The Anonymous Widower

Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With Tyne And Wear Metro’s Class 994 Trains

As the Class 994 trains of the Tyne and Wear Metro, are being replaced, it will be interesting to compare them with the proposed Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles for the South Wales Metro.

New Trains For The Tyne And Wear Metro

Under Proposed New Fleet in the Wikipedia entry for Tyne and Wear Metro Rolling Stock this is said.

In November 2017, the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the government would provide £337 million towards the new fleet. The proposed new fleet would consist of 84 trains to replace the existing 90 train fleet, as Nexus believe that the improved reliability of the newer trains would allow them to operate the same service levels with fewer trains. These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet, and a full width drivers cab instead of the small driving booth of the existing trains. The proposed new fleet is planned to have dual voltage capability, able to operate on the Metro’s existing 1.5 kV DC electrification system and also the 25 kV AC used on the national rail network, to allow greater flexibility. Battery technology is also being considered.

Note.

  1. A dual-voltage capability will be required.
  2. Battery capability would be ideal for short movements and regenerative braking.
  3. In my, view longitudinal seating needs a walk-though capability.
  4. Currently, trains are two-car units and generally work in pairs.
  5. Trains can work in formations of three and four units, but the ability is not used.

If trains generally work in pairs would it be more affordable to have four-car trains?

Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With The Current Tyne And Wear Class 994 Trains

In the following I will assume that the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles are similar to Class 399 tram-trains, as they are both members of the Stadler Citylink family.

Train Width And Height

The width and height of the two vehicles are as follow.

  • Class 994 train – 2.65 x 3.45 metres
  • Class 399 tram-train – 2.65 x 3.60 metres

There’s not much difference here.

Train Length And Sections

  • Class 994 train – 55.6 metres and two sections.
  • Class 399 tram-train – 37.2 metres and three sections.
  • South Wales Metro’s Metro Vehicle – 40 metres (?) and three sections.

It should be noted that Citylink tram-trains in Valencia have four and five sections.

Having used the Class 378 trains, with their walk-through capability and longitudinal seating, on the London Overground for at least seven years, I believe there is no other way to design a high-capacity metro train.

So the Tyne and Wear Metro’s new trains could be 110 metres long and four walk-through sections.

  • This train would be the same length as two current trains working as a pair, which they generally do!
  • The design reduces the number of cabs.
  • Passengers distribute themselves along the train better.
  • Passengers can move to the convenient point to disembark at their destination.
  • On train staff are more prominent.

If in the future, the trains need more capacity, extra cars can be added.

Train Capacity

  • Class 994 train – 64 seats and 188 standing.
  • Class 399 tram-train – 88 seats and 150 standing
  • South Wales Metro’s Metro Vehicle – 129 seats and 128 standing

This works out as.

  • Class 994 train – 9 passengers per metre.
  • Class 399 tram-train – 6.4 passengers per metre.
  • South Wales Metro’s Metro Vehicle – 6.4 passengers per metre.

Are we creating trains, that give passengers more space?

Doors

The Class 994 trains have two double-doors on each side of all cars.

But with Stadler Citylink vehicles, it appears the number is flexible.

  • Sheffield’s three-car Class 399 tram-trains have four double-doors on each side of the train.
  • Visualisations of the proposed Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles, show a double-door in each of three cars.
  • Karlsruhe’s version only appear to have a double-door on the two end cars on one side only.

It would appear that the customer gets what they want.

Maximum Speed

  • Class 994 train – 80 kph
  • Class 399 tram-train – 100 kph
  • Karlsruhe’s Citylink tram-trains – 80 kph

There is no speed given for South Wales Metro’s Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles, but they are replacing diesel trains with a 120 kph maximum speed.

As tram-trains share tracks with faster trains, I would expect that a maximum speed of at least 100 kph is needed.

Power Supply

  • Class 994 train – 1500 VDC
  • Class 399 tram-train – 750 VDC and 25 KVAC
  • South Wales Metro’s Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle – 25 KVAC and battery.

I also suspect thst the Class 399 tram-train and other members of the Citylink family, can run for a few metres on battery power in order to bridge the gap between different voltages.

It is worth noting that future vehicles for the Tyne and Wear Metro will need to access both 1500 VDC and 25 KVAC. A possible battery capability is also mentioned.

I suspect that Stadler could easily produce a Citylink to work on all these common European voltages.

  1. 750 VDC
  2. 3000 VDC
  3. 15 KVAC
  4. 25 KVAC

All except 3000 VDC are already in service in Gerrmany, Spain or the UK.

So the Tyne and Wear Metro’s unusual 1500 VDC shouldn’t be a problem.

Minimum Curve Radius

Wikipedia says this about the minimum curve radius for a Class 994 train.

The vehicles have a minimum curve radius of 50 m (55 yd), although there are no curves this tight except for the non-passenger chord between Manors and West Jesmond.

This page on Wikipedia, says that the Karlsruhe Citylink tram-trains can handle a minimum cure radius of twenty-two metres.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion, that a version of the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle similar to those of the South Waes Metro, could be developed for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

My specification would include.

  • Length of two current Class 994 trains, which would be around 111 metres.
  • Walk through design with longitudinal seating.
  • Level access between platform and train at all stations.
  • A well-designed cab with large windows at each end.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at any voltage between 750 and 1500 VDC.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at 25 KVAC.
  • Pantographs would handle all voltages.
  • A second pantograph might be provided for reasons of reliable operation.
  • Ability to use onboard battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would use the batteries on the vehicle.

Note.

  1. Many of these features are already in service in Germany, Spain or Sheffield.
  2. The train would be designed, so that no unnecessary platform lengthening is required.
  3. As in Cardiff, the specification would allow street-running in the future.
  4. Could battery range be sufficient to allow new routes to be developed without electrification?

I also feel that the specification should allow the new trains to work on the current network, whilst the current trains are still running.

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

A Trip To Baden-Baden By Tram-Train

These pictures show how I caught a tram-train in the Centre of Karlsruhe and went to Baden-Baden both to have a look and an early supper.

It was a good illustration about how tram-trains widen the transport possibilities of a city or large town.

  1. I caught the tram-train in the middle of the main street of Karlsruhe.
  2. It used the tram lines to get to Karlsruhe station.
  3. From there it became a train anmd went all the way to Baden-Baden station.
  4. I then caught a bus to the centre of Baden-Baden using the same ticket.

The only problem was that the service frequency was only one tram-train every half-hour.

But then German trains and trams aren’t as frequent as those in the UK.

 

February 14, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Karlsruhe Tunnel Is Still Not Finished

The main reason to go to Karlsruhe was to see if the contractors had completed the Stadtbahn tunnel under the city.

The pictures, show that they haven’t!

February 14, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

From Munich To Karlsruhe

After a night’s rest by the station in the excellent Excelsior Jotel, it was on to Karlsruhe in the morning.

Note.

  1. There are not many non-stop trains on this route an d my train was pretty crowded.
  2. The journey took three hours and cost thirty euros.
  3. We arrived in Karlsruhe on time.

It could easily have been done in stages with perhaps stops at Augsburg and Stuttgart.

February 14, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Authorities Plan Joint Tram-Train Procurement

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Global Rail News.

This is the first paragraph.

Several European transport authorities are planning to work in partnership to procure new tram-trains in order to bring down the cost enough to make the transport mode more commercially viable.

This later paragraph gives the members.

The new association includes Karlsruhe’s transport authorities, Albtal-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft (AVG) and Verkehrsbetriebe Karlsruhe (VBK), Saarland tram-train operator Saarbahn Netz, Kassel operator Kasseler Verkehrs-Gesellschaft, Upper Austria’s Schiene Oberösterreich, Erms-Neckar-Bahn and Regionaltangente West in Germany’s Rhine-Main area.

I hope Network Rail keeping a watching brief!

After all, the Class 399 tram-train being trialled in Sheffield is a 25 KVAC version of the tram-trains used in Karlruhe, where the main line voltage is 15 KVAC.

This picture shows a Class 399 tram-train in Sheffield.

This is one of Karlsruhe’s similar tram-trains.

There are some cosmetic differences and the German tram-trains have a coupler for multiple working.

Surely, any initiative for a standard European tram-train, that could work all over the Continent would bring benefits.

  • Prices would probably be more reasonable.
  • Solutions and problems could be shared.
  • \setting up a new tram-train line should become easier and more affordable.

Having travelled extensively on Karlsruhe’s tram-train network, it would appear that they are using not only the tram-trains, but several other ideas in Sheffield.

Different Voltages

Overhead line voltages vary across Europe.

  • 15 KVAC is used in Germany
  • 1,500 VDC is used in The Netherlands and for some local networks.
  • 25 KVAC has become an international standard and is generally used for high speed lines.

Surprisingly, all our overhead electrification used on railways is 25 KVAC. All other systems have been either replaced or closed.

All these different voltages can be handled by a good electrical system on the tram.

This will handle the problem ehere a route runs between two areas or countries with different voltages.

Changing From Tram To Train Mode And Vice-Versa

In Karlsruhe this is performed by connecting the two systems together with a cermaic rod in the catenary to separate the voltages.

Tram-trains just drive across, with perhaps some battery assistance.

I suspect Sheffield are using a similar method to Karlsruhe.

Platform Height

If the tram-trains are to have level access, as most low floor trams do these days, then platform height can be a problem.

Trams generally have low platforms as this picture from Tramlink shows.

On the Continent, the main line platform heights are often simiar, so level access can be easy.

But in the UK, platform heights are generally higher. The problem appears to be being solved at Rotherham Central station by means of dual height platforms. This technique is used in Karlsruhe.

The article says this about platform height.

VDV has said the tram-trains will be available as two or four-door vehicles and will be able to meet different platform heights and maximum axle loads.

So hopefully, it will be one size fits all!

Karlruhe

This is a paragraph from the article.

AVG and VBK would receive more than half of the new vehicles under the arrangement. AVG said it had already been approached by other transport companies interested in adopting the so-called Karlsruhe model tram-train system.

Karlsruhe certainly seem to be leading this project, in more ways than one.

The Sheffield tram-train trial could be said to use the Karlsruhe model.

Conclusion

I believe that nothing I have seen on the various tram-train systems, I have visited, would stop a common tram-train that worked being developed.

This must lead to the development of a lot more tram-train systems.

November 9, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Penistone Line And Rotherham Tram-Train Trials

The Penistone Line Tram-Train Trial

The Penistone Line from Sheffield to Barnsley, Penistone and Huddersfield was the line originally selected for the tram-train trial.

In the Wikipedia entry for the line, this is said about the tram-train trial.

On 18 March 2008, the Department for Transport released details of a proposal to trial tram-trains on the Penistone Line, the first use of such vehicles in the UK. The trial was to start in 2010 and last for two years. Northern Rail, the operator of passenger services on the line, asked potential manufacturers to tender for the design and construction of five new vehicles, which Northern Rail would subsequently lease. In addition, Network Rail planned to spend £15m modifying track and stations to make them compatible with the new vehicles.

However, it was announced on 15 September 2009 that a city tram-train trial between Rotherham and Sheffield would replace the Penistone Line scheme.

More about the trial is said in this article on Rail News, which is entitled Penistone Line Is Chosen For £24m Tram Trains Trial. In particular, this is said.

One of the biggest initial tasks is to set a specification for the building of the five diesel-electro hybrid tram trains at a cost of £9 million. The trains will have to be equipped with braking systems suitable for on-street running and a Train Protection Warning System which is required for running on lines with ‘heavy’ rail passenger and freight trains.

The article was written in 2008 and Chemnitz hybrid Citylink tram-trains didn’t enter service until 2016.

So was the trial on the Penistone Line a disaster before it even started?

It had the following problems.

  • It was expecting a diesel-electric hybrid tram to be designed and built before 2010.
  • A long distance was involved.
  • The track-work needed to connect to the Sheffield Supertram could have been incredibly complicated.
  • The first all-electric Citylink tram-trains weren’t delivered to Karlsruhe until May 2014, which was seven months late.

For these and other reasons, I think that the decision of the trial to be delayed and to use Rotherham, was a prudent decision.

The Rotherham Tram-Train Trial

Consider these characteristics of the current trial, between Cathedral and Rotherham Psrkgate.

  • The tram-trains are virtually standard Karlsruhe Citylink tram-trains, adapted for UK 25 KVAC and painted blue!
  • A simple chord connecting the two systems.
  • A few miles of electrification, that could be powered by either 750 VDC or 25 KVAC.
  • Modification of the recently-built Rotherham Central station.
  • Building of a new terminal tram stop at Rotherham Parkgate.

It’s a simple plan, but one that covers a lot of design possibilities and has few, if any, risky elements, that haven’t been done in the UK or Karlsruhe.

The following can be tested.

  • The Class 399 tram-trains on the Sheffield Supertram network and an electrified main line.
  • Passenger entry and exit at Rotherham Central station and all over the Supertram network.
  • Operation under both 750 VDC or 25 KVAC.
  • Signalling systems on both tram and main line networks.

The one thing that can’t be tested is a diesel hybrid tram-train as they have in Chemnitz, as they haven’t ordered any!

But if they did want to order some, they could easily be tested between Cathedral and Rotherham Parkgate.

Conclusion

The original plan to use the Penistone Line and diesel-electric tram-trains was impossible.

Network Rail might have got this one right at the second attempt.

They could even run a UK version of the Chemnitz hybrid tram-train on the test route between Sheffield and Rotherham.

 

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

London To Karlsruhe Via Paris

I took Eurostar and a TGV to Karlsruhe, using these trains.

  1. Eurostar – St. Pancras 08:19 – Paris Nord 11:47 – £115 from Eurostar
  2. TGV – Paris Est 13:55 – Karlsruhe 16:25 – £69.19 from Voyages SNCF

I took these pictures on the way.

Note.

  1. I bought both tickets on-line.
  2. Premium Economy in the new Eurostar trains is more cramped than the old ones.
  3. Eurostar’s Premium Economy gluten-free breakfast more than filled a hole.
  4. Paris Nord to Paris Est is just a Metro.
  5. I took a diversion via Republik, which was a good place to wait in the sun.
  6. I stayed in the Schlosshotel in Karlsruhe, which was one of several acceptable ones by the station.

I could probably have done the journey cheaper by flying, but it would have had more hassle.

April 30, 2017 Posted by | Food, Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Trip To Karlsruhe, Bern and Göttingen

This trip is to explore some places and take pictures.

April 30th

St. Pancras – 08:19 to Paris Nord – 11:47

Paris Est – 13:55 to Karlsruhe – 16:25

Schlosshotel Karlsruhe

Bahnhofplatz 2

Karlsruhe

D-76137

May 1st

Schlosshotel Karlsruhe

May 2nd

Karlsruhe – 6:58 to Bern – 09:56 – Change at Basel

Karlsruhe – 8:00 to Bern – 10:56 – Change at Basel

Bern – 16:04 to Frankfurt – 19:53

Clarion Collection Hotel Frankfurt City

Taunussreasse 48-50

Frankfurt

D-60329

May 3rd

Frankfurt – 06:17 to Zwickau Hbf – 11:58 – Change at Leipzig

Zwickau Hbf – 14:05 to Göttingen – 17:51 – Change at Gößnitz

Zwickau Hbf – 16:05 to Göttingen – 19:51 – Change at Gößnitz

Zwickau Hbf – 16:05 to Göttingen – 21:50 – Change at Gößnitz

InterCityHotel

Bahnhofsallee 1a

Göttingen

D 37081

May 6th

Göttingen – 07:55 to Beuxelles Midi – 13:35 – Change at Frankfurt

Göttingen – 11:55 to Beuxelles Midi – 17:35 – Change at Frankfurt

Brussels Midi – 19:52 to St. Pancras – 21:03

 

April 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Sheffield Tram-Train Mystery

An article on the BBC web site is entitled Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train pilot delayed further.

The article says that a full review is taking place and a new start date will be announced in the summer.

On my recent trip to Karlsruhe, I rode the German version of the Class 399 tram-train and wrote The Latest Citylink Tram-Trains In Karlsruhe. I said this.

Note that the trams I photographed are only some of the latest batch of twenty-five tram-trains of this type in Karlsruhe. So the basis of the Class 399 tram-train, must surely be well-proven on the streets of a city about the same size as Sheffield.

Incidentally, all of the new tram-trains that I saw, were running on tram routes, just as the first Class 399 tram-trains will in Sheffield, when they start running in a few months.

If the second paragraph is right and all the Sheffield-style trams in Karlsruhe are running as trams, could there be a problem with operating them as trains?

I have no idea and this is just pure speculation.

However this page on a German web-site has pictures of the tram-trains of Karlsruhe. There are twenty-five of the latest Sheffield-style tram-trains delivered from 2014-2016.

But according to this article in Global Rail News, Karlsruhe has just ordered twelve additional Flexity tram-trains from Bombardier.

Is this that some routes can’t be worked by the Citylink and need the other type? Or is it because of a problem with the Citylink?

I don’t know!

But somebody, somewhere must know the truth!

As an engineer, it all puzzles me.

Karlsruhe have been running tram-trains for some years now and surely, the track design rules are pretty well-established. They’ve also been running the Sheffield-style trams for at least several months.

Surely, Network Rail’s engineers must have been to Karlsruhe and just copied, what the Germans are doing.

So why haven’t they got it right first time?

  • Not Invented Here?
  • Someone in the Department for Transport giving a new twist to EU regulations?
  • Refusal to talk to the Germans?

It could of course be sheer incompetence!

Another related mystery, is why are there no reports of the lone Class 399 tram-train in Sheffield testing on the existing track as a tram?

At great expense, all track in Sheffield has been changed to accept the wheel profile of a tram-train, so surely this new tram could at least be testing in the middle of the night!

Could it be that the tram-spotters of Sheffield, are lazy and don’t like getting up in the middle of the night to photograph tram movements?  But then there were pictures of night-time tram testing in Birmingham and Nottingham, so I have to conclude testing is not happening.

 

May 21, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Summing Up Karlsruhe’s Tram-Trains

Karlsruhe invented the tram-train and running them under the Karlsruhe model.

It’s a bit like having a vehicle that can go anywhere in your city carrying a couple of hundred people, where there is a railway or tram track.

The only other vehicle that offers a similar flexibility is a bus, but buses are less eco-friendly and they are difficult to make all electric.

Karlsruhe incidentally, only seems to have a few buses and you will notice in Building A Tram-Train Tunnel In Karlruhe, how few cars and taxis there are. So are all the people on foot or in the tram-trains?

Surely, the great thing about a tram-train network like Karlsruhe, is that once the main tracks are laid and electrified, as they will be in Karlsruhe, once the tunnel is open, your biggest improvements come by adding more and better vehicles to the routes.

I went to Karlsruhe to see The Latest Citylink Tram-Trains In Karlsruhe, as they are similar to those being introduced in Sheffield.

According to this article in the Internation Railway Journal, the city has just ordered another twenty five of these tram-trains.

On return from Dubrovnik I found this article on Global Rail News, which says that they’ve also ordered another twelve Flexity Swift tram-trains from Bombardier.

If you want to see what a low-floor Flexity-Swift looks like, go to Croydon. I don’t think that the London Tramlink could use tram-trains, as all the rail lines in South London are third-rail, but don’t underestimate engineers. You probably couldn’t have the automatic voltage changeover that you get with overhead wires.

Both these batches are low-floor, so expect one of the developments over the next few years in Karlsruhe is that more trams become low-floor. Obviously, some stations won’t be able to be modified, so the network probably won’t become 100% low-floor.

Are Karlsruhe playing this network expansion in a very canny way?

They now have a specification for a vehicle than can work all lines in its network.

  • Dual voltage of 750 VDC and 15 kVAC.
  • Low floor or adapted to railway and tram stations.
  • A defined loading gauge.
  • A preferred seating layout.

It strikes me that there will be several manufacturers, who would like to supply Karlsruhe, as they obviously know what works, as they invented the standard.

Karlsruhe also has the advantage in that the tram-trains they don’t want probably have a good residual value, as if say a city wants to built a tram-train network, provided that they obey Karlsruhe’s rules, then the tram-trains can be delivered and after testing, start a service.

The only problem is that Germany’s non-standard 15 kVAC may need to be changed to perhaps 25 KVAC. But that would probably be more affordable than buying a whole fleet of new tram-trains.

May 21, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment