The Anonymous Widower

It’s All Over Now, Waterloo!

As was planned, the former International platforms 21 to 24 are now closed and will remain so until the end of next year.

Note that Platform 20 is still open and can be accessed from a hole in the wall on Platform 19.

The platform closure is to allow the following to be done..

  • Access to the Underground to be finished.
  • Lifts to be added to the platforms.
  • The platforms to be completed.
  • Retail units to be added to the area.

Operationally, Waterloo station now seems to have at least the same amount of capacity as before the modifications started, but with the following changes.

  • Platforms 1 to 6 can now all take ten-car trains.
  • Access to the Underground has been improved on Platforms 1 to 4.
  • A more efficient track layout has been created tp Platforms 1 to 6.
  • The frequency of trains between Waterloo and Wimbledon has been increased.

There is still Platforms 21 to 24 to be added to the station to increase capacity.

South Western Railway’s Plans

In the September 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a short article entitled Uplift In Windsor Line Capacity.

South Western Railway are proposing to make two major timetable changes in December 2018 and December 2020.

The first will see the following changes.

  • Waterloo to Reading services updated from two trains per hour (tph) to four tph.
  • Waterloo to Windsor services doubled to 4 tph.

They will be run by the new Class 707 trains.

This will be the first benefit of the Waterloo Upgrade.

As Waterloo handles about forty tph at present, this represents a ten percent capacity upgrade for trains.

The LaMiLo Project

I don’t know whether the new platforms or any others at Waterloo have been designed so that they can handle freight movements as in the LaMiLo Project, but you’d think it would be a good idea to make sure new platforms in major cities could handle parcel and pallet trains, where the goods will be collected and distributed by electric vehicles in the City Centre.

Conclusion

It appears that platforms 1 to 6 are now fully operational, although, I think that the lifts still need to be fitted.

So it seems that the doom mongers didn’t get this one right!

But the engineers and project managers seem to have done!

 

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 3 Comments

The Go-Anywhere Express Parcel And Pallet Carrier (HSPT)

In the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways there is an article entitled Freight, Not All Doom And Gloom, which talks about high-value parcel carriers. The article says this.

Think about all those 1980s units that are soon to be made redundant, especially the ones with wide doorways. You could forklift in pallets and move them by hand trolley inside the vehicle (forklift tines would not fit an HST’s doors).

A Class 150 parcels unit, anyone?

There are other reasons for not using a High Speed Train.

  • ScotRail and Great Western Railway have better uses for the trains moving passengers around in style.
  • Their 125 mph capability and large windows might come in handy for heritage tourism.
  • They are diesel trains and some might not like to hear them thundering through the countryside in the middle of the night.

As to the Class 150 train, it has a few disadvantages.

  • It is only two-cars.
  • It has a 75 mph operating speed.
  • It is diesel-powered, which probably means regular refuelling.

But also like all Mark 3-based stock it scrubs up well as I wrote in What Train Is This?

I would refurbish the whole fleet and use them on short branch lines to provide a quality service, where a two or four-car train was all that was needed.

So what would be the specification of an ideal Go-Anywhere Express Parcel and Pallet Carrier?

I was going to call it a GAEPPC in this post, but that’s rather a mouthful, so I’ll call it a High Speed Parcel Train or High Speed Pallet Train, which in recognition of its more famous big brother will be called a HSPT.

For the specification, it might be a good idea to start with the Class 325 train. This is the first paragraph of the train’s Wikipedia entry.

The British Rail Class 325 is a 4-car dual-voltage 25 kV alternating current (AC) or 750 V direct current (DC) electric multiple unit (EMU) train used for postal train services. While the Class 325 bears a resemblance to the Networker series of DMUs and EMUs, they are based on the Class 319 EMU. The Class 325 was British Rail’s newest unit to take over parcels workings on electrified lines.

The requirement might have changed since the 1990s, but the basic specification would be similar.

  • Four-cars
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third rail operation.
  • The ability to run as four-, eight- and twelve-car trains.
  • It would be available in a range of colours and not just red!

In addition, it would need wide doors for pallets.

It would also be nice, if the HSPT could run on lines without electrification.

Look at this picture of a Class 321 train.

Would a standard size 1200 x 1000 pallet go through this door?

This morning, I measured the door on a Class 378 train and it was about 1700 mm. wide. So yes!

Once inside the systems used in cargo aircraft could be used to arrange the pallets.

Consider, these facts about Class 321 trains.

  • They are four-car electric multiple units, that can also run as eight and twelve car units.
  • They can operate at 100 mph.
  • They are dual voltage units, if required.
  • There are 117 of the trains, of which over a hundred will be released by Greater Anglia and will need a new caring owner.
  • The interior may be wide enough to put two standard pallets side-by-side.
  • They are based on Mark 3 steel carriages, so are built to take punishment.

In Could There Be A Class 321 Flex Train?, I speculated as to whether these trains could be fitted with underfloor diesel engines as in the Class 319 Flex train. After the news reports in the June 2017 Edition of Modern railways, which I reported on in The Class 319 Flex Units To Be Class 769, I’m now convinced that converting other types of train like Class 455 and Class 321 trains is feasible and that the train refurbishing companies are going to be extremely busy.

I have a feeling that Class 319 trains will not be converted to HSPTs, as they seem to be very much in demand to carry more valuable cargo – Namely fare-paying passengers!

But fit diesel engines under a Class 321 train and I think it would make a HSPT, that could travel on nearly every mile of the UK rail network and quite a few miles on heritage railways too!

A Freight Terminal For An HSPT

As the Class 321 train has been designed for passengers, it lines up reasonably well with most of the station platforms in the UK.

So at its simplest a freight terminal for a HSPT could just be a station platform, where a fork lift truck could lift pallets in and out.The freight handling facilities would be designed appropriately.

Supermarket Deliveries

I also think, that if a HSPT were available, it could attract the attention of the big supermarket groups.

In The LaMiLo Project, I described how goods were brought into Euston station in the middle of the night for onward delivery.

If it cuts costs, the supermarket groups will use this method to get goods from their central warehouses to perhaps the centres of our largest cities.

Get the design right and I suspect the supermarkets’ large delivery trolley will just roll between the train and the last-mile truck, which ideally would be a zero-emission vehicle.

In some of the larger out-of-town superstores, the train could even stop alongside the store and goods and trolleys could be wheeled in and out.

This Google Map shows Morrisons at Ipswich.

The store lies alongside the Great Eastern Main Line.

Surely, the ultimate would be if the goods were to be transported on the trains in driverless electric trolleys, which when the doors were opened, automatically came out of the trains and into the store.

Supermarket groups like to emphasise their green credentials.

Surely, doing daily deliveries to major stores by train, wouldn’t annoy anybody. |Except perhaps Donald Trump, but he’s an aberration on the upward march of scientifically-correct living.

Just-In-Time Deliveries

To take Toyota as an example, in the UK, cars are built near Derby, and the engines are built near Shotton in North Wales.

Reasons for the two separate sites are probably down to availability of the right workforce and Government subsidy.

I’m not sure, but I suspect currently in Toyota’s case, engines are moved across the country by truck, but if there was a HSPT, with a capacity of around a hundred and fifty standard pallets would manufacturing companies use them to move goods from one factory to another?

It should be said in Toyota’s case the rail lines at both Derby and Shotton are not electrified, but if the train could run on its own diesel power, it wouldn’t matter.

Refrigerated Deliveries

There probably wouldn’t be much demand now, but in the future bringing Scottish meat and seafood to London might make a refrigerated HSPT viable.

Deliveries To And From Remote Parts Of The UK

It is very difficult to get freight between certain parts of the UK and say Birmingham, London and the South-Eastern half of England.

Perishable products from Cornwall are now sent to London in the large space in the locomotives of the High Speed Trains. Plymouth, which is in Devon, to London takes nearly four hours and I suspect that a HSPT could do it in perhaps an hour longer.

But it would go between specialist terminals at both ends of the journey, so it would be a much easier service to use for both sender and receiver.

Another article in the same June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways is entitled Caithness Sleeper Plan Set Out.

This is said in the article.

Another possibility would be to convey freight on the sleeper trains with HiTrans suggesting the ability to carry four 40-foot and two 20-foot boxes on twin wagons could provide welcome products and parcels northwards and locally-produced food southwards.

A disadvantage of this idea would be that passengers would be required to vacate sleeping berths immediately on arrival at Edinburgh, so that containers could continue to a freight terminal.

The HSPT would go direct to a suitable terminal. In remote  places like Caithness, this would probably be the local station, which had been suitably modified, so that fork lift trucks could move pallets into and out of the train.

One-Off Deliveries

Provided a load can be put on a pallet, the train can move it, if there is a fork lift available at both ends of the route.

It would be wrong to speculate what sort of one-off deliveries are performed, as some will be truly unusual.

Disaster Relief

On the worldwide scale we don’t get serious natural disasters in the UK, but every year there are storms, floods, bridge collapses and other emergencies, where it is necessary to get supplies quickly to places that are difficult to reach by road, but easy by rail. If the supplies were to be put on pallets and loaded onto a HSPT, it might be easier to get them to where they are needed for unloading using a fork lift or even by hand.

International Deliveries

I am sure that Class 319 and Class 321 trains can be made compatible with Continental railway networks. In fact two Class 319 trains, were the first to pass through the Channel Tunnel.

Post-Brexit will we see high value cargoes transported by the trainload, as this would surely simplify the paperwork?

What value of Scotch whisky could you get in a four-car train?

Expect Amazon to be first in the queue for International Deliveries!

Imagine a corgo aircraft coming into the UK, at either Doncaster Sheffield or Manston Airports, with cargo containers or pallets for all over the UK, that were designed for quick loading onto an HSPT.

Conclusion

There is definitely a market for a HSPT.

If it does come about, it will be yet another tribute to the magnificent Mark 3 design!

 

 

 

 

May 27, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

When Is A Train Not A Train?

Take a modern train, say something like a Class 172 DMU or a two-car version of say a Class 710 EMU.

The size and weight of these are very similar to that of one of Sheffield’s trams.

Many, if not all, trams in the UK run to a set of rules, which allow the following.

  • Running at up to 50 mph on a dedicated track, which can be either single or double track.
  • Running at slower speeds through City Centres and amongst pedestrians, as they do through Birmingham, Blackpool, Croydon, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield
  • Trams are driven, by a trained driver, who takes notice of everything and everybody around the tram.
  • Passengers can cross the track in designated places provided they keep a good look-out.
  • Passengers can only board a tram at a designated stop.
  • All rail vehicles run to the same rules.

The rules must work, as you don’t often hear of trams having accidents with pedestrians. In fact fourteen people have died in accidents with modern trams in the UK since 2000. The rate seems to have dropped in recent years, so are drivers getting better and pedestrians learning how to live with the trams?

I believe that in Zwickau in Germany, local trains, run on the tram tracks in the City Centre. There’s more on it under Vogtlandbahn in Wikipedia.

So could some branch lines be run according to tram rules, but using standard modern trains, like Class 172 or Class 710 trains?

In A First Visit To Clacton, I said this about the Walton-on-the-Naze branch of the Sunshine Coast Line.

I do wonder whether some branches like the short one to Walton-on-the Naze could be run to tram rules using on-board energy storage. It might enable stations to be built step-free without electrification, lifts and bridges, provided trains kept to a safe slow speed.

In an ideal system, the rules could be.

  • No electrification. Zwickau uses diesel vehicles, but ones using on-board energy storage would be ideal.
  • Trains do not exceed an appropriate slow speed. Zwickau uses 80 kph.
  • Step free access from platform to train.
  • All trains on the line run to the same rules.
  • No freight trains.

The advantages would be.

  • There is no electrification.
  • Signalling is standard railway signals and rules. Often routes would run under One Train Working, which is very safe and well proven.
  • Many routes could be built as single-track without points and like the Sudbury branch trains would go out and back.
  • DMUs would be exactly, the same as others of their type.
  • EMUs would be too, but would have on-board energy storage.
  • Extra stations could be added to the line, by just building platforms.
  • The line could perhaps be extended past its current terminus.

I must get to Zwickau and see how the Germans do it.

A few examples of lines that could run to these rules include.

Whether some of these would need it, is doubtful. Some though, like Sudbury and St.Ives, terminate as a single platform in a car park.

The Felixstowe Branch certainly couldn’t as it has lots of freight trains, although the final section, from where it branches off the line to Felixstowe Port could.

I said that no freight trains could run on the routes, but those devilish Germans have designed a freight tram that runs in Dresden to supply  the Volswagen factory in the city. It’s called a Cargo Tram.

Could this be a way of bringing freight into a City Centre? as I said in The LaMiLo Project, this type of thinking is in the minds of planners.

 

 

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The LaMiLo Project

Few have heard of the LaMiLo Project, which is an EU funded project to reduce truck traffic and the consequent air pollution in cities.

I hadn’t until half-an-hour ago, although I knew there were experiments going on at Euston.

This page on the London Councils web site, gives more details about the pilot project in London.

In this pilot a freight train was brought into Euston station in the middle of the night and pallets of goods were unloaded on to smaller trucks for onward delivery in Central London.

This is said on the London Councils web site about the pilot.

The pilot has provided outstanding results; it has seen 50,000 items delivered to over 250 councils building, leading to a 46% reduction in the number of vehicle trips and a 45% reduction in kilometres travelled.

It sounds like an idea worth pursuing. Although Nigel Farage would object to the EU involvement.

November 10, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , | 4 Comments