The Anonymous Widower

Avanti West Coast Looks To Recover

The title of this post is the same as an article in the March 2022 Edition of Modern Railways.

These are some points from the article.

Passengers Numbers Are Recovering

This is a paragraph.

Mr. Wittingham says the recovery has been strongest on the Anglo-Scottish and Liverpool corridors, while Manchester have begun to bounce back. Slowest to recover is the London to West Midlands market; ‘there’s several operators here and we were the main carrier of business passengers, and that sector has been recovering more slowly than leisure’ says Mr. Whittingham.

Phil Whittingham is MD of Avanti West Coast.

Train Numbers Are Recovering

Avanti are building up train numbers from Euston after the pandemic.

Frequencies are as follows in trains per hour (tph)

  • Pre-Covid – 9
  • During the pandemic – 4
  • From December 2021 – 7
  • Omicron – 4
  • From February 2022 – 6
  • From May 2022 – 6+

Avanti have reacted to demand.

Three Classes Of Travel

This is a paragraph.

Avanti’s business has historically been driven by leisure travel – before Covid this accounted for broadly 60 % of passengers, with most of the rest travelling for business plus a smaller number of commuters. ‘The demand is there, and we think by next year we’ll be on the way to full recovery’ says Mr. Whittingham. ‘Leisure has been strong, especially at weekends, but the missing bit is the corporate market.’

Avanti have been running a marketing campaign and it appears to have been successful.

This paragraph describes Avanti’s new Standard Premium class.

Last year, Avanti West Coast launched a new class of travel – Standard Premium. This was first introduced in May on an upgrade-only basis before going fully live in September with the option to book online in advance. The new class sits between Standard and First, giving passengers larger seats and greater space but without some of the extras that come with First Class Travel such as complimentary refreshments and lounge access.

These are Mr. Whittingham’s comments on the three classes.

The current split of passengers is 84% Standard, 12 % First and 4 % Standard Premium, but given the latter has been in place for less than a year there is clearly scope for growth. ‘Our research shows people have been upgrading to Standard Premium rather than downgrading from First’.

I have yet to try Standard Premium, but I will next time I use Avanti.

Refreshments

Avanti have decided to serve different refreshments in Standard Premium and First classes.

  • In Standard Premium, they are now offering At Seat Orders.
  • In First, they have updated the menu.

Both seem to have been well-received.

I like this statement from Mr. Whittingham.

We’ve tried to make it a more personalised service with a less rigid structure, so we give customers what they want, when they want it, rather than when we want to give it to them.

A Consistent Offer

This is a paragraph.

Mr. Whittingham says Avanti has not yet confirmed whether t will offer three classes of travel on the new Hitachi trains it has ordered, but says the aim is to provide a more consistent offer. Assisting this will be changes in the ongoing Pendolino refurbishment, where 11-car sets are having Coach G converted from First to Standard accommodation, meaning all Pendolinos, whether nine-car or 11-car, will have three coaches for First and Standard Premium passengers.

My instinct says that the four trains will be something like.

  • Class 390 train – Pendolino – Nine-car – three First/Standard Premium cars – six Standard cars
  • Class 390 train – Pendolino – Eleven-car – three First/Standard Premium cars – eight Standard cars
  • Class 805 train – Hitachi – Five-car – one First/Standard Premium car – four Standard cars
  • Class 807 train – Hitachi – Seven-car – two First/Standard Premium car – five Standard cars

Note.

  1. The Class 805 and Class 807 Hitachi trains are very much plug-and-play and can be lengthened or shortened as required.
  2. A regular passenger between London and Liverpool, who regularly upgrades from Standard to Standard Premium in a Class 390 train could be a bit miffed if he couldn’t, because the service was being run by a Class 807 train.
  3. Hitachi would probably be very happy to add extra cars to the Class 805 and Class 807 trains.

As the Class 390 Pendolino trains are being refurbished, I do wonder if they will be receiving some fittings from the Hitachi trains to make sure the trains are consistent to both on-board staff and passengers.

Pendolino Investment

The Pendolino refurbishment is comprehensive.

  • It is one of the largest such programmes ever undertaken in the UK.
  • Leasing company; Angel Trains are funding the work.
  • Alstom are doing the work at Widnes.
  • There appears to be a smooth plan to refurbish all trains.
  • Coach G will be converted from First to Standard accommodation in eleven-car trains.
  • Mr. Whittingham says that all trains will come out looking like a new train.

The eleven-car trains are being converted first, as the conversion of Coach G gives a capacity benefit of around thirty seats.

The awful seats in Standard Class will be replaced with Lumo-style seats and laptop-friendly fold-down tables.

These seats will be a big improvement!

New Trains Coming

This paragraph introduces the new trains.

The second major fleet investment from Avanti is the £350 million for new trains from Hitachi, financed by Rock Rail. These comprise 13×5-car Class 805 bi-modes, ordered for destinations off the electrified route including North Wales and Shrewsbury and 10×7-car Class 807 electrics. Deployment plans for the latter are still being worked through but are likely to include services to Birmingham and Liverpool, and potentially to Blackpool.

What is not said in this paragraph, is that all trains have a redesigned front end, which I suspect is more aerodynamic.

The all-electric Class 807 trains have no diesel engines or batteries, so have they been put on a diet, to improve the acceleration?

In Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?, I came to these conclusions.

  • A two hour service between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street will be possible with Avanti West Coast’s new Class 807 trains.
  • The current Class 390 trains could go a bit faster and if they cut out a couple of stops could probably break two hours.

I also calculated that a two tph service between London and Liverpool in two hours would need nine trains.

Timetable Changes

This paragraph introduces the article’s section on timetable changes.

The project in turn feeds into a major timetable change planned by Avanti and other West Coast main line operators. This will be the first significant change to West Coast main line schedules since 2008; ‘the world has changed, and we need to think about how we best serve our markets’ says Mr Whittingham.

This paragraph sums up the major changes.

Of note are the planned changes to the pattern of London to West Midlands services; the pre-Covid 20-minute interval would be amended to offer faster journey times and greater connectivity. Also featuring in the new timetable aspirations would be additional Trent Valley calls in some Liverpool and Manchester services; Mr Whittingham cites as one benefit of this the potential for improved journey times between the North West and the East Midlands via a change of train at Nuneaton. The Hitachi trains, with their better acceleration, will be particularly useful on services with more frequent stops.

The next three sections will look at some timetable changes in a bit more detail.

London And West Midlands Services

Replacement of twenty diesel Class 221 trains with thirteen bi-mode Class 805 trains will mean a major reorganisation of services to the West Midlands.

  • Some current diesel services will now be electric.
  • All services between Birmingham New Street and Euston will now be electric.
  • No services will run on diesel under live electrification.
  • Avanti have promised to serve Walsall.
  • There will be extra services to Shrewsbury and other places.

The electric services will also speed up some services to the West Midlands.

North West And East Midlands Services

I will look at train times for services between the North West (Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly) and the East Midlands (Leicester, Nottingham and Lincoln), where passengers change at Nuneaton.

These are the current fastest possible times according to the National Rail journey planner.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester -2:24 with changes at Crewe and Nuneaton,
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 2:11 with change at Sheffield
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:42 with no changes
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 1:51 with no changes
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 3:42 with changes at Sheffield and Doncaster
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 2:38 with change at Sheffield

Note that times are in hours:minutes.

These are all current times for the various legs if the route is via Nuneaton.

  • Avanti West Coast – Liverpool Lime Street and Nuneaton – 1:18
  • Avanti West Coast – Manchester Piccadilly and Nuneaton – 1:13
  • CrossCountry – Nuneaton and Leicester – 0:27
  • East Midlands Railway – Leicester and Nottingham – 0:48 – Time from Leicester and Lincoln service.
  • East Midlands Railway – Leicester and Nottingham – 0:20 – Time from St. Pancras and Nottingham service.
  • East Midlands Railway – Leicester and Lincoln -1:42 – Time from Leicester and Lincoln service.
  • East Midlands Railway – Nottingham and Lincoln -0:52 – Time from Leicester and Lincoln service.

Note that the two Avanti West Coast times have been estimated by taking the time from Real Time Trains and adding three minutes for the acceleration or deceleration at Nuneaton.

These would be possible times between the North West and the East Midlands via Nuneaton.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester – 1:47
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 1:42
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:37
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 2:32
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 3:31
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 3:26

Note that I am assuming changes at Nuneaton and Leicester are cross-platform or same platform changes that take two minutes.

But there is another level of improvement possible.

Suppose that East Midlands Railway’s Lincoln and Leicester service were to be extended to Nuneaton and run by a train with this specification.

  • 125 mph operating speed.
  • Battery-electric power.
  • 100 mph operating speed on battery power.
  • Range of 56 miles on battery
  • Ability to use the Midland Main Line electrification, when it is erected.

Charging stations would be needed at Nuneaton and Lincoln.

These would be possible times between the North West and the East Midlands via Nuneaton with the one change at Nuneaton.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester – 1:45
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 1:40
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:05
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 2:00
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 2:57
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 2:52

Note.

I am assuming that the timings for the Nuneaton and Leicester and the Nottingham and Lincoln legs are as for the current trains.

I am assuming the change at Nuneaton is a cross-platform or same platform change that takes two minutes.

Trains run on battery where tracks are not electrified.

I can build a table of current times, times via Nuneaton and savings.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester -2:24 – 1:45 – 0:39
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 2:11 – 1:40 – 0.31
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:42 – 2:05 – 0:37
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 1:51 – 2:00 – 0.09 slower
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 3:42 – 2:57 – 0.45
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 2:38 – 2:52 – 0:14 slower

It does appear that by using the 125 mph speed of the West Coast Main Line has a positive effect on some times from the North West to the East Midlands.

But times could be reduced further.

  • Installing full digital signalling, that would enable 140 mph running between Crewe and Nuneaton, could save ten minutes.
  • Improving the Nuneaton and Leicester and the Nottingham and Lincoln legs could allow faster running.

The more I look at changing at Nuneaton, I feel it is a good idea.

  • It improves the connections between East Midlands Parkway and Loughborough and the North West.
  • It improves the connections between Cambridge, Peterborough and Stansted Airport and the North West, if the change at Nuneaton is to CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham New Street service.
  • It improves the connections between Coventry and Leamington Spa and the North West.

Avanti have come up with a cunning plan, worthy of Baldrick at his best.

A Second Hourly Service Between London And Liverpool

A paragraph talks about the second hourly service between London and Liverpool.

Avanti still has ambitions to introduce a second hourly service between Euston and Liverpool, but when this will come in will depend on demand recovery.

Consider.

  • If would be desirable if some or all trains running on the route could achieve a timing of two hours between London and Liverpool.
  • It is felt that the second service should stop at Liverpool South Parkway station, where the platforms are too short for eleven-car Class 390 trains.
  • Avanti have stated they would like more stops in the Trent Valley, especially at Nuneaton, where they would connect to services to the East Midlands.
  • Nuneaton is almost exactly halfway between London and Liverpool.
  • Running two tph with Class 807 trains would need nine trains and Avanti have only ordered ten in total.

I believe that a practical timetable like this could work.

  • Class 390 train – one tph – Non-stop or perhaps a single stop in the Midlands – Under two hours
  • Class 705 train – one tph – Stopping at Nuneaton, Stafford, Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool South Parkway – Current time or better

An hourly service between London and Liverpool in under two hours would surely be a passenger magnet.

February 23, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could We See Between London And Much Of The North By Train In Under Two Hours?

I shall write about each route in order starting from Euston and working East.

Avanti West Coast And Euston

These are services from Euston, that I feel could be under two hours.

London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street

On Thursday, I went to Liverpool by train.

  • My train took two hours and thirteen minutes between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations.
  • There were stops at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • The Class 390 train was travelling at 125 mph for a lot of the way.
  • The distance between the two terminals is 193.6 miles.
  • The start to stop average including the stops was 87.3 mph.

So could London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street be achieved in the magic two hours?

A few thoughts.

Average Speed

To do the journey in this time  would need an average speed of 96.8 mph.

Accelerating And Stopping

Ideally, the train will run as fast as it can only changing speed for the station stops.

  • The train will accelerate from stop to cruising speed at Euston, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn or four times.
  • The train will decelerate from cruising speed to stop at Stafford, Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street or four times.

Effectively, the train goes through four complete station stops, although one will be split between the two ends of the journey.

These figures are from Wikipedia and the Internet

  • The acceleration of the Class 390 train is 1.0 mph/sec which means that it takes 125 seconds to get to 125 mph.
  • The deceleration of a Class 390 train is 2.0 mph/sec, which means that it takes 63 seconds to stop from 125 mph.
  • The acceleration of a Class 801 train is 1.6 mph/sec which means that it takes 78 seconds to get to 125 mph.
  • The deceleration of a Class 801 train is 2.2 mph/sec, which means that it takes 57 seconds to stop from 125 mph.

These figures would appear to show, that a Class 801 train can decelerate and accelerate at a stop in nearly a minute faster than a Class 390 train.

So how can we increase the acceleration and deceleration? The two obvious ways are more power and less weight.

Form the Internet, I estimate that the average car in a Class 390 train is around 52 tonnes, as opposed to 41 tonnes for the Hitachi trains.

So does this weight difference explain some of the difference in acceleration and deceleration times?

Consider.

  • The Class 390 trains have all the extra weight of the tilt mechanism. More weight means slower acceleration.
  • Avanti West Coast’s new Class 807 trains have no diesel engines or batteries. Have the trains been put on a diet?
  • They also have a reprofiled nose. Is it more aerodynamic?

So if these trains can save time on the four accelerate/decelerate cycles compared to the Class 390 trains, they must be getting nearer to the magic two hours.

If two minutes a stop can be saved that would save eight minutes on the journey between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.

140 Mph Running

The time to do a mile at various speeds are as follows.

  • 100 mph – 36 seconds
  • 125 mph – 29 seconds
  • 140 mph – 26 seconds

So running at 140 mph, as opposed to the current 125 mph would save three seconds for every mile.

To save five minutes would mean the train would have to run for a hundred miles at 140 mph instead of 125 mph.

As Stafford is 133.5 miles from London, it could be that full digital signalling should be installed on the West Coast Main Line all the way to Stafford or even Crewe, which is 158 miles from London.

This schematic map of the West Coast Main Line was clipped from Wikipedia.

Note.

  1. Trains between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street take the Trent Valley Line through Nuneaton and Lichfield Trent Valley and stop at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  2. Trains between London Euston and Manchester take a variety of routes and all go via Stockport.
  3. One train per hour (tph) between London Euston and Glasgow Central takes the Trent Valley Line and goes non-stop between London Euston and Warrington Central.
  4. Norton Bridge Junction just to the North of Stafford has recently been remodelled.

I believe there is potential to enable up to at least a hundred miles of 140 mph running to the South of Crewe. Especially as most of the track South of Crewe is quadruple track.

This should enable the shaving of five or more minutes off the time of any train capable of 140 mph running that uses the Trent Valley Line through Nuneaton, Lichfield Trent Valley and Stafford.

Norton Bridge Junction

Norton Bridge junction, which is five miles North  used to be a bottleneck, but it has now been remodelled.

I wrote about it in The New Norton Bridge Junction In Action.

The new junction has probably been designed so that it can save a few seconds for trains going between Stafford and Crewe, whether or not they stop at either or both stations.

Non-Stop Between London Euston and Runcorn

If you look at the times of a London Euston and Glasgow Central train via the Trent Valley Line , it travels the 174.7 miles between London Euston and Weaver Junction non-stop in one hour and forty minutes. This is an average speed of 104.8 mph.

By comparison, my train on Thursday took one hour and forty-seven minutes with the two stops at Stafford and Crewe.

So there is at least six minutes to be saved by going non-stop.

 

Two Trains Per Hour Between London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street

Wikipedia says this about an additional service.

Subject to approval by the Office of Rail and Road, an additional hourly service will be introduced between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street with a stop at Liverpool South Parkway from December 2022.

I have a few thoughts and questions on extra services between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street,

  • In my view the second service is much needed.
  • I also think, that a later train back to London is needed.
  • Does the Wikipedia statement mean that only one train will stop at Liverpool South Parkway?
  • Does Runcorn need two tph to and from London?
  • Would the platforms at Liverpool South Parkway be lengthened to accept eleven-car Class 390 trains?

I feel that if a train stopped at both Liverpool South Parkway and Runcorn, this would make a two-hour journey more difficult to achieve.

London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours

The new Class 807 trains will be delivered by 2022. Because of the pandemic, I’ll assume that of the ten trains on order, some, but not all, will be available by the December 2022 timetable change.

The time savings needed for a two-hour journey will come from four improvements.

  1. The increased performance of the Class 807 trains.
  2. Full digital signalling South of Crewe.
  3. The track improvements already completed like Norton Bridge Junction.
  4. Cutting out stop on the second service.

There may also be time savings to be obtained at the intermediate stops, by better working practices.

I doubt that the full digital signalling will have been installed, but all trains will be capable of 125 mph running.

Avanti West Coast probably have a good idea of the time they could achieve without digital signalling and I feel that they could be about five minutes over two hours with the Class 807 trains.

As the eleven-car Class 390 trains are too long for Liverpool South Parkway station, could we see the following service?

  • 1 tph – Class 390 train – London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street via Runcorn, Crewe and Stafford.
  • 1 tph – Class 807 train – London Euston And Liverpool Lime Street via Liverpool South Parkway.

Note.

  1. The Class 390 train would run the existing timetable in two hours and thirteen minutes.
  2. The Class 807 train would be a two-hour express service if possible.
  3. Going from three stops to one could save the express at least seven minutes, as I showed earlier by looking at train timings South of Weaver Junction.
  4. There would be time savings of at least two minutes on the express service due to the better performance of the Class 807 train.

To save the final four minutes, there would need to be at least eighty miles of 140 mph running, as each mile saves three seconds.

I am fairly certain, that London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street can be regularly achieved in two hours.

London Euston And Warrington Bank Quay

The hourly London Euston and Glasgow Central expresses seem to take one hour and forty-five minutes for the non-stop trip of 182.1 miles, which is an average speed of 104 mph.

As this service is non-stop, I believe that this service would get the maximum benefit from digital signalling and this service will only get faster, as more and more of the route allowed 140 mph-running.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see almost ten minutes lopped off this service by signalling and other improvements.

I am fairly certain, that London Euston and Warrington Bank Quay can be regularly achieved in well under two hours, by a Class 390 train.

London Euston And Wigan North Western

The hourly London Euston and Glasgow Central expresses seem to take one hour and fifty-six minutes for the single-stop trip of 193.9 miles, which is an average speed of 100.3 mph.

As this service just a single stop at Warrington Bank Quay, I believe that this service would get the maximum benefit from digital signalling and this service will only get faster, as more and more of the route allowed 140 mph-running.

As with Warrington Bank Quay, I wouldn’t be surprised to see almost ten minutes lopped off this service by signalling and other improvements.

I am fairly certain, that London Euston and Wigan North Western can be regularly achieved in comfortably under two hours, by a Class 390 train.

London Euston And Preston

The hourly London Euston and Glasgow Central expresses seem to take two hours and eleven minutes for the two -stop trip of 209 miles, which is an average speed of 95.7 mph.

As this service just stops at Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western, I believe that this service would get the maximum benefit from digital signalling and this service will only get faster, as more and more of the route allowed 140 mph-running.

As with Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western, I wouldn’t be surprised to see almost ten minutes lopped off this service by signalling and other improvements.

I am fairly certain, that London Euston and Preston can be regularly achieved in just under two hours, by a Class 390 train.

London Euston And Blackpool North

Avanti West Coast have indicated that their new Class 807 trains will run between London Euston and Blackpool North.

Consider.

  • I am fairly certain that a Class 390 train will be able to run between London Euston and Preston in under two hours, once digital signalling is installed South of Crewe.
  • Currently, Class 390 trains take twenty minutes between Preston and Blackpool North stations.
  • The Class 807 trains have better acceleration and deceleration and should be able to execute faster stops than the Class 390 trains.

I wonder if Avanti West Coast, Hitachi, Network Rail and Rock Rail have thought up a cunning plan to run Class 807  trains between  London Euston And Blackpool North, in under two hours.

Trains would go via the Trent Valley.

Trains might only stop at perhaps Milton Keynes Central, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Preston.

Trains would run at up to 140 mph using digital signalling, in as many places as possible.

Is the performance of the Class 807 trains sufficient to achieve London Euston and Blackpool North in under two hours via the Trent Valley?

London Euston And Manchester Piccadilly via Wilmslow

Consider.

  • Most trains between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Wilmslow seem to take around six or seven minutes over two hours.
  • I believe that if the 158 miles between London Euston and Crewe were to be digitally signalled, then this could save up to eight minutes by allowing trains to run at 140 mph rather than the current 125 mph.

This could be enough to bring the London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Wilmslow below two hours.

I am not surprised at this, as the trains were built for 140 mph and because there is no digital signalling, they are limited to 125 mph, which slows the trains by six or seven minutes.

London Euston And Manchester Piccadilly via Stoke-on-Trent

Everything I said about trains between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Wilmslow probably apply, except that the services via Stoke-on-Trent are a few minutes slower.

But I do feel, that this could be enough to bring the London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Stoke-on-Trent below two hours.

East Midlands Railway And St. Pancras

These is only one service from St. Pancras, that is not comfortably under two hours.

London St. Pancras And Sheffield

A typical service between London St. Pancras And Sheffield takes a few minutes over two hours..

  • There are two tph
  • There are stops at Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby or Chesterfield depending on the service.
  • The Class 222 trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two terminals is 164.7 miles.
  • The start to stop average including the stops is 81 mph.

I would suspect that East Midlands Railway’s new bi-mode Class 810 trains will be able to easily break the two-hour barrier.

  • They have four diesel engines so they can cruise at 125 mph on diesel.
  • They have electric power for South of Market Harborough.
  • Some diesel engines will be changed for batteries.

As electrification increases on the Midland Main Line, these trains will use less and less diesel.

I also suspect that digital signalling will start to creep into the route, starting from Bedford, where it is used on Thameslink.

LNER And King’s Cross

These are services from King’s Cross, that are or I feel will be under two hours.

London King’s Cross And Doncaster

A typical service between London King’s Cross And Doncaster takes around one hour and thirty-seven minutes.

  • There are four tph
  • There are stops at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark and Retford depending on the service.
  • The Class 80x trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two stations is 156 miles.
  • The start to stop average including the stops is 96.5 mph.

Digital signaling is being installed on this section of the East Coast Main Line and I suspect that this will reduce timings between London King’s Cross And Doncaster.

A simple estimate based on the maximum operating speed, indicates a time of one hour and twenty-six minutes should be possible.

But as a Control Engineer, I believe that digital signalling will lead to faster running over the Digswell Viaduct and through the flat crossing at Newark.

The timing will certainly be under one hour and thirty minutes between London King’s Cross And Doncaster.

London King’s Cross And York

A typical service between London King’s Cross And York takes around one hour and forty-eight minutes.

  • There are two tph
  • There are stops at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, Retford and Doncaster depending on the service.
  • The Class 80x trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two stations is 188.5 miles.
  • A non-stop service takes one hour and fifty-two minutes, which is a start to stop average including the stops is 101 mph.

If my crude estimate of time savings because of digital signalling South of Doncaster can be applied, this would imply a reduction in journey time of at least eleven minutes.

London King’s Cross And Leeds

A typical service between London King’s Cross And Leeds takes around two hours and thirteen minutes.

  • There are three tph
  • There are stops at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate depending on the service.
  • The Class 80x trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two terminals is 185.9 miles.
  • This is a start to stop average including the stops is 83.9 mph.

If my crude estimate of time savings because of digital signalling South of Doncaster can be applied, this would imply a reduction in journey time of at least eleven minutes, which would put a time between London King’s Cross and Leeds of around two hours.

London King’s Cross And Bradford Forster Square

LNER run some services on this route

  • The services take thirty minutes between Leeds and Bradford Forster Square stations.
  • The services do not reverse at Leeds.

Given that two hours should be possible between London Kings Cross and Leeds, it would appear that two hours and thirty minutes should be possible between Leeds and Bradford Forster Square stations.

London King’s Cross And Bradford Interchange

Grand Central run some services on this route

  • The services call at Doncaster, Wakefield Kirkgate, Mirfield, Brighouse and Low Moor
  • The services take two hours and fifty-four minutes between London King’s Cross and Bradford Interchange stations.
  • The services take one hour and seventeen minutes between Doncaster and Bradford Interchange stations.

The services are run by Class 180 diesel trains, which will have to be replaced to decarbonise the route.

I suspect that Hitachi will have a train for this route, that could use diesel or batteries to the North of Doncaster.

  • My estimate for the best time between King’s Cross and Doncaster is one hour and twenty-six minutes.
  • The current time between Doncaster and Bradford Interchange stations is one hour and seventeen minutes.

This gives a best time of perhaps two hours and forty-three minutes between Doncaster and Bradford Interchange stations.

The route to Bradford via Leeds is perhaps fifteen minutes faster, but it serves different stations.

London King’s Cross And Harrogate

LNER has been running to Harrogate for some time.

  • There is one train per two hours (tp2h)
  • The service calls at Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate and Leeds.
  • some services reverse at Leeds.
  • The service takes two hours and fifty-five minutes between London King’s Cross and Harrogate stations.
  • The service takes thirty minutes between Leeds and Harrogate stations.

Given that two hours should be possible between London Kings Cross and Leeds, it would appear that two hours and thirty minutes could be possible between London King’s Cross and Harrogate stations.

London King’s Cross And Huddersfield

In LNER Expands To Huddersfield, I described LNER’s new service to Huddersfield.

  • There will be one train per day (tpd)
  • The service will call at Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds and Dewsbury.
  • The service will split and join with the London King’s Cross and Skipton service at Leeds.
  • The service will reverse at Leeds.
  • The service take two hours and fifty-five minutes between London King’s Cross and Huddersfield stations.
  • The service will take twenty-five minutes between Leeds and Huddersfield stations.
  • Improvements are planned, which include electrification, between Dewsbury and Huddersfield

Given that two hours should be possible between London Kings Cross and Leeds, it would appear that two hours and thirty minutes could be possible between London King’s Cross and Huddersfield stations.

London King’s Cross And Hull

The fastest Hull Trains service between London King’s Cross And Hull takes around two hours and thirty minutes.

  • There are seven tpd
  • There are stops at Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden and Brough depending on the service.
  • The Class 80x trains travel at 125 mph for most of the way.
  • The distance between the two terminals is 205.3 miles.
  • This is a start to stop average including the stops is 82.1 mph.

If my crude estimate of time savings because of digital signalling South of Doncaster can be applied, this would imply a reduction in journey time of at least eleven minutes, which would put a time between London King’s Cross and Hull of around two hours and twenty minutes.

London King’s Cross And Middlesbrough

LNER have announced a Middlesbrough service, which I wrote about in LNER’s Middlesbrough And London Service. Starts On December 13th.

  • There will be one tpd in both directions
  • Intermediate stops will be at Thornaby and York.
  • The Middlesbrough and London service will leave Middlesbrough from Platform 1 at 07:08 and arrive in King’s Cross at 10:22.
  • The London and Middlesbrough service will leave King’s Cross at 15:25 and arrive in Middlesbrough in Platform 2 at 18:18.

There appear to be some curiosities in the timetabling of these trains, which I may explore later.

I would assume that is because LNER want a competitive time of three hours between King’s Cross and Middlesbrough.

These are Southbound times between Eaglescliffe and King’s Cross in the morning.

  • Grand Central –  Two hours and thirty-nine minutes
  • LNER – Three hours and two minutes

Is this because the Class 180 train is a genuine 125 mph train on diesel and the Class 800 train is not?

If my crude estimate of time savings because of digital signalling South of Doncaster can be applied, this would imply a reduction in journey time of at least eleven minutes, which would put a time between London King’s Cross and Middlesbrough of around three hours.

Conclusion

Of the cities and towns in the North, that I have discussed only Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull and Middlesbrough, are ones that will be difficult to be provided with a two-hour journey time to and from London. But all should be possible in close to or under two hours and thirty minutes.

 

 

October 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Arriving In Liverpool Lime Street Station – 14th October 2021

I took these pictures as I arrived into Liverpool Lime Street station today.

Note.

  • The train arrived in Platform 9.
  • I arrived in the last coach and took the pictures walking to the front of the train.
  • The platform is just long enough for an eleven-car Class 390 train, which is 265.3 metres long. These are the longest trains in Avanti West Coast’s fleet.
  • The train was numbered 390130 and named City of Edinburgh.

Network Rail’s platform designers seem to have pulled out all the tricks to fit an eleven-car Class 390 train in Platform 9 at Liverpool Lime Street station.

The new seven-car Class 807 trains will only be 182 metres long, so would appear to fit Platform 9 easily.

In Could Avanti West Coast Run A Lumo-Style Service Between London And Liverpool?, I looked at the various options to run a two trains per hour (tph) service between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.

I came to these conclusions.

  • The shorter Class 807 trains would be needed to run services that stop at Liverpool South Parkway station, which has shorter platforms.
  • If both hourly services were run by new Class 807 trains, there would be a 54 % increase in hourly capacity.
  • If one service was run by a Class 390 train and the Liverpool South Parkway service was run by a Class 807 train, this would give a 77 % increase in hourly capacity.
  • The Liverpool South Parkway service or both services would be very close to two hours.

Whatever is done, it would be a flagship service between London and Liverpool.

October 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Could Avanti West Coast Run A Lumo-Style Service Between London And Liverpool?

Avanti West Cost’s Class 807 Trains

Avanti West Coast will be introducing their new Class 807 trains by 2023.

One of the routes, on which they will run, will be between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations.

These trains are members of Hitachi’s AT300 family, with these characteristics.

  • Seven cars.
  • 453 seats
  • 125 mph operating speed, with 140 mph possible under in-cab signalling, where the track allows.

They have been designed to be able to achieve or better times from the Class 390 trains, which have the advantage of tilt.

The Seats In The New Trains

Seats are important to passengers and there has been criticism, that some of the seats in Hitachi trains are like ironing boards.

But, so far nothing has been said about the seats on the new Class 807 trains.

453 seats in seven cars of a Class 807 train is 64.7 seats per car.

These are comparison figures for other trains.

  • On a nine-car Class 801 train, there are 611 seats or 67.8 seats per car.
  • On a five-car Class 801 train, there are 302 seats or 60.4 seats per car.
  • On a five-car Class 810 train, there are 301 seats or 60.2 seats per car.
  • On a five-car Class 803 train, there are 406 seats or 81.2 seats per car.
  • On a nine-car Class 390 train, there are 469 seats or 52.1 seats per car.
  • On an eleven-car Class 390 train, there are 589 seats or 53.5 seats per car.

Note.

  1. The Class 390 trains or Pendolinos have less seats per car, than the Hitachi trains. Is this because of all the space taken up by the tilting mechanism?
  2. As the seats per car for a Class 807 is between the five- and nine-car Class 801 trains, it would appear that the seat density is not much different to the trains on LNER and Great Western Railway.
  3. Lumo’s Class 803 trains on their low-cost service would appear to have a higher seating density. But  Lumo says that they have redesigned the seats for more comfort.
  4. In The Seat Of Aurora, I looked at a report from Modern Railways on the seats in the Class 810 trains, which the writer found were much more comfortable.

It would appear that the two latest fleets of Hitachi trains have seats that are designed for more comfort.

Consider.

  • First Group own seventy percent of Avanti West Coast.
  • First Group own hundred percent of two train operating companies; Great Western and TransPennine Express, who run versions of Hitachi AT300 trains, so they probably have a lot of bottom-level feedback.
  • In the current Class 390 train upgrade, Avanti West Coast are replacing all the Standard Class seats, the company must care about seat quality.
  • First Group own hundred percent of Lumo, who have acquired new trains with comfortable seats.

I would be very surprised if the seats in the new Class 807 trains for Avanti West Coast were not custom-designed for their routes.

The Unusual Length Of The Class 807 Train

These are the length of the Class 390 and Class 807 trains.

  • Class 390/0 – nine-car – 217.5 metres
  • Class 390/1 – eleven-car – 265.3 metres
  • Class 807 – seven-car – 182 metres

Note.

  1. A ten-car Class 807 train would be 260 metres.This could be convenient, if more eleven-car Pendolinos were needed.
  2. The Class 807 train is thirty-five metres shorter, than the nine-car Pendolino.

As eleven-car Class 390 trains commonly run London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street, why would they need the Class 807 train to be shorter?

I think there is a clue in this picture.

It shows a Class 390 train in Liverpool South Parkway station.

  • At the time, Liverpool Lime Street station was closed for track remodelling.
  • Liverpool South Parkway was acting as Liverpool’s main terminus.
  • To accommodate the Pendolinos a temporary platform extension was built in the station.

Could it be that shorter trains were ordered to avoid the expense of lengthening the platforms at Liverpool South Parkway and perhaps other stations, that Avanti West Coast might serve?

The Current Service Between London Euston And Liverpool

The current London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street service is as follows.

  • There is one train per hour (tph)
  • The service calls at Milton Keynes Central, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • All of the stations can accommodate an eleven-car Pendolino.
  • Trains take around an average of two hours and twelve minutes.
  • The first Northbound train leaves at 07:07 and the last at 21:07.
  • The first Southbound train leaves at 07:00 and the last at 20:48.

Services are generally run by eleven-car Class 390 trains, which gives a capacity of 589 passengers per hour.

I always think, there a need for a later train back to London, but then that could be said of many places.

A Possible Service From December 2022

Wikipedia says this.

  • There will be two tph.
  • The second service will call at Liverpool South Parkway station.

If two tph were to be run by Class 807 trains, this would give the following.

  • A capacity of 906 seats per hour.
  • This is a 54 % increase in capacity.

But if only the Liverpool South Parkway service was run by a Class 807 train and the other service was still run by an eleven-car Class 390 train, this would give the following.

  • A capacity of 1042 seats per hour.
  • This is a 77 % increase in capacity.

And all without expensive and disruptive platform extensions at Liverpool South Parkway station.

According to Wikipedia, the plans will need to be approved by the Office of Road and Rail.

How Fast Will A Class 807 Train Travel Between London Euston And Liverpool?

The Class 807 trains will have these features.

  • The trains will have no diesel engines or batteries. This must save weight and that means better acceleration.
  • The trains will have no tilt mechanism.. This must save weight and that means better acceleration.
  • The trains will have a new nose. Is it more aerodynamic, which would cause less drag and increase operating speed?

Would these features mean the Class 807 trains can match the performance of the Class 390 train, despite not having tilt?

There are also improvements on the West Coast Main Line, that have not been fully reflected in the timetable.

I did a full analysis about how a two-hour journey time might be achieved in Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours? This analysis led me to these conclusions.

  • I am convinced that the new trains are designed for a two hour journey between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations.
  • Refurbished Class 390 trains should also be able to do the same time.
  • I also calculated that nine trains would be needed for the two tph service, if they can arrange a fifteen minute turnround at both ends of the route. So would, the Class 807 trains be used on the Liverpool service to release newly-refurbished Class 390 trains to boost Blackpool and Birmingham services?

Alternatively, if the two services are run using eleven-car Class 390 trains for the current service and seven-car Class 807 trains for the one via Liverpool South Parkway, Avanti West Coast would need five of each train.

  • They could fit in thirty minute turnrounds at both ends of the route.
  • The mixed pair of trains would give a 77 % increase in capacity.
  • The Class 807 service would be a two-hour trip.
  • If the Class 390 service couldn’t match the time it could use current timings.

Whatever is done, it would be a flagship service between London and Liverpool.

The new trains will pay for themselves many times over, if this is the case, as a two-hour journey will surely attract passengers.

Organising The Service

If you really wanted to make the service simple and passenger-friendly, you would have dedicated platforms for the trains at both ends of the route.

  • In Liverpool Lime Street station trains seem to have used one platform for many years. Currently, they seem to be using Platform 9.
  • Surely, a similar arrangement could be setup at London Euston.

The service could also be setup with contactless ticketing, if that was felt the way things should be done.

Going The Whole Way

Suppose, that the London Euston  and Liverpool Lime Street service is very successful for any number of reasons.

  • The two hour journey time.
  • The all-electric service.
  • The doubling of the frequency.
  • The availability of more seats.
  • The expansion of Merseyrail into England’s first battery-electric Metro, which I wrote about in Chancellor To Fund £710m Merseyrail Expansion.
  • The cost of driving, due to a mileage charge on all journeys.

Will this lead to a need to expand the service?

If it does, the obvious way would be to lengthen Liverpool South Parkway station and run longer trains.

An Eleven-car Class 390 train would carry 589 passengers.

Adding three-cars to a seven-car and the train would still be shorter than an eleven-car Class 390 train, but it would carry around 650 passengers.

This would add an extra ten percent capacity to the route.

This would surely provide the capacity until High Speed Two arrives towards the end of the decade.

I do wonder if Avanti West Coast are using the London Euston  and Liverpool Lime Street service to experiment with how they might run High Speed Two services.

Conclusion

As a two tph service run by Class 807 trains in two hours would be over 4,500,000 seats in each direction, I feel that this will be a very popular and intensive service.

I feel that Avanti West Coast will need to apply lessons learned on sister company’s Lumo’s service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

 

 

 

 

 

September 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

High-Speed Low-Carbon Transport Between Great Britain And Ireland

Consider.

  • According to Statista, there were 13,160,000 passengers between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic in 2019.
  • In 2019, Dublin Airport handled 32,907,673 passengers.
  • The six busiest routes from Dublin were Heathrow, Stansted, Amsterdam, Manchester, Birmingham and Stansted.
  • In 2018, Belfast International Airport handled 6,269,025 passengers.
  • The four busiest routes from Belfast International Airport were Stansted, Gatwick. Liverpool and Manchester, with the busiest route to Europe to Alicante.
  • In 2018, Belfast City Airport handled 2,445,529 passengers.
  • The four busiest routes from Belfast City Airport were Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and London City.

Note.

  1. The busiest routes at each airport are shown in descending order.
  2. There is a lot of air passengers between the two islands.
  3. Much of the traffic is geared towards London’s four main airports.
  4. Manchester and Liverpool get their fair share.

Decarbonisation of the air routes between the two islands will not be a trivial operation.

But technology is on the side of decarbonisation.

Class 805 Trains

Avanti West Coast have ordered thirteen bi-mode Class 805 trains, which will replace the diesel Class 221 trains currently working between London Euston and Holyhead.

  • They will run at 125 mph between Euston and Crewe using electric power.
  • If full in-cab digital signalling were to be installed on the electrified portion of the route, they may be able to run at 140 mph in places under the wires.
  • They will use diesel power on the North Wales Coast Line to reach Holyhead.
  • According to an article in Modern Railways, the Class 805 trains could be fitted with batteries.

I wouldn’t be surprised that when they are delivered, they are a version of the Hitachi’s Intercity Tri-Mode  Battery Train, the specification of which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. I suspect that the batteries will be used to handle regenerative braking on lines without electrification, which will save diesel fuel and carbon emissions.
  2. The trains accelerate faster, than those they replace.
  3. The claimed fuel and carbon saving is twenty percent.

It is intended that these trains will be introduced next year.

I believe that, these trains will speed up services between London Euston and Holyhead.

  • Currently, services take just over three-and-a-half hours.
  • There should be time savings on the electrification between London Euston and Crewe.
  • The operating speed on the North Wales Coast Line is 90 mph. This might be increased in sections.
  • Some extra electrification could be added, between say Crewe and Chester and possibly through Llandudno Junction.
  • I estimate that on the full journey, the trains could reduce emissions by up to sixty percent compared to the current diesel trains.

I think that a time of three hours could be achievable with the Class 805 trains.

New trains and a three hour journey time should attract more passengers to the route.

Holyhead

In Holyhead Hydrogen Hub Planned For Wales, I wrote about how the Port of Holyhead was becoming a hydrogen hub, in common with several other ports around the UK including Felixstowe, Harwich, Liverpool and Portsmouth.

Holyhead and the others could host zero-carbon hydrogen-powered ferries.

But this extract from the Wikipedia hints at work needed to be done to create a fast interchange  between trains and ferries.

There is access to the port via a building shared with Holyhead railway station, which is served by the North Wales Coast Line to Chester and London Euston. The walk between trains and ferry check in is less than two minutes, but longer from the remote platform 1, used by Avanti West Coast services.

This Google Map shows the Port of Holyhead.

I think there is a lot of potential to create an excellent interchange.

HSC Francisco

I am using the high-speed craft Francisco as an example of the way these ships are progressing.

  • Power comes from two gas-turbine engines, that run on liquified natural gas.
  • It can carry 1024 passengers and 150 cars.
  • It has a top speed of 58 knots or 67 mph. Not bad for a ship with a tonnage of over 7000.

This ship is in service between Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

Note.

  1. A craft like this could be designed to run on zero-carbon  liquid hydrogen or liquid ammonia.
  2. A high speed craft already runs between Dublin and Holyhead taking one hour and forty-nine minutes for the sixty-seven miles.

Other routes for a specially designed high speed craft might be.

  • Barrow and Belfast – 113 miles
  • Heysham and Belfast – 127 miles
  • Holyhead and Belfast – 103 miles
  • Liverpool and Belfast – 145 miles
  • Stranraer and Larne – 31 miles

Belfast looks a bit far from England, but Holyhead and Belfast could be a possibility.

London And Dublin Via Holyhead

I believe this route is definitely a possibility.

  • In a few years, with a few improvements on the route, I suspect that London Euston and Holyhead could be fairly close to three hours.
  • With faster bi-mode trains, Manchester Airport and Holyhead would be under three hours.
  • I would estimate, that a high speed craft built for the route could be under two hours between Holyhead and Dublin.

It certainly looks like London Euston and Dublin and Manchester Airport and Dublin would be under five hours.

In A Glimpse Of 2035, I imagined what it would be like to be on the first train between London and Dublin via the proposed fixed link between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • I felt that five-and-a-half hours was achievable for that journey.
  • The journey would have used High Speed Two to Wigan North Western.
  • I also stated that with improvements, London and Belfast could be three hours and Dublin would be an hour more.

So five hours between London Euston and Dublin using current technology without massive improvements and new lines could be small change well spent.

London And Belfast Via Holyhead

At 103 miles the ferry leg may be too long for even the fastest of the high speed craft, but if say the craft could do Holyhead and Belfast in two-and-a-half hours, it might just be a viable route.

  • It might also be possible to run the ferries to a harbour like Warrenpoint, which would be eighty-six miles.
  • An estimate based on the current high speed craft to Dublin, indicates a time of around two hours and twenty minutes.

It could be viable, if there was a fast connection between Warrenpoint and Belfast.

Conclusion

Once the new trains are running between London Euston and Holyhead, I would expect that an Irish entrepreneur will be looking to develop a fast train and ferry service between England and Wales, and the island of Ireland.

It could be sold, as the Greenest Way To Ireland.

Class 807 Trains

Avanti West Coast have ordered ten electric Class 807 trains, which will replace some of the diesel Class 221 trains.

  • They will run at 125 mph between Euston and Liverpool on the fully-electrified route.
  • If full in-cab digital signalling were to be installed on the route, they may be able to run at 140 mph in places.
  • These trains appear to be the first of the second generation of Hitachi trains and they seem to be built for speed and a sparking performance,
  • These trains will run at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph) between London and Liverpool Lime Street.
  • Alternate trains will stop at Liverpool South Parkway station.

In Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?, I came to the conclusion, that a two-hour journey time was possible, when the new Class 807 trains have entered service.

London And Belfast Via Liverpool And A Ferry

Consider.

  • An hour on the train to and from London will be saved compared to Holyhead.
  • The ferry terminal is in Birkenhead on the other side of the Mersey and change between Lime Street station and the ferry could take much longer than at Holyhead.
  • Birkenhead and Belfast is twice the distance of Holyhead and Dublin, so even a high speed craft would take three hours.

This Google Map shows the Ferry Terminal and the Birkenhead waterfront.

Note.

  1. The Ferry Terminal is indicated by the red arrow at the top of the map.
  2. There are rows of trucks waiting for the ferries.
  3. In the South East corner of the map, the terminal of the Mersey Ferry sticks out into the River
  4. Hamilton Square station is in-line with the Mersey Ferry at the bottom of the map and indicated with the usual red symbol.
  5. There is a courtesy bus from Hamilton Square station to the Ferry Terminal for Ireland.

There is a fourteen tph service between Hamilton Square and Liverpool Lime Street station.

This route may be possible, but the interchange could be slow and the ferry leg is challenging.

I don’t think the route would be viable unless a much faster ferry is developed. Does the military have some high speed craft under development?

Conclusion

London and Belfast via Liverpool and a ferry is probably a trip for enthusiasts or those needing to spend a day in Liverpool en route.

Other Ferry Routes

There are other ferry routes.

Heysham And Barrow-in-Furness

,These two ports might be possible, but neither has a good rail connection to London and the South of England.

They are both rail connected, but not to the standard of the connections at Holyhead and Liverpool.

Cairnryan

The Cairnryan route could probably be improved to be an excellent low-carbon route to Glasgow and Central Scotland.

Low-Carbon Flight Between The Islands Of Great Britain And Ireland

I think we’ll gradually see a progression to zero-carbon flight over the next few years.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Obviously zero-carbon would be better, but until zero-carbon aircraft are developed, there is always sustainable aviation fuel.

This can be produced from various carbon sources like biowaste or even household rubbish and disposable nappies.

British Airways are involved in a project called Altalto.

  • Altalto are building a plant at Immingham to turn household rubbish into sustainable aviation fuel.
  • This fuel can be used in jet airliners with very little modification of the aircraft.

I wrote about Altalto in Grant Shapps Announcement On Friday.

Smaller Low-Carbon Airliners

The first low- and zero-carbon airliners to be developed will be smaller with less range, than Boeing 737s and Airbus A 320s. These three are examples of four under development.

I feel that a nineteen seater aircraft with a range of 500 miles will be the first specially designed low- or zero-carbon airliner to be developed.

I believe these aircraft will offer advantages.

  • Some routes will only need refuelling at one end.
  • Lower noise and pollution.
  • Some will have the ability to work from short runways.
  • Some will be hybrid electric running on sustainable aviation fuel.

They may enable passenger services to some smaller airports.

Air Routes Between The Islands Of Great Britain And Ireland

These are distances from Belfast City Airport.

  • Aberdeen – 228 miles
  • Amsterdam – 557 miles
  • Birmingham – 226 miles
  • Blackpool – 128 miles
  • Cardiff – 246 miles
  • Edinburgh – 135 miles
  • Gatwick – 337 miles
  • Glasgow – 103 miles
  • Heathrow – 312 miles
  • Jersey – 406 miles
  • Kirkwall – 320 miles
  • Leeds – 177 miles
  • Liverpool – 151 miles
  • London City – 326 miles
  • Manchester – 170 miles
  • Newcastle – 168 miles
  • Southampton – 315 miles
  • Southend – 344 miles
  • Stansted – 292 miles
  • Sumburgh – 401 miles

Note.

  1. Some airports on this list do not currently have flights from Belfast City Airport.
  2. I have included Amsterdam for comparison.
  3. Distances to Belfast International Airport, which is a few miles to the West of Belfast City Airport are within a few miles of these distances.

It would appear that much of Great Britain is within 500 miles of Belfast City Airport.

These are distances from Dublin Airport.

  • Aberdeen – 305 miles
  • Amsterdam – 465 miles
  • Birmingham – 199 miles
  • Blackpool – 133 miles
  • Cardiff – 185 miles
  • Edinburgh – 208 miles
  • Gatwick – 300 miles
  • Heathrow – 278 miles
  • Jersey – 339 miles
  • Kirkwall – 402 miles
  • Leeds – 190 miles
  • Liverpool – 140 miles
  • London City – 296 miles
  • Manchester – 163 miles
  • Newcastle – 214 miles
  • Southampton – 268 miles
  • Southend – 319 miles
  • Stansted – 315 miles
  • Sumburgh – 483 miles

Note.

  1. Some airports on this list do not currently have flights from Dublin Airport.
  2. I have included Amsterdam for comparison.

It would appear that much of Great Britain is within 500 miles of Dublin Airport.

I will add a few long routes, that someone  might want to fly.

  • Cork and Aberdeen – 447 miles
  • Derry and Manston – 435 miles
  • Manston and Glasgow – 392 miles
  • Newquay and Aberdeen – 480 miles
  • Norwich and Stornaway – 486 miles.

I doubt there are many possible air services in the UK and Ireland that are longer than 500 miles.

I have a few general thoughts about low- and zero-carbon air services in and around the islands of Great Britain and Ireland.

  • The likely five hundred mile range of the first generation of low- and zero-carbon airliners fits the size of the these islands well.
  • These aircraft seem to have a cruising speed of between 200 and 250 mph, so flight times will not be unduly long.
  • Airports would need to have extra facilities to refuel or recharge these airliners.
  • Because of their size, there will need to be more flights on busy routes.
  • Routes which are less heavily used may well be developed, as low- or zero-carbon could be good for marketing the route.

I suspect they could be ideal for the development of new routes and even new eco-friendly airports.

Conclusion

I have come to the conclusion, that smaller low- or zero-carbon are a good fit for the islands of Great Britain and Ireland.

But then Flybe and Loganair have shown that you can make money flying smaller planes around these islands with the right planes, airports, strategy and management.

Hydrogen-Powered Planes From Airbus

Hydrogen-powered zero-carbon aircraft could be the future and Airbus have put down a marker as to the way they are thinking.

Airbus have proposed three different ZEROe designs, which are shown in this infographic.

The turboprop and the turbofan will be the type of designs, that could be used around Great Britain and Ireland.

The ZEROe Turboprop

This is Airbus’s summary of the design for the ZEROe Turboprop.

Two hybrid hydrogen turboprop engines, which drive the six bladed propellers, provide thrust. The liquid hydrogen storage and distribution system is located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.

This screen capture taken from the video, shows the plane.

It certainly is a layout that has been used successfully, by many conventionally-powered aircraft in the past. The De Havilland Canada Dash 8 and ATR 72 are still in production.

I don’t think the turboprop engines, that run on hydrogen will be a problem.

If you look at the Lockheed-Martin C 130J Super Hercules, you will see it is powered by four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines, that drive 6-bladed Dowty R391 composite constant-speed fully-feathering reversible-pitch propellers.

These Rolls-Royce engines are a development of an Allison design, but they also form the heart of Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW Generator, that I wrote about in Our Sustainability Journey. The generator was developed for use in Airbus’s electric flight research program.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find the following.

  • , The propulsion system for this aircraft is under test with hydrogen at Derby and Toulouse.
  • Dowty are testing propellers suitable for the aircraft.
  • Serious research is ongoing to store enough liquid hydrogen in a small tank that fits the design.

Why develop something new, when Rolls-Royce, Dowty and Lockheed have done all the basic design and testing?

This screen capture taken from the video, shows the front view of the plane.

From clues in the picture, I estimate that the fuselage diameter is around four metres. Which is not surprising, as the Airbus A320 has a height of 4.14 metres and a with of 3.95 metres. But it’s certainly larger than the fuselage of an ATR-72.

So is the ZEROe Turboprop based on a shortened Airbus A 320 fuselage?

  • The ATR 72 has a capacity of 70 passengers.
  • The ZEROe Turboprop has a capacity of less than a hundred passengers.
  • An Airbus A320 has six-abreast seating.
  • Could the ZEROe Turboprop have sixteen rows of seats, as there are sixteen windows in front of the wing?
  • With the seat pitch of an Airbus A 320, which is 81 centimetres, this means just under thirteen metres for the passengers.
  • There could be space for a sizeable hydrogen tank in the rear part of the fuselage.
  • The plane might even be able to use the latest A 320 cockpit.

It looks to me, that Airbus have designed a larger ATR 72 based on an A 320 fuselage.

I don’t feel there are any great technical challenges in building this aircraft.

  • The engines appear to be conventional and could even have been more-or-less fully developed.
  • The fuselage could be a development of an existing design.
  • The wings and tail-plane are not large and given the company’s experience with large composite structures, they shouldn’t be too challenging.
  • The hydrogen storage and distributing system will have to be designed, but as hydrogen is being used in increasing numbers of applications, I doubt the expertise will be difficult to find.
  • The avionics and other important systems could probably be borrowed from other Airbus products.

Given that the much larger and more complicated Airbus A380 was launched in 2000 and first flew in 2005, I think that a prototype of this aircraft could fly around the middle of this decade.

It may seem small at less than a hundred seats, but it does have a range of greater than a 1000 nautical miles or 1150 miles.

Consider.

  • It compares closely in passenger capacity, speed and range, with the De Havilland Canada Dash 8/400 and the ATR 72/600.
  • The ATR 72 is part-produced by Airbus.
  • The aircraft is forty percent slower than an Airbus A 320.
  • It looks like it could be designed to have a Short-Takeoff-And Landing (STOL) capability.

I can see the aircraft replacing Dash 8s, ATR 72s and similar aircraft all over the world. There are between 2000 and 3000 operational airliners in this segment.

The ZEROe Turbofan

This is Airbus’s summary of the design.

Two hybrid hydrogen turbofan engines provide thrust. The liquid hydrogen storage and distribution system is located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.

This screen capture taken from the video, shows the plane.

ZEROeTurbofan

This screen capture taken from the video, shows the front view of the plane.

The aircraft doesn’t look very different different to an Airbus A320 and appears to be fairly conventional. It does appear to have the characteristic tall winglets of the A 320 neo.

I don’t think the turbofan engines, that run on hydrogen will be a problem.

These could be standard turbofan engines modified to run on hydrogen, fuelled from a liquid hydrogen tank behind the rear pressure bulkhead of the fuselage.

If you want to learn more about gas turbine engines and hydrogen, read this article on the General Electric web site, which is entitled The Hydrogen Generation: These Gas Turbines Can Run On The Most Abundant Element In the Universe,

These are my thoughts of the marketing objectives of the ZEROe Turbofan.

  • The cruising speed and the number of passengers are surprisingly close, so has this aircraft been designed as an A 320 or Boeing 737 replacement?
  •  I suspect too, that it has been designed to be used at any airport, that could handle an Airbus A 320 or Boeing 737.
  • It would be able to fly point-to-point flights between most pairs of European or North American cities.

It would certainly fit the zero-carbon shorter range airliner market!

In fact it would more than fit the market, it would define it!

I very much believe that Airbus’s proposed zero-carbon hydrogen-powered designs and others like them will start to define aviation on routes of up to perhaps 3000 miles, from perhaps 2035.

  • The A 320 neo was launched in December 2010 and entered service in January 2016.  That was just five years and a month.
  • I suspect that a lot of components like the fuselage sections, cockpit, avionics, wings, landing gear, tailplane and cabin interior could be the same in a A 320 neo and a ZEROe Turbofan.
  • Flying surfaces and aerodynamics could be very similar in an A 320 neo and a ZEROe Turbofan
  • There could even be commonality between the ZEROe Turboprop and the ZEROe Turbofan, with respect to fuselage sections, cockpit, avionics and cabin interior.

There also must be the possibility, that if a ZEROe Turbofan is a hydrogen-powered A 320 neo, that this would enable the certification process to be simplified.

It might even be possible to remanufacture a A 320 neo into a ZEROe Turbofan. This would surely open up all sorts of marketing strategies.

My project management, flying and engineering knowledge says that if they launched the ZEROe Turbofan this year, it could be in service by the end of the decade on selected routes.

Conclusion

Both the ZEROe Turboprop and ZEROe Turbofan are genuine zero-carbon aircraft, which fit into two well-defined market segments.

I believe that these two aircraft and others like them from perhaps Boeing and Bombardier could be the future of aviation between say 500 and 3000 miles.

With the exception of the provision of hydrogen refuelling at airports, there will be no need for any airport infrastructure.

I also wouldn’t be surprised that the thinking Airbus appear to have applied to creating the ZEROe Turbofan from the successful A 320 neo, could be applied to perhaps create a hydrogen-powered A 350.

I feel that Airbus haven’t fulling disclosed their thinking.  But then no company would, when it reinvents itself.

T also think that short-haul air routes will increasing come under pressure.

The green lobby  would like airlines to decarbonise.

Governments will legislate that airlines must decarbonise.

The rail industry will increasingly look to attract customers away from the airlines, by providing more competitive times and emphasising their green credentials.

Aircraft manufacturers will come under pressure to deliver zero-carbon airliners as soon as they can.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a prototype ZEROe Turbofan or Boeing’s equivalent fly as early as 2024.

Short Term Solutions

As I said earlier, one solution is to use existing aircraft with Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

But many believe this is greenwash and rather a cop out.

So we must do better!

I don’t believe that the smaller zero- and low-carbon aircraft with a range of up to 500 miles and a capacity of around 19 seats, will be able to handle all the passengers needing to fly between and around the islands of Great Britain and Ireland.

  • A Boeing 737 or Airbus A 320 has a capacity of around two hundred passengers, which would require ten times the number of flights, aircraft and pilots.
  • Airports would need expansion on the airside and the terminals to handle the extra planes.
  • Air Traffic Control would need to be expanded to handle the extra planes.

But the smaller planes would be ideal for the thinner secondary routes.

So I tend to think, that the greens will have to lump it, as Sustainable Aviation Fuel will increasingly be the only viable solution.

This will increase the need for Airbus or Boeing to develop a viable A 320 or 737-sized aircraft as soon as possible.

Air Bridges

I said earlier, that I believe using ferries between Ireland and Holyhead and new bi-mode Class 805 trains between London Euston and Holyhead could be a competitor to airlines.

  • The ferries would be high speed craft capable of Holyhead and Ireland in around 90-100 minutes.
  • The ferries would be zero-carbon.
  • The trains would have a sixty percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to current trains on the route.

If we can skim across the water in a zero-carbon high speed craft, are there any reasons we can’t cross the water in a low- or zero-carbon aircraft.

In the next few sub-sections, I’ll suggest a few air bridges.

Glasgow

Glasgow Airport could be an ideal airport for a  low or zero-carbon air bridge to Northern Ireland.

  • A rail link could eventually be built.
  • There is a reasonable amount of traffic.
  • The distance to Belfast City Airport is only 103 miles.

As the airport serves islands and other places that could be ideal low- and zero-carbon routes, I could see Glasgow becoming a hub for battery and hydrogen-powered aircraft.

Heathrow

Heathrow must prepare itself for an uncertain future.

It will be some years before a third runway is both needed and will have been constructed.

I believe the following will happen.

  • Smaller up to nineteen seat low- or zero-carbon airliners will be in service by 2025.
  • From around 2024, Heathrow will get requests to refuel or charge low- or zero-carbon airliners.
  • Low- or-zero- carbon A 320-size airliners will be in service by 2030.
  • Most ground equipment at Heathrow like tugs and fuel bowsers will be zero-carbon.

If I were Boris or Prime Minister, I would say that Heathrow could have its third runway with the following conditions.

  • All aircraft using the third runway must be zero-carbon
  • All air-side vehicles must be zero-carbon.
  • All vehicles bringing passengers on the last mile to the airport must be zero-carbon.
  • All aircraft using the airport that are not zero-carbon must use sustainable aviation fuel.

I suspect that the conditions would be met by a large margin.

When an airport knows it is effectively going to be closed, it will make sure it survives.

Liverpool

Liverpool Airport could be an ideal airport for a  low or zero-carbon air bridge to the island of Ireland.

  • There is a nearby Liverpool South Parkway station, with frequent services to both the local area and places further away.
  • An improved London train service starts in 2022 or 2023.
  • There would need to be a people mover between the station and the airport.
  • The airport can probably have piped hydrogen from across the Mersey.
  • There is already significant traffic to and from the island of Ireland.
  • Flight times Between Liverpool and Dublin and Belfast would be under an hour.

I also feel that Liverpool could develop lots of other low- and zero-carbon routes to perhaps Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Norwich, Southampton and the Isle of Man.

I could even see Liverpool having a Turn-Up-And-Go shuttle service to Dublin and Belfast, with small zero-carbon planes running every fifteen minutes or so.

Manston

I wouldn’t rule out Manston as a low- and zero-carbon airport for flights to the Benelux countries and Northern France and parts of Germany.

These are a few distances from Manston Airport.

  • Amsterdam – 160 miles
  • Brussels – 134 miles
  • Cologne – 253 miles
  • Dusseldorf – 234 miles
  • Frankfurt – 328 miles
  • Geneva – 414 miles
  • Hamburg – 396 miles
  • Le Touquet – 59 miles
  • Lille – 49 miles
  • Luxembourg – 243 miles
  • Ostend – 66 miles
  • Strasbourg – 339 miles

Manston’s position on the tip of Kent gives it an advantage and I think low- and zero-carbon services could reach Cologne, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg and Strasbourg.

The airport also has other advantages.

  • A big electrolyser to produce hydrogen is being built at Herne Bay.
  • The area is rich in wind and solar energy.
  • I suspect the airspace to the East of the airport isn’t very busy and short hops to the Continent could be easy to slot in.

There is a new station being built at Thanet Parkway, which is on the Ashford and Ramsgate Line, which has regular services to London, including some services on High Speed One.

This Google Map shows the location of the airport and the station.

Note.

  1. The runway of Manston Airport.
  2. The Ashford and Ramsgate Line running across the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The station could be built to the West of the village of Cliffsend, which is indicated by the red arrow.
  4. I’m sure, a people mover or a zero-carbon bus could be built to connect the station and the airport.

There would need to be improvements in the frequency of services to and from London, but I’m sure Manston Airport could become an ideal airport for low- and zero-carbon aircraft serving the near Continent.

Southampton

Southampton Airport could be the ideal design for an airport to serve an air bridge.

  • The Southampton Airport Parkway station is connected to the terminal.
  • The station has numerous rail services, including a fast service to and from London.
  • The airport is expanding and could make sure all works are compatible with a low- and zero-carbon future.

Southampton is not ideally placed for services to Ireland, but with low- and zero-carbon aircraft it could be ideal for running services to the Channel Islands and Western France.

Other Airports

I suspect other airports will go the low- and zero-carbon route.

Conclusion

I started this post, with the intention of writing about writing about low- and zero-carbon transport between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland.

But it has grown.

I have now come to the conclusion that there are several low- and zero-carbon routes that could be developed.

The most promising would appear to be.

  • London Euston and Belfast by new Class 805 train to Holyhead and then zero-carbon high speed ferry.
  • London Euston and Dublin by new Class 805 train to Holyhead and then zero-carbon high speed ferry.
  • Glasgow and Belfast by train to Cairnryan and then zero-carbon high speed ferry.
  • Point-to-point air routes using new small nineteen seat low- or zero-carbon airliners with a range of 500 miles.
  • London Euston and Belfast by new Class 807 train to Liverpool Airport and then smaller low- or zero-carbon airliner.
  • London Euston and Dublin by new Class 807 train to Liverpool Airport and then and then smaller low- or zero-carbon airliner.
  • Other air bridges will develop.

But I am fairly certain by the end of the decade, there will be A320-size airlines powered by hydrogen taking us to Ireland and Western Europe.

I believe that the survival and ultimate prospering of Airbus and Boeing depends on the development of a range of zero-carbon airliners.

For this reason alone, they will succeed.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Should Railways Have A Pop-Up Service Capability?

Most of us will be familiar with the concept of Pop-Up Retail.

This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry.

Pop-up retail, also known as pop-up store (pop-up shop in the UK, Australia and Ireland) or flash retailing, is a trend of opening short-term sales spaces that started in Los Angeles and now pop up all over the United States, Canada, China,Japan, Mexico, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia. The pop-up industry is now estimated to be a $50 billion industry. Pop-up retail has been an increasing factor during the retail apocalypse of the 2010s, including seasonal Halloween retailer Spirit Halloween, who has operated stores in vacant spaces during the season.
Chris Stokes in his column in the December 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, gives a summary of and praises Adrian Shooter’s Vivarail project and its Class 230 train.
He then says.
Two of the units are scheduled for export to the United States, to demonstrate for the potential for ‘pop-up’ commuter services; the cost of a one-year period are said to be equivalent to the consultancy costs for opening a new route. Should such an approach be considered in this country too? The gestation period for new services on freight-only routes is probably the best part of 10 years, but it doesn’t have to be like that.
So is Chris’s concept a viable proposition?
Examples In The UK
Chris then goes on to give an example of a successful pop-up station.
When floods swept away the road bridge at Workington in 2009; Network Rail and Northern constructed a pop-up station and introduced additional trains in less than two weeks.
Recently, Liverpool Lime Street station was partly-closed for rebuilding, so Network Rail extended Platform 4 at Liverpool South Parkway station, so that it could be used as a terminus for trains from London and the South.
The picture shows a Virgin Pendelino in the temporary platform.
Passengers could then transfer to Merseyrail to complete their journey to Liverpool City Centre.
Incidentally, I’d like to know how many passengers to and from Liverpool, found it more convenient to catch their London train from Liverpool South Parkway station. Perhaps, after Merseyrail has its new trains, many passengers would like to use Liverpool South Parkway for longer journeys?
Does anybody know of any other instances of pop-up stations like these in the UK?
What Is Needed To Create These Pop-Up Stations?
Various elements must be brought together to build a pop-up station.
Types Of Stations

I can envisage three types of simple stations.

  1. A one-platform station on a single-track line.
  2. A two-platform station on a double-track line.
  3. A one-platform station on a double-track line.

Note

  1. Type One, would be the simplest and would be worked bidirectionally.
  2. Type Two, would probably require a bridge across the tracks.
  3. Type Three, would need crossovers at both ends of the station, to allow the single platform to be worked bidirectionally.

Obviously, Type 1 would be the most affordable and probably easiest to install.

The Platforms
This picture shows the temporary extended platform at Liverpool South Parkway station.
Only, if you look to the left, do you realise, it is not a permanent structure.
The only problem was that at 150 metres in length, it was a long walk. But most pop-up stations would not be for eleven-coach Class 390 trains.
Scaffolding and prefabricated platforms, should be able to cope with most situations.
Station Buildings
The platform extension at Liverpool South Parkway station didn’t need any buildings, as it was added to an existing station.
But surely, Portakabin and their ilk can come up with something that would work for a couple of years, with perhaps a waiting room or shelter, a ticket machine and even toilets.
A Station Bridge
A proportion of two-platform stations will need a bridge, so that passengers can get from one platform to the other.
At the present time, where a temporary bridge is needed, Network Rail generally put up vast scaffolding structures, like this one at Forest Gate station, used during station reconstruction for Crossrail.
Passenger-friendly it is not!
What is needed is a well-designed temporary footbridge system, that can be lifted in place in sections from a train.
Some footbridge versions might even have lifts and could be installed as pop-up bridges at stations, which urgently need step-free access.
Perhaps, pop-up stations could use a version of Heatherwick Studio’s rolling bridge.
I shall add some pictures of the open bridge, when they fix it.
  • It would certainly bridge the gap between two platforms with a double-track railway in between.
  • In a rail application, the bridge would be interlocked with the signalling and controlled by the signaller.
  • Signals and lights could be added to the bridge  to ensure complete safety.
  • Wikipedia says the original at the Paddington Basin cost £500,000, which could probably be reduced if more were built.
  • This page on the Merchant Square web site, shows the bridge in action.
  • I suspect this bridge would work on single- or double-track lines, without electrification, or with third-rail or with overhead electrification.
  • At many stations it could just be dropped in place from a rail-mounted crane, after preparing the existing platforms.
  • I suspect though, that there would be a limit to the number of trains per hour it could handle.
One of Heatherwick’s bridges, would certainly help in telling the locals, that they have a new station or step-free bridge across the railway.
I wonder if Heatherwick Studio has been talking to Network Rail.
Signalling
The signalling might have to be modified to ensure safety.
When all trains were fitted with in-cab digital signalling, as is planned, then this would surely make pop-up stations and services easier to install.
Tracks
The installation would surely be designed to minimise work on the tracks.
Only the Type Three station would require more than minimal work to the tracks, but the station would only have one platform, which would not require a bridge.
Modern Trains And The Pop-Up Station
Chris Stokes talks about running new pop-up services on freight-only lines, but I believe that there will be calls to use pop-up stations to provide extra stops on existing services.
As an example, suppose that Greater Anglia wanted to assess the demand for a new Soham station. In a year or two, the company will be operating at least an hourly service along the line with their new Class 755 trains.
These trains are part of the new breed of modern trains, which will have the following.
  • The ability to execute a fast stop at a station.
  • Level access will be possible between train and platform.
  • On-board CCTV systems to ensure safe loading and unloading of passengers.
  • Modern in-cab digital signalling.

This will enable the trains to make a station stop without causing problems to the existing timetable.

So if Network Rail, had the ability to quickly install a pop-up station, modern trains would allow a service to be tested at a reasonable cost.

The Practicalities Of Installing A Pop-Up Station

Suppose a station were to be installed at Soham or any other suitable place.

I would expect Network Rail to produce standard designs for the foundations of their pop-up stations.

Network Rail periodically close a line to replace track or do various other work. When a line is closed for this work and a pop-up station might be needed on the route, the standard foundations would be installed.

Then, when the budget for the station had been obtained, the station would be installed and commissioned in a suitable possession.

Conclusion

I believe a pop-up station is a feasible proposition.

If a pop-up station is a feasible proposition, then it follows that to install perhaps five stations on a freight-only line to create a totally new passenger service is also a feasible proposition.

 

December 5, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Liverpool South Parkway Station Stands In For Lime Street

I went to Liverpool to see the new Maghull North station and a few other things in the Second City.

Liverpool Lime Street station is closed at the moment due to major works, so all London trains are going only as far as Liverpool South Parkway station.

These pictures show the station.

The station was coping well, as passengers from outside Liverpool ytansferred to Merseyrail to continue their journeys to the City Centre.

On my visit to Liverpool, I went first to Maghull North station, so I got a Southport train on Merseyrail’s Northern Line to Sandhills station, where I changed trains.

There are not many cities in the UK, which have the luxury of an alternative terminus of the quality of Liverpool South Parkway station to stand in, when the main station has to be closed.

When we left for London, the train initially went towards Liverpool and then crossed over to the line to London, before coming back through the Liverpool South Parkway station.

This was because the station wasn’t designed for use as a terminus and there is no other way to get the train on the right line for Crewe and the South.

It would also appear from the pictures, that to cope with the length of the eleven-car Virgin Pendelinos, that a temporary platform extension has been built.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Halton Curve: Small Piece Of Track, Big Rail Ambitions

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

The Halton Curve will create a link between Liverpool and North Wales. This page on the Network Rail web site gives more details.

Work has started on the 1.5 miles of rail track, known as the ‘Halton Curve,’ that will unlock leisure and business opportunities between the Liverpool City Region, its airport, Cheshire and North Wales.

Vital upgrades to signalling and track will enable new services between Liverpool and Chester, serving Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway (for Liverpool John Lennon Airport) Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby.

The existing line, which currently only runs a one-way passenger service once a week in the summer, will be upgraded to provide an hourly service in each direction from December 2018 with the potential for connections to North Wales in the future.

Restoring the Halton Curve is similar to a number of smaller projects that have been executed in the last few years, to improve connectivity and efficiency in the UK rail network.

Most seem to have been worthwhile. But look back a couple of decades and it was unlikely that some of these projects would ever be needed.

As the economy grows, freight moves from road to rail and more people travel a lot more by rail, it is very difficult to predict what will happen in the future. I feel we should address the following.

If we remove a railway line, we should not destroy the ability to reinstate the line. Rebuilding the Waverley Route and the Varsity Line would be a lot easier, if this rule had been followed.

Network Rail appear to have a tendency to kick smaller projects into the future. A simple example is the creation of a bay platform at Stevenage station to turn back services on the Hertford Loop Line which seems to have been pushed back until after the new Class 717 trains arrive.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

NR States Ambition To Keep Liverpool Moving During Major Lime Street Work

The title of this post is the same as the title of this article on the Rail Technology Magazine web site.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Liverpool Lime Street will remain “open for business” whilst it undergoes major work this autumn, Network Rail has today reassured passengers in the region.

The latest stage of work will take place between 30 September and 22 October in what is one of the biggest upgrades the station has seen since the 19th century.

The station upgrade is part of a £340 million railway investment in the Liverpool City Region.

This document from Network Rail describes the scope of the project in detail.

These are some extracts from the document.

What Are The Benefits For Passengers?

The Liverpool City Region Railway Upgrade Plan will deliver for passengers:

  •  A bigger and better railway network with longer and faster trains
  •  More reliable railway infrastructure
  • Better facilities for passengers, especially at stations
  • Increased capacity/additional services

What Will This Mean In Practice?

  • Three extra services per hour, in and out of Lime Street station, such as the planned new First Transpennine Express
    services from Liverpool to Glasgow in 2019.
  • Better east-west connectivity to and from Liverpool.
  • New services to Chester via Liverpool South Parkway and the opportunity to develop more routes into North Wales in the future.
  • New station facilities and interchange at Newton-Le-Willows.
  • A new station at ‘Maghull North’ to support growth in passenger demand.
  • New signalling which will improve the reliability of the network and speed up decision making to minimise disruption.
  • Works to facilitate the running of new trains on the Wirral and Northern lines.

Liverpool Lime Street Station

Liverpool Lime Street station will be getting a major upgrade consisting of the following.

  • Two new platforms between the current platforms 7 and 8.
  • Platform lengthening.
  • Improved signalling and electrification.
  • More shops.

This should enable another three trains per hour to be handled.

It’s over fifty years since I first arrived in Lime Street to go to Liverpool University and the station has changed a lot in those years. Network Rail are saying, that this upgrade will cope with the doubling of passenger number expected before 2043.

Using Liverpool South Parkway Station As A Relief Terminus

The upgrade will mean that at times during the works, trains into Liverpool will not be able to access Lime Street. So some trains will terminate at Liverpool South Parkway station from where passengers can take Merseyrail’s Northern Line to the City Centre.

How many of our large cities can cope, when the main station is closed?

  • Glasgow proved they can, when Queen Street station was closed.
  • London is managing biow, with mahor works going on at Waterloo.
  • Manchester’s ability to cope will surely be greatly improved when the Ordsall Chord opens.
  • Birmingham seemed to manage during the rebuilding of New Street station.
  • Newcastle has the Metro to help.
  • Sheffield has a second station at Meadowhall.

Would Leeds be the city to struggle?

Liverpool will probably cope well, as there are various rail routes into the City, that avoid Lime Street, most of which have four trains per hour.

I always remember the Liverpool Bus Strike of around 1967. Liverpudlians just walked, as did most of the students like me, who needed to get into the University.

I don’t think, it will come to walking this time, as Network Rail have promised quality buses.

Conclusion

There is a lot of work to do, but after the example of Waterloo, it is likely to go fairly well to plan.

But there will be a few hiccups.

August 17, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Class 319 Flex Units To Be Class 769

This is the title of a short article in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

Giving the Class 319 Flex train, its own unique class number of 769, must say that Porterbrook, Northern, Network Rail and the Department of Transport, think that the bi-mode conversion of a Class 319 train is a viable project.

The article gives some new details about the trains.

  • Northern have ordered eight units, which will be delivered before the end of May 2018.
  • The first unit is at Wabtec’s Brush Traction facility in Louthborough.
  • Completion of the design and the first load testing is plasnned before the end of May.
  • The first unit is due to be completed with driver training underway, by the end of the year.
  • Northern will get a total of thirty-two Class 319 trains, which probably include the eight Class 769 trains.
  • Tri-mode functionality and dynamic mode changeover on the move are being considered.
  • Full production rate is a Class 769 train every two weeks.

The Class 319 Flex train has definitely moved from concept to a real train.

The article finishes by saying that Porterbrook expects further orders soon, while  it is also considering transferring the concept to other roiling stock, such as the Class 455 train.

Why Convert Class 455 Trains?

The Class 319 and Class 455 trains are very similar electrical multiple units based on Mark 3 coaches.

But there are a few differences.

  • The Class 455 is third-rail only, whereas the Class 319 is dual-voltage.
  • The Class 455 is a 75 mph train, whereas the Class 319  is a 100 mph train.
  • South West Trains’ Class 455 trains have had an extensive refurbishment and are fitted with 2+2 seating.
  • South West Trains planned to upgrade the traction package of the Class 455 trains, which would include new AC traction motors and regenerative braking. This article in Rail Magazine has full details.

A Class 455 Flex train could have the following specification.

  • The updated 2 x 2 seating.
  • The new traction package with AC traction motors and regenerative braking.
  • 75 mph operating speed on both electric and diesel.

It could be a better financial proposition for both the leasing company and the train operator.

In The Class 319 Flex Train And Third Rail Routes, I looked at various third-rail routes that could be served with a Class 319 Flex train.

Some of these routes could be served by a Class 455 Flex train, instead of the Class 319 Flex train.

The article states that Porterbrook are expecting further orders and could it be, that the company have assessed the number of bi-mode trains required and found that a large proportion of the available Class 319 trains might need to be converted.

So creating a Class 455 Flex train for use in areas with third rail electrification, might be a prudent action.

South Western Railway, will have around ninety well-maintained Class 455 trains with the refurbished interiors going spare, so there is certainly no shortage of trains to convert.

South Western Railway And Class 455 Flex Trains

South Western Railway, themselves could have some uses for the trains.

I doubt that the trains would be acceptable running long distance services from say Waterloo to Salisbury, due to being designed as short distance commuter trains and the lack of a toilet and tables.

They would be ideal for the following local services.

In some places like the Lymington Branch, they would release Class 158/159 trains to boost services on the West of England Main Line.

Merseyrail And The Class 455 Flex Trains

In the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Chris Stokes talks about the problems of running services between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations on the Borderlands Line. He concludes with the following.

So the operation of the route is very tight, but it appears to work quite well.

There has been talk of using battery trains on this route in place of an expensive full electrification, which would allow Merseyrail’s new Stadler trains to run the route in the following manner.

  • At least two trains per hour (tph).
  • Longer trains.
  • Calls at proposed new stations on the route.

In an ideal world, the service would terminate at the Northern end of the line by going round the third-rail electrified Loop Line under Liverpool City Centre.

The Class 455 train appears on a brief look to be the same size as Merseyrail’s current Class 508 trains, so it should be possible to use the Liverpool Loop.

Chris Stokes has told me two things.

  • The Class 455 trains, used redundant trailer cars from Class 508 trains, that were shortened for Merseyrail, so there can’t be much difference in the size of the Class 455 and Class 507/508 trains.
  • The Wrexham service used to terminate at Birkenhead North station.

So it seems a better Northern terminus could be possible.

Ideally, the Loop Line would be used, but look at this Google Map of Birkenhead North station.

The Wikipedia entry for the station, has a section entitled Wrexham Diesel Service. This is said.

From 4 January 1971 until 2 October 1978, the diesel service on the Bidston to Wrexham line, which had previously operated from New Brighton, was diverted to Birkenhead North. These trains terminated on the centre platform which had previously been used for Liverpool-bound services, and when one of the diesel trains was present (which in that timetable was much of the time), Liverpool-bound electric services used the outer north side of the island platform instead. The diesel service was cut back to Bidston from 2 October 1978. Regular use of the outer platform at Birkenhead North thereafter ceased.

Note that the service used to be Wrexham to New Brighton, which with the replacement of a short chord and some work at New Brighton station might be another alternative, although the service wasn’t very busy.

So could a Class 455 Flex train work the route in the following manner?

  • Use diesel power between Wrexham Central and Bidston stations.
  • Use electric power from Bidston to Liverpool.
  • Join the other Wirral Line trains and terminate in the Liverpool Loop, stopping at the four stations in Central Liverpool.

As to frequency, you could run as many trains as you want, as the Borderlands Line is double-track, with the exception of a short single track section between the two Wrexham stations.

A round trip would take nearly three hours based on current timings, which would mean the following numbers of trains would be needed.

  • One tph – three trains.
  • Two tph – six trains.
  • Four tph – twelve trains.

As Merseyrail like to run four tph on the various branches, why not use this frequency on the Borderlands Line?

It would be a Turn-Up-And-Go service, that would benefit a large number of people.

Does the service have to terminate at Wrexham?

It certainly wouldn’t require any electrification or challenging engineering to open up these and other possible routes.

The Class 455 Flex train may have other uses in Liverpool.

Northern’s services in the area will probably use a few Class 319 Flex trains alongside their Class 319 trains, that already serve Liverpool Lime Street.

So where services are being extended from Merseyrail’s third-rail network, why not use some Class 319 Flex trains, as these trains have a third-rail capability from their days South of the Thames?

  • There may be an engineering or operational problem with a dual-voltage Class 319 Flex train.
  • The pantograph of a Class 319 Flex train might make the train too large for parts of Merseyrail’s third-rail network.
  • A third-rail only Class 455 Flex train may be a better financial proposition for leasing companies and train operators.

Or it could be that Porterbrook’s response to the Class 319 Flex train has been so positive, that the alternative offered by the Class 455 Flex train is welcomed.

Merseyrail’s prime route for a bi-mode Flex train would be the Canada Dock branch.

  •  There is a long term aspiration to run a passenger service.
  • The branch is not electrified but it could connect to Liverpool’s third-rail network at both ends and also to 25 KVAC at the Southern end.
  • Numerous freight trains use the route.
  • Perhaps four stations at about ten million pounds a time would need to be rebuilt.
  • Liverpool Football Ground would get a station.

Class 455 Flex trains could run a Southport, Ormskirk or Kirkby to Liverpool South Parkway service tomorrow.

A Four-Car Diesel Multiple Unit

In Who Would Want An Electric Train Powered Only By Diesel?, I discussed the fact that according to the Porterbrook brochure,

A diesel-only version of Class 319 Flex is now being delivered for one operator.

Could it be, that the updated interior of the Class 455 train, is exactly what the operator wants in a diesel train?

A Class 455 Flex train would have the following characteristics, if the third-rail equipment was removed.

  • Four cars.
  • Diesel power only.
  • 75 mph operating speed.
  • A quality 2 x 2 interior.
  • A train that meets all the present and future access and disabled regulations.

That sounds to me like a high-quality replacement train for which Direct Rail Services will provide you with two Class 68 locomotives and some elderly coaches, which probably don’t meet the latest regulations.

But also, the UK suburban diesel multiple unit fleet has quite a lot of two and three car trains, but very few four-car ones and you see lots of four-car trains made by coupling two two-car units together. So perhaps, some train operators, see these trains as an easy and affordable way to increase the number of four-car trains on their routes without any form of electrification.

As South Western Railway take over the South West Trains franchise on the 20th August 2017, perhaps some Class 455 trains would be available soon after, as they could replace them with new Class 707 trains.

I suspect that a Class 455 Flex train could be available early in 2018.

Conclusions

The Class 319 Flex train or more properly the Class 769 train looks to be a successful concept.

I’m also convinced that Porterbrook have decided the market is larger than they originally thought, so they are seriously looking at converting Class 455 trains, to make sure they have enough trains.

 

May 25, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments