The Anonymous Widower

Northern Connect Between Chester And Leeds To Start In May

This article on the BBC is entitled New Rail Services Aim To Ease Overcrowding.

This is an extract.

Northern will be adding direct services between Chester and Leeds.

I think this will be the proposed Northern Connect service.

  • The route is via Warrington Bank Quay, Manchester Victoria, Rochdale, Halifax and Bradford Interchange stations.
  • Only the twenty-two miles between Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Victoria stations is electrified.
  • Wikipedia says that the service will be run using a Class 195 train.

Looking at the current timetable, these times are achieved.

  • Chester and Newton-le-Willows – 38 minutes
  • Newton-le-Willows and Manchester Victoria – 18 minutes
  • Manchester Victoria and Leeds – 75 minutes

This totals up to two hours and eleven minutes.

The Class 195 train is a 100 mph diesel multiple unit and may knock a few minutes from this time.

On my trip to Wigan last month, I heard a rumour from a driver, that the Chester and Leeds service would be run by Class 769 trains.

  • These trains could use electrification between Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Victoria stations.
  • They would be slightly slower, than the new Spanish trains on diesel.

It will be interesting to see, which trains Northern use for the service.

March 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 9 Comments

Building New City-Centre Lines Instead Of Using Existing Network Inflates HS2 Cost By 15%

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

HS2’s second phase will cost more compared to similar overseas schemes because it relies on new dedicated high-speed lines into city-centre terminal stations at Manchester and Leeds rather than using the existing conventional railway.

As the review of the costs of HS2, that showed this, was done by PwC, I suspect the figures can be believed.

Over the last few years, we’ve redeveloped or extended several busy stations like Derby, Kings Cross, Liverpool Lime |Street, London Bridge, Manchester Victoria, Nottingham, Reading and St. Pancras.

I like Reading and London Bridge the best, as the large concourse crossing either over or under the tracks with lots of escalators and lifts, seems to work well  Liverpool Lime Street with a wide concourse at one end, seems to work well for a terminal station.

But St. Pancras is a mess for passengers and staff alike with effectively four stations in one one Victorian building.

It would have been better, if the station had been flattered and a new one built.

This approach is being taken at that 1960s monstrosity; Euston, which is being extended for HS2.

The four Northern stations in Phase 2 of HS2 are being treated differently.

  • Leeds is getting a dedicated approach to new platforms at right angles to the existing ones.
  • Liverpool Lime Street uses the existing approach and platforms have been extended for the new HS2 trains.
  • Manchester Piccadilly is getting a dedicated approach to new platforms alongside the existing ones.
  • Sheffield uses the existing approach and platforms will be extended for the new HS2 trains.

Liverpool Lime Street is already HS2-ready and can handle at least two normal expresses and one HS2 train in an hour.

The works were completed in a six-month blockade in the Summer of 2018.

I suspect Sheffield will be made HS2-ready, in a similar way.

Conclusion

Obviously, every station is different.

But Liverpool Lime Street has shown how it is possible to find an affordable, less disruptive approach to some stations.

 

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Karen’s Travel Problem

My friend, Karen, has a train problem.

She lives in Leeds and needs to go to Milton Keynes regularly.

The journey is difficult with often two changes and the need to go across Manchester.

But not from Monday!

It appears that under the new timetable, all the XX:50 trains from Leeds, go direct to Piccadilly over the Ordsall Chord and now give you twenty-five minutes to catch a direct train to Milton Keynes.

The total journey time is just under three hours.

The return journey seems quicker too!

It will be interesting to see, how much the Ordsall Chord changes journeys across Manchester!

May 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

The Automatic Splitting And Joining Of Trains

Hitachi And Automatic Splitting And Joining Of Trains

The Hitachi Class 395 train was the first train in the UK  to be able to automatically split and join in service.

In The Impressive Coupling And Uncoupling Of Class 395 Trains, I linked to this video.

Impressive isn’t it?

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I quoted this comment from a public on-line Hitachi document.

Because the coupling or uncoupling of cars in a trainset occurs during commercial service at an intermediate station, the automatic coupling device is able to perform this operation in less than 2 minutes.

This is definitely in line with Class 395 train performance.

This document from the Hitachi web site talks about the design of Hitachi’s Class 385 trains for Scotland. This is said.

The lead and rear railcars have an automatic coupler at the front and walk-through gangway hoods. When train sets are coupled together, the hoods fit together as part of the automatic coupling operation to provide access between train sets, meaning that passengers and staff are able to move freely from one train set to another.

Obviously, Hitachi have got automatic splitting and joining of trains spot on!

Current Split/Join Services

There are several places in the UK network, where splitting and joining of trains is used.

  •  Southeastern Highspeed do it at Ashford.
  • Great Northern Kings Lynn do it at Cambridge.
  • Southern do it at Haywards Heath.
  • Virgin Trains do it at Crewe.
  • South West Trains do it at Southampton.

But currently only the Class 395 trains can do it automatically.

The in-service entry of the Class 800 trains will change everything, as it will make a lot more new routes possible.

Virgin Trains East Coast

Currently, Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) run two trains per hour (tph) between Kings Cross and Leeds. In the Peak, some services are extended to Bradford Forster Square, Skipton and Harrogate, where the last route is not electrified.

Will some services to Leeds be run by two five-car Class 800/801 trains working together as a ten-car train?

  • Class 800 trains are electro-diesel which could work to Harrogate under diesel power.
  • Class 801 trains are all-electric, which could work all electrified routes from Leeds.

At Leeds the two trains could separate, with each train going to a different destination. Reading Hitachi’s published documents, the split would take under two minutes at Leeds and I don’t think there would be a restriction of a Class 800 and a Class 801 working together between Kings Cross and Leeds using the overhead electrification.

VTEC gets advantages by using this split and join approach.

  • Frequencies and train length to the eventual destinations can be adjusted to what the market will sustain.
  • Extra expensive train paths between the split/join station and London are not needed.
  • Between the split/join station and London, the train can usually run using electrification.
  • Costs are probably saved, if only a half-train is run to some destinations, as track access charges are based on weight.
  • A five-car electro-diesel could probably access more routes than a nine-car train.

This is the fleet that VTEC have ordered.

  • Class 800 – 10 x five-car
  • Class 800 – 13 x nine-car
  • Class 801 – 12 x five-car
  • Class 801 – 30 x nine-car

These Class 800 and Class 801 trains give VTEC all sorts of of possibilities.

The backbone of the service which is a half-hourly service to Edinburgh probably needs about 35 nine-car trains, some of which would be electro-diesels to work North of the electrification to Aberdeen and Inverness.

But that still leaves quite a few five-car trains available for other services.

Great Western Railway

Great Western Railway (GWR) will probably use their Class 800/801802 trains in a similar manner.

This is the fleet that GWR have ordered.

  • Class 800 – 36 x five-car
  • Class 800 – 21 x nine-car
  • Class 802 – 22 x five-car
  • Class 802 – 14 x nine-car

Note that the electro-diesel Class 802 train is similar to the Class 800, but with the engines tuned for more power and larger fuel tanks, so it can handle Devon and Cornwall routes easier.

I think that given the number of five-car trains on order and the lack of promised electrification, I think that GWR will be using splitting and joining  in some surprising places, to make sure that as many routes as possible get the new trains.

The Stadler Flirt

This article on Railway Technology describes the Stadler Flirts built for Swiss Federal Railways. This is said.

The train consists of articulated train sets, which contains light rail cars attached semi-permanently sharing a common bogie. The trains are available in two to six car combinations with two to six motorised axles. The automatic couplers, installed at both the ends of the trains, permit connection and disconnection of up to four train cars easily and quickly.

Does this mean that two trains can split and join like the Hitachi trains?

The Bombardier Aventra

The Aventra is a train that has been designed to have everything that customers might need. This is the description of the train in Wikipedia.

The train has been designed to be lighter and more efficient, with increased reliability. It will have lightweight all-welded bodies, wide gangways and doors to shorten boarding times in stations, and ERTMS. The design incorporates FlexxEco bogies which have been used in service on Voyagers and newer Turbostars. The gangway is designed to allow maximum use of the interior space and ease of movement throughout the train.

As Hitachi have published a lot of their thinking on Class 800/801 trains on the Internet, I would find it astounding that Bombardier and the other train building companies haven’t read it.

There have been four orders for the Aventras so far, which total over two thousand carriages.

Two of these orders are for mixed fleets of five-car and ten-car trains.

Are these trains and half-trains just like with the Hitachi trains?

If the answer is in the affirmative, I think it is very likely that Aventras will have the capability of splitting and joining automatically.

Greater Anglia

Greater Anglia has a complex route structure that fans out from a very busy electrified core into Liverpool Street on both their main lines.

They have ordered 89 x five-car and 22 x ten-car of Class 720 trains.

Many of their outer-suburban routes currently run twelve-car services and as their two main lines are only double-track, I can see a lot of five car trains working in pairs.

In Harlow Council Leader Jon Clempner Hopes Crossrail 2 Will Extend To Town, I suggested that Greater Anglia might use splitting and joining on the West Anglia Main Line to get four tph on the Hertford East Branch.

It may not be practical in that case, but Greater Anglia have several electrified branches.

South Western Railway

South Western Railway have a similar route structure to Greater Anglia, with a very busy electrified core into Waterloo.

They have ordered 30 x five-car and 60 x ten-car of Aventra trains.

In Waterloo Upgrade August 2017 – Virginia Water Station, I talked about used splitting and joining to provide a better service on the Waterloo to Reading Line and the Chertsey Branch.

However, I think that most services will be run by ten-car trains given the make-up of the fleet.

The five-cars could generally run on routes where the capacity only needs five-car trains or the infrastructure wouldn’t allow anything longer.

They could then split and join to maximise the capacity and use only one path from the split/join station to Waterloo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

From Leeds To Rotherham

This was not what you would call a quality journey.

By train it took 56 minutes, which is about nine minutes longer than it would take in the average car according to various web sites.

There are also nine stops in another Cook’s Tour of Yorkshire.

It was also in a Class 142 train or Pacer.

The map clipped from Wikipedia shows the Wakefield Line, which is the route the train took.

These pictures were taken on the journey.

In this day and age for a journey of an hour a better train is needed, especially as the two end points are Leeds and Sheffield,where the two cities have a joint population of about 1.3 million.

The fastest trains between Leeds and Sheffield are run by CrossCountry and take forty minutes using the Wakefield Line.

As the fastest Rotherham Central to Sheffield trains take 14 minutes, I think it is reasonable to assume, that the right train could do Leeds to Rotherham Central in 26 minutes.

This route could become a Northern Connect route, run by new Class 195 trains.

As the route is electrified between Leeds and Fitzwilliam station, I wonder if this could be a route for a Class 319 Flex train.

Both trains are 100 mph units, as against the 75 mph of the Class 142 train, which probably defines the timetable.

From my observations, the route is not particularly arduous and I suspect that either train could do the journey in just over forty minutes, even with all the stops.

Certainly, the current service is truly dreadful and inadequate.

It appears that the overhead wires are going up for the tram-train to Sheffield. Or at least the gantries!

April 22, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not The Best City Station

The best city stations in the UK, are probably, ones like.

  • Huddersfield
  • Liverpool Lime Street
  • London Kings Cross
  • Manchester Victoria
  • Sheffield

Where you exit the station on arrival and find yourself in a spacious square or area, where you can get your bearings, meet friends or catch a bus, tram or taxi.

Others are going the spacious route include.

  • Birmingham New Street
  • Cambridge
  • Cardiff
  • Glasgow Queen Street
  • Newcastle
  • Rochester
  • Wolverhampton

London Bridge appears to be trying another route and has put the space under the station.

But some are cramped and crowded and need to be sorted.

In London, Charing Cross is hidden away just a short walk from the UK’s most famous Square.

But there are others around the country that need improvement to give more space.

  • Brighton
  • Coventry
  • Edinburgh Waverley
  • Leicester
  • Middlesbrough

I also include Leeds in this group.

Despite spending a lot of money, it is a very crowded station.

The entrance to the station is small and tends to attract smokers and other undesirables despite notices.

But it is so cluttered with narrow pavements, with buses going through the station forecourt to their stops.

If ever there was a City Centre station in the UK, that needs a sort-out, it is Leeds.

  • There must be a plan somewhere, but there is now a grand Southern entrance, that is tucked away without signage and can’t be used as a walk through the station, unlike the paths through Liverpool Street, Nottingham and St. Pancras.
  • The station needs a proper Drop-Off entrance.
  • Couldn’t the taxis go somewhere underneath the station, as this would help to free-up the front of the station.
  • There are also few places to sit, where you can watch the departure boards.
  • The retail outlets are poor as well, when compared to somewhere like Manchester Piccadilly.

I know Leeds is a busy station, but it is only going to get busier and it really does need a severe de-cluttering.

 

September 25, 2016 Posted by | Transport | | Leave a comment

A Walk In Leeds City Centre

I had time to waste, so I took a walk in a wide circle around Leeds station.

I went under the railways through the station and then walked along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towards the West. I turned North and followed the Kirkstall Viaduct, that used to take the trains into Leeds Central station.

One of the problems of this walk in Leeds, is that you might like to go through the station. But it doesn’t seem to be encouraged.

September 25, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Leeds Station And The New Entrance

On my trip up to Burnley, I went up via Leeds station and because of the weather, I came back the same way.

On the way up the new southern entrance to the station wasn’t open, but it opened on Sunday morning.

Apart from a few snags, it seemed to be a great addition to the station.

This Google Map shows the new entrance under construction in the South-west corner of the station.

New Southern Entrance To Leeds Station

New Southern Entrance To Leeds Station

This image also shows the solid nature of the 2002 station roof, which is glass and not plastic like Manchester Victoria, Birmingham New Street and Crystal Palace stations.

Roof technology has moved on and I suspect costs have moved down.

One problem they may have is the shops like Boots, WH Smith and M & S are outside the barriers in the old (north) entrance.

So passengers needing these shops after entering the station on the south side, will have to go through the barriers to do it.

This problem will probably be solved with a new south concourse.

With other expansion, including new platforms and splitting Platform 1 into three separate platforms and the arrival of HS2, Leeds station is certainly having a lot of men (and women!) in!

January 3, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment