The Anonymous Widower

Approaching Kings Cross – 5th July 2021

I took these pictures approaching Kings Cross.

Reports say most of the work of the remodelling is now complete. Although, it did look to me that in places more tracks could be laid.

The Length Of The Long Platforms At Kings Cross

This repeat of the last picture in the gallery shows the length of the nine long platforms.

Note.

  1. The train is in Platform 3.
  2. The train is an eight-car Class 700 train.
  3. Eight-car units are 162 metres long.
  4. Twelve-car units are 242.6 metres long.

Platform 3 is obviously long enough to take the following trains.

This Google Map shows the ends of the platforms at Kings Cross.

Note.

  1. The long platforms at the right are 2 and 3.
  2. Platform 2 and 3 are wide.
  3. Two LNER Azumas are in Platforms 5 and 6.

It looks to me that whilst all platforms can probably handle the standard British Rail length of 240 metres, those on the right may be able to handle longer trains. But what trains? These are my thoughts.

Longer LNER Azumas

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

The document says that Class 80x trains have a sophisticated Train Control and Management System (TCMS).

The document says that this is one of the functions of the TCMS.

To simplify the rearrangement and management of train configurations, functions are provided for
identifying the train (Class 800/801), for automatically determining the cars in the trainset and its total length,
and for coupling and uncoupling up to 12 cars in normal and 24 cars in rescue or emergency mode.

I would assume that with the purchase of extra cars, that it might be possible to lengthen trains to up to twelve cars.

Lengths would be as follows.

  • Ten-car Class 80x train – 260 metres.
  • Eleven-car Class 80x train – 276 metres.
  • Twelve-car Class 80x train – 312 metres.

To add extra capacity on the routes to Leeds and Edinburgh services, there must be a balance between these factors.

  • The cost of extra cars.
  • The cost of platform lengthening.

There must of course be space for any platform lengthening.

It would seem to me, that common sense should allow twelve-car trains to be handled at King’s Cross, as this must be one of the best ways of adding capacity to East Coast Main Line services.

Caledonian Sleeper

The Caledonian Sleeper doesn’t normally run into King’s Cross, but during the rebuilding Euston for High Speed Two, it may be necessary to provide an alternative platform.

Unfortunately, the sixteen-car Caledonian sleeper trains are 352 metres long. So it would appear that Kings Cross would not be a temporary alternative.

But given the amount of money being invested in sleeper trains in Europe by the likes of Midnight Trains and NightJet, I can see that the Caledonian Sleeper might have another problem – success and the need for more capacity.

So I wouldn’t rule out an East Coast Main Line sleeper train between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

It might call at Stevenage, Newcastle and Berwick to widen its passenger base, just as the current sleeper calls at Watford, Carlisle and Carstairs.

The train could be extended to Aberdeen, to simplify services in Scotland.

Obviously, traffic and finance would decide, but I wouldn’t rule out the Caledonian Sleeper running to and from King’s Cross for a few years yet.

A Night Light Freight Terminal

In Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?, I wrote about the new generation of fast electric freight trains, based on redundant electric multiple units.

  • If you look at Real Time Trains, you will find that few trains use King’s Cross station between two and five in the morning.
  • Platforms can take a twelve-car version of these electric freight trains.
  • The new platforms are wide and level.
  • Local delivery could use electric vehicles and bikes.

I think King’s Cross has possibilities for handling goods like food, parcels and shop supplies.

The Short Platforms At Kings Cross

When I was a child, King’s Cross had four short suburban platforms, where N2 steam tank engines hauled suburban services in and out of the station.

The suburban platforms have now been reduced to two platforms, that fit in with the current uses of the station.

  • The two platforms are numbered 9 and 10.
  • They can handle an eight-car Class 700 train, which is 162 metres long.
  • They can handle a five-car Class 800 train, which is 130 metres long.
  • Some five-car services run by the new Hitachi trains use these platforms.

These pictures show the platforms.

Note.

  1. The platforms are wide.
  2. The picture of the Azuma in Platform 9 was taken before the centre track was removed recently.
  3. Today, one LNER Azuma departed from Platform 9 to go to Lincoln, but both platforms were busy with Great Northern services to Cambridge, Ely and Kings Lynn.

I do wonder if the platforms could be used for light freight, during the night.

Conclusion

King’s Cross is not just one of the UK’s finest railway stations, which is recognised by its Grade I Listed status, but it is now moving towards an efficient, high-capacity station that works around the clock!

 

 

July 6, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On Seating In East Coast Trains’ New Class 803 trains

This page on RailAdvent contains this YouTube video of one of East Coast Trains’ New Class 803 trains under test.

 

On this page on the First Group web site, they give some details of the service.

  • Five trains per day, seven days per week in both directions.
  • One class of travel
  • Offer tickets at an average price of less than £25.
  • At seat catering on every train.
  • Introduce an additional 1.5 million seats on the route every year.

They also expect 80 % of passengers to be new to rail.

The internet doesn’t give the number of seats on the train, so I will estimate a number.

The number of trains per year will be at least 365 * 2  * 5, which is an easy 3650 trains.

Dividing this into 1.5 million gives 410.9 seats per train. I’ll call that 411.

After I made that estimate, I found this page on the Beacon Rail Leasing web site.

It gives this information.

  • Power – 4.5 MW
  • Speed – 125 mph
  • Passenger Capacity – 400
  • Weight – 228.5 tonnes

Using the figure of 400 passengers and 3650 trains per year, that gives a total number of 1,460,000 passengers per year, which is probably within the margin of error for the arithmetic of marketing experts.

If you watch the video, the following can be ascertained.

  • The two driver cars have six large windows each.
  • The three centre cars have nine large windows each.
  • It looks like the seating in the train is three on one side and two on the other.

This picture shows the Standard Class seating bay layout on a Great Western Railway Class 802 train.

 

Note.

  1. The seats are arranged either side of the window.
  2. There are lots of tables.
  3. If the blind was up, passengers will get a good view.

If as I surmised from the video, seating is two+three and there are 39 bays, that means that the train has a base seating capacity of 390 seats.

That leaves ten seats to find places for, or just two per car.

With two+two seating, there would be 312 seats in the bays under windows, so there would be a need to fit in another 86 seats.

It appears to me that to meet their objective of 1.5 million additional seats that a two+three layout is needed.

But it could be that most passengers will get a proper table and possibly reasonable leg room. Try getting that on a budget airline!

A Few Questions

These are a few questions.

Is The Service Geared For Group Or Family Travel?

Each train has thirty-nine groups of six seats and the same number of groups of four seats.

If say it was granny’s birthday in Edinburgh or a group of six friends were going to Scotland-England at Murrayfield, the layout would accommodate groups and families well.

They certainly need a good seat allocation algorithm.

Will I Be Able To Use My Railcard?

I would suspect not!

But then it would only save £8.33!

What About Delay Repay?

This will be automatic! I can’t ever be bothered to claim otherwise!

Will There Be Disabled Toilets?

It’s the law! But I have seen some much smaller ones that are well-designed and meet all aspects of the law in some new trains, so I would expect to find innovative designs.

Will There Be Single Seats?

I can sleep anywhere and regularly find myself returning to London curled in the corner of my seat fast asleep.

A single seat in the corner of the carriage might be ideal for some passengers.

Will Everybody Get A Table?

If I’m right about each seating bay having a table, then it would look like around ninety-seven percent of passengers would get a proper table. Not big enough for a copy of the Daily Telegraph, but they should have enough space for a laptop and/or a few beers.

What Food And Drink Will Be Offered?

I suspect, it will mainly be drinks and snacks like crisps or nutrition bars, which can be easily served from a trolley.

It should be noted that the three major stations on the route King’s Cross, Newcastle and Edinburgh all have a good selection of places to buy a carry-on!

But unlike at an airport, I suspect passengers won’t turn up two or three hours before departure, so will be unlikely to eat before departure.

I do think, that we could see improvements in the food offerings for taking on the train at Stevenage and Morpeth.

East Coast Trains may also contribute to the development of carry-on shops at some stations.

Will The Trains Accept Bicycles?

This is a tricky one and personally I feel that offering a decent bike hire service could be better value all round.

Using The Fleet Of Five Trains

Wikipedia and other sources indicate that the fleet is just five trains.

We know these facts or proposals.

  • King’s Cross and Edinburgh are 393.15 miles apart.
  • LNER run trains between King’s Cross and Edinburgh in four hours and twenty minutes (4 stops) and four hours and forty minutes (9 stops)
  • The record time between King’s Cross and Edinburgh was set in 1991 by a shortened all-electric InterCity 225 train at three hours twenty-nine minutes  and thirty seconds, which represented an average speed of 112.5 mph.
  • Trains start leaving King’s Cross and Edinburgh about 05:45.
  • The Werrington Dive-Under will, be completed in 2021.
  • The King’s Cross Remodelling should be completed this year.
  • Full digital in-cab signalling is being installed between King’s Cross and Doncaster. This will allow 140 mph running and as a Control Engineer, I believe it could ease the bottlenecks at Newark and over the Digswell Viaduct.
  • East Coast Trains’ Class 803 trains appear to have been designed for sparkling acceleration.
  • East Coast Trains will only make three stops.
  • East Coast Trains intend to compete with the budget airlines.
  • East Coast Trains intend their first train to arrive in London by 10:00. Does that mean Edinburgh as well?

I have just checked on Real Time Trains and this East Coast Trains timetable can be found.

King’s Cross and Edinburgh

  • 05:45 – Arrives 10:10 – 4 hours 25 minutes
  • 10:45 – Arrives 15:17 – 4 hours 32 minutes
  • 12:18 – Arrives 16:41 – 4 hours 23 minutes
  • 14:36 – Arrives 19:15 – 4 hours 39 minutes
  • 20:18 – Arrives 00:46 – 4 hours 28 minutes

Edinburgh and King’s Cross

  • 06:14 – Arrives 10:51 – 4 hours 37 minutes
  • 09:11 – Arrives 13:48 – 4 hours 37 minutes
  • 11:14 – Arrives 15:46 – 4 hours 32 minutes
  • 16:12 – Arrives 20:47 – 4 hours 35 minutes
  • 19:58 – Arrives 01:05 – 5 hours 7 minutes

Note.

  1. Times appear to be in-line with those of LNER.
  2. East Coast Trains’ objective of arriving by 10:00 is not met.
  3. Paths exist for East Coast Trains from the 7th June.

I believe this timetable is based on what is possible today without the improvements at King’s Cross and Werrington, and the digital signalling.

What Could Be Possible?

Consider.

  • The improvements that are underway will help to reduce journey times.
  • I also believe that by being clever, East Coast Trains could reduce turn-round times at King’s Cross and Edinburgh.

I think it is likely, that East Coast Trains could probably run between King’s Cross and Edinburgh in a time of around four hours.

I can also see a turn-round time of five minutes, if East Coast Trains use all their First Group experience.

Could this mean, a train starting from King’s Cross doing the following trips in a day?

  • 05:50 – King’s Cross to Edinburgh – Arrives 09:50
  • 09:55 – Edinburgh to King’s Cross – Arrives 13:55
  • 14:00 – King’s Cross to Edinburgh – Arrives 18:00
  • 18:05 – Edinburgh to King’s Cross – Arrives 22:05
  • 22:10 – King’s Cross to Edinburgh – Arrives 02:10

Note.

  1. A second train would mirror this time-table starting in Edinburgh.
  2. Every minute saved on each journey between King’s Cross and Edinburgh will bring the final arrival forward.
  3. There is tremendous potential to speed up services.

This time-table would be straight out of Michael O’Leary’s notebook about making assets sweat.

Conclusion

I think that East Coast Trains have done a Ryanair and designed the train to accommodate the maximum number of passengers. But the quoted £25 fare does appear to be good value.

I am certain that two+three seating will be used.

May 28, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport | , , , , , , | 9 Comments

A New Elizabethan

I can remember The Elizabethan, which was a steam-hauled non-stop express between London and Edinburgh between 1953 and 1961.

  • The steam-hauled train took six-hours-and-a-half.
  • It used to be the longest non-stop railway service in the world.
  • Today, the service could be run by the current or refurbished Azumas or perhaps a new flagship train, built for the service.
  • It could be easily under four hours.

It could be an interesting concept, to increase capacity between London and Edinburgh.

The Fastest Rail Journey Between London King’s Cross And Edinburgh

This section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive is entitled Speed Record. This is the first paragraph.

A Class 91, 91010 (now 91110), holds the British locomotive speed record at 161.7 mph (260.2 km/h), set on 17 September 1989, just south of Little Bytham on a test run down Stoke Bank with the DVT leading. Although Class 370s, Class 373s and Class 374s have run faster, all are EMUs which means that the Electra is officially the fastest locomotive in Britain. Another loco (91031, now 91131), hauling five Mk4s and a DVT on a test run, ran between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley in 3 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds on 26 September 1991. This is still the current record. The set covered the route in an average speed of 112.5 mph (181.1 km/h) and reached the full 140 mph (225 km/h) several times during the run.

Seconds under three-and-a-half-hours was an amazing time nearly thirty years ago, from a short-formation InterCity 225, that went on to become the mainstay of the services on the route.

It makes High Speed Two’s proposed time of three hours and forty-eight minutes appear to lack ambition.

But to be fair to High Speed Two, train services have historically been faster on the the East side of Great Britain.

What Time Could Be Possible Between London King’s Cross And Edinburgh?

In What Is Possible On The East Coast Main Line?, I took a hard look at times on the route, taking into account improvements of the last thirty years and those that will happen in the next few.

This was my conclusion.

I started by asking what is possible on The East Coast Main Line?

As the time of three-and-a-half hours was achieved by a short-formation InterCity 225 train in 1991 before Covids, Hitchin, Kings Cross Remodelling, Power Upgrades, Werrington and lots of other work, I believe that some journeys between Kings Cross and Edinburgh could be around this time within perhaps five years.

To some, that might seem an extraordinary claim, but when you consider that the InterCity 225 train in 1991 did it with only a few sections of 140 mph running, I very much think it is a certainly at some point.

As to the ultimate time, earlier I showed that an average of 120 mph between  King’s Cross and Edinburgh gives a time of 3:16 minutes.

Surely, an increase of fourteen minutes in thirty years is possible?

I believe that timings will decrease significantly on the East Coast Main Line with the current trains.

Extra Paths For LNER

In the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes.

This is the last paragraph.

Infrastructure upgrades are due to prompt a timetable recast in May 2022 (delayed from December 2021), from which point LNER will operate 6.5 trains per hour out of King’s Cross, compared to five today. As an interim measure  LNER is retaining seven rakes of Mk. 4 coaches hauled by 12 Class 91 locomotives to supplement the Azuma fleet and support its timetable ambitions until new trains are delivered.

There would certainly appear to be a path available if LNER wanted to increase the frequency of trains between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh from the current two trains per hour (tph) to three.

What Would Be The Route?

I feel there could be three possible simple routes.

  1. A direct non-stop London King’s Cross and Edinburgh service.
  2. A London King’s Cross and Edinburgh service with a single stop at Newcastle.
  3. A London King’s Cross and Edinburgh service with stops at Leeds and Newcastle.

Each route would have its own advantages and drawbacks.

Route 1

My thoughts about Route 1.

  • This would be the fastest route.
  • It would be a serious challenge to the airlines on the London and Edinburgh route.

It would be a marketing man’s dream.

Route 2

My thoughts about Route 2.

  • This would be the second fastest route.
  • It would be a serious challenge to the airlines on the London and Edinburgh route.
  • It would give Newcastle a third hourly service to the capital.
  • It would give Newcastle a non-stop train to London every hour.
  • It would probably be the fastest train between King’s Cross and Newcastle.
  • It would beef up the challenge to the airlines on the London and Newcastle route.

Serving Newcastle may generate extra passengers.

Route 3

My thoughts about Route 3.

  • This would be the slowest route as it is 23 miles longer.
  • It would be a challenge to the airlines on the London and Edinburgh route.
  • It would give Newcastle and Leeds a third hourly service to the capital.
  • It would give Leeds a non-stop train to London every hour.
  • It would probably be the fastest train between London and Leeds.
  • It would beef up the challenge to the airlines on the London and Newcastle and London and Leeds routes.
  • There could be an extra call at York

Serving Leeds and Newcastle may generate extra passengers.

Obviously, passenger numbers will determine the best route.

Conclusion

I very much feel that properly thought through, this service could be a success.

 

 

May 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What Is Possible On The East Coast Main Line?

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive, there is an amazing story.

This picture shows one of these locomotives at Kings Cross.

Note.

  1. They have a design speed of 140 mph.
  2. They have a power output of 4.8 MW.
  3. They were built around 1990 by British Rail at Crewe.

They were designed to run services between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh as fast as possible, as the motive power of the InterCity 225 trains.

This section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive is entitled Speed Record. This is the first paragraph.

A Class 91, 91010 (now 91110), holds the British locomotive speed record at 161.7 mph (260.2 km/h), set on 17 September 1989, just south of Little Bytham on a test run down Stoke Bank with the DVT leading. Although Class 370s, Class 373s and Class 374s have run faster, all are EMUs which means that the Electra is officially the fastest locomotive in Britain. Another loco (91031, now 91131), hauling five Mk4s and a DVT on a test run, ran between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley in 3 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds on 26 September 1991. This is still the current record. The set covered the route in an average speed of 112.5 mph (181.1 km/h) and reached the full 140 mph (225 km/h) several times during the run.

Note.

  1. For the British locomotive speed record, locomotive was actually pushing the train and going backwards, as the driving van trailer (DVT) was leading.
  2. How many speed records of any sort, where the direction isn’t part of the record, have been set going backwards?
  3. I feel that this record could stand for many years, as it is not very likely anybody will build another 140 mph locomotive in the foreseeable future. Unless a maverick idea for a high speed freight locomotive is proposed.

I have a few general thoughts on the record run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh in three-and-a-half hours.

  • I would assume that as in normal operation of these trains, the Class 91 locomotive was leading on the run to the North.
  • For various reasons, they would surely have had at least two of British Rail’s most experienced drivers in the cab.
  • At that time, 125 mph InterCity 125 trains had been the workhorse of East Coast Main Line for well over ten years, so British Rail wouldn’t have been short of experienced high speed drivers.
  • It was a Thursday, so they must have been running amongst normal traffic.
  • On Monday, a typical run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh is timetabled to take four hours and twenty minutes.
  • High Speed Two are predicting a time of three hours and forty-eight minutes between Euston and Edinburgh via High Speed Two and  the West Coast Main Line.

The more you look at it, a sub-three-and-and-a-half hour time, by 1980s-technology on a less-than-perfect railway was truly remarkable.

So how did they do it?

Superb Timetabling

In Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!, I talk about how Network Rail and Greater Anglia created a fast service between Liverpool Street and Norwich.

I suspect that British Rail put their best timetablers on the project, so that the test train could speed through unhindered.

Just as they did for Norwich-in-Ninety and probably will be doing to the East Coast Main Line to increase services and decrease journey times.

A Good As ERTMS Signalling

Obviously in 1991, there was no modern digital in-cab signalling and I don’t know the standard of communication between the drivers and the signallers.

On the tricky sections like Digswell Viaduct, through Hitchin and the Newark Crossing were other trains stopped well clear of any difficult area, as modern digital signalling can anticipate and take action?

I would expect the test train got a signalling service as good as any modern train, even if parts of it like driver to signaller communication may have been a bit experimental.

There may even have been a back-up driver in the cab with the latest mobile phone.

It must have been about 1991, when I did a pre-arranged airways join in my Cessna 340 on the ground at Ipswich Airport before take-off on a direct flight to Rome. Air Traffic Control had suggested it to avoid an intermediate stop at say Southend.

The technology was arriving and did it help the drivers on that memorable run North ensure a safe and fast passage of the train?

It would be interesting to know, what other equipment was being tested by this test train.

A Possible Plan

I suspect that the plan in 1991 was to use a plan not unlike one that would be used by Lewis Hamilton, or in those days Stirling Moss to win a race.

Drive a steady race not taking any chances and where the track allows speed up.

So did British Rail drive a steady 125 mph sticking to the standard timetable between Kings Cross and Edinburgh?

Then as the Wikipedia extract indicated, at several times during the journey did they increase the speed of the train to 140 mph.

And the rest as they say was an historic time of 3 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds. Call it three-and-a-half-hours.

This represented a start-to-stop average speed of 112.5 mph over the 393 miles of the East Coast Main Line.

Can The Current Trains Achieve Three-And-A-Half-Hours Be Possible Today?

Consider.

  • The best four hours and twenty minutes timings of the Class 801 trains, represents an average speed of 90.7 mph.
  • The Class 801 trains and the InterCity 225 trains have similar performance.
  • There have been improvements to the route like the Hitchin Flyover.
  • Full ERTMS in-cab signalling is being installed South of Doncaster.
  • I believe ERTMS and ETC could solve the Newark Crossing problem! See Could ERTMS And ETCS Solve The Newark Crossing Problem?
  • I am a trained Control Engineer and I believe if ERTMS and ETC can solve the Newark Crossing problem, I suspect they can solve the Digswell Viaduct problem.
  • The Werrington Dive Under is being built.
  • The approaches to Kings Cross are being remodelled.

I can’t quite say easy-peasy. but I’m fairly certain the Kings Cross and Edinburgh record is under serious threat.

  • A massive power supply upgrade to the North of Doncaster is continuing. See this page on the Network Rail web site.
  • ERTMS and ETC probably needs to be installed all the way between Kings Cross and Edinburgh.
  • There may be a need to minimise the number of slower passenger trains on the East Coast Main Line.
  • The Northumberland Line and the Leamside Line may be needed to take some trains from the East Coast Main Line.

Recent Developments Concerning the Hitachi Trains

There have been several developments  since the Hitachi Class 800 and Class 801 trains were ordered.

  • Serious engineers and commentators like Roger Ford of Modern Railways have criticised the lugging of heavy diesel engines around the country.
  • Network Rail have upgraded the power supply South of Doncaster and have recently started to upgrade it between Doncaster and Edinburgh. Will this extensive upgrade cut the need to use the diesel power-packs?
  • Hitachi and their operators must have collected extensive in-service statistics about the detailed performance of the trains and the use of the diesel power-packs.
  • Hitachi have signed an agreement with Hyperdrive Innovation of Sunderland to produce battery-packs for the trains and two new versions of the trains have been announced; a Regional Battery Train and an Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.
  • East Coast Trains have ordered five five-car Class 803 trains, each of which will have a small battery for emergency use and no diesel power-packs.
  • Avanti West Coast have ordered ten seven-car Class 807 trains, each of which have no battery or diesel power-packs.

And these are just the ones we know about.

The Class 807 Trains And Liverpool

I find Avanti West Coast’s Class 807 trains the most interesting development.

  • They have been partly financed by Rock Rail, who seem to organise train finance, so that the train operator, the train manufacturer all get the best value, by finding good technical solutions.
  • I believe that these trains have been designed so they can run between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations in under two hours.
  • Does the absence of battery or diesel power-packs save weight and improve performance?
  • Euston and Liverpool Lime Street in two hours would be an average of only 96.8 mph.
  • If the Class 807 trains could achieve the same start-stop average of 112.5 mph achieved by the InterCity 225 test run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh, that would mean a Euston and Liverpool Lime Street time of one hour and forty-three minutes.
  • Does Thunderbird provision on the West Coast Main Line for the Class 390 trains mean that the Class 807 trains don’t need emergency power?
  • Have diesel power-packs been rarely used in emergency by the Hitachi trains?

I believe the mathematics show that excellent sub-two hour times between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street are possible by Avanti West Coast’s new Class 807 trains.

The Class 803 Trains And Edinburgh

East Coast Trains ordered their Class 803 trains in March 2019,  nine months before Avanti West Coast ordered their Class 807 trains.

In Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service, I outlined brief details of the trains and the proposed service.

  • FirstGroup is targeting the two-thirds of passengers, who fly between London and Edinburgh.
  • They are also targeting business passengers, as the first train arrives in Edinburgh at 10:00.
  • The trains are five-cars.
  • The trains are one class with onboard catering, air-conditioning, power sockets and free wi-fi.
  • Stops will be five trains per day with stops at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.
  • The trains will take around four hours.
  • The service will start in Autumn 2021.

I also thought it would be a successful service

As I know Edinburgh, Liverpool and London well, I believe there are similarities between the Euston-Liverpool Lime Street and Kings Cross-Edinburgh routes.

  • Both routes are between two cities known all over the world.
  • Both routes are fully-electrified.
  • Both routes have the potential to attract passengers from other transport modes.

The two services could even be run at similar speeds.

  • Euston-Liverpool Lime Street in two hours will be at 96.8 mph
  • Kings Cross-Edinburgh in four hours will be at 98.3 mph.

Does this explain the similar lightweight trains?

Could Lightweight Trains Help LNER?

There is one important factor, I haven’t talked about in detail in this post. Batteries and diesel power-packs on the Hitachi trains.

I have only mentioned them in the following circumstances.

  • When trains are not fitted with battery and/or diesel power-packs.
  • When battery developments are being undertaken.

Let’s consider the LNER fleet.

  • LNER has thirteen nine-car Class 800 trains, each of which has five diesel power-packs
  • LNER has ten five-car Class 800 trains, each of which has three diesel power-packs
  • LNER has thirty nine-car Class 801 trains, each of which has one diesel power-pack
  • LNER has twelve five-car Class 801 trains, each of which has one diesel power-pack

There are sixty-five trains, 497 coaches and 137 diesel power-packs.

And look at their destinations.

  • Aberdeen – No Electrification from Edinburgh
  • Alnmouth – Fully Electrified
  • Berwick-upon-Tweed – Fully Electrified
  • Bradford Forster Square – Fully Electrified
  • Darlington – Fully Electrified
  • Doncaster – Fully Electrified
  • Durham – Fully Electrified
  • Edinburgh – Fully Electrified
  • Glasgow – Fully Electrified
  • Grantham – Fully Electrified
  • Harrogate – No Electrification from Leeds – Possible Battery Destination
  • Huddersfield – No Electrification from Leeds – Possible Battery Destination – Probable Electrification
  • Hull – No Electrification from Temple Hirst Junction – Possible Battery Destination
  • Inverness – No Electrification from Stirling
  • Leeds – Fully Electrified
  • Lincoln – No Electrification from Newark North Gate – Possible Battery Destination
  • Middlesbrough – No Electrification from Northallerton – Possible Battery Destination
  • Newcastle – Fully Electrified
  • Newark North Gate – Fully Electrified
  • Northallerton – Fully Electrified
  • Peterborough – Fully Electrified
  • Skipton – Fully Electrified
  • Retford – Fully Electrified
  • Stevenage – Fully Electrified
  • Stirling – Fully Electrified
  • Sunderland – No Electrification from Northallerton – Possible Battery Destination
  • Wakefield Westgate – Fully Electrified
  • York – Fully Electrified

The destinations can be summarised as followed.

  • Not Electrified – 2
  • Possible Battery Destination – 6
  • Fully Electrified – 20

This gives a total of 28.

Could the trains be matched better to the destinations?

  • Some routes like Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle and Stirling could possibly be beneficially handled by lightweight trains without any diesel or battery power-packs.
  • Only Aberdeen and Inverness can’t be reached by all-electric or battery-electric trains.
  • In LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, I proposed a hydrogen-electric flagship train, that would use hydrogen North of the existing electrification.

There certainly appear to be possibilities.

Example Journey Times To Edinburgh

This table shows the various time for particular start-stop average speeds between Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

  • 80 mph – 4:54
  • 85 mph – 4:37
  • 90 mph – 4:12
  • 98.2 mph – 4:00
  • 100 mph – 3:56
  • 110 mph – 3:34
  • 120 mph – 3:16
  • 125 mph – 3:08

Note.

  • Times are given in h:mm.
  • A few mph increase in average speed reduces journey time by a considerable amount.

The figures certainly show the value of high speed trains and of removing bottlenecks, as average speed is so important.

Decarbonisation Of LNER

LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes was based on an article in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, with the same title. These are the first two paragraphs of the article.

LNER has launched the procurement of at least 10 new trains to supplement its Azuma fleet on East Coast main line services.

In a Prior Information Notice published on 27 October, the operator states it is seeking trains capable of operating under 25kW overhead power with ‘significant self-power capability’ for operation away from overhead wires. ‘On-board Energy Storage for traction will be specified as a mandatory requirement to reduce, and wherever practical eliminate, diesel usage where it would otherwise be necessary, although LNER anticipates some degree of diesel traction may be required to meet some self-power requirements. Suppliers tendering are asked to detail their experience of designing and manufacturing a fleet of multi-mode trains with a range of traction options including battery-electric, diesel-electric, hydrogen-electric, battery-diesel, dual fuel and tri-mode.

From this, LNER would appear to be serious about decarbonisation and from the destination list I published earlier, most services South of the Scottish Central Belt can be decarbonised by replacing diesel-power packs with battery power-packs.

That last bit, sounds like a call for innovation to provide a solution to the difficult routes to Aberdeen and Inverness. It also looks as if it has been carefully worded not to rule anybody out.

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

It announces the Hitachi Intercity Tri-mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

As the Hitachi press release is dated the 15th of December 2020, which is after the publication of the magazine, it strikes me that LNER and Hitachi had been talking.

At no point have Hitachi stated what the range of the train is on battery power.

To serve the North of Scotland these gaps must be bridged.

  • Aberdeen and Edinburgh Haymarket – 130 miles
  • Inverness and Stirling – 146 miles

It should also be noted that distances in Scotland are such, that if these gaps could be bridged by battery technology, then probably all of the North of Scotland’s railways could be decarbonised. As Hitachi are the major supplier of Scotland’s local and regional electric trains, was the original Prior Information Notice, written to make sure Hitachi responded?

LNER run nine-car Class 800 trains on the two long routes to Aberdeen and Inverness.

  • These trains have five diesel power-packs under coaches 2,3, 5, 7 and 8.
  • As five-car Class 800 trains have diesel power-packs under coaches 2, 3 and 4, does this mean that Hitachi can fit diesel power-packs under all cars except for the driver cars?
  • As the diesel and battery power-packs appear to be interchangeable, does this mean that Hitachi could theoretically build some very unusual trains?
  • Hitachi’s trains can be up to twelve-cars in normal mode and twenty-four cars in rescue mode.
  • LNER would probably prefer an all Azuma fleet, even if a few trains were a bit longer.

Imagine a ten-car train with two driver and eight intermediate cars, with all of the intermediate cars having maximum-size battery-packs.

Supposing, one or two of the battery power-packs were to be replaced with a diesel power-pack.

There are a lot of possibilities and I suspect LNER, Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation are working on a train capable of running to and from the North of Scotland.

Conclusion

I started by asking what is possible on The East Coast Main Line?

As the time of three-and-a-half hours was achieved by a short-formation InterCity 225 train in 1991 before Covids, Hitchin, Kings Cross Remodelling, Power Upgrades, Werrington and lots of other work, I believe that some journeys between Kings Cross and Edinburgh could be around this time within perhaps five years.

To some, that might seem an extraordinary claim, but when you consider that the InterCity 225 train in 1991 did it with only a few sections of 140 mph running, I very much think it is a certainly at some point.

As to the ultimate time, earlier I showed that an average of 120 mph between  King’s Cross and Edinburgh gives a time of 3:16 minutes.

Surely, an increase of fourteen minutes in thirty years is possible?

 

 

 

May 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Approaching Kings Cross – 2nd April 2021

I took these pictures approaching Kings Cross.

Comparing these pictures to those in Approaching Kings Cross – 19th February 2021, show that work is progressing.

It should be finished by the Summer.

April 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Belgrove House – A New Entrance For King’s Cross Tube Station

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on Ian Visits, with the addition of Belgrove House,

This is the introductory paragraph.

An isolated box entrance to King’s Cross tube station is to be demolished and replaced with a new step-free entrance as part of a building development.

I went and took these pictures today, as I needed a few bits of shopping, which I bought in the area.

Note.

  1. The busy Euston Road which is a major route into and out of London in front of the two stations.
  2. The two station boxes on the South side of Euston Road, making the pavements difficult places to walk at times.
  3. The subway is step-free to all the Underground lines at Kings Cross and to both National Rail stations on the North side of Euston Road.

The block with the access self-store and the entrance to the station in front, will be replaced by a substantial new building, with step-free entrance to the existing subway.

This web page is entitled Welcome to the Consultation Website for Belgrove House and Acorn House.

It more of less does what it says and has this statement on the page.

This site presents our aspirations for an exciting new project for Camden; a life science Discovery Hub and UK HQ as a centre of excellence for MSD UK at Belgrove House along with affordable housing at Acorn House. It involves two interlinked sites within the King’s Cross ward of the London Borough of Camden – Belgrove House is located on Euston Road and fronts onto the King’s Cross Square and Acorn House is located a four minute walk away on Gray’s Inn Road.

We have now updated our website to include virtual exhibition boards where you can view the proposals for both sites in detail, see the consultation that has been undertaken to date and review the feedback that we have received so far. This is also an opportunity for you to give us your feedback on the plans ahead of a planning application being submitted to Camden Council at the end of August 2020.

The virtual exhibition boards can be viewed here.

The web page also features this visualisation of the building.

I have read most of the virtual exhibition boards and I wish that more consultation websites would be only half as good as this one.

These are a few points from the exhibition boards.

Cafe

There will be a publicly available cafe on the ground floor.

Many times in my life, I’ve arrived early and there is nowhere suitable to wait.

Carbon-Efficient Building

This is obvious from the proposal and raises its green head everywhere in the proposal.

Heating

It will be an all-electric building, with no combustion on site.

There will be air-source heat pumps and heat recovery.

Innovative Biophilic Façade

Wikipedia says this about biophilic design.

Biophilic design is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions. Used at both the building and city-scale, it is argued that this idea has health, environmental, and economic benefits for building occupants and urban environments, with few drawbacks. Although its name was coined in recent history, indicators of biophilic design have been seen in architecture from as far back as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

This sounds to me, like the sort of post-Covid working environment we need to tempt people back into offices.

Parking

This is said about cycle and car parking.

We are proposing over 350 cycling parking spaces as part of our proposals for Belgrove House. These will be accessed via its own entrance located on Belgrove Street. We are also not proposing any car parking spaces as the area benefits from excellent transport connections.

I can’t see many disagreeing with that.

Recycled Building

I particularly liked this paragraph.

In line with the low-carbon strategy, the team intends to recycle and reuse existing building materials on the site where possible, such as bricks where these are salvageable. The re-use of these materials will reduce the embodied carbon of the new building.

Some of the buildings, I’ve commissioned have made extensive use of recycled bricks. And very fine, they’ve looked too!

Service Vehicles

This is said about servicing the offices and the retail units.

All servicing and deliveries for the Belgrove House offices/lab space will take place via the ground floor loading bay, with any vehicles entering the site from Crestfield Street and exiting onto Crestfield Street. The retail element of the development will be serviced from Crestfield Street in the same way as the existing McDonalds unit.

Sounds fair to me.

The more I read about this building the more I like it.

MSD

The main tennant will be MSD.

This is said about the company and its involvement in Belgrove House.

The proposals for Belgrove House have been designed to meet the needs of Knowledge Quarter occupiers such as MSD, a multinational life sciences company that discovers, develops and provides innovative medicines and vaccines to make a difference to people’s lives.

MSD has been looking for a suitable site for some time and identified King’s Cross as the ideal location for their Discovery Hub and UK HQ as a centre of excellence for the life science community.

They have form with this type of development and have a similar Discovery Hub in San Francisco.

Connection To Kings Cross Station

The current station boxes on the South side of Euston Road will be replaced by a step-free entrance inside Belgrove House, that will connect to the existing subway under Euston Road.

It is a difficult area to walk through and the pavements will be widened.

This Google Map shows the location of Belgrove House and the two stations of Kings Cross and St. Pancras.

Note.

  1. Kings Cross station is at the top of the map.
  2. St. Pancras station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  3. Argyle Square Gardens is the green space in the South East corner of the map.

Belgrove House will replace the Access self-storage with the squares on the roof, that lies between Argyle Square and Euston Road.

Conclusion

If the development is as good as the proposal and lives up to the aims of the developers and MSD, it will be a building of which London will be proud.

How long will it take for some wag in a tabloid to call it The Hanging Gardens Of Kings Cross?

 

 

March 14, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Will Hitachi Announce A High Speed Metro Train?

As the UK high speed rail network increases, we are seeing more services and proposed services, where local services are sharing tracks, where trains will be running at 125 mph or even more.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Kings Lynn

This Great Northern service is run by Class 387 trains.

  • Services run between London Kings Cross and Kings Lynn or Cambridge
  • The Class 387 trains have a maximum operating speed of 110 mph.
  • The route is fully electrified.
  • The trains generally use the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line, South of Hitchin.
  • Most trains on the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line are travelling at 125 mph.
  • When in the future full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented on the East Coast Main Line, speeds of up to 140 mph should be possible in some sections between London Kings Cross and Hitchin.

I also believe that digital signalling may be able to provide a solution to the twin-track bottleneck over the Digswell Viaduct.

Consider.

  • Airliners have been flown automatically and safely from airport to airport for perhaps four decades.
  • The Victoria Line has been running automatically and safely at over twenty trains per hour (tph) for five decades. It is now running at over 30 tph.
  • I worked with engineers developing a high-frequency sequence control system for a complicated chemical plant in 1970.

We also can’t deny that computers are getting better and more capable.

For these reasons, I believe there could be an ERTMS-based solution to the problem of the Digswell Viaduct, which could be something like this.

  • All trains running on the two track section over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station would be under computer control between Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations.
  • Fast trains would be slowed as appropriate to create spaces to allow the slow trains to pass through the section.
  • The driver would be monitoring the computer control, just as they do on the Victoria Line.

Much more complicated automated systems have been created in various applications.

The nearest rail application in the UK, is probably the application of digital signalling to London Underground’s Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines.

This is known at the Four Lines Modernisation and it will be completed by 2023 and increase capacity by up to twenty-seven percent.

I don’t think it unreasonable to see the following maximum numbers of services running over the Digswell Viaduct by 2030 in both directions in every hour.

  • Sixteen fast trains
  • Four slow trains

That is one train every three minutes.

Currently, it appears to be about ten fast and two slow.

As someone, who doesn’t like to be on a platform, when a fast train goes through, I believe that some form of advanced safety measures should be installed at Welwyn North station.

It would appear that trains between London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn need to have this specification.

  • Ability to run at 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line
  • Ability to run at 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under control of full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

This speed increase could reduce the journey time between London Kings Cross and Cambridge to just over half-an-hour with London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn under ninety minutes.

The only new infrastructure needed would be improvements to the Fen Line to King’s Lynn to allow two tph, which I think is needed.

Speed improvements between Hitchin and Cambridge could also benefit timings.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Norwich

I believe there is a need for a high speed service between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge.

  • The Class 755 trains, that are capable of 100 mph take 82 minutes, between Cambridge and Norwich.
  • The electrification gap between Ely and Norwich is 54 miles.
  • Norwich station and South of Ely is fully electrified.
  • Greater Anglia’s Norwich and Cambridge service has been very successful.

With the growth of Cambridge and its incessant need for more space, housing and workers, a high speed train  between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge could tick a lot of boxes.

  • If hourly, it would double the frequency between Cambridge and Norwich until East-West Rail is completed.
  • All stations between Ely and Norwich get a direct London service.
  • Cambridge would have better links for commuting to the city.
  • London Kings Cross and Cambridge would be less than an hour apart.
  • If the current London Kings Cross and Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, no extra paths on the East Coast Main Line would be needed.
  • Trains could even split and join at Cambridge or Ely to give all stations a two tph service to London Kings Cross.
  • No new infrastructure would be required.

The Cambridge Cruiser would become the Cambridge High Speed Cruiser.

London Paddington And Bedwyn

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Bedwyn.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Reading.
  • The 13.3 miles between Newbury and Bedwyn is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

London Paddington And Oxford

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Oxford.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Didcot Parkway.
  • The 10.3 miles between Didcot Parkway and Oxford is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Didcot Parkway and Oxford, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

Local And Regional Trains On Existing 125 mph Lines

In The UK, in addition to High Speed One and High Speed Two, we have the following lines, where speeds of 125 mph are possible.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line

Note.

  1. Long stretches of these routes allow speeds of up to 125 mph.
  2. Full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line to allow running up to 140 mph.
  3. Some of these routes have four tracks, with pairs of slow and fast lines, but there are sections with only two tracks.

It is likely, that by the end of the decade large sections of these four 125 mph lines will have been upgraded, to allow faster running.

If you have Hitachi and other trains thundering along at 140 mph, you don’t want dawdlers, at 100 mph or less, on the same tracks.

These are a few examples of slow trains, that use two-track sections of 125 nph lines.

  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Leicester and Lincoln – Uses Midland Main Line
  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Liverpool and Norwich – Uses Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Portsmouth Harbour – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Taunton – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Cumbria – Uses West Coast Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Newcastle and Morpeth – Uses East Coast Main Line
  • West Midlands Trains – Some services use West Coast Main Line.

Conflicts can probably be avoided by judicious train planning in some cases, but in some cases trains capable of 125 mph will be needed.

Southeastern Highspeed Services

Class 395 trains have been running Southeastern Highspeed local services since 2009.

  • Services run between London St. Pancras and Kent.
  • Services use Speed One at speeds of up to 140 mph.
  • These services are planned to be extended to Hastings and possibly Eastbourne.

The extension would need the ability to run on the Marshlink Line, which is an electrification gap of 25.4 miles, between Ashford and Ore.

Thameslink

Thameslink is a tricky problem.

These services run on the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct.

  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Kings Cross – Slow train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • 2 tph – Peterborough and Horsham – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.

Note.

  1. These services are run by Class 700 trains, that are only capable of 100 mph.
  2. The fast services take the fast lines South of the Digswell Viaduct.
  3. South of Finsbury Park, both fast services cross over to access the Canal Tunnel for St, Pancras station.
  4. I am fairly certain, that I have been on InterCity 125 trains running in excess of 100 mph in places between Finsbury Park and Stevenage.

It would appear that the slow Thameslink trains are slowing express services South of Stevenage.

As I indicated earlier, I think it is likely that the Kings Cross and King’s Lynn services will use 125 mph trains for various reasons, like London and Cambridge in well under an hour.

But if 125 mph trains are better for King’s Lynn services, then they would surely improve Thameslink and increase capacity between London and Stevenage.

Looking at average speeds and timings on the 25 miles between Stevenage and Finsbury Park gives the following.

  • 100 mph – 15 minutes
  • 110 mph – 14 minutes
  • 125 mph – 12 minutes
  • 140 mph – 11 minutes

The figures don’t appear to indicate large savings, but when you take into account that the four tph running the Thameslink services to Peterborough and Cambridge stop at Finsbury Park and Stevenage and have to get up to speed, I feel that the 100 mph Class 700 trains are a hindrance to more and faster trains on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

It should be noted, that faster trains on these Thameslink services would probably have better acceleration and and would be able to execute faster stops at stations.

There is a similar less serious problem on the Midland Main Line branch of Thameslink, in that some Thameslink services use the fast lines.

A couple of years ago, I had a very interesting chat with a group of East Midlands Railway drivers. They felt that the 100 mph Thameslink and the 125 mph Class 222 trains were not a good mix.

The Midland Main Line services are also becoming more complicated, with the new EMR Electric services between St. Pancras and Corby, which will be run by 110 mph Class 360 trains.

Hitachi’s Three Trains With Batteries

Hitachi have so far announced three battery-electric trains. Two are based on battery packs being developed and built by Hyperdrive Innovation.

Hyperdrive Innovation

Looking at the Hyperdrive Innovation web site, I like what I see.

Hyperdrive Innovation provided the battery packs for JCB’s first electric excavator.

Note that JCB give a five-year warranty on the Hyperdrive batteries.

Hyperdrive have also been involved in the design of battery packs for aircraft push-back tractors.

The battery capacity for one of these is given as 172 kWh and it is able to supply 34 kW.

I was very surprised that Hitachi didn’t go back to Japan for their batteries, but after reading Hyperdrive’s web site about the JCB and Textron applications, there would appear to be good reasons to use Hyperdrive.

  • Hyperdrive have experience of large lithium ion batteries.
  • Hyperdrive have a design, develop and manufacture model.
  • They seem to able to develop solutions quickly and successfully.
  • Battery packs for the UK and Europe are made in Sunderland.
  • Hyperdrive are co-operating with Nissan, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Newcastle University.
  • They appear from the web site to be experts in the field of battery management, which is important in prolonging battery life.
  • Hyperdrive have a Taiwanese partner, who manufactures their battery packs for Taiwan and China.
  • I have done calculations based on the datasheet for their batteries and Hyperdrive’s energy density is up with the best

I suspect, that Hitachi also like the idea of a local supplier, as it could be helpful in the negotiation of innovative applications. Face-to-face discussions are easier, when you’re only thirty miles apart.

Hitachi Regional Battery Train

The first train to be announced was the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. It is only a 100 mph train.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. It has a range of 56 miles on battery power.
  4. Any of Hitachi’s A Train family like Class 800, 802 or 385 train can be converted to a Regional Battery Train.

No orders have been announced yet.

But it would surely be very suitable for routes like.

  • London Paddington And Bedwyn
  • London Paddington And Oxford

It would also be very suitable for extensions to electrified suburban routes like.

  • London Bridge and Uckfield
  • London Waterloo and Salisbury
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere.
  • Newcastle and Carlisle

It would also be a very sound choice to extend electrified routes in Scotland, which are currently run by Class 385 trains.

Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train

The second train to be announced was the Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. Only one engine is replaced by a battery.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. Typically a five-car Class 800 or 802 train has three diesel engines and a nine-car train has five.
  4. These trains would obviously be capable of 125 mph on electrified main lines and 140 mph on lines fully equipped with digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

Nothing is said about battery range away from electrification.

Routes currently run from London with a section without electrification at the other end include.

  • London Kings Cross And Harrogate – 18.3 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Hull – 36 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • London Paddington And Bedwyn – 13.3 miles
  • London Paddington And Oxford – 10.3 miles

In the March 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, LNER are quoted as having aspirations to extend the Lincoln service to Cleethorpes.

  • With all energy developments in North Lincolnshire, this is probably a good idea.
  • Services could also call at Market Rasen and Grimsby.
  • Two trains per day, would probably be a minimum frequency.

But the trains would need to be able to run around 64 miles each way without electrification. Very large batteries and/or charging at Cleethorpes will be needed.

Class 803 Trains For East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains have ordered a fleet of five Class 803 trains.

  • These trains appear to be built for speed and fast acceleration.
  • They have no diesel engines, which must save weight and servicing costs.
  • But they will be fitted with batteries for emergency power to maintain onboard  train services in the event of overhead line failure.
  • They are planned to enter service in October 2021.

Given that Hyperdrive Innovation are developing traction batteries for the other two Hitachi battery trains, I would not be the least bit surprised if Hyperdrive were designing and building the batteries for the Class 803 trains.

  • Hyperdrive batteries are modular, so for a smaller battery you would use less modules.
  • If all coaches are wired for a diesel engine, then they can accept any power module like a battery or hydrogen pack, without expensive redesign.
  • I suspect too, that the battery packs for the Class 803 trains could be tested on an LNER Class 801 train.

LNER might also decide to replace the diesel engines on their Class 801 trains with an emergency battery pack, if it were more energy efficient and had a lighter weight.

Thoughts On The Design Of The Hyperdrive innovation Battery Packs

Consider.

  • Hitachi trains have a sophisticated computer system, which on start-up can determine the configuration of the train or whether it is more than one train running as a longer formation or even being hauled by a locomotive.
  • To convert a bi-mode Class 800 train to an all-electric Class 801 the diesel engines are removed. I suspect that the computer is also adjusted, but train formation may well be totally automatic and independent of the driver.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery seem to be based on a modular system, where typical modules have a capacity of 5 kWh, weighs 32 Kg and has a volume of 0.022 cu metres.
  • The wet mass of an MTU 16V 1600 R80L diesel engine commonly fitted to AT-300 trains of different types is 6750 Kg or nearly seven tonnes.
  • The diesel engine has a physical size of 1.5 x 1.25 x 0.845 metres, which is a volume of 1.6 cubic metres.
  • In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a five-car Class 801 electric train, needed 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • It is likely, than any design of battery pack, will handle the regenerative braking.

To my mind, the ideal solution would be a plug compatible battery pack, that the train’s computer thought was a diesel engine.

But then I have form in the area of plug-compatible electronics.

At the age of sixteen, for a vacation job, I worked in the Electronics Laboratory at Enfield Rolling Mills.

It was the early sixties and one of their tasks was at the time replacing electronic valve-based automation systems with new transistor-based systems.

The new equipment had to be compatible to that which it replaced, but as some were installed in dozens of places around the works, they had to be able to be plug-compatible, so that they could be quickly changed. Occasionally, the new ones suffered infant-mortality and the old equipment could just be plugged back in, if there wasn’t a spare of the new equipment.

So will Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery-packs have the same characteristics as the diesel engines that they replace?

  • Same instantaneous and continuous power output.
  • Both would fit the same mountings under the train.
  • Same control and electrical power connections.
  • Compatibility with the trains control computer.

I think they will as it will give several advantages.

  • The changeover between diesel engine and battery pack could be designed as a simple overnight operation.
  • Operators can mix-and-match the number of diesel engines and battery-packs to a given route.
  • As the lithium-ion cells making up the battery pack improve, battery capacity and performance can be increased.
  • If the computer, is well-programmed, it could reduce diesel usage and carbon-emissions.
  • Driver conversion from a standard train to one equipped with batteries, would surely be simplified.

As with the diesel engines, all battery packs could be substantially the same across all of Hitachi’s Class 80x trains.

What Size Of Battery Would Be Possible?

If Hyperdrive are producing a battery pack with the same volume as the diesel engine it replaced, I estimate that the battery would have a capacity defined by.

5 * 1.6 / 0.022 = 364 kWh

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

As a figure of 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph, applies to a Class 801 train, I suspect that a figure of 3 kWh or less could apply to a five-car Class 800 train trundling at around 80-100 mph to Bedwyn, Cleethorpes or Oxford.

  • A one-battery five-car train would have a range of 24.3 miles
  • A two-battery five-car train would have a range of 48.6 miles
  • A three-battery five-car train would have a range of 72.9 miles

Note.

  1. Reducing the consumption to 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 87.3 miles.
  2. Reducing the consumption to 2 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 109.2 miles.
  3. Hitachi will be working to reduce the electricity consumption of the trains.
  4. There will also be losses at each station stop, as regenerative braking is not 100 % efficient.

But it does appear to me, that distances of the order of 60-70 miles would be possible on a lot of routes.

Bedwyn, Harrogate, Lincoln and Oxford may be possible without charging before the return trip.

Cleethorpes and Hull would need a battery charge before return.

A Specification For A High Speed Metro Train

I have called the proposed train a High Speed Metro Train, as it would run at up to 140 mph on an existing high speed line and then run a full or limited stopping service to the final destination.

These are a few thoughts.

Electrification

In some cases like London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn, the route is already electrified and batteries would only be needed for the following.

  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Emergency  power in case of overhead line failure.
  • Train movements in depots.

But if the overhead wires on a branch line. are in need of replacement, why not remove them and use battery power? It might be the most affordable and least disruptive option to update the power supply on a route.

The trains would have to be able to run on both types of electrification in the UK.

  • 25 KVAC overhead.
  • 750 VDC third rail.

This dual-voltage capability would enable the extension of Southeastern Highspeed services.

Operating Speed

The trains must obviously be capable of running at the maximum operating speed on the routes they travel.

  • 125 mph on high speed lines, where this speed is possible.
  • 140 mph on high speed lines equipped with full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling, where this speed is possible.

The performance on battery power must be matched with the routes.

Hitachi have said, that their Regional Battery trains can run at up to 100 mph, which would probably be sufficient for most secondary routes in the UK and in line with modern diesel and electric multiple units.

Full Digital In-cab ERTMS Signalling

This will be essential and is already fitted to some of Hitachi’s trains.

Regenerative Braking To Batteries

Hitachi’s battery electric  trains will probably use regenerative braking to the batteries, as it is much more energy efficient.

It also means that when stopping at a station perhaps as much as 70-80% of the train’s kinetic energy can be captured in the batteries and used to accelerate the train.

In Kinetic Energy Of A Five-Car Class 801 Train, I showed that at 125 mph the energy of a full five-car train is just over 100 kWh, so batteries would not need to be unduly large.

Acceleration

This graph from Eversholt Rail, shows the acceleration and deceleration of a five-car Class 802 electric train.

As batteries are just a different source of electric power, I would think, that with respect to acceleration and deceleration, that the performance of a battery-electric version will be similar.

Although, it will only achieve 160 kph instead of the 200 kph of the electric train.

I estimate from this graph, that a battery-electric train would take around 220 seconds from starting to decelerate for a station to being back at 160 kph. If the train was stopped for around eighty seconds, a station stop would add five minutes to the journey time.

London Kings Cross And Cleethorpes

As an example consider a service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • The section without electrification between Newark and Cleethorpes is 64 miles.
  • There appear to be ambitions to increase the operating speed to 90 mph.
  • Local trains seem to travel at around 45 mph including stops.
  • A fast service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes would probably stop at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town.
  • In addition, local services stop at Collingham, Hykeham, Barnetby and Habrough.
  • London Kings Cross and Newark takes one hour and twenty minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes takes three hours and fifteen minutes with a change at Doncaster.

I can now calculate a time between Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • If a battery-electric train can average 70 mph between Newark and Cleethorpes, it would take 55 minutes.
  • Add five minutes for each of the three stops at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town
  • Add in the eighty minutes between London Kings Cross and Newark and that would be  two-and-a-half hours.

That would be very marketing friendly and a very good start.

Note.

  1. An average speed of 80 mph would save seven minutes.
  2. An average speed of 90 mph would save twelve minutes.
  3. I suspect that the current bi-modes would be slower by a few minutes as their acceleration is not as potent of that of an electric train.

I have a feeling London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town, could be a very important service for LNER.

Interiors

I can see a new lightweight and more energy efficient interior being developed for these trains.

In addition some of the routes, where they could be used are popular with cyclists and the current Hitachi trains are not the best for bicycles.

Battery Charging

Range On Batteries

I have left this to last, as it depends on so many factors, including the route and the quality of the driving or the Automatic Train Control

Earlier, I estimated that a five-car train with all three diesel engines replaced by batteries, when trundling around Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire or Wiltshire could have range of up to 100 miles.

That sort of distance would be very useful and would include.

  • Ely and Norwich
  • Newark and Cleethorpes
  • Salisbury and Exeter

It might even allow a round trip between the East Coast Main Line and Hull.

The Ultimate Battery Train

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

This is a paragraph.

The projected improvements in battery technology – particularly in power output and charge – create opportunities to replace incrementally more diesel engines on long distance trains. With the ambition to create a fully electric-battery intercity train – that can travel the full journey between London and Penzance – by the late 2040s, in line with the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions target.

Consider.

  • Three batteries would on my calculations give a hundred mile range.
  • Would a train with no diesel engines mean that fuel tanks, radiators and other gubbins could be removed and more or large batteries could be added.
  • Could smaller batteries be added to the two driving cars?
  • By 2030, let alone 2040, battery energy density will have increased.

I suspect that one way or another these trains could have a range on battery power of between 130 and 140 miles.

This would certainly be handy in Scotland for the two routes to the North.

  • Haymarket and Aberdeen, which is 130 miles without electrification.
  • Stirling and Inverness, which is 111 miles without electrification, if the current wires are extended from Stirling to Perth, which is being considered by the Scottish Government.

The various sections of the London Paddington to Penzance route are as follows.

  • Paddington and Newbury – 53 miles – electrified
  • Newbury and Taunton – 90 miles – not electrified
  • Taunton and Exeter – 31 miles – not electrified
  • Exeter and Plymouth – 52 miles – not electrified
  • Plymouth and Penzance – 79 miles – not electrified

The total length of the section without electrification between Penzance and Newbury  is a distance of 252 miles.

This means that the train will need a battery charge en route.

I think there are three possibilities.

  • Trains can take up to seven minutes for a stop at Plymouth. As London and Plymouth trains will need to recharge at Plymouth before returning to London, Plymouth station could be fitted with comprehensive recharge facilities for all trains passing through. Perhaps the ideal solution would be to electrify all lines and platforms at Plymouth.
  • Between Taunton and Exeter, the rail line runs alongside the M5 motorway. This would surely be an ideal section to electrify, as it would enable battery electric trains to run between Exeter and both Newbury and Bristol.
  • As some trains terminate at Exeter, there would probably need to be charging facilities there.

I believe that the date of the late 2040s is being overly pessimistic.

I suspect that by 2040 we’ll be seeing trains between London and Aberdeen, Inverness and Penzance doing the trips without a drop of diesel.

But Hitachi are making a promise of London and Penzance by zero-carbon trains, by the late-2040s, because they know they can keep it.

And Passengers and the Government won’t mind the trains being early!

Conclusion

This could be a very useful train to add to Hitachi’s product line.

 

 

 

March 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Approaching Kings Cross – 19th February 2021

I took these pictures approaching Kings Cross.

Comparing these pictures to those in Approaching Kings Cross – 6th January 2021, show that work is progressing.

February 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Parallel Trains At Finsbury Park

I was travelling from Finsbury Park to Kings Cross, so I got on a Grand Northern service.

Like I’ve seen several times, there was a good cross-platform connection, between services going to Kings Cross and Moorgate, which leave from opposite sides of the same platform.

Note.

  1. The wide platform at Finsbury Park station between the two services.
  2. At the current time, the Kings Cross trains are every thirty minutes and the Moorgate trains every five minutes.
  3. Going say from Stevenage to the City would mean a wait of no more than five minutes.
  4. But going North, you might wait at Finsbury Park for up to half-an-hour.

Finsbury Park could be a very handy interchange as it has Thameslink, Victoria and Piccadilly Line services, in addition to the Kings Cross and Cambridge and Moorgate services.

January 13, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Approaching Kings Cross – 6th January 2021

I took these pictures approaching Kings Cross.

Note.

  1. There is still track to be laid.
  2. The electrification is still to be erected.

But everything seems to be getting there.

This Google Map shows the section between the two tunnels.

Both tunnels have three double-track bores, where in this massive project, the Eastern bores are being brought back into use to add capacity to Kings Cross station.

Note.

  1. The East Coast Main Line runs North-South across the map.
  2. The quadruple track crossing East-West at the top of the map is the North London Line.
  3. Below it, is the Channel Tunnel Rail Link into |St. Pancras.
  4. The link to the Canal Tunnels take Thameslink trains to the deep level platforms in St. Pancras.
  5. The two new tracks will be on the Eastern side of the East Coast Main Line.

This second Google Map shows the track and platform layout at Kings Cross station.

Note.

  1. There are twelve platforms, which are numbered from 0 to 11, with Platform 0 in the East.
  2. The various islands are numbered as follows from East to West; 0/1, 2/3, 4/5, 6/7, 8/9 and 10/11.
  3. The six tracks through the tunnels may be bi-directional, so will each track be linked to a pair of platforms?
  4. Platforms 0 to 4 are in the Eastern half of the station
  5. Platforms 5 to 0 are in the Western half of the station
  6. Platforms 9, 10 and 11 are short platforms  in the old suburban station, which is mainly used by suburban services to Cambridge and Kings Lynn.

When I arrived there was a five-car Azuma in Platform 9, as these pictures show.

I’ve seen Grand Central’s Class 180 trains in these short platforms before, so is this going to be a regular occurrence.

Services Into Kings Cross

When the remodelling at Kings Cross is complete, current plans say the following trains will be running into Kings Cross station.

  • LNER – Two tph – Edinburgh – Long train
  • LNER – Two tph – Leeds – Long train
  • LNER – One tph – Lincoln or York – Long or short train
  • Great Northern – Two tph – Cambridge (stopping) – Short train
  • Great Northern – Two tph – Cambridge (fast) – Short train
  • Hull trains – Seven tpd – Hull and Beverley – Short train
  • East Coast Trains – Five tpd – Edinburgh – Short train
  • Grand Central – Four tpd – Bradford Interchange – Long or short train
  • Grand Central – Five tpd – Sunderland – Long or short train

Note,

  1. tph is trains per hour and tpd is trains per day.
  2. There is a mixture of short and long trains.
  3. Short trains can fit all platforms, but long trains can only use platforms 0-8.
  4. There are nine tph and a total of 21 tpd in various less-frequent services.

My scheduling experience in other fields, says that ten platforms will be needed for a full service, with each of the ten platforms handling just one tph.

Conclusion

Wjen all the work is completed, Kings Cross station will have room for a few extra trains.

 

 

January 12, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment