The Anonymous Widower

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

ScotRail’s Four-Car High Speed Trains

I took these pictures at Aberdeen station.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t really get any closer.

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

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

 

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

Glasgow Queen Street Station – August 10th 2018

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

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

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

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

There are two basic types of electrically-driven trains.

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

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

Regenerative Braking

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

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

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

Batteries For Regenerative Braking

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

A Station Stop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hitachi Class 800/801/802 Trains

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

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

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

The document provides this schematic of the traction system.

Note

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotel Power

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

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

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

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

Traction Power

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

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

Some Worked Examples

I’ll look at a few examples.

InterCity 125

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

 

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

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

Consider.

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

This gives a total train weight of 297.40 tonnes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Class 375 Train

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

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

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

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

This gives a total train weight of 200.60 tonnes.

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

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

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

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

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

Other Electrostars

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

InterCity 225

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Mark 4 Coaches And Two Class 43 Locomotives

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

Consider.

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

This gives the following.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I came to this conclusion.

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

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

The concept or something like it, has possibilities.

Voyagers

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

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

This is a paragraph.

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

The Voyager family of trains has three members.

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

I felt is was a good plan.

Conclusion

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Direct Trains Between Liverpool Lime Street And Norwich

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

The Current Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Improvements On The Route

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

Increased Capacity At Liverpool Lime Street

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

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

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

Ordsall Chord And Related Improvements In Manchester

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

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

Hope Valley Line Improvements

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

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

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

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

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

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

Improvements To The Midland Main Line

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

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

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

East Coast Main Line Running

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

Greater Anglia’s Plans

Greater Anglia have ordered a fleet of Class 755 trains.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both services are thought to be hourly.

Consider the Colchester to Peterborough service.

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

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

I think it could if the trains were timed appropriately.

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

Hopefully, the change would not require a platform change.

Consider the Norwich to Stansted Airport service.

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

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

These services call at Ely

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

Totalling them up gives the following frequencies to various stations.

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

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

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

Speed Limits On The Route

Speed limits on the route are rather variable.

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

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

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

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

Rolling Stock Choices For Liverpool Lime Street And Norwich

Various choices include.

Class 158 Trains

Everything could carry on as now using Class 158 trains

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

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

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

Class 170 Trains

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

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

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

A Second Service Between Liverpool And Nottingham

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

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

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

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

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

Class 800 Trains

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

I think not!

So more trains would be needed to run the service.

Bombardier’s Proposed 125 mph Bi-Mode

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

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

Even so a full service would require fifteen trains.

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

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

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

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

Short Formation InterCity 125 Trains

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

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

Conclusion

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

 

 

 

 

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

The Railway At Dawlish Is In Trouble Again

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

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

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

This is the first paragraph.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Midland Mark 4

The title of this post is the same as an article by Ian Walmsley in the March 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

Ian builds on what he said in an article in the August 2017 Edition of the same magazine. I wrote about that article in We Should All Think Radically!

He proposes using Mark 4 coaches with two Class 43 power cars to create trains that meet the PRM-TSI regulations deadline, which will mean the replacement of the East Midland Franchise’s twelve InterCity 125s.

He suspects various technical solutions can be borrowed to make it all possible and because of the extra weight of the Mark 4 coaches, the trains may become 2+7 sets instead of the current 2+8.

The trains could be rather nice.

  • The Mark 4 coaches have been extensively refurbished in the last two decades and have full wi-fi and power socket fitment.
  • The Mark 4 coaches meet all the PRM-TSI regulations.
  • 125 mph running would be possible, where the track allowed.
  • The East Midland Franchise already has the Class 43 power-cars.
  • If the electrification of the Midland Main Line is ever electrified, then the Class 43 power cars could be swapped for electric locomotives.

I would assume that three extra sets, that the franchise is acquiring from Grand Central could also be converted., giving the East Midlands Franchise, fifteen sets with a life of at least ten years.

A quick calculation would indicate that this reorganisation could see the current 132 Mark 3 coaches replaced by perhaps 120 Mark 4 coaches. I’ve just applied 7/8 to the Mark 3 coach total after the Grand Central trains have been added to the fleet.

What Will Happen To The Remaining Mark 4 Coaches?

Currently, there are 302 Mark 4 coaches in service on the East Coast Main Line with Virgin Trains East Coast.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Mark 4 coach, there is a section named Future.

This is said.

The Mark 4s are scheduled to be replaced on the East Coast Main Line by Class 801s in 2018. Some may be redeployed to Midland Main Line services.[19] Virgin Trains East Coast will retain seven or eight nine-carriage sets to operate extra services to Edinburgh.

In 2017, Alliance Rail Holdings announced that, owing to it being unable to source new build Class 390 EMUs for its intended service between London and Blackpool, it was revising its proposal to use the Class 91/Mark 4 combination instead

So it looks like seventy-two coaches will be retained for the East Coast Main Line.

As to how many trains will be needed between London and Blackpool, that’s the old question of how long is a piece of string.

Consider.

  • I don’t think that the platforms at Blackpool will accept full-length sets.
  • Class 180 trains used by various operators are five cars in length.
  • There are fourteen Class 180 trains, running to Bradford, Hull and Sunderland.
  • TransPennine Express has ordered several multiple units and rakes of coaches, that are five-cars long.

So perhaps three sets of five carriages, which seem adequate for Sunderland, would be a rough estimate.

This gives the following  totals.

  • East Midlands Franchise – 120
  • East Coast Main Line – 72
  • Euston-Blackpool – 15

Which gives a total of 207.

This leaves ninety-five coaches for other purposes. Or dare I say it, nineteen sets of five coaches?

Motive Power

The rakes of coaches will need to be powered.

These are a few possibilities.

Class 91 Locomotive And A Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer

Currently, Mark 4 coaches are powered and driven by a Class 91 locomotive with a Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer, at the other end of the train.

Total numbers available are

  • 31 – Class 91 Locomotive
  • 32 – Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer

If eight sets are retained for the East Coast Main Line, this means that a maximum of twenty-three trains could be created.

But except for limited use by Open Access Operators from London on fully-electrified lines, I can’t see all Class 91 locomotives being required.

Mark 4 Coaches Topped And Tailed With Class 43 Locomotives

This is Ian Walmsley’s plan for the Midland Main Line, as he outlined in the March 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

Consider.

  • There are quite a few Class 43 locomotives available. There are thirty-two on the East Coast Main line for a start.
  • Ian feels that creating 2+7 sets is possible, but many needed would be shorter.
  • According to the article, Mark 4 coaches would be more affordable than making Mark 3 coaches PRM-TSI compliant.

The trains would share the iconic appearance of the InterCity 125, which passengers seem to love so much!

Class 68 Locomotive And A Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer

Chiltern use Class 68 locomotives and Mark 3 Driving Van Trailers, with Mark 3 coaches, so it is likely perhaps after some modification, these locomotives could be used with Mark 4 coaches and an appropriate Driving Van Trailer.

If a Class 68 locomotive would work, surely the closely-related Class 88 locomotive could also be used.

Mark 4 Coaches Topped And Tailed With Class 68 Locomotives

This arrangement has been used between Norwich, Lowestoft and Yarmouth with an elderly rake of Mark 2 coaches for some time.

It is a method that could be surely be used with Mark 4 coaches after a few modifications.

A New Class Of Electro-Diesel Locomotive And A Mark 4 Driving Van Trailer

I very much feel we need a new electro-diesel locomotive for both freight and passenger purposes.

Mark 4 Coaches Topped And Tailed With A Class 68 And A Class 88 Locomotive

I have often wondered, if instead of using two Class 68 locomotives, whether a Class 68 and a Class 88 locomotive could be used at opposite ends, to create the ultimate hybrid train, with a powerful diesel locomotive on one end and a powerful electric locomotive on the other.

Summing Up Motive Power

With a bit of ingenuity, I’m sure that uses could be found for most of the Mark 4 coaches.

Possible Routes

These routes need good quality rolling stock and innovatively-hauled Mark 4 coaches could be a solution.

Wales

Scotland has decided that the best way of serving some of its long routes, is to use shortened InterCity 125s.

Surely, if the concept works in Scotland, it is likely to work in Wales.

These could use Mark 4 coaches or more likely updated Mark 3 coaches.

Liverpool and Manchester To Holyhead

Once the Halton Curve is open, the possibility of a Liverpool to Holyhead service must exist.

A quality service along the North Wales Coast, must surely be beneficial to residents, business and tourism.

London Waterloo To Exeter Via Basingstoke

This service is currently served by Class 158 or Class 159 trains.

  • Trains generally work as six-car units.
  • The route is electrified between London Waterloo and Basingstoke.
  • Time could be saved by partial electric haulage.

The problem of this route might be solved by converting the Class 158/159 trains in bi-modes, as I wrote about in Class 158/159 Bi-Modes?

Cross-Country Routes

Cross Country routes and I don’t just mean those run by the company of the same name are often very-well pastronised, as often these routes are the only way to get between two provincial cities.

Take Norwich to Liverpool, which has a route, that definitely needs more coaches than those offered by a two-car Class 158 train.

Scenic Routes

Scotland is to run short-formation InterCity 125s between major cities.

IMany of these routes also fall into the category of scenic routes.

If this Scottish innovation is successful, will we see pressure for similar trains to work routes like Settle-Carlisle in England?

Summing Up Possible Routes

I don’t think there will be a shortage of routes to run Mark 4 coach-based services.

Conclusion

Don’t underestimate how the retired Mark 4 coaches will be used.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A New Era For Abellio ScotRail

How many train operating companies in the world would open a new rail service using forty-year-old refurbished trains with the slogan of A New Era?

According to the picture in this article on Global Rail News, which is entitled Aberdeen Launch For Scotland’s First HST, Abellio ScotRail have just done that!

I hope ScotRail are not tempting fate!

The service will be phased in from next Summer and I’m sure enthusiasts will book the first trains solid, such is the affection for these iconic trains.

GWR are also using the trains in a similar concept for local services between Cardiff and Penzance.

After these refurbishments, there will still be quite a few units left.

I can’t believe that none of them will find innovative uses with other train operators.

How about?

Norwich to Liverpool

East Midlands Trains run a service between Norwich and Liverpool, which does seem to suffer from fluctuations of use. It can be very busy, if say Norwich are playing Nottingham Forest and quiet at other times.

In some ways it the forgotten East-West route in England.

Derby and Nottingham to Liverpool and Manchester are journeys, where it is easier to drive.

Running the route with a refurbished and shortened HST might be a chance worth taking.

The Heart Of Wales Line

The Heart of Wales Line is an interesting possibility, to open up the centre of Wales.

The line is maintained as a diversion route for both much large passenger and freight trains, than the trains that usually  work the route.

Along The North Wales And Cumbrian Coasts

If the concept works in Scotland, it will surely work on these two lines. Especially, in the summer!

Conclusion

Terry Miller’s iconic High Speed Train will outlive us all!

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Running Electric Trains Across The Forth Bridge

Search for something like Electrification of the Forth Bridge and you find a lot of speculation and no one who.believes it can be done easily.

A ScotRail conductor said very firmly that it wouldn’t be done.

I think that in addition to the engineering problems of electrifying the Forth railway bridge, there will probably be a lot of opposition from the heritage lobby!

I also think, that if you could solve the engineering oroblems, they will.cost a lot and mean closing the bridge for at least several.months.

Bi-Mode Trains

Virgin are proposing to use Class 800 trains, which are bi-mode and will use diesel power on the bridge. These trains will have no problems crossing the bridge.

They will probably even be quieter than the current InterCity 125s, that will be continued to be used by ScotRail.

Trains With Energy Storage

The bridge is not very long at 2.5 km. and an electric train with onboard energy storage could prossibly cross the bridge, if the tracks were electrified as far as the approaches.

So do I think it is possible that a train with onboard energy storage could cross the Forth Bridge?

The Energy Storage Could Be Full Before Crossing

If the overhead electrification reached to perhaps five hundred metres from the bridge, then the onboard storage would be full.

The train would lower the pantograph and then raise it again, when under the wires on the other side.

The Maximum Speed On The Bridge Is 50 mph

This must help.

The Bridge Deck Appears Level

This must help.

Any Train Manufacturer Who Creates A Train With Onboard Energy Storage Will Gain A Worldwide Reputation

There is a lot of scepticism about trains with onboard energy storage or batteries and this would dismiss it for ever, once the crossing was shown on world-wide television with headlines like.

Battery Train Crosses Forth Rail Bridge Carrying Three Hundred Passengers

I believe that any train manufacturer, who felt they could achieve this feat would be willing to have a go, as the rewards would be immense!

Scotland Would Have A Unique Tourist Attraction

Although, I wouldn’t think it would be unique for long, as other countries would do the same to solve transport problems.

But nothing would ever be as iconic as the Forth Bridge!

I also doubt Scotland and ScoRail would say No!

Could A Class 385 Train Cross The Bridge On Stored Power?

In Hitachi Class 385 Trains, Batteries And Charging Stations, I discussed whether batteries or energy storage could be put into a Class 385 train.

I said this after giving details of Hitachi’s battery trains in Japan.

So will Scotrail’s new Class 385 trains have a battery capability?

Probably not initially!

But Hitachi have obviously been doing a lot of research into battery trains and the JR Kyushu is the first practical application.

Scotland’s rail system outside Edinburgh and Glasgow is not electrified, but it is well-known that Scotland’s Government would like more electrified services and also links to places like Leven and St. Andrews.

Both of these places, and there are probably others as well, are a few miles from a main line, that is very likely to be electrified.

So could we see a battery train charged as the JR Kyushu train on a main line, serving these branch lines on battery power?

I feel that the chance of this happening is very high.

So I feel it is highly likely, that if some form of stored power was fitted to Class 385 trains, that they would be able to bridge the gap between electrification systems North and South of the Forth Bridge.

Electrification Of The Fife Circle Line

Electrification of the Fife Circle Line would be the simplest way to improve the local rail service from North of the Forth Bridge to Edinburgh.

This shows a map of the line North from Edinburgh Gateway station.

It would need the electrification from Haymarket station through Edinburgh Gateway station to be completed South of the Bridge to an appropriate point on the bridge approach.

North of the Bridge, the circle could be electrified from an appropriate point on the bridge approach, all round the circle to Markinch station.

Running The Fife Circle Service With Class 385 Trains With Onboard Energy Storage

A belt and braces approach might see North Queensferry and Dalmeny stations being the changeover point from overhead to onboard power, so that with any problems, the train is safely in a station, rather than stuck on the bridge.

Currently, the two routes between Glenrothes With Thornton and Edinburgh stations take the following times.

  • Via Kirkaldy – 59 minutes with ten stops.
  • Via Dunfermline – 62 minutes with eleven stops.

This means a train doing a round trip from Edinburgh takes just over two hours with twenty-one stops.

The Class 385 trains will have the following characteristics compared to the current diesel trains on the route.

  • They will be faster.
  • They will accelerate better and have smoother regenerative braking.
  • They  will  have a much shorter dwell time at stations.

It would not be unreasonable to assume that the new electric trains could be several minutes under two hours for the round trip.

Trains that didn’t reverse could also go straight round the circle with the driver only changing ends at Edinburgh.

Currently, the route has three trains per hour (tph), so to run this level of service would require six trains.

Running four tph would need an extra two trains and if two tph used each direction, all stations would have a two tph service.

The trains would only need the ability to run between Dalmeny and North Queensferry stations on onboard storage.

Bi-Mode Trains Between Edinburgh And Aberdeen

Virgin Trains East Coast and possibly other operators wlll  be running bi-mode Class 800 trains between Edinburgh and Markinch stations.

They will have to use diesel power where there is no electrification, but if the Fife Circle Line were to be electrified, they could use it, to run the trains more efficiently.

Onward From The Fife Circle

The Fife Circle Line could be a bridgehead to extend electrified services to the North.

Consider these distances.

  • Markinch to St. Andrews  – 20.7 miles
  • Markinch to Dundee – 25.1 miles
  • Markinch to Perth – 22.7 miles
  • Glenrothes to Leven – 7.1 miles

All of these destinations could be reached by a combination of short lengths of electrification and trains with onboard energy storage.

Scotrail’s Extra Ten Class 385 Trains

Scotrail have an extra ten Class 385 trains on option, if the franchise is extended by 7 to 10 years and the trains would enter service in 2023.

Could these trains be to run an electrified Fife Circle Line service and perhaps running to Leven?

Conclusion

Scotrail have some ambitious plans for Scotland’s railways and I wonder, if they include using Class 385 trains with onboard energy storage to get electric trains across the Forth Bridge.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Cavalry Are Arriving!

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled First HST for ScotRail Arrives In Scotland.

I seem to remember reading accusations that Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and their governments weren’t too keen on the ageing InterCity 125 trains, that plied up to Scotland and across to Wales and the West of England. So they did a deal with Hitachi, which included a new train factory close to Blair’s constituency in the North-East of England.

But removing InterCity 125s or High Speed Trtains (HSTs) as they are commonly known, from the UK rail network, appears to be as difficult as removing Japanese knot-weed from a garden.

When delays hit the Great Western electrification, Great Western Railway started experimenting with short formation HSTs, consisted of two Class 43 power cars and four or five Mark 3 coaches. The experiments were obviously a success, as they have decided to do this according to Wikipedia.

Great Western Railway are to retain 24 powercars and 48 carriages to form 11 four-carriage sets for use on local services between Cardiff and Penzance. The carriages will be fitted with automatic doors and controlled emission tanks at Wabtec, Doncaster.

Scotrail have gone down a similar route of shortened HSTs.

This article in Rail |Engineer is entitled ScotRail’s ‘new’ HSTs, gives full details. This is the first three paragraphs of the article.

In 2012, Transport Scotland published the results of its rail passenger service consultation. This considered how the railway should develop and the types of passenger services required. Its results were incorporated into the specification for the ScotRail franchise which was renewed in 2014.

One conclusion from this consultation exercise was that passengers traveling from central Scotland to Aberdeen and Inverness much preferred to travel in Virgin Trains East Coast High Speed Trains (HSTs) from London than ScotRail’s Class 170 diesel multiple units (DMUs).

For this reason, the invitation to tender (ITT) document for the ScotRail franchise included a specification for improved rolling stock for Scotland’s internal inter-city services that could have been based on the HST’s mark 3 coach. In its franchise bid, Abellio’s response to this requirement was that it would provide refurbished HSTs on the routes that serve Scotland’s seven cities (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness).

Abellio received the franchise and ScotRail will be getting seventeen 2+5 and nine 2+4 HSTs. This paragraph from the Rail Engineer article gives more details on the trains.

The HSTs will be phased into service from summer 2018, with the full fleet operational for the May 2019 timetable change. This aligns with the completion of Network Rail’s Highland main line journey time improvements project. 54 power cars and 121 coaches will be leased from Angel Trains. These will make up 17 five-coach trains and 9 four- coach trains with two power cars spare. The 2019 timetable will require 23 trains in service each day with five coach sets operating Central Belt to Aberdeen services and the four coach trains generally running to Inverness. The number of through services from Inverness to the Central Belt via Aberdeen will also be increased.

As the first HST has now arrived in Scotland as is reported in the Rail Magazine article, it looks like everything is going to plan.

Politicians and others might say, why are the lines not being electrified or services provided by Class 802 trains.

  • Network Rail’s record on electrification isn’t good.
  • There would probably be opposition to overhead electrification marching all over the Highlands.
  • The lines in the North of Scotland probably have a maximum speed of 100 mph at best.
  • Drivers have forty years of experience of running HSTs to Aberdeen and Inverness.
  • To many of the British, the InterCity 125s are the definitive High Speed Train.

Could there even be a popular feeling behind using the trains, in much the same way people cling to the past in their politics?

I think it is a sensible plan for the following reasons.

  • A 2+5 shortened set running at less than the 125 mph design speed could be a very sound economic proposition.
  • The trains have large windows for a good view.
  • I’m sure Scotrail will add appropriate catering, on the upwards of two to three hour journeys.
  • These trains could be passenger magnets for business, leisure and tourists, especially from countries like Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, Canada and the USA.

But above all these Scottish InterCity services must be the Marketing Department’s dream!

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment