The Anonymous Widower

Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work LNER’s Services?

Before I answer this question, I will lay out the battery-electric train’s specification.

Hitachi’s Proposed Battery Electric Train

Based on information in an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is entitled Sparking A Revolution, the specification of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train is given as follows.

  • Based on Class 800-802/804 trains or Class 385 trains.
  • Range of 55-65 miles.
  • Operating speed of 90-100 mph
  • Recharge in ten minutes when static.
  • A battery life of 8-10 years.
  • Battery-only power for stations and urban areas.
  • Trains are designed to be created by conversion of existing Class 80x trains

For this post, I will assume that the train is five  or nine-cars long. This is the length of LNER‘s Class 800 and 801 trains.

LNER’s Services

These are LNER services that run from London to the North of England and Scotland.

I shall go through all the services and see how they would be affected by Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train.

London Kings Cross And Edinburgh

  • The service runs at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph)
  • Some services extend to Aberdeen, Stirling and Inverness and are discussed in the following sections.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Aberdeen

  • The service runs at a frequency of four trains per day (tpd)
  • Intermediate stations are York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Haymarket, Inverkeithing, Kirkaldy, Leuchars, Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose and Stonehaven.
  • Currently, the electrification goes 394 miles to Haymarket.

The service is 524 miles long and takes seven hours and four minutes.

To ascertain, if the Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train, could run this route, I’ll display the various sections of the route.

  • London Kings Cross and Haymarket – 394 miles – Electrified
  • Haymarket and Inverkeithing – 12 miles – Not Electrified
  • Inverkeithing and Kirkcaldy – 13 miles – Not Electrified
  • Kirkaldy and Leuchars – 25 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leuchars and Dundee – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dundee and Arbroath – 17 miles – Not Electrified
  • Arbroath and Montrose – 14 miles – Not Electrified
  • Montrose and Stonehaven – 24 miles – Not Electrified
  • Stonehaven and Aberdeen – 16 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. Haymarket and Dundee is a distance of 58 miles
  2. Dundee and Stonehaven is a distance of 55 miles

So could the service be run with Fast Charge systems at Dundee, Stonehaven and Aberdeen?

I think it could, but the problem would be charging time at Dundee and Stonehaven, as it could add twenty minutes to the journey time and make timetabling difficult on the route.

Perhaps, an alternative would be to electrify a section in the middle of the route to create an electrification island, that could be reached from both Haymarket and Aberdeen.

The obvious section to electrify would be between Dundee and Montrose.

  • It is a distance of 31 miles to electrify.
  • I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route and it could be already gauge-cleared for electrification,
  • Dundee station has been recently rebuilt.
  • Haymarket and Dundee is a distance of 58 miles.
  • Montrose and Aberdeen is a distance of 40 miles.
  • Pantographs could be raised and lowered at Dundee and Montrose stations.

With this electrification and a Fast Charge system at Aberdeen, I believe that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train could run between London Kings Cross and Aberdeen.

As an alternative to the Fast Charge system at Aberdeen, the route of Aberdeen Crossrail between Aberdeen and Inverurie could be electrified.

  • This would enable battery-electric Class 385 trains to run between Inverurie and Montrose.
  • The route through Aberdeen is newly-built, so should be gauge-cleared and reasonably easy to electrify.

It should also be noted that if battery-electric trains can run between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, then these services are also possible, using the same trains.

  • Glasgow and Aberdeen
  • Stirling and Aberdeen

All passenger services  between Scotland’s Cenreal Belt and Aberdeen appear to be possible using battery-electric trains

London Kings Cross And Stirling

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Haymarket, Falkirk Grahamstown

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Inverness

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Haymarket, Falkirk Grahamstown, Stirling, Gleneagles, Perth, Pitlochry, Kingussie and Aviemore.
  • Currently, the electrification goes 429 miles to Stirling, but I have read that the Scottish government would like to see it extended to Perth, which is 462 miles from London.

The service is 581 miles long and takes eight hours and six minutes.

To ascertain, if the Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train, could run this route, I’ll display the various sections of the route.

  • London Kings Cross and Haymarket – 394 miles – Electrified
  • Haymarket and Falkirk Grahamsrown – 23 miles – Electrified
  • Falkirk Grahamsrown and Stirling – 11 miles – Electrified.
  • Stirling and Gleneagles – 17 miles – Not Electrified
  • Gleneagles and Perth –  16 miles – Not Electrified
  • Perth and Pitlochry – 28 miles – – Not Electrified
  • Pitlochry and Kingussie – 44 miles – Not Rlectrified.
  • Kingussie and Aviemore – 12 miles – Not Rlectrified.
  • Aviemore and Inverness – 34 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. The distance between Dunblane, where the electrification actually finishes and Perth is only 28 miles, which shouldn’t be too challenging.
  2. All the sections North of Perth are well within range of a fully charged train.
  3. Some sections of the route are challenging. Look at the video I published in Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST.
  4. Hitachi run diesel Class 800 trains to Inverness, so they must know the power required and the battery size to run between Perth and Inverness.

I also believe that the Scottish Government, ScotRail, the Highland tourist industry and Hitachi, would all put their endeavours behind a project to get battery-electric trains between Perth and Inverness.

It would send a powerful message, that if battery-electric trains can run on one of the most scenic rail lines in the world without electrification, then nowhere is out of reach of battery trains.

Looking at the figures, I am convinced that a series of Fast Charge systems at stations like Pitlochry, Kingussie and Aviemore could supply enough power to allow a nine-car version of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train to work the route.

This battery-electrification, would also enable battery-electric Class 385 trains to work the route.

If all this sounds a bit fanciful and over ambitious, read the history of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, which brought electricity to the area in the 1940s and 1950s.

This battery-electrification is a small project compared to what the Hydro-Electric Board achieved.

I can see a time, when similar techniques allow battery-electric trains to run these lines from Inverness.

  • Far North Line – 174 miles
  • Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh – 82 miles
  • Inverness and Aberdeen – 108 miles

The Far North Line would probably need two or three Fast Charge systems at intermediate stations, but the other lines would probably only need one system, somewhere in the middle.

I think that this analysis for London and Inverness shows that all parts of England, Scotland and Wales can be served by modern battery-electric trains.

It would also appear that the cost of the necessary Fast Charging systems, would be much more affordable than full electrification, North of Perth.

I estimate that less than a dozen Fast Charging systems would be needed, North of Perth.

  • Some electrification might be needed in Inverness station.
  • Electrification between Inverurie and Aberdeen could help.
  • There’s no shortage of zero-carbon electricity from wind and hydro-electric power.

A couple of years ago, I speculated in a post called London To Thurso Direct.

Could it happen on a regular basis in the summer months?

London Kings Cross And Leeds

  • The service runs at a frequency of two tph
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Harrogate

  • The service runs at a frequency of six tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
  • Leeds and Harrogate is a distance of nineteen miles and is not electrified.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train should be able to go from Leeds to Harrogate and back, using battery power alone.
  • Batteries will be charged using the electrification at and around Leeds.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Bradford Foster Square

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
  • Leeds and Bradford Forster Square is a distance of fourteen miles and electrified.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Skipton

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
  • Leeds and Skipton is a distance of twenty-six miles and electrified.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Lincoln

  • The service runs at a frequency of one train per two hours (1tp2h)
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate
  • Newark North Gate and Lincoln is a distance of sixteen miles and not electrified.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train should be able to go from Newark North Gate to Lincoln and back, using battery power alone.
  • Batteries will be charged using the electrification between Newark North Gate and London Kings Cross.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And York

  • The service runs at a frequency of 1tp2h
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate, Retford and Doncaster

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Hull

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate, Retford and Doncaster
  • Temple Hirst Junction and Hull is a distance of thirty-six miles and not electrified.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train should be able to go from Temple Hirst Junction and Hull and back, using battery power and a Fast Charge system at Hull.
  • Batteries will also be charged using the electrification between Temple Hirst Junction and London Kings Cross.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

Consider.

  • The train runs seventy-two miles to get to Hull and back on lines without electrification..
  • Hitachi state that the trains maximum range on battery power is sixty-five miles.
  • Hull Trains and TransPennine Express also run similar trains on this route, that will need charging at Hull.

So rather than installing a Fast Charge system at Hull, would it be better to do one of the following.

  • Create a battery-electric AT-300 train with a bigger battery and a longer range. A One-Size-Fits-All could be better.
  • However, the larger battery would be an ideal solution for Hull Trains, who also have to reverse and go on to Beverley.
  • Electrify the last few miles of track into Hull. I don’t like this as electrifying stations can be tricky and getting power might be difficult!
  • Electrify between Temple Hirst Junction and Selby station and whilst this is done, build a solution to the problem of the swing bridge. Power for the electrification can be taken from the East Coast Main Line.

I’m sure a compromise between train battery size and electrification can be found, that creates a solution, that is acceptable to the accountants.

Conclusion

I think it could be possible, that LNER could use a fleet of all-electric and battery-electric AT-300 trains.

 

 

 

February 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible Trains Have Battery Operation?

I believe it is very likely, that High Speed Two’s new classic-compatible trains will have battery capabilities.

  • Batteries would handle energy generated by regenerative braking.
  • Batteries would give a train recovery capability in case of overhead catenary failure.
  • Batteries would be used for depot movements.
  • Batteries would probably improve the energy efficiency of the trains.

Effectively, the batteries would power the train and would be topped-up by the electrification and the regenerative braking.

But would they be able to give the trains a route extension capability on lines without electrification?

Consider.

  • Battery technology is getting better with energy capacity per kilogram increasing.
  • Batteries will be full, when the train leaves the electrification.
  • These trains will be as light as possible.
  • Trains will not be running at speeds in excess of perhaps 100 mph without electrification.
  • Fast charging can be provided at station stops.

I think, that trains could be able to do at least 40 to 50 miles on a full charge.

Fast Charging Technology

The most promising fast-charging technology is Vivarail’s system of using a length of conventional third-rail connected to a bank of batteries. When the train connects with the third-rail, electricity flows to the batteries on the train.

There are also others working on systems that use short lengths of overhead electrification.

Both systems can be totally automatic and safe.

Example Routes

These are three possible example routes.

Aberdeen And Edinburgh

These are the distances between stops on the route between Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

  • Aberdeen and Stonehaven – 12 miles
  • Stonehaven and Montrose – 24 miles
  • Montrose and Arbroath – 14 miles
  • Arbroath and Dundee – 17 miles
  • Dundee and Leuchars – 8 miles
  • Leuchars and Kirkaldy – 25 miles
  • Kirkcaldy and Inverkeithing – 13 miles
  • Inverkeithing and Edinburgh – 13 miles

It is a total of 130 miles without electrification.

The route is also generally flat and mainly along the coast.

Inverness And Edinburgh

These are the distances between stops on the route between Inverness and Strirling.

  • Inverness and Aciemore- 35 miles
  • Aviemore and Kingussie – 12 miles
  • Kingussie and Pitlochry – 43 miles
  • Pitlochry and Perth – 30 miles
  • Perth and Gleneagles – 15 miles
  • Gleneagles and Stirling – 17 miles

It is a total of 152 miles without electrification.

As there are some steep gradients, there may be a need for some electrification in certain sections of the route.

Holyhead And Crewe

These are the distances between stops on the route between Holyhead and Crewe

  • Holyhead and Bangor – 25 miles.
  • Bangor and Llandudno Junction – 16 miles
  • Llandudno Junction and Colwyn Bay – 4 miles
  • Colwyn Bay and Rhyl – 10 miles
  • Rhyl and Prestatyn – 4 miles
  • Prestatyn and Flint – 14 miles
  • Flint and Chester – 13 miles
  • Chester and Crewe – 21 miles

It is a total of 105 miles without electrification.

The route is also generally flat and mainly along the coast.

A Stepping-Stone Approach

I believe there is a design of fast charger, that in say a three minute stop can charge the battery sufficient to get to the next station. The electrification might continue for perhaps a couple of hundred metres from the station on the tracks where the trains are accelerating.

A train making a stop at a station would do the following.

  • As it approaches the stop, the train’s kinetic energy is turned into electricity by the regenerative braking.
  • This energy is stored in the batteries.
  • In the station, the batteries are charged from the fast charger or electrification.
  • Whilst stopped, the batteries provide the power for the train’s systems.
  • Accelerating away would use the batteries or electrification if it is installed.

The train’s computer would monitor the batteries and control the various power systems and sources to run the train in the most efficient manner.

This sequence would be repeated at each stop as the train progressed to its destination.

Extra Electrification

In the section on the challenging Edinburgh and Inverness route, I said that some gradients would probably need to be electrified to maintain progress.

But there are other sections, where electrification has been suggested.

  • Stirling and Perth
  • Crewe and Chester

So could we be seeing a mixture of electrification and charging stations on routes to allow electric trains to serve routes, where full electrification is impossible for practical, scenic, heritage or cost reasons?

The South Wales Metro is to use discontinuous electrification to save the cost of rebuilding innumerable bridges.

Conclusion

I believe that engineers can design high speed trains, that will be able to run on existing lines using battery power to serve the remoter parts of Great Britain.

February 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Mysterious Scotsman

A couple of years ago, I was contacted by a Scot called Andrew, who wanted to talk to me about blogging and my blog in particular.

I said, on my next trip North, why don’t we meet at somewhere like Stirling, which I sometimes use as a base for trips. I wrote about the city as a base in this post called Stirling.

We met and had a pizza in the City and we talked about Stirling’s direct rail connections to London.

This morning, I was looking up Grand Union, who are a proposed open-access train company, who aim to be running a rail service between London Paddington and Wales, within the next few years using InterCity 225 trains.

And what did I find?

The company is also proposing to run a service between London and Scotland. In a London-Scotland section in the Wikipedia entry, this is said.

In August 2019, Grand Union lodged an application to operate three or four trains per day between London Euston and Stirling calling at Milton Keynes Central, Nuneaton, Crewe, Preston, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell, Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert with InterCity 225s from May 2021.

As I said in my meeting, I feel that a direct London and Stirling service could be invaluable.

  • Stirling has good rail connections to the rest of Scotland.
  • Stirling will be served by Scotrail’s upmarket Inter7City services.
  • The route is fully-electrified between London and Stirling.

I doubt the good burghers of Stirling would object.

I have a few comments.

The Route

The route is interesting, as it gives some new connectivity, that I’m sure will be welcomed by customers.

Milton Keynes

Consider.

  • Milton Keynes Central is a well-connected station.
  • It will get even better when the East-West Rail Link is opened in a few years.
  • Some journeys will be easier with a change at Milton Keynes, rather than in London.

Current services between Milton Keynes and Scotland, go via Birmingham.

Nuneaton

Nuneaton is becoming a busy hub station between Birmingham, Coventry and Leicester and must improve services along the West Coast Main Line to and from the North and Scotland.

Crewe, Preston And Carlisle

The new service will add connectivity to these important hubs.

Lockerbie

Lockerbie station only gets three trains per day in both directions.

If Grand Union stopped all their services, this would double the number of services calling at Lockerbie.

Motherwell, , Whifflet, Greenfaulds And Larbert

These stations should give good connectivity in South-East Glasgow, with links to Ayr in the West and Edinburgh in the East.

Stiring Station

In addition to good rail connectivity, Stirling station is not  far from the City Centre and has good facilities.

The Trains

Wikipedia says the services will be run by InterCity 225 trains.

I would assume they will be shortened to perhaps five to seven cars.

The Timings

Currently, the fastest train between Euston and Motherwell is the 17:30, which takes fours and fifteen minutes, with six stops.

As the proposed service would also take six stops between Euston and Motherwell, I would assume that Grand Union would be aiming for a similar time.

Looking at individual timings on the route the train would take between Motherwell snd Stirling via Whifflet, Coatbridge Central, Greenfaulds, Cumbernauld, Carmuirs Junction and Larbert, I am fairly certain that a train running with three scheduled stops could do the trip in around 38-42 minutes.

This is the summary of the times.

  • London Euston and Motherwell – four hours and fifteen minutes.
  • Motherwell and Stirling – 38-42 minutes.

Which would give a time between Euston and Stirling of around five hours.

This compares with the current best timings.

  • London Kings Cross and Stirling – five hours and eighteen minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh – four hours and twenty minutes
  • London Euston and Glasgow – four hours and thirty minutes

So the new service would appear to give the following advantages.

  • A faster service between London and Stirling.
  • Faster services between London and Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert.

This is in addition to the big advantage of three or four new direct services per day.

Services Between The South And Inverness With A Change At Stirling

Could this be one of the markets that Grand Union are looking to exploit?

Currently, there are two direct services between London and Inverness.

  • The daily direct daytime service takes eight hours and runs once a day.
  • The Sleeper takes even longer, but you do get an overnight rest.

So could a service between London and Stirling provide extra services?

Consider.

  • Currently, Scotrail’s services between Stirling and Inverness take just under three hours and run roughly two-hourly.
  • Network Rail are improving the Highland Main Line with passing loops and longer platforms to increase capacity and operating speeds.
  • Scotrail are introducing new better quality Inter7City trains on the route.
  • The new December 2019 timetable looks like services could be a few minutes faster.

I suspect, if the trains were appropriately timetabled, there could be extra services between Inverness and London Euston.

  • There would be a change of train at Stirling.
  • Timing could be around seven and a half hours.
  • Both trains would be high-quality ones.

I suspect that three new services with times of less than eight hours could be created bertween London and Inverness

The Glasgow By-Pass

If you want to go between Carlisle and Stirling, you will be recommended to take the following route.

  • Carlisle to Glasgow Central – Up to four trains per hour (tph)
  • Glasgow Central to Glasgow Queen Street – Walk as I do or a bus.
  • Glasgow Queen Street to Stirling – three tph

The journey time is just over two and a half hours.

I estimate that Grand Union’s services could go between Carlisle and Stirling in around forty-five minutes less, without a change of train.

The route is also now fully-electrified between Stirling and Carlisle, so could this be used by other services.

High Speed Two

When High Speed Two is completed, there will be two tph to both Edinburgh and Glasgow, with I suspect the trains working as a pair South of Carstairs, where they will split and join.

I suspect that High Speed Two will take the lion’s share of passengers between London and Edinburgh and Glasgow, but the two services could work together.

  • It might be quicker to change at Preston to Grand Union, if you’re going to Stirling.
  • If Stirling to Aberdeen and/or Inverness were to be electrified, could classic-compatible High Speed Two trains go further North?
  • At the Southern end, places like Milton Keynes and Nuneaton will not be served by High Speed Two, but existing and Grand Union services could provide connections.
  • North of Crewe, it is planed that High Speed Two will run on an upgraded West Coast Main Line.

For reasons like this High Speed Two will need to be integrated with other services.

Conclusion

Grand Union will make services from London to Stirling and the Northern part of coitland netter and more competitive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Promoting The Highland Main Line

On Wednesday, the Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership were in Kings Cross station promoting the Highland Main Line as a tourism destination.

I very much agree with the Partnership’s objective of encouraging more visitorsto the Scottish Highlands.

The Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership Web Site

The Partnership were giving out an excellent brochure brochure which documents the wide range of attractions along the line between Perth and Inverness.

The Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership web site has an on-line copy of the brochure.

The web site is also a valuable resource about the line and the area.

An Improving Domestic Rail Service

There is an approximately two-hourly service between Perth and Inverness and it is planned that this will be improved in the next couple of years.

  • Reducing journey times is an objective.
  • An hourly service is also an objective.
  • Inter7City trains, which are shortened, refurbished and modernised InterCity 125 trains will be introduced.

This service will enable visitors to base themselves close to one of the stations along the line and use the trains to visit other places.

Azumas To Inverness

LNER currently run InterCity 125 trains between London and Inverness

  • There is a single service each day in both directions.
  • The Northbound train leaves London at midday.
  • The Southbound train leaves Inverness just before eight in the morning.
  • The journey currently takes around eight hours.
  • The trains stop at all stations between Perth and Inverness.

The service needs two trains to run one train per day in both directions.

LNER have just launched the new Class 800 trains, which they are marketing as Azumas.

My observations show that Azumas could save between thirty and sixty minutes on the trip.

The following improvements will all help.

  • Improvements to the Highland Main Line.
  • Steo-free access between train and platform at all stations.
  • Faster acceleration and deceleration at all stops.
  • Electrification to Stirling and possibly as far as Perth.
  • As digital signalling is introduced South of Edinburgh, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible.

Many of these improvements are currently planned and most will be completed by 2024.

This video was one I made travelling in the cab of an InterCity 125.

Will LNER invite to take one from an Azuma?

The Possibility Of Extra Services

The journey time between London and Inverness will surely get shorter in the next few years.

If say it was seven hours, then allowing an hour for cleaning, loading supplies and refuelling in Inverness would mean that a round trip from London would take fifteen hours.

  • A train leaving Kings Cross station at 07:00 would arrive in Inverness at 14:00.
  • The return journey would leave at 15:00 and be in London by 22:00.
  • A second service could start in Inverness and mirror the service starting in London.

The service would need two trains.

So it appears that by saving time on the journey, the possibility of extra services is opened up.

The Improved Sleeper Service

I have taken the current Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness and it is a spectacular ride through the Highlands in the early morning.

But the elderly trains are being replaced and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more passengers decide to  use the sleeper to the Highlands.

Over the last few years, the Austrians, the Swedes and the Scots have all ordered new rolling stock for their sleeper trains and I believe that we’ll see a revival in this form of transport, throughout Europe.

A Caithness To Edinburgh Sleeper

This has been proposed and I wrote about it in Rail Sleeper Plan Between Caithness And Edinburgh.

This was my conclusion.

I feel that not next year, but once Scotland’s rail system is fully developed, with the shortened Inter-City 125s serving the longer routes and electric trains all over the Central Belt, that a Sleeper Train between Edinburgh and Thurso will be viable.

The proposed increase in capacity between London and Edinburgh, probably adds to the viability.

Sleeper One Way And Azuma The Other

I can see this becoming a popular way to visit Scotland.

  • It will be new trains both ways.
  • Both trains stop at all stations between Perth and Inverness.
  • The price of a sleeper ticket compares well with the cost of a reasonable hotel.

The combinations are many and varied.

Cycling

Cycling holidays seem to be increasing everywhere and Scotland is no exception.

On the West Highland Line between Gl;asgow and Oban, passengers with cycles are increasing in number, so Scotrail are converting redundant Class 153 trains into multi-purpose carriages to add capacity to the trains.

On the Highland Main Line, for those, who want to explore the area on their bicycles, the Inter7City trains should be able to provide enough space for bicycles in the back of the two Class 43 locomotives.

Conclusion

The more I look at the Highland Main Line, the more I think it has a rosy future.

All it needs to seal its future is a visit from Michael Portillo and his camera crew.

 

May 18, 2019 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 | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Will Virgin Trains East Coast Use Class 800/801 Trains?

The following two sections give Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) current and future fleets.

Current Fleet

VTEC have a current fleet comprising the following locomotives and coaches.

The Class 43 locomotives and the Mark 3 coaches are formed into InterCity 125 trains.

  • Two locomotives and nine coaches per set.
  • 125 mph capability
  • Diesel-powered

Which gives thirteen diesel trains.

The Class 91 locomotives and Mark 4 coaches are formed into InterCity 225 trains.

  • One locomotive, one driving van trailer and nine coaches per set.
  • 140 mph capability
  • Electric-powered.
  • Ability to run London to Edinburgh in under four hours.

Which gives thirty-one electric trains.

Adding the two figures together gives a total of forty-four nine-car trains.

Future Fleet

VTEC’s  future fleet will include.

Adding these together counting the five-car trains as half gives fifty-four nine-car trains.

Or ten more nine-car trains!

In addition six to eight InterCity225 trains could be retained in service to run limited stop trains between London and Edinburgh.

This increase in capacity can only me good for passengers, with more services and destinations.

Questions About Class 800/801 Trains

What is the capacity of a nine-car Class 800/801 train?

I can’t find this on the Internet and I suspect it hasn’t been decided.

Wikipedia gives the capacity of an InterCity 225 train as 406 Standard and 129 First Class seats.

It should also be noted that the car length in a Class 800/801 is twenty-six metres, as opposed to the twenty-three metres of the InterCity 225.

I would hope good design can make excellent use of this space.

Will two Class 800/801 trains be able to work as a pair?

I suspect the answer to this is yes, as the closely-related Class 395 trains regularly do this.

The most common use would be to run two five-car trains as a ten-car set.

This would be a 260 metre long train, which is perhaps fifteen metres longer than an InterCity 225 train.

Some lengthening of platforms may be necessary, but it probably isn’t a major problem.

Will coupling and uncoupling of a pair of Class 800/801 trains be automatic?

In The Impressive Coupling And Uncoupling Of Class 395 Trains, I linked to videos of the closely-related Class 395 trains, doing just this in under a minute.

I would be very surprised if two Class 800/801 trains couldn’t do the same.

Will a Class 800 train and a Class 801 train be able to work as a pair?

There may be circumstances, where this is needed on electrified lines, so I would be very surprised if this is not possible.

At what station will a Class 800/801 train be able to call?

The nine-car trains are 234 metres long and a pair of five car trains will be 260 metres long, so platform length will mean they can’t call at a lot of smaller stations.

But a five-car train will be only 130 metres long, which will be shorter than a pair of four-car multiple-units working together, which are regularly seen on the UK’s rail network.

So the five-car trains will probably be able to serve a surprising number of stations.

Will Class 800/801 trains have a faster turn-round time?

If you look at the times of trains between London and Leeds, this things happen.

  • A few minutes after a train leaves the platform at Leeds and Kings Cross, the next incoming service arrives.
  • It then waits in the station for nearly half-an-hour before going back.

Effectively, an hour must be added to each Out and Back journey between London and Leeds.

This time will enable.

  • Passengers to unload and load.
  • Train to be prepared.
  • Crew to be changed if required.

Any delay of a few minutes can hopefully be recovered.

Train preparation time will probably be better with the Class 800/801 trains, as hopefully automation and better design will speed the process.

But cutting this thirty minutes  substantially would probably require passengers to be marched around like the Brigade of Guards, which is of course not possible.

Hopefully, the new trains will be designed, so that ingress and egress for all passengers will be easier and faster but at some stations like Leeds, the station layout is more of a bottleneck than the train.

A few minutes reduction in turn-round time might be possible, but nothing that would mean a train doesn’t occupy a platform for half-an-hour.

How long will A Class 801 train take between London and Edinburgh?

Currently the fastest journey time using an InterCity 225 is around four hours and twenty minutes, but they have done it in under four hours in test runs.

For marketing reasons, I suspect that VTEC would like to dip under four hours with the fastest trains.

As the Class 800/801 trains have a similar 140 mph performance to the InterCity 225, I suspect that four hours will also be possible.

But the big difference will be that the Class 800/801 trains will probably have faster stop times at any intermediate stations.

So I suspect that the average journey time between London and Edinburgh will drop.

How Will VTEC Use Class 800/801 Trains?

Returning to my original question, I’ll now attempt to answer it in the next few sections.

London-Edinburgh Services

I think we can assume the following.

  • There will be at least two trains per hour (tph)
  • Trains will usually be nine-car trains.
  • Class 800 trains will not normally use diesel power on the route.
  • Some trains could be  two five-car trains running as a pair.
  • A proportion of trains will do the trip in under four hours.
  • Intermediate stops as now will be optimised to the passenger traffic.
  • Intermediate stops will be faster.

I also think, that the InterCity 225 sets will be improved, so they can match the times of the Class 800/801 trains.

I think that once improved signalling on the East Coast Main Line is working and allowing running faster than 125 mph, we could be seeing trains being able to go from London to Edinburgh and back in under nine hours, assuming a thirty minute turn-round at both ends of the route.

This would mean that a dedicated London to Edinburgh fleet of just eighteen trains would be required to run a two tph service. Three tph would need another nine trains.

Speed up the trains so, that a round trip can be done in eight hours and sixteen trains are needed for the two tph service, with eight more trains needed to up the service to three tph.

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for Virgin Trains East Coast, this is said.

If VTEC’s application to operate extra limited stops services to Edinburgh is successful, it is proposing to operate these by retaining six to eight InterCity 225 sets.

Interesting! So will some or all hours see a third train between London and Edinburgh.

Are the thirty-year-old InterCity 225 trains, showing the same survival instincts of their ten-year-older predecessors; the InterCity 125s?

London-Aberdeen And London-Inverness Services

Currently times on these routes from London are as follows.

  • London-Aberdeen – seven hours and four minutes – three trains per day
  • London-Inverness- eight hours and four minutes – one train per day

So what times could a Class 800 achieve on these routes?

Times North of Edinburgh with an InterCity 125 are as follows.

  • Edinburgh to Aberdeen takes two hours and thirty-six minutes – Fastest ScotRail takes two hours sixteen minutes.
  • Edinburgh to Inverness takes three hours and thirty-one minutes – Fastest ScotRail takes three hours nineteen minutes.

I suspect that a Class 800 train running on diesel power could match the InterCity 125 times and approach the ScotRail times.

But as they would be running on electric power to and from London in four hours, times could be as follows.

  • London-Aberdeen – six hours and sixteen minutes
  • London-Inverness – seven hours and nineteen minutes

So over half-an-hour could be saved on both routes.

Currently trains leave London at these times.

  • 10:00 – Aberdeen
  • 12:00 – Inverness
  • 14:00 – Aberdeen
  • 16:00 – Aberdeen

Note that there is probably no 18:00 train, as that would arrive in Aberdeen at 0110.

That is probably too late, but a well-driven Class 800 train, might get to Aberdeen around 00:30, which could be acceptable.

There is also the possibility of running a pair of five-car Class 800 trains to |Edinburgh, where they split with one train going to Aberdeen and the other to Inverness.

If the 16:00 train were to split, the Inverness portion would finish its journey before midnight.

A schedule like this from London could be possible.

  • 10:00 – Aberdeen and Inverness
  • 12:00 – Inverness
  • 14:00 – Aberdeen and Inverness
  • 16:00 – Aberdeen and Inverness
  • 18:00 – Aberdeen

Both Northern cities would get four trains per day from London, because of two factors.

  • The ability to run on electric power between London and Edinburgh, which knocks time off that section of the route.
  • The ability to split and join trains at Edinburgh, which saves paths on the East Coast Main Line.

It should be noted that any electrification North from Edinburgh will help.

Stirling to Edinburgh and Glasgow could be electrified by 2019 or 2020.

  • Trains would run to the South of Stirling on electric power.
  • Any splitting going North and joining going South would take place at Stirling.
  • Trains would still stop at Edinburgh to load and unload passengers.
  • Crew change currently takes place at Edinburgh, but that could happen at Stirling.

With a well-executed stop at Stirling, electric power between Stirling and Edinburgh and a few other improvements could we see the following?

  • London-Aberdeen – six hours
  • London-Inverness – seven hours

It would certainly please VTEC’s Marketing Department.

Services To St. Andrews

The Open Championship was last held at St. Andrews in 2015, so by the next time it is held at the Home of Golf, it is likely that a station will have been built for the town.

This new station must be able to accept Class 800/801 trains, which during a major event might need to run to the area.

This reasoning must apply to lots of places either on or within fifty miles of the East Coast Main Line.

London-Leeds Services

Leeds is generally served by 2 tph from London in around two hours ten minutes.

These are usually nine-car InterCity 225 trains, with a couple of InterCity 125 trains, that go to places like Harrogate, which are not electrified.

As the speed limits on the East Coast Main Line are increased as trains are fitted with in-can signalling, I suspect that VTEC’s Marketing Department will be pushing for times between London and Leeds to be under two hours.

I can’t believe that VTEC will not extend services from Leeds by making use of five-car trains running to Leeds as a pair, where they would divide and join.

I am assuming that Class 800/801 trains can join as well as the closely-related Class 395 trains, which do so it in under a minute.

Places that could be served include.

  • Bradford
  • Harrogate
  • Horsforth
  • Huddersfield
  • Ilkley
  • Keighley
  • Shipley
  • Skipton

Note.

  1. Some stations like Harrogate and Horsforth are not electrified, so would need Class 800 electro-diesel trains.
  2. Five-car trains could serve a lot of stations on the Leeds-Bradford Metro network, thus opening up the possibility of services to places like Headingley for the cricket and rugby and Saltaire for the culture.
  3. Could a five-car Class 800 electro-diesel train run over the Settle and Carlisle Line to Carlisle and Scotland?
  4. Extending some services from Leeds may mean that platform space is released at the station.

I think that the possibilities to extend services from Leeds using the five-car Class 800/801 trains are large.

London-Edinburgh Via Leeds

On the West Coast Main Line, some Scottish services from London, go via Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

So if there was a fully electrified route from Leeds to York, then some Scottish trains could go via Leeds.

At present, I don’t think this is possible with an electric train, as part of the route from Leeds to York is not electrified.

The electrification should be well underway by now, but there is no sign of it.

Other Extended Services

What can be done at Leeds can surely be done at other places.

If the two trains can couple and uncouple within a minute, that means that a pair of trains can arrive in a station and go through the following sequence.

  • 00:00 -A joined pair of Class 800/801 trains arrive in the station and load and unload passengers.
  • 00:03 – Close the train doors
  • 00:04 – Start the automatic decoupling process.
  • 00:05 – The first train leaves the platform.
  • 00:08 – After three minutes the second train leaves the platform.

I believe that the stop could be under ten minutes and the trains would be a safe three minutes apart, as they left the station.

So where could trains be split?

  • Newark or Peterborough for Lincoln and Nottingham
  • Doncaster for Hull and Sheffield
  • York for Scarborough and Harrogate
  • York for Middlesbrough and Sunderland
  • Newcastle for Ashington and Sunderland

Note.

  1. Trains could go in a loop to serve several stations.
  2. Sunderland could be on such a loop.
  3. As trains would only be five cars, they could stop at most stations in need of a service.
  4. Stations like Peterborough, Doncaster, York and Newcastle with more than one through platform in each direction would probably be preferred stations for split and join.
  5. No electrification is needed away from the East Coast Main Line.

Obviously, passenger needs and traffic patterns will decide, where the trains split and join.

Conclusions

The big conclusion will be that more places will receive long distance services to London and the places in between.

But these trains will really put the squeeze on smaller operators like Hull Trains and Grand Central Trains, as VTEC will be serving their station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Inverness Airport To Get A Railway Station

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Planning application submitted for Inverness Airport station.

This Google Map shows Inverness Airport.

Inverness Airport

Cutting across the map, to the South-East of the Airport and parallel to the main runway is the Aberdeen to Inverness Line.

The station would be a replacement for the closed Dalcross station and Wikipedia has a section on the Proposed New Station. This is said.

In June 2006 a proposal was announced to open a new station at Dalcross, which would serve Inverness Airport and also provide park-and-ride facilities for commuters to Inverness, relieving road congestion to the east of Inverness,[9] and so helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The proposal was still open in 2010, and it was specified that the station could have one platform on the north side of the line, 150 metres (490 ft) long, enough for a six-car Class 170 train.

The Aberdeen Press and Journal also has the story and says this.

The proposed location of the development is adjacent to the C1017 airport access road, between the first and second roundabouts after leaving the existing A96, at the southern corner of the airfield.

The platform will be capable of accommodating high-speed trains with five carriages and two engine cars, as proposed by operators Abellio.

So it would seem that the go-ahead has been given.

October 11, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | 3 Comments

Aberdeen Gets A City Deal

Yesterday as reported in this article on the BBC, Aberdeen got a City Deal.

Acording to the BBC, the funding will be used as follows.

  • An initial £200m to improve journey times and increase capacity on key rail links between Aberdeen and the central belt, upgrading the rail line in the Montrose basin
  • £24m for the trunk roads programme to support improvements to the key A90/A937 south junction at Laurencekirk
  • £10m for extension of digital infrastructure in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire area above and beyond the commitment through the City Deal
  • £20m in infrastructure funding to unlock housing sites that are of strategic importance to the local authorities as well as five-year certainty on £130m of affordable housing grant.

It all seems good to me, given the problems of the oil industry.

I gained a unique perspective to the North of Scotland, when I travelled from Edinburgh to Inverness, a few years ago. I wrote about the trip in Edinburgh to Invernesss In The Cab Of An HST.

InterCity 125s may be iconic transport, but Scotland’s two Northern cities and the surrounding areas need many more quality services to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The rail part of the City Deal talks about dualling the railway line from Aberdeen to the South.

I would go further. Consider.

The Aberdeen to Edinburgh Line is a 100 mph railway.

The Aberdeen to Glasgow Line branches off at Dundee and goes to Glasgow via Perth and Stirling.

Important communities are served all along the railways.

Services are every hour, but some are slow, as there are a lot of stops.

In my view Scotland North of the Tay, is ideal IPEMU country. I would run services between Edinburgh and Glasgow and Aberdeen using 125 mph electric trains with an IPEMU capability. These would shorten journey times, not just because of their speed, but because electric trains, stop at stations and then accelerate away in a reduced time.

Obviously, there would need to be some electrification.

  • Across Aberdeen, Aberdeen Crossrail could be built between Dyce and Stonehaven, so that Aberdeen could have an electrified cross-city service.
  • Around Dundee and Perth. This would come with the aspiration of connecting these two cities to the much-delayed Edinburgh to Glasgow electrification with electric trains. These trains could have an IPEMU capability.

It would give the Eastern side of the North of Scotland the railway links it needs.

To provide electric services to Inverness would be trickier, but as support for IPEMUs gets even more innovative, I suspect that Perth and Aberdeen to Inverness could be bridged.

I think IPEMUs are one area, where engineers will be able to marry all sorts of disparate technology together to give improvements, others would think impossible or even downright silly.

The main northern routes and their approximate distances are.

  • Dundee to Aberdeen – 70 miles
  • Aberdeen to Inverness – 100 miles
  • Perth to Inverness – 110 miles

The only route that could be served by an IPEMU at the present time is Dundee to Aberdeen. But this would mean that creating an electric service from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Aberdeen is not the major engineering project that many believe it to be.

It would need.

  • Creation of an electrified Aberdeen Crossrail from Dyce to Inverurie.
  • Electrification from Stirling to Dundee via Perth.
  • The purchase of some suitable trains with an IPEMU capability.

Get the railways to the North of Perth and Dundee right and the benefits to the North of Scotland could be immense.

  • An improved rail service would increase tourism, with all the benefits that brings.
  • Aberdeen Airport would get a proper rail service.
  • Edinburgh to Aberdeen by train is now well over two hours. Steam trains in the 1895 Race To The North did it in only an hour longer.
  • 125 mph trains with an IPEMU capability could break the two-hour barrier.
  • Ferries for the Orkneys and Shetlands leave from a port near to Aberdeen station. so those islands could benefit.

I also believe that if the lines are improved in the North, then connectivity in the South of Scotland should also be improved.

Scotland needs to get its railway improvement plans into shape.

January 29, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh

The Kyle of Lochalsh Line is one of the great railway journeys in the world. It is probably best described as legendary, as anybody of a certain age, who has ever collected engine numbers or closely observed trains, has heard of the railway, that winds its way from Inverness almost to the Isle of Skye.

I’d spent the night in a comfortable B&B called Ivanhoe, where they went to a lot of trouble to get me some gluten-free rolls for my  breakfast.  They prepared a buttered spare for my lunch with some salmon or meat that I might buy on the journey.  I would certainly stay at Ivanhoe again.

The line sweeps between sea and mountains and alongside lochs on its way to Kyle of Lochalsh.

The real problem on the line is that there is just too little capacity.  I have been reading in Modern Railways about the problems of the replacement of the inadequate Pacers, that I used to get from Doncaster to Scunthorpe.  Surely the thing to do would be to create rakes of say four or five Mk 3 coaches and use those on lines like this with a diesel engine and then cascade the Class 158s to where they are desperately needed like East Anglia, Lincolnshire and the North.

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST

Part of the reason for the trip north was to travel in the cab of a diesel  High Speed Train from Edinburgh to Inverness.  This was organised by East Coast and I don’t think they’d be too happy, if you used this page as an excuse to try to do the same. But thanks to everyone at the company, for giving me the trip of a lifetime!

I travelled with their Driver Manager, who himself had spent years driving trains, and an experienced driver from Newcastle, so if anybody thinks that having me in the cab compromised anything, then there was no way I could.

The first thing that struck me about the journey was how quiet it was in the cab of the HST, despite having a 2,250 horse power diesel engine in the next room.  Compare this with the engine in a typical heavy truck and it’s about five times as powerful, but then it has to pull nine full coaches, with the help of the other power car at the back of the train and a total of 4,500 horses. Compare it too with the 3,300 horse power of the Deltic of the 160s and 1970s.  But that was a 100 mph train, as opposed to the 125 mph of the HST.

It should also be said that the noise and vibration was much less than that I experienced as a passenger on one of the dreaded Pacers on my way to Scunthorpe.

Before you watch the video, note that the occasional screeches are the signal warnings, which must be cancelled by the driver.

As they say, enjoy the film! The video has now been shortened, by cutting out some of the repetitive bits!

Incidentally, my typing and vision has improved a bit, since the trip.

Was that improvement caused by travelling in a HST? If it is, then it’s a very unusual cure and something you won’t get on the NHS!

To say the least it was a train journey of a lifetime, usually at 90 mph on a line that rises to 1,400 feet above sea level. How many trains in the world do that sort of speed on a line that was opened in the last century.  Remember too, that the youngest HST is 27 years old!

Some journey! Some train!  But then good engineering is absolutely timeless!

Some of my friends, think that I didn’t take this film.  So here’s a picture of me in the cab.

I actually didn’t realise I looked that scruffy, but then I was travelling to be warm!  Hence the Ipswich Town woolly hat! Was it the first time, such a hat had been worn on an HST?

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Transport | , , | 30 Comments