriages.

Earlier And Later Train Service Each Day To East Midlands Parkway Enabling better Airport Connectivity

iIt won’t affect me, but I suspect other travellers will benefit.

Earlier And Later Trains To And From London, With A More Regular Evening Service Between London And Sheffield

I have moaned about this for a long time.

Try going to Derby or Sheffield from London for an evening football match and getting home that day!

Brand-New 125mph trains Will Be Introduced Into Service From April 2022

Fwatures include.

  • More reliable service
  • Improved comfort
  • Passenger information system
  • Free on-board Wi-Fi
  • At-seat power sockets
  • USB points
  • Air conditioning
  • Tables at all seats
  • increased luggage space
  • On-board cycle storage

I speculate as to who will build them in Hydrogen Trains To Be Trialled On The Midland Main Line.

April 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Stadler’s New Tri-Mode Class 93 Locomotive

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I looked at an electro-diesel freight locomotive with batteries instead of a diesel engine, as a freight locomotive. It would have the size and weight of a Class 70 locomotive and perhaps use similar technology to Stadler’s Class 88 locomotive.

I concluded the article like this.

It would be a heavyweight locomotive with a performance to match.

I believe that such a locomotive would be a very useful addition to the UK’s fleet of freight locomotives.

Stadler have not produced a battery/electric replacement for a Class 66 locomotive, but they have added a diesel/electric/battery Class 93 locomotive with a heavyweight performance to their Class 68/88 or UKLIGHT family of locomotives built at Valencia in Spain.

Details of the locomotive are given in this article in Rail Magazine, which is entitled Rail Operations Fuels Its Ambitions With Tri-Mode Class 93s. There is also a longerand more detailed  article in the print edition of the magazine, which I purchased today.

Reading both copies of the article, I can say the following.

A More Powerful Class 88 Locomotive

At a first glance, the Class 93 locomotive appears to be a more powerful version of the Class 88 locomotive.

  • The power on electric mode is the same in both locomotives at four megawatt. It would probably use the same electrical systems.
  • Some reports give the diesel power of the Class 93 locomotive as 1.34 MW as opposed to 0.7 MW of the Class 88 locomotive.
  • The Class 93 locomotive has a top speed of 110 mph, as opposed to the 100 mph of the Class 88 locomotive.
  • The article says, “It’s an ’88’ design with the biggest engine we could fit.”

It would also appear that much of the design of the two locomotives is identical, which must make design, building and certification easier.

The Class 93 Locomotive Is Described As A Hybrid Locomotive

Much of the article is an interview with Karl Watts, who is Chief Executive Officer of Rail Operations (UK) Ltd, who have ordered ten Class 93 locomotives. He says this.

However, the Swiss manufacturer offered a solution involving involving an uprated diesel alternator set plus Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) batteries.

Other information on the batteries includes.

  • The batteries are used in regenerative braking.
  • Batteries can be charged by the alternator or the pantoraph.
  • Each locomotive has two batteries slightly bigger than a large suitcase.

Nothing is said about the capacity of the batteries, but each could be a cubic metre in size.

I have looked up manufacturers of lithium-titanate batteries and there is a Swiss manufacturer of the batteries called Leclanche, which has this helpful page that compares various batteries.

  • The page gives an energy density of 120-200 Wh/Kg for their traditional lithium-ion batteries and 70-80 Wh/Kg for LTO batteries.
  • But it gives LTO batteries a five-star rating, for charge power, discharge power and energy efficiency.

Leclanche also have a product called a TiRack63, which is intended for industrial applications, such as.

  • ,Grid stabilization in on-grid application
  • Providing short term power to cover the first seconds in a grid failure incident to industrial users.
  • Managing the integration of renewable energy (solar and wind) into off grid applications with diesel generators (e.g. mining),

The battery has the following characteristics.

  • 15000 charge/discharge cycles
  • 100 % depth of discharge.
  • Charging and discharging at 300 Amps.
  • Modular setup.
  • 510-810 VDC output.
  • 63 kWh capacity.
  • Size of 2300 x 1800 x 600 mm
  • Weight of 1800 Kg.

These batteries with their fast charge and discharge are almost like supercapacitors.

, It would appear that, if these batteries are used the Class 93 locomotive will have an energy storage capacity of 126 kWh.

But this is said about Class 93 locomotive performance..

LTO batteries were chosen because they offer a rapid recharge and can maintain line speed while climbing a gradient, and will recharge when running downhill.

Looking at the batteries, they could provide up to around 240 kW of extra power for perhaps half an hour to help the train climb a gradient and then recharge using regenerative braking or the diesel alternator.

This is a hybrid vehicle, with all the efficiency advantages.

The article does say, that with a light load, the locomotives can do 110 mph on hybrid. Nothing is said about what is a light load. Could it be a rake of five modern Mark 5A coaches?

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I said this.

It is worth looking at the kinetic energy of a Class 88 locomotive hauling five forty-three tonne CAF Mark 5A coaches containing a full load of 340 passengers, who each weigh 90 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies. This gives a total weight would be 331.7 tonnes.

The kinetic energy of the train would be as follows for various speeds.

90 mph – 75 kWh
100 mph – 92 kWh
110 mph – 111 kWh
125 mph – 144 kWh

The increase in energy is because kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the speed.

There would be little difference in this calculation, using a Class 93 locomotive, which is only a tonne heavier. The kinetic energy at 110 mph, would be 112 kWh.

This could be very convenient, as it looks like the battery capacity could be larger than the kinetic energy of a fully-loaded train.

Similar Weight And Axle Load To A Class 88 Locomotive

The article states that the locomotive will weight 87 tonnes, as opposed to the 86 tonnes of a Class 88 locomotive.

As both locomotives have four axles, this would mean that their axle loading is almost the same.

So anywhere the Class 88 locomotive can go, is most likely to be territory suitable for the Class 93 locomotive.

Again, this must make certification easier.

A Modular Design

In a rail forum, members were saying that the Class 93 locomotive has a modular design.

So will we see other specifications with different sized diesel engines and batteries?

The TransPennine routes, for example, might need a locomotive with a smaller diesel engine, more battery capacity and a 125 mph-capability for the East Coast Main Line.

Stadler have said they specialise in niche markets. Have they developed the tailor-made locomotive?

Power Of Various Locomotives

These are various UK locomotives and their power levels in megawatts.

  • Class 43 – Diesel – 1.7
  • Class 66 – Diesel – 2.4
  • Class 67 – Diesel – 2.4
  • Class 68 – Diesel – 2.8
  • Class 88 – Electric – 4
  • Class 88 – Diesel – 0.7
  • Class 90 – Electric – 3.9
  • Class 91 – Electric – 4.8
  • Class 93 – Electric – 4
  • Class 93 – Diesel – 1.3

The interesting figure, is that the Class 93 locomotive has 76 % of the diesel power of a Class 43 locomotive from an InterCity 125. The difference could probably be made up using battery power, where needed.

Could The Locomotive Be Uprated To 125 mph?

Consider.

  • The UK has successfully run 125 mph Class 43 and 91 locomotives for many years.
  • Stadler has built trains that run at that speed.
  • Mark 3, Mark 4 and Mark 5A coaches are all certified for 125 mph.
  • There are hundreds of miles of track in the UK, where 125 mph running is possible.

I would think it very unlikely, that the engineers designing the Class 93 locomotive, ruled out the possibility of 125 mph running in the future!

Only Stadler will know!

Could A Battery/Electric Version Of The Locomotive Be Created?

I don’t see why not!

The diesel engine, fuel, exhaust and cooling systems and some ancilliary systems could all be removed and be replaced with an equivalent weight of batteries.

As the C27 diesel engine in a Class 88 locomotive weighs almost seven tonnes, I suspect a ten tonne battery would be possible.

Given the current typical energy density and using the Leclanche figures, this would mean that thr batteries would have a total capacity of around 700-800 kWh.

Possible Uses Of The Class 93 Locomotive

The Rail Magazine article goes on to detail some of the uses of a Class 93 locomotive.

Express Freight

Karl Watts says this.

They can operate express freight. In Europe, there are vehicles capable of 100 mph running, and these are perfect for high-speed domestic freight. We have been running intermodals at 75 mph since the 1960s – It’s time to change that.

The locomotive would certainly be able to haul express freight at 100 mph on an electrified main line.

Note the following.

  1. This would greatly help with freight between Felixstowe and London on the 100 mph Great Eastern Main Line.
  2. Running freight trains at 100 mph on the major electrified lines would increase capacity, of the lines.
  3. Ports and freight terminals wouldn’t need to be electrified.

Overall, the proportion of freight mileage, where electric power was used, would grow significantly.

Electrification Gap Jumping

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I gave a list of typical gaps in the electrification in the UK.

  • 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

How many of these gaps could be bridged by a Class 93 locomotive working in a diesel hybrid mode?

It should be noted, that many of the busiest gaps are in the flatter Eastern areas of England.

I’m sure Stadler and Rail Operations Group have done extensive simulation of possible routes and know where the locomotives are best suited.

Class 66 Locomotive Replacement

I suspect that several of these locomotives will end up replacing duties currently done by Class 66 locomotives.

It could haul an intermodal freight from Felixstowe to Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow or Doncaster, using electrification where it exists.

And do it at a speed of 100 mph, where speed limits allow!

No other locomotive on the UK network could do that!

Use On Electrified Urban Freight Routes

Near to where I live there are two electrified lines passing through North London; the North London Line and the Gospel Oak To Barking Line.

Both lines have several freight trains a day passing through, that are still hauled by diesel locomotives.

There are other urban freight routes around the UK, where despite electrification, polluting diesel locomotives are still used.

Class 93 locomotives would be an ideal environmentally-friendly replacement locomotive on these routes.

Thunderbird Duties

Karl Watts says this.

They can be used for network recovery as a more comprehensive Thunderbird. Currently, stand-by locomotives are hired or used by an operator to rescue its own trains, but these would be available for anything or anyone. I have sopken to Network Rail about this and they need convincing. But as the network gets busier, so it will be that one failure causes chaos.

Perhaps, a better method for recovering failed trains could be developed.

Passenger Trains

Karl Watts says this.

I can say that the 93s’ feature n two franchise bids, although I cannot say which, due to non-disclosure agreements.

We can only speculate!

Class 93 locomotives could replace the Class 68 locomotives on TransPennine Express services between Liverpool and Scarborough, where Mark 5A coaches will be used.

  • Electric mode could be used between Liverpool and Stalybridge and on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Diesel or hybrid mode would be used where needed.
  • If the locomotives could be uprated to 125 mph, that would help on the East Coast Main Line.

There are certainly, redundant Mark 4 coaches or new Mark 5A coaches that could be used to provide services.

An InterCity 125 For the Twenty-First Century

The InterCity 125 is a masterpiece of engineering, that passengers love.

One of the reasons for the success, is the superb dynamics of the train, which gives them a very comfortable ride.

Could it be that by putting two Class 93 locomotives at each end of a rake of suitable coaches could create a 125 mph train, with the same faultless dynamics?

The answer is probably yes, but in many cases either half-length trains or bi-mode multiple units may be a more affordable or capable train.

The locomotive certainly gives a lot of flexibility.

Conclusion

This is going to be a very useful locomotive.

This was the last paragraph of the printed article, as spoken by Karl Watts.

I don’t think I will be ordering only ten or 20 – there will be more.

I have registered 93001 to 93050.

The word hybrid opens the door.

I think this might be the third member of a very large and widespread family.

 

 

 

December 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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 | Transport | , , , , | 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 | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

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