The Anonymous Widower

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Abbey Wood Station

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about Kent and Crossrail.

This is said.

In December 2018, the Elizabeth Line is due to reach its south-eastern terminus at Abbey Wood, where there will be interchange with the North Kent line.

A wide range of new journey opportunities will open up, which over time will influence many choices over work and home locations. A train every five minutes from Abbey Wood to Canary Wharf and central London is expected to have a dramatic effect in North Kent.

The article goes on to say that a working group called Crossrail Gravesend is pushing to extend the Elizabeth Line to Ebbsfleet International station for High Speed One.

In this post, I will talk about issues at Abbey Wood station.

The Modern Railways article says that Abbey Wood station is a cross-platform interchange, as do other articles.

Track Layout At Abbey Wood Station

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of lines at Abbey Wood station.

Compare this with this track layout, that I posted in Abbey Wood Station –  29th August 2016.

Note the following.

  • The older layout shows cross-platform interchange.
  • The current one has two pairs of platforms, with Platforms 3 and 4 for Crossrail and Platforms 1 and 2 for other services.
  • The current layout probably connects better to the existing lines to Dartford.

These pictures were taken on the 28th June 2017 and show pictures generally taken from the West of the station.

They show a similar layout, of two Northern platforms (3 & 4) for Crossrail and two Southern platforms (1 & 2) for all other services.

Note.

  • The two cross-overs to the West of Abbey Wood station to get the Crossrail trains to and from the right platforms.
  • The station building and the two footbridges over the lines.
  • The solid wooden fence between the two pairs of lines.
  • The robust nature of the overhead wiring.

I suspect, that if they had wanted to have Eastbound and Westbound lines each share an island platform, it would have required a flyover, which would have been a large expense.

These pictures were taken on the 10th July 2017 to the East of the station.

Note that the first seven pictures were taken from a public footbridge that crosses the tracks about five hundred metres to the East of Abbey Wood station and the last few pictures were taken from a train leaving Abbey Wood station for Dartford station.

This recent Google Map shoews from Abbey Wood station, to where the reversing siding ends close to where Aliske Road turns North

The pictures and the map show the following.

  • The two third-rail electrified tracks of the North Kent Line run between Platforms 1 and 2 at Abbey Wood station to Belvedere station.
  • The North Kent tracks are fully in use, by services between London and Kent.
  • The two Crossrail Platforms 3 and 4 at Abbey Wood station are electrified with overhead wires.
  • The two tracks in Platforms 3 and 4 would appear to join together into a single line mainly without electrification, that connects to the North Kent Line about a kilometre to the East of Abbey Wood station.
  • There is only a short length of electrification to the East of the station.

It is not what I expected, as it means that there is no cross-platform interchange between services going to North Kent and Crossrail, as various sources including the The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article have said.

Passengers changing between the North Kent Lines and Crossrail will have to go over through the station or use the bridge.

So how will the station handle the various train movements?

Comparison Between Abbey Wood and Shenfield Stations

Abbey Wood will after rebuilding be a station with two North Kent and two Crossrail platforms

Shenfield station has now been converted into a station with six platforms, three of which can be used as Crossrail platforms.

In the Peak, services to the two stations are as follows.

  •  Shenfield – 10 trains per hour (tph)
  • Abbey Wood – 12 tph

In addition 4 tph on the Shenfield Branch turn-back at Gidea Park station.

In the Off Peak, services to the two stations are as follows.

  •  Shenfield – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 8 tph

So it would appear that Abbey Wood is the harder station to operate with more services in the Peak and one less platform.

Train Stabling At Abbey Wood Station

Train stabling needs to be provided on a busy branch line, as it makes it easier to adjust the number of trains running to the demand throughout the day.

At Shenfield, the stabling sidings are beyond the station, which must be easier operationally, than the position of the sidings at Abbey Wood, where they are back down the line at the Plumstead tunnel portal.

If you look at the second set of pictures taken to the East of the station, spaqce would appear to be very limited. So is this why stabling is not ast of Abbey Wood station.

Turning Back Crossrail Trains At Abbey Wood

At Shenfield, train operators have been turning back Class 315 trains at a rate of six tph since 1980, so with the addition of a new platform and modern trains and signalling, the handling of ten tph should be achievable.

But at Abbey Wood in the Peak, there is a need to turn trains round at a rate of twelve tph or a train every five minutes.

The operation could involve each of Platform 3 and 4 handling six tph, using the cross-overs to the West of the station to get the train between each platform and the right Crossrail track, but handling six tph on two platforms feeding a 12 tph double track railway is a tough ask.

From what I have seen, I think that Crossrail will turnback their trains like this.

  • All Crossrail trains from London arrive in Platform 4.
  • All Crossrail trains to London depart from Platform 3.
  • All trains arriving in Platform 4 use the unelectrified single track line as a reversing siding to get to Platform 3
  • As the pictures show, the single track line is probably long enough to store a failed train, for later recovery.

But the Class 345 trains have a system called Auto-Reverse.

When the train is ready to leave Platform 4,the driver initiates an Auto-Reverse and the train moves automatically into the reversing siding, whilst the driver starts to walk back through the train to the other cab.

  • By the time, the train is in the reversing siding, the driver is ready to drive the train into Platform 3.
  • The process will have to be done within five minutes.
  • The process could also involve the basic cleaning and removal of rubbish, with cleaners getting on at Platform 4 and getting off at Plstform 3.

Crossrail is not your bog-standard railway.

Trains Leaving Service At Abbey Wood

Suppose a train was leaving service at Abbey Wood.

Normally, it would probably perform the Auto-Reverse and go to the stabling sidings at the Plumstead tunnel portal.

It might even go the wrong way directly out of Platform 4, if the signalling was bi-directiomal.

Remember too, that Class 345 trains could be two independent half-trains, so if one half fails, the other could be designed to get the train to safety and out of the way.

Class 345 trains are not a bog-standard trains.

Running Crossrail Trains To And From Gravesend

From what I have seen, I’m convinced that the track layout at Abbey Wood station, means that Crossrail can be easily extended to and from Dartford, Gravesend, Rochester, Gillingham or Rainham.

Let’s assume the terminal for four tph is Gravesend.

Crossrail trains from London to Gravesend will do the following.

  • Stop in Platform 4 at Abbey Wood station.
  • Lower the pantograph
  • Take the single uon-electrified line alongside the North Kent Line.
  • Cross over to the Down North Kent Line.
  • Use the third-rail electrification to travel to Gravesend.

Crossrail trains from Gravesend to London will do the following.

  • Use the third-rail electrification to travel from Gravesend.
  • Cross over to the single non-electrified line alongside the North Kent Line before Abbey Wood station.
  • Stop in Platform 3 at Abbey Wood station.
  • Raise the pantograph.

The Crossrail trains would be needed to be fitted with third-rail shoes.

Interchange BetweenThe Extended Crossrail And Other Services.

Suppose you are going from Ramsgate to Paddington, you would get a Highspeed service to Gravesend and then wait for a Crossrail train to call at the same platform.

To repeat myself, Crossrail is not a bog-standard railway.

Crossrail’s Trump Card

When the trains turnback at Abbey Wood or extend to and from Gravesend, the Class 345 trains will have to use the non-electrified single track line shown in the pictures.

It may be electrified in the next year! But why bother?

The distances that need to be handled without power are not much more than a kilometre at slow speed.

The Class 345 trains could be fitted with batteries to bridge the gaps in the electrification.

These batteries will also do the following.

  • Handle regenerative braking.
  • Provide emergency power, in the event of complete tunnel power failure.

Conclusion

To repeat myself again, Crossrail is not a bog-standard railway.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 19 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Maidstone

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about Kent and not surprisingly, the county town;Maidatone is mentioned several times.

The Medway Valley Line

The Medway Valley Line runs as its name suggests down the Medway Valley, from Strood station in the North to Maidstone WestPaddock Wood, and Tonbridge  stations in the South.

I took these pictures on the line.

Note.

  1. Strood station is undergoing a major upgrade, which the hoardings claim will be finished this year.
  2. The Medway Valley Line has its own termial platform in Strood station.
  3. The line is double-track all the way.
  4. The line is run as a community rail service.
  5. There were several level crossings on the route.
  6. There were several new housing estates visible from the train.

The line would appear to be well run and I suspect that in the next few yeas, services could be increased.

Currently, the service is a two trains per hout (tph) shuttle with an Peak Hour service between St. Pancras International and Maidstone West.

Plans exist for an all day Highspeed service between St. Pancras International and Maidstone West and this would mean three tph along the Medway Valley Line.

I do feel though that if a way could be found to run four tph on the route, that this would be very beneficial.

Maidstone

I walked between Maidstone West and Maidstone East stations buying lunch on the way in a cafe.

These pictures sum up my walk.

If I do the trip again, which is likely, I’d go to Maidstone East station first, as the walk would be dowbhill. It would also mean, I could pick up my gluten-free lunch in Marks and Spencer and eat it by the River Medway.

Not that the liver, bacon and vegetables was at all bad!

Maidstone East Station

I’ve discussed Maidstone East station before in this post called Maidstone East Station.

The two visits have left me with the impression, thatr the service from Maidstone East station is crap.

It will improve when Thameslink starts its two tph service to Cambridge, which will give the station four tph to and from London.

Two developments would really improve Maidstone East station.

Development of the station is promised, with Wikipedia saying this.

In November 2012, initial plans for the regeneration of Maidstone East Station were submitted to Maidstone Borough Council to determine whether an Environmental Impact Assessment was required. MBC concluded in December 2012 that due to the additional road traffic, an assessment would be appropriate. Plans include a new railway station, new large foodstore, other retail units, bar, cafe, commuter and retail parking (approx 1100 spaces) and associated landscaping. The proposed plan involves the demolition of the existing station ticket office, a disused hotel/bar, retail units opposite County Hall and the adjacent Royal Mail sorting and enquiry office which is due to transfer operations to a new site in Park Wood, Maidstone late 2012

Kent’s county town certainly needs a better station.

The other development would be to get rid of the Class 465 trains.

The one I got home was unreliable and according to fellow passengers, this is not uncommon.

But the speed it was keeping on the line to London was a measily 30 mph at times.

It was definitely, one that could be named a Notworker.

Hopefully the new franchise holder will obtain a new fleet of trains to kick the problem off the White Cliffs.

Conclusion

I learned a lot of the good and bad points about Southeastern today.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Longfield Station

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has made me ask  questions about how services to various stations in Kent will be affected.

Longfield station is probably best described as a typically busy commuter station with three trains per hour (tph) for most of the day.

These pictures show the station.

This Google Map shows the layout of the station.

I had lunch with a friend whilst I was there and a problem he flagged up was that parking can be difficult, especially if you want to travel later n the day.

Parking At longfield Station

He said sometimes the only alternative to driving, is to cut across toEbbsfleet International station and put up with the higher prices of the Highspeed sewrvice.

Note how the car parking at Longfield station is all over the place.

The Price Of The High Speed Service

I have heard several complaints about the cost of the service into St. Pancras and I do wonder that if Victoria could be used as a second terminal, as I examined in Victoria As A Highspeed Terminal, that this could have the affect of bringing prices down.

Trains Through Longfield

I travelled out to Longfield in a 100 mph Class 377 train, but I travelled back in a 75 mph Class 466 train.

The former are just about fast enough, but the latter are too slow for a journey between ictoria and Dover or Ramsgate.

As I indicated in Track Improvements, Network Rail believe that the key to faster services is better signalling and faster trains.

The signalling problem is being addressed by the East Kent Re-Signalling Project, but new trains are needed that can operate at a higher speed on the lines in Kent.

Using a version of the Class 395 train is a possibility, but so is an entirely new train from another manufacturer. Having ridden in an Aventra and read the armours that the train can have a 125 mph capability, I’m sure Bombardier can come up with a Kent Coast Express.

Surely, more Class 395 trains must be the most likely, as six-car trains, working on most routes as 12-car units, is something that appears to work well for the current operator.

I think that the most likely scenario in future will be.

  • The stopping service currently run by 75 mph Class 466 trains will be run by 100 mph Class 377 trains.
  • The two semi-fast services will be run by new faster trains.
  • All services would be twelve-car trains.

As each service would be run by a faster train, there would be journey time savings.

Will Longfield Lose Any Of Its Three Trains Per Hour?

I think this is unlikely, as when this is tried, there is usually  a bitter row, that train operating companies try to avoid.

Will There Be Any Victoria to Thanet Services via Bromley South And High Speed One?

These services would take the following route from Victoria to Ashford International station.

  • Bromley South station
  • Fawkham Junction Link
  • Ebbsfleet International station
  • High Speed One

After Ashford, they could go to Dover, Hastings or Ramsgate.

There are two capacity constraints.

  • Between Victoria and Bromley South.
  • Between Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a fast service from Victoria to Thanet in the timetable.

It would be ideal, if a train to both Dover and Ramsgate were possible in an hour.

Conclusion

It is my view that Longfield station will not have an inferior service to the present time, when the new franchise is awarded.

But services will be different! And hopefully faster!

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

July 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 15 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Track Improvements

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks mentions a few track improvements.

Ashford Spurs

This enables more Continental trains to call at Ashford International station. I discussed it in Ashford Spurs.

The Link Between High Speed One And The Marshlink Line

This is needed to get the Highspeed trains from St. Pancras to Hastings, I I discussed in Highspeed to Hastings.

The Modern Railways article says this about the creation of the link.

It will be an uphill struggle to fund necessary layout changes at Ashford International during Control Period 6 (2019-2024). A realignment of the track would be needed to join the track serving the London end of platform 2 (which is accessible from the Marshlink route) to the Ashford spurs that link through to High Speed 1.

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the lines through Ashford International station.

Note how the two main tracks of High Speed One use a flyover to get out of the way of Ashford International station. The Ashford Spurs connect the lines through the two platforms to High Speed One.

This Google Map shows the London end of Ashford International stations.

There are three island platforms, which are as follows from the bottom.

  • Platform 1 and 2 for third-rail domestic services and the Marshlink Line
  • Platform 3 and 4 for Continental services
  • Platform 5 asnd 6 for Highspeed domestic services.

The two lines visible beyond platforms 5 and 6 are High Speed One on the flyover.

At the London end of the station, there is already the following links to High Speed One from the station.

  • Platform 3 to London for Continental services
  • Platform 4 from London for Continental services
  • Platform 5 to London for Highspeed services
  • Platform 6 from London for Highspeed services

It could be quite complicated connecting even one of Platform 1 and 2 to High Speed One.

But at least as these pictures show, there is plenty of space.

Note.

  1. The pictures were taken from a Highspeed train leaving Platform 5 for London.
  2. The first picture was taken just to the London side of the bridge shown in the Google Map.
  3. The domestic Platforms 1 and 2 are on the far side, in this first picture.
  4. The

I do feel that after some of the engineering on Crossrail and Thameslink, that an affordable solution is possible.

In addition to the space, I don’t think any trains thunder through here at high speed, as they use the flyover for that.

I also feel that Hitachi might be the key here.

As I said in Highspeed to Hastings, I believe that batteries not diesel will be used to power the trains on the Marshlink Line.

So if necessary, battery power could be used to power the trains between High Speed One and Platforms 1 and 2.

Hitachi could probably do the change between power sources under the wires of High Speed One, so this would mean that there would be no extra overhead electrification at Ashford International station.

As most of the train frequencies between High Speed One and Ashford International station are not by any means high, I wonder if there is a simple solution in there somewhere.

The most difficult connection would be to get trains from London across three tracks.

  • The Highspeed line from Platform 5 to London
  • The Continental line from London to Platform 4.
  • The Continental line from Platform 3 to London

A single track unelectrified dive-under or even a flat junction might be possible to connect High Speed One to Platforms 1 and/or 2.

Connecting Platforms 1 and/or 2 to High Speed One to London is much easier, as no other lines need to be crossed.

I also wonder if the funding problem and probable subsequent delay of building a link could lead to an interim solution to give Hasting the service it needs.

Network Rail’s Options For The Link Between High Speed One And The Marshlink Line

This document from Network Rail gives their options for the link.

  1. High Speed One To Platform 2
  2. High Speed One To Marshlink via Platform 3

As the second option would leave Continental services with just one bi-directional platform, I think it is unlikely to be used, as what happens if a train fails in the platform?

This diagram from the Network Rail document shows the traqck layout for the first option.

Note the only track work would appear to be two or three new cross-overs, which are shown as being electrified with both third-rail and overhead line.

Note the following.

  1. The trains that will be working the Marshlink Line and High Speed One will have either diesel or battery power for the Marshlink Line.
  2. Modern trains like Hitachi’s Class 800 trains can change from one mode to the other at linespeed, raising and lowering the pantograph as necessary.
  3. Automation can aid the driver in selecting the best power source.

So could we see the cross-overs built without electrification to save money and probably time as well?

I suspect this could be possible, although there may be operational reasons to add third-rail electrification.

Network Rail say this about their scheme with dual-power cross-overs.

Although this seems a fairly simple proposal, the technicalities of installing the crossovers, power supplies and signalling enhancements add significantly to the challenges of the scheme, which would cost in the region of £15-35M.

Surely, as the trains will have a dual-power capability for the Marshlink Line, this would reduce the challenges and cost of the scheme.

, The Fawkham Junction Link

The Fawkham Junction link will enable Highspeed services to use another terminal in London, which will probably be Victoria.

I discussed this link in Fawkham Junction Link.

General Track Improvements

This document from Network Rail is the Route Specification for the South East and it details two projects, that will improve times on the lines between Victoria and shford International station.

  • Journey Time Improvement – Reduce impact of Permanent Speed Restrictions
  • Maidstone signalling interlocking renewal – Renewal of interlocking and external equipment

The document indicates they could be completed in 2019.

The document also  uses this phrase in several places.

Increase speed to rolling stock and signalling capability

As the East Kent Re-Signalling Project seems to be improving the signalling, it does appear that one of the keys to better services in Kent may well be faster trains.

It should be noted, Network Rail have been particularly successful in upgrading the speed of the Midland Main Line in recent years, so with a faster third-rail train available, they might be able to speed up services on the East Kent Lines.

An Interim Solution For A Highspeed Service To Hastings

As I said earlier connecting the Marshlink Line to High Speed One might be delayed because of funding.

Network Rail’s planned improvements will deliver journey time improvements between Victoria and Ashford International stations and along the lines in East Kent, provided some faster trains are procured.

There is not much point in having tracks with a capability in excess of 110 mph, if the trains can’t make use of it.

But these trains, be they Ultimate Class 395 trains or a product from another manufacturer, will be needed to bridge the electrification gap of the marshlink line.

Once the modifications at Ashford are complete, these trains will be able to use High Speed One.

Conclusion

Track improvements are a key to making the new Southeastern franchise a lot better.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

July 2, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 18 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Ultimate Class 395 Train

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about the need for more Class 395 trains.

The Class 395 train has the following features.

  • 140 mph capability on 25 KVAC overhead electrification
  • 100 mph capability on 750 VDC third-rail electrification
  • Six-cars
  • The ability for trains to couple and uncouple automatically in a couple of minutes.
  • Modern interiors.

Upgrades, that I can see in a new batch of trains are discussed in the next three sections.

Batteries To Enable Working To Hastings For The New Southeastern Franchise

The Modern Railways article  says this about the Highspeed service to Hastings.

What form the new trains would take is asnother question; Kent County Council is keen on Class 800s, to give bi-mode capsability over the Romney mashes so that Hastings and Bexhill could be given a high-speed service to London via Ashford.

However, question marks continue to hang over any such service: there is some doubt as to whether diesel tanks would be allowed in the London tunnels of HS1 (so battery electric could be an option)

It should be noted that, Hitachi have experience in the field of battery electric trains and I think that their engineers will find a solution to bridge the twenty-six miles of the Marshlink Line, between Ashford International and Ore stations, that is not electrified.

The key could be that a passing loop is needed at Rye station for efficient operation of the trains. As Rye is under sixteen miles from Ashford and under eleven miles from Ore, it might be feasible to electrify the passing loop, so that trains could have a quick battery top-up, whilst stopping at Rye station.

Electrification around the station in a town like Rye would mean safety would be easier to ensure, than in some of the remoter parts of Romney Marsh.

Wi-Fi And 4G Capability

These facilities will probably be required of the bidders for the new franchise.

Up To 125 mph Capability On 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification

The Class 395 trains can obviously go safely at a lot higher speed and Network Rail have the knowledge and engineering to turn 100 mph lines into ones with an operating speed of 125 mph, if  the topography of the line is suitable.

125 mph wouldn’t probably be needed but the ability to run at 110 mph might be particularly useful on various of the lines in Kent.

In a Network Rail document about the East Kent lines, Network rail says this.

Increase speed to rolling stock and signalling capability.

As the East Kent Re-Signalling Project seems to be improving the signalling, the faster Class 395 trains would set the desired operating speed.

Network Rail have been particularly successful in upgrading the speed of the Midland Main Line in recent years, so with a faster third-rail train available, they might be able to speed up services on the East Kent Lines.

I doubt all of this has not occurred to Hitachi and the other train manufacturers.

It should also be born in mind that High Speed One is not unique amongst dedicated high speed lines in the world and other countries and operators must want to mix high speed long distance and commuter services on the high speed lines.

So if Hitachi can demonstrate their skills between London and Kent on the way to the iconic Channel Tunnel, it can’t be at all bad for the company.

It also probably means, that the companies bidding to take over the Southeastern franchise will get a good deal for extra Class 395 trains.

Or would Bombardier come up with an Aventra with a 140 mph capability on High Speed One?

Other Applications Of Class 395 Trains

Most of the third-rail electric trains south of the Thames like the Class 377 trains are 100 mph trains.

But as there is a need for more and faster services South of the Thames, there will probably be a need for a faster train.

This probably explains why South Western Railway are bringing the Class 442 trains back into service on the Portsmouth Direct Line, as these trains are capable of more than 100 mph.

An alternative might have been to buy some Class 395 trains with a 110 mph or higher capability on third-rail lines.

Conclusion

The next versions of Class 395 trains and trains of similar performance from other manufacturers will not be limited to High Speed One and Kent.

Hitachi can easily create a third-rail train with a capability of running at over 110 mph and if Network Rail upgrade the tracks and signalling to accommodate higher speeds, we could see improved services all across the South of England.

Routes where they would bring improvement include.

  • Waterloo to Portsmouth
  • Waterloo to Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth
  • Ashford to Southampton via Brighton and Portsmouth.

As energy storage gets better will we be seeing Waterloo to Salisbury run by electric trains, using battery power to and from Basingstoke?

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

July 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 17 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Victoria As A Highspeed Terminal

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has made me ask  questions about services into St. Pancras International station.

Is There Enough Capacity For Continental Services At St. Pancras International Station?

Platforms 5-10 at the station are allocated to Continental services.

Under Eurostar (High Speed 1) in the Wikipedia entry for the station this is said.

Seventeen pairs of trains to and from Paris Gare du Nord every day, ten pairs of trains to and from Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid for Brussels and the European Union de facto capital, and one train to and from Marne-la-Vallée for Disneyland Resort Paris. Extra services run to Paris on Fridays and Sundays, with a reduced service to Brussels at weekends. Additional weekend leisure-oriented trains run to the French Alps during the skiing season, and to Marseille via Lyon and Avignon in the summer.

So it looks like on a typical day, there are  just under thirty pairs of trains between St.  Pancras International station and the Continent. So on a typical operational day from 0700 to 2200, that means it’s approximately two trains per hour (tph).

I feel that with perhaps some changes to the operation of the passenger and train cleaning and victualling systems, that six platforms could easily handle up to six tph.

So I doubt, that there is too much of a problem increasing the number of Continental services from St. Pancras International station.

Is There Enough Capacity For Highspeed Services At St. Pancras International Station?

Platforms 11-13 at the station are allocated to Southeastern‘s Highspeed services, which are run by Class 395 trains.

Is There Enough Capacity On High Speed 1 Between Ebbsfleet International And St. Pancras International Stations?

Under Services in the Wikipedia entry for High Speed 1, this is said.

High Speed 1 was built to allow eight trains per hour through to the Channel Tunnel. As of May 2014, Eurostar runs two to three trains per hour in each direction between London and the Channel Tunnel. Southeastern runs in the high peak eight trains per hour between London and Ebbsfleet, two of these continuing to Ashford. During the 2012 Olympic Games, Southeastern provided the Olympic Javelin service with up to twelve trains per hour from Stratford into London.

I think the key figures here are the ability to handle eight tph for the Channel Tunnel and the twelve tph that was achieved during the Olympics.

Let’s fast forward to 2024 when Paris could be hosting the Olympic Games.

Given too, that by then, Continental services to Germany, the Netherlands and other parts of France could have expanded and there must be a strong possibility, that the full eight Channel Tunnel paths will be needed.

So that would leave just four train paths for the Highspeed services.

I suspect that whoever is running the Highspeed services will want to develop them with services to other destinations like Hastings and Eastbourne and more frequent services to the existing destinations in Thanet.

This leads me to the conclusion, that more capacity is needed for Highspeed services into London.

Some extra capacity can probably be created by improving the signalling and operational methods, but will that be enough.

The Problems With The Highspeed Services

Every time, I use the Highspeed services, they work well, but they do have problems.

  • The only London terminal is St. Pancras International station.
  • The interchanges at Stratford International station to the Underground is a long walk.
  • The interchange at Stratford International station to Crossrail will be equally poor.
  • The frequency of services are not what passengers demand these days.
  • The services need to connect to Hastings and Eastbourne.
  • Passengers complain about the cost.

Expanding the Highspeed services would solve some of these problems, but if the Continental services of Eurostar and other operators expand, there could be a capacity problem before the mid-2020s.

The Two London Terminal Solution

Network Rail and the train operating companies (TOCs) seem to have come up with a cunning plan.

In the Kent on the Cusp of Change article and in one in the May 2017 Edition, Modern Railways, the magazine reports that consideration is being given to reopening the Fawkham Junction link, that used to be used by Eurostar trains to access Waterloo station from the Channel Tunnel.

Trains would not now go to Waterloo, as there are other plans for the expansion of the station.

But it would be fairly simple for trains to go via Swanley and Bromley South stations into Victoria station.

In the next few sections, I will outline why I think this station could and probably will be used as a second London terminal for Highspeed services.

Extra Highspeed Terminal Capacity In London

As I indicated earlier, I think that within the next few years, there may be a capacity problem between London and Ebbsfleet and opening a second terminal at Victoria would add extra train psths on the surface through South L:ondon.

A Second Highspeed Terminal In London

Services to Victoria with its Underground connections, that are currently being improved dramatically, would be welcomed by many travellers, who want to go to places like Kensington and Westminster or perhaps avoid the long walks at Stratford International station to the Underground or Crossrail.

Crossrail 2 will also call at Victoria, if it’s ever built.

Services Between Victoria And Thanet Could Go Highspeed

All or some of the services between Victoria and the Thanet area would be able to go Highspeed and use the Class 395 trains.

The Highspeed services would use the reinstated Fawkham Junction link and High Speed One between stops at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International stations.

Suppose All Services Between Victoria And Thanet Used Class 395 Trains

Surely, this would have tremendous advantages for Network Rail and the operator in that, all of the stations and tracks, to the East of Ashford International station,  could be updated, so that they efficiently handled twelve-car Class 395 trains.

In a Network Rail document about the East Kent lines, Network rail says this.

Increase speed to rolling stock and signalling capability.

As the East Kent Re-Signalling Project seems to be improving the signalling, the faster Class 395 trains would set the desired operating speed.

As I indicated earlier, if the new batch of Class 395 trains could have a faster capability on third-rail routes.

What Times Could Class 395 Trains Achieve On Classic Routes?

As an illustration of the operating speed on the East Kent lines, Ashford International to Ramsgate stations takes thirty-six minutes for a journey of about thirty-five miles with only one stop.

Network Rail probably know how to reduce this important journey by at least ten minutes, which would benefit Highspeed and Classic services.

Currently, London Victoria to Ashford International stations takes just under an hour and a half via Maidstone East and another ten stops.

This document from Network Rail has two projects, that will improve times on the Chislehurt to Ashford section of this route.

  • Journey Time Improvement – Reduce impact of Permanent Speed Restrictions
  • Maidstone signalling interlocking renewal – Renewal of interlocking and external equipment

The document indicates they could be completed in 2019.

The Class 395 trains are a modern train with bags of grunt and probably the ability to execute a station stop in double-quick time.

So with the track improvements to allow higher speeds between London Victoria and Ashford International station, I suspect that it might be possible to trim perhaps twenty minutes from the journey time.

Could Network Rail be aiming for an hour between Victoria and Ashford International stations on the Classic route, via Bromley South, Swanley and Maidstone East stations?

If they could manage the magic hour, then Hastings could be within perhaps 95 minutes of Victoria in a Class 395 train with either diesel or battery power.

This would be a few minutes faster than the current faster times to Cannon Street on the Hastings Line.

It would certainly be a good interim alternative, until trains can go between High Speed One and the Marshlink Line.

What Times Could Class 395 Trains Achieve Using High Speed One Between Victoria and Ashford International Stations?

I estimate that Victoria to Ebbsfleet International using the Fawkham Junction link and Class 395 trains could be in the order of thirty minutes.

As Class 395 trains take nineteen minutes between Ebbswfleet International and Ashford International stations, I believe it would be reasonable to assume between Victoria to Ashford International stations will tqke forty-nine minutes or just twelve minutes longer than the current time between St. Pancras and Ashford International stations.

Victoria To Fawkham Junction

If the Fawkham Junction link were to be reinstated, a number of the trains between Victoria and Thanet would take the Chatham Main Line after passing Swanley station and then take the Fawkham Junction link to Ebsfleet International station.

Other than the Fawkham Junction link, no substantial new infrastructure would be required, but if line improvements increased the speed between Victoria and Fawkham Junction, the Class 395 trains could certainly take advantage.

I suspect that each Class 395 train, would just take over the path of the Classic service it replaced.

There might even be a bonus, in that all fast trains through Bromley South and Swanley became Class 395 trains, w3hich might aid the timetabling.

Class 395 Trains At Victoria Station

There are various reports on the Internet of Class 395 trains running into Victoria station, sometimes as a twelve-car train.

Class 377 trains also appear to run as twelve-car trains to Ramsgate.

So I think we can assume that Class 395 trains can run into Victoria.

Conclusion

I think that it is possible that Victoria can be used as a second terminal for Highspeed services from Thanet into London.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

 

July 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 16 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Fawkham Junction Link

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways discusses the Fawkham Junction Link, which was originally used to allow Eurostar trains to get to Waterloo station. It is now used as a siding for old Eurostar trains, that are waiting for the scrapyard.

I wrote about this link in Connecting Ebbsfleet International To South London, which connects the Chatham Main Line to Ebbsfleet International station and High Speed One.

A quick look on Google Maps appears to show, that the third-rail electrification is still in place, which must make the link easier to reinstate.

Obviously, Network Rail and the TOCs (train operating companies) have a cunning plan to create extra services using the reinstated link and High Speed One.

 

Ebbsfleet International Station

Bear in mind, that Ebbsfleet Internation station is an important transport hub.

  • Services to and from the Continent call.
  • Highspeed services between St. Pancras and Thanet call.
  • There is masses of car parking.

If Ebbsfleet Interbational has a problem, it is badly connected to the local area and only serves St. Pancras in London.

London Victoria To Thanet Services

At present, services between Victoria and Thanet services that go through Bromley South and Swanley stations are as follows.

  • 1 tph – Victoria to Ramsgate via Longfield and Chatham.
  • 2 tph – Victoria to Dover Priory via Longfield and Chatham
  • 1 tph – Victoria to Canterbury West via Swanley and Maidstone East
  • 1 tph – Victoria to Ashford International via Swanley and Maidstone East

Note that in all these services the first stop is Bromley South station.

Could the plan be as simple as this?

  • Some services between Victoria and Broadstairs, Canterbury, Dover Priory, Ramsgate and Thanet Parkway stations would be run by Class 395 trains or similar trains with a 140 mph capability on High Speed One.
  • Trains would go to from Victoria to Swanley, with just the single stop at Bromley South station, as they do now, and then join High Speed One via the Fawkham Junction Link.
  • Once at Ashford, they take the routes to Thanet as used by the current Highspeed services.

I suspect this would give times from Victoria as follows.

  • Broadstairs in ninety-seven minutes as against 111 minutes now.
  • Canterbury West in seventy-two minutes as against 125 minutes now.
  • Dover Priory in seventy-six minutes as against to 122 minutes now.
  • Ramsgate in ninety minutes minutes as against to 124 minutes now.

Times could probably be improved further with a bit of work in Thanet and between Swnley and Victoria.

This could mean.

  • Nearly all trains in Thanet are Class 395 trains., so tracks and stations could be designed accordingly.
  • The Class 395 trains use the Thanet paths into Victoria from Swanley.
  • Provision would have to be made for stations losing their services to High Speed One.

It could all be very efficient and a simple way to improve timings to Thanet.

Thameslink Services

Thameslink services serve Swanley station and could easily be extended to Ebbsfleet International, if that was desired via the Fawkham Junction link.

Bromley South Metro Services

The Southeastern Metro service on the Bromley South Line could use Ebbsfleet as an alternative terminal to Petts Wood station, by using the Fawkham Junction link.

Conclusion

There are lots of possibilities, with perhaps the most important being to create a second Highspeed terminus in London, to relieve the inadequate capacity at St. Pancras.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 16 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Elimination Of Slow Trains

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways discusses the improvements that may be made by the new franchisee of the Southeastern franchise.

Southeastern‘s current fleet includes.

The slower 75 mph trains are generally older and lack customer-friendly features like wi-fi and good information screens.

The article says that Class 465 trains are still used on the Maidstone East Line and possibly on Tunbridge Wells stoppers.

I can confirm in my trip to Longfield Station, that they are still used on that route.

Running these slow trains in with the faster 100 mph units like the Class 375/377 trains, is like allowing milk-floats on motorways.

It could be that the reason, stations on the Maidstone East Line only get two trains per hour (tph), is because some services are or could be run by the slow Class 465 trains.

Implications For The Maidstone East Line

Currently, Maidstone East to Ashford International station takes about thirty minutes.

Given that modern trains like Southeastern’s  Class 375 and Class 377 trains and Thameslink’s Class 700 trains are also very much better and faster at carrying out a station stop, could it be that even if the train stopped everywhere on the Maidstone East Line, that substantial savings in time could be made?

Could this mean, that Thameslink’s future Cambridge to Maidstone East service could be extended to the much better connected Ashford International?

I think it could be mathematically possible and it would mean that all the intermediate stations on the Maidstone East Line would have a doubling of service frequency to 4 tph.

This is a simple example in the Southeastern area, but in how many other places on their network, do the 75 mph trains cause timetabling problems.

It is my belief, that all trains incapable of operating at 100 mph, should either be modified so they can operate at 100 mph or be scrapped.

The Minimum Train Specification

A minimum electric train specification should probably be something like this, to satisfy passengers and train operating companies.

  • 100 mph capability
  • Designed for a fast station stop with minimum dwell-time
  • Regenerative braking
  • Efficient traction motors
  • Wi-fi in all classes
  • The capability to fit boosters for 4G signals.

Southeastern’s Class 465 trains fail on all points.

Metro Operations

But surely, they are OK when running a Metro service like Victoria to Dartford?

Currently, this service takes 49 minutes with eleven stops.

This means that a train takes two hours to go from Victoria and Dartford and back, so to achieve the required service frequency of 2 tph, four trains will be needed.

But supposing a modern train is used on this route. Train manufacturers will claim that a modern train saves about two to three minutes a stop.

So if two minutes a stop is saved, modern signalling is used to advantage and the driver uses the extra speed and acceleration with alacrity, I feel that the forty-nine minute journey could be brought down sufficiently, so that the round trip would be under an hour.

Not only would passengers see a faster service of under thirty minutes in a much better equipped train, but the operator could run the 2 tph service with just two trains instead of four and a big saving in electricity.

The operator may have to alter staff practices because of the faster journey, but I doubt it would be anything controversial.

Could Class 707 Trains Be Used On The Southeastern Franchise?

The Class 707 trains, which are unwanted by South Western Railway are 100 mph units and are probably up-to-scratch for the train operator.

But they may need to be retrofitted with wi-fi.

I suspect, that one of the conditions of the new Southeastern franchise, is that free wi-fi is offered. Now that Crossrail is throwing in 4G access, I suspect all bidders will offer this too!

Conclusion

All trains incapable of running a service at 100 mph should be eliminated, just as the two operators;Greater Anglia and South Western Railway, are planning to do.

There’s going to a lot of slow trains going cheap!

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

 

 

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 17 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Highspeed Routes

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about the Southeastern Highspeed routes through Kent.

Some principles are laid down.

The article gives an estimate that at least another twenty Class 395 trains are needed of which perhaps three would have batteries for operation along the Marshlink Line between Ashford International and Ore stations.

The new timetable proposed in the article is similar to that now, with the following changes in each hour.

  • All Day – A St. Pancras – Ashford – Dover Priory service runs once per hour and splits at Ashford with one six-car train going to and from Hastings and the other six-car train going to and from Dover Priory.
  • Off Peak – A new St. Pancras – Ashford – Canterbury West service runs once per hour.
  • All Day –  A new St. Pancras – Ebbsfleet service runs twice per hour.
  • Off Peak – A new St. Pancras – Gravesend – Strood – Maidstone West service runs once per hour.

In addition all trains passing Thanet Parkway station will stop after it opens.

The Fawkham Junction Link

The article talks about reinstating this link , which connects the Chatham Main Line to Ebbsfleet International station and High Speed One.

I wrote about this link in a related post called Fawkham Junction Link, which shows how it can be used to create additional Highspeed services between London and Thanet.

  • Victoria becomes a second terminal for Highspeed services.
  • Victoria gets a Highspeed connection to Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International stations for Eurostar.
  • Most if not all of the Thanet services become Highspeed services.
  • Thanet services are faster with more capacity.

Obviously, Network Rail and the TOCs (train operating companies) have some cunning plan to use the Fawkham Junction Link.

Should All Victoria To Thanet Services Be Run By Highspeed Trains?

In my trip to Longfield Station, I came back iat a leisurely pace in a Class 465 train, that had started at Dover or Ramsgate.

As the routes to Thanet from Victoria can all be run by twelve-car trains and the platforms in East Kent are accessible to twelve-car Class 377, Class 395 and Class 465 trains, I wonder if Class 395 trains or a train with a similar performance, should run all these routes in an identical manner to the slower trains.

Consider.

  • Calls at many stations would only be made by twelve-car Highspeed trains, which must make station design simpler and station stops easier and faster.
  • Highspeed trains would be able to take advantage of any line speed improvements on the route.
  • Highspeed trains are fitted with modern signalling systems including ERTMS, which would allow more capacity on busy sections of the routes. Between Victoria and Swanley could benefit.
  • Crossrail and Thameslink trains already have ERTMS, so this must give advantages, on shared routes.
  • A single unified fleet to Thanet must ease servicing and maintenance, which is done currently at Ashford and Ramsgate.
  • High Speed One could be used as a diversion route if required.
  • Victoria could be used as a diversion for Highspeed services, if there were problems on High Speed One to the West of Ebbsfleet station.

The outcome would surely be that even the Victoria to Thanet stoppers would be several minutes faster.

What would faster services be worth to the new train operating company?

Conclusion

Highspeed services could be increased in frequency and developed to a second terminal at Voctoria.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see all services to Thanet run by a single uinified fleet of Highspeed trains.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

 

June 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 18 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Historic Routes

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about the historic routes through Kent.

The existing fleet is being enlarged and updated.

But there are problems, with issues like.

  • Depot space,
  • The lack of wi-fi.
  • Crossrail’s Aventras have 4G and passengers will expect it.
  • The Class 465 trains are only 75 mph units.

If we take a quick look at Greater Anglia, they are replacing all their fleet to increase capacity and they are having to build a new depot about half-way from London.

So expect to see a new depot, somewhere in Kent to accommodate the increased fleet.

More Highspeed Trains

I believe that for reasons of better services and efficiency, that a new batch of Class 395 trains or similar will take over some or all historic routes to Thanet.

If this happens, it could also mean, that because Highspeed trains are serviced at Ashford and Ramsgate, depot space was released at the London end of the routes.

A New Fleet Of Trains

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new fleet of trains joining the fleet for the new South Eastern franchise.

If we look at the characteristics of Bombardier’s new Aventra we see the following.

  • Up to 100 or even 125 mph capability.
  • Superb interiors.
  • Wi-fi and 4G capability.
  • Wide doors and lobbies for fast entry and exit.
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling – Hitachi trains do it, so why not other manufacturers?
  • Regenerative braking – Is it handled by on-board energy storage?
  • Remote train warm-up!
  • Improved automation for the driver.
  • Less energy usage.
  • Modern signalling systems including ERTMS, which is used by Thameslink and Crodssrail.

Judging by my journey on The 10:35 From Liverpool Street To Shenfield, the customer experience is Jaguar to the successful Electrostar’s Ford.

The fast station stops of these modern trains from the major manufacturers means the following.

  • Less trains are needed for the same frequency of service.
  • The frequency of services can be improved.
  • Extra stops can be added with less of a time penalty.

In some cases semi-fast trains can be replaced by trains calling at all stations with no journey time penalty.

The Modern Railways article also hints that we’ll see more joining and splitting of trains to make sure capacity and frequency is tailored to the needs of a particular route.

Terminal Capacity In London

This could become a problem for Southeastern, but certain things can be done.

  • Increasing Crossrail and Thameslink capacity.
  • Extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet and/or Gravesend.
  • Splitting and joining services.
  • Improve signalling to allow trains to run at higher frequencies.
  • Cascade or scrap any train that can’t operate at 100 mph to create more paths.

In the long term, the solution is probably to rebuild Charing Cross station across the Thames, so that the platforms can accept three five-car trains working as one unit.

Higher Frequencies On Busy Routes

The North Kent Line from Abbey Wood station eastwards to Ramsgate will get increasingly busy through the Medway towns.

The East Kent Re-Signalling Project will help, but if all trains east of Abbey Wood were modern trains equipped with ERTMS, it would probably be easier to manage the trains, so that frequencies as high as ten trains per hour ran on a substantial part opf the route between Abbey Wood to Rainham stations.

There are probably several places where better signalling and modern trains can increase the frequency of trains.

Conclusion

The historic routes will be improved.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

 

 

June 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 16 Comments