The Anonymous Widower

A Long Journey Home

A friend had booked between London and Edinburgh today on the 13:00 LNER train from King’s Cross. She was also travelling with her miniature Schnauzer.

.We had arranged to meet at Marylebone, so I could help them across London to King’s Cross and have a much-needed hot chocolate in King’s Cross before they caught the train North and I went to a meeting organised by my cardiologist.

I had checked out King’s Cross earlier and there was trouble with srveral delayed and cancelled trains.

It wasn’t strikes or bad management from LNER and the problem is explained in this article from the Yorkshire Evening Post, which is entitled Trains From Leeds To London Cancelled Or Delayed After Thieves Steal Signalling Cables From Railway Tracks.

In the end we made the train in time and also had time to have a hot chocolate in LEON, whilst we sat out the back with the dog.

We were texting each other most of the afternoon and with assistance from Real Time Trains, the journey went as follows.

  • The train left King’s Cross at 13:08, which was eight minutes late.
  • By Peterborough, the train was running seventeen minutes late. 
  • The driver kept this delay until Retford, where he lost another eighty minutes.
  • The train was now running 97 minutes late and this grew by four more minutes by Newcastle.
  • My friend reported that they stopped at Newcastle, as they had no driver.
  • In the end, LNER found a driver or a way for the current driver to continue to Edinburgh and the train left Newcastle after a thirty minute stop.
  • The train was now two hours and ten minutes late.
  • Eventually, it pulled into Edinburgh, two hours and five minutes late, after the driver had picked up a few minutes on the approach to Edinburgh.

Note.

  1. The incoming train that formed this service arrived in King’s Cross from Edinburgh seventy two minutes late, mainly because of the cable theft. It should have arrived and returned to Edinburgh an hour earlier. But it arrived conveniently to form the 13:00 to Scotland.
  2. As the train presentation team turned the train in nineteen minutes instead of twenty-one, they saved a couple of minutes.
  3. I suspect the delay at Retford was getting through the area without any signalling.
  4. Had the driver run out of hours by Newcastle, as he had been in the cab for four-and-a-half hours?
  5. Normally, four-and-a-half hours would have enabled the driver to have driven to Edinburgh.

These are my thoughts.

Cable Theft

In the days of British Rail, I did some work for British Rail using my software called Daisy, which led to a report entitled Failure Reporting And Analysis On British Rail, which was written by J. S. Firth CEng, MIEE, MIRSE, who worked for SigTech, which was a Business Unit of the British Railways Board.

If anybody who has a legitimate reason to read the report, I still have the complimentary copy sent to me by Mr. Firth and would be happy to provide a copy.

I did flag up a project called Unauthorised Cable Removal And Fault Triage, as one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition organised by the Dept of BEIS.

If there is anything I can do to help, let me know.

Problems In France

A friend in France told me that there is a problem with stealing overhead electrification cables in France.

This article on RFI is entitled Copper Wire Thieves Force France’s High-Speed TGV To Go Slow.

There are several similar stories on French and other European web sites.

Signalling Using Radio

The East Coast Main Line is being signalled using modern ERTMS digital signalling, where drivers read the signals on an in-cab display, which is connected by radio to the signalling system.

This extract from Wikipedia describes the first project.

In June 2020 it was reported that the UK government would provide £350 million to fund the UK’s first digital signalling system on a long-distance rail route. The signalling is to be fitted on a 100-mile (161 km) section of the East Coast Main Line between Kings Cross, London, and Lincolnshire, which will allow trains to run closer together and increase service frequency, speed and reliability. No date for when the new technology, already in use on the Thameslink lines at London Bridge and some London Underground lines, has been given.

If the cables are removed will this reduce crime?

LNER Delay Repay

My friend will be entitled for a full refund of her single ticket.

This page on the LNER web site gives full details.

Note.

  1. You have 28 days to claim.
  2. If you have a return ticket, you may be entitled to something for that leg of the journey.

I would add, that you should always keep all your tickets, in case the return journey goes belly-up.

December 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

An Affordable Trip To Doncaster

If you want to get a train, the way to not get a cheap ticket was to turn up at the last minute and buy a single ticket to your destination.

But not any more.

On Wednesday, I needed to go to Doncaster.

  • I knew that the latest train, that I could catch to get me to my meeting on time, was the 13:03, so I arrived at Kings Cross about 12:30.
  • I tried to buy on the ticket machine, but I unable to complete the transaction.
  • In the end, I got an Advance Single ticket with my Senior Railcard for £22.60 from the Booking Office.
  • I had two backward-facing seats to myself, as the train, which was going to Leeds wasn’t very full.
  • Coming South later in the day, I repeated the exercise in the Booking Office at Doncaster for £23.85.
  • The train was full, but I did have a seat with a table.

I consider just under fifty pounds to be good value for the return journey.

I’m fairly sure, that this is a method being used by LNER to fill seats. as after all, forty tickets at an average of £25 a time is a grand.

I think we should applaud, what they are doing.

It should be remembered that LNER are facing increasing competition on the route, including against planes to Newcastle and Edinburgh.

I went to King’s Cross this morning and had a play with the ticket machine. I could have bought tickets as follows.

  • Edinburgh – £52.10
    Hull – £27.05
    Leeds – £32.90
    Newcastle – £51.50
    All trains included a seat reservation and left within half an hour.

Note that the Hull ticket was a direct one on Hull Trains, that I could have bought on an LNER machine.

 

November 4, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 3 Comments

Biggleswade Wind Farm

The Biggleswade Wind Farm is a small wind farm on the East side of the East Coast Main Line, to the South of Biggleswade.

I took the pictures as I went North to Doncaster yesterday.

  • The wind farm generates 20 MW.
  • There are ten turbines.

I was sitting backwards in one of LNER’s Azuma trains.

It was in some ways an experiment to get a general wind farm picture.

November 3, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Ryanair Of Rail’ Lights Up The East Coast On Fast Track To Profit

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

A cut-price rail service between London and Edinburgh, dubbed the Ryanair of rail, is on track to turn a profit after a year in service and has helped to reverse the airlines’ previous dominance of the travel market between the capitals.

Other points from the article.

  • Lumo will carry its millionth passenger in November.
  • The average one-way fare has been less than £40.
  • Rail is now claiming 63 % of the London and Scotland travel market.

Will this success lead to more trains attracting more rail travellers between England and Scotland?

Can Lumo Carry More Passengers?

Lumo use five-car Hitachi Class 803 trains for their services.

  • Their fleet consists of five cars.
  • Each five-car train can carry 402 passengers.
  • Lumo run five trains per day (tpd) in both directions.

There are various ways that the number of passengers could be increased.

Could Lumo Run More Services?

This may seem to be a solution, but only a fixed number of trains can be run in every hour, between England and Scotland.

  • Other train operators may also want to run more services.
  • It would also mean Lumo would need to buy more trains.

On the other hand it may be possible to squeeze in perhaps one extra service.

Could Lumo Run Longer Trains?

Lumo’s Class 803 trains are unusual among the Hitachi AT 300 trains, that handle long distance services all over the UK, in that they have no diesel engines and rely on battery power for emergencies.

As the trains’ computer work out which cars are present, I wouldn’t be surprised that these trains can be lengthened or even run as a pair, as GWR’s and LNER’s five-car Hitachi trains often do.

Platforms at King’s Cross, Stevenage, Newcastle, Morpeth and Edinburgh are probably already longer than is needed for a five-car train.

I could even see Lumo adding coaches as required to satisfy the need of the day. On a day like the Calcutta Cup, they might even run ten or twelve car trains, which is the longest formation possible with the Hitachi trains. But they’d have to have enough coaches!

Lumo use a very simple catering option, which I suspect can be modified to serve a longer train.

I am fairly certain, that LUMO’s fleet has been designed for gradual lengthening to expand capacity.

Would The Lumo Model Work On The West Coast Main Line?

As the Lumo model seems to work to Edinburgh, would it work to Glasgow?

I don’t see why not! And it might improve the service from Avanti West Coast?

Grand Union have lodged an application to run four tpd between London and Stirling via at Milton Keynes Central, Nuneaton, Crewe, Preston, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell, Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert with InterCity 225s.

This proposal seems to be stalled at the moment, but I do feel it is a good idea.

I would certainly use it, as the air-conditioning on the Class 390 trains, used by Avanti West Coast, makes me ill!

 

 

 

October 25, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Advance Single From London To York For £32.90 Bought An Hour Before The Train Left

I went to York and Manchester yesterday.

I had been planning to do this trip for a week or so, but as I have lots of other things to do, I didn’t want to decide on a date.

So on Monday, I went to King’s Cross and investigated how much a London to York single ticket would cost.

I was surprised to find, that if I bought it last minute from a ticket machine with a Senior Railcard, that travelling about eleven in the morning I could get a ticket for £55 on the 11:06, which is a service that terminates at York, but is a few minutes slower.

Everything was clear for a trip yesterday and just after ten, I turned up at King’s Cross.

The machine offered me tickets at £81.90 on the 10:30 and 11:00 services, but I was able to get a ticket for £32.90 on the 11:06.

I was also able to ask for and get a forward-facing window seat with a table.

It looks like LNER are trying to sell as many seats as possible and they have developed, an algorithm that does this.

If I look at buying a ticket for today on the 11:06 on the Internet, I’m offered the following prices.

  • Advance Single – £32.90
  • Super Off-Peak Single – £81.90
  • Anytime Single – £94.35

There is even a First Class Advance Single at £45.90.

Conclusion

It pays to do your research.

It looks like a one-way journey by an electric car would take four hours and cost around £20.

August 10, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 5 Comments

‘Upgrade East Coast Main Line Before HS2’ If Leeds And Yorkshire Want Faster Rail Links To London

The title of this post, is the same as that of this letter to the Yorkshire Post.

This is the opening paragraph.

The decision to scrap HS2 running to Leeds is controversial but those who travel to London should not despair.

The writer makes these points.

  • High Speed Two will probably charge a premium fare because of the speed.
  • The current journey time to the capital is two hours 13 minutes at a cost of £28-60, if purchased in advance.
  • Planned improvements on the East Coast Main Line will reduce the journey time to London King’s Cross to one hour 56 minutes.
  • High Speed Two will take one hour 22 minutes.
  • If the line between Doncaster and Leeds were to be improved, the journey time could be reduced to one hour 45 minutes.

The writer finishes by saying that if the government ‘four tracked’ the entire East Coast route, 140mph LNER’s Azuma trains would match the times of High Speed Two.

In What Will Be The Fastest Times Possible Between London King’s Cross And Leeds?, I came to this conclusion.

It looks like a non-stop service between London and Leeds running at 140 mph, with perhaps some sections at perhaps a bit faster, could be able to match the High Speed Two times.

Running non-stop saves a total of eighteen minutes.

In an hour, I would give Leeds one non-stop and one stopping service to London.

March 9, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 13 Comments

LNER Launches International Website Making Travel Simpler For Overseas Tourists

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on LNER.

These four paragraphs describe the new website.

The new website coincides with the removal of pre-departure testing and quarantine rules for vaccinated people arriving in England or Scotland from 11 February 2022.

In a move that expands LNER’s global market, customers in 10 countries, including China, Japan, Spain, South Korea and Italy, are among the first to benefit when booking directly online.

LNER’s new search and booking engine offers international customers in those countries an option to purchase train tickets using their language and currency. The LNER.co.uk website will automatically detect those customers who are searching outside of the UK and will redirect them to the customised site to improve their online booking experience. The website launch comes as LNER reintroduces its full timetable, excluding pre-planned engineering works, meaning customers can discover destinations across the full 956-miles of East Coast route.

LNER has been working with travel tech company and rail retailer, Omio, to develop the site, which has the capability to operate in up to 20 languages and 26 currencies, including Euros, Korean Won and Japanese Yen or by using a payment method recognised in the home country.

Surely, if you run a travel company, your web site must be accessible to buy tickets from everywhere.

February 20, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 5 Comments

Should The Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line Be Electrified?

The Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line was created in the Nineteenth Century by the Great Northern Railway and the Great Eastern Railway.

  • The main purpose was to move freight like coal, agricultural products and manufactured goods between Yorkshire and Eastern England.
  • It originally ran between Doncaster and Huntington via Gainsborough, Lincoln, Sleaford, Spalding and March.
  • It had a full length of almost 123 miles.
  • There was a large marshalling yard at Whitemoor near March.

Over the years the line has been pruned a bit and now effectively runs between Doncaster and Peterborough.

  • Trains between Lincoln and March are now routed via Peterborough.
  • It carries upwards of twenty freight trains per day in both directions through Lincoln Central station.
  • Many of the freight trains are going to and from the East Coast ports.
  • The distance between Doncaster and Peterborough is 93.7 miles, as opposed to the 79.6 miles on the East Coast Main Line.
  • The line is not electrified, but it connects to the electrified East Coast Main Line at both ends.

There have been some important developments in recent years.

2015 Freight Upgrade

Wikipedia says this about the major 2015 freight upgrade.

In 2015 a £280 million upgrade of the Joint Line by Network Rail was substantially complete, enabling two freight trains per hour to be diverted from the congested East Coast Main Line; gauge enhancements to enable the passage of 9 ft 6 in (2.90 m) containers were included in the work.

The Sleaford avoiding line had been substantially downgraded since the 1980s and was reinstated to double track as part of the 2015 scheme. Resignalling and modernisation of level crossings was included.

This means that freight trains have an alternative route, that avoids the East Coast Main Line.

Doncaster iPort

Over the last few years the Doncaster iPort has been developed, which is an intermodal rail terminal.

  • It has a size of around 800 acres.
  • The site opened in early 2018.
  • There is a daily train to the Port of Southampton and two daily trains to both Teesport and Felixstowe.
  • The Felixstowe trains would appear to use the Joint Line.

I feel that as the site develops, the Doncaster iPort will generate more traffic on the Joint Line.

This Google Map shows the Doncaster iPort.

There would appear to be plenty of space for expansion.

The Werrington Dive Under

The Werrington Dive Under has been built at a cost of £ 200 million, to remove a bottleneck at the Southern end of the Joint Line, where it connects to the East Coast Main Line.

The Werrington Dive Under was built, so that it could be electrified in the future.

LNER To Lincolnshire

LNER appear to have made a success of a one train per two hours (tp2h) service between London King’s Cross and Lincoln station.

  • LNER have stated, that they want to serve Grimsby and Cleethorpes in the North of the county.
  • North Lincolnshire is becoming important in supporting the wind energy industry in the North Sea.
  • Lincoln is becoming an important university city.
  • Several towns in Lincolnshire probably need a service to Peterborough and London.
  • In 2019, the Port of Grimsby & Immingham was the largest port in the United Kingdom by tonnage.

I can see an expanded Lincolnshire service from LNER.

Full Digital Signalling Of The East Coast Main Line To The South Of Doncaster

This is happening now and it will have a collateral benefits for the Joint Line.

Most passenger and freight trains will also use the East Coast Main Line, if only for a few miles, which will mean they will need to be fitted for the digital signalling.

This could mean that extending full digital signalling to Lincolnshire will not be a challenging project.

Arguments For Electrification

These are possible arguments for electrification.

Electric Freight Trains To And From The North

It would be another stretch of line, that could accommodate electric freight trains.

An Electrified Diversion Route For East Coast Main Line Expresses

Currently, when there is engineering blockades between Doncaster and Peterborough on the East Coast Main Line, the Hitachi Class 800 and Class 802 trains of Hull Trains and LNER are able to divert using their diesel power.

But the electric trains of LNER and Lumo have to be cancelled.

An electrified diversion route would be welcomed by passengers and train companies.

It would also mean that any trains running from King’s Cross to electrified destinations would not to have any diesel engines.

An Electrified Spine Through Lincolnshire

If there was an electrified spine between Doncaster and Peterborough via Gainsborough, Lincoln, Sleaford and Spalding, these stations would be these distances from the spine.

  • Boston – 16.8 miles
  • Cleethorpes – 47.2 miles
  • Grimsby Town – 43.9 miles
  • Market Rasen – 14.8 miles
  • Skegness – 40.7 miles

Note.

  1. These distances are all possible with battery-electric trains.
  2. Charging would be on the electrified spine and at Skegness and Cleethorpes stations.

All of South Lincolnshire and services to Doncaster would use electric trains.

London Services

London services would be via Spalding and join the East Coast Main Line at Werrington.

  • Boston and Skegness would be served from Sleaford, where the train would reverse.
  • Market Rasen, Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes would be served from Lincoln, where the train would reverse.

This would enable Cleethorpes and Skegness to have at least four trains per day to and from London King’s Cross.

North Lincolnshire Services

There are two train services in North Lincolnshire.

Cleethorpes and Barton-on-Humber.

Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport via Grimsby Town, Scunthorpe, Doncaster, Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly.

Note.

  1. Cleethorpes would need to have a charger or a few miles of electrification, to charge a train from London.
  2. Doncaster, which is fully electrified is 52.1 miles from Cleethorpes.
  3. Barton-on-Humber is 22.8 miles from Cleethorpes.

Battery-electric trains should be able to handle both services.

Arguments Against Electrification

The only possible arguments against electrification are the disruption that the installation might cause and the unsightly nature of overhead gantries.

Conclusion

The Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line should be electrified.

 

 

 

 

February 15, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Talgo To Begin Fuel Cell Loco Trials

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Trials are to begin shortly with the TPH2 fuel cell test locomotive developed by Talgo as part of its hydrogen traction programme. This forms part of a low-carbon research and development strategy which is being supported by a green hydrogen supply alliance and financing from the European Investment Bank.

The TPH2 loco has been produced by fitting fuel cells and traction batteries to the Travca L-9202 ‘Virgen del Buen Camino’ prototype multi-system and variable gauge locomotive which was built by Talgo in 2005.

This page on the Talgo web site describes the Travca locomotive like this.

Travca: Traction Without Borders

Travca is a locomotive that stops at nothing; not at different power supplies, track gauges nor signalling systems all of which makes Travca Talgo’s most advanced development in the field of traction.

This is the specification of the electric locomotive from the Talgo web site.

  • Operating speed – Up to 250km/h (passenger version)
  • Configuration – Bo-Bo
  • Track gauge (mm) -1435-1668
  • Length (m) – 19400
  • Bodyshell width (mm) – 2950
  • Unladen weight (tonnes) – 72 (passenger version)
  • Number of axles – 4
  • Power – 2,400 kW (25kV, 50Hz) / 2,000kW (3kV dc)
  • Brakes – Regenerative, rheostatic and air brakes

Notes.

  1. It is a variable-gauge and variable-voltage locomotive.
  2. 1435 mm is standard gauge
  3. It is lighter and wider than a Class 90 locomotive.

It does seem to be the basis of a very useful locomotive.

This article on Railway News is entitled University Of Extremadura To Work With Talgo On Its Hydrogen Train, says this about the test train.

During the first stage of the hydrogen train project, Talgo is developing the necessary engineering for the assembly and commissioning of hydrogen traction in a test train. The train will comprise a Talgo Travca MS locomotive, which can change gauges and run under different electrification systems, and five Talgo hauled cars that will house the hydrogen fuel cell system. One of the cars will be a laboratory car.

This would appear to be an experimental train with the hydrogen power station in four of the coaches.

It also appears that Extremadura is developing a hydrogen infrastructure.

Applications In The UK

The obvious application in the UK, is as a Class 66 diesel locomotive replacement, for some of the light to medium duties.

The Class 66 locomotives have a power of 2400 kW, which could be within the range of the Talgo locomotive.

In LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, I speculated that Talgo, with all their experience of high speed trains might like to bid for the extra ten trains, that LNER requires.

They could be ideal to allow electric trains to run between London and Aberdeen and Inverness.

  • The Travca locomotive running on electricity could certainly handle 140 mph between London and Edinburgh.
  • The power requirements North of Edinburgh would be less, as speeds would be lower.
  • Ranges on hydrogen would be under two hundred miles.

It would be a flagship service for both LNER and Talgo.

 

 

February 7, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

More Train Companies Are Advertising Now

At the end of October, I posted Hull Trains Are Mounting A Big Advertising Campaign.

Today LNER are also advertising in The Times and these follow other companies like Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, Grand Central and Great Western Railway.

It looks like the Hull Trains campaign must have been successful.

January 2, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment